Week 6 is coming up, which means the first half of the regular season is almost over. In golf terms, Weeks 5 through 7 are like the Amen Corner of college football, where you’re halfway through but the toughest matchups begin. Let’s look at what top Northeast teams exceeded expectations, and which teams didn’t.
No. 11 Penn State hands Northwestern another loss, 17-7
Northwestern has not won since Week 0’s thrilling win over Nebraska, and they weren’t going to win on Saturday as Penn State entered the top 10 following their 17-7 win in Happy Valley. It was pouring in State College, but that didn’t faze defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, who stopped Northwestern quarterback Ryan Hilinski before the end zone in the fourth quarter. That removed any remaining momentum for the Wildcats, as Penn State’s defense was the difference-maker. The Nittany Lions’ defense forced three turnovers, setting the offense up to score 14 points. Despite James Franklin’s team playing sloppy, they prevailed with a 10-point win. Penn State has this week off, which gives the players rest and time to prepare for a huge matchup against Michigan.
Georgia Tech shocks No. 24 Pittsburgh, 26-21
In his coaching debut, Brent Key had a tough challenge with a road game against Pittsburgh. However, Georgia Tech prevailed with a great defensive performance and a strong running game. The defending ACC champions had three turnovers, and Hassan Hall rushed for 157 yards. It’s the second loss for the Panthers this season, as they previously lost to Tennessee during Week 2. Gavin Stewart had four field goals, two set up by linebacker Charlie Thomas, who forced two of Pitt’s three turnovers. Kedon Slovis put the Panthers within one possession with 1:57 as he passed to Jaden Bradley in the end zone. When the Yellow Jackets got the ball back, Hassan Hall rushed for 63 yards on the first play to put his team in field goal position. Quarterback Jeff Sims threw a touchdown shortly after that. A very late Pitt touchdown gave them hope, but the Panthers could not recover the onside kick. As a 22-point home favorite, the Panthers are out of the AP Top 25. They’ll look to bounce back as they host Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Syracuse demolishes Wagner, 59-0
It’s safe to say that running back Sean Tucker was pleased with his performance in the Orange’s rout over northeast opponent Wagner, who fell to 0-4 on the season. Tucker rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, including a 60-yard touchdown run. Syracuse enters Week 6 ranked for the first time since Week 2 of the 2019 season. Quarterback Garrett Shrader shined as well, passing for 238 yards and three total touchdowns. He was a perfect passer on Saturday, going 17-for-17. The offense was so dominant, freshman running back LeQuint Allen rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown on four carries, including a 90-yard run. Darian Chestnut added another touchdown on a pick-six. Wagner faces crosstown rival Columbia on Saturday, while Syracuse has their bye week. The Orange will face top-15 ranked NC State in the JMA Wireless Dome for Week 7.
Eastern Michigan gets past UMass, 20-13
UMass drops to 1-4 as they blew a 13-0 lead early in the third quarter. On two of the first three offensive drives of the third quarter, Eastern Michigan scored a touchdown, which gave the Eagles the lead 14-13. Every UMass drive for the rest of the game (after the second EMU touchdown), besides the ten-play turnover on downs by UMass on their final drive, was either a three-and-out or an interception. The only bright spot in the Minutemen’s offense was quarterback Gino Campiotti’s performance on the ground. He played like a running back, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Even though the defense got two interceptions and one fumble recovery, it wasn’t enough to stop the Eagles. UMass will host Liberty on Saturday afternoon.
Boston College edges Louisville, 34-33
Boston College gets a rare win as quarterback Phil Jurkovec had a great day. He passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns, but he had some minor mistakes that could’ve been major. He threw for one interception, fumbled twice, and gave Louisville the ball back with one second remaining as he kneeled too early in victory formation. Had Louisville not lost quarterback Malik Cunningham, the Cardinals would have handled the Eagles, but Boston College caught a break. Running back Alex Broome ran for 83 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, but the top target for Jurkovec was wide receiver Zay Flowers. Along with an unbelievable 57-yard touchdown reception, he finished the day with five receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. It’s the Battle for the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy next for the Eagles, as they host No. 5 Clemson.