Welcome back, friends! It’s Sixer time again, and the eastern half of the United States waits on pins and needles to see what happens with Joaquin. No, not Andujar, not Phoenix, but the storm spinning in the Atlantic. South Carolina is under quite the threat, making for a potentially interesting storyline for both Gameday Saturday morning and the game Saturday night in Death Valley.
While we wait to see how many — if any — games get washed out, here’s your updated Sixer standings! Remember, to join the fun at any time, select this link. If you’ve already registered, click here and enter your login information when prompted.
Week 4 Standings
Before we proceed, it’s trivia time!
The Sixer Trivia, Week 5 (answer at the end of the column): Nick Saban’s Alabama teams have won seven of their eight SEC road openers. Which team dealt the Tide their only loss during that stretch?
#23 West Virginia (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) at #15 Oklahoma (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Noon | FS1
- Quite the contrast: The Mountaineers followed up their 74th-best scoring defense output from 2014 by starting the season leading FBS teams in the category through three games. Opponents have scored just three touchdowns in three games, and are averaging 7.7 points per game. The Sooners are 19th in the FBS in scoring offense, averaging 41.3 points per contest. Oklahoma has scored 31 points or greater in six of their last seven outings, with last season’s 40-6 bowl throttling by Clemson the lone exception.
- Big 12 breakout: Oklahoma had just two wins in four outings against the Mountaineers prior to West Virginia’s entry into the conference, but the story has been different since 2012. The Sooners own wins in all three Big 12 games played between the two, with the only conference game in Norman a 16-7 defensive battle. Just two of the games played between the teams have featured both in the polls. The second-ranked Sooners beat 13th-ranked West Virginia 47-14 in 1958, with the ninth-ranked Mountaineers returning the favor with a 20-point beating of fourth-ranked Oklahoma eight years ago.
- Star quarterbacks: A quick glance at the top five in total offense in the Big 12 will show both teams’ quarterbacks. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield trails just TCU’s Trevone Boykin in total offense. Mayfield averages 400.3 yards per game. The school’s record for offense in a game now also belongs to Mayfield, as he totaled 572 yards two weeks ago against Tulsa. West Virginia’s Skyler Howard ranks fifth, at 334.7 yards per game. Howard has totaled fewer than 300 yards of offense in just one of the six games he has started as a Mountaineer — his first, a loss to Kansas State.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Dana Holgorsen is just 31-23 at West Virginia, with a 16-18 conference record. Perception is reality, and a win could change that perception.
#1 Ohio State (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Indiana (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
3:30pm | ABC/ESPN2 (reverse mirror)
- We’re going streaking: We mentioned in the ACC feature this week that Florida State was enjoying a conference win streak. So, too, are the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer’s charges have notched 24 consecutive conference victories, the longest such streak in 80 years. 12 of those victories have come away from the Horseshoe. The last Big Ten loss by the Buckeyes came in a 40-34 decision at Michigan on November 26, 2011.
- Speaking of streaks: The Hoosiers have a win streak of their own underway, having won five in a row. The streak began with a 23-16 win over Purdue to close last season. Indiana last won five consecutive games 28 years ago.
- Still setting the pace: IU’s Jordan Howard still finds himself leading the nation in rushing. Howard’s 33-carry, 168-yard rushing performance against Wake Forest was enough to hold off his challengers for another week. Howard has rushed for 145 yards or greater in all four games as a Hoosier. The Buckeyes allow 121.75 yards per game to opposing rushers, having surrendered just one touchdown on the ground.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Indiana has never beaten a top-ranked team in 15 tries, including five against Ohio State. That trend seems almost assured of continuing.
#13 Alabama (3-1, 0-1 SEC) at #8 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
3:30pm | CBS
- A clash of styles: Alabama’s stout rushing defense gets an interesting test this week against a Georgia team that loves to punish foes on the ground. The Tide have surrendered just two rushing touchdowns this season. Also, as the Alabama sports information department notes, just 15 runners have cracked the century mark against the Tide in the last ten years. Georgia, meanwhile, leads the conference in rushing yards and touchdowns, and is second only to LSU (6.90 to 6.87) in yards per carry. Two Georgia rushers (Nick Chubb and Sony Michel) are in the conference’s top 15 in rushing.
- Speaking of Chubb: Nick Chubb gets one of the toughest challenges yet to his 12-game streak of breaking the century mark on the ground. The sophomore has gone for 120 yards or greater in every game this season, and began his stretch with a 38-carry, 143-yard performance in a 34-0 blanking of Missouri on October 11, 2014. The last time Chubb was held under 100 yards was when he tallied just 78 yards in a 44-17 victory over Vanderbilt last season; however, he only notched eight carries in that game.
