Week 6 college football winners and losers: Heisman race now wide open after Texas A&M's upset over Alabama

·14 min read

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler went from preseason Heisman Trophy betting favorite to benched by Week 6.

Rattler, entering his second season as OU’s starter, was getting No. 1 NFL pick hype when the season began. He has not lived up to the hype, however, and was finally pulled in favor of prized freshman Caleb Williams on Saturday against Texas.

And what did Williams do? He only led a comeback for the ages as the Sooners fought back from a three-score halftime deficit to win 55-48 on a last-second touchdown.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was noncommittal after the game, but it’d be a shock if he went back to Rattler. Rattler had already been steadily dropping from his preseason Heisman odds of +800 (he’s currently +4000 at BetMGM), leaving Alabama QB Bryce Young and Ole Miss QB Matt Corral to surge to the front of the pack.

But beyond Rattler’s free fall, the Heisman race is about to be even more wide open after Saturday night’s result in College Station. 

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) is pressured by Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal (8) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) is pressured by Texas A&M defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal (8) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

No. 1 Alabama was shockingly upset 41-38 by unranked Texas A&M and Young — the Heisman betting favorite entering Saturday — had an up-and-down outing. He threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns, but was just 28-of-48 and threw an interception. 

Young’s odds will undoubtedly shift after the loss. How much? We’ll see in the next few days. He’s still had a strong season overall and Alabama hasn’t all of a sudden vanished from the College Football Playoff picture because of one loss. But the Heisman race is definitely way more wide open than it was when Week 6 began.

Beyond Young, who was listed at +150 at BetMGM entering Saturday, let’s take a look at some of the other contenders.

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral (+230): Corral’s Heisman odds took a hit last week when Ole Miss got blown out by Alabama, but he didn’t drop down too far. He entered Saturday listed at +230 and will surely see his odds improve after throwing for 287 yards, rushing for 94 yards and combining for four touchdowns in a 52-51 win over Arkansas. Corral still has not thrown an interception in 2021.

Ohio State QB CJ Stroud (+1000): Quietly, Ohio State has rebounded excellently from the Week 2 loss to Oregon and Stroud has been at the center of that. In his last two games — blowout wins over Rutgers and Maryland — Stroud has combined for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns without an interception. The Big Ten East race is wide open and OSU still has a pretty clear path to the CFP. Just keep winning.

Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III (+1200): Speaking of the Big Ten East, Michigan State is now 6-0 after easily handling Rutgers on Saturday. Walker, the transfer from Wake Forest, has been at the center of MSU’s ascendance. Following his 232-yard performance on Saturday, Walker now has 912 rushing yards in six games. With marquee matchups with Michigan, Ohio State and Ohio State still ahead, Walker has plenty of chances to keep his name in this race.

Texas RB Bijan Robinson (+1400): When Robinson reeled off an epic 50-yard touchdown run in the first half against Oklahoma on Saturday, it seemed like the type of play to add to a Heisman reel. The Longhorns ended up blowing a big lead and losing to OU, however, a turn of events that will hurt Robinson’s Heisman cause. Still, Robinson is one of the best players in the country who may very well continue putting up huge numbers.

Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder (+1500): Cincinnati is firmly in the College Football Playoff mix and Ridder, UC’s senior quarterback, is its best player. Through five games, Ridder has thrown for 1,304 yards and 12 touchdowns while throwing for 65.5% of his passes. Will he be able to generate Heisman-level buzz as Cincy plays out its AAC schedule?

Ohio State RB TreVeyon Henderson (+3500): The other standout for Ohio State is freshman TreVeyon Henderson. Since being inserted into the starting lineup in Week 3, Henderson has rushed for 543 yards and eight touchdowns over his last four games.

Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett (+4000): How about a long shot? The ACC is all over the place this year and Pitt has as good a chance to win it as anybody. The Panthers have a high-powered offense with Pickett leading the way. The senior, who is moving up NFL draft boards, has thrown for 1,731 yards and 19 touchdowns with just one interception this season.

Here are the winners and losers of Week 6:

WINNERS

Texas A&M: On the heels of back-to-back losses, the Aggies pulled off the biggest upset of the year by knocking off No. 1 Alabama 41-38. Zach Calzada made clutch throw after clutch throw in the second half, including a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass to Ainias Smith to tie the score at 38-38 with 3:00 to play. He later led the game-winning drive which was capped off by a walk-off Seth Small field goal. 

