Just another ho-hum week in the college football world.
One of the marquee games in West Virginia and NC State get canceled while we are unfortunate to miss out on Virginia Tech as well as others thanks to Hurricane Florence. But of course, life trumps sports and I pray for all those who were affected by the disaster.
But this week, which had some good match-ups, many didn’t think it was going to be an overall brow-raising week. Oops. It got crazy and pretty fast. We saw a few upsets. We saw a few great games. We saw teams establish themselves further out from the pack. We saw conferences having issues. And we have a lot to talk about for the next coming week as conference play starts to rev up.
TOP 5 WINNERS
(1) LSU: I always liken the LSU/Auburn game as that motivation game that carries the winner to near the top of the rankings until they see Alabama. And how LSU won that game in the 4th was impressive. Honestly, I thought they should have done better than what they did after seeing that game. They had some big plays that really went a long way. And they got Auburn at the very end in a very tough road environment. Now LSU’s defense is pretty strong and if the offense can be consistent for four quarters, it will be very interesting as while not only they do host Alabama they host Georgia as well before. They will need to sharpen that offense before those teams come to Baton Rouge, but they never quit yesterday and I applaud them.
(2) OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes had some adversity going during the game including being down by 8 in the 2nd half before really cranking it up on both sides. Urban Meyer will come back to the sidelines next week against Temple before they travel to Penn State in two weeks. So things are according to plan. The offense is stellar and one that teams will have to figure out how to slow down. TCU had it figured out for pretty much 3 quarters before it fell apart on them. This team just has too much talent on the offensive side to be contained to this point.
(3) ALABAMA: “Bama will probably win but Ole Miss will put up points on that inexperienced secondary.” And after the first ten seconds of the game that looked like it was the case. And then the next 59:50 of the game, Alabama threw a shutout on Ole Miss. And the offense remained the juggernaut, scoring 55 (the other 7 was a pick six) and just making the Rebels defense look incredibly lousy. I think Bama answered a question if their defense has issues with inexperience, at least for one week.
(4) OKLAHOMA: The Sooners defense looked human after the first two weeks of having a great start, but remember, it was their first road trip and it was to Iowa State, where as we saw last year, will put up a fight with Oklahoma. They took the Sooners best punches and kept coming after them. But I think Oklahoma answered the bell. Kyler Murray is actually on the same pace as Baker Mayfield was this time after 3 games last year. And he looked very impressive and played very smart. And given how Iowa State gets up for the Sooners, I will give the defense a pass as some of the catches the Cyclones made had to be spot on.
(5) OKLAHOMA STATE: Boise State came in thinking of beating the Cowboys in Stillwater. Nope. Oklahoma State rocked it out on Boise State Saturday. Now, do they have the defense to stop the likes of Oklahoma or TCU? Who knows, but this was a big win for a team that in the past year or two have not gotten those big wins, home or road. And this was a big win.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, Texas (feels like I’m putting college basketball teams on here), Washington
TOP 5 LOSERS
(1) WISCONSIN: I said it a few times before the season started that I didn’t get the “Wisconsin is a National Championship Contender” drive like others. I felt like Alex Hornibrook is not a guy that a team should rely on with his arm. They only brought back 5 starting defensive players from last year’s team and the schedule looked tougher than previous years (Michigan, Penn State both on road; though the Big Ten West is a giant mess right now). I did have the Badgers to beat BYU this week, but the reasons why I listed Wisconsin wouldn’t be a serious threat for the national championship reared its ugly head. Hornibrook threw some baffling passes, the defense got ran over by BYU, and the Cougars matched Wisconsin’s physicality. And that has been a thing too. Wisconsin plays physical but often when a team counter-punches, they don’t know what to do. Now the Badgers could take a loss and still run the table, but I don’t see it happening.
(2) AUBURN: Auburn’s situation is “well, they lost to LSU at home, but Auburn lost to LSU last year and nearly made the playoff.” Yeah. True. However, Auburn’s road schedule is murder with Mississippi State, Georgia, and Alabama. They couldn’t afford any slip-ups before those games. This was a win that was desperately needed. The run game remains in question and if the Tigers can’t protect Jarrett Stidham, they are in massive trouble on the offensive side of the ball. The defense somewhat had a bad break in giving up that big touchdown in the 4th quarter as it was placed perfectly, but they had a few times of giving up too many big 3rd down passes. That has to improve.
(3) BOISE STATE: Boise State hoped to crash the party like they always try to do for a run at a Playoff or whatnot. But every year they have that one game that dooms them. This time around it was Oklahoma State as it was needed for any hope of a playoff resume. And they failed in Stillwater.
