SPORTS COLUMN: recapping an eventful week 6 of college football

Aggies fans rush the field following Texas A&M’s win over Alabama Saturday night. (Aiden Shertzer/Texas A&M Athletics)
  • Perfect Storm Dethrones Alabama. First the first time in 25 tries, a coach from the Nick Saban coaching tree has finally taken him down. Jimbo Fisher led Texas A&M to a 41-38 win at home over the no. 1 team in the land, but here is what it took: the star of your back seven getting ejected a minute and a half into the game, two uncharacteristic turnovers (one of the 1 yard line), horrendous play calling (more on that in a minute), being on the road in front of the second largest attendance in the school’s history, officiating going your way only one time, the opposing quarterback playing a near perfect game, and the opposing coach calling a near perfect game. It took all of that and a last second field goal just to knock off Alabama. It’s pretty remarkable, but here is where the real problems lie. 

    The concern all offseason and all season has been offensive consistency and notice the dry stretches that for one, built the two-touchdown deficit, and two, failed to come up big when it mattered most. From badly thrown balls to straight up drops the passing game struggled majorly, despite what the 369 yards tells you.

    There are several things as mentioned above that could be pointed to, but it really boils down to one key thing: play calling inside the redzone. On a third and goal play from the 1-yard line Alabama elected to throw for the touchdown, only to have it picked off. Points left off the board. From that point on Alabama threw seven passes on their eight plays inside the 20, including three straight passes inside the 4-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Points left off the board. When you have a running back averaging 6.1 yards a carry, totaling 318 yards over the past two games how does one not pound the rock, especiallywith a gassed defense on the other side?

    Several questions could be asked about Saturday’s blunder against a TAMU team that had no business even competing in the game, but that’s the beauty of football. Any given Saturday anyone can go down. Alabama’s been knocked down to mortal status and now has no room for error the rest of the way. They still control their own destiny for a trip to ATL and the playoff, but they can’t slip up again. They’ll be heavily favorited the rest of the schedule. Will this serve as a wakeup call for a team that may have become complacent? There’s a good chance. Four of Saban’s six championships at Alabama have come with a loss so the Tide are still very much alive. Season Outlook: 7/10.
  • SEC Continues Taking Shape. Georgia overcame a slow start and took care of Auburn with a convincing 34-10 win. Meanwhile fellow SEC East teams Kentucky and Tennessee continued strong play. Kentucky has now found 6-0 with a trip to new no. 1 Georgia this upcoming week. Tennessee has won back to back SEC games and get a chance to make a statement this week against Ole Miss, before traveling to Tuscaloosa the week after. Speaking of Ole Miss, they won a key SEC West matchup against Arkansas after each took big L’s the week before to Bama and UGA.

    Overall the SEC’s chance to get two teams into the playoff took a serious hit Saturday. It’s going to take Alabama winning out and beating an undefeated Georgia if there is any chance of the conference grabbing two of the spots. 
  • Red River Shootout: Battle of the Backs. As Texas running back Bijan Robinson showed why he’s arguably the best back in the country, Kenny Brooks did his best MJ impressive echoing the “and I took offense to that” statement. Brooks outgained Robinson 217 to 137 on the ground while adding two touchdowns to Robinson’s one. But before there was the battle of the backs there was the quarterback drama. Much like predicted the Texas offense came out the gates hot and Rattler stayed rattled til he was benched (for the second year in a row in this game) by true freshman Caleb Williams, the highly touted dual threat quarterback from last year’s class. With Texas’ Casey Thompson coming out firing four first half touchdowns, Oklahoma needed a spark, one that Williams provided until Brooks took over.

    It was truly a story of two halves. Texas outscored Oklahoma 38-20 in the first half (with the 38 the most ever scored in a half in the history of the rivalry), while the Sooners flipped the script in the second half outdoing the Longhorns 35-10, making the largest comeback in the rivalry’s history (21).

    Texas now moves on to a 5-0 Oklahoma State, where their season is truly on the line. Oklahoma meanwhile will host TCU while they try to figure out who their quarterback is going to be moving forward. 
  • The Battle of the Big 5. After jumping out to a 17-3 lead Penn State lost their veteran quarterback, Sean Clifford, and it was all Iowa from there. They came roaring back out scoring Penn State 20-3 from then on out to escape with a narrow win over the no. 4 team in the country. Over the next two weeks things should quiet down in the Big 10 until the week nine produces what should be two top 10 matchups with Penn State at Ohio State and Michigan heading to Michigan State.

In Other News. For the first time in history of the playoff era a Group of 5 school has cracked the top four. Cincinnati jumped two spots this week to no. 3 in the country. Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn will be taking UCF up to Cincinnati for an early 11am game that will be one on the radar. Gus loves an upset so that’s one to watch for early in the day.

Last week we said get the popcorn ready because more chaos was coming and week 6 did not disappoint, but don’t think it’s over yet. This season of madness hasn’t even played out half its schedule yet. The throne is open and teams all over the country are now fighting for it.

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