NCAA Football News
Bars and living rooms reached max capacity and then some. Fields were stormed, and because of this, fines were doled out and accepted with smiles. Hail Marys fell into unlikely arms. Tears were shed—on both ends of the emotional scale—and the greatest sport on the planet delivered one of the greatest Saturdays it has ever seen.
It’s hard to put the magnificence of Week 6 into words. If you curled up in front of your television—or hopefully, televisions—for Saturday in its entirety, letting the chaos flow through your veins, you were treated to complete and utter madness. And it was beautiful.
One image pretty much says it all, really.
Today got weird. pic.twitter.com/ccBmijQokw— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 5, 2014
It wasn’t just the fact five of the nation’s top eight—and 11 of the top 19—teams lost outright, making this a truly historic day. The games themselves are what made Week 6 extraordinary. The end results will undoubtedly provide the ultimate memory, but the path to get there was what made it special.
Saturday began with Katy Perry hoisting corndogs to the Oxford sky, and it ended with Washington State and Cal shattering records and scoring touchdown after touchdown deep into the night. In between, there was everything. It was everything.
If you needed any validation as to why you obsess over this glorious game, you got it and then some.
Well done, college football. Take a bow and a few days off. You’ve earned it.
As for the awards and happenings from the week that was, here is my feeble attempt to recap a chapter of the college football season that might be un-recap-able.
Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Halliday, Washington State
When you break the record for most passing yards in an FBS game, you’re going to get noticed.
That’s precisely what Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday did Saturday night—well, Sunday morning for some—against Cal, completing 49 passes for 734 yards and six touchdowns. The previous record was 716 yards, set by Houston quarterback David Klingler in 1990.
Yes, he plays in an offense that can be allergic to running the football, and as a result, Halliday regularly posts enormous numbers. But when you throw for more than seven football fields and break a record that was set the year Driving Miss Daisy was named best picture, you’re walking away with something.
And because Washington State still managed to lose this game—more on that momentarily—this is the least we can do.
Dominant Defender: Richie Brown, Mississippi State
Linebacker Richie Brown finished Saturday with only three tackles, but the Mississippi State linebacker managed to match that number in takeaways against Texas A&M. By doing so, he was a pretty obvious selection for this category given what was on the line.
The sophomore intercepted two Kenny Hill passes in the second quarter. He then added a third interception in the second half, which tied a school record.
These takeaways gave the Bulldogs’ offense all the fuel it needed, and Dan Mullen's team cruised 48-31. In reality, it wasn’t even that close.
Video Game Box Score
-The entire Washington State-Cal matchup was being played on novice. In total, the two teams combined for 119 points and 1,401 yards. Quarterbacks Connor Halliday and Jared Goff also finished with a combined 1,261 yards passing, which was also an FBS record. And if you need further perspective on this game, here’s you go.
cal’s jared goff and wazzu’s connor halliday passed for a combined 0.71 miles— Jon Bois (@jon_bois) October 5, 2014
-On the topic of big performances in a loss, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon finished with 257 rushing yards (a career high) and a touchdown on 27 carries. By nearly running for a first down on every touch, Gordon was rewarded with…an outright loss to Northwestern.
Anti-Video Game Box Score
-The conditions in South Bend, Indiana, for Notre Dame-Stanford were not optimal. It was cold, windy and rainy, and as a result, the offenses struggled mightily. This allowed the punters of each team to exhaust their legs, and the result is a punting output for the ages. Seriously, this sounds exhausting.October 5, 2014
-A week after North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns—going as far to complete a pass lying flat on his back—he was held to just four completions against Clemson. It took Brissett 19 throws to reach this mark, and the end result was 35 yards passing on the day. Let's just call it a minor setback.
We knew Oregon had issues. The offensive line is being held together with duct tape, and it was clear after the scare against Washington State that all was not well. Still, it was assumed that Oregon would get it together or at least stay unbeaten long enough to get healthy and find its stride.
Coming off a bye against Arizona as more than a three-touchdown favorite, however, we quickly discovered this was not the case.
We could explore the issues with the Ducks at length. But instead, let’s celebrate Arizona on its potentially program-altering win (again) and an undefeated start to the season.
Rich Rodriguez really has never gotten the appreciation he deserves, although perhaps that is starting to change. At the very least, Arizona finds itself in fantastic shape as conference play kicks into gear.
It also appears to have the locker room celebration thing down pat.
It's hard to isolate just one. There are so many places and campuses we could visit to dig up the best moment of the weekend, and none of them would be wrong.
In terms of overall excitement, however, how do you top Arizona State’s Hail Mary victory over USC? (If you’re a Trojans fan, now would be the time to fast-forward to another section. You know what happens next.)
For the rest of you, let us celebrate the ultimate way to end a football game. Again.
Jaelen Strong, one of the nation’s most gifted offensive players, capped off a brilliant day by hauling in the 46-yard touchdown as USC defenders could only sit back and watch.
This is the second Hail Mary to be featured in this category this season. May I remind you that it's only been six weeks.
For the Highlight Reel
Did you watch Kansas State beat up on Texas Tech? There was a lot going on, so there's no need to lie. If you didn’t—and you’re likely not alone—you missed one of the better catches of 2014.
Kansas State wideout Curry Sexton managed to haul in a touchdown using his shoulder pad. To add to this elevated level of difficulty, he accomplished this feat mid-air while being heavily guarded—some might even say interfered with. No matter; he still came down with it.
If the College Football Playoff Started Today... (Or Why I Hate Your Team)
Please keep in mind that these are not projections. The four teams listed below would make up our College Football Playoff if it began tomorrow.
Spoiler: It does not actually begin tomorrow, thankfully, so a limited sample size will have time to grow.
With the SEC West poised to create Armageddon weekly, these teams will certainly be moving plenty. For now, however, we’re rewarding the SEC’s hot start by offering up the following. (Share your outrage accordingly. And remember, if your team is not included, it’s because I hate it.)
2. Mississippi State
3. Florida State
4. Ole Miss
Five Leftovers to Chew on
1. What a bummer for BYU and quarterback Taysom Hill, who suffered a broken leg Friday night against Utah State. As a result, he will miss the rest of the season, which seriously alters the outlook for the Cougars for the remainder of 2014. This isn’t just a loss for BYU, though. Few players are more exciting on a play-to-play basis than Hill, who still has a year of eligibility remaining. Hopefully he heals up and we’re able to enjoy his chaotic and successful style for one more season.
2. The game was ugly—much like the South Bend, Indiana, weather—although the Irish did just enough to power past Stanford at home. This game, given everything that happened, was somewhat lost in the madness. Brian Kelly’s team hasn’t exactly been crisp over the past few games, but it doesn’t matter, not yet, at least. Undefeated is the name of the game. Also, why aren’t more people talking about this Notre Dame defense? It’s been outstanding.
