Appalachian St. boots last-second FG to beat No. 14 Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina (6-1, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference) had won 18 consecutive regular-season games, yet it won't be the East Division's representative in the league championship game unless Appalachian State (5-2, 2-1) loses again.
Appalachian State's only previous victory against a ranked Football Bowl Championship opponent came in 2007 at Michigan. This latest result came with a postgame storming of the field by the fans.
Brice completed 18 of 28 passes for 347 yards without an interception. Malik Williams compiled 206 receiving yards and a score on 10 catches for the Mountaineers.
Appalachian State running back Camerun Peoples, who missed the team's past two games because of an ankle injury, ran for two touchdowns. Teammate Nate Noel racked up 82 of the Mountaineers' 228 rushing yards.
Coastal Carolina's Grayson McCall completed 15 of 23 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown, and Jaivon Heiligh made six receptions for 103 yards. The Chanticleers were limited to 55 rushing yards. They punted on their last three possessions.
Brice's 28-yard pass play to Corey Sutton allowed the Mountaineers to take their first lead at 21-20 early in the third quarter.
On the next possession, a 1-yard run by Shermari Jones gave the lead back to Coastal Carolina.
It took Appalachian State just six plays to score again when Peoples burst 43 yards for a touchdown. However, the game stayed tied because a mix-up prevented the Mountaineers from getting off an extra-point kick.
Earlier, the Chanticleers led 14-0 through the first quarter. Jones ran 1 yard for a touchdown, and McCall connected with Kameron Brown on a 74-yard touchdown play.
Appalachian State responded by scoring two touchdowns in less than a two-minute span, the first coming on Peoples' 1-yard run.
Following a successful onside kick, the Mountaineers struck three plays later on Brice's 47-yard pass to Williams.
Coastal Carolina converted on field goals of 50 and 46 yards by Massimo Biscardi in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half. The second of those came on the last play of the half after an Appalachian State fumble.
Illinois LB Jake Hansen (knee) to miss rest of season
The NCAA's active career leader with 12 forced fumbles made the announcement Wednesday on Twitter.
"It pains me to say that I will not play another game as an Illinois football player," Hansen wrote, in part.
"... I will look back at my time here with no regrets and will continue to cherish every moment I enjoyed here. With that said I look forward to pursuing my life long dream of playing in the NFL!"
Hansen was injured in the second quarter of the Fighting Illini's 24-0 loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 9. He finishes the season with 32 tackles, two forced fumbles and one sack in five games.
A three-time team captain, he concluded his Illinois career with 276 tackles, eight sacks, seven fumble recoveries and three interceptions. His 12 forced fumbles are one shy of the school record held by Simeon Rice (1992-95).
No. 8 Oklahoma State faces Iowa State as unbeaten underdog
The spread might be more of an indictment on the style of football the Cowboys (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) have played more than anything else. Four of their six wins have been decided by eight or points or less, including last week's 32-24 victory at Texas.
Still, the Cyclones (4-2, 2-1), fresh off a 33-20 win at Kansas State, are starting to round into the form that caused AP voters to place them No. 7 in the preseason.
"This will be a big challenge for us," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "Statistically, arguably, whatever comment you want to make, (this is) the best defense we have played or could potentially play based on what people say. They've been good for a number of years; they're starting to come around, in my opinion."
Iowa State is giving up league lows in points per game (16.3) and yards per game (251.3). Defensive end Will McDonald has forced three fumbles and recorded 5 1/2 sacks. Fellow defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike has four sacks, and linebacker Mike Rose is the top tackler on the team, averaging 7.2 per game.
And after a slow start to the season, running back Breece Hall has sprung to life with four straight 100-yard performances, including last week's season-high 197 yards and two touchdowns.
"No. 28 (Hall) is very patient and runs a lot like Thurman Thomas used to run," Gundy said. "He'll wait and then hit a seam. He's a very patient runner and productive at what he gets accomplished."
The Cowboys bring their own offensive stars to the matchup in Ames, Iowa, with Jaylen Warren at running back (705 yards, six touchdowns) and Tay Martin at wide receiver (27 catches for 365 yards in four games), though as usual, the Cowboys will need quarterback Spencer Sanders to perform, too.
On defense, Cowboys linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez leads the Big 12 with 10 tackles per game and has forced a pair of fumbles. Oklahoma State is the second-stingiest defense in the Big 12, surrendering 307.2 yards per game.
"Very talented in the skill positions, very talented on the defensive side of the football," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. "(They) have really become one of the standards on the defensive side of the football in our conference, and I think for years have been the standard on offense. (It's a) really well-coached football team that we have a lot of respect for."
Clemson finds itself as rare underdog against No. 23 Pitt
While Pitt (5-1, 2-0 ACC) has risen to No. 23 in the polls, unranked Clemson (4-2, 3-1), in turn, already has lost two regular-season games for the first time since 2014.
Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi, however, isn't buying the perception that the Tigers are a mere shell of their former self.
"They're obviously a great football team," Narduzzi said. "I know they're not tops in the country right now, but they are talented.
"They're one of the top scoring defenses in the country. They're playing fantastic. (Defensive coordinator Brent) Venables has really got them going on defense."
Narduzzi is correct on that count. The Tigers are allowing a mere 12.5 points per game, which ranks second nationally, and have allowed only two rushing touchdowns this season.
