College football: Scores, Top 25 analysis, and the wild comeback you likely missed
Week 4 of the college football season is in the books, and what a wild week it was. In over 12 hours of action, Saturday was bookended by two shocking results — Wisconsin’s complete dismantling of Michigan and UCLA’s historic late comeback against Washington State.
We break down all the games, including all the Top 25 implications, one sad Wolverines fan, the “Pitt Special,” and jorts, jorts and more jorts. First up, ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura breaks down that #Pac12AfterDark comeback you likely missed.
At about 12:54 a.m. ET, Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Cougars a 49-17 lead against winless UCLA.
It was Gordon’s seventh touchdown pass of the game and tied Gardner Minshew’s 10-month-old school record. With only six minutes, 52 seconds left in the third quarter — and Minshew watching from the sideline in a pair of homemade jorts — it was fair to wonder if Gordon’s day was over.
The Cougars used three quarterbacks in routs the first two games of the season and coach Mike Leach was recently asked if he would like to continue to give the backup quarterbacks mop-up duty.
“If we score a bunch of points,” Leach said. “I hope so. Shoot, I hope it is every game. We’ll see.”
It was logical for that quote to come to mind with the Cougars up 32 points against UCLA and two touchdowns on the spread (-19) on their home field in Pullman.
This is where the regret sets in for the people who decided it was time to finally go to sleep, regardless of their time zone.
Not only did UCLA do enough to keep Gordon in the game, but it also erased that 32-point deficit and won 67-63, in the highest-scoring game in Pac-12 history. “It’s a Pac-12 After Dark Saturday night win,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said.
But in the five years since that phrase was born — alluding to the often-bizarre nature of late-night Pac-12 games — only a few games can even remotely compare.
Let’s start with UCLA.
The Bruins started the day with the Pac-12’s worst offense. They didn’t score more than 14 points in any of their first three games; roughly halfway through the third quarter of this one, their only offensive touchdown came on a drive of just 29 yards.
ESPN’s win probability model gave WSU a 99.9% chance at winning.
Only two teams in FBS history have ever overcome a larger deficit to win: Michigan State rallied from 35 points down to beat Northwestern 41-38 in 2006, while UCLA erased a 34-point deficit to edge Texas A&M 45-44 just two years ago.
UCLA is the only team in the past decade to come back to win after trailing by at least 32 points — and it has done it twice in three years. The rest of FBS is 0-1,370.
The comeback against A&M at the Rose Bowl was the only other game in FBS history in which a team overcame such a large deficit in such a short period of time. The Bruins were down 34 with 2:07 against A&M; in Pullman on Saturday, they didn’t cut into the 32-point deficit until the clock hit 3:48 in the third quarter.
Over a 4:30 stretch that spanned the final two quarters, UCLA ran seven offensive plays. Four of them were touchdowns. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson ran in the first one and then threw scoring passes of 37, 94 and 7 yards.
The 94-yard pass to Demetric Felton was the second-longest play in school history. Felton became the first FBS player in 10 years with 150 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns and a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the same game. His 15-yard touchdown catch with 1:07 was the winner.
Thompson-Robinson became one of only three quarterbacks in the past 20 years to pass for 500 yards with five touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns in the same game. The other two: Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott (2015 versus Arkansas) and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes (2016, Oklahoma).
The perspective from the other sideline was understandably a bit different.
“We collapsed in every phase of the game,” Leach said. “Offense, defense, special teams — every phase.”
The Cougars had two offensive snaps over the game’s final 6:11. They fumbled it away on both, including immediately after their defense came up with stop on fourth-and-five when Kelly decided not to kick a potential game-tying 34-yard field goal with 2:38 left.
Wazzu turned the ball over six times in total and gave up two special teams touchdowns. The Cougars are now the only FBS team over the past 15 years to allow 50 points in a second half.
While UCLA might have felt like it was reliving the magical comeback of 2017, it felt all too familiar for the Cougars. In 2014, WSU and Cal combined for the previous single-game Pac-12 scoring record: a 60-59 Cal win in Pullman. In that game, quarterback Connor Halliday set the single-game FBS passing record with 734 yards, but the Cougars lost after a missing a 19-yard field goal as time expired.
