If anything this season has shown us as we reach the midway point of the season, it is the need to expand the college football playoff.
With Week 7 coming to an end, it is becoming increasingly harder to distinguish the playoff-worthy teams from the pretenders. Even in defeat, many of the teams in the top 10 have made strong cases for a spot. In due time, we should see which teams will continue to prosper and which ones will eventually fall out of contention.
What Did We Learn In Week 7?
GAME OF THE WEEK - #3 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #6 Tennessee Volunteers
Arguably the biggest question mark surrounding Alabama coming into their biggest game of the season was if their defensive secondary could handle quarterback Hendon Hooker and Tennessee's high-tempo offense. Well, after Hooker's two touchdown passes to Jalin Hyatt, it became clear that they were going to be in for a long day.
Yet, when you have Bryce Young, you always have a chance. Young was his usual efficient self, as he responded with several completions and a touchdown pass. By half time, Young had 17 completions for 205 yards.
In the second half, Alabama tied the game at 28 following a 26-yard touchdown run by Jahmyr Gibbs. Tennessee would retake the lead on a 60-yard touchdown pass to Hyatt. Then it disappeared after a lengthy touchdown sequence by Young and the Alabama offense.
In the fourth quarter, Tennessee would break the tie after Hooker connected with Hyatt for a 78-yard touchdown. Once again, Young would answer with a touchdown drive that would tie the game at 42. With the amount of offense we received in the game, it was fitting that one
mistake would potentially decide the game. Unfortunately for Tennessee, Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner would be the beneficiary of a botched exchange which he would take into the end zone for the lead. Yet, a pass interference call late in the game would eventually lead to Hyatt's fifth touchdown, tying the game yet again.
During the late stages of the contest, it seemed that the game was going to overtime. But Hooker made sure that wouldn't be the case with two big completions, putting Tennessee in field goal range with only two seconds left. In the end, it was kicker Chase McGrath's 40-yard field goal that would win the game for Tennessee, giving them their biggest win in recent history.
So what did we learn? This heavyweight SEC match was one that featured teams that are likely to meet in this year's playoffs. What is certain is that there are few teams in college football capable of matching the type of offensive output we saw in a game in which both teams combined for 1,146 yards of total offense and 101 points. This was not just the game of the year, it should be considered as one of the best games of the last decade.
Other Week 7 Games
When it comes to heavyweight battles, Oklahoma State vs. TCU was exactly what we expected. This was a highly competitive match that ended in double overtime where running back Kendre Miller scored the winning touchdown for TCU. Still undefeated, don't be surprised if the Horned Frogs end up in the top 10.
In a clash of the Big Ten Conference titans, the Michigan running back tandem of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards did practically anything they wanted to do against Penn State's defense. Even with this win, one has to wonder if the Wolverines' offense continue to prosper without adequate production from their quarterback, JJ Mccarthy. As the competition continues to heighten, they are going to need him to take his game to the next level.
As one would have expected, the USC vs. Utah game was an exhibition of the two best offensive units in the PAC-12 conference. In a game where there was little defense, the Utes had one thing the Trojans' defense could not handle; his name was Dalton Kinkaid. Both Cam Rising and Caleb Williams were sensational, combining for 796 passing yards and 10 total touchdowns. What we likely saw on Saturday was potentially a preview of this year's PAC-12 Championship game.
Ole Miss is good, really good. In their victory over Auburn, they had three players post 100 or more rushing yards, one of them being their quarterback, Jaxson Dart, who also contributed three passing touchdowns. In essence, they are efficient at all three phases, which makes them a difficult team for anyone in the nation to test. A playoff team? They should definitely be in the conversation.
Clemson's win against Florida State was not an easy one, as the Seminoles fought till the bitter end. At this point, there is no question that Clemson is the best team in the ACC and is on their way to becoming a playoff team again.
Say whatever you want about LSU head coach Brian Kelly, but his team is exponentially better than it was a year ago. After a rocky beginning to his tenure, he is making his doubters look like fools, especially after beating Florida the way he did. Every week, they seem to get better, which should scare other teams in the SEC.
Georgia beat Vanderbilt....that's all that needs to be said here.
Last season, the Iowa State Cyclones embarrassed Steve Sarkisian's Texas Longhorns so badly, it led to defensive coordinator Bo Davis unleashing a profanity-laced speech on his players during their bus ride home. Almost a year later, the Longhorns got the redemption they had been waiting for. As long as Quinn Ewers is their quarterback, the sky is the limit for them.
How many college football teams are currently 7-0? Well, Coastal Carolina is NOT one of them after being dominated by the giant killers known as Old Dominion.
Illinois may not be the type of team to make the College Football Playoffs, but they continue to win games. This week, they took down a tough Minnesota Gopher team. You never know, if they continue winning games, they could find themselves in this year's Big Ten Conference championship game.
You know how you can tell that Oklahoma is running on all cylinders? Two words: Dillon Gabriel. On Saturday, he and his sooners came back with vengeance as they took down the No. 19 Kansas Jayhawks. For the Jayhawks, they are about to find out quickly that life without quarterback Jalon Daniels is a difficult one.
UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee set a single-game program record with seven total touchdowns in their 70-13 rout of the Temple Owls. Though they may not be in the playoff discussion, the Knights have proven so far that Dillon Gabriel was not the sole reason for their success the last few seasons.
Once upon a time, the Baylor Bears had a respectable 3-1 record. After losing to Tony Mathis Jr. and the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Bears have fallen to 3-3. At this point, it is unlikely they will repeat as Big 12 champions.
Navy had a chance to pull off one of the most significant victories in recent memory. Unfortunately, quarterback Tanner Mordecai and SMU had other ideas as they scored 20 unanswered in the 3rd quarter to steal a victory away from the Midshipmen.
QB Bryce Young - Alabama
QB Hendon Hooker - Tennessee
WR Jalin Hyatt - Tennessee
TE Dalton Kincaid - Utah
QB Cam Rising - Utah
QB Michael Penix jr. - Washington
QB Dillon Gabriel - Oklahoma
RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. - Kentucky
WR Quentin Johnston - TCU
WR Mario Williams - USC
RB Blake Watson - Old Dominion
RB Donovan Edwards - Michigan
QB Caleb Williams - USC
QB Jaxson Dart - Ole Miss
WR Rome Odunze - Washington
RB Chase Brown - Illinois
QB Jayden De laura - Arizona
RB Jahmyr Gibbs - Alabama
QB Tyler Van Dyke - Miami
RB Blake Corum - Michigan
QB Tanner Mordecai - SMU
RB Quinshon Judkins - Ole Miss
QB John Lee Plumlee - UCF
RB Zach Evans - Ole Miss
RB Tony Mathis Jr. - West Virginia
RB Carson Steele - Ball State
DL Akheem Mesidor - Miami
LB Dee Winters - TCU
DL Myles Murphy - Clemson
DE Gabe Reid - Utah
DE Jacoby Windmon - Michigan State
LB/S Jalen Graham - Purdue
EDGE Demetrius Hardamon - Bowling Green
LB Micah Baskerville - LSU
LB Cole Pearce - Ball State
EDGE Jeremiah Martin - Washington
EDGE Jeremy Lewis - East Carolina
LB Nick Herbig - Wisconsin