Here are five things I learned in college football this week:
1. Florida State doesn’t look like the team that won a BCS national championship last season. It looks more like the Auburn team that lost to the Seminoles in the last BCS National Championship Game.
To win a national title in the past, or to now reach the four-team College Football Playoff, a team is going to need more than a few good breaks along the way. FSU seems to be getting them every week, just like Auburn did last season.
The Seminoles beat Clemson 23-17 in overtime on Sept. 20 because the Tigers fumbled the ball -- and a golden opportunity for an upset -- at FSU’s 14-yard line in the final two minutes of regulation.
On Oct. 18, FSU defeated Notre Dame 31-27 because the Irish were penalized for offensive pass interference on a pick play, wiping out a go-ahead touchdown pass from Everett Golson to Corey Robinson in the final moments.
Then on Thursday night, the No. 2 Seminoles trailed No. 25 Louisville 21-0 in the final minutes of the first half on the road. FSU tailback Karlos Williams fumbled near the goal line, but tight end Nick O'Leary recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Seminoles a manageable 21-7 deficit heading into the locker room.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Louisville safety Gerod Holliman intercepted Jameis Winston's pass. But Winston chased down Holliman, knocked the ball loose and FSU’s Travis Rudolph recovered the fumble.
The Seminoles scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 42-31 win, their 24th victory in a row.
"We’ve been there before," Winston said. "Being down is nothing when you’ve got heart and you persevere. Personally, we play better when we’re down, honestly."
2. Georgia fans have every right to be upset that the NCAA didn’t reduce star tailback Todd Gurley's four-game suspension, which will keep him sidelined for Saturday’s game against Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, and next week’s road trip to Kentucky.
But Georgia fans shouldn’t be upset at the NCAA or the UGA administration. Gurley knew he was breaking NCAA rules when he accepted $3,000 to autograph helmets, footballs and other memorabilia. And it wasn’t a momentary lapse of judgment. According to the NCAA, Gurley was paid to autograph memorabilia for multiple dealers over the past two years.
Sure, the NCAA rules that prohibit players from receiving money for their autographs and likeness are out of date and need to be repealed. But Gurley knew the rules, and Georgia officials constantly educate their players about what they can and can’t do.
I have sympathy for Gurley, who grew up in a mobile home park in Tarboro, North Carolina. His mother struggled to make ends meet while raising Gurley and his siblings, and his family still doesn’t have much when it comes to material possessions. It doesn’t make much sense that Georgia and the NCAA can profit from his name, image and likeness, while he will have to sit four games for profiting from his own name.
At the end of the day, Gurley’s biggest flaw might have been his honesty about breaking the NCAA rules.
3. Don’t think the timing of Oklahoma freshman tailback Joe Mixon's guilty plea to avoid going to trial on charges that he punched a woman in the face in a bar on July 25 was coincidental.
By entering an Alford plea, which allows Mixon to continue asserting his innocence, his attorneys avoided making the videotape that showed Mixon punching a woman available to the media and public through state open records laws.
On Saturday, a new Oklahoma law, Senate Bill 2676, takes effect that would have required police to release the surveillance video from the bar where the incident took place. But since Mixon reached a deal with prosecutors before the law goes into effect, police in Norman, Oklahoma, are refusing to release the video to media.
Police allowed members of the media to view the tape but wouldn’t let them make copies. The original tape was returned to the bar owners on Thursday night and was destroyed, according to media reports.
Attorneys for the city of Norman say they still have a copy, after they were threatened with a lawsuit, but contend that that copy is not subject to release under transparency laws.
Oklahoma Sen. David Holt, who wrote the new law, told KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City that his intent was to increase transparency.
"I don’t even know that we need to say that, I thought that the intention of that was clear. That if you can look at it, you can copy it, especially in the day and age where we all have iPhones, we’re just one click away from copying a document," Holt said.
4. Winston threw a career-high three interceptions in Florida State’s win at Louisville, and his chances of repeating as the Heisman Trophy winner seem all but dead.
According to a Heismanology poll conducted by ESPN’s Joe Tessitore, Winston received only 4.5 percent of the available points in this week’s balloting -- and that was before he tossed three interceptions against the Cardinals.
After nine weeks of the season, it seems to be a two-man race between Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. According to Tessitore, they received 95 percent of the first- and second-place votes.
But there is still a lot of football to be played, and Tessitore notes that the last time two players received such a high percentage of the first- and second-place votes was 2012, when Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and Oregon tailback Kenjon Barner were leading the voting. Of course, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel ended up becoming the first freshman to win.
5. And, finally, the stat of the week from ESPN Stats & Info: Mississippi State is averaging a Power 5-high 188.6 rush yards per game inside the tackles. Prescott and Josh Robinson are two of four Power 5 players who have run for at least 500 yards and seven touchdowns inside the tackles.