3. This cannot be the same Trevone Boykin. It just can’t be. The TCU quarterback isn’t just improved; he looks like a different player entirely. His passes down the field against Oklahoma were on the money for much of the game, and the Horned Frogs’ offense suddenly looks dynamic after struggling in recent years. Boykin might be the nation’s most improved player, and he can back up this claim further against Baylor in Week 7.
4. Remember a few weeks ago when we decided to rule the Big Ten out of the College Football Playoff? We do this kind of stuff a lot, don’t we? Although Nebraska made Michigan State sweat plenty at the end of its game—and kudos to the Cornhuskers for a fabulous effort—the Spartans are very much in the mix when it comes to the playoff after so many teams in front of them lost. We have such a long way to go.
5. What do Northwestern, Cal, Arizona and Georgia Tech have in common? As it stands at this moment in time, all four of these teams are currently leading their divisions, just like you predicted before the season began. Please note that the previous sentence is in desperate need of a sarcasm font. If you did actually predict this, you should move to Vegas immediately.
Katy Perry, Corndogs and Lee Corso
I can’t possibly add anything further to this picture without getting fired, so please enjoy the cover of the Week 6 Encyclopedia.October 4, 2014
That One Time Katy Perry Hit on Trevor Knight in Front of the Whole World
You could pin Oklahoma’s loss to TCU on a number of items. Turnovers, defensive breakdowns and overall sloppy play certainly played a role. Plus, TCU played one heck of a game.
Or, you could highlight the reason the Sooners fell.
Katy Perry, on national television, basically asked Trevor Knight on a date. If you’re wondering why the quarterback delivered his most disappointing game of the season, you have your answer.
Katy Perry wants Trevor Knight to call her. https://t.co/auXm2Wg964— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguy) October 4, 2014
Knight never stood a chance.
This Week in Officials Scolding Themselves in Front of the Whole World
While officiating Mississippi State-Texas A&M, Ken Williamson went to make a call and faced the wrong direction for television purposes. For doing so, he decided to scold himself in front a packed stadium and much of the college football world watching.
I watched this live, and I don’t believe I’ve stopped laughing yet.
Ken Williamson really cares about his job; this much is clear. I’d hate to see what happens when he gets a flat tire or is late to the dentist.
This Week in Punter Body Slams
Things were going swimmingly for Georgia Tech punter Ryan Rodwell. A fake punt was called, there was daylight and he picked up the first down without issue. Life was great.
Miami’s Marques Gayot quickly changed all that by offering up his classic finishing move.
The only thing missing from this was a poorly constructed table, some exciting commentary from Jim Ross and a contract with Vince McMahon’s signature on the bottom.
This Week in End Zone Hide-and-Seek
Let’s call this the “camouflaged frog” and hope every other team in the country attempts this amazing bit of deception at some point over the next two weeks.
Please take note of TCU running back B.J. Catalon in the video below, assuming you can find him. He’s the player that purposely laid down in the "O" of "Horned Frogs" in the TCU end zone before the kickoff. He was hiding. (Don’t tell anyone.)
His teammate caught the kickoff and threw it across the field to Catalon who emerged from his hiding spot. TCU then turned this glorious play into a big gain.
Yes, a holding penalty negated some of the awesomeness, but we all saw it. It was real and spectacular.
This Week in Todd Gurley is Unfair
We get it, Todd. Geez.
You’re big, you’re fast, you’re robot strong and you can catch passes. The fact that you can throw passes—and also that you’re a lefty—is just showing off at this point.
This 50-yard completion was Georgia’s longest of the season. Now, how about leaving some physical excellence for the rest of us.
No? OK then. Carry on.
Large Man Moment of the Week
Jake Cotton sensed that Michigan State was bringing pressure. And although the Nebraska guard tried to hold off the urge to move, he simply could not.
Cotton tried to cover up his flinch by turning it into one continuous move. The end result is one of the finer Vines ever created. It’s made even slightly more spectacular with the appropriate song attached.
I don’t know how you could possibly penalize someone for this. If anything, he should get a Chili’s gift card and an automatic first down.
Reason No. 23,456 College Football is Beautiful
When advanced coordination is involved, stadiums can create magnificent art. The scene at Tennessee, despite the loss, was splendid.October 4, 2014
Reason No. 23,457 College Football is Beautiful
In a chaotic and insane football moment for the state of Mississippi, two human beings expressed their love for one another on the field they worship as the masses swarmed around them. It's like they were all alone.October 5, 2014
What a sport.
From the Peanut Gallery (Best Tweets of the Weekend)October 3, 2014
Frame it and put it in the football offices, Wake pic.twitter.com/eg9ZtBssMg— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) October 4, 2014
Ulysses S. Grant with the interception! pic.twitter.com/bc4R7zjQyM— MSU Football (@HailStateFB) October 4, 2014
Game. Over. pic.twitter.com/RGxvtOYUUg— Arizona Athletics (@AZATHLETICS) October 3, 2014
Was Week 6 the best we've seen? The evidence is rather convincing.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
We knew Week 6 of the college football season would be exciting, but no one could have anticipated what would ensue on Saturday. The 2014 season hit a new level of craziness with five of the AP Top 10 teams losing this week, along with other huge upsets.
On Thursday night, a 31-24 Arizona upset win over a second-ranked Oregon team, which had not lost at home since the end of the 2012 season, appeared to be just a preview of what to expect in Saturday’s matchups. Not to mention, Utah State’s 35-20 upset over No. 18 BYU, who lost Heisman-contending quarterback Taysom Hill for the season due to a fractured left leg on Friday, was another upset prior to Saturday.
No. 12 Mississippi State had likely the most impressive performance of Week 6 with its 48-31 blowout win over Kenny Hill and the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott continued to prove that he is a Heisman contender, as the junior passed for 259 yards, rushed for 77 yards and accounted for five touchdowns.
The pandemonium of upsets and exciting finishes began in the early evening though, as Alabama, Stanford and Oklahoma all went down within the same hour.
After battling adversity for most of the game, No. 11 Ole Miss scored on a Bo Wallace 34-yard pass to wide receiver Vince Sanders with 5:29 remaining in the fourth quarter to knot things up at 17.
On the ensuing kickoff, the game-changing play occurred when Alabama’s Christion Jones fumbled and Ole Miss’ Kailo Moore recovered the ball on the Crimson Tide’s 31-yard line. Five plays later, running back Jaylen Walton made a sensational 10-yard touchdown catch from Wallace to give the Rebels their first lead of the game, 23-17.
