Georgia notched the biggest win in SEC play in Week 5 with its heart-pounding 44-41 win over LSU.
The Bulldogs solidified themselves as not only one of the best teams in the SEC but also one of the best in the nation.
In the loss, the Tigers showed that they, too, are talented enough to compete with any team in the country, particularly on the offensive end.
Meanwhile, Alabama remains the team to beat in the conference after blanking Ole Miss, 25-0. Even despite being shut out, the Rebels also showed that they might be better off than the rest of the SEC squads looking to rebuild.
Lane Kiffin's inevitable firing came soon after USC's latest debacle, a 62-41 drubbing by Arizona State in the desert. The Trojans had never given up that many points in a game until last season, and now they've done it twice in the last 10 games.
Firing Kiffin was the easy part for USC athletic director Pat Haden, now comes the hard part: Whom would he hire to right the ship after it began taking on water because of both the NCAA sanctions and Kiffin's lackluster leadership? To understand Haden's predicament, we must examine how the Trojans fell into the abyss from such dizzying heights in just a few short years.
In the first decade of the 2000s, USC was inarguably the most successful program in college football. It won back-to-back national championships and just barely missed a three-peat. It went to a still-record seven straight BCS bowl games, winning six. It never lost more than two games in a season over a seven-year stretch and never finished lower than fourth in the final AP poll.
A quick review of the Trojans between 2002-2008, the Pete Carroll era without his first and final years at Troy:
2002: Began the season ranked 20th and won eight straight to finish the season 11-2, with a rout of Iowa in the Orange Bowl (final AP rank: 4).
2003: Lost to Cal in triple OT but won remaining games to go 12-1. Beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl to claim the AP national title.
2004: Went 13-0 and wire-to-wire No. 1 in the AP poll, blowing out Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to repeat as national champions.
2005: Began the season No. 1 again and stretched winning streak to 34 games before losing to Texas in the Rose Bowl that ended the quest for three-peat (final AP rank: 2).
2006: Just missed playing in a third straight BCS title game thanks to an upset loss to UCLA. Finished 11-2 after beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl (final AP rank: 4).
2007: Began the season No. 1 again but lost out to 2-loss LSU for a shot at the BCS title game. Finished 11-2 and blew out Illinois in the Rose Bowl (final AP rank: 3).
2008: Reached No. 1 during the season but missed out on BCS title game despite finishing 12-1. Won third straight Rose Bowl, this time beating Penn State (final AP rank: 3).
The Carroll era unraveled after that, with a 9-4 record in 2009 and his sudden departure for the Seattle Seahawks while the NCAA took its sweet time untangling the Reggie Bush case. Kiffin arrived shortly before severe sanctions—a 45-scholarship reduction and two-year bowl ban—were handed down and regime change in the USC administration.
Kiffin's second season, with USC going 10-2 and a record good enough to qualify for the inaugural Pac-12 title game, heightened expectations considerably for 2012. The Trojans began the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll with senior quarterback Matt Barkley returning. But things fell apart quickly as USC finished 7-6, out of the rankings after losing the Sun Bowl to Georgia Tech.
The fact remains that USC has been BCS-irrelevant since Kiffin began his tenure, and that's not likely to change anytime soon unless Haden makes the right hire. He'll have no shortage of worthy candidates, since USC is easily one of the top five jobs in college football. But in my opinion, there's only one guy who can revive the Trojans dynasty in short order.
When USC went 82-9 in those seven years between 2002-08, only one program posted a better record during the same period: Boise State was 84-8 and won a pair of BCS bowl games when qualifying was much more difficult for a non-AQ program. Chris Petersen became the Broncos coach in 2006, but had been their offensive coordinator beginning in 2001.
With a career record of 87-10, Petersen is a California native who's spent nearly his entire playing and coaching career on the West Coast. He's a superb play-caller with a flair for the dramatic. With mid-major programs likely to be further shunned in the new College Football Playoff, there might not be much more that he can accomplish at Boise State. He should be USC's next head coach.
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This is the kind of weekend we’ve been waiting for. Well, unless you’re Lane Kiffin. If that's the case, then you probably could've waited a bit longer despite knowing exactly what was coming your way.