For Gordon, it was awfully similar. He set the single-season Pac-12 record with nine touchdown passes and finished with 570 yards passing. But, like it was for Halliday, it will only go down as a historic performance that didn’t result in celebration.
Week 4’s best moments
Before UCLA’s comeback, a few other moments stuck out from Saturday’s action:
So, Michigan Man, how was your trip to Wisconsin?
The Pitt Special!
Running back A.J. Davis took a direct snap from center, ran to his left and flipped the ball to Aaron Mathews, who was heading right. Mathews, a former high school quarterback, thought he might have to make a run at the pylon. When two Knights defenders closed in, Mathews pulled up and found quarterback Kenny Pickett in the end zone, giving the Panthers a euphoric 35-34 victory and snapping UCF’s 27-game regular-season winning streak.
Turnover Trend of the Week: GoT style
This year, Coastal Carolina joined the turnover craze with a new sideline celebration. According to Myrtle Beach Online, it’s called the “Game of Thrones Turnover Cloak,” and it’s modeled after the one worn by Jon Snow on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Hello from the other side
You can try a thousand times … but that’s not how it works.
Celebration (?!?!) of the Week
Rutgers offensive lineman Michael Maietti has an interesting touchdown celebration, just straight-up punching quarterback Artur Sitkowski in the face.
Watch LSU’s Adrian Magee (No. 73) crush two defenders in the middle of the line who are attempting to rush Joe Burrow.
Lights, camera, action
At halftime of the Clemson-Charlotte game, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney got to watch fake Clemson run onto the field as part of a movie shoot.
Taking the celebration up a notch
Houston raced to a 28-7 second-quarter lead against Tulane on Thursday. But after the Green Wave rallied, Houston kicked a field goal to tie the game at 31 with 21 seconds remaining. Overtime seemed imminent, but the Green Wave pulled off a remarkable combo to shock the Cougars. After a fake kneel-down led to an 18-yard run, Justin McMillan hit Jalen McCleskey over the middle, and McCleskey broke away to score a 53-yard touchdown with three seconds left.
Green Wave coach Willie Fritz followed with a little crowd-surfing in the locker room.
Need a sideline timeout?
We’ll just let ESPN’s Holly Rowe explain …
Kickin’ it up a notch
FIU defensive lineman David Reynolds snagged a heads-up interception off the foot of a teammate when Louisiana Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith was trying to throw it away.
Former Georgia coach and ACC Network analyst Mark Richt gives his legendary 10-bite sandwich breakdown to get you ready for in-game snacking.
And finally …
You know you want more jorts.
What the Top 25 results mean
No. 1 Clemson 52, Charlotte 10
It has been a slow start to the season for Trevor Lawrence, who has been good but hasn’t had a breakout game. That didn’t happen Saturday, as he had just nine pass attempts in a blowout of Charlotte. There aren’t going to be many challenges for Lawrence on the remaining schedule, but a road trip to North Carolina next week could at least set the stage for some big numbers. — David M. Hale
No. 2 Alabama 49, Southern Miss 7
It was another ho-hum dominant performance for the Tide. Tua Tagovailoa threw for more touchdowns (5) than incompletions (4) for the fourth time in his career, and the defense held Southern Miss to 226 total yards and 1.6 yards per carry. The only bright spot for future opponents? Backup QB Mac Jones threw an interception. With three of the Tide’s next four games at home against Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas, only a road trip to Texas A&M in two weeks looks like a test before a collision course with LSU on Nov. 9. — Dave Wilson
No. 3 Georgia 23, No. 7 Notre Dame 17
Georgia started slowly, and the offense was kind of all over the place in the first half, but then Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift took over. By doing so, they reminded everyone why the Dawgs are legit playoff contenders. The defense speaks for itself, holding Notre Dame to 46 rushing yards. But when Swift is rolling, he is tough to stop. Fromm, on the other hand, exudes poise and is the reason these Bulldogs are never out of a game. The Fighting Irish, meanwhile, gave Georgia all it could handle, staying close for three quarters and nearly pulling off an upset in the closing seconds. The offensive line gave Ian Book a clean pocket most of the night, and Book delivered the kind of veteran presence his team needed. But when you can’t run the football, you’ve got a problem. Notre Dame’s inability to move the chains and keep the clock moving could cause more problems going forward if it doesn’t change. — Alex Scarborough
