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Notes & Thoughts For The Top 25 Teams
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Notes and thoughts for all the top teams after Week 6
Last Game: Up Next at Missouri
While the rest of the SEC was beating itself up, Alabama had a week off to prepare for what now looks like a layup against a Missouri team that has yet to win an SEC game and couldn’t get the offense going against Vanderbilt. But the Tigers are going to be desperate and are going to come out throwing. … Alabama’s biggest key this year has been avoiding the deadly mistake. Second in the nation in turnover margin coming into this week, the Tide O has yet to give away a turnover but has given away three fumbles. … If the Tide could lose a key player in any one area, it was at receiver. DeAndrew White only made eight catches on the year before getting knocked out with a season-ending knee injury, but he was a dangerous weapon. There are other playmakers for AJ McCarron to get the ball to against the Tigers led by Amari Cooper, one of the SEC’s breakout stars and the team’s leading target.
Last Game: Oregon 52, Washington 21
It’s business as usual. Any thought of Washington pulling off another big upset like it did against Stanford went bye-bye right away with the Ducks dominating in a 21-0 start and 35-7 halftime lead. Marcus Mariota only completed 15-of-24 passes, but he threw for four scores and ran for 40 yards. He was sharp from the start. … Kenjon Barner always seems like he’s one step away from breaking off a home run, but his longest dash was just 11 yards. Even so, he tore off yards in chunks on the way to a 122-yard day on just 20 carries. … The defense got pushed around a bit, but the score was out of reach early on. Avery Patterson had something to do with that taking an interception 43 yards for a first quarter score. …With two weeks off before going to Arizona State, the Ducks get time to prepare for a firefight. … The shocking stat for a team with so much speed: Oregon is dead last in the nation in kickoff returns.
South Carolina (6-0)
Last Game: South Carolina 35, Georgia 7
It wasn’t that the Gamecocks beat a tremendous Georgia team in a rout; it’s that they took the game over from the start. They fought for big plays, were far more aggressive early on, and they took the fight to the Dawgs on defense from the opening drive. … The defensive front shut down the Georgia star running backs cold allowing just 115 yards and a score. Jadeveon Clowney had just one sack and Chaz Sutton came up with another, but the line was pressuring Aaron Murray all game long. … Marcus Lattimore owns Georgia. After making a name for himself with huge performances in his first two games, he continued to shine powering his way to 109 yards and a score. … Connor Shaw only completed 6-of-10 passes, but he ran well and pushed the ball down the field throwing for 162 yards and two scores. USC is second in the nation behind only West Virginia in passing efficiency. … This was big, but now the fun begins with road trips to LSU and Florida up next.
Last Game: Florida 14, LSU 6
The Matt Elam strip of Odell Beckham might be the play of the year so far. LSU appeared to be ready to take control of the tight game with the big pass play, but Elam took the momentum right back. If Florida goes on to win the SEC East, or more, that might be seen as the turning point. … There’s absolutely nothing fancy about what Jeff Driskel is doing, but he’s not screwing up. He completed 8-of-12 passes for 61 yards and held up despite taking a beating. … Mike Gillislee deserves midseason All-America recognition. The LSU run defense was dialed in to stop him, but he still battered away for 146 yards and two scores on 34 carries. … Florida held on to the ball for 37:34, won the turnover battle and got a huge day from punter Kyle Christy. All three things had to be a part of the formula. … It’s letdown time. With South Carolina and Georgia coming up, the Gators can’t look past a road trip to Vanderbilt. It’s the last regular season game this year outside of the state of Florida.
West Virginia (5-0)
Last Game: West Virginia 48, Texas 45
The offensive line couldn’t slow down the NFL-caliber Texas ends, but it blasted away for a huge day from Andrew Buie. Geno Smith might be the Heisman front-runner, but it was Buie who carried the load with 207 yards and two scores on 31 carries. … How good is West Virginia? Smith was very good, not phenomenal, and the offense still put up 48 points on the road against a top team. … The defense didn’t get gouged. After so many problems against Baylor, the D came up with just enough key stops to get by. Texas had the momentum, but the steady play of Smith and the timely defense keep the game under control. … 5-for-5 on fourth downs. Smith was cool and calm when he had to be. … The attention was there after the Baylor game, but now the respect will come after a win like this. However, it’s firefight time up next at Texas Tech before hosing Kansas State.
