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2022 Post-Week Six CFB Roundup

Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh

Reactions & Thoughts

A Meaningful "Third Saturday in October": Few rivalries in college football have been as one-sided the last several decades as the "Third Saturday in October" matchup between Alabama and Tennessee. The Tide have won 15 in a row stretching back to 2007, with several of those games being complete blowouts. However, this year's matchup pits the top-ranked Crimson Tide with sixth-ranked Tennessee, their highest ranking in years. The Volunteers have answered every test they've been thrown en route to a 5-0 start, including Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and LSU this past Saturday. They have one of the nation's most exciting quarterbacks running the show, a fun up-tempo offense, and an aggressive defense. They have the pieces in place to give Alabama their toughest game in years, particularly as the Tide still work out their kinks offensively. Even if they aren't able to spring an upset, it feels great having this rivalry mean something again. The two programs have a history of success, rabid fanbases, and a brand that extends far beyond the Southeast. It's a great thing for the sport when they're both nationally relevant, and this upcoming battle between them could be the most anticipated single game of the 2022 season.

An Ode To TCU-Kansas: College GameDay traveled to Lawrence, Kansas, for the first time in its history to watch the undefeated Jayhawks war undefeated TCU and the game delivered. The two teams went back-and-forth the entire way in a thrilling, tight contest that saw the Horned Frogs come out on top. It was a pleasant reminder of just of powerful college football can be, and how important it is to build a winner. Kansas has suffered through a decade-plus of football purgatory, but they've been treated to a special 2022 and the fans have shown up, with three straight sellouts. Coincidentally, the on-field success has had reverberations that will last long past this fall, with the school recently announcing they are investing $300 million into upgrades to David Booth Memorial Stadium and the Anderson Family Football Complex. Although their undefeated season is over, the Jayhawks have proven they deserve Top 25 recognition, and will be a factor in the Big 12 Title race. That alone is not a sentence anybody would have thought of writing prior to the season.

College Football Has Returned To Hollywood: USC's frustrations the past decade have left the college football scene a bit lacking in Los Angeles. A month-and-a-half into the 2022 campaign, the excitement and energy in the city has returned, thanks to the success of both USC and UCLA. The Trojans have met their lofty preseason expectations and are legit CFB Playoff contenders, beating Washington State to improve to 6-0. Meanwhile, the Bruins had one of their biggest victories in years, toppling Utah at home to put themselves on an inside track towards a Pac-12 Title. After some initial struggles, Chip Kelly has built a winner in Westwood, and has a formidable team on his hands. Football on the West Coast has lagged behind in recent years, but the return of these two programs to the forefront is a great thing for the sport. Now, both are hoping to stay perfect and set up a potential Top 10 showdown in mid-November at the Rose Bowl.

Uh Oh, Oklahoma: Even after Lincoln Riley ditched for USC and took his star QB with him, conventional wisdom around the college football world was that Oklahoma would still be a Big 12 Title contender. Sure, they weren't without questions, but Brent Venables was a strong hire, and the program was still incredibly talented. Now six weeks into the season, it's clear that the conventional wisdom was very wrong. The Sooners lost 49-0 in the latest edition of Red River, possibly their most humiliating loss in the history of the rivalry. The score alone is shocking, but it doesn't encapsulate just how thoroughly and completely Texas pounded the Sooners. To be fair, starting QB Dillon Gabriel was out, but this game still likely would have been a blowout. The Sooner defense is atrocious, and the offense simply doesn't have the playmakers it once does. Now 3-3 and 0-3 in the Big 12, it will be a hard climb for Venables and company, as they face Kansas next. Clearly, there are some deep, deep issues here, and the pressure is on for Venables to figure it out in quick fashion, especially with a move to the SEC on the near horizon.

A New Era Arriving At Auburn?: The worst-kept secret in college football right now is at Auburn, where Bryan Harsin looks to be on his last legs as head coach. Harsin was always a bit of a strange hire, a Pacific Northwest guy without any ties to the SEC, and the experiment has not worked out. It's only a matter of time before Auburn moves on, but the question is when? The assumption was that they didn't want to do it before their meeting with Georgia this past weekend, in order to avoid the interim coach facing a top team, but now? It's likely they're still waiting to make an AD hire before they make a move at head coach but with the coaching carousel spinning, they have to make sure they don't get left behind.

Weekly Awards

Offensive Helmet Sticker: Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh

This is a no-brainer for this week's offensive helmet sticker. Pitt tailback Israel Abanikanda put together one of the most impressive stat-lines you'll see in college football, as the junior went for 320 yards and six touchdowns in the win over Virginia Tech. It broke Tony Dorsett's single-game yard record and tied the ACC's single-game touchdown record all in one day. Following the historical performance, Abanikanda has risen to No. 2 in the FBS in rushing yardage, behind only Illinois' Chase Brown.

Defensive Helmet Sticker: Tuli Tuipulotu, DL, USC

USC's offense gets a lot of national attention and rightfully so, but it seems like the Trojan defense is improving each and every week. They held an explosive Washington State offense to just 316 yards and 14 points as 'SC improved to 6-0 on the season. Spearheading the dominant performance was relentless defensive linemen Tuli Tuipulotu, who had five tackles and three sacks. It was the latest big-time showing from the veteran, who now leads all FBS defenders with seven sacks in total.

Team of the Week: Tennessee Volunteers

This isn't the first Tennessee team to receive considerable hype in recent years. However, past Volunteer teams likely would have gone into Baton Rouge as a favorite and lost to LSU in humiliating fashion. Not this team, which scored quickly off a muffed kickoff return and never looked back, leaving with a 40-13 victory. It marked the latest massive victory for a Tennessee team building quite the resume, and was particularly impressive because of how dominant it was. The Volunteers outplayed LSU in every major statistical category and held a comfortable lead the entire way, despite being in a hostile environment. Will the recent success translate into a program-defining victory against Alabama this upcoming weekend? Maybe, maybe not, but Tennessee should feel incredibly good about themselves following this game.

"Small-School" Team of the Week: UConn Huskies

Another loose definition of the term, "small-school" here but UConn's lack of football success over the last decade has left them largely ignored by the national media. Following their win over Florida International over the weekend, the FBS Independent Huskies are now 3-4, tying their most victories in a season since 2017. Head coach Jim Mora has done an excellent job in Year One with this downtrodden program and there's an outside shot at bowl eligibility, albeit a slim one. Upcoming games with Boston College, Liberty, and Army are likely all losses, but UMass and Ball State could help this Huskies team hover around .500.

My Top 25

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

2. Georgia Bulldogs

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

4. Clemson Tigers

5. Tennessee Volunteers

6. Michigan Wolverines

7. USC Trojans

8. UCLA Bruins

9. Penn State Nittany Lions

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys

11. Oregon Ducks

12. Ole Miss Rebels

13. TCU Horned Frogs

14. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

15. NC State Wolfpack

16. Syracuse Orange

17. Kansas State Wildcats

18. Kansas Jayhawks

19. Mississippi State Bulldogs

20. Illinois Fighting Illini

21. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

22. Texas Longhorns

23. Utah Utes

24. Tulane Green Wave

25. North Carolina Tar Heels

Receiving Votes: Cincinnati Bearcats, James Madison Dukes, Florida State Seminoles, Kentucky Wildcats, Minnesota Golden Gophers

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