Nearly half of the ACC had open dates this week, including conference power Clemson, unbeaten Wake Forest and perfectly solid Virginia. So, naturally, the teams that actually were playing had to author even more chaos than usual.

They succeeded thanks to a series of quarterback events both unfortunate and unanticipated.

To wit:

  • Boston College starter Anthony Brown departed with a left knee injury in the second quarter against Louisville. Backup Dennis Grosel completed only nine passes the rest of the way, but three of them went for touchdowns.
  • Meanwhile, Louisville split time between Malik Cunningham (13 of 18, 288 yards and a touchdown) and Evan Conley (10 of 16, 140 yards and a touchdown), with the latter leading a late drive for a field goal to lock up a 41-39 victory and halt the Cardinals’ nine-game conference losing streak.
  • Miami yanked Jarren Williams after he threw three first-quarter interceptions. Enter N’Kosi Perry, who played plenty last season. He might again after throwing for 422 yards and four touchdowns to help the Hurricanes erase a 28-point hole against Virginia Tech. The only downside was …
  • That Herndon Hooker threw for 184 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 76 yards and a score in the Hokies’ 42-35 victory. Hooker, given the nod over the ineffective Ryan Willis, threw three touchdowns to tight end Dalton Keene and had two long completions on Virginia Tech’s go-ahead drive in the closing minutes.

And all of that doesn’t even include Georgia Tech turning to its third starting quarterback of the season … and getting a couple touchdown passes out of redshirt freshman James Graham in a 38-22 loss to North Carolina. The Tar Heels’ win as expected was an exception to the wackiness, as starter Sam Howell threw for 376 yards and four touchdowns against the struggling Yellow Jackets.


Bowl eligibility. It’s six weeks into the season, which means teams are closing in on six victories and a ticket to a bowl game of some kind. Ohio State got there with its 34-10 defeat of Michigan State, getting the Buckeyes halfway to a perfect regular season.

In a less conventional game, Southern Methodist also hit the six-win mark and continued its best start since 1982, erasing a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter against Tulsa before earning a 43-37 victory in triple overtime. James Proche was initially ruled out of bounds on his 25-yard catch to win it, but replay overturned it to help the Mustangs remain undefeated.

(Florida was another team to get to 6-0, though the Gators aren’t technically bowl-eligible yet since two of their triumphs came against FCS schools.)

Oregon. The Duck defense turned in another stellar performance, fueling a 17-7 victory over California. The Oregon offense did enough — Justin Herbert threw a fourth-quarter touchdown to extend his streak of games with a TD pass to 33, the longest in the nation — but the Ducks’ defining trait continues to be their defense.

Oregon (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) has ceded just 22 points during its four-game winning streak, and Cal’s touchdown in the first quarter was the first time an opponent reached the end zone since Auburn’s late go-ahead score on Aug. 31. Maybe the Ducks won’t work their way into the playoff conversation, but their defense gives them some hope of getting there by year’s end.

Minnesota. Boat-rowin’ P.J. Fleck has led the Golden Gophers to the program’s first 5-0 start since 2004, and the Golden Gophers got there with their first comfortable victory of the season. Minnesota won its first four games by a combined 20 points. Saturday, it thrashed Illinois, 40-17.

The Golden Gophers got a 211-yard showing from Rodney Smith, and fellow running back Shannon Brooks added 111 yards. Here’s the thing: With Nebraska at home, a trip to Rutgers and a visit from Maryland up next, the Gophers have a chance to be a factor in the Big Ten West race heading into November.

Navy. The first leg of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy belongs to the Midshipmen, who escaped with a wild 34-25 victory over Air Force. The Midshipmen squandered a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, only for senior quarterback Malcolm Perry to engineer a 75-yard touchdown drive to take back the lead with 23 seconds left. A Tony Brown fumble return for a score as time expired was icing on the cake.

Navy (3-1), which had lost five of its last six games against service academies, would claim the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2015 if it topples Army on Dec. 14.

