Quick reaction to the biggest games of Week 5, with the big wins by Cincinnati, Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan, the huge loss by Oregon, and the survival by Oklahoma.
College Football Big Game Reaction: Week 5
Cincinnati 24, Notre Dame 13 Reaction
Let’s save all of the College Football Playoff talk for the next two months and start with this.
Cincinnati did what it had to do.
We’ll absolutely argue about whether or not the Bearcat schedule and overall body of work will be worthy of the final four – if the team goes unscathed – but it went on the road and beat Indiana, and it went on the road to beat a Notre Dame team coming off the buzz of the win over Wisconsin.
The Bearcats didn’t run all that well, but they got the hard yards when needed against the great Notre Dame defensive front. Desmond Ridder wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t throw any picks and he hit the downfield throws the Irish couldn’t connect on.
There were two turnovers, and the problems on third down will be a big deal if there really is an important showdown at some point, but they held up once the Irish had a little momentum in the second half, the American Athletic Conference lines held up, and the program proved it could win a game like this with everyone watching and all the pressure on its shoulders.
Give it a few days to breathe. Let the program enjoy the moment, and then the CFP spotlight is on.
NEXT: Stanford 31, Oregon 24 OT Reaction
Stanford 31, Oregon 24 OT Reaction
How did Oregon give that away?
It’s possible to have seen this coming with the way it slept through the first 40 minutes of last week’s win over Arizona – it took too long to get going in this.
But it did what it seemingly had to do down the stretch, the D took over the game in the second half, and Stanford had to go almost the entire length of the field to score a touchdown just to put it into overtime.
Both teams got hit with ten penalties, but Oregon’s big ones came late when it just needed to not screw up to get out with a win.
Anthony Brown was fine. He threw for 186 yards and ran for two scores, but he threw one pick – whatever. The team around him is good enough that all he needs to do is be solid, and he was that.
The running game ripped off yards in chunks late, the run of 17 straight points to take over the game should’ve been enough to get the job done, and then it all fell apart.
Was that a questionable pass interference call on the final play of regulation?
It was soft, but it took several bad plays to get in that position, and even then the Ducks had a shot in overtime with Stanford QB Tanner McKee out.
The Cardinal came though when they had the chance, and Oregon didn’t.
It was the Ducks’ fault for being in that position in the first place.
NEXT: Oklahoma 37, Kansas State 31 Reaction
Oklahoma 37, Kansas State 31 Reaction
5-0 is 5-0 is 5-0.
Is this a pretty Oklahoma team with a whole lot of pyrotechnics and crazy offensive explosions? No, and that might be okay.
Is this a team that’s struggling against inferior competition and making things way too hard on itself?
The defense that has the experience and talent to be a rock allowed 320 yards and three touchdown passes to Skylar Thompson, who came back from injury and got the Wildcats back in the game late. But the Sooners were able to hang on, they overcame a slew of attempted haymakers that almost landed – an onside kick that was flagged because of a double touch, and a barely missed catch on a key fourth down – and …
5-0 is 5-0 is 5-0.
Spencer Rattler was terrific. He completed 22-of-25 passes for 243 yards and two scores with a no-big-whoop interception that was like a deep punt. He got the O down the field at the end of the first half to set up a field goal, and he didn’t give Kansas State anything easy to work with.
He also helped OU score 24 second half points, and it still almost wasn’t enough.
We’re five games in and there still isn’t enough of a running game. 131 yards and 4.1 yards per carry isn’t going to get through the rest of the schedule unscathed, but that might just be what this team is.
More controlled, more steady, and with less of a margin for error.
Don’t start worrying about what might happen in the College Football Playoff. That’s for way down the road. Get through this, get through Texas, and keep on improving with a full four quarters at some point.
NEXT: Michigan 38, Wisconsin 17 Reaction
Michigan 38, Wisconsin 17 Reaction
At what point are we allowed to fall for Michigan?
It was woefully underrated – which means, not ranked at all – in the preseason polls, it wasn’t given nearly enough love for beating a Washington team that actually is good, and it’s probably not going to receive a whole lot of respect for getting by Wisconsin and it’s pathetic offense.
But just like Notre Dame was able to create the avalanche in the fourth quarter against the Badgers in a blowout win, and just like Penn State was able to hang on in the red zone for its tough victory, Michigan was able to do what it needed – and it was more impressive than it might seem.
The Badger D continues to be the truth, but the Michigan offense was creative, it didn’t make any big mistakes that mattered, and Cade McNamara was good enough to allow for the rotation with JJ McCarthy to be a curveball that made sense in a key time in the game.
Wisconsin had one good scoring drive late in the first half, but it couldn’t run on the Wolverine defense, and QB Graham Mertz didn’t do much of anything outside of a few good throws. Wisconsin is usually the one beating up and knocking out the other team’s quarterback, but Michigan was able outbully the Badgers.
That’s what Michigan is supposed to do. It took a wounded team and pounded it for the first road win in the Jim Harbaugh era as the underdog.
There’s still a whole lot of work to do with road dates at Penn State, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Maryland, and a home game against that Ohio State thing, but the team is 5-0 against five teams that all have an outside shot of going bowling.
It’s okay to think Michigan is good. For now.
NEXT: Georgia 37, Arkansas 0 Reaction
Georgia 37, Arkansas 0 Reaction
You’re not crazy if you think Georgia is the best team in college football.
The blowout win over Arkansas is even scarier than it seems.
The Dawgs totally dominated a team that ripped Texas and Texas A&M, and they did it with JT Daniels on the sidelines and a paper-thin receiving corps that seems like it should be a problem, but isn’t.
And why isn’t there any reason to worry about the passing game quite yet? After all, we did the Stetson Bennett experience last year and it probably cost Georgia a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The lines are beyond dominant.
Arkansas lives on great offensive line play, and it got destroyed with mistakes, false starts, and too many plays allowed in the backfield. Meanwhile, the Georgia offensive front blasted away at will for 273 yards and three scores.
This was over after the first drive.
This was a statement. Arkansas really might be a top ten-caliber team – and a high one – but Georgia has taken its game to another level. Now it has to keep this all going in time for Daniels to heal up and for some of the receiver parts to come back into the mix.
NEXT: Alabama 42, Ole Miss 21
Alabama 42, Ole Miss 21
Ohhhhhhhh, no. Don’t just blow this off as Bama being Bama in yet another yawner of a blowout.
This was when Matt Corral was going to win the Heisman.
This was when all the fun of the Rebels, and the Lane Train, and the high-powered scoring show that pushed the Tide so hard last year were supposed to rise up and show they could go toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team.
Alabama decided it was going to bring the defense this week, and that was that.
Corral wasn’t bad. He completed 21-of-29 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown with no picks, but he didn’t get any help from the running game and most of the team’s scoring production came way too late.
Bama held the Rebels to under 300 yards of total offense, didn’t allow point until it was 35-0, and it did everything right to put this away.
Bryce Young was efficient, RB Brian Robinson had the 171-yard, four-touchdown day everyone knew could happen at just about any time once he was healthy enough to be a full go, and offensive line blasted away early to make this a laugher.
Of course, Nick Saban will probably be peeved over the loose change allowed late, but that’s part of what makes this team tick.
All the honking about the Murray State game and the various little missed assignments, and all of the nitpicking – I avoided calling it Nickpicking, because we’ve all been through enough as a country – led to this. The more talented team played like it from the start, and because of it, the dangerous game became routine.