The recap of the college football weekend! Grab your WCE shirts for the season here.
I’m writing this week’s recap from Starkville, MS. I’m here for my daughter’s first gymnastics meet. How insane that we have to pay oodles of money for her to compete in these things (thousands of dollars in gym uniforms, training, equipment, coaching fees, etc), and then we still get charged money to come into the competitions. And there’s like 10 of them. How are the kids supposed to make it to the competition if the parents don’t bring them? Anyway, enough rambling. It’s just remarkable how much money kids’ extracurricular activities cost these days.
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Let’s start with my Top 10, and then go more in depth into some of the more interesting topics.
Gary’s Top 10
- Penn St
- Washington St.
- Ohio St
Alabama got a tougher than expected test at Texas A&M. The final score was 27-19, but A&M scored with :17 left in the 4th quarter. After going up 24-3, and the game looking like it was about to get ugly, A&M’s Kellen Mond made some big Johnny Football-esque plays that got A&M fans and players believing, and Bama didn’t execute as well down the stretch, but they did enough to eek out the win. Clemson did the same thing – they sleepwalked through Wake Forest for a 28-14 win, and now their QB, Kelly Bryant appears to be injured, but we’re not sure how far. Either way, neither of these teams will be beaten en route to the college football playoff.
Georgia went about their business, as expected, in Nashville with a 45-14 win over Vanderbilt. They’ll be undefeated when they take on Auburn later in November. Penn St hammered Northwestern in Chicago by that same score, and Washington St got a huge 33-10 victory to break the USC-hangover curse (teams were 0-14 against the spread the last 14 times anyone has beaten a ranked USC team since 2001), and they, along with Washington, look like the class of the PAC 12.
TCU did what they had to in a 31-24 win at home against West Virginia, and with Oklahoma losing at home to Iowa St yesterday, things could get really crazy in the Big 12. This team has flaws, but they’ve handled every test they’ve gotten so far. Washington smoked Cal 38-7, and haven’t really faced any semblance of a good team yet. Miami went on the road and won in Tallahassee 24-20 after losing the last 7 straight to Florida St. Their matchup with Virginia Tech will be for the division in the ACC to see who gets to play Clemson in the ACC Championship game.
Wisconsin was in a tight game with Nebraska for a little while, but ran away with it. With Michigan showing their true colors in a 14-10 home loss to Michigan St, we won’t really know how good Wisconsin is until the Big 10 Championship game in December. And finally, wrapping up the top 10, Ohio St appears to have corrected things after losing at home in Week 2 to Oklahoma. They’ve been absolutely demolishing teams, but they’re beating up on teams that don’t have near the talent they do. When Penn St comes to town later this month, we’ll see where both teams truly stand.
There are really only about 15 teams that should even be ranked right now, so I’m curious what the Top 25 is going to look like when they come out later today.
SEC Power Rankings
4. Texas A&M
6. South Carolina
7. Miss St
14. Ole Miss
The SEC is a 3 team race. I don’t see anyone beating Auburn, other than Georgia and Alabama. I don’t see anyone beating Georgia except for Auburn, and I don’t see anyone beating Alabama other than Auburn. In the SEC Championship game, it’s going to be either Alabama or Auburn vs Georgia. You can go ahead and take that to the bank.
Texas A&M showed that they’ve got the talent to win every game left on their schedule, other than the Auburn game, but they host Auburn, so that one could end up tighter than you would think.
Kentucky squeaked out a win over Missouri last night, so their only loss on the season so far is a 1 point last second loss to Florida. Kentucky’s the most experienced team in the conference, and they’ve already beaten South Carolina, so I would expect a 7-5 or 8-4 season from them. South Carolina smoked Arkansas last night, and Will Muschamp has gotten things turned around since losing Debo Samuel. Bret Bielema’s seat just continues getting warmer and warmer… after losing by 4 touchdowns at South Carolina, they now get to go on the road to Tuscaloosa, where Alabama will be looking to get things back on track after a closer than expected win at Texas A&M.
Miss St had a bye week, but they’re staying above LSU right now, even after LSU’s win over Florida, which came by way of a missed Florida extra point. Florida moves below LSU because, hey… you play with fire too much (close games), you’re going to eventually get burned. Florida should have beaten that team, but Franks is simply not a good quarterback.
After Florida, everybody else is pretty awful. Vanderbilt is well coached, but they just don’t have the talent. Arkansas makes too many mistakes to be able to stay in most ballgames. Tennessee, Missouri, and Ole Miss are already counting down to when the season is over.
After Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa St, can the Big 12 make the playoff?
TCU handled West Virginia to stay undefeated on the season. But they have to travel to Norman, OK and face the Sooners in November… and just because Oklahoma lost to Iowa St doesn’t mean they won’t beat TCU. And if they do, there’s no telling who’s going to make it to the Big 12 Championship Game.
