Winners and Losers from College Football Week 5
Geno Smith only gave us a taste of what occurred this week in college football.
The Heisman Trophy front-runner put on one helluva show for Morgantown, and that is just scratching Week 5's surface.
We have points and lots of them. We were even treated to a shootout in the SEC.
Also, as October is coming up, that means we're closer to BCS standings and possible surprise teams for bowl season. Well, to check it all out let's dive into the exciting pandemonium that was college football's fifth week.
Winner: Geno Smith
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Just give Geno Smith the Heisman Trophy right now. Smith was the definition of flawless against the Baylor Bears.
Completing 45-of-51 passes, Smith threw eight touchdowns to zero picks and racked up 656 yards.
Was that real?
More touchdowns than incompletions is simply incomprehensible. And Smith now has 20 touchdown passes to no interceptions through four games.
This just isn't fair to any opposing defense.
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This week was the toughest test yet for the Texas Longhorns of 2012.
Going on the road against the defending Big 12 champions in Oklahoma State, the Longhorns needed a win to remain undefeated.
While sneaking out of Stillwater with a 41-36 victory, quarterback David Ash threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns (one pick) and only seven incomplete attempts (30-of-37). The ground game also got impressive production with 136 rushing yards and Brahma Bull Joe Bergeron scored twice.
One thing to be concerned about, though, is the Longhorns' defense. Texas allowed the Cowboys 582 total yards, and Oklahoma State only possessed the ball for 23 minutes and 24 seconds.
Although Texas moves to 4-0, an enormous matchup next week versus West Virginia won't go over well if the defense doesn't improve.
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The Wisconsin Badgers have been quite disappointing thus far.
After barely surviving Week 1 against Northern Iowa, the Badgers were upset by Oregon State and then edged by Utah State and UTEP the past two weeks.
On Saturday, Nebraska was Wisconsin's Big Ten opener of 2012, and it was set up to be the Badgers' toughest conference road test. So, if Sconnie were win over the Cornhuskers, another conference title seemed inevitable.
Unfortunately, the Badgers squandered a 27-10 lead in the second half only to lose 30-27. Had this been 2010 or 2011, Wisconsin closes this game out and gets the win.
Well if anything, this displays how a team can change from one season to the next, and this fall has been utterly frustrating for Bret Bielema and Co. On the bright side, Sconnie is still alive for the conference title game with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play.
Winner: Taylor Martinez
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Taylor Martinez didn't put up any Geno Smith-esque numbers on Saturday, but he did walk the walk instead of talk the talk.
Earlier in the week, Wisconsin's David Gilbert called out Martinez.
In an article by Tom Lea of ESPN Wisconsin, Gilbert stated:
“I’m not convinced,” Gilbert said Wednesday night. “The one game he didn’t play very well in they lost to UCLA. You’ve got to look at who they’ve played. You’ve got to look at who they’ve played. We’re definitely going to bring it. It’s Big Ten season.
“All that is out the window and it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is we’ve got to line up and we’ve got to hit him.”
“He still can’t throw. I’m just going to say it. He still can’t throw. He’s not going to beat us with his arm.”
So much for not being able to throw.
Against the Badgers, Martinez went 17-of-29 for 181 yards and two touchdowns as well as rushing for 116 yards and another score. Gilbert and Wisconsin allowed Martinez to account for three scores and 297 total yards.
Loser: Derek Dooley
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Once again the Tennessee Volunteers failed to win a game versus a ranked opponent under Derek Dooley.
Now 0-12 against ranked teams, Dooley's record since joining the Volunteers is 14-16 and 4-14 in the SEC.
To be fair, it was going to be insanely difficult for Dooley to match his father's legendary status. Not to mention live up to Tennessee's standards after having a losing record while at Louisiana Tech.
Still, he has yet to win important games for the Volunteers, and that only makes the ice thinner as the season continues.
Winner: Georgia Ground Game
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The Dawgs have been unstoppable on the ground all season.
And the Tennessee Volunteers had no chance in slowing down Georgia.
Racking up 282 rushing yards on the day, Georgia's Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 294 yards and five touchdowns.
Together, this dominant duo averaged over eight yards per carry and the Bulldogs won, 51-44.
When Georgia squares off against better defenses like South Carolina, Florida and potentially Alabama or LSU in the SEC title game, Gurley and Co. will be a major factor.