A Blake Sims pass, which was intercepted in the end zone with 37 seconds left, was all Ole Miss needed to knock off the third-ranked Crimson Tide 23-17 for the first time since 2003.
Within the same hour, No. 9 Notre Dame appeared to be on the verge of its first loss of the season, after Stanford scored on a Remound Wright 11-yard touchdown run on 3rd-and-goal with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Just two minutes later though, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson threw a 23-yard strike to tight end Ben Koyack in the end zone on 4th-and-11 to defeat the Cardinal 17-14. The Luck of the Irish appears to have returned from the 2012 season already.
After both Notre Dame and Ole Miss found ways to win their games, it was time for No. 25 TCU to pull off a home upset of its own. An impressive interception by linebacker Paul Dawson, which resulted in a Horned Frog 41-yard touchdown return, gave TCU the go-ahead score.
Three turnovers on four plays in just one minute midway through the fourth quarter made the game just that much more interesting. The Sooners had their opportunities to avoid being defeated by the Horned Frogs but were unable to convert on 4th-and-1 on TCU’s 22-yard line and failed to complete a Hail Mary pass as time expired. TCU knocked off Oklahoma 37-33 and defeated the Sooners for the first time since 2005.
Just when the nation thought it got all it could handle, there was more to come. No. 16 USC looked to be in the clear against Arizona State with 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, after a 53-yard touchdown run by running back Javorius Allen put the Trojans up 34-25.
The Sun Devils, though, led by backup quarterback Mike Bercovici, scored on a 73-yard touchdown pass 19 seconds later and then won on a 46-yard Hail Mary caught by wide receiver Jaelen Strong as time expired, which gave Arizona State an improbable 38-34 upset win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Tenth-ranked Michigan State had to hold off 19th-ranked Nebraska late in the fourth quarter, after the Huskers scored 19 unanswered points. The Spartans came away with a 27-22 victory, as the defense held Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah to just 45 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Other upsets included No. 8 UCLA missing a game-winning field goal at home to unranked Utah as time expired, which gave the Utes a 30-28 win. Kentucky also took down South Carolina at home, 45-38, and No. 17 Wisconsin dropped a close one at Northwestern, 20-14.
No. 1 Florida State blew out Wake Forest, 43-3, and newly ranked No. 2 Auburn ran all over rival No. 15 LSU, 41-7.
Overall Record: 20-10
Week 6 Record: 3-2
Note: Team in bold indicates author’s pick
Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Mississippi State 34
Result: Mississippi State 48, Texas A&M 31
Prediction: Alabama 31, Ole Miss 24
Result: Ole Miss 23, Alabama 17
Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Stanford 20
Result: Notre Dame 17, Stanford 14
Prediction: Auburn 35, LSU 26
Result: Auburn 41, LSU 7
Prediction: Michigan State 34, Nebraska 24
Result: Michigan State 27, Nebraska 22
Week 6 will likely go down as one of the best in recent college football history. Four of the top six teams went down for the first time since Week 11 of the 1990 season. Those four teams were Virginia, Nebraska, Auburn and Illinois.
Florida State and Auburn, who faced off in the final BCS National Championship season, hold the top-two spots in the AP rankings and saw their national title hopes almost fade in Week 4. Both teams escaped with six-point wins, though.
The Seminoles will host No. 6 Notre Dame in two weeks, while the Tigers will travel to No. 3 Mississippi State next week. There is a chance for more chaos to occur in the upcoming weeks.
The inaugural year of the College Football Playoff could be more interesting than anyone could have expected. Heavy favorites Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan State have already lost, putting a new slew of teams in the mix.
Both Mississippi schools are proving to be dangerous in a top-heavy SEC West Division. TCU, who was a dark horse to contend for the Big 12 during the preseason, is 4-0 and has already moved into the Top 10.
It will travel to No. 5 Baylor on Saturday in what could be the difference in the Horned Frogs winning their first Big 12 title in school history.
The other school making noise this season is Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona Wildcats. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon led the Wildcats to their first win at Oregon since 2006, and the team is now a strong contender to win the Pac-12 South Division. The Wildcats will host a disappointed USC squad on Saturday and will still have a lot of work to do as they make their way through conference play.
It’s still early in the season, but will there be a surprise taking part in the College Football Playoff of this season?
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
There were high expectations for the Ohio State football team coming into the 2014 season, but after star quarterback Braxton Miller was lost for the year after suffering a shoulder injury in fall camp, the Buckeyes' college football playoff hopes took a serious hit.
Those hopes took a potentially fatal blow in Week 2, when the Virginia Tech Hokies upset Ohio State 35-21 in Columbus.
But a trio of consecutive blowouts have the Buckeyes back on track heading into their second and final bye week of the season.
Here are three notable statistics after Ohio State's first five games.
J.T. Barrett's Video Game Numbers
When Miller went down for the season, it was redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett who emerged over Cardale Jones for the Buckeyes' starting quarterback spot.
Through five games, Barrett has been sensational—completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 1,354 yards and 17 touchdowns against five interceptions. He also has 276 rushing yards—which ranks second on the team behind Ezekiel Elliott—with another two scores on the ground.
But Barrett's strength is in the passing game. Not only is he leading the Big Ten in passing touchdowns, but he also currently ranks No. 4 in the country in overall passing efficiency. That's a remarkable accomplishment for the first-year signal-caller, especially after his abysmal performance against Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes were blasted by the Hokies, and Barrett completed just 31 percent of his passes and threw three picks in the game.
He has bounced back nicely, though, and he has the Buckeyes playing at a high level.
Michael Thomas' Team-Leading Receiving Numbers
Without Carlos Hyde and four multi-year senior starters along the offensive line, Urban Meyer wanted the Buckeyes to shift their offensive philosophy to take advantage of an abundance of talent on the perimeter.
With player such as Dontre Wilson, Devin Smith and longtime contributor Evan Spencer, Barrett has plenty of options when he drops back to pass.
His best option so for has been Michael Thomas.
The redshirt sophomore out of Los Angeles, California has been the breakout star for the Buckeyes. Thomas currently leads the team in receptions (17) and receiving yards (322) and is tied for the team lead with Devin Smith in touchdown receptions (five).
His sudden emergence was a welcome development for Meyer, who watched as Thomas' career got off to a slow start.
"He was a mistake guy," Meyer said of Thomas, according to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch. "Every third play he’d screw up. That’s why last year he wasn’t ready to play. That was really hard for him last year.”
Those struggles appear to be behind Thomas, and Ohio State is much better because of it.
Ohio State's Lack of Sacks
After Meyer told Doug Lesmerises of the Northeast Ohio Media Group that Ohio State's defensive line had the potential to be as good as his one at Florida in 2006—which dismantled the Buckeyes in the '07 title game—the hype surrounding the unit peaked.