Kansas State (5-0)
Last Game: Kansas State 56, Kansas 16
Forget about passing yards, it’s about passing efficiency for the Wildcats. The O might be last in the Big 12 in passing, but it’s ninth in the nation in efficiency with Collin Klein not making any major mistakes. … This might be a two man offense, but no one can seem to stop those two men. Klein ran for 116 yards and two scores and John Hubert ran for 101 yards and four touchdowns. … Interestingly enough, Kansas State usually has to dominate the time of possession to win, but it only had the ball for just over 23 minutes. … End Meshak Williams is quickly becoming one of the Big 12’s most dangerous players. He cranked out two sacks with a forced fumble and five tackles. … There’s one more tune-up game – at Iowa State – before the showdown at West Virginia.
Notre Dame (5-0)
Last Game: Notre Dame 41, Miami 3
It’s time to stop saying Notre Dame is doing this only with defense. The offense did its part with Everett Golson coming off the bench after being suspended for a bit for violating team rules to complete 17-of-22 passes for 186 yards, while tandem of Cierre Wood and George Atkinson were brilliant combining for 241 yards and three scores on a mere 28 carries. … The Irish don’t have one killer Michael Floyd-like No. 1 target, but Golson was able to spread the ball around. Nine different receivers caught passes. … Manti Te’o is playing at the highest of levels. He’s all over the field and appears to be seeing things better. There aren’t any wasted steps. … Remember, this is a Miami team that lit up an NC State team that held Florida State to 16 points. The Canes managed just 285 yards of total offense. … Seventh in the nation. That’s what the Irish are in turnover margin.
Ohio State (6-0)
Last Game: Ohio State 63, Nebraska 28
After the way the offense played in the first quarter, you’d have been nuts to think the Buckeyes would finish with 63 points. … So that answers the Jordan Hall problem. OSU might have been without its key running back, but Carlos Hyde picked up the slack with a tough 140-yard, four score day. Of course, though, it was Braxton Miller who once again proved to be the catalyst with 186 rushing yards and a score. … Ryan Shazier had a phenomenal game against the Nebraska rushing attack making 11 tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack, but it was John Simon who really screwed things up finishing with two sacks, a forced fumble and seven stops. … With Indiana and Purdue up next, could Ohio State at Penn State in late October be for the lead in the Big Ten title chase? At this point, OSU is by far the star of the conference.
Last Game: Florida 14, LSU 6
Mettenberger was supposed to be able to unleash the passing game to change things around from last season. Instead he was sheltered a bit and couldn’t seem to find anything that worked against the suffocating Gator defense. He completed just 11-of-25 passes for 158 yards and pick. … 42 yards. That’s what the ground game generated because offensive linemen were dropping like flies. LSU started the season with one of the most talented lines in America but now it’s a skeleton after a disastrous day. … 1-of-13. That’s what LSU was on third downs, and that’s why the offense had the ball for just 22:36. … The run defense wore down, but it did what it could. Kevin Minter finished with 20 tackles - 17 of them solo – with two sacks. … LSU is still in the national title hunt. If it wins out and finishes 12-1 with an SEC title, it’ll be in. However, the team hasn’t shown anything over the last three weeks to suggest that could happen, especially with South Carolina coming to town next week.
