Outside of the chaos that ensued in the state of Texas, most of the top teams prevailed yesterday. However, some once again failed to impress the committee and their conference.
Let’s look at the major takeaways that occurred this Saturday.
Pac 12 is Utah’s to lose, just like we all predicted
As of now, it’s hard to quantify how the Utah Utes were picked by almost everyone to finish 5th in the Pac 12 South. Behind their dependable quarterback Travis Wilson and a fearless running back Devontae Booker. The Utes are now the Pac 12’s lone unbeaten in what appears to be a death trap of a conference, meaning the large amount of teams that were heavily favored have fallen in just a few weeks time.
In a season that appears to have no clear-cut favorite nationally, Utah is in great shape to help boost their playoff resume to the committee if they indeed progress as the season wears on. Even at 5-0, the Utes still have plenty of land mines ahead on the schedule — Arizona State and USC are the next opponents — but Utah is gaining confidence with each successive victory, especially one in which they managed to create a living nightmare for such a good quarterback.
Utah’s offense was nearly one-dimensional last night, relying on the versatile Booker to carry them for a win. Although Wilson made plays, he also threw several costly interceptions. It seems that for Utah to continue its winning ways they might have to “grind their way” to the finish line, almost using Booker as their every down back.
As far as defense is concerned, Utah is heads and shoulders above everyone in the Pac 12. The Utes hold the 39th best run defense in college football, where they’ve surrendered 133 yards per game on the ground. In addition to their impervious defense against the run, after forcing six turnovers against Cal last night, the Utes are now the 2nd best in the country in turnovers gained (17). If Utah progresses every week and if Travis Wilson makes the right decisions, the Utes will stay firm a top the polls, as they’re the Pac 12’s last chance of a team making the playoffs.
Who is the team to beat in the SEC?
Really Georgia? After getting embarrassed between the hedges to the hands of Alabama last week, Mark Richt’s Bulldogs blew a 21-point-lead in the second half in Knoxville..and lost. It is pretty difficult to distinguish who is the top team in the conference. LSU’s stock keeps rising with Leonard Fournette running away from everyone he faces, however the Tigers have yet to face a perennial run defense that may put the hands of the offense onto QB Brandon Harris’ shoulders. Perhaps next week’s contest at home against Florida and in several weeks on the road against Alabama, will put LSU’s offense to the task.
Speaking of Florida, look who is the leaders of the SEC East, the 6-0 Florida Gators. Not enough praise can be conjectured to Jim McElwain, who has taken an almost 7-8 football team to potentially division winners. Of course Florida still has a handful of meaningful games left to go, but the improvements the Gators have made recently should be well-represented. The Gators have had a Top 10 defense nationally when Will Muschamp was there, but this time the Gators have found a spark in the passing attack with Will Grier that they haven’t had since Jeff Driskel’s freshman season back in 2012. He hasn’t been overwhelming, but has been a serviceable force offensively to help balance out the carries from Kelvin Taylor. Grier’s slow start in early mid-September has suddenly re-surged in October. He has thrown for 200 yards or better in three consecutive weeks, plus 6 TDs and just one interception. This speaks volumes to the progress he’s made considering Missouri and Ole Miss are both ranked in the Top 20 in total defense in the FBS.
Alabama was lethargic and hardly created any rhythm on offense last night against Arkansas. Quite conceivably a mere let down game, Alabama needed a string of 17 points in the 4th quarter to pull away from the inferior Razorbacks. Questions may need to be asked to whether or not the Crimson Tide can function when Jacob Coker isn’t playing well. Despite a strong performance out of running back Derrick Henry, Coker was sporadic by throwing two TDs and two interceptions. If not for a heroic display defensively, Alabama may have cost themselves a playoff spot.
Michigan, not Michigan State has been the B1G’s most impressive team
Don’t look now but Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are chugging through the Big Ten with a headful of swagger and confidence. After becoming the first program in two decades to shutout three straight opponents, the under-appreciated Wolverines are suddenly right in the thick of things for a B1G title and possibly a shot at the playoffs.
Michigan’s defense has been historic so far under Harbaugh. That over the course of six games, is ranked second in all of the FBS in total defense. Four offensive touchdowns and 1,088 yards is all that the Wolverines have surrendered this season. Much of their success has been represented from an impenetrable secondary that is earning a nickname for themselves called ” No Fly Zone”, that’s gaining recognition by the day.
Strong safety Jabrill Peppers, free safety Jarrod Wilson, and left corner back Channing Stribling have frustrated opposing quarterbacks every week. For a team like Michigan who is in a more run distributed conference, shutting down the opponent in all aspects offensively will derive a sense of respect all together. QB Jake Rudock’s numbers have not been impressive, as he’s battling a 62% completion percentage, while having thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. But his arm strength and relatively his pocket presence is still growing.
With all the momentum that Michigan is playing with, none can seen from both Ohio State nor Michigan State. In fact, the Spartans were a late touchdown away from heading into overtime with lowly Rutgers. Ohio State showed slightly more promise in their win over Maryland, but it’s tough to judge how well that win was given that Maryland may only win three games this entire season.
For what it’s worth, if Michigan’s defense continues to hold opponents well below their season average, and once Jake Rudock and the running game gets something going, Michigan should be the categorical favorite in next week’s primetime match-up game against Michigan State in Ann Arbor.
Top Performers in Week 6
- QB Luke Falk (WSU)– 50/74, 505 yards, 5 TDs against Oregon
- QB Matt Johnson (BGSU)- 33/39, 450 yards, 5 TDs against UMass
- QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)- 33/46, 428 yards, 5 TDs against Iowa State
- RB Jordan Canzeri (Iowa)– 43 carries, 256 yards, 1 TD against Illinois
- RB Royce Freeman (Oregon)- 27 carries, 246 yards, 2 TDs against Washington State
- RB Mike Warren (Iowa State)- 23 carries, 245 yards against Texas Tech
- WR Thomas Sperbeck (BSU)- 5 receptions, 178 yards, 2 TDs against Colorado State
- WR Jakeem Grant (TTU)- 9 receptions, 166 yards, 2 TDs against Iowa State
- WR Tajae Sharpe (UMass)- 13 receptions, 156 yards, 1 TD against Bowling Green