Winners and Losers from Week 6 of College Football
Week 6 of college football turned out to be one heck of a fun Saturday. The Red River Rivalry between No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 21 Texas kicked things off, and it was a thriller. It looked like Texas had this one early, as the Longhorns jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first quarter and went to the locker room up 38-20 at halftime. But the Sooners, energized by a surprise quarterback change, came back in the second half to win 55-48.
Arkansas-Ole Miss was another barnburner, with the two offenses also combining for a whopping 103 points. Ole Miss' defense stepped up when it needed to, though, stopping Arkasas' two-point conversion at the end of the game and sealing the Rebels' 52-51 victory.
Elsewhere, No. 2 Georgia took care of business on the road against No. 18 Auburn, winning 34-10, while No. 11 Michigan State moved to 6-0 on the season with a 31-13 win over Rutgers. No. 7 Ohio State defeated Maryland at home 66-17, as well.
Let's run through the winners and losers from Week 6.
Winner: Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M Knocks off No. 1 Alabama
Holy cow, what a game and what a night for the Texas A&M Aggies. TAMU, which had opened SEC play 0-2 with back-to-back losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State, shocked the world and upset the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night. The primetime game was a thriller from start to finish, and it capped off an exciting day of college football.
Alabama didn’t look like its dominant self whatsoever in the first half, as A&M scored 24 points while holding Alabama to just 10 points. In the second half, it looked as if Alabama could make a comeback. The Tide scored a touchdown on a blocked punt with 8:18 in the third quarter to make it a one-score game at 24-17. Texas A&M countered on the ensuing Bama kickoff and returned it 96 yards to make it 31-17. Alabama pulled within a score again on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Young to Jameson Williams with 5:30 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter, it seemed like all the signs were pointing towards Alabama eventually coming out on top. The Tide had three scoring drives, including a Young touchdown pass to Williams that gave the Tide, complete with a successful two-point conversion from Young, a 38-31 lead. Meanwhile, the Aggie offense had three punts off drives that resulted in a combined 18 yards.
However, A&M refused to go away late. TAMU quarterback Zach Calzada, who played phenomenal all night, led a six-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, finishing off with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ainias Smith that tied it up at 38 with three minutes left in the game. Texas A&M’s defense then forced a Bama three-and-out. Although Calzada took a shot on the touchdown pass that put him in the injury tent after the score, the QB came out and played hero on the Aggies’ last possession. He completed two big pass plays and ran for an 11-yard run. Calzada's 12-yard pass to Smith put the Aggies at the Alabama 30 to set up the game-winning field goal. After a couple of Isaiah Spiller runs and a defensive pass interference the further shortened the field, Aggie kicker Seth Small nailed the 28-yard field goal to complete the upset.
The loss is significant for more reasons than just the top-ranked team and reigning national champions going down. Head coach Jimbo Fisher’s win over Nick Saban marks the first time a former Saban assistant has beaten his former boss. Coming into this game, Fisher was 0-4 against Saban. It also marks the first loss against an unranked opponent for Alabama since 2007. For Fisher, who just signed a contract extension that brought his salary total to $90 million, that has officially paid off.
Winner: Oklahoma Quarterback Caleb Williams
No. 6 Oklahoma defeated No. 21 Texas on Saturday, and the Sooners did so with a backup quarterback. Sooners QB Caleb Williams came in midway through the second quarter following a shaky outing from starting quarterback Spencer Rattler. Rattler, who threw an interception during the third drive of the game, finished 8-of-15 passing with 111 yards.
Before completely taking over for Rattler, Williams had a 66-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter to make it a 28-14 game. After Williams took over the starting role, he led the Sooners to two more field-goal scoring drives before the half ended.
His best football, though, came in the second half.
He threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to receiver Marvin Mims with 1:02 left in the third quarter to pull the Sooners within 11 points of the Longhorns. Williams then had three more scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including a 52-yard bomb of a touchdown pass to Mims that tied the game at 41.
