Winners and Losers from Week 6 of College Football

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2018

Winners and Losers from Week 6 of College Football

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    Underdogs in marquee rivalry games ruled Week 6, but Miami narrowly avoided a similar to fate to that of Oklahoma and LSU.

    The Hurricanes mounted a 20-point second-half comeback to stun Florida State, while Texas survived coughing up a 21-point lead against Oklahoma. Like the Longhorns, Florida defeated a previously unbeaten team in LSU.

    Elsewhere, Auburn couldn't muster enough offense to hang with Mississippi State, and Stanford forgot to show up during the first half against Utah. Overall, five Top 25 squads ranked to unranked teams.

    In short, Week 6 was bananas.

    We've highlighted the winners and losers from the wild slate of action.

Winner: Ed Oliver, Houston's Late Defense

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    Quarterback McKenzie Milton and the dynamic UCF offense are deservedly the front-runner in the American Athletic Conference. But don't give the Knights the trophy just yet.

    During a 41-26 victory over Tulsa, defensive lineman Ed Oliver once again showed off his elite ability. The potential No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NFL draft tied a season-high with 13 tackles, recording 1.5 in the backfield and adding one hurry.

    Houston's defense had a few issues, but takeaways on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions keyed the comeback win.

    "Our defense saved us all night," quarterback D'Eriq King said, according to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle. "I just knew that if we kept going, we were going to break through eventually, and that's what we did thanks to our defense."

Loser: Louisville's Bowl Dreams

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    Louisville Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino is officially on the hot seat.

    After a fourth-quarter collapse in Week 5 gifted Florida State a win, Louisville hardly showed up for its Friday night clash with Georgia Tech. The visiting Yellow Jackets raced to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and kept running to a 66-31 triumph.

    Quarterback TaQuon Marshall shredded the Cardinals for 175 yards and two scores on the ground, and his backupTobias Olivercrested the century mark and had a couple of rushing touchdowns, too. Overall, Georgia Tech ran for 542 yards, which was the school's highest output since 2011.

    At 2-4, Louisville can only afford two more losses if it expects to make a bowl. However, the Cardinals' remaining slate includes trips to Boston College, Clemson and Syracuse, as well as home matchups with NC State and Kentucky.

    The program's eight-year bowl streak is unlikely to continue, and Petrino may get a pink slip in the process.

Winner: Underdog Tom Herman, Again

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    Since becoming the head coach at Houston in 2015, Tom Herman has had a way of turning his underdog teams into upset threats.

    Oklahoma found out the hard way Saturday.

    Sam Ehlinger threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns but also scampered for 72 yards and three scores. He propelled Texas to a 48-45 victory, which Cameron Dicker sealed with a 40-yard field goal with only nine seconds remaining.

    Herman boasts a 12-1 record against the spread as an underdog, per the Action Network. More importantly for the Longhorns, they're undefeated in Big 12 action this season and hold a critical conference tiebreaker.

    Texas isn't there, but it's getting closer to being back.

Loser: Those Who Bought BYU Stock

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    BYU earned a sensational win at Wisconsin earlier in the season, playing a perfect game to stun the Badgers. The Cougars even surged into the Top 25 after the upset.

    However, this was always a flawed team. And anyone who bought stock in BYU is regretting it.

    In Week 5, Kalani Sitake's squad looked outmatched in a 35-7 loss to Washington. Then, the Cougars surrendered 21 straight points before they fell to Utah State 45-20 Friday night.

    Through six contests, both the passing game and rushing attack rank no higher than the 30th percentile in per-attempt efficiency. That's not the makeup of a consistent winner.

Winner: NC State Gives Itself an ACC Chance

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    Clemson has become a powerhouse in the ACC, winning three straight conference titles and entering 2018 as the unquestioned favorite. If any program was going to unseat Dabo Swinney's crew, though, North Carolina figured to have the best chance.

    Well, here's your shot, Wolfpack.

    Thanks to a 28-23 victory over Boston College, NC State earned its first 5-0 start since 2002 and set up an Oct. 20 showdown with Clemson. Both teams have a bye next weekend.

    Since BC is the only other Atlantic Division team with fewer than two ACC losses, the winner of NC State's trip to Clemson will hold a critical tiebreaker and assume the No. 1 spot in the standings.

Loser: Michigan State's National Contention

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    Michigan State wasn't quite the forgotten team in the Big Ten East, but Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State attracted more offseason attention.

    Sure, the Spartans often fly under the radar. Yet after five games, they're still a tier below the other three programs.

    Although the run defense continued its elite play against Northwestern, Michigan State's secondary surrendered 373 yards and three scores in a 29-19 loss. The Wildcats notched three of their four touchdowns from outside the red zone, too.

    At 3-2, MSU has fleeting national championship dreams at best. With a 1-1 Big Ten record, the Spartans no longer have a margin for error in the conference race.

Winner: Tua Tagovailoa's Heisman Candidacy

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    No reasonable person expected Arkansas to upset Alabama. But, man, Tua Tagovailoa never gave the Razorbacks a chance.

    The superstar sophomore completed 10 of 13 passes for 334 yards and four scores, leading the Crimson Tide to touchdowns on six of their seven first-half possessions. For good measure, they added a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half before he hit the bench.

    As Alabama cruised to that 65-31 rout, Tagovailoa extended his lead in the Heisman Trophy conversation, too.

    Kyler Murray and Oklahoma lost to Texas, and West Virginia gunslinger Will Grier committed four turnovers in an unspectacular win over Kansas. Tagovailoa is officially the player to beat.

Loser: Florida State's Collapse

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    The Seminoles couldn't keep the Turnover Chain in the briefcase, and that proved to be their downfall in a 28-27 loss to rival Miami.

    After taking a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter, FSU quarterback Deondre Francois lost a fumble and threw an interception on consecutive possessions. The 'Canes turned both takeaways into touchdowns.

    Yes, it got a bit controversial from there.

    Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart busted out a timely trick play, calling a double pass that might've actually gone backward. The simple truth is Francois needs to ensure there's no doubt. Although a flag negated the touchdown, FSU still had a chance to take a two-score lead.

    Later on that drive, kicker Ricky Aguayo yanked a 43-yard attempt wide left in the fourth quarter. Had he converted, the Seminoles would've jumped ahead 30-21. Instead, Miami's N'Kosi Perry hit tight end Brevin Jordan for a 41-yard touchdown on the ensuing possession.

    The overturned touchdown will be heavily debated, but if Florida State protects the football, it never matters.

Winner: Brock Purdy, Iowa State

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    Brock Purdy entered Week 6 with zero career pass attempts.

    He might be the starter now.

    After taking over on Iowa State's second drive of the game, the freshman quarterback sparked an upset of No. 25 Oklahoma Stateeven without star running back David Montgomery.

    Purdy threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns, adding 84 rushing yards and a score. He led seven scoring drives throughout the day, propelling the Cyclones to a 48-42 victory.

    The Cyclones probably won't factor into the Big 12 Championship Game since they already have two conference losses. But there isn't a team in the league that is looking forward to meeting ISU.

Loser: Wake Forest's Defense

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    Burn the tape.

    Travis Etienne, Lyn-J Dixon and Adam Choice all handled 10 carries for Clemson. All three recorded at least 128 rushing yards, led by Etienne's 167. They also combined for six touchdowns as the Tigers ran for 471 yards.

    Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 20 of 25 passes for 175 yards and two scores, and backup Chase Brice connected on his four attempts for 50 yards and a touchdown. Clemson totaled 698 yards of offense.

    Wake Forest lost 63-3.

    Yeah, burn the tape.

Winner: Jordan Cronkrite, South Florida

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    South Florida arrived in the Northeast holding an undefeated record, but the Bulls could not afford to overlook an occasionally dynamic Massachusetts offense.

    No worries.

    Bulls running back Jordan Cronkrite sliced, diced and shredded the Minutemen for an American Athletic Conference-record 302 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in a 58-42 win. The Florida transfer spearheaded a 574-yard effort from USF.

    Oh, and the Bulls should be a Top 25 team next week.

    Central Florida remains the AAC favorite, but 5-0 USFand 6-0 Cincinnati, for that matterwon't be dispatched easily.

Loser: LSU's Perfect Record

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    Considering the line closed with LSU at -1.5, per OddsShark, neither result would've been surprising in The Swamp.

    That's no consolation for the Tigers, though.

