Two top-seven teams were upset in their own stadiums as another wild slate of games played out in college football Week 6.
Both Oklahoma and Michigan fell to foes they should have beaten, which will have lasting ramifications we’re betting will extend into January. Alabama and Clemson have been destroying teams of late, but they both had their own struggles to work through Saturday.
Another major program that hasn’t been winning much in recent years appears to be all the way back after a statement win over its in-state rivals. Oh, and there was a game that went into extra, extra innings, to borrow a phrase from the MLB playoffs happening right now.
These were the biggest takeaways from college football Week 6, and we’ll start with the biggest upset of the year.
Cyclones suck the air out of The Palace on the Prairie
In addition to the simple fact that Iowa State pulled off the biggest upset of the year, there are a number of different things to get excited about here.
First off, what a stud Kyle Kempt was on Saturday in Norman, Okla. This was a kid who had only ever attempted two passes in his college career before being called into duty as Iowa State’s third-string quarterback against the mighty Sooners. All he did was out-play the great Baker Mayfield, passing for 343 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The final touchdown throw was a thing of beauty with the game on the line and just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. He dropped it into receiver Allen Lazard’s hands, right over the outstretched arms of a defender, and the ball arrived right as the safety was coming in for the double team. It was simply an epic way to end an epic upset (watch here).
Then there’s the matter of Joel Lanning, the Iowa State senior who played both ways and was a huge contributor to the win. He finished with 35 yards rushing and 25 yards passing on offense. As a middle linebacker, he had eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was generally pretty darn good. He finished with 363 total yards, three touchdowns and didn’t throw a pick. But he did take some bad sacks and was uncharacteristically indecisive at some key moments.
In the end, Mayfield couldn’t overcome Iowa State’s magnificent effort all by his lonesome, and shockingly, the mighty Sooners now have fallen.
When it was all said and done, in an ironic twist of fate, Mayfleld and Co. saw a rival’s flag planted on their 50-yard line.
Michigan State crushes Michigan’s playoff hopes with upset in Ann Arbor
The Spartans deserve a ton of credit for their gritty 14-10 win over their in-state rivals. The Paul Bunyan Trophy is officially theirs once again, at least for one year.
The offense was four yards and a cloud of dust (yes, it was raining), both running and passing the ball. And that’s all it needed to be, because the Michigan State defense was outstanding. It forced Michigan into five turnovers in the game, intercepting John O’Korn three times and forcing two fumbles.
In almost every other way these two teams were nearly mirror images of one another. Total yardage, time of possession, etc. But Mark Dantonio’s guys didn’t turn the ball over once. That’s the reason they get to walk out of The Big House with an upset win over Michigan.
Jim Harbaugh’s team now has a ton of issues. And it still has some huge games coming up against Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State, all of which are better than the Wolverines right now. We’ve been harping on how mediocre the offense this year, but it didn’t haunt them until Saturday night. Which leads us to our next point.
Michigan offense officially a major problem
Chris Fowler of ESPN reported from the booth Saturday night that Michigan’s starting quarterback, Wilton Speight, is likely out the rest of the year with multiple fractures in his back. This is pretty stunning news because Jim Harbaugh said his guy would be out a few weeks, not the whole season, this past week before the game.
This is significant, because as we learned Saturday night in Ann Arbor, John O’Korn might not be able to handle the pressure of being the man in charge of running Michigan’s offense. O’Korn was picked off three times in the team’s four-point loss. And when he finally did throw a money pass at the end of the game, his receiver failed him with a blatant drop.
Because the senior quarterback was so unreliable as a passer, Michigan State’s defense was able to clamp down on the run. The Wolverines were bottled up to the tune of just 2.6 yards per carry, and we know what the scoreboard showed — Michigan’s offense was dead in the water.
The U is officially back
It’s never easy beating Florida State in Tallahassee. It’s also been tough sledding for Miami the past decade-plus going up against their in-state rivals. Florida State had won its last seven games against Miami and eight out of its last 10. So, it was fair to wonder if the Hurricanes, who entered with an undefeated record, were really for real.
