No team is safe in this chaos. Well, except for Georgia.
The Bulldogs are the class of the Football Bowl Subdivision — and it’s not even close. Georgia had no problem dealing with Kentucky and are cruising into the second half of the regular season.
But Iowa? The Hawkeyes will no longer be atop the Big Ten after a shocking loss to Purdue, which went right at one of the nation’s best pass defenses to deliver one of the biggest upsets of the year.
On paper, Week 7 looked like the last calm slate of games before a wild push for the College Football Playoff. That’s typically when craziness comes to college football.
Georgia, Iowa and others make up this week’s list of winners and losers:
The latest test was anything but: Georgia swallowed Kentucky’s offense, found some big plays through the air behind quarterback Stetson Bennett and simply overwhelmed the once-unbeaten Wildcats, winning 30-13 against the second-best team in the SEC East. Amid a crowd of flawed playoff contenders, the Bulldogs have shown no weak spots through seven games and are the unquestioned favorite for the national championship heading into the home stretch of the regular season.
Ed Orgeron will get a reprieve from the hot seat after LSU topped Florida 49-42 to snap a two-game losing streak. One of the nation’s worst running teams heading into Saturday, the Tigers exploded for 321 rushing yards on 7.1 yards per carry, with Tyrion Davis-Price doubling his season output with 287 yards and three scores. Beating the Gators doesn’t launch LSU back into SEC contention — Florida has more than enough problems, as we’ll see below — but it may provide a spark as the Tigers go through this gauntlet of SEC competition: Ole Miss is next, then Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M.
Another outstanding performance from a wildly underrated defense lifted the Cowboys past Texas 32-24 and into prime position to secure a spot in the Big 12 championship game. OSU held the Longhorns to 317 yards, scored on a pick-six to climb out of a 17-3 hole in the second quarter and dominated the second half: UT ran six drives for a total of 14 yards to lose two straight under first-year coach Steve Sarkisian.
The Tigers will bust back into the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll after beating Arkansas 38-23 behind perhaps the best performance of quarterback Bo Nix’s career. Nix completed 21 of 26 attempts for 292 yards and ran for 42 yards with three combined touchdowns, helping Auburn pull away in the second half after Arkansas briefly took the lead early in the third quarter.
As expected, it was not a struggle against Central Florida: Cincinnati led 35-0 at halftime and cruised to a 56-21 win, cracking the 50-point mark for the second straight game by forcing three turnovers and running for a season-high 336 yards. With Iowa losing, the Bearcats are the next team up for No. 2 in the Coaches Poll as they continue inching toward a playoff berth amid wild unpredictability in several Power Five leagues.
Behind a terrific performance on defense and another strong game from quarterback Bryce Young, the Crimson Tide bounced back nicely from last week’s upset at Texas A&M to beat Mississippi State 49-9. While quarterback Will Rogers completed 35 passes for 300 yards, Alabama had three interceptions and held the Bulldogs to just 5.5 yards per attempt. After the worst start of his young career, Young rebounded with 348 yards and four touchdowns.
After a 2020 season that ranks among the worst by any team in FBS history, Louisiana-Monroe is now 3-3 under new coach Terry Bowden after beating Liberty 31-28. How surprising was that? The Warhawks were 33-point underdogs but held star quarterback Malik Willis to 135 yards with three interceptions, though Willis did run for 157 yards and two scores. To have three wins with a shot at bowl eligibility — South Alabama, Texas State and Arkansas State are winnable games — is an amazing achievement based on the situation Bowden inherited.
North Carolina State
Is this the best team in the ACC? Pittsburgh has an argument. So does unbeaten Wake Forest. But N.C. State has been rolling since a disappointing loss in September to Mississippi State and is driving toward the Atlantic championship after a very impressive 33-7 win at Boston College. The Wolfpack got a strong start from quarterback Devin Leary, who went for 251 yards and three scores, and held the Eagles to 97 rushing yards on 32 carries.
ISU quietly is beginning to resemble the Big 12 contender most expected in the preseason thanks in large part to improved play from quarterback Brock Purdy, who completed 22 of 25 attempts for 208 yards and a touchdown in the Cyclones’ 33-20 win at Kansas State. That makes two good games in a row from Matt Campbell’s team after a disappointing loss to Baylor to open conference play, and right in time: Oklahoma State comes next Saturday, followed by Texas and Oklahoma in November. ISU could very well get back into the conference title game.
One week after one of the biggest wins in program history, Iowa’s run atop the Big Ten came to a brutal end with a 24-7 loss at home to Purdue. All of the tricks behind the unbeaten start — an unbelievable pass defense, an ability to force turnovers and enough of an offense to take advantage of friendly field position — ran dry against the Boilermakers, who got 240 receiving yards from David Bell and held the Hawkeyes to just 4.4 yards per play. Iowa remains the favorite in the Big Ten West but will now need to run the table to factor into the playoff debate.
SAME OLD STORY: Purdue shocks Iowa as Brohm gets best of Ferentz again
The run defense is one problem. The defense as a whole is another. Then there’s the mismanagement of the quarterback position, with Dan Mullen still leaning on Emory Jones despite the clear difference in overall production with Anthony Richardson under center. Once a real contender for the New Year’s Six, the Gators are winless in three games against ranked competition and quickly turning into one of the biggest disappointments in the Power Five.
Losing 30-23 at Minnesota is an enormous letdown after several competitive losses painted the Cornhuskers as a team set to round the corner under coach Scott Frost. Instead, Nebraska now sits at 3-5 with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa still on the schedule, meaning another season shy of bowl eligibility is a distinct possibility. Losing one-possession games has become the hallmark of the Frost era, which has been defined by wild inconsistency and the inability to capitalize on opportunities.
The Volunteers have played exciting and entertaining football under Josh Heupel, which alone is a breath of fresh air after several years of dull results under former coach Jeremy Pruitt. Most of all, Heupel has created an offense that has climbed into the top half of the SEC since Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker moved into the starting lineup. But a 31-26 loss at home to Ole Miss makes getting beyond six wins in the regular season a tall order based on upcoming games against Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia. Worse yet, the final minute of the game was marred by angry Tennessee fans pelting the field with mustard, water bottles and even a golf ball, which caught Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin on his right elbow.
A spot in the Top 25 is beginning to slip away from BYU, which has now dropped two in a row after a 5-0 start. The latest, 38-24 to future conference foe Baylor, featured an absolutely terrible performance on the defensive side of the ball: The Cougars gave up 303 rushing yards and 534 yards overall, the first time the defense had allowed more than 500 yards against a Power Five opponent since giving up 546 to Mississippi State on Oct. 14, 2017.
Stanford has now dropped two in a row and three of four after falling 34-31 to Washington State, a game the Cardinal led 13-0 after the first quarter before ceding momentum back to the Cougars before halftime. This is shaping up to be the second straight underwhelming non-pandemic season in a row for coach David Shaw, who is 29-22 since 2017 after going 66-17 from 2011-16.