From a football sense, however, Week 5 had a bit of everything. There were upsets—looking in your direction, Oklahoma State—and the marquee game lived up to the billing. Georgia and LSU put on a magnificent show, perhaps the best game we will see all year.
Week 5 is why you put up Week 4. It’s that simple.
As for some of finer points, the canvas had plenty of options. From a broken headset, to a painted dog, to an enthusiastic popcorn eater, this weekend of college football was about what happens on the field, on the sidelines, in the stands and at the tailgate.
Here’s what I loved and hated from Week 5.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama defense may have found its missing piece.
The defensive line and linebackers have been rock solid so far this year, but the secondary had been hit or miss and was especially porous against Texas A&M.
The unit had been hit with injuries and shuffled players in and out at the Nos. 2 and 3 cornerback positions. Deion Belue locked down his spot as the No. 1 option, but John Fulton struggled to get a firm grip on the job opposite Belue.
But the Crimson Tide may have their man now.
Freshman Eddie Jackson was the No. 2 starting corner for the second week in a row and left a good impression on his coaches and teammates, playing a key role in a defensive domination against one of the SEC's top offenses.
Jackson was primarily in coverage on Ole Miss veteran receiver Donte Moncrief, with Belue on freshman Laquon Treadwell. Moncrief finished the game with six catches for 60 yards, and Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace went 17-of-31 passing for just 159 yards.
Jackson also had a key interception on a trick play on fourth down late in the first quarter. Treadwell took a handoff on a reverse, then dropped back to throw. Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze, according to quotes released by Ole Miss, said Treadwell should have ran for the first down, but Jackson baited him into throwing.
Treadwell short-armed the throw, intended for Moncrief, and Jackson came down with the interception.
Belue said that as the night went on, he worried less and less about Alabama getting beat to the other side.
“We finally found a piece to our secondary so that we all can come together and mesh together and that was a big deal in that situation,” Belue said. “It came out to be a big deal when we added Eddie Jackson to our secondary.”
Belue is as steady as they come, but the need for a shutdown No. 2 option was still missing early in the season. Now Alabama has that piece, and while there will be growing pains, Jackson looks like he can grow into a star cornerback.
“Sometimes he played a little soft, sometimes he played a little deep, but he did a good job of jamming people,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “But all in all for a young player, I thought he did a good job.”
Alabama’s offense isn’t the dominant machine it was last year, in large part due to struggles on the offensive line. So the burden now falls on the defense to keep the Crimson Tide in games, which it has done so far this year.
That appeared to be a tall task at the beginning of the season, when there were obvious holes in the secondary and plenty of missed assignments.
But now, in Jackson, Alabama finally has a No. 2 corner it can lean on across from Belue.
“He came out and competed,” safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. “He worked hard throughout the week. He made some mistakes, but he still played fast and that’s what I love about him.”
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The Miami Hurricanes were one of college football's surprise teams during the month of September, bursting into the rankings after an upset win over the Florida Gators.
Though the 'Canes competition overall was not that great, plenty was learned about Miami over the first four games.
Head coach Al Golden preached how the Hurricanes defense improved physically over the offseason, and the unit certainly is backing up those words. Quarterback Stephen Morris and the offense started slowly, and new offensive coordinator James Coley needed a few games to find his own rhythm.
Most importantly, though, Miami appears to be coming together as a team at the perfect time since the month of October holds three conference games and two key intra-division matchups.
It was a relatively quiet Saturday in the Big Ten with half the conference on a bye week.
It was difficult to learn much about what teams will do heading forward, and the power rankings probably won't look much different than in previous weeks.
Oh, except there was that one game in Columbus, Ohio.
Despite the lack of fireworks elsewhere in the conference, Ohio State-Wisconsin still made prime-time headlines Saturday evening, and it helps to sort through the top-tier teams in the Big Ten.
Check out our power rankings after Week 5.
All stats via ESPN
With the Red River Rivalry looming, Mack Brown has a long to-do list for his Texas Longhorns. First up will be sorting out his quarterback situation.
Every game left on the schedule is a must-win for Brown and his team. Their Big 12 hopes likely evaporate with a loss to the Sooners, and Brown will be facing unemployment if there is another blowout.
Unfortunately, the embattled head coach is facing another uphill battle. Starting quarterback David Ash is in doubt after suffering another head injury, top linebacker Jordan Hicks is gone for the season and the entire team has performed below its talent level.