Oregon State (4-0)
Last Game: Oregon State 19, Washington State 6
Okay, so how are the Beavers doing this? The run defense has been solid, the passing game stellar and the defensive front active and aggressive, but the key has been the ability to get off the field. Against Wazzu, the D came up with five takeaways and gave up just 2-of-10 third down chances. Jordan Poyer had a lot to do with that coming up with three picks. … This was a step – OSU won when Sean Mannion was bad. He threw for 270 yards but he also gave up three picks. It was a sloppy overall game from the team, but it came up with an easy win despite the mistakes, the 11 penalties, and the bad day from its star. … Schott Crichton teed off on the Cougar backfield with three sacks. The overall pass rush has been merely okay, but the timing has been great.
Last Game: USC 38, Utah 28
Nope. USC still isn’t looking like it’s supposed to. The run defense was okay and Matt Barkley and the passing game were great, but it took too much of a fight after getting down early. It’s nitpicking after a 23-of-30, 303-yard, three score performance, but that includes a heave to Marqise Lee for an 83-yard score. … The offensive line did a nice job of quickly adjusting. Just when it seemed like this was going to be a repeat of the Stanford loss, the line started blocking Star Lotulelei by getting away from him and rolling him into double teams. Utah didn’t come up with a sack. … The secondary did a nice job. T.J. McDonald was popping, and the pick size from Nickell Robey was a game-sealer in the fourth. … It would be really, really nice to see this tremendously talented team come up with a 30-point stomping of someone decent. That might be tough at Washington next week.
Florida State (5-1)
Last Game: NC State 17, Florida State 16
Where did the offense go? Up 16-0 and with one of the best defenses in college football, the Noles should’ve been able to grind it out to come away with an easy win. Instead, the O fell flat in the second half, couldn’t keep the chains moving, and couldn’t put the game away with enough third down conversions. … The running game was working. Chris Thompson pounded out 141 yards. … Florida State might not be out of the national title hunt quite yet. The ACC stinks and winning the conference title won’t be enough, but if the Noles blow away everyone in their path on the way to the showdown against Florida, and if they can beat the Gators impressively, they might have an outside shot. … Cason Beatty put five of his six punts inside the 20, but it was the one that got tipped late that allowed NC State to stay alive. … This was the first game FSU really missed Brandon Jenkins. There wasn’t enough of a pass rush in crunch time. … Boston College is up next. That should ease the pain of this colossal misfire before going to Miami.
Last Game: Oklahoma 41, Texas Tech 20
That’s more like it. The running game might not have worked out so well, and the passing game didn’t explode, but the offense didn’t have to get flashy with the defense taking out its revenge on the hero of last year’s win over the Sooners, Seth Doege. The Sooners got more pressure than normal, and the secondary took advantage with three picks. … Landry Jones didn’t make any big mistakes and ran the offense well, but he failed to come up with any deep plays. Everything was kept short to medium because he didn’t have to press. He still has yet to throw for 300 yards this year. … The offense needs more pop to hang around with Texas. OU is good, but it’s not a typical Bob Stoops team. It’s not going to come up with the same game one week to the next, but against the Longhorns it might be time to open it up a bit more.
Last Game: South Carolina 35, Georgia 7
The South Carolina defensive line whipped the Georgia offensive line, and the Georgia D line couldn’t get enough of a push against the Gamecock offensive front. … The defense hasn’t come anywhere close to playing up to its talent level giving up 89 points in the last two games. The pressure isn’t coming from the outside and the corners aren’t making enough big plays when the chances are there. … Aaron Murray completed 11-of-31 passes for 109 yards and a pick. He was only sacked twice, but he was under pressure all game long. … Jarvis Jones registered a sack and he was active, but he isn’t doing nearly enough against the run. Too many plays are happening down the field. … Georgia is dead last in the SEC in punting, but Collin Barber had a decent day averaging 41.3 yards per pop with two going inside the 20.
Last Game: West Virginia 48, Texas 45
What happened to the run defense? The pass rush was able to bother Geno Smith a little bit, but the defensive front failed to stop Andrew Buie and always seemed to come out on the wrong side of the big play. … David Ash was terrific. He’s still not making any mistakes and he was able to move the offense completing 22-of-29 passes for 269 yards and a score, but it still wasn’t enough because the defense couldn’t come up with a stop. … Without Malcolm Brown – who was out with an ankle injury – the running game was okay, not great. Joe Bergeron might have rushed for four scores, but he only gained 45 yards on 17 carries. 49 of Johnathan Gray’s 87 yards came on one run. … The defense, considering the talent level, has been an epic disappointment. The pass rush has to translate into overall production against Oklahoma next week.