While Clemson's defensive prowess isn't in question, the Tigers' offense has struggled mightily.
Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who stood out in his two starts a year ago, is completing just 55.7 percent of his passes and Clemson's replacements at running back and wide receiver for Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers, respectively, have been injury-plagued and have yet to establish themselves as consistent threats.
Uiagalelei has four touchdown passes and three interceptions this season. His efficiency rating of 106.9 ranks last in the ACC.
"The offense is missing Trevor Lawrence," Narduzzi said. "But they've still got tons of players on the field who scare the heck out of you."
Clemson's offense stands in stark contrast to Pitt. The Panthers rank third nationally in scoring at 48.3 points per game, with quarterback Kenny Pickett the catalyst.
Pickett has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC, if not the nation. The fifth-year player ranks third nationally in passing efficiency and has 21 touchdown passes against one interception.
"He's a rhythm thrower," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "You can't sit there and let this guy get comfortable. He's just too good. You just don't fool that guy."
Clemson has enjoyed recent success against Pickett, holding him to two touchdowns while intercepting him five times in the Tigers' most recent two games against the Panthers.
Pickett's favorite target is Jordan Addison, who leads the ACC with nine touchdown receptions and ranks second in the league with 97.7 receiving yards per game.
"They're throwing the ball all over the place," Venables said. "And they're averaging just under 80 plays per game. So they're going to present quite a challenge."
Pitt is the last team to deal Clemson a home loss at Memorial Stadium, topping the Tigers 43-42 midway through the 2016 season. The Tigers, however, went on to win the national championship that season.
The Tigers have since dominated both meetings against Pitt, winning 42-10 in the 2018 ACC Championship Game and 52-17 last season at Clemson.
"We're playing them for the fourth time in seven seasons," Narduzzi said. "It feels like they're in our division."
Ex-Washington State coach Nick Rolovich to sue over firing
Washington State fired Rolovich and four assistant coaches Monday after they failed to comply with Gov. Jay Inslee's mandate that required all state employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Rolovich was the state's highest-paid employee at $3.2 million per year.
Rolovich, 42, had filed a request for a religious exemption to the mandate that all employees in the state become vaccinated by Oct. 19, but his request -- reviewed anonymously -- was denied.
Chun on Monday said Rolovich's firing is for cause separation, meaning the university does not plan to pay him.
"It is a tragic and damning commentary on our culture and more specifically on Chun that Coach Rolovich has been derided, demonized and ultimately fired from his job merely for being devout in his Catholic faith," Brian Fahling, who represents Rolovich, said in a statement obtained by ESPN and Yahoo.
"... Since at least early April, it became clear that Chun had already determined that Coach Rolovich would be fired," the statement read. "Chun's animus toward Coach Rolovich's sincerely held religious beliefs, and Chun's dishonesty at the expense of Coach Rolovich during the past year is damning and will be thoroughly detailed in litigation. Chun's discriminatory and vindicative (sic) behavior has caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family."
It is uncertain what restitution Rolovich would be seeking against Washington State. Yahoo Sports reported Rolovich had three years and approximately $9 million left on his contract.
5-star DL Mykel Williams flips commitment from USC to Georgia
Williams verbally committed to the Trojans on June 15, but the Bulldogs continued to pursue the local product from Columbus, Ga. He made two recent visits to Athens and told 247Sports that it felt like the place for him.
"The relationships I have with coach Dell McGee, coach Tray Scott and how coach Kirby Smart made it feel like home to me," Williams told Dawgs247 of his decision to shift his commitment. "Georgia was consistent in their recruitment of me. They did not back off when I committed to USC in the summer. That showed me how much they wanted me at the University of Georgia."
At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Williams is ranked as the No. 5 defensive lineman and No. 22 overall prospect in the Class of 2022 by the 247Sports composite. Georgia trails only Alabama in the race for the No. 1 recruiting class.
Houston, in quest of sixth straight win, meets East Carolina
Houston is coming off a bye after a 40-22 win over Tulane on Oct. 7. Quarterback Clayton Tune completed 23 of 26 pass attempts for 288 yards and three touchdowns to rally his team from a five-point, third-quarter deficit by scoring the game's final 23 points.
"I don't know if we've ever had a break this long," Houston coach Dana Holgorsen told reporters of the 16 days between games. "Everybody was back and ready to roll. Guys seemed ready to get back to work and motivated and ready to go."
The Cougars (5-1, 3-0 AAC) are among three teams undefeated in American Athletic Conference play, along with No. 2 Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0) and No. 21 SMU (6-0, 2-0). Houston hosts SMU on Oct. 30, but it doesn't face Cincinnati during the regular season, meaning the teams could only meet in the conference title game.
Houston has outscored its past five opponents 202-59 since a season-opening, 38-21 loss at Texas Tech in a nonconference game. The Cougars are averaging 37.2 points per game. The defense for East Carolina (3-3, 1-1) is allowing an average of 28 points per game.
Tune has thrown for 1,258 yards with 10 touchdowns against six interceptions, while Nathaniel Dell's 35 receptions are at least double the total of any of his teammates, and his 477 yards are more than twice of any other Houston receiver. Alton McCaskill has emerged as the team's top ground threat with a team-high 86 carries and 403 yards. He's scored eight of the Cougars' 14 rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, Houston has 24 sacks on the season, as its defensive line of Logan Hall (four sacks), Derek Parish (3.5) and D'Anthony Jones (3.5) consistently have gotten their hands on the quarterback.
