College Football Week 7 Takeaways: USC’s loss was a long time coming

Caleb Williams and the Trojans had a late afternoon offense in South Bend, and that’s something a weak USC team can’t afford. Also SI Top 10. It was a great game in somewhat sloppy Midwest weather (a window into USC’s Big Ten future), and Notre Dame was able to trouble Williams countless times, coming after him time and time again.

   The Irish sacked him six times and addressed his penchant for saving the pocket with a special game plan that mirrors his movements. The pressure rubbed off on Williams, who threw three interceptions in the first half. There wasn’t even a punt in this game, and it wasn’t even possible thanks to an early 24-3 hole that allowed the ND defense to get to Williams. The Trojans barely tried to run the ball when they got to the point where they were actually chasing the game. It’s reminiscent of Clemson’s nightmare at Notre Dame Stadium last year, when the Tigers were dominated by a swarming Notre Dame defense and an Irish offense that gobbled up points on a silver platter.

   If you’ve been paying attention to this USC team this season, is that even a big surprise? Well yes and no. Most of their 6-0 record didn’t feel like a truly elite performance in college football from the team’s perspective. Not so much they lost, but how. Progress isn’t linear, but it sure seems like USC hasn’t made much progress. Maybe USC will return to championships under Riley, but despite Williams’ brilliance, they are far from a perfect team, and if they can’t get the best out of Williams, disaster is entirely possible. Washington is the last undefeated team in the Pac-12. Steven Bisig/USA Today Sports SI Top 10 (of the week) 1. washington In the game so far this year, the Huskies beat Oregon 36-33. It was an absolute heavyweight matchup, with Washington dominating on fourth down in high-powered plays and riding their superior offense to victory thanks to an Oregon field goal.

   Washington had probably one of the best wins of the week. neither team had a full season. 2. Michigan It was another rough day for the Wolverines in a 52-7 win against a conference opponent that doesn’t look like it belongs on the field. Michigan’s point differential is 149 through four conference games so far. 3. Florida State The Noles didn’t miss a beat against Syracuse, running it 41-3. QB Jordan Travis may have had a bit of a snap, but finished the game. 4. Georgia Vanderbilt scored early in the game and then didn’t take much joy when UGA put the game away under pressure after that. The Dawgs won 37-20 and entered the week undefeated. 5. North Carolina It’s time to start looking at UNC as not only a contender, but perhaps the only true ACC contender in the Florida State Conference. 

   Their comprehensive 41-31 win over Miami showed that this team is more than just Drake Maye. 6. Ohio State The Buckeyes beat Purdue 41-7, proving there are no expectations next weekend… 7. Penn State The Nittany Lions actually had two bye weeks. One was true, and the other was hit hard this week against a UMass team that went 63-0. 8. Alabama The Tide will rely on what they do well offensively, which is going deep and hoping for the best. They accomplished that in the first half of that game, holding on for a 24-21 victory over Arkansas. 9. Notre Dame The Irish are out of the playoff picture, but if they can put in performances like this, it shows they’re on the right track in Marcus Freeman’s second year, despite not being happy with how up and down the team has been at. times . . 10. Oregon The Ducks lost, but there’s no shame in taking the L to a Washington team this good.

   A quarter of their aggression is anyone’s guess, but that’s who they are, and when it works, people love it. But if it does not, it may seem to be the culprit of the loss. SI Players of the Week: North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker and Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts * Now that he’s eligible, Walker is certainly growing into his role on the Heels. He had three touchdowns of 18, 33 and 56 yards against Miami, and his six receptions (132 yards) were huge for UNC.

   ESPN reported that he became just the fifth player this season with three 15-yard catches

* Watts had two interceptions and his forced fumble late in the game was just icing on the cake for a Notre Dame defense that was really dominant on Saturday. Have you seen it?
* Keon Coleman does his best Calvin Johnson impression with this one-handed slam:

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