The Road to the Playoffs Runs Through Mississippi and Other Things We Learned in Week 6 in College Football
For the first time in college football history, five of the top eight teams in the AP poll all lost. And that was just the beginning of this week’s craziness. Here is what we learned in Week 6 of college football.
The Road to the Playoffs Runs Through Mississippi
Don’t look now, but Ole Miss and Mississippi State are suddenly the power brokers in the SEC West. After knocking off Alabama and Texas A&M, respectively, the two schools are tied for third in this week’s AP poll, their highest rankings in school history. They both obviously still have to face No. 2 Auburn and it’s entirely possible the SEC could end up cannibalizing itself this season. But the years that we’ve made mid-October with the Magnolia State schools in the drivers’ seat have been few and far between.
And Through Arizona
There’s not a lot of water in Arizona right now, but I still want to know what they’re putting in it. No state has had a more exciting week of college football. In its first game since beating Cal on a Hail Mary, the Arizona Wildcats kept their undefeated season alive by going to Eugene and knocking off No. 2 Oregon, 31-24. Then Saturday night, the Sun Devils decided to duplicate the Wildcats’ trick by taking down No. 16 USC with a Hail Mary of their own.
Thanks to losses by Oregon and UCLA, the Arizona schools are now in the drivers’ seat in the PAC-12 and control their own destiny for the playoffs. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming?
And Through Michigan. Oh, Wait. Hold That Thought.
Michigan State’s defense bowed up with its best effort to date, shutting down Nebraska’s offense for much of the night and holding Heisman candidate Ameer Abdullah to just 45 yards on 24 carries. The Spartans were the better team on the night, but the Cornhuskers certainly did their part to give the game away. Nebraska’s offensive line had a terrible night and, when whey weren’t being manhandled by the Spartans’ front four, they were doing things like falling over backwards for the year's strangest false start penalty.
For the second straight year against Michigan State, turnovers did Nebraska in as they gave the ball away four times, with three of those coming in Spartan territory. The Cornhuskers tried to rally, scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the game’s final 13 minutes, but were unable to overcome their slow start and the Spartans escaped with the 27-22 victory.
While the win keeps Michigan State’s playoff hopes alive, yesterday’s craziness probably didn’t do much to help their chances. It’s looking increasingly likely that the playoff selection committee will be forced to choose between a host of one-loss teams at the end of the season. With the overall down state of the Big Ten, the Spartans’ strength of schedule could drag them out of the mix.
The Air Raid is Alive and Well
Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense turned Texas Tech into a contender in the Big 12. And while the turnaround at Washington State has been a little slower to develop, Saturday showed that Leach’s offense can still light up scoreboards. Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 734 passing yards in Wazzu’s matchup with California. If you like big numbers, this was the game for you as Halliday and his Cal counterpart, Jared Goff, combined for an NCAA-record 1,261 yards and 11 touchdowns, with neither QB throwing for interception.
Unfortunately for Halliday, his record-setting night went for naught as kicker Quentin Breshears missed a potential game-winning 19-yard (yes, 19) field goal with just 15 seconds left, handing a wild 60-59 win to the Bears.
Big 12 Officials Are Bad. But Iowa State Isn’t Doing Itself Any Favors.
While it might not have been as exciting as Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man, I’m 40” rant, Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard’s postgame speech flat-out accusing Big 12 officials of repeatedly screwing his Cyclones was certainly entertaining.
It’s not often you see university officials taking the “go ahead and fine me” approach and accuse their own conference of stealing games from their team. It will be interesting to hear the Big 12’s response this week. But then, again, I don’t know how much of a leg he has to stand on when his team does things like simply forget to field a kickoff and have six deep guys just watch the ball sail by to be recovered by the other team.