/Top 25 takeaways: What Ohio State’s shocking loss means

Top 25 takeaways: What Ohio State’s shocking loss means

Michigan started the day with an impressive win over Michigan State and finished it off by enjoying Ohio State’s shocking loss to Purdue. In between, Alabama and Clemson dominated in a way that could have you envisioning them playing in the College Football Playoff for the fourth consecutive year.

No. 1 Alabama 58, Tennessee 21

Any concerns by Alabama fans that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa might still be a little gimpy on his strained right knee were put to rest pretty quickly in the Crimson Tide’s 58-21 rout of Tennessee on Saturday. He was as sharp as ever with four touchdown passes, although he did take a big hit on his fourth scoring pass of the day early in the third quarter before giving way to Jalen Hurts. Tagovailoa jogged gingerly off the field and watched from the sideline while standing the rest of the game. Tagovailoa and Alabama now get a week off before traveling to LSU on Nov. 3 for what should be the Tide’s stiffest test of the season. Nobody has come close to slowing down Alabama all season, and the Tide should be even healthier against LSU, with receiver DeVonta Smith expected to return after missing the Tennessee game due to a hamstring injury. — Chris Low

Purdue 48, No. 2 Ohio State 20

A bleak and blustery night for the Buckeyes appropriately began with a false start on their first play from scrimmage. The pre-snap foul set off a series of mental and physical miscues for Urban Meyer’s team. Ohio State can possibly still make the College Football Playoff by winning out, but this looked nothing like a top-4 team against Purdue. The offensive line couldn’t avoid the penalty flag. Defenders couldn’t corral Purdue star freshman receiver Rondale Moore or explosive running back D.J. Knox. And despite repeatedly reaching the Boilermakers’ territory, Ohio State’s offense only reached the end zone twice. Ohio State had found ways to overcome troubling trends, such as surrendering big plays on defense and failing to generate a consistent run game with Mike Weber or J.K. Dobbins. But facing an aggressive, technically sound Purdue defense, the Buckeyes never settled into a sustained rhythm. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a nice passing line (49-for-73 for 470 yards and two touchdowns) and several big-time throws, but he didn’t get nearly enough help from his teammates. This was no fluke. Purdue absolutely deserved to win on a magical night, but Ohio State must make significant improvement in all three phases — and show much greater poise — to revive its Big Ten title and CFP hopes. It’s also fair to ask whether Ohio State has gotten worse since Meyer returned from suspension. — Adam Rittenberg

No. 3 Clemson 41, No. 16 NC State 7

NC State nearly upset the Tigers in each of the past two seasons, and both teams entered this game undefeated with Atlantic Division hopes on the line. But there was never any doubt just how far the gap between the two schools remains. Clemson came out with a point to prove from the very start, marching down the field on its opening drive, while the defense set the tone as the aggressor. The Tigers never let NC State into the game, as Trevor Lawrence took center stage, getting the downfield passing game going the way many wanted to see. Travis Etienne added three more touchdown runs, and Clemson limited future NFL draft pick Ryan Finley to zero big plays. Clemson is in control of the Atlantic Division, and with a schedule that features zero ranked teams remaining, the Tigers will remain heavy favorites to make it back to the College Football Playoff. — Andrea Adelson

The Wolfpack started the season 5-0 but had not played any elite opponents until Saturday. Although they challenged Clemson the past two seasons, NC State proved to be no match for the Tigers on Saturday. The Wolfpack were completely overwhelmed on the offensive and defensive lines, and they were unable to get Ryan Finley and their passing game going against a secondary that had given up big plays this season. The best third-down conversion team in the nation, NC State had trouble converting on third down, as well. But that was basically the story of the game: Everything that seemed to come so easily in its 5-0 start was made much more difficult against a top-3 team in the nation. The Wolfpack are likely to drop out of the Top 25, but they still have a chance to finish the season strong. — Adelson

No. 5 LSU 19, No. 22 Mississippi State 3

The Tigers reach their bye week at 7-1 and right in the middle of the College Football Playoff chase. Who had them pegged there at season’s start? There are still plenty of nits to pick with this team, primarily on offense, and several of those things showed in their win over Mississippi State on Saturday, such as the red zone passing of Joe Burrow (or just the lack of overall touchdowns in that area, period) and an offensive line that isn’t quite up to usual LSU standards. Despite those flaws, the Tigers proved good enough to go toe-to-toe with just about anybody in the country (thanks, Dave Aranda). Does that include No. 1 Alabama? We’ll find out in two weeks. — Sam Khan Jr.

