College football Winners and Losers, Week 6: Strong showing from state of Texas
The Horned Frogs, Longhorns and even the Aggies all had a solid weekend
Week 6 didn't have multiple compelling games on paper, but as usual, it's the so-called down weeks that produce the most chaotic results. And chaos did reign supreme on Saturday. Oklahoma, the preseason Big 12 favorite, lost at home to Iowa State, which was already down its starting quarterback and a 31-point underdog. That puts a major dent in the conference's College Football Playoff hopes since the Sooners had the big nonconference win against Ohio State. However, TCU picked up some of the slack by remaining unbeaten with a win over West Virginia.
Elsewhere, Michigan State showed once again it's not "little brother" to Michigan by beating the Wolverines 14-10 in monsoon-like conditions. And LSU got a major bounce-back win over Florida. There was so much more that happened around the world of college football. What were the highlights from Saturday of Week 6? What were the moments some programs want to forget? We hash out the best and worst below with this week's version of Winners and Losers.
Winner -- Texas (the state): It was a good Saturday for Power Five schools in the Lone Star state. Texas got a big win in overtime against Kansas State, moving the Longhorns to 3-2. With Sam Ehlinger at quarterback (more on him later), the Longhorns' offense just moves better and is more explosive. This is the team that can win nine or 10 games. And while Texas A&M lost to Alabama 27-19, it displayed a number of positives that weren't there a month ago. Kellen Mond has quietly developed into a nice playmaker at quarterback. Coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone have done a good job growing him as a passer. Compare that to Week 1 when he couldn't move the sticks against UCLA. And while that was an all-time collapse, the fallout of which can't be ignored, it's a one-percenter type of result. Between that and playing Alabama tough, A&M is 4-2 and still on track to win eight or nine games. That would be enough to save Sumlin's job.
Winner -- Miami (FL): Oh, this was about to be painful for the Hurricanes. I mean "stick with you for the rest of your life" painful. After exchanging leads with Florida State, Miami held a 17-13 lead late in the fourth quarter. But James Blackman and Auden Tate, Florida State's best offensive combination, took a 20-13 lead with just under a minute and a half remaining. But the Hurricanes marched back 75 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown with just six seconds remaining for the 24-20 win. It was the . This could have been an all-time misery loss for Miami; instead, it was one of the most thrilling wins from Saturday.
Loser -- Reasonable three-hour games: Western Michigan and Buffalo totaled an eye-popping 139 points in a 71-68 game that lasted not one, not two, but seven overtimes with the Broncos getting the win. It was not only the highest-scoring game in FBS history, it was tied for the longest FBS game ever played.
Winner -- Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger: After leading Texas to a 40-34 overtime win over Kansas State, there can't be any question. This has to be Ehlinger's job now. The true freshman has been brilliant in his three starts and had a career-high 380 passing yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. Ehlinger's ability to push the ball down the field, evade pressure and make plays with his feet is a combination that's simply too good for coach Tom Herman to pass up. Shane Buechele has done a lot of good things, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy and the offense is simply more explosive with Ehlinger in the game.
Loser -- First down nightmares for Michigan: When it comes to rival quarterbacks getting key first downs, Michigan is a resounding 0-for-2 under coach Jim Harbaugh. There was J.T. Barrett's first-down run against the Wolverines last November, and now there's Brian Lewerke's tuck-and-roll first down in Saturday's 14-10 win by Michigan State. The first-down play that allowed the Spartans to drain clock in a rain-soaked fourth quarter came on a 3rd and 3 with 2:13 remaining. Lewerke fumbled the snap, which bounced fortuitously back up to him, and darted toward the first down. Michigan appeared to have Lewerke stopped short, but replay showed that Lewerke rolled over his lineman to gain an extra necessary few yards. That's some luck.
Winner -- LSU: Hey, when you get beat by Troy and piled on for the rest of the week, the best way to calm the waters is to get a win. LSU got that road win . It wasn't pretty -- games involving LSU and/or Florida rarely are these days -- but the Tigers got back to the style of play that they're accustomed to. LSU outrushed Florida 216-194 and averaged a decent 4.5 yards per attempt (though Florida had 'em beat at 5.1 yards per rush). There's still a lot to be concerned about regarding this team. Winning cures many things, but even this doesn't cure all. But for one week, at least, LSU got back on track.
Loser -- Arkansas: It's come unraveled quickly for the Razorbacks and coach Bret Bielema. With a 48-22 loss to South Carolina, the Hogs are 2-3 and remain winless in SEC play. With games against Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State still on the schedule, bowl eligibility is a major concern. As for Bielema's job security, remember that he has a hefty buyout that is currently set at $15.4 million. No contract is unbreakable, but would Arkansas (or a certain someone in an NFL front office with deep Arkansas ties) be willing to foot that bill? Bad, fiscally irresponsible business deals are the problem among SEC programs, not bad coaches.
Winner -- Iowa State LB/QB Joel Lanning: The quarterback-turned-linebacker-turned-multi-tool was the MVP in Iowa State's thrilling upset over Oklahoma. Lanning played 78 total snaps, including 57 on defense, 13 on offense and eight on special teams. He finished with 25 yards passing, 35 yards rushing, eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. If Lanning doesn't win the Hornung Award for most versatile player, there should be riots in the streets.
Loser -- Oklahoma's defense: The Sooners Kyle Kempt and Lanning, both of whom are backup quarterbacks. They were beat up front on blocks against the run and on the perimeter. Trever Ryan's 57-yard touchdown on the quick out wouldn't have been possible without Allen Lazard dominating on the outside (check it out below). That's a concern for the Sooners moving forward.just because they lost to Iowa State. However, there's a major issue that needs addressing: the defense. Oklahoma gave up 368 yards passing to
Winner -- TCU quarterback Kenny Hill: Hill had three touchdowns in a 31-24 win against West Virginia: one rushing, one passing and one receiving on a double pass. In all, Hill totaled 264 yards of offense. That TCU needed to use Hill in all of those different ways shows how creative it needed to be to win. West Virginia outgained TCU, and had it not been for some turnovers and close officiating calls, might have won the game. Hill's multi-use day help TCU survive.
Loser -- Colorado: The poor Buffs were tasked with trying to tackle Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate and didn't do a good job of it. Tate, who came off the bench, ended up setting for rushing yards by a quarterback (327 on just ... wait for it ... 14 carries). His 142 yards passing (on 11-of-12 passes, no less) gave him 469 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. That's great for Tate and all, but how would you feel being the team that gave up that type of yardage to a backup?
Winner -- Tulane coach Willie Fritz: He has a history of taking big steps forward during Year 2 of rebuilding projects. It looks like Tulane is next to take that step following a whopping 62-28 win over Tulsa that included 488 yards rushing. This was a 48-7 game at the half. Fritz has won everywhere he's gone, and at this rate, he's earning himself another job -- perhaps in the Power Five. Tulane may not win the AAC -- although at this point, who knows -- but they're going to be a thorn for a lot of opponents. This is a fun team.
Loser -- Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason: The sophomore, season-opening starter potentially finds himself in a tough position through no fault of his own. Jake Fromm was solid once again in a 45-14 win over Vanderbilt, going 7-of-11 passing for 102 yards and a pair of scores. Fromm wasn't needed much with his arm, but he was excellent at extending plays and moving the chains. That leaves Eason as the backup. Add in the , the No. 1 overall prospect for the 2018 class, and Georgia's quarterback depth chart just got full. Where does that leave Eason?
Winner/Loser -- Ohio State defensive back Denzel Ward: Ward laid a brutal -- but by all angles, legal -- hit on Maryland receiver Taivon Jacobs in Ohio State's win over the Terps. However, Ward was hit with a targeting penalty and ejected. Another look shows Ward led with the shoulder and hit Jacobs in the chest. That part stinks for Ward, but it begs the question of which was better: the hit or Gus Johnson's reaction on the call?
