The most interesting conference in college football is the Big 12, and it's not really close.
To be sure, we're not saying the Big 12 is the best league. The Big 12 is like a "Mission Impossible" movie. It's good, maybe great. But that's beside the point. What matters is it's really fun.
Take the Red River Showdown as the perfect example. What are we supposed to make of that game?
Start with the obvious question: Is Texas back?
"It's irrelevant to us," Tom Herman said after his Longhorns pulled the upset on No. 7 Oklahoma. "It would be foolish for me to not understand the big picture. We've taken some really big steps here the last few weeks. I'm not going to deny that. I'm not going to downplay that for these players. They have taken some very important steps in this program's development and its progress. But we're gonna worry about the opinions of the people in that locker room first and foremost."
The Longhorns certainly looked like a dominant team through three quarters Saturday. Sam Ehlinger outdueled Heisman candidate Kyler Murray, perhaps putting his name into the conversation, too, after racking up five touchdowns in the win.
But then, what are we to make of the defense coughing up a 21-point lead in the second half and nearly undoing all those big steps? So, maybe Texas is only in the vicinity of back.
And how about Oklahoma? Clearly, the Sooners were overrated. Of course, they did put up the most yards against a Texas defense in two years, and in a game that probably set Murray's Heisman campaign back a bit, he still had 396 yards and five touchdowns.
Let's not forget West Virginia. The Mountaineers are surely pretty good. They're so good that their head coach, Dana Holgorsen, can crack Rutgers jokes to explain away Kansas' big turnover margin. Of course, Will Grier also threw three interceptions against Kansas on Saturday -- all in the red zone. Not that it put a damper on a big Mountaineers celebration, as defensive lineman Reese Donahue proposed to his girlfriend after the game. How many other conferences can combine action and romance like that?
She said YES! 💍— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) October 6, 2018
Congratulations to Reese and Sarah! pic.twitter.com/9UtxdBcJN9
Oklahoma State? Texas Tech? Baylor? Iowa State? None appear to be all that good, but they've sure been fun to watch.
Of course, the College Football Playoff committee doesn't select teams based on entertainment value. You need a playoff résumé, and in a league that has losses to Maryland, Duke and Ole Miss, that might be a tougher sell.
But keep in mind, too, that in 2014, Ohio State lost to unranked Virginia Tech and won it all. In 2016, Clemson fell to unranked Pitt and won it all. Last year, Alabama didn't even win its conference, but it won a national championship.
So maybe Texas is back. Maybe the Horns -- or the Mountaineers or the Sooners -- will make a real push for the playoff. They deserve a shot because, while Washington and Ohio State and Clemson and Alabama appear to be running away with things in their respective conferences, the Big 12 is wide open, a ton of fun and chock full of real talent.
Tebow becomes 6th member of Florida Ring of Honor
Tim Tebow is honored during the Gators' Saturday matchup as he becomes the next addition to the Florida Ring of Honor.
Alabama struggles badly
Nick Saban railed against the apathy of his own fans last week, suggesting perhaps the rat poison had infected the Tide faithful, who no longer appreciated the subtle genius that goes into a 56-14 win over a Sun Belt team.
But this week's game proved Saban wrong. As he noted afterward, there was so much to be upset about, so many areas in which his top-ranked Crimson Tide had failed to match expectations. No wonder the fans are staying away!
"I don't think you really beat the other team when you give up 31 points," Saban said.
So true. Think about this: If Arkansas had scored just 31 more, it would've lost by only three, and that's a little too close for comfort. Plus, if Arkansas can score 31, it's only fair to assume Ohio State would score -- what? A hundred?
Oh, and all this buzz that perhaps this Alabama team might be the most dominant team ever. Really? Georgia Tech once beat Cumberland 222-0. Alabama hasn't even scored half that in a game this year.
Or how about Tua Tagovailoa? The guy completed only 10 passes in the game Saturday. Sure, four of them went for touchdowns and those 10 completions averaged 33 yards each, but if fans are going to shell out hard-earned money, shouldn't they expect quality and quantity?
And did you know Tagovailoa hasn't thrown a single pass in the fourth quarter this year? Instead, we're forced to watch no-name backups such as this Jalen Hurts guy. Who?
So don't sweat it, Alabama fans. Go ahead and order the full rack at Dreamland, knock back a few Druid City IPAs and take a long nap on your couch. No need to watch these guys until they get a lot better.
Week 6 hot takes
Clemson doesn't need a quarterback
Sure, Trevor Lawrence returned to action, looking healthy after last week's scare against Syracuse. But who cares? Clemson's running backs are so good, the QB doesn't really matter. After Travis Etienne nearly single-handedly kept the Tigers in the game last week, the Clemson backfield exploded against Wake Forest on Saturday with touchdown runs of 59, 70, 64, 65 and 52. That's the first time a team has had five runs of 50-plus since Arizona did it against Arizona State in 2016, and the first time a team has had five touchdown runs of at least 50 since Northern Illinois did it against Eastern Michigan in 2010.