There is a lot that needs fixing, but Brown has the time to do it with nine days between this week's matchup with Iowa State and the team's game of the year.
The real question is whether he will get his Longhorns back on the rails. He had better, because this game, and his job, depend on it.
An LSU quarterback has never looked as good in defeat as Zach Mettenberger did in a 44-41 loss to Georgia.
Mettenberger must have a taste for theatrics. In college football's best game of the season thus far, he was a storyline within a storyline.
The Tigers defense couldn't stop Aaron Murray and Georgia's passing attack even if they had Miley Cyrus swinging with a wrecking ball in the secondary. For LSU fans, watching the defense struggle was reminiscent of watching Cyrus' "twerking" at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. It was demoralizing.
Meanwhile, Mettenberger rallied his offense to scores that kept the Tigers in the game. While the outside viewer watched LSU try to match score-for-score with Georgia, the informed observer dialed into the best storyline of the year—Mettenberger redeeming himself in Athens.
He was even a "Google hot trend."
After getting kicked off of Georgia in 2010, Mettenberger walked a long, hard road to earn a shot against his former team. He responded with the greatest performance of his LSU career.
To quote Odell Beckham after the game, courtesy of NOLA.com's Jim Kleinpeter, Mettenberger was "putting the ball on the money."
He completed 23 of 37 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. The most notable stat of the night might be his zero interceptions.
Throughout the contest, Mettenberger found soft spots in the zone and placed balls where only his receivers could catch them when faced with man-coverage situations.
Mettenberger wasn't perfect, though. Near the end of the game, he had a few balls sail on him, which were a result of pressure by the defense.
While carrying the team on his back, Mettenberger's accuracy helped LSU produce 41 points against an SEC defense. His performance allowed him to produce enough yards to move up to No. 9 for most passing yards in school history.
Arm Strength/Reads: A
I could watch Mettenberger throw line drives to wide receivers all day. In Saturday's contest against Georgia, the nation watched him do just that.
Simply put, his arm strength was on full display against Georgia, with his fourth-quarter pass to a diving, helmet-less Jarvis Landry being the most impressive pass of the ball game. The word "impressive" doesn't give justice to staring down Landry threading the ball through two defenders near the goal line.
Mettenberger's passing groove was helped by Cam Cameron giving him easy reads early in the first quarter, like a mismatched Jeremy Hill releasing out of the backfield.
The senior quarterback built off of those early reads, though.
As the game progressed, Cameron's offense featured a receiver "stack" that saw Landry come across the field wide open. Mettenberger threw first down after first down with the route, and when Georgia's defense concentrated on Landry, Mettenberger threw the seam route to an open Beckham.
All in all, Mettenberger's examination of the defense and gifted arm allowed him to scorch Georgia's defense through the air.
Mettenberger really showed what he was made of in Athens.
He was rocked by a Georgia defensive lineman, heckled by Bulldog fans and analyzed under college football's microscope all week long. Before the game, he downplayed the game and told the media he "can't wait for Sunday." After seeing the mainstream coverage, it's understandable why.
None of that seemed to matter after kickoff though.
When push came to shove, Mettenberger hung tight in the pocket, found open receivers and spun tight spirals to them.
LSU may not have walked away with a victory, but moving forward, Mettenberger's confidence has to be gleaming. He knows he can carry the Tigers on his back, and though the game will show a loss for the Tigers, it's a win for LSU's ever-improving quarterback.
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The Pac-12 entered the 2013 season as a conference that was on the rise with a truckload of promise.
Five weeks into the season, it has fulfilled expectations with four undefeated teams and a handful of others holding their own.
Each and every team will now be tested more than ever as we enter the heart of the conference schedule. No more cupcake games for these teams, as they will be asked to beat up on one another, and only the strongest will survive.
Where does each team rank after five weeks?
Georgia vs. LSU highlighted a tremendous Week 5 slate in the SEC, and if the game was any indication, this season may be as wild as any we've seen in recent memory.
Both the Bulldogs and Tigers showed themselves to be among the best teams in the nation, and the game contained a number of plays from guys who seem to make this list every week.
Aside from the showdown in Athens, however, Saturday featured a strong day from the running backs.
