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CFB Saturday: What we learned

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Alabama hushed questions about its ability to win with defense, scoring a 25-0 shutout of high-revving Ole Miss and quarterback Bo Wallace, who promised the Rebels would put up some points.

The Crimson Tide produced several big plays on defense, holding the Rebels without points inside its own 20-yard line three seperate times.

Alabama provided another lesson in its dominance. Here's what else we learned Week Five of the 2013 college football season:

--Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is back -- he is healthy and so are the Buckeyes, the clear class of the Big Ten in September.

The early Heisman Trophy front-runner and returning Big Ten offensive player of the year had missed most of the past three games with a sprained knee, but he returned to the starting role against Wisconsin and helped the Buckeyes win a key early Big Ten showdown. Miller threw four touchdown passes without an interception in the 31-24 win. "I've got to take care of that knee," Miller said after Ohio State's 17th straight win.

--Texas A&M can move it without Manziel.

Quarterback Johnny Manziel played more of a bit part in the second half of a roan-soaked win at Arkansas. But Aggies ran for 150 of their 262 yards after halftime with heavy rainfall causing ball-handling strife on both sides. Manziel only accounted for 10 second-half rushing yards as A&M relied on its running back trio of Trey Williams, Tra Carson and Ben Malena to pound the ball. The Aggies ran the ball on all nine plays of a third-quarter touchdown drive that extended the lead to 38-27. "For us to come in the second half with the elements the way they were, our offensive line I thought played very, very well," A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said.

--Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell is no fluke.

Though he didn't match his exploits against Tulsa when he threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns in his first start, he did more than enough to keep Oklahoma unbeaten. He was 22 of 30 passing with 232 yards and two scores, including finding Sterling Shepard for a 54-yard score with 12:24 left in the game, eventually giving the Sooners a 35-21 lead. "He put the ball where it needed to be, finding the right guys, going through his reads," coach Bob Stoops said. "And give credit to the line to give (him) the opportunity to find those guys. So I thought he played great."

--Notre Dame misses 2012 starting quarterback Everett Golson badly.

Tommy Rees was 9 for 24 with two touchdowns and three interceptions. It was also his second straight week of struggles, following up a 14-for-34 day with 142 yards against Michigan State. "Obviously, I'm disappointed with how I played individually. You've got to be better," Rees said. "You can't turn the ball over and expect to win against good teams like Oklahoma."

--The SEC is again a quarterback league.

Defenses have dominated this conference for a decade, but on the heels of producing a Heisman Trophy-winning freshman, it's more evident than ever that the SEC is leaning as much on quarterbacks as other BCS conferences.

--Georgia's Aaron Murray can come up big against Top 10 teams.

After being criticized for his inability to lead Georgia to victories against teams ranked in the Top 10, Murray has now won two straight. Saturday's 44-41 victory over No. 6 LSU was his second in a row ranked No. 6 following the Bulldogs' 41-30 win over South Carolina three weeks ago.

Like Murray, LSU's Zach Mettenberger is a big-time quarterback. His 372 yards passing Saturday are the most by a Tiger quarterback since Rohan Davey threw for 444 against Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl. His 1,398 yards through five games are the most ever by an LSU quarterback at this point in the season.

--West Virginia backup quarterback Clint Trickett isn't going to be Peyton Manning -- but he knows how to win.

Trickett isn't going to rip through top-tier defenses with passes to the boundary. But he has moxie and toughness enough to make WVU's offense effective. Coming off a shutout at Maryland with Ford Childress at quarterback Trickett did just enough to guide a stunning upset over No. 12 Oklahoma State. With Childress (torn pectoral) injured, Trickett got the surprise start, passed for 300 yards and showed that the more experience he gets the better he will do in the Air Raid offense.

--South Carolina found its balance.

Running back Mike Davis carried the load for South Carolina's offense. The Gamecocks had to rely exclusively on Davis in the second half at Central Florida, after his backup, Brandon Wilds, left the game with a sprained elbow. Davis responded, burrowing his way though the middle of the UCF defense, breaking tackles or bouncing off defenders to gain extra yardage.

"Mike Davis was killing us in that second half," UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer said. "We got the better of them in the first half, but in the second half, we were in position to make plays on him in the backfield and he'd just bounce right off us and gain another four or five yards. That was a killer."

--Oklahoma State has to find a running game to take some pressure off of J.W. Walsh, who does not throw well under pressure. He is better running the ball and only has Josh Stewart as a real breakaway threat in the receiving game.

--Washington running backs Ka'Deem Carey and Bishop Sankey are the class of the Pac-12.

Thanks to torrential rain, Cal and Washington knew their opponents wanted to run the ball. That knowledge aided them little in slowing down the two best backs on the West Coast. Carey rushed 30 times for 132 yards, and Sankey gashed the Wildcats for 161 yards on 40 attempts. Each showed toughness, too, racking up plenty of yards after contact against defenses designed to stop them. Sankey is the nation's No. 5 rusher after week five with 104 carries for 607 yards.

"He's a stud," Washington offensive tackle Ben Riva said. "We are lucky to have him."
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