A pretty seismic day of College Football saw the scales of power tip a fair bit, with Alabama, USC and Penn State all losing out to rivals in the playoff race.
As always, there’s plenty that could have been included but here are your winners and losers from week seven.
It’d be hard to start anywhere else but in Knoxville, where the Vols pulled off a historic win over Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. From the get go, Tennessee made things difficult for Bryce Young and yet the future NFL QB managed to keep the game in the balance until the last kick off the game.
At this point it also looks like Hendon Hooker will be playing meaningful snaps on Sunday afternoons as well. This win will be the proof that scouts use to answer the question ‘how does he play in big games?’. With 385 yards and five passing touchdowns the Virginia Tech transfer was very much the focal point for the Vols. It’s also quite incredible that Jalin Hyatt reeled in all five of those TD passes.
But the real winner from this game were the fans, more than 100,000 watched the Vols win. Some of those then stormed the field, and the sea of orange flowed from and around the stadium for hours after the win. Great scenes that encapsulate football at its best.
Hands up who thought Penn State at Michigan would be a close game? Nearly everyone did in their previews. Instead, Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards decided that Saturday would be the day that they reinvented the phrase, ‘thunder and lightning’.
In an excellent article, Lee has already covered off the strengths of Corum, and he looks more than ready to be drafted as one of the top running backs in next year’s draft. But Edwards is still emerging as a force to be reckoned with for the Wolverines. As a four star recruit, Edwards was ranked the fourth best running back prospect in the 2021 class. He also had the benefit of staying close to home after attending West Bloomfield High School. Now, in his second year on campus he’s showing why he came so highly rated.
The win moves Michigan to 7-0 and pushes them past one of the more difficult opponents left on their schedule. With Alabama’s defeat, it looks very likely that an undefeated season would see Michigan return to the playoff. Ohio State look like the most dangerous team that the Wolverines still have to face, and that promises to be a barnstormer on the final day of the season.
Continuing the theme of top 25 ‘winners’ this week are the Utah Utes. After a much hyped preseason the Utes stumbled to start the season, but they appear to be well and truly back on track with a one point victory over USC.
For large swathes of this game it looked like the Trojans might pull ahead and put this one out of reach, but credit to both sides of the ball for Utah – as they kept the game close enough for Cam Rising to run the ball into the end zone with 43 seconds left. The accompanying two point conversion provided all the necessary drama that was fitting for a go ahead score in a 43-43 game and Utah left with the W.
Special mention should go to Dalton Kincaid, who really should be getting more draft buzz than he is. With Brant Kuithe out for the season Kincaid has been the number one option on offense, and he’s already put up 558 yards and six TDs this season. With a PAC-12 only schedule to see out the season, Kincaid and Utah have got a lot of time left to push for a championship in 2022.
Two fourth quarter scores make Florida’s defeat to LSU seem closer than it really was. The Gators struggled to get the ball moving through Anthony Richardson and, despite a highlight reel run, it was clear that the highly rated QB needs some help if Billy Napier’s team is going to start winning consistently.
Facing a versatile signal caller in Jaylen Daniels, the Gators should have looked to pile on the pressure early and often. Yet the home side only managed one sack and three tackles for a loss all game. After a difficult start to the season, Daniels has grown in stature for the Tigers, and Florida were powerless to stop him at times.
With Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina coming up, it’s going to be a real struggle for the Gators to get past the seven win total this season. Something which may hurt them on the recruitment trail more than anywhere else.
This one is through no fault of NC State’s making, but after a promising start to the season the loss of Devin Leary for the season is devastating for the Wolfpack. With a difficult matchup against Syracuse, the announcement that their star QB was done for the year was only made public shortly before kick off.
Charleston Southern transfer, Jack Chambers, will deputise for Leary for the remainder of the season, but the difference in quality was evident against the Orange. Syracuse have been very good all year, as their 6-0 record now attests to, and 160 yards through the air was never going to be enough to beat them. There were flashes of talent from Chambers in the running game, but the Wolfpack’s coaching staff are going to have to make some adjustments during the week to make their offense far more effective.
It seems like a lot of Notre Dame’s mediocrity is going under the radar this season. As with any sport, the main talking points tend to be excellence or incompetence, and Notre Dame don’t really look like they’re encapsulating either of those extremities.
However, this weekend they were handed a loss by a Stanford team that hadn’t registered a win of note prior to Saturday. It’s clear that things have been a struggle since Drew Pyne took over the starting role, despite the recent run of wins. And, with a resolute Stanford defense managing to make plays in the backfield, things just didn’t look fluid for the Fighting Irish.
Marcus Freeman has been dealt a difficult hand to get his head coaching career underway and in many ways he’s doing an impressive job. But the takeaway from this defeat will be Notre Dame’s failure to execute in key situations, which is something which Freeman must tackle with his players.
By Andy Moore – @ajmoore21