Kyle McCord was clutch. Clemson was not. Those are just two of the biggest stories in college football this weekend. Here are the winners and losers of Week 4 of the season.
Ohio State QB Kyle McCord: The Buckeyes’ young quarterback was poised down the stretch in a tough 17-14 win over Associated Press No. 9 Notre Dame. No. 6 Ohio State trailed with 1:26 remaining in the game and McCord made a couple of huge plays to keep the Buckeyes undefeated season intact. It wasn’t exactly pretty – McCord was 5-of-13 for 73 yards on the final drive – but he made several clutch throws, including a 21-yarder on a third-and-19 with 15 seconds remaining.
McCord finished the game 21-of-37 of 240 yards and his stoic final drive bodes well for the Buckeyes as they try to return to the College Football Playoff.
Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin: The mentor once again taught the mentee. Kiffin had arguably his best chance at defeating Nick Saban – whom he worked under from 2014-16 – on Saturday but Ole Miss squandered its opportunity against a weaker-than-usual Crimson Tide team in a 24-10 loss. Saban’s defense clamped down in the second half, only allowing three points. Kiffin fell to 0-5 against Saban and with the teams not scheduled to play each other in 2024, who knows when (or if) he ever will get over the hump.
Oregon HC Dan Lanning: Among everyone involved in Saturday’s Colorado-Oregon game, arguably no one talked as much smack before it started than Ducks head coach Dan Lanning. When the Buffaloes announced they were leaving the Pac-12 this summer, Lanning dismissed the program, saying, “I’m trying to remember what they won to affect this conference and I don’t remember.” Then, in front of cameras during a pregame speech, he blasted Colorado again when he told his team, “They’re fighting for clicks, we’re fighting for wins.” Lanning’s team talked up his brash talk with an emphatic 42-6 route that was over by halftime.
Clemson HC Dabo Swinney: With its heartbreaking 31-24 overtime loss to No. 4 Florida State, Clemson dropped to 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 2010. That was Swinney’s third year as Tigers head coach and they finished 6-7, their last season with fewer than 10 wins. During Saturday’s loss, Swinney criticized defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin in an in-game interview for calling a soft defense at the end of the first half. Later, he blew up at Goodwin on the sideline in the fourth. While Swinney attacked his defensive coordinator, the offense showed an embarrassing lack of urgency at the end of regulation.
Clemson is a mess. With a road trip to undefeated Syracuse next Saturday, followed by games later in the year including at No. 20 Miami (FL) and home dates against No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 17 North Carolina, this season could go from bad to worse.
Washington State QB Cam Ward: Ward reminded everyone that he belongs in the conversation of great Pac-12 quarterbacks with a brilliant performance for No. 21 Washington State against No. 14 Oregon State in the “Pac-2” championship. The junior quarterback began the game with a 63-yard touchdown and was surgical throughout the first half.
Ward finished 28-of-34 for 404 yards and five total touchdowns in Washington State’s 38-35 win. He’s accounted for 16 touchdowns through the Cougars first four games. In most conferences, he’d be the best quarterback in it. Unfortunately, he’s in a conference with Heisman winner Caleb Williams, Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix and Shedeur Sanders. However, on Saturday, no one was better than Ward.
NBC’s Big Ten draw: NBC invested heavily in Big Ten football but based on its early returns, it may want to stick with Notre Dame football and the Olympics.
The network aired Ohio State-Notre Dame thanks to its TV rights deal with the Irish but that game’s lead was a blowout 31-9 Maryland win over Michigan State. NBC’s other Big Ten games this year have mostly been unattractive. Not since Cleveland guaranteed Deshaun Watson $230 million has a deal looked so lopsided.
Turnover tires: The turnover chain is dead. Long live the turnover tire.