Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from the fifth weekend of the season. And, in case you missed it on Sunday, check out the latest edition of the NFP Top 25.
US PRESSWIRESince his last interception, West Virginia QB Geno Smith has thrown 26 touchdowns.
• The ridiculousness of Geno Smith. The West Virginia quarterback was 45 of 51 for 656 yards with 8 touchdowns and no interceptions against Baylor on Saturday in Morgantown, highlighting an offensive explosion that saw the Mountaineers roll up 807 yards of total offense. Smith has mastered Dana Holgorsen's complex up-tempo scheme. In my initial Heisman rankings released last week, I didn't have Smith No. 1 because of the pass-happy offense he plays in. However, seeing him consistently make the right reads and great throws on Saturday against the Bears was special. And I know Baylor's defense is atrocious, but no one can deny the talent of Smith and the touch he puts on some of his throws, whether they are short, intermediate or deep routes. He has thrown 26 scoring passes since his last interception. Ridiculous. However, if WVU is to be a legit BCS title contender, its defense will need to drastically improve after allowing Baylor to gain 700 yards of total offense. Next week at Texas is when the Mountaineers' real season begins. We know what we'll see from Smith, although he'll have to navigate a tough Manny Diaz defense. Can the Longhorns thwart Smith in his Heisman Trophy bid? And can the signal-caller get help from his defense?
• Urban's successful Big Ten debut. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was filled with emotion last week leading up to his first Big Ten game as head coach, and he showed it in his exuberance after the Buckeyes' win over Michigan State in East Lansing. The Buckeyes finally delivered a defensive effort that Meyer had been looking for all season, holding Spartans star running back Le'Veon Bell to just 45 yards on 17 carries and holding MSU to just 1.5 yards per carry. Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller was beat up all day, but he remained in the game and managed to throw for 179 yards and run for 136. Meyer's squad will host Nebraska under the lights this week, and there are some Buckeye fans dreaming of a 12-0 campaign and wondering if AP votes would turn in their final ballots at the end of the year with OSU No. 1.
• The magic is back in Lincoln. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez could have easily wilted under the pressure of trying to get his team to come back from a 17-point deficit at home against Wisconsin. Instead, "T-Magic" led the Cornhuskers on five scoring drives over six possessions, including four straight, to claim a 30-27 win over the Badgers. Martinez ran for 107 yards and threw for 181 more along with two touchdowns, and the Blackshirts held Bret Bielema's team to just 295 total yards, including 90 yards in the second half and just 56 yards rushing in the contest. Martinez and the Huskers offense wore out the Badgers defense and broke their back with big plays. All eyes now turn to Nebraska's contest with Ohio State next week. Could the Huskers claim Big Ten supremacy with a statement road win?
• If you haven't already, it's time to buy into David Ash. I was a late arrival to the party, but the sophomore proved this weekend that he can deliver in the crucial moments of a big game, leading the Longhorns to victory at Oklahoma State. He was able to put together the game-winning 75-yard scoring drive and was very good on third and fourth downs. The Longhorns converted on 50 percent of their third downs and were a perfect 3 of 3 on fourth downs, including the 29-yard strike to tight end D.J. Grant on fourth-and-6 to keep the GW-drive going. Ash's 32-yard strike to a leaping Mike Davis then set up Joe Bergeron's winning touchdown. Ash threw three touchdown passes to Jaxon Shipley, and it looks as if the 'Horns are positioned to be a legit BCS title contender.
CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 FOR MORE AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: WEEK 5
• As I noted last Friday morning, Washington put together a perfect game plan in its win over Stanford last Thursday night. First-year coordinator Justin Wilcox put eight or nine defenders near the line of scrimmage to contain Stepfan Taylor and the Cardinal ground game. And it worked, which was a huge difference from last fall's contest between these teams. With the run game less efficient, quarterback Josh Nunes was forced to make plays through the air. And he was unable to do so, as he finished 18 of 37 for 170 yards. And third-down efficiency remained a troubling issue for the Cardinal, as they finished just 5 of 18 on conversion attempts. Even when Nunes found Ty Montgomery for a couple of potential big plays, the receiver could not hold onto the football. Certainly, this Stanford offense is a work in progress. And Steve Sarkisian and Co. provided the blueprint to thwart David Shaw's Stanford offense.
US PRESSWIREThe future is bright for BYU with Taysom Hill at QB.
• How about BYU true freshman quarterback Taysom Hill and his 17-year-old running back Jamaal Williams? The backup tandem recorded 396 yards on the ground in place of injured starters Riley Nelson and Michael Alisa, respectively, in a blowout win Friday night over Hawaii.
• Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is already one of the most exciting players in the nation. In the Aggies' 58-10 rout of Arkansas, the dual-threat signal-caller had an SEC record 557 total yards of offense. He's averaging over 100 rushing yards and 300 passing yards per game in the team's last three contests. Meanwhile, we have to wonder if the Razorbacks will even win another game in 2012.
• I mentioned last week after its loss to Miami (FL) that Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh may not get a fourth season in Atlanta if his unit didn't clean up its act. Well, his future became even more bleak this past weekend as the Yellow Jackets were dominated at home 49-28 by Middle Tennessee of the Sun Belt. A week after GT surrendered 609 yards of total offense to Miami, the Jackets gave up 510 total yards to the Blue Raiders. Groh worked from the coaches' box rather than the sideline for the first time in years this past weekend, but that didn't seem to help the team's defensive woes.
• Northwestern has a good problem on its hands at quarterback. Kain Colter is a legitimate starter, but Trevor Siemian gives head coach Pat Fitzgerald a more traditional and polished passer. But that's fine for this offense, which saw Colter run for 161 yards and four touchdowns and record 131 receiving yards in the team's win over Indiana. NU's defense is improved from last season, but it will need to take a step up in competition for the Wildcats to convince the naysayers. That starts this week when the 'Cats travel to Happy Valley to take on a Penn State squad that has won three in a row after a tough start.
• Miami (FL) has some intriguing playmakers on offense in freshman running back Duke Johnson and sophomore receivers Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott. With quarterback Stephen Morris having a very good start to the season, the Hurricanes have become a fun team to watch. While depth and inexperience still plague the defense, it will be interesting to see if this offense can generate some big plays against Notre Dame next weekend at Chicago's Soldier Field.
• Georgia escaped with a home win over Tennessee, but Mark Richt's squad made a lot of mental errors in that game that need to be corrected -- and corrected soon. The Bulldogs play South Carolina in a showcase SEC East game this week.
• And, finally, I was definitely wrong about Virginia Tech. The Hokies are now 0-2 against the Big East this season, and they came into the year as my darkhorse pick to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
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- Geno Smith