On paper, Week 6 of the 2017 college football season had the potential to be a very ho-hum slate of gridiron action. The week featured only two matchups of Associated Press Top 25 teams, and one (No. 17 Louisville at No. 24 NC State) took place Thursday night.
Then, of course, the games actually happened. We got the first true jaw-dropping upset of a Top 10 team this season, a rivalry streak broken with a wild final sequence, some muddling of what could be a twisty Big 12 title race and a shuffling of the bottom of the Top 25.
Iowa State’s stunning 38-31 upset of AP No. 3 Oklahoma shakes up the Big 12 and the College Football Playoff picture, and Michigan State showed that it still should be considered a factor in the Big Ten East with a rain-soaked 14-10 win over its in-state rival, AP No. 7 Michigan.
No. 13 Miami’s last-second 24-20 win over Florida State (the Hurricanes’ first win over their Sunshine State rival in eight tries) was truly memorable as well. AP No. 8 TCU continued proving itself as a Big 12 contender with a gutty 31-24 win over No. 23 West Virginia.
Meanwhile, Alabama, Clemson, Penn State and Georgia held serve with no-question victories at the top of the poll, shaping our new Bleacher Report Top 25 for Week 7. College football writers Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Greg Wallace each submitted ballots in which a first-place vote counts for 25 points, a second-place for 24 and so on.
Here’s our updated poll. Who’s rising? Who’s falling? We have one team cooling its heels just outside the Top 25, a very satisfying rivalry victory and a key game in Week 8:
- 1. Alabama (last week: 1)
- 2. Clemson (2)
- 3. Georgia (T-4)
- 4. Penn State (T-4)
- 5. TCU (7)
- 6. Washington (6)
- 7. Auburn (12)
- 8. Wisconsin (T-9)
- 9. Washington State (8)
- 10. Ohio State (11)
- 11. Miami (13)
- 12. USC (14)
- 13. Oklahoma State (T-16)
- 14. Notre Dame (15)
- 15. Oklahoma (3)
- 16. Virginia Tech (T-16)
- 17. UCF (22)
- 18. NC State (NR)
- 19. Michigan (T-9)
- 20. Michigan State (NR)
- 21. South Florida (21)
- 22. San Diego State (20)
- 23. Navy (NR)
- 24. Virginia (NR)
- 25. Texas Tech (NR)
Who’s Hot: NC State Wolfpack
As 2017 began, there were legit questions about Dave Doeren’s future at NC State. After leading Northern Illinois to an Orange Bowl bid and a 23-4 record in two seasons, he struggled to find traction in a tough ACC Atlantic Division. In four years, Doeren was 25-26 with one eight-win season and a 9-23 record in league play. But as 2017 reaches its midpoint, State appears to be turning a corner under his leadership.
Thursday’s 39-25 win over AP No. 17 Louisville improved State to 5-1, 3-0 in ACC play. That matches the Pack’s high in league wins in the Doeren era, and the Pack was the biggest riser in our poll this week.
Quarterback Ryan Finley (who threw for 367 yards) and tailback Nyheim Hines (who rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns) led a balanced attack, offsetting Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s 427 yards of total offense and three total touchdowns.
NC State has now defeated Louisville and Florida State and looks like the second-best team in the Atlantic behind defending national champion Clemson. The Pack will have their shot at impacting the ACC race when the Tigers (who beat State 24-17 in overtime last fall) visit Nov. 4 for what could be the Atlantic title game.
Who’s Not: Oklahoma Sooners
Entering Saturday, everything lined up for Oklahoma to take an easy victory over Iowa State. The Sooners, ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll, were a 31-point favorite, per Odds Shark, over the Cyclones. Iowa State was also playing without starting quarterback Jacob Park, who left the team Friday for undisclosed personal reasons. The Sooners bolted to a 24-10 second-quarter lead and appeared to have secured a name-your-score rout.
Instead, they put it on cruise control and got badly burned. Iowa State stunned Oklahoma in a 38-31 upset that dealt a serious blow to OU’s hopes of making the College Football Playoff. It was Iowa State’s second win over Oklahoma since 1962, sixth win ever over the Sooners and first road win over an AP Top Five opponent. OU couldn’t stop first-time starter Kyle Kempt, who shared quarterback duties with former starting QB and current middle linebacker Joel Lanning. When all was said and done, Kempt threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns. The Sooners dropped 12 spots in this week's B/R Top 25.
