CFB Review

CFB Roundup – Week 7: Wonderful Wilson, Defence Shines

Week 7 was a good week for defence. Rumours of the demise of defence, particularly in the SEC, have been greatly exaggerated. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t see some incredible offence, too. Alabama lost Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy to the pros in the 2020 NFL Draft. Step up, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. 

Midweek Matchups

COVID has caused its fair share of postponements and cancellations. As a result, expect more midweek games this year. There were four in Week 7.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Coastal Carolina made history in their victory over the Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns. The Chanticleers defeated a ranked team for the first time in their history. CCU won 30-27 thanks to a late field goal. Junior receiver Jaivon Heiligh hauled in 8 receptions for 108 yards and a score on a historic night for the program.

Sun Bet, Fun Belt

There was a hair-raising matchup in the Sun Belt the next night, as the Arkansas State Red Wolves overcame the Georgia State Panthers 59-52. Arkansas went into the game as 3.5 point favourites, but needed a late touchdown on a trick play to come out on top. The two offenses breezed past the 72 point over/under. The Red Wolves have played with two QBs all year, and Layne Hatcher and Logan Bonner combined for 529 yards and 7 TDs from 39 completions. However, it was receiver Roshauud Paul that would throw the game’s deciding touchdown, a 22 yard shot to Lincoln Pare. The game had 15 total touchdowns, a stark reminder of why we love the Sun Belt Conference.

Friday Night Lights

SMU 37-34 Tulane
BYU (14) 43-26 Houston

Two undefeated teams played in separate fixtures on Friday night. The #14 ranked BYU Cougars (4-0) travelled to Houston (0-1), and SMU (4-0) took on Tulane (2-2). Zach Wilson and Shane Buechele are two QBs receiving some much deserved attention right now. With every game, their draft stock improves.

It was no different in Week 7. Buechele threw for 384 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Mustangs edged past the Green Wave with a field goal in overtime. Tulane led 4 times in this game, but never by more than a score. It didn’t matter, because Buechele and the SMU offense kept providing the answers. Freshman running back Ulysses Bentley IV had 94 yards and a score, but it was the pass catchers that stole the show. In Rashee Rice, Danny Gray and Tyler Page, SMU had three wideouts with 100+ receiving yards. The Mustangs had 581 yards of total offense in this game in what proved to be another strong showing from the #1 team in the AAC.

Wonderful Wilson 

BYU and Wilson had less trouble seeing off Houston. Wilson threw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns on the way to another convincing victory for the Cougars. Wilson continues to win draft analysts over with his arm talent, poise and athleticism. The highlight of the night was an underarm throw to his fullback Masen Wake. Commentators compared it to a play straight out of the Kansas City playbook, and it’s easy to see why. Anyone wondering whether Wilson has the deep ball strength? Check out his first quarter touchdown throw to Dax Milne. Milne had 3 touchdowns on the night, but it is his first that will have scouts intrigued. Milne hauled in a 35 yard pass from Wilson that was perfectly placed, before taking it to the house. BYU goes 5-0, and is knocking on the door of a place in the top 10 of the AP rankings.

SEC

Auburn (15) 22-30 South Carolina
Kentucky 34-7 Tennessee (18)
Ole Miss 21-33 Arkansas
Texas A&M 28-14 Mississippi State
Georgia (3) 24-41 Alabama (2)

Vanderbilt P-P Missouri
LSU P-P Florida

COVID-19 has reared its ugly head across the globe, but until this week the SEC schedule has escaped unharmed. Sadly, it wasn’t to be this week. An outbreak in the Gators’ locker room cancelled the visit of Ed Orgeron and LSU. Vanderbilt just about managed to put a team out in their Week 6 hammering by South Carolina.

