The road claimed two undefeated teams from the Big 12, plus previously unbeaten Nebraska and Boise State, on a college football Saturday that delivered on its potential to create serious problems for College Football Playoff contenders.
The first selection committee rankings will be released Tuesday.
Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from a day for road warriors and gritty victories.
1. The new definition of Clemsoning is making all the clutch plays, never flinching when behind and winning close games against good teams. The Tigers have now won nine straight road games.
2. The Big 12’s playoff hopes are not dead now that No. 8 Baylor and No. 10 West Virginia have lost. They are, however, in very bad condition.
3. Sure, if the Bears and/or Mountaineers finish 11-1 and win the Big 12 they could be in the thick of the playoff mix. But let’s be real: Can you see either of these teams running the table?
4. No. 4 Washington has no more questions to answer after prevailing at No. 17 Utah. The Huskies’ schedule has not been great up to this point, but they made plays in lots of different ways against a Utes team that is just no fun to play. Especially in Salt Lake City.
5. Weekly Joe Williams update: The Utes out-of-retirement running back had 172 yards on 35 carries against the Huskies.
6. No. 6 Ohio State is at the point with its passing game that it probably should not expect to fix its inability to stretch the field with some deep throws. The Buckeyes are probably just going to have to work around their deficiency.
7. Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett has a so-so arm and far from blazing speed, but he does make a lot of plays when Ohio State needs them most.
8. No. 11 Wisconsin might not have the best defense in the country, but no defense has been asked to carry as much of the load for its team. The Badgers’ D did it again against No. 7 Nebraska.
9. Yes, the officials missed an obvious pass interference call against Wisconsin in overtime. Nebraska had three other plays in overtime and gained two yards, so not a lot of sympathy.
10. Hard to have a Heisman moment against a 2-6 opponent, but Lamar Jackson bailed out No. 5 Louisville at Virginia, and the big bronze trophy is still his to lose .
11. Could the ACC have three Heisman finalists? Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could join Jackson in New York.
12. To what extent Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman contender is hard to pin down. If voters insist on big offensive numbers, they are unlikely to get them from Michigan’s do-it-all star. He had six touches for 22 yards and a touchdown against Michigan State . But watching Peppers play, this much is clear: He is one of the best players in the country and plenty of NFL teams will be happy to take him early in the first round.
13. Michigan State has lost six straight overall, and it is fair to wonder if the Sparty Party against the Wolverines (six wins in the previous seven meetings) could be over for a while.
14. Where does Texas coach Charlie Strong stand now, with the Longhorns at 4-4? Well, winning out doesn’t sound crazy with games at Texas Tech and Kansas and home games against West Virginia and TCU. Neither does losing all four. Every week a referendum will continue for Strong, which doesn’t seem fair but, hey, the pay is great .
15. Lost in all the talk about Strong’s status: Texas has one of the best running backs in the country in D’Onta Foreman, who should start getting some Heisman love.
16. All that talk about how Florida had to make up its hurricane-postponed game against LSU because it would not be fair to Tennessee in the SEC East race. And then the Vols lose at South Carolina to a quarterback who should have been a senior in high school right now . Vols fans will be out of their minds as another season goes by without a trip to Atlanta for the conference title game. The East could not have been better set this season for the Volunteers to win it.
17. Did you know? Miami and Notre Dame played a football game on Saturday .
18. Handling success can be tricky. No. 24 Penn State scored 45 points in the second half to rout Purdue . A taking-care-of-business follow-up for the Nittany Lions after last week’s Ohio State upset. At least one more college season of Saquon Barkley is reason for optimism in Happy Valley.
19. Boston College snapped its 12-game ACC losing streak with a 21-14 victory at North Carolina State , which is a really bad look for Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren. In his fourth season in Raleigh, North Carolina, Doeren is 22-24 overall and 7-21 in the ACC.
20. No, Houston slipping a bit it has not changed Tom Herman’s most-wanted status among rising head coaches.
21. A safety did in No. 13 Boise State against Wyoming . Credit Cowboys coach Craig Bohl with an impressive rebuild in his third season in Laramie.
22. Boise State’s loss could be No. 19 Western Michigan’s gain. The Broncos are the only remaining unbeaten team in the Group of Five.
23. The American Athletic Conference’s quality and depth, along with ambitious nonconference scheduling, might work against it this season as it tries to put its champion in a New year’s Six bowl. Every AAC team has lost at least twice.
24. The $12 million buyout was probably enough to keep coach Mark Stoops safe at Kentucky this season, but now the hot-seat talk can be replaced by dreams of winning the SEC East. The Wildcats (5-3, 4-2) still have to play Georgia and No. 18 Tennessee. Also, Austin Peay to make sure they get bowl eligible. That home game against Georgia certainly looks winnable for the Wildcats.
25. Oregon snapped its five-game losing streak against Arizona State . If coach Mark Helfrich can salvage this Oregon season with a late surge, he is probably safe to be back next season. But here’s the rest of the schedule with three victories needed to get to a bowl game: at USC, Stanford, at Utah and at Oregon State. Good luck, coach.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP