J.T. Barrett played the game of his life Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, when he completed 13-of-13 passes in the fourth quarter for 170 yards and three touchdowns to cap the Ohio State Buckeyes’ comeback victory against second-ranked Penn State.
Barrett’s quarterback play against the Nittany Lions will go down as one of the best games ever played by a major college football player, and it elevated the Barrett into the Heisman conversation.
After fourth-ranked TCU took a road loss to upstart Iowa State, 14-7, Ohio State ascended to No. 3 in the latest AP Poll and the Buckeyes look poised to be in the top four of the first College Football Playoff rankings.
Here are five observations about another crazy set of college football games and how the College Football Playoff race stands after Week 9.
1) Oklahoma Sour Grapes
The team with the biggest gripe after this weekend is the team that manhandled Ohio State in its own building on Sept. 9.
The Oklahoma Sooners sit at No. 8 in the latest AP Poll, falling five spots behind the surging Buckeyes and their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield made Ohio State’s defense look silly with his athleticism and the Buckeyes looked legitimately slow in their early-season matchup.
The game doesn’t necessarily mean the Buckeyes haven’t gotten better in the weeks following or the Sooners would beat Ohio State if they played on a neutral field today.
But you have to feel for Oklahoma fans who have to be wondering what it’ll take to unseat some of the powerhouse programs that have dominated the College Football Playoff since its inception.
Why even have games in September? Or why even have games at all? Let’s just decide it based on who we THINK is best rather than use results.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) October 29, 2017
Ultimately, Oklahoma has nothing to worry about if it continues to win and completes its season with a Big 12 championship.
We’ve seen in the past the College Football Playoff Committee is willing to keep its rankings fluid and that seems to be reflected in the AP Poll and Coaches’ Poll.
At the end of the season, a one-loss Oklahoma team would have perhaps the best win of the season on the road in Ohio Stadium.
The Sooners better be more concerned with their matchup against a high-powered Oklahoma State team at 4 p.m. next Saturday on FOX.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes Dominated Penn State
The final score of 39-38 doesn’t quite tell the entire story of the top-10 clash between Ohio State and Penn State on Saturday.
The Buckeyes tried to hand points to Penn State in every way they possibly could.
Saquon Barkley ran the opening kick back 97 yards for a touchdown and from that point on, Ohio State was determined to make every mistake in the book.
Junior receiver Parris Campbell followed that disaster of a start with a fumble in Ohio State’s territory, setting up Penn State with incredible field position.
The Buckeyes were down 14-0 before anyone could blink.
A questionable pass interference call gave Penn State another first-half touchdown and one of the most bizarre overturns of an interception gave Penn State seven more points.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 31, 2017
You can watch that play 1,000 times and never get a clear view of who controlled the football.
But the Buckeyes overcame it all behind magical throw after magical throw from Barrett, who played his best game as a collegian.
OHIO STATE COMES BACK TO BEAT #2 PENN STATE.
GAME WINNING TD + TITANIC MUSIC pic.twitter.com/ssYVodsdS0
— Matt Allaire (@AllaireMatt) October 28, 2017
The Buckeyes outgained Penn State 529-283 in the ballgame and held the All-American running back Barkley to 44 yards rushing.
3) Jim McElwain Had to Go
The Florida Gators have been an embarrassment this season and their biggest embarrassment was this past weekend against No. 2 Georgia.
The Gators lost by 35 points to fall to fourth place in the SEC East. And only one man could be the fall guy for Florida’s futility.
Coach Jim McElwain and the University of Florida parted ways Monday after three seasons of ugly offensive football and a complete implosion this season.
The relationship between the two parties had become sour after McElwain alleged he and his family received death threats, but Florida administrators could find no such evidence.
Ultimately, McElwain never showed the ability to get his team ready for big games in the SEC.
Florida was curb stomped in each SEC title game it played against mighty Alabama.
And McElwain’s squad couldn’t even muster 20 points against Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines in the first game the 2017 season.
Former Miami Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon was named the interim coach, and perhaps he has some positive energy surrounding him as he tries to keep this team together.
If the University of Florida put Lane kiffin and Randy Shannon together they will win a National Championship in less than years
— LUTHER R CAMPBELL (@unclelukereal1) October 30, 2017
4) Is Georgia Actually Good?
It’s a legitimate question to ask about the second-ranked team in the country.
Georgia has rolled through a pretty weak SEC and has the benefit of avoiding Alabama until the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
The Bulldogs’ most impressive victory was Sept. 9 in South Bend, Ind., against Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs pulled it out by one point, 20-19, and the win signaled Kirby Smart’s imprint was finally embedded on the team.
The interesting thing about Smart is his connection to Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Smart formerly served as defensive coordinator for Saban’s national championship teams and he has a lot of insight into what Alabama likes to run on offense.
But I can’t help but wonder if the Bulldogs are running through weak competition and won’t be able to hold up against the SEC’s top dog.
Let’s hope we don’t have to sit through another stinker in December because Florida played with our emotions enough in the last two seasons.
One thing Georgia has going for it is its incredibly entertaining quarterback Jake Fromm who loves to put on a Twitter show.
— JakefromStateFromm (@FrommJake) September 29, 2017
5) Notre Dame = Chaos
A lot of college football fans are always pulling for complete and utter chaos or another reason to increase the number of teams in the College Football Playoff.
This season’s chaos meter could go through the roof if one-loss Notre Dame finishes its season without losing another game.
The Fighting Irish lost to the second-ranked team in the country early this season but their resumé is one of the best in the country.
Notre Dame has victories against No. 24 Michigan State, No. 17 USC, and No. 20 North Carolina State.
And it still has matchups against No. 9 Miami and No. 18 Stanford coming.
It will be increasingly difficult to keep the Division 1 Independent out of the College Football Playoff with such a stacked resumé, but that means potentially leaving two Power 5 conferences out of the big dance.
Notre Dame could become many fans’ favorite story as we come down the stretch of the season.
If you don’t have a team, Notre Dame could be your best shot at messing up everyone’s fun around the holiday season.