- Playing the percentages: While both teams feature punishing rushing attacks, an equally interesting story resides in their passers. Georgia’s Greyson Lambert leads the conference in completion percentage, connecting on 76.5 percent of his throws. 52 of Lambert’s 68 passes have found the mark. On the other side, Alabama’s Jake Coker is next-to-last in the league in that same percentage, completing just 55.3 percent of his passes. Only Missouri’s Maty Mauk (51.8 percent) has a lower completion percentage among full-time SEC signal-callers. The Bulldogs (54 percent) and Alabama (55.1 percent) allow the second and fourth-lowest (respectively) completion percentages to opposing passers.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Alabama is an underdog for the first time in 73 games (for informational purposes only). Can the Tide quiet talk of their dynasty ending?
#3 Ole Miss (4-0, 3-0 SEC) at #25 Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
7:00pm | ESPN
- Exhausted scoreboard operators: Ole Miss will certainly make it a long night for statisticians. The Rebels trail only Baylor in per-game scoring output (54.8 points per game to the Bears’ 64), with last week’s 27-16 victory over Vanderbilt their lowest-scoring output of the season. Florida is 30th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing as many total points (73) as the Rebs hung on Fresno State earlier in the season. One opponent has scored greater than 24 points on the Gators in their last 10 games (Tennessee, who scored 27 last week).
- A good omen?: Florida and Ole Miss last teed it up against each other in 2008 (author’s note: That seems impossible, doesn’t it?). Ole Miss claimed a 31-30 victory in Gainesville on September 27. Urban Meyer’s Gators rebounded in a hurry, though, reeling off 10 straight victories. Florida defeated #1 Alabama in the SEC title game and #2 Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship to win the title. We’re not saying a loss for Florida would be a great thing, but there is this odd precedent…
- SEC West struggles: Florida doesn’t get to see the SEC West all that often, but they have not had the best of times against them over the past five years. The Gators have just three wins (LSU and Texas A&M in 2012, Arkansas in 2013) in 12 tries against the SEC West over the last five seasons. LSU (4) and Alabama (3) own the majority of those victories against Florida, with losses to Mississippi State (2010) and Auburn (2011) rounding out the results.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Was Ole Miss’ win over Vandy a hangover or a harbinger? Is this time for McElwain’s troops to announce their national resurgence?
#21 Mississippi State (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at #14 Texas A&M (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
7:30pm | SEC Network
- Old 97s: We have a lot of stats that seem downright inconceivable in this space, and the Texas A&M sports information department points out yet another. Texas A&M is looking to start consecutive conference seasons 2-0 for the first time in 17 years. The 1997 Aggies claimed wins over #16 Colorado and Iowa State to start 2-0 in Big 12 play. A&M would go on to finish 9-4 (6-2) and win the Big 12 South crown that year. The ’98 Aggies clipped Kansas and Nebraska on their way to an 11-3 (7-1) finish and another Southern Division crown.
- What a differentce a year makes: Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz returned to Starkville this season after stints at Texas and Louisiana Tech, and the difference is quite obvious. The Bulldogs are nearly a touchdown better on defense through four games than last year’s performance (21.7 points per game in 2014, 14.8 this season), and are 16th in the nation in scoring defense.
- Scottsdale supremacy: The Aggie tandem of quarterback Kyle Allen and receiver Christian Kirk are doing their Arizona hometown proud. Both are going for individual milestones. Allen is just shy of 50 yards away from 1,000 on the season, while Kirk is fewer than 200 yards shy of 1,000 all-purpose yards. Kirk would be the fastest to 1,000 all-purpose yards in A&M history if he achieves the feat against the Bulldogs.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: This game has all the makings of coming down to the last possession. A&M will lean heavily on the 12th Man to stave off the Bulldogs.
#6 Notre Dame (3-0) at #12 Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC)
8:00pm | ABC
See this week’s edition of the ACC Clear Your Schedule feature for more details on this game.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Nick Saban’s Alabama teams have won seven of their eight SEC road openers. Which team dealt the Tide their only loss during that stretch?
Ole Miss snapped a string of seven consecutive victories in road conference openers with their 23-17 victory over the Tide in Oxford last season. Saban’s teams had previously won at Texas A&M, Arkansas (thrice), Florida, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt.
To all of you (potentially) in harm’s way due to the approaching weather, you’ll be in our thoughts and prayers. Let’s meet back here next week safe and sound to talk more college football.