College football is a lot different today than it was five years ago, but if we get to see more games like the ones from yesterday, people are going to jump on board the high-octane offense train and stay there.
Here are the top 10 performances in the SEC from a wild Saturday.
All stats via ESPN
The Alabama Crimson Tide have won three of the last four national championships and notched one of the most impressive wins of the year so far when they beat Texas A&M, but more and more media voters have been giving the No. 1 nod to the prolific but untested Oregon Ducks.
Of the 60 media voters in the Week 6 AP Top 25 poll, five chose the Ducks as the top team in the land, which is the most respect they have received all season long.
The Tide took the remaining 55 first-place votes, their lowest total of the season, despite slamming the door on Ole Miss' upset bid in a 25-0 Week 5 win.
While Alabama's past resume is outstanding, it might not be so crazy to view Oregon as college football's best team through the first five weeks of 2013.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser writer Dave Reardon has been the captain of the Oregon bandwagon for most of the season and was the only voter to choose the Ducks the week after Alabama's win over Texas A&M.
While the immediate thought might be of West Coast bias in the case of Oregon, that just isn't the case. After Alabama's lackluster win over Colorado State in Week 4, Reardon was joined by a number of writers from the East.
West Virginia beat writer Mitch Vingle, Michigan writer Mike Griffith and South Carolina writer Josh Kendall all tabbed the Ducks as No. 1. This week, Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman joined the fold for UO as well.
So of the five AP voters to take Oregon at the top, none cover Pac-12 teams.
Griffith wrote that he simply doesn't believe Alabama could beat the Ducks, which is actually a reasonable belief.
There is no doubt that the speedy Ducks pass the "eye test," and they have the numbers to back up that rapidity.
They currently rank No. 2 in scoring offense and No. 4 in scoring defense and have outscored their opponents by a combined 196 points, 239-43. By comparison, Alabama hasn't even scored 196 points in its four games. The Tide have outscored their foes by 82 points, 140-58.
UO was particularly impressive over the last two weeks, crushing BCS conference opponents Tennessee and Cal. While the Ducks' offensive success isn't out of the ordinary, their defensive play has been eye-opening.
Cal entered Week 5 averaging nearly 440 passing yards and 34 points per game, but Oregon held the Bears to just 176 passing yards and 16 points.
With results like that, the Ducks will continue to gain steam in the rankings, particularly if Alabama turns in bland victories through conference play.
The big tipping point will come in Week 11.
Oregon will travel to Stanford for a Thursday night clash on Nov. 7. Two days later, Alabama will host LSU in the biggest game left on its regular-season schedule.
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Who would have guessed the offense of the future would turn back the clock for Washington?
A hurry-up, no-huddle scheme has given the Washington Huskies added bite through four games of the 2013 season, evident in a 39.8-point per game average. However, in Saturday's 31-13 defeat of Pac-12 rival Arizona, Washington's strategy looked like more of a throwback.
The Washington defense overwhelmed the Wildcats' own hurry-up offense, while running back Bishop Sankey set a program record with 40 carries for 161 yards.
His historic workload was a stark contrast from the Huskies' Week 4 rout of Idaho State, in which Sankey carried just four times.
Both the limited reps last week and the overtime he put in Saturday were part of the grand design of dictating tempo against Arizona, head coach Steve Sarkisian said.
"That’s why he had four carries last week and 40 tonight," Sarkisian said in his postgame press conference, per GoHuskies.com. "We knew coming into the game that both teams were going to go fast."
Arizona's defense kept the Wildcats in the game while the offense sputtered in the first half, but the Sankey onslaught wore them down enough to roll off 20 decisive, second-half points.
Sankey also reclaimed the lead among Bowl Subdivision ball-carriers at 151.8 yards per game. His Heisman candidacy is just beginning to pick up steam, and next week brings a potential make-or-break test against the stingy Stanford rush defense.
The Cardinal have allowed 420 rushing yards on the season—284 of which came from the triple option attack of Army in Week 3.
Oregon Has Ways to Score Without De'Anthony Thomas
Do-everything Oregon back De'Anthony Thomas injured his right ankle moments into the Ducks' rout of Cal, rolling it on the rain-slicked Autzen Stadium turf during the game's opening kickoff.
