College Football 2013: 5 Big Questions for Week 6
It should be an exciting week of college football, with several important conference matchups on the slate. Here are some of the big questions going into this week in college football:
Who Is the Best Quarterback in the ACC?
Before the season started, this wasn’t even a question: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd was returning as the ACC Player of the Year and a Heisman candidate, and he has done nothing to diminish his outstanding status. Through four games this season, Boyd has yet to throw an interception, while racking up 1,153 total yards and 13 touchdowns. However, it is no longer a one-horse race in the ACC. Florida State’s freshman phenom Jameis Winston is making a strong case that he is not only the conference’s best signal caller but, like Johnny Manziel before him, is a legitimate threat to win the Heisman as a freshman. Winston burst onto the scene with a Week 1 clinic against Pittsburgh, going 25/27 for 356 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. And his pace hasn’t slacked off much since then—he’s still completing 74 percent of his passes for over 1,000 yards, 12 touchdowns and just two picks. At this point, Boyd probably still gets the nod because of what he’s done against stronger competition. But Winston will have a chance to state his case in the Seminoles’ next two games, against No. 25 Maryland and then in a head-to-head showdown with Boyd and No. 3 Clemson.
Is Oklahoma a Title Contender?
The Big 12 hasn’t gotten much love in national-title talk, but Oklahoma is doing its best to work its way into the conversation. The No. 11 Sooners are coming off a big win at Notre Dame and, with their upcoming schedule, could very well be 8-0 going into a showdown at No. 17 Baylor on November 7. The defense is much improved from last year, and quarterback Blake Bell, who has started just two games, will need to continue his solid play. But as teams ahead of them fall by the wayside, the Sooners could work themselves back into the title mix once again.
Can Washington Challenge in the Pac-12?
On paper, No. 15 Washington is one of the best teams in the country, ranking fifth in the nation in total offense and fourth in scoring defense and doing it against some respectable competition (including 3-2 Boise State, 3-1 Illinois and 3-1 Arizona). However, we’re about to find out just how good the Huskies really are, as they begin a brutal set of games at No. 5 Stanford, home against No. 2 Oregon and at No. 22 Arizona State. For Washington to break through in the Pac-12, it will need to break some long-standing streaks. The Huskies have lost nine straight to Oregon, seven straight to the Sun Devils and six of the last eight against Stanford.
Can Illinois Keep Going?
Don’t look now, but the same Illinois team that went 2-10 a year ago is showing signs of life this season. The Fighting Illini are off to a 3-1 start, with their only loss coming to No. 15 Washington. Illinois is averaging over 40 points per game thanks in large part to the resurgence of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The senior threw just four touchdowns last season, but through four games this year he has already thrown for 1,162 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Illini face a tough stretch coming up, with matchups against Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State this month. But year two of the Tim Beckman rebuiliding process already has to be considered a success for Illinois.
Will the Government Shutdown Cancel Football?
You can argue about politics all you want, but when the government shutdown starts impacting college football, well, now it’s serious. Because of the shutdown, the Department of Defense has announced that is suspending all intercollegiate sporting events at the service academies, meaning the status of this week’s Air Force-Navy and Boston College-Army games is very much in doubt. Upper-class cadets at the academies are considered to be military personnel and are, therefore, subject to travel restrictions under the shutdown. Although the Department of Defense has said no formal decision regarding this weekend’s games will be made until Thursday, the service academies are currently prohibited from practicing and the games would almost certainly have to be postponed or cancelled if the shutdown continues through the end of the week.