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A strong team effort led the way to victory for USC over California.
16. USC (5-1) - Win at California, 30-9 - Up 8
After a slow start to the season, the USC Trojans seem to finally be turning their talent into results. The Trojans played their best game of the season yet against California, winning by three touchdowns.
Oddly enough, the Trojans were outgained by 16 yards, and their three offensive stars had poor performances: Matt Barkley only completed 19 of his 35 pass attempts, Marc Tyler ran for only 30 yards, and most surprising of all, Robert Woods only had 36 receiving yards. T
he defense picked up the slack for the offense in this game, forcing five turnovers. That being said, if USC can beat a legitimate Pac-12 opponent by three scores with their top three skill-position players struggling, they can do big things if Barkley, Tyler, and Woods are all on their games.
17. South Carolina (6-1) - Win at Mississippi State, 14-12 - Down 1
South Carolina managed to pull out a victory over Mississippi State, but they did not make it easy on themselves, scoring a touchdown with 3:50 to play to go ahead in this game, a lead they would hold onto.
And in the win, the Gamecocks suffered a much greater loss: unfortunately, superstar running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a torn ACL, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Connor Shaw was not too impressive in this game, throwing mostly check-down passes, and without Lattimore, the Gamecocks offense loses its most productive player.
The Gamecocks’ defense is keeping them atop at the SEC East, but the Gamecocks’ chances of actually winning an SEC title are dwindling, even though they only have one loss.
18. Michigan State (5-1) - Win vs Michigan, 28-14 - Into Top 25
With their biggest win over struggling Ohio State, and with a loss to Notre Dame, Michigan State had no place being in the top 25 prior to this week. Last Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans got the big win they needed, handing their in-state rivals their first loss of the season.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins’s play has been disappointing this season, and that did not change in this game, only throwing for 120 yards. However, Edwin Baker stepped up in a big way, running for 167 yards and a score.
The key to this win, however, was that the Spartans' defense became the first this year to effectively shut down Denard Robinson, holding him to only 42 yards rushing, which in turn made his passing ineffective.
If a defense finds a way to stop Denard, they will beat Michigan, and that is exactly what Michigan State did for a big win.
19. Michigan (6-1) - Loss at Michigan State, 14-28 - Down 10
Michigan rolled through the first half of their season schedule, but faced their toughest competition last weekend at Michigan State, and suffered their first loss.
As just mentioned, Denard Robinson’s game was shut down by the Spartans' defense, and the Wolverines could not come up with another source of offense to get things rolling. Denard Robinson is a multi-dimensional quarterback, but he may be the only dimension the Michigan offense has. If that is the case, there will be more losses to come this season.
20. Georgia Tech (6-1) - Loss at Virginia, 21-24 - Down 10
After a tremendous start to the season for the Georgia Tech offense, the wind seems to have come out of their sails. The connection between Tevin Washington and Stephen Hill had started a re-emergence in the Yellow Jackets passing game, but in a loss at Virginia, the duo never connected, with Washington completed just two passes.
Washington did run for 115 yards to lead the rushing offense, but the defense also struggled, giving up 407 total yards to an underwhelming Virginia offense. The Yellow Jackets remain in the ACC picture, but are starting to fall behind.