Welcome to the most eventful and crowded slate of college football games you’ll find this season! Five games spread across four networks all kicking off at the same time.
I mean, has anyone even caught their breath, yet? Major comeback, major upset, major blowouts and triple overtime.
Most of Week 9’s action was packed into the 3:30 p.m. ET window and you’d be forgiven for having trouble keeping up. Georgia embarrassed Florida, Notre Dame swept aside NC State, Ohio State stunned Penn State, Michigan State was upset and Iowa State claimed another top-5 Big 12 foe.
Mark it down: these four hours will be remembered as the most consequential in the College Football Playoff race and might even kick-start the coaching carousel. Here’s how it all played out in real time from kickoff to final snap, multiple field-storms included.
Well, that escalated quickly …
3:36 p.m.: As Florida and Georgia prepare to kick off in Jacksonville, Florida, the CBS broadcast team of Gary Danielson and Brad Nessler bring their television audience up to speed on what’s been a bizarre week for the Gators, after head coach Jim McElwain told reporters about death threats directed at himself, his family and his players … wait, Saquon Barkley has already scored a touchdown. Notre Dame and NC State couldn’t even get on the field before Barkley found the end zone for the 13th time this season. For some odd reason, Ohio State actually kicked the ball to him and he returned the opening kickoff 97 yards to the house. The camera pans to Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer, and his expression seems to suggest he’s wondering why the heck the ball came within 20 yards of Barkley.
3:45: Bradley Chubb, meet Brandon Wimbush. Brandon Wimbush, meet the floor. Chubb’s sack on third-and-13 for No. 14 NC State forced ninth-ranked Notre Dame to punt. Maybe the Wolfpack’s menacing defensive end will get the better of the Irish’s heralded offensive line? Oh, and it’s first-and-goal for Penn State after Manny Bowen‘s forced fumble gave the the Nittany Lions the ball back. Get your memes of sad Urban Meyer eating cold pizza ready!
3:46: We’ve barely had time to digest that soggy slice of pizza and we’ve got touchdowns! After a nifty 39-yard catch-and-run for Georgia’s D’Andre Swift on third-and-2, Nick Chubb rumbled in for a 6-yard touchdown to give third-ranked Georgia a 7-0 lead over the Gators. Almost simultaneously, Penn State receiver DaeSean Hamilton grabs a nice 13-yard pass from Trace McSorley — whose competitiveness Urban Meyer likened to Tim Tebow’s this week — to give No. 2 Penn State a 14-0 over No. 6 Ohio State.
3:53: NC State’s James Smith-Williams blocks Tyler Newsome‘s punt and Germain Pratt recovers the football in the end zone for a touchdown to give the Wolfpack the early and very unorthodox 7-0 lead in front of Touchdown Jesus. NC State is that team we just aren’t talking about enough. Fun fact: Bradley Chubb told me this week that his cousin, Georgia’s Nick Chubb, is “soft” and that he can’t wait to hit him in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Georgia safety Dominick Sanders just intercepted Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks and returned it 13 yards to give us our first shot of sideline swag! I’m not sure how long it took him to get those sweet, golden shoulder pads with the black spikes on them, but as soon as I looked up he was strutting around the sideline like an absolute boss.
3:55: Mark Richt has lost complete control of Florida’s football team. Dawgs quarterback Jake Fromm just lofted a beautiful 17-yard touchdown pass to Javon Wims, who absolutely Moss’d poor Marco Wilson, to inflate Georgia’s blowout to 14-0. Not exactly the slant Gators defensive back Chauncey Gardner Jr. was looking for, either.
3:59: We haven’t even hit the 30-minute mark in this mid-day football bonanza and we have yet another touchdown! This time, it’s Wimbush, who brings Notre Dame level with NC State at 7-7 with a dart to Durham Smythe. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this play was set up by 32-yard C.J. Sanders punt return and a beautiful 35-yard run by Josh Adams — the running back you aren’t gushing over enough. That was his 10th rush of at least 35 yards, second to only Stanford’s Bryce Love in FBS.
4:05: Georgia simply won’t call the Dawgs off in the first quarter. Clearly, Kirby Smart’s plan was to come in and embarrass the Gators like a guy who went 1-3 as a player at Georgia against Florida and is 0-1 as Georgia’s head coach against Florida. As a white-and-blue sea of players parted, Sony Michel sprints his way to a 74-yard touchdown to make it an insurmountable 21-0. Twenty-one points are the most the Gators have allowed in the first quarter since 2011 vs. powerhouse Furman. Florida trailed 22-7 after the first quarter of that game but ended up winning 54-32. Sorry, Jim McElwain, John Brantley ain’t walking through that door.
