Several surprises and statement wins around college football in Week 6, but it was the Gators & the Paladins sending the loudest messages. Photos courtesy of Furman Athletics and John Raoux / Associated Press.
Week 6 of the college football season is in the books with some big wins for teams like Ohio State, Michigan and Georgia in the FBS. However, it was the Florida Gators with the biggest win of all this weekend, as they were able to knock off #7 Auburn at home in “The Swamp”. At the FCS level, specifically in the SoCon, there were good wins for schools like VMI and Wofford, but it was Furman that sent the loudest message, as they rolled up and overwhelmingly decimated Samford. I’ll break down these statement wins and what they mean for each team moving forward. I will also share my biggest surprises from this week, both in the FBS and in the SoCon.
Not a lot of people were giving Florida much of a shot to beat Auburn this Saturday, myself in particular. I thought that the Tigers were the more talented team coming into this game, especially on defense. That’s not to say that I thought Florida’s defense was bad, because I didn’t. I was also starting to be a big believer in QB Bo Nix for Auburn and felt that the Auburn offense was starting to find their rhythm. On the flip side, I did not think Florida had what it took offensively to beat the Tigers. Kyle Trask is pretty good and that Gators offense had been playing a little better than before Feliepe Franks got hurt, but I still just wasn’t in love with them. Boy was I wrong about this Gators team though. That Florida defense came to play and, for the first time since the opening game against Oregon, they were able to make Bo Nix look just like a true Freshman quarterback. They rattled him, and rattled him early as Nix wound up throwing for just 145 yards and three interceptions. Florida was also able to bottle up Auburn’s rushing attack for much of the game. On the offensive side of the ball, Kyle Trask and the Gators offense piled up 400 yards of total offense, and could have done more had it not been for four turnovers of their own. The game was 17-13 going into the half, but it never really felt that close. Florida’s own offensive miscues were really the only reason Auburn was able to stay in the game. The final nail in the proverbial coffin came with 9 minutes left in the game, when Lamical Perine busted off an 88 yard run for a touchdown to give the Gators a 24-13 lead.
The surprising result sent shock waves around the SEC. Not only did Florida win a big conference game, but they sent a statement to other SEC schools watching. Florida now looks like a real threat to unseat Georgia as the SEC East champ and possibly even threaten for a conference title. We still have a lot of football to be played this season, but if Florida can pass a tough road test at LSU next week and then follow that up with a road win at South Carolina, we are potentially looking at a Top-5 showdown in “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” come November 2nd, when they meet Georgia in Jacksonville.
The other team I thought made the biggest statement this weekend was Furman. They traveled down to Birmingham to take on a Samford team that was firing on all cylinders offensively. The Bulldogs were coming off three straight wins, two of those to SoCon opposition. But the Paladins were also hot, hot, hot entering this one with big SoCon wins at home against Mercer and ETSU.
I picked the Paladins to win the game, but to be honest, Samford scared me a little. Just the way that they had been putting up yards and points this season was frightening. Their defense is just awful and I felt like Darren Grainger and company would have a big game, I just worried that the defense would be able to hold up. I thought my fears were coming true when Samford scored first with just three minutes off the clock in the first quarter. But 15 seconds later, Devin Wynn scored after a 75 yard run and Furman was off to the races. The defense settled in and completely shut-down the Samford passing attack. Chris Oladokun would only throw for 129 yards and 1 touchdown and the Paladins kept Samford off the score board in the second half. Meanwhile, the Furman offense was having a field day against that porous Samford defense. Darren Grainger played great in this one. He only had to throw the ball nine times in the game, but had four passing touchdowns – three to Thomas Gordon. He didn’t have to throw it much because it was Furman’s ground game that really came to play. Devin Wynn showed out as he busted runs for 75 and 89 yards and had a 61 touchdown reception. Wynn finished the day with 279 total all-purpose yards and three scores. The Paladins rolled up 465 yards on the ground on their way to a 58-14 thrashing over Samford.
If there was any doubt about how good this Furman team was before Saturday, all of that should be erased after how they handled Samford. This Furman team is on a mission and they have the mentality of making sure to leave no doubt out on the field. Every week, they look like a team bent on completely dominating their opposition. This coming week, they look to dominate a much needed bye week, get some rest and get ready to play a big rivalry game at home against The Citadel.
Lot of surprises this week in college football. Both teams that I just talked about really surprised me. I didn’t think Florida would win and I didn’t think Furman would win like they did. However, my biggest surprise this week came from the SoCon when VMI finally broke it’s losing streak to The Citadel and brought home the “Silver Shako”. I thought VMI was a little better this year compared to last year, but I did not see this coming from the Keydets. And they didn’t just beat The Citadel by squeaking out a win, they looked like a much better team than The Citadel. The Keydets have had a lot of issues on defense, but they were able to shut down The Citadel ground game and forced Brandon Rainey to throw it, something that The Citadel is not really comfortable doing a whole lot. A huge shocker in the league that will resound for weeks to come.
In the FBS, the biggest surprises of the week were, (1) Tennessee hanging around with Georgia for a half. Georgia would go on to win big, but give the Vols some credit for fighting and making Georgia work in the first half. (2) I couldn’t believe Michigan pulled off a win against a really good Iowa team. The Wolverines shut down Iowa’s offense and did just enough with their own offense to win a hard fought 10-3 win at home. (3) Washington went on the road to face a really down Stanford team, but laid an egg and walked out of “The Farm” with the “L”. (4) Virginia Tech’s offense finally showed up as they beat ACC Coastal foe Miami on the road. (5) And finally there was Pitt, who went into Durham and beat a really good Duke team. Pitt is a bit of a head-scratcher this year. They play really well and beat, or nearly beat, really good teams and then fall flat against lesser competition.
A lot of teams around the country had the week off this week, but the games that we did have were, for the most part, really good. Overall, a solid week of college football with plenty of surprises, dominant performances and thrilling finishes. I’d love to know what you’re biggest takeaways or surprises were from this week of college football. Comment down below or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter at The Spread Football. The Week 6 recap show is up on Soundcloud, so go check it now. Another great conversation with SoCon John.