No. 4 LSU 66, Vanderbilt 38
This pass-happy offense looks so good on the Tigers that you wonder why they didn’t go to it years ago. Joe Burrow (398 yards, six TDs) again put up Heisman-worthy stats — in part because the defense was giving up just enough points to Vandy to keep the first-string offense on the field for a while. Now comes a bye week before an interesting run: home games against Utah State, Florida and Auburn sandwiching a trip to Mississippi State. — Bill Connelly
No. 6 Ohio State 76, Miami (Ohio) 5
Miami will always have those first eight minutes. But after falling behind 5-0, Ohio State obliterated the RedHawks. Following the first 76-5 result in FBS history, the Buckeyes get to prepare for a couple of unique tests: a road trip to Nebraska and a visit from Michigan State. The Buckeyes should win both, but the magnitude of the wins will tell us a lot about OSU’s ability to maintain form over the long haul. — Bill Connelly
No. 8 Auburn 28, No. 17 Texas A&M 20
Auburn has one of the most impressive résumés in the country — including the season-opening win against Oregon — yet it’s still premature to talk about the Tigers as playoff contenders because their remaining schedule is so brutal. Quarterback Bo Nix is maturing each week, but the Tigers have three straight October road games and Georgia and Alabama. Saturday’s win proved they’re capable of more, but how much remains to be seen. The Aggies’ role this season has become clear: a potential spoiler, but unlikely to be more. Texas A&M has two losses and hasn’t faced Alabama, Georgia or LSU yet. If the offense doesn’t find its spark, it could be a five-loss season for Jimbo Fisher. The Aggies’ running game was stifled, and though Kellen Mond made some big plays on third down, his team came up short in the red zone and surrendered a touchdown off of a turnover. — Heather Dinich
No. 9 Florida 34, Tennessee 3
Kyle Trask made his first career start, and he showed plenty of promise — throwing for more yards than Feleipe Franks ever had in a game. But he had his share of mistakes too, including two interceptions and a fumble. Florida still has issues consistently running the ball, and that remains a question moving forward, especially as the heart of the schedule looms. A difficult October schedule awaits after next week’s game against Towson, and Florida is going to have to play nearly perfectly when that stretch begins Oct. 5 against Auburn, then continues with games against LSU, South Carolina and Georgia. The Gators are hopeful that they will have two of their best defenders, CJ Henderson and Jabari Zuniga, healthy in time for those contests. — Andrea Adelson
Southern California 30, No. 10 Utah 23
Utah looked nothing like a fringe CFP contender at USC, and the Utes have much to clean up if they want to challenge for their first Pac-12 title. A veteran team built on discipline and not beating itself must take a long look in the mirror after committing 16 penalties, repeatedly coming up empty in plus territory and giving up a safety at the worst time. USC’s receivers exposed cracks in a talented but untested Utah secondary. The Utes’ hold-happy offensive line clearly needs a reset, especially if top running back Zack Moss (shoulder injury) misses any length of time. Utah can still win the Pac-12 South, but it needs a much cleaner performance next week against surging Washington State. — Adam Rittenberg
No. 13 Wisconsin 35, No. 11 Michigan 14
Michigan’s offense is broken, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution. The Wolverines were hoping a bye would help fix the issues with turnovers and a lack of production against Army, but that was hardly the case. This game was a pendulum game for Michigan, and after a loss, the Wolverines have to try to make it through Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Wisconsin’s defense has been stifling in all three games, and running back Jonathan Taylor has been outstanding. This team is going to be difficult for any opponent the rest of the way. — Tom VanHaaren
No. 12 Texas 36, Oklahoma State 30
The Longhorns have some things to clean up and have a few players banged up, but this is a good team that earned a solid win over an explosive Oklahoma State squad. The defense might be something folks wondered about, and all the questions there aren’t answered yet, but the way the Longhorns made Chuba Hubbard — the nation’s leading rusher coming into the tilt — work for yardage was impressive, and they yielded no touchdown passes to a talented receiving corps led by Tylan Wallace. Texas is on the uptick, and its upcoming off week is timely. — Sam Khan Jr.