Stocked with three potential first-round NFL draft picks, Ohio State's defensive line was supposed to help a rebuilt secondary by getting after the quarterback. Before the season kicked off, the group was touted as one of the best—if not the best—defensive lines in the country.
But through five games, the Buckeyes are averaging just 2.4 sacks per game, which is tied for 47th in the country.
The Buckeyes are certainly missing Noah Spence—a star defensive end who was suspended indefinitely after testing positive for his second drug test in September.
Joey Bosa has been a consistent presence in the backfield of Ohio State's opponents, piling up 3.5 sacks on the season, according to Ohio State's official website. But no other defensive lineman has recorded more than one sack through five games, as the team has just 12 total on the year.
There's still time for the unit to turn things around, but it's definitely off to a slower start than most had anticipated.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NCAA.com.
David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Week 6 was one for the ages in college football as a number of upsets created a major shakeup in the latest Amway Coaches Poll.
Starting with Oregon's loss on Thursday, the weekend featured 11 losses by ranked teams, including five squads among the top eight. Meanwhile, the teams that pulled off these upsets, like Ole Miss and Mississippi State, shot up near the top of the polls for the upcoming week.
While this is going to cause a change in expectations for the College Football Playoff, there are still a bunch of overlooked teams through this point in the season. These squads have proven themselves on the field but are still not getting the credit they deserve in the latest polls.
No. 6 Mississippi State
After last weekend's fireworks, there are only nine remaining undefeated teams in college football. Three of those teams come from the SEC West, which makes it no surprise the division still has five teams ranked in the top 15.
However, the question remains why Mississippi State comes into Week 7 ranked sixth. Obviously, someone has to be the odd man out with so many quality teams at the top, but it should not be the Bulldogs after what they have shown this season.
Mississippi State has won all five of its games this year by an average of 23.2 points per game. Over the last two weeks, the squad has won at LSU and home against Texas A&M, both of which came in convincing fashion. The team was up at least three touchdowns in each contest before late touchdowns made the games close.
Dan Wolken of USA Today believes the latest ranking was way too low for the SEC squad:
Besides Notre Dame, you can question the merit of putting Baylor at No. 3 despite not facing a single ranked opponent this season.
Obviously, Mississippi State is not used to complaining about being too low and is usually happy to be ranked at all. Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press notes this is the highest the school has ever been in the polls:
Still, this team has proven to be one of the best in the nation and deserves to be ranked as such. With a home game against No. 2 Auburn coming up, the squad will have a chance to move up even more next week.
No. 11 Oregon
Oregon was certainly disappointed to drop a game to a conference opponent at home, but head coach Mark Helfrich remained upbeat the day after the loss:
The biggest thing is the spirit of the team and the guys they have the willingness to do something about it and they did. Everyone was in good spirits this morning, as good as could be expected in the situation. Again have to give Arizona a ton of credit but there was a lot of stuff in this game that makes it that much more of a bitter pill to swallow in terms of self-inflicted wounds and some of the mistakes we made.
Between two lost fumbles and a 4-of-14 mark on third downs, there was certainly a lot to be upset about. However, this is still one of the best teams in the nation with arguably college football's top player in Marcus Mariota.
After seeing many other top teams lose on Saturday, the Ducks had to feel better about remaining in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case after dropping from No. 4 to No. 11 in the rankings.
Oregon is currently behind four other one-loss teams in the Coaches Poll, two of which do not have a win over a ranked team all season. Another one, Michigan State, lost directly to the Ducks 46-27. Putting the Spartans three spots ahead of a team with the same record that they lost to does not make much sense.
While the Ducks might have had a disappointing loss, it came against a quality opponent in Arizona (which is still undefeated). Considering they also have the best win among the one-loss teams, they should be ranked higher than they are.
The Pac-12 is going to be a fight all season long, but Oregon remains a national title contender and should get that chance by winning out.
No. 16 Kansas State
While seemingly every team in the nation dealt with its own craziness on Saturday, Kansas State avoided trouble, as noted by CBS Sports:
Jake Waters posted another incredible performance against Texas Tech, throwing four touchdown passes on 290 yards while also adding 105 and a score on the ground. The quarterback has turned himself into a Heisman candidate with his dual-threat ability while turning Kansas State into one of the best offenses in the country.
Although this team does have one loss, that came against now-No. 2 Auburn by just a six-point margin. A few late turnovers ruined the Wildcats' chances for pulling off an upset.
The good news is this team will get more chances to show what it can do. After a bye in Week 7, Kansas State will go on the road to take on Oklahoma. Big 12 matchups against Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor also loom later in the schedule.
With loads of talent everywhere on the field, this squad has a chance to be a top contender for the conference title.
Kansas State is only being punished for making a tough non-conference schedule and taking on one of the best teams in the league. In reality, the Wildcats should be higher on the list and a legitimate contender for the College Football Playoff.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
There probably aren’t many who thought Michigan would be sitting at 2-4 after six games.
But it’s true: Team 135, for lack of a better term, just isn’t that good. At this point, discussing potential and who needs to “step up” are wastes of time. Now halfway through the season, Michigan should know what it is.
The rest of college football does.
But how did it come to this?
Sure, this past Saturday’s 26-24 loss to Rutgers was bad, but it wasn’t as bad as the setbacks to Notre Dame, Utah and Minnesota. Michigan, particularly its offense, teased its fans with a positive step or two in New Jersey, only to fall three steps behind the next play.
For the first time since 1967, the Wolverines are 0-2 in the Big Ten. Things aren’t going to get any easier, as Penn State comes to town this weekend—then it’s on to Michigan State on Oct. 25, which looks like it’ll be a miserable encounter for coach Brady Hoke, whose job status seems to get iffier and iffier by the week.
Giving Away Games
Efficient drives end in points. Needless to say, the inability to string together possessions continues to overshadow Michigan, which averages just 19 first downs and converts just 41.6 percent of its third downs (both marks rank No. 8 in the Big Ten).
On average, the Wolverines gift 2.17 turnovers to the other side each Saturday. Their 15 turnovers (five fumbles, 10 picks) are the most in the league. Turnovers happen from time to time, even to the best of teams. However, Michigan has trouble making up for them, ranking last in the league with a minus-13 margin.
Running Backs in No Rush
Evidently, sophomore bruisers Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith aren’t enough. They are on paper. But on the field?
No, they are not.
Despite having one of his better games in a maize and blue uniform, Green, who carried 12 times for 74 yards versus Rutgers, is long overdue (and behind) in the production department. His team-leading 488 yards and average of 5.7 yards per touch are deceiving.
