As elite groups reveal flaws, alternative arises for Ohio State, USC, others

Published:Mar 8, 202422:54
As elite groups reveal flaws, alternative arises for Ohio State, USC, others

By Bryan Fischer
FOX Sports activities School Soccer Author

5 weeks into the season, we're now not constrained by an absence of pattern measurement. Now, when reflecting on numerous school soccer applications, it is extra about who they're than about who they'll change into.

That is very true on the high, the place the elite tier of groups now not seems, nicely, as elite as anticipated. Flaws have been revealed. Possibly that championship chase is only a bit extra huge open than anticipated.

Georgia hangs on, Michigan and Clemson impress

Georgia hangs on, Michigan and Clemson impress

RJ Younger discusses among the greatest video games from Week 5, together with Georgia’s comeback win over Missouri.

Final yr felt like an inevitable march towards an Alabama-Georgia championship rematch. The Tide had been confirmed mortal on a memorable evening in School Station, besides, they nonetheless appeared to simply be experiencing non permanent rising pains as they reloaded forward of schedule. The expertise hole between them and the remainder of school soccer (bar one) was nonetheless there. And Nick Saban, as all the time, was roaming the sideline.

As for the Bulldogs, all of us knew that for no matter limitations or questions there have been round quarterback Stetson Bennett, they might nonetheless fall again on the game's greatest defensive unit in additional than a decade.

Now? These two applications have come again to the pack as a lot as others have elevated themselves. 

Alabama confronted doubts early after escaping its journey to Austin, narrowly beating a Texas crew on Sept. 10 that has critical points closing out video games. Now that’s manifested three-fold after Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Younger suffered a shoulder damage Saturday towards Arkansas. Saban is optimistic Younger will play towards Texas A&M this coming weekend, however such accidents will be tough to handle whenever you’re only one large blow away from exiting the sport.

Escape is an apt descriptor for what Georgia did towards Missouri, too. The Bulldogs had been down double-digits within the fourth quarter to a crew that hadn’t crushed a Energy 5 program. The Dawgs had been allergic to the goal-line once they entered the pink zone and appeared to not remember that that they had a few tight ends who're nightmares to cowl. Bennett was simply 24-for-43, neither share nor an optimum run-pass combine. The offense has additionally turned the ball over 5 instances up to now two weeks towards defenses more likely to be nearer to 100 within the nationwide rankings than No. 1.

All of which presents a large alternative for others intent on contending.

RJ Younger's High 25: Ohio State strikes as much as No. 1

RJ Young's Top 25: Ohio State moves up to No. 1

Ohio State has moved into the highest spot in RJ Younger's High 25 after a powerful win over Rutgers. Discover out who else made his listing.

Ohio State

Chief amongst them is among the different elite outfits in Ohio State. Some doubt the Buckeyes as a result of truth they solely beat Notre Dame by 11 of their season-opener. Since then, although, they've received by 33, 56, 31 and 39 factors. They haven't come near their peak but both.

In opposition to Rutgers on Saturday, QB C.J. Stroud was simply 13-for-22 for 154 yards. To go along with a lower-than-expected seven yards per try, he additionally threw an interception together with two touchdowns. Beginning tailback TreVeyon Henderson was held out of the sport, and high wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba nonetheless seems to be a number of weeks away from a return whereas coping with a hamstring.

But OSU has simply steamrolled. Backup Miyan Williams tied a faculty report with 5 speeding touchdowns and cracked the century mark in yardage for a second straight weekend. Even with Smith-Njigba out, the Buckeyes sport three receivers with not less than 4 touchdowns, and Marvin Harrison Jr., with six, is simply two scores shy of the nationwide lead.

Extra notable is the advance within the protection underneath new coordinator Jim Knowles. This unit tackles significantly higher than a yr in the past and isn't fairly as vulnerable to protection busts because it as soon as was regardless of their DC’s penchant for overloading up entrance and bringing further strain. The competitors degree is what it's, however OSU is permitting a full landing much less per sport in 2022 (14.8 PPG) than in 2021 (22.8 PPG).

The Buckeyes have an opportunity to show themselves additional with street journeys to Michigan State and Penn State sandwiched round internet hosting Iowa on the Horseshoe, too. 

This was all the time shaping as much as be a season the place the window was open for Ryan Day to recover from the hump and win that nationwide title. He’s acquired the veteran top-tier quarterback, a roster stocked with ability place expertise, and a protection able to getting stops when wanted. There are nonetheless just a few issues to nitpick, however Ohio State is as marketed on the subject of not simply reaching the School Soccer Playoff, however profitable the entire thing. 

Miyan Williams dashes for lengthy TD

Miyan Williams dashes for long TD

Ohio State took a 35-10 lead over Rutgers after Miyan Williams ripped off a 70-yard TD run.


