NCAAF Notebook: Oklahoma's quarterback controversy rages on
Countless hours have been spent debating which teams belong in the final four since the inception of the College Football Playoff. And with the absolute mess created thus far in 2021 by upsets, it appears we're headed even quicker toward a collision course of chaos and controversy.
As we wait for the dust to settle, let’s take a look at the top stories from around the country in this week’s edition of our NCAAF Notebook.
Down Goes Bama
The top story of the week was clearly the defeat of the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, who traveled to Texas A&M as 17-point favorites and trailed almost the entire game before finally succumbing on a last-second kick.
Alabama’s loss ended a list of streaks and accomplishments too long to bother reciting, but it was a shocking result that shook our foundational belief that Bama was unbeatable.
Alabama was defeated because of less-than-stellar quarterback play, unconvincing and overly conservative red zone play calling, and an inability to get stops when they absolutely knew they needed it. Nothing about the loss demonstrated that Alabama has a glaring weakness that can be exposed routinely, but rather that the Crimson Tide are just not as dominant as we might have all thought.
Oklahoma's quarterback controversy
Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley has as good a track record at producing elite quarterback talent as anyone in college football today. He has sent Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts on to starting roles in the NFL.
Given Riley’s resume and the Sooners’ high octane offense, it was no surprise that top-ranked high school recruit Spencer Rattler opted to go there and try to take the same path that several others have before him.
Unfortunately for Rattler in 2021, the offense hasn’t looked quite as elite as years past and after falling behind big against rival Texas, he was pulled in favor of freshman Caleb Williams.
Williams engineered an incredible comeback, completing 65% of his passes and throwing for two touchdowns against zero interceptions. He used his legs, played like a leader, and now the reports out of Norman are that Williams is getting first-team reps with the offense.
If Rattler has lost his job he is sure to have his eyes on other destinations, if not the NFL. How this plays out both in Week 7 and moving forward will be closely watched as both players have the talent and desire to be starting quarterbacks.
Big Ten East race is heating up
The Big Ten West has the top ranked team in the conference with Iowa climbing all the way up to No. 2 in the country. Wisconsin has significantly underperformed, and Nebraska can’t win one-possession games, making it clear that the division is the Hawkeyes’ to lose.
On the other side of the conference standings, however, a fantastic race is shaping up. An incredible four teams are ranked in the top 10 as Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State all sit at 3-0 in conference play. Penn State is also ranked in the top 10 and sits at 2-1, with its only loss being a completely forgivable road defeat to Iowa in which they held a lead and lost late after losing starting quarterback Sean Clifford to injury.
BIG Ten Conference Winner 2021
Sun, December 5 2021, 10:58 AM
Ohio State Buckeyes
Penn State Nittany Lions
Michigan State Spartans
Minnesota Golden Gophers
The East has a number of key games upcoming over the next month that will determine the ultimate stratification of these teams, and while none of them are set for Week 7, the storm is coming.
College Football Game of the Week
This week’s game of the week takes place between No. 11 Kentucky and No. 1 Georgia.
Sat, October 16 2021, 7:30 PM
The Wildcats are 6-0, and 4-0 in the conference, but have yet to earn quite as much national respect as they likely deserve. They now face their toughest test of the year with an afternoon trip to Athens, where they are an incredible 22.5-point underdog.
The size of the point spread hints at a game that likely won’t be very close in terms of outright winner and loser, and could very well be trapping public underdog bettors into taking this many points in what may end up being a blowout. However, Kentucky has talent on both sides of the ball and a head coach in Mark Stoops that has had this game circled all year.
If the Georgia rush defense continues to show the stoutness it has shown all year then perhaps this ends in a rout, but on the heels of Alabama’s loss last week, getting an opportunity to watch Georgia face off against a legitimate division foe will make for good viewing.