Tim Tebow is magic
Tebow was at The Swamp for the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 Florida title team, and while he didn't throw any jump passes or make any statue-worthy speeches, it was clear the Gators were inspired. Florida moved to 5-1, surpassing last year's win total already, winning consecutive games against a ranked opponent for the first time since that 2008 season and holding LSU's ferocious defense without a sack for the first time since 2014.
Chains are better than backpacks
The OG of sideline swag remains atop our power rankings, as Miami's turnover chain trumped Florida State's purse -- er, backpack -- in one of the biggest gut-punch games in the history of this rivalry. Florida State came in as a decided underdog, desperate for a big win, and it appeared to have it, leading 27-7 midway through the third quarter. But N'Kosi Perry threw three touchdown passes on Miami's final seven drives to seal the win.
Make your bowl travel plans now
Cincinnati, UCF, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia and Alabama are officially bowl-eligible. So go ahead, Belk Bowl. Time to start lobbying for the Tide.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama: In the past decade, only three quarterbacks have had at least 20 touchdowns and no interceptions through their team's first six games: Tagovailoa, Marcus Mariota (twice!) and Geno Smith.
2. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State: He's got 25 touchdown passes through six games. In the past decade, he's just the fifth QB to do that.
3. Darrell Henderson, Memphis: The running back is averaging 12 yards per carry and has 12 rushing touchdowns already.
4. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma: Yes, the Sooners lost, but it's hard to pin all of that on Murray, who finished with five more touchdowns, bringing his season total to 26 -- eight more than Baker Mayfield had at this point last year.
5. Sam Ehlinger, Texas: So what if we're overreacting to one week. Texas is back, baby!
Underappreciated play of the week
You're forgiven for flipping away from Clemson-Wake Forest after the Tigers went up 53, but you missed a completion fans will cherish for years, as receiver Hunter Renfrow, in his 26th year at Clemson, got in the game at quarterback for the first time. He wasn't there to just hand off to the 12th-string running back, either. Renfrow, who played QB in high school back in the mid-'80s, tossed a 2-yard completion to none other than Will Swinney, the coach's son. Write it down. That'll win you some Clemson bar bets in a decade or so (and yes, Renfrow will still be playing then).
Underappreciated win of the week
James Madison entered Saturday having won 19 straight home games and 22 straight conference games and hadn't fallen in an FCS game to anyone other than North Dakota State since 2015. That was good enough for a No. 2 ranking entering Saturday, and they were favored by more than four touchdowns against Elon. Turns out, the Phoenix (that's Elon's nickname -- we looked it up) weren't intimidated, with QB David Cheeks tossing the go-ahead TD pass with 1:17 left to play to pull off the massive upset.
Week 6 fun facts
Georgia hadn't trailed all season before Vandy kicked a field goal to go up 3-0 early in the first quarter Saturday. How'd Georgia respond? Jake Fromm hit Terry Godwin on the next play for a 75-yard TD. So, if you're keeping score at home, UGA has now trailed for a total of 15 seconds this season.
Since the famed Kick Six game in 2013, Auburn is 23-22 against Power 5 opponents, including Saturday's loss to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, by the way, are a tick better over that same span. They're now 21-18.
Alabama had gone 19 straight games without allowing more than 30 points to an opponent. That streak came to an end Saturday thanks to Arkansas. The new leader in the clubhouse? That'd be Wisconsin, which hasn't allowed 30 for 20 straight games, dating back to a 38-31 loss to Penn State in 2016.
Michigan didn't crack 36 points in any game last season. So far this year, the Wolverines have topped 40 four times, including Saturday's win over Maryland. Michigan is averaging nearly two touchdowns more per game this season than it did in 2017.
Iowa beat Minnesota 48-31 on Saturday, while Iowa State upended Oklahoma State 48-42. That marks the first time both teams have scored 40 on the same Saturday (when not playing each other) since Sept. 6, 2008.
Colorado is 5-0 now, but Saturday's win over Arizona State was an important benchmark. The Sun Devils have three FBS wins this year, which is two more than the Buffs' first four opponents had combined.
Best of Week 6
Did you watch every play of New Mexico State's 49-41 win over Liberty and think, Man, I wish I could watch another 60 minutes of this? Well, good news. You can! They'll play each other again on Nov. 24. Clear your schedule.
Best second fiddle
If Ian Book has been Batman for Notre Dame's blockbuster offense, Dexter Williams has arrived as a top-notch Robin. Williams, who served a four-game suspension, has been a force for the Irish since returning to action. In his first two games back, he has racked up 339 yards and four touchdowns, including TD runs of 97 and 31 in a win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
"I remembered to take my coaching pills." That's how Joe Moorhead explained Mississippi State's improved performance against Auburn after back-to-back losses. No one tell Joe those were actually just Pez.
Oh ... no. pic.twitter.com/BPk9dAj0zX— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 7, 2018
Best Surrender Cobra
Think of it this way, Kentucky: The season doesn't really start until March. (Wait, that's not how this works?)
Ole Miss collected 536 yards in the first half against Louisiana-Monroe. How impressive is that? Kansas State hasn't had that many yards in a full game since 2008, a span of 126 straight games.