By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
Tennessee had the week off so it was a good week to check out the rest of college football.
A lot of it was rather uninspiring.
Wisconsin had a monster win against Michigan the week before, but sort of sleepwalked to a 24-15 win over Northwestern. Washington State didn’t put up much of a fight against Utah. Alabama, Ohio State and Auburn all enjoyed blowout wins against conference opponents.
But there were some scares and some anticipated matchups that turned out to be more scrappy than some may have expected. We’re almost to the halfway point of the regular season and the playoff landscape is still pretty wide open.
We keep rolling along with last week’s good, bad and ugly.
The Good: Auburn. The Tigers scored six touchdowns before halftime and at one point lead by 40 en route to a 56-23 beatdown of Mississippi State. I’m continuing to eat crow for thinking this team could potentially go 6-6 this season, but so far Auburn has passed a couple of first-half tests and has looked impressive doing it. Games down the stretch against LSU, Georgia and Alabama will be appointment television.
Honorable Mention: Penn State. The Nittany Lions shut out a Maryland team that looked like it had turned a corner on offense. After struggling against Pittsburgh, last Friday was a nice response for a Penn State team trying to show its value in the Big Ten.
The Bad: Clemson. Yes, the Tigers won on Saturday. Yes, North Carolina is playing inspired football under Mack Brown. But Clemson’s lack of explosiveness on offense is somewhat head scratching. Trever Lawrence is nowhere near the top of the Heisman conversation and the Tigers needed a defensive stop on a two-point conversion to survive in Chapel Hill. Credit the Tar Heels for keeping it close, but there’s no reason for a game between these two teams to come down to one play. Granted, Clemson has had close calls in each of its last two national championship seasons.
Honorable Mention: USC. The Trojans are on their third quarterback, but Saturday’s loss to Washington showed USC still has some depth concerns after the offense failed to produce. At times this season the Trojans have looked like a team that could win the Pac-12. At other times we’re reminded that Clay Helton entered this season on the hot seat for a reason.
The Ugly: Virginia. The Cavaliers had been far from dominant on their way to a 4-0 start, but a big second quarter gave Virginia the lead at half time in South Bend with all the momentum. Virginia followed that up by coming out flat on offense and getting little help from its offensive line as Notre Dame stormed back to a 15-point win thanks in part to eight sacks on the day.
Honorable Mention: The Pac-12. With Cal’s loss to Arizona State on Friday the Pac-12 now has no remaining undefeated teams after only five weeks. Every other Power 5 conference has at least two. Barring a big run from Oregon, Utah or Washington the conference will likely find itself on the outside looking in (again) come playoff time.