The Bulldogs didn’t throw it much on Saturday night, but even when they did, it was enough to hurt them. Nick Fitzgerald tossed two first-quarter interceptions that eventually doomed Mississippi State against the elite LSU defense. Mississippi State’s defense and run game make it good enough to compete with most, and Fitzgerald is a great asset as a runner; but if the Bulldogs don’t make some improvement — any improvement — in the passing game, it’s going to make the stretch run that much more difficult for Joe Moorhead’s squad, with games against Texas A&M and Alabama still on the schedule. — Khan Jr.

No. 6 Michigan 21, No. 24 Michigan State 7

Two down, one to go in a crucial stretch for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. Michigan ran over Wisconsin a week ago and survived what at points looked like a perfect storm of rivalry-game anarchy in East Lansing this week. Shea Patterson made a handful of plays that this offense wasn’t equipped to make in past years to flip momentum in Michigan’s direction in the second half. Defense is still the cornerstone in Ann Arbor, but if this team gets past Penn State after a bye, they look well-rounded enough to compete for a Big Ten championship. — Dan Murphy

The Spartans’ struggles on offense aren’t going away, and the issues are probably serious enough that they aren’t likely to spend much more time in the Top 25 this year. Brian Lewerke completed less than 50 percent of his passes for the second straight week. The team’s only touchdown came on a trick play that ended a 7-yard scoring drive set up by the defense. As suffocating as the Michigan State defense may be, there are too many injuries and too many inefficiencies on offense for this team this year. — Murphy

No. 9 Oklahoma 52, TCU 27

Oklahoma avoided any Texas hangover, pulling away from TCU with a monster second half on both sides of the ball. In the first game since OU fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, the defense rebounded from a shaky second quarter to produce a series of stops to finish off the Horned Frogs. Offensively, QB Kyler Murray delivered yet another Heisman statement with four TDs. And in his first real opportunity, freshman Kennedy Brooks also seemed to fill OU’s void at running back with Rodney Anderson out for the year, rushing for a career-high 168 yards. With the Texas loss, the Sooners have no margin for error. But they showed Saturday that with Murray, they remain a Big 12 title — and playoff — threat. — Jake Trotter

No. 10 UCF, 37, East Carolina 10

No McKenzie Milton, no problem? For one game, at least, that was the case for UCF, which got by without its all-conference-caliber quarterback on the road at East Carolina, extending its FBS-best active winning streak to 20 games. With Milton sidelined because he “wasn’t ready to go,” according to coach Josh Heupel, freshman Darriel Mack Jr. took the reins and got the job done mostly on the ground, rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown. Despite a slow start that included no points in the first quarter, the Knights recovered and then steamrollered the Pirates by rushing for more than 300 yards, while also forcing five turnovers. While Mack was serviceable, getting Milton back for next Saturday’s game will be pivotal. Temple just dealt Cincinnati its first loss of the season and will be looking to upend another unbeaten at UCF. — Alex Scarborough

No. 25 Washington State 34, No. 12 Oregon 20

With College GameDay in town, it always figured to be a memorable day in Pullman, but the win against Oregon solidified its standing as one of the most significant days in Washington State history. Not only that, the Cougars solidified their status as legitimate contenders in the Pac-12 North with a key game at Stanford looming next week. Their near collapse in second half, though, is cause for concern. It’s the second time in three weeks the offense has pulled a second-half disappearing act after a big first half (see: Utah). They can’t expect to keep winning games by taking their foot off the gas. — Kyle Bonagura

A week after securing their biggest win in years — generating whispers about the College Football Playoff — the Ducks find themselves all alone in fourth place in the Pac-12 North. They came out so poorly in the first half, falling behind 27-0 at halftime, that a valiant comeback wasn’t enough. The loss doesn’t eliminate the Ducks from contention in the division, but it does represent a significant step back. There is almost no room for error the rest of the way, considering they’ve lost to two of the three teams they’re behind in the division — WSU and Stanford. — Bonagura

