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Week 6 Superlatives
What a weekend in college football...again!
What a week again! From noon until midnight there was drama, high octane offenses in shootouts and bone-crunching, physical defensive battles. We had great game plans, coaching mishaps and ended the night with another top team biting the dust with two other top 10 teams losing as well…we’re now at the official halfway point of the season, let’s see what Week 6 brought us:
Down goes Alabama (and Penn State) - this is looking like a full on 2007 chaos car ride…While neither team is eliminated because of one close loss on the road, this Saturday brought out more of the weirdness we’ve come to expect. Alabama looked awful for a half, buttoned down somewhat in second half and was in position to win but couldn’t cash it in- huge win for Texas A&M. Penn State probably doesn’t lose their game to Iowa without the injury to QB Sean Clifford but they also were turned over several times.
Meanwhile, in Cindarella world…Kentucky, Michigan State, Wake Forest and UT-San Antonio all stayed undefeated (as did Iowa, who wasn’t necessarily expected to be THIS good) while Top 10 BYU went down and Arkansas took their second straight loss. Baylor won to get to 5-1 as did Arizona State, convincingly. Georgia was the only top team that dominantly held serve – Oklahoma should be credited for coming back from 21 down to stun Texas…but does anyone think the Sooners are real national title contenders?
Finally, the “Coaching Carousel” is going to get rolling even faster…we’ve already got vacancies at USC and a couple of G5 programs but now it seems extremely likely that Ed Orgeron will not last past this year at LSU (see more below), Manny Diaz at Miami is in trouble, as is (perpetually now) Scott Frost at Nebraska. There’s smoke at Washington as well. All four of those are major programs that move the needle for the average fan – but LSU’s probably one of the 7-8 best jobs in America as far as access to resources, talent and winning culture.
This has all the makings of a wild second half of the season. The more we see, the less we seem to know!
Game of the Day:
I don’t know how to distinguish or pick between Alabama vs. Texas A&M (41-38 Aggies) which was the most unexpected result and Arkansas vs. Ole Miss (52-51 Rebels) which was the wildest and came down to a two point try with no time on the clock. Plus Penn State vs Iowa (Hawkeyes won 23-20) was incredible too – although maybe a little slower moving. Call it a three way tie!
Top 3 Coaching Performances of Week 6:
1. Jimbo Fischer – Texas A&M: Jimbo was getting a lot of external heat for the Aggies’ poor start this season, especially offensively after their starting QB went down and back up Nick Calzada looked so rough. Well they put it together for Alabama. The defense really dominated Alabama in the first half and then held on, even though they fell behind, the Aggies got a huge three and out late on the fourth quarter to give their offense chance to win it. A huge, program-defining win and Fischer becomes first Saban assistant to beat him.
2. Andy Avalos – Boise State: It was a bit of a tough start for the Broncos this year and it looked like a subpar season was in the offing. Then, they made a huge turnaround this weekend, solidly beating a top 10 BYU team. They played suffocating defense – something Avalos was known for coming back to Boise from Oregon – and timely, efficient offense. A week after affirming their loyalty to the Mountain West Conference, the Broncos sent a message that they might be ready to return to the top of the G5 in the next year or so.
3. (Tie) Kirk Ferentz – Iowa: So steady, under Ferentz the Hawkeyes did not blink – they don’t usually ever – but especially Saturday when falling behind by double digits twice against Penn State. They win with field position and defense but it is working and now Iowa is in drivers seat to go to Big 10 title game and – maybe – even withstand a loss there and still get in to the Playoff…
Mike Norvell – Florida State: Count me among the people who thinks Norvell will get the Seminoles turned around eventually…but it has definitely been a rocky start to his tenure, especially when the previous guy got fired before he even finished his second season. Left for absolutely dead at 0-4 two weeks ago, FSU has won two straight including Saturday’s 35-25 thumping of North Carolina on the road. Game wasn’t even that close really. Mixing zone read run and pass and playing solid defense, the Noles actual have a chance to compete for a bowl game maybe…something I wouldn’t have thought possible even a week ago.
Dave Aranda, Baylor, Dana Dimel, UTEP (Miners, who were supposed to be one of FBS’ worst teams are 5-1 after road win at Southern Miss!)
The 3 Worst Coaching Performances of Week 6:
1. Ed Orgeron - LSU: The Tigers came out in a must win/ or at least must look competent spot and laid a total egg at Kentucky. The Wildcats are quite good, don’t get me wrong, but they should not be able to run with abandon
2. Nick Saban - Alabama: It pains me to write this - as he is the GOAT - but Alabama had a number of odd or questionable coaching decisions in their loss to Texas A&M, perhaps more at coordinator level but Coach Saban does not escape blame. Odd timeout usage (or lack thereof) at end of game and even at end of first half (although I understood that somewhat) - and throwing the ball (without using play action even) repeatedly near goal line cost the Tide dearly. Lack of adjustments for more than a half on both sides of ball also hurt. The team played poorly, to be sure, with a lot of drops and other mental errors but the coaches did not put them in best position to win game. Will be fascinating to watch how they rebound.
3. Neal Brown - West Virginia: Hard to know what’s up in Morgantown. Brown is a good coach and seems to be right fit there but it has been a rough three weeks, from losing close to Oklahoma plagued by bad snaps and whip lashing back and forth at QB, to getting blown out two consecutive games at home by Texas Tech (who is not good) and Baylor (who seems to be). Just not clicking at all.
Dishonorable Mention: Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech (had great game plan against Notre Dame that kept Hokies in it but 4th quarter decision making and timeout usage wiped all that away), Mack Brown, North Carolina
That’s it from another amazing week that even the Alabama homer in me has to admit was a lot of fun. Check back here Thursday for the top 10 Most Meaningful Matchups for Week 7 (?!) and remember to follow me on Twitter @readycfb to keep conversation going!