football Edit

The Farrell Awards: Bearcats make statement in South Bend

Spencer Petras
Spencer Petras (USA Today Sports Images)

The 2021 college football season is in full swing! Here are Mike Farrell's biggest takeaways from Week 5.


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POINT PROVEN 

Even though Iowa was ranked in the top five, a lot of people were picking Maryland to pull off the big upset on Friday night. Well, the Hawkeyes came in to College Park and obliterated the Terrapins, led by their ball hawking defense which forced seven turnovers on the night. This included six interceptions against Taulia Tagovailoa who was beyond efficient for the first four games for the Terps. Spencer Petras played his best game of his college career, completing 70 percent of his passes, and throwing for three touchdowns and, most crucially, no interceptions.


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POINT PROVEN (PART II)

Arkansas had been the best story of the college football season, beating both Texas and Texas A&M on their way to a top-10 ranking. And the Razorbacks were a trendy pick to cover and potentially win at Georgia. But Georgia's defense yet again proved that it's the best in the country, shutting out the Razorbacks and holding them to 143 total yards. Star WR Treylon Burks had only three catches for 10 yards and there was nothing working on the ground. It's pretty safe to say that UGA's defense is the best we've seen in a very long time.

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DANGEROUS DEFENSE

If defense wins national titles, then you might as well give the trophy to Georgia now. The Bulldogs' performance over the last two weeks has been amazingly dominant, having won by a total of 99-0 against Vanderbilt and No. 8 Arkansas. Overall, the defense has allowed two touchdowns in five games and the defense has scored more points than they have given up. Think about that. Auburn is up next.

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DANGEROUS DEFENSE (PART II)

While Penn State may still have some questions on offense, defensively the Nittany Lions have been overpowering this season. Shutting out Indiana 24-0, this sets up a top-five, undefeated battle at Iowa next Saturday, which should be a defensive slugfest.

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EMBARRASSING 

Wisconsin started off slowly yet again against Michigan (they had -2 total yards halfway through the second quarter), but Graham Mertz finally began to come alive late in the second quarter leading Wisconsin on back-to-back scoring drives. He passed for a combined 115 yards on the two drives and things began to look up for the 1-2 Badgers. But on their opening drive in the second half, down 13-10, Mertz got popped in the ribs by John Ross and didn't return, leading to the Badgers melting down again. They gave up 25 unanswered points and backup QB Chase Wolf turning the ball over on consecutive drives. Now off to a 1-3 start, the Badgers need to pick up the pieces, while Michigan quietly looks like one of the top teams in the conference. There is no way on earth a Badgers team should be 1-3. That’s an embarrassment.

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Tiyon Evans
Tiyon Evans (USA Today Sports Images)

WAIT, WHAT? 

MIssouri had looked solid so far this season, but the Tigers got absolutely stomped by Tennessee at home, giving up 62 points to a Vols team that was averaging 27 points per game against FBS opponents. Tiyon Evans was great out of the backfield for Tennessee, rushing for more than 150 yards and 3 scores, and the defense forced a lot of bad throws from Connor Bazelak. Could this be a turning point for both programs as the Vols are trending up and Mizzou trending down?

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PICKETT APART THE DEFENSE 

Kenny Pickett yet again had a huge day for Pitt, throwing for 389 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, and the Panthers rolled to victory against a Georgia Tech team coming off of a huge win against North Carolina last week. Pickett came in to the game sixth in the nation in passing yards per game, and that will only go up after this weekend. Pickett is an interesting prospect who fluctuates heavily on NFL Draft boards.

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BOUNCEBACK 

After a rough loss to Georgia Tech last weekend, North Carolina needed to do something to get back on track, and a home contest against lowly Duke was just what the doctor ordered. Sam Howell looked great, not turning the ball over and throwing for three touchdowns, while Ty Chandler had 140 yards from scrimmage in the 38-7 win for the Tar Heels.

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MESSAGE SENT

The Ole Miss hype train got stopped dead in its tracks by Alabama in Bryant-Denney Stadium, as the Crimson Tide dominated every phase of the game. They held the Rebs under 300 total yards while rolling up 450 of their own in a game that was over early. Brian Robinson had the best game of his career by far, rushing for 171 yards and four touchdowns. Nick Saban and company left no question about who the best team in the SEC West is and he sent yet another message to a former assistant and he throttled Lane Kiffin.

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QUACK, QUACK, WADDLE, WADDLE 

Just when you thought the Oregon Ducks had it all figured out they do this. Tanner McKee had another strong outing for the Stanford Cardinal with three touchdowns and zero turnovers, while Anthony Brown struggled throwing the ball for Oregon. The return of Kayvon Thibodeaux just wasn't enough for the Ducks defense to stop Stanford's efficiency on the day and this is yet another bad road loss for Mario Cristobal in his Ducks tenure.

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CONFERENCE COLLAPSE

It took until the second day of October for the Pac-12 to again make itself irrelevant nationally. With Oregon’s loss to Stanford, the Ducks are out of the playoff hunt and the conference will become an afterthought for the remainder of the season.

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Desmond Ridder
Desmond Ridder (USA Today Sports Images)

PLAYOFF BOUND? 

With Oregon's loss to Stanford, Cincinnati stepped up and took care of Notre Dame in strong fashion in South Bend, furthering their case to be the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff. Desmond Ridder also added to his Heisman case with 323 total yards and 3 touchdowns against the Irish, while the Bearcat defense kept Kyren Williams and the Notre Dame running game in check.


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WINNING UGLY 

Oklahoma remains unbeaten, but have still yet to cover the spread against any FBS team, as they took down Kansas State in Manhattan 37-31. Spencer Rattler was 22 for 25 for 243 yards, but the return of Skylar Thompson and Deuce Vaughn's versatility kept the Wildcats in the game. When are we going to see this Sooners team play a complete game?


