College Football Week 10: Return of the Spoilermakers

Purdue Football college football week 10
Purdue wide receiver Jackson Anthrop (33) runs against Michigan StateMichael Conroy/AP / Shutterstock

Now that the calendar has flipped to November, the college football season is in its home stretch—unofficially, at least. In college football Week 10, some teams helped themselves while others fell into pits of despair. That describes every week in this sport, but it’s especially true this late in the year. Here’s a sampling of who improved their standing over the last few days and who didn’t.

 

 

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College Football Week 10 Recap

Winner: Purdue

The Boilermakers beat No. 3 Michigan State in West Lafayette, 40–29. It’s their second win over a previously unbeaten, top-three-ranked Big Ten opponent this year (they beat then-No. 2 Iowa on the road in Week 7 by a score of 24–17). The Boilers flashed some offensive creativity, and quarterback Aidan O’Connell had 536 passing yards and three touchdowns in what was certainly the game of his life. Jeff Brohm’s team was one of college football’s delightful surprises in his first two years (2017 and ‘18), but then went 6–12 in 2019 and ‘20. Purdue is now 6–3 and will return to a bowl this year, and it’s had two of the most impressive wins of the entire season. According to ESPN, this game was Purdue’s 17th win over a top-five opponent while unranked—the most of any program in college football.

Loser: Wake Forest

The previously unbeaten Demon Deacons took their first loss of the season at North Carolina, 58–55. The loss itself wasn’t the end of the world—Wake was probably not going to finish 12–0—but the manner of defeat will sting for Dave Clawson and company. Wake led by 14 after three quarters and had numerous chances to close out the Tar Heels, who are finishing a massively disappointing season. But the Deacs’ offense went to sleep, and a gassed defense let UNC reel off 24 unanswered points to seal the game before Wake scored a garbage-time touchdown. Clawson’s team retains the driver’s seat in the ACC Atlantic race, but any long-shot College Football Playoff hopes are now effectively extinguished and the Deacs’ margin for error to make a New Year’s Six bowl game has shrunk. More pressingly, blowing a two-touchdown lead to a rival is a serious black eye.

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Winner: Army

The Black Knights beat Air Force in overtime, 21–14, claiming a nice rivalry win (in a weirdly situated Texas baseball stadium, no less). They also secured the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, the grail that goes to the FBS service academy that has the best record in games played between Army, Navy, and Air Force. (Air Force already beat Navy, meaning nobody can do better than 1–1 in games played among the trio, and Army entered the year with the upper hand because in the event of a tie, the trophy stays with the school that previously won it.) Air Force struggled with field position all day but mounted an 11-point fourth quarter comeback to force overtime. Once there, Army recovered its own fumble for a touchdown and stood up Air Force on a fourth down in the end zone to close out the win.

Loser: Auburn

The Tigers scored all of three points (and gave up 20) in a boring loss to Texas A&M, which at one point had to bring in a third-string, walk-on quarterback after an injury to backup Zach Calzada, who has been starting since September. Auburn had a chance to establish itself as the second-best team in the SEC West behind Alabama and very much did not. Instead, that title has been deferred (for now) to Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies. The A&M defense was dominant as usual and only gave up a field goal while earning a defensive touchdown. Auburn coach Bryan Harsin, who may or may not be vaccinated against COVID ahead of a looming university deadline, clearly has a lot to worry about.

Winner: Phil Jurkovec

The Boston College quarterback was supposed to be one of the better passers in the country this season, but he broke a bone in his throwing hand in the Eagles’ second game and didn’t return until Friday night against Virginia Tech. It was lovely to see him back on the field, and he had an imperfect but fun night at the office, including recovering a fumble after throwing his lone interception (above). He carried nine times for 65 yards and a touchdown, and he rode a dominant defensive effort to a 17–3 win. He’s a winner this week for the simple fact of having a great comeback.

Loser: Nebraska fans

It’s been a brutal few years for Huskers fans, who haven’t seen a bowl game since 2016 and have had to put up with an endless cascade of disappointment during Scott Frost’s four seasons as head coach. The 2021 campaign has probably been the most painful because there have been consistent signs that Nebraska isn’t that far from being good. Earlier in the year, the Huskers nearly beat Playoff contender Oklahoma before losing by seven, and the next week, they nearly beat Playoff contender Michigan State before losing by three. Two weeks later, they lost to then-unbeaten Michigan by three. On Saturday, they had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead on No. 5 Ohio State, but Frost called for a cowardly short field goal that missed wide left, and they went on to lose 26–17. Frost still hasn’t notched a signature win, or a bowl berth, as the Huskers’ head coach. His 3–7 team has taken each of its losses by nine points or less. The fanbase deserves more joy—and so do Frost’s players.

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