Thomas told Andrew Greif of The Oregonian he is "pretty sore, that's about it."
Not the most scientific of diagnoses, but promising for Duck fans who hope to see the dynamic playmaker back in the lineup during Pac-12 play.
Still, if Thomas is sidelined for any length of time, Saturday night was an indication of just how effectively Oregon can still score points without him.
Six different Ducks reached the end zone by rush, reception or return.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running backs Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall combined for four scores via the ground; Mariota threw touchdown tosses to Josh Huff and Daryle Hawkins; and Bralon Addison ran a punt back 75 yards to paydirt.
Oregon's many weapons are what make this a championship contender.
Marion Grice's Contributions Can Be Summed Up Succinctly
"Wow, that guy scores a lot of touchdowns," Arizona State head coach Todd Graham said of his running back, Marion Grice.
Graham's concise, postgame press conference assessment per TheSunDevils.com only scratches the surface. Grice rushed for a pair of touchdowns Saturday against USC, which gives him eight on the season. That's tied for most in the FBS.
He has another four as a receiver. Grice's versatility makes him an invaluable asset in the Sun Devils' up-tempo offensive scheme.
"I am glad he is on our team," Graham said.
Arizona Has an Air Problem
Washington's tenacious defense made Arizona work for every inch it could accrue on the ground, an effort that was increasingly tenuous with quarterback B.J. Denker's struggles in the passing game.
Denker did not complete a pass until the second quarter and finished 14-of-35 for 119 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.
"It’s pretty obvious when you see things and you are like—'gosh, you shouldn’t do that,'" head coach Rich Rodriguez said.
Denker won a preseason quarterback competition that included former USC Trojan Jesse Scroggins and true freshman Anu Solomon. However, redshirt freshman Javelle Allen has been the Wildcats' No. 2 through the first four games.
Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham is also in the mix.
Rodriguez has options should he opt to experiment with the lineup in preparation for Arizona's Week 7 matchup with USC. An immediate shakeup does not appear likely, however.
"He’s a smart guy though, he’ll learn from that," Rodriguez said of Denker.
We Knew Sean Mannion Could Pass, But He Can Also Catch
The Oregon State quarterback had another prolific outing, leading Oregon State to a 44-17 rout of Colorado with six touchdown passes and 414 yards. He's over 2000 yards on the season to lead the FBS, and his 21 scores are four more than the next closest competitor, Utah State's Chuckie Keeton.
Mannion also made his first collegiate reception on a pass from running back Terron Ward. The play went for six yards.
Mannion is much too valuable at quarterback to see in future receiving situations. He also need not worry about Ward pressing him for this job.
"It’s always fun seeing [Ward] throw the ball, because he is just so short," Beaver safety Ryan Murphy said per OSUBeavers.com. "So when he pushes the ball out...it looks like a shot-put, a little flick."
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.
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For the most part, chalk reigned supreme toward the top of the rankings, where only LSU and Oklahoma State fell on Saturday. But those losses were obviously pretty important.
That was enough for mild movement at the top, which, along with the upheaval at the bottom, made this a very odd batch of rankings to process.
Who came out in the best shape?
One month into the Big Ten football season means the beginning of conference play, and it is a perfect time to look back and honor those players heading towards All-Conference awards at the end of the season.
Non-conference play has been littered with cupcake and glazed donut games, but the Big Ten has escaped unscathed for the most part—outside the state of Indiana, anyway. Purdue scuffled to 1-4 and Indiana has started 2-2.
The series against the Pac-12 went poorly as well, but it's time to forget about that and jump into the meaningful games in Big Ten play. Although some athletes have played up to expectations, others have been a huge surprise in the first month of play.
As a result, the September All-Conference Team features some of the same players from the pre-season prognostications mixed in with many new stars. The next two months will likely make most of the country forget about the achievements of September, but a great season must be built off a good start.
Each of the following players has done just that.
Here is your Big Ten All-Conference Team for September.
Despite having just four games and just two conference matchups on the slate, the Big Ten race became a lot clearer in Week 5 of the season.
With big matchups in Minneapolis and Columbus and blowouts of epic proportions, the hierarchy of the Big Ten also became quite clear.
You would think with so few matchups to look at that we wouldn't learn a lot, but that isn't the case as Saturday solidified a lot for this writer.