If expectations are greater than being met in Columbus, the identical will be stated at USC — after which some. Lincoln Riley was anticipated to make an affect upon his arrival in Los Angeles however has elevated the chatter from contending within the Pac-12 to a transparent pathway to a semifinal in Yr 1.

Quarterback Caleb Williams being totally simpatico along with his head coach is a giant cause. Bouncing again from a sub-standard outing in Corvallis, the sophomore was toying with Arizona State’s protection on the Coliseum late Saturday. He was borderline untouchable within the pocket along with his elusiveness, finishing 73% of his passes for 348 yards and 4 whole touchdowns. 

He did have an ill-advised throw into the top zone that was picked off for his first interception of the yr, however Williams nonetheless seems on his approach to being the very best signal-caller in cardinal and gold since Matt Leinart was tossing it across the yard with Reggie Bush.

Even the Trojans' protection, derided as it's for giving up 5.52 yards/play, is third within the Pac-12 in factors allowed and has essentially the most takeaways within the nation.

Skepticism round USC popping out of the Clay Helton period has totally given approach to optimism about competing at the next degree ahead of anticipated.

Oklahoma State

Whereas the Huge 12’s depth has created a chaos-filled part to each league sport, there’s a transparent chief of the pack after Oklahoma State went into Waco and extracted some measure of revenge for his or her agonizing championship sport loss to Baylor final season. Spencer Sanders has continued to play extra effectively than ever since taking the reins at quarterback underneath Mike Gundy, finishing 20 of 29 passes towards the Bears and utilizing his legs for quite a few chain-advancing scrambles.

Derek Mason, taking on for Knowles, has additionally stored the Cowboys stiff on the opposite aspect of the ball. They grabbed two essential turnovers and restricted Baylor, a crew constructed on speeding the ball, to simply 3-for-11 on third down and 112 yards on the bottom.

Highlights: Oklahoma State tops Baylor

Highlights: Oklahoma State tops Baylor

No. 9 Oklahoma State defeated No. 16 Baylor on Saturday as QB Spencer Sanders handed for 181 yards and a landing.


On the East Coast, Clemson may be again to wanting extra like Clemson than it has at any level up to now two years. The Tigers have flaws, however are high 10 in third-down conversions and have quarterback DJ Uiagalelei wanting far more just like the freshman who burst onto the scene a few years in the past.

Uiagalelei now has thrown 11 touchdowns towards only one choose and is averaging almost eight yards per try. He’s additionally a harmful weapon along with his large body, punching it in twice towards N.C. State. With their final two wins, the Tigers have all however locked up a visit to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Recreation.

The attention check says Dabo Swinney’s group nonetheless isn’t fairly as much as 2015-19 classic, however given that everyone else is equally flawed, the door is open for them to get again to the highest.

5 weeks into the season, the sector of contenders has elevated, not whittled down. Alternative is definitely knocking for groups like Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma State, Clemson and others. Will they take benefit? 

Contractual Conjecture

In the case of the listing of most disappointing groups in 2022, teaching contracts might weigh closely within the dialogue. 

You possibly can start in East Lansing, the place Michigan State confirmed it's able to investing loads of assets into this system by handing out a 10-year, $95 million totally assured deal to Mel Tucker, who was 16-14 on the time. 

The mega-deal got here amid Tucker’s title surfacing in reference to LSU’s opening and amid one of many extra spectacular turnaround tales of 2021. After Mark Dantonio left the Spartans excessive and dry, Tucker had gotten the crew again to being aggressive within the Huge Ten and had notched two wins over rival Michigan.

Issues had been actually trending in the suitable course, however skepticism was widespread — and warranted in gentle of MSU’s begin to 2022. The Spartans had been preseason high 15 within the polls and had a considerably favorable schedule with Ohio State and Wisconsin at house.

As a substitute, they've misplaced three straight. Sparty didn’t simply lose to Maryland 27-13, they had been by no means aggressive and acquired shut out within the second half. They missed a area objective, had particular groups snafus, and by no means acquired any type of push up entrance to guard QB Payton Thorne or set up the run.

As if that weren’t sufficient for followers of the inexperienced and white, being stunningly uncompetitive outdoors of beating up on some MAC groups has put Michigan State ready to go from ranked within the early polls to lacking a bowl sport fully. They nonetheless should play Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, and are by no means assured of sweeping the likes of Wisconsin, Rutgers, Indiana and Illinois at this level.

To not be outdone, issues are in much more of a disaster mode down in School Station after Texas A&M took one on the chin at Mississippi State. It was the Aggies’ sixth time in Jimbo Fisher’s 5 seasons {that a} ranked A&M squad has misplaced to an unranked crew. The college prolonged the coach with a contemporary 10-year contract that included 4 extra years and a whopping $50 million of assured cash past the hefty quantities he was already owed. 

