It’s good to be the state of Mississippi right now.
After both its major schools scored huge victories to vault towards the top of the polls, they decided to do an encore. Mississippi State trounced #2 Auburn 38-23 while Ole Miss thrashed Texas A&M 35-20.
The win over Auburn vaulted Mississippi State to #1 while Ole Miss stayed at #3 behind new #2 Florida State.
Alabama managed to hold off Arkansas 14-13, while Georgia pulled off an impressive 34-0 victory over Missouri despite being without suspended tailback Todd Gurley. Freshman Nick Chubb stepped in for Gurley and had 38 carries for 143 yards.
Baylor had faced questions about its legitimacy going into the week, but boy, did the Bears ever answer. Baylor rallied from a 21-point deficit with 11 minutes to go, stunning TCU 61-58 in the highest-scoring game ever between top-ten teams. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty threw for 510 yards and 6 touchdowns.
In other Big 12 news, Oklahoma struggled to get past Texas 31-26. The Sooners were outgained 482-232 but benefited from a pick-six and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Oklahoma State blew a 13-point halftime lead and let Kansas tie the contest at 20 late in the fourth quarter, but Tyreek Hill returned a kick 99-yards to give the Cowboys a 27-20 victory.
Oregon and UCLA were both coming off upset losses, but only one team looked like it had put the loss behind itself. Oregon rolled UClA 42-30. Marcus Mariota accounted for four total touchdowns as Oregon built a 42-10 fourth quarter lead.
Arizona was ranked #10 after its upset of those same Ducks the week before, but the Wildcats couldn’t sustain that success. Arizona was down 28-13 going into the fourth quarter but came roaring back. The Wildcats scored 13 points to pull within 28-26. The two-point conversion failed, but Arizona recovered the onside kick and was able to drive into position for a game-winning field goal. Unfortunately for U of A, the kick was wide right, and USC managed to hang on for the win.
Notre Dame was able to escape unscathed after winning a 50-43 shootout at home with North Carolina. Everett Golson threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, but he also turned the ball over three times. Running back Tarean Folston rushed for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also contributing another 71 receiving yards and another touchdown.
Finally, one more team dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten as Duke knocked off #22 Georgia Tech 31-25. It was the Blue Devils’ first win against Georgia Tech in ten years.
Looking Ahead to Week 8: Big 12’s Time to Shine
Week 8 provides a bit of a breather after the craziness and awesomeness of the past two weekends. There are still plenty of good games on the schedule–including a matchup of undefeated, top-five teams–but it appears like this should be a fairly quiet week.
So all Hell will probably break loose.
In the Big 12, #12 TCU looks to rebound after that heartbreaking loss to Baylor. The Horned Frogs host #15 Oklahoma State in a key conference matchup. The Cowboys have flown under the radar a bit, with TCU, Oklahoma, and Baylor all getting the attention. Oklahoma State is quietly 5-1.
Both teams have questions surrounding them. Oklahoma State’s lone defeat came in a close game to Florida State to start the season, but the Cowboys have yet to play anyone else and struggled last week against Kansas. TCU blew a 21-point lead with 11 minutes to play, and its vaunted defense has been torched the past two years. The Horned Frogs have given up 94 points in their past two games.
Fourth-ranked Baylor travels to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers. West Virginia is unranked, but its two losses were hard-fought games against Alabama and Oklahoma. Quarterback Clint Trickett has been outstanding, throwing for over 2,000 yards already with 12 touchdowns, and receiver Kevin White is one of the best in the nation. West Virginia can score, and that has to be a concern for a Baylor defense that gave up 44 points to TCU (14 points came on a pick-six and a kickoff return).
Then again, Baylor’s offense scored 61 points and leads the country in offense (622.5 yards per game) and scoring offense (52.7 points per game).
Another key Big 12 game will take place this weekend, as Oklahoma hosts #14 Kansas State. The Sooners will try and contain Wildcat receiver Tyler Lockett. In last year’s matchup, Lockett ran wild, setting a school-record with 12 receptions for 278 yards and three touchdowns. He added another 162 yards on kick returns, accumulating another school-record with 440 all-purpose yards.
Oklahoma has had a rough couple of weeks. First, they were upset by TCU two weeks ago, then they followed that up with a lackluster performance against Texas. The Sooners managed to pull out a win, but they were outgained 482-232 in the game, including just 29 yards in the first half.
Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight has struggled this year, but the onus will be on him since Kansas State’s run defense is stifling. The Wildcats are fourth in the country in rush defense, yielding just over 80 yards a game on the ground.
It’s a bit of a quiet week in the SEC. The biggest matchup is #21 Texas A&M against #7 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but this game lacks the hype of the past couple of seasons.
Texas A&M is struggling, having suffered big losses at the hands of the state of Mississippi in back-to-back weeks. The Aggies lost to Mississippi State 48-31 and Ole Miss 35-20. Quarterback Kenny Hill has thrown five interceptions over the past two games after throwing just two the first five games.
