Week Six Lowe Down: Miami snaps streak, TCU struts

Matt Lowe

October 06, 2017 at 11:05 pm.

Sep 16, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs running back Darius Anderson (6) reacts during the game against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 16, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs running back Darius Anderson (6) reacts during the game against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week Six of The Lowe Down.

No matter what the sport, playing good defense always leads to winning. That’s the way it is and the way it always will be.

As of this week, there are nine teams ranked in the Top 10 that are undefeated. Out of those nine teams, seven (Alabama, Clemson, Penn State, Georgia, Washington, Michigan and Wisconsin) rank in the Top 10 nationally in scoring defense, with Wisconsin allowing the most points (13.5 ppg.) out of all those teams.

Now a lot of jobs are going to be opening up around the country, in particular the SEC, so it might be smart for athletic directors to start focusing on coaches that have strong defensive backgrounds and have built successful teams at more than one place to fill open vacancies.

Now granted, there aren’t a ton of those guys around, but there are a number of defensive-minded coaches who have had success at more than one place in their careers — Wake Forest’s Dave Clawon, Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall, San Diego State’s Rocky Long and NC State’s Dave Doeren to name a few — that could be quality head coaching candidates at season’s end.

Last week’s record was 15-6, bringing the yearly record to a 74-33. To the game we go…


Saturday, October 7

No. 5 Georgia (5-0) at Vanderbilt (3-2) 11:00 a.m. CT
Georgia’s running game and defense are a big reason why the Bulldogs look like a legit SEC title contender. But don’t sleep on what true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has brought to Kirby Smart’s team. Fromm hasn’t necessarily filled the stat sheet in the four games he’s started, nor has he had a jaw-dropping performance as of yet, but he’s done what the team has needed him to do — and there’s just something about the kid that oozes winner. Vanderbilt has been a thorn in UGA’s behind in recent meetings, but Georgia is playing at a high level and the Commodores have proven already they cannot matchup with a strong running team that also plays good defense (see Alabama).
The Lowe Down: Georgia 34, Vanderbilt 10

Ole Miss (2-2) at No. 12 Auburn (4-1) 11:00 a.m. CT
Ever since Cal salted away a potential last-second Ole Miss victory in Week Two of the college football season, the Rebels haven’t been the same. And after a 63-point loss to Alabama, ya have to wonder where the visiting team will be mentally. Sure, Ole Miss has Shea Patterson at QB and some NFL talent at receiver, but the injury to center Sean Rawlings (ankle) and the lack of a run game has made the Rebels a one-trick pony on O. And that doesn’t bode well squaring off against an Auburn defense (allowing 11 points per game) that’s one of the nation’s best. The offensive move of Casey Dunn — who was a two-time FCS All-American at center for Jacksonville State before transferring to Auburn this summer — to center and Austin Gholson to left tackle last week (he has really aided the Auburn offense, especially in pass pro) seemed to really help out quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Gholson is a natural tackle. He’s 6-foot-5, 312 pounds. He did an admirable job at center during his time there, but Dunn’s move into the starting lineup — following an injury to Darius James against Mercer — seems to have stabilized the line. And that’s a good thing for Auburn’s offense moving forward.
The Lowe Down: Auburn 42, Ole Miss 10

Wake Forest (4-1) at No. 2 Clemson (5-0) 11:00 a.m. CT
What a job Dave Clawson has done at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons came within a whisker of downing FSU to move to 5-0, but a 40-yard touchdown pass from James Blackmon to Auden Tate with 1:01 left in the game led to the team’s first L of the season. If Wake is to pull the upset over Clemson, offensively, it will need big outings from dual-threat quarterback John Wolford and dynamite receiver Greg Dortch, who can really play despite his small frame (5-9, 160 pounds). Surprisingly, Wake is one best team’s nationally defensively (allowing just 14.4 ppg.) and if it can slow Clemson’s run game and harass quarterback Kelly Bryant, this could be a tighter game than expected.
The Lowe Down: Clemson 27, Wake 10

LSU (3-2) at No. 21 Florida (2-1) 2:30 p.m. CT
The LSU football program can basically be summed up in two words right now: COMPLETE DISASTER. Mississippi State beat the Tigers like a rag doll. And if it weren’t for a few second-half miscues, Troy would’ve done the same thing. The score wasn’t indicative of how bad LSU got whipped last week. Moving forward, things don’t get any easier for the Tigers. After a date with a Florida team that will be chomping at the bit to jump all over Ed Orgeron’s crew, LSU hosts Auburn then travels to Ole Miss and Alabama. All-SEC tailback Derrius Guice (leg) returned to practice this week and is expected play against the Gators, but for whatever reason LSU’s offense has looked out of sync all year long despite returning a number of veterans. Combine that with a shoddy defense and all signs point to a Florida romp.
The Lowe Down: Florida 31, LSU 14

No. 13 Miami (3-0) at FSU (1-2) 2:30 p.m. CT
Miami has lost seven straight to Florida State, but expect that to change when these two rivals hook up in Tallahassee. The U almost snapped the streak a year ago, but a blocked extra point helped the Seminoles hang on for a 20-19 win. This year, the Hurricanes get it done behind the play of dual-threat quarterback Malik Rosier and an underrated, attacking defense captained by aggressive coordinator Manny Diaz.
The Lowe Down: Miami 26, Florida State 19

