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After October tricks, it's time for November treats

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College Football Top Plays on Halloween (1:53)

Check out the top plays from Week 9 of college football, including Miami's last-second dramatic win over Duke and some of the best Halloween costumes. (1:53)

The calendar officially flipped to November on Sunday morning, but are we sure we don't want October to last forever?

Rarely has college football delivered so frequently and dramatically as it did during the past four weeks. It was a month we won't soon forget -- although fans of Georgia and Nebraska will certainly want to. At least those coaches still have jobs. Five FBS programs have already fired their coaches, and three other coaches have retired.

For the third Saturday in a row, a game was decided by one of the most incredible plays in college football history. Miami, which fired coach Al Golden a week ago after a 58-0 loss to Clemson, pulled off the mother of all miracles in a 30-27 victory at Duke.

On the final play of the game, the Hurricanes fielded a squib kickoff and then lateraled the ball eight times, the last one to defensive back Corn Elder, who scored on a 91-yard touchdown to win the game. Officials initially ruled the Hurricanes had committed an illegal block in the back during the return, but the refs picked up the flag after a nine-minute replay review.

"We just wanted to keep the ball alive," Elder said. "You never practice those moments. We talk through it but never really practice it. It's just one of those things you see. You never know if it's going to come up, and it did."

Duke coach David Cutcliffe -- and many others who live outside the 305 area code -- isn't convinced the Hurricanes actually scored. He says he believes Miami's Mark Walton was down on the fourth lateral on the play.

"I wish I could shed more light on what happened, but no one explained to me exactly what happened," Cutcliffe told reporters. "I heard exactly what you all heard. I got no explanation on the sideline. I would like the whole play reviewed in detail. I thought there were other questionable blocks on the play.

"I'm just going to tell you like it is: I thought the guy [Walton] was down, and I think pictures will prove me right that he was down."

It was a truly bizarre finish -- even for Halloween night. But what other way could this crazy October end?

Mike Leach's Washington State team was a missed 43-yard field goal from stunning No. 8 Stanford by playing, of all things, suffocating defense. Once-hapless Temple took No. 9 Notre Dame to the wire in a 24-20 loss. Texas, a team that beat No. 14 Oklahoma three weeks ago, was shut out at Iowa State in a 24-0 loss. And New Mexico State finally won a game, sealing a 55-48 victory over Idaho in overtime with an interception made with feet instead of hands.

It was a fitting end to a crazy month in college football. Miami's dramatic finish came a week after unranked Georgia Tech blocked Florida State's last-second field goal attempt and returned it 78 yards for the winning touchdown in a 22-16 upset of the then-No. 9 Seminoles. It came two weeks after Michigan State returned a muffed punt attempt 38 yards for a touchdown with no time left to stun rival Michigan 27-23 at the Big House.

Just like that, college football delivered three plays that we won't forget -- ever.

After spending the past four Saturdays holding our collective breaths, can you imagine what's coming next? There are still five weeks to play in the regular season, and we haven't even seen the College Football Playoff selection committee's first top 25 rankings, which will be released on Tuesday night.

After a month of survival, we'll finally start seeing some separation in the coming weeks. On Saturday, No. 17 Florida State plays at No. 3 Clemson, and No. 7 Alabama hosts No. 4 LSU. No. 1 Ohio State still has to play No. 6 Michigan State and No. 15 Michigan, and No. 2 Baylor, No. 5 TCU, No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 14 Oklahoma still have to play their round-robin, winner-take-all tournament in the Big 12.

With more than a month to go, there are 11 unbeaten teams left in FBS, as many as there were entering November as the two previous seasons combined, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Three of them (Houston, Memphis and Toledo) are from Group of 5 conferences. Who would have imagined that in early September?

Who knows which teams the College Football Playoff selection committee will have in its top four on Tuesday night? Or, more important, which teams will be left standing in early December?

That's what November will determine, and it's finally here.

Playoff teams after Week 9

1. Clemson: The Tigers probably didn't expect a shootout at NC State, but they survived by scoring 30 points in the second half of a 56-41 victory. Quarterback Deshaun Watson accounted for six touchdowns against the Wolfpack, and now the Tigers can focus on next week's showdown against No. 17 Florida State at Death Valley.

2. Baylor: The Bears had the week off after losing quarterback Seth Russell to a season-ending neck injury. Freshman Jarrett Stidham makes his first start at Kansas State on Thursday night.

3. TCU: Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin played so well in Thursday night's 40-10 win over West Virginia that Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen couldn't help but give him a high-five after a nasty run. TCU is 8-0 heading into next week's scary trip to No. 12 Oklahoma State.

4. LSU: The spotlight in next week's SEC West showdown between No. 4 LSU and No. 7 Alabama will be on star tailbacks Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry. But quarterbacks Brandon Harris and Jake Coker might decide which team wins.

Next four in contention

1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes didn't play Saturday but still made headlines when starting quarterback J.T. Barrett was cited for driving while impaired. He is suspended for next week's game against Minnesota and is eligible to return the following week at Illinois.

2. Michigan State: The Spartans had the weekend off before facing reeling Nebraska on the road next week. The Cornhuskers lost 55-45 at Purdue, giving them six defeats before the end of October for the first time in school history.

3. Stanford: Rainy conditions and a surprisingly physical Washington State defense made for a difficult night for the Cardinal in Pullman, but they escaped with a 30-28 victory after Cougars kicker Erik Powell missed a 43-yard field goal attempt as time expired. Quarterback Kevin Hogan rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns for Stanford, which plays Colorado next week.