    Joe Burrow threw his first career interception at an inopportune moment: Late in the fourth quarter, he tossed a pick-six that handed Florida a 27-19 advantage. Brad Stewart took the errant pass 25 yards to the house, and the Gators sealed the game with a second interception.

    With a remaining schedule that includes Georgia and Alabama, LSU could not afford to drop this rivalry clash. On the bright side, the Tigers could own a trio of sensational season wins if they upset both SEC powers after upsetting Auburn in Week 3.

    But if they could only muster 5.0 yards per play against Florida, good luck topping UGA and 'Bama.

Winner: Notre Dame’s 2nd-Half Outburst

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    For the second straight week, Notre Dame's opponent played a quality opening 30 minutes. For the second straight week, the Fighting Irish took control during the latter half.

    Dexter Williams keyed the 28-point explosion with a 97-yard scamper. It was an improbable run, considering Virginia Tech had held Notre Dame to minus-three rushing yards before the break. The senior back scored three times and tallied a career-best 178 yards rushing.

    Rising star Ian Book, who threw for 271 yards, connected with Miles Boykin for two touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

    Notre Dame recorded a 45-23 victory, and College Football Playoff dreams are becoming more realistic by the week for the 6-0 Irish.

Loser: Auburn's Offense

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    That marquee win over Washington on opening weekend feels like a decade ago in football time.

    Auburn's run game has continually struggled since then, failing to reach 150 rushing yards in four straight games. Mississippi State limited the Tigers to 90 yards on the ground, and Jarrett Stidham couldn't pick up the slack at just 5.6 per pass.

    The result? An embarrassing 23-9 loss in Starkville.

    Stidham was jumpy in the pocket all night. He also overshot open receivers—most glaringly a completely unguarded Darius Slayton on a trick play—and completed only 50 percent of his 38 passes.

    Auburn turned its 2017 season around in mid-October and nearly reached the CFP. Between the struggles of both Stidham and the running game, a similar surge is improbable.

Winner: Short-Handed San Diego State

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    San Diego State quarterback Christian Chapman has a knee injury. Star running back Juwan Washington is sidelined while recovering from a broken collarbone.

    And the Aztecs just don't care.

    Chase Jasmin and Jordan Byrd combined for 154 yards and two scores on the ground, and SDSU's defense carried the team to a surprising 19-13 upset of Boise State. The Aztecs, who had three interceptions, surrendered only 229 yards to an offense that racked up 506 last week.

    Navigating the Mountain West schedule without Chapman and Washington will be difficult, but San Diego State certainly has a chance if the defense continues to dominate like this.

Loser: Kentucky's Overtime Collapse

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Kentucky could hardly have asked for a better performance from its defense in the unfriendly environment of Kyle Field. But in overtime, the offense and special teams handed Texas A&M the game.

    Facing a 3rd-and-2 at A&M's 17-yard line in overtime, Kentucky didn't give the ball to standout runner Benny Snell Jr. Instead, quarterback Terry Wilson tried to make a play and ended up taking an eight-yard sack, pushing the Wildcats back to a 43-yard field goal.

    And unfortunately for UK, Miles Butler didn't have enough leg for the kick. He bounced the attempt off the crossbar.

    "The sack was huge in the game," Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters after the 20-14 win. "Another yard [closer], and the field goal would have been good."

    Kentucky is still headed toward one of the best seasons in program history, but this must've been a deflating loss.

Winner: Utah's Dismantling of Stanford

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    Utah closed as a four-point underdog, according to OddsShark, but the visiting Utes never trailed in a beatdown of Stanford.

    Zack Moss opened the scoring for the Utes, who raced out to a 21-0 lead thanks to two first-half touchdowns from the running back and a 100-yard pick-six by Jaylon Johnson.

    Stanford trimmed the deficit to six during the third quarter, but Matt Gay's 34-yard field goal and Tyler Huntley's 57-yard touchdown to Samson Nacua sealed the Utes' upset. They added another field goal in the fourth quarter for the final 40-21 margin.

    Though the Cardinal didn't have the services of Bryce Love, the offensive line continued its poor performance. KJ Costello took three sacks and also committed three turnovers.

    Stanford is still alive in the Pac-12 race, but the chances of surviving an upcoming stretch against Arizona State, Washington State and Washington are improbable at best.