Wild Red River Shootout
Texas may not be back just yet, but Saturday was a huge step in the right direction. After blowing a 21 point fourth quarter lead, Sam Ehlinger led the Longhorns on a 9 play, 52-yard drive that ended in a 40-yard field goal from freshman Cameron Dicker: The Kicker. The 48-45 Texas win was their first against Oklahoma in three years and gave the Horns their first five-game win streak since 2013. What was more impressive is that Texas was in control of that game the whole time until their late collapse, and they were able to keep Kyler Murray in check for three quarters. Even though both quarterbacks had five touchdowns, (the most of any QBs in this game since Sam Bradford in 2008), Ehlinger outplayed the first round MLB draft pick all day, including on the clutch final drive to lead the Longhorns to a classic victory over their most hated rival. The defense should provide some talking points as well, good and bad. They managed to force 3 turnovers( 2 off Kyler Murray), although one was a fumble after a series of laterals on the final play. But they also gave up three touchdowns in around six minutes of game time as Murray started to take over. For now, Texas controls their own destiny in the path to the Big 12 championship. Suddenly, their November 3rd matchup against West Virginia in Austin looks like it may be a championship game preview.
As for Oklahoma, Mike Stoops defense once again looked like one of the weaker points of a solid team. His defense has had issues in bigger games, such as Bedlam and the Rose Bowl last season. The Sooners didn’t force a Longhorn punt until the second half and weren’t able to force a stop in the red zone all game. They have some good players there, Kenneth Murray and Curtis Bolton combined for 23 tackles and a sack, but something had to change in order to fix this 90th ranked defense, maybe that change will happen now that the team has fired Stoops. This team has incredible offensive talent all around, and they are able to keep up with anyone in a shootout. The problem for the Sooners is that they will likely need to, especially if they make yet another trip to the Big 12 championship game.
Ian Book the Right Man for the Irish
Notre Dame looks like a whole new team since Ian Book took over as the starting quarterback. Comparing the team’s numbers with him and Brandon Wimbush as the starters, it’s not even close. The Irish have scored 139 points and gained 1,554 total yards with Book at the help, compared to 70 points and 1,096 yards for Wimbush. Book not only makes the Irish offense better by forcing teams to plan for him as a passer, but the team has more big-play ability with him at QB, and their playcalling can be that much more aggressive as a result. The return of running back Dexter Williams from suspension has also been a huge boost for this offense, Williams has rushed for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns over the past two games.
Notre Dame seems like a legitimate Playoff contender with their current resume, but there are still some tough games left. Although they are favored to win every remaining game, Notre Dame still has to play Florida State, Syracuse at Yankee Stadium, and USC on the road. The Irish might just have the best resume in the country so far with their three wins over ranked teams, and they may force the committee to leave out a conference champion if they are able to win out. But what if every conference champion remains undefeated? West Virginia, Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, and Colorado could all do it, but Georgia in the SEC or North Carolina State in the ACC have a chance as well. Would the Playoff Committee put in Notre Dame over four different undefeated conference champions if it happens? Time will tell.
Fitzgerald Breaks Tebow’s Record
The same day that Tim Tebow was inducted into Florida’s Ring of Honor, Nick Fitzgerald of Mississippi State broke his record for most rushing yards by an SEC quarterback. Even in facing best front seven the Bulldogs have faced this season, Fitzgerald got 195 yards on his 28 carries to give him a total of 2,999 for his career so far. With six games left in the season for Mississippi State, although two of them are against LSU and Alabama, Fitzgerald should be able to put the record even farther out of reach for whoever can challenge it next.
Top Games of Week 7
(2) Georgia at (13) LSU
(7) Washington at (17) Oregon
(10) UCF at Memphis
Missouri at (1) Alabama
(15) Wisconsin at (12) Michigan
(19) Colorado at USC
Three Stars of Week 6
1) Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
24/35, 314 Yds, 2 TD; 19 Att, 72 Yds, 3 TD
Not only did Ehlinger lead Texas to a huge victory over Oklahoma, he became the first Longhorn QB to pass for two touchdowns and rush for three scores in a game since Vince Young. Enough has been said about his performance against the Sooners, but Ehlinger has been playing very well all season. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns, rushed for six more, and has only thrown two interceptions. Texas faces Baylor and their 96th ranked scoring defense in Week 7.
2) Jordan Cronkrite, RB, South Florida
23 Att, 302 Yds, 3 TD
Cronkrite, a University of Florida transfer, set a USF and American Conference record with 302 rushing yards in the Bulls 58-42 win over UMASS. He also had touchdown runs of 77, 76, and 30 yards to cap off a career day. South Florida is one of three undefeated teams in the American along with UCF and Cincinnati, and Cronkrite will look to keep up his average of 151 yards per game to potentially lead the Bulls to a New Years Six bowl. Next week, USF goes on a road trip to face Tulsa.
3) Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
33/44, 455 Yds, 6 TD, 2 INT
Ohio State let Indiana hang around until the fourth quarter, when Haskins threw for two of his six touchdowns and the Buckeyes pulled away to win 49-26. Haskins career day helped pushed him to the top of the Heisman conversation, with a 71.7 completion percentage and a 25/4 TD/INT ratio. The Buckeyes and Haskins face Minnesota next week, the Gophers have allowed 40 points in back to back Big 10 games against Maryland and Iowa.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: 19/26, 304 Yds, 4 TD, INT; 11 Att, 92 Yds, TD
Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State: 30/40, 430 Yds, 5 TD
Josh Adkins, QB, New Mexico State: 34/51, 402 Yds, 4 TD
Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State: 9/17, 69 Yds, INT; 28 Att, 195 Yds, 2 TD
Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State: 22 Att, 250 Yds, 3 TD
Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame: 17 Att, 178 Yds, 3 TD
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 24 Att, 221 Yds, 3 TD
JD Spielman, WR, Nebraska: 9 Rec, 209 Yds, TD
Andy Isabella, WR, UMASS: 13 Rec, 191 Yds, TD
Laviska Shenault Jr, WR, Colorado: 13 Rec, 127 Uds, 2 TD; 5 Att, 13 Yds, 2 TD
Image Credit: USA Today Sports