He showed incredible poise late in the game, too. After Texas scored late to draw even at 48, the Sooners got the ball back with 1:13 left. He put together a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped off by a 33-yard touchdown run by Kennedy Brooks. Williams finished his Red River Rivalry debut with 212 passing yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He added another 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground, too. Although Rattler did come in and convert a two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter, it looks like this is Williams' offense moving forward.
What's even more remarkable about Williams' performance is that the freshman didn't even play football in 2020. As ABC's Kirk Herbstreit pointed out during the broadcast, Williams' high school in Washington, D.C., didn't play football last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Going from not playing football for a full year to coming off the bench to win the Red River Rivalry as a freshman is an unbelievable feat.
Loser: Anyone Trying to Stop Michigan State's Offense
No. 11 Michigan State moved to 6-0 on the season while defeating Rutgers on the road 31-13. The Spartans, who turned the ball over seven times in a 38-27 loss to the Rutgers last season, took care of business on Saturday. Not only did Sparty get the win, but MSU became just the fifth team in the FBS with a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and a 200-yard receiver in a single game.
Quarterback Payton Thorne finished with 340 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Meanwhile, running back Kenneth Walker III had 232 yards and a touchdown, and receiver Jalen Nailor added a career-high 221 yards and three scores.
"We still have multiple playmakers that y'all haven't seen yet," Nailor said via the Associated Press after the win. "We have a lot of young guys that are emerging, but it's just getting more in tune with the playbook and we've just been working hard, just trying to get everybody on the same page so far."
Walker's touchdown in the third quarter went for 94 yards, the longest offensive play in Michigan State history. Record books aside, this Michigan State team is quietly putting together an impressive resume this season. The Spartans' biggest tests remain ahead of them, though. They play Michigan at home on Oct. 30, then travel to No. 7 Ohio State on Nov. 20. One week later, MSU hosts No. 4 Penn State for its regular-season finale. If Michigan State's offense can keep this production up like this, don't be surprised to see them in the Big Ten Championship.
Winner: The Incredible Arkansas-Ole Miss Game
This game had absolutely everything—except a ton of defense. It had 1,287 total yards of offense and 103 total points in a shootout that was exciting from start to finish. Ole Miss led 21-14 at halftime, but both offenses traded counterpunches each time the other one scored in the second half.
A third quarter saw five-of-six drives end in a score. Both offenses scored a touchdown each at the end of the quarter to enter the fourth tied at 31 all. Naturally, this paved the way for a fourth quarter that was filled with drama. An Arkansas touchdown on a KJ Jefferson 10-yard touchdown run made it 45-45, and Ole Miss got the ball back with 1:22 to go. Instead of milking the clock with the ground game to try for a game-winning field goal, Rebels quarterback Matt Corral found a wide-open Braylon Sanders on second down for a 68-yard touchdown. Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was so excited that he launched his clipboard while celebrating the score.
That gave Ole Miss a 52-45 lead with 1:07 left in the game. Of course, that was plenty of time for Jefferson and the Razorbacks' offense. Arkansas then put together a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped off with a touchdown pass from Jefferson to Warren Thompson. Instead of kicking the extra point to tie things up and send the game into overtime, Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman elected to go for the two-point conversion and the win. The Rebels' defense came up huge and stopped Arkansas' attempt, giving the win to Kiffin and Ole Miss, who is now 4-1 on the season.
Both of these offenses got production out of a variety of playmakers on Saturday. Jefferson finished with 326 passing yards, 85 rushing yards and six total touchdowns. His running backs Raheim Sanders and Trelon Smith combined for 224 yards on the ground, with Smith getting a touchdown in the second quarter. Ole Miss' Matt Corral—who we'll talk about more in a second—finished with 381 total yards on the day. Running back Snoop Conner had 110 yards and three touchdowns, too.
