Brilliant Buckeyes And A Troubling Tide – College Football’s Top 10 (Week 6)

As we reach the halfway point in the college football season for most teams, the fog of who is who starts to lift. There are still plenty of unbeaten teams left and many challenges down the road but we are learning just how elite some of these top squads are. Most importantly, we are learning the depth of these teams, which is a vital component to making a title run.

Let’s start things off with a shift at the top.

1.) Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) defeated Michigan State Spartans 49-20

With six games completed, there hasn’t been a team that has looked as good as the Buckeyes, or one that has seemingly improved every week like they have. The only win that wasn’t a blowout was Week 1 against Notre Dame, who was ranked in the top five at the time of the meeting. After their loss to Marshall the following week, they’ve looked a lot better, toppling #16 BYU after their critical bye week, improving the Buckeye’s strength of schedule.

This past week, the first road test of the season for head coach Ryan Day and his squad was passed with flying colors. Following a slow week against Rutgers last Saturday, quarterback C.J. Stroud came out on fire, throwing for 361 yards and six touchdowns (TDs). He was even kind enough to throw one to the Spartans after a miscommunication with wideout Emeka Egbuka, making it 7-7 early and giving the fans false hope before getting demolished.

Speaking of Egbuka, he made up for his mistake en route to a 143-yard day on just five catches. Marvin Harrison Jr. had another ridiculous showing too from the receiver position, making multiple acrobatic jump ball grabs in the end zone. The icing on the cake for the offense was getting TreVeyon Henderson back semi-healthy, as he went for 118 on the ground and a score.

Next Week: IDLE

2.) Georgia Bulldogs (6-0) defeated Auburn Tigers 42-10

It was back-to-back shaky performances against the likes of Missouri and Kent State that saw the Bulldogs fall down the rankings. Well, it looks like they got their mojo back, returning to what made them champions a year ago. The balance on offense was stellar, and so was the defense.

As a team, they ran for 292 yards at 7.5 yards a-pop and an astounding six TDs. The Bulldogs are at their best when they control the tempo of the game and allow their defense to go out there fresh and eliminate the opposition. This was case in point and a great bounce back for the Dawgs.

Next Week: Home vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

3.) Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0) defeated Texas A&M Aggies 24-20

As they sit with an unblemished record, this is not the Crimson Tide dominance we’ve become accustomed to since Nick Saban’s arrival. The struggles in Austin, Fayetteville and especially at home Saturday against the Aggies have been unexpected. Plus, this game had to be circled on Alabama’s calendar due to the offseason spitting match over NIL (name, image and likeness) between Saban and Jimbo Fisher, and the intensity just wasn’t there.

Unfortunately, the Heisman winning quarterback Bryce Young was unable to go for the Tide, having to turn to Jalen Milroe once again. He lost two fumbles as well as an interception, which helped keep the Aggies in the game. It wasn’t all bad as Milroe was able to throw for three scores on only 12 completions. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs may be well on his way to the Doak Walker award this year, piling up 154 yards on the ground.

The Tide defense held strong when they had to and man did they ever have to. A late pass inference call in the end zone put the ball at their own two-yard line with only a few seconds on the clock. A&M’s Haynes King’s pass to the right pylon was incomplete, sealing the nail biter for Alabama.

Next Week: Away vs. #6 Tennessee Volunteers

4.) Michigan Wolverines (6-0) defeated Indiana Hoosiers 31-10

There was a culmination of things that could have been the cause for the Wolverines struggles in Bloomington on Saturday. The most likely reason is the shock of running backs coach and Wolverine legend Mike Hart, who was carted off early on with a medical emergency. Good news though is that all reports are coming back positive for Hart, who is looking for an immediate return to the sidelines.

Also, it’s very possible that they could have simply overlooked the Hoosiers with Penn State coming to town next week. Either way, nothing is ever perfect in college football and the win here is all that matters. What also matters is the progression of quarterback J.J. McCarthy, and it’s safe to say that it’s really coming along. His 304 yards on 77.8% completions really showcased what he’s capable of in the accuracy department.

The headliner, that will really make coach Jim Harbaugh happy, is the zero sacks. Negative plays are a killer for a team that likes to stay on schedule. The whole second half was seeming on schedule as two of the Wolverines TD drives were 10 plays or more. This methodical approach is going to be needed against a stingy Penn State defense next week.

