College football Week 6 winners, losers, overreactions: Backup QBs fall flat, Tennessee poised to stun Alabama – CBS Sports
A backup quarterback being forced to enter the starting role can rarely be considered an ideal scenario, reserves in the SEC getting their shot served as the perfect example on Saturday. Alabama backup quarterback Jalen Milroe, for example, committed three turnovers to barely escape unranked Texas A&M 24-20 on the final play of the game as he filled in for the injured reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young.
In fact, out of the seven SEC games Saturday, five featured losing efforts by backup quarterbacks – including Haynes King at Texas A&M. Easily the most frustrating was No. 13 Kentucky‘s loss to South Carolina with Kaiya Sheron in the lineup in place of Will Levis as the Wildcats posted fewer than 300 total yards. Arkansas mustered just 17 points with Malik Hornsby against No. 23 Mississippi State. Auburn got rocked 42-10 against No. 2 Georgia behind Robby Ashford.
Oh, and by the way, we can include Oklahoma quarterback Davis Beville on the list. With Dillon Gabriel injured, Beville threw for just 38 yards in a 49-0 Red River Showdown loss against Texas. The Sooners aren’t in the SEC yet, but their quarterback issues deserve the biggest stage, too.
The transfer portal has made building and maintaining quarterback depth harder than ever, and nowhere more than the SEC where rosters are perhaps more transient than anywhere in college football. However, the teams that are able to find consistency at that position in the event of injuries or adversity will be best prepared. Right now, too few teams have a good enough plan to survive.
Here are more winners, losers and overreactions from Week 6 of the college football season.
UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson: It might have taken five full years, but DTR is finally hitting the highs people expected when he committed to Westwood as a near-five-star recruit. Thompson-Robinson topped his four-touchdown effort against Washington with an even bigger five-touchdown performance in a 42-32 win over No. 11 Utah. The Utes were preseason favorites in the Pac-12 and seen as a potential playoff contender. Instead, the Bruins ensure that the Pac-12 will go through Los Angeles. Additional shoutout to running back Zach Charbonnet for his 198-yard performance and a touchdown against a physical Utah defense.
TCU: It took some heroics at the end against No. 19 Kansas, but the Horned Frogs moved to 5-0 and captured first place in the Big 12 after a 38-31 victory. After a few rough games, projected first-round wide receiver Quentin Johnston exploded for 206 yards and a touchdown in a tight win. TCU has not won more than six regular season games in five years, but Sonny Dykes already has the Frogs at five not even halfway through the season. The schedule only gets more difficult, but Dykes deserves credit for immediately finding a way to put his roster in the best position possible early and often.
Texas QB Quinn Ewers: It turns out the hype was real. After having a great first quarter against Alabama, Ewers followed it up with 289 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma in the 49-0 blowout. The game looked shockingly easy for Ewers, and he sidestepped pressure like it wasn’t even there. There will be tougher matchups, but Ewers proved once again that he is the whole package. The Longhorns are a completely different team with him in the lineup.
Washington: The one-time darling of the Pac-12 has painfully fallen back to earth after dropping 45-38 against Arizona State, which previously had zero FBS victories. Star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was held without a touchdown and threw his third interception in two games. Washington’s two losses were both by one score, but it’s hard to imagine the Huskies retaining the credibility they built over the first few weeks of the year. Wins over Michigan State and Stanford look less impressive than ever.
BYU: The Cougars have been regressing each week since beating Baylor in Week 2, but a 28-20 loss to Notre Dame officially shuts the door on any serious national consideration. BYU quarterback Jaren Hall was surprisingly pedestrian with just 120 yards passing, but allowing 234 yards rushing on more than 5 yards per carry was especially disappointing. The Cougars can still have a strong year, but falling to 1-2 against their power opponents with Arkansas on the schedule next week feels like a disappointment in BYU’s final independent season.
Oklahoma is the Big 12’s worst team: Missing Gabriel matters, but the passing game didn’t give up more than 140 points and 1,700 yards over the past three weeks. Even when Gabriel was healthy, the offense was limited and predictable. After a 49-0 loss to Texas — the worst in the history of the Red River Showdown — the Sooners are deservedly in the Big 12’s cellar.
Granted, West Virginia will give the Sooners a run for their money, but where else will wins come? Kansas and Oklahoma State are ranked. Baylor likely will be again soon. Iowa State and Texas Tech don’t have the wins but have given every opponent hell in close games. Oklahoma won’t finish with zero Big 12 wins, but the fact that we’re even having this conversation is proof of just how much things have atrophied under Brent Venables.
Tennessee can beat Alabama: The last time Tennessee beat Alabama was 2006, the year before Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Needless to say, the Crimson Tide have had the Vols’ number over the past 15 years, including losses by an average of 27 points per game since 2018 — when ex-coach Jeremy Pruitt took over the program.
But after watching these two teams play, it’s impossible to completely dispel the idea that No. 1 Alabama is vulnerable. Tennessee picked up yet another quality win by crushing No. 25 LSU 40-13 with Cedric Tillman in the lineup. Alabama nearly gave up the game against a struggling Texas A&M squad thanks to major lapses on both sides of the ball.
There’s always a chance that Alabama’s athletes step up to the challenge and beat Tennessee’s receivers in man coverage. But if Young is at all limited, Hendon Hooker is good enough to take over this game.