While this still counts as a loss for Arkansas, the Hogs deserve all the credit for how they refused to go down without a fight. Pittman going for two at the end was gutsy, but it's still a smart decision to go for two in a game like that instead of forcing overtime.
Winner: Ole Miss QB Matt Corral
This game was so good that it deserves two slides. Corral had an incredible day against this Razorbacks defense and one that will likely put him in the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race. Corral threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns while completing 66 percent of his passes. He averaged 13.7 yards per throw, too.
Corral had his best day on the ground this season against Arkansas, as well. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry and finished with 94 yards rushing, third on the team behind running backs Henry Parrish Jr. and Snoop Conner.
The QB showed some toughness, too—on one of his two rushing touchdowns, he took a knee to the face from a hurdling defender on his way into the end zone. Corral's performance Saturday was quite an improvement from his last game against Arkansas. In the Rebels' 33-21 loss to the Hogs in 2020, Corral threw six interceptions. The quarterback even admitted he didn't expect to have such a big day against the Razorbacks' defense.
"I didn't expect, honestly, to have any passing touchdowns," Corral said after the game via the Oxford Eagle. "It is what it is. Coach Kiffin said, 'Drop everybody's ego.' He wasn't just talking to me, but the shoe fits for me on that. Doesn't matter. We got the win. That's all that matters. That's my job."
Corral entered this weekend with second-best odds to win the Heisman Trophy, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, behind Alabama QB Bryce Young. If Young struggles some against Texas A&M later this evening, Corral could overtake him in the Heisman odds.
Loser: UNC Tar Heels
UNC was this year's preseason No. 10 ranked team, and the Tar Heels have fallen far from that through six weeks of the season. UNC entered Saturday's game at home against 1-4 Florida State as 17.5-point favorites, and the Tar Heels were expected to dominate.
Instead, Florida State went on the road in Chapel Hill, N.C., and responded from a 10-0 first-quarter deficit to win 35-25. The ‘Noles scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to go to the locker room with a 21-10 lead.
Although Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell led a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive with 9:40 left in the third, FSU's offense continued to strike. Florida State scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter, including a one-yard touchdown run from quarterback Jordan Travis and a Travis touchdown pass to Ontaria Wilson, which put FSU up 35-17 heading into the final frame. Although UNC scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 2:47 in the fourth quarter, it was too little too late.
Travis had a great day against UNC's defense, finishing with 145 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. He missed on just two of his 13 passing attempts, too. Running the ball, Travis finished first on the team with 121 yards and two touchdowns. He almost had more rushing yards than running backs Treshaun Ward and Jashaun Corbin had combined (129) on the day.
For UNC, the struggles continued for Howell against Florida State's defense. While he did throw a pair of touchdowns, he connected on just 53 percent of his passes and had an interception in the second quarter. Florida State capitalized on the turnover by scoring a touchdown on its next possession.
With Florida State's win, the ‘Noles move to 2-4 on the season, a steady improvement from the 0-4 start it had through its first four weeks. UNC, who began the 2021 season as favorites to win the ACC Coastal division, dropped to 2-3 in conference play.
Winner: Boise State
A Top-10 team went down on Saturday at the hands of unranked Boise State. The No. 10 BYU Cougars entered Saturday's game as a six-point favorite, but Boise State went on the road to Provo, Utah, and won 26-17. The victory for the Broncos wasn't all that surprising, as the Boise State defense and special teams forced four turnovers.
Although BYU held a 10-3 lead after the first quarter, Boise State tied it up at 10 after capitalizing on a BYU fumble that they recovered on the Cougs' 24-yard line. On the ensuing kickoff after the score, BYU's Lopini Katoa fumbled the return, and Boise recovered it on BYU's 23. That set up an easy, six-play touchdown drive from Boise to make it 17-10 with 3:34 left in the half. BYU failed to convert a fourth down on its next drive, and Boise State managed to make a 20-yard field goal as time expired to go to the locker room with a 20-10 lead.
