And So It Is Written ...
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The ten most important things to happen in the history of our great planet – at least this weekend. How will Week 7 of your college football season be remembered in the history books? And so it is written …
1. It’s the SEC West, and you’re not
You’re seeing something at an all-timer of a level. The rest of the world bristles at the notion that it’s the SEC’s world and there’s no reason for anyone else to put on the pads, especially considering the new network and all the coverage, but in this case, all of the love and attention are warranted.
So far, the SEC West is proving to be the greatest division in the history of college football, and if that sounds like hyperbole, consider this: no other major college division has ever gone this far into a season without a loss outside of the division.
SEC West teams have lost a total of nine games so far. Alabama lost to Ole Miss, Auburn lost to Mississippi State, Texas A&M lost to both Mississippi schools, LSU lost to Mississippi State and Auburn, and Arkansas lost to Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama.
But the SEC West didn’t play anyone, right?
Out of the 26-0 record outside of the division so far, the West can brag victories over West Virginia (Alabama), Florida (Alabama, LSU), Texas Tech (Arkansas), Northern Illinois (Arkansas), Kansas State (Auburn), Wisconsin (LSU), Boise State (Ole Miss) and South Carolina (Texas A&M). To take it a step further, the only home games among those key nine were Alabama’s win over Florida and the Arkansas win over NIU.
2. No Gurley, no problem, and no effort put into headlines like that
You don’t get better by losing the best player in college football, but after Georgia star running back Todd Gurley was shelved during an investigation into possible NCAA violations regarding allegedly getting paid to sign his name – ridiculous, yes, but Johnny Manziel likes it, too – Georgia was supposed to be in trouble. Missouri isn’t as good as the 2013 version, but the talent and potential are there to be in the hunt again for the SEC title. Without having to deal with Gurley, the home game against the Dawgs was supposed to be a breeze.
One 34-0 stomping later, and Georgia has firmly established itself as the star of the East and with the national title still right there for the taking by winning out. Nick Chubb was the Next Back Up, running for a tough 143 yards and a score on 38 carries, and the defense set the dial to 11 in a beatdown of beatdowns, picking off Maty Mauk four times and only allowing 147 yards of total Mizzou offense. However, now it’s up to Georgia to break through the SEC West wall with a trip to Arkansas up next.
3. The Sword of Damocles hanging over Florida State
If you were told that Todd Gurley’s 163-yard, two touchdown day against Vanderbilt two weeks ago was probably going to be his last game in a Georgia uniform, you might have paid more attention. There’s the possibility that Florida State QB Jameis Winston’s 30-of-36, 317-yard, three touchdown performance against Syracuse could’ve been his last for the Seminoles depending what happens with his off-the-field issues. Winston is assuming he’s playing next week, and so is head coach Jimbo Fisher, but he’ll have to deal with a hearing regarding whether or not he violated the student conduct code from an alleged sexual assault two years ago. Obviously, there are far more important and pressing things at play, but from purely a football standpoint, if No. 5 is playing, along with his 19-0 record as a starter, welcome to the college football game of the year coming up, because …
4. Notre Dame is still unbeaten
It wasn’t pretty against North Carolina in a 50-43 win, and it took a big late comeback to beat Stanford two weeks ago, but 6-0 is 6-0 is 6-0, and if Notre Dame can beat Florida State on the road, then a playoff spot will be right there for the taking. There are landmines left to navigate – going on the road to face Arizona State and USC, and having to host Northwestern and Louisville – but win over the defending national champs would still mean an 11-1 record could be good enough to slip in. And on the other side, for a Florida State team that lost its No. 1 spot in the rankings, a win would do wonders after a really, really shaky start. Wins are wins, but inconsistencies and injures have kept FSU from looking like the team it was last season. But 7-0 would be 7-0 would be 7-0.
5. Where I come from, when you’re a top ten team and you score 58 points, you’re supposed to win
It was so over. After going up 58-37 on a Marcus Mallet pick six with under 12 minutes to play, it was already written – TCU, fresh off its shocking win over Oklahoma, blows past Baylor on the road after announcing to the world it’s College Football Playoff intentions as the best team in the Big 12 by far. The Horned Frog defense was having a few problems, but its offense was rolling and the D just had to come up with one more stop to get out of Waco with a win. Instead, Bryce Petty went on an epic roll leading the Bears to 24 unanswered points.
