Tag Archives: Paxton Lynch

Birmingham Bowl: Auburn vs. Memphis

Paxton Lynch

Do you know who that is? It is the name of the player you will be hearing the most about coming into this game. He is the quarterback for Memphis and he could be the best QB in college football. He will, most assuredly, be the first signal caller taken in the NFL Draft this spring.

Let’s love him a bit more.

Lynch has completed 280 of 407 pass attempts this season, for 3,670 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has thrown only 3 interceptions. Lynch has a 166.8 efficiency rating and his completion percentage is 69%. And get this, he is 6’7” and 245 pounds.

Thus, here is Bird’s strategy for Auburn to win the football game. KEEP THE BALL AWAY FROM PAXTON LYNCH! Brilliant, huh?

And how does one keep the ball away from Memphis and Lynch? By running the heck out of it.

Now here is where that proposition gets dicey. The strength of the Memphis defense is stopping the run. They allow only 137.8 rushing yards per game. Auburn runs the ball for 191.8 yards per game. Mark this as a critical matchup. The Memphis D-line vs. the Auburn O-line. Something’s gotta give. Or not.

Memphis Tigers

These two sets of felines have met only twice on the gridiron. Who do you think leads the series? If you said Auburn, you were wrong. Memphis beat Auburn both times they faced off. In 1975 Memphis State, as she was called back then, beat Auburn, 31-20, at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The following year Auburn fell 28-27 at the Liberty Bowl in the Bluff City.

Memphis is a member of the American Athletic Conference. These Tigers finished the 2015 regular season with a 9-3 record and they were 5-2 (third) in conference play.

Their interim head coach is Darrell Dickey. Also, a new head coach has been hired. Waiting in the wings is Mike Norvell, who was previously the offensive coordinator and Deputy Head Coach at Arizona State. That’s what they call them out there. Deputies. It’s the west. Norvell will be the youngest head coach in FBS football. He is 34 years old. I have a son older than that. When I was 34, number 34 was winning a Heisman Trophy at Auburn. You know who that was.

Now back to Memphis. There are a lot of great songs about Memphis. No, the football team. Short-term memory.

Pass the Geritol, please.

Offense? They average 510.4 yards per game and 42.7 points per game. Like I said, keep the ball away from Paxton Lynch and that juggernaut of an offense! Covering Mose Frazier would be a good place to start. Frazier nabbed 66 passes for 750 yards and 4 TD’s.

When Memphis runs the ball, Doroland Dorceus is their ‘go-to’ guy. He ran for 613 yards at 4.3 yards per rush.

And, by the way, Lynch is very good at extending plays with his legs. Keep the ball away from Paxton Lynch!

Auburn Tigers

We’re not going to say, keep the ball away from Jeremy Johnson or Sean White. We don’t know, just yet, who the starting quarterback will be for Auburn, but, suffice it to say that neither will strike fear in the hearts of the Memphis faithful the way Lynch will in Auburn Tiger fans.

But…BUT… whichever of those two guys Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee starts, he better manage a good game, not turn it over, and make good decisions. If the Auburn QB does not do these things, then the burnt orange and navy blue will, likely, suffer through a long afternoon at 400 Graymont Ave W, Legion Field.

Auburn’s QB numbers are pedestrian. Johnson is 94 of 156 (60.3%) for 1,043 yards. White has thrown 130 times and completed 75 (57.7%) of those for 1,064 yards.

What MUST Auburn do to be successful on offense? That’s right! They MUST run the football and run it well. The guys who can get that done? Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson. Barber has run the ball for 976 yards at 4.3 yards per carry. Robinson, who hails from Memphis, is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He has 513 rushing yards.

When Auburn does throw, their most popular target is Ricardo (The Prayer at Jordan-Hare) Louis. Louis has hauled in 45 passes for 699 yards. He is averaging 15.5 yards per catch.

The AU Tigers’ D has been a bit porous but they had begun to gel, somewhat, as the regular season came to an end. They allowed 421.8 yards per game. Opponents rushed for 189.7 per contest (WAAAAAY TOO MUCH) and passed for a 232.2 yard average in each game (WAAAAAY TOO MUCH).