East Carolina coach Mike Houston is aware of their prolific totals and likely spent the bye week preparing for the Cougars' defense.
"We've got to do a great job of protecting (quarterback) Holton (Ahlers). We've got to be able to handle their front four," Houston told reporters. "That's going to be a huge piece to being successful Saturday. We've got to be able to pick up the pressures when they come."
East Carolina's three-game winning streak ended in dramatic fashion on Oct. 9, when Mark-Antony Richards' 1-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left lifted UCF to a 20-16 win.
Ahlers connected on 20 of 32 pass attempts for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tyler Snead had six receptions for 82 yards and Rahjai Harris and Keaton Mitchell rushed for 73 and 65 yards, respectively.
Ahlers has gone 121-for-202 for 1,485 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions in a run-heavy offense. Mitchell has rushed for a team-high 639 yards and four scores on 77 runs -- an average of 8.3 yards per carry. Harris has added 292 yards and a pair of scores on 76 carries.
Snead leads the team in receptions (28), yards (362) and receiving touchdowns.
Vanderbilt, Mississippi State meet in clash of improving teams
Proof of improvements for Mississippi State: The Bulldogs (3-3, 1-2 SEC) are the only team other than No. 1 Georgia to have multiple wins against teams in the current AP Top 25. They have defeated No. 18 North Carolina State and No. 17 Texas A&M.
"I'm pleased we have improved at times," Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said, "but we have to accelerate that process and do it more."
The Bulldogs were reminded of how much growth remains for them to become an SEC contender when they were routed by then-No. 5 Alabama 49-9 at home last week.
"It's easy to say that Alabama is really good, and that is true," Leach said. "But my problem is we didn't play as well as we can and that has to be solved."
Mississippi State is a good measuring stick for the Commodores in coach Clark Lea's first season. Vanderbilt has lost the past four meetings with the Bulldogs by a combined score of 107-34.
The Commodores (2-5, 0-3) were on the verge of ending a 15-game SEC losing streak last Saturday. Joseph Bulovas kicked a 28-yard field goal to extend their lead over host South Carolina to 20-14 with 1:36 left.
But quarterback Zeb Noland came off the Gamecocks bench to direct a 75-yard drive, throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Legette with 37 seconds remaining to give South Carolina a 21-20 victory.
"We certainly aren't looking at this in terms of the accumulation of previous years' games," Lea said. "This is about Team 1. This is about what we're doing this season."
Quarterback Mike Wright made his first start for Vanderbilt in place of injured Ken Seals, whom Lea said is week-to-week with a finger injury. Wright will start again Saturday.
"I thought we were more explosive, which is something that had kind of held us back in the past," Lea said.
Vanderbilt had a fourth-down stop in the red zone and made two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
"Our issue is stringing together a consistent performance," Lea said. "We're a program that feeds off competition and that wants to win. We are a work in progress and we are becoming the program we know we can become."
Minnesota's goal: Contain Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa
This year, the Golden Gophers will be the home team and look to dole out some revenge for the 45-44 overtime loss when they host Maryland in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Minnesota (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) hasn't lost since its Week 4 upset defeat to Bowling Green. The Gophers beat now-ranked Purdue on the road and Nebraska at home by a touchdown apiece.
They catch Maryland (4-2, 1-2) at a good time. The Terrapins lost consecutive blowouts to ranked opponents Iowa and Ohio State, though they enter Saturday's game off a bye week.
Many of the principal players from last year's showdown are back in place, including quarterbacks Tanner Morgan for Minnesota and Taulia Tagovailoa for Maryland. When the Terrapins trailed the Gophers by 17 entering the fourth quarter last time out, Tagovailoa guided them on three straight scoring drives to force overtime.
Tagovailoa ran in a 2-yard touchdown for the first points of OT. Minnesota responded with a touchdown of its own, but kicker Brock Walker missed the extra point, handing Maryland the one-point win.
"They (Maryland) want to be as balanced as they possibly could be, but everything revolves around the quarterback," Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. "Last year, he absolutely hurt us. He hurt us in every way possible -- with his arm, with his legs. And he's a creator. He's one of the best creators in our league."
Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns and seven interceptions in Maryland's two most recent losses after opening the year with 10 TDs and one pick through four games. The defense allowed a combined 117 points to Iowa and Ohio State.
"I felt like one of the things we'd been able to do against two of the top teams was (defend) the run," Terrapins coach Mike Locksley said, "but we gave up a lot of explosive plays in the passing game, which hadn't been something that we had done earlier in the year."
Locksley said the team hopes cornerbacks Jakorian Bennett and Kenny Bennett will be ready to return after missing the Ohio State game with hamstring injuries. But wide receiver Jeshaun Jones (lower leg) and linebacker Durell Nchami (upper body) underwent season-ending surgeries.
Maryland owns a 3-2 record against Minnesota since joining the Big Ten.
Wazzu, moving on without Nick Rolovich, faces BYU
He said he did so to inspire WSU players to do the same.
"At the time, it was a rallying cry," Dickert said. "We didn't know if there would be fans in the stadium, you know? I was trying to be supportive and use my voice and my outreach because I knew I was trying to do something for the players."
