Ten Things - Week Six
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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It’s inevitable, but never a welcomed sight. Coaches get fired. Players get injured. It’s all part of the game. This weekend saw some of the worst in college football, but also some of the best. Rivalries are won by the underdog. Unheralded recruits turn into formidable weapons for their team. Any football fan knows the joy of victory as well as the agony of defeat, and the highs and lows of the college football world likewise toss us about like driftwood out at sea. But the season marches on, and so do we as we take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the week that was…
- – It’s inevitable at some point before the season ends that schools begin to move toward a future without their head coach. Now, Southern Cal, Maryland, and North Texas are now in that position. For North Texas, it’s in the wake of their demoralizing 66-7 loss to Portland State (an FCS team). Maryland seemed to finally tire of former coach Randy Edsell, so much so that OC Mike Locksley has been named interim head coach. You may remember Locksley from his 2-26 record coaching New Mexico. USC, on the other hand, finally decided to part ways with Steve Sarkesian due in no small part to substance abuse. Here’s hoping Sark gets the help he needs and can land on his feet. Meanwhile, this is sure to be the first of many more coaching changes in the weeks to come (looking at you, David Beaty…one season may be all Kansas gives you).
- – Continuing the theme of coaching replacements, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the sudden resignation of the Ole Ball Coach himself – Steve Spurrier. A man of many talents, Spurrier was one of the most entertaining coaches in all of football when he was winning. He won a Heisman as the quarterback of the Gators, an ACC title at Duke (at DUKE!), and coached a Heisman trophy winner (Danny Wuerffel) to a national championship in 1996. After a brief stint in the NFL, he returned to the SEC and has coached South Carolina to their best run in school history (three 11-win seasons from 2011-13). He retires with more coaching wins at both Florida and South Carolina, an accolade no other coach of the last 30 years can claim. It won’t be the same without ya, coach. Enjoy that lifetime membership at Augusta National.
- – Just when the Charlie Strong era seemed to be coming to an end, the Longhorns did what they tend to do in a down year while facing a top ten Oklahoma Sooners team - they win. In a season that has seen its fair share of devastating close losses, special teams gaffes, and a 50-7 beat down at the hands of TCU, the Longhorns find themselves in the position to right the ship and save their coach’s job. Right now, Texas is 1-2 in conference with no ranked teams left on the schedule until the season finale at Baylor. It’s a stretch to say that the Longhorns will legitimately challenge for the conference championship, but a 7-win season isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
- – Not much change in the top half this week
Ohio State – The Buckeyes haven’t been very dominant this year. Well let’s be honest – they’ve had times when they were downright awful. But putting up almost half a hundred on anyone (even Maryland) and utilizing coach Urban Meyer’s old 1-2 punch of quarterbacks seems to have them on the right track once again. If the momentum continues through an improved Penn State this weekend, it could very well continue through the playoff selection.
LSU – Another day, another 200-yard game for Tigers running back Leonard Fournette. The Tigers continue to overpower opponents, most recently South Carolina to the tune of 45-24. At this point, LSU may be the only team capable of beating LSU. That is, if they can adjust from planning for Grier this week to new and more mobile Florida QB Treon Harris.
Utah – The Utes fought off the upset bug in notching previously undefeated Cal 30-24. In a league where the home team is just 5-11 in conference games, any home win is better than a loss (just ask USC and Oregon). Previously with a suspect pass defense, Utah snagged five interceptions (doubling Cal’s season total) from a top ten passing attack. Also, that week 1 win over Michigan doesn’t look too shabby as the season wears on.
Baylor – There are really a handful of teams that could go in this spot, but the Bears are one of the few teams in the nation who have thoroughly pummeled overmatched opposition. Every other team in consideration has simply played too close. Baylor has an easy schedule, sure, but the Big Twelve is as deep as any other conference. If they keep playing at their current level, it would take a momentous upset to beat them.
- – Here’s where things get interesting. All four of these teams are just as good, but have just a little more to prove.
Clemson – Well, it’s probably safe to retire the “Clemsoning” term. The Georgia Tech game just looked like the perfect trap game that would’ve taken down a lesser team. This year, though, coach Dabo has his team ready. Walloping the Yellow Jackets by three touchdowns shows that Clemson may just reclaim the ACC for the first time since 2013.
