Week six had a lot of results on and off the field. Washington State defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys resigned. Claeys had led a new and improved Cougar defense in 2018. This year the Cougars have struggled to stop all opponents. Kansas head coach Les Miles, decided he had seen enough of his morbid offense. He fired his offensive coordinator Les Koenning after Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma. Interim Rutgers head coach Nunzio Campanile was surprised to learn that both, starting quarterback Art Sitkowski and star tailback Raheem Blackshear had decided to redshirt. Both will now sit out the rest of 2019 and probably enter the transfer portal. Blackshear was a captain, and I have to wonder what this does to the leadership of the team moving forward. Sitkowski is a sophomore who started 11 games last year. His numbers have been horrific to this point. Last season he completed just 49% of his passes, with a 4 to 18 touchdown to interception ratio. With those numbers perhaps he can transfer to a division three school. The conclusion of week six, gave us three teams that punched their respective bowl game invites. Florida, SMU and Ohio state all moved to 6-0 and gained bowl eligibility. Here is a look around the power five conferences.
The two train wrecks, known as Virginia Tech and Miami, actually squared off in Miami. The game itself turned into a train wreck for the Hurricanes. Virginia Tech allowed a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown, got outgained by more than 200 yards, couldn’t hold a 28-point lead and allowed three touchdowns in less than 4 minutes down the stretch, yet still won the game. Hokie head coach Justin Fuente was under fire all week and decided to make a quarterback change. Hendon Hooker was given the keys to the car, and he delivered in a big way. The Hurricanes are still searching for a quarterback to lead the team. Head coach Manny Diaz has to trust one of Tate Martell, Jaren Williams or N’Kosi Perry to run the show. V’Lique Carter hauled in a 26 yard pass from Kenny Pickett with 38 ticks left on the clock, giving Pitt a 33-30 win over Duke. The Panthers had blown a 26-3 lead in the third quarter. Pitt moved to 4-2 on the season and trail Virginia by a game in the ACC Coastal. Freshman quarterback Sam Howard continued to impress in Saturday’s 38-22 win over Georgia Tech. The North Carolina phenom shredded the Yellow Jackets secondary for 376 yards and four scores. Mack Brown’s squad now sits at 3-3 overall. The Tar Heels need three more wins for bowl eligibility in Browns first season. The Heels haven’t been to a bowl games since 2016.
I watched intently as Michigan State attempted to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State. Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields, struggled early, but eventually found cracks in the Sparty defense. J.K. Dobbins had a big game, rushing for 174 yards. The Buckeyes defense also played a major part in the victory, forcing three key turnovers. “I knew we were special from day one, just everybody else didn’t know,” said Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who has 8.5 sacks this season. “That’s how we feel. It’s good to get national attention but we’re not focused on that.” Michigan has now allowed three points since getting blasted by Wisconsin. The Wolverines smothered Iowa 10-3 on Saturday. “A defensive masterpiece,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. The Wolverines sacked Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley eight times and forced four turnovers. How many people realize that Minnesota is 5-0? The Gophers smoked Illinois 40-17 in front of a near sellout homecoming crowd. Tailback Rodney Smith rushed for 211 yards. The Gophers host Nebraska this Saturday in what will be a huge game. A victory would give the Gophers a great chance to go 8-0 before they host Penn State.
Brock Purdy threw for 247 yards and a pair of TDs and Iowa State walloped the Horned Frogs 49-24 for its first Big 12 win of the season. Purdy also ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns for theCyclones, who beat the Horned Frogs for just the third time in 11 tries. “They kicked our butts,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. Baylor head coach Matt Ruhle celebrated a long-term contract extension with an easy win over Kansas State 31-12. The Bears are now at 5-0 and a real threat in the BIG 12 conference race. “I’m really proud of our guys because this is a tough place to play with a great crowd,” Matt Rhule said. “I thought our guys battled early, found a way to get a halftime lead and then grounded it out in the second half.” Texas Tech bounced back from an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma, beating Oklahoma State 45-35 Saturday afternoon. Quarterback Jett Duffey was spectacular for the Red Raiders passing for 424 yards and four scores. Tech forced five Cowboy turnovers in the contest. Cowboy tailback Chuba Hubbard still managed 156 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Hubbard still leads the country in rushing yardage.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
The PAC-12 continues to be their own worst enemy. More chaos this weekend with Stanford’s win over Washington. The Huskies forgot how to tackle in their 23-13 loss to the Cardinal. Cameron Scarlett had a career night rushing for 151 yards on 33 carries. The Cardinal who have struggled all season long to find an offensive identity, simply gashed the Huskies defense all game long. The loss by the Huskies effectively ended all hopes of them reaching the CFP. Last week I told you all, that the Oregon State Beavers were about to beat somebody in league play. The Beavers did just that Saturday smoking UCLA 45-31. Jake Luton had a career day throwing five touchdown passes in the victory. Artavus Pierce also added 119 yards rushing to balance the Beaver attack. the victory was just the second league win for the Beavers since 2016. Oregon continued to struggle offensively, despite their 17-7 win over California. I am concerned by the lack of offense so far this season. The Ducks have one of the best offensive lines in the country, yet continue to struggle to run the football. If they don’t get this resolved soon, it will come back to haunt them.
I have to start with the big battle in the swamp. I had picked Auburn to win this game. I expected a defensive battle, which we got. Both teams forced a total of eight turnovers. Tiger quarterback Bo Nix, was clearly frustrated by multiple defensive fronts that the Gators employed. Nix made freshman mistakes, that led the Gators to victory. Lamichel Perine put the game out of reach with an 88 yard scamper in the fourth quarter. The win kept the Gators at the top of the SEC East with the Georgia Bulldogs. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee made his second career start for Ole Miss. The true freshman was “lights out”, in leading the Rebels past Vanderbilt 31-6. Plumlee looked like a younger version of kyler Murray, as he continually made people miss with his running ability. He had 22 carries from the quarterback position, good for 155 yards. Tennessee started a true freshman quarterback of their own on Saturday. Brian Mauer made his Volunteer debut and actually performed well for a half. Mauer fired two first half touchdown passes, before the Bulldogs decided to come after him. I think it was a good decision by head coach Jeremy Pruitt to let the kid get his feet wet. Hopefully Pruitt lets Mauer take the rest of the snaps going forward.
GROUP OF FIVE NOTES
If your a college football junkie like I am, let me give you some great advice. Any time you have an opportunity to see the service academies play, do it! Saturdays Air Force/Navy game was a classic. The academies put on a show when facing off against each other. Saturday was just another classic example of that. The pre-game and post-game events, will give everyone goose bumps. You can’t beat the tradition that’s on display. Navy was able to beat Air Force 34-25 when Malcolm Perry scored on a four yard run with 23 seconds left in the game. Air Force had led the game the entire way before Perry’s heroics. Central Florida’s loss to Cincinnati on Friday night, might well end their bid for a New Years bowl game. The Bearcats played a great game in limiting the Knights big play ability. SMU is the new darling of the AAC. The Mustangs moved to 6-0 for the first time since 1982! The Mustangs are suddenly becoming the darlings of Dallas Texas. Billboards have sprung up around the city, claiming that Mustang football is back.