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CFB Round-Up, Week 10: Clemsoning, in a good way

The Tigers make a statement as the number one team in the country; Alabama knocks off LSU; and Sparty stumbles.

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Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

"I think it shows we're ready to play whoever, whenever, and that we kind of deserve to be in the College Football Playoff again."

With that veracious quote, shot across the bow of any and all who questioned Alabama's place in the initial playoff rankings last week, Crimson Tide defender Dillon Lee put a final exclamation point on the season's most dominant, statement-laden victory.

Alabama 30, LSU 16. And, trust me, it wasn't that close. The Crimson Tide, despite having already suffered one loss this season, found themselves at #4 in last week's playoff rankings, inciting rage from all over the country. Fans have long sensed a strong SEC bias, and the Tide's place only fanned the flames.

With one win, all doubts were erased.

"We didn't play perfectly, but I thought it was really important that we could control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and we did a really good job of that," Tide coach Nick Saban said.

Alabama held LSU running back Leonard Fournette, who came in averaging 193 rushing yards per game, and the Heisman front-runner, to just 31 yards on 19 carries. In countering, their running back Derrick Henry catapulted himself into the Heisman discussion, with 210 yards and three touchdowns on 38 backbreaking, soul-crushing runs.

Outside of Tuscaloosa, mayhem ensued. On a day billed from the marketing folks at ESPN as Separation Saturday, it lived up to the billing, with three top-10 teams going down, helping clear the muddled playoff picture.

Along with the undefeateds stumbling, some other teams positioned themselves for a November run. Stanford, lurking outside the national radar, continued its dominating play, as they took care of Colorado, setting up a showdown with Oregon, where they can secure their place in the Pac-12 championship game.

Baylor survived a tricky Friday night tilt in Manhattan, as they broke in their true freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who will look to lead the Bears to the playoffs after starter Seth Russell was lost for the season due to a neck injury. Baylor still has Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and TCU on their schedule, as they look to boost their resume and prove they belong.

Oh, and speaking of TCU...

(14) Oklahoma State 49  (8) TCU 29

It was lost in the shuffle of top-tier games, sitting comfortably behind Alabama-LSU and Florida State-Clemson, but what took place in Stillwater on Saturday may have been the most shocking, and have the largest effect on the rest of the college football season.

Overlooked all season, after starting out the year outside the top-25, Oklahoma State, whose season was marred by the tragedy two weeks ago at a homecoming function, took the darlings of college football, TCU, and absolutely shredded them for 60 minutes.

Before anyone could realize what was happening, the Cowboys were up 39-9, and the Horned Frogs 16-game winning streak -- and their shot at a playoff spot -- was gone.

Oklahoma State still has a long way to go to make up ground, coming in at 14 in the first playoff rankings, but with wins like yesterday -- and upcoming games against Oklahoma and Baylor -- they will have plenty of time to show that Saturday's dominance was more than a one-time thing.

"There's a long way to make up ground to get up there," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "Now, I'm not going to disregard that we're playing teams that are ranked high enough that we could make up some ground. But I just continue to stress for us, we have to practice well tomorrow."

(1) Clemson 23  (16) Florida State 13

Perhaps we need to start redefining the term "Clemsoning." Long known as a program that couldn't win the Big One -- and led by a coach who carried the same unfortunate moniker -- Clemson entered Saturday's game with the perfect storm of history ready to kick them in the face; instead, they proved that once-and-for-all, this is a different Tigers team.

"We won the Kentucky Derby tonight," head coach Dabo Swinney said. "But we want to win the Triple Crown."

After falling down early, and trailing 10-6 at halftime, the Tigers turned up the heat defensively, as defensive coordinator Brent Venables' squad allowed just three points in the second half. In doing so, Clemson locked up its place in the ACC title game, and clinched its first 9-0 start since 1981 -- the year of their only national championship.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson, himself a dark horse Heisman contender, threw for 297 yards, ran for 107 more, and has established the rhythm that was missing in his injury-plagued freshman season.

Now that the term Clemsoning has been turned on its ear, it's time for the Tigers to make it happen a few more times.

Nebraska 39  (7) Michigan State 38

On a day that was supposed to separate the men from the boys, raise your hand if you had this game as one to keep an eye on...


Mike Riley, subject of much chatter this week about his future in Lincoln, grabbed his biggest, albeit controversial, win as Nebraska head coach, stemming off the troch-bearers looking for his job.

"I don't know if you call it justice or not," the first-year coach Mike said when asked if the Huskers were due for a break. "The kids earned this win tonight. It's like every game we lost that came down to the wire. Those things are so haunting. We made the plays to win the game and, boy, were those big plays."

The controversy stems from the fact that, on the winning touchdown catch, Nebraska receiver Brandon Reilly came back from out-of-bounds to make the catch, which in any other situation would warrant a penalty. Except, in this instance, the referee ruled that Reilly was forced out by the defender, which negates a penalty, and therefore Reilly remained eligible.

One controversial call. One win for Nebraska. One season-shattering defeat for Michigan State, who had already survived one of those potential losses this season (perhaps you remember a certain game at Michigan?)

"We're going to collect ourselves and understand that our destiny is in our hands," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "We control our own fate in terms of winning the (Big Ten) East and that's the thing we've got to focus on.

"Disappointing the way it worked out at the end, of course, and it shouldn't have, I guess."

Week 10 lived up to its hype, even if the outcomes came out of left field. With losses, Florida State, Michigan State and TCU saw their playoff hopes dashed. LSU still has a chance, but will need another Alabama loss. Clemson, Baylor, Notre Dame, even many teams seem ready to capitalize.

Needless to say, the next three weeks, as has been the case all season long, will be unpredictable.