This is undoubtedly the most uneventful College Football Saturday in recent memory. But hey, we've seen plenty of intriguing developments at the glamour position: quarterback. So without further ado, I present my quarterback-heavy observations from today's late-afternoon games:
• Let's start with the bad. One week after a statement victory at Georgia, No. 2 Alabama looked completely flat in a 17-14 win over Kentucky. And nobody was guiltier than Tide QB John Parker Wilson. Granted, some of the blame should be placed on 'Bama's hyped offensive line, which allowed three sacks, but Wilson struggled through his most inefficient game of season. The senior finished just 7-of-17 for 106 yards and he was intercepted once. It's no secret Alabama's offense revolves around the ground game this season -- as evidenced by Glen Coffee's 218 rushing yards today -- but Wilson must establish more of an aerial presence. If he doesn't, Nick Saban's offense becomes extremely one-dimensional and, inherently, flat.
OK, that's enough of the bad ...
• Michigan Stadium has hosted a countless number of amazing offensive playmakers over the last eight decades, but none as dynamic as Illinois' Juice Williams (at least in a single game). In Illinois' 45-20 win, Williams threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns and ran for an additional 121 yards and two scores. That adds up to 431 yards of total offense -- a Big House record. Williams showed flashes of greatness in his first two seasons, but consistency was always an issue. As a junior, though, Williams has made enormous strides in his decision-making and passing touch.
A dual-threat quarterback going nuts on Michigan -- is Lloyd Carr back?
• Jimmy Clausen gave us a taste of his potential in last week's win over Purdue. Today he provided a full meal. Notre Dame's sophomore signal-caller threw for a career-high 347 yards and three touchdown passes in Notre Dame's 28-21 win over Stanford. (The game was more one-sided than the final score indicates; the Irish led 28-7 in the fourth quarter.) Clausen's growth is unquestionably linked to the emergence of true freshman wideout Michael Floyd, who caught five balls for 115 yards and a touchdown. We've heard a lot about Georgia's A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones, but Floyd has been every bit as productive as his fellow frosh receivers.
• Well, Cal has a new quarterback -- in the form of its old quarterback.
Kevin Riley started the first four games of the season for the Golden Bears, completing 57 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and one interception. But in last week's 42-7 defeat of Colorado State, Riley was outperformed by Nate Longshore, Cal's starter in 2006 and '07. Jeff Tedford gave Longshore the starting nod today, and the senior guided Cal to a 24-14 win over Arizona State. Playing without top offensive weapon Jahvid Best at his side, Longshore tossed three touchdown passes (and one interception). Conversely, Riley didn't log a single snap.
So did we see an official changing of the guard? Is this Longshore's team for good or will Riley re-enter the picture the next time Longshore slips up? Tedford's handling of this situation going forward will most likely define Cal's season. Nobody likes a flip-flopper -- especially when it comes to quarterbacks.
• Steve Spurrier finally got the quarterback performance he's been waiting for all season. Chris Smelley, who regained South Carolina's starting job earlier this week, went 22-of-32 for 325 yards, three TDs and one INT in a much-needed 31-24 win at Ole Miss.
• Moving onto the video game portion of this quarterbacking take ... Graham Harrell piled up 454 passing yards and six touchdown passes -- connecting with 10 different receivers! -- in Texas Tech's 58-28 shellacking of Kansas State in Manhattan. Harrell zoomed past Kliff Kingsbury to become the Red Raiders' career leader in passing yards (12,709).