Alabama also has had a rough couple of weeks. First, the Crimson Tide lost to Ole Miss 23-17. Alabama did rebound to win last week, but it was far from an impressive win. The Crimson Tide narrowly defeated Arkansas 14-13 and struggled mightily on offense. Alabama only gained 227 yards of total offense.
Texas A&M has been able to pierce holes in Alabama’s defense the past two years, but the Aggies have also been unable to slow down Alabama’s offense. Given the Aggies’ struggles with Arkansas’ running game, expect a heavy dose of the ground game from the Crimson Tide.
In other SEC action, #10 Georgia takes on that hard-luck Arkansas team. Georgia was impressive last week in shutting out Missouri without Todd Gurley, but the Bulldogs will have their hands full with the Razorbacks.
Arkansas’ three losses all came against teams ranked in the top ten at the time, and the Razorbacks gave them all they could handle. They lost by a point to Alabama, succumbed in overtime to Texas A&M, and were tied at the half with Auburn.
Georgia will likely be without Gurley again, but freshmen Nick Chubb was outstanding in his place last week, rushing for 143 yards on 38 carries. Arkansas also has a talented stable of running backs. The Razorbacks lead the SEC in rushing and are tenth nationally, and they are the only team in the country with a pair of 500-yard rushers.
Out west, there are a couple of intriguing contests. Oregon rebounded nicely from its upset loss to Arizona, trouncing UCLA on the road 42-30. The Ducks will face a Washington team that is unranked but is still 5-1 in its first year under Chris Petersen.
Oregon is heavily-favored, but Washington’s pass rush could be a factor, given the Ducks’ offensive line struggles. The Huskies are third in the country in sacks with 24, and linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha leads the country with ten. Oregon did get tackle Jake Fisher back from injury, which is a huge boost, but if the line can’t protect quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Ducks could be in trouble.
The late game should be interesting. It’s a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 title game. Seventeenth-ranked Arizona State will be looking to exact revenge on #23 Stanford after losing twice to the Cardinal last year, including 38-14 in the championship game.
Stanford’s defense is once again among the best in the country, allowing a measly ten points per game. Stanford has struggled on offense, especially in the red zone, and could be without receiver Devon Cajuste and tight end Austin Hooper.
The Sun Devils could have quarterback Taylor Kelly back. The senior has been out for a month with a foot injury, but he began practicing last week. If he can’t go, backup Mike Bercovici has thrown for 998 yards and eight touchdowns in the past two games.
Factoid of the Week
College football is all about tradition, and few schools are as associated with tradition as the University of Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish are one of college football’s blue bloods and have a deep, rich history full of traditions such as the leprechaun mascot, Irish Guard, and Touchdown Jesus.
One of those traditions involves the football team’s iconic gold helmets. The paint used on the helmets contains real 23.9 flakes of gold taken from the golden dome of the campus’ Main Building.
For years, student managers spray-painted the helmets the night before games, but that tradition has changed in recent years.
In 2011, the school went with a different, shinier shade of gold that more-closely resembles the Golden Dome. The process is too complicated for the student managers, so they no longer paint the helmets. The job is now done by Hydro Graphics, Inc.
However, the student managers still inspect and clean the helmets, removing any scuffs they find and making sure they are ready to go for the players on Saturday.
Game of the Week
#5 Notre Dame vs. #2 Florida State
This weekend’s marquee game takes places Saturday night in Tallahassee, as two of the six remaining undefeated teams will meet when the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish take on the second-ranked Seminoles.
Both teams enter the game with concerns. Florida State has not looked nearly as dominant this season as it did last season, and the controversy swirling around star quarterback Jameis Winston only continues to grow.
Winston was already facing a code of conduct hearing, and now there are allegations that he is involved in the same autograph scandal that has engulfed Georgia running back Todd Gurley.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, will be looking for a signature victory to silence the doubters. The Irish are a woeful 1-16 against top-five teams in the past 15 years. They’ve lost eight-consecutive games to top-five opponents, including seven-straight by 13 points or more.
On the field, this is a matchup of two of the most successful quarterbacks in the game right now. Winston and Notre Dame’s Everett Golson are a combined 35-1 as starters, with the lone loss coming in the national title game two years ago when Notre Dame lost to Alabama.
Golson has been much-improved this season, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,683 yards and 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions. Those picks have all come in the last three games, however, which is cause for concern. He’ll have to take care of the football if the Irish are to pull off the upset.
On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame gave up 43 points and 516 yards of offense to North Carolina. The Irish will have to do a much better job against a potent Florida State offense. The Seminoles have a banged-up backfield, but Winston is having another stellar season, ranking tenth in the country in passing yards per game and twelfth in passing efficiency.
Prediction: Florida State