It didn’t appear there would be much drama in college football during Week 7. No. 1 Georgia was a heavy favorite against No. 11 Kentucky and none of the other matchups on the schedule looked like they would have much influence on the playoff.
Well, that was wrong. No. 2 Iowa was stunned by Purdue. No. 12 Oklahoma State had a furious rally to knock of Texas for the second consecutive disappointing loss suffered by the Longhorns. Lane Kiffin went back to Knoxville and Mississippi won a tense matchup between two teams on the rise in the SEC. LSU rose from the dead to surprise No. 17 Florida.
With all that happening, here are three observations from Saturday worth noting:
Oklahoma looks completely different
That performance in the second half against Texas by Caleb Williams didn’t just help the Sooners beat their biggest rival. It was the start of a new era for Lincoln Riley’s team.
After replacing Spencer Rattler last week, the true freshman got his first start at quarterback Saturday and was phenomenal in a 52-31 win against TCU. The stats might not even do the performance justice, which is saying something since Williams was 18-of-23 for 295 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 66 yards rushing on nine carries with one score. His presence also helped open up running lanes for Kennedy Brooks, who had 153 yards on the ground, giving him 370 in the past two games. For those counting, the offense has produced 87 points in its last six quarters since Williams took over.
HIGHS AND LOWS: Winners and losers from Week 7 in college football
What does this mean for Oklahoma going forward? Two easy wins should follow against Kansas and Texas Tech, giving Williams time to get prepared for a home stretch that includes road games against Baylor and Oklahoma State that sandwich a home matchup with Iowa State. With the offense rolling, it takes some of the pressure off the defense that has been shaky and could make what seemed to be an uncertain march to a seventh consecutive Big 12 title and a return to the College Football Playoff more likely.
Pittsburgh and North Carolina State in the ACC title game?
Before the season, it seemed Clemson and North Carolina were on a collision course to meet in Charlotte. Things look very different at the season’s midpoint with the two favorites 8-5 overall and 6-4 in the league combined. Those records include two shaky wins this weekend as the Tigers and Tar Heels both won by three points against Syracuse and Miami (Fla.), respectively.
Pittsburgh established itself as the clear favorite in the Coastal with a dominating win at Virginia Tech, the only other team in the division that entered the day without a loss in the conference. Kenny Pickett threw for two touchdowns, giving him 21 on the season with just one interception.
N.C. State went on the road and took down Boston College 33-7 in an impressive effort on both sides of the ball. The Wolfpack already have a win against Clemson in their pocket, giving them some breathing room against the Tigers. The race in the Atlantic could come down to a Nov. 13 showdown at Wake Forest.
Matt Corral candidacy for Heisman gets boost
Much of the headlines from Mississippi beating Tennessee in Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville will focus on the abhorrent behavior by Volunteers fans, who delayed the game 20 minutes after throwing debris on the field after a controversial fourth-down spot in the final minute of the game.
But what played out before that incident was Corral carrying the Rebels, literally and figuratively, to a victory on the road. With several of his key players on offense sidelined, the senior quarterback threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns. More impressively, he also shouldered much of the running game with 195 yards on the ground on 30 carries. It’s the kind of effort that should get the attention of Heisman voters, especially in a season where most of the early favorites have already fallen by the wayside. If Ole Miss keeps winning and Corral continues to put up these numbers, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be a finalist in New York in December.
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