Sunday Takeaways explores the memorable moments, oddities, trivia and trends from the college football weekend.
As top-ranked Alabama wrapped up its 10-0 throwback victory against the LSU Tigers on Saturday night, coach Nick Saban recognized the bottom line.
Just win, baby.
Elsewhere around the country, as video-game numbers popped up, it seemed like a continuation of lost perspective, perhaps pursuing those break-the-clock offensive numbers that seem impressive, even though the College Football Playoff has expressly indicated that margin of victory doesn’t matter.
Just wince, baby?
Regardless of the intentions, points are being scored in a flurry by the nation’s elite in an almost can-you-top-this type of display.
It was an interesting kickoff weekend to November’s home stretch.
OLD SCHOOL: Following Alabama’s leather-helmet win at LSU, it seemed like the fans should be driving home in Model-T Fords. There were 10 points — total — all scored in the fourth quarter. There were a combined 448 yards (or an average game for Louisville QB Lamar Jackson).
“People will know that we can compete in the track meets because we’ve done that plenty,’’ Saban said. “Now we know we can win when we play ugly, too.’’
As if there was any doubt.
Alabama (9-0) has 21 straight victories and had scored at least 30 points in nine straight games before Saturday night’s tribute to another football era.
NEW SCHOOL: It was one thing to run up the score and try to advance in the polls. Now it’s at a different level with the CFP standings. The bottom line seems to be strength of schedule. Louisville (8-1) added to its impressive resume with a 52-7 win against Boston College, but it doesn’t look like the Cardinals will be able to crash into the CFP semifinals, regardless of their point totals.
“It’s sad because there’s something called sportsmanship, but maybe I made a mistake,’’ Louisville coach Bobby Petrino told ESPN.com. “Maybe looking back at it, in FSU, we should have kept all the starters in and scored 80 points and did that.’’
Louisville beat Florida State 63-20 on Sept. 17.
GRABBING ATTENTION: The Washington Huskies (9-0), whose fans were understandably miffed last week when one-loss Texas A&M claimed the fourth spot in the initial CFP standings, crushed California 66-27. No doubt, Husky fans are awaiting their just reward after Texas A&M was upset at Mississippi State, ending the Aggies’ one-week “reign’’ in the faux CFP semifinals.
“Put us outside the top four and make us earn it,’’ said Washington quarterback Jake Browning, who passed for 378 yards and six touchdowns.
APPLE OF THEIR EYE: Washington State (7-2, 6-0 Pac-12) continued to roll with a 69-7 win against Arizona. It was the Cougars’ highest point total since 1997 (when their quarterback was Ryan Leaf) and the most points ever scored by the program against a Pac-12 opponent. The Apple Cup rivalry game between Washington State and Washington should be especially interesting this season.
BUCKEYES PUT HAMMER DOWN: Another eye-opening score was Ohio State 62, Nebraska 3. The one-loss Buckeyes could be a CFP challenger after scoring the program’s most points ever against a top 10-ranked opponent. “There was a sense of urgency about everything we did,’’ Buckeyes defensive end Sam Hubbard said.
THE VICTORS: Michigan (9-0) dismantled Maryland 59-3 for its third victory of the season by a 50-point margin under coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines had three 50-point wins total from 2008-2014, when the program was guided by Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke.
Wolverines QB Wilton Speight passed for 362 yards, including a brilliant first-half performance (13 of 16 for 292 yards).
“That’s the best half of football I’ve ever seen a Michigan quarterback play,’’ said Harbaugh, himself a former Michigan quarterback.
RUNNING ON EMPTY: LSU running back Leonard Fournette had 35 yards rushing against Alabama — and that was an improvement from last season’s game (31 yards). Fournette is averaging 1.85 yards per carry against Alabama (and 7.45 yards per carry against every other team).
SLUMPING: Michigan State fell 31-27 against Illinois, continuing an amazing slide by the Spartans, once ranked No. 8 this season. The Spartans (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) have lost seven straight games for the first time since 1982. It will be the program’s first losing season since 2006 (4-8).
RISING: The nation’s hottest running back is D’Onta Foreman of Texas. Against Texas Tech, he had 33 carries for 341 yards, just shy of the school record (350 yards by Ricky Williams in 1996). Foreman, who has surpassed the 100-yard mark in all eight games, has 591 yards and five touchdowns the past two weeks.
PLAYS OF THE CENTURY: Texas Tech’s Douglas Coleman had a stunning 100-yard strip-and-score fumble-return touchdown when it looked like Foreman was bulling in for a spectacular touchdown of his own.
Pittsburgh’s Quadree Henderson uncorked a 100-yard kickoff return, his third score on a kickoff this season to lead the Football Bowl Subdivision.
GOOD COMPANY: Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald had 209 yards passing and 182 yards rushing against Texas A&M, becoming only the third SEC player to account for 200 passing yards and 175 rushing yards in the same game. The other two were Heisman Trophy winners — Auburn QB Cam Newton and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel.
ALMOST: Kentucky, one of three original SEC teams to never play in the league’s championship game (along with Ole Miss and Vanderbilt), had an opportunity to take over sole possession of first place in the SEC East, but the Wildcats couldn’t deliver, losing 27-24 against Georgia on Rodrigo Blankenship’s 25-yard final-play field goal.
Florida, after losing at Arkansas, is wobbling at the top. Tennessee, given up for dead, could still be a factor. For whoever wins the SEC East, which looks like the worst division in the FBS right now, there’s a dubious reward — the probable right to face Alabama in the championship game.