Iowa: The third-ranked Hawkeyes just find ways to win. Iowa trailed No. 4 Penn State 17-3, but rallied to win 23-20. The turning point was the injury to Penn State QB Sean Clifford. With backup Ta'Quan Roberson in, the Iowa defense swarmed and held PSU to just three second-half points. That allowed the offense to storm back and eventually take the lead on a 44-yard Spencer Petras TD pass to Nico Ragaini with 6:26 to play. The Hawkeyes, who forced four turnovers in the win, are now 6-0. 

IOWA CITY, IOWA- OCTOBER 9:  Linebacker Jestin Jacobs #5 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates with fans after the match-up against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Kinnick Stadium on October 9, 2021 in Iowa City, Iowa.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Iowa linebacker Jestin Jacobs celebrates with fans after the win over Penn State. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams: Williams' first significant college football action came in one of the sport's most storied rivalries and all he did was lead a comeback for the ages. The Oklahoma freshman — whose senior high school season was wiped out by the pandemic — threw for 212 yards, rushed for 88 yards and combined for three total touchdowns in OU's epic 55-48 win over Texas. UT led 38-20 at halftime and 41-23 late in the third quarter, and Williams' presence helped spark an unbelievable turnaround. 

Ohio State: That loss to Oregon feels like a year ago at this point. The Buckeyes made easy work of Maryland in a 66-17 rout on Saturday. Ohio State was up 35-10 at halftime and pushed the lead to 39 by the end of the third quarter. QB C.J. Stroud threw for 406 yards and five touchdowns while freshman sensation RB TreVeyon Henderson rushed 16 times for 102 yards. If Ohio State keeps playing like this, the playoff is still very much in play.

Ole Miss: Are the Rebels the second-best team in the SEC West? LSU and Auburn both lost on Saturday and Ole Miss squeaked by Arkansas 52-51 after the Razorbacks’ game-winning two-point conversion with no time left fell incomplete. Ole Miss has flaws — the defense is still not very good. But the offense is phenomenal and Corral isn’t making the same mistakes he did a year ago. There’s still a long way to go in the SEC, but if you’re ranking the teams in the West then Ole Miss at least in the top three.

Wake Forest: It wasn’t pretty but Wake is still the only undefeated team in the ACC. The Demon Deacons moved to 6-0 for the first time since 1944 with a 40-37 OT win over Syracuse. Syracuse scored a touchdown with 21 seconds left and were going to go for two and the win but a delay of game caused the Orange to kick the extra point instead. Wake then won in overtime as A.T. Perry caught a 22-yard pass from Sam Hartman. Wake is off next week before a game at Army on Oct. 23. That could be a tricky contest. But it also gives most Wake fans an extra week to enjoy something that’s never happened before in their lifetimes.

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman, right, throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Syracuse in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman, right, throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Syracuse in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Michigan State: The Spartans kept on rolling with an easy 31-13 win over Rutgers. Payton Thorne was 16-of-27 passing for 340 yards and three TDs and all those scores and most of those passing yards went to Jalen Nailor. He had five catches for 221 yards as Rutgers simply couldn’t cover him. Throw in a 94-yard TD run from Kenneth Walker as part of his 232 rushing yards and Michigan State, now 6-0, was a big play machine against the Scarlet Knights.

Tennessee: The Vols’ offense is unstoppable at the moment. After scoring just 14 points against Florida, UT has scored 107 points in the last two weeks thanks to a big win over Missouri and a 45-20 win over South Carolina on Saturday. Tennessee’s run game was great again against the Gamecocks with 49 carries for 247 yards and Hendon Hooker had four total touchdowns. The Vols are now 4-2 and 2-1 in the SEC. A bowl game and a winning season are a strong possibility.

Virginia: The Cavaliers trailed Louisville 30-13 at the end of the third quarter on Saturday before outscoring the Cardinals 21-3 in the fourth quarter for a 34-33 win. Virginia scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the game, including the game-winning score when Brennan Armstrong hit Grant Misch for a one-yard TD with 22 seconds left. Armstrong threw 60 passes and completed 40 for 487 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions. Louisville had a shot to win the game, but James Turner’s game-winning field goal try was no good.

Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) scrambles for the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Louisville in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) scrambles for the end zone during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Louisville in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Virginia won 34-33. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

UTEP: The Miners are a surprising 5-1 after beating Southern Miss on Saturday. To put that into perspective, UTEP had won five games over the previous four seasons combined. Ronald Awatt had 18 carries for 146 yards and Jacob Cowing had a 53-yard TD run. If UTEP can get to seven or eight wins, they are more than deserving of one of Conference USA’s bowl bids. The Miners haven’t been to a bowl game since the 2014 season and haven’t won a bowl game since the Sun Bowl at the end of the 1967 season.

