Maybe Ohio State are still undefeated, but their ability in most of their recent wins suggest we might need a new number one team to top the rankings. TCU or Baylor, constantly putting up huge offensive numbers might be next in line, as Michigan State don’t look too impressive as well while Utah, rounding up the top 5, have done the most with the toughest schedule. Week 6 wasn’t about upsets except for Texas stunning former #10 Oklahoma, but more about narratives and storylines, especially the one Michigan have been developing.
So we began the post with Ohio State, but the story right now should be Michigan. The Wolverines beat #13 Northwestern 38-0, and have shutout their opponents three weeks in a row to make it five consecutive wins since opening the season with a home loss to Utah. Two of those shutouts have been against ranked opponents, and they also ended the undefeated season for Northwestern, and couldn’t have picked a better time to be in full momentum mode – just before their meeting with Michigan State.
Texas, another school that’s been easy to pick on for the last couple of years, is always better when there are 0 expectations from the players. Charlie Strong got to crowd surf in Texas as the Longhorns jumped to 14-0 lead with Tyrone Swoopes finally having a big game without messing up or making mistakes. On the contrary: He threw one touchdown pass and ran for another, as Oklahoma once again manage to pull off a shocking loss and maybe kill off their chances of making the playoffs.
Florida, like Michigan, are with a first-year coach (although a much less heralded one). They’re also coming off two-three rough years, and are also relying on their defense to carry them towards surprising success. Their 21-3 win over Missouri and the Oklahoma loss should put them in the top 10. This isn’t the most solid of teams, especially on offense, which means they’ve had games they’ve struggled with (against East Carolina and Tennessee) but overall, these last two wins over Mizzou and Ole Miss suggest that the Gators are a force to be reckoned with again, with the SEC ripe for the taking.
Alabama and LSU marched on towards the inevitable mega clash between them. The Tigers are still undefeated and although Leonard Fournette ran for “just” 158 yards, they looked as impressive as ever in an extra home game they got, helping out South Carolina who are getting closer and closer to the point where it’s impossible not to seriously consider replacing Steve Spurrier. He might have taken them as far as possible, but the last two years suggest there might be some need for a change.
The Crimson Tide played Arkansas, another SEC wannabe that has good years from time to time but struggled generating consistency. Bret Bielema is terrible at helping out his team hold on to leads. The Razorbacks have a solid running game and a very good defense, but somehow they allowed another halftime lead to slip away from them, after holding Alabama to just 3 points in the first half. At some point, not being able to manage the clock starts eating away at your points and opportunities, and the game gets away from you.
It’s easy to forget but TCU nearly lost this week. They still put up 52 points as Trevone Boykin ran for some impressive touchdowns in the second half, but Kansas State had TCU in big trouble with a 35-17 lead at halftime. That’s not enough to push the Horned Frogs to the limit, but it suggests that the warning signs about Gary Patterson’s defense this year weren’t a figment of imagination, but an issue that might give a team like Baylor the opening they need to win the Big 12.