B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: Week 7
Are we having fun yet?
Only seven days after ending Penn State's unbeaten campaign, No. 2 Iowa suffered a similar fate at the hands of Purdue. Top-ranked Georgia also ticketed Kentucky to the land of imperfection, moving the 2021 season one step closer to a unique College Football Playoff.
Yes, that sound you hear is the Cincinnati hype train. But as we embrace the Bearcats' pursuit of a national stage, B/R's Weekly Awards is still highlighting the best, strangest moments of Week 7.
Major upset? Here for it. Semi-controversial postgame quote? We're all in. Rutgers, though? Not exactly adding to the fun.
If you're new here, hello! Every Monday this season, B/R will distribute a handful of awards. Some will review the previous weekend's slate, and others will preview what's coming up. A few topics might be humorous or downright strange.
Team of the Week: Purdue Boilermakers
If you're a connoisseur of B/R's Awards, go ahead and double Purdue's victory as the #TeamChaos Win of the Week. But the next topic provides a more in-depth look at the impact of this upset.
The totality of Purdue's performance merits the spotlight.
Aidan O'Connell threw for 375 yards—hitting star wideout David Bell for 240 of those—with a handful of valuable third-down conversions. Entering the game, Iowa had surrendered a meager 34.1 third-down clip; Purdue finished 9-of-16 (56.3 percent).
On the defensive side, the Boilermakers had a fantastic day. They intercepted four passes, which the program hadn't accomplished since September 2018 against Boston College. Iowa gained 271 yards, including just 86 on six second-half drives.
Perhaps this is simply a memorable upset for Purdue, considering the next four weekends bring clashes with Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State. The Boilers aren't necessarily Big Ten contenders.
At the very worst, though, they grabbed our attention and put a massive dent in Iowa's championship dreams.
Reality of the Week: An Undefeated Cincinnati Deserves a Shot
What more evidence do you need?
Georgia is clearly the standard in 2021, but is any other team actually dominant? Alabama and Ohio State have losses, and no Power Five undefeated team—think Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest—has excelled every week.
Cincinnati has done exactly that, though. And there should be no hesitation about a path to the College Football Playoff.
Sure, you can point to a comparatively soft schedule. That criticism simply doesn't hold up. None of Miami (Ohio), Murray State, Temple or UCF have stayed within 35 points of the Bearcats, and they defeated both Indiana and Notre Dame on the road.
We're not crowning Cincinnati as anything more than a legitimate contender. If the Bearcats lose, they'll fade from the conversation just as quickly as Iowa did this weekend.
But if Cincinnati keeps winning—and, in particular, just smashing any AAC opponent—this is a CFP-worthy team. Simple as that.
Head-Pounding Decision of the Week: Rutgers' Kneel
Once in a while, a coach's mind-numbing decision makes me want to slam my head into the desk. It's admittedly not a healthy response to something I cannot control.
But, man, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano made it tempting again.
Although the Scarlet Knights were facing a 4th-and-11, only one second remained on the clock before halftime. And at Northwestern's 48-yard line, they absolutely could've run another play and launched a pass into the end zone as time expired.
That didn't happen. No, not even close. Rutgers took a knee and headed to the locker room trailing 14-7.
Let's be clear: This decision didn't cost the Scarlet Knights the game. Finishing the 21-7 loss with 3.4 yards per snap is far more problematic than not attempting an improbable throw.
Last week in the NFL, though, the New Orleans Saints converted a pre-halftime Hail Mary. Florida did on Saturday, too. SMU literally beat Louisiana Tech because of a last-second desperation heave earlier this season. It's not a zero percent play!
Please don't be lame, Greg. Throw it deep.
Messy Ending of the Week: Tennessee's Loss to Ole Miss
Following a controversial spot that resulted in a key turnover on downs, Tennessee fans unleashed their frustration in a stupid way. They bombarded the field with garbage, including a mustard bottle and a golf ball Lane Kiffin pocketed for safekeeping.
And that was merely the ridiculous in the bleachers. On the field, Joe Milton III added to a head-shaking finish.
Once the garbage had been cleared, Tennessee's Velus Jones Jr. returned a punt to the Ole Miss 47 with 27 seconds left and UT down 31-26. Vols QB Hendon Hooker picked up 14 yards on first down, but an awkward landing forced him out of the game.
Milton replaced him and—three plays later—had three seconds left in the game. Everyone in the building knew the Vols only had one snap remaining, barring a defensive penalty.
Well, everyone but Milton? He evaded a little bit of pressure, then completely lost focus. Instead of lofting a hopeful pass, he started running. Two defenders simply ushered Milton out of bounds for an incredibly anticlimactic end to a bizarre game.
Situational awareness is your friend, kids.
Best Game You Didn't Watch: Buffalo 27, Ohio 26
Unless you having a rooting interest in Buffalo or Ohio, there's very little reason you would've turned on this game. Buffalo entered with a 2-4 record, and Ohio limped in at 1-5.
No worries, friends. That's why we exist.
Ohio surged to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, highlighted by quarterback Armani Rogers ripping off a 99-yard touchdown run. No quarterback had ever scampered the longest possible distance in NCAA history, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Unfortunately for Ohio, the record-setting moment isn't the story of the day. Buffalo recovered from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter to steal a 27-26 victory over the Bobcats. Alex McNulty kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired.
We're not expecting you to devote a screen on Saturday afternoons to unspectacular teams. Remember, though, Tuesday and Wednesday night MACtion is coming in November.
Week 7 Rundown
Pass-Rusher of the Week: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
Heading into Week 7, four players had tallied 3.5 sacks in a game this season. Alabama star Will Anderson Jr.—a name you'll be reading often in 2023 NFL draft coverage—notched four sacks in the Crimson Tide's 49-9 victory at Mississippi State. The massive day pushed Anderson to 15.0 tackles for loss.
Overlooked Team of the Week: Baylor Bears
In the Big 12 realm, the Oklahoma schools are most relevant nationally. Oklahoma turned to freshman Caleb Williams for his first career start, and Oklahoma State put together a comeback win over Texas. Very quietly, though, Baylor has climbed to 6-1. This weekend, the Bears toppled 19th-ranked BYU 38-24. An earlier loss to OSU stings the hopes of a Big 12 title, but Baylor is assembling a strong year.
Golf Clap of the Week: UConn Huskies
They're in the win column! After coming close in two-point losses to Wyoming and Vanderbilt, the Huskies finally broke through Saturday. They snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 21-15 victory over Yale. Sure, it's a lower-division opponent. But one is better than zero! Arizona and UNLV, which both lost, are the last remaining winless teams in the FBS.
Best Week 8 Storylines
Are you mentally prepared for Pitt, 2021 ACC champion?
We'll discover if that's a possibility worth embracing this weekend. Kenny Pickett, who's an under-the-radar Heisman Trophy contender, leads the Panthers into a massive game against Clemson. And if they win, they'll improve to 6-1 with a home-heavy stretch to close the regular season.
Otherwise, it's a modest slate. Most ranked teams are preparing for a competitive, though unranked, conference foe.
For example, Oregon—officially the Pac-12's last remaining CFP hope—travels to UCLA, Oklahoma State heads to Iowa State and NC State is away at Miami. Ole Miss and Alabama host LSU and Tennessee, respectively. There is upset potential, but Week 8 is generally about keeping pace in championship races.
As always, however, we're pulling for #TeamChaos. The subdued schedule might be the perfect cover for unexpected mayhem.