College football Week 6 gave us multiple record-setting performances, saw one team removed from the race to go unbeaten throughout the season, and was packed with as many “wow” moments as you can fit into one week. We’ve sifted through the highs and lows to bring you the very best and the not-so-great of college football Week 6.
College Football Week 6 | Winners
James Madison Dukes
Once upon a time, there was a college football program called James Madison. They played at a level called the FCS, and although they were very good there — a powerhouse you could say — there was always a feeling that there was something more out there for the Dukes of Harrisonburg. So, they packed up their FCS bags, made the journey across college football’s great divide picking up some experienced playmakers on the way, and lo and behold, when they arrived in the promised land, they absolutely dominated it. The End.
Sounds like a fairytale, right? Well, that’s exactly what James Madison’s sensational start to their transition to the FBS ranks of college football has been. We said before the season while analyzing their potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects that Curt Cignetti’s program had been built the right way to enjoy some success, but never did we imagine the startling success they’ve achieved so early in their FBS tenure.
The outstanding run continued in Week 6. Despite a slow start to their conference clash with Arkansas State that was scoreless at the end of the first quarter, Todd Centeio’s touchdown passes to Solomon Vanhorse and Devin Ravenel gave the Dukes a 14-3 lead. While the Red Wolves enjoyed the more fruitful third quarter, James Madison stretched their legs — including a bruising Percy Agyei-Obese touchdown run — in the fourth quarter to log their fifth win of the season and third within the conference.
The 42-20 win triggered a string of firsts for the program and college football. The Dukes are ranked in the AP Poll for the first time in program history. They’re the first team since the separation of Division I football in 1978 to be ranked during their first season making the step up.
James Madison is the fairytale story that could keep rolling all the way to late November when they face a Coastal Carolina team who are also undefeated in the Sun Belt after college football Week 6.
Big Ten Conference
Through the offseason, the SEC and Big Ten conferences flexed their muscles as the two kings of the college football realignment castle. While the SEC remains the strongest conference, the Big Ten has reasons to be cheerful after a successful weekend for the teams within its walls and for those that will be entering the fold in the not-too-distant future.
Based on our college football bowl projections, the Big Ten could annex the College Football Playoff come late December. With Ohio State destroying Michigan State 49-20 and Michigan gathering steam as a potential playoff force following their Week 6 31-10 win over Indiana, the two teams appear to be on a collision course where “The Game” could decide the destination of the conference title but still allow both teams to sneak into the final four.
Meanwhile, the conference has four teams placed inside the AP Top 25 following college football Week 6. In addition to the Wolverines and Buckeyes, Penn State remains undefeated at present ahead of their clash with Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend. A surprising Illinois team also entered the top 25 for the first time since 2011. The Illini came out of their special-teams-centric showdown with Iowa unscathed to go 5-1.
Having cast their net out west in realignment roulette, the Big Ten may have caught the bigger fish than their SEC rivals. It at least certainly seems that way after college football Week 6.
USC and UCLA are both undefeated and playing eye-catching football ahead of their transfer in 2024. The Bruins put up over 40 points on a good Utah team, and the Trojans handled a tough Washington State test with relative ease.
It’s a stark contrast to an Oklahoma team who heads to the SEC at a time when the program looks to be heading in the wrong direction. The Sooners were defensively inept and lacked an offensive identity which admittedly wasn’t helped by a dire quarterback situation due to Dillon Gabriel’s injury. While the Texas Longhorns crept back into the top 25 following their 49-0 shutout in the Red River Rivalry, neither SEC-bound team was ranked ahead of that showdown.
Colorado State Rams
Not every team in the country can be undefeated. Not every team in the nation can be in contention for a conference championship or the College Football Playoff. Being a weekly winner isn’t always about being the best, playing the prettiest football, or even placing yourself inside the upper echelons of the ranked teams.
Sometimes, it’s just about being better than you were before. The Colorado State Rams have been the subject of this weekly look at the winners and losers of college football before. The last time wasn’t so favorable to the football team from Fort Collins. However, following Week 6, they deserve some recognition for lifting themselves off the basement of the sport.
There were high expectations for the Rams when Jay Norvell took the Colorado State reigns from a disastrous Steve Addazio tenure. Yet, the turnaround has transpired to be a bigger job than perhaps even Norvell envisioned when he took over. Their opening to the season had been listless, with a defeat to Sacramento State causing much embarrassment to the program and landing them in this very article as one of the losers of CFB Week 4.
On his return to Nevada, however, Norvell’s team battled and scraped to their first win of the year. It wasn’t pretty. The only offensive score was the 43-yard game-winning field goal that came as the result of a Nevada defensive penalty after the initial Michael Boyle attempt had missed. Sometimes to stem the tide of bad luck and results, you need an ugly win to transform your fortunes. It was the Rams’ first win since October 2021, ending the nation’s longest losing streak. They face Utah State next week.
During his regular radio spot in the heart of BYU country, PFN Draft Director Cam Mellor was asked about the top tight ends in the country. His response, when asked about the prospect most people consider as a lock for the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft was simple but at the same time spoke volumes about the talent the junior tight end possesses.
“He’d be the best tight end in college football if there was no Brock Bowers at Georgia.”
