Scully's NCAAF takeaways: Texas A&M on the rise

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October 13th, 2020

The top three teams in the nation — Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia — combined to post 149 points last week, and No. 4 Florida was the only ranked team to lose in Week 6.

A marquee matchup will take place this weekend, when Georgia travels Alabama to play Saturday night.

Here are my top three takeaways from Week 6 of the 2020 college football season.

Texas A&M gets much-needed win for Jimbo

The storm clouds surrounding Jimbo Fisher lifted in Week 6, as Texas A&M defeated Florida, 41-38. The Aggies, who signed Fisher to a guaranteed 10-year, $75 million deal prior to the 2018 season, recorded their first victory over a top-five team since they joined the SEC in 2012.

Fisher had been 0-7 against top-five teams at Texas A&M. And there was cause for concern in College Station, after the Aggies were blown out, 52-14, by Alabama in Week 5.

Quarterback Kellen Mond avoided critical mistakes in a career-best effort, with 338 passing yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The fourth-year starter became the program’s all-time leading passer with the effort.

Isaiah Spiller played a significant role to chew up Florida’s defense, with 27 carries for 174 yards. Spiller was especially key in the second half, as Texas A&M rallied from a 28-17 third-quarter deficit, and it may prove to be a breakout performance from the highly regarded sophomore.

The upset win may serve as a catalyst for the young and talented team. The SEC West is down this year, and the Aggies have played the toughest games on their schedule the last two weeks. A&M should be favored in at least six of its seven remaining games, with a Nov. 14 visit to Tennessee the most daunting challenge.

Red River slugfest

The 116th edition of the Red River Showdown featured plenty of scoring, as Oklahoma edged Texas, 53-45, in four overtimes. It was the most combined points in series history.

However, the scoreboard paints a misleading picture of an epic offensive showdown. It turned out to be a mistake-filled grinder, with six combined turnovers and a heavy dose of the ground game from Oklahoma.

Lincoln Riley pulled quarterback Spencer Rattler after a pair of first-half turnovers. It was 17-17 at halftime, mostly because of turnovers. Rattler returned for the second half, but he wasn’t asked to do much until the overtime sessions, as the Sooners ran for 208 yards on 55 carries.

Defense continues to be a weakness for Texas, which trailed, 31-17, after three quarters, and the offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Sam Ehlinger, as Oklahoma recorded six sacks and seven quarterback hurries.

Ehlinger completed only 56% of his passes and tossed a pair of interceptions. Oklahoma shut down Texas' running backs, but Ehlinger was able to do damage with his legs. He scrambled for several key first downs on the final two drives of regulation, as Texas rallied to send the game to overtime. The fourth-year quarterback finished with 112 rushing yards.

Oklahoma was in control most of the fourth quarter and up by 14 with less than five minutes remaining, but no lead is safe with its defense. Texas marched 84 yards in 1:18 to even the game with seconds left on the clock.

It wasn’t pretty, but Oklahoma eventually pulled out a much-needed win to improve to 2-2 this season.

Air raid goes south for Leach

Mike Leach was the toast of Starkville, Mississippi, following a 44-34 victory at LSU, but "the Pirate" was left searching for answers against Kentucky in Week 5, which resulted in a 24-2 Mississippi State loss.

Leach was held without an offensive score for the first time in his 18 seasons as a head coach.

Arkansas snapped a 20-game SEC losing streak with a 21-14 victory over Mississippi State the previous week, and Kentucky forced six interceptions in a dominant defensive performance.

K.J. Costello, who threw for an SEC record 623 yards and five touchdowns against LSU, was thoroughly flustered, as Kentucky was effective with a three-man pass rush and dropped eight players into zone pass defense.

Costello was benched after he tossed four interceptions, but freshman Will Rogers failed to provide a spark and added two more. The Bulldogs played well defensively and held Kentucky to 157 total yards, but that provided no solace to Leach.

"We're going to have to check some of our group and figure out who really wants to play here, because any malcontents — we're going to have to purge a couple of those," the distressed coach said after the game.

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