National Champions of the Week: Cincinnati
As if there was any other choice. Doing something for the first time in school history is the fastest way to earn this spot, and No. 7 Cincinnati's 24-13 triumph at No. 9 Notre Dame was the program's first road victory over an AP top-10 team, ever. In their 24th try. On the most hallowed artificial turf in college football. And they did it on their terms.
Cincinnati arrived in South Bend as the higher-ranked, favored team -- and played like it. The Bearcats were 2.5-point favorites, and once they opened the scoring at the 12:09 mark of the second quarter, there was never a moment where Cincinnati was not covering.
The Bearcats intercepted Jack Coan at the goal line on the game's opening series, then picked backup Tyler Buchner at the Irish 27 and returned it to the 8. Desmond Ridder capitalized with a 1-yard touchdown toss to Leonard Taylor to put the visitors up 7-0.
Cincinnati led 17-0 at the half, but the Irish climbed back within 17-13 with 8:05 to play. Ridder led the Bearcats 75 yards in six plays, running in for the clinching score from six yards out with 5:08 to play.
Never had a Cincinnati team won on the road over a top-10 opponent. Never has a Group of 5 team had a clearer path to the College Football Playoff. "Desmond got in front of the team afterwards and said, 'It's another step in our chances to win a championship and nothing besides that,'" Luke Fickell said.
The social media team had a lot to say as well.
-- Michigan: For snapping a 5-game losing streak at Camp Randall.
-- Nevada: For winning in Boise for the second time since 1997.
-- Stanford: For rallying back from the dead to beat No. 3 Oregon in overtime.
-- Auburn: For winning at LSU for the first time since 1999.
-- Florida State, Navy, Ohio: For winning, period.
Offensive Staff of the Week: Tennessee
There was never any doubt Josh Heupel would put up points, and we saw the evidence in his first SEC victory.
Tennessee's first quarter alone saw 28 points and 225 yards on 14 snaps. Two scores came on 1-play drives: a 92-yard burst by Tiyon Evans, and a 1-yard Evans plunge after a near pick-six by the Vols defense.
Tennessee scored touchdowns on its first six touches and scored, period, on all but one drive -- and was stopped at the goal line on that one scoreless drive.
The Vols' 62-24 win saw UT rack up 683 yards and 35 first downs on 78 plays (8.76 a play). Hendon Hooker completed 15-of-19 passes for 225 yards with three touchdowns while rushing 15 times for 80 yards and a score. Evans carried 15 times for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Overall, Tennessee ran for 458 yards on 7.8 per carry -- more than half what the Big Orange rushed for in their first four games combined and their first time topping 400 in an SEC game since 1994.
"Some really, really positive things today," Heupel said. "The ability to run the football, the ability to stretch the field vertically, to be accurate and consistent, to be good on the few third downs that we had, but I said this to the players: This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we are capable of. There's a whole lot more for us in our growth."
-- Nebraska: For dropping 56 on Northwestern.
-- Oklahoma: For scoring on seven of eight possessions against Kansas State.
-- Georgia Southern: For putting 59 on Arkansas State.
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Brad White, Kentucky
Kentucky won the game because they won the game within the game.
After beginning at their own 38, Florida enjoyed a 1st-and-goal at Kentucky's 9-yard line. With 2:29 remaining, the Gators had ample time to send the game to overtime or, if Dan Mullen was so bold, to win the game with a 2-point conversion.
First down was a run for a loss of a yard. Second down was a run for five yards. After a false start, Florida snapped from the 10 when Emory Jones was chased and threw incomplete, but a would-be 4th-and-goal at the 10 turned into a 1st-and-goal at the 5 when defensive lineman Tre'vonn Rybka was flagged for grabbing Jones' face mask while giving chase -- the type of effort play you can't rip his head off for but makes you still want to do so nonetheless.
With the clock now at 41 seconds, Florida needed five yards and now had evaporated any reasonable chance Kentucky had of mounting a response. Only, UK wouldn't need one. First down went backward four yards. A second false start pushed the Gators back further, to the 14. Jones ran for three yards on second down, forcing a Florida timeout. A 3-yard toss on third down forced another Florida timeout with 22 seconds left. Suddenly Florida faced 4th-and-the game from the 8, and Jones fired incomplete to Trent Whittemore.
In seven snaps beginning at the Kentucky 9, Florida was given five yards via a Kentucky penalty but still managed to gain only one yard.
"I thought Brad and the defense played unbelievably hard," Mark Stoops said. "We mixed it up. We went zero a couple plays in a row when we had to. We held up in coverage. We got pressure. We played some zone. We mixed things up. It's one heck of a stop."
Of course, Kentucky had to play well in the 58 minutes preceding that goal line sequence to even be in position to beat the 11th-ranked team in the country. Florida arrived in Lexington with the third-ranked rushing offense in the country with 322.5 yards per game on 7.46 a carry. Kentucky limited them to 171 yards on 4.4 a pop. Jones managed only 203 yards on 31 passes, and the Gators did not reach the end zone after their second possession. The Wildcats won the game despite their offense mustering only 224 yards. A 76-yard return of a blocked field goal turned a 13-7 Florida lead into a 13-10 Kentucky edge.
The win was Kentucky's second over Florida in 31 tries, its first in Lexington since 1986, and pushed the Wildcats to 5-0 on the season.
-- Georgia: For shutting out Arkansas
-- Alabama: For shutting out Ole Miss when it mattered
-- Penn State: For shutting out Indiana
The Super 16. This week's FWAA-NFF Super 16 ballot.
5. Penn State
8. Ohio State
11. Michigan State
13. Ole Miss
14. Coastal Carolina