92 yards away? That’ll take just five plays and 1:23 to come up with a score. 91 yards? How about five plays in 59 seconds for a touchdown. Those two drives turned TCU head coach Gary Patterson loopy, going for it on 4th and three on the Baylor 45 rather than punt it deep and giving his defense a chance to come up with a stop to force overtime. Instead, TCU missed on a strange play call, Petty went 44 yards, Chris Callahan hit the 28-yard field goal for the 61-58 win, and lots of people ran on the field and were happy.
6. Jake Fisher is the biggest name in college football you don’t know
A funny thing happened to Oregon on the way from the Thursday night loss to Arizona in Eugene down to its trip to the Rose Bowl to face UCLA – the offensive line started to block someone. The return of OT Jake Fisher appeared to be the catalyst as Marcus Mariota had more time to work, and the offense hummed far better on the way to a 42-10 lead and an easy 42-30 victory over the Bruins. It was exactly how the Ducks needed to respond after the big loss, and now they showed that there’s hope to run the table, win the Pac-12, and get into the playoff – as long as Fisher and the O line can stay in one piece.
7. And then there were six
Arizona couldn’t hit a late kick against USC, and Georgia Tech couldn’t get past Duke, meaning there are now just six unbeaten teams remaining. Baylor held on to its unbeaten status by a string, while Florida State, Notre Dame, Mississippi State and Ole Miss kept marching on. But the sixth remaining unbeaten – Marshall – might turn out to be as intriguing as any team in college football over the second half of the year. There’s absolute zero chance of making the playoff, but the Herd could get the Group of 5 bowl spot by winning out despite playing absolutely no one with a pulse. A destruction of Middle Tennessee this weekend kept the unbeaten season going, and there’s no sign of slowing down with FIU, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss up next.
8. Bounceback Bob came through, but …
Oklahoma came back after its loss to TCU and got by Texas in the Red River Showdown. It might have been more about the possible coming out party for Longhorn QB Tyrone Swoopes, who let it rip in a furious comeback attempt, but the Sooners won the rivalry game, and no matter how it happened, that’s all that mattered. However, coming off the problems against the Horned Frogs, this isn’t looking anything like the team some had pegged for the top spot overall just a few weeks ago. The defense struggled against an offense that had done precisely jack squat all year, and the offense couldn’t seem to get going against the Longhorn D. Again, though, just winning is all that matters, but after the last two performances, the Sooners need to prove themselves worthy this week against a rested Kansas State.
9. Uhhhhh, Sparty?
All week long the narrative in East Lansing was the same – yeah, yeah, yeah, Nebraska came up with a tremendous comeback in the 27-22 Michigan State win, but it wasn’t enough and there won’t be any more pulling the foot off the gas. So how did the Fighting Dantonios respond? With a big, giant clunker against Purdue with the Boilermaker offense getting the ball in its hands down seven late with a chance to win. The MSU defense came up with the pick six to seal the victory, but still, the supposedly phenomenal defending Big Ten champion defense gave up over five yards per carry and allowed Purdue QB Austin Appleby to look like … well … not Austin Appleby on the way to a 211-yard day. More and more people seem to think Ohio State is turning into the Big Ten’s team to beat, and after a few shaky outings, MSU has to tighten up against RB Tevin Coleman and Indiana or else Urban Meyer’s club really might be hotter.
10. Three really cool things that you missed because you were doing something else with your life that you think were slightly more important than watching college football on a Saturday you silly, silly person
- Central Michigan closed out last season with three straight wins – granted, they were against the weak and the sad, but they were wins – and this year, it came out hot with a win over Purdue before having problems with WR Titus Davis (injury) and Thomas Rawls (off-field stuff) that killed the team’s mojo. Both of them are back, and it showed with a 34-17 win over Northern Illinois led by 40 carries for 270 yards and two touchdowns from Rawls.
- Hawaii has a … a … a running game? With 135 yards and a touchdown from Diocemy Saint Juste, and 76 yards from Steven Lakalaka, Hawaii tore off 232 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-28 win over Wyoming. It might be fleeting, but technically, the Rainbow Warriors are on top of the MW West standings.
- Since becoming a MAC team, UMass was 2-30 with the last win coming against Miami University last season. 13 losses later, and with a slew of close calls this year, the Minutemen finally came up with another win, blowing away Kent State.