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Saturday, March 02, 2024

Houston falters, Michigan dominates in week six

Week six of College Football was full of scoring, as a multitude of defenses were beat by 40-plus, 50-plus and even 70-plus points (78 to be exact—looking at you, Rutgers). Teams are now setting up for the meat of their schedules, as conference play is making teams show up or be shown out.

Pivotal matchups will only increase in number as the outcome of conference championships—and the College Football Playoffs—will be shaped by the results of games played in the following weeks. In a jam-packed weekend, some teams saw their playoff hopes crumble, while others looked as strong as ever.

Speaking of crumbling dreams, the No. 6 Houston Cougars rode their perfect 5-0 record into a conference matchup with Navy in a game that should have been a blowout. After scoring 28 points or less in their past three games, the Midshipmen channeled their inner Louisville, blitzing the Cougars for 46 points, with 21 coming in the third quarter alone.

Navy’s offense overwhelmed the Cougars with a pair of touchdowns both on the ground and through the air. The variation in their offense prevented the Cougars from being able to hone in on one unit. A pick-six from Josiah Powell and kicker Bennett Moehring’s perfect three-of-three on field goals gave Navy a lead too large for the Cougars to overcome.

Houston must be perfect from now on out, with its late-season matchup against Louisville looking to be its last chance to get back in the Playoff conversation—and even that might not be enough.

The No. 10 Miami Hurricanes lost in heartbreaking fashion Saturday night as DeMarcus Walker of Florida State blocked the potential game-tying extra point after Miami scored a touchdown with 1:38 remaining. As a result, the Seminoles improved on their dismal 1-2 conference record, adding a ranked win on top of it, to provide much-needed padding after the Seminoles’ less-than-graceful fall from its top-2 ranking earlier in the season.

With an impending heavyweight bout with No. 3 Clemson in two weeks, and their season finale at home against No.18 Florida, look for the Noles to be ready to chop down their conference foes ahead of them in the rankings.

The ACC wasn't the only conference to have two teams push each other to the edge, as the SEC hosted one of Saturday’s closest matchups featuring the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers and No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies took a seemingly insurmountable 28-14 lead into the fourth quarter before yet another Tennessee late-game flurry. Three Volunteer touchdowns later, plus one from the Aggies, left the score tied 38-38 and heading into overtime. The teams traded a pair of field goals before entering the decisive second overtime, which began with an A&M touchdown set up by a diving catch from sophomore receiver Christian Kirk the play before. On the final drive, the Aggies forced Tennessee’s senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs into a game-ending interception—the team’s seventh turnover on the game. Tennessee must shake off the sting from Saturday to have any chance against No. 1 Alabama this weekend.

Speaking of Alabama, the top-ranked Tide toppled the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road Saturday 49-30. The highlight of the afternoon came from the Alabama corner Minkah Fitzpatrick taking an interception 100 yards to the house, a new school record. Nearly all the teams in the top 5 won handily, highlighted by No. 4 Michigan’s 78-0 demolition of Rutgers and the No. 5 Washington Huskies 70-21 domination against the self-destructing Oregon Ducks Saturday evening. These top 5 teams seem to clicking on all cylinders right now, making them a freight train of almost unstoppable force, poised to blow by anyone in the way of their championship sights.

No. 2 Ohio State, on the other hand, entered the second quarter tied with the Indiana Hoosiers before the Buckeyes’ offense woke up—stringing together five touchdowns over the next three quarters—to overcome the Hoosiers 38-17.

This gives undefeated Ohio State the chance to make a powerful statement to the CFP Committee next weekend at Camp Randall against the No. 11 Badgers. UW was able to upset the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes in 2010 at the Camp, and Badger fans will hope to storm the field once again Saturday night.

“College Gameday” coming to Madison is the cherry on top for UW, but just provides more incentive for Ohio State to try and crush the dreams of 80,000 Badger faithfuls.

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Many teams will be tested in the coming weeks, and no matter how much they won by in week six, each week provides a lurking new challenge, a new opponent looking to foil a route to football history.

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