Perhaps that's why Washington State athletic director Pat Chun chose Dickert to be the interim head coach, starting Saturday with a nonconference game against visiting BYU. Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich and four assistants were fired Monday for failing to follow Gov. Jay Inslee's mandate that all state employees be vaccinated.
The assistants were defensive tackles coach Ricky Logo, cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator John Richardson, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann and offensive line coach Mark Weber.
"It's problematic," Chun said of the short-handed coaching staff. "We've been working on contingency plans."
Heading into the Cougars vs. Cougars matchup, Washington State (4-3) has won three consecutive games, including a 34-31 victory against Stanford last week on Max Borghi's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:30 remaining. Washington State players doused Rolovich with Gatorade after the game, likely sensing it might be his finale.
Sophomore quarterback Jayden de Laura, who threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns against the Cardinal, tweeted that players "strongly disagreed" with the firing of Rolovich but that "we are a band of brothers who play and sacrifice for each other, no matter who the head coach is."
BYU coach Kalani Sitake, whose team has lost two straight games after a 5-0 start, was asked about the Washington State coaching situation during his weekly Monday morning news conference, before word came out of Rolovich's dismissal.
"I have been so into our season and our games that I haven't even looked into that as much," Sitake said. "I don't think I know enough about it to even make a comment, to be honest with you. I've got other things to worry about. ...
"I am trying to get our team to get off this stinking losing streak, man. It is frustrating me right now. All my attention is on that."
BYU opened its season with three victories against Pac-12 opponents -- Arizona, Utah and Arizona State -- and was ranked No. 10 before a 26-17 loss to visiting Boise State on Oct. 9. BYU fell 38-24 at Baylor last week, giving up 303 rushing yards to the Bears.
"We are depending on depth and talent, but sometimes inexperience shows up a little bit," Sitake said. "It is time to grow up and get better and toughen up. We are not 100 percent, but neither is Washington State."
Kansas State hopes to shake off slump at Texas Tech
Wildcats coach Chris Klieman sees a lot of similarities between the teams.
"They have a veteran quarterback and a lot of good skill players," Klieman said. "They've run into some teams that have been able to rush the football and they've had to play catch-up."
Kansas State (3-3, 0-3 Big 12) opened the season playing from in front against Stanford, Southern Illinois and Nevada. The Wildcats won all three.
However, in three consecutive Big 12 losses to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Iowa State, the Wildcats fell behind early and played catch-up the whole game.
"We need to play from ahead more so than from behind," Klieman said. "That's probably not suited best for us. When we play ahead, we have the ability to dictate some of the tempo and pace. When we're playing from behind, we have to be more aggressive on defense, which causes some bigger plays."
Wildcats quarterback Skylar Thompson is 44 of 64 for 526 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in two games since returning from a knee injury. However, he needs the running game to be efficient to open up the passing lanes. Running back Deuce Vaughn (543 rushing yards, five touchdowns) provides the balance when the situation allows.
Texas Tech coach Matt Wells is not buying the fact that Kansas State is struggling.
"K-State has beat us (five) years in a row," Wells said. "They're tough; they're physical. I have a lot of respect for Chris Klieman. I think Skylar Thompson is gritty and tough. He has a lot of moxie.
"Deuce Vaughn is one of the best in the country, and they've got some guys in the special teams that keep you up at night."
Texas Tech (5-2, 2-2) opened with three straight nonconference victories before being blown out by Texas in the conference opener. The Red Raiders followed that up with a road win at West Virginia before falling to visiting TCU, but they bounced back with a resounding 41-14 win at Kansas.
Wells likes how his team has recovered after losses.
"After those games, they have been very coachable," Wells said. "There's been a sense of urgency to practice and prepare well. We have to have the same sense of urgency after a win."
The Red Raiders are not as balanced as Kansas State, but they have been relying more on the run than in years past. They average 168.3 yards per game on the ground, but their leading rusher in terms of yards per game, Tahj Brooks, hasn't returned since sustaining a leg injury in September.
Starting quarterback Tyler Shough averaged 218 passing yards per game before breaking his collarbone in the Sept. 25 loss to Texas, but backup Henry Colombi has stepped right in, averaging 264.5 over the past four games.
"We've got to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers," Wells said when asked the key to beating Kansas State's defense, "and we have to be really good in our punt and kickoff coverage."
Florida State tries to run win streak to three vs. UMass
However, Norvell assured anyone listening that the 2-4 Seminoles, who will face rivals such as Clemson, Miami and Florida down the stretch, are not looking past their next opponent.
Florida State will host UMass (1-5) on Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee with both teams coming off bye weeks.
The Minutemen, who snapped a 16-game losing streak two weeks ago, are coached by former Seminoles offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
"I can promise you we're not going to look past anybody," Norvell said with his team favored by 35 points over the Minutemen early in the week. "My focus is 100 percent on our football team, where we are and this week."
The Seminoles are coming off an impressive 35-25 victory at North Carolina on Oct. 9. Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis accounted for all five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) and combined for 266 yards from scrimmage. The Seminoles' running game has amassed more than 200 yards in five of the first six games.
Bell, who has gone 2-20 during his tenure with UMass, spent one season (2018) at Florida State under then-Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart.
UMass already has lost two games to Atlantic Coast Conference opponents this season, Pitt and Boston College. The Minutemen enter the game averaging only 16.7 points per game while allowing the third-most points per game (41.5) among the 130 FBS schools.
