After a few weeks in a row of dull college football, week six finally featured some marquee matchups between championship contenders, and the games did not disappoint. Here are the winners and losers from week six in college football.
Winner: The Swamp
Ever since Dan Mullen became the head coach of the Florida Gators, he wanted Gators fans everywhere to make The Swamp come alive for every home game. He wanted a packed house full of screaming, passionate Florida fans for the Gators’ tough test against No. 7 Auburn, and that is exactly what Dan Mullen got. No. 10 Florida was boosted on its home turf by more than 90,000 Gators fans who lent their energy to help buoy the team’s performance. Mullen also came up with an effective defensive plan that clearly rattled Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix for the entire game. All of it helped turn The Swamp into a hellhole for Auburn, who only managed 269 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times. The result: Florida (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) picked up the marquee win of the college football weekend and sent the Tigers (5-1, 2-1 SEC) back to Alabama with their first loss of the year.
When UCF lost to Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago, it was made clear that the Knights were no longer the top Group of Five program in the country. After this week, it is now highly probable that the Knights are no longer the best team in their conference. Heck, they might not even be in the top three after their latest defeat. It was a late Friday night showdown that didn’t catch the eye of many, but No. 18 UCF faced off against then-unranked Cincinnati and lost. As a result, UCF (4-2, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) were dumped from the AP Top 25 Poll entirely, while three teams from the Knights’ conference are now ranked above them in that poll (No. 21 SMU, No. 23 Memphis and No. 25 Cincinnati). UCF now has a major uphill battle to make it to the AAC Football Championship Game, let alone win the conference. In all likelihood, it will be a different team that makes a New Year’s Six bowl from the Group of Five this season.
Week six featured three games between top-25 teams taking place back-to-back-to-back, making for the aforementioned marquee slate of games that viewers got to enjoy on Saturday. And, perhaps unexpectedly, all of them turned out to be defensive battles. The final score between No. 14 Iowa and No. 19 Michigan was 10-3 in the Wolverines’ favor — a game that featured no fewer than 15 punts, only 528 yards of combined total offense and five turnovers (four by Iowa). In the Tigers-Gators contest, only 37 points were scored in another punt fest, also rich with turnovers (there were eight of them.) Even the Big Ten battle between No. 25 Michigan State and No. 4 Ohio State featured less offense than expected. The Spartans (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) managed a measly 10 points, while the Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) garnered their lowest point total of the season. Though none of the games were particularly terrible to watch, none were the type of games most fans were hoping for — unless you bet the under, in which case, good for you!
Loser: Kansas State
Things looked so much brighter for Kansas State two weeks ago. The Wildcats were undefeated heading into conference play, were coming off a solid comeback victory against Mississippi State in Starkville and were actually ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll. Now, the season is all falling apart for Bill Snyder’s team. In week five, Kansas State (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) put up a lifeless performance at Oklahoma State and followed it up in week six with a blowout at home at the hands of Baylor. The Wildcats’ offense has looked incredibly sluggish the past two weeks, and everyone knows that good offense is a requirement if one wants to win games in the Big 12. This Kansas State team is a long cry from the old, successful Wildcat teams under Bill Snyder; last year the team had its eight-season bowl-eligibility streak snapped. With two early losses in conference play, and with games still to play against No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 11 Texas, Kansas State could be heading that way once more.
Honorable Mention: Fourth and Far from Goal
Oklahoma won its week-six contest at Kansas pretty handily, as the Sooners usually do. More generally, Oklahoma typically has one of the best offenses in the entire country, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have hiccups every now and then. One of those hiccups occurred in a contest against the Jayhawks when two horribly blown plays in a row gave the Sooners a third and goal from midfield. One play and one penalty later, the Sooners were punting on a fourth and goal from the Kansas 44-yard line. For those of us who have never seen a punt on a fourth and goal before, we can scratch it off our bucket lists.