Part of that is on Green, who just can’t seem to get his wheels turning, and part of that is on the O-line. When it comes to gauging him, glasses are either half-full or half-empty. He’s either doing well with what’s available, or he’s simply the beneficiary of a few defensive mishaps on the part of the opposition.
Neither answer is wrong.
Smith is another story all together. Like most running backs by Week 6, he’s had a handful of great runs. He ran hard against Rutgers, too. On top of that, he picks up six yards per carry.
But he only contributes 47 yards each Saturday. And he’s spent as much time running into his own linemen as he’s spent running over the other guys.
Secondary is a Primary Concern
It doesn’t take an expert to see that Blake Countess is frustrated. Of course, he doesn’t say so during press conferences, but, put it this way: The redshirt junior doesn’t have the best poker face.
The 5’10”, 180-pound corner insists that his position group will come to form. It has to, because—and here’s that phrase again—on paper, Michigan’s too deep at defensive back to fail. Prior to the season, Countess was in consideration for the Jim Thorpe Award.
After watching a trio of touchdowns sail by Saturday, it’s safe to say that he’s no longer in the discussion.
Want another deceiving stat? Good. Here’s one: The Wolverines have the No. 3-ranked pass defense in the Big Ten. But that means nothing when chunk plays are the norm for a group of guys who often find their backs to the ball.
Offensive Line Isn’t Carrying Its Weight
Once again, Devin Gardner is a moving target with a gigantic bullseye on his chest and back. In 2013, he was sacked 34 times, the third most in FBS. This season, he’s been sacked 13 times, putting him at No. 20 in that regard, per ESPN.
Running for his life, Gardner, a fifth-year senior quarterback, was sacked twice by Rutgers, which now leads the nation with 24.
Points Are at a Premium
Team 135’s scoring offense ranks dead last in the Big Ten. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was supposed to bring a new energy to the befuddled scoring attack; but instead, his position group musters just 22.3 points per game, per BigTen.org. As a whole, Michigan has the No. 12-ranked total offense, averaging 354 yards per outing.
Granted, things looked better this past Saturday in New Jersey, but the fact remains this offense is far too inconsistent to compete, let alone win. It’s a stat that won’t go away and for good reason: The Wolverines have been held out of their opponents’ red zone in two of six games.
Despite converting three of three (three rushing touchdowns) red-zone attempts versus Rutgers, Nussmeier’s personnel have miles to go before they’re up to par.
In a perfect world, Michigan would be 5-1 or 6-0. However, its reality is much different. And sadly, there isn’t a rewind button in college football, not even for a team that was thought to be destined for much better.
However, Wolverines fans probably wouldn’t mind a fast-forward button, as their hopes and dreams are now reserved for 2015.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Through four games, Notre Dame’s defense had yet to face a potent offense. After Saturday’s 17-14 win over Stanford, Notre Dame made it look like it still hasn’t.
The Irish stymied the Cardinal for four quarters, allowing just 205 yards of total offense. Stanford’s 3.0 yard-per-play output was its lowest since 2006. The 47 rushing yards were the fewest since 2007.
“I think they’ve got an outstanding defensive coordinator,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said of Notre Dame’s Brian VanGorder. “He mixes it up. A lot of pressure.”
The Irish deployed different looks and sent pressure from all over the defense. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan finished 18-of-36 for 158 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked four times, and Notre Dame tallied seven quarterback hurries.
“They did an outstanding scheme on the defensive side, and their guys played hard,” Shaw said. “They played fast. And you can tell they're very well coached because they're running full speed where they're supposed to be.”
VanGorder’s aggressive and attacking mentality was expected to be more fun to watch than former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s bend-don’t-break scheme. It’s been entertaining, yes, and also wildly successful. The Irish rank tied for third in the nation in scoring defense, per CFBStats.com, allowing an average of 12 points per game.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Notre Dame’s success on defense starts with aggressive, shutdown cornerback play.
“If you're going to play great defense you have to clamp down [on the perimeter],” Kelly said. “I think that's where we've really made significant improvement over the course of the year.”
Graduate student cornerback Cody Riggs has been rock-solid on one side, while sophomore cornerback Cole Luke had been quietly consistent on the other. Luke spoke up Saturday with his first two career interceptions—picking off Hogan in the first and third quarter, respectively.
Luke also helped key the efforts in containing Stanford speedster Ty Montgomery. Outside of a late 42-yard kickoff return, Notre Dame limited the playmaker to nine touches for 26 yards.
“One thing that was stressed to me before the game is that you have to have no fear,” Luke said. “It does not matter what receiver you are going against or what offense. We knew he was a great player, but when the lights come on and you are on the field, it does not really matter. You just have to make plays and play ball.”
The Irish continually did so Saturday. They now sit at 5-0, poised to rise into the top-five after the college football world crumbled this weekend. They’ve ascended thanks to a defense that has yet to succumb to its opponents.
The real test looms in two weeks when Notre Dame will battle Jameis Winston and Florida State. But for now, the Irish defense has proven itself.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.
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There was no shortage of options for the All-Week 6 first team, which makes sense after a three-day stretch that ranks among the craziest in college football history.
Four of the top six, five of the top eight and 11 of the top 19 teams in the Associated Press Poll went down in the span of 80 hours, which means 11 teams played well enough to beat Top 19 teams in the span of 80 hours. And what are those 11 teams if not the aggregate of their standout performers?
This list attempts to reward impressive teams and units but ultimately comes down to individual performance.
Ole Miss, for example, might well have been the most impressive team of the weekend, but it didn't place a single player on these teams. Bo Wallace played well, but other quarterbacks played better. Senquez Golson made an amazing interception, but other cornerbacks did more. Only by adding up all the Rebels' very good solo performances do you end up with the team that beat Alabama.
As always, the list also weighed statistics against opponent. The player who passed or rushed for the most yards didn't necessarily get the nod at quarterback or running back. It depends whom they logged those yards against and how they looked in doing it.
Sound off below to let us know whom you would add.
Well, that was interesting.
Week 6 of the college football season was its most chaotic yet. Eleven Top 25 teams lost, five of which were ranked in the Top 10. According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN, this was the first time five of the AP poll's Top Eight teams lost in the same weekend in the regular season.
Normally, that might have sounded the death knell for a team's BCS chances, but the four-team postseason field means teams can get mulligans.
It's hard to be perfect, no matter the schedule. Week 6 was proof of that, if nothing else. One-loss teams are still very much alive in this postseason race. For that matter, two-loss teams could still be in the conversation.
Which one-loss teams still have the best shot at a playoff appearance? The answers are in the following slides.
The Texas A&M football team will take on the undefeated Ole Miss Rebels at Kyle Field on Saturday, October 11. This is a pivotal matchup for both teams as they compete to win the SEC West.