So, what did we learn in Week 5 across the Big Ten? Let's take a look.
Purdue is Bad, but Etling Provides Some Hope for the Future.
Who's worse—the 2012 Illinois team or the 2013 Purdue team? Right now, that is a more-than-fair question.
On Saturday, the Boilermakers were completely dominated by the visiting Northern Illinois Huskies, plain and simple. The 55-24 scoreline should say it all.
They also allowed NIU to make history by becoming the only MAC team to win two games against the Big Ten. Way to go, Boilermakers.
Despite all the bad, there was some sort of a silver lining in the form of freshman quarterback Danny Etling.
Head coach Darrell Hazell had wanted to keep the redshirt on Etling, but when starter Rob Henry went 5-of-16 passing for just 130 yards with two awful interceptions that killed promising drives in the first half, Hazell really didn't have a choice.
Off came the redshirt, and Etling was inserted into the game. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but a 241-yard, two-touchdown performance was not half bad at all for a guy making his first-ever throws in a college football game.
More importantly, though, the fans and the players around Etling seemed more energized following his insertion into the game.
Hazell and Co. were in serious danger of losing the fans in the stands and likely the locker room had he not made the change, and that is the kiss of death for a first-year head coach. Luckily for him, Etling didn't disappoint.
Now, it's a far cry from showing promise to actually being a competent quarterback, and Etling is about to thrown to the fire of Nebraska, Michigan State and Ohio State over the next three weeks.
Illinois Won't be a Pushover This Season and Can Thank an Improving Defense for That
I always hesitate to heap praise on a team when it is doing it against—how shall I say this nicely?—awful opponents. However, watching Illinois from Week 1 to yesterday, it is clear this team is improving every week.
That's a good sign that the Illini won't just lay over and die for the majority of their upcoming Big Ten schedule, and they could even pull off an upset or two down the road.
No doubt, Nathan Scheelhaase will be getting the headlines, and his numbers warrant it, but for me it's the improvement on the other side of the ball that matters most.
Sure, the offense can get into a track meet with any opponent and may still have to win a game or two that way, but this year the defense will be more than just "along for the ride," if you will.
They'll be in the co-pilot's seat and have their hands on the wheel the rest of the way.
Since the opener when they allowed 34 points to Southern Illinois, the Illini haven't allowed a non-ranked opponent to score more than 17 points, while scoring an average of 47.5 points in the wins over Cincinnati and Miami (OH).
I'm not saying the Illini defense is going to win football games—it's a far cry from that good just yet—but this is a youthful group that is getting better every week they are on the field.
This defense will at least give its offense a chance to win football games, and with a hot hand like Nathan Scheelhaase, there isn't much more you could ask for if you are an Illini fan.
Move Over, Allen Robinson: Jared Abbrederis is the Big Ten's Best Receiver
Allen Robinson put up crazy numbers last season (77 receptions, 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns) and is doing it again this season with 26 catches for 448 yards and three touchdowns in four games.
However, Robinson hasn't seen a corner the likes of Bradley Roby yet this season.
Jared Abbrederis did on Saturday night, and he simply torched the Buckeyes star corner to the tune of 10 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown.
More important than just the numbers alone was how Abbrederis did it. For example, there was this ridiculous throw and catch for his touchdown:
Then Abbrederis showed how good his hands are by grabbing a jump ball out of mid-air.
What we all witnessed on Saturday night was the Jared Abbrederis of two seasons ago, the one who nearly crushed Oregon on his own in the Rose Bowl.
As we sit here on Sunday before Week 6, Abbrederis now leads the Big Ten in receptions per game (6.6) and receiving yards per game (114.4). Only Corey "Philly" Brown has caught more touchdowns than Abberderis.
Abbrederis may not show up huge on the stat sheet again this season, but that doesn't mean he's any less of a wide receiver—it likely means the running game is going full steam ahead.
On Saturday night in the Horseshoe, he proved why he is the best receiver in the Big Ten.
Ohio State is the Big Ten's Best Team, No Questions Asked Anymore.
Some Wisconsin fans may point to two really dubious penalty calls as the reason the Buckeyes beat their Badgers, but the reality is that the best team in the conference won that game.
Ohio State had an answer for every punch the Badgers threw at them all game long and never trailed in winning 31-24.
