NCAA Football Report (Week 5)

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The NCAA Football season marches on into October where games get more important with the playoff rankings around the corner. On October 28th the first ever playoff rankings will be released meaning that teams have four more weeks to make an impression and at least put themselves in the running for a playoff spot. That doesn’t necessarily mean that teams will need to earn a top 4 spot as it only really means they have to put themselves in a position to get in the top four at the end of the season. As October arrives teams look to the heart of their season as the first month for many of the top teams was full of good but not great teams. Now the conference schedules start and open dates are filled by ranked teams. There are no more walkthroughs in the schedules as every team provides a true challenge and for some teams that could mean a big problem. So far this year the top teams have done well with the top 4 teams staying the most part as the only change has been Oregon’s move from #3 to #2 with Alabama dropping to the #3 spot. Other than that small change the top 4 teams are the solid four that everyone is looking for to be unseated. Yet despite their stay in the top four the Crimson Tide and Florida State Seminoles have not looked like true playoff teams. The Crimson Tide are once again a solid defensive team with Nick Saban at the helm. Their offence is a little suspect though with Lane Kiffin leading the way in his first year in Alabama. The former head coach of USC has attempted to take Alabama away from the old run-first ground and pound offence that the Tide has run and move them into the new age. He brought a new pass-happy gun-slinging offence to bring Alabama into to the new age of offence. The new offence has met mixed reviews as it scores points but it makes a lot of mistakes, which is not something that Saban is used to. The Tide are currently ranked 50th in penalty yards with 214 yards through four games, last year they ranked 38th at the end of the season, and they have a -0.8 turnover margin that puts them 101st in the NCAA, they had a +0.1 margin trough the 2013 season ranking them 54th in the league. These mistakes have made Alabama look unlike themselves and as their toughest part of the season approaches some are wondering if they can avoid a big upset at some point. The top team is in almost the same boat but for a different reason than the Tide, and a much more dangerous one. The Seminoles are the defending champions and so they have the tough position of having every team they play coming out as hard as they can. Still the talent on the team including Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston should have been able to overcome that. Yet Jameis Winston continues to get in trouble and the ‘Noles continue to struggle to get by teams that they should easily beat. They have not had any major competition from the top 10 this year and yet they seem to barely escape every week with a win. It started in their opener when they beat the now #21, unranked at the start of the season, Oklahoma State Cowboys by only 6 was an ominous start to the year. They followed it up with an overtime win against Clemson, now unranked but ranked #22 at the time of the game, and a fourth quarter comeback win over unranked NC State this past week. The games have not been the best showing from the Seminoles and if they continue to play this way when they take on better competition they could be in for a rude awakening. Both Alabama and Florida State are struggling this year but they are still winning and for right now that is good enough to keep them in the top four of most polls. The true test will come at the end of October when the playoff rankings come out for the first time and the play from these first five weeks and the next four will determine if Alabama and Florida State remain in the top four, which may only be accomplished if they can get back to last year’s dominant play in October.


Heisman Watch

1. Marcus Mariota, QB (Oregon)
He may not have been active this week with the Ducks on an open date but he still remains the top Heisman candidate. With the rest of the top guys in the rankings recovering from some bad weeks or making too many mistakes Mariota looks that much better. He is the steady hand so far in the season and as he leads the 16th ranked passing offence and 4th ranked scoring offence in the league he continues to get a lot of attention for the Heisman.
Stats (4 Games):
74.0% cmp (33 att)
1,135 yds (214 rsh yds)
13 TD (3 rsh TD)
218.0 rtg

2. Todd Gurley, RB (Georgia)
Georgia has struggled with consistency this year but the one thing that has been a constant was their running back. Still it seemed like Gurley was struggling to find his feet after his Week 1 outburst and his Heisman candidacy suffered. This week he climbed back into contention after breaking 200 yards against Tennessee while adding two touchdowns. It was not enough to challenge Mariota for the top spot but if he can get going again there is no doubt he could be fighting to the end with the Oregon QB to take home the award.
Stats (4 Games):
69 att
610 yds
8.8 avg
6 TD

