Another fun weekend of college football in the books. But who came away victorious both on-and-off the field? Here’s four winners and losers from Week 6 of the 2020 college football season.
Winner: Lane Kiffin showing why he’s still A Thing
Has anyone ever come away with more street cred in a loss than Joey Freshwater did yesterday? Lane called the game of his life in a 63-48 loss to Alabama that was phenomenally entertaining not just for the play on the field, but for Twitter documenting the shades of red his old boss Nick Saban was turning while watching it.
Nobody has ever put 48 on the Tide in in the Poll Era (since 1936), and for the Lane Train to do it in his first appearance makes the SEC West even more compelling than it was already. It was already the most drama-filled division in college sports, and now we’ve got Kiffin and Mike Leach every single year. Giggity.
Kiffin calling Tebow jump passes, stretching one of the best defenses in football vertically and horizontally, and trying surprise onsides kicks because he knows he can’t get a stop was glorious theatre. Doing it against the man that once fired him before a national championship game made the spectacle even more compelling.
Saban moves to 21-0 against his old assistants when they play him. But a few more years of having to face Kirby Smart and Lane Kiffin on the regular, and that record is bound to fall eventually.
Spoiler: the Rebels defense is a trash fire, but we knew that already. The performance of Bama QB is going to get lost in the coverage, but he was a lights-out 28-32 for 417 and two TD’s. Bama vs. Georgia this week is going to be so good.
Loser: The ACC Wheel of Destiny
We were a part of this, and we’re sorry: We had hope that Clemson wouldn’t just steamroll the entire league this season. We held out hope there might be a competitive game in the conference against another quality team, instead of as a weird look-past upset/squeaker. Especially with the addition of Notre Dame, it could happen... right?
When Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables want to flatten you, they flatten you. And that’s exactly what they did to
Heisman contender D’Eriq King and the #7 Miami Hurricanes in a 42-17 beatdown that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. King was under duress from when he left the team hotel, but was also forced into a 12-28 for 121 yards with two INT’s performance because of spectacular athleticism and scheme from the Tigers.
There might not be a team in football that rises to the occasion in big games better than “little ole Clemson,” and last night was the latest chapter in that story. The Tigers outgained UM 550-210 and were +2 in turnovers. Trevor Lawrence threw for 292 yards and three TD’s without a giveaway. And they made it look easy.
With Travis Etienne and Lawrence, the Tigers won’t see anything but a scrimmage until the College Football Playoff. Oh well.
Winner: K-State’s grip on the Big 12 Championship Game
Don’t look now, but the Wildcats are 3-0 and doing it with style. And by style we mean “grinding the clock into dirt and not turning the ball over basically ever.”
We tend to write off teams that lose to Arkansas State at home in a season opener (that same Arkansas State that lost by 29 at Coastal Carolina), but ever since the Little Apple That Could has beaten Oklahoma and TCU on the road, with a win at home over Texas Tech to boot. They’re running the ball on close to two-thirds of snaps offensively, but are grinding out 6.1 yards per play despite just 3.6 yards per rush.
But it’s the possession that’s allowing them to stay in games: They’ve turned the ball over one (1) time in 240 minutes of football this season, and despite backup quarterback Will Howard going 8/19 for 117 yards and throwing the first INT of the season against TCU in a snap start, they still came away with a 21-14.
The K-State defense might be enough to keep them around, giving up 6.0 yards per play and forcing eight turnovers so far. And when starting quarterback Skylar Thompson returns, they might be able to move the ball more efficiently.
It feels pretty appropriate that this team is doing it in Bill Snyder Stadium playing the style his teams of the 90’s would have embraced.
Loser: Dino Babers employment prospects
When Babers was hired in upstate New York, he brought with him one of the fastest-tempo offenses in college football from his two years at Bowling Green. He won a MAC Championship there, and inherited quarterback Eric Dungey to bring pace to a program that needed to find a way to be different because of the inherent disadvantages in recruiting and support the Orange have in football.
Five years in, and it’s not going great. ‘Cuse are 1-3, and averaging an anemic 4.1 yards per play, and a microscopic 2.3 yards per rush. They lost at home by two touchdowns to a previously 0-4 Duke. And amazingly, they’re a +10 in turnover margin for the season! Imagine how much worse it could be??
Exactly how it’s supposed to get better for ‘Cuse is unclear, as their only win is over a Georgia Tech team that turned it over five times. They can’t move the ball, and they just gave up 275 yards on the ground to the Blue Devils. And the only thing keeping Babers and his staff warm in upstate New York this winter might be his coaching seat.