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GameDay Final: Clemson survives; Tennessee is revived

Finally, thanks to No. 3 Louisville and No. 5 Clemson, we were treated to a highly anticipated showdown that lived up to its billing. With two teams featuring superstar quarterbacks and national championship aspirations, playing in a raucous atmosphere in Death Valley, the 2016 college football season kicked into another gear.

We've seen plenty of quality matchups between ranked teams in the first month of the season, but we hadn't yet watched two really, really good teams battle all the way to a nerve-wracking, dramatic ending, with high stakes in their conference-title race as well as for their places in the College Football Playoff.

We saw all of that and more in Clemson's 42-36 victory, which ended with Tigers cornerback Marcus Edmond knocking Cardinals receiver James Quick out of bounds at the Clemson 3-yard line on fourth down -- 1 yard short of a first down with 33 seconds to play.

"We want to be 12-0 and you can't win 12 until you win five," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "At the end of the day, you either have the heart or you don't. You either have the will to win or you don't."

Louisville's loss was crushing but probably doesn't entirely end its playoff hopes, depending on what happens in the other Power 5 leagues.

If you were looking for starker examples of those crushing moments of fan disbelief, Saturday provided them. In college football, we have a name for those moments of utter incredulity -- "Surrender Cobra" -- and none was more indelible than what happened in the final seconds of No. 11 Tennessee's 34-31 victory over No. 25 Georgia at Sanford Stadium.

After blowing a 17-point lead, the Bulldogs trailed 28-24 before freshman quarterback Jacob Eason fired a 47-yard touchdown to freshman Riley Ridley down the left sideline to regain the lead, 31-28 with 10 seconds left.

Almost immediately, several Tennessee fans locked their hands above their heads, which has become the universal sign of disbelief when a team makes a disastrous play or an opponent does something amazing.

What happened next resulted in a rare double "Surrender Cobra." During Georgia's celebration, a player ran onto the field without his helmet, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. The Bulldogs were also penalized for being offside on the ensuing kickoff, and the Volunteers returned the short pooch kick to Georgia's 43-yard line.

With only four seconds left, Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs fired a Hail Mary into the end zone. Receiver Jauan Jennings was surrounded by five Georgia defenders, but somehow came down with the ball for a 43-yard touchdown, giving the Volunteers an improbable victory that won't soon (if ever) be forgotten.

"Sick way to end the game, obviously," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said.

Tennessee erased a big deficit to win for the second week in a row and took control of the SEC East. While it's probably premature to include the Volunteers in the upper echelon of playoff contenders with the likes of No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State, it has becoming increasingly clear that this very well might be their year after largely suffering disappointment for more than a decade.

"I thought we had a chance," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "It's one of those moments in time that you'll remember forever. I've also been on the other end of them, too, and you remember them forever. I think it's a great illustration that you play until the clock hits zeros."

Ask Florida State fans about that. North Carolina's Nick Weiler kicked a 54-yard field goal as time expired to give the Tar Heels a 37-35 victory, which ended the Seminoles' 22-game home winning streak. Making matters worse, FSU fans had to suffer through the worst kind of Surrender Cobra. After winning the game, North Carolina's long-haired kicker ran through Doak Campbell Stadium taunting fans. Talk about a gut punch.

Iowa State fans also suffered mightily from the cruelest kind of Surrender Cobra -- the one brought on by succumbing to false hope. The Cyclones had a 14-point lead over No. 13 Baylor going into the fourth quarter, but the Bears scored the game's final 17 points to escape with a 45-42 victory. Chris Callahan kicked a 19-yard field goal on the final play to keep Baylor undefeated.

"I don't know what changed," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. "I just think a couple of guys had chances to make plays and just didn't make them."

Speaking of false hope, Utah fans had to be feeling pretty confident in the final seconds at California. With the Bears leading 28-23, the Utes had first-and-goal at the Cal 2 with 14 seconds left. But the Bears' defense somehow held Utah out of the end zone on three straight plays, stuffing Zack Moss for no gain as time expired.

