Week seven proved to be the most compelling weekend of college football this season. Each and every conference in the FBS had some sort of drama. The polls reflected this as four teams fell out of the Top 25. Those teams included Wake Forest, Virginia, Memphis and Texas A&M. Moving into the polls were Washington Missouri, Appalachian State, and Minnesota. The Mountaineers from Appalachian State climbed into the Top 25 poll for the first time in history. I had picked the Mountaineers as my pick to reach a New Years day bowl from the “Group of Five” schools. There is still plenty of work to do to attain that goal, but things are going as planned for new head coach Elaih Drinkwitz. The Minnesota Gophers also moved into the poll for the first time since 2014. Below is a recap of each of the power five conferences.
I want to start by showing a little love for the Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals beat Wake Forest 62-59 in what turned out to be the highest scoring game in ACC history. “It’s going to help us to know that we can fight and compete with anybody out there,” first-year coach Scott Satterfield said. Satterfield took over a program that was left for dead after Bobby Petrino was fired. The players have totally bought into Satterfield and his coaching staff, and at (4-2) are now likely headed for a bowl game. Clemson blasted Florida State for a third consecutive year 45-14. The Tigers offense actually came out of their coma in the win. The Tigers put up 552 yards of offense to just 253 by the Seminoles. The Tigers also enjoyed a 31-10 first down edge. The Tigers now sit at the top of the Atlantic division standings with the loss by Wake Forest. Miami played their best game of the season, dropping Virginia 17-9. The win gave the Hurricanes their first win in ACC play.
I actually learned a lot about two teams, that I wasn’t sure about in the BIG-10. Both Minnesota and Penn State proved to me that they are players in the conference. The Gophers dominated the Cornhuskers 34-7. It was ground and pound for the Gophers as they rushed for 322 yards in the victory. Rodney Smith led the team in rushing with 139 yards, but Shannon Brooks and Mo Ibrahim also had big days. The temperature at kickoff was a balmy 37 degrees, with rain and snow mix. “We prepare for this all the time,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “We love our weather, and we think it’s an advantage.” Penn State moved to (6-0) with a hard-fought 17-12 win on the road at Iowa. The Lions used a smothering defense and a 100-yard performance by freshman tailback Noah Cain, to secure the victory. “This is a team. You’re going to have to earn it,” Penn State coach James Franklin said about the Hawkeyes. “The defense has been great all year. We leaned on them heavily.” The Lions now return home to face Michigan on Saturday. Is the Wisconsin defense possibly the best in the country? The Badgers pitched yet another shutout on Saturday, (4th this season), beating Michigan State 38-0. The Badgers limited the Spartans to just 149 yards, while forcing two more turnovers. The Badgers have given up just 29 points in six games this season.
The Red River Rivalry lived up to it’s billing Saturday. The Sooners defeated Texas 34-27. Quarterback Jalen Hurts had yet another banner day leading the Sooners to victory. Hurts passed for 235 yards and three touchdowns and added 131 yards rushing. I thought the Sooner defense played well in the contest. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has made a big difference. “Regardless of what the outside world thinks, we believe a lot in our defense,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “I don’t care what our defensive calls our, schemes. Not that I don’t care, but the way we play right now was the difference today.” The game of the week in the BIG 12 took place in Waco, Texas. The Bears and Red Raiders needed two overtimes to declare a winner. JaMycal Hasty scored on a 5 yard run in the second overtime, giving the Bears a 33-30 win. Quarterbacks Jett Duffey and Charlie Brewer locked up in a classic duel. Duffey finished with 362 yards passing, while Brewer finished with 352 yards. The Bears will face a major road test at Oklahoma State this weekend. Freshman tailback Breece Hall rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns leading Iowa State over West Virginia 38-14. The 205-pound Hall is the third different running back to lead the Cyclones in rushing this season and the first to eclipse 100 yards.
Oregon’s offense finally erupted in their 45-3 win over Colorado Friday night. Quarterback Justin Herbert tossed two touchdown passes and now has 17 on the season. “We talked about starting fast and moving the ball, and that’s something we did today,” Herbert said. “We got the ball spread around and guys made plays. It was fun to watch.” The win sets up a huge meeting on Saturday with the Washington Huskies. The Huskies turned a close game at halftime, into a second half route at Arizona. The Wildcats actually led 17-13 at the half. The Huskies exploded for 38 second half points. Salvon Ahmed rushed for three second half touchdowns. The win moved Washington back into the Top 25. I expected a track meet between Washington State and Arizona State and that’s exactly what happened. Cougar quarterback Alex Gordon passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as the Sun Devils rallied for a 38-34 victory. Jayden Daniels scored on a 17 yard run, with just 34 seconds left, giving the Sun Devils the win. The Devils are in a four-way tie at the top of the PAC-12 South standings. The Devils travel to Utah in a monster match up on Saturday.
The SEC once again gave us some wild results. South Carolina’s improbable win at Georgia was the biggest upset of the weekend. The Gamecocks needed two overtimes, but Parker White’s 24 yard field goal was the difference. Bulldog kicker Rodrigo Blankenship had a chance to send the game to a third overtime, but his kick sailed wide left. Israel Mukuamu was the real hero for the Gamecocks, intercepting Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm three times. The first interception was returned by Mukuamu for a 53 yard touchdown. “You can’t beat anybody when you have a 4-0 turnover margin,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We didn’t force any on defense. We didn’t cause any problems on defense and we didn’t take care of the ball.” UNLV also pulled off an improbable upset win at Vanderbilt. The Rebels were a double-digit underdog, yet came away with a 34-10 win. What surprised me, was how the Rebels actually dominated the game in first downs and time of possession. I think the loss by Vanderbilt will be the final nail in the coffin for head coach Derek Mason. The Mountain West conference is now 3-2 versus the mighty SEC. The LSU/Florida matchup was a sea-saw contest for three quarters. The Tigers pulled away with 21 straight points to seal the 42-28 victory.
GROUP OF FIVE SPOTLIGHT TEAM
The Temple Owls pulled off a home upset of Memphis on Saturday afternoon. The Owls jumped out early, and held on for a 30-28 win. The homecoming crowd helped spur on a Owl defense that forced four turnovers. The loss by the Tigers sent them spiraling out of the Top 25. The Owls at 5-1 are now knocking on the door of entering the Top 25. The win moved the Owls into a first place tie with Cincinnati in the AAC East.