I don't know about you, but I'm still in disbelief about what transpired in Ann Arbor on Saturday. That game was over; I didn't even see the incredible ending live because I had switched over to another game.
Of course, all Michigan had to do was successfully punt the ball in the final seconds to beat Michigan State. Maybe MSU would have had time for a Hail Mary or some lateral play, but the Spartans were likely going to be at no better than their 20-yard line. Time probably would have run out because they also didn't have anyone back to return the punt -- they sent everyone to try and block it. That didn't happen, but UM punter Blake O'Neill, an Aussie graduate transfer, was given a low snap that he bumbled a bit. As the wave of Spartans approached, O'Neill still tried to kick the ball but somehow batted it into the air with his arm while being tackled. If O'Neill simply falls on the ball, the game is likely over. But the ball landed right in the arms of Spartans freshman Jalen Watts-Jackson and he returned it 38 yards for the touchdown and an absolutely stunning 27-23 win.
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Unfortunately for Watts-Jackson, he fractured his hip either on the play while being tackled or when teammates piled on him. So his season is over. That play, however, will live forever alongside the Stanford-Cal kickoff return, the Doug Flutie Hail Mary vs. Miami, the Colorado Hail Mary vs. Michigan, and that Auburn missed field goal return for a score vs. Alabama a couple of years ago.
The Big Ten title hopes are alive and well for MSU, which remains unbeaten despite winning its past three games by only 14 combined points. You want the definition of a letdown game? That would be this Saturday when No. 7 Michigan State hosts Indiana as a 16.5-point favorite. I would most definitely take those points.
Michigan (5-2) is not going to make the College Football Playoff with two losses, but it still has a shot to win the Big Ten East Division. It obviously would have to win out and have the Spartans lose twice. Both have to still play No. 1 Ohio State. I'm rather bummed that Michigan is on a bye this week because I'd bet the farm against the Wolverines this week too. You can't recover from a loss like that in just one week.
Here are a few opening lines that caught my eye.
No. 20 California at UCLA (-3.5): This is the ESPN Thursday night game, and it's pretty much an eliminator for the loser in terms of winning its Pac-12 division. This also is a matchup of two future NFL quarterbacks in Cal's Jared Goff, who likely will be the first QB chosen in the 2016 draft, and UCLA's Josh Rosen, who is only a true freshman. I'm not surprised that UCLA lost at Stanford last Thursday, but the 56-35 final score certainly caught me off guard. It was UCLA's eighth straight loss in the series. Now the Bruins (4-2, 1-2) are two back in the loss column of South Division leader Utah. Cal (5-1, 4-0) is a game back in the loss column in the North behind first-place Stanford. The Bears have been off since a 30-24 loss at Utah on Oct. 10 in which Goff was picked off five times. The pick: UCLA.
Iowa State at No. 2 Baylor (-37): This is easily the biggest spread of Week 8. How stupid good is that Baylor offense? The Bears are lapping the field in scoring offense, averaging 63.1 points per game; No. 2 TCU is down at 50.1. Baylor's season low is 56 points in Week 1, and it has scored at least 62 in every game since then. West Virginia upset Baylor last year, which essentially cost the Bears a playoff spot. They got revenge this past Saturday in a 62-38 victory. QB Seth Russell, a legit Heisman contender (+550 second-favorite at Bovada behind LSU's Leonard Fournette), was 20-for-33 for 380 yards and five touchdowns, and he rushed for a career-high 160 yards and another TD. Only he and Robert Griffin III have had a 300-yard passing and 100-yard rushing game in school history. Receiver Corey Coleman had three more touchdown catches and has an absurd 16 of them, a school single-season record. The FBS record of 27 is in jeopardy; that's held by Troy Edwards (Louisiana Tech 1998) and Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State 1984). This could be a bit of a trap game for Baylor with a trip to Kansas State up next. The pick: I'll take the points.
Texas Tech at No. 17 Oklahoma (-14): There may be no more motivated player in the country this week than Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield. Why? He was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2013 at Texas Tech. But Mayfield had a falling out with head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The player claims that Kingsbury reneged on offering Mayfield, who was a walk on, a scholarship. So Mayfield, the first true freshman walk-on quarterback to start a Texas Tech season opener, left the program before Tech's bowl game and opted to transfer to OU. He sat out last season. "Got a good one coming up next," Mayfield said with a grin following this past Saturday's blowout of Kansas State. The pick: OU and about 400 yards passing and four scores for Mayfield.
Western Kentucky at No. 5 LSU (-16.5): Be wary of this game. WKU is a very good team and has a dynamic offense (No. 6 in scoring and yards per game) and quarterback in Brandon Doughty, who is second nationally with 2,709 passing yards, first in completion percentage (74.1) and third in TD passes (24). He's the best QB that LSU probably will see during the regular season. He's certainly a better passer than Florida's Treon Harris, who threw for 271 yards and two scores in the Gators' 35-28 loss in Baton Rouge on Saturday. Kicker Trent Domingue's 16-yard touchdown run on the fake was LSU's only scoring play of the second half, breaking a 28-28 tie in the fourth quarter. Fournette had another big game with 180 yards and two scores. I could see LSU perhaps looking ahead to its next game, Nov. 7 at Alabama, than giving WKU the full attention it deserves. The Hilltoppers already have a win over an SEC team this year, albeit Vanderbilt. When these teams met in 2011, LSU won 42-9 at home but led only 14-7 at the half. This Western Kentucky team is much better than that one. The pick: Hoping this rises above 17 but I'll take the points.
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