"A tough game to lose but proud of our guys for how they hung in there and fought back, just like we've done many times previously in the season," Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We're just one play away there."

Imagine how Texas fans feel. They had to watch in total surrender as the No. 22 Longhorns failed to make even the most basic of plays, like extra points. Oklahoma State blocked three point-after kicks, returning one of them for two points, in a 49-31 victory.

The loss drops Texas to 2-2 and puts coach Charlie Strong back on the hot seat. The Cowboys' 49 points were their most ever scored against Texas, which has given up at least 45 points in three of its first four games for the first time in school history.

Texas' performance was so bad coming off a bye week that interim athletic director Mike Perrin told reporters he would evaluate everything about the program.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Strong said. "We still have a long way to go. We told our guys this isn't enough. We had three field goals and extra points blocked, and it was just right up the pipe. ... We've got some work to do, and we just have to get it done."

Playoff teams after Week 5

1. Alabama: The Tide got off to a slow start against Kentucky, but eventually broke through in a 34-3 win over the Wildcats. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 20 of 33 passes for 262 yards with two touchdowns to Calvin Ridley, who caught 11 passes for 174 yards.

2. Ohio State: The Buckeyes demolished Rutgers 58-0, outgaining the Scarlet Knights by 553 yards of total offense. It was Urban Meyer's fifth shutout of at least 50 points, the most by an Ohio State coach since the end of World War II.

3. Clemson: After the Tigers beat Louisville, Dabo Swinney now has 14 wins over AP-ranked opponents, second only to Danny Ford (18) in school history. The Tigers travel to Boston College on Friday.

4. Michigan: The Wolverines were far from perfect in their 14-7 win over Wisconsin, which was their first victory over an AP top-10 team since beating the No. 9 Badgers in 2008. Michigan's defense was salty, though, holding Wisconsin to 88 passing yards and 71 rushing.

Next four in contention

1. Washington: The Huskies clobbered Stanford 44-6 on Friday night to take control of the Pac-12 North. It was Washington's biggest win over an AP top-10 opponent since shutting out No. 5 USC 31-0 in 1990. The Huskies will try to end a 12-game losing streak against Oregon in Eugene next week.

2. Houston: The Cougars atoned for their only loss last season, beating Connecticut 42-14 on Thursday night. Houston's defense had four sacks, and the Cougars probably won't be tested until their Nov. 17 showdown against Louisville.

3. Tennessee: The Vols trailed by as many as 17 points at Georgia, and they're now 4-0 in games in which they trailed by at least two touchdowns during the past two seasons. They erased a 21-point lead against Florida last week, a 14-point deficit against Virginia Tech earlier this season and a 21-point hole against Georgia last season.

4. Texas A&M: The Aggies improved to 5-0 for the third straight season with a 24-13 win at South Carolina. It's the first time they've started 3-0 in the SEC since joining the conference in 2012 and their first such start in any league since going 4-0 in the Big 12 in 2004. They host Tennessee next week.

Heisman candidates

1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Jackson led Louisville to scores on its first five drives of the second half and had 135 of his 162 rushing yards after halftime. The Cardinals came up empty on their final two drives, however, as Clemson came back to win 42-36. Jackson finished with 457 total yards and three touchdowns.

2. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: In the first quarter, Watson completed 1 of 6 passes for 1 yard. In the final three quarters, he was responsible for 369 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the third player in the past five seasons to pass for over 300 yards and five touchdowns, and rush for 91 yards against a ranked opponent in the Tigers' win over Louisville.

3. Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston: Ward was nearly perfect against UConn on Thursday night, completing 32 of 38 passes for 389 yards with three touchdowns and also rushing for 65 yards with two scores. He has accounted for 13 touchdowns in four games.

4. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: Barrett set an Ohio State record for career touchdowns by throwing four more against Rutgers. Barrett has now thrown 59 touchdowns in 27 career games. It was also his seventh game with at least four touchdown passes, another OSU record.

