It was bound to happen. Every year
there is that one week that defies the odds. Upsets come in bunches and throw
a monkey wrench in the best laid plans.
Time will tell if Week 7 will earn that distinction. Teams with national title
aspirations coming into the week may be able to look back and pinpoint just
where everything unraveled.
UPSETTING TO SAY THE LEAST: A number of BCS champion hopefuls fell to the
wayside this weekend and the ripple-effect will certainly be felt when the
first BCS rankings come out next weekend. Starting in order of ranking and the
biggest upset, then-No. 5 Stanford went into Salt Lake City but failed to leave
with a victory, as Utah upended the Cardinal, 27-21. The problem for coach
David Shaw's squad is that there was little room for error prior to the loss
thanks to the way Oregon is rolling right now. With a stunning loss to the
Utes, Stanford falls to third in the Pac-12 North Division behind Oregon and
Oregon State. Not only is Stanford's FBS title hopes all but gone, but a
conference crown and BCS bowl berth are fading away as well, especially with
showdowns with UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon on the immediate horizon.
Georgia's shootout loss at now-third-ranked Clemson in the season opener was
certainly forgivable and definitely understandable. Mark Richt's squad seemed
to right the ship with big wins over South Carolina and LSU in September.
However, October has painted a much different picture for the Bulldogs, who
needed overtime to prevail over Tennessee, before getting beat by Missouri
this past weekend at home, ending a 15-game home win streak. The team still
has an opportunity to capture a divisional crown and play for the SEC
championship, but its destiny is controlled by other teams now. Two losses
on the year all but negates any chances of playing for a national title.
Finally, there were some unhappy campers in Happy Valley this past weekend as
the Michigan Wolverines fell in a four-overtime shootout with Penn State,
43-40. The loss was the first on the season for Brady Hoke's squad, but one
loss could be an abyss in the Big Ten, with Ohio State cruising toward the
conference crown. The Wolverines get the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor in the regular-
season finale, but they will have to run the table to that point for the game
to have any significance beyond the conference title.
TIGERS ON THE SEC PROWL? It isn't South Carolina, Georgia or even Florida in
the driver's seat in the SEC East. No, that distinction belongs to the
Missouri Tigers. Gary Pinkel's Tigers joined the Top 25 last week and have
shot up the national rankings (now 14th) thanks to their big road win at
Georgia this past weekend.
Missouri's offensive balance is what stands out. The team is averaging just
over 515 yards of total offense and can move the chains at will both on the
ground (239.3 ypg) and through the air (276.3 ypg). Of course, quarterback
James Franklin is a big part of the success in both areas. He left the Georgia
game with a shoulder injury and may miss a game or so. That may be a problem
for the Tigers this week, as a showdown in Columbia with the Florida Gators is
only a few days away.
Still, Missouri proved something in Athens. Pinkel and the Tigers have put the
rest of the SEC on notice with the big win.
"I just think we earned a little more respect," Pinkel said. "The respect
level just went up a couple notches."
Still, not sure if that team in Tuscaloosa agrees.
CLOWNEY CONUNDRUM: South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney was universally regarded
as the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft heading into this season. A freak of
nature at the defensive end position, the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder had a huge
sophomore year in 2012, earning First-Team All-American honors, winning the
Hendricks Award (top defensive end) and finishing sixth in the Heisman Trophy
voting. An unstoppable force, Clowney won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year,
finishing the campaign with 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks.
Well, a funny thing has happened on the way to the podium to shake hands with
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to kick off the 2014 draft festivities. Clowney
has seemed to forget what garnered him so much praise and attention. In fact,
last week, Clowney's desire to play came into question when he decided he
couldn't suit up for action despite being cleared to play.
Back in the lineup this weekend against Arkansas, Clowney was only marginally
more productive than the week he was on the sidelines, finishing with just one
stop in a 52-7 rout of the Razorbacks. Sure, Clowney is probably seeing much
more attention with double and triple teams, but he has amassed just 13 total
tackles and two sacks in five games in 2013.
After a month and a half of football, Clowney's lack of playmaking has
probably cost him the No. 1 overall pick. What seems like a lackadaisical
approach to his craft could cost him much more by season's end.
TOP PERFORMERS: Oregon State's Sean Mannion showed no signs of letting up, as
he once again put up eye-popping stats with 493 yards and four TD passes in
the Beavers' win over Washington State.
