50 Lessons We Learned from College Football Week 5
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Week 5 of the college-football season was without a doubt the most exciting and entertaining weekend of the first month of the season.
We witnessed a true offensive explosion on Saturday—the likes of which we've never seen in the sport before.
There was a lot to take away from this past weekend's action.
Here's a look at 50 lessons we learned from Week 5.
It’s All About Offense
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Alabama and LSU showed last year that you can make it all the way to the BCS Championship Game with a great defense and a sufficient offense. However, judging from Saturday, this may just be the season in which offense truly does reign supreme.
Twenty-nine FBS teams scored more than 40 points this past weekend, led by the rare 70-63 offensive display we saw between West Virginia and Baylor.
It was one of the highest-scoring Saturdays in college-football history.
Ultimately, it may turn out to be just a sign of what's to come this season.
Geno Smith Is the Heisman Favorite
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The most impressive individual performance of the weekend came courtesy of West Virginia QB Geno Smith.
Smith was unbelievably accurate and efficient in the Mountaineers' first three games. But not even those efforts could compare to what we witnessed this past Saturday.
The strong-armed senior signal-caller took the lead in the Heisman race by completing 45-of-51 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdowns in a 70-63 victory over Baylor.
While we may only be one month into the season, it's not too early to start touting Smith as the early front-runner for this year's Heisman Trophy.
Ohio State Can Win a Big Road Game
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Ohio State certainly didn't play a perfect game against Michigan State. However, the Buckeyes did play well enough to win a crucial road contest, 17-16, in East Lansing.
It was the first big road win of the Urban Meyer era, and it will set the tone for the stretch run of the season.
Although they may not be eligible to compete for a league title or postseason berth this year, the Buckeyes look like the premier team in a conference that has seen a lot of powerhouse programs falter already this season.
David Ash Can Handle a Hostile Environment
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The people in Austin should rejoice, because Texas has finally found a steady starting quarterback that can lead the team to success.
Sophomore signal-caller David Ash looked sensational in a tough road environment at Oklahoma State this past weekend.
Ash completed 30-of-37 passes for 304 yards and hit a crucial deep pass to WR Mike Davis in the final minute of the game to help propel the Longhorns to a 41-36 win.
It will be interesting to see if the young quarterback can put together another impressive outing against West Virginia in Week 6.
Stanford Is Not a Top 10-Caliber Team
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The thought that Stanford was a Top 10-caliber team this season certainly isn't one that lasted very long.
Yes, the Cardinal may have pulled off a huge home win over then-No. 2-ranked USC back in Week 3. But a miserable performance on the road in a 17-14 loss to Washington in Week 5 seemed to erase any memory of that showing.
It's OK to question whether Josh Nunes is really the right quarterback to lead this team for the future.
LSU’s Motivation Is Questionable
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LSU charged its fans good money to come watch a charade of a game against FCS opponent Towson this past weekend.
The Tigers decided to sleepwalk through the game before eventually coming out on top, 38-22.
After that poor performance, you have to wonder just how motivated this Tigers team really is this year.
Something seems amiss.
Joseph Randle Is a Bona Fide Star
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Now that QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon are both gone, RB Joseph Randle has been forced to become the focal point of Oklahoma State's high-powered offensive attack.
Randle had some good games early in the season, but it wasn't until he faced Texas this past Saturday night that he showed he was a bona fide star who shines brightest on the biggest stage.
The 6'1'', 200-pound junior totaled 211 yards of offense and scored two touchdowns in a 41-36 loss to the Longhorns.
After four games, Randle is currently averaging 7.1 yards per carry.
Todd Gurley Isn’t Georgia’s Only Fantastic Freshman
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall
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Georgia RB Todd Gurley was the most talked about freshman player in the country in September. However, this past Saturday, his freshman backfield counterpart Keith Marshall proved to be just as dangerous.
Marshall rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-44 win over Tennessee. Gurley had a great game as well, rushing for 130 yards and three touchdowns.
Johnny Manziel Is Worth the Price of Admission
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Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel is getting better each and every week. He's now one of the must-watch players in college football.
The explosive and electrifying freshman quarterback totaled 557 yards of offense and accounted for four touchdowns in a 58-10 blowout win over Arkansas this past Saturday.
With that performance, Manziel solidified his status as a budding SEC star.