Next Week: Home vs. #10 Penn State Nittany Lions

5.) Clemson Tigers (6-0) defeated Boston College Eagles 31-3

Boston College’s red bandana night didn’t have the desired outcome as the Tigers played a solid 60 minutes of football. Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei did it all, throwing for three TDs while also running for 69 yards. Clemson fans have to be relieved as Uiagalelei showed great touch on the ball when going deep, knowing that he’s thrown bullets and had overthrows on too many occasions.

The defense was stout, stifling Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec through the air. Holding him to 47.5% completions and only 188 yards was a great showing. They also held star wideout Zay Flowers to only 75 yards on eight receptions.

The main takeaway from this game is the response from the Tigers. When it was 3-3 early in the second quarter, following a Boston College field goal, the Tigers went on a 28-0 run to close the game. That run featured quick drives, with all four scoring drives being under eight plays. This quick strike ability will be dangerous going forward.

Next Week: Away vs. Florida State Seminoles

6.) Tennessee Volunteers (5-0) defeated #25 LSU Tigers 40-13

Things went Tennessee’s way from the very beginning, including the muffed opening kickoff from the Tigers. Running back Jabari Small cashed in on the early present to put the Vols up 7-0 with 13:46 to go in the first and they never looked back. They built up a 20-0 lead before the Tigers found the end zone.

The breakout player of the day was Volunteer wideout Bru McCoy, who went for 140 yards on seven catches. Outside of targeting McCoy, Heisman hopeful quarterback Hendon Hooker only had 10 completions but did have two TDs. Regardless, this Tennessee offense scored a ton of points on the road and built a ton of confidence heading towards next week’s colossal matchup.

Next Week: Home vs. #3 Alabama Crimson Tide

7.) USC Trojans (6-0) defeated Washington State Cougars 30-14

This week, it was all about the defense in the Trojans victory. Once they got a 17-14 lead late in the second quarter over the Cougars, the defense was lights out. On the ensuing six Washington State drives, they only picked up 120 yards total and of course, no points.

It just wasn’t the offense’s night, making it two out of the last three games where the offense has struggled. A 369-yard performance is not ideal with this much firepower and certainly something to monitor. They will need to be much better to stay undefeated, especially if that defense decides to take a step back.

Next Week: Away vs. #20 Utah Utes

8.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-0) defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 41-31

This wasn’t near the domination seen last week from the Cowboys when they went and pounded Baylor but they showed their grit in this one. Their 17-7 lead disappeared quickly, as the the Red Raiders went on a 24-6 run from late first quarter until 8:42 in the third. From then on, it was all Cowboys as they tied up the game at 31-all on a Spencer Sanders TD run and then extended it in the fourth.

Speaking of Sanders, this less than 50% completions and 17 carries for only 56 yards is what the Cowboys can’t have. When he’s on, he is one of the best in the country but when he’s off, it is super inaccurate as seen on Saturday. This offense is going to have to be at its best next week because TCU doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all and may have to go shot-for-shot with them.

Next Week: Away vs. #13 TCU Horned Frogs

9.) Ole Miss Rebels (6-0) defeated Vanderbilt Commodores 52-28

The final score of this game is not indicative of how the game transpired. The beginning was actually all Commodores until closer to halftime. After being down 20-10 following a Commodore score with 1:32 left in the second quarter, the Rebels finally flipped the switch and went on a remarkable 42-8 run to the last whistle.

The star of the show in Nashville was Rebel wideout Jonathan Mingo. His nine catches for a school record 247 yards and two TDs were a dazzling display. Not so dazzling was head coach Lane Kiffin’s disgust for how the game went and the mistakes from quarterback Jaxson Dart.

His 448-yard performance through the air and three TD tosses weren’t deserving of immediate recognition from Kiffin. The two interceptions were the focal point of his postgame interview and the need to make better decisions. This never settle mentality should fuel this team the rest of the way.

Next Week: Home vs. Auburn Tigers

10.) Penn State Nittany Lions (5-0) on Bye This Week

Next Week: Away vs. #4 Michigan Wolverines

Derek Worley

Sports Analyst

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