Loser: Oregon State Defense
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The Oregon State Beavers are legit, but the defense is a concern.
After holding the Wisconsin Badgers to just 207 total yards and seven points, the Beavers have only regressed since.
The UCLA Bruins racked up 444 total yards against Oregon State and put up 20 points: Still a solid performance, however, not nearly as dominant as the first game against Sconnie. Then, the Beavers were torched by Arizona for 545 total yards and gave up 35 points.
In no way was this the worst defensive performance of Saturday, but allowing more yards and points with each new challenge does not increase confidence as the year progresses. Not to mention Oregon State has yet to line up against Washington, Stanford and Oregon.
All those teams are capable of putting up similar, if not better, numbers than the Wildcats. So watch out for the Beavers because they're vulnerable to an upset if the defense continues to decline.
Winner: The Big 12
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Texas winning over Oklahoma State was huge for the Big 12.
Because of that win, the conference has four undefeated schools in the Top 15 rankings.
Even more impressively, three of the four were ranked in the coaches' poll Top 10 heading into this week. Now, those three (West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas) remain perfect and TCU isn't far behind.
This only enhances the depth and strength of the Big 12, which is great for college football from an all-encompassed perspective. Yes, the SEC is still the standard since it has won the past six national titles.
Nevertheless, with the Big Ten having a down year another conference really needed to step up. Although the Pac-12 and ACC have some impressive teams, the Big 12 has really made some noise thus far.
Loser: Baylor-West Virginia Defenses
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Along with Geno Smith's numbers, the Baylor Bears had some impressive offensive production as well.
In short, this game had no defense. Baylor totaled exactly 700 yards and the Mountaineers collected 807 total yards. For as unreal as 1,507 total yards seems, the two schools combined for 133 points, 67 first-downs and only four punts.
Together, the offenses converted 23-of-31 third-down attempts, and this game featured just one turnover.
With the quarterbacks combining for 98 passes and the defenses managing one measly interception, adjusting in-game and before stronger opponents come up is imperative.
Otherwise, Baylor and West Virginia will continue to allow insane opposing production each week.
Winner: Urban Meyer
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Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes remain undefeated.
In winning 17-16 over the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, the Buckeyes are now 5-0.
Prior to Week 5, Ohio State's biggest win was at home over the California Golden Bears, so conference play was going to be a significant test. Considering that Michigan State had been one of the Big Ten's top teams in 2010 and 2011, Meyer faced quite a challenge.
Fortunately for him and the Buckeye faithful, Ohio State got a huge road win, and running the table is looking more realistic. Meyer was an excellent hire and the Bucks are feeling confident.
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And yet another Top 10 school falls.
This time, the upset bug bit the Stanford Cardinal.
Ranked No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 9 in the coaches' poll before Week 5 kicked off, the Cardinal lost on the road to Pac-12 North rival Washington.
Losing 17-13, Stanford's offense failed to score (pick-six from defense), totaled just 235 yards and managed just 10 first downs. It's clear the absences of Andrew Luck, David DeCastro, Jonathan Martin and Coby Fleener to the NFL were costly.
With Arizona, Notre Dame, Oregon and Oregon State left on the schedule, Stanford will be fighting for bowl season in November.
Winner: Sick Catches
Middle Tennessee's Anthony Amos led the week with his unreal one-handed snag for six points.
Fortunately for Amos, the Blue Raiders also pulled off the road win over Georgia Tech, 49-28.
Another sick catch was courtesy of West Virginia's J.D. Woods. On a 2nd-and-10 the Mountaineers needed to avoid a tough third-down situation. Well, Woods adjusted insanely well from an uncharacteristically bad throw of Geno Smith and moved the chains.
One final catch was Kevin Ozier of Arizona State. It wasn't as acrobatic by comparison to Amos or Woods, but Ozier proved reliable over the middle and held on between traffic for six points.
Bleacher Report's college football Twitter said it best:
Kevin Ozier with a grown @$$ man TD catch over the middle for ASU. 10 pt lead over Cal.— Bleacher Report (@BR_CFB) September 29, 2012
The score extended the Sun Devils' lead and moved Arizona State to 4-1. Elsewhere, Cincinnati's Damon Julian made an excellent game-winner against Virginia Tech that kept the Bearcats undefeated.
Winner: Duke Closing in on Bowl Season
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How about the Dukies?
In winning on the road over Wake Forest, 34-27, Duke is now 4-1 and another game closer to bowl season.
