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Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs separate from the pack in Week 5

Final week, the game’s management met to debate the deserves of increasing the School Soccer Playoff. It amounted to nothing. On Saturday, Alabama and Georgia provided a convincing counterargument. Maybe we should always simply finish the 2021 season after the SEC championship sport.

For all of the September buzz about chaos and parity in 2021, school soccer emerged from Week 5 with a transparent line of demarcation. There may be Alabama. There may be Georgia. Everybody else quantities to little greater than fries and a Coke, complementary items to finish your combo meal.

There was extra chaos additional down the pecking order. 5 top-12 groups misplaced — Oregon, Arkansas, Florida, Notre Dame and Ole Miss — whereas upstarts like Michigan State, Michigan and Oklahoma State saved plugging alongside. Ohio State bought its confidence-builder towards Rutgers. Clemson escaped one other embarrassment, however the Tigers’ offensive woes stay. However it was all window dressing to the 2 heavyweights on the high.

In Tuscaloosa, Lane Kiffin previewed the competitors by telling followers to get their popcorn prepared. Not since “Tenet” has such a request been adopted by such a baffling efficiency. A yr after Ole Miss hung 48 on Alabama, Kiffin’s offense flubbed fourth-down tries on three of its first 4 drives, all however handing the sport to Alabama, as Bryce Young and the Tide took benefit of the great discipline place to construct a 35-Zero lead, in the end successful 42-21.

In Athens, Stetson Bennett IV slipped out of his smoking jacket and monocle (which we assume is normal apparel for anybody named Stetson Bennett IV) and stepped into the starting lineup for the Bulldogs. The damage to JT Daniels may need been a severe blow in a top-10 matchup towards Arkansas, however on Saturday, the Dawgs hardly wanted a quarterback in any respect. Georgia ran the ball 56 occasions, devouring Arkansas‘ 3-2-6 protection, whereas its personal entrance held the Hogs to a woeful 162 yards of offense.

Afterward, Kirby Sensible summed up school soccer’s energy construction completely.

“Both you are elite otherwise you’re not,” Sensible stated, clearly unaware of Joe Flacco‘s existence. “There is no grey space.”

Alabama left no grey space. For the previous 5 years, Nick Saban’s Tide groups have been outlined, at the very least partly, by Kiffin’s affect — up-tempo offenses, tons of factors and an aerial assault. However on Saturday, Saban swaggered out of the wine cellar at Bryant-Denny with a classic varietal, an old-school efficiency of energy run sport and dominant protection. Saban ran his report towards former assistants to 24-0, however this was extra than simply proving he was nonetheless the grasp. He needed to present the world he did not want a single drop of ink that Kiffin had added to the playbook to do it. He delivered a knockout blow with one hand tied behind his again, simply to say he might do it.

Georgia, too, went old fashioned. Leaning on the run sport got here by necessity, nevertheless it was nonetheless spectacular. The identical Arkansas protection that shut down Texas star Bijan Robinson final month gave up three speeding TDs to the Bulldogs, whereas 4 completely different Georgia backs tallied at the very least 10 carries and 48 yards. In the meantime, the protection is verging on historic. UGA has now confronted two groups ranked within the high 10 and allowed a grand whole of three factors. In three SEC video games, the Georgia protection has surrendered only one landing — a garbage-time rating by South Carolina. It is the one time any opposing offense has discovered the top zone towards Georgia in 5 video games. Georgia’s final nationwide championship got here after QB Buck Belue accomplished only a single go. It is potential that sport plan might work for these Bulldogs, too.

There will likely be two different groups within the School Soccer Playoff, after all. Maybe Cincinnati will likely be certainly one of them. The Bearcats got a long-awaited signature win, beating No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend for a win that may lastly persuade the committee that the Group of 5 can produce an ideal group. Maybe Penn State will run the desk, or Ohio State will rebound to win the Massive Ten, or Oklahoma, regardless of yet one more slim win over an unranked opponent, will discover its kind.

