Once again, a week that had few promising games on paper ended up delivering plenty of drama.
North Carolina State gave top-ranked Florida State all it could handle and then some before finally succumbing in the final quarter and losing 56-41.
Sixth-ranked Texas A&M overcame a 28-14 halftime deficit with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Arkansas, then won the game in overtime to stay undefeated on the year.
Georgia also had a bit of a tense game, outlasting a pesky Tennessee squad 35-32 behind 208 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns from Todd Gurley.
Missouri got some revenge on SEC East foe South Carolina. The Gamecocks ruined Mizzou’s undefeated season a year ago, but the Tigers came out on top this time, rallying from a 20-7 deficit with under eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter to win 21-20. The Tigers scored the go-ahead score on fourth down with 1:36 remaining.
Oklahoma State outlasted Texas Tech in a shootout, 45-35, while Stanford’s defense muzzled the Washington Huskies in a 20-13 victory.
UCLA finally looked like the preseason Pac-12 title contender many predicted it would be. The Bruins absolutely demolished Arizona State, 62-27
Looking Ahead to Week 6:
Wow, there are plenty of big games on the docket this week. Teams are now starting to get into the meat of their conference schedules, so we’ll be start to get a better read of many of these teams as they start to separate themselves from one another.
The week has already started off with a bang, as Arizona improved to 5-0 after knocking off #2 Oregon 31-24 in Eugene, throwing the Pac-12 North race into chaos. The Ducks’ loss now means that the winner of the Cal-Washington State game on Saturday will be in first place in the division.
Fellow Pac-12 contender Stanford has an out-of-conference tilt with ninth-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Led by resurgent quarterback Everett Golson, the Fighting Irish are undefeated and averaging 35 points a game. Golson has thrown 11 touchdowns against just two interceptions this year, but he’ll face his toughest test to date against a Stanford defense that leads the country in both points per game (6.5) and yards per game (198).
UCLA, now the presumptive Pac-12 frontrunner, must guard against complacency and looking ahead to a showdown with Oregon. The Bruins take on a Utah team that is much-improved this year and has a propensity for the upset, having knocked off Stanford a year ago. Arizona State and USC clash in another key Pac-12 South showdown.
The Big Ten gets a chance to improve its reputation when #19 Nebraska and #10 Michigan State square off on Saturday night. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah has been outstanding, rushing for over 800 yards with 8 touchdowns while averaging over 7 yards-per-carry. He won’t find things as easy against the Spartans’ stout defense. Michigan State is averaging over 50 points a game, albeit against lightweight competition, and has been balanced on offense, averaging over 250 yards both on the ground and through the air.
The Big 12 also has some key games this week. Baylor faces its toughest test to date against Texas while Oklahoma travels to Fort Worth to take on undefeated TCU and its vaunted defense. The Horned Frogs yield a measly 218.7 yards a game, but they have yet to face an offense as explosive as Oklahoma’s. Freshman running back Samaje Perine is coming off a 242-yard, four-touchdown performance against West Virginia and leads the Big 12 in rushing.
Baylor once again is fielding one of the most potent offenses in the country. Behind quarterback Bryce Petty and a deep, talented stable of playmaking receivers, the Bears lead the nation in both scoring offense (56.8 points-per-game) and total offense (641 yards-per-game). Texas has been stout against the pass this year, however. The Longhorns have forced nine interceptions and 16 sacks while ranking in the top ten nationally in pass defense.
However, the biggest games of the day will be taking place in the SEC. The country’s premier conference has a number of marquee games this weekend.
Third-ranked Alabama takes on #11 Mississippi in the afternoon. Both teams are 4-0 and have been impressive this year. Alabama’s offense has been more explosive than ever while Ole Miss features a suffocating defense. The Crimson Tide have won ten games in a row against the Rebels, but the game will be in Oxford.
The nightcap features #5 Auburn against #15 LSU. Louisiana State is coming off a disappointing loss to Mississippi State and will be led by a freshman making his first career start, but the Tigers did hand Auburn its only regular-season loss a year ago.
Factoid of the Week
If you follow college football on Twitter-and if you don’t, then why aren’t you?–you’ve probably seen plenty of “clanga” references when it comes to Mississippi State.
That is in reference to the school’s tradition of fans bringing cowbells to the game to create a racous atmosphere.
It began sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, but like most school traditions, the exact origin date of the cowbell is unknown.
Legend has it that during a game against archrival Ole Miss, a cow wandered onto the field. The Bulldogs went on to trounce the Rebels, and the cow was adopted as a good luck charm. Students continued to bring a cow, but over time, that practice was dropped in favor of just bringing cowbells.
Despite years of attempts by league authorities to abolish the practice, it remains as strong as ever. In 2010, the SEC amended its rule on artificial noisemakers and legally allowed cowbells inside Mississippi State’s stadium for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Game of the Week
Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State
Alabama and Ole Miss is getting the GameDay treatment this week, but to be honest, I don’t think Ole Miss can hang with Alabama. For me, this is the most intriguing game of the weekend.
Both Texas A&M and Mississippi State were predicted not to win the SEC West; A&M was too porous on defense while Mississippi State hasn’t fared well against the division’s titans.
Both teams have given reason to doubt those preseason predictions. Texas A&M thrashed South Carolina while Mississippi State pulled off a surprising upset over LSU.
Both teams have plenty of offense. A&M averages 51.2 points and 594.6 yards a game while Mississippi State is no slouch at 41.3 points and 537.5 yards.
Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill has received plenty of publicity with his play thus far, throwing for 1,745 yards and 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions, but Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott has been just as good. The dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns and enters the game with three-straight 100-yard rushing performances.
The Aggies’ defense has played at a much higher level this year and stiffened in the second half to give the offense a chance to complete the comeback. However, Arkansas is a rather one-dimensional team, so it will be interesting to see how the Aggies fare against Prescott and the Bulldogs’ more balanced attack.
Another thing to note is that Texas A&M has been deadly in the fourth quarter, leading the nation in fourth quarter scoring margin. Mississippi State ranks 100th in that category.