Following a difficult start to the season for the Notre Dame program, Michael Mayer has felt under-appreciated and almost neglected by the national media. In Saturday’s bruising win over BYU, Mayer racked up 118 receiving yards and two touchdowns, helping the Fighting Irish to overcome the 16th-ranked Cougars 28-20.
The statistical production was impressive, and he now leads all Notre Dame tight ends in career receptions. However, it was the performance itself that was sensational and show-stealing. People of Mayer’s size should simply not be able to move in such a manner. His athletic catch-point prowess is a joy to behold, with his extending, near-acrobatic first touchdown one to hang in the Louvre.
College Football Week 6 | Losers
Air Force Falcons
Air Force entered their Mountain West conference clash with Utah State level in conference play and with a 4-1 record after an impressive start to the college football season. Meanwhile, the Aggies — reigning Mountain West champions — have been sluggish in their start, struggling to a 1-4 record and in the midst of a four-game losing streak where they’d given up over 30 points to each opponent.
The Falcons’ social media team must have been feeling their chances when they released the game poster for their college football Week 6 clash. It featured a fleeing group of Utah State players in front of the mountains with three Air Force fighter jets chasing them down. On social media, it was accompanied simply by the caption “A Storm is Brewing.”
Yet, when the storm came in the fourth quarter, it was Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas who was doing the brewing. The junior quarterback hit Terrell Vaughn for a 34-yard touchdown before finding the end zone himself with a 32-yard touchdown run that put the game out of the Falcons’ reach and sealed a 34-27 win, just the Aggies’ second of the season.
Oregon State was a four-point favorite coming into their all-Pac-12 clash with Stanford in California. Some might say that was even generous to a Cardinal team that was 1-3 and had given up 40 points to each of its previous Pac-12 opponents. However, for the largest part of the late-night game in Stanford Stadium, it looked like the underdog was in position to pull off an unlikely upset.
It’s not the fact that Stanford snatched defeat from the jaws of victory that sees them on the wrong side of the Week 6 winners and losers. You can’t be chastised for something that was ultimately expected. However, it was the sluggish nature of the defense for the coffin-nailing touchdown that raises questions over the state of the program.
With 0:13 on the clock in the fourth quarter, defending a 27-22 lead extended by a Joshua Karty field goal, Oregon State still had 50+ yards to negotiate. A second victory of the season was in Stanford’s sights. Then Tre’Shaun Harrison happened.
Easily escaping Ethan Bonner — who better resembled a marshmallow trying to escape treacle than a college football cornerback — on release, Harrison took advantage again at the catch point. While the Stanford CB struggled to locate the ball in what must have been a dense fog known only to himself, Harrison snatched the ball and went the distance for a game-winning score. Such moments can transform or terminate a season.
Texas A&M Aggies
If you come at the king, you best not miss.
Jimbo Fisher came for Nick Saban in the most dramatic way during the offseason. Since then, college football Week 6 has been circled on the calendar not just for Texas A&M and Alabama fans but for anyone with even a vague passing interest in the game. This game was meant to be a hot ticket, grab your popcorn, edge-of-the-seat action.
Yet, Texas A&M was terrible through five weeks of the season. Then Alabama lost Bryce Young to injury and Alabama proved against Arkansas that they could win without him. A confluence of influences ensured that, at least on the football field, this game lacked a little of the excitement that we’d been anticipating since the two coaches had traded verbal blows in the build-up to the season.
Despite this, with mere seconds remaining on the clock, Texas A&M was in position to land a fatal shot to the king of college football. A drive extended by a Brian Branch penalty saw the Aggies line up at the 2-yard line with the chance to land an upset win for the second straight season.
Yet, the play-calling and execution ensured that the Aggies never crossed the goal line. Rehashing a play that they’d used already in that game really isn’t the way to outfox the wisest head in college football. As Saban explained, they were prepared for all possibilities of that play before Haynes King even received the snap.
Texas A&M is now 1-2 in the SEC and 3-3 on the season while Alabama stays undefeated. The king remains on the college football throne.
SEC Coaches on the Hot Seat
Is Fisher on the hot seat? For all the success in recruiting and for all the promise that they’ve shown at times during his tenure, the fact remains that the former FSU head coach has yet to deliver a double-digit win season. The defeat to Alabama in college football Week 6 ensures that another campaign will pass by without achieving that standard.
The hot seat can be a media myth.
Brian Kelly, for example, is just one season into a turnaround tenure with LSU but is already being discussed as a hot-seat candidate. Of course, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, but the Tigers were once again terrible this past week. Kelly’s decision to go for it on fourth down late in the second quarter saw a dramatic swing of points. It wasn’t the deciding factor in a 40-13 beatdown by Tennessee, but it certainly didn’t help.
Bryan Harsin is definitely feeling a burning in the seat of his trousers, and it isn’t anything to do with the historic extracurricular activities at Auburn. The Tigers whimpered to a 42-10 defeat to the reigning champion Georgia Bulldogs.
Struggling to muster even 250 total offensive yards, Auburn converted less than a third of third-down plays while being trampled on the ground by a ferocious Georgia rushing attack including *checks notes* famed dual-threat Stetson Bennett who was made to look like a 4.2-second 40-yard dash athlete by the Auburn defense. Rumors that Harsin is already a dead man walking may not be rumors for much longer.
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