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What we learned: Florida completing amazing turnaround


It's not a mathematical certainty yet, but Florida is all but in the SEC Championship Game.

The Gators' resounding 27-3 win over rival Georgia gave first-year coach Jim McElwain a comfortable two-game lead on the rest of the division, with only two SEC games left against the two worst teams in the league. Florida can clinch the division -- making McElwain the first Florida coach to win the SEC East Division in his first year with the program -- with a win over Vanderbilt next week.

That's an awfully long climb back from the downtrodden place where Will Muschamp left the Gators program last year. UF still has issues on the offensive line and quarterback Treon Harris might not be able to carry the offense in a close game, but this season can already be considered a one-year turnaround.

Here are eight other things we learned from Week 9 in college football:

2. Halloweening. One of Penn State's top prospects, defensive lineman Anthony Zettel, dressed in full Halloween costume for his postgame interview with reporters following the Nittany Lions' 39-0 rout of Illinois on Saturday.

Equally scary: Illinois' offense averaged 1.4 yards per rush and 3.8 yards per pass. The neighborhood kids piled up more yardage gathering candy Saturday.

3. Anything can happen. The positively bizarre end of the Miami-Duke game proves once again that college football can't be matched when it comes to outrageous finishes. The eight-lateral kickoff return that snatched a last-play win from certain loss Saturday had everything the famed Cal-Stanford play had, except a trombone player to run over in the end zone.

4. Sleeper watch. You won't hear Jacoby Brissett's name mentioned with the elite quarterback prospects in next year's NFL draft, but he'll be on enough draft boards to throw a party. The North Carolina State and former Florida passer put a strong effort against a strong opponent on tape for scouts to see Saturday in a 56-41 loss to Clemson. He connected on 24 of 41 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions against the No. 3 team in the nation.

5. The Group of Five conferences are for real. If you didn't think the Group of Five conferences had any business playing with Power Five schools, Saturday taught you differently. The Fighting Irish have beaten the Pac-12's USC, ACC's Georgia Tech and Big 12's Texas this year, and Temple gave them a tougher game than all of those in a 24-20 loss. A nation of Notre Dame haters were all Owls fans for one day. And one day only.

6. Golson sits. Florida State quarterback Everett Golson sat out the Seminoles' 45-21 win over Syracuse with concussion-like symptoms. With Dalvin Cook out with an ankle injury as well, it was an impressive day for multiple backups on the Seminoles' offense. Next week against unbeaten Clemson, however, the status of Golson and Cook could be crucial.

7. Reynolds' reaches rushing record. Fourth-year Navy QB Keenan Reynolds scored his 77th career rushing touchdown Saturday, tying an NCAA mark in a 29-17 win over South Florida. Former Denver Broncos RB Montee Ball still shares the record with Reynolds, but probably only until next week. Navy's triple-option offense has suited Reynolds perfectly since he took over the job in 2012. On Saturday, he turned in his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season against the Bulls.

8. Trojan in pain. USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster's availability is in question after the Tropjans' win over Cal. "JuJu has a fracture in his hand that he was able to cast up and play with a little bit in the second half," said USC interim coach Clay Helton. Helton added that Smith-Schuster's status going forward will be "a pain tolerance thing."

9. Buckeye blues. Finally, we learned that even in an idle week, the always-talked-about Ohio State quarterback situation is subject to change.

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

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