The Broncos added a 28-yard field goal to its lead with 8:20 left in the third quarter that extended their lead to 13. The Cougs' inability to convert in the red zone in the second half killed their hopes of a comeback. Three of their four drives that made it that far resulted in a fumble, a turnover on downs and an interception. The one successful drive was a one-yard touchdown run from running back Tyler Allgeier with 7:27 to go in the fourth quarter that made it 23-17. But Boise responded, scoring a 22-yard field goal with 3:27 left in the game to make it 26-17. BYU's last chance resulted in the aforementioned interception thrown by Cougs' quarterback Jaren Hall.
With the upset victory, Boise State became the Mountain West's first team in 16 years to defeat a Top-10 team on the road in a nonconference game. The last one to do it was when TCU upset Oklahoma in 2005.
Loser: LSU Tigers
Things are not going too great for Ed Orgeron at LSU, folks. On Saturday night, the Tigers went to Lexington, Kentucky, to take on the No. 16 Wildcats. Coming into the game, LSU had beaten their opponent the last two times in this series, in 2011 and 2014.
But all that changed this time. Kentucky absolutely dominated this game throughout. On LSU's opening possession, the Tigers managed to drive down to Kentucky's midfield, but quarterback Max Johnson got sacked and fumbled. That gave Kentucky the ball back from LSU's 44, and the Wildcats scored a touchdown on a nine-play scoring drive. UK scored another touchdown on their next possession to take a 14-0 lead.
LSU didn't do much on offense for the rest of the half. Their longest drive of the first half was a seven-play one that ended on their own 44-yard line and resulted in a punt. On Kentucky's opening possession of the third quarter, Wildcat quarterback Will Levis put together a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped off by a Levis rushing touchdown.
LSU finally got on the board with 6:43 left in the third quarter on a Tyrion Davis-Price one-yard touchdown run, but Kentucky's offense kept scoring to keep the Tigers at bay. The Wildcats scored two more touchdowns to make it 35-7 with 12:07 left in the fourth. The Tigers scored a pair of touchdowns of their own, but it was far from enough. Kentucky's final score of the night came on an 18-yard touchdown run from Chris Rodriguez Jr. that made it 42-21.
LSU dropped to 3-3 on the season, and the Tigers' schedule doesn't exactly get easier. They face No. 20 Florida next weekend, followed by a road trip to No. 17 Ole Miss. After a bye week that comes before the game at No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 6, LSU finishes out its season with Arkansas and Texas A&M. Just two years removed from a national title, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron might be on his way out of Baton Rogue. The head coach has an 8-8 record since that national title season in 2019.
Winner: UMass Finally Won a Game!
We love to see stuff like this. For the first time since September 2019, the UMass Minutemen won a football game, folks. UMass took on 0-6 Connecticut at home on Saturday and won 27-13. The win was significant because UMass had been riding a 16-game losing streak that dated back to Sept. 28, 2019. That’s the last time UMass won a game, beating Akron 37-29.
UMass actually went to the locker room at halftime trailing 10-7, but the Minutemen had a more productive second half. UMass scored a 21-yard field goal to go up 13-10 in the third quarter. The Minutemen offense then scored 17 points in the fourth quarter. A key moment came early in the fourth quarter—UConn quarterback Steven Krajewski threw an interception to give UMass the ball back on the 5-yardline. UMass scored a touchdown to take a 20-10 lead that it never lost for the rest of the game UMass' rushing attack got the job done against the Husky defense on Saturday. Running back Ellis Merriweather finished with 171 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Zamir Wise added 64 yards and a touchdown, too.
The win was so significant that UMass students gloriously rushed the field to bask in the victory. Even better is that there apparently was a reindeer that was on the field during the celebration, too. Congrats on snapping the 16-game losing streak, Minutemen. Incredible stuff!