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Sunday Takeaways: halfway home in college football

October 15, 2016: Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables celebrates Clemson's overtime football victory at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC. (photo by Doug Buffington/Icon Sportswire).
Doug Buffington / Icon Sportswire

Sunday Takeaways explores the memorable moments, oddities, trivia and trends from college football’s weekend.

We’re halfway to the conclusion of another stunning college football season.

We’re all the way excited about what could be ahead.

Here’s a look at some things that caught our eye:

FINDING A WAY: Clemson had to sweat like crazy, but it withstood a challenge from N.C. State and prevailed 24-17 in overtime. Of course, when N.C. State kicker Kyle Bambard missed wide right with a 33-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of regulation, that helped, too.

“There’s something to be said for finding a way to win,’’ Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “And there’s something to be said for knowing how to win.’’

That’s so true.

We are caught up in style points and expectations.

Some teams — and players — just know how to win.

Clemson has won 20 straight home games, while beating 45 consecutive unranked foes.

MORE WINNERS: One of those winning teams is Ohio State (6-0), which was pushed to the limit, but outfought Wisconsin 30-23 in overtime, a riveting prime-time show.

The Buckeyes, who rebounded from a 10-point halftime deficit, won their 20th consecutive true road game under Coach Urban Meyer. How about this for a stunning statistic? The Buckeyes are 34-1 in their last 35 regular-season Big Ten Conference games.

THE ULTIMATE WINNERS: Alabama (7-0) dominated Tennessee 49-10. Domination might be too soft a word.

The Volunteers were limited to 32 rushing yards — on 32 carries — and surrendered 438 rushing yards to the Crimson Tide.

Alabama has 11 non-offensive touchdowns this season. Alabama’s opponents have scored 11 touchdowns — period — all season.

The Crimson Tide has 10 straight victories against Tennessee — and five were by 31 points or more.

Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison (15) returns an interception as he's chased by Tennessee offensive lineman Jack Jones (66) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Alabama defensive back Ronnie Harrison (15) returns an interception as he’s chased by Tennessee offensive lineman Jack Jones (66) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

SCORING FLURRY: Sometimes, Alabama is perceived as a defense-first program where the offense just lags along.

Since Nov. 14, 2015 — a 12-weekend stretch that parallels a regular season — nobody has scored more total touchdowns (70) than Alabama.
The South Florida Bulls are next with 66 total touchdowns in that span.

STREAK OVER: Washington State QB Luke Falk did not throw a touchdown pass in the 27-21 win against UCLA. That broke a personal TD pass streak of 22 straight games. For Mike Leach’s Cougar program, it ended a run of 47 straight games with at least one touchdown pass.

TOUGH TIMES: Kansas was beaten 49-7 at Baylor. It was the Jayhawks’ 38th straight road loss, breaking the all-time FBS streak held by Wichita State, which dates to when major classifications were brought in by the NCAA in 1937.

20/20 VISION: Maybe it wasn’t overwhelming, but Louisville QB Lamar Jackson still was ridiculously effective (181 yards passing, 144 yards rushing) in a 24-14 win against Duke. Through six games, Jackson has 15 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns. He should easily join Florida’s Tim Tebow (2007), Auburn’s Cam Newton (2010) and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (2012) as members of the 20/20 club. Each of those quarterbacks won the Heisman Trophy, by the way.

RUNNING MAN: San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey had 220 yards in a 17-3 win against Fresno State. He leads the nation in rushing with 1,111 yards through six games. He also moved to a career total of 5,383 yards (eighth all-time), passing legendary names such as LaDanian Tomlinson, Herschel Walker and Archie Griffin. Not bad for a night’s work.

BAD CALL OF THE DAY: With Army leading 35-7 late in the first half, Black Knights punter Nick Schrage opted for a fake against Lafayette.
On fourth-and-44.

Schrage barely got back to the line of scrimmage, was pushed back and fumbled.

All in all, not a great idea.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I was going so hard, and I fell and I just laid there to hear what the crowd was doing. I looked up and I thought, ‘Oh my God they’re really cheering.’ It was awesome.’’

— Clemson LB Kendall Joseph, playing on the special-teams unit when N.C. State missed a 33-yard field-goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime.

THE UNBEATEN: There were 11 unbeaten Football Bowl Subdivision teams going into Saturday’s play — and there were 11 unbeaten teams coming out of the day (three had a bye week).

The Magnificent 11: Alabama (7-0), Baylor (7-0), Boise State (6-0), Clemson (7-0), Michigan (6-0), Nebraska (6-0), Ohio State (6-0), Texas A&M (6-0), Washington (6-0), West Virginia (5-0) and Western Michigan (7-0).

THE WINLESS: Give it up for Miami (Ohio), which rallied for an 18-14 victory against Kent State.

So, 127 of the 128 FBS have enjoyed victory this season.

The only program that hasn’t won? It’s Rice (0-6).

SURPRISE TEAMS: At the midpoint, the pleasant surprises are Louisville (5-1 and an offensive machine), Texas A&M (6-0 and staring at a massive opportunity at Alabama), Washington (6-0 and potentially the Pac-12 Conference champion) and West Virginia (5-0 and maybe capable of making a run in the Big 12 … interestingly, it’s Baylor at West Virginia on Dec. 3).

DISAPPOINTMENTS: You have to look at Michigan State (2-4, 0-3 in the Big Ten), Notre Dame (2-5), Oregon (2-4), Texas (3-3) and Georgia (4-3, 2-3 in the SEC, including Saturday’s 17-16 home loss against Vanderbilt, which won its first conference road game in two-plus seasons).

And to think that Michigan State and Texas both believed their victories against Notre Dame were huge, huge deals. Now … not so much.

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