Listening to such figures might be arduous to swallow for Aggies all over the place, as this system isn't any nearer to competing for a nationwide title than it was underneath Kevin Sumlin. 

Aid received’t come anytime quickly both as each Michigan State and Texas A&M play top-three opponents this Saturday. 

Hoops Heaven

Typically the basketball blue bloods are excited about Midnight Insanity this time of yr. Different instances, they’re totally centered on soccer. 2022 falls firmly into the latter.

Updating a stat first famous just a few weeks in the past, the six winningest Energy 5 basketball applications (Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse and UCLA) are a mixed 27-3 on the gridiron. A kind of losses was to one another when Kansas beat Duke, one other was to a top-10 crew on the street. All however two are ranked within the high 25 and even that outsider pair (UNC/Duke) obtained votes within the polls.

UConn, which doesn’t have the sheer variety of basketball wins because the groups listed above however does have 15 hoops championships — 4 males’s, 11 ladies's — additionally notched a giant victory by beating Fresno State, 19-14. That was its first win over an FBS crew since topping UMass on Oct. 26, 2019 — 1,050 days in the past.

The Huskies and Jayhawks additionally received a soccer sport on the identical day for simply the second time in a decade. 

Make It Make Sense

UTEP received its first sport ever within the Jap Time Zone with a 41-35 victory over Charlotte. The Miners had been beforehand 0-26-1. 

Saturday Superlatives

Greatest Participant: Zay Flower, Boston School

Crew of the Week: Georgia Tech

Goat of the Week: Bryan Harsin, Auburn

Heisman 5: 1. Bryce Younger (Alabama), 2. C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), 3. Caleb Williams (USC), 4. Brock Bowers (Georgia), 5. Hendon Hooker (Tennessee).

Projected Playoff: 1. Ohio State, 2. Alabama, 3. Georgia, 4. USC

Tweet of the Week

Tremendous 16

Right here’s how I voted within the FWAA/NFF Tremendous 16 Ballot this week.

1. Ohio State
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. USC
5. Oklahoma State
6. Clemson
7. Penn State
8. Michigan
9. TCU
10. Ole Miss
11. Utah
12. Tennessee
13. UCLA
14. Kansas
15. Oregon
16. Wake Forest

Simply missed the minimize: Kentucky

Better of the remaining: N.C. State, UCLA, Mississippi State, BYU, Washington, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Baylor

Pre-Snap Reads

TCU at Kansas (Midday ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app)

The Huge 12 has regressed into far more of a defensive league, however that persona might be shed when the No. 12 scoring offense in FBS tries to maintain tempo with the No. 2 unit. Pay specific consideration to how every entails the QB within the run sport and the quantity of misdirection to arrange large performs between the tackles. This may be the most important sport ever in Lawrence, and the ambiance may very well be electrical. KU has performed TCU shut lately however will want some heroic defensive performs to maintain it shut.

Texas vs. Oklahoma (Midday ET)

That is the primary unranked vs. unranked assembly in Pink River since 1998. Among the many No. 1 hits that yr was Aerosmith’s "I Don’t Wish to Miss a Factor." Provided that that is all the time a heated rivalry sport and the stakes are excessive, you most likely don’t wish to miss a play with the potential for chaos at each flip.

Utah at UCLA (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities app)

The Utes’ run protection has been uncharacteristically much less sharp than in different years underneath Kyle Whittingham. That’s an issue when going through a crew with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet, who're each averaging over 6.4 yards a rush. Enjoying within the day on the Rose Bowl takes out a component of craziness that all the time appears to occur in late Pac-12 video games, so the lean continues to be with Utah doing simply sufficient to get by.

Texas A&M at Alabama (8 p.m. ET)

Nick Saban has possible been saving up slightly further for this sport after the confrontation with Jimbo Fisher this offseason. The Aggies can’t transfer the ball down the sector with any effectivity and this may very well be a protracted one for the guests, regardless of if Younger is full go.

Washington State at USC (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities app)

Wazzu is 116th within the nation in turnover margin (-4) whereas USC leads the nation at +14. That may show to be the distinction because the Cougars simply can’t sustain with the tempo of the Trojans early on in what ought to in any other case be a decent, enjoyable sport on the Coliseum. 

Learn extra:

- Alabama retakes No. 1 spot in AP High 25

- 10 unbelievable stats from Week 5

- Michigan reveals what Iowa lacks: The flexibility to attain when wanted

- Heisman watch: Blake Corum, Adrian Martinez on the rise

- Michigan-Iowa: Highlights from Reside Tailgate Celebration

Bryan Fischer is a school soccer author for FOX Sports activities. He has been masking school athletics for almost twenty years at shops corresponding to NBC Sports activities, CBS Sports activities, Yahoo! Sports activities and amongst others. Comply with him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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