UMass also ranks 127th in rushing yards allowed (226.67 per game) and 122nd in opponents' passer rating (162.1). The Minutemen, however, ran for 247 yards and three touchdowns in their 27-13 win over UConn on Oct. 9, led by running back Ellis Merriweather's 171 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries.
"I'm continuing to work the same way that I do," Merriweather said, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Mass. "My coaches aren't treating me special because I had a good game. It's right back to business. I really forgot about it, honestly. It's on to the next one. I try to go harder every day. It's a constant motion."
Thanks in part to their run-heavy offense, UMass has allowed only 10 sacks this season, which is tied for 35th overall. The Minutemen will face a stout Florida State defensive front led by Jermaine Johnson, whose total of seven sacks is tied for sixth in the nation.
After upsetting Iowa, No. 25 Purdue takes on Wisconsin
The Boilermakers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) are coming off a 24-7 road victory over the Hawkeyes. Wideout David Bell had a career-high 240 receiving yards in the win, and quarterback Aidan O'Connell threw for 375 yards and two touchdowns while also running for a score.
The win gave Purdue its first Top 25 ranking in 14 years.
"That's great for our program and great for our fans," Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. "When it comes to us coaches and players, we have to understand that it's a one-game season. While last week's win was a big win, it counts as just one, and we've got to move on.
"We've got to figure out ways to be consistent and get better and execute at a high level and raise the bar. There's plenty of challenges ahead because we know we have a great schedule, and for us, it's really just Wisconsin right now."
The Badgers (3-3, 1-2) will go for their third win in a row after posting back-to-back victories over Illinois and Army. Wisconsin allowed a total of 14 points in the two contests.
Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen is aiming for his third 100-yard rushing game in a row. He carried the ball 18 times for 131 yards and a touchdown against Illinois on Oct. 9, and he followed that up with 16 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown last week against Army.
"Certainly, I feel we've got a really good defense," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. "And I think we're starting to put together some games where you can run the ball. But you're going to need to be a little bit more consistent in throwing it. ...
"But I appreciate the resiliency of the group, and the guys just keep playing. We've got to improve in certain areas, certainly. But I think there is some stuff to build on that we've got to continue. And if that can become who we are the rest of the year, it would be good."
Purdue has rotated several quarterbacks at various points during the season, but O'Connell leads the way with 1,118 passing yards to go with his six touchdowns and five interceptions. King Doerue (66 carries, 269 yards, 1 TD) and Dylan Downing (38 carries, 136 yards) are the top rushers.
Bell figures to draw the bulk of attention from Wisconsin's defense. The playmaking receiver has 38 catches for 679 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
For the Badgers, quarterback Graham Mertz has struggled for much of the season. He has 893 passing yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions while absorbing eight sacks.
Chez Mellusi (112 carries, 543 yards, 3 TDs) and Allen (46 carries, 288 yards, 3 TDs) are the Badgers' top two running backs. Isaac Guerendo also has 23 carries for 160 yards and a score.
Purdue is 2-1 at home this season. Wisconsin is 1-0 on the road.
No. 24 UTSA will test first Top 25 ranking at La. Tech
Now that the Roadrunners are ranked for the first time in program history, at No. 24, can they live up to the billing? That's the question they must answer Saturday night when they visit Ruston, La., for a Conference USA matchup with Louisiana Tech.
UTSA (7-0, 3-0 CUSA) certainly looked the part of a ranked squad last week, blanking Rice 45-0 in what second-year coach Jeff Traylor called its most complete game.
"It was by far the best game we have played in all three phases," he said. "This was a big game with a lot of pressure on those kids. Those kids understand the pressure. They came out and played as good as I have seen them play."
This is the 11th year of the Roadrunners' program, which was started in 2011 under former Miami coach Larry Coker. He went 26-32 in five years and was replaced by Frank Wilson, who posted a 19-29 mark from 2016 to 2019 and took the school to its first bowl game.
Traylor came aboard in December 2019 after serving as running backs coach at Arkansas and posted a 7-5 mark last year, guiding the program to its second bowl appearance. A third bowl game is all but assured now.
"It is crazy," Traylor said of the 7-0 start. "I am proud for my kids. They deserve it. Usually when you have good kids who are good players, good things happen."
The offense is led by quarterback Frank Harris, who has completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 1,600 yards, with a 14-3 touchdown-interception ratio. Sincere McCormick has rushed for 778 yards and six touchdowns, while Joshua Cephus, Zakhari Franklin and De'Corian Clark have combined for 113 receptions.
UTSA's defense has forced 14 turnovers and allowed opponents to rush for just 81.9 yards per game. The leaders have been Rashad Wisdom (45 tackles), Clarence Hicks (7 1/2 tackles for loss, 3 1/2 sacks) and Trevor Harmanson (29 tackles).
Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech (2-4, 1-1) is coming off a 19-3 conference loss last week at surprising UTEP.
The Bulldogs' record can be partially explained by how tough their schedule has turned out. The Roadrunners are the second ranked team Louisiana Tech has played.
The Bulldogs could have forced overtime at N.C. State before a final-snap interception allowed the Wolfpack to close out a 34-27 win in Raleigh on Oct. 2.
"It doesn't get any easier," Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. "It's going to be a great challenge for us. I'm glad we have the opportunity to come back home."