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BBN BANG 

Kentucky's special teams deserve a big nod, as their blocked kick return for a touchdown proved to be the winning score in their 20-13 victory over Florida. Even though Florida dominated almost every statistical category, the all important special teams ended up being the key in this one. Like the Vols and Mizzou, is the Kentucky win over Florida a sign of a power shift in the SEC East? That’s less likely but the Wildcats are 5-0 while the Gators sit 3-2.

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A COACHING ISSUE?

The Florida Gators had 15 penalties for 115 yards in their loss to Kentucky including eight, count them, eight false starts. It was loud in Kentucky but this wasn’t an LSU road game for the Gators. There’s no excuse for the penalties.

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FINALLY 

CJ Stroud finally lived up to the hype he had coming into the season in Ohio State's dominant victory over Rutgers, throwing for 330 yards and five touchdowns and systematically destroying Greg Schiano's defense. Chris Olave had a big game, going for 119 yards and two touchdowns, as Ohio State sets their sights on the rest of the Big Ten East. There was a question whether Stroud would keep his job with Kyle McCord playing well last week but that question has been answered for now.

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PAYBACK ON INVESTMENT 

Texas A&M lost their second consecutive game, this time to Mississippi State at home, and the wheels are starting to come off for the Aggies. Will Rogers picked apart the Aggies defense, going 46 for 59 for 408 yards, and crucially, zero turnovers. The Bulldogs had almost 150 more yards of total offense than Texas A&M, and there appears to be a real problem at quarterback for the Aggies. Oh, and Jimbo Fisher is making way too much money for this team to be playing so poorly.

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Jaylen Warren
Jaylen Warren (USA Today Sports Images)

GROUND YOU DOWN

Jaylen Warren almost single handedly wore down Baylor, carrying the ball 35 times for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns as Oklahoma State won the battle of Big 12 undefeateds 24-14. But perhaps even more impressive was the Cowboys' defense, which held Baylor to 280 yards of total offense and only 3.7 yards per carry.

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REMEMBER ME? 

While Oklahoma hasn’t been overly impressive for the majority of the 2021 season, it also isn’t a surprise that they are still undefeated. However, in-state rival Oklahoma State has become one of the bigger surprises in the country so far this fall after their 24-14 victory over previously undefeated Baylor. Unlike previous Cowboy teams, this year’s version is led by their running game and defense, instead of their passing attack. If Oklahoma State can become more of a threat through the air this season, the Cowboys can be a very serious threat to the Sooners.

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REMEMBER ME, TOO?

Yes, USC’s season has not gone according to script, but the play of wide receiver Drake London has been All-American level. London had nine receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown during a 37-14 victory at Colorado, which now gives him 48 receptions for 670 yards and four touchdowns on the season.

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IN TANDEM 

Wake Forest was able to beat Louisville on a last-second field goal, but it was the receiving pair of Jaquarii Roberson and Taylor Morin who got them there. The wideouts each had more than 120 yards receiving, and both averaged better than 20 yards per reception, as Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons moved to 5-0.


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Kobe Pace
Kobe Pace (USA Today Sports Images)

ON PACE 

With Will Shipley out and Lyn-J Dixon in the portal, Clemson really needed someone to step up and shoulder the load in the run game against a Boston College team that was off to a great 4-0 start, and Kobe Pace did just that. The sophomore from Georgia had 166 total yards and a score as Clemson held on to win 19-13. Freshman running back Phil Mafah was also impressive averaging more than 8 yards per carry.

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POINT PROVEN

I said Nebraska was the worst team in the Big Ten based on the Huskers' loss to Illinois and fans erupted. Northwestern is not having a banner year, but even with their struggles no one expected the Huskers to put up 56 on the usually stingy Wildcats defense. The Huskers ran for 427 yards and 7 touchdowns as a team, with 11 different Nebraska players getting a carry. This was an absolute beat down and they have removed themselves from the bottom.

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HEISMAN HYPE ROBINSON EDITION 

Bijan Robinson had another huge day against TCU, rushing for 216 yards and two scores, helping the Longhorns pull off the big victory in Fort Worth. If he keeps putting up games like this, he could find himself in New York in December. Alabama running back Brian Robinson has less of a chance with Bryce Young playing so well but he had 171 yards and 4 scores against Ole Miss and now has 379 yards and six touchdowns on the season as he appears to be getting on track.

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CORNER NOT TURNED

We thought UCLA would be good this season after jumping out of the gate with some nice wins. But Chip Kelly is 1-2 in his last three games and this team doesn’t have a consistent identity after getting thrashed by Arizona State.


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GROUND IT OUT?

Michigan is 5-0 and very few expected this kind of start for Jim Harbaugh. And after relying on the run for the first four games, the passing attack came alive a bit in a rout on the road at Wisconsin. While Michigan ran for only 112 yards and averaged 2.5 yards per carry they threw for 253 and quarterbacks Cade McNamara and freshman J.J. McCarthy accounted for every touchdown.


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COMFY NEW HOME 

Temple pulled off the upset at home against Memphis yesterday thanks to the performance of Georgia transfer quarterback D’Wan Mathis. Mathis threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns while completing 71 percent of his passes, and also rushed for 53 yards on only four carries, as the Owls moved to 3-2 heading into a big game against Cincinnati next weekend.

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BARF

Vanderbilt beat UConn on a last second field goal in a game where there was nary a true FBS talent to behold. And UConn plays UMass next week in a battle of winless and hapless teams. Keep an empty stomach people.

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