4:13: Think we forgot about our friends in Ames, Iowa? Please. Matt Campbell is a star on the rise and has brought big-boy football to Cyclones country. The biggest boy of all? That would be linebacker/quarterback Joel Lanning, college football’s folk hero, who stuffed TCU’s Sewo Olonilua on third-and-3 at the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs’ own 30-yard line. Iowa State leads 7-0 with 1:19 left in the first quarter. The Cyclones beat Oklahoma on Oct. 7. Is lightning striking twice inside this tornado?
Can you finish what you started?
4:44: Wimbush punches in a 3-yard touchdown run to set the Notre Dame single-season record for a quarterback with his 11th rushing touchdown and ties the game at 14.
4:47: McSorley pulls another Tim Tebow-like play by running in for a 6-yard touchdown to put the Nittany Lions up 28-10 with eight minutes left in the second half. A Meyer-coached team has never overcome that kind of a deficit. That pizza is just losing all sorts of flavor in at the bottom of Ohio Stadium.
4:53: Iowa State is over here flirting with another fantastic performance after Kyle Kempt finds a leaping, tip-toeing, 6-foot-6 Hakeem Butler in the back of the end zone. Butler clearly got both feet down, but the play is reviewed. Doesn’t matter. The call is upheld and Iowa State is up 14-0 with 3:29 remaining until halftime.
5:00: You couldn’t blame some Ohio State fans for checking out or dozing off during a first half dominated by Penn State, but all of a sudden there’s some life for the Buckeyes, as Mike Weber runs in for a 2-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-17.
5:02: Wimbush is on a roll, y’all. He’s moving and throwing with confidence and he’s starting to find holes in this NC State defense. After an 11-yard pass to Smythe, he gets his second passing touchdown to give the Irish their first lead of the game at 21-14. This time, it’s Kevin Stepherson who is on the receiving end of an 11-yard pass.
5:03: We have our first literal sign of insanity in Ames with a sight of a “We Want Bama” sign from a Cyclones fan in the stands. How long until Nick Saban informs his team that the Cyclones don’t respect the Crimson Tide?
5:26: Is Fromm who Gardner Jr. told us he was? Because he just threw a horribly thrown ball to start the second half and Duke Dawson just picked it off. Ugh, weird stuff always happens at these Cocktail Parties.
5:27: How are TCU quarterback Kenny Hill and his Horned Frogs going to turn it around … never mind, KaVontae Turpin just ran past everyone for a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half. TCU is on the board, folks! Turpin also just became the first player to have a passing touchdown, rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, punt return for a touchdown and kickoff return for a touchdown in a season since Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey in 2015. This, kids, is how you get to skip the line at team breakfast in the morning.
5:45: We’re about halfway through the third quarter in Jacksonville, and Sony Michel just ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run to give Georgia a 28-0 lead. You have to wonder if Smart is going to leave his starters in much longer.
5:51: Hey, we’re still in Jacksonville for some reason. Franks, who has been thrown around like a rag doll all afternoon, is sacked by J.R. Reed for a loss of 20, but before he even hits the ground (again) he fumbles and Reed picks the ball up and walks in for a 3-yard touchdown. It’s 35-0 Bulldogs and I’m pretty sure Malik Zaire is warming up on Florida’s sideline, right?
5:55: The Horned Frogs are … offside. Yep, that’s coming back. Just when TCU was about to get some sort of momentum on what we thought was a Ridwan Issahaku pick-six, Mat Boesen is called for offside. No way that’ll come back to haunt the Frogs …
6:00: Folks, we have controversy! Ohio State’s Denzel Ward appeared to have secured an amazing an interception in the end zone. Or was it actually Penn State’s DeAndre Thompkins who made a sick, one-handed touchdown catch on a 37-yard pass before falling to the turf intertwined with Ward? Both had their hands on the ball and both claimed possession. I don’t know if anyone really knows, but it’s clear both those dudes ate their Wheaties and did a couple more bicep curls before today’s game. The play was originally ruled an interception by Ward, however, upon further review, it was determined that Thompkins actually had possession and was ruled down in the end zone before Ward took the ball. Touchdown Penn State. Nittany Lions up 35-20 with 7:25 left in the third.
Things start getting weird
6:28: We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to announce that Malik Zaire is (finally) in at quarterback for Florida. We repeat: Malik Zaire is in at quarterback for Florida.
