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College Football 2013: 5 Things We Learned in Week 6

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A rash of near-upsets almost made this a memorable weekend. As it is, this was one of the more exciting weeks of the season so far. Here are some of the highlights.

So Close

While we’ve made it through the first six weeks of the season without any major upsets, several highly-ranked teams had to really sweat out wins on Saturday. No. 4 Ohio State trailed No. 16 Northwestern by 10 late in the third quarter before running back Carlos Hyde busted out for three touchdown runs in a 14-minute span to secure the Buckeye victory. After returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, No. 5 Stanford never trailed against No. 15 Washington but had to hold off a late rally by the Huskies to secure a 31-28 win. And No. 6 Georgia needed a touchdown with five seconds left in regulation and then overtime to overcome a rash of injuries and get past a tough challenge on the road at Tennessee. While we haven’t seen a major upset in college football yet, with so many teams already playing close games this season, you just know they’re coming.

Can Anyone Stop the Bears?

Baylor’s offense is putting up the kind of numbers previously only seen in video games. In Saturday’s matchup against West Virginia, the No. 17 Bears rolled up 617 yards and 56 points—in the first half! Coach Art Briles called off the dogs in the second half and Baylor coasted to a Big 12-record 864 yards in the 73-42 win. Baylor is now the first team in history to score 66+ points in four consecutive games. At this point, the only thing that appears capable of slowing down the Baylor offense is itself—in Saturday’s win, the Bears committed 10 penalties for 100 yards and turned the ball over four times.

Battle for the ACC and the Heisman

The debate over which ACC quarterback should get a Heisman invite will have to continue for at least another week. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd had his best game of the season, throwing for 455 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions while leading the No. 3 Tigers to a 49-14 win at Syracuse. Meanwhile, Florida State’s freshman phenom Jameis Winston had an equally impressive performance, throwing for 393 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the Seminole’s 63-0 beatdown of No. 25 Maryland. We’ll have to wait just two more weeks before watching these two go head-to-head in a game that very well could determine not just the ACC pecking order, but which quarterback gets an invite to New York.

Northern Illinois: BCS Buster?

Don’t look now, but last year’s controversial BCS buster could be knocking on the door once again. The Huskies are 5-0 and have already knocked off two BCS AQ teams. While quarterback Jordan Lynch has not put up the kind of eye-popping numbers that made him a dark-horse Heisman candidate last year, he is still averaging over 329 total yards per game and has already scored 15 times while throwing just four interceptions. Last year, Northern Illinois lost its season opener before making its improbable run to the Orange Bowl. If the Huskies can run the table this season, it will be interesting to see if they can once again work their way back into the BCS mix.

When Federal Shutdowns Attack

Navy beat Air Force, 28-10, on Saturday but is unclear when, or even if, the teams will get to play again. With the federal government in a shutdown, the service academies and their athletes (who are technically considered military employees) were subject to a ban on travel. The Department of Defense issued a special waiver, allowing the teams to play this week provided no federal funds were used. USAA insurance stepped up and paid for Air Force’s $230,000 travel expenses. But the waiver was for this week only and it is unclear if the Defense Department will allow future games to go on or if additional private funding would be available. A posting on the Air Force Academy’s website currently says, “As of now, this will be the last game of the season played for the Air Force Academy, as the service is currently operating without a budget.” While there are certainly bigger issues at play in the government shutdown, it’s a sad commentary that our future military leaders and student-athletes are caught in the political crossfire.

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