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Michigan, Florida are ahead of schedule

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College Football Top Plays: Week 6 (2:42)

Check out the top plays from Week 6 of college football, including an incredible diving catch by Buckeyes WR Braxton Miller. (2:42)

During a season in which no College Football Playoff contender has looked dominant -- OK, Baylor has looked pretty darned good, but SEC teams are blushing at the Bears' schedule so far -- it might be time to realize there are going to be a handful of teams in the mix that we didn't expect to be there.

Heck, Utah may have the strongest claim to being ranked No. 1 after beating Cal 30-24.

Two other unlikely contenders distinguished themselves Saturday. The names won't come as a shock, as both are traditional heavyweights, but did anyone really expect Florida and Michigan to be in this position after Week 6?

The Gators and Wolverines are way ahead of schedule under their first-year coaches, and both suddenly look like favorites in their respective conferences. We'll find out how good those teams really are next week, when No. 11 Florida travels to No. 7 LSU and No. 18 Michigan hosts No. 4 Michigan State in the Big House with ESPN's College GameDay on site.

It might be time to make room for Michigan in the top 10. The Wolverines, who lost at Utah 24-17 on the season's opening night Sept. 3, are playing like the best team in the Big Ten -- and one of the best in the country -- under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh.

With a 38-0 rout of No. 13 Northwestern, Michigan posted its third consecutive shutout for the first time since 1980. It's the first time in 20 years an FBS team accomplished the feat. Against Northwestern, the Wolverines returned the game's opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and didn't turn the ball over. They've won five straight games and are playing better than defending national champion Ohio State and Michigan State, which struggled to beat Rutgers 31-24 on the road.

"The fellas came out balling, and they played that way for four quarters," Harbaugh said. "It was some really good play, and I'm happy with our team. We'll move on with humble hearts, we've got a big one next week. We've got a heck of an opponent next week."

Given Harbaugh's pedigree, the Wolverines were supposed to be better this season. But not even the most loyal Michigan fan could have expected this much so soon, after Michigan went 5-7 in 2014.

The same can be said for Florida, which limped to a 7-5 finish in Will Muschamp's final season in 2014. But the Gators are 6-0 after beating Missouri 21-3 on the road Saturday night. A week after blowing out then-No. 3 Ole Miss 38-10 at the Swamp, the Gators piled up 337 yards of offense, 23 first downs and controlled the ball for nearly 38 minutes against the Tigers. Florida's defense held the Tigers to only 1-for-13 on third down and allowed 257 yards. Jim McElwain became the first Florida coach since Galen Hall in 1984 to win his first six games, and his team has at least a two-game lead over every team but Kentucky in the loss column of the SEC East standings.

"It's been a pretty emotional stretch," McElwain said. "We needed to win a game like that. We didn't play great. In fact, we played not very good offensively, obviously. But we had our defense step up when it needed to and gave us a kick-start. We flipped the field a couple times. I'm OK with it."


And Alabama coach Nick Saban thought the media had his team buried. What about Texas and Tennessee, which were left for dead weeks ago?

Maybe Charlie Strong is the right coach for Texas. The Longhorns, who lost four of their first five games and were off to their worst start since going 1-9 in 1956, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Red River Rivalry on Saturday. Texas, a 17 ½-point underdog, stunned No. 10 Oklahoma 24-17 at the Cotton Bowl.

The victory came a week after the Longhorns were embarrassed 50-7 at TCU.

"We've heard all week how the pride has been lost and how they don't play hard, and I don't have an answer to last week," Strong said. "We go out and kinda just lay an egg, and then this week we come out and we wanted to impose our will. We wanted to play physical, which we did, and just watch our team just go to work."

The Longhorns obviously have a long way to go under Strong, but it certainly says something about what his players think about him when they play as hard as they did. Texas ran for 313 yards and sacked OU quarterback Baker Mayfield six times.