It is true, too, that championships aren’t handed out in October. (Or, for that matter, September. Sorry, Pac-12.) There’s nonetheless time for issues to alter, for the ability dynamic to be tipped as soon as extra, for an additional real challenger to emerge. It was, in spite of everything, simply two weeks in the past that we questioned aloud if Alabama had been uncovered by Florida — silly as that appears now.

However the scariest factor about Saturday for the remainder of the faculty soccer world was that it hardly appeared just like the ceiling for Alabama and Georgia. They performed dominant soccer whereas seemingly having extra within the tank.

Certainly, you are both elite otherwise you’re not. And proper now, that is a very unique membership with membership presents to only two groups. Heck, Stetson Bennett’s already bought the smoking jacket.


If Alabama and Georgia are clearly the very best groups within the nation, there’s nonetheless some actual debate about who’s subsequent within the pecking order. After Week 5, there are 15 remaining undefeated groups. We sorted them into tiers behind the Dawgs and Tide.

Tier 2: Like a “Quick and Livid” film, simply attempt to get pleasure from them with out overthinking it

Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Penn State

Wish to nitpick? There’s ample room.

Actually, the committee will search for any flaws it will probably discover for Cincinnati, however with Saturday’s 24-13 win at Notre Dame, the Bearcats lastly have sufficient to push again.

At Oklahoma, the followers are booing the beginning QB, which is often not ideally suited for a playoff contender. Spencer Rattler performed comparatively effectively Saturday (finishing 22 of 25 throws), nevertheless it was one other shut name for the Sooners. Model factors aren’t a part of the playoff method, nevertheless it’s additionally price mentioning that no group has ever made the School Soccer Playoff with greater than 4 one-possession video games towards unranked foes. All 4 of Oklahoma’s FBS wins this season have come by a TD or much less.

Then there’s Penn State, which has three wins — at Wisconsin, vs. Auburn and Saturday vs. Indiana — that appeared lots higher on paper in August than they appear within the standings now.

Tier 3: “You may get nothing and prefer it”

Michigan, Iowa and Kentucky

The Wolverines picked up one other win Saturday, 38-17 over Wisconsin. Was that spectacular? Nicely, the Badgers’ offense is mainly the identical as watching paint dry. In truth, that about sums up everything of Michigan’s opposition this yr, which additionally contains NIU, Rutgers and Washington, all woefully incompetent with the soccer. However Michigan did throw three TD passes Saturday — two greater than it had managed previously three video games mixed — so maybe there’s some actual upside. On the very least, each time Michigan scores, coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates like he is in a kind of “Do not be like your dad and mom” commercials, and it is simply pleasant.

The Hawkeyes’ protection has 16 takeaways in 5 video games. The Hawkeyes’ offense usually contains 11 gamers. Is {that a} method for a Massive Ten title? We’ll discover out much more towards Penn State subsequent week.

Kentucky was outgained by 158 yards Saturday. The Wildcats managed simply 13 first downs. They accomplished seven passes. However hey, they received, because of 15 Florida penalties and a blocked discipline objective that was returned for a TD. QB Will Levis has made headlines all through this run by noting that he eats bananas with the peel on and places mayo in his espresso, and if Kentucky’s run goes on for much longer, he is liable to do one thing actually disgusting like consuming Skyline chili.

You are proper to need extra from these groups. On offense, they vary between dangerous and dumpster hearth. And but, right here we’re. Nobody’s going to benefit from the journey, however we’re on board anyway.

Tier 4: The Bracket Busters

Coastal Carolina and BYU

Can these two groups simply play a random sport they scheduled three days earlier once more this yr? Please, school soccer. Make this an annual factor.

