Sep 30

Ten Things - Week Five

Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL  Tags: Top 25, college football

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If this past week had a name, I suppose you could call it “Near Miss Saturday." Several ranked teams found themselves in precarious positions as late as overtime, yet did what the best teams do – they won.  And with this weekend, so ends the first full month of college football. Some teams are hoping to punch their ticket to the inaugural playoff while others are looking for a new coach. And while October offers a wide array of litmus tests, September provided no shortage of excitement.  So with that said, let’s look to the end of the beginning, the final week of September, to the memorable Ten Things…
1. Player Safety Concerns Resurface – Few things attract the ire of college football fans like unnecessary injuries. And with all the woeful results Michigan has produced (three losses in September for the first time ever, national worst turnover margin, etc), a chorus of boos descended from the stands as Wolverine QB Shane Morris was so shaken by a blow to the head he needed help standing from his teammates yet was left in the game.  Granted a coach is not a medical professional, but the timing couldn’t be worse for head coach Brady Hoke.  And, to no one’s surprise, it was announced earlier this week that Morris has a concussion.  Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for that young man and an equally speedy repair to the “serious lack of communication” that allowed him to remain on the field.
2. Seminoles Escape – It’s common knowledge that the wins this year aren’t coming as easy for Florida State as they did last year.  Following close calls against Oklahoma State and Clemson earlier in the season, the Seminoles found themselves in a 24-7 at the end of the first quarter. Battling back in the midst of a tough NC State team (as well as committing four turnovers), Florida State did not take their first lead until the waning minutes of the third quarter.  As it turns out, it was a lead they would not relinquish en route to a 56-41 victory – their first in Raleigh since 2008.
3. Hogs Get Roasted – As surprising as it was to see Florida State struggle, it was even more of a shock to see the scoreboard at halftime of Arkansas and Texas A&M read 21-14 in favor of the Razorbacks.  It was as though the Aggies had met their match on both sides of the ball. But as the second half played out, a 14-point lead dwindled to a tie ballgame then an overtime loss as the Hogs just couldn’t keep up. Arkansas is on their way up, but a rebuilding project in the toughest division in the country won’t reflect well in the “W” column.
4. Playoff Four – Not much change, especially since half of last week was on a bye and the other half had big come from behind wins
Oklahoma – The Sooners enjoyed a bye week between last week’s trip to Morgantown (and a 45-33 win over the Mountaineers) and this week’s trip to Ft Worth to tango with #25 TCU. Not much to say about the Sooners, as they are still the most complete team in America right now.
Texas A&M – No longer resting on their laurels, the Aggies overcame a 14-point deficit away from College Station against a clock-eating, power running Arkansas team.  While it’s true that the Razorbacks haven’t won a conference game in 15 tires, this isn’t the same team as last year.  It’s a testament to A&M’s determination that they were able to maintain focus and stay in the game.  Credit to QB Kenny Hill, who threw two long fourth quarter touchdown passes to tie the game at 28, and add the eventual game winner in overtime.  Not too shabby.


Oregon – Another team that took a week to rest. The Ducks get a short week before hosting Arizona this Thursday night and hope to avenge last season’s 42-16 thumping in Tucson. If they can, then they can enjoy the extra preparation for #8 UCLA next week.  If not, they can say goodbye to this spot on the short list and look forward to a four game streak that includes the Bruins, tricky games against Washington and at California, then against Stanford.


Florida State – The score can be deceiving, except it’s not.  The Seminoles really did let an NC State team whose best win was at South Florida (who is 2-3) score 41 points.  The supposedly stacked defense let Wolfpack QB Jacoby Brissett have his way for most of the game. Their own offense stalled early and finished the game with four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions by a certain reigning Heisman Trophy quarterback.  As far as undefeated teams go, Florida State is probably in the bottom half over all.  But as hard as it is to repeat after a national title, winning really is all they need to do.


5. Trending Up: Quotable Coaches – This week, When asked about who will start at quarterback against Auburn, LSU coach Les Miles answered like only he can – “It stands to reason that [Harris] would get first snaps in the next game”.  He was, of course, referring to freshman Brandon Harris taking over for Anthony Jennings after Jennings had a 2-for-5, 2 INT outing against New Mexico.  In relief, Harris went 11-for-14 with three TD’s and zero INT’s.  Across the country, the West Coast version of Miles (Mike Leach) had this to say about online dating: “Conversations won’t happen 10 years from now.  There aren’t going to be people to talk to…So we’re all going to look in this box and eventually be extinct.  That’s how it ends”.  Never change, guys.


