Winners: SMU and Ohio State
Congratulations to the Mustangs and Buckeyes, who were the first two teams to become bowl eligible this season. Ohio State has looked like one of the best teams in the country after adding Justin Fields, and may end up being the biggest threat to the Alabama/Clemson dominance we’ve seen the past four years.
However, one of the surprises of the season is located in the Heart of Dallas. Coming off a 5-7 season in 2018, SMU added Texas transfer Shane Buechele, who is currently fifth in the nation in passing yards and 23rd in QBR, and is now 6-0 for the first time since 1982. They were down 30-9 entering the fourth quarter against Tulsa, and ESPN’s win probability had Tulsa at 98.3% at that point. SMU managed to score touchdowns on three consecutive drives to end the game, before pulling off a 43-37 3OT win after the Golden Hurricane missed two field goals.
Buechele went 12/17 for 135 yards and a score in the final quarter. The Mustangs may not be the favorite for the Group of Five NY6 bid yet, but they are favored to win in all but one of their remaining games (at Memphis on November 2nd) and could represent the West division in the American championship game. Not bad for a team that hadn’t been ranked since 1986.
Just a week after firing head coach Chris Ash, who had gone 8-32 during his tenure at Rutgers, starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear have decided to sit out the rest of the season in order to redshirt. The loss of Sitkowski, who has thrown for 5 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in his 14 games can likely be overcome, but the loss of Blackshear is huge; he leads the team in receiving yards while being second on the team in total touches. The Scarlet Knights have been outscored 130-7 in their three conference games and haven’t won a Big Ten game since 2016. It’s going to be another long season in Piscataway.
Winners: Wisconsin and Minnesota
After their 48-0 win over Kent State, the Badgers defense has shut out all three of their non-conference opponents this season, and have only given up 29 total points across their five games. That’s the fewest total points given up by an FBS team in their first five games since Wisconsin allowed 26 in 2004. In addition to their great defense, the Badgers also have perhaps the best player in the country in Jonathan Taylor, who has rushed for over 100 yards in nine straight games, and has also caught four touchdowns this season after only catching 16 total passes his first two years on campus.
After four straight one-possession games, Minnesota finally got their comfortable win in a 40-17 victory over Illinois. Even if their performances haven’t been particularly impressive, the Gophers have found ways to win; and are now 5-0 for the first time since 2004. The battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, tied historically with a 60-60-8 record, may just end up deciding the Big Ten West division champion.
Loser: The rest of the B1G West
Iowa went into the week undefeated, but had four times as many turnovers as team rushing yards (4 to 1) in their 10-3 loss to Michigan, while getting called for three penalties late in the fourth after getting inside the Wolverines 25-yard line. Preseason dark horse Purdue has been ravaged by injuries, Nebraska has yet to make the leap that many expected them to, Illinois gave up over 300 rushing yards for the second straight week and has just an 11-30 record in the Lovie Smith era, and even after adding former 5-star recruit and Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson, Northwestern has scored 17 or fewer points in four of their five games, and has yet to have a 200-yard passer or a 100-yard receiver.
Winner: Cincinnati’s Twitter
Oregon State beat UCLA 48-31 on Saturday, giving the Beavers their first win over an FBS opponent this season. The only Power Five team that hasn’t beaten an FBS team this season? Tennessee, who’s only win so far has been against Chattanooga. The Volunteers did keep Georgia close for a while, but the Bulldogs proved to be too much while scoring 33 unanswered points in their 43-14 win. Things just seem to keep getting worse for Tennessee, Mississippi State is an early 6.5 point favorite in their game next week, and there’s no telling how much Alabama will be favored by when they face off in two weeks in Tuscaloosa.
Winner: Cale Garrett
When the Missouri linebacker returned his second interception of the game 33-yards for a touchdown in the Tigers 42-10 victory over Troy, it marked the third straight game that Garrett had scored. He recovered a fumble in the end zone against South Carolina in Missouri’s previous game, and had another pick-six against Southeast Missouri State the week before that.
Loser: Cale Garrett
It wasn’t all good news for Garrett this week, however, as it was announced that the SEC’s leading solo tackler from 2018 needs surgery for a pectoral tendon injury and will be out indefinitely. The senior leads Missouri in total tackles and interceptions this season, making it extremely difficult for the Tigers to find a replacement for him.
Top Games of Week 7
Appalachian State at Louisiana
(6) Oklahoma at (11) Texas
(23) Memphis at Temple
(1) Alabama at (24) Texas A&M
(10) Penn State at (17) Iowa
USC at (9) Notre Dame
(7) Florida at (5) LSU
Hawai’i at (14) Boise State
Three Stars of Week 6
1) Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
19 Att, 186 Yds, 4 TD; 3 Rec, 29 Yds, TD
Taylor now has six consecutive games accounting for both 100 rushing yards and a touchdown, something he’s done 19 total times in his 32 games at Wisconsin. His five total touchdowns in the Badgers win over Kent State are a career-high, and he has already matched his touchdown production from last season. We’ll learn a lot more about Wisconsin and Taylor next week when they face Michigan State, but so far Taylor has proven worthy of his preseason Heisman hype and could be the first running back to win the award since 2015.
2) Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State
18/26, 285 Yds, 5 TD; 5 Att, 27 Yds, TD
The Beavers hadn’t won a conference game in regulation since 2016, which was also the last time they won a Pac-12 game by double digits. Luton helped break those streaks by accounting for six touchdowns, three in each half, in Oregon State’s win over UCLA. He also helped the Beavers achieve their highest point total in conference play since 2013. Luton set his career-high with five touchdown passes, three of them going to receiver Isaiah Hodgins. Oregon State and Luton, who has yet to throw an interception this season, face a ranked Utah next, a team that has allowed only five passing touchdowns and forced seven interceptions so far this season.
3) Jett Duffey, QB, Texas Tech
26/44, 424 Yds, 4 TD; 5 Att, 16 Yds, TD
Both Texas Tech and Duffey needed a rebound after a tough 55-16 loss against Oklahoma last week, and they got it in a 45-35 victory over Oklahoma State. Duffey accounted for all five of Tech’s touchdowns in his first start of the season and didn’t turn the ball over, something that caused some concern last season. His 424 passing yards was the highest total in the FBS in Week 6. With regular starting QB Alan Bowman still out, Duffey will likely start for the Red Raiders against Baylor next week, the teams first trip to Waco since 2007.
N’Kosi Perry, QB, Miami: 28/47, 422 Yds, 4 TD, INT
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: 27/38, 344 Yds, 5 TD, INT; 10 Att, 42 Yds, TD
Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State: 19/24, 247 Yds, 2 TD; 12 Att, 102 Yds, 2 TD
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma: 16/24, 228 Yds, 2 TD, INT; 10 Att, 56 Yds, 2 TD
Caleb Evans, QB, UL Monroe: 23/44, 286 Yds, 2 TD, INT; 18 Att, 112 Yds, 2 TD
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis: 14 Att, 209 Yds, 2 TD
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State: 34 Att, 156 Yds, 3 TD
Rodney Smith, RB, Minnesota: 24 Att, 211 Yds, TD
Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville: 25 Att, 172 Yds, TD
Georgia State Team Rushing: 58 Att, 340 Yds, 6 TD
James Proche, WR, SMU: 11 Rec, 153 Yds, 2 TD
Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State: 10 Rec, 123 Yds, 3 TD
Omar Bayless, WR, Arkansas State: 8 Rec, 154 Yds, 3 TD
Benjamin Waters, WR, Air Force: 4 Rec, 128 Yds; First time Air Force has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since 2016
Image Source: Ashley Landis/Dallas Morning News