Monday, July 15

College football’s best day yet, Heisman contenders shine: Week 10 Saturday Superlatives

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Welcome back to Saturday Superlatives, our review of the best players, plays, games, moments and more from Week 10 in college football. This was without a doubt the best Saturday of the season so far. When the biggest games on the slate all live to the hype, you’re going to have a good time.

Game of the Week: Too close to call! You really could make a strong argument for many of the Top 25 showdowns we witnessed on Saturday. If you were sitting on the couch and trying to take them all in, you were treated to a phenomenal day from start to finish.

No. 8 Alabama’s 42-28 win against No. 14 LSU was an epic back-and-forth battle for three quarters and easily could’ve taken this honor, but once LSU QB Jayden Daniels got knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter on a nasty hit from Dallas Turner, that one was effectively over. It was thrilling to watch Daniels (219 passing yards, 163 rushing yards, three TDs) and Jalen Milroe (219 passing yards, 155 rushing yards, four TDs), two of the most dangerous dual-threat talents in the sport, go shot for shot on the big stage. In the end, Alabama reasserted itself as fully belonging in the College Football Playoff debate and put itself one win away from a trip to the SEC title game.

But Week 10 was so satisfying that I wouldn’t fault you for putting a different game in the No. 1 spot. If you love touchdowns and the relentless suffering of defensive coordinators, No. 5 Washington’s 52-42 shootout win against No. 20 USC was quite satisfying. If you wanted drama from start to finish with an overtime nail-biter, Texas–Kansas State was the game for you. If you wanted good old-fashioned hate, Bedlam more than lived up to the hype. And if you wanted to see someone challenge Georgia, the No. 2 Bulldogs did get a nice little test from No. 12 Missouri in a 30-21 win. Clemson–Notre Dame and Ole Miss-Texas A&M were worth watching closely until the very end, too. What a day. I’m not sure even rivalry weekend later this month will be able to top this one.

Offensive Player of the Week: Washington RB Dillon Johnson. Look, I get it, I know exactly what you’re saying: Well duh, he was playing USC’s defense. I hear you. But it was still one of the most dominant performances we’ll see all year long. Johnson destroyed the Trojans with 256 rushing yards and four TDs on 9.8 yards per carry.

The Mississippi State transfer’s previous career high was 100 rushing yards. The Huskies were averaging 102 rushing yards per game. At one point late in the fourth quarter, Kirk Herbstreit noted that Johnson had 199 rushing yards BEFORE contact. That’s absurd. It’s also the most individual rushing yards an Alex Grinch defense has allowed since he teamed up with Lincoln Riley in 2019.

Defensive Player of the Week: Clemson LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr. It’s tough to have a much better game than Trotter did in a 31-23 upset of No. 15 Notre Dame. The junior racked up 11 tackles, two sacks and this pick-six of Sam Hartman in a dominant day to help the 5-4 Tigers get back on the right track.

Best finish: No. 7 Texas 33, No. 23 Kansas State 30 (OT). Texas looked terrific early on. K-State fought back with a 23-point rally in the second half. The Wildcats drilled a last-second field goal to force overtime and played for the win in OT. Down by 3, Chris Klieman went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 5. The Longhorns’ defense brought the pressure and forced Will Howard into an incompletion for the win, its seventh in a row against K-State. It was a wild ending to a thrilling fight between two of the Big 12’s best.

Best finale: No. 22 Oklahoma State 27, No. 9 Oklahoma 24. In what is likely to be the last Bedlam game in a long time due to conference realignment, Mike Gundy and the Cowboys pulled off a win that they’re going to remember in Stillwater for a mighty long time. Alan Bowman threw for 334 yards, Ollie Gordon II rushed for 137 and the Pokes’ defense got a fourth-down stop in the final minute to knock their rival out of the CFP race and secure some serious bragging rights. Gudy’s squad is now well on its way to a Big 12 title game berth with a very winnable stretch of games — at UCF, at Houston, BYU — to finish out their November schedule.

Best upset: Army 23, No. 25 Air Force 3. The Falcons are undefeated no more. After rising as high as No. 17 in the AP poll, Air Force fell apart against an 18.5-point underdog that was 2-6 in their showdown at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. How did Army do it? Four fumble recoveries, two interceptions, two fourth-down stops and a second-half shutout plus a tough 170-yard rushing yard performance and two TDs from Bryson Daily. James Madison and Liberty are now the lone Group of 5 teams still undefeated at 9-0.

Going bowling: Congratulations to Arizona, Boston College, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, NC State, Texas State, UTSA, West Virginia and Wyoming for notching their sixth win of the season and securing bowl eligibility this week.

Arizona took that big step forward in Year 3 under Jedd Fisch after quarterback Noah Fifita led a third consecutive win versus a Top 25 opponent. Those fans who stormed the field at the end of the Wildcats’ 27-10 home win against No. 19 UCLA deserved it. This program has won eight of its last 12 games and is finally pointing in a promising direction after enduring losses in 17 of Fisch’s first 21 games.