6:33: The Trill is gone in Ames. Kenny Hill gets absolutely mangled by Iowa State defenders on a second-and-goal and fumbles just outside the 10. That makes two red-zone turnovers for the Horned Frogs in the game, which is the first game since 2012 where they’ve had multiple red-zone turnovers (three vs. Kansas in 2012).
6:34: OK, we’ve got six dozen orders of pepperoni … wait. Ohio State just blocked a punt. Check that, Denzel Ward just blocked a punt with 11:39 left. The Buckeyes have the ball at the Penn State 41-yard line.
6:46: The streak continues, guys. Florida just scored a touchdown (42-7) and avoids getting shutout for the first time since 1988. Florida’s scored in an FBS-record 368 straight games. Penn State has scored as well, hitting a 24-yard field goal to take a 38-27 lead with 5:42 remaining. Penn State’s 38 points are the most it has ever scored at Ohio State. The previous record was 37 in the first-ever meeting in 1912.
6:48: We haven’t mentioned Northwestern-Michigan State yet, but I’m pretty sure we have overtime in Evanston! Brian Lewerke just lofted a beauty of 13-yard pass to Felton Davis III, who made a circus catch and somehow kept possession and his knees in bounds. No. 16 Michigan State is not done yet.
6:52: After a kneel by backup quarterback Jacob Eason, the bloodletting is over in Jacksonville, and it’s time for more than few cocktails for Gators fans, as Georgia stomps Florida 42-7. Georgia is 8-0 and the only team capable of hanging with Alabama in the SEC.
6:53: There are no undefeated teams in the Big 12, which complicates things for the selection committee. Thanks to a Marcel Spears Jr. interception, Iowa State is 6-2 and becomes the first team since LSU in 2011 to beat two top-5 teams in a calendar month in the regular season. Matt Campbell is about to be on E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y’s short list of coaching candidates at the big schools.
6:56: They’re rushing the field in Ames! “Sweet Caroline” is being sung on the field! That florescent “We Want Bama” sign is waving proudly — and naively.
6:57: Penn State denies Ohio State’s 2-point conversion and it’s 38-33. Guys, these pizzas …
7:01: Felton Davis III is back to send us to double overtime in Evanston with another touchdown catch.
7:04: Charlie Strong’s comeback at USF just hit a wall, as Houston scores a touchdown with 11 seconds left. Soon, the Bulls’ undefeated season will end, but Strong’s name is going to pop up for some bigger jobs starting, now.
7:06: GUS JOHNSON IS SCREAMING AT ALL OF US AS J.T. BARRETT COMPLETES HIS 16TH STRAIGHT PASS THAT JUST HAPPENS TO BE A TOUCHDOWN TO MAKE IT 39-38 OHIO STATE WITH 1:48 LEFT!
7:12: Trace McSorley just threw two incompletions and got sacked. He’s due for a game-changing play on fourth-and-15. He’s dropping back, he’s moving around and scanning the fiiiiiieeeeld annnnnnd incomplete. It’s way too high and Ohio State is gonna pull this one out. Guys, who’s responsible for all these pizzas?!
7:15: Michigan State can’t survive a third overtime and Barrett is taking one of the most gratifying knees of his life. They guy you all thought couldn’t win the big game just went 13 of 13 for 170 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to upset Penn State 39-38. And with that knee, the playoff committee lets out a giant sigh of relief because now they can rank Alabama and Georgia No. 1 and No. 2, lessening the chances of a possible SEC title game rematch in the CFP semifinals. We see you smiling, Kirby Hocutt.
College football, huh?
Field storming for everyone
Iowa State, which beat then-No. 3 Oklahoma two weeks ago, knocked off No. 4 TCU Saturday in Ames.
Only getting wilder. pic.twitter.com/uEmKxLuJKC
— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) October 28, 2017
The Cyclones fans went wild, naturally, storming the field.
Meanwhile in Columbus …
Ohio State was down by as many as 18 points — TWICE! — to No. 2 Penn State before rallying for a 19-point fourth quarter to win 39-38 and keep its playoff hopes alive.
Following the comeback, Buckeyes fans took their turn storming the field.
The aftermath at the shoe pic.twitter.com/Ccgk7GDSfe
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) October 28, 2017
What about Bob?
These Bob Stoops white visors have been passed around the Oklahoma student section
These are all over the OU student section, as Bob Stoops will be honored at halftime along with his wife, Carol
Hot donuts now!
Ohio State student considers Buckeye Donuts to be a cornerstone institution on campus.
Mike Gundy, you’ve got competition
Mullet? I think I found a competitor for Best Mullet of the game today. pic.twitter.com/ctFe0nKAP1
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) October 28, 2017