Week 6 in college football brought a new contender to the table of the big four. The Inside Zone takes a look at the most recent week of action and how the land lies after several big time matchups.
Notre Dame ready to book playoff spot
Notre Dame needed a spark. College football is not simply about wins and losses. When deciding who makes the playoffs the committee considers numerous factors. One of those factors is style of play. With Brandon Wimbush under center the Fighting Irish were sleepwalking through their schedule, but Ian Book has been their spark. Having nearly doubled the amount of points the Notre Dame offense has scored, he has turned them into a real contender.
They were dominant in their 45-23 victory over Virginia Tech. The Hokies aren’t the force some thought they may be. Starting QB Josh Jackson is out and they came unstuck in a shock loss to Old Dominion two weeks ago. However, the atmosphere in Blacksburg is intimidating and the win could be the last hurdle on the way to an unbeaten schedule.
Book is surrounded by talent on offense. Dexter Williams, 3rd choice running back, rushed for 178 yards and 3 TDs. Receivers Miles Boykin, Chase Claypool and tight end Alize Jones give Notre Dame a real shot at making the final four.
LSU stifled in the swamp
The big matchup of the weekend was No.13 LSU v No.14 Florida. The game was a defensive struggle with plenty of future NFL talent on show. LSU QB Joe Burrow was stifled by a dominant Gators defensive line. Jachai Polite was a threat off the edge all day while linebackers David Reese and Vosean Joseph shined at LB. The key play was a pick 6 from corner Brad Stewart Jr to seal a 27-19 win.
Dicker the Kicker ensures Texas is Back!
(AP Photo/Cooper Neill)
Ok, let’s not get carried away. Texas are rolling but are we willing to say they are back to being a national force? A 48-45 victory against Oklahoma went someway to convincing the US media. Texas QB Sam Ehlinger showed up as the playmaker the Longhorns have been missing. He took full advantage of a shaky Sooners defense, rushing for three TD’s with a stat line of 24/35, 314 yards, 2 TDs. The true hero was kicker Cameron Dicker whose 40 yard field goal was converted with ease.
The loss will hurt Oklahoma’s playoff chances and in turn Kyler Murray’s Heisman hopes. However, the QB was at the top his game to drag the Sooners back into contention. He contributed a combined 396 yards and 5 TDs.
The result leaves the Big 12 wide open with only West Virginia unbeaten. They stumbled against Kansas with an up-and-down day for QB Will Grier. Despite throwing for 4 TDs he also threw three interceptions. Luckily, Kansas couldn’t take advantage of the turnovers with the Mountaineers shaking them off 38-22.
Fortunes reversed from last week
Kentucky and Mississippi State was a big game last week for two emerging SEC programs. The Wildcats came out on top in that duel but both teams saw contrasting results in Week 6. Kentucky were downed by Jimbo Fisher’s resurgent Texas A&M. Kentucky running back Benny Snell was riding high off the back of promising performances early in the season. However, it was opposite number Trayveon Williams who took the plaudits. The Aggies back ran for 139 yards and the game winning score.
Mississippi State bounced back with an impressive 23-9 win over Auburn. QB Nick Fitzgerald only managed 69 passing yards but destroyed the Tigers on the ground. He ran for 195 yards and 2 TDs, becoming the all-time leading SEC QB in terms of rushing yards.
Roll Tide continue to roll
Alabama show no signs of taking their foot off the gas. Once again Tua Tagovailoa was pinpoint as he picked apart Arkansas’s defense. He remains on target for a statistically mind-blowing year. Gristly head coach Nick Saban is concerned with the defense after conceding 31 points but it feels like nit-picking.
Elsewhere in the race for the playoffs Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia all kept pace. Clemson’s freshman QB Trevor Lawrence looked fully recovered from the jarring hit that saw him leave last week’s game. He was helped by a dominant running game with Travis Etienne scoring 3 TDs and 167 yards in the 63-3 rout of Wake Forest.
Dwayne Haskins was much more comfortable in a clean pocket against Indiana helping Ohio State to a 49-26 victory. Jake Fromm is managing to keep freshman Justin Fields at bay in Georgia. He threw for 276 yards ad 3 TDs, the pick of which being a 75 yards strike to receiver Terry Godwin.
The upshot, not much has changed at the top but Notre Dame has staked a claim meaning five teams look set to fight for the four spots in the College Football Playoff.