Two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Baker Mayfield threw for 306 yards and two scores, but he couldn’t dent Iowa State’s defense late facing a 38-31 deficit. Suddenly, TCU is the only unbeaten team left in the Big 12, which could be shut out of the College Football Playoff for the third time in four seasons.
Fun Fact: Miami Breaks Through in the Sunshine State
Miami-Florida State is one of the best, most heated, most storied rivalries in college football, and it’s also one of the most balanced. In 62 meetings, Miami holds a 32-30 edge over the Seminoles. But the Hurricanes haven’t had much luck against FSU recently. Entering Saturday’s rivalry matchup in Tallahassee, FSU was on a seven-game win streak against Miami, a stretch that was built in frustrating fashion.
Four of the seven losses came by five points or fewer, and the seven-game streak tied for the longest in the series with FSU’s run from 1963-72. So Miami’s 24-20 last-second win in Doak Campbell Stadium was particularly cathartic. After Florida State grabbed a 20-17 lead on quarterback James Blackman’s 20-yard strike to Auden Tate with 1:24 left, Miami QB Malik Rosier showed the Hurricanes weren’t done.
He marched the Hurricanes 75 yards in nine plays, connecting with Darrell Langham on a 23-yard touchdown pass with six seconds remaining. Beating Florida State for the first time in eight years was significant for the AP No. 13 Hurricanes. Doing it in that fashion? Positively special.
Keep an Eye on: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Kliff Kingsbury entered 2017 in clear need of success at Texas Tech. The former Red Raiders star quarterback had been just average in his first four seasons in Lubbock, going 24-26 with a pair of losing seasons, including a 5-7 record in 2016 that started the hot-seat whispers. And he was breaking in a new starting quarterback after losing prolific passer Patrick Mahomes to the NFL as a first-round selection of the Kansas City Chiefs.
So far, however, the Red Raiders have taken the heat off Kingsbury. Saturday’s 65-19 whipping of hapless Kansas improved Tech to 4-1, with the only loss a 41-34 defeat by a good Oklahoma State team. New quarterback Nic Shimonek has been excellent, throwing for 1,811 yards with 14 touchdowns against three interceptions. But Tech can thrive on the ground, too. On Saturday, Desmond Nisby and Justin Stockton combined for 254 yards and five rushing touchdowns.
The Red Raiders might not push for a College Football Playoff berth, but they have the offense to be a wild card in the Big 12 race and give the league’s upper echelon fits. They made an appearance at 25th in our poll this week and could be on the rise in the weeks ahead.
What To Watch For: No. 7 Auburn at LSU
Alabama remains the clear class of the SEC West, but there’s plenty of room for nationally relevant contenders to emerge alongside the Crimson Tide. With each week, Auburn looks more and more like that team. Following a 14-6 loss at current AP No. 2 Clemson that looks better by the week, Auburn has won four in a row, and its offense has thrived. Saturday’s 44-23 beatdown of Ole Miss was the Tigers' third consecutive game with at least 44 points, and they are averaging 48 points per game in SEC play (5-1, 3-0).
Tailback Kerryon Johnson has rushed for 320 yards and six touchdowns the past two weeks, ripping Ole Miss for 204 yards and three scores. With Jarrett Stidham at the helm, Auburn is starting to look like a vintage Gus Malzahn offense.
Standing in the way Saturday? LSU. The Bayou Bengals (4-2, 1-1) took some heat off coach Ed Orgeron with a 17-16 win at No. 21 Florida that hinged on a missed extra point by the Gators. But LSU always plays Auburn tough, walking away victorious in seven of the teams' last 10 meetings. A year ago, Auburn took an 18-13 win with six field goals, a victory that ultimately ended Les Miles' LSU tenure. This game doesn’t feature those stakes, but it's a crucial milepost in the SEC West race regardless.
In other matchups, USC-Utah and Oklahoma-Texas stand out as games that could move the needle and make a difference in the Top 25 in Week 7.