There was a moment Saturday afternoon when No. 2 Clemson was tied with Boston College heading into the fourth quarter and No. 5 Southern California was tied in the fourth quarter with California. No. 8 Michigan was struggling to score against Purdue and No. 14 Miami was struggling to stop Toledo. No. 12 Florida State had already lost.
The college football season was all set to be turned upside down.
Not so fast. Clemson cruised. USC answered the challenge. Michigan found some offense. Miami pulled away.
Later, No. 3 Oklahoma held off winless Baylor and No. 4 Penn State made the greatest escape of all at Iowa — with a walk-off touchdown.
No. 16 TCU ended up making the biggest statement of the day at No. 6 Oklahoma State: Never underestimate a team coach by Gary Patterson.
The Top 25 thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from week four of the college football season.
1. It would be hard to find a stranger and more exciting football game than Penn State-Iowa . The Hawkeyes had two possessions in the fourth quarter, ran six plays and scored two touchdowns. The Nittany Lions outgained Iowa, 579-273.
2. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley was superhuman . Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell was everywhere. Their meetings were basically the definition of Big Ten football.
3. Just as the Oklahoma State bandwagon was filling up, the Cowboys got taken apart by the Horned Frogs , who dominated time of possession and made OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph uncomfortable for the first time this season.
4. TCU has had some ups and downs in six seasons since joining the Big 12. The Frogs are 26-20 in conference play, but Patterson has shown the ability to adjust, repair and find solutions to keep the Frogs dangerous — especially, as the coach said, when not much is expected of them.
5. Any reason to worry about defending national champion Clemson after it slogged through three quarters against BC ? Nope. Hard to get excited about playing the Eagles after beating Auburn and Louisville the previous two weeks.
6. Clemson also could have been looking ahead. The Tigers go to No. 13 Virginia Tech next Saturday and Lane Stadium should be shaking. ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be in town.
7. Sam Darnold is up to seven interceptions on the season for USC . That’s no way to win a Heisman Trophy. Also, no reason to panic.
8. USC plays 12 straight weeks and the next game could be its toughest of the season. The Trojans played Cal without star running back Ronald Jones, receiver Steven Mitchell and linebacker Porter Gustin. Now the Trojans have a short week and road trip to No. 18 Washington State on Friday night.
9. The winning streak is now 31 for No. 20 Florida over Kentucky and the Wildcats have never had a better chance. For all the angst about the Gators’ offense, Florida is 2-0 in the SEC.
10. Unlike the last two years, when Florida took advantage of a weak SEC East to win division titles, there is at least one team on that side of the conference that looks legit: No. 11 Georgia.
11. Georgia hammered No. 17 Mississippi State, and it should be noted, Notre Dame has now outscored its three non-Georgia opponents 136-54 and lost to Georgia 20-19 at home.
12. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, anointed the second-best coach in the SEC after last week’s win against LSU, is now 2-14 in games when both teams are ranked.
13. Looking forward to a week of Jim Harbaugh ignoring questions about Michigan’s quarterback situation. John O’Korn relieved an injured Wilson Speight for the Wolverines and gave the offense a spark .
14. Credit to Miami for knocking off weeks of rust due to the Hurricane Irma and outscoring a Toledo team that that can really play offense . Toledo coach Jason Candle is likely to follow former Rockets coach Matt Campbell, now at Iowa State, to the Power Five in due time.
15. Florida State is 0-2 for the first time since 1989 . Hopes for College Football Playoff run are probably gone. So what now? Freshman quarterback James Blackman showed promise, but things have to get much better fast. Jimbo Fisher is a good bet to salvage a season for the Seminoles, but there are far fewer soft spots on the ACC schedule these days.
16. Not a misprint on next week’s schedule: Florida State (0-2) at Wake Forest (4-0).
17. North Carolina State’s All-America defensive lineman Bradley Chubb apologized for spitting on the midfield logo at Doak Campbell Stadium after the victory against Florida State. It was far from the worst thing Chubb, who had two sacks and a forced fumble, did to Florida State on Saturday.
18. Despite some odd clock management at the end of regulation by Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies beat Arkansas in another wild game between the SEC West rivals. A win’s a win so Sumlin should get a break from the antsy Aggies fans this week.
19. The Razorbacks, however, are now 10-23 in the Southeastern Conference under coach Bret Bielema and at 1-2 already this season that could get ugly.
20. A $15 million buyout that drops to about $11 million after Jan. 1 could keep Bielema safe. Also, athletic director Jeff Long still seems supportive. The problem is: A 3-9 season that leaves the fan base hopeless can make keeping a coach even more costly in the long run.
21. Texas Tech is 3-0 and playing a little defense, which could bode well coach Kliff Kingsbury in a pivotal season. The Red Raiders are allowing 26.5 points per game. Not great, but 17 points better than 2016 when they were last in FBS.
22. Not all victories are feel-good. Tennessee beat winless UMass 17-13 and lots of Volunteers fans decided not stick around Neyland Stadium to see their team finish it off.
23. Everybody wants ’Bama. But only a few can handle ’Bama at its best. Vanderbilt is not one of those teams. The Tide had a school-record 38 first downs against the Commodores, who came into Saturday with the No. 1 defense in the country. Vanderbilt ran 38 plays.
24. Score: Nebraska 27, Rutgers 17 .
25. Related: UCF, coached by former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost, 38, Maryland 10. Should be noted: The Terps played with a third-string quarterback.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.