The Aggies are 5-1 with a 2-1 record in the SEC. They dropped to No. 14 in the coaches poll with their 48-31 loss to Mississippi State. The Rebels are 5-0 with a 2-0 conference record and moved up to No. 4 in the country with their win over Alabama.
It is very unlikely that anyone will qualify for the SEC Championship Game with two losses in the west division. The game against the Rebels is a "must-win" for the Aggies if they want to remain in consideration for the College Football Playoffs in 2014.
This is a look at how Texas A&M and Ole Miss match up with each other.
Fact: Arizona's jump from unranked to No. 10 in the AP poll is the largest jump into the poll since it went to Top 25 in 1989.
Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.
Source: Ralph D. Russo
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The college football season has reached the point where it is logical to question why we even have polls.
After all, if 11 of the supposed Top 25 teams in the AP Poll lose in one week, do we really know anything about where teams stand in relation to other ones?
Week 6 brought a historically strange set of games, as five of the top eight-ranked teams in the AP Poll lost for the first time ever in a single week. In fact, the Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 teams in the AP Poll all lost.
With all the chaos going on in the college football world, Marcus Hartman of Fox Sports Ohio and Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com pointed out the ironic part of Saturday's results:
Still, the upsets were incredible, regardless of how meaningful the polls actually are this season. ESPN Stats & Info, SportsCenter and Rachel Nichols of CNN noted just how unlikely all the games truly were in Week 6:
Filling out a Top 25 poll can't be easy after 11 of the ranked teams lose, but it is still noteworthy to see Oklahoma ahead of TCU and Oregon ahead of Arizona after the Horned Frogs and Wildcats pulled the respective upsets.
Ryan Ginn of Scout.com pointed out the backward logic:
Ginn wasn't the only person to acknowledge some of the discrepancies in the Amway rankings. Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman and Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports also commented on the recent polls:
That wasn't as much of an issue in the AP Poll, as Eric Seger of theozone.net said:
Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch pointed out just how drastic some of the movement was in the AP Poll after the upsets:
There has been some recent debate about which team should be rated No. 1 (just look at that spot on the Bleacher Report rankings), but Florida State's coach Jimbo Fisher had an answer for that, via Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel: “Polls, we can’t control. All we can control is how we play. We just keep playing ball and we’ll be fine. Polls are for the polls and the voters. If we keep winning and doing what we do, we’ll be fine."
One team that doesn't have to worry about being ranked No. 1. is LSU, which lost in blowout fashion to Auburn Saturday. Ross Dellenger of The Advocate noted what that meant for the Tigers in relation to the polls:
Arash Markazi of ESPN had bad news for fans in the Los Angeles area and the Pac-12 in general:
Perhaps the best part of the new polls is looking forward to the next batch of games. Mandel was doing just that:
That showdown is sure to be the highlight of all the games on deck for Saturday, which isn't a surprise coming from the SEC West.
With highly ranked teams in Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M and the typically strong LSU, the only worry now from that division has to be that everyone will beat each other. That could have a trickle-down impact when it comes to the College Football Playoff, as other conference champions gradually move up the polls.
One thing is for sure, though: No position is safe in the AP or Amway Polls if we see any more weeks like we just did.
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A wild Week 6 of the 2014 college football season is over, as folks all across the country ask themselves if what they saw Saturday was real life.
In fact, it was real, and voters everywhere now have to put together a top 25. Martin Rickman of Sports Illustrated has an early preview of what this might look like.
I must let you know ahead of time that everyone who turned in a ballot was in panic mode, so black is bound to be white, up will be down, etc., etc.
So which teams were appropriately ranked in the latest Top 25 polls? Which ones weren't? The answers are in the following slides.
Pure, unadulterated anarchy. And Katy Perry. If asked to describe Week 6 of the 2014 college football season, the discussion pretty much begins and ends there.
Four of the nation's top six teams are gone. Five of the top eight. In their place is the rise of Mississippi, the restoration of the national spotlight on one of the nation's biggest powers and the nation's two best teams from 2013 moving on unscathed as the world burns beneath them.
Florida State earned its first relaxing victory over an FBS opponent (Wake Forest) to make it a school-record 21 straight wins and stay at No. 1. With a nationally televised obliteration of LSU, Auburn re-ascends to its 2013 perch at No. 2. Looking at the remainder of the Associated Press Top 25—and Bleacher Report's iteration—a very clear picture of a college football world turned upside down begins to show:
Let's start in Eugene, where former No. 2 Oregon gave fans a preview of what was to come. Hamstrung by a depleted offensive line and a defense that could not get stops when it needed, the Ducks became the first upset victim in a 31-24 loss to Arizona. Terris Jones-Grigsby finished off a 15-play, 71-yard scoring drive with just under three minutes remaining and Oregon's drive stalled when Marcus Mariota was strip-sacked deep inside his own territory as the Wildcats upset the Ducks for the second straight season.
Freshman Anu Solomon threw for 287 yards and a touchdown, while Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson combined for 207 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Under head coach Rich Rodriguez, Arizona is 5-0 for the first time since the height of the boy band era.
"Last year it was really heartwarming because it was the seniors' last home game and it was improbable, of course," Rodriguez told reporters after the game. "This one, I don't know if anybody picked us. I don't know how many people were talking about us, but I bet you most of them weren't thinking this was going to happen, not on the road."
All the excitement in Eugene (or, more accurately, the despair) was less than 48 hours before the world realized that this is Mississippi's world. We're just living in it. First, in Starkville, Mississippi State sent its second straight shot across the bow at a Top 10 SEC opponent. Dak Prescott accounted for five touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) and 336 yards as the Bulldogs defeated Texas A&M, 48-31, in a game that was a much bigger blowout than the score indicates.
Prescott, who has ascended to Heisman favorite status, carved up the Aggies defense with a series of well-placed passes and grind-it-out runs. Tim Tebow comparisons were thrown out multiple times during the broadcast, both because Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was Tebow's offensive coordinator at Florida and because Prescott's performance was at times Tebowian.
As Prescott was again burrowing his way into conversations nationwide, the thrill was being taken out of Kenny Hill (sorry). Hill threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, but two garbage-time scores undersold the depths of his struggles. He threw three interceptions, two which came with the game was still in hand, and found no success down the field as Mississippi State forced him to beat them underneath.
“Little miscues here and there, stuff that is easy to fix,” Hill told reporters. “You all will see it. We’re going to get it fixed.”
The Bulldogs ascend to No. 3 with the win. They will have a chance to make it three straight victories against Top 10 opponents next week when Auburn visits. The Tigers' 41-7 thrashing of LSU helped stop the bleeding from all the upsets across the conference.