Last Game: Clemson 47, Georgia Tech 31
The offense keeps on rolling. Georgia Tech’s ground game was able to rip off 339 yards and three touchdowns, but it didn’t matter because the Tiger passing game was so potent. Andre Ellington and the ground game were fine, but it was DeAndre Hopkins who once again starred – outshining Sammy Watkins once again – catching seven passes for 173 yards and two scores. … Tajh Boyd doesn’t get nearly enough respect or credit. He threw two picks, but he was balling with 397 yards and two scores to go along with 63 rushing yards and a score. He was making plays happen all over the field. … How do you beat Georgia Tech? Keep the chains moving. Clemson won the time of possession battle and converted 13-of-19 third down chances. … All of a sudden, with Florida State losing, the door is open for Clemson to be the star of the ACC once again. It’ll take some work, but the Tigers will be favored against Virginia Tech in two week and should be double-digit favorites the rest of the way before closing out against South Carolina.
Last Game: 54, Arizona 48
This wasn’t exactly the bounceback win the team might have been hoping for after the Washington loss, but it was gut-check time in a tough battle against a red-hot quarterback. Arizona’s Matt Scott bombed away for 506 yards and three scores, but Stanford kept its cool under fire with a dominant second half. … This was the game Josh Nunes needed to have after a rocky showing against the Huskies. 21-of-34, 365 yards and two scores with three rushing touchdowns balanced out the big-time performance from the Wildcat attack. …The Cardinal linebackers are making too many plays down the field. There was pressure from the defensive front and there were plenty of stops in the backfield, but this is a physical group that needs to start playing like it again now that it’s three weeks removed from the USC game. Notre Dame is up next; Stanford needs to bring its big-boy hitting ability to hold up.
Up Next: at Pitt
The Cardinals are overdue to show that they’re going to make some real, live noise in the Big East title chase. They struggled way too much with bad FIU and Southern Miss teams – although the win over the Golden Eagles was in a monsoon – and they almost gave away the win against North Carolina. 5-0 is 5-0, but it’s not a strong enough start. … Against Pitt, the pass rush needs to be a bit more aggressive from the start and the offense has to control the clock. The Panthers aren’t going to put big numbers up on the board, but they can pound away a bit. No one has been able to grind it out yet on the Cardinals, but the Panther O line will give it a good shot.
Mississippi State (5-0)
Last Game: Mississippi State 27, Kentucky 14
It might not look like anything special, but the Bulldogs are fighting with a nice 5-0 mark to kick things off. It took yet another fight against a bad team to get there, but the test is coming up next against Tennessee. … MSU lost two fumbles and didn’t get a takeaway but is still second in the nation in turnover margin. … It’s a plodding offense, but it’s effective holding on to the ball for close to 36 minutes by converting third down after third down. There was a nice mix of quarterback Tyler Russell and running back Ladarius Perkins to keep things moving. … Benardrick McKinney was everywhere making 12 tackles – ten of them solo – with a tackle for loss and two broken up passes.
Last Game: Rutgers 19, Connecticut 3
While wins over South Florida and Arkansas might not seem like that big a deal, that was supposed to be the tough part of the slate. After beating UConn with ease, it’s looking like it might be smooth sailing until the brutal November finishing kick at Cincinnati, Pitt and at home against Louisville. … UConn hasn’t been running the ball on anyone, and the Scarlet Knight D made sure it wasn’t going to buck the trend. The Husky runners came up with 53 yards and didn’t have room to breathe. … It was an easy formula. Create lots of turnovers – Rutgers got five – and run Jawan Jamison. Red hot, Jamison had his sixth straight 100-yard game going back to last season and the seventh in his last eight games. The one team that held him down? He gained just 19 yards on five carries against UConn last year. … After a 57-yard return from Jeremy Deering the team now leads the nation in kickoff returns.