No. 23 West Virginia (3-1) at No. 8 TCU (4-0) 2:30 p.m. CT
TCU is an explosive team offensively. There’s no doubt about that. But if the Horned Frogs want to win the Big 12, they’ll need to make more strides on the defensive side of the ball. And a good test to see if that happens will come against high-powered West Virginia, which ranks second in the country in total offense (594.8 ypg.). Like years passed, TCU has been strong against the run, but it needs to get better defending elite passing teams. West Virginia quarterback Will Grier can sling it with the best of ‘em, and he’s got a number of quality options in the passing game, most notably rangy wideout David Sills, who has seven touchdown grabs on the season. Slowing Grier will likely be a key to a TCU win. And the same could be said for West Virginia’s defense squaring off against Horned Frogs’ gunslinger Kenny Hill. But the biggest X-factor in the game is TCU tailback Darius Anderson, who is coming off a three-touchdown performance against Oklahoma State. If Anderson runs wild, TCU will cruise to another win.
The Lowe Down: TCU 41, West Virginia 27

No. 1 Alabama (5-0) at Texas A&M (4-1) 6:15 p.m. CT
Texas A&M could jump into SEC West title contention with a win over top-ranked Alabama, but a lot will have to go right for that to happen. No. 1) True freshman quarterback Kellen Mond will need to play the game of his life. No. 2) The Aggies will have to establish a running game and stick to it. No. 3) Texas A&M must play a mistake-free game on offense and create turnovers on defense. No. 4) The Aggies must keep the crowd involved for the duration of the game. Last week Texas A&M’s defense held South Carolina to just 23 yards rushing. Now the Aggies won’t do that to Alabama and its vaunted ground attack, led by quarterback Jalen Hurts and tailbacks Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, but if they can limit the Crimson Tide on the ground they could hang around. But that’s a really tough task.
The Lowe Down: Alabama 47, Texas A&M 16

Michigan State (3-1) at No. 7 Michigan (4-0) 6:30 p.m. CT
Much was made about the departures (returned only one starter) on Michigan’s defense before the season began, but due to excellent recruiting and coaching, the Wolverines have remained one of the nation’s top defensive team’s (13.5 ppg.). A big reason why Don Brown’s unit is so good is the front wall, led by defensive ends Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich (5.5 sacks) and tackle Maurice Hurst. Linebackers Devin Bush — the team leader in tackles — and Mike McCray and defensive backs Tyree Kinnel and Khaleke Hudson have also been standouts for a Big Blue D that leads the nation in sacks. Michigan State has also played sound defense, but it will need a productive game from quarterback Brian Lewerke (963 yards passing, eight TDs and three interceptions), bruising runner LJ Scott and its offensive line if it expects to win the first night game ever played between these two schools. Michigan’s John O’Korn will get the nod at QB for the injured Wilton Speight, but look for a heavy dose of bruising runner Chris Evans in this one.
The Lowe Down: Michigan 29, Michigan State 17

No. 11 Washington State (5-0) at Oregon (4-1) 7:00 p.m. CT
Washington State showed last week that it has the offensive firepower to be a contender for the Pac-12 title after its win over USC. But perhaps the most impressive takeaway from the Cougars win over the Trojans last week was the defense, which currently sits at 11th nationally (275.2 ypg.). Defensive end Hercules Mata’afa — who has the coolest name in college football — linebacker Jahad Woods and safety Hunter Dale were standouts on a unit that picked off USC quarterback Sam Darnold once and held him to a season-low 164 yards passing and no touchdowns. The Cougars also limited the Trojans to just 2 of 11 third-down conversions. Mata’afa, who plays like a man possessed, and Woods finished one-two on the team in tackles and Dale picked up one of the units two sacks. Another player who caught my attention was tailback Jamal Morrow. Morrow is the prototypical bowling ball-type back (5-9, 200) who runs low and has good wheels. If Washington State can keep Morrow and, of course, star QB Luke Falk healthy, it will be a tough team to beat. But it must avoid a letdown in Eugene to keep the mojo working.
The Lowe Down: Washington State 38, Oregon 24

In other Saturday games:

Iowa State 20 at No. 3 Oklahoma 43

Eastern Michigan 17 at Toledo 24

No. 4 Penn State 38 at Northwestern 20

Duke 23 at Virginia 33

Pitt 26 at Syracuse 36

No. 21 Notre Dame 35 at North Carolina 16

Air Force 23 at Navy 34

Minnesota 27 at Purdue 33

Arkansas 28 at South Carolina 35 Upset Special *****

Oregon State 10 at No. 14 USC 48

Kansas State 20 at Texas 27

No. 16 Virginia Tech 31 at Boston College 13

No. 9 Wisconsin 36 at Nebraska 20

Stanford 28 at No. 20 Utah 31

No. 19 San Diego State 38 at UNLV 17

Cal 17 at No. 6 Washington 45