"Coach Strong just needed the opportunity," linebacker Malik Jefferson said. "But this is the spark that lights the fire. Everybody is ready to be on board. We are ready for this thing to be turned around."

Tennessee coach Butch Jones also was under fire after the Volunteers dropped three of four games. But Jones gained respite from the heavy criticism Saturday, after the Volunteers rallied from a three-touchdown deficit to stun No. 19 Georgia 38-31 at Neyland Stadium. It was only Tennessee's second victory over a ranked opponent in its past 30 tries.

After blowing a 14-point lead to Oklahoma and 13-point lead to Florida earlier this season, the Volunteers turned the tables on the Bulldogs, who lost star tailback Nick Chubb to a left knee injury on the game's opening play from scrimmage.

Vols quarterback Josh Dobbs threw for 312 yards, rushed for 118 and scored five total touchdowns.

"They had a different look," Jones said. "This football team was not going to be denied. They were going to find a way to win the football game. I'm just happy for them because they deserve to have this feeling."


It's becoming more and more obvious LSU tailback Leonard Fournette is pretty special -- on and off the field. He reached 1,000 rushing yards faster than any player in LSU history in Saturday's 45-24 win over South Carolina. Then he announced he was going to auction his game jersey to aid those affected by devastating floods in the Gamecocks' home state.

"I want to send my prayers, condolences and empathy to the people of South Carolina," Fournette said. "What they are going through reminds me of what we went through, my people in New Orleans, Louisiana, went through 10 years ago with Hurricane Katrina. We played a game today, but the people in South Carolina right now are in need."

LSU officials initially feared that NCAA rules would prohibit Fournette from doing it. But in a tweet on Saturday night, the NCAA said he would be allowed to do it.

Playoff teams after Week 6

1. Utah: The Utes picked off Cal QB Jared Goff five times and Devontae Booker rushed for 222 yards and two touchdowns, but they could not be certain of their 30-24 victory until the final seconds. A win over Michigan in the season opener is looking better every week for the Pac-12's final remaining undefeated team.

2. Baylor: The Bears rolled to an easy 66-7 rout of Kansas, tying a school record with their fourth straight game with at least 60 points. Baylor has scored 321 points in five games, the most through five games by an FBS team since major classification started in 1937, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

3. TCU: Sure, TCU's defense left a lot to be desired in its 52-45 win at Kansas State. But how many teams can rally from an 18-point deficit at the half on the road? Quarterback Trevone Boykin and receiver Josh Doctson are going to give the Horned Frogs a chance in every game.

4. Clemson: A week after beating Notre Dame at Death Valley, the Tigers had little trouble beating Georgia Tech, 43-24. It was Clemson's 13th consecutive home victory, tying a school record set in 2013.

Next four in contention

1. Ohio State: So it appears the Buckeyes' two-quarterback system is here to stay. Cardale Jones threw for two touchdowns, and J.T. Barrett scored three times, in a 49-28 win over Maryland. The Buckeyes scored four touchdowns in the second half to pull away.

2. LSU: The Tigers rolled out the red carpet for South Carolina in a game that was moved to LSU because of flooding in Columbia. The Tigers weren't the most gracious hosts on the field, rolling to a 45-24 win over the Gamecocks. The biggest news: LSU quarterback Brandon Harris threw for 228 yards with two scores.

3. Florida: Yeah, it's time to take the Gators seriously. Florida improved to 6-0 under first-year coach Jim McElwain with a 21-3 win at Missouri. Up next: a road trip to LSU.

4. Alabama: A week after trouncing Georgia on the road, the Tide were sluggish in a 27-14 win over Arkansas at home. The Crimson Tide trailed 7-3 at the half before pulling away with 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Heisman candidates

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Fournette didn't reach the 200-yard mark for the first time in four games in LSU's win over South Carolina. But he did run for 158 rushing yards, including an 87-yard touchdown, and has 1,022 yards in five games.