UTSA: An undefeated start to the season continued for the Roadrunners with a 52-46 win at Western Kentucky. UTSA had 564 total yards of offense — and gave up 650 — as Frank Harris was 28-of-38 passing for 349 yards and six touchdowns and an interception. Three of those TDs went to De’Corian Clark as he had seven catches for 160 yards. Four of UTSA’s six wins so far have been by a single score, but the Roadrunners (now 6-0) are the last undefeated team in Conference USA. 

LOSERS

North Carolina: Florida State has Mack Brown’s number. The UNC coach’s record against Florida State dropped to 0-11 on Saturday in the Seminoles’ 35-25 upset win. FSU scored all of its points in the second and third quarters after UNC had taken a 10-0 lead after the first. The win led Brown to issue a curious comment after the game in which he both seemed to see that he expected UNC to win every game and it was the media’s fault for thinking his 3-3 team would win most of its games in 2021.

LSU: Let the speculation about Ed Orgeron’s future ramp up. LSU was totally overmatched in its 42-21 loss at Kentucky on Saturday night. The Wildcats dominated every facet of the game as they moved to 6-0 ahead of a huge matchup for the SEC East against Georgia in Week 7. LSU is now 3-3 after the loss and things don’t get any easier with games against Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Arkansas over the next five weeks.

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - OCTOBER 09: Ed Orgeron the head coach of the LSU Tigers against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field on October 09, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - OCTOBER 09: Ed Orgeron the head coach of the LSU Tigers against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field on October 09, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

BYU: The Cougars’ College Football Playoff hopes are gone after a 26-17 loss at home to Boise State. Granted, BYU was always a long shot to make the playoff. But with seven Power Five teams and Boise State on the 2021 schedule, BYU had worthy opponents. But that loss coupled with Cincinnati’s success so far this season makes it even unlikely that BYU gets to a New Year’s Six bowl game even with an 11-1 finish.

USC: There’s been no interim coach bounce for USC after the firing of Clay Helton. The Trojans lost 42-26 to Utah to drop to 3-3 on the season. USC was 1-1 when Helton was fired and Donte Williams was named the interim coach after a Week 2 loss to Stanford. The four games since have included wins over Washington State and Colorado — two of the worst teams in the Pac-12 — and double-digit losses to Oregon State and the Utes. USC was penalized nine times on Saturday and gave up 306 passing yards to Utah QB Cameron Rising as the Utes got their first win ever at the Coliseum. We’ll see if USC can figure things out during its off week ahead of a trip to Notre Dame on Oct. 23.

Nebraska: Scott Frost and the Huskers were so close to that signature win. Instead, Nebraska lost a 32-29 heartbreaker to No. 9 Michigan. Nebraska rallied back from an early deficit but just could not hold on to the lead. And when the Huskers had the chance to drive down the field and win the game, QB Adrian Martinez fumbled to set up the winning field goal for Michigan. Now 3-4, the Huskers are in danger of missing a bowl game yet again. 

West Virginia: Neal Brown’s tenure at West Virginia is not going according to plan. The Mountaineers are now 2-4 and 0-3 in the Big 12 after a 45-20 loss at Baylor that wasn’t even that close. The Mountaineers allowed over 500 yards to the Bears as Gerry Bohanan threw for 336 yards and four TDs on 18 completions and Tyquan Thornton had eight catches for 187 yards.

Oregon State: The Beavers entered Saturday as the only team in the Pac-12 North without a conference loss. They now leave Week 6 among everyone else without a 0 in the loss column after a 31-24 loss at Washington State. Oregon State came back to tie the game at 24-24 with 11:15 to go, but Washington State went on a 12-play, 75-yard drive for the game-winning score with 5:25 to go.

Texas Tech: A week after winning at West Virginia to move to 4-1, Texas Tech once again gave up a ton of points to an in-state rival. The Red Raiders lost 52-31 at home on Saturday to TCU after the Horned Frogs took a 35-10 halftime lead. TCU ran the ball 47 times for 394 yards as Kendre Miller had 12 carries for 185 yards and Zach Evans had 17 carries for 143 yards. They combined for five touchdowns. After allowing 70 points to Texas two weeks ago, Tech has given up 121 points in its two losses.

San Jose State: San Jose State won the Mountain West in 2020, but that level of play has not carried into 2021. The Spartans are now 3-3 after a 32-14 loss at Colorado State on Saturday. San Jose State was missing QB Nick Starkel and had just 267 yards of total offense. Colorado State scored in each quarter and at one point led 32-7. San Jose State has alternated wins and losses so far this season, so maybe that’s a good omen ahead of an Oct. 15 game at home against No. 25 San Diego State.

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