Johnathan “Rudy” Ford lead all Tiger tacklers with 113. That was also good for second place in the SEC.

Placekickers

Daniel Carlson (Auburn) and Jake Elliott (Memphis) are excellent placekickers. Oddly enough, they both hit 22 of their 26 field goal attempts. If it comes down to a last second field goal both schools are, obviously, in great shape there.

What To Expect

A shootout? Possibly. But nothing like the 55-52 pinball game that Virginia Tech and Tulsa found themselves embroiled in recently. It should be something more like the 37-29 Nebraska win over UCLA.

Memphis is going to get some passing yards. Auburn is going to get some rushing yards.

Both sets of Tigers will score some points. The question is, who gets the most points? That is who always wins the football game. Every time. Book it. Done deal.

In the end, Auburn (6-6, 2-6 SEC) has more talent, SEC talent at that, and really wants to send this group of seniors, who have NEVER won a bowl game, out with a win. I like what I’m hearing from the practice filed concerning Auburn’s work ethic, attitude, and effort.

The Tigers of Lee County Alabama subdue the Tigers of Shelby County Tennessee.

Prediction. Auburn 34, Memphis 24.

Here is the link to the Birmingham Bowl website.

http://www.birminghambowl.com

Five You Must See: Week 11

#2 Alababma (8-1) at #17 Mississippi State (7-2) Saturday 3:30pm on CBS

Alabama made a loud statement last week by shutting down LSU completely.  Mississippi State, who’s lost to those Tigers and the Aggies of A&M, has since rattled off four straight wins during the midseason lull in their schedule.  Winning here would give them, Ole Miss and LSU new life in the crowded SEC West race.

This game features two of my favorite offensive players in the country.  Alabama running back Derrick Henry, fresh off a 210-yard, three-touchdown performance, is finally getting some Heisman hype of his own.  Most everyone was focused on Leo Fournette this time last week, but by out-rushing the former frontrunner by 179 yards, Henry has shifted the attention to him.  It’s time for him to follow it up with another stellar game on the ground to let everyone know he’s for real.

On the other side, watch out for (who else) quarterback Dak Prescott.  He’s really the only hope the Bulldogs have in this game.  The senior leads his team in passing and rushing yards, and I’m sure he would lead in receiving too if they had someone who could throw it to him consistently.  He’s also been responsible for 25 touchdowns this season.  For his team to have a chance in this one, Prescott has to go off.

This is the best chance all you Alabama haters have to see the Tide slip up again.  Tune in to hear Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson on the call.

#21 Memphis (8-1) at #24 Houston (9-0) Saturday 7:00pm on ESPN 2

Memphis ruined any shot they had at the playoff by losing to Navy last week.  Meanwhile, Houston’s 20-point win over SMU was much closer than the score suggests.  This matchup will likely be a battle of two great junior quarterbacks.

Memphis’ Paxton Lynch is getting some mention as a top QB in this year’s draft class if he decides to declare.  It’s hard to argue that based on his body of work.  He’s one of eight guys in the country who’ve thrown for more than 3000 yards.  He’s ninth in completion percentage at 68.9.  And with 19 touchdowns on just two interceptions he takes care of the ball too.  A signature game in front of a national audience would validate his high draft stock.

Greg Ward Jr. is just as prolific, though his game is much different.  Ward is that dual-threat that we’ve seen open up the NFL to new possibilities.  At 70.4 percent, he ranks second in completion rate.  He’s the top rushing quarterback in the nation outside of Navy’s Keenan Reynolds who has an unfair advantage, running the triple option.  To average 92 yards per game on the ground as a QB is just sick.  The Tiger defense is going to have to keep a spy on Ward all night if they hope to hold him in check.

All of a sudden Memphis finds itself third in the division, needing a win here and a Navy loss to have a shot at the AAC West crown.  Houston, on the other hand, still has dreams of an undefeated season and a playoff spot.  This is easily the biggest game in the AAC’s brief history.

Oregon (6-3) at #7 Stanford (8-1) Saturday 7:30pm on Fox

Oregon is finally playing well.  They’ve won three in a row, but a fourth will be difficult.  Stanford is really good.

