College football’s Week 6 proved to be more than expected with upsets, former powers rising, and rainstorms potentially changing the outcome of Michigan’s season. Here are the highs and lows of the week in college football.
1. A doormat no longer
No. 3 Oklahoma entered their home game against Iowa State as a massive favorite, but that didn’t mean anything to the Cyclones. Iowa State fell behind 14-0 early, but the longtime Big 12 doormats refused to submit.
Quarterback Kyle Kempt completed 18 of 24 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns. He spearheaded a comeback that actually put Iowa State ahead 31-24 with 12:46 left in the game. Sooners Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield led his team back downfield to tie the game, but Kempt and the Cyclones stood tall. He found wide receiver Allen Lazard on a 25-yard pass to earn the 38-31 victory.
The Cyclones face an uphill climb to prominence in the Big 12, but for one day, they accomplished something even mighty Ohio State couldn’t do this season: they beat the Sooners.
2. The “U” rises
Miami (FL) once stood as kings of college football. The days of Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, and Butch Davis are long gone, but it appears the “U” is on the rise again. Oh, and this time the Hurricanes seem to be doing it without playing up to the old “Convicts” reputation.
Head coach Mark Richt led the Hurricanes to their biggest victory in arguably a decade with their last-second 24-20 victory over arch-rival Florida State. The win ended a seven-game losing streak to the Seminoles and put them in position to make a dark horse run for the ACC Championship game.
3. Bigger than the game
The Florida Gators’ lost a close one at home to LSU on Saturday, but their fans proved to be the winners. Their tribute to music legend and Gainesville native Tom Petty in the second half gave me goosebumps as I listened them singing “I Won’t Back Down.” The legendary Petty died at age 66 on October 2nd, 2017. His musical contributions to American music history will be remembered for decades, and the Gator fans reminded us of that with their spirited rendition.
1. The Targeting Rule fails again
The NCAA did the right thing by working to protect players from head injury. Unfortunately, the resulting “targeting” rule continues to cost players game-time for making clean hits. One of the most recent examples occurred during the second quarter of the Maryland-Ohio State game.
The Buckeyes’ Denzel Ward hit Terrapins receiver Taivon Jacobs with his shoulder. The hit landed in Jacobs’s chest/shoulder, and his head came forward, glancing off Ward’s helmet. Ward did nothing to intentionally harm Jacobs. Instead, Jacobs’s momentum contributed to the outcome.
This is not what targeting was meant to stop. There was no leading with the helmet, no launching from his feet, and no targeting of the head, neck, etc. Both the game and replay officials failed to call this properly, which is becoming more and more common. Their failure cost Ward and his team one game without his services and cast further doubt on the credibility of the targeting rule and the NCAA’s officiating. Oh, and let’s not forget the missed targeting call late in the Miami-Florida State game. The enforcement of this rule is a mess.
2. Louisville defense falters again
No. 17 Louisville lost on the big stage for the second time this season in a 39-25 defeat to rising No. 25 North Carolina State. The Cardinals entered this game with a chance to right their ship in the ACC after two easy non-conference wins, but the Wolfpack once again exposed a weak defense in a wild second quarter. NC State scored 17 points in that second quarter and never relinquished their lead throughout the rest of the game.
Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson still put up solid numbers. He completed 26 of 47 passes for 354 yards, one touchdown and one interception. However, it was the defense that once again disappointed, giving up 520 total yards. Louisville will never reach the promised land if they can’t learn to support Jackson and the offense. The Cardinals are now 0-2 against ranked opponent this season and have been outscored 86-46 in those two games.
3. Michigan offensive struggles
The Michigan State-Michigan matchup stood out as one of the best games of the weekend. Sparty held on for a 14-10 win in a rainstorm that plowed through Ann Arbor in the second half of the game. However, there were problems with the Wolverines offense before the storm arrived. Those issues came to the forefront against a Spartans team still trying to find its footing after a disastrous 2016 season.
Michigan’s passing offense sits at 75th in the NCAA for passing yards per game (218) and 62nd running the ball (167.8). Overall, the Wolverines currently rank 84th in total offense. These numbers might be acceptable if Michigan had faced a tough first part of their schedule. However, with games against Cincinnati, Air Force, and Purdue in the books, the Wolverines offense should be solidifying by now.
Michigan fans will probably argue that quarterback Wilton Speight is injured, but it would be a weak argument. The Wolverines are too talented to be this mediocre after five games. Oh, and let’s not forget that Michigan still has Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State on the schedule. The Wolverines must come together quickly on offense if they hope to compete for the Big 10 title.