So much for a Group of 5 team crashing the College Football Playoff for the first time. Houston was in position to do just that at No. 6 in last week's polls and with already a nice win over Oklahoma, but the Cougars were the biggest losers of Week 6 with a 46-40 defeat against Navy. The Midshipmen turned three Greg Ward Jr. turnovers into 17 points and had 306 yards on the ground against the nation's top-ranked statistical run defense going into the weekend.
Navy also had two passing touchdowns for the first time in a game since it had two against Notre Dame in 2014. It was the Middies' first win over a Top-10 team since 1984. Houston likely won't even make the American Athletic Conference title game now. The Cougars need Navy to lose twice in order to get back into the conference race. That loss also might have made it more likely that Houston coach Tom Herman leaves for LSU (is open), Texas (will be open) or Southern Cal (might be open) this offseason.
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The other school that loss hurt the most was No. 7 Louisville as a potential win in Houston on Nov. 17 doesn't mean as much. UH, which dropped to 13th in the AP poll, is also the only ranked team left on U of L's schedule. Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson resumes his Heisman candidacy on Friday night against Duke. Louisville was off in Week 6. Other than Houston, there was no huge upset over the weekend.
Here are a few Week 7 opening lines that caught my eye. Rankings from AP poll and games Saturday unless noted.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Tennessee (+12): UT's luck finally ran out on Saturday as the Vols lost 45-38 in double overtime at No. 8 Texas A&M. That the game was that close was remarkable considering UT had seven turnovers and 12 penalties. The last turnover was a pick of Josh Dobbs that won it for the Aggies. It was Tennessee's third giveaway inside the A&M 10. Those overruled the 684 yards of offense that the Vols put up. So now a loss this week not only ends any shot that Tennessee has at the College Football Playoff, it throws the SEC East wide open. But a UT win gets it right back in the CFP playoff and it would be favored to win every remaining regular-season game ahead of a potential rematch with the Tide in the SEC Championship Game. I thought Alabama would win at No. 16 Arkansas on Saturday but would have to work for it. Not so much as the Tide rolled 49-30. Bama has won the past nine meetings with UT but last year's went down to the wire. The pick: Tennessee (to cover not win).
North Carolina at No. 16 Miami (-7): The loser here is all but out of the ACC Coastal Division race as it would be the second conference loss for said team and Virginia Tech is unbeaten in the division. The Hokies laid a beatdown on the then-No. 17 Tar Heels on Saturday, 34-3. When UNC trails by double digits at the half under Larry Fedora, it is now 0-13. North Carolina finished with 131 yards, with QB Mitch Trubisky throwing his first two interceptions of the year That game was played in hurricane conditions. Miami lost a thriller to Florida State 20-19 when the potential tying extra point was blocked with under two minutes left. UM coach Mark Richt just can't get on the right side of this rivalry. He was Florida State's offensive coordinator many years ago when the Noles lost on Wide Right I and Wide Right II to the Hurricanes. UM QB Brad Kaaya had a molar knocked out of his mouth in that loss and also injured his shoulder. He will be limited this week but is expected to play. The Canes did suffer another loss on Monday that will hurt them down the road as receiver Sam Bruce was kicked off the team. He was the top recruit in this year's class but was redshirting. Bruce was booted for multiple violations of team rules. The pick: Miami as long as Kaaya does play.
Stanford at Notre Dame (-3): Has this game lost all of its luster or what? The Cardinal followed a Week 5 blowout loss at Washington with a 42-16 home whitewashing on Saturday against Washington State to fall out of the polls. So there's pretty much no chance of the Cardinal winning the Pac-12 North Division again. It was Wazzu's first win over a Top-15 team in 13 years. In addition, Stanford running back and former Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey went to the locker room in the second half with an injury and didn't return to the game. So monitor his status this week, although Coach David Shaw seemed to indicate he could have re-entered the game against the Cougars but that there was no point in letting him. I couldn't believe that Notre Dame was an underdog last week at NC State but the Irish managed to lose in a monsoon thanks to Hurricane Matthew, 10-3, to drop to 2-4. There were 10 fumbles in that game as it clearly shouldn't have been played. The Irish had 113 yards of offense. Most believe that Irish coach Brian Kelly is safe for now but that he will enter next season on the hottest seat in college football. The pick: Notre Dame.
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 8 Wisconsin (+10.5): ESPN College GameDay will be in Madison, the first time in five years. The Buckeyes might have been looking ahead to this game on Saturday as they were a bit sluggish before pulling away for a 38-17 win over Indiana. OSU had only 93 passing yards but ran for 290 yards and won its fifth consecutive game by 20 points or more, the longest active streak in FBS. Quarterback J.T. Barrett accounted for two touchdowns (one rush, one pass) to move past Art Schlichter for second place on the school's all-time list for touchdown responsibility. Barrett is two behind Braxton Miller's 88. Wisconsin has allowed seven touchdowns all season, and it's the only top-45 defense that Ohio State's faced. The Badgers were off last week. These schools haven't played since the 2014 Big Ten title game, won by OSU 59-0. The pick: Ohio State.
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