It’s easy to get too high or too low after each week’s results in college football. Such is the nature of the sport that breeds emotional responses based on what happens positively or negatively every Saturday.
That’s why we’re here. A step back from the action can provide perspective that rightfully will temper some of the misplaced enthusiasm from positive performances and lift up those feeling down in the dumps after negative results.
Week 6 had plenty of examples on both sides of the coin. Here are the five biggest overreactions from the action this weekend:
Iowa is the best team in the Big Ten
The Hawkeyes are ranked that way. They have the best wins of any team in the league. They’ll probably stay at No. 2 as they run the table through the West division. However, let’s be blunt. Penn State was on its way to handling the Hawkeyes on the road before the injury to quarterback Sean Clifford. With the Nittany Lions forced to play an inexperienced backup, their offense stalled and eventually Iowa wore them down, helped by penalties and field position.
Whichever team emerges from the four-team fight in the East likely will be favored when it meets up with Iowa for the conference championship game in Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes will have a puncher’s chance to win that one and earn their way to the College Football Playoff. They need their defense to continue to generating a significant portion of their offense. It’s hard to count on that in the biggest games.
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Oklahoma making a QB switch is easy decision
For the first time since he took over as coach of the Sooners, Lincoln Riley has a quarterback controversy on his hands. Spencer Rattler’s struggles in the first half against Texas necessitated a switch to Caleb Williams, a true freshman in his first meaningful action. Williams was outstanding in leading Oklahoma to 35 points in the second half of its come-from-behind defeat of the Longhorns.
Now comes the conundrum: Can you put the offense in the hands of a player with less than three quarters of experience when you are hoping to make the College Football Playoff? The easy answer would be to ride the wave of Williams playing well. Rated the No. 1 quarterback recruit in his class, the added dimension of his mobility opened spaces for the running backs. He appeared comfortable throwing the ball downfield to receivers. That was also against a defense not prepared for him. He will struggle at times against a back-loaded Big 12 schedule that includes games at Baylor and Oklahoma State. By making the switch now, Riley could also risk losing the ability to go back to Rattler when Williams struggles. Rattler was benched last year and responded. He could again. It’s a tough call. Riley wasn’t tipping his hand after the game. He may not until the first snap next week against TCU.
Southern California was right to fire Clay Helton so soon
One loss, albeit a disappointing one to Stanford, pushed Trojans athletic director Mike Bohn to pull the plug on Helton after just two games. You can argue that it didn’t make sense for USC to keep the coach any longer if it knew it would eventually fire him. Still, has the program at all benefited from the move in the short- and long-term?
The bottom has fallen out of the season with Saturday’s 16-point defeat against Utah being the third loss at home by at least two touchdowns. It’s possible the Trojans fail to even reach bowl-eligibility at this rate with Notre Dame, Arizona State, UCLA and BYU left to play. Not much doubt keeping Helton would have helped their chances to at least salvage something from this season. Any advantage of getting an early start on finding the new coach doesn’t really outweigh the negatives of what is going on now. It doesn’t make the job more attractive. It doesn’t insure any of the big names possibly on your list will give you any more commitment before the season ends.
Cincinnati just needs to win out to make playoff
With the Bearcats ranked No. 4 in the coaches poll, you could make the inference that they have an inside track to the semifinals should they avoid a loss in the American Athletic. However, behind them queued up are four teams from the Big Ten and also Alabama. There’s going to be some big games ahead that push the winners ahead of Cincinnati in the polls by the first playoff rankings.
Those looking for a Group of Five team in the field surely will be upset if Cincinnati is left out when compared with a one-loss team from the Power Five. Those in the camp should be cheering for Notre Dame to keep winning because that win could prove vital to the resume come December. It still may not be enough, though with this season of chaos anything is possible.
Vanderbilt will not score in the SEC this season
OK, this might be mostly tongue in cheek, but the Commodores have been blanked by both Georgia and Florida in their first two games. The offensive struggles against the Bulldogs wouldn’t have been a surprise. Nobody has been able to move the ball on them and they’re allowing a nation’s best 5.5 points per game.
Failing to score against the Gators was somewhat surprising as they wouldn’t be confused with any of the top defenses in the country. It’s been a rough start for Clark Lea in his first season as coach. Patience is needed as he builds the foundation for the program. Vandy fans will no doubt be able to celebrate some touchdowns in the future. We’re just not sure when.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football overreactions starts with Iowa as Big Ten’s best