Winners and losers from Week 6: Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Iowa and a Michigan State RB come out on top

·7 min read

Long touchdown runs, longer touchdown throws, a 28-point first quarter, two touchdowns in the final 90 seconds, a possible quarterback controversy, the biggest comeback and the highest-scoring game in series history.

This year's Red River Showdown between No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 23 Texas packed a season of twists into four quarters. Keyed by a true freshman quarterback, the Sooners' 55-48 win sets up the distinct possibility these rivals meet again in December to decide the Big 12 championship.

Over in the Big Ten, No. 3 Iowa climbed out of an early hole and beat No. 4 Penn State 23-20 to move one step closer to an unbeaten regular season. The complexion of this key cross-divisional matchup changed dramatically after the Nittany Lions lost quarterback Sean Clifford to injury.

No. 2 Georgia held serve against No. 19 Auburn, but not without controversy: The Bulldogs' defense gave up a touchdown in the 34-10 win, the second allowed to any opponent and the first since Sept. 18.

And in the biggest shocker of the season, No. 1 Alabama went to Texas A&M and lost 41-38 on a last-second field goal.

Those teams and more make up this week's list of winners and losers:

WINNERS

Texas A&M

Reeling after two early losses and already a non-factor for the national championship, A&M pulled off one of the great upsets in recent SEC history by knocking off the Crimson Tide and creating even more anarchy in the race for the College Football Playoff. The win speaks to the program's overall talent under coach Jimbo Fisher and to the development of backup quarterback Zach Calzada, who had struggled since being inserted into the lineup due to an injury to starter Haynes King in early September but finished with 285 yards and three scores.

Oklahoma

Down 28-7 after the first quarter, OU inserted freshman quarterback Caleb Williams and charged back to beat the rival Longhorns. After playing so well through five games, the Sooners' defense was shoved early but responded to keep UT out of the end zone from just over midway through the second quarter until one left minute left in the fourth. The win keeps OU on track for the playoff but does create a bit of a dilemma for coach Lincoln Riley, who may hand the offense over to Williams after he accounted for 300 yards of offense and three scores.

Iowa

Iowa wide receiver Charlie Jones, right, scores a touchdown as Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown defends at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa wide receiver Charlie Jones, right, scores a touchdown as Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown defends at Kinnick Stadium.

There is nothing particularly pretty about Iowa except for the wins piled on top of wins. Six straight to open this season joins six straight to end 2020 to paint Iowa as one of the hottest teams in the country and a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten and reach the playoff. After a sluggish start, quarterback Spencer Petras completed 17 of 31 attempts for 195 yards and two touchdowns, the second a 44-yard connection to Nico Ragaini to give Iowa the lead.

Ole Miss

The No. 17 Rebels rebounded to beat No. 16 Arkansas 52-51, avoiding a second straight loss after stopping the Razorbacks' two-point conversion with no time on the clock. Quarterback Matt Corral threw for 287 yards, ran for 94 and had four touchdowns to carry the Ole Miss offense, which was held under wraps in last week's loss to top-ranked Alabama but has gained at least 569 yards against every opponent other than the Crimson Tide.

Kenneth Walker III

The Wake Forest transfer has helped transform No. 11 Michigan State's offense and played a crucial role in the Spartans' surprising 6-0 start. Walker went for 232 yards on 29 carries in a 31-13 win against Rutgers, highlighted by his school-record 94-yard scoring run to break the game open in the third quarter. That was one of four scoring plays of 60 or more yards for MSU, joining three long touchdown throws from Payton Thorne to wide receiver Jalen Nailor. Walker is playing his way onto every postseason All-America team.

Massachusetts

The Minutemen ran for 247 yards, forced three turnovers and beat Connecticut 27-13 to snap the program's 16-game losing streak and settle once and for all which team is the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision. (That would be the Huskies.)

Notre Dame

Down 29-21 in the fourth quarter, the Irish scored 11 unanswered points and won 32-29 at Virginia Tech to stick in the New Year's Six race. While the win keeps those postseason hopes alive, there are still issues at quarterback: Jack Coan and Tyler Buchner split snaps and combined for 221 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Will Brian Kelly name and stick with a starter before the end of October?

LOSERS

Alabama

Alabama had won 19 straight overall, 100 in a row against unranked competition and Nick Saban was 24-0 against his former assistant coaches. Until Saturday. The 41-38 loss in College Station will vault Georgia into the top spot in the Top 25 and make the Bulldogs the team to beat in the SEC and beyond. For the Crimson Tide, there are major questions exiting Saturday about the state of the defense and whether there are enough supporting pieces around quarterback Bryce Young to avoid another loss in the regular season and finish in the top four.

Brigham Young

Losing 26-17 at home to Boise State ends any chance of No. 10 BYU making the playoff and relegates the Cougars to a second-tier bowl game, very likely the Independence Bowl. One of just four teams to not trail at any moment through Week 5, BYU took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter but trailed 20-10 at halftime and 23-10 heading into the fourth. In the end, the Cougars had 100 more yards of offense than the Broncos but were doomed by four turnovers.

North Carolina

There is definitely something fraudulent about a team that opened the year inside the top 10 but already has lost three times in ACC play, each one more embarrassing than the last. Two weeks after giving up 45 points to Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels allowed 238 rushing yards and lost 35-25 to Florida State, which has won two straight games for the first time in more than two years.

Spencer Rattler

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks to quarterback Spencer Rattler during the Red River Showdown.
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks to quarterback Spencer Rattler during the Red River Showdown.

Oklahoma's preseason Heisman contender now is facing the potential that he spends the rest of this season on the bench. It would be hard to argue if Riley turns the offense over to Williams, who brings elements of explosiveness and unpredictability almost entirely lacking during Rattler's second year as the starter. But even if he does play backup for the Sooners' next game against TCU, the odds are Rattler will be needed again at some point this season as OU makes a run at the playoff.

Louisville

Louisville continues to cough up late leads and drop close games under Scott Satterfield, the latest a 34-33 loss to Virginia after the Cardinals led 30-13 heading into the fourth quarter. The defense just couldn't stop Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong, who maintained his assault on the program record book with 40 completions for 488 yards and three touchdowns. Louisville has dropped six of eight games decided by single digits since the start of last season.

Southern California

The decision to fire Clay Helton hasn't done much to change things for USC, which beat Colorado under interim coach Donte Williams but was pushed around by Utah in a 42-26 loss, dropping the Trojans to 3-3 and way behind in the Pac-12 South. While he finished with 401 passing yards and two touchdowns, USC quarterback Kedon Slovis was outplayed by Utah's Cameron Rising, who had 306 yards on 10.9 yards per attempt and three scores.

LSU

The heat on Ed Orgeron is set to rise dramatically after a listless 42-21 loss to No. 14 Kentucky dropped LSU to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in SEC play. With no shot of winning the West or even competing for the New Year's Six, the Tigers' focus shifts to simply securing bowl eligibility. What are the odds of that? The offense is putrid and the defense only slightly better, leaving major questions about whether Orgeron can guide LSU back to prominence or if the magical 2019 season was simply a combination of luck and a Heisman-winning quarterback.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football Week 6 winners and losers include Alabama, Iowa