Not since 1994 has Duke appeared in a bowl game, and it's been an ACC football bottom-feeder for quite a while. Obviously, when anyone thinks Duke they think basketball.
Well, head coach David Cutcliffe has done a great job this season and he has proven career success. After all, he was the head coach for Ole Miss when the Rebels finished 10-3 in 2003.
Loser: Golden Gophers Offense
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The Minnesota Golden Gophers entered Week 5 with much confidence. And then the Iowa Hawkeyes defense put all that to rest.
Heading into this contest, Minnesota was averaging just under 30 points per game. Here, the Golden Gophers were limited to just 13 points and turned the ball over four times.
Quarterback Max Shortell was a solid 20-of-33 passing, but he tossed three picks (two touchdowns) and was sacked twice. Minnesota gained just 299 total yards despite winning the time of possession battle 32:05 to 27:55 and averaged only 3.2 yards per carry.
Tough loss for the Golden Gophers, However, a strong eight- or nine-win season is still possible.
Winner: Benny Cunningham
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Benny Cunningham is a beast.
The senior ball-carrier of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders just ran all over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Receiving 27 attempts, Cunningham averaged eight yards per carry in compiling 217 yards and scoring five times. For as much as the Yellow Jackets love to run the rock, Cunningham gave Tech's defense a dose of their own medicine.
The man almost single-handedly outrushed Georgia Tech and the Blue Raiders won, 49-28.
Possessing solid size, power and a nose for the end zone, Cunningham deserves a look from pro football.
Loser: Ty Montgomery
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Ty Montgomery dropped three passes in Stanford's loss on Thursday night. Though he finished with six catches for 39 yards, Montgomery's biggest drop cost Stanford a touchdown.
The Cardinal ultimately fell, 17-13, and quarterback Josh Nunes went just 18-of-37 for 170 yards. Now, yes, that's not impressive production, but we also can't hold Nunes to Andrew Luck-type standards.
Also, Montgomery's drops are in no way the sole reason why Stanford got upset after shocking USC. Still, multiple drops that leave gimme touchdowns off the board don't ever help either.
Winner: Offensive Shootouts
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Perhaps it's just Week 5, but hardly anyone played defense this weekend.
The Baylor-West Virginia game stands out because of Geno Smith, but there were other numerous shootouts on Saturday.
The Miami Hurricanes outlasted North Carolina State, 44-37; Kent State fended off Ball State, 45-43; Tulsa won over UAB, 49-42; and Miami (Ohio) avoided an upset from Akron, 56-49. Keep in mind that these four games (along with Baylor-West Virginia) did not reach overtime.
Other contests where the scoreboard was burned came courtesy of Georgia-Tennessee (51-44), Purdue-Marshall (51-41), Louisiana Tech-Virginia (44-38) and Clemson-Boston College (45-31).
We also have some late contests that exploded with Texas winning over Oklahoma State, 41-36, and Fresno State stretching out over San Diego State, 52-40.
Let's hope for some better defense next week, because Week 5 was pretty ridiculous.
Winner: Stephen Morris
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Stephen Morris totally carved up the North Carolina State pass defense.
Tossing for 566 yards, Morris set a new school and ACC record according to ESPN.com.
And unsurprisingly the Miami Hurricanes won, 44-37, taking their record to 4-1 on the year and 3-0 in conference play. Morris ended up with five touchdown passes and six different targets caught two-plus passes.
So, Morris easily spread the rock around and this field vision will pay dividends against better defenses.
Considering that Notre Dame and Florida State remain, Morris will need this kind of consistency for the 'Canes to pull an upset.
Loser: Arkansas Offense
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It unfortunately keeps getting worse for the Arkansas Razorbacks. And more specifically, Tyler Wilson and the offense.
Leading 10-7 after the first quarter on the road against Texas A&M, Arkansas was blanked in the final three quarters and went 9-of-22 on third downs. Wilson was intercepted twice, fumbled once and sacked once, and the Razorbacks turned it over three times.
Altogether, the offense fumbled five times and the one lost fumble of Knile Davis resulted in six points for the Aggies. Interestingly enough, Arkansas won the time of possession battle by four minutes and amassed 515 total yards.
That said, points and turnovers proved damaging enough after a strong start.
Winner: Munchie Legaux
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Munchie Legaux is a winner because his name is so awesome.