Of course, for bleeding to stop it has to begin. Which is where we head back to Mississippi. Oxford, specifically. Where the aforementioned Ms. Perry was swinging corn dogs, throwing Alabama headgear off Lee Corso's head and being the most important factor in Ole Miss' 23-17 upset of Alabama.
OK, maybe the latter point is an exaggeration. Perhaps we can credit Bo Wallace for his 251 yards and three touchdowns or the Rebels' defense for clamping down in the fourth quarter, most notably when Senquez Golson got one foot down on a Blake Sims interception to clinch the game. Ole Miss is 5-0 for the first time in more than five decades, per the Associated Press, with this win proving a seminal moment for Hugh Freeze's rebuilding effort.
With an affable charm and deft recruiting touch, Freeze took over his hometown team coming off a 2-10 season and led it to national prominence in three seasons. The Rebels coach has built his core around a suffocating defense and solid aerial attack led by Wallace, who avoided throwing an interception for the second time all season.
"He made some big-time plays," Freeze told reporters. "He just played so solid. On that last touchdown, that ball was right where it needed to be for us."
Speaking of big interceptions, Paul Dawson's 41-yard touchdown off an errant Trevor Knight throw was perhaps the biggest of the weekend. Dawson's return sparked an excellent defensive fourth quarter from TCU, which earned a 37-33 win over then-fourth-ranked Oklahoma. The Sooners and Horned Frogs engaged in an all-out shootout for the first 45 minutes, with both teams putting up 31 points and picking up yards in large chunks.
Dawson's pick ground that to a halt. Both teams strapped up defensively and gave their offenses a chance to win the game, but TCU stopped Samaje Perine on 4th-and-1 for no gain just outside the red zone to halt the Sooners' last good chance of taking control. Oklahoma's final drive ended with a failed Hail Mary that Knight threw out of the end zone.
"This isn't the defining moment of our season. There's a lot of football left," Knight told reporters. "Who knows what's down the road. It's early in the season, a one-loss team can still make it."
On the non-upset front, Everett Golson threw a touchdown pass with 1:01 remaining to give Notre Dame a 17-14 win over Stanford. The Irish host North Carolina next week before their season-defining showdown with Florida State in Tallahassee on Oct. 18.
In East Lansing, Notre Dame rival Michigan State narrowly avoided squandering its 24-point fourth-quarter lead to beat Nebraska 27-22. The Cornhuskers scored the game's final 19 points and had a potential winning drive stall out at the Spartans 37.
The swings were so big, so consuming that you could've been forgiven for being too exhausted to watch a Utah-UCLA game that got a 10:30 p.m. ET start and promised to end the day with a whimper.
A Tevin Carter pick-six in the first quarter instead set the tone for a perfect capper to a crazy Saturday, as the Utes went into Pasadena and earned a 30-28 upset. Devontae Booker rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown as the Utes pounded the ball 55 times on the ground to control the game's pace. Their game-winning drive, which culminated in a 29-yard Andy Phillips field goal, did not feature a single passing play.
"When you rush for 242 yards against the talent that UCLA has in the front seven, you've done some good work," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters.
UCLA's defeat was a long time coming for a team that had lived dangerously all season. Four of the Bruins' five games so far have been decided by one score, with Brett Hundley and Co. somehow finding a way to overcome the previous three times.
In all there were five ranked teams that lost to unranked opponents. BYU, USC and Wisconsin each went down against conference foes.
The Cougars, Trojans and Badgers lead the quartet of teams ousted from the Top 25. The other joining the club is LSU, which has dropped its first two SEC contests. Taking their places are Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Utah.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter
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It was a bad week to be a ranked team in college football.
With 11 teams in the Top 25 polls taking a loss in Week 6, the college football rankings heading into Week 7 have been shaken to their core. When top programs like Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and others fall this early in the season, the turnover in the rankings is huge news.
This was the wildest week of the 2014 season.
Breaking Down Week 6
If you missed Saturday’s action, you missed one of the most unpredictable weeks in recent college football memory.
While the Florida State Seminoles were able to win their game against Wake Forest, the majority of the Top 10 teams surrounding them in the standings lost. The biggest surprise was the formerly No. 2 Oregon Ducks falling to the Arizona Wildcats, 31-24, on Thursday night.
Last year it was really heartwarming because it was the seniors' last home game and it was improbable, of course. This one, I don't know if anybody picked us. I don't know how many people were talking about us, but I bet you most of them weren't thinking this was going to happen, not on the road.
Fans should have known the week was going to be wild following Oregon’s stunning loss.
The Top 10 defeats didn’t stop with the Ducks, though. With Alabama falling to Ole Miss, Oklahoma losing a thriller to TCU, Texas A&M blown out by Mississippi State and UCLA stunned by Utah, there was no question that Saturday’s results would rock the rankings.
Ranked teams like BYU, Stanford, Nebraska, LSU, USC and Wisconsin also lost in Week 6.
Brett Edgerton of ESPN.com pointed out just how rare this many ranked teams falling in one week is for college football:
Losses for the aforementioned programs were devastating, but they have opened the door for underappreciated teams. With Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Michigan State beating their ranked foes and proving their worth as Top 10 programs, it was intriguing to see the shakeup toward the top of the polls.
One of the most impressive wins was Auburn’s victory over LSU, 41-7. LSU was ranked in the Top 15 coming into Saturday’s game, but the team was completely destroyed by Auburn, allowing 566 total yards. If the Tigers weren’t considered serious national championship contenders before, the lopsided win over LSU is all the proof the team needed.
While the Baylor Bears were able to pull out a hard-fought win over Texas, the sluggish performance from Baylor’s high-powered offense should raise some concerns for the team. The Bears are still a viable championship threat, but how the team bounces back against TCU next Saturday will determine if Baylor is a contender or a pretender.
Other ranked teams, like Georgia, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, East Carolina and Kansas State, all managed to take advantage of favorable matchups, but the focus will continue to be on the elite programs that were unable to walk out of Week 6 with a victory.
In case you forgot why you love college football, this week’s schedule of games was the perfect reminder.
*Stats via ESPN.com.
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Fans in the Southeastern Conference don't typically rush the field/court, but when they do, they make it memorable.
No. 11 Ole Miss upset No. 3 Alabama on Saturday, 23-17. A win of that magnitude was reason enough for Rebels fans to rush the field. Ole Miss fans proceeded to show why most schools protect the goal posts after a huge win or upset.
Rebels fans took down the goal post at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Then, some fans figured out a way to get the goal post out of the stadium and took it around campus.
Finally, the goal post made it into somebody's apartment.
Even the Ole Miss athletic director wanted in on the fun.