Wonder no more.
Miami won Saturday, 24-20, in the most thrilling way possible when Malik Rosier completed a 23-yard touchdown to Darrell Langham, who barreled into the end zone with six seconds left on the clock (watch here).
The Hurricanes did a fantastic job overall keeping a desperate Seminoles squad from gaining any secure footholds on the scoreboard. Both Rosier and the young James Blackman had their big moments, and they had moments when the game got too big for them. In the end, it was Rosier who came through with the clutch game-winning drive, answering Blackman late in the fourth quarter after the Seminoles had taken a three-point lead.
On a huge stage, with pressure galore heaped upon their shoulders, the Hurricanes answered the bell with an affirmative to the question of whether the U is truly back in business.
NC State’s overwhelming team effort thwarts Lamar Jackson
At this point, nobody needs to be convinced that Lamar Jackson is one of the greatest college players in the nation. He won the Heisman last year and remains a contender to repeat this season through six games. Jackson had another big statistical game Thursday night on the road against NC State. He put up 427 yards and three touchdowns and was essentially the only offense Louisville had in the game. Though, it must be noted that his pick-six late in the fourth quarter was the back breaker, as it occurred while the Wolfpack were ahead by just one touchdown.
But as we’ve seen all year long, Louisville is Jackson or bust. It features an awful defense and does not run the ball with any consistency unless it’s Jackson toting the rock. NC State, on the other hand, won the game because it got a team-wide effort. Offensively, the Wolfpack made big play after big play to not only keep pace with Jackson but outdo the quarterback. Defensively, Eurndraus Bryant, Bradley Chubb and Co. overwhelmed Louisville’s offensive line and had Jackson on the run all night long.
It’s this ability to win on both sides of the ball that has NC State on a five-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been beaten by two touchdowns or more against the only two ranked teams they’ve faced.
Lamar Jackson is great. The Cardinals are not. Period. End of story.
TCU is the best team in the Big 12…for now
West Virginia gave TCU all it could handle. Will Grier passed for 366 yards with three touchdowns, Justin Crawford ran for 111 yards while receivers Ka’Raun White and David Sills V both went well over 100 yards and caught touchdowns. It wasn’t enough.
Always staying just one step ahead of the Mountaineers, the Horned Frogs took the game over in the third quarter. After picking off Grier (his only turnover of the game), they scored on the next play when Kenny Hill (who scored three ways — running, passing and receiving) connected with Jalen Reagor on a 45-yard strike to go up by two touchdowns.
Grier and Co. came charging back and tied the game up in the fourth quarter, but that’s when Hill and Reagor dealt the final blow. Engineering a 13-play drive to take the lead once more, Hill sealed it with a three-yard rushing score that proved to be the game-winner. Sure, there was a bit of controversy on a pass interference call that Mountaineers fans will remember for a while, but that’s not the only reason their team lost.
TCU has now beaten Oklahoma State and West Virginia in consecutive games and sits in first place in the Big 12. Both in terms of their record and their strength, the Horned Frogs have to be considered the best team in the conference — for now. A date with Oklahoma looms large in November.
LSU wakes up from its slumber to put down Gators
LSU got dealt what some assumed was a death blow when Troy took the Tigers down in their own house during homecoming weekend. It was the second loss in three weeks for the program, with a narrow win over lowly Syracuse sandwiched in between. Things were so tense after the Troy game that athletic director Joe Alleva met with head coach Ed Orgeron and his two top assistants in what was described as a “gut check meeting.”
You don’t have to read between the lines to determine what would have happened if the Tigers came out flat against Florida Saturday. Thankfully for Orgeron and his staff, nothing remotely close to that occurred. LSU took it to Florida at The Swamp. In every way, the Tigers played a razor-sharp game that included no turnovers. Florida’s vaunted defense was befuddled by LSU’s varied running game, which totaled 216 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Tigers were just as sharp and determined. They racked up five sacks, harrassed freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks ceaselessly and allowed just 10 catches all game long. The Gators ran the ball well but didn’t quite have enough firepower to pull out the home win. And when it mattered the most, the Gators flubbed an extra-point attempt that proved to be the difference in the 17-16 game.