No. 14 Kentucky 14, Vanderbilt 7

It wasn’t the prettiest win of the Wildcats’ strong season so far, beating Vanderbilt 14-7 at home, but it still counts. Running back Benny Snell Jr. and the defense overcame a terrible start that included two turnovers — Kentucky had two turnovers in the previous four games combined — and two huge penalties that brought back a 99-yard return and an interception. Looking forward to Missouri next week and Georgia the week after that, Mark Stoops’ squad must improve, especially on offense. Terry Wilson, who completed just 3 of 9 passes against Vanderbilt, has to become a more well-rounded quarterback in order to give the Wildcats a chance against top-notch defenses like Georgia’s. — Scarborough

No. 15 Washington 27, Colorado 13

With Myles Gaskin out because of a shoulder injury that he suffered in the loss to Oregon, Washington turned to a balanced offense and a stingy second-half defense to stifle any comeback from Colorado. It was hardly a dominant performance for the two-loss Huskies, who had to overcome two turnovers and clung to a precarious 14-13 halftime lead. Jake Browning‘s 26-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Aaron Fuller gave Washington its biggest cushion of the game, while the defense held Colorado scoreless in the second half. With Gaskin out, Salvon Ahmed averaged 10.1 yards per carry (71 yards on seven carries) and scored one touchdown. With Colorado’s loss, the winner of the Pac-12 South is now guaranteed to have at least two losses, and any outside chance the Buffaloes had of sneaking into the playoff race has been erased. — Heather Dinich

No. 18 Penn State 33, Indiana 28

It took Penn State until the final seconds to put this one away, after Indiana scored late and then recovered an onside kick in a game that went back and forth. The Nittany Lions gave up more than 500 yards of offense to Indiana on defense, and they also had struggles catching the ball on offense. Penn State had five drops on the day from its receivers, with one coming in the end zone. The woes for Penn State are coming at a bad time, as the next three games are against Iowa, at Michigan and versus Wisconsin at home. That will be a tough stretch to get through if some of the issues don’t get fixed. — Tom VanHaaren

No. 19 Iowa 23, Maryland 0

After two weeks of using the pass en route to 40-plus points per game, Iowa celebrated homecoming by returning to its football roots in a 23-0 win over Maryland, with 224 yards rushing against just 86 in a very windy air. The defense pitched only its second shutout since 2010 and held the Terps to 115 yards total offense, the fewest Iowa has ever allowed to a Big Ten opponent. If the Hawkeyes are going to win at Penn State next week and grind out another of their every-few-years deep runs, they will need more of the defense that showed up Saturday, plus a rediscovery of that ambitious offense from earlier in the month. “Balance will be the focus of this week. And if these guys focus this upcoming week like they did to get ready for Maryland then there’s nothing they can’t figure out,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. — Ryan McGee

No. 21 South Florida 38, UConn 30

The first half was problematic, as the unbeaten Bulls messed around and entered intermission tied 7-7 against a UConn team that had won just one game all season while giving up the most points per game in the FBS (53). But Charlie Strong’s squad recovered in a big way, scoring 31 second-half points, thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Blake Barnett, who ran for one touchdown and threw for another. South Florida took care of business to improve to 7-0, but if it hopes to remain among the dwindling list of unbeatens, it can’t afford another sluggish start on the road at American Athletic Conference powerhouse Houston next weekend. — Scarborough

Temple 24, No. 20 Cincinnati 17 (OT)

Cincinnati was unable to keep its undefeated season intact, losing to Temple 24-17 in overtime. It looked as though there would be a chance the Bearcats would have their third win after overcoming a double-digit deficit, going down 10 early in the first quarter, but a late touchdown in the fourth quarter by Temple forced overtime and an eventual touchdown by the Owls in overtime produced Cincinnati’s first loss of the season. It’s only one loss, but Cincinnati still has to play USF and UCF to close out the season. Coming into those two games undefeated would have provided some hope to keep this stellar season alive. — Tom VanHaaren

No. 23 Wisconsin 49, Illinois 20

It was a mistake-laden game for Illinois, and Wisconsin took advantage to bounce back from its loss to Michigan and stay alive in the Big Ten West division race. The Illini had five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles), and couldn’t contain Heisman hopeful running back Jonathan Taylor. The Badgers controlled the clock, as Taylor had his seventh straight 100-yard rushing performance, and he has already amassed his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. It was also the third time this season he surpassed the 150-yard mark (159 yards on 27 carries). There was a flash snowstorm that briefly covered the field in the first half, but two touchdown passes from Alex Hornibrook helped the Badgers to an early 28-10 lead. — Heather Dinich