You’re Fired… Arizona State reeled off four-straight touchdowns in the third quarter. Lane Kiffin’s USC tenure was terminated. Kiffin’s mission, with sanctions and scholarship reductions, was harder than perceived. That said, he had a tremendous amount of individual talent and got minimal production from it. Organization and motivating players goes a long way with teenagers in college football. Kiffin showed an aptitude for neither facet. He has been a head coach seven seasons at the college and pro-level. One of the seven would be rated a success.
Few could quibble with Pat Haden’s decision. More than a few may question the manner and the timing. Should Pat Haden have waited longer? Should he have done it after the debacle that ended last season? Should he at least have granted Kiffin the courtesy of a sleep, shower and shave? The haste suggests there was something more going on than a flat 3-2 start. But we may never have perfect knowledge. Maybe it was the recruiting, which, really, was the only reason for keeping Kiffin around.
Lane Kiffin was the rebound guy after Pete Carroll. USC will hope the next guy is the one, and not the next Paul Hackett. It’s a nervy time to be a USC fan, but there are worse things than a few months with Coach O at the helm…
Statement Win… Les Miles flexed every last coaching muscle, but Georgia outlasted LSU 44-41 at home. That win and the one over South Carolina should shut people up about Aaron Murray’s record in big games. More importantly, the Dawgs are now the presumptive favorites in the SEC East. The schedule from here forward becomes more manageable. Florida is the only legit top 25 opponent remaining. That game is on a neutral site, after a bye week. Alabama looks more vulnerable in 2013 than in 2012. If Georgia can win the SEC Title at 12-1, what 13-0 team has a more impressive résumé.
Deflated… Ole Miss is…not ready to compete for the SEC West. Alabama held their offense to 3.6 yards per play. Their defense just got run over, with T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake combined for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Hugh Freeze’s team could have made it closer. Ole Miss had chances on fourth down in Alabama territory. The Tide fumbled three times and lost none of them. Maybe in another simulation they don’t call a pass to their true freshman wide receiver. But, even with a few more mistakes, Alabama was the definite better team.
Ole Miss has a game at Auburn next week then consecutive home dates with Texas A&M and LSU. The queue will start on the left to jump off the 2013 bandwagon.
The Ohio State University… If it was not apparent beforehand, Ohio State has a clear No. 1 quarterback. Braxton Miller carried it a bit more than one would prefer on a bad wheel. But he completed 17 of 25 for 198 yards and four touchdowns, a couple of them on fantastic throws. That and a bit of fortune earned the Buckeyes a close win against Wisconsin. Ohio State will be a bit worried about their secondary. Jared Abbrederis torched OSU for 207 yards, even when covered by Bradley Roby. Ohio State also lost safety Christian Bryant for the season with a broken ankle.
The good news is Ohio State does not play anyone who can exploit that. The bad news is going 13-0 against that middling assortment may not get them to the BCS Title Game.
Who Will Stop The Rain… The cream of the Pac 12 North hosted games in a downpour. It didn’t matter. Oregon took a 55-3 lead with 11 minutes to play in the third quarter, before shutting it down in a driving rainstorm against Cal. That game had 10 fumbles and an injured De’Anthony Thomas. Stanford popped Washington State’s balloon, winning 55-17 against the Cougars in Seattle. Washington also dispatched Arizona 31-13, with 161 yards and 40 carries from Bishop Sankey. These teams may only lose to each other this season, and each finish in the Top 15.
Turned Off the Burner… West Virginia looked dead. They lost 37-0 to Maryland last week, Dana Holgorsen’s eighth in 11 FBS games. He replaced 21 players on the two deep. Things looked bleak, very bleak. But somehow, the Mountaineers upset perhaps the best team in the conference. It wasn’t Holgo-ball. Clint Trickett completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and struggled filling out his equipment. West Virginia averaged just 4.3 yards per play. They required plays from the (audible gasp) defense, but earned a solid, 30-21 home win. Holgorsen was hired because 9-3 was not good enough. Things would have gotten a bit uncomfortable starting 1-3 vs. FBS.
Almost a Jimboing… Florida State stepping off the pedal on the road against a benign conference opponent? it feels familiar. Boston College’s Chase Rettig and Andre Williams had productive days against the Seminoles defense. Fortunately, when Jameis Winston is your quarterback, you have a wide margin for error. Famous Jameis threw for 325 yards and four touchdowns. He also led FSU with 67 yards on the ground.
Beast of the East… North Carolina was blown out by in-state “rival” East Carolina 55-31. The Tar Heels’ defense allowed 603 total yards on 101 plays, 8/16 third down conversions and 3/4 fourth down conversions. Yuck. At least they can find solace in the memories from their storied 8-4 ACC Coastal Title.
Gratuitous Linkage… Blake Bortles’ girlfriend is both real and spectacular. Bert took a tumble before the Texas A&M game. This guy, from the Washington State vs. Stanford crowd, did not let the monsoon spoil his fun.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]