Georgia running away with SEC East
Who’s going to beat Georgia in the SEC East?
Florida? That’s a hard pass. Though, we’ll find out in a few weeks. Other than the Gators, there’s no team in their half of the SEC even remotely threatening these Bulldogs.
Georgia’s defense is surrendering just 10 points per game, and now the running game is on fire. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel totaled 288 yards and three touchdowns on the ground Saturday against Vanderbilt and have now combined for 1,024 rushing yards on the season. The potent combination of rushing and defense has this team flying high right now. And barring an upset we don’t see coming, Georgia should be undefeated when it heads into Alabama for a date with Auburn in November.
Auburn getting hot, but bigger tests await
After Auburn was curb stomped by Clemson, we wondered if these Tigers would ever start to click in 2017. Since that game, however, they’ve done plenty to let us know that had more to do with Clemson and less to do with their own deficiencies.
Auburn’s defense is a nightmare for opposing offenses. Mississippi State scored a field goal in the first quarter. Then it wasn’t until the game was out of hand, with Auburn winning 38-3, that the Bulldogs got anything going on the scoreboard. Their 23 points marked the highest points total of any opposing team against Auburn this year. The Tigers are allowing just 11.67 points per game, even including that total.
Offensively, the progression of Jarrett Stidham should be encouraging for Auburn fans. Since the Clemson game, the former Baylor quarterback has completed 79.1 percent of his passes while throwing five touchdowns and one interception. And that one pick came four weeks ago. His growing proficiency, paired with Auburn’s tremendous rushing attack, is a tremendous asset for Gus Malzahn’s offense.
Auburn clearly belongs among the top-10 teams in the nation right now. But we’ll truly get a sense of this team’s worth in the final weeks of the season when the Tigers face the likes of Georgia and Alabama.
Penn State easy pick as No. 3 team in the nation
We’ll see what Penn State is really made out of the next two games it plays after a Week 7 bye. Michigan and Ohio State loom large. But for now, there’s no doubt the Nittany Lions are the nation’s No. 3 team behind Alabama and Clemson. It’s kind of a no-brainer after Oklahoma lost, but even if the Sooners had won we’d give the nod to Penn State.
Saquon Barkley is undeniably the best player in college football. He was held to minus-one yards in the first half Saturday against Northwestern. Then he exploded, predictably, as James Franklin fed him the ball in the second half. His 53-yard touchdown run to seal the win in the third quarter was a thing of beauty that showcased everything special about the junior running back (watch here).
Penn State’s defense can be suffocating, too. It has allowed just nine points per game and has pitched two shutouts already this season. When quarterback Trace McSorley takes care of the ball this team is almost unbeatable. Are the Nittany Lions good enough to beat either Clemson or ‘Bama? That’s certainly debatable. But we hope we get the chance to see them try next year in January.
Western Michigan vs. Buffalo was a blast
It’s really a shame a team had to lose this one. After seven overtime periods, it was the home team that ended up feeling the sting of defeat. Western Michigan scored a touchdown after Buffalo managed a field goal in the seventh overtime to win, 71-68.
Even before it got to extra periods, this game was entertaining. It really got off the rails when the sister of Broncos tight end Donnie Ernsberger rushed the field following his go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter (watch here). Buffalo, down by three, kicked a field goal to tie the game then blocked a 52-yard attempt with time expiring to sent the contest into overtime.
The two sides traded body blows seven times before Western Michigan finally outlasted its opponent. In defeat, Buffalo quarterback Drew Anderson passed for 597 yards and seven touchdowns, with three going to K.J. Osborn. Three of his receivers went well over 100 yards.
The game’s final score was a Jarvion Franklin touchdown run of 12 yards. This game tied for the longest in FBS history.