The Cardinal calling card has always been a stout defense.  Now that they’ve added offensive firepower to their arsenal they’re an absolute nightmare of an opponent.  They can, and will, pound you between the tackles with Christian McCaffrey who averages 134 yards per game.  That’s made life so much easier for Kevin Hogan who’s completing 66 percent of his passes now that most of them come off a play action fake.

The Ducks are finally getting the production they need from Vernon Adams, which is good news because they’re going to have to outscore the Cardinal to win this one.  In the last three games he’s thrown 10 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.  Like McCaffrey does for Hogan, Royce Freeman opens up opposing defenses for Adams.  The sophomore standout has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of nine games this fall, with a pair of touchdowns in four of those seven.

It’s been a disappointing season for the Ducks but they’ve still got a chance to spoil Stanford’s playoff party plans.  There should be a fair amount of bad blood in Palo Alto.

#12 Oklahoma (8-1) at #6 Baylor (8-0) Saturday 8:00pm on ABC

The Baylor Bears have been waiting to prove themselves all season, but the Sooners have needed to prove themselves since taking a terrible loss to Texas.

This is the first of three gauntlet games that round out Oklahoma’s schedule.   They’ve got TCU coming to town next week and they’re headed to Stillwater for Bedlam against Oklahoma State in two weeks.  All three are huge obviously, but a loss here would significantly detract from the next two.  A quick note on quarterback Baker Mayfield: he’s completing 70 percent of his passes and averaging 10 yards per attempt.  That combination is astounding and needless to say, no one else is even close to that sort of production.

Baylor’s offensive machine is now operating with a backup quarterback.  Freshman Jarrett Stidham has the keys now after Seth Russell was injured two weeks ago.  He exceeded expectations last week against a formidable Kansas State defense.  He’ll need to be even better against hands down the best defense the Bears have seen all season.

Baylor also has a bumpy road ahead with trips to Oklahoma State and TCU, and a game against Texas on conference championship weekend that looks like the perfect opportunity to trip them up if they’re somehow still standing.  The odds are stacked against them, but that’s pretty much what they asked for.  Let’s see how they handle it.

Washington State (6-3) at #19 UCLA (7-2) Saturday 10:45pm on ESPN

Don’t pass out early.  The nightcap should be fun too.

Washington State has been entertaining this year.  At an astronomical 56.9 attempts and 417.3 yards a game, nobody throws it around the lot like the Cougars.  What else would you expect from a Mike Leach offense?  Luke Falk is another one of those guys completing passes at a 70 percent clip, but when you air it out 56 times a game it brings a whole new meaning to the stat.  UCLA’s defense has been banged up all season.  Falk and company will be aiming to take advantage.

UCLA is still alive despite back-to-back losses to Arizona State and Stanford.  They still control their own destiny with games at Utah and at USC after Wazoo.  Sure it’s tough to ask them to go out and win those last two, but that’s what championship teams do.

Josh Rosen has become a must-watch player for me.  He can make all the throws.  It’s clear he’s got the talent.  Now it’s a matter of him progressing as a quarterback, not just a thrower.  He has to learn how to diagnose defensive schemes and figure out how to consistently move his team down the field in order to take that next step.  I’m excited to see if he can do it.

Do the Bruins come out flat and fall on their faces again, or have they gotten their act together?  Stay up late to find out.

Week 9 Rundown: Are They Still Lateraling?

What a great time to be a fan of college football. The 2nd year of the new playoff system, and a third straight week with an all-time type of ending. We’re pretty spoiled. And the endings seem to be getting better. Or crazier at least. This one resulted in a game-winning touchdown on the final play with eight laterals, penalties called incorrectly, missed penalties, and refs appearing to use replay in unauthorized manners. I think everybody would be OK if those refs never oversaw a game again this season. That was horrific. With that said, the outcry for the outcome to be reversed is ridiculous. The proverbial “can of worms” and “pandora’s box” references are applicable here. It’s easy to say because the missed call happened on the last play, but what about missed calls on earlier drives that got the game to that point?