If nobody in the Big 12 goes undefeated, is this conference good enough, after the Oklahoma win over Ohio St earlier this year, to make the playoff?
TCU’s non-conference schedule is laughable, and their 28-7 win at Arkansas isn’t going to look any better after the Razorbacks got beat at South Carolina and still have to play Auburn, Alabama, and a slew of other SEC teams.
Oklahoma St’s toughest non-conference game was a horrible Pitt team, and they lost at home to TCU, so the only way they could make up for that is getting a win over them in the Big 12 Championship game. And Oklahoma’s loss at Iowa St (with a backup qb) is just inexcusable.
The Big 12 really hurt themselves this weekend.
Florida got too used to close games, and LSU took advantage
There was no coach in the country that needed a win Saturday worse than Ed Orgeron. Florida started slow, and once they turned it on, they still made too many mistakes to be able to get a win over a pretty average LSU team in the Swamp on Saturday.
This is just another example of a one-possession game under Jim McElwain, only this one ended up not going their way. This was only the 2nd loss at home for the Gators since Mac took over, but that span has included an overtime win over an awful Florida Atlantic team, 2 last second 63 yard touchdown wins against Tennessee, a last second field goal in 2015 over Vanderbilt, etc. How it took this long to finally get them is beyond me.
Feliepe Franks may be the future at QB for the Gators, but he is dreadful right now, and the Gators have no semblance of an offense without even a mediocre passing game. They just have no way to stretch the field against decent teams, and Franks makes awful decisions. There were multiple points in yesterday’s game where Florida should have taken over, and they shot themselves in the foot time and time again.
So how long will it be until the fans completely and totally turn on Mac? I get that he’s down 10+ players right now (9 due to suspension, and Luke Del Rio out with an injury, etc), but these are the kinds of games that he has to be able to win. Honestly, he turned around Colorado St quicker than he’s building Florida, and there’s just no excuse for that.
Things are about to heat up soon. Georgia is going to absolutely boat race this team, and I think Texas A&M may actually win in the Swamp this coming weekend. What happens if Florida opens this season 3-4 before they even go on the road to South Carolina or face a Florida St team that may be 1-3, but still looks light years better than this Gators team.
Fans’ hatred of Butch Jones is getting crazy
The Knoxville Police Department had come out and debunk a rampant rumor, that had grown a little out of control, about Butch Jones getting a DUI.
But this lets you know exactly how bad it’s gotten in Knoxville with Jones. His approval level has gotten to the point that it’s lower than Derek Dooley’s ever has been.
Even if he turns it around this year, it’s just a matter of time before he’ll be gone. Why? Because once you lose the fanbase, you don’t ever really get them back. You can turn it around for a season or two, but as soon as things get bad again, you’re on the outs.
Fan support is already dropping… it’s only going to get worse. Butch will have to be moved this year.
Complacency is the biggest foe for Clemson & Alabama
Clemson, 2 weeks ago, was in a 7-7 game with Boston College in the 4th quarter. Then they went on the road to Virginia Tech, and everyone crowned them a National Championship game participant. This week, they came back home, went up 28-0, and then allowed 2 touchdowns in the last 8:32 of the game to make the final seem like the game was closer.
Alabama had beaten Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined score of 125-3 over the last 2 games, and when Bama scored 24 unanswered at Texas A&M through the first drive of the 3rd quarter, it appeared that the rout was on… until it wasn’t. Alabama threw 3 straight passes to Robert Foster after Calvin Ridley went out with a thigh bruise, and Jalen Hurts missed him deep, then Foster dropped a pass that hit him in the hands, and then he caught a pass… and fumbled it for the Tide’s first turnover since the Auburn game last season (this would have been 9 straight games without a turnover – Alabama has turned teams over 13 times this season to only 1 turnover themselves).
After the turnover, it took some Johnny Football-esque plays from Kellen Mond to get A&M points, but the plays happened, and Alabama went completely vanilla with their offense. Only 3 players got carries, there were only 13 completed passes, and, even still, the game was, in truth, never in doubt, but the Tide didn’t seem to handle their first adversity of the season very well.
Looking at the remaining schedules, at least until conference championships, the only possible blips on the radar for Clemson and Alabama are games at NC State and at Auburn.
So who can really compete with Alabama and Clemson?
Complacency and injuries. And that’s about it. These teams need games like this to keep them on their toes. I would expect Alabama to come out and hammer Arkansas next week, and Clemson to smash Syracuse on the road. Pay attention to the lines… Vegas will realize these were just blips. The lines will still be massive.
Jim Harbaugh can’t figure this rivalry thing out
Some coaches put too much of an emphasis on rivalry games. They end up defining who that coach actually is. Harbaugh is good against other teams… and is awful against Michigan St and Ohio St.
