Five Things We Learned in College Football This Weekend

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Jonathan Bachman

Week 10 in the college football season was one for the books. Upsets occurred, multiple big wins, head-scratching moments and plenty of draft prospects moved up draft boards. As conference championships, bowl season and the college football playoffs are among us, every week is getting more and more important as teams are writing their destinies. Here's what we learned in week 10:

The Florida Gators have been horrible over the past two weeks, losing to the Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks by a combined score of 74-24. Over the last two weeks, the Gators haven’t been able to establish anything on offense—quarterback Emory Jones has been average at best and the running game has been unable to pick up the slack, rushing for a scant 82 yards on 26 attempts against South Carolina. Beyond their offensive futility, their sieve-like defense has been their true undoing by allowing more than 450 yards in two of their last three games. On Saturday, the South Carolina Gamecocks imposed their will at the line of scrimmage, running for 307 yards and averaging nearly seven yards per carry in the process. Accordingly, the Gators parted ways with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham after the 40-17 defeat.

While ousting Grantham may improve their defense, a more pressing question remains: How does Dan Mullen still have a job? At 4-5 with losses to South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, LSU and Georgia, the Gators are on track for their worst season since 2017. Despite the obvious talent on the roster, Florida has been utterly inept this season, lacking the toughness and discipline needed to compete in the SEC. At this point, Mullen’s best—and maybe only—shot at keeping his job would be Florida winning out and winning a bowl game. If the Gators finish the season with a losing record, Mullen will more than likely be out of a job come December. 

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This week, the Miami Hurricanes squeaked by Georgia Tech 33-30, giving them three consecutive close wins. Although the team seemed utterly adrift after star quarterback D’Eriq King suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has been the spark the team has needed in King’s absence. On Saturday, Van Dyke completed 22-34 passes for 389 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Could he be the one that leads Miami back to relevancy after decades of nondescript averageness? If his last three starts are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes. During this stretch, he’s thrown for ten touchdowns and an average of 380 passing yards per game, while only accounting for one turnover. Additionally, the Canes have scored 30+ points in each of the last three games. The Canes started an underwhelming 1-2, but have surged since Van Dyke has taken over, going 4-2 and defeating two ranked opponents. With three conference games left against Virginia Tech, Duke and Florida State, the Canes’ have a fighter's chance at the ACC championship game. 

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The Purdue Boilermakers shocked the world with yet another upset as they beat the Michigan State Spartans 40-29 on Saturday. On October 16, the Boilermakers beat #19 Iowa 24-7. The Boilermakers went ballistic through the air as Senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell completed 40 of his 56 passes for 536 yards and three touchdown passes. Junior wide receiver David Bell was the primary beneficiary of O’Connell’s prolific outing, gaining 217 yards on 11 catches and scoring a touchdown for good measure. Clearly, Michigan State had no answer for the duo. The Spartans went into the game ranked #3 in the college football rankings, but now would be lucky to remain in the top eight when the next rankings are released. Although Michigan State still has Ohio State and the Big10 championship potentially on their plate, their chances for the college football playoffs have diminished considerably thanks to the Boilermakers. Purdue will look to ruin one last season on their way out as they head to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes next week. The Buckeyes better be ready.

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Texas A&M has had a sneaky good season thus far and continued their recent momentum by downing the Auburn Tigers 20-3.  As he has all season, junior running back Isaiah Spiller led the charge with 21 carries and 112 yards, marking the sixth time this season that he’s topped 100 rushing yards. The defense didn’t disappoint either as they smothered the Auburn offense into only 226 total yards(3.2 yards per play) and held them to only four conversions on 16 third down opportunities. Could the Aggies run the table and have a seat at the SEC championship table? The Aggies extended their win streak to four and still have a legitimate chance at the SEC championship. The Aggies beat Alabama already, and would control their own destiny in the SEC West if ‘Bama slips up against the Arkansas Razorbacks or Auburn in the Iron Bowl. With games against Prairie View and LSU, the Aggies will more than likely win out, putting even more pressure on the Crimson Tide. 

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After a summer of being hyped as a Heisman candidate and potential top NFL draft pick, Sam Howell underwhelmed in a Week One defeat to Virginia Tech. Since that game, though, Howell has sneakily played very well, despite a porous offensive line; for the season, Howell has 2,408 yards 20 passing touchdowns to only seven interceptions, three of which came Week One against Virginia Tech. Howell also has 689 rush yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. On Saturday, Howell continued his strong form, accounting for 320 total yards and three touchdowns as the North Carolina Tar Heels upset #8 Wake Forest. NFL front offices are constantly moving towards mobile quarterbacks that can get out the pocket and make plays and Howell has evolved to fit that archetype. Against Wake Forest, not only did Howell show he can get out and make plays on run-pass options, but he also showed he’ll be productive with designed runs; thanks to his running ability, Howell keeps defenses honest. With this recent stretch of strong play, Howell has repaired his damaged draft stock, showing NFL scouts that he’s not only a gutsy game-manager, but that he’s a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. 

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