This will be the Bulldogs' first home game since a 24-17 conference victory over North Texas on Sept. 25. They are led by quarterback Austin Kendall, who has thrown for 1,342 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games, with eight interceptions.
Louisiana Tech owns a 7-2 lead in the all-time series, but UTSA pulled out a 27-26 victory in last year's matchup in San Antonio.
No. 22 San Diego State attempts to ground Air Force
That aspect of the 22nd-ranked Aztecs' game will be put to a serious test on Saturday, when they try to keep surging host Air Force from recording a fifth consecutive victory in a Mountain West Conference contest in Colorado Springs, Colo.
San Diego State (6-0, 2-0 Mountain West) enters this week's slate of action as one of 11 unbeaten teams in the FBS, but the Aztecs needed double overtime to win 19-13 at San Jose State last weekend. While the offense struggled to score at least 28 points for the first time this season, the Aztecs' defense, which allows an average of 16, remained stout.
They did allow a season-high 117 rushing yards to the Spartans, but they still lead the nation giving up just 61.2 yards on the ground per contest. Now, San Diego State faces a potentially greater challenge against Air Force (6-1, 3-1 Mountain West), which has lost eight straight in this series but leads the nation with a triple-option rushing attack that averages a national-leading 336.4 yards.
Running back Brad Roberts enters the week ranked fifth in the nation with 818 rushing yards and has scored eight touchdowns.
"We just have to keep working," San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said. "We're excited at where we are at. Air Force is very dominant at the line of scrimmage. They take care of the football. ...This is definitely our biggest challenge of the year."
In addition to the challenge San Diego State faces on the defensive side of the ball, it will have a new starting quarterback Saturday. Lucas Johnson, who began his collegiate career at Georgia Tech, has thrown for 234 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. After coming on late at San Jose State, Johnson takes over for the struggling Jordan Brookshire (47.7 completion percentage, 560 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) under center this time.
Johnson likely faces a stern task against an Air Force defense that has allowed 48 points and an average of 259.8 yards during the squad's four-game winning streak. The Falcons gave up just 78 rushing yards during last weekend's 24-17 win at Boise State.
San Diego State's Greg Bell has rushed for 561 yards and five touchdowns this season, but he was held to 41 on 19 carries against San Jose State. Still, Air Force understands the overall challenge it faces this weekend in trying to stay hot and take down the top team in the Mountain West.
The Falcons have averaged 184.8 rushing yards during their eight-game losing streak to SDSU, though these teams last met in 2018.
"(San Diego State moves) exceptionally well. They're large," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. "They're a really, really strong group. No matter what you use -- any metric or just based upon the eye of the film -- they are outstanding."
The Falcons have lost four straight games against ranked opponents since beating then-No. 20 Boise State in November 2016.
No. 18 NC State eyes revenge against struggling Miami
The 18th-ranked Wolfpack (5-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), winners of four consecutive games, will visit the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night.
NC State has lost the past three meetings, including a 44-41 defeat in Raleigh last year. Miami trailed by 10 points early in the fourth quarter of that contest.
The Hurricanes (2-4, 0-2) are struggling badly this season. Miami's defense has more holes than Pebble Beach, and the offense is without star quarterback D'Eriq King, who is sidelined for the year due to a shoulder injury.
Miami has lost six straight games against Power 5 opponents, but NC State is just a 3-point favorite.
"I can't control the lack of respect we seem to get," Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. "Our team recognizes that people don't think we're good."
Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary is completing 67.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for 15 touchdowns while getting intercepted just twice.
NC State's 1-2 running back punch of Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr. has scored eight total touchdowns. Knight leads the team with 503 rushing yards and a 6.1 average.
Miami's defense, which has had trouble stopping the run, does not match up well with NC State's big and physical wide receivers, either, including 6-foot-3, 215-pounders Devin Carter and Emeka Emezie. Thayer Thomas, who is 6 feet and 195 pounds, is also a tough out.
Emezie leads the Wolfpack in receptions (34) and yards (377). Carter is second on the team in yards per catch (17.2), and Thomas leads in TD receptions (four).
Meanwhile, with King out, Miami has turned to second-year freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.
He is 0-2 as a starter against FBS opponents, but he was close to winning both games. Andres Borregales missed a 33-yard field goal on the final play of a loss to Virginia. Then, last week at North Carolina, Miami was in position for a game-tying, chip-shot field goal or a possible winning TD when Van Dyke's pass was deflected and intercepted. The result was a 45-42 loss.
"Tyler can rip the ball," Miami coach Manny Diaz said. "What he's learned these past two weeks is that he can do it."
In his two ACC games, Van Dyke has completed 35 of 74 passes for 467 yards, with two TDs and three interceptions. He also has rushed for 42 yards.
Besides Van Dyke, Miami's offense is led by running back Jaylan Knighton and wide receiver Charleston Rambo.
Cam'Ron Harris tops Miami in rushing (409 yards, 5.8 average), but he sustained a season-ending leg injury against the Tar Heels. The faster Knighton stepped in and had 165 scrimmage yards.
Rambo leads Miami in receptions (35) and yards (422).
Diaz also announced that wide receivers Dee Wiggins (62 career catches, including 31 last year) and Mark Pope (52 career catches, including 33 last year) have left the team. Both players struggled with drops and combined for just four catches this year as younger receivers passed them on the depth chart.