Braxton Miller had 281 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in his return to action, cementing why he deserved to be the starter all along.
Wisconsin just had no answer for Carlos Hyde in big situations as he added a team high 89 yards in his first time starting all season long.
Yet on the flip side, the explosive Badger run game was held largely in check, only gaining 104 yards on 27 carries.
The final score may have made this game close, and it was. But watching it, you should've felt like Ohio State was in control from start to finish, and that's a sign of a dominant football team.
Now, the question is: Can the Buckeyes avoid the trap games they've fallen prey to nearly every year as of late?
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for more of the Big Ten discussion.
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The Texas A&M football team is 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC as it heads into the bye week. The Aggies have learned a lot about themselves during the first month of the season.
The No. 9-ranked Aggies have shown a few weaknesses on defense and special teams. They are a young team and the coaches are still trying to find the right combination of players to put on the field at the same time.
The Aggies have suffered some significant injuries that have affected their depth. They have been forced to play multiple true freshmen, especially on defense, in an attempt to put a viable unit on the field.
This is a look at what the coaches and fans have learned about the Aggies during their first month of the season.
Week 5 in the SEC was quite the roller coaster.
South Carolina was down 10 at halftime on the road at UCF, only to come storming back and escape Orlando with a win. South Alabama was on the brink of tying Tennessee late on Rocky Top, before a late drive stalled in the Tennessee red zone.
And then, there was the classic in Athens.
LSU and Georgia traded haymakers for a full four quarters between the hedges, with Georgia coming away with a thrilling 44-41 win to stay alive in the race for the BCS National Championship.
What did we learn about the SEC in Week 5?
Criticism of Georgia Quarterback Aaron Murray was Overblown
Remember when Aaron Murray "couldn't win the big one?"
In two of his last three games, Murray has been on point in wins over No. 6 LSU and previous No. 6 South Carolina, throwing for 607 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception in those two contests alone.
His record in his last five games against ranked competition is 3-2, but that is incredibly deceiving. In all five of those games, Murray has done everything he could to win.
Against No. 1 Alabama in last season's SEC Championship Game, Murray led his team down the field in the game's final minute to land on the doorstep of springing the upset and playing for the BCS National Championship. A potential game-winning pass was tipped by C.J. Mosley, and the Bulldogs ran out of time. The responsibility for that loss should never have fallen on him. After all, it's not his fault that the defense got road-graded by Bama's offensive line in the second half.
In the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska, it was more of the same as he threw for 427 yards and five touchdowns in a win. His offensive line couldn't protect him in the season-opening loss to Clemson this season, but he still managed to throw for 323 yards. It was his defense's inability to slow down Clemson that cost the Bulldogs in that one.
Murray is an elite quarterback who puts his team in position to win big games more times than not. I'm not sure what else his critics expect him to do. Play defense?
Zach Mettenberger is the Most Improved Player in College Football
Aaron Murray will get most of the attention for leading his Georgia team to a thrilling victory over LSU, but Tiger quarterback Zach Mettenberger deserves to take a bow as well.
Mettenberger was throwing darts between the hedges on Saturday, completing 23-of-37 passes for 372 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has 13 touchdown passes on the young season, after throwing only 12 all of last year.
While those numbers jump off the page, it was how he got them that was most impressive. The senior from nearby Watkinsville, Ga. threaded needles all afternoon, slipping passes into tight windows and beating double coverages early and often. Even in a loss, Mettenberger was the most impressive player on the field.
He has the big arm that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron likes, precision like a surgeon and a ton of confidence in himself and his team.
Don't be surprised to see him sneak into the Heisman discussion.
Defense Doesn't Win Championships—"Just Enough Defense" Does
Critics will look at the scores of some of these early-season SEC battles—LSU at Georgia and Alabama at Texas A&M, in particular—and say, "Where are the vaunted SEC defenses?"
Defense doesn't win championships anymore. Just enough defense does.
The definition of "just enough" is a moving target and varies from team-to-team and year-to-year.
For a team like Alabama—which boasted a top-five defense in each of its last three national championship seasons—"enough" is defined as stifling. For a team like Auburn in 2010, "enough" was defined as solid in the second half (8.8 second-half points per game) and the SEC's best rush defense (109.07 YPG).