Duke was the beneficiary of three defensive pass interference calls on the previous drive (only one of which was clear-cut) that practically handed them the go-ahead score, a touchdown that didn’t definitively cross the goal-line. Overall, Miami was penalized 23 times compared to 5 for Duke (I didn’t know college basketball started already). I don’t care how undisciplined one team may be, that type of discrepancy is absurd. I do feel bad for Duke, and the refs certainly missed multiple calls on that final play, but I wouldn’t say the Blue Devils got screwed as many have suggested.

There WERE other games

It’s a good thing there was the Miami-Duke craziness because the rest of the day was fairly ho-hum. That was somewhat expected with many of the Top 10 teams on a bye. Two teams that put a scare into their respective conference however were Clemson and Stanford. The Tigers were able to outpace the NC State Wolfpack 56-41 in a trap game. A letdown after the dominating effort against Miami last week would have been expected, particularly with Florida State on deck this week. This was one of those games you just hope to escape with a win. “Outpace” isn’t exactly the word I would use as far as Stanford is concerned. They appeared to be channeling their Week 1 offense, putting up only three points by halftime. In elements which you would have thought would benefit the Cardinal, they looked sluggish but were saved in the second half by Kevin Hogan’s running against Washington State. A loss from Stanford or Clemson would have been a devastating blow to the Pac-12 and ACC’s playoff chances. With the dearth of quality teams, both conferences an ill-afford to have their eventual champion suffer another loss.

That risk will not go away this week, at least for the ACC. As previously mentioned, the Clemson Tigers have a battle with Florida State this Saturday in a game that will be the Tigers biggest challenge by far the rest of the way. The Seminoles had an impressive victory last week, topping Syracuse 45-21 with both QB Everett Golson and star RB Dalvin Cook sidelines due to injuries. A Florida State win on Saturday would likely spell doom for the ACC’s playoff chances, and maybe Notre Dame’s as well.

Those Fighting Irish played in the only game between ranked teams last weekend. While most expected Notre Dame to win handily, Temple not only hung around but had a chance to win in the final minutes. The Irish should have a few easy weeks before closing the year at Stanford. It doesn’t seem Temple has gotten the notoriety as the other ranked teams from the American Conference (Houston and Memphis), but this game shows that they have as good a chance as any to claim the Group of 5 New Year’s Six bowl slot. Memphis had another easy win, pulling away in the second half against Tulane while Houston had a dominating performance in beating Vanderbilt 34-0. It’s gonna be a great match-up on November 14th to see Memphis QB Paxton Lynch go up against Houston’s secondary.

It was a relatively quiet week in the SEC with top two contenders Alabama and LSU off. They’ll battle in Tuscaloosa this Saturday in what will be one of the best match-ups between highly ranked teams. It also may be a playoff elimination game with great defenses and Heisman contending running backs. Where have you seen that before? Something you won’t see in that ‘Bama-LSU game is what we witnessed in Lubbock. The Oklahoma State Cowboys gave up 38 points in the first half to Texas Tech…and still won the game. The final score ended up being 70-53 as the Cowboys continue to light up the scoreboard on their way to victories. They sit at 8-0, but having yet to play TCU, Baylor, or Oklahoma, it’s hard to tell if they’re actually any good. They’ll get to chance to prove they are when they get the Horned Frogs at home this Saturday. That game will likely result in another shootout, but TCU’s defense may have a decent chance of stopping (slowing?) OSU’s offense enough to get out with a win. The Horned Frogs have been getting players back on defense and playing much better on that side of the ball. They’ve allowed just 31 points in their last two games and held West Virginia to just 10 this past week.

Will the Horned Frogs’ performance be enough to get them into the Top 4? The initial Playoff Committee Rankings will be revealed today and the Big 12 could start this year where the ended last year, on the outside looking in.

Top 4

Clemson

Baylor

Ohio State

TCU

Week 8 Rundown: What a Time to be Alive

So you thought Auburn’s “Kick Six” a couple years ago was a once in a generation finish? You thought last week’s Michigan punting failure was a once-in-a-decade type of loss? So did I. And inexplicably, college football fans were treated to incredible, improbable finishes in back to back weeks. The Florida State-Georgia Tech matchup itself was much less meaningful than the Auburn-Alabama game from a few years back and even than last week’s Michigan-Michigan State game. But the Seminoles did have playoff hopes and a lengthy regular season winning streak.