Kentucky 34-7 Tennessee (18)

Do not underestimate this Kentucky defence. After a scoreless first quarter in which both teams fumbled the ball away, the Wildcats D took firm control of the game. They intercepted a Jarrett Guarantano pass and returned it for 6 not once, but twice. First, it was Kelvin Joseph that returned the ball 41 yards to the Vols’ end zone, and he would be upstaged moments later when Jamin Davis did the same for 85 yards. With that, Guarantano had his second interception of the game, and the Wildcats their 8th in 6 quarters of football.

Guarantano was pulled and replaced with J.T. Shrout, but guess what? Kentucky picked him off, too. The starter was reinstated after the failed attempt to see if the back-up fared any better. On their next drive, the Vols did what they do best, and ran the ball 12 times out of 14 total snaps. It led to a Ty Chandler touchdown, Tennessee’s first score of the game.

The Vols ended the day with just 287 yards of offense, their QB Guarantano throwing for just 88. It was a disappointing performance. Don’t be surprised to see Tennessee fall out of the AP Top 25 next week.

Kentucky may sneak into the conversation for the Top 25. If not, they will be sufficiently consoled by their first win in Knoxville since 1984.

Georgia (3) 24-41 Alabama (2)

Alabama has two of the best receivers in the game. Both DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle will go in the First Round of the 2021 Draft. And if you don’t know, now you know.

This game was all about whether the Georgia defence could stifle the Crimson tide offense. It looked like it was going to be Georgia’s day when a Mac Jones pass was intercepted by Richard LeCounte III. Luckily, Stetson Bennett returned the favour, when his pass was tipped and taken in by DT Christian Barmore. On the next drive, ‘Bama got the opening score with a Jones pass to John Metchie III. However, the day was all about Waddle and Smith. Between them, they ended the day with 17 receptions for 328 yards and 3 TDs.

Georgia’s offense seemed to wake with the Metchie score. Zamir White was rewarded for his tough running with a touchdown late in the 1st Q. A huge Bennett throw to James Cook for an 82 yard TD had the Bulldogs in control. The two teams traded field goals, then touchdowns. Georgia were up by 7 into the last two minutes of the 2nd Q, but another Will Reichard field goal brought ‘Bama to within a score (24-20). The 52 yard attempt was the longest of the sophomore’s career.

Second Half slide 

If Kirby Smart dared to dream of a victory in Tuscaloosa, he was wrong to do so. The Georgia offense ran out of ideas in the second half, with Stetson’s Bennett’s limitations becoming glaringly obvious. The Bulldogs started with the ball in the second half, but had to punt when Jermaine Burton dropped a Bennett pass. Bryant-Denny is a tough place to visit, even with a limited capacity crowd, and home advantage told in the second half.

Georgia punted on their first two possessions of the half, before Bennett threw two more interceptions. The first came after The Crimson Tide took their first lead of the game (27-24). The first was unfortunate, a pass that ricocheted off Burton’s hands, before landing in the lap of freshman DB Malachi Moore. On the next possession, Nick Saban’s troops had another score, Najee Harris punching the ball in. Georgia opened the 4th Q down by 10 (34-24), and Stetson Bennett threw the deciding pass of the game, rolling out to his right only to find Daniel Wright. The Georgia defence was supposed to be the equaliser. Instead, the Crimson Tide defence took the game into its own hands. A sad second half ended with a missed FG for the Bulldogs, as Alabama asserted their dominance over their old rivals.

Before we go, a word about Najee Harris. The comparisons with Derrick Henry are obvious and sometimes over-exaggerated. However, this Georgia D could not stop Harris from running all over them. He finished the day with 152 yards from 31 carries and a touchdown. Harris should join Smith and Waddle as a First Round draft pick in April.