At that point, you can't even be mad at these fans for taking the goal post. You just have to be impressed that they were able to get it into an apartment.
[Twitter, Instagram; h/t SB Nation]
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Week 6 will go down as one of the craziest weeks in college football history, with 11 of the Associated Press Top 25 suffering losses, including previous No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma.
The two teams that battled it out for a full 60 minutes for last season's national championship remain standing.
Florida State topped Wake Forest 43-3 on Saturday to run its record to 5-0, while Auburn obliterated then-No. 15 LSU 41-7 on Saturday night in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated to match the Noles' record. It should come as no surprise that the Seminoles and Tigers are ranked in the top two spots in the new Amway Coaches Poll and AP Top 25.
The order, however, should be reversed—as it is in the new B/R Top 25.
Auburn has proven this year that it not only is the same team as it was last year, but that it has improved by leaps and bounds. The offense has picked up right where it left off, with running back Cameron Artis-Payne stepping in for Heisman finalist Tre Mason and promptly topping the century mark in four of Auburn's five games.
Quarterback Nick Marshall has replicated his success on the ground and has shown more touch on his passes—particularly over the last three games in which he has tossed seven touchdowns and only one interception. On Saturday, Marshall completed 14 of 22 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. This was in addition to the 119 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
"Nick played very well," head coach Gus Malzahn said after the game. "He threw the ball well and made some very good runs, and decisions on the read zone. Nick played like one of the better quarterbacks in the entire country."
New wide receiver Duke Williams has joined veteran Sammie Coates to create one of the most dangerous wide receiver one-two punches in the nation.
What stands out with this Auburn team, though, is the defense.
The Tigers currently rank 14th in the nation in total defense (306.6 YPG), 13th in yards per play (4.58) and 13th in rush defense (100.20). This despite opening the season against Arkansas—the seventh-best rushing attack in the country (316.6 YPG). The Tigers have held three opponents—San Jose State, Kansas State and Louisiana Tech—to under 3.2 yards per rushing attempt, and held LSU to 3.83 yards per rushing attempt on Saturday night.
"We know LSU is mostly a run team so we tried to stop that," said defensive tackle Montravius Adams in player quotes released by Auburn. "Whenever we stopped the run they would have to throw the ball and we stopped that too. We played a complete defensive game and that's what we wanted to do."
They've done it.
Meanwhile, the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles were inconsistent yet again.
Sure, the 43-3 score makes it look like the 'Noles dominated Wake Forest, but it took a while. It was just 13-3 at halftime, and quarterback Jameis Winston—the reigning Heisman Trophy winner—wasn't as crisp as he has been against other teams, as Bud Elliot of TomahawkNation.com pointed out.
His stats were certainly good—22-of-39 for 297, one touchdown and one interception—but he's asked to do different things than Marshall.
Florida State boasts the ACC's second-worst rushing attack (133.2 YPG), have allowed the third-most sacks in the conference (13) and allowed opponents to convert 43.21 percent of their third-down conversions—93rd in the nation.
The Seminoles are getting credit for beating Auburn in last season's national championship game, which is a big reason why they've retained the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Since that game —a 34-31 nail-biter in which Florida State scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left—Florida State has proven that it is one of the best teams in the country, but not the best.
It's struggling to find a running game, the offensive line has issues, Winston hasn't been himself and the defense has proven to be a middle-of-the-pack unit in the ACC (347.8 YPG). Florida State has regressed. Not to a point where it should be out of the top four, but certainly enough to knock it from the No. 1 spot based on this season's body of work.
Auburn has progressed.
The offense has been able to replicate last season's success and added a new dimension with Williams, and the defense has taken a giant leap forward.
Florida State was the best team last year, but last year is history. Auburn has proven that it deserves the No. 1 ranking this year for its work this year, with the Noles battling it out with Baylor, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and others for the No. 2 spot.
It should be no contest.
Barrett Sallee is the Lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.
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The annual off-the-radar picks for the best college quarterbacks usually involve someone outside the power-five conferences, like Chuckie Keeton at Utah State or Taysom Hill at BYU. (Both quarterbacks, incidentally, are out for the year with injuries. That should detract from much-deserved hype, however.)
But the quarterback who isn't getting the level of national attention he deserves is Washington State's Connor Halliday.
That's not to say that Halliday is an unknown player—he's a redshirt senior with 25 career starts—but he's been overshadowed by counterparts in his own conference.
When pundits talk about the best quarterbacks in the country, the usual names include Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Florida State's Jameis Winston, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Baylor's Bryce Petty. So it's no wonder that Halliday's name comes up less often in that discussion. He's not even considered the top guy in his own league.
It's time for Halliday to at least enter that discussion.
In a 60-59 loss to Cal—more on that later—Halliday broke an NCAA record with 734 passing yards in addition to six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Yes, Washington State's offense relies on the pass almost exclusively. Roughly 75 percent of the Cougars' plays come through the air. Therefore, there's a large degree of truth that Halliday's stats—3,052 yards and 26 touchdowns, and even seven interceptions, through six games—are inflated because of the offense in which he operates.
And yes, Cal's defense is still porous, giving up an average of 40 points per game. All of the passing defenses Halliday has played, in fact, have been bad.
Halliday is going to get the "system quarterback" label, even though every coach ever has put players in positions that play to their strengths and philosophies. Ultimately, though, Halliday has to go out and execute. So far, he's done just that, and he's been visibly sharper than a year ago.
The knocks on Halliday about playing in the Air Raid against weak defenses are just a couple of the things that inherently work against him, yet aren't really in his control.
Let's start with the one thing Halliday at least plays a part in: Washington State's 2-4 record. Wins and losses are team efforts, and Halliday contributes, for better or worse, to a team that doesn't have a winning record.
At the same time, it's hard to pin Saturday's loss to Cal on Halliday, who, as Chantel Jennings of ESPN.com wrote, "did everything he could to get the Cougars the win." Washington State kicker Quentin Breshears missed a 19-yard go-ahead attempt in the final seconds of the game.
“As a quarterback, you always want things in your hands,” Halliday said via Jennifer Chancellor of Cougfan.com. “I wish we would have taken one more shot in the end zone.”
Washington State also typically plays late at night. Four of the Cougars' first six games have started at 10 p.m. ET or later. Three of those games have been on Pac-12 Networks, which not everyone gets.
Put another way, Halliday isn't getting many favors as far as exposure is concerned.
The senior quarterback has been excellent thus far, but for a variety of reasons, he hasn't garnered as many eyeballs as he should.
Football has become a stats-happy sport that focuses heavily on quarterbacks. It's a wonder, then, that Halliday doesn't get more recognition since he perfectly fits the mold of what fans and media want.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.
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