Les Miles Is Dunzo
LSU could not get a snap off. The Tigers lost to moribund Auburn. LSU fired Les Miles. It was literally a must-win game. Ending with confusion and fourth-quarter clock management was a fitting send off.
This outcome should not dumbfound. The Tigers are 6-8 against the SEC West since 2014. LSU has a multiple-game losing streak in progress against Alabama, not to mention Arkansas. The Tigers’ offensive futility, given the available talent, is inexcusable. This year, even Miles’ supporters saw the light, or, more accurately, the pervasive darkness.
That said, the timing startles a bit. Miles is in his 12th season. He has a national title on his résumé, even if it was a characteristically weird one. Two narrow losses make him too toxic to finish September?
Miles’ early departure may be a blessing for fans. An autumn spent dreaming of Tom Herman or Jimbo Fisher for the future outstrips an autumn spent waiting for the inevitable. Miles may have been college football’s most interesting man. That doesn’t mean you wanted him coaching your team.
Tennessee Has Greatness In Them
Florida took a 21-3 lead into halftime. Twitter had Butch Jones’ guillotine set up. When Tennessee had nothing more to lose, the SEC’s tightest wound team finally played to win. The Volunteers roared back for a 38-28 win. They ended a painful, 11-game losing streak with gusto.
Tennessee’s defense, missing key starters, played to its potential. Mike DeBord found the formula to get Josh Dobbs out of first gear. The senior quarterback finished with 400 total yards and five touchdowns.
One-off or a sign of what’s to come? We’ll find out. Tennessee has road trips to Georgia and to Texas A&M the next two weeks. Then comes the Oct. 15 showdown with Alabama.
We’ve Seen Texas A&M Do This Before
Texas A&M blew away Arkansas in the fourth quarter. The Aggies moved to 4-0 and 2-0 in the SEC. Kevin Sumlin is storing beverages on his seat. The Swag Copter is gassