Everett Golson

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

It appeared the defending champions were poised to fall Saturday. On fourth and goal at the Florida State 2-yard line, Everett Golson, Notre Dame’s senior quarterback, found sophomore wide receiver Corey Robinson for the go-ahead touchdown strike with 13 ticks on the clock.

Perhaps he was too open because the officials called an offensive pass interference on junior wide receiver C.J. Prosise, which moved the ball back 15 yards and forced the Irish to replay the down. Golson threw an interception in the end zone on the subsequent play, and the Seminoles survived 31-27 to extend their winning streak to 23 games.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly did not agree with the official’s call after the game.

“We execute that play every day,” Kelly said “And we do it legally, and that’s the way we coach it. We don’t coach illegal plays.”

This win keeps the Seminoles right in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff and was their best chance of being knocked off in the regular season.

Top-heavy SEC

The SEC continues to dominate the college football world and now lays claim to four teams in the top five of this week’s AP poll. Mississippi State remains at No. 1, and Ole Miss is still No. 3, but Alabama experienced some movement. The Alabama Crimson Tide moved up from No. 7 to No. 4 following their 59-0 rout of Texas A&M, while the Auburn Tigers moved up a spot to No. 5 after a couple of higher ranked teams lost.

All four of the SEC teams in the top five hail from the SEC West. Meanwhile, Georgia checks in at No. 9 this week, while LSU is back in the top 25 at No. 24. As dominant as the top of the SEC is, the bottom of the conference has been struggling.

Despite Georgia routing them at home last weekend 34-0, the Missouri Tigers bounced back to pulverize the Florida Gators, 42-13. With just under six minutes to play in the third quarter, the Tigers led 42-0 despite having less than 100 yards of total offense to that point.

Wide-open Big 12

West Virginia knocked off then No. 4 Baylor in Morgantown, West Virginia, 41-27, and climbed back into the top 25 at No. 22. The Mountaineers now control their own destiny in the conference title race and will host the two most difficult games left on their schedule.

TCU climbed to No. 10 in the AP poll this week after shellacking then No. 15 Oklahoma State, 42-9. The Horned Frogs bounced back after blowing a three-score lead to No. 5 Baylor a week ago.

The conference’s lone unbeaten team in conference play is No. 11 Kansas State, which defeated then No. 11 Oklahoma, 31-30, in Norman, Oklahoma, on Saturday. Usually reliable Sooner placekicker Michael Hunnicutt had a rough afternoon, converting only 1-of-3 field goal attempts.

Hunnicutt missed the go-ahead attempt from 19 yards out with under four minutes to play. Kansas State also blocked a PAT attempt that would have tied the game at 31.

1. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

Last week (W, 38-23, vs. Auburn): 18-for-34, 246 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 2 INTs, 121 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

2014: 1,478 passing yards, 14 passings TDs, 4 INTs, 576 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs

Who had Prescott leading the Heisman race before the start of the season? Nobody. The 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pound dual-threat junior quarterback has broken through in the most impressive of ways and looks to be here to stay. His résumé consists of three straight wins over ranked opponents and leading Mississippi State, perennial SEC bottom-feeder, to its first AP No. 1 ranking in school history. There’s no denying Prescott has earned the Heisman lead. He threw two early interceptions against Auburn, but his 367 all-purpose yards, clutch touchdowns down the stretch and eventual victory more than made up for his mistakes. 

2. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

Last week (W, 42-30, vs. UCLA): 17-for-27, 210 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 75 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

2014: 1,621 passing yards, 17 passing TDs, 290 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs

Oregon’s win over UCLA last week was much bigger than the score indicated, and Mariota picked apart the Bruins’ defense in every way possible. Most impressively, Mariota gashed UCLA for 75 yards on the ground and made most of the Ducks’ possessions look flawless. The junior has yet to throw an interception this season, which is an incredibly rare feat. In order to regain the Hesiman lead, he’ll have to hope Prescott slows down, but, as always, there’s no doubting Mariota’s greatness every time he steps on the field.     

3. Notre Dame QB Everett Golson

Last week (W, 50-43, vs. North Carolina): 21-for-38, 300 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 1 INT, 71 rushing yards

2014: 1,583 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 209 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs

Golson may not put up the best numbers in college football, but all he does is win. He has been the guy pushing Notre Dame to wins each week and in last week’s shoot-out against North Carolina, it was Golson’s clutch factor that made the difference yet again for the Irish. This week, however, will make or break Golson’s Heisman campaign. A matchup with No. 2 Florida State on Saturday sets the perfect stage for Golson to either shine or fade away. 

4. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon

Last week: (W, 38-28, vs. Illinois): 27 attempts, 175 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs

2014: 1,046 rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD

Wisconsin still has six regular season games on its schedule, and Gordon has already surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. Games such as last week’s against Illinois are the reason some say Gordon is the best running back in the country and his yards per game and total yards are both second in the FBS. The truth is, Gordon hasn’t faced great competition and his Badgers have lost to two mediocre teams in LSU and Northwestern. But the numbers he puts up and what he does every time he touches the ball have been nothing short of amazing. 

5. Georgia RB Todd Gurley

Last week: Suspended

2014: 773 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs 

Considering Gurley was leading the Heisman race just a week ago, there’s no knocking him completely off the list for the controversy surrounding him off the field. For a running back who was having such an excellent season, Gurley’s suspension was both surprising and poorly timed. Right now, there’s no knowing how long Gurley will be out. But if he hopes to climb back into Heisman contention, he needs to get back on the field in a hurry, or else he’ll quickly fall out of the Heisman conversation.

National Notebook

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) is tackled by Miami linebacker Eddie Johnson during the first half of a game at Soldier Field Saturday, Oct. 6 in Chicago.
Photo Credit: The Associated Press

As college football heads closer to November, the competition is heating up. Saturday’s games will have major implications on how the standings look in December. Let’s take a look at some of the national notes heading into the weekend.

• The big news of the week was the arrest of former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu in Baton Rouge. Mathieu, nicknamed the “Honey Badger,” was arrested along with three other former players for possession of and intent to distribute marijuana, according to reports. Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season but was kicked off the team in the summer for failing multiple drug tests. He is still taking classes at LSU. 

• Ohio State sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller will be ready to play when the Buckeyes visit Penn State this weekend. Miller was taken to a Columbus hospital after taking a hit in the third quarter of Ohio State’s win over Purdue last Saturday. Miller practiced all week and claims it’s nothing more than a sore neck.

• In similar news, Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Everett Golson will start Saturday at Oklahoma. Golson sat out last weekend’s victory over Brigham Young after suffering a concussion the week before against Stanford. Golson cleared post-concussion tests Monday and is set to go for Saturday’s highly anticipated game.

• Keeping with the theme of quarterback health, Oregon State’s sophomore signal caller Sean Mannion will return to the field versus Washington this weekend just three weeks after having knee surgery to repair an injured meniscus. The Beavers have become the surprise team in college football, starting the season undefeated and climbing all the way to No. 7 in the BCS.

• Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has been sentenced after pleading guilty to DUI prior to the season. The junior will have to take alcohol awareness classes, pay fines and is prone to random drug and alcohol tests.

• Oregon defensive tackle Isaac Remington will play versus Colorado this Saturday after Eugene prosecutors decided not to charge the senior with DUI. Remington was held out of the Ducks’ victory over Arizona State last Thursday night. Remington has 12 tackles on the season.

• Ohio State and Oregon have agreed to a home-and-home series starting in 2020, when the Buckeyes will visit Eugene. The Ducks last faced the Buckeyes in the 2010 Rose Bowl, resulting in a 26-17 Ohio State victory.

• Southern Mississippi quarterback Anthony Alford’s mother, Lawanda Ann, was arrested after getting into an argument with another fan regarding her son’s poor play against Marshall last Saturday. After winning 12 games last season, the Golden Eagles are currently sitting at 0-7.

• North Carolina senior wide receiver Erik Highsmith might be facing some penalties after reportedly plagiarizing an article about poultry, which was written by an 11-year-old for a blogging site. The Tar Heels’ program is already serving a one-year bowl ban for a separate academic scandal. Pretty fowl.

• Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar took a scare tactic route to award walk-ons Daniel Maynes and Robert O’Connor full scholarships. Molnar had the entire team in the locker room when two police officers walked in with manila folders, calling for Maynes and O’Connor. The players hesitantly came to the front only to open their envelopes and see they had been awarded scholarships.

• Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer has been suspended for the team’s game versus Montana this weekend and reprimanded by the University. As reported last week, Kramer is being investigated by the police for pushing a player to the ground in practice.