They saw that streak come to an end with arguably the best kicker in the nation Roberto Aguayo having a last second field goal attempt blocked and returned for the game-winning touchdown. It’s not a total shock when a field goal gets blocked behind the line of scrimmage and gets taken to the house, but the best part about this one was that the ball landed past the line of scrimmage and the Yellow Jackets were still able to weave their way around and through the Seminoles for the score. That ending was the lone bright spot on an awful day for Hurricanes fans. That and fans can go back to spending their money on night club bottle service and beach days instead of banners to fly over the stadium now that Al Golden’s been fired.

Perhaps the biggest loss of the day however is one that won’t show up in a team’s Win-Loss record. Baylor QB and potential Heisman finalist Seth Russell sustained a neck injury and is now out for the year. Art Briles’ offensive system has been good for pretty much any quarterback that has lined up behind center for the Bears, but for a team that is known just for its offense, this obviously isn’t ideal. Baylor’s hopes now rest on the shoulders of talented freshman QB Jarrett Stidham, who at least has some game action this year, albeit in the 4th quarters of blowouts. Stidham’s Passer Rating in limited time is 255.7. In other words, college football’s passer rating system could use an overhaul.

Florida State wasn’t the only undefeated playoff contender to go down. Utah saw their first loss come at the hands of the USC Trojans 42-24 on Saturday, though I’m a little surprised the score wasn’t more lopsided considering the Utes lost the turnover battle 4-0. Regardless of this loss, I still have Utah as a Top 10 team and playoff contender. It seems I’m on a pretty lonely island with that though.

Utah dropped out of the Top 10 rankings and in the Campus Pressbox Mock Playoff Committee (which comes out every Monday) I was one of only two people out of eleven who still has Utah a Top 10 team. My thinking: Utah still has a really good defense, good special teams, and a pretty good offense. QB Travis Wilson had a bad day but has been playing pretty well overall. Everyone knows USC has Top 5/Top 10 talent, they just can’t put it together for a whole season. If they happen to play to their potential on one particular Saturday? I don’t look at that as a bad loss. There are plenty of other teams around the Top 10 with one loss, so I’m not going to drop Utah out just because their loss was the most recent.

Utah is still on track to play for a potential playoff spot against Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. Stanford cruised to a 31-14 victory over the Washington Huskies. Christian McCaffrey continues to do Christian McCaffrey things, rushing for over 100 yards as well as receiving for over 100, adding a touchdown on the ground and through the air as well. If he keeps this up, he may find himself at the Heisman ceremony. A fellow running back who is almost certain to be there is Leonard Fournette, but not if he keeps up performances like this past week. Less than 6 yards per carry against Western Kentucky? Only 150 yards and one touchdown? What is that? He must be hurt…All kidding aside, Fournette’s Tigers pulled away from the Hilltoppers in the second half and get a week off before their showdown with Alabama.

The Crimson Tide may have been ready for the bye week after recent big wins against Georgia and Texas A&M, because they looked uninspiring in their contest against the Volunteers on Saturday. A late defensive stop allowed them to sneak away with a 19-14 home win. The Tide also have the week off before their matchup with LSU. And while everyone likely assumes the winner of that game will be a heavy favorite to win the SEC and make the playoff, we shouldn’t put the final nail in the Ole Miss coffin just yet. The Rebels dominated Texas A&M in a 23-3 win and still only have one conference loss. A win over LSU next month would give them the tiebreaker over both LSU and Alabama. That is of course if the Rebels don’t lay another egg like they did against Memphis.

That brings me to my favorite hypothetical of this college football season. If Ole Miss runs the table (they only have 4 games left and get LSU at home) and wins the SEC Championship game, they would be an 11-2 SEC champ. A guaranteed playoff spot right? But what if Memphis also wins out and goes 12-0 with wins over currently ranked Temple and Houston on top of that Ole Miss win? Memphis is thought to have basically no shot to make the playoff even with an undefeated season but this would be an impossible spot for the playoff committee. They couldn’t possibly leave out an 11-2 SEC champ, but could they put that team in over an undefeated Group of 5 team that beat them? I think America needs to root for this scenario.

