19 things you need to know from Week 9 in college football


LSU coach Les Miles has called Death Valley, the Tigers' home venue, a place "where dreams go to die."

That could be exactly what happened Saturday night, when Ole Miss absorbed its first loss of the season, 10-7, at the hands of an LSU team emotionally charged by news of the passing of Miles' mother on Friday. A gritty, 95-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, followed by two stops by the LSU defense, sparked a comeback win that shook up the SEC standings, not to mention the forthcoming initial rankings to be released Tuesday by the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Like Alabama and Auburn, the Rebels now trail rival Mississippi State by one game in the SEC West. Ole Miss can still win the division if it wins the rest of its games, because of a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Crimson Tide. LSU's win not only put a dent in Ole Miss' chances of a championship season, but also exposed some concerns for the Ole Miss offense.

With two losses, LSU needs all sorts of help to get back into the SEC race itself. But the Tigers served notice that their home-field magic is back in play just two weeks before rival Alabama travels to Baton Rouge, as well.

Here are 18 more things you need to know about the day in college football:

  1. Go ahead and mark Ameer Abdullah down as the biggest non-quarterback threat to win the Heisman Trophy.

At this point, the Nebraska running back has to move ahead of anyone else who doesn't throw the ball in his bid for the top individual honor in college football. On Saturday, Rutgers' defense was more of a witness than a resistance to Abdullah's latest exploits, allowing the Cornhuskers senior 225 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and a school-record 341 all-purpose yards as Nebraska improved to 7-1, 42-24.

With five games remaining, including a bowl, a 2,000-yard season isn't out of reach for Abdullah. Among the games still to play for Abdullah is a trip to Camp Randall to take on Gordon and Wisconsin on Nov. 15. Between Abdullah and Gordon, whoever comes out of that game looking better is sure to sway any Heisman ballots that can be influenced by a running back. Gordon, for his part, posted another strong effort against Maryland Saturday.

  1. Move over, Julio. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper broke Julio Jones' school record for receiving yards in a single game, amassing 224 against Tennessee. And he did it on Tennessee's home field, the same place where Jones set the previous record in 2010.
  1. If you never remember Sebastian Tretola's name for anything else, let it be this. Arkansas' 350-pound offensive guard threw a 6-yard touchdown pass on a trick play against UAB that proved at least one thing: Fat guys can throw, too.
  1. In Texas, even the bagels are big. Especially the ones on the scoreboard. The Longhorns' offense absorbed a 23-0 shutout loss at Kansas State, managing just 12 first downs and 196 yards in total offense.
  1. How's this for efficient? North Carolina wide receiver Mack Hollins got his hands on the football just twice Saturday, but in a 28-27 win over Virginia, Hollins picked up touchdowns on both catches for a combined 120 yards. UNC quarterback Marquise Williams found Hollins for 57 and 63 yards. Hollins is averaging 21.3 yards per catch and has seven touchdowns on just 26 catches this season. He's averaging a touchdown every 3.7 receptions.
  1. Put Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory down for another big day. The Cornhuskers junior blocked a 50-yard field goal and recorded another sack against Rutgers, giving him 5.5 sacks on the year, plus two quarterback hurries. Gregory is regarded among the elite pass-rushing prospects in the college game.
  1. Brett Hundley has had better passing days. But the star UCLA quarterback posted his best rushing effort of the season in a 40-37 win over Colorado. The fourth-year junior ran 12 times for a season-high 110 yards and a touchdown, helping to balance a Bruins offense that piled up 509 yards on the day. Fittingly, Hundley capped it with an 8-yard touchdown run to win the game in double overtime.
  1. Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson is short. But nobody can say the 5-foot-9, 215-pound dynamo is short on effort. Robinson broke seven tackles on a single play against Kentucky to highlight his 198-yard performance in a 45-31 win. He had more than one play worth watching.
  1. How's this for an NFL tie? Lost in Stanford's 38-14 win over Oregon State was a familiar name to NFL fans. Luke Del Rio, son of Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, completed 4 of 8 passes for 87 yards. Del Rio's action came in relief of star Beavers senior Sean Mannion, who had a rough night in front of scouts from 12 NFL clubs (14 of 30, 122 yards).
  1. Go figure. Oklahoma State, with one of the worst pass defenses in the NCAA, became the first team this season to contain West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White. WVU came away with a 34-10 win, but in quarterback Clint Trickett's first game this season with less than 300 yards passing and White's first with less than 100 yards receiving, the senior caught just three passes for 27 yards.
  1. "Don't forget about us." That's the message TCU emphatically sent Saturday to the College Football Playoff selection committee in thrashing Texas Tech, 82-27. It was a career day for TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, who threw a school-record seven touchdown passes as the Horned Frogs scored the most points in their history.
  1. Talk about a rebound. Since losing to Oregon early in the season, Michigan State has outscored six opponents by a combined score of 292-109. That includes Saturday's 35-11 dispatching of rival Michigan. Next week, something will have to give as the Spartans take on another team that has been blowing people out ever since an early season loss: Ohio State.
  1. Speaking of that Michigan State game ... Spartans coach Mark Dantonio had some choice words about a perceived lack of respect from the rival Wolverines. "You might as well just come out and say what you're feeling at some point, because I can only be diplomatic for so long," Dantonio said, according to mlive.com. "The little brother stuff, all the disrespect, it didn't have to go in that direction." Reportedly, a Michigan player drove a stake into the Spartans' turf before the game, causing quite the rise among MSU players. Dantonio said the Spartans, in response, scored a late touchdown rather than kneeling on the ball.
  1. It was a shootout on the Plains. But despite a defense that struggled all night, Auburn topped South Carolina 42-35 Saturday with big offensive nights from quarterback **Nick Marshall** and running back Cameron Artis-Payne. More than 1,000 yards in combined total offense lit up the scoreboard, but Auburn lit it up last. Now, about that defense ...
  1. Connor Halliday will take the record, but Arizona will take the win. The Wildcats improved to 6-1 and stayed alive in the playoff hunt with a 59-37 win over Washington State. And with WSU now at 2-6, Halliday is getting used to doing spectacular things in losing efforts as the Cougars quarterback. He completed 56 of 79 passes in the loss for 489 yards and four touchdown passes to become the school's all-time leading passer.
  1. It's the little victories. Syracuse put up only six points in a loss to Clemson, but Orange offensive tackle Sean Hickey's rematch with Clemson pass rusher **Vic Beasley** resulted in no sacks for the Tigers' star. Both are expected to be chosen in the 2015 NFL Draft.
  1. Defense saved the day for Ohio State Saturday. The Buckeyes nipped Penn State 31-24 in double overtime, but don't let the final score fool you. Penn State managed just 16 yards rushing, and quarterback Christian Hackenberg -- whom Ohio State coach Urban Meyer described as a future NFL player earlier this week -- was intercepted twice and averaged just 4.6 yards per attempt.
  1. Arizona State kept its Pac-12- hopes alive. The Sun Devils survived some nasty conditions at Washington for a 24-10 win, but quarterback Taylor Kelly didn't have a sharp outing in his first game back since missing a month with a foot injury. He did lead a game-winning touchdown drive for the win, though. It wasn't pretty but still counts the same.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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