Jonathan Taylor. As long as Wisconsin remains undefeated, its star running back is going to pick up some support for the Heisman Trophy. Taylor did what he was supposed to do and then some in the Badgers’ 48-0 rout of Kent State, piling up 186 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries in addition to three catches for 29 yards and a score.

In five games, Taylor has 745 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground (at 7.2 yards per carry) and four of the Badgers’ seven receiving touchdowns. With Michigan State and Ohio State still to come this month, Taylor’s stock could go up plenty by Halloween.

Michigan. Survived Iowa, 10-3, in almost exactly the sort of game the Wolverines (4-1, 2-1 Big Ten) and Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-1) would be expected to contest. Michigan’s offense might not be fixable this season, at least against high-end teams. But bottling up Iowa bodes well for a defense that was torched at Wisconsin two weeks ago.

Texas Tech. In the latest sign the Big 12 will be absurdly wild this season below Oklahoma and Texas at the top, the Red Raiders scored the first 20 points against Oklahoma State, then held on for a 45-35 victory.

Jett Duffey threw for 424 yards and four touchdowns for Texas Tech (3-2, 1-1), which bounced back from an ugly loss to Oklahoma to earn its first conference victory under Coach Matt Wells.


All but the last play of Northwestern-Nebraska. Credit where it’s due: The Cornhuskers fans who stuck around to the end got to enjoy Lane McCallum’s 24-yard field goal as time expired to lift Nebraska to a 13-10 victory. But the first 59 minutes and change couldn’t have been fun to watch.

Nebraska (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) had 10 punts and a missed field goal to go with its lone touchdown and two field goals. Northwestern (1-3, 0-2) — which, it is increasingly safe to say, will not successfully defend its Big Ten West title — had nine punts, a missed field goal and an interception to pair with a touchdown and a field goal. Yuck.

Josh Jackson. The Maryland quarterback curse appears to have claimed another victim. Jackson left in the first half of the Terrapins’ 48-7 rout of Rutgers with a right ankle injury, and appeared on the sideline after the break on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

If Jackson can’t start next week at Purdue, it will mark the 12th time in the last 13 years (and the 14th time in 16 years) that Maryland has used multiple starting quarterbacks in a season.

Army. The Black Knights’ 15-game home winning streak was halted with a 42-33 loss to Tulane. The Green Wave (4-1) piled up 525 total yards against the Black Knights (3-2), who had not dropped a game at Michie Stadium since a 31-12 loss to Air Force on Nov. 5, 2016.

Early impressions

Takeaways from Week 6′s weeknight appetizers:

Cincinnati takes control of the AAC East. Perhaps this is a bit premature, but the Bearcats’ 27-24 defeat of Central Florida on Friday represents a bit of a shift on one side of the American Athletic Conference.

The Knights (4-2, 1-1) had won 19 in a row against AAC opponents before encountering the opportunistic Bearcats (4-1, 1-0). Cincinnati got a touchdown on an interception return for a touchdown, and also had a 19-yard touchdown drive set up by a fumble recovery.

Toss in a huge play on offense — Michael Warren’s 60-yard rumble while shaking off defenders along the way to close out the third quarter — and the Bearcats made the most of their opportunities.

The schedule appears favorable until late November. Cincinnati’s next five foes (Houston, Tulsa, East Carolina, Connecticut and South Florida) enter Saturday’s play with a combined 9-14 record (including 0-5 in AAC play). Luke Fickell’s team is well-positioned to make a push to reach the AAC title game for the first time.

Temple is ready for the AAC gantlet. The Owls’ winning formula was on display in Thursday’s 27-17 triumph at East Carolina: Efficiently run the ball without neglecting offensive balance, and let a stingy defense do its thing.

Especially the last part. Temple (4-1) has given up 48 points in its four victories, a number made more impressive since it includes three safeties and an interception return for a touchdown.

The Owls’ AAC fate could come down to a late November trip to Cincinnati, but the next three weekends will be telling as well: Home games against Memphis and UCF sandwiching a trip to SMU.

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