Stock Up/Stock Down: C.J. Stroud Vaults Into Heisman Contention, Alabama Picks Up Unranked Loss, Spencer Rattler Gets Benched

By Griffin Strom on October 12, 2021 at 8:35 am
Ryan Day & C.J. Stroud
Joshua A. Bickel – Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK

Week 6 was a wild one.

From an unranked team knocking off the nation’s No. 1 to a furious fourth quarter comeback in the Red River Rivalry, college football proved once again to be predictably unpredictable.

Despite said turmoil, it was smooth sailing for the Buckeyes this week, as their 66-17 win over Maryland may have been even more impressive than their 52-13 rout of Rutgers the week prior.

All of that goes into consideration in our weekly stock report, where we break down who is trending up and who is trending down as many teams are already halfway through their regular season schedule.

Stock Up

C.J. Stroud's Heisman hopes

What a difference a few weeks can make.

A segment of the Buckeye fan base was ready to give up on Stroud after his subpar showing against Tulsa, but after two bounceback performances – which is probably underselling it – Stroud has vaulted himself into legitimate Heisman contention.

In the past two weeks, Stroud has thrown for 736 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions while completing better than 70 percent of his throws. Against Rutgers and Maryland, Stroud has now done something that his predecessor Justin Fields never did at Ohio State; throw for more than 330 yards in back-to-back games, and have two-straight performances with five touchdown passes.

Stroud is now very much in the mix to make a run at the Heisman, especially now that Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ole Miss QB Matt Corral have both suffered losses through the first six weeks.

Ohio State's pick-six streak

At this point, you can pretty much pencil in an interception returned for a touchdown in every Ohio State game for the rest of time.

The Silver Bullets struck again Saturday when Craig Young’s 70-yard trip to the end zone gave the Buckeyes their fourth pick-six in as many games this season. Somehow the returns themselves keep getting longer for the Buckeyes, who have now taken back picks for 23, 46, 61 and 70-yard touchdowns in recent weeks.

The Buckeyes had no interceptions at all in the first two games of the season, but they’ve racked up nine in the last four games alone, with at least two in each of those matchups.

Michigan State's skill players

The Buckeyes’ Nov. 20 meeting with Michigan State keeps getting a bit more daunting week by week.

Now up to No. 10 in the country, the program’s highest peak in the AP Poll since 2016, the Spartans have a couple of players in particular to thank for their 31-13 win over Rutgers this past weekend.

With a 94-yard touchdown Saturday, Kenneth Walker tallied his second 200-yard rushing performance of the season against the Scarlet Knights, finishing with 233 on 29 carries. The Wake Forest transfer is a Heisman contender in his own right and already has 913 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

But Walker may not have even had the most impressive performance of any single player in that game. Spartan wideout Jalen Nailor finished with 221 receiving yards on just five carries, with two 63-yard touchdown catches and another 65-yarder on the way to gaining the fourth-most receiving yards ever in a game by an MSU player.

Michigan State is 6-0 for the first time since 2015, and the Spartans no longer look like the pushover that Ohio State has had no trouble rolling over in recent years.


Just two undefeated teams remain in the SEC. No. 1 Georgia, of course, and – checks notes – Kentucky?!

Even with conference wins over Missouri and South Carolina in the first month of the season, no one was all that moved by a 4-0 start for the Wildcats. However, Mark Stoops and company have now beaten then-No. 10 Florida and LSU in consecutive weeks, with a three-touchdown margin of victory in the latter contest.

Kentucky is now up to No. 11 in the AP Poll, with its first 6-0 start since 1950. The Wildcats are tied for pole position in the SEC East, and they’ll get a chance to upset top-ranked Georgia on the road this upcoming weekend.

Close calls & tight finishes

What big game didn’t go down to the wire this week?

In a No. 3 vs. No. 4 matchup, Iowa survived its meeting with Penn State by a three-point margin in a 23-20 ballgame. Top-ranked Alabama was bested by a last-second field goal in College Station, and Oklahoma managed to stay undefeated with a 25-point fourth quarter that gave the Sooners a 55-48 edge over Texas.

Michigan survived a scare of its own with a 32-29 win over Nebraska that required a late comeback, and Notre Dame-Virginia finished with the exact same score in a slim margin of victory for the Fighting Irish.

Ole Miss stopped Arkansas on a two-point conversion to win a 52-51 matchup between ranked opponents, and Wake Forest stayed undefeated with a 40-37 overtime win over Syracuse in the ACC.

Madness ensued in all corners of the college football landscape Saturday, and – depending on your allegiance – fans got the benefit.

Stock Down


The only four teams to appear in the last three national championship games have now all lost at least one game through the first six weeks.

LSU (which we’ll get to later) wasn’t much of a surprise, but who would’ve thought Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State would all have losses in the first half of the regular season?

The Crimson Tide is the latest to suffer a setback, as Nick Saban and company failed to complete a comeback against Texas A&M on Saturday. The Aggies gave Bryce Young fits with their pass rush, and even a 28-point second half by Alabama was not enough to secure the final edge in the 41-38 loss.

Spencer Rattler

This isn’t the first time Spencer Rattler has appeared on this list, but it might actually be the last if Caleb Williams did enough to secure the QB1 job in Norman.

The preseason Heisman favorite had already been booed at home this season for his underwhelming efforts, but Rattler was benched against Texas in favor of Williams, a five-star true freshman. The move was effective, as the Sooners went from down 21 in the first quarter to up seven by the time the clocks hit zero at the end of the game, and Williams finished with 300 total yards and three touchdowns.

Not only is Rattler no longer in the Heisman race this season, he might be out of a starting job entirely.

Ed Orgeron

Things have gone bad in a hurry in Baton Rouge.

After a 2019 season that was about as perfect as perfect gets, the fairytale has quickly turned into a nightmare for Ed Orgeron, whose LSU team is now just 8-8 since winning the national championship two seasons ago.

The Tigers lost their season opener to UCLA, and have now lost back-to-back games against Auburn and Kentucky, with a 42-21 blowout loss in the most recent defeat. With little hope of an immediate turnaround, not to mention matchups with Florida, Ole Miss and Alabama next up on the schedule, Orgeron’s seat seems awfully hot in the Bayou at the moment.

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