Loser -- Northwestern's opening offensive possession: Any time you orchestrate a 12-play, 34-yard drive that ends with an armput interception on a 3rd and goal from the 28-yard line, it deserves to be morbidly celebrated. That drive could not be more #onbrand for noon kickoff Big Ten football if it tried. Not surprisingly, Penn State won 31-7 (though Northwestern did a nice job containing running back Saquon Barkley).
Winner -- NC State: The Wolfpack's 39-25 win over Louisville was a statement, and that statement was this team is at the ACC Atlantic division against Clemson. NC State's defensive line was its usual self with four sacks, six tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries. Bradley Chubb has an argument as college football's top edge rusher. NC State gets Clemson at home in about a month. Depending on the long-term severity of Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant's rolled ankle, NC State might catch them at an opportune time.
Loser -- Ole Miss and bitter irony: The Rebels' defense gave up an ungodly 561 yards and 44 points in a loss to Auburn. That's bad, but it's even worse considering the school just opted to change its mascot from the Black Bear to the Landsharks. The new selection, of course, pays homage to whenever an Ole Miss player makes a big play ... but it was known for defensive highlights. Yeesh.
Winners -- Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson and wide receiver Anthony Miller: Looks like someone turned on "NCAA Football" and put it on Rookie level. Ferguson went 34-of-48 passing for 431 yards and seven touchdowns in a 70-31 win over UConn. Ferguson's seven scores tied a school and AAC single-game record previously set by Paxton Lynch in 2015. Miller brought in 15 catches for 224 yards and four touchdowns, and his best highlight of the night, a sticky one-handed grab, didn't go for a score. For context, Miller had 292 receiving yards and three touchdowns entering Friday.
Loser -- FIU: What's so bad about FIU's 37-17 loss to Middle Tennessee that's worth pointing out, you might ask? You see, the Golden Panthers gave up three touchdowns on the ground to Middle Tennessee rusher Tavares Thomas out of a Wildcat goal line package. The thing is, Thomas is a linebacker with just one rushing attempt before Saturday. That's not great.
Winner -- Bowling Green linebacker Brandon Harris: Harris was Johnny on the spot with a 99-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against Miami (OH). The Redhawks were on the verge of scoring on a seven-play, 70-yard drive, but the fumble was recovered by Harris.
- Lamar Jackson's season is quickly becoming an paradox. Individually, he's doing so many more impressive things as a passer that make him the most difficult quarterback to defend in college football. However, since Louisville already has two losses in the first half of the season, his hopes at a repeat Heisman are all but done. There's still time for a rebound, but with the seasons Saquon Barkley, Baker Mayfield, et. al are having, it's going to be a tough climb back into the race.
- How about this for luck: Virginia has fumbled the ball 10 times this season ... and recovered all 10.
- Iowa State had just had just five wins against Oklahoma entering Saturday's game and hadn't beat the Sooners since 1990.
- With its 34-10 loss to Temple, East Carolina drops to 4-14 under coach Scottie Montgomery. All but one loss (20-15 to South Carolina in 2016) has been by double digits.
- Maryland notched 66 yards of offense in its 62-14 loss to Ohio State. That's the fewest yards allowed by Ohio State's defense against a Big Ten opponent since 1960.
- Fun fact: FBS opponents who have lost to Troy (New Mexico State, Akron and LSU) this season are 3-0 the following week (h/t Chris Vannini).
- Sam Ehlinger became the third Texas quarterback in program history to record 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game. One of the others? Jerrod Heard, Texas' current wide receiver.
- Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is 1-4 against the Wolverines' two biggest rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State.
- After starting the season -6 in turnover margin in the first three games, Michigan State is +7 in its last two games and was +5 against the Wolverines.
- According to ESPN Stats and Info, Khalil Tate and Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay set the FBS record for most combined rushing yards by opposing players (608).
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