The Red River Rivalry and Heisman-level performances headline college football’s Week 6 action.
And finally, at the halfway point, chaos came. The unbeatens began falling. Oklahoma went down – its defense is not OK. LSU’s clunky offense is not, either, and it finally cost the Tigers victory. Meanwhile, we are another week closer to a very loud College Football Playoff conversation that involves a bracket including Notre Dame and, at least in theory, a second SEC team (can anyone say expansion to eight teams?).
But there’s plenty of football left. Six weeks in, we’re finally beginning to see everyone’s flaws. Even Alabama, which leads the Football Four again after Week 6, has defensive issues to work through. Or something.
WINNERS AND LOSERS: Highlights and lowlights from college football’s Week 6
But halfway through, it feels more and more like it’s ‘Bama and the Buckeyes, and then maybe everyone else. As always, remember we pick the bracket as if the season was over.*
1. Alabama – Even in a rout, there is legitimate reason for concern. As good as the Crimson Tide offense is, its defense is suspect: Giving up 31 points to Arkansas won’t make Nick Saban happy. It won’t matter against any team on the regular season schedule. But in the playoff? On the other hand, with Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama is built to win a shootout, anyway.
2. Ohio State – The Buckeyes tussled for a while with Indiana, then pulled away. Dwayne Haskins was routinely spectacular. Ohio State fits neatly into an upper tier of two along with Alabama. Could we be headed for a collision in the national championship game?
3. Clemson – Wake Forest’s (lack of) defense was just what Clemson needed. Trevor Lawrence played well in just more than a half before things to too far out of hand. Travis Etienne led three runners with at least 100 yards. It was such a laugher, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow got his turn as third-string quarterback.
4. Georgia – The Bulldogs’ romp through the early schedule continued. Jake Fromm threw three touchdown passes, including a 75-yarder on his first attempt, and Vanderbilt was not a significant obstacle. Here comes a challenge: A trip to LSU brings a chance for us to learn a lot more about the Bulldogs.
Four more **
5. Notre Dame – Inserting Ian Book at quarterback jump-started the offense and elevated Notre Dame’s potential. How about Dexter Williams? In his second game since returning from suspension, Williams was again a game-breaker: 178 yards and three touchdowns, including a 97-yarder, as the Irish pulled away at Virginia Tech. Beware y’all, the remaining schedule does not seem scary.
6. Texas – In a wild upset of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, the Longhorns showed sustained periods of dominance. And then, after the Sooners stormed all the way back, the Horns showed grit to win it. Are they a Playoff contender? We’ll see. But Big 12? Absolutely. They’ve run off five consecutive wins – three against ranked opponents – since that loss to Maryland to open the season.
7. West Virginia – Hey look, the Mountaineers are the Big 12’s only unbeaten team – but they ain’t played nobody, Pawwl. The schedule is backloaded. November could be wild.
8. Penn State – The NIttany Lions were idle, which wasn’t a bad way to be in Week 6. Next up, Michigan State.
A Few More After That ***
Washington – The Huskies beat UCLA, as expected, and it wasn’t as close as the 31-24 final score. The Pac-12’s best hope for the Playoff – and it’s not a great chance – has to run the table. A big test comes next week at Oregon.
Central Florida – Eighteen in a row now after blowing out SMU. If the Knights can keep winning, they won’t have the resume to get into the playoff – but they’ll inject a LOT of noise into the system.
Florida – Another significant win for Dan Mullen in his first season. There wasn’t much pretty about a win over LSU, but the Gators were tough enough and did just enough.
LSU – The Tigers came out on the short end of a slugfest at Florida, and it was the offense – go figure – that finally couldn’t be overcome. But this week, with Georgia in Death Valley, they could move right back into the picture.
Oklahoma – The Sooners have come back from losses to Texas before (see 2015). But alarm bells are ringing loudly. What makes anyone think Oklahoma can win out with that porous defense?
Wisconsin – It’ll be hard for the Badgers to overcome that loss to BYU, especially as BYU begins to fade – but they’re back to rolling through the Big Ten West.
Oregon – Ducks had a bye week. They get their big shot at relevance this week, when Washington visits Eugene.
North Carolina State – The unbeaten Wolfpack. Just say that a couple of times in the next few days. They’re off this weekend but then play at Clemson in their shot to jump into the conversation.
Miami (Fla.) – Down by 20, the Hurricanes stormed back (haha, yeah, we did it) to nip Florida State. A quarterback switch has made a difference.
Futile Four ****
Auburn – The Tigers’ offense has gone missing. After the second loss of the season – without scoring a touchdown at Mississippi State – Auburn won’t meet ultra-high expectations. When that doesn’t happen, things get snarly real quick on the Plains.
Nebraska – The Huskers showed some fight late against Wisconsin – but we’re now officially past the “first time since” stats. They’re 0-5, matching the worst start in the 129-year history of the program.
Louisville – It just keeps getting worse for the Cardinals. Georgia Tech, which runs the triple option, put up 66 points. It appeared to be some intentional running up the score, but did we mention Georgia Tech runs the triple option?
Kansas State – If this is the end for Bill Snyder (yeah, we know – we’ve all been wondering this for years), it is not ending well. After a loss to Baylor the Wildcats are 0-4 against Power Five competition, 0-3 in the Big 12 and headed more more losses.
Florida State – Hey look, the Seminoles are up 27-7 at Miami? What? Oh. Never mind.
* The season is not over.
** Don’t be worried that your team sits just outside the cut. This is a weekly snapshot. And what do we know, anyway?
*** See the previous note, but it’s OK to be slightly concerned or very angry. But what do we know, anyway?
**** No note necessary