50 Lessons We Learned from College Football Week 6
The sixth weekend of the college football season provided us with both plenty of questions and plenty of answers.
It was a weekend that showed us which early top-ranked teams didn't deserve our trust (Georgia, Florida State and LSU), and it also left us wondering just how good a few teams (West Virginia, South Carolina and Florida) really are.
We know who's not a national championship contender. But it still remains to be seen which of college football's last remaining unbeatens will rise up and actually contend for a BCS national championship this season.
Here's a look at the lessons we learned from Week 6.
West Virginia Belongs in the Big 12
West Virginia still has a long way to go to win a Big 12 championship this season. However, the Mountaineers have already proven that not only can they hang with the powerhouse teams in the conference, they can actually go on the road and beat them.
Dana Holgorsen's squad made a statement by going down to Austin and beating Texas, 48-45, on Saturday.
Not only did the victory earn the Mountaineers a Top Five national ranking, it also helped give them the momentum they need for the stretch run of the season.
Florida Is Back in a Big Way
Will Muschamp gained a lot of critics by going 7-6 in his first year as head coach at Florida.
This season, however, Muschamp is proving all of his doubters wrong, leading the Gators to a 5-0 start.
The biggest win of the season came this past weekend against a highly ranked LSU team.
Florida shut down the Tigers offense and put on a tremendous defensive display in a 14-6 win.
Performances like that prove the Gators are a big threat in the SEC in 2012.
South Carolina Is a Legit Contender
If Florida wants to win the SEC East this season, the Gators are first going to have to go through No. 3 South Carolina. The Gamecocks are now 6-0 after a huge 35-7 victory at home over Georgia this past weekend.
Steve Spurrier's squad has shown that it has all of the ingredients—playmaking quarterback, battering-ram running back, athletic defensive front—to be a national title contender in 2012.
Connor Shaw, Welcome to the Heisman Conversation
South Carolina QB Connor Shaw only completed six passes against Georgia on Saturday, but he still did more than enough to prove that he belongs in the Heisman conversation.
Shaw has completed 75 percent of his passes for 733 yards and seven touchdowns. He's also rushed for 281 yards and a touchdown, guiding the Gamecocks to a 6-0 start this season.
Although he's been a bit overshadowed by his highly touted backfield mate, RB Marcus Lattimore, the junior dual-threat signal-caller is finally proving just how valuable he really is.
Georgia Isn't a Championship-Caliber Squad
Georgia's defense looked bad against Tennessee in Week 5.
In Week 6 against South Carolina, all of the Bulldogs' units—offense, defense and special teams—looked equally awful in a 35-7 loss.
This may be a team that has plenty of talent, but it's not one that has the true heart and determination of a champion.
LSU Has Lost Its Swagger
Last year, LSU played with the type of intensity and swagger that made the Tigers unbeatable in the regular season. However, this year, the team seems to have lost a lot of that emotion, especially after its low-scoring loss to Florida.
It could be a BCS Championship Game hangover, or it may have to do with losing star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu right before the season.
Whatever the reason is, it's clear LSU is just not the same team we saw in 2011.
Florida State Is Average Away from Home
Come on, Jimbo; I told you last week to change that punt formation.
But you didn't, and of course the result was another inexplicable road loss on Saturday, this time to N.C. State.
In case you're keeping track, Florida State is now 7-5 in road games during Jimbo Fisher's tenure. Obviously, that's not good at all.
The Seminoles may still be in the hunt for an ACC championship in 2012, but after a disastrous 17-16 loss to the Wolfpack, their dreams of winning a national championship this season have officially come to an end.
Geno Smith Is Still the Clear Heisman Front-Runner
Admittedly, it's still far too early in the season to say any player is "running away with the Heisman Trophy." However, West Virginia QB Geno Smith has certainly put some distance between himself and the rest of the field at this point.
On Saturday, Smith shined in his biggest spotlight game of the season, throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-45 victory over Texas.
The strong-armed senior signal-caller has only played in five games this season, yet he's already thrown for just under 2,000 yards with 24 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ohio State Is the Big Ten’s Best Team
Ohio State may not be eligible for the postseason in 2012, but that definitely doesn't mean the Buckeyes aren't the Big Ten's best team this season.
New coach Urban Meyer has led the team to a 6-0 start, which includes huge wins over Michigan State and Nebraska in consecutive weeks.
Not only has Meyer turned the Buckeyes back into a national power, but he's also turned his young sophomore quarterback, Braxton Miller, into a Heisman contender.
USC’s Still Kind of Sloppy
USC looked pretty sloppy in a 38-28 win at Utah last Thursday night.
The Trojans gave away two fumbles and committed 14 penalties, but their talent advantage proved to be the difference.
Lane Kiffin's squad can't afford those kinds of mistakes against the better teams in the Pac-12.
Manti Te’o Belongs in the Heisman Conversation
If LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu could earn an invitation to New York City for the Heisman ceremonies for his performance last year, then Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o definitely deserves strong consideration for his All-American-caliber campaign in 2012.
Te'o is the leader of one of the strongest defensive front sevens in the country, and he's played a critical role in Notre Dame's 5-0 start.
The 6'2'', 255-pound senior has already racked up 46 total tackles and picked off three passes.
Collin Klein’s Great, but Can We Start Talking About John Hubert, Please?
QB Collin Klein receives pretty much all of the credit for Kansas State's success. However, his backfield partner, RB John Hubert, has also played a major role in the team's 5-0 start this season.
Hubert rushed for 101 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-16 victory over Kansas on Saturday.
The 5'7'', 191-pound junior may not be the biggest back in the country, but he certainly packs a lot of power into his small-but-strong frame.
Oregon’s Pretty Much Good for 50-Plus Points Every Weekend
Oregon's offense hasn't seemed to miss QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James at all so far this season.
The Ducks have scored over 50 points in four out of their six wins. They're currently averaging 52 points and 541 yards per game.
With upcoming games against Arizona State and Colorado, Oregon's offense doesn't seem like it's about to slow down before the big Nov. 3 matchup with USC.
Very Good Opponents Bring out the Worst in Keith Price
Remember back when people were calling Washington QB Keith Price a Heisman dark horse?
Those days seem like ancient history now.
To put it gently, Price has looked less than stellar against the three tough opponents—Stanford, LSU and Oregon—that he's squared off with this season.
Price completed just 19 passes for 145 yards and threw two interceptions in a 52-21 loss to the Ducks this past Saturday.
Texas Tech Isn’t Ready To Play with the Big Boys
Texas Tech started the season 4-0. But since the Red Raiders faced the likes of Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico in their non-conference schedule, it was difficult to tell just how good they really were.
We got our answer this past Saturday, when Oklahoma came to town and roughed up Tommy Tuberville's team, 41-20.
...And Neither Is Purdue
Purdue is another team that isn't ready to play with the big boys yet.
The Boilermakers may have kept things close in a 20-17 loss to Notre Dame in Week 2, but they weren't able to keep it that respectable in a 44-13 loss to Michigan this past weekend.
Danny Hope has this program moving in the right direction, but Purdue is still just a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team at this point.
The Mountaineers Can Run Too
Everyone always wants to talk about West Virginia's high-octane passing offense. However, this past weekend, the Mountaineers showed that that they can run the ball when it counts, as well.
RB Andrew Buie had a breakout performance in a 48-45 win over Texas, rushing for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
It will be interesting to see just how potent the Mountaineers' ground game is once Buie's backfield partners, Dustin Garrison and Shawne Alston, are fully healed from their injuries.
Montee Ball Is Starting To Return to Form
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball must have heard some of the criticism about his early-season struggles, because he came out and looked extremely motivated against Illinois on Saturday.
Ball looked like the true difference-maker we became accustomed to seeing in 2011, rushing for 116 yards on just 19 carries and scoring two touchdowns in the 31-14 victory.
The star senior should have declared for the NFL when he had the chance, but Ball still has the opportunity to repair his damaged pro stock in the second half of the season.
Zach Mettenberger Is Not an Offensive Savior
Some LSU fans were talking about QB Zach Mettenberger as a potential offensive savior for the Tigers. So far this season, he has not come close to living up to their lofty expectations.
The junior signal-caller looked dreadful against Florida's defense on Saturday. He completed just 11 passes and failed to lead the offense into the end zone in the 14-6 loss.
Mettenberger may possess a ton of natural ability, but he still has a long way to go before he's ready to become a true game-changer.
Mike Glennon Is Making a Comeback
N.C. State QB Mike Glennon certainly did not have the start to the 2012 season that he was hoping for. However, the senior signal-caller has managed to rebound and recover recently.
Glennon led the Wolfpack to one of the biggest wins in school history this past Saturday over then-No. 3 Florida State.
The huge 17-16 victory should help endear Glennon to NFL scouts once again.
Arkansas Isn’t Dead Yet
After a pitiful 1-4 start, Arkansas' season appeared to be spiraling out of control. However, the Razorbacks rallied this past Saturday against Auburn and came up with a much-needed 24-7 win on the road.
Although they may not be ready to jump into the SEC West race in 2012, Arkansas still has an outside shot to win six games and make it to a bowl game this year.
Auburn Looks Done
One team that doesn't look like it will be making it to a bowl game this season is Auburn.
After a loss to Arkansas, the Tigers are now just 1-4 this season.
The team does have five winnable games against Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, New Mexico State and Alabama A&M left on its schedule. Still, it's clearly going to be an uphill battle to make it to a bowl.
Virginia Tech Is Crumbling
Virginia Tech started off the season ranked in the Top 20 with the goal of winning an ACC Coastal division title once again.
The Hokies have not looked nearly as good as advertised early in the season, though.
After losing to North Carolina this past weekend, Frank Beamer's squad is now just 3-3 this season.
Youth and inexperience on offense, as well as lousy play from heralded QB Logan Thomas, has really hurt the Hokies so far.
It will be interesting to see if Beamer can get his team back on track in the weeks to come.
Gio Bernard Doesn’t Get Enough Praise
North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard's name isn't often brought up in the conversations about the best players in college football. Bernard is proving this year, however, that he definitely does deserve that type of respect.
The speedy sophomore rushed for a whopping 262 yards and a touchdown in a 48-34 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
He is, without a doubt, one of the most explosive playmakers in the country.
Odell Beckham Needs Some Stickum
LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most talented receivers in all of college football. However, Beckham has not been nearly as consistent as he should be in the Tigers' last few games.
The sophomore receiver has dropped numerous passes, and he coughed up a game-changing fumble in a loss to Florida on Saturday.
Beckham needs to work on his hands and pass-catching ability if he ever hopes to become an elite receiver.
Josh Nunes Can Lead Stanford to Victory
Stanford QB Josh Nunes had big shoes to fill, taking over for Andrew Luck this season.
In his first few games, Nunes looked pretty shaky. But he had the best outing of his career against Arizona on Saturday.
The junior signal-caller totaled 393 yards of offense and accounted for five touchdowns in a 54-48 win over the Wildcats in overtime.
Louisiana Tech Is Lurking
It may still be too early to call Louisiana Tech a potential BCS dark horse. However, if the No. 24 Bulldogs do end up going 12-0 and beating their three BCS opponents—Illinois, Virginia and Texas A&M—it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that they could make it into a big-time bowl game.
Louisiana Tech has the type of offense that could score on any team in the country this season.
The Bulldogs currently rank third in the country in scoring offense and 11th in total offense, averaging 53 points and 523 yards per game.
TCU Can’t Win Without Casey Pachall
TCU QB Casey Pachall was suspended indefinitely following a DWI arrest last week.
The Horned Frogs failed to rally without their starting signal-caller, losing to Iowa State, 37-23, on Saturday.
Without Pachall leading the way, TCU simply doesn't have a shot to contend in the Big 12 this season.
Johnny Manziel Is Still Just a Freshman
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel followed up his outstanding performance against Arkansas with a far less impressive showing against Ole Miss on Saturday.
Manziel threw for just 191 yards and tossed two picks in the 30-27 win.
The athletic freshman did show his outstanding running ability, rushing for 129 yards. However, he also proved that he's the type of young quarterback that can still be overwhelmed by a tough SEC road environment.
Still, there's no questioning that Manziel has the chance to develop into an entertaining, must-watch player over the next few years.
Brett Hundley Is Still Just a Freshman
Another young freshman quarterback who stumbled on Saturday was UCLA's Brett Hundley.
Hundley came into the weekend having led the Bruins to a 4-1 start. But he tossed four interceptions in a 43-17 loss to Cal.
The athletic playmaker may possess a ton of talent, but he'll have to learn how to take better care of the football if he ever wants to make the most of his potential.
Missouri Is Not Ready for the SEC
Missouri's losses to Georgia and South Carolina were understandable. But losing at home to Vanderbilt shows that the Tigers are simply not ready for life in the SEC yet.
It doesn't look like things are about to get much better against No. 1 Alabama this weekend, especially since QB James Franklin has been ruled out with a knee injury.
Northwestern Is Not a True Big Ten Threat
Northwestern started off the season 5-0 and earned a spot in the national polls going into Week 6. However, the Wildcats were exposed in a 39-28 loss to Penn State on Saturday.
This may be the best team of the Pat Fitzgerald era, but it doesn't seem to be one that's built to actually win a Big Ten championship this season.
Penn State Is Playing with Purpose
You have to give Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and his players a ton of credit for the way they've rebounded after a rough offseason and a disappointing 0-2 start.
The Nittany Lions have now won four straight games, and they look like the type of motivated team that has something to prove.
Say Goodbye to Frank Spaziani
You could make the argument that Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani was already sitting on the hottest seat in college football before the 2012 season even started.
Now, after Spaziani has led the Eagles to just one win in their first five games, it looks like he'll surely be out the door after this season, possibly before it even ends.
The team hit a new low on Saturday, losing 34-31 to an Army team that just lost to FCS opponent Stony Brook the week before.
South Florida Is Going Nowhere Under Skip Holtz
Speaking of hot seat coaches, South Florida's Skip Holtz may be another coach whose time is running out.
After a 37-28 loss to Temple on Saturday, the Bulls are now just 2-4 this season, and they're just 15-16 during Holtz's tenure.
If they don't get things turned around soon, there may be no reason to keep Holtz around any longer.
Hawaii’s Norm Chow Experiment Isn’t Going Great
I'll be honest, I don't really know all that much about daily life in Honolulu, Hawaii. Still, I feel confident that, without a doubt, fans there simply can't be happy with the job Norm Chow is doing in his inaugural season.
Sure, the Warriors got that huge 52-2 win over Lamar in Week 2. But besides that, it's been pure agony.
This past Saturday, Hawaii got blown out for the fourth time in five games, falling to San Diego State, 52-14.
It's certainly not all Chow's fault, but the problem is, he hasn't done anything to correct the team's many glaring weaknesses.
Matt Elam Is a Maniac
Florida safety Matt Elam is the type of player that never slows down.
He's one of those crazy, full-throttle, destroy-everything-in-an-opposite-color-jersey defenders that are so fun to watch.
If ever there was a college football player who deserved their own energy drink, it's Matt Elam.
Memphis Isn’t the Worst FBS Team
Justin Fuente picked up his first win as Memphis head coach on Saturday with a 14-10 victory over Rice.
That means that there is actually a worse team in the FBS ranks than the Tigers.
UMass Is the Worst FBS Team
The worst team in the FBS is first-year MAC member UMass. Following a 52-14 loss to Western Michigan on Saturday, the Minutemen are now the only 0-6 team in college football.
Massachusetts currently ranks 121st in the nation in scoring offense and 122nd in scoring defense.
Oregon State Needs To Play More Disciplined
Oregon State may be 4-0, but the Beavers won't remain unbeaten for much longer if they don't do something about their penalty problem.
Mike Riley's squad looked very sloppy and undisciplined in a 19-6 win over Washington State, finishing with 11 penalties for 110 yards.
The Beavers currently average 9.5 penalties per game, which is the third-highest total in the country.
Duke Is on Its Way to a Bowl Game
Duke hasn't officially clinched bowl eligibility yet, but the Blue Devils are certainly on the verge of earning their postseason berth since 1994.
Coach David Cutcliffe has guided the team to an impressive 5-1 start.
After a 42-17 victory over Virginia on Saturday, Duke is now just one win away from becoming bowl eligible.
It’s OK To Start Getting Excited About Ziggy Ansah
I know everyone got excited about SMU's Margus Hunt during the offseason, but the most impressive NFL pass-rushing prospect outside of the BCS conferences this year has actually been BYU's Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah.
I said back after the Boise State-BYU game that Ansah was this year's big sleeper prospect, but he's officially surpassed sleeper-level status at this point.
Ansah totaled four solo tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks in a 6-3 win over Utah State.
The 6'6'', 270-pound edge-rusher is the type of athletic freak that will continue to climb up draft boards as the season progresses.
Don’t Write off Houston Just Yet
Houston started off the 2012 season with three embarrassing losses. However, the Cougars have since rallied to win their last two games to get to 2-3.
The team is noticeably weaker than the one that won 13 games last season, but it's still a squad that could be a factor in the Conference-USA race if QB David Piland continues to improve.
Miami Is Still a Year Away
Miami got its fans' hopes up with a hot 4-1 start to the season.
Those hopes were dashed, however, after the Hurricanes got obliterated, 41-3, by Notre Dame on Saturday night.
Al Golden's squad is loaded with plenty of intriguing young talent, but the fact is, Miami is still a year away from seriously contending in the ACC.
Jeff Tedford's Seat Just Got a Little Cooler
One head coach who actually cooled down his hot seat this weekend was Cal's Jeff Tedford.
Tedford received a ton of heat for his team's 1-4 start. However, he helped the Golden Bears bounce back with a much-needed 43-17 victory over UCLA on Saturday.
Rutgers Has a Great Defense
Not only does Rutgers have the best defense in the Big East this season, but the Scarlet Knights have one of the best defenses in the country.
Right now, Rutgers ranks fifth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 10.8 points per game.
The defense had its most impressive showing of the season this past Saturday, holding UConn to just three points.
The Scarlet Knights are now 5-0, and they look like they could potentially ride their stout defense all the way to a Big East championship in 2012.
Mike Gillislee Is Officially in Beast Mode
LSU supposedly has one of the strongest and most talented defensive front sevens in college football. But Florida RB Mike Gillislee didn't seem to care, as he showed no fear against the Tigers on Saturday.
Gillislee totaled 146 yards on the ground and scored both of his team's touchdowns in the 14-6 win.
Following that performance, it's clear that the senior back has now officially taken his game to the next level.
The Top 10 Heisman Contenders Are...
1. QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. QB A.J. McCarron, Alabama
3. QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State
4. RB De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
5. QB Collin Klein, Kansas State
6. QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina
7. WR Marqise Lee, USC
8. LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
9. WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
10. RB Mike Gillislee, Florida
The Top 10 National Title Contenders Are...
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Oregon Ducks
3. South Carolina Gamecocks
4. West Virginia Mountaineers
5. Florida Gators
6. Kansas State Wildcats
7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
8. LSU Tigers
9. USC Trojans
10. Louisville Cardinals
Sometimes You Don't Need Words....
...to describe what separates college football from every other sport.
Week 7 is coming, so get ready!
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