Michigan – It was really tough leaving the Wolverines out of the top four, especially after a third straight shutout (the first time in 20 years a team has done that). Of course, this could all change if the Wolverines take a step back this weekend.
TCU – There really is no reason that the Horned Frogs should be undefeated right now. With the injuries sustained on the defensive side of the ball, there could easily be two or three losses. But credit coach Gary Patterson for developing the depth needed to compete and pull out wins. If this keeps up, they’ll have a shot to replace Baylor in the top four spots.
Texas A&M – The Aggies have been on the radar since an opening week thumping of Arizona State. With a defense that is among the best in the SEC, they have another opportunity to make waves this week in hosting Alabama. Like it or not, the Tide is the standard and A&M will not win the West without first beating Alabama.
- – It’s hard to imagine that Oregon was so thin at the quarterback position, especially before getting Vernon Adams Jr as a graduate transfer. But just two weeks after the most lopsided loss in more than ten years, the Ducks fell at home to Washington State. Even in two overtime periods, Oregon was just outlasted by the Cougars (previously winless in the past nine attempts against Oregon). It’s hard to believe that in January, Oregon was playing for a national title. Now, it be lucky to play a bowl game.
- – While the defense is arguably the strength of the team (the Eagles have not allowed a touchdown the past two games), the offense is downright pitiful. Boston College ranks outside #110 in total offense, passing offense, and scoring offense. Take away the games against Maine and Howard to start the season, and the Eagles have scored just 24 points in four games. With a road trip to Clemson this week, that number’s not likely to go up. And in year three, coach Steve Addazio might not see a fourth without turning things around and making a bowl game.
- – From a gangly freshman to a redshirt junior marksmen, Lynch has guided the Memphis Tigers to their best start in years. To put their 5-0 start into perspective, the three years prior to Lynch stepping on campus the Tigers had won a combined seven games. Between this season and last, they’ve won 15. While attempting fewer passes than all but six quarterbacks in the top 50, Lynch is #14 in yards per game at 307 and is averaging two touchdowns a game. In a weekend (and the ensuing fallout) that seems so dreary, unless your team won of course, this dark horse Heisman candidate is a ray of sunshine. And we’ll get to see how bright he shines this weekend, when Memphis hosts Ole Miss.
- – The East is a mess. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier suddenly retired. Georgia has lost starting running Back Nick Chubbs to the most gruesome injury of the season (if you haven’t seen it already, don’t), and it happened on the first play of a losing effort against Tennessee. Missouri, the two time defending division champs, are now 1-2 in conference play after getting owned at home by Florida. And speaking of the Gators, standout quarterback Will Grier has been suspended for the rest of the season and some of next year for testing positive for PED’s. The winner of Tennessee and Kentucky on Halloween might determine who wins the division. The West will become clearer after this coming week (see #10).
- – Of course, UCLA at Stanford is Thursday night. But here are the best games to watch come Saturday…
#10 Alabama at #9 Texas A&M – The Aggies rested this past week to get ready for the Tide. Last time Bama came to town, they left winning a 49-42 thriller. This time, the Aggies hope to come out on top. Both teams have a strong defense, but Alabama has been inconsistent with the ball. Nick Saban has more wins against top ten teams than any other sitting coach (18), and will add another by Saturday. The Tide rolls, 24-17.
#7 Michigan State at #12 Michigan – This is really a tale of two teams. The Spartans started high and have been utterly unimpressive, while the Wolverines started as an afterthought and have done enough to start getting playoff buzz. Playing this game in Ann Arbor doesn’t bode well for Sparty, and neither does the fact that Michigan has allowed just 14 points in the past five games combined. Connor Cook will have to be at his best, but it still won’t be enough. Michigan wins, 27-10.
#8 Florida at #6 LSU – This one lost some luster after Grier was suspended, but it’s not like the Gators will fall apart. LSU is still basically one dimensional on offense, though Leonard Fournette is probably the best single dimension they could have. If the Gators can chomp him enough to limit his production, then LSU quarterback Brandon Harris will be forced to win the game with his arm. Quite frankly, I don’t see either one of those things happening, and the Tigers prove to be simply too tough at home. Florida falls, 20-13.
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