Week 6 wrap

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Bryce Love heroics, stingy Stanford defense help knock No. 20 Utah from unbeaten ranks

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Stanford running back Bryce Love entered Week 6 leading the country in just about every rushing category imaginable so it was safe to say it was a priority to stop him if Utah wanted to remain undefeated. The Utes ended up containing the nation’s leading rusher for three quarters, but the tailback still found a way to get loose and help the Cardinal to a 23-20 victory on Saturday night in a game where every yard was earned between two stingy defenses.

Love had just 75 yards on 15 carries until early in the fourth quarter, being met with three or four Utah defenders at the line of scrimmage on just about every touch. Despite a game plan that was clearly geared toward loading the box, the shifty back came close time after time to spinning out of a hit and breaking off a big one.  Not surprisingly, after battering it and battering it, the dam eventually broke and Love ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run that proved to be the decisive score in the closely contested Pac-12 battle between similarly built teams. He eventually finished the game with 152 yards and a hefty 7.6 yards per carry.

Sealing the deal, the feisty Stanford defense picked off passes on the next two drives to essentially wrap up a win in a difficult environment on the road in Salt Lake City.

Both sides played their backup quarterbacks in this one and only one side survived it. Regular starter Keller Chryst took the first snaps under center for the Cardinal (7/13, 106 yards), but was spelled regularly for K.J. Costello who added a different element with his legs in addition to the 82 yards passing he had.

The home team wasn’t so lucky with dual-threat starter Tyler Huntley out of the lineup due to injury, forcing last year’s first-team option Troy Williams into action with his first start of the year. While the senior flashed at times, he still hovered around the 50 percent mark passing and the pair of late interceptions he threw were downright backbreaking after the team was threatening to come back. Running back Zach Moss recorded just 79 yards and the Utes’ lone touchdown but was mostly a non-factor down the stretch as the team played from behind.

The end result on the scoreboard certainly makes both Pac-12 division races a little more interesting. Utah will travel to Los Angeles to take on USC in a game that very well could decide the South while Stanford continues to control their own destiny in the North as they return home to host a banged up Oregon team.

Nick Saban bristles at ‘rat poison’ served up by media

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Don’t be concerned as, as is the case with everything, this is merely part of The Process™.

Entering Week 6, Alabama was ranked No. 1 in the country and winners of five straight to start the 2017 season, all of which came by 17 points or more.  The last two weeks, the Crimson Tide had won both games by a combined score of 125-3.

Enter Texas A&M, which fell behind 24-3 at one point before succumbing to the superior team in a 27-19 loss in College Station.

After the game, an innocuous question about three first-quarter three-and-outs opened the door for head coach Nick Saban to continue his ongoing processing of the media.  From al.com:

We just didn’t play as well tonight and you have to give them a lot of credit for it,” Saban began.

Then a pause.

“I’m trying to get our players to listen to me instead of listening to you guys,” Saban said. “All that stuff you write about how good we are. All that stuff they hear on ESPN. It’s like poison.

“It’s like taking poison.

“Like rat poison.

Saban going from “like poison” to “like taking poison” to “like rat poison” in a span of a few seconds might be the most Saban thing ever, at least when it comes to publicly downplaying the media in his players’ eyes.  The Process™, though, never sleeps — especially after a closer-than-expected win from which the greatest college football coach of this generation can impart yet another lesson to his young Crimson Tide team.

Khalil Tate sets FBS QB rushing record in Arizona win over Colorado

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This might be the most impressive thing you read about all day.  Or night, or early morning as the case may be.

In Arizona’s 45-42 win over Colorado in Boulder, Khalil Tate rushed for 327 yards, the most for any FBS player this season.  That’s impressive in and of itself; when you take into account the fact that Tate is a quarterback, it takes on greater import.

It also takes on historical statistical significance as those 327 yards are the most ever in a single game for an FBS quarterback.  Tate’s total breaks the record of 321 set by Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch back in November of 2013.

Arguably the most impressive part of the performance?  Tate did it on just 14 carries. Fourteen.  14.  Carries.

For comparison’s sake, it took Lynch 27 carries to set the old standard.

Tate’s historical performance also played a leading role in setting yet another FBS record.

Tate came into the game with 86 yards on 10 carries this season. His total of 327 yards in this game would’ve had the sophomore 74th in the country in rushing heading into Week 6.

For the season, Tate is averaging 17.2 yards per carry. The national leader in that category, with at least 20 carries, entering play this weekend? Stanford’s Bryce Love at an equally ridiculous 11.1 ypc.

