Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics
Another week of college football is in the books.
If we learned anything from this week, it was that Georgia and Alabama are in their own stratosphere. Still, there were some great efforts throughout the country.
Here’s a look at the top five performances from the week:
Honorable Mention: Cheerleader Belly Flops
The Purdue cheerleaders aren’t letting the rain get them down 😂
10/10 form on this belly flop
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 2, 2021
Can we talk?
5. Will Rogers – QB, Mississippi State
When Mississippi State hired Mike Leach to be head coach, the thought was that the 60-year-old California native would be able to bring a winning culture back to the city of Starkville. Leach, who is in his 35th year coaching collegiate football, has one of the most innovative minds the game has ever seen. And while year No. 1 of the Leach era in Starkville may have gone awry with the Bulldogs finish 4-7, year No. 2 has already provided one of the signature wins of the coach’s illustrious career.
To be a quarterback in Leach’s air raid system, you are going to have to be aware of a few things. For starters, you are going to pass the ball more than you have ever passed anything in your life. The air raid offense requires upwards of 60 pass attempts per game and while that may seem egregious to some, it is what is needed in order for this system to work. And for Bulldogs’ quarterback Will Rogers, this assignment has thus far, been aced with flying colors.
Will Rogers is gonna need some ice for that arm ‼️
🔴 408 yards
🔴 3 TDs
🔴 26-22 W over No. 15 Texas A&M
— 247Sports (@247Sports) October 3, 2021
Another component that is key towards the success of the air raid offense is accuracy. This is a fast-moving offense that requires pinpoint precision and high-level thinking. And as the sophomore from Brandon, Miss. made his way onto Kyle Field on Saturday night, he was prepared to do just that.
It may have taken 59 passing attempts and 46 completions, but the once 3-star recruit went into one of the toughest environments in America and had come away with a massive 26-22 win. With 408 yards passing and three touchdown passes against one of the nation’s premier defenses, Rogers sent a signal to the SEC that he belongs in the conversation as one of the conference’s most dynamic signal callers.
4. CJ Stroud – QB, Ohio State
There are few positions in college sports that are as pressure-packed as being the quarterback at Ohio State. With one of the most talented fraternities in the world mixed with perhaps the most demanding fan base in the country, the constraints put on students to perform can seem overwhelming. And while 20-year-old CJ Stroud struggled during his first few games of the season, it seemed as if the entire city of Columbus was placing their weight and criticism on a man who is not yet able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage.
Having said that, there are few things sweeter in this world than being able to silent your doubters.
Incomplete Passes: 2
Passing Touchdowns: 3 pic.twitter.com/qhKCiC7Vjc
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 2, 2021
In a 52-13 victory, Stroud carved up Rutgers’ secondary on Saturday afternoon, going 17-for-23 passing with 330 passing yards and five touchdowns. Some of the naysayers — this author included — had no choice but to eat their words.
3. Georgia’s Defense
If this looks familiar, it is because this is the third time that Georgia’s defense has made our list in five weeks. Some might say that placing it on this list week after week would be a bit repetitive; it honestly would be a disservice not to honor them at this point. The Bulldogs are that darn special.
Coming into Saturday’s much-anticipated affair against No. 8 Arkansas, one of the main storylines was whether Razorbacks’ quarterback KJ Jefferson could be the guy to break the Bulldogs’ stifling defense. Jefferson, who entered Saturday as the only quarterback in the SEC to have at least 800 yards through the air and 200 yards in the ground, is what we like to call “a difference-maker.” Georgia’s defense didn’t care about the difference-maker.
From the second the ball left the ground to the moment the clock hit zero, Georgia’s defense was as dominant as a good pair of genes. One could have been inclined to feel bad for the Arkansas offensive line. It seemed as though every single play created a surge in the backfield.
Georgia’s defense is allowing 4.6 points per game this season
BEST IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL pic.twitter.com/Ll2iXGQ6dx
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 3, 2021
By contest’s end, Georgia had pitched a shutout for the second straight game. Only this time, it wasn’t against Vanderbilt. It was against a top-10 team. After a 37-0 victory in which Arkansas managed just 162 total yards and less than four per play, we may be looking at the greatest college defense of all time.
2. Bijan Robinson – RB, Texas
In recent years, the Texas Longhorns have found their kryptonite through the likes of TCU. Coming into Saturday, the Longhorns had lost six of the last seven in the series. Texas had not won at Amon G. Carter Stadium since 2013. If you were a betting man, you might have been smart to take the Horned Frogs outright.
Sometimes, to break a curse, you need a performance of epic proportions. While it may be a stretch to say that the Longhorns were “cursed” entering Saturday, losing six of seven to TCU is pretty bad.
Enter the curse breaker himself, Bijan Robinson. Robinson, a sophomore running back form Tucson, Ariz., may be the most underrated athlete in all of college football. This is a downhill rusher that, when presented with open space, can accelerate past defenders at alarmingly fast rates.
Bijan Robinson makes every TD look effortless #CFB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2021
On Saturday, Robinson had his way. He rushed for 216 yards on 35 carries en route to a 32-27 win. Robinson has rushed for over 100 yards three times this season. He may soon be asserting himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
1. Brian Robinson Jr. – RB, Alabama; Nick Saban – HC, Alabama
“Get your popcorn ready.” These were the words uttered by Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin to CBS sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl just seconds before kickoff on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. Kiffin, who is in his second year as the head at Ole Miss, entered Bryant-Denny Stadium with a chip on his shoulder.
This game was personal. What Kiffin failed to realize however, was that standing on the other side of the field, was a man who is the greatest to ever do it, a man who was not about to let someone come into his home, and make such a cocky remark.
"Get your popcorn ready."
This Lane Kiffin pregame interview 😭
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 2, 2021
One thing that makes Alabama head coach Nick Saban so great is that he is a master game planner. He is the type of coach who can scheme against any offensive system and adjust to nearly anything that is thrown his way. Alabama’s defense was masterful on Saturday, allowing just 21 points — all after jumping out to a huge lead — to one of the nation’s most potent offensive attacks. It however, was what the Crimson Tide did on offense, that makes Alabama…well, Alabama.
Saban knew that Ole Miss is a high-tempo, high-scoring offense. So to combat this attack, one thing Saban’s offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien worked on over the week was to establish the run. This allowed Alabama to chew up clock and keep the ball out of Ole Miss’ quarterback Matt Corral’s hands.
This plan worked. Alabama held the ball for nearly 15 minutes longer than Ole Miss. Putting on a clinic on Saturday afternoon was Alabama running back Brian Robinson Jr.
Robinson, who may be the most physical back in America, imposed his will during the duration of Saturday’s contest. Robinson carried the ball 36 times for 171 yards to go along with four rushing scores.
Ole Miss will now go back to the drawing board. Saban continues to show that when it comes to coaching, he’s still the master following a 42-21 victory.