It’s Time to Show John L. Smith the Door
John L. Smith
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The Arkansas administration came out and backed John L. Smith last week. AD Jake Long said that he was committed to Smith for the entire season. However, the woeful performance by the Razorbacks in a 58-10 loss has to have him rethinking that statement.
Smith has now led the team to a disastrous 1-4 start. He's shown that he just can't handle being at the helm of a major program.
For the sake of recruiting, it would be wise to let an assistant finish off the season as the head coach, and hopefully try to finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-7 or maybe even 6-6.
Taylor Martinez Is Now a True Leader
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Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez has had his leadership ability questioned in years past. However, there were no questions that needed to be asked following Martinez's performance in a 30-27 win over Wisconsin last Saturday.
The dual-threat junior signal-caller totaled 288 yards of offense and accounted for three touchdowns as he helped rally his team from a 30-27 deficit.
After the win, the Cornhuskers are now 4-1 and in the driver's seat in the Big Ten Conference.
West Virginia’s Defense Is Shaky
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West Virginia's offense had a remarkable performance, scoring 70 points against Baylor. However, the defense looked almost as bad as the offense did good, giving up 63 points to the Bears.
It's true, Baylor's got some dangerous offensive weapons such as receivers Terrance Williams, Tevin Reese and Lanear Sampson.
Still, if the Mountaineers want to be considered legitimate Big 12 title contenders, they simply can't have defensive breakdowns like that one anymore.
Tennessee’s Defense Is Full of Holes
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Another defense that needs to go back to the drawing board is Tennessee's.
The Volunteers gave up 560 yards of offense and eight touchdowns in a 51-44 loss to Georgia.
Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri certainly can't be thrilled with what he just saw from his tackling-challenged unit.
Tyler Bray Is Not a First-Round NFL Draft Pick at This Point
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One other observation from the Tennessee-Georgia game is that Vols QB Tyler Bray is not ready to be a first-round NFL draft pick at this point in his development.
Bray came into the season as one of the most-talked-about, eligible quarterback prospects in the country. But he's yet to live up to his hype.
The junior completed just 24-of-45 passes and threw three interceptions against the Bulldogs, which was only his second-worst passing performance of the season.
...And Neither Is Logan Thomas
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Another quarterback who has not come close to meeting expectations this season is Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas.
Some were touting Thomas as a possible No. 1-overall-pick type of prospect in the preseason. But the big, mobile quarterback has just not shown that he's an NFL-caliber passer thus far this season.
Thomas now has two losses on his 2012 resume already, which is just one less than he had all of last season.
It’s Time for Munchie Mania
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Cincinnati QB Munchie Legaux may not have had an awesome completion percentage against Virginia Tech. But the junior signal-caller still managed to get the job done and lead the Bearcats to a huge statement victory over the Hokies at FedEx Field.
It may truly be time for Cincinnati to unleash Munchie Mania on the Big East in 2012.
The Big East Race Is Going to Be Very Interesting
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The Big East has turned into an afterthought in college football. However, the conference should get a big spark in interest, as this year's race for a championship should be extremely entertaining.
Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers are all currently undefeated. All three teams look like they're capable of winning a conference championship in 2012.
Then, you've got other potential contenders such as South Florida and Pittsburgh, who could make some noise if they can figure out how to play with more consistency.
Florida State's Offensive Line Is Its Main Weakness
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Florida State doesn't have many noticeable flaws or weaknesses. However, if you watched the Week 4 matchup with Clemson, as well as the Week 5 showdown with South Florida, then you know that the Seminoles' offensive line is not all that great.
Once again, the unit had some holding penalties that proved to be drive-killers and it gave up two sacks.
While Jimbo Fisher's squad may have all the athletes that it takes to compete for a BCS championship, the Seminoles better figure out a way to get better play in the trenches for the rest of the season.
Oregon State Is Starting to Surge
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Oregon State has only played three games so far this season, but the Beavers have already matched their three-game win total from 2012.
Mike Riley's squad is turning out to be much better than many anticipated.
The team's march up the national rankings continued this past Saturday with a big 38-35 win on the road against Arizona.
It may be too early to say that Oregon State can contend with in-state rival Oregon in the Pac-12 North division this season, but the Beavers are certainly a team to watch out for.
Arizona Is Starting to Fade
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The team that Oregon State beat in Week 5, the Arizona Wildcats, is starting to fade after a hot 3-0 start.
Rich Rodriguez's crew is now 3-2 and 0-2 in conference play after losses to both teams from the State of Oregon.
