One of the frequent, correct critiques of the way college football is covered is that too much focus is placed upon the race for the national championship. One hundred thirty teams compete in FBS with 130 goals for their respective seasons, and only a handful involve the Playoff.
As such, each week we'll crown our National Champion of the week, coordinators of the week, and hand out awards to that week's standouts.
National Champions of the Week: UCLA
One of Chip Kelly's favorite allegories is that of bamboo. Water it in its first year, nothing happens. Second year, nothing happens. Third year, nothing. And then in its fourth year, that same bamboo will shoot up 90 feet in six weeks.
Kelly is in his fourth season at UCLA, but for the first time in a long time it felt like ol' Chipper was back in his Bruins' 38-27 upset of No. 16 LSU. After a sluggish start offensively -- all but two of UCLA's first half drives traveled less than 30 yards -- the Bruins landed haymaker after haymaker on a defenseless LSU in the second half. In fact, the only second half UCLA possession that didn't dent the scoreboard ended in a kneel down.
The key play of the game was a 19-yard completion from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to tight end Greg Dulcich on 3rd-and-14 at the LSU 20 with 12:40 to play in the fourth quarter. The Bruins converted the third down, and one play later pushed the lead to 31-20 and LSU never got within one score again.
Like his vintage Oregon offenses, Kelly dissected LSU in the running game and sprinkled the passing game around it. Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown combined for 213 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. Thompson-Robinson hoisted just 16 passes, but those 16 attempts resulted in 260 yards and three touchdowns.
Beyond all that, UCLA football seemed alive again for the first time in years. In a conference where really USC played to its paper this weekend, why can't UCLA compete for the Pac-12 title in 2021? This program hasn't had so much as a winning season since 2015, but this Bruin bamboo may be ready to cover all of the West Coast.
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Mike Yurcich, Penn State
No. 19 Penn State's offense was about as bad as it gets in the first half in Madison. Five of its six possessions went three-and-out, and four of those five went a maximum of one yard.
And then the second half began. Sean Clifford popped the bubble on Wisconsin's defense with a 49-yard bomb to Jahan Dotson to break a scoreless tie. Penn State's next drive hit a 52-yard strike to KeAndre Lambert-Smith, even though it ended in missed field goal it still saw the Nittany Lions travel 86 yards.
Penn State went 61 yards to equal the game at 10-10 with 11:26 left in the fourth quarter, then won the game with a 5-play, 68-yard touchdown drive, keyed by a 42-yard connection from Clifford to Dotson.
"We knew we had to get the ball on the perimeter, whether that was outside zone or with the bubble (screens), which essentially are our run game," James Franklin said afterward. "The explosive plays down the field were big."
After scoring zero points and gaining all of 38 yards in the first half, Penn State posted 16 points with 259 yards after halftime to earn a hard-fought 16-10 win over the 12th-ranked Badgers.
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Dan Lanning, Georgia
There were many deserving candidates this week -- Kentucky and Buffalo each held their opponents below 100 yards of offense; Iowa returned two picks for scores in a blowout of No. 17 Indiana; Montana limited No. 20 Washington to seven points in an upset. But the award has to go to Lanning's unit, who scored the only touchdown in No. 5 Georgia's 10-3 defeat of No. 3 Clemson.
Without Christopher Smith's 74-yard pick six, the Bulldogs and Tigers might still be fruitlessly trying to break a 3-3 stalemate in Charlotte.
Georgia's seven sacks were one shy of a school record and contributed to Clemson's rushing output of two (2!!) yards. Clemson's 180 yards were its fewest since a Nov. 26, 2011 loss to South Carolina, and the three points were the lowest output since Dabo Swinney took over.
So dominant was Georgia's defense that it seemed to change the outlook of Clemson's remaining season.
"They might be heavily favored (to win the ACC) but I don’t think it’s just ‘throw your helmet out on the field’ kind of year for Clemson with this offense," Kirk Herbstreit said during the game. "I think there’s going to be some games, especially when they go on the road where this offensive line with this young quarterback, who’s got a tremendous upside, still trying to find a running back … could be anywhere. This offensive line right now with this offense? I know Georgia’s great, but I don’t know man."
The Steve Jobs Award for Innovation: This goes to LSU's Max Johnson, who invented a new way to throw a pass on Saturday night.
The man threw a pass with his eyes looking toward the opposite end zone.
Bill Russell Award for best performance by a player-coach: We had one candidate for this award this week and it went to South Carolina's Zeb Noland, a GA who coached himself to completing 13-of-22 passes for 151 yards and four touchdowns in a 46-0 blowout of Eastern Illinois.
Nationwide Insurance "Life comes at you fast" Moment of the Week: This belongs to Jeff Traylor leading UTSA to a 37-30 victory over Illinois.
The Super 16. Our ballots aren't due until Tuesday but here's how I'd hand mine in as of today.
3. Ohio State
4. Texas A&M
6. Notre Dame
9. Iowa State
12. Penn State