Jameis Winston, Florida State dominate Maryland; more early Week 6 Snap Judgments
• No. 8 Florida State 63, No. 25 Maryland 0: Through four weeks, the Terrapins had looked like a team capable of competing with Clemson and the Seminoles in the ACC Atlantic. But that wasn't the case on Saturday. Florida State, behind redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston's five touchdown passes and a stifling defensive performance, handed Maryland its first loss of the season.
Facing a Terrapins defense that had held its four previous opponents to four yards per play, the eighth best mark in the country, Winston bolstered his burgeoning Heisman campaign. He connected on 23-of-32 passes for 392 yards, and also rushed for 24 yards. After just five starts, Winston -- with his mobility, accurate arm and pocket presence -- has already drawn the attention of NFL scouts.
Of course, it's tough to say whether scrambles such as the one below will work against more athletic defenders at the next level.
With the victory, the Seminoles (5-0) -- who had started 4-0 while defeating relative lightweights Pittsburgh, Nevada, Bethune Cookman and Boston College -- erased any lingering doubts about their viability as a BCS threat. But they will face an even bigger test in two weeks, when Florida State travels to Clemson for a game that will impact both the division and national title races.
Maryland’s hot start should not be diminished too much by Saturday’s blowout loss. The Terrapins (4-1) are vastly improved over the team that went 4-8 in 2012, and even in defeat they can move forward with a positive outlook. Next week's game against struggling Virginia, which suffered its third loss of the season against Ball State on Saturday, should get coach Randy Edsall’s team back on the winning track. [RECAP l BOX]
• Indiana 44, Penn State 24: When was the last time the Hoosiers beat the Nittany Lions? Never -- before Saturday, that is. Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns against a suspect Penn State secondary. Nittany Lions freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, meanwhile, completed just 30-of-55 passes. A Penn State defense that had limited three of its first four opponents to just 24 combined points was gashed for 44 by the Hoosiers, who bounced back from a discouraging loss to Missouri on Sept. 21.
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson spoke this offseason about how his team had improved defensively, but losses to the Tigers and to Navy suggested otherwise. On Saturday, however, the Hoosiers limited the Nittany Lions on the ground and in the air. Zazk Swinak, Penn State's bruising tailback, ran for just 72 yards on 17 carries, while Hackenberg never found his comfort zone in the face of persistent pressure from Indiana's front seven.
• Michigan State 26, Iowa 14: The Spartans' defense ranks among the country's best in most statistical categories, but their offense has been a problem thus far. Thanks to a strong effort from quarterback Connor Cook, however, Michigan State opened its Big Ten season by beating the Hawkeyes in impressive fashion. Iowa hung around through the first 30 minutes, using a 10-yard touchdown catch from tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz with 10 seconds remaining in the first half to pull within four points. But freshman quarterback Jake Rudock and the Hawkeyes' attack couldn’t get anything going after the break. Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard snagged two interceptions.
• Nebraska 39, Illinois 19: Senior quarterback Taylor Martinez missed the game with a toe injury, so the Cornhuskers turned to their potent rushing attack, which gained 335 yards, including junior tailback Ameer Abdullah's eye-popping 225. More importantly, Nebraska finally put together a solid defensive performance. Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase completed just 13-of-26 passes for 135 yards. Two weeks after the Cornhuskers allowed South Dakota State to rush for six yards per carry, their defense showed it may be starting to turn things around. In two weeks, Nebraska begins a rigorous run of conference games that includes meetings with Northwestern and Michigan. [RECAP l BOX]
• Virginia Tech 27, North Carolina 17: Do the Hokies have the best defense in the country? It certainly looked that way on Saturday, as Virginia Tech held the Tar Heels to just one first-half touchdown. Hokies tailback Trey Edmunds sealed the victory with a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech may be poised for more success. At 4-1, the Hokies have winnable games coming up against Pittsburgh, Duke and Boston College before traveling to Miami on Nov. 9. [RECAP l BOX]
• Ball State 48, Virginia 27: For the Cavaliers, losing to Oregon 59-10 was understandable. Scoring three points in a loss at Pittsburgh three weeks later was alarming. But getting routed by the Cardinals shows just how completely Virginia has fallen apart. The Cavaliers travel to Maryland next week. If they lose in College Park, they will fall to 2-4 (0-2 ACC).
Ball State, meanwhile, is now 4-1 and should be favored in every game between now and a crucial Nov. 13 road game at Northern Illinois. If the Cardinals continue to improve behind dual-threat quarterback Keith Wenning, they will be the biggest obstacle to the Huskies' BCS-busting aspirations. [RECAP l BOX]
• Rutgers 55, SMU 52 (3OT): In Week 1, the Scarlet Knights suffered a wild overtime loss (52-51) to Fresno State. On Saturday, Rutgers played its second overtime game of the season, this one even more wild and unpredictable than the first. After the Mustangs erased a double-digit lead and scored a controversial game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes left, Scarlet Knights tailback Justin Goodwin spun his way into the end zone in triple overtime to end a frenetic back-and-forth contest.
• No. 1 Alabama 45, Georgia State 3: After navigating a tricky three-week stretch that included wins over Texas A&M and Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide played the first of four very manageable contests on Saturday (Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee). Alabama raced out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back, gaining 477 yards of total offense and holding coach Trent Miles' Panthers to 175 yards. The most exciting play in an otherwise unremarkable game was Crimson Tide receiver DeAndrew White's one-handed touchdown grab.
• No. 7 Louisville 30, Temple 7: The Cardinals began American Athletic Conference play against arguably the worst team in the league. And the result was predictable: Louisville uarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 24-of-34 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Cardinals to a 5-0 record. A visit from 4-1 Rutgers next week will be Louisville’s first real challenge to date. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 20 Texas Tech 54, Kansas 16: A promising 10-0 lead quickly turned into disaster for the Jayhawks, who gave up 47 unanswered points to quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Red Raiders. Oh, and here’s a small tip for Kansas coach Charlie Weis: When you need to convert a fourth-and-13 from the 16-yard line, it’s probably best not to do this.
The Jayhawks also made headlines Saturday by donning the letters APU -- the three-letter acronym for the All Players United movement -- on their game apparel. Despite his great play early in the game, Mayfield was helped off the field in the third quarter and did not return. [RECAP l BOX]
• Navy 28, Air Force 10: At one point this week, it appeared that both games featuring service academy teams would be cancelled due to the government shutdown. In the end, all three academies overcame financial concerns to play their games as scheduled. The Midshipmen rolled over the Falcons in front of a record crowd of 38,225 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Without help from an insurance company, this game might not have happened. [RECAP l BOX] • Boston College 48, Army 27: The Eagles snapped a two-game losing streak to the Black Knights. [RECAP l BOX]