The upcoming schedule is absolutely brutal. It includes four straight matchups with ranked teams in Stanford, Washington, USC and UCLA.
It wouldn't be shocking to see the Wildcats quickly drop to 3-6 in the coming weeks.
Wisconsin’s Running Game Is Still Lacking
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Wisconsin's running-game issues continued against Nebraska in Week 5. The Badgers finished the game with just 56 net rushing yards.
Star RB Montee Ball averaged a measly 2.8 yards on 32 carries.
The team currently ranks 98th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging just 125 yards on the ground per game.
Last year, Wisconsin averaged 235 rushing yards per game.
Louisiana Tech Is the New Houston
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Last year, Houston threatened to crash the BCS party after the Cougars rode an explosive offensive attack to a 12-0 regular-season record before falling in the Conference USA championship game.
We may see a similar run from Louisiana Tech this season.
The Bulldogs just got done beating their second straight BCS opponent when they took down Virginia, 44-38, on the road.
Sonny Dykes' squad is currently averaging 52 points per game.
Terrance Williams Is Just as Dangerous as Kendall Wright
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Baylor may have lost the school's all-time receiving leader Kendall Wright, who was the No. 20 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. However, this season, the Bears have an equally dangerous receiving weapon in Terrance Williams.
Williams hauled in 17 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns in the 70-63 loss to West Virginia on Saturday.
Right now, he definitely deserves the title of the best eligible senior-receiver prospect for the 2013 NFL draft.
Marcus Mariota's Passing Still Needs Work
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Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has adapted to the starting role extraordinarily well so far this season. However, one area of Mariota's game that still needs work is his passing.
Mariota completed 21-of-32 passes in a 51-26 win over Washington State last Saturday night, but he threw two interceptions and only totaled 169 yards through the air.
The Ducks don't necessarily need a dangerous downfield passing attack to win the Pac-12 for a fourth straight year in 2012, but it still wouldn't hurt to see Mariota begin to threaten defenses with his arm more often as the season unfolds.
The Big Ten Will Not Have Two Teams in BCS Bowls
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Only four teams in the Big Ten that are eligible for postseason play this year have less than two losses at this point in the season. Three of those teams are Northwestern, Minnesota and Purdue.
This isn't the banner year for the conference that some were expecting. Early favorites such as Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan have all racked up at least two losses already.
5-0 Ohio State looks like the top team in the conference, but the Buckeyes won't be able to participate in any bowl festivities this season.
Right now, it just doesn't look like the Big Ten will get a BCS at-large bid in 2012.
We Have a New Candidate for Catch of the Year
Catch of the Year
Ohio State WR Devin Smith had the early favorite for catch of the year with his one-handed grab against Miami (Ohio) in Week 1. However, it looks like Smith now has some competition for that title.
Check out the video of Middle Tennessee WR Anthony Amos' amazing grab against Georgia Tech.
Miami Is the Best Team in the ACC Coastal Division
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Before the season started, many onlookers expected Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech to duke it out for the top spot in the ACC Coastal division in 2012. However, neither the Hokies nor the Yellow Jackets have looked nearly as good as advertised so far.
The Coastal division team that has looked the best this season is Miami, which is now 4-1 after a big win over NC State in Week 5.
It still remains to be seen if the Hurricanes will be eligible for postseason play this year, given the pending NCAA investigation that the program is facing.
Still, you have to give a lot of credit to coach Al Golden for the job he's doing down in Coral Gables.
The Hurricanes Are Still Not Getting Much Support
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The announced total ticket sales for the Miami-NC State game were 38,510.
Judging from this photo snapped by Michael Casagrande of the South Florida Sun Sentinel just a few minutes before the start of the game, it seems that there were significantly fewer faces in the crowd on Saturday.
Since moving from the Orange Bowl to their new digs at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, the Hurricanes have struggled to draw fans for home games.
Hopefully, if Al Golden can continue to build this program back up into a national power, the fans around Dade County will return and once again support and embrace their team.
Penn State Has Found a New Workhorse Back
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Penn State may have lost its workhorse back this offseason when Silas Redd chose to transfer to USC. However, the Nittany Lions look like they could have found a new bell-cow back to rely on in 2012.
After a solid outing against Temple in Week 4, Zach Zwinak put together another big day in a 35-7 win over Illinois this past weekend.