Tier 5: The “Ted Lasso” groups that everybody retains telling you’re really fairly good however you simply have not discovered the time to really watch

Michigan State, Wake Forest and Oklahoma State

Is there an actual contender on this bunch? Wake escaped with a dramatic 37-34 win over Louisville on Saturday, and its schedule units up properly for a powerful run into November. With Clemson reeling offensively, something appears potential within the ACC. In the meantime, Michigan State seems destined for a battle of undefeated groups towards Michigan on Oct. 30. Oklahoma State might have simply misplaced its first three, however coach Mike Gundy listens to solely the information he likes, so the Cowboys would possibly simply be the very best group within the nation.

Tier 6a: Admit it. You forgot about UTSA, proper?

UTSA

Meep, meep. The Roadrunners are 5-Zero and about to drop an anvil on Western Kentucky‘s head subsequent week.

Tier 6b: There is no means you remembered that Wyoming was undefeated

Wyoming

The Cowboys beat Montana State by three and UConn by two. If there’s such a factor as an ethical victory, these had been each ethical losses.


So lengthy, Pac-12

Oregon was up seven with 2:21 to play and had a primary down deep in Stanford territory. What might go improper? Nicely, it is the Pac-12, so it is best by no means to ask that query. The Geese ended up punting from the Stanford 43, allowed the Cardinal to drive the size of the sphere, bought flagged for defensive holding as time expired, then served up the tying TD earlier than dropping in time beyond regulation. If school soccer followers within the Pac-12 had been nonetheless able to feeling, it might’ve been a intestine punch. As a substitute, it marks the second time in three years the Pac-12 is with out an undefeated group after 5 weeks — one thing the opposite Energy 5 leagues have completed simply as soon as within the playoff period, in response to ESPN Stats & Info analysis.

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Kentucky stonewalls Florida on its potential game-winning drive to carry on and win 20-13.

Clemson wins ugly

Clemson’s offensive issues did not discover many options on Saturday, however the Tigers nonetheless managed to come back away with a win, 19-13 towards Boston School.

“It wasn’t stunning,” coach Dabo Swinney stated afterward, “however we wanted a win.”

Clemson moved to 3-2, however the Tigers have but to crack 20 factors towards an FBS opponent. On Saturday, they managed 438 yards of offense, which did mark a big step ahead after failing to crack 300 in any of their prior three FBS video games. They completed simply 3-of-15 on third and fourth down. QB D.J. Uiagalelei did not throw a TD. They endured myriad accidents, too, together with to starters Will Putnam, Braden Galloway and Justyn Ross. Swinney stated afterward that Ross suffered a head damage however is not possible out long run.

Afterward, Swinney referred to as the sport “momentum going into an off week,” which may be a pleasant means of claiming the Tigers survived lengthy sufficient to get an additional week off earlier than operating into one other brick wall.

How dangerous have issues been?

Since Swinney grew to become the full-time coach in 2009, Clemson has by no means scored fewer than 96 factors in regulation by its first 4 FBS video games. This yr, the Tigers have managed 50.

Auburn rallies behind Nix

Matt Damon in “Rounders”: “Some folks, execs even, will not play no-limit. They cannot deal with the swings.”

Auburn followers in the course of the Bo Nix period: “Maintain our beer.”

Every week in the past, Nix was benched because the Tigers narrowly escaped Georgia State. This week, Nix racked up 329 yards of offense, threw a TD, ran for an additional and engineered a fourth-quarter comeback to beat LSU in Loss of life Valley.

The Bo Nix Expertise has taken years off the lives of Auburn followers, however Saturday’s efficiency was a reminder of simply how good the junior QB might be when issues go proper. Changed by T.J. Finley for a sequence early within the sport, Nix returned within the second quarter to guide Auburn’s first TD drive and by no means sat once more. Trailing 19-17 with 6:57 to play, Nix led an 11-play drive that included an 11-yard run, a 10-yard completion and a important conversion on third-and-Three on the LSU 15.

Subsequent up is Georgia, and given his historical past, Nix will both pull off a miracle or unintentionally set the locker room on hearth whereas making an attempt to make a panini.

