It’s safe to say that week 6 was the best week of the year thus far. There were numerous big games, and even better, they all lived up to the hype. National title contenders were forced to prove their mettle in close games. Baylor continues to make scoreboards weep while Jameis Winston has Florida State rolling. Texas managed to turn the heat up even higher on Mack Brown’s seat despite getting a win.
Week 6 in Review
Several teams with national title aspirations were pushed to the limit on Saturday, but they all held firm and proved up to the challenge. Previously-undefeated Maryland was no trouble for Florida State, but Ohio State, Stanford, Georgia, and Oklahoma all had a tougher go of things.
Tennessee gave Georgia all it could handle, as the Bulldogs had to score a touchdown with :05 left to force overtime. The Bulldogs dodged a bullet when Tennessee’s Alton Howard’s touchdown in OT was overturned by instant replay and ruled a fumble. The game left Georgia pretty banged up, but as long as Aaron Murray is around, Georgia will be tough to beat. The senior threw three touchdown passes and became the SEC’s all-time leading passer with 11,625 career passing yards.
Questions surrounded Ohio State all week, and if the Buckeyes were ever ripe for an upset, this was the time. Coming off a hard-fought victory against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes were going on the road against an undefeated Northwestern squad in what was arguably the biggest game in Wildcat history and would be doing so without safety Christian Bryant. Northwestern was up by ten in the third quarter and led 23-20 going into the fourth, but Ohio State rallied to score 20 points and win 40-30 behind running back Carlos Hyde’s 168 yards and three touchdowns.
Oklahoma’s offense has been getting much of the attention over the past few seasons, but the Sooners defense has quietly returned to dominating form. OU faced its sternest challenge yet against TCU and responded with a 20-17 victory. The Horned Frogs held Oklahoma’s high-powered offense in check, but the Sooners’ defense absolutely stifled TCU’s offense. The Horned Frogs went three-and-out on their first seven possessions and finished with just 210 yards total.
In what was the highlight game of the day, Stanford held on against Washington in a matchup of unbeaten Pac-12 teams. The teams kept trading blows until a controversial call on fourth-down sealed Washington’s fate. Stanford’s Ty Montgomery was outstanding, tallying 290 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns–including taking the opening kickoff 99 yards for a score. The Cardinal needed every one of his yards as the Huskies outgained them 489 yards to 284. Washington quarterback Keith Price weathered heavy punishment–he was sacked 5 times–to throw for 350 yards and two touchdowns while Bishop Sankey tacked on another 125 yards and two touchdowns. Price almost brought Washington all the way back, completing a 16-yard pass to Kevin Smith on 4th-and-10. The play was reviewed, and officials determined the ball hit the ground.
Looking Ahead to Week 7
Week 7 may not have the same “name” matchups as the previous week, but plenty of potentially good games abound. Louisville kicks things off on Thursday night against 4-1 Rutgers. Remember, the Scarlet Knights spoiled the Cardinals’ perfect season on a Thursday night a few years ago. Can history repeat itself?
Georgia, fresh off its overtime scare against woeful Tennessee, hosts a surprising Missouri team that is 5-0 and ranked for the first time this year. Georgia hung on when Tennessee fumbled at the goal line in overtime, but the Bulldogs didn’t come out unscathed. Georgia was already without running back Todd Gurley–who is doubtful–but now the Bulldogs will be without backup Keith Marshall as well. Marshall suffered a knee injury and is out for the year, as is receiver Justin Scott-Wesley. Fellow wideout Michael Bennett also had surgery and will miss the game, but he is expected back at some point this season. That puts even more pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray to keep pace with a Missouri offense averaging 46.6 points. Quarterback James Franklin is having a bounce-back season and has already thrown 13 touchdown passes.
That game is the undercard for a clash of two SEC titans as #17 Florida squares off against #10 LSU. For years, the Tigers won with stifling defense, but behind quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU is lighting it up on offense this year. After scoring 59 on Mississippi State last Saturday, LSU is averaging nearly 500 yards of offense and 45.5 points a game in 2013. The Tigers will face a tough test this week, however, when they go up against a Florida defense that is second-best in the country in yards allowed, yielding a meager 217 a game while holding the opposition to just over 12 points per contest.
The Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas will get much of the hype in the Big 12, but it likely won’t live up to its billing. Oklahoma has been dominant this year, and its defense has returned to form. Texas, on the other hand, has struggled and had a controversial victory against Iowa State last week. On paper, this one won’t be pretty, and if you feel like watching a slaughter on the gridiron, direct your attention instead to Baylor-Kansas State. The Bears have steamrolled everyone and have posted absurdly ridiculous numbers on offense.
The Pac-12 enjoyed having the spotlight so much last week that it decided to do an encore. Once again, the biggest game this week will be out west. Washington must have angered someone in the league scheduling offense because the Huskies’ reward for nearly upsetting Stanford last week is a date with another top-5 Pac-12 squad: Oregon. Washington took Stanford down to the wire, but nobody has come close to doing that to the Ducks this year. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 355 yards and accounted for 7 total touchdowns last week against Colorado, and that was in just three quarters. The Ducks’ offensive juggernaut has posted at least 55 points in five-straight games and is second nationally in scoring average at 59.2 points.
Washington, however, may be one of the few teams that can keep pace with the Ducks. Behind quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey, the Huskies are averaging 557 yards of offense a game. On the flip side. Washington’s defense allows just under 15 points a game and is 10th in the nation in total defense. If the Huskies aren’t still bummed about last week’s bitter loss, this could be a good one.
Featured image via Scott Cunningham/Getty Images