In the second part of my conversation with Daniel Shirley, we look at the highlights of an intriguing Week 5 and preview an fascinating Week 6 which includes two key SEC showdowns and the hugely anticipated Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma.
What were your highlights of Week 5?
No.13 LSU 49–55 No.20 Ole Miss
This was my game of the week.
Ole Miss could still challenge in the SEC. They have a really sensational offence. Lane Kiffin is one of my favourite coaches. I just love his character. There's a cheekiness about him that I really like and he knows how to develop players. I highlighted players to watch at the start of the season and talked about Brock Bowers, Caleb Williams and the usual suspects. Quinshon Judkins was one that I looked at and while he's struggled to get going this season, he ran for 177 yards against LSU and two total touchdowns. He is just a sensational player.
Jaxson Dart was impressive under center, throwing for 389 yards and four touchdowns.
"No defense in that game, no defense whatsoever. That was all offence. Ole Miss got the one stop that it needed. I'm watching that game, just on the edge of my seat and I don't care who wins. It was an exciting game for sure."
"Throw him (Quinshon Judkins) the ball out of the backfield too, he's an absolute weapon. And you're right, Ole Miss has got Bama and Georgia on its schedule. I know they have a loss, but they're one of those teams that if they could win out, they've got the offense to stay with anybody and they definitely could still be in. They could win the SEC West, they could go to the Playoff. I know we talked about personality with Deion Sanders, Lane (Kiffin) is as big a personality as anybody. Some people might get tired of it. I don't. I think he's fun. Sometimes he's going to get smacked around and Alabama smacked him around the week before, but they are always entertaining."
No.1 Georgia 27-20 Auburn
Brock Bowers was the star of the show with a couple of highlight-reel one-handed catches as Georgia rallied in the second half at Auburn. The Bulldogs' tight end had eight receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown, while Carson Beck threw for 318 yards.
"I was impressed that Georgia won that game. You hear golfers say it all the time. I don't have my A game. I thought Georgia had, like, its D game and still won right. So that impressed me a lot."
On Brock Bowers...
"He's a talent. Seth Emerson, who writes for us, says he's the best player in the country right now. He's probably he's not going to win the Heisman because he's a tight end, but… he put Georgia on his back in the second half of that game and went and won that game for them. I was really impressed and not surprised because he's done it before. But he is a talented young guy, for sure.
He could stay another year if he wants to. I can't imagine he's with Georgia next year. I think he'll go in the Draft. But look, youlook in the NFL and see look at Travis Kelce, how important he is to Kansas City, George Kittle, how important he is to the 49ers, Brock Bowers is going to be one of those guys and somebody's going to draft him 9th or 10th probably in the NFL Draft, and we're going to, five years from now, say, how was he drafted behind eight other players, right?
He's going to be a special guy in the NFL, there's no doubt about that."
No.8 USC 48-41 Colorado.
Caleb Williams and Shedeur Sanders showed why they are two of the best quarterbacks in college football in this Pac-12 showdown between No.8 USC and Colorado in Boulder. Williams threw for six touchdowns and 403 yards while Sanders racked up five total touchdowns and 371 passing yards.
Omarion Miller had seven receptions and 196 yards for the Buffaloes, who bounced back after their humbling by Oregon. USC's offense is frightening. Unfortunately, so is their defense for different reasons, and could be the reason they fall short in their push to get to the College Football Playoff.
"It was pretty much a shootout."
No.24 Kansas 14-40 No.3 Texas
No.24 Kansas were one of the teams of last season and won the Big 12. I was impressed with how No.3 Texas dealt with them. After a shaky start they just flew past them in the fourth quarter. Longhorns back Jonathon Brooks is starting to fill the void left by Bijan Robinson and ran for an impressive 217 yards on an impressive 10.8 yards per carry. Quinn Ewers passed for 325 yards but was also dangerous on the ground, running in two scores and adding 40 yards rushing.
"Texas looked really good. Jalen Daniels didn't play for Kansas, but Texas took care of business and wasn't overlooking Kansas to Oklahoma. I thought you could really see that Texas was focused on getting the job done, so I was impressed by them as well."
Alabama and USC...
"Alabama impressed me because Alabama looks like it's back on track. USC, I know they won, but there's some problems there still with USC that have to get figured out."
