• Clemson 38, No. 21 Auburn 24: Our open speculation that Auburn, with its mind-boggling propensity for close-game wins, might be operating with the assistance of some sort of cruel prankster god was put to rest today in cross-conference play. Whatever offal Clemson partisans pitched into this lagoon this week to appease the team’s more bloody-minded spiritual puppet-masters appears to have worked — at the expense of a nice body of water and the defending national champions’ 17-game victory streak.
Ted Roof’s Auburn defense crumbled like a cheap card table as Clemson’s Tajh Boyd came perilously close to a 400-yard passing day, and the home Tigers rallied back from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to the away Tigers. But the name to take away from today is true freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
A jewel of Dabo Swinney’s highly regarded 2011 recruiting class, Watkins was a five-star prospect out of Fort Myers, Fla., with offers from nine FBS schools (including Auburn, as it happens). After respectable outings of 81 and 56 yards against Troy and Wofford, Watkins made a scintillating case for national relevance with 10 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns against the champs. That’s an average, an AVERAGE, of 15.5 yards per catch. Add in 44 yards on the ground just to make him appear well-rounded, and yeah, this kid’s in the conversation. Remember his name, and what he meant in these Tigers’ first victory over those Tigers in 50 years. (RECAP | BOX)
• Penn State 14, Temple 10: Down goes my first upset pick of the week, but not for lack of trying on the Nittany Lions’ part. This four-quarter horror show featured a blocked field goal to secure a halftime lead for the Owls, another Penn State kick attempt that hit an upright, a fumbled PSU snap mere feet from Temple’s goal line and a fourth-down sack on the Owls that saved the “win,” such as it was, for Joe Paterno’s boys. Temple has not beaten Penn State since 1941, and there was not much to crow about on either side here; you won’t find a triple-digit number on the stat line of any player but Matt McGloin, who completed 13 passes for 124 yards, and Derek Moye, who caught seven passes for 112 yards. The two teams combined for three sacks, three interceptions and one lost fumble. (RECAP | BOX)
• No. 18 West Virginia 37, Maryland 31: The West Virginia offense made Maryland’s defense look as though it was outfitted in clown shoes for the first half of today’s contest (and given UnderArmour’s leanings, who knows; the Terps might have been). For about a 10-minute period in the second half, the Terps returned the favor. A 34-10 West Virginia lead was slashed to three points thanks to the churning legs of Davin Meggett and the recently reinstated D.J. Adams, but Danny O’Brien’s third interception with 1:13 remaining wrapped the afternoon in College Park. (It will not surprise you to learn that West Virginia runs the victory formation out of the shotgun.) (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• Iowa 31, Pittsburgh 27: Beyond this day, you will also remember the name of the kid faced with the unenviable task of replacing Ricky Stanzi at Iowa. He’s a native named James Vandenberg, and he single-handedly humiliated the entire Pittsburgh defense today with a 17-minute, four-touchdown streak that erased a 24-3 Panthers lead and gave the Hawkeyes their first win against FBS competition this season. Whatever batteries were inserted into Vandenberg’s bay with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter, keep them close to hand: Won’t it be fun to see what he can do against Louisiana Monroe next week? (RECAP | BOX | HIGHLIGHTS)
• Georgia Tech 66, Kansas 24: Georgia Tech piling up 768 yards of offense and 66 points to avenge a three-point loss to Kansas in 2010 is all well and good, as long as 604 of those yards really were obtained through rushing plays. All that passing against Western Carolina in Week 1 was just unseemly. (RECAP | BOX)
• Vanderbilt 30, Ole Miss 7: That the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game is a perpetual cavalcade of horrors is never, ever in dispute. But here’s a new twist: Ole Miss’ Zack Stoudt threw five interceptions, enabling the ‘Dores to run up 30 points on negligible total yardage to give James Franklin his first SEC win and his second over AQ competition this season. If you’d like a visual representation of the game, it pretty much all looked like this. Wheeee! (RECAP | BOX)
• Cowboys with altitude: Wyoming blocks an extra point attempt by Bowling Green to snare a 28-27 victory. (BOX)
• We’re as surprised as you are: Improbably, one team in the Duke-Boston College tilt will be recorded as the “winner,” as a missed 23-yard field goal banged off the left upright to seal a one-point home loss for the Eagles. (RECAP | BOX)