Zwinak powered his way to 100 rushing yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns against the Illini.
Bishop Sankey Can Carry Washington’s Rushing Load
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Washington lost highly productive RB Chris Polk to the NFL this offseason and lost his replacement Jesse Callier to a season-ending injury in the first game of the year.
Not to worry, though, because it appears that Bishop Sankey is ready to be the team's new featured back.
Sankey ran for 144 yards and a touchdown in a 17-14 win over Stanford last Thursday.
Amari Cooper Is Alabama’s Most Talented Receiver
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Alabama started this season without having a receiver on the roster that had ever caught more than 20 passes in a season.
The Tide's receiver corps has had a lot to prove, but the unit has played very well so far.
The standout of the group is freshman Amari Cooper.
The former highly touted recruit caught eight passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-14 win over Ole Miss on Saturday.
Marcus Lattimore Is Getting Stronger
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South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore is slowly but surely starting to return to being the beastly back that burst onto the SEC scene back in 2010.
After failing to rush for more than 100 yards in the previous three games, Lattimore finally surpassed the mark in a 38-17 win over Kentucky.
The powerful 6', 218-pound junior rumbled for 120 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Wildcats.
Lattimore is beginning to once again look like the player we saw before he went down with a serious knee injury midway through the 2011 season.
DeAndre Hopkins Can Handle Being a Go-to Receiver
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Clemson has only had the services of star sophomore Sammy Watkins for two games this season. However, when Watkins has been absent, the Tigers really haven't missed him all that much.
That's because his talented teammate, DeAndre Hopkins, has proved that he can handle a No. 1 receiving role.
Hopkins topped his 13-catch, 119-yard performance in the season opener with a huge outing against Boston College, catching 11 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown in a 45-31 victory.
It's not too early to start talking about Hopkins as a potential first-round pick fin the 2013 NFL draft.
Iowa Has Regrouped
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Iowa hit a rough patch in the middle of September, losing to in-state rival Iowa State and MAC foe Central Michigan in a three-week span.
The Hawkeyes managed to get back on track this past weekend, however, when they beat a previously undefeated Minnesota team, 31-13.
Kirk Ferentz's squad may only be 3-2, but at least the team is heading back in the right direction after a disappointing start.
Minnesota Misses MarQueis Gray
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Minnesota, the team Iowa beat on Saturday, clearly misses its top playmaker, QB MarQueis Gray.
Without Gray leading the way, Minnesota's offense totaled just 299 yards against Iowa.
His backup, Max Shortell, threw three costly interceptions.
The Gophers have a real shot to make it to a bowl game this season, but they're going to need Gray to get back in the lineup quickly for that to happen.
Missouri Needs to Figure out How to Convert on 3rd Down
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Missouri somehow found a way to survive a tough test at Central Florida in Week 5 and come away with a 21-16 victory on the road.
The Tigers' offense certainly didn't look all that impressive, though.
The unit's struggles on third down continued against the Knights, as QB James Franklin could only convert one of 11 attempts.
Missouri now ranks 119th in the country with a 27 percent third-down-conversion percentage.
That type of inefficiency won't get the job done against SEC-caliber competition.
Boise State Has Lost Its Magic
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Ever since Boise State pulled off a miraculous upset win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, it has seemed like the Broncos have always had a bit of magic surrounding them.
This season, however, the team is missing that special something that made the Kellen Moore-era squads so much fun to watch.
Boise State barely survived a scare on the road against New Mexico, beating the Lobos by just three points.
It's becoming clear that Chris Petersen just doesn't have a Top 25 team this season.
Still, there are plenty of intriguing young players that should have fans excited for the future.
Bob Davie Is Turning Around New Mexico
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Boise State may not have played its best football against New Mexico, but you do have to give some credit to the Lobos for coming out and playing the Broncos tough.
Former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie seems like he's the right man to rebuild the mess that Mike Locksley created in Albuquerque.
Davie has already won two games this year, which is the same amount that Locksley won in two and a half seasons at New Mexico.
Taylor Kelly Deserves More Attention
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You have to wonder why Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly didn't receive more national publicity in the first month of the season.
Kelly led the Sun Devils to a 4-1 record. During that run, he completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,292 yards and nine touchdowns.
If the budding-star sophomore signal-caller keeps up this pace in upcoming games against Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State and USC, he should finally start getting the respect he deserves.
Jeff Tedford’s Seat Is Getting Hotter
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Jeff Tedford's enormous contract may not run out until after the 2015 season. However, given the way Cal's season is beginning to spiral out of control, it's looking increasingly doubtful that he'll be around to see the end of it.
The Golden Bears are now just 1-4. Plus, they're one of the most undisciplined teams in the country, averaging eight penalties per game.
If Tedford can't get things turned around in a hurry, this could very well be his final season on the sideline in Berkeley.
Duke Is on Its Way to Bowl Eligibility
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Don't look now, but the annual ACC-punching-bag Duke Blue Devils are 4-1 and making a serious push at a bowl berth this season.
Duke hasn't made a trip to the postseason since playing in the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl against Wisconsin. However, the Blue Devils are now in great position to end that drought in 2012.
Beware of the Sun Belt Conference
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The Sun Belt conference is regarded as the weakest of the 11 FBS football conferences.
Don't try telling that to Kentucky, Arkansas or Georgia Tech, though. Those three BCS teams have all been upset by Sun Belt squads this season.
The Yellow Jackets became the latest team to fall victim to a Sun Belt opponent when they lost a 49-28 shocker to Middle Tennessee State in Week 5.
After those three big statement wins, the league may finally start getting some respect this season.
Northwestern’s Offense Is Potent
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Northwestern has gotten off to a 5-0 start, mainly thanks to an offense which is currently averaging 33 points and 466 yards per game.
The Wildcats had their biggest offensive output of the season in Week 5, when they compiled 704 total yards in a 44-29 win over Indiana.
It may be time to start considering Northwestern a serious threat in the Big Ten this season.
Marcus Coker Isn’t Stony Brook’s Best Back
Marcus Coker and Miguel Maysonet
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Former Iowa star running back Marcus Coker transferred to Stony Brook in the offseason, hoping to rejuvenate his career.
However, Coker has been overshadowed by his teammate, Miguel Maysonet, so far this season.
Maysonet ran wild on Army's defense on Saturday, rushing for 220 yards and two touchdowns in the 23-3 win.
Coker had just 53 yards on 20 touches.
Mike Glennon Is Getting His Confidence Back
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NC State may have lost to Miami, 44-37, on Saturday. However, the Wolfpack got a very encouraging performance out of QB Mike Glennon.
Glennon threw for 440 yards and four touchdowns against the Hurricanes—his best numbers of the season.
The senior signal-caller has looked shaky at times in the first few games. But it now appears that Glennon is staring to regain his confidence.
TCU May Not Be Ready for the Big 12
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The average record of TCU's first four opponents is 1-4. However, that hasn't stopped voters from sticking the Horned Frogs in the Top 15 of both major national polls.
You have to wonder if they were watching the team's horrid offensive performance against SMU this past weekend.
The Frogs compiled only 156 total yards against SMU. Admittedly, it wasn't the best conditions. Still, you have to believe Gary Patterson's squad should have done more than that against a Mustangs defense that had given up over 600 yards of total offense in two out of the previous three games.
Taysom Hill Is a Capable Starter
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BYU freshman quarterback Taysom Hill's first ever career start turned out to be something special.
Hill stepped into a leadership role last Friday night and flourished against Hawaii, throwing for two touchdowns and leading the Cougars to a big 47-0 win.
Under HIll's guidance, the offense had a big breakout performance, racking up 540 total yards.
In the two games before that—both losses—BYU had 512 yards of total offense combined.
The Top 10 Heisman Candidates Are...
James Lang-US PRESSWIRE
1. QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. QB Collin Klein, Kansas State
3. QB AJ McCarron, Alabama
4. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
5. QB EJ Manuel, Florida State
6. QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina
7. QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State
8. RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
9. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
10. WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The Top 10 National Title Contenders Are...
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1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. South Carolina Gamecocks
3. Kansas State Wildcats
4. Oregon Ducks
5. Florida State Seminoles
6. West Virginia Mountaineers
7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
8. LSU Tigers
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. Texas Longhorns
Week 5 Was Great, but Week 6 Will Be Even Better
Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier
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Week 5 was clearly the best week of the season so far. But it soon may be topped by the action we're about to see in Week 6.
Next Saturday's slate is full of must-watch conference clashes such as Georgia vs. South Carolina, LSU vs. Florida, West Virginia vs. Texas, Nebraska vs. Ohio State and Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech, as well as the big rivalry game between Miami and Notre Dame.