That Memphis team continues to look good, at least on offense, after winning 66-42 over Tulsa with QB Paxton Lynch having another outstanding day putting up 447 yards and four touchdowns. Normally this type of team would be a shoo-in for the Group of 5 spot in a New Year’s Six bowl, but not this year. The American Conference still has three undefeated teams, with all ranked in the Top 25. Houston continues to dominate opponents in Tom Herman’s first year as head coach. Temple is the third undefeated, and they’ll get their chance to make a statement this week with a home game against Notre Dame. That matchup is the only game between ranked teams this week. Needless to say, it’s not a great slate. This would be the Saturday to spend some time with the significant other and get in his/her’s good graces.

The playoff committee continues to look at a potential nightmare. The Ohio State/Michigan State winner would be an easy selection if undefeated, but the only other likely undefeated teams are Clemson (in a bad ACC) or TCU/Baylor (if their defenses can hold up against each other and Oklahoma). But unlike last year where the final two playoff spots came down to three or four real candidates, there may be six or seven this year with a solid case. I’m guessing there’s just a slight chance the talk about the need for an eight-team playoff isn’t going to get quieter.

Top 4

Baylor

Clemson

Ohio State

TCU

Week 7 Rundown: What. Just. Happened.

 

I struggled to find a place to start the Rundown this week since there wasn’t anything that interesting that happened this past weekend. Oh yeah..except one of the most insane finishes we’ll see in our lifetime. That Michigan State/Michigan finish is an all-timer and had everything you’d look for in an all-time type of finish: rivalry game, uniqueness, improbability, and context. If the game would have ended on a punt return touchdown or even a blocked punt it wouldn’t have been that crazy. We’ve seen those plays before. But a botched snap on the last play of the game? And the way the Spartans were able to take it to the house? As I watched the punter drop the snap I thought, “Well this is a disaster, but at least he can fall on it and Michigan State will still have to try a 50+ yard field goal or hail mary for the win.” Nope, the ball inexplicably floated sideways perfectly into the hands of a Spartans player with no Wolverine in sight. Then throw in the fact that both teams were ranked Top 10 with only one real challenge the rest of the season after Saturday. In 50 years when we’re watching TV in like 5D and kids are asking their parents (grandparents?) how we ever watched television like this, they’ll be showing replays of this finish.

The Michigan State-Michigan game overshadowed a dominant performance from Iowa in which they went into Evanston and beat Northwestern 40-10. On any other Saturday that win may have really put the Hawkeyes on the map, but they’ll still be flying under the radar more than normal. I think that’s fine, since I’m still not convinced they are that good and it’s hard to take any Big 10 West team seriously until we see what they do against Michigan State, Michigan, or Ohio State. And we won’t find that out anytime soon because Iowa avoided all three on the regular season schedule. So that matchup would happen in the Big 10 championship game, one that would have 2014 Ohio State-Wisconsin written all over it.

One team we don’t have to wonder if it’s any good is Stanford. That opening week loss to Northwestern seems like forever ago as the Cardinal have been a completely different team in the last month. Stanford housed UCLA 56-35 in a game that was never in doubt. They’ve scored at least 40 points in their last four games, which seems almost as improbable as the finish we saw in Ann Arbor. That should continue though with the emergence of do-it-all back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey torched the Bruins to the tune of 243 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go alone with 122 kick return yards on just two opportunities. Oh, and this happened. The easy comparison for Stanford is last year’s Ohio State, who unexpectedly lost an early-season game only to roll the rest of the way undefeated. Stanford certainly isn’t as talented as that Buckeyes team (or this year’s for that matter) but the schedule sets them up for a similar run. At 5-1, the Cardinal only have to go on the road for two games the rest of the season, and those two contests are against Washington State and Colorado. In a Pac-12 that isn’t nearly as good as its pre-season projections, they should coast into the Pac-12 title game at no worse than 10-2.