Texas State is 6-3 following a 45-24 win against Georgia Southern and likely heading to a bowl game for the first time since the program jumped to FBS. And that means Texas State president Kelly Damphousse had to make good on a promise.

Best throw: We were treated to a bunch of Heisman contenders playing their best ball on Saturday and it was an absolute delight to watch. Here’s Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. scrambling and extending on third-and-18 before tossing a 22-yard touchdown strike to Devin Culp.

This one in the same game from USC’s Caleb Williams was just as stunning. He had lots of wild escapes throughout the night, but this spin and dime on fourth-and-1 for a 25-yard touchdown to Brenden Rice was one of those plays you only see Williams make.

But let us not sleep on the continued greatness of Oregon’s Bo Nix. Everything about this completion during the Ducks’ 63-19 win rout of Cal was cool.

Best quotes: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney after beating Notre Dame to become the winningest head coach in program history. You hear that, Tyler in Spartanburg?!?

Caleb Williams also deserves an honorable mention here for offering an extremely relatable answer on how he’d spend the rest of his Saturday night.

Best catch: LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers had a ridiculous night against Alabama with 10 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown. No catch was more impressive than this one along the sideline that you’d swear was out of bounds until you watch in slow motion.

Ole Miss receiver Tre Harris had a monster day as well with 11 catches for 213 yards and a TD in the No. 10 Rebels’ 38-35 win against Texas A&M. Watch this one-handed snag on third and long for a 32-yard gain while he’s being pushed out of bounds.

Kansas WR Quentin Skinner had a similarly impressive catch along the sideline in a 28-21 win versus Iowa State. His ability to focus and hang onto this one while taking contact is quite something.

Best flea flicker: Possibly the best of all time?

Best fake: Steve Sarkisian called a fake tush push on a fourth down in Texas territory and freshman back CJ Baxter did the rest on this 54-yard touchdown against Kansas State.

Rutgers pulled this out of its bag in the first half against Ohio State, a fumblerooski-inspired fakeout that Kyle Monangai turned into a 45-yard gain.

Best interception: Total game-changer here by Ohio State’s Jordan Hancock. Josh Proctor flies in to prevent a big Rutgers gain in the red zone and deflects the ball to Hancock, setting up this wild 93-yard pick-six that gave the Buckeyes the lead in the third quarter and helped get them rolling to a 35-16 win in Piscataway.

Best big man interception: Georgia defensive lineman Nazir Stackhouse is 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds and really needs to get the ball in his hands more often. This was pretty darn fun to watch.

Best steal: Arkansas freshman DB Jaylon Braxton stopped this screen pass to Florida’s Ricky Pearsall by ripping the ball out and taking it the other way for a 34-yard touchdown early on in the Razorbacks’ win over the Gators.

Best return: You’ve got to be careful about those kickoffs right before halftime. This is why teams often try to play it safe and squib. One thing you should not do is kick it to Fresno State’s Malik Sherrod in this situation.

Worst call: Officials did not call defensive pass interference on this third-down pass to Oklahoma’s Drake Stoops in the end zone when the Sooners were down by 6 and driving. That’s a tough no-call to defend. ESPN rules expert Matt Austin gave the right answer when asked on the broadcast why it wasn’t DPI: “I can’t answer that.” Folks in the state of Oklahoma are going to talk about that one for a while.

Drive to 325 update: Iowa 10, Northwestern 7. Now that it’s already been decided OC Brian Ferentz won’t return next year, the Hawkeyes can really let their freak flag fly without any shame, and that’s a beautiful thing. Drew Stevens nailed a 52-yard game-winning field goal in the final minute and the Hawkeyes regained control of the lead in the Big Ten West standings with a 10-7 triumph at Wrigley Field. If you wisely bet the farm on the under, congratulations. Iowa is now averaging 18.4 points per game on the year.

Best contract: Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher. The Aggies put up a good fight in Oxford but have now lost nine consecutive road games and are staring at the possibility of a 7-5 finish if they can’t pull off an upset at LSU later this month.

Best hug: The USC game was an incredibly emotional one for Washington pass rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui after he lost his father last week. It’s hard not to get choked up when you see this.

Best handshake: Nick Saban telling former Alabama WR Aaron Anderson that he’d be playing more for the Crimson Tide than he does for LSU. The head coach said it in a lighthearted way, but this was quite savage.

Best body paint: Are these guys Terps fans? Or are they Meryl Streep fans who were missing one of their buddies?

Best shoutout: Former Michigan analyst Connor Stalions is now a free agent. New Mexico would love to sell him a ticket to one of its games.

Best celebration: Cheers to Mike Gundy.

(Photo of Dillon Johnson: Gina Ferazzi / Getty Images)