4. Alabama: The Crimson Tide's playoff hopes are riding on next week's home game against LSU. Alabama has to win its remaining three SEC games and hope that Ole Miss loses again to win the West division.

Heisman candidates

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Fournette got a much-needed chance to rest his legs, after running for 1,352 yards with 15 touchdowns in the first seven games. A stellar performance against Alabama's defense would be a Heisman-like moment.

2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: Boykin passed for 388 yards with three touchdowns and ran for 84 yards with one score in Thursday's win against West Virginia. He broke TCU's record for total offense with 12,041 yards, breaking the previous record held by Andy Dalton (11,925).

3. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: Coleman heads into Thursday night's game at Kansas State with 47 catches for 962 yards with 18 touchdowns in seven games. Will his Heisman chances be hurt by Seth Russell's absence, or will Jarrett Stidham keep the Bears' high-octane offense humming?

4. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: McCaffrey was well below his season average of 259.7 all-purpose yards, but he helped drive the Cardinal down the field in the fourth quarter to give them the go-ahead field goal in a win over Washington State. He finished with 107 yards on 22 carries.

Tweets of the night

1. Big Ten power rankings.


2. At least Faux Pelini stayed with Nebraska until the end in its loss to Purdue.


3. The numbers don't lie.


4. Rob Lowe has the proof.


Best moments

1. Minnesota honored former coach Jerry Kill, who resigned earlier this week because of health problems, by flying a "Jerrysota" flag before Saturday night's game against Michigan.

2. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze celebrated an early interception by doing "The Whip."

3. Wisconsin's Tanner McEvoy intercepted a Rutgers pass off teammate Joe Schobert's helmet.

4. Florida State's Marching Chiefs zombie-walked into Doak Campbell Stadium.

Trick or treat: Best trick plays from Halloween

1. Penn State's Christian Hackenberg threw a couple of touchdowns -- and caught one on a halfback pass -- in the Nittany Lions' 39-0 shutout of Illinois.

2. Boise State fooled UNLV with a reverse pass back to quarterback Brett Rypien for a four-yard touchdown.

3. SMU's Xavier Jones took a handoff and threw a 39-yard touchdown to Xavier Castille against Tulsa.

4. South Carolina got on the board against Texas A&M with quarterback Lorenzo Nunez scoring on a 7-yard run on a double reverse.

Best college football Halloween costumes

1. Wisconsin safety Tanner McEvoy dressed as Ricky Bobby for his postgame news conference.

2. Lego Red Raider.

3. Har-dog.

4. A Florida State fan dressed up as Renegade, Osceola's horse.

Best plays

1. Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant might have covered 150 yards as he bobbed and weaved his way to a 90-yard gain against Oklahoma State.

2. Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell made an amazing over-the-shoulder touchdown catch to help the Rebels pull away from Auburn in the fourth quarter.

3. New Mexico State snapped the longest losing streak in the country at 17 games when Terrill Hanks made the game-winning interception with his ankles to beat Idaho in overtime.

4. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell might have saved Notre Dame with a diving interception at the Irish 35-yard line with 1:08 left in a 24-20 win at Temple.

Worst plays

1. Georgia's Reggie Davis not only made the mistake of trying to fair catch a punt at his team's 5-yard line but also muffed it, and Florida recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

2. Boston College's Jordan Gowins didn't do a very good job of securing the football, and Virginia Tech's Andrew Motuapuaka stripped it and went 34 yards the other way for a touchdown.

3. It wasn't the way Navy wanted to start its game against USF. The Bulls' Rodney Adams returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a score.

4. Miami fumbled away the opening kickoff to Duke after a vicious tackle.

Quotes of the night

1. "It was a good SEC fistfight. You go on the road in this conference, and that's what it's going to be. This time of year, you just try to find a way to win them. I believe our kids just said we're the Alabama state champs. We swept Alabama this year." -- Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, after the Rebels beat Auburn 27-19.

2. "It's part of being in a leadership position. If you are a leader in any way, shape or form, you're going to be criticized, in good times and bad times. That's part of it. Our jobs as head coaches are very, very public and very, very emotional, because you have so many people who care about their program." -- Georgia coach Mark Richt, after the Bulldogs lost to 27-3 to No. 11 Florida.

3. "That's a good team. They haven't lost a game, they have a lot of confidence and they've won a bunch of games over the years. They came out and did what they had to do in the second half. We had opportunities. I don't think it had anything to do with a different mindset." -- Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, after his team blew a 17-point lead in a 70-53 loss to No. 12 Oklahoma State.

4. "We're 8-0, and that's all that really matters to us. All that really matters is that we have a chance to clinch our division next week with a win over Florida State. That's all our focus is and our next goal. I think we're a team that's in the hunt. We've earned that, and it's fun to be in the position we are in and are embracing it." -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney after the No. 3 Tigers defeated NC State 56-41 on the road.

Stats that matter

$1,419,573: Amount Nebraska had paid former coach Bo Pelini through Saturday not to coach this season, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell.

15: Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel went 15-for-15 for 319 passing yards with five touchdowns in the Bearcats' 52-7 rout of UCF. It was the most completions without an incompletion in a game by an FBS player in the past 20 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

77: Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds ran for two touchdowns in the Midshipmen's 29-17 win over USF, giving him 77 in his career, which ties former Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball's FBS record.

379: Yards of total offense for Texas A&M freshman Kyler Murray, who had 223 passing yards and 156 rushing in a 35-28 win over South Carolina. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he is only the second SEC player in the past 20 years with 100 yards rushing and passing with a rushing and passing touchdown in his first start. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was the other.