Overall, the Week 6 schedule was perhaps the least compelling we’ve seen this season, with relatively few blockbuster matchups. Texas and Oklahoma headlined the slate with an early game, but for the most part Top 10 teams faced fairly easy opponents or enjoyed bye weeks.
LSU’s would-be test against Florida was rendered toothless by Gator injuries, Oklahoma State drew Kansas (and made the most of it), ‘Bama got Vandy, Clemson got BC, and Wisconsin got the day off.
However there were a handful of games that thrilled or disappointed, as there always are.
Best Win of The Week: Oklahoma 55, Texas 17 in Dallas
This year’s Red River Rivalry game teased us with the possibility that the two teams might as closely matched as the rankings indicated. Coming in at #11, the Longhorns were still a clear-cut underdog, but there appeared to be some hope that this year’s contest would live up to the standard set in recent seasons.
That was not to be.
On a national stage, Oklahoma made a convincing statement about just how good it was, particularly on defense. And Texas? Well, the Longhorns showed that they still have some significant rebuilding left to do.
As it turned out, asking a pair of young quarterbacks to succeed against the 3rd-ranked Sooners was too much. Both freshman David Ash and sophomore Case McCoy struggled mightily against a determined defensive front. Each QB had a pair of fumbles, though Texas got both of Ash’s back. Ash added a pair of bad interceptions as the duo combined to go 20 of 36 for 223 yards.
In contrast, Oklahoma’s established passer Landry Jones was outstanding, going 31 of 50 for 367 yards and three scores. As usual, he used receivers Ryan Broyles (9 catches, 122 yards, 1 TD) and Kenny Stills (5 catches, 51 yards, 2 TDs) to the team’s full advantage. OU enjoyed such success through the air and on defense that the running game was an afterthought. Tailback Dominique Whaley had a nice day with 13 carries for 83 yards, but was hardly needed.
Texas was limited to 36 net rushing yards. Taking the two beleaguered QBs out of the equation, the team still failed to break 100. Ash and McCoy were sacked a total of seven times by an Oklahoma line that set the tone all game long.
With Alabama and LSU playing so well, this was exactly the kind of performance OU needed.
Honorable Mention: Arkansas 38, Auburn 14 in Fayetteville
Worst Win of the Week: Texas A&M 45, Texas Tech 40 in Lubbock
In the early going this year, we’ve learned that Texas Tech is a good team. There would be no shame in losing to the Red Raiders, and defeating them, even narrowly, is certainly an accomplishment. But the Aggies needed more than a win over a solid team. The Aggies needed to prove to the nation and to themselves that they could play a full 60 minutes of competitive football.
Once again, they failed to do so.
After jumping out to an early lead, Texas A&M exploded in the quarter on Saturday, rushing for three scores and building an 11-point advantage at the half. The Aggies went into the break with 31 points courtesy of a balanced attack. A&M piled up 148 rushing yards in the first half and QB Ryan Tannehill threw for another 156 against a Tech defense that looked overwhelmed.
But A&M has done this in each of the last three weeks. Looking good early is one thing, retaining the resulting lead has proven to be much tougher. Just as they had in each of their previous two games, the Aggies enjoyed a double-digit edge as the third quarter began. And yet again, they were outplayed in the second half.
Tech refused to be rattled by the deficit as QB Seth Doege threw for 231 of his total 391 yards in the second half. He tossed a pair of touchdowns, including a late score that brought the Raiders to within five. Texas Tech outpaced A&M 20-14 after halftime, and it appeared that had there been more time, the Aggies would have collapsed yet again.
In the past three weeks, Texas A&M has been outscored 72-26 in the third and fourth quarters.
Honorable Mention: Georgia Tech 21, Maryland 16 in Atlanta
Upset of the Week: Wake Forest 35, Florida State 30 in Winston-Salem
At the start of the season the Florida State Seminoles were dubbed a Top 5 team with one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. Since then the results have been most disappointing.
Despite the hype, coach Jimbo Fisher and his squad have failed to deliver, losing to Oklahoma at home and Clemson on the road before meeting the Demon Deacons in Week 6. This should have been an easy victory; despite its 3-1 record coming in, Wake was hardly a threat. The team had lost to Syracuse to open the year, then scraped by fellow ACC doormats NC State and Boston College by single digits.
With E.J. Manuel returning from injury, it looked as though the ‘Noles would get back to the business of winning. Instead, they fell to 2-3.
Florida State turned the ball over five times including four interceptions. Backup QB Clint Trickett started the game but threw two early picks and gave way to the still-recovering Manuel when FSU realized that it needed a spark. The move resulted in a pair of touchdowns, but those were balanced out by two more INTs as the Wake defense refused to break.
Trickett was dreadful, completing only 6 of 11 passes for 29 yards. Manuel went 19 of 35 for 286. Both were outshined by Deacons QB Tanner Price, who connected on 21 of 35 attempts for 233 yards and three touchdowns. Price’s success fed off of the running game as tailback Josh Harris rumbled for 136 yards on just 13 carries.
In addition to killing itself with giveaways, Florida State racked up 109 penalty yards and looked out of sorts for most of the game.
Honorable Mention: Kansas State 24, Missouri 17 in Manhattan
AND THE GAME BALLS GO TO…
|John Mitchell||Matt Strobl||Zach Bigalke|
|Taylor Martinez, QB- Nebraska: I’ve been harsh on Taylor Martinez in the past, but I’ve got to give credit where it is due. After hearing boos rain down on him in Lincoln before halftime, Martinez engineered the biggest comeback in Husker history on Saturday night against Ohio State. Down 27-6 with a little over 10-minutes to go in the third quarter, Martinez went to work. He led Nebraska on four touchdown drives in the second half, while running for one of the touchdowns and throwing for two more. For the game, Martinez threw for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns to go along with 102 yards rushing with a touchdown to lead Nebraska to a 34-27 memorable first win in the Big Ten.||Josh Harris, RB- Wake Forest: So much for the Florida State defense. The stop unit that played so valiantly in its loss to Oklahoma was taken apart by lowly Wake Forest, and particularly by the Deacons’ running back. Harris tore off yardage in chunks, finishing with a yards per carry average of 10.5. He set up most of Wake’s touchdowns by peeling off long run after long run, including a 57-yard burst. Though it’s still too early to write off the preseason ACC favorites, Harris’ performance was a big nail in FSU’s proverbial coffin.||Austin Davis, QB- Southern Miss: The senior signal-caller had the game of a lifetime in Annapolis, leading the Golden Eagles to a huge 63-35 victory over the Midshipmen on the road to elevate them to 5-1 at the midpoint of the 2011 season. Davis beat the Middies with his arm and his legs, dangerous throughout the 60 minutes. He was a preternaturally-accurate 21-of-23 passing, racking up 283 yards and three touchdowns in the air. On the ground, he kept the ball 12 times for another 75 yards and a fourth overall score. Davis’ steady leadership led to the statement victory away from home.|