Other signal callers with big days included East Carolina Shane Carden (480
yards, 1 TD), San Jose State's David Fales (431 yards, 3 TDs), Texas Tech's
Davis Webb (415 yards, 3 TDs), UCLA's Brett Hundley (410 yards, 3 TDs), UNLV's
Caleb Herring (385 yards, 1 TD), Arkansas State's Adam Kennedy (375 yards, 4
TDs), Georgia State's Ronnie Bell (370 yards, 4 TDs), Oregon's Marcus Mariota
(366 passing yards, 3 TDs; 88 rushing yards, 1 TD), Arizona's B.J. Denker (363
yards, 4 TDs), Alabama's AJ McCarron (359 yards, 1 TD), Troy's Corey Robinson
(350 yards, 3 TDs), Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (346 passing yards; 113 rushing
yards, 2 TDs), Baylor's Bryce Petty (342 yards, 3 TD passes, 1 TD rushing),
Clemson's Tahj Boyd (334 yards, 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD), Ball State's
Keith Wenning (305 yards, 4 TDs), Penn State's Christian Hackenberg (305
yards, 4 TDs) and Wyoming's Brett Smith (247 yards passing, 1 TD; 138 rushing
yards, 2 TDs),
Army's Terry Baggett set the standard among running backs this week and
was unstoppable in the Black Knights' drubbing of Eastern Michigan, rumbling
for 304 yards and four touchdowns on just 18 carries.
Other backs with productive outings included Kansas State's Daniel Sams (199
yards, 3 TDs), Central Michigan's Saylor Lavallii (184 rushing yards, 1
receiving TD), Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (172 yards, 1 TD), Washington's
Bishop Sankey (167 yards, 2 TDs), Connecticut's Lyle McCombs (164 yards, 1
TD), UNLV's Tim Cornett (162 yards, 2 TDs), UAB's Jordan Howard (159 yards),
Idaho's James Baker (150 yards, 2 TDs), Tulsa's Trey Watts (142 yards),
Syracuse's Jerome Smith (140 yards, 1 TD), Texas State's Robert Lowe (140
yards, 1 TD), Mississippi State's Dak Prescott (139 yards, 2 TDs), North
Texas' Brandon Byrd (139 yards, 1 TD), Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (138 yards) and
Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne (133 yards, 1 TD) and Michigan State's Jeremy
Langford (109 yards, 4 TDs).
East Carolina's Justin Hardy's big day went to waste as the Pirates fell in a
shootout with Tulane. Still, Hardy did his best impression of a one-man-band,
hauling in 17 balls for 230 yards.
Other receivers of note included Baylor's Tevin Reese (5 catches, 184 yards, 2
TDs), USC's Nelson Agholor (7 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD), Oregon's Bralon
Addison (8 catches, 157 yards, 2 TDs), Ball State's Willie Snead (10 catches,
152 yards, 2 TDs), Georgia State's Albert Wilson (7 catches, 153 yards, 2
TDs), Troy's Chris Williams (4 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD), San Jose State's
Tyler Winston (8 catches, 151 yards, 1 TD), Boise State's Shane Williams-
Rhodes (13 catches, 150 yards, 1 TD), Purdue's DeAngelo Yancy (5 catches, 146
yards, 1 TD), Texas Tech's Jace Amaro (9 catches, 143 yards), Utah State's
Travis Reynolds (5 catches, 142 yards), UNLV's Devante Davis (8 catches, 141
yards), Baylor's Antwan Goodley (5 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD) and Oregon
State's Brandin Cooks (11 catches, 137 yards, 2 TDs, one TD rushing).
SNEEK PEAK: The season is starting to heat up and Week 8 could prove pivotal
in the big picture. Four Top 25 clashes are on the docket, starting with a
Saturday afternoon clash between 22nd-ranked Florida and 14th-ranked Missouri
in Columbia. Staying in the SEC, 24th-ranked Auburn heads to College Station
to battle seventh-ranked Texas A&M. A crucial Pac-12 tilt pits ninth-ranked
UCLA looking to hand 13th-ranked Stanford a second straight loss. Still, the
marquee matchup of the week comes in the ACC as fifth-ranked Florida State
and third-ranked Clemson collide in Death Valley for conference supremacy.
Other intriguing matchups involving ranked teams include UCF at eighth-ranked
Louisville, 20th-ranked Washington at Arizona State, sixth-ranked LSU at Ole
Miss and UNLV at 17th-ranked Fresno State.
The top non-ranked game is USC traveling to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.