Ugly wins are still wins, and Alabama was due for one
Not even 12th Man Jesus (look) could help the Texas A&M Aggies take down the No. 1 team in the nation Saturday night at College Station.
The Alabama punting unit gave up a safety when the Aggies blocked the punt in the end zone. It was the first safety allowed by Alabama since 2009. It didn’t really matter in the end. The Crimson Tide didn’t win big, and they didn’t win pretty. But they won nevertheless, 27-19.
Freshman Kellen Mond deserves a ton of credit. He’s been so resilient all year long, helping the Aggies come back in all four games they’ve won this year. His scrambling touchdown throw to Christian Kirk was gorgeous, and he led a gritty late touchdown drive on the final offensive possession of the game for Texas A&M. There are no moral victories in football. But this young man is showing something special in his first year.
Back to ‘Bama, you can be sure Nick Saban won’t be happy about the sloppy nature of this game. The offense gained just 16 first downs, converted just 4-of-14 third downs and turned the ball over. Even in an ugly game, however, the overall talent level of Alabama shined through. In particular, the running game is still strong and accounted for 232 of the team’s 355 total yards.
After blowing out their competition all year long, the Crimson Tide were due for a close call. Now Saban will have plenty of teachable moments to point out to his team, which looks destined to play in the championship game once again.
* Another week. Another breezy win for the Clemson Tigers, who held Wake Forest to no points until the final stanza. Even better, quarterback Kelly Bryant, who was forced out with an ankle injury, is going to be just fine. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he just rolled the ankle, and that it is not serious.
* Notre Dame opted not to play quarterback Brandon Wimbush against North Carolina. The dual-threat passer practiced leading up to the game but sat out with a foot injury. It mattered not. The Fighting Irish romped over the suddenly hapless Tar Heels, who coughed up a ridiculous safety at one point and look all sorts of confused on both sides of the ball.
* The Air Force-Navy game was a blast. Navy ended up outgunning its military brethren by three points, 48-45, thanks to a last-minute touchdown to go up by three points. Junior quarterback Zach Abbey was phenomenal. He finished with 300 yards (214 on the ground) and four touchdowns, including the game-winning 16-yard touchdown pass.
* It’s not all that surprising that Maryland got blown out by Ohio State. But here are a couple of staggering notes. Ohio State allowed the fewest yards (66) in a Big Ten game since Nov. 5, 1960 and the fewest passing yards (16) since Nov. 18, 1989, per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. Whoa.
* Texas Tech sure wasn’t pouting this weekend, one game after being outlasted by Oklahoma State in Week 5. The Red Raiders took out their frustrations on Kansas, which lost in blowout fashion at home, 65-19.
* The Longhorns are a resilient bunch. Tom Herman’s team took down Kansas State in double-overtime Saturday night in Austin, thanks to a Chris Warren rushing touchdown after the Wildcats missed a field goal in their half of the second overtime period. Now Texas will get ready for the Red River Rivalry Game against a ticked off Oklahoma team next week, and we can’t wait for this one.
* Nebraska had to win the turnover battle to have any chance of upsetting Wisconsin at home. It didn’t happen. Tanner Lee threw an early pick-six, and the Badgers pulled away with three straight touchdown-scoring drives in the second half, winning 38-17.
* It was close there for a while in Eugene as the Oregon Ducks hosted Washington State. But the Cougars won the turnover battle, and quarterback Luke Falk got his mojo going, throwing three touchdowns. Without starting quarterback Justin Herbert, the Ducks didn’t have nearly enough offense to keep up.
* Predictably, USC and Virginia Tech handled their Week 6 opponents, bouncing back from tough losses last weekend. Both Josh Jackson and Sam Darnold went over 300 yards passing, though neither was able to keep the other team from hauling in one of their passes. For Darnold, it’s the sixth straight game to open the season in which he’s thrown at least one interception. Not good.
* If you’ve read all the way to the end, then you have our thanks. You also deserve a gift, which we present to you in the form of a good laugh (make sure to unmute the tweet for this gold nugget).