Heisman 5

As a lot as Alabama-Ole Miss figured to be a showdown between Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin and a battle for the SEC West, it was additionally a matchup of the highest two contenders for this yr’s Heisman. When it was over, there was just one contender remaining. That is now Bryce Younger’s award to lose.

1. Alabama QB Bryce Younger

Younger did not pad his stats any, however a couple of brief fields and 33 handoffs to Brian Robinson made for a field rating — 241 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT — that was greater than sufficient to win and draw back from the remainder of the competitors within the early Heisman race. Whereas Younger’s total stats definitely examine properly along with his predecessors — Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts — what’s maybe extra spectacular is how cool and assured he seems even in essentially the most pressure-packed conditions.

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Stanford scores a game-tying landing on the ultimate play of regulation after which wins it in time beyond regulation to upset No. Three Oregon.

2. Ole Miss QB Matt Corral

Corral did not make any important errors, and if, maybe, Ole Miss had transformed a few these fourth-down tries, issues may need turned out otherwise, however the consequence was nonetheless emphatic. Alabama’s protection was terrific, and Corral managed only a garbage-time TD go on the most important stage he’ll see this season.

3. Texas RB Bijan Robinson

If among the preliminary buzz died down after the loss to Arkansas, Robinson reignited the Heisman hype with 216 yards and two scores in a 32-27 win over TCU. It is Robinson’s fourth 100-yard effort in 5 video games, and he has rapidly established himself as a real lead rusher within the Texas backfield. He’ll be the centerpiece for Texas within the Pink River sport towards Oklahoma subsequent week, which means Robinson could have an opportunity to make an actual push towards upping his Heisman odds.

4. Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

It wasn’t the sexiest line in a field rating Saturday, however Ridder made quite a lot of huge throws when Cincinnati wanted them most towards Notre Dame, together with a 36-yard completion to Leonard Taylor that arrange a Ridder TD run that every one however sealed the Bearcats’ first-ever win over a top-10 group. General, Ridder threw for 297 yards and two TDs, ran for 26 extra with a TD and put the Bearcats squarely in the midst of the playoff dialog.

5. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett

Every week, we use the No. 5 spot to focus on a man who is not prone to get nationwide consideration however deserves a little bit of the highlight. Pickett would possibly bridge that hole if he retains up his latest tempo. He threw 4 touchdowns in a rout of Georgia Tech, including 410 yards of offense. The Pitt QB, now in (we’re fairly positive) his 12th season, has tossed 15 TD passes in his previous three video games — two greater than he’d ever thrown in a full season, breaking Dan Marino’s faculty report for TD passes in a three-game stretch.

Beneath-the-radar sport of the week

In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart delivered the lasting definition of obscenity: “I do know it once I see it.” This was within the case of Jacobellis v. Ohio, nevertheless it would possibly’ve been extra applicable for UConn vs. Vanderbilt. The Huskies final beat an FBS group in 2019. Vandy final scored in the course of the Taft administration. Forcing others to look at this sport was barred by the Geneva Conference.

And but, this sport had actual drama. Vandy was up 27-16 halfway by the fourth quarter, coughed up successive scoring drives to the Huskies, then drove 47 yards in 1:07 to arrange a successful discipline objective try. In fact, UConn head coach Lou Spanos then used three straight timeouts to ice the kicker as a result of nobody wished to see this sport finish, and in addition as a result of former coach Randy Edsall will get $1 for each unused timeout (it is in his contract). However, in the long run, Vandy kicker Joseph Bulovas booted the 31-yarder for the win. And in the event you loved all of that, effectively, we have excellent news for you. Subsequent week, UConn will get UMass. Some folks simply wish to watch the world burn.

Beneath-the-radar play of the week

Try this Purdue cheerleader doing her impression of the Boilermakers’ efficiency vs. Minnesota.

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