ACC

Liberty (Independent) 38-21 Syracuse
Pitt 19-31 Miami (13)
Clemson (1) 73-7 Georgia Tech
Louisville 7-12 Notre Dame (4)
Duke 20-31 NC State
Virginia 23-40 Wake Forest
North Carolina (5) 28-31 Florida State
Boston College 14-40 Virginia Tech (23)

Clemson (1) 73-7 Georgia Tech

Trevor Lawrence was in no mood to let Georgia Tech have any say in their matchup with Clemson. He threw for 391 yards and 5 TD passes in the first half. You read that right. The first half. There was also an interception for the Georgia Tech defence, but we’ll give him a pass considering the incredible performance he put up. He had just one drive to start the second half, before Dabo Swinney brought freshman Taisun Phommachanh into the fray. Hunter Helms got in on the act, throwing 2 fourth quarter touchdowns as the Clemson back-ups continued their side’s dominance.

Amari Rodgers was the main beneficiary of Lawrence’s fine form. He had over 100 yards and 2 first half touchdowns as the Tigers’ offense blew the Yellow Jackets away. He finished on 161 yards from 6 catches. Like Lawrence, Rodgers was rested in the second half.

Travis Etienne’s day did not start in ideal circumstances when he fumbled on Clemson’s opening drive. Although he soon recovered from the mistake, he was held to just 44 yards from 11 carries. He did however manage a touchdown on the ground, as well as 29 yards in the air.

Let’s not neglect the Clemson defence, who limited a poor Georgia Tech team to just 7 points. 

Nobody should be surprised that a Trevor Lawrence-led Clemson can put up so many points. They have likely wins against Syracuse and Boston College to come, before they face Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish should provide the closest thing to a test for the Tigers before the college football playoffs begin.

North Carolina (5) 28-31 Florida State

What happened to the Tar Heels in this game? Well, the Florida State defence showed up. They sacked Sam Howell 4 times, and had 8 total tackles for loss. Janarius Robinson was the star of the show, with 2 sacks, and another tackle for loss.

Jordan Travis started under centre once more for the Seminoles, and showcased his running ability with 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. In a game without QB James Blackman and WR Tamorrion Terry, it was the FSU defence that held UNC at bay. Well, in the first half. The Tar Heels were forced to punt on their first four possessions. On the fifth, they turned the ball over on downs. Things didn’t get better for Howell, when a screen pass was directed right at pass rusher Joshua Kaindoh. Kaindoh, a key feature of the FSU defence, gratefully returned the ball for a score. That pick 6, and subsequent extra point, took the score to 24-0. Javonte Williams ran for UNC’s first TD of the game. The Seminoles replied with one of their own before the half was out (31-7). Even Mike Norvell’s team couldn’t let this slip, could they?

As it turns out, FSU scored no points in the second half. Sam Howell desperately tried to get his side back into the game. The Tar Heels scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, but it was not enough to bring them back into the game. They go 3-1 on the year, and face a resurgent NC State Wolfpack next time out. The Seminoles get their second win of the season (2-3) and visit Louisville in Week 8.

Big XII

Kansas 17-38 West Virginia

Oklahoma State (7) P-P Baylor

An outbreak in Waco meant that yet another Bears game fell victim to postponement. That meant that there was just one Big XII game this weekend, as the Jayhawks took on the Mountaineers.

Kansas 17-38 West Virginia

Kansas will have had their eyes on an unlikely victory (their first of the season) when they went up 10-0 against WVU. After three blowout losses to start the year, could they dream of a 1-3 start? No.

After a slow start, the Mountaineers scored 38 unanswered points. Normalcy was restored. Leddie Brown was the highlight of this game, with 18 carries for 195 yards and a TD. He also had a further 36 yards and another score in the passing game. Junior QB Jarret Doege had 3 touchdown passes in his most productive game of the season so far. The Mountaineers won last week against Baylor, despite Doege throwing 2 interceptions. This week, he led his side to a convincing victory.

The game was already lost when a late punt return TD from Pooka Williams gave the Jayhawks something to cheer. It has been a poor year for Williams, who had just 28 total yards before the big play on special teams. His poor year, combined with his size, might mean that he is limited to a special teams role in the NFL.

Best of the Rest

UCF 49-50 Memphis
Marshall 35-17 Louisiana Tech
USF 37-39 Temple
Navy 27-23 East Carolina
Army 28-16 UTSA

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