(4) PAC-12 SOUTH (EXCEPT COLORADO): Arizona State and USC were ranked. And took road losses. Arizona State after having that huge win over Michigan State last week, had no answers for San Diego State’s run game and made some questionable decisions this week after a near-flawless game last week. USC has a lot of problems on the offense and really got embarrassed by Texas. Utah lost to Washington, which there is no shame in that, but they had numerous chances to take advantage in that game. Arizona finally got off the snide, but for a while that wasn’t a lock against Southern Utah. And UCLA is in massive trouble with their third non-conference loss. On the bright side: Colorado is 3-0.
(5) REST OF THE BIG TEN WEST (EXCEPT IOWA AND MINNESOTA): The Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers have started off 3-0, but the conference games have not started. But hey, they’ve avoided those trap losses like the rest of their conference. We know about Wisconsin’s embarrassing loss. But Northwestern lost to Akron, who won their first game against a Big Ten school in 124 years (not joking). Illinois lost to USF for the second straight year. Nebraska lost to Troy thus giving some sour taste for Scott Frost (2nd straight year Nebraska lost to a non-power 5 team), Purdue falls to 0-3 though their loss to Missouri wasn’t horrid, but still a loss. Really the Big Ten in a nutshell has been off a good bit as Penn State could have lost to App State to start the year, Michigan State could easily be 0-2 right now, Maryland losing to Temple badly at home, and Rutgers was obliterated by Kansas.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: Florida State, Baylor, Houston, Arkansas, Ole Miss, TCU
(1) HAS THE BIG TEN GONE FROM BEING THE BEST CONFERENCE TO THE WORST CONFERENCE? Yes. No debate on that. Near losses from Penn State and Michigan State pretty much set the tone to “uh-oh” and then it got worse across the board. Michigan lost to Notre Dame, Northwestern lost to Duke, Nebraska lost to Colorado, Michigan State lost to Arizona State. And then the floodgates opened up this weekend. Rutgers got drilled by Kansas. Maryland got waxed by Temple in Maryland. It took a while for Michigan to get going against SMU. So the Big Ten West is very rough right now, the Big Ten East is not much better outside of Penn State and Ohio State…..well, there is Indiana at 3-0 and they do have a win over a power 5 school in Virginia. Hey, take them any way you can get them.
(2) IS FLORIDA STATE IN DANGER OF BEING A TEAM THAT MAY END UP 3-9? Yes. I remember watching that Virginia Tech game and going “gosh, I’ve never seen Florida State get bullied on the offensive line like that.” And then I said the same thing yesterday, but to Syracuse. Now maybe the Orange defense is strong, but I wasn’t thinking them of a juggernaut defense either. We can throw the blame game and honestly there’s plenty of blame to go around and it isn’t all on Willie Taggart. The previous regime has their fingerprints on this as well. And it is dumbfounding given you are talking about a team that recruits just as well as the likes of Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State.
(3) ASSUMING THE GAME BETWEEN NC STATE AND WEST VIRGINIA DOESN’T GET MADE UP, WILL IT RUIN THE MOUNTAINEERS CHANCES OF A PLAYOFF SPOT? If the Mountaineers run the table and win the Big 12, no. But if they are 11-1 and waiting for the committee to say their name, then they may have a problem. That game is definitely needed for West Virginia assuming they lose a game somewhere along the line (save maybe against Oklahoma). It would show they could win on the road against a power 5 school.
(4) IS THERE CAUSE OF CONCERN IN CLEMSON AFTER A SECOND STRAIGHT WEEK OF A NON-DOMINANT WIN? No. I think people have gotten spoiled in the sense that we see Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State religiously dominate opponents in the past year that we expect Clemson to do the same. And I don’t see Clemson being THAT team, at least yet. We forget that even in their National Title run, the Tigers had a few games where they were expected to roll and didn’t. And that’s when they had DeShaun Watson! Do I think there are questions on the Tigers? Yes, notably at QB. But do I think Clemson will continue this way? No way. They’ll be fine.
(5) HAS CLAY HELTON PROPELLED HIMSELF TO THE COACH ON THE HOTTEST SEAT IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL? I’d say so. USC is one of the college football blue-bloods and when the Trojans were winning in the mid-2000’s with Leinart, Bush, etc. it was jumping all over. And it isn’t like USC is failing at getting recruits either. But the offensive line has been woeful under Helton so far and the team just has a flat, vanilla feel to them. You have to wonder if USC isn’t entertaining ideas of bringing in a big name coach to run the program back to prominence. Let’s face it, even in the PAC-12 South where it is a downer right now, they still could be a 7-5 team or even 6-6. Not good for USC standards by far. Question would be who would be the prime target to take as the next head coach. But Helton I don’t think has cut it nor I think he would ever cut it despite his record leading up to this season.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat