College Football 2011: The Best and Worst of Week 6
Week 6 is now in the books and that means that next Sunday the first BCS rankings will be released.
Thus far, there have been three teams to clearly separate themselves from the pack: Oklahoma, LSU and Alabama. All three had tremendous performances this past week that did nothing to diminish the notion that two of them will meet Jan. 9.
Thankfully, while that deadly trio is dominating the college football landscape, there were more than enough great games, awesome performances, disastrous teams, bad calls and one play you've never seen before to make this past weekend a grand time for fans.
Here now are the best and worst from Week 6.
Best: Connor Shaw Makes the Ol' Ball Coach Proud
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The Gamecocks' quarterback situation is no stranger to this weekly column, but this time they get to be on the good side of the ledger.
After former starter Stephen Garcia finally did enough to get benched after last week's loss to Auburn, likely ending his quest to lead the nation in interceptions, Connor Shaw took the reins of the South Carolina offense.
All Shaw did was toss four touchdowns, matching Garcia's five-game total, and did not throw an interception in South Carolina's decisive 54-3 win over Kentucky. It was the largest margin of victory for the school since joining the SEC in 1992.
Perhaps most importantly, Shaw made an effort to feed ultra-talented wide receiver Alshon Jeffery the ball, and he responded with six catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns, all season highs.
With a quarterback in place that can make plays rather than take them away, the No. 15 Gamecocks may now make a run at the SEC crown.
Best: Brandon Weeden Needs Only a Half Against Kansas
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It's not been a good year for the Kansas defense.
It ranks dead last in the nation in total defense (556 yards allowed per game), scoring defense (49.4 points allowed per game) and has allowed 42 or more points in the last four games. You thought it was bad when it gave up 604 yards rushing to Georgia Tech? It was, but it can always get worse.
After taking a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, the Jayhawks defense laid down to Oklahoma State and quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Weeden carved up KU for 288 yards and five touchdowns—in the first half. Granted, it was less than Hawaii's Bryan Moniz' 424 yards and seven touchdowns in a half earlier in the year, but that was against FCS UC Davis.
Kansas is a member of a BCS conference and Weeden made it look like a bad JV team. The Cowboys rolled to a 56-7 halftime lead and coasted to a 70-28 win.
Best: Kansas State's Start
Everyone thought Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would stand great chances of reaching Week 7 undefeated, but who had Kansas State in that group?
Following their thrilling wins over Miami and then-No. 15 Baylor, the Wildcats entered their conference battle against Missouri 4-0.
They surely aren't going to get much in the way of style points, but the Wildcats continue to find ways to win. Against the Tigers, it was a ground game led by running back John Hubert's 126 yards, the three rushing touchdowns from quarterback Collin Klein and a defense that did just enough to keep Missouri in check during a last comeback attempt.
With Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M still on the schedule, that unblemished mark likely won't stand, but it's a great time in Manhattan as the Wildcats are now No. 17.
Best: LSU and Alabama's Journey to the National Title Game
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Each week, I try to avoid putting LSU and Alabama in this column yet again, but their play makes that impossible.
The top-ranked Tigers hosted No. 17 Florida. The Gators speedy playmakers were looking to bounce back after their 38-10 throttling at the hands of Alabama last week.
That didn't happen.
LSU held Florida to a pitiful 213 total yards and forced two turnovers, including an interception by should-be Heisman frontrunner Tyrann Mathieu, in LSU's easy 41-11 win.
Alabama did even better—granted, it was against Vanderbilt, but it was impressive nonetheless.
The Crimson Tide dominated Vandy and held it to a mere 190 yards in Alabama's 34-0 win. The shutout lowers the Tide's average to only seven points allowed per game.
Nov. 5 cannot get here fast enough.
Best: Red River Rout
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It's one of the biggest games of the year: the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas. It's typically a battle of titans, and this year with each team coming in highly ranked—Oklahoma at No. 3 and Texas now a lofty No. 11—it held great promise to be a classic.
After a lackluster first quarter in which a trio of field goals resulted in a 6-3 edge for the Sooners, the Oklahoma offense went to work.
Landry Jones tossed three touchdowns and the Sooner defense scored the first of its three touchdowns on the day as Oklahoma went into halftime with a 34-10 lead.
By the time it was over, it was a full fledged rout in favor of the Sooners, who took down a 55-17 win.
They sure know how to score points in the Big 12.
Worst: Florida State's Fall
The 2011 Florida State Seminoles are another example of why rankings should not come out until October.
They entered the season in the top five of many polls, but since beating up on Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern, the Seminoles have not won.
First, they fought a hard battle against then-No. 1 Oklahoma. OK, forgivable.
They then lost to an upstart Clemson team that is now No. 8 in the country. A tough conference loss, but survivable.
Then, the bottom fell out on Saturday. The Seminoles fell flat on their faces as they lost to Wake Forest. Yes, Wake Forest.
Their loss, coupled with Florida's, now means that for the first time since Dec. 6, 1982, there will be no ranked teams from the state in Florida in the polls.
Worst: Abysmal Arizona
When you have lost your last 10 games against FBS teams, your coaching seat is on fire.
When you hand the last winless team in a BCS conference its first win, you're out.
Such is the case with Mike Stoops.
After the Wildcats lost to 0-4 Oregon State on Saturday, his fate was sealed. Stoops was fired Monday night after he compiled a poor 41-50 mark since his arrival in 2004.
The Wildcats stand at 1-5 and are wasting a fantastic season by quarterback Nick Foles with awful play at pretty much every other position. Their schedule down the stretch is by no means brutal, but it's time to build for 2012.
Worst: Utah's Pac-12 Beginning
Along with TCU and Boise State, Utah stood as one of the preeminent teams that made BCS waves in recent years while playing in a non-AQ conference.
The Utes finally got their chance to make good on that promise when they accepted an invite to join the Pac-10.
Their first season in the newly rechristened Pac-12, however, has been anything but pleasant.
The Utes hosted No. 18 Arizona State this Saturday in a matchup between what many considered the two best bowl-eligible teams in the Pac-12 South division. Despite playing without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, the Utes actually took a 14-10 lead early in the second half. Then it all fell apart.
The ballhawking Sun Devil defense then forced three turnovers in three consecutive Ute possessions, part of five total on the day, that spearheaded ASUs' 35-14 win that all but assured the Devils a clear path to the division title.
The loss drops Utah to 0-3 in conference play as it begins to search for answers to a very underwhelming season.
Worst: Tyler Bray's Injury
One of the brightest young players in the SEC will have his lights shut off for a few weeks.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, ranked seventh in the nation in passing efficiency on the strength of his 65.9 completion percentage and excellent 14-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand and will be out at least four weeks.
This is a crushing blow to the upstart Volunteers, who entered last week's game against Georgia at 3-1.
Now 3-2 and 0-2 in SEC play, the Volunteers must face No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama and No. 15 South Carolina in the next weeks without one of the elite quarterbacks in the nation.
Worst: Touchdowns Are No Reason to Celebrate
I have a strict policy of never, ever using Internet shorthand, but this play on Saturday can only be summed up with "SMH."
Near the end of the first quarter, LSU faced a 4th-and-15 near midfield. Ever the gambler, and already leading Florida 14-0, LSU head coach Les Miles called for a fake punt.
It worked to utter perfection. Initially.
The entire Gator squad went right while Tiger punter Brad Wing ran left. Thanks to some great blocking, Wing ran untouched to the end zone. While nearing the goal line, Wing opened his arms while looking at distant Gators and scored the touchdown.
Or so he thought.
He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the touchdown was taken off the board as part of the asinine rule that went into effect last year.
Yes, the rule was enforced correctly.
Yes, it is a very stupid rule.
Watch the play here, and you can see why SMH applies.
Bonus Worst: Georgia's 4th-and-57
A team's playbook has plays designed for most any situation. So what about 3rd-and-57?
That's exactly the position that Georgia found itself in during the fourth quarter of its 20-12 win over Tennessee.
Let's examine how the possession unraveled.
The Bulldogs picked up two first downs quickly to move to the Volunteer 23-yard line. However, a holding call made it 1st-and-20. Two more holding calls followed a run for a one-yard loss, setting up 2nd-and-41 from the their own 46-yard line.
Then came a personal foul penalty that resulted in the 2nd-and-56. A one-yard loss on the next play brought us to the epic third down, at which point Georgia decided to call a conservative run and punt the ball on 4th-and-57 from the Georgia 31-yard line.