Last Game: Cincinnati 52, Miami University 14
Very, very quietly, Cincinnati is starting to build something nice. With a blowout win over Pitt and last week’s win over Virginia Tech on the résumé, blasting away on Miami University was exactly what the team was supposed to do. … The defense was stellar. MU isn’t explosive, but the passing game is fine throwing for 303 yards and two scores. However, the Bearcat D came up with three picks highlighted by a 68-yard interception return for a score from Cameron Cheatham. … No turnovers. The UC offense didn’t give the Redhawks a chance. However, the nine penalties were a bit too many. That’s nitpicking in a strong performance. … With Fordham up next, the Bearcats will be 5-0 before going to Toledo for a decent test against a strong offense. And then comes the date with Louisville that will go a long way to deciding the Big East title.
Texas A&M (5-0)
Last Game: Texas A&M 30, Ole Miss 27
With each passing week Johnny Manziel is becoming more and more of a star. He took advantage of his opportunities to finish with 129 yards with a score along with a game-winning scoring pass to Ryan Swope in the final minutes. He’s a magical playmaker. … Get out, take the win, and be happy. A&M shouldn’t have won this game. It took some big Ole Miss mistakes to overcome six turnovers in a sloppy but thrilling victory. … The defense had a rough day, but to be fair it was put in an awful position time and again with all the turnovers. Even so, the pass defense didn’t show up getting picked apart by a big day from Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace. Outside of a few nice plays from Damontre Moore, the pass rush wasn’t there. … Considering there’s a three game road stretch looming after the home date with LSU, going to face a high-octane Louisiana Tech team isn’t going to be fun. Manziel had better be ready to start winging it.
Louisiana Tech (5-0)
Last Game: Louisiana Tech 58, UNLV 31
The Bulldog offense is a machine at the moment, but it has yet to be truly tested – no, Illinois doesn’t count. Now it’s time to make a national statement with Texas A&M coming up next. … The passing game has been terrific with receiver Quinton Patton playing up to expectations making nine catches for 116 yards and a score, but it was the running game that dominated UNLV with Ray Holley ripping off 139 yards and a score and Kenneth Dixon running for 102 yards and four touchdowns. … The D might be a wee bit soft against the run, but it didn’t need to be a brick wall with the offense cranking out a 27-7 lead midway through the second quarter. However, it’s ranking second-to-last in the nation allowing 531 yards per game.
Boise State (4-1)
Last Game: Boise State 40, Southern Miss 14
Boise State 40, at Southern Miss 14 ... This isn’t a top 25 team. It’s going to be ranked, but the offense is mediocre and the defense is just good enough to get by. … Where’s the running game? The Broncos managed just 109 yards with D.J. Harper getting 47 of them and two scores. It was an efficient and effective day thanks to a D that forced five turnovers, but there’s little pop or explosion. … The pass defense has been stellar, but he hasn’t been challenged. Fresno State is going to give the Bronco secondary a major push, but the bigger problem could be the run defense against Robbie Rouse.
Last Game: Michigan 44, at Purdue 13
Now that’s the Denard Robinson everyone knows and loves. He was brilliant running for 235 yards, but it took 24 carries to do it. Fitzgerald Toussaint did the heavy lifting from short-range with two scores, but he ran for a mere 19 yards on 17 carries. … The defense embarrassed the Purdue offense. The Boilermakers couldn’t run the ball a lick and the three quarterbacks tried out had little to know success. With four takeaways and complete domination in the second half, this was the team’s best game of the season. … The offense was able to hold on to the ball for over 36 minutes, but it helped that the defense came up with every third down stop; or at least most of them. Purdue converted just 1-of-11 third down chances. … It should be smooth sailing with Illinois up next week before the showdowns with Michigan State and Nebraska.