After last night’s loss to Sparty inside the Big House, Harbaugh is now 1-4 against Michigan St and Ohio St. The only win was over a 3-9 Michigan St last season. he’s 0-2 at home against Michigan St, and he’s 0-2 against Ohio St overall.
In all of his other games at Michigan, he’s 23-3, with the only losses coming in a touchdown loss in his first game at Utah, a one point loss at Iowa last year, and a one point loss to Florida St in the Orange Bowl last season. Other than that, it’s Dantonio and Meyer that have owned him.
So how do you get over the hump on rivalry games?
You stop putting importance on them. These games are no different than any other game on the schedule. Yes, they may mean more to the fans, but they can’t mean more to the players. Every game has to mean the same thing. There were a number of factors that went into the Wolverines losing last night (pouring rain, starting qb out, etc), but they’re all just excuses when you lose.
At the end of the day, you are what your record says you are. And the record says Harbaugh hasn’t gotten over the Sparty/Buckeye hump.
…which is what he was hired to do.
Hot seat update
Butch Jones (Tennessee)
- The fanbase has completely turned on Butch Jones, and it happened in less than a full calendar year. Last season, after a hail mary win over Georgia to improve to 5-0 (with close wins against
Bret Bielema (Arkansas)
- Bielema and the Razorbacks were blown out by a mediocre South Carolina team without their biggest offensive weapon. His SEC record is now 10-24 since coming to the school… and they play at Alabama this week before hosting Auburn. That record is about to be 10-26. That’s with LSU and Miss St still on the schedule. Jeff Long doesn’t want to fire Bielema because the buyout is absolutely monstrous right now… but if Bielema moved somewhere else, might they drop the buyout a little bit to let him move? I could see that happening.
Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M)
- Sumlin appears to have righted the ship a bit at A&M after a close loss to seemingly invincible Alabama. If he wins in Gainesville this coming weekend, and his only other loss this season is at home to Auburn, he could end up surviving this season. His team has the talent and the schedule to be able to make it work. Now he just has to figure out how to win in November.
Brian Kelly (Notre Dame)
- Notre Dame’s only loss this season was to Georgia by 1 point. They’ve stomped everyone else on the schedule, including a 3 TD win at Michigan St (who just went and beat Michigan in Ann Arbor)… but they still have Miami, NC State, Stanford, and USC left on the schedule. Kelly’s season was never going to be defined in the first 6 weeks. It’s what happens after that will define
Jim Mora (UCLA)
- UCLA was off this week, but a loss at Memphis and a loss at Stanford don’t look so bad right now. This team has no defense whatsoever, but as long as Josh Rosen is the QB, they’ve got a chance to win every game. They had a bye week this week, so all is well with the Bruins.
Ed Orgeron (LSU)
- Coach O and his Tigers lost at home to Troy last week, and followed that up by beating Florida in the Swamp for only the 2nd time in Jim McElwain’s tenure. Orgeron has already tried to mess with Matt Canada’s offense, and the AD has had a come-to-Jesus meeting with the coach, OC, and DC already… I can’t imagine things get a lot better than this.
Jim McElwain (Florida)
- Offense is terrible, and they just lost to an LSU team that was beaten at home by Troy the week before. Mac can’t find a qb… it’s only a matter of time before the Gator faithful turn on him. I know, I know… “but he’s won the East 2 years in a row!” That doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to. Florida should be better than this.
Barry Odom (Missouri)
- Give Odom and his bunch credit… they’ve been blown out by Purdue, Auburn, etc, but they turned things around a little bit in a close loss at Kentucky. I don’t think they have the pieces to actually win games right now, but they’re playing hard for their coach, and that’s definitely a start. Odom HAS to figure out how to shore up his defense. He’s only in year 2 so he should be safe for now… but there’s not much of a buyout here. The problem will be finding anybody that wants to walk into that dumpster fire and take over as coach.
Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech)
- Coach Handsome knew the pressure was on to win this year, and, after a close loss to Oklahoma St, followed by a blowout win of Kansas, they’re in the Coaches poll at #24. Things are looking good right now, and, don’t look now, but there’s actually signs of a defense. There’s a lot of season left to play, but that win at Houston could go a long way.
Todd Graham (Arizona St)
- Todd Graham has had some bad years, but an upset win over Oregon, and a close loss at Stanford have shown that this team has some fight in them. Ariz St brass doesn’t want to change coaches if they don’t have to, so look for Graham to hang on for a little bit.
Remaining undefeated Power 5 teams
- Washington St
- Penn St
Through 6 weeks of the season, there’s only 9 undefeated teams left with a chance at the playoff. Next week, we’ll start breaking down which one-loss teams have the best chance, cause there’s a ton of those.