2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: Boykin threw for 301 yards with two touchdowns on 20-for-30 passing while running 11 times for 124 yards with two scores in a come-from-behind win at Kansas State. Boykin has accounted for 26 total touchdowns in six games.

3. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: Coleman had seven catches for 108 yards with two touchdowns against Kansas. He has 13 touchdown receptions, which is one shy of Kendall Wright's school record of 14 (2011) and tied for second-most through five games in Big 12 history.

4. Devontae Booker, RB, Utah: Booker is picking up steam since rushing for 69 yards and a touchdown against Michigan in the opener. He carried the Utes' offense against Cal, exploding for 222 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 45 receiving yards.

Tweets of the night

1. Wazzu wins this round of Oregon Trail in Autzen


2. Proper use of locker room social media


3. Not how Rutgers drew it up


4. Seminoles get the last word


Best moments

1. Kudos to LSU officials, who went out of their way to make Saturday's game against South Carolina feel like it was being played in Columbia -- even if it wasn't.

1. Baylor's LaQuan McGowan scored on an 18-yard catch ... after Kansas' defense somehow lost the 410-pounder coming out of the backfield.

2. Even with Michigan leading 31-0, Jim Harbaugh is not dialing it down when it comes to intensity.

4. Oregon had a nice on-field tribute to honor the shooting victims of Umpqua Community College.

Best plays

1. Ole Miss star Laquon Treadwell turned in a sick one-handed catch in a 52-3 rout of New Mexico State.

2. Illinois' Malik Turner had an equally impressive one-handed snag on an over-the-shoulder throw in a 29-20 loss to Iowa.

3. Yeah, they might be talking about this run in 35 years, too. Western Michigan's Jarvion Franklin trucked a Central Michigan defender en route to the end zone.

4. Ohio State quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller made a ridiculous catch and then scored a touchdown on the next play.

Worst plays

1. No, we're not playing two-hand touch, Sooners.

2. Officials ejected the wrong Bowling Green player for targeting, and then sent a coach to the locker room to retrieve him.

3. Yeah, this is how you lose a game 3-0, even if you have the ball first-and-goal at the opponents' 1-yard line with time left.

4. How are you going to win a rivalry game when you're giving away points on a silly safety? UCF's Hayden Jones crosses the goal line and then ran back into the end zone for a safety on a kickoff return.

Quotes of the night

1. "I'm going on the bus. I'll watch the film. All I'm going to do is get these kids to be the best that they can be. As long as I'm the coach, all I'm going to do is do my job." -- Embattled Maryland coach Randy Edsall, who angrily left his postgame news conference after he was asked why he shook hands with each of his players, which he said he does after every game.

2. "It's just no good losing. People can say it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. There's a little bit of that, I guess, but the reality is if you don't win it's no fun. It's sickening to everybody." -- Georgia coach Mark Richt, after the Bulldogs blew a 24-3 lead in the loss to Tennessee.

3. "I've never experienced anything like that in my coaching career, to be this inept on offense." -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, after the Yellow Jackets ran for 71 yards in a loss to Clemson.

4. "I feel like we have one of the freshest football teams in America at this point. They're going to like playing full games here in a few weeks." -- Baylor coach Art Briles

Stats that matter

35: Years since Michigan posted three consecutive shutouts, after beating No. 13 Northwestern 38-0 at the Big House. It's the second shutout of a ranked opponent for the Wolverines.

700: All-time victories for Pitt, after its 26-19 win over Virginia on Saturday. The Panthers became the 19th FBS program to reach the milestone.

100-0: Oregon's record with a 10-point lead since 2005, until it blew a pair of 10-point leads in a 45-38 loss to Washington State in double overtime Saturday night.

5: Wake Forest had five first downs in its 3-0 win over Boston College. It was the first time an FBS team lost consecutive games while allowing nine points or fewer since 1989 and was the first 3-0 final in FBS since the 2008 Sun Bowl (Oregon State beat Pitt).