USC looks to break recent run of futility at No. 13 Irish
The schools had met in every season since World War II before the hiatus, and they get back on the same field Saturday when the Trojans visit the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind.
USC (3-3) has lost four straight road games in the series, its longest skid since dropping seven straight in South Bend from 1983-95.
The Trojans could use a big victory during a season that has been overshadowed by the firing of Clay Helton after a loss to Stanford in Week 2.
Donte Williams is serving as interim coach while athletic director Mike Bohn works on making a hire to lead the program.
Even so, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly sees the Trojans' talent and he's not feeling at ease.
"USC is going through a coaching change. We understand that, but this team plays extremely well against Notre Dame," Kelly said. "It's a rivalry game, and they've played very well on the road. I'm sure that's because they can get away from the distractions that they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
"So, we expect to get the best version of USC, which will be a very good football team."
Trojans running back Vavae Malepeai made it clear his team plans to go into South Bend and come out with a victory.
"There's a lot of history behind this game," Malepeai said. "We're putting it on our shoulders to make sure we get that job done."
Both teams are coming off a bye. Notre Dame (5-1) beat Virginia Tech 32-29 in its most recent game while the Trojans lost 42-26 to Utah.
The Fighting Irish's lone blemish this season was a 24-13 loss to then-No. 7 Cincinnati on Oct. 2.
Kelly said that Jack Coan would be the starting quarterback against USC but that Tyler Buchner also would see action.
Coan began the season with 366 yards and four touchdowns against Florida State but has seen his yardage drop in all of the ensuing games. He threw for 108 yards against Virginia Tech while splitting time with Buchner (113 yards).
"Jack Coan continues to be the guy that we feel like gives us the best chance to win, and a mixture of him with Tyler Buchner," Kelly said. "I think right now, as we look at it, it's probably in my mind that Jack will start, and we'll continue to get Tyler more playing time."
On defense, Notre Dame weak-side linebacker JD Bertrand (58 tackles), elite pass rusher Isaiah Foskey (5 1/2 sacks) and free safety Kyle Hamilton (three interceptions) are playing well.
The trio will be looking to slow down the dynamic USC duo of quarterback Kedon Slovis and wideout Drake London.
Slovis has passed for 1,519 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions. London has arguably been the best wideout in the country with 64 catches for 832 yards and five scores. The reception total ranks second nationally and the yardage ranks fourth.
There is also the possibility that freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart will be available. He replaced an injured Slovis against Washington State on Sept. 18 and passed for 391 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions before tearing the meniscus in his right knee.
If Dart is cleared, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said he might use both quarterbacks.
"Kedon has been really sharp. The ball is jumping out of his hand. He's doing a lot of good things," Harrell said. "We'll put whoever out there that gives us the best chance to move the ball at that point and use our guys as best we can."
USC has allowed an average of 43 points in its three setbacks and 11.7 in its three victories.
No. 10 Oregon sticks with QB Anthony Brown for game at UCLA
The 10th-ranked Ducks (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) have played back-to-back tight games, a 31-24 overtime loss to Stanford on Oct. 2 and a 24-17 win over California on Oct. 15 that came down to a fourth-and-goal defensive stand. Oregon is the only team in the conference with one overall loss.
Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is back to calling plays after needing surgery while the Ducks played at Stanford three weeks ago, and he is cleared to travel with the team to Pasadena.
Moorhead expressed support for starting quarterback Anthony Brown, who heard the boos and chants for backup Ty Thompson as the Ducks struggled on offense for a good portion of last week's game.
"I think 'AB' is doing a solid job in his role," Moorhead told Ducks Digest. "He's not Marcus Mariota, he's not Dennis Dixon (former Oregon quarterbacks who made the NFL), he's not any of those guys, but he's got to understand who he is and what he does well and how it's going to contribute to our offensive and team success.
"You can nitpick and talk about stats and completion percentage and all that stuff, but I'll go into a game with AB as my quarterback and believe in his abilities and what he's going to do."
Oregon is one of just two teams in the nation, along with Coastal Carolina, to rush for at least 180 yards in every game this season. The Ducks have been strong in the fourth quarter of games, outscoring opponents 72-31. They have scored points on 10 of 16 fourth-quarter drives and forced five turnovers in the fourth quarter to go with three turnovers on downs.
UCLA (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) looks for another win against a North Division opponent after defeating Washington 24-17 in Seattle last week. The Bruins, led by former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, racked up 420 yards of total offense to 267 for the Huskies.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson had a hand in three touchdowns, throwing for two and running for one while totaling 270 scrimmage yards.
Running back Zach Charbonnet, a transfer from Michigan, ran for a season-high 131 yards and has been a force for the Bruins this season. He has five 100-yard games and averages better than 6 yards per carry.
Oregon has won seven of the past eight meetings but hasn't beaten the Bruins in Pasadena since 2014.
Kelly hasn't had many signature victories in Westwood, but a win over the program he led into national prominence 12 years ago would be one. He downplayed it this week.
"It'll be like another game," Kelly said. "It's not my former team, I was there a long time ago, so I don't know any of those coaches, I don't know any of those players. So it's not like I'm going back to coach against a bunch of guys that I coached."
Both of UCLA's losses have come at home, to Fresno State and Arizona State.
