Washington State was a 43-yard field goal away from indirectly dealing a blow to Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff hopes.
Cougars kicker Erik Powell missed a game-winning field goal attempt as time expired Saturday night in Pullman to hand Stanford a 30-28 win, keeping Stanford's playoff hopes alive. And by extension, the Cardinal's win means its season-ending date with Notre Dame should carry massive playoff implications, which is good news for an Irish team that saw its strength of schedule take a hit this week with Pitt falling and half of its opponents careening toward bowl ineligibility.
Opponent power rankings:
1. Clemson (8-0)
2. Stanford (7-1)
3. Temple (7-1)
4. Navy (6-1)
5. USC (5-3)
6. Pitt (6-2)
7. Virginia (3-5)
8. Boston College (3-6)
9. Georgia Tech (3-6)
10. Texas (3-5)
11. Wake Forest (3-6)
12. UMass (1-7)
On to the results:
Texas (3-5): Lost, 24-0, at Iowa State
After beating Oklahoma and Kansas State, Texas laid an egg in Ames and now has to go 3-1 against Kansas, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Baylor to be bowl eligible.
Virginia (3-5) Won, 27-21, vs. Georgia Tech
Virginia played UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State in non-conference play and is 2-2 in the ACC. Had it scheduled cupcakes instead of UCLA and Boise State, it’d only need one win against Miami, Louisville, Duke and Virginia Tech -- not easy, but possible -- to be bowl eligible and possibly save coach Mike London’s job.
[SHOP: Gear up, Notre Dame fans!]
Georgia Tech (3-6) Lost, 27-21, at Virginia
The Yellow Jackets couldn’t ride the momentum of last week’s dramatic win over Florida State into Charlottesville and now must beat Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia to get to six wins. That’s not impossible, but it’s improbable the way things have gone in Atlanta this year.
UMass (1-7): Lost, 20-10, at Ball State
The Minutemen’s only win is over Florida International and they’re 6-37 since re-joining the FBS level. It doesn’t look like Brian Kelly was right when he said UMass looked like one of the best teams in the MAC (which they’re leaving to become independent after this season).
Clemson (8-0) Won, 56-41, at N.C. State
Jacoby Brissett and N.C. State represented a tricky road test for the Tigers, but DeShaun Watson took a flamethrower to the Wolfpack defense with 383 yards and five touchdowns through the air, and 54 yards and a score on the ground. Next up is a home date against Florida State, which if Clemson wins should tee it up to cruise to the ACC Championship and a shot at a 13-0 season.
Navy (6-1): Won, 29-17, vs. South Florida
The Mids improved to 4-0 in the American Athletic Conference behind Keenan Reynolds’ two touchdowns, which tied him with Montee Ball atop the NCAA career rushing touchdown leaderboard. A critical trip to Memphis awaits this weekend, with the winner of that game on a collision course with Houston to determine the AAC West.
USC (5-3): Won, 27-21, at Cal
That’s now two solid performances in a row for USC, which beat Utah last week and held out to beat Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid offense in Berkeley. The Trojans are now one win away from bowl eligibility and, if they win out and get some help, could still worm their way into the Pac-12 title game. They’ll have to do it with a banged-up JuJu Smith-Schuster, though.
Pitt (6-2): Lost, 26-19, to North Carolina
So much for Notre Dame playing back-to-back top 25 opponents in the state of Pennsylvania. Pitt’s offense was unimpressive and allowed Marquise Williams to throw touchdowns of 71 and 32 yards. The good news was Pat Narduzzi’s defense forced North Carolina to kick four field goals, all from inside the 30-yard line. But those explosive plays were crippling, and the Panthers averaged just a tick over four yards per carry (they still miss James Conner). This game was a bellwether for the ACC Coastal, with Pitt’s chances of winning the division looking slim with a trip to Duke following Saturday’s game against the Irish.
Wake Forest (3-6): Lost, 20-19, to Louisville
This turgid Friday night game saw only three points scored after halftime. Wake Forest is now one loss away from bowl ineligibility with games against Notre Dame, Clemson and Duke remaining. The Demon Deacons do get a bye next week before heading to South Bend, but this is a young team undergoing a major overhaul, and the extra rest shouldn’t affect the outcome at Notre Dame Stadium Nov. 14.
Boston College (3-6): Lost, 26-10, to Virginia Tech
Freshman walk-on John Fadule started at quarterback and completed eight of 20 passes for 143 yards with an interception, and rushed 15 times for 53 yards. This is the state of Boston College’s offense without injured quarterback Darius Wade and running back Jon Hillman. The Eagles’ defense remains a solid unit — seven of Virginia Tech’s points came on a fumble return, and the Hokies took advantage of good field position for the rest of their points (their longest scoring drive was 55 yards). But without an offense, Boston College probably won't be much of a threat to Notre Dame at Fenway Park.
Stanford (7-1) Won, 30-28, at Washington State
This was hardly an impressive win for Stanford, with Kevin Hogan’s 59- and 40-yard runs largely powering the Cardinal offense. While this defense did allow 28 points, it held Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense to six field goals, the last of which would’ve been the game-winner had Erik Powell connected from 43 yards. Stanford has a tricky road game at Colorado — which nearly knocked off UCLA in Pasadena on Saturday — before welcoming Oregon and Cal to Palo Alto in advance of the Notre Dame game Nov. 28.