Alabama Continues to Dominate – College Football Week 7
The Crimson Tide rolls on while the Big Ten remains the nation’s strongest conference at the top. Those and more are some of the key takeaways from a wild Week 7 in college football.
Alabama is Still the Champ
Great american philosopher Pro wrestling great Ric Flair, the guest picker on “ESPN College Gameday” this weekend, once eloquently opined, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” Well, this weekend Alabama clearly showed that it is still very much The Man.
The No. 1 Crimson Tide rolled to a 49-10 win over No. 9 Tennessee, thanks to a stifling defense that held the Vols to just 163 total yards. Alabama dominated from the beginning, as Tennessee’s first ten drives netted a total of just 53 yards. The Alabama defense recorded a first-quarter pick six and held the Volunteers to just 32 rushing yards. Alabama, meanwhile had three players finish with 94 or more rushing yards and racked up a season-high 594 total yards.
Alabama will now turn to its last remaining big challenge, hosting No. 6 Texas A&M next week. Win that and, barring some monumental upsets along the way, the Tide faithful can start making their SEC Championship travel plans for the fourth time in five years.
This Could Be Just Round One of Ohio State/Wisconsin
Saturday night’s matchup between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 8 Wisconsin was a poster child for Big Ten football—pounding running games, big defensive stands, a driving cold rain and a wild, overtime finish. The good news is, we may get to do it all again in a couple months.
Ohio State kept its national title hopes alive, holding off the Badgers 30-23 in overtime. And, as you would expect, the game was evenly matched the whole way with the Buckeyes outgaining Wisconsin 450-411. The Badgers outgained Ohio State on the ground, 236-185. But Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett, who struggled early, rallied to run for two second half touchdowns and throw the game-winning touchdown to Noah Brown in overtime. That final score was his 89th as a Buckeye, breaking the school career record previously held by Braxton Miller.
It’s looking increasingly likely that the winner of the Ohio State/Michigan game will represent the Big Ten East in the conference title game. And while Wisconsin does now have two conference losses, the Badgers still control their own destiny with all of the teams ahead of them still on the schedule. So Wisconsin could well get another shot at either the Buckeyes or Wolverines in early December.
Nebraska is Trending Up
Yes, No. 10 Nebraska’s 27-22 win over Indiana was ugly. There’s no denying that. Playing with an injured quarterback and without their leading rusher, leading receiver and top tight end, the Cornhuskers struggled to find any offensive rhythm. But let’s give credit where it’s due—when Indiana went on a 15-0 run to pull within two points in the fourth quarter, previous Husker squads would have folded. But coach Mike Riley kept the team composed and led Nebraska to its first 6-0 start since 2001.
The Cornhuskers had a season-low 360 yards of offense and quarterback Tommy Armstrong had a few of his “Bad Tommy” moments, often throwing off his back foot and tossing two interceptions. But the Blackshirt defense had one of its best outings of the season and, with star receiver Jordan Westerkamp out, Nebraska got some help from other receivers making catches like this.
After winning just five games in the regular season last year, the Cornhuskers are already ahead of the rebuilding curve. Next Saturday, they get a chance for some payback against a Purdue team that humiliated them last year and then could all but lock up the Big Ten West against Wisconsin the following week. Even the most avid Nebraska fans likely wouldn’t have predicted that in Year Two of the Mike Riley era.
Ole Miss Falls Once Again
It seems like every year we think this is the year Ole Miss challenges Alabama in the SEC West and every year the Rebels let us down. This year, it’s happened earlier than usual as No. 12 Ole Miss has stumbled out of the gate with a 3-3 record, most recently falling, 34-30, to No. 22 Arkansas.
As good as quarterback Chad Kelly can be at times, Ole Miss is clearly missing the big play threat of Laquon Treadwell and can’t overcome the deficiencies of a defense that that ranks 104th nationally. Arkansas has beaten the Rebels three years in a row and, with three ranked opponents coming up in the next four games, Ole Miss’ window of opportunity to salvage this season is rapidly closing.
Nobody Wants to Win the ACC Coastal
We all know the real competition for the ACC title is in the Atlantic Division, where Clemson, Louisville and Florida State reside. Still, we’d hoped that someone in the Coastal could at least give them a run for their money. Early on, it looked like Miami had turned a corner. But the Canes are now riding a two-game losing streak. Then North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky looked like a Heisman candidate—until he threw for 58 yards and two picks in a 34-3 loss to Virginia Tech. So of course the Hokies were the next ones in line to fall, giving up two touchdowns in the final eight minutes to fall to Syracuse, 31-17.
At 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference, North Carolina is back in the driver’s seat in their division. But, at this point, it’s looking less and less likely that the Coastal Division champ will be more than a speed bump in the big picture.