Michigan State rains on No. 7 Michigan’s unbeaten season, upsets Wolverines in storm-swept Big House

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With the first-ever Michigan-Michigan State night game looming at the Big House, both athletic directors were concerned over fans’ actions off the field.  When it came to one of the ADs, they should’ve worried more about their players’ play — and the weather — on the field.

With a torrential downpour weighing heavy on a portion of the last 15 minutes of action, 10-point underdog MSU went into Ann Arbor and stunned their in-state counterparts in a 14-10 win.  The loss is the seventh-ranked Wolverines’ first of the season, one that will likely knock them out of the Top 10 when the new rankings are released early Sunday afternoon.

UM turned the ball over a whopping five times — MSU came in having forced just four turnovers, total, the first four games this season — but the Spartans converted those gifts into just seven points.  John O’Korn, starting at quarterback in place of the injured Wilton Speight, threw interceptions on back-to-back-to-back possessions late in the third quarter and on into the fourth, but Sparty failed to produce points on any of those turnovers in keeping the game closer than it could’ve been.

Right up to the very end, as it turned out.

The Spartans, which held a 14-3 halftime lead, had zero first downs in the second half until less than three minutes were remaining in the fourth quarter, and then picked up a second, on a crucial third down no less, with under two minutes left that essentially sealed the upset win for MSU in the in-state rivalry game.  The key word there is “essentially” as MSU did their damnedest to hand the game back to its rivals, from a holding penalty on their last offensive possession that kept them from, basically, running out the clock to an inexplicable personal foul penalty on their last defensive possession that helped give the Wolverines one shot at a (failed) Hail Mary with no time left.

Even prior to the weather rolling in, it was a defensive battle from start to finish.  The Wolverines actually outgained their counterparts 300-252, with the Spartans converting just two of 14 on third-downs.  Two scores less than 10 minutes apart, though, proved to be the difference — quarterback Brian Lewerke‘s 14-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, his 16-yard touchdown pass to Madre London in the middle of the second quarter.

While the loss put a dent in Michigan’s College Football Playoff hopes, it did the same for its biggest rival.

Thanks to its Week 2 loss, Ohio State needed, in part, Oklahoma and Michigan to run the table.  Not only did the Wolverines lose in Week 6, the Sooners did the same as 30-point home favorites earlier in the day in Norman.

It’s far too early for both UM and OSU to be excluded from the playoff discussion, but the former did neither of the Big Ten East schools any favors with this home loss.

Oh, and there’s this bit of trivia to chew on:

No. 11 Washington State too much for undermanned Oregon

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Imagine reading this sentence as recently as, oh, 2014: an undefeated and top-15 Washington State team went to Eugene and beat an unranked Oregon by 23 points, and it was kind of an underwhelming performance. Such is life in the Pac-12 now, where Mike Leach‘s 11th-ranked Cougars cruised to a 33-10 win over an Oregon playing without its top two quarterbacks.

Washington State looked like it was going to cruise early. After forcing a turnover on downs inside Oregon territory to open the game, the Cougars grabbed the lead on its first snap of the game, a 41-yard strike from Luke Falk to Jamal Morrow.

From there, though, Oregon settled in. The defense forced three straight three-and-outs, and the offense mounted two straight scoring drives, a 20-yard Aidan Schneider field goal and then a 30-yard touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Braxton Burmeister to Jacob Breeland, giving the Ducks a 10-7 lead with 3:37 to play in the first quarter.

That would be the high point for Oregon’s offense, though, as the game proved to be too much, too soon for Burmeister. He finished the night 12-of-24 passing for 131 yards with the touchdown and two interceptions. Royce Freeman led Oregon (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) with 62 yards on 12 carries.

Erik Powell gave Washington State a 13-10 halftime lead with two second quarter field goals, and Falk put some distance between the Cougars and Ducks with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Renard Ball on the opening drive of the second half.

Falk would fire a third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Powell would kick in one more field goal to provide the final score. Falk finished the night with a ho-hum 24-of-42 passing for 282 yards with the three scores and no interceptions. Gerard Wicks and James Williams combined to rush 18 times for 106 yards.

In its first trip outside Pullman this season, the win pushed Wazzu to 6-0 on the year (3-0 Pac-12) and 16-5 in conference play since the beginning of the 2015 season. That 16-5 mark includes a 3-0 record against Oregon, Wazzu’s first 3-game winning streak over the Ducks since 1982-84.