Winners and Losers from Week 7 of College Football

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2020

Winners and Losers from Week 7 of College Football

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Alabama knocked out Georgia in the prized fight of Week 7, and Florida State's upset of North Carolina provided a jolt of excitement to an otherwise quiet Saturday.

    Earlier in the day, Clemson's rout of Georgia Tech and losses by Auburn and Tennessee headlined a slow afternoon window. That can partially be attributed to six postponed games, which included Top 10 teams Oklahoma State, Cincinnati and Florida.

    But it also redirected some attention to a trio of undefeated teams that earned a victory Wednesday or Friday.

    B/R collected the biggest winners and losers of the Week 7 schedulethe final one before the Big Ten returns to the field.

Winner: Coastal Carolina's Historic Win

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    Paul Kieu/Associated Press

    Next stop: Top 25?

    As seven-point road underdogs, Coastal Carolina earned a 30-27 victory over No. 21 Louisiana. Massimo Biscardi drilled a 40-yard field goal with four seconds left in the game to give the 4-0 Chanticleers their first-ever triumph over a ranked opponent.

    "We've never been in this position before," head coach Jamey Chadwell said, per Kris Rhim of the Knoxville News Sentinel. "For us to be able to come out with a victory, in a Wednesday night game on national television, there's tons of excitement here."

    That's not all, however.

    Coastal Carolina entered Week 7 with the seventh-most points in the "others receiving votes" section of the AP Top 25. The program has never been ranked, but that's likely to change Sunday.

Winner: Undefeated Teams on Friday

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    No. 14 BYU and No. 17 SMU both hit the road Friday holding 4-0 records, and both teams trailed in the fourth quarter.

    But neither one has a blemish on the record.

    During the last 16 minutes, Zach Wilson tossed three touchdowns to help BYU overcome a 26-14 deficit at Houston. Wilson accounted for 440 total yards and four scores, while running back Tyler Allgeier scampered in for a late touchdown in the 43-26 win.

    SMU trailed 31-27 early in the fourth quarter and ultimately needed overtime to escape Tulane. Mustangs cornerback Brandon Crossley, though, snagged a huge interception in the extra session. Chris Naggar drilled a 34-yard field goal on the next drive to give SMU a 37-34 victory.

    Next up for BYU is Texas State, while SMU hosts Cincinnati in a prime-time battle of Top 20 teams.

Loser: Tennessee's, Well, Whatever That Was

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    After putting a scare into Georgia last weekend, Tennessee had an absolutely disastrous game against Kentucky.

    Jarrett Guarantano threw pick-sixes on consecutive drives, leading to the Vols benching the longtime starter. His replacement, J.T. Shrout, promptly tossed an interception on his first attempt. In a span of six minutes, the score went from 0-0 to 17-0 Kentucky.

    Guarantano checked back in, and Tennessee rode running back Eric Gray to a touchdown from fellow back Ty Chandler. But that 14-play possession comprised the Vols' scoring in a 34-7 beatdown.

    In the last six quarters, opponents have outscored Jeremy Pruitt's team 61-7. Oh, and Alabama is next. Any optimism about Tennessee after a six-game winning streak to finish 2019 has vanished.

Winner: Clemson's Road Explosion

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    This roster is ridiculous.

    Following a 42-17 blowout of Miami, Clemson shattered the box score again. Trevor Lawrence threw for 404 yards and five scores in a 73-7 laugher at Georgia Tech. The junior tossed his first interception of 2020 but responded with five straight touchdown drives. Overall, the Tigers racked up 671 yards of offense.

    And after surrendering a 59-yard touchdown, the first-string defense recorded nearly as many takeaways (three) as yards allowed (five) during Tech's next six possessions.

    According to Clemson, the 73-point day is the program's highest road total in a game since 1915.

    Can we just fast-forward to Nov. 7 when Clemson takes on fourth-ranked Notre Dame? The rest of the ACC just cannot compare to Dabo Swinney's team right now.

Loser: Gus Malzahn, Bo Nix and Auburn

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Gus Malzahn is officially on the hot seat again. Quarterback Bo Nix continues to struggle. Auburn is 2-2 and a blown call from 1-3.

    And now, the Tigers are tumbling out of the Top 25.

    While a few drops certainly didn't help, Nix had three interceptions in the 30-22 loss at South Carolina. Those turnovers led to 21 points for the Gamecocks, who stopped Auburn's last-minute drive in the red zone and left Malzahn searching for answers.

    "It could just be that it's Game 4 and we didn't go through spring," he said of the offense's inconsistency, per Justin Ferguson of the Auburn Observer. "I don't know."

    If the Tigers don't figure out a solution, Nix could get benched. And Malzahn might need a new job in 2021.

Loser: Mississippi State's Spiral

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Apparently, it's "Pile on the SEC Day." Tennessee looked awful, Auburn played badly, and Mississippi State is perhaps the worst team in the conference.

    For the Bulldogs, the tone has changed dramatically since upsetting LSU. In that victory, they racked up 8.3 yards per snap and 44 points. During the last three contests—including the 28-14 loss to Texas A&M—the offense has mustered 4.0 yards per play and a total of 30 points.

    Saturday's issues led Mike Leach to bench K.J. Costello, who tossed his 10th interception of the season and lost a fumble. The offensive line was ineffective. Star running back Kylin Hill was suddenly unavailable too, reportedly due to a team suspension, per 247Sports' David H. Murray.

    Leach's vaunted system is a nightmare right now.

    Mississippi State has an open weekend to begin addressing these issues, but a promising future has become a dreadful reality. Heading to Alabama in two weeks probably won't help, either.

Winner: Florida State? Florida State!

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    Through four games, the Seminoles had losses to Georgia Tech, Miami and Notre Dame while needing a comeback to topple FCS foe Jacksonville State. It was only sensible for FSU to be a two-touchdown underdog against No. 5 North Carolina.

    Instead of another loss, however, the 'Noles grabbed the first ACC victory of Mike Norvell's tenure.

    Florida State jumped out to a 24-0 lead and held a 31-7 advantage at halftime. Yet the Tar Heels steadily trimmed the gap to 31-28 and had a potential go-ahead drive in the final minute of regulation. However, three straight drops bailed out the 'Noles.

    No, the victory won't spark a significant turnaround for FSU, which is well outside of ACC contention and still has to play Clemson.

    But in a season as frustrating as 2020, you celebrate every win. This one, over a Top Five opponent, feels extra special.

Winner: Mac Jones in Alabama's Statement Win

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Replacing a program legend is never easy, but Mac Jones is following Tua Tagovailoa with spectacular success.

    After throwing for 249 yards and two scores in Alabama's opener, Jones has bested the 400-yard mark in three straight outings.

    Entering the showdown, Georgia's defense had ceded just 595 passing yards and three scores. Jones threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, connecting with Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith for 160-plus yards each. Jones launched a go-ahead 90-yard touchdown to Waddle and the game-sealing score to Smith.

    Trevor Lawrence is the Heisman Trophy front-runner, but Jones is close behind. More importantly to him, surely, the 41-24 triumph over Georgia solidified Alabama as the SEC favorite.