No. 7 Penn State, Illinois seek rebound wins off byes
In between, the Nittany Lions (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) have to make sure they don't look past Illinois (2-5, 1-3) on Saturday when the conference rivals meet in University Park, Pa.
In a matchup of top-five teams at the time, Penn State led Iowa 17-3 before quarterback Sean Clifford was injured -- and it all fell apart from there in a 23-20 defeat. That was on Oct. 9, so the Nittany Lions have had two weeks to regroup and get ready for the Fighting Illini.
Clifford has had two weeks to get healthy, too, of course. But it appears as if that won't be enough time for the veteran quarterback to heal his undisclosed injury.
"Sean has shown his toughness physically and mentally over the years," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "(He is) doing everything he possibly can to put him in the best position to get back as soon as possible, whenever that may be. We'll see, but it won't be because of a lack of effort on his part. He's going to do everything that he's supposed to do from the recommendations of the doctors and trainers."
In Clifford's place, Franklin likely will opt to give playing time to both Ta'Quan Roberson and Christian Veilleux. Roberson struggled in place of Clifford vs. Iowa, hitting 7 of 21 passes for 34 yards, with two interceptions.
As a redshirt sophomore, Roberson should -- at least according to Franklin -- be able to separate himself from Veilleux, a freshman. But that has not been the case.
"If it's close, it really shouldn't be," Franklin said. "The guy who's been in the program for a long time and the guy who's been getting the most reps should be able to widen that gap, and right now it's somewhat close."
Whoever is under center for Penn State certainly will be looking toward dynamic wideout Jahan Dotson, who had a career-high 189 receiving yards and two long touchdowns last season in a 56-21 win over Illinois. This season, he leads the Nittany Lions in receptions (43), receiving yards (494) and TD catches (six).
The Illini, meanwhile, have lost five of six since defeating Nebraska in their season opener. They too are coming off a bye week and, like Penn State, entered their two-week break with a sour taste in their mouths.
Illinois was trounced by Wisconsin 24-0 in its last contest and used two quarterbacks. Brandon Peters and Artur Sitkowski essentially have taken turns dealing with injury and inconsistency issues all season. Against the Badgers, the two combined to go 11 of 34 for 67 yards.
Peters suffered an undisclosed injury against Wisconsin and has not practiced since that game.
"If he isn't cleared for practice, then he can't play," coach Bret Bielema said Tuesday. "He can get cleared on Friday or Saturday, but to have a quarterback who hasn't repped with your players during the course of the week or the game plan, unless it's forced into an emergency situation, probably isn't usually beneficial."
Chase Brown averages 6.9 yards per carry for Illinois and leads the team in rushing yards (414) and TDs (three). Isaiah Williams has 32 catches -- 19 more than anyone else on the squad -- but none of his receptions have covered more than 28 yards, and he has found the end zone only once, against Nebraska on opening day.
Undefeated No. 21 SMU 'halfway there,' ready for Tulane
On Oct. 9, No. 21 SMU had to push through a historic stretch of futility on the road against Navy plus an early 14-point deficit to keep its unblemished record intact. The Mustangs (6-0, 2-0 American) defeated the Midshipmen 31-24 for their first victory in Annapolis since 1998.
And following a much-needed week off, the Mustangs will resume their season by hosting Tulane (1-5, 0-2) on Thursday in Dallas. SMU has claimed six consecutive series wins, but four of the last five have come by four points or fewer. The Mustangs are unbeaten through six games for the second time in three seasons and are bowl-eligible for a third straight season.
"Halfway there," SMU coach Sonny Dykes said.
While a sterling defensive effort enabled the Mustangs to rally past Navy -- the Midshipmen scored their final touchdown via a fumble return and were limited to a 50-yard field goal in the second half -- their high-octane offense remains central to their success thus far this season.
Junior quarterback Tanner Mordecai was a midseason addition to the Maxwell Award Watch List, and his 26 touchdown passes are tied for first in the country and are eight shy of the school single-season mark set by Shane Buechele in 2019. Five different Mustangs have at least three touchdown receptions this season while Danny Gray, Rashee Rice and Reggie Roberson Jr. have all eclipsed 350 receiving yards while combining for 17 touchdown receptions.
Where SMU must continue to make inroads is running the football. Ulysses Bentley IV and Tre Siggers have combined for nearly 800 yards and four touchdowns, but after Navy flooded the secondary with defenders, the Mustangs will surely see more opponents angle to stop the pass.
"We're going to see a lot of that drop eight (coverage)," Dykes said. "Sometimes it's hard to try and throw the ball. We've got to be able to run it more consistently than we did."
The Green Wave have dropped all five of their games against FBS programs in 2021, allowing 44.2 points per game in those contests. Like SMU, Tulane hasn't played in two weeks, suffering a 40-22 setback to Houston on Oct. 7, a loss that continued their string of sluggish starts.
The short week after the off week might provide a pathway to recovery. At least, that's the hope.
"We did get a little bit of time off and got the guys to recharge their batteries, and I think that's important on the off-week," Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. "When we came in on Saturday to prep, I talked about working on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday on what we are going to do on Thursday.
"A lot of times guys try to start experimenting early in the week and then all of a sudden by the time Thursday rolls around they've got it kind of locked in on what they want to do. Hopefully, that allows us to start better because we have not started very well the last couple of weeks."