6. Trending Down: SEC Haters – I know it’s easy to hate the SEC, or more specifically the favoritism shown to the SEC by the media.  But have you seen this week’s lineup of games?  There are six games featuring two ranked teams; half of them are SEC teams.  In those three games, the teams combine for one loss (LSU to Miss St).  So if you’re not a fan of the SEC, what do you do? If they all end in upsets, then you have a bunch of one loss SEC teams muddling around and potentially even more sneaking into the Top 25.  If the top teams win out, the conference still dominates the Top 10.  It’s not a good week to hate the SEC.  So what do you do?  Enjoy the games.  ALL of them.


7. Oregon’s New Uniforms – I know, I know.  I’m shocked, too.  But it’s true.  The Oregon Ducks have gone outside the box of their typical green/yellow/black/silver/neon color palette to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness.  Sadly, I cannot link you to them.  But Google it and see for yourself.  It’s truly the best uniform you’ll ever see that has pink in the color scheme.  Kudos to Oregon, kudos to Nike, and shout-out to the breast cancer survivors everywhere.


8. Feel Good Story: In the wake of a certain stomping incident, it’s good to get this kind of story to tilt the balance.  Mississippi State’s Preston Smith is one of the most improved defensive lineman in the conference – if not the country.  It started in the Liberty Bowl last year, where he finished with a game high six tackles and the defensive MVP award in a 44-7 win over Rice.  This year, the senior has tallied 14 tackles (five for a loss), three sacks, a pair of blocked field goals and interceptions, a forced fumble, and a touchdown.  Some who projected him as a late round pick at best last year are saying if he keeps this production up it’s not a question of if, but when, he will get drafted.  What sparked the change?  Smith says the early morning before the bowl game last year, he received a call at 2 a.m. and heard his daughter as she cried her first cries of life. He credits his success on the field to his renewed sense of focus off the field. A college student becoming a dad is sadly uncommon, but that same college student accepting the role of a father is a rare trait these days.


9. SEC Roundup – While the West continues to show that its teams belong in the upper crust of the country, the East division continues to eat itself from within.  Division leader Georgia surrendered its grasp when it lost to South Carolina in Week 3.  Well, the Gamecocks passed the baton to Missouri, who is the last remaining East team undefeated in conference play. Provided they don’t screw the pooch, the East champion could very well be the same team that lost to Indiana.  At home.  Meanwhile the West is setting up for its most anticipated weekend of the season after finishing some leftover cupcakes.  This week will see some separation within the division as all six teams that are ranked play each other.


10. Three To See:


#6 Texas A&M at #12 Miss St – The Bulldogs enjoyed a bye week after dismantling (and then barely escaping) LSU.  Meanwhile the Aggies found out just how resilient they can be in a hard fought win against Arkansas.  This looks to be a high scoring affair, since both teams have much better offenses than defenses.  But both have shown they can make key stops when necessary. Both teams have solid wins already, but home field advantage plays a big part.  Cowbells win 31-28


#3 Alabama at #11 Ole Miss – The emphasis on this game cannot be greater for Hugh Freeze and his team.  This “rivalry” has been very one-sided in recent years, with Alabama winning by double digits since 2009 and winning all the games since Eli Manning was in the Grove in 2003.  Remember last year when Bo Wallace said the Rebels could put points up on anybody?  Yeah that ended with a 25-0 loss.  This week, safety Cody Prewitt poked the bear saying that Alabama isn’t as good as they used to be.  Strong words that will not be baked up.  The Tide rolls to a 41-20 win.


#15 Stanford at #9 Notre Dame – Utah messed up a potential trifecta of games with undefeated teams, but this annual rivalry looks to be as good as ever.  Irish QB Everett Golson is playing better than he ever has.  Stanford has a defense that is playing as well as it ever has.  This is one of those games where whoever makes the fewest mistakes will take home the win.  The Cardinal is a narrow favorite even as the visitor, but the home team will have a little surprise.  Touchdown Jesus oversees a 21-17 win

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