Pitt 35, No. 15 UCF 34
UCF’s 27-game regular-season winning streak (including conference title games) is over, and honestly, if it was going to end, it might as well have happened this way — a “Philly Special” reverse pass to the QB in the end zone. The loss likely ends any long-shot hopes of a playoff bid for UCF, and it certainly sets the Knights back in their quest for another New Year’s Six bid. But the silver lining is that they erased a 21-0 deficit and had a lead with a minute to play, and freshman QB Dillon Gabriel continues to impress. — David M. Hale
No. 16 Oregon 21, Stanford 6
In the three games since the Ducks gave up a late touchdown to lose to Auburn in the opener, the Oregon defense has allowed a grand total of zero touchdowns. Oregon has a bye next week before hosting No. 23 Cal in another game in which points figure to be at a premium. That contest will mark a homecoming for former Ducks defensive back Justin Wilcox, who has installed an impressive defense as the head coach at Cal. If these two teams end up as the two best in the Pac-12 North, it wouldn’t be a surprise. — Kyle Bonagura
No. 20 Boise State 30, Air Force 19
The deeper Boise State gets into the season, the less noteworthy quarterback Hank Bachmeier’s true freshman status becomes. On paper, the Broncos’ first third of the season figured to be more difficult than the four-game stretch they’re about to enter. Still, three of the next four games are away from the blue turf, including a trip to BYU on Oct. 19. In the wake of UCF’s loss to Pitt, the Broncos have become the de facto Group of 5 favorites to reach a New Year’s Six bowl. — Kyle Bonagura
No. 21 Virginia 28, Old Dominion 17
The first-half scare against Old Dominion probably shouldn’t have been a huge surprise for a team coming off an emotional win over Florida State. That the Cavaliers responded with a strong second half shows some maturity and an ability to regroup amid adversity. Virginia isn’t going to out-talent many of its opponents, so those lessons will matter as the season progresses. — David M. Hale
No. 22 Washington 45, BYU 19
Looking ahead, Washington’s lopsided win against BYU is noteworthy if only because the Huskies’ next opponent, USC, lost in Provo a week ago. Against the Cougars, Washington looked every bit like a team that will compete for the Pac-12 title, but it will resume that march next week at 0-1 in conference — and without much margin for error. A loss to USC would mark the first 0-2 Pac-12 start for Washington since 2008. — Kyle Bonagura
No. 23 Cal 28, Ole Miss 20
For a while, it looked like this was going to be a statement win for the Golden Bears. Instead, they ended up having to gut things out, stopping Ole Miss inches short of the goal line on the game’s final play. But this was still Cal’s first road win as a ranked team in nearly 10 years, and the offense showed more life than we’re used to seeing. This could be a very interesting Pac-12 North race. — Bill Connelly
Colorado 34, No. 24 Arizona State 31
Even after Arizona State climbed into the Top 25, the Sun Devils never looked like a team that would be a fixture in the rankings. After losing to Colorado, they will surely drop out, and with ranked opponents the next three games — at Cal, Washington State, at Utah — it will be a battle for them to remain in the Pac-12 South race. True freshman QB Jayden Daniels has shown improvement, and that trajectory will need to continue for ASU to compete in the division. — Kyle Bonagura
SMU 41, No. 25 TCU 38
A loss to rival SMU — a team TCU had beaten seven consecutive times and 11 of the past 12 — is an ominous sign for a team that would like to consider itself a factor in the Big 12. SMU, albeit an improved squad under Sonny Dykes, controlled the game on TCU’s home turf, and the Horned Frogs allowed 31 first-half points. There are numerous questions for this TCU team as it moves into conference play, and it certainly will drop out of the Top 25. — Sam Khan Jr.
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