Though the Cardinal may have a conference championship game spot locked up at that point, they’ll have to remain focused if they want to remain in the playoff hunt since they have a fascinating non-conference game the last week of the regular season against Notre Dame. The Irish could still be in the playoff hunt themselves and it may be the only game left the Irish have to impress the committee. The Irish play consecutive ranked opponents the next two weeks, but I don’t think they’ll be soaring into anyone’s Top 4 with wins over Temple and Pitt. And what would’ve been a marquee win over USC before the year started now is just another W. The Irish saved their best for last, outscoring the Trojans 17-0 in the fourth quarter to take a 41-31 victory.

A team that didn’t save their best for last, or their best for the beginning, or even bring it on the bus was the Boise State Broncos. The Broncos committed seven turnovers, in the first half. How does that even happen? I’m not sure teams even get seven possessions in a normal half. Boise State’s 1st half drives ended like this: Field Goal, Punt, Fumble, Fumble, INT, INT, Touchdown, Fumble, Fumble, AND A 90 YARD PICK SIX ON THE LAST PLAY OF THE HALF. That’s how you give up 45 first half points to Utah State. The Broncos weren’t done though. After receiving the second half kickoff, they fumbled the ball away on their second play from scrimmage. Incredible.

Boise State was the favorite to earn the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl spot, a spot that is going to require a lot of luck to fall into now. That’s because there are multiple other candidates who are in prime position to make a run. Houston has been rolling this year behind dual-threat QB Greg Ward Jr. Their success, along with Memphis and Temple’s, has three teams from the American Conference in the Top 25. That should give the eventual conference champ enough of a strength of schedule to waltz into a New Year’s Six bowl game. It’s hard not to make Memphis the favorite out of those teams after the Tigers handily defeated Ole Miss on Saturday. After going down 14-0 early, Memphis outscored the Rebels 37-10 the rest of the way. It would take a miracle for Memphis to find their way to the playoff, but they would have a great chance of beating whatever Power 5 team they played in a possible bowl game behind the arm of future NFL-er Paxton Lynch, who is completing over 70% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just one interception.

The last few weeks make it harder and harder to believe that that Ole Miss team who just lost to Memphis was able to go into Tuscaloosa and defeat the Crimson Tide. The Tide have looked dominant ever since, going into Athens and routing a Top 10 Georgia team and going on the road this past Saturday and beating a ranked Aggie team in a game where the outcome was never really in doubt. Looks like reports of Alabama’s demise were greatly exaggerated. We’re full steam ahead towards another Top 10 showdown between the Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers on November 7th in a game where the winner will be heavily favored to make the playoff. The Tigers did their part as well on Saturday, fighting off a previously undefeated Gators squad who played extremely well considering the shocking news about Will Grier in the week leading up to the game. And this is your weekly reminder that Leonard Fournette is not, in fact, from this planet. Fournette has 1202 yards on just 150 carries (8.0 ypc) and 14 touchdowns in just six games. The cancellation of LSU’s opening week game may be the only thing keeping Fournette from breaking records this year.

Overshadowed by the LSU man-child, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is having nearly as good of a season. The dynamic Seminoles back has been carrying the FSU team while Everett Golson becomes more comfortable in the offense each week. Cook has been the reason the Seminoles have won in half their games and if his hamstring holds up, he should have a spot as a Heisman finalist.

Baylor is a team who has multiple players who could find their way to New York for the Heisman ceremony. WR Corey Coleman has already broken the school’s single-season record for touchdown catches with 16. In six games. Coleman is averaging 21 yards per catch on 41 catches. I would say that TD/catch ratio is unsustainable but with Baylor, you never know. But it’s unlikely Coleman could pass his QB as the team’s leading Heisman candidate. Through six games, Seth Russell has 27 touchdowns and 5 INTs. If that isn’t enough he also has over 300 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground on over 8 yards per carry. The Bears haven’t played much in the way of quality competition thus far, but they’ll have their chances in the last month of the season to make statements.

Finally, the defending champs made a statement of their own on Saturday. Ohio State put together their best game of the season, dominating Penn State on their way to a 38-10 win. The Buckeyes are slowly rounding into form, and they have three more weeks to sharpen their game before finishing the year with Michigan State and Michigan.

Top Four

Baylor

Utah

Clemson

Ohio State