Oklahoma fans can begin searching for a reason to rationalize the No. 3 Sooners’ 38-31 loss to Iowa State on Saturday.
Maybe it was the uniforms. The Sooners wore red jerseys and red pants for the first time.
Maybe it was the absence of coach Bob Stoops. He ended a streak of 242 consecutive Oklahoma games so he could accompany his son, Drake, on a recruiting visit to Ohio.
Or maybe it was Ironman.
OK, so Iowa State’s Joel Lanning didn’t fly around like Tony Stark. But he did just about everything else.
Lanning, a senior, came to Iowa State as a quarterback. He switched to linebacker after last season and has plugged the middle of the Cyclones’ defense.
Then starting quarterback Jacob Park left the program for personal reason Friday. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Lanning played both ways Saturday, sharing time at quarterback with walk-on Kyle Kempt.
Lanning had 25 yards passing and 35 yards rushing with 13 coming on Iowa State’s game-winning touchdown drive. Kempt, who threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns, tossed a 25-yard pass to Allen Lazard for the lead.
On defense, Lanning had eight tackles, one sack and recovered a fumble that led to a touchdown. He also ruined Oklahoma’s last chance by harassing quarterback Baker Mayfield to force an incomplete pass on fourth down.
“At the end of [last] season, we asked him to make a sacrifice for the team,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said after the game on ESPN. “Ninety percent of those kids transfer and go elsewhere to play quarterback. He said, ‘Coach, I just want to be here at Iowa State. I want to finish this thing out the right way.’”
What’s in a name?
Two years ago this weekend, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney launched into an angry rant about “Clemsoning,” which the Urban Dictionary defines as “The act of failing miserably on a grand athletic stage, or when the stakes are high. Record-setting failure, usually reserved for college football.”
Swinney was asked how his players handle such a label following a 43-24 victory over Georgia Tech. It was far from a “yabba dabba Dabo” moment.
“It’s ridiculous that you’re even asking me the question, that you even say the word,” Swinney barked to start a soliloquy that increased in volume.
Since that moment, Clemson has a 29-2 record. The Tigers have appeared in two national championship games and beat Alabama for the title last season. (They lost to Alabama in the 2016 title game and unranked Pittsburgh last season — which seemed to resemble a “Clemsoning” moment.)
The second-ranked Tigers are 6-0 after beating Wake Forest, 28-14, Saturday. A big reason has been Kelly Bryant, who has replaced Deshaun Watson, now with the Houston Texans.
Bryant has completed 107 of 159 passes for 1,259 yards and gained another 401 yards rushing. Watson’s numbers through six games last season were 1,572 yards passing and 244 yards rushing.
Things were rolling for Bryant on Saturday. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 200 yards, then suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter. Swinney said the injury wasn’t serious. If it is, he can only hope that “Clemsoning” now means “a smooth transition when changing quarterbacks.”
There was a time when David Sills was in line to become a USC quarterback ... when he was 13.
Lane Kiffin, the Trojans’ coach in 2010, offered Sills a scholarship which created a media frenzy. It didn’t work out. Sills ended up at West Virginia, where they wanted him to move to wide receiver. He transferred to El Camino College to play quarterback. On returning to West Virginia, Sills was again asked to move to wide receiver. He gave in.
Texas Christian probably wished he hadn’t. The Horned Frogs eked out a 31-24 victory Saturday, but they had to survive Sills. He had seven receptions for 116 yards, including touchdown catches of 64 and four yards.
Sills has 33 receptions for 512 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Kiffin, meanwhile, has landed at Florida Atlantic where he is not believed to be recruiting 13-year-olds.
For the second consecutive week, an opponent made a gesture toward the patients in the children’s hospital that sits next to Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium. Children and their families watch Iowa home games from the top floor. Fans have turned to the hospital to wave at end of the first quarter at every game this season.
Illinois players, coaches and staff joined in the new tradition Saturday. Referees also took part, lining up at midfield to wave to the patients.
A week ago Michigan State fans waved through the television during the Spartans’ home game against Iowa.
Down south, fans at Florida’s game against LSU sang along with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” between the third and fourth quarters to honor the singer who died Monday. Petty was from Gainesville.
Seven overtimes in Buffalo-Western Michigan
OK, so maybe there is an instance when a tie should suffice in college football.
Buffalo and Western Michigan had a nice game going, a 31-31 tie at the end of regulation.
Which, as they say, quickly escalated.
When it was over, Western Michigan had escaped with a 71-68 win. Yup, a total of 77 points were scored in the seven overtime periods.
Jarvion Franklin scored the game-winner on a 12-yard run. He rushed for 176 yards. Buffalo quarterback Drew Anderson passed for 597 yards and seven touchdowns.
Quarterback Justin Fields, considered the top recruit in the nation, committed to Georgia on Friday.
On Saturday, Jake Fromm, Georgia’s freshman quarterback, showed playing immediately won’t be so easy. He completed seven of 11 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the fifth-ranked Bulldogs’ 45-14 rout of Vanderbilt. Fromm has completed 57 of 95 passes for 836 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Fromm may not have to worry about the competition. Fields, a senior at Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison High, originally committed to Penn State before changing his mind.
And the winner is ...
The Big Ten hands out awards like an Oscars ceremony. There are plenty of categories.
Nearly one quarter of the conference’s 63 games are played for trophies, from the Little Brown Jug (Michigan vs. Minnesota) to the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana vs. Purdue) to something called the $5 Bits of Broken Chair (Minnesota vs. Nebraska). Of the conference’s 14 teams, 13 have at least one game in which a souvenir is on the line. Only Rutgers misses out.
The first of 15 trophies were handed out Saturday. Michigan State’s 14-10 win over No. 7 Michigan allowed the Spartans to reclaim the Paul Bunyan Trophy, which is not to be confused with Paul Bunyan’s Axe, which goes to the winner of Wisconsin vs. Minnesota.
The Paul Bunyan Trophy was created by former Michigan Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams to welcome Michigan State to the Big Ten in 1953. The Wolverines were unimpressed. They initially refused to accept the trophy after winning the first Big Ten game against the Spartans, leaving it on the field for a half-hour. It was then stored in an equipment room.
The statue has grown in stature since. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh promised to give a mini-trophy to each of his players for winning the 2016 game.
Of course, not all the trophies are steeped in tradition. The Governor’s Trophy goes to the winner of the Minnesota-Penn State game. The teams had never played before Penn State joined the conference in in 1993. A trophy was created and it’s one of five baubles Minnesota usually plays to earn, though not this season. Because of conference scheduling, the teams don’t play again until 2019.