Georgia, LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M have all been inconsistent at times on defense this year but have proven that they have the offenses that can win either shootouts or slugfests. Their versatility on offense makes them championship caliber, even if the defense is a little inconsistent.
Tyler Murphy Will Be Fine at QB for Florida
Making his first start in place of injured starter Jeff Driskel, Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy was solid.
Was he flashy? No. But 15-of-18 for 156 yards, 36 rushing yards and two total touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush) in a 24-7 win over Kentucky will work.
Was it a conservative game plan for Murphy? Yes. But that was expected for a first-time starter on the road. Murphy showed poise in the pocket, some burst in the running game and the ability to stay smart and play within the game plan.
All good things for a Florida team that's going to be in every game thanks to a stifling defense.
The Gators host Arkansas next weekend, which will be more of a test for Murphy than Kentucky and Tennessee. But he's 2-0 in game action in relief of Driskel and gaining confidence.
Alabama Can Still Be "Alabama"
Rumors of Alabama's demise were greatly exaggerated.
The Crimson Tide went old school on Saturday night, shutting down Ole Miss in virtually every facet of the game in a 25-0 win over the upstart Rebels.
How did they do it?
Quarterback AJ McCarron was marvelously efficient in completing 25-of-32 passes for 180 yards, while running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide held the normally electric Rebel offense to just 205 total yards and only 46 on the ground.
Remember this feeling?
It's the same one Alabama fans had after virtually every game in 2009, 2011 and 2012. All of those seasons ended with head coach Nick Saban hoisting the crystal football, and the 4-0 Tide is well on its way to putting itself in position to repeat the feat in 2013.
Texas A&M Goes Ground and Pound
"Johnny Football" went on the road for the first time all season, as the Texas A&M Aggies topped Arkansas 45-33 in Fayetteville.
Manziel was solid, throwing for 261 yards, rushing for 59 and scoring two touchdowns. But what was more impressive was Texas A&M manning up and playing grown-man football when the time was right.
Midway through the third quarter up four with the rain coming down, A&M embarked on a nine-play 68-yard touchdown drive that featured nine runs—all by either Trey Williams or Tra Carson. Williams capped off the march with a 17-yard score that not only put the Aggies up 11, but also demoralized the home-standing Hogs.
Four Aggie running backs rushed for 40 or more yards on the night, with all four of them earning nine or more carries. That, my friends, is called balance.
All That Matters for Tennessee is a Bowl Game
The first month of the Butch Jones era on Rocky Top has been a wild one. The joy generated from a 2-0 start quickly turned to angst, after the Vols were blown out by Oregon and the offense sputtered against Florida.
It almost hit a new low on Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium, when the visiting South Alabama Jaguars were within eight yards of tying the game and sending it into overtime. But Vols safety Brian Randolph intercepted Jaguars quarterback Ross Metheny in the end zone with under two minutes to play preserve the win.
The lack of style points shouldn't matter. Tennessee is in full-on rebuilding mode, and an integral part of that rebuilding process is making it to a bowl game this year and getting those precious bowl practices.
That's why Jones should avoid making a quarterback change. Tennessee's schedule is so brutal that it can't really afford a slip-up. Justin Worley isn't great, but he still gives Tennessee the best chance to win. He's good enough to get Tennessee into bowl contention and should keep the job until a bowl becomes more myth than reality.
If he's not the quarterback of the future, fine. But let him get the Vols to December when they can figure out who the quarterback of the future is.
Is Missouri for Real?
Don't look now, but the only SEC team other than Alabama to finish the month of September undefeated is Missouri.
No, that's not a typo. It's really Missouri.
The 4-0 Tigers polished off a 41-19 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday night to finish off its non-conference slate unblemished and take some major offensive momentum into the conference schedule.
Are the Tigers for real? Offensively, yes.
They're averaging 549 yards per game; quarterback James Franklin looks like he's back to his 2011 form; the running game looks incredibly balanced with Franklin, Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy; and Dorial Green-Beckham looks like the superstar at wide receiver that he was touted to be when he signed with the program.
The question is whether or not the defense can handle the more physical teams that exist in the SEC. There's no answer for that yet, but the Tigers are taking care of the teams that they should take care of, which is a step in the right direction.
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