Looking ahead to Week 6
Daniel describes how he is covering Week 6...
"For this week, we're doing three different live blogs. We're doing one on the Oklahoma-Texas game where all our coverage will go on that game. In that blog, we're doing one on Alabama and (Texas) A&M, and then one on Georgia and Kentucky. Oklahoma-Texas is noon, Alabama - A&M is at 3.30, and then Georgia - Kentucky is at 7.00."
No.3 Texas vs. No.12 Oklahoma.
The Red River Rivalry is back, with one of the most anticipated showdowns between the two in recent years. I don't think this will be a repeat of last year's 49-0 to Texas. They're both coming in with 5-0 records and Oklahoma seem reborn. Texas could be the real deal this year. You have two very talented quarterbacks running high powered offences.
Quinn Ewers has lost weight. He's in better shape. He's lost his mullet, which I’m a little bit sad about, but it seems to have sort of turned him into a real athlete. He had two running touchdowns at the weekend, which you couldn't see him doing last year.
What's Daniel's thoughts on this particular game?
“I think Texas right now is the best team in the country, I do. I like what I've seen from Oklahoma, and I'm a big fan of Brent Venables. He was at Clemson. My son Ben got to work with him for several years when Brent was the defense coordinator as a student manager. Ben's a student manager still there, so I'm a big fan of Brent. He treated my son really well.
Bruce Feldman wrote a story for us at The Athletic this week . Is Texas “back”? Maybe not back, but they're interesting, whatever they are. I like Quinn Ewers. I like what Steve Sarkisian has done with that team. I really like their offensive line. So look, I don't think it'll be what it was last year, but I think Texas will find a way to and I think Texas is going to the playoff. I didn't believe that going into the start of the season, they weren't one of my four teams that I would have picked."
On Quinn Ewers:
"He just seems more focused, doesn't he? I don't know if professional is the word you want to use, but business like, and 'this is what I've got to do to be a great quarterback'. And that's okay. You don't expect many guys show up as a freshman and have all that stuff. There's not many. It took him a little bit to figure it out. Now he's a great, great quarterback."
No.20 Kentucky @ No.1 Georgia
"Look, it's hard for me to say Georgia is going to lose to Kentucky. Seth Emerson points this out. Kentucky is built just like, you know, run first defense, and it's kind of hard to beat Georgia at its own game. But I think there's something about this Kentucky team this year. I think Kentucky is going to win this game. It's hard for me to even believe, wow, that I'm saying that. And Georgia probably will go win by 40 now that I have.
I think Georgia has been living on borrowed time a little bit. The South Carolina game where they really were bad in the first half. They came out second half and looked like a capital G in the second half. But last week against Auburn, Auburn just ran up and down the field with the running game and that's Kentucky's specialty. So I know the game is in Athens, but it just feels like we're looking at that first really big upset of the season coming up Saturday night in Athens.
I can't believe I'm even saying it because I live here. There's just something about this game that feels really dangerous."
No.11 Alabama @ Texas A&M
Alabama travel to College Station to play Texas A&M. I asked Daniel what he makes of Texas A&M, because they've disappointed in recent seasons, and asked him how he thinks this game is going to pan out...
"Yeah, it's hard to say because A&M looked so bad against Miami. And then you just kind of write them off, oh, they're terrible, they're not any good, they're going to miss a bowl game again. But they've bounced back and now Connor Weigman's out. They're going to have to go to Max Johnson at quarterback. They look like they've kind of responded to some adversity. Their defense was terrible against Miami, but they're playing better. But I think Alabama has found something, I really do. The defense has played better these last couple of weeks. Jalen Monroe has played well. So I think Alabama wins at A&M.
Look, Jalen Milroe didn't play great against Texas, but they didn't play great as a unit, the offensive line wasn't good. The receivers weren't great, they were okay. We saw at South Florida that those other two guys aren't ready to be the starter and Jalen Milroe is going to be the guy. It sounds like that team has rallied around him. 'If he's our guy, let's go win games with him'. So I've been impressed with him for sure. I think they're going to be a really dangerous team the rest of the season.
You can doubt Nick Saban at your own peril. I'm not going to. All the people who say Nick Saban is done and Alabama is done, you're never going to hear that come out of my mouth because I'm not going to believe that until he retires."