3. Kenny Hill, QB (Texas A&M)
He led his team to an overtime win in Week 5 but a big reason for being in that position was the fact that he threw a fourth-quarter interception that ended a chance to go ahead. That late game mistake will hurt his chances for the Heisman and has moved him down a spot in the Heisman race. He remains in the race though as he showed plenty of leadership in the overtime making up for his mistake and with close to 400 yards and three touchdowns on the day it is hard to say he still doesn’t have a chance.
Stats (5 Games):
65.6% cmp
1,745 yds
17 TD
175.9 rtg

4. Ameer Abdullah, RB (Nebraska)
Stats (5 Games):
114 att (3 rec)
833 yds (108 rec yds)
7.3 avg (21.6 rec avg)
8 TD (2 rec TD)

5. Everett Golson, QB (Notre Dame)
Stats (4 Games):
69.6% cmp (39 att)
1,142 yds (104 rsh yds)
11 TD (4 rsh TD)
164.6 rtg


AP Top 25:
1. Florida State Seminoles (1)
2. Oregon Ducks (2)
3. Alabama Crimson Tide (3)
4. Oklahoma Sooners (4)
5. Auburn Tigers (5)
6. Texas A&M Aggies (6)
7. Baylor Bears (7)
8. UCLA Bruins (11)
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8)
10. Michigan State Spartans (9)
11. Ole Miss Rebels (10)
12. Mississippi State (14)
13. Georgia Bulldogs (12)
14. Stanford Cardinal (16)
15. LSU Tigers (17)
16. USC Trojans (18)
17. Wisconsin Badgers (19)
18. BYU Cougars (20)
19. Nebraska Cornhuskers (21)
20. Ohio State Buckeyes (22)
21. Oklahoma State Cowboys (24)
22. East Carolina Pirates (23)
23. Kansas State Wildcats (25)
24. Missouri Tigers (–)
25. TCU Horned Frogs (–)


Key Scores:
#1 Florida State 56 – 41 NC State Wolfpack
– The score may seem like a comfortable one for the Seminoles but this game was far from comfortable as they scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 24-7 deficit after the first quarter

Yale Bulldogs 49 – 43 Army Black Knights (OT)
– The Bulldogs celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl with a thrilling overtime win thanks to Tyler Varga’s 3-yard TD run over Army in their first win over a Division-I FBS school since 1982

Missouri Tigers 21 – 20 South Carolina Gamecocks #13
– The up and down season of the Gamecocks continues on as they ended a three-game winning streak that including a win over Georgia with a loss to the Tigers in an important SEC matchup that lost them their top 25 ranking

#6 Texas A&M Aggies 35 – 28 Arkansas Razorbacks (OT)
– It wasn’t perfect but the Aggies pulled out a thrilling overtime win after scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter and adding another one in overtime all through the air as Kenny Hill helped the Aggies get past the Razorbacks

Next Week:
#6 Texas A&M Aggies vs. #12 Mississippi State Bulldogs (Saturday October 4th; 12:00 pm ET)
– Fresh off of a scare against Arkansas the Aggies are hoping to remain in the top 10 against another SEC opponent that could provide a bigger challenge than expected as the Bulldogs are coming off of a big win against LSU and take a 4-0 record into the game

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #11 Ole Miss Rebels (Saturday October 4th; 3:30 pm ET)
– The Crimson Tide are hoping that a week off has helped them figure out their penalty and turnover issues as they begin a tougher period of games started with their first ranked team in the Rebels who are hoping for a big upset in this one

#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #14 Stanford Cardinal (Saturday October 4th; 3:30 pm ET)
– The Irish have not started well all year as they seem to get stronger as a game goes on but if they do that against Stanford they may get their first loss as they begin the toughest stretch of games that they hope to start well

#15 LSU Tigers vs. #5 Auburn Tigers (Saturday October 4th; 7:00 pm ET)
– After a loss to Mississippi State, LSU recovered well against New Mexico State but now they have to adjust to one of the best teams in the nation as they hope to climb back up the rankings against the #5 ranked Auburn Tigers

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