We’ve reached the midpoint of what has been an unpredictable 2021 school football season.
Already, 40 ranked groups have misplaced, together with defending nationwide champion Alabama on Saturday evening. That’s the most in the first six weeks of the season in the AP ballot period (since 1936), based on information from ESPN Stats & Information.
And the quantity could possibly be even increased. On this previous Saturday alone, 5 different ranked groups trailed heading into the fourth quarter however rallied to win — Iowa, Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame and Wake Forest. That’s the most such groups on someday in 15 years.
If the first six weeks of the season had been any indication, the the rest of the season shall be an journey. Hang on, it is solely going to get higher.
Here are our overreactions after Week 6.
Alabama’s CFP hopes are performed
Even although I predicted in the preseason that Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher can be the first former Nick Saban assistant to take down his mentor, I’ve to confess that I did not see the Aggies’ beautiful 41-38 upset of the Tide coming.
Texas A&M had misplaced consecutive video games to Arkansas and Mississippi State, and had earlier regarded mediocre in a shut victory at Colorado. Aggies quarterback Zach Calzada gave the impression to be in over his head, and the A&M protection wasn’t wrecking a lot of something. That’s what we love about school football: Fisher is grossly overpaid one week; LSU boosters are determining tips on how to provide you with $120 million to rent him the subsequent.
The Aggies’ victory is maybe the greatest upset of the College Football Playoff period. It snapped Alabama’s 19-game profitable streak, its 100-game streak in opposition to unranked opponents and Saban’s 24-game good run in opposition to his former assistants. The loss doesn’t, nonetheless, remove Alabama from the CFP combine. As lengthy as the Crimson Tide win their subsequent six video games and enter the SEC championship recreation with an 11-1 report, a victory in Atlanta in all probability will get them proper back into the high 4, particularly in the event that they take down a No. 1-ranked Georgia group.
So the Crimson Tide will nonetheless have loads of motivation, beginning with Saturday’s recreation at Mississippi State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App). Only considered one of their six remaining regular-season opponents is presently ranked (No. 17 Arkansas), they usually’ll in all probability be closely favored the remainder of the means.
“Everybody needs to remember how they feel and not forget it,” Saban stated after Saturday’s loss. “When I talk about having respect for winning, that’s what I mean. You want to avoid the feeling you have when you lose.”
Remember that solely two of Alabama’s six nationwide championship groups below Saban completed unbeaten, the first in 2009 and the most up-to-date in 2020. The different 4 misplaced as soon as in the common season and recovered. That’s why the Crimson Tide nonetheless have the third-highest likelihood of reaching the CFP at 54%, based on the Allstate Playoff Predictor, behind Georgia (91%) and Oklahoma (59%).
“Hopefully we’ll learn a lot from this,” Saban stated. “We still can accomplish everything we want to accomplish. We’ve got to do things better than we did tonight. We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to be more consistent. We’ve got to finish drives. We’ve got to get more turnovers on defense. We need to get more stops on defense. There’s a lot of things we need to fix.”
Nebraska’s Scott Frost has the hottest seat in America
While Frost was closely criticized after Nebraska’s opening loss at Illinois, the Cornhuskers have really proven marked enchancment over the previous month, even throughout a 1-3 begin in the Big Ten. Nebraska had considered one of the most troublesome four-game stretches in the FBS this season — at Oklahoma and Michigan State, dwelling in opposition to Northwestern and Michigan — and performed admirably properly in shut losses to the Sooners, Spartans and Wolverines. Nonetheless, the Cornhuskers are 0-10 in opposition to ranked opponents throughout Frost’s tenure. At some level, his groups must begin profitable a few of these video games for him to stay round, however a minimum of there’s purpose for hope.
On the different hand, there is no such thing as a hope at LSU. Since Joe Burrow & Co. guided the Tigers to the nationwide title in 2019, they’re simply 8-8, the second-worst report via 16 video games of any group to win a nationwide title in the AP ballot period, based on information from ESPN Stats & Information. TCU went 6-10 after profitable all of it in 1938.
Auburn is the most up-to-date instance of a nationwide title winner crashing and burning. After taking the crown in 2010, the Tigers went 9-7 of their subsequent 16 video games and coach Gene Chizik was fired in 2012. There are many parallels between Ed Orgeron and Chizik, a pure connection throughout LSU’s struggles. Both applications appeared to catch lightning in a bottle: LSU had Burrow and the high-flying offense below passing recreation coordinator Joe Brady, and Auburn had Cam Newton, one other switch who gained the Heisman Trophy.
It’s in all probability solely a query of when, and never if, the Tigers half methods with Orgeron. Each of LSU’s remaining 5 SEC video games are in opposition to groups which might be presently ranked, beginning with Saturday’s dwelling recreation in opposition to No. 20 Florida (midday ET, ESPN and ESPN App). Then the Tigers play consecutive highway video games at No. 13 Ole Miss and No. 5 Alabama. It’s solely going to worsen. The Tigers’ finest participant on protection, cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., is out for the season with a foot harm. Star receiver Kayshon Boutte, who’s tied for the FBS lead with 9 landing catches (greater than the remainder of the LSU roster mixed), is out for the yr as properly with an ankle harm. LSU might simply be 3-6 after that powerful stretch, which is why ESPN’s Football Power Index provides the Tigers simply a 44% likelihood to make a bowl recreation.
LSU has myriad issues on each side of the ball. It ranks 127th in FBS in speeding with 83.3 yards per recreation, forward of solely Arkansas State, Bowling Green and Mississippi State. (The Tigers have practically twice as many carries as the pass-happy Bulldogs.) The LSU protection cannot cease the run, both. It allowed 330 yards in a 42-21 loss at Kentucky on Saturday. After defensive coordinator Dave Aranda left to turn out to be Baylor’s coach following the 2019 season, Orgeron made a $4 million mistake by bringing Bo Pelini back to LSU. Pelini lasted simply a season, and his alternative, former NFL assistant Daronte Jones, hasn’t fared significantly better.
In 2019, each button Orgeron pushed appeared to work, leading to what is going to go down as considered one of the best seasons in SEC historical past. Since then, nonetheless, he hasn’t performed a lot proper, on or off the subject.
A quarterback will not win the Heisman Trophy
The signal-callers who got here into the season as favorites are falling over the Heisman cliff as quick as Texas A&M kicker Seth Small’s household hopped over a brick wall to have a good time on Saturday evening. Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler might need misplaced his beginning job to Caleb Williams after the freshman’s sensational efficiency (212 yards passing with two touchdowns and 88 speeding with one rating) in a 55-48 victory over Texas in the Red River Showdown. Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei is barely finishing 50% of his passes and has as many touchdowns (three) as interceptions. Georgia’s JT Daniels hasn’t performed in three video games due to accidents, and Miami’s D’Eriq King is having season-ending shoulder surgical procedure. Sam Howell is main a North Carolina group that already has three losses.
While two running backs — Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III and Texas’ Bijan Robinson — regarded like the sport’s most useful gamers in the first half of the season, the odds are nonetheless fairly good that a quarterback will take dwelling the stiff-arm trophy once more. Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder are every very a lot in the combine. And do not overlook Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, who’s finishing a whopping 72% of his passes for 1,731 yards with 19 touchdowns and only one decide. Only factor is, I’m undecided a Heisman Trophy winner’s group has ever misplaced to Western Michigan.