Tweets of the night

1. Some ending, too.


2. It's truly a lost art.


3. As if it couldn't get worse for Oregon fans.


4. LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron got a Gatorade bath after guiding the Tigers to a 42-7 win over Missouri.


Best moments

1. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy danced in the locker room after the Pokes' big win over Texas. Whatever it was, we're calling it "The Mullet."


2. Illinois honored late Nebraska punter Sam Foltz by presenting the Cornhuskers with an Illini jersey signed by the team during the pregame coin toss.


3. Miami honored late Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez with a "JF16" decal on its helmets.


4. Michigan lined up with 10 players in an I-formation against Wisconsin, before breaking into a power formation. Jim Harbaugh probably learned the play at a satellite camp somewhere.


Best plays

1. Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis had the best one-handed interception you'll ever see to preserve the win over Wisconsin.


2. North Carolina's Nick Weiler made a 54-yard field goal on the final play to win 37-35 at Florida State. Then he celebrated by taunting the FSU fans at Doak Campbell Stadium.


3. Penn State tied Minnesota on Tyler Davis' 40-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation, and then won 29-26 on Saquon Barkley's 25-yard touchdown run in overtime.


4. Texas A&M's Jeremy Tabuyo had to reach back around the South Carolina defender but somehow managed to haul in a first down on this one-handed catch in the Aggies' 24-13 win.


Worst plays

1. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones never saw Virginia linebacker Jordan Mack running toward him in the end zone. He paid the price. The huge sack and fumble led to a touchdown in the Cavaliers' 34-20 win.


2. Tennessee's Jalen Hurd thought he was going to coast into the end zone for a touchdown. Georgia's Deandre Baker had other ideas.


3.Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook wasn't quite ready for the snap.


4. Oklahoma State blocked three Texas extra-point attempts, including one by 310-pound defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, who scooped up the ball and pitched it to Tre Flowers, who ran it back for two points.

Block extra point: ✅ Lateral to open man: ✅ Take it to the house: ✅

A video posted by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on


Quotes of the night

1. "That's something we practice every week -- last-play defense. You put your best jumpers in the end zone and everybody gets up and gets the ball down. We do drills to rep it. Their kid just went up and got it." -- Georgia coach Kirby Smart

2. "A wise man once said, 'You even have to bring your ugly babies home from the hospital,' and that was ugly. In fact, that might have been what someone told my dad when I was born. But I feel really good that our guys found a way to win." -- Florida coach Jim McElwain, after the No. 23 Gators won 13-6 at Vanderbilt.

3. "You want the kids to see results. I thought over the last four weeks -- that September is one I don't want to remember -- but they put so much work in to see results. To come home after a tough loss to Utah, I commend our staff in helping the kids to keep believing and keep getting better, and it paid off today." -- USC coach Clay Helton, after the Trojans' 41-20 win over previously unbeaten Arizona State

4. "We said, 'Hey, we think we're going to get them stopped.' [Defensive coordinator Art Kaufman] told me, 'We're going to get this. We're going to get them stopped,' and he was right." -- California coach Sonny Dykes, on his defense's goal-line stand to beat Utah, in which the Bears kept the Utes out of the end zone on seven plays inside the Cal 10-yard line.

Stats that matter

1. 1-130: FBS teams that trailed by 14 points or more in the fourth quarter had a 1-130 record this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. No. 13 Baylor trailed 42-28 with less than 12 minutes to play at Iowa State, but scored the final 17 points to escape with a 45-42 victory.

2. 634: LSU had 634 yards of offense in a 42-7 win over Missouri in Ed Orgeron's first game as interim coach. The Tigers set a school record for total offense in a game against an SEC opponent.

3. 19: Air Force defeated Navy 28-14 on Saturday to improve to 4-0. The winner of the game has claimed each of the past 19 Commander-in-Chief's trophies.

4. 41: Colorado improved to 4-1 by blasting Oregon State 47-6. It was the Buffaloes' most lopsided win in a conference game since defeating Kansas State 54-7 in the Big 8 in 1992.