In addition, Legaux gets some recognition this week, as he led the Cincinnati Bearcats over the Virginia Tech Hokies, 27-24.
Legaux tossed for 376 yards and three touchdowns to power his offense, and it was the fourth quarter where he impressed the most. With Cincinnati down 17-13 roughly halfway through the quarter, Legaux put the Bearcats up after connecting with Ralph Abernathy for 76 yards.
Then, Cincy was down 24-20 with less than 30 seconds remaining. Legaux displayed poise on the drive and hit Damon Julian from 39 yards for the go-ahead score.
Loser: Tennessee-Georgia Special Teams
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The Tennessee Volunteers and Georgia Bulldogs combined for 95 points. This number could have reached triple digits, but the kicking was anything but impressive.
Volunteers kicker Derrick Brodus whiffed on an extra point and on a field goal from 28 yards out. Add those four points to Tennessee's total for the waning minutes, and all it needs is a field goal to try and force overtime.
For the Bulldogs, kicker Marshall Morgan shanked one of his extra points then had another blocked. Provided these were converted for Georgia, this game is just out of reach toward the end.
In addition, Tennessee's Matt Darr had a punt blocked that gave Georgia good field position. Unsurprisingly, that led to a touchdown pass from Aaron Murray, allowing the Dawgs to extend their lead.
Winner: San Jose State Defense/Austin Lopez
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The San Jose State Spartans played a lot like Kansas State on the day.
Improving to 4-1 overall with a 12-0 win over Navy, the Spartans relied heavily on defense and special teams.
The defense held Navy to just 144 total yards, 11 first downs and 3-of-13 on third down. The Midshipmen possessed the ball for only 23 minutes and 41 seconds, turned it over twice and punted five times.
From start to finish San Jose State just locked it down defensively.
Switch to special teams and kicker Austin Lopez was responsible for all 12 points. Going 4-of-4 with a long of 43 yards, the freshman kicker proved reliable in a low-scoring affair. As the 2012 season progresses, keep a close eye on the Spartans.
Loser: Golden Bears’ Discipline
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The California Golden Bears lost their fourth game of 2012. A key reason for this was a lack of discipline.
With 12 penalties costing Cal 116 yards, it was 11 flags and 101 penalty yards more than ASU, who won, 27-17. As expected, the Sun Devils won the time of possession battle 35:43 to 24:17 and Cal went just 4-of-15 on third down.
This also affected quarterback Zach Maynard’s production, who went just 9-of-28 for 126 yards, and the Golden Bears offense managed just 17 first downs and 285 total yards.
Winner: Louisiana Tech's New Style
Photo Credit: The Shreveport Times
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are 4-0 and the offense averages 52 points per game. But in fielding one of college football’s most explosive attacks, it’s not the most typical of offenses.
In other words, Louisiana Tech’s signal-caller is center Stephen Warner. That’s right, the conductor of this orchestra is the man who snaps the rock each down.
Warner, a senior, doesn't just snap the ball and block. He gets the plays from the sideline, reads the defense, calls the blocking assignments and then barks the snap count. He might have the most unique job in college football.
"I'm not aware of any other offenses that are doing it right now," says Tech offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. And that seems clear from defenses' inability to react to it.
And the Bulldogs have only played FBS opponents as well. This is one unique offense, and we can only be amazed by Tech’s innovation.
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Missouri may have survived, 21-16, against the Central Florida Knights, but it doesn’t bode well for the Tigers' confidence going forward.
For starters, UCF outgained Missouri 395-346 and accumulated more first downs, 27-16.
Also, the Tigers were flagged for more penalties, lost the time of possession battle 33:13 to 26:47 and were just 1-of-11 on third downs. Yes, Missouri won in the only area that matters in the score. However, as we saw against Georgia and South Carolina, the Tigers remain a few steps back among SEC opponents.
With Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M still on the schedule, Mizzou will be fighting for bowl season in November.
Winner: Johnny Manziel
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One quarterback not getting enough recognition is Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel.
The kid went 29-of-38 for 453 yards and three scores against Arkansas, adding 104 rushing yards with another score.
He’s also in Geno Smith territory by having yet to throw an interception. On the year, Manziel has 10 touchdowns to zero picks and 1,094 passing yards. Not to mention, the Aggies signal-caller has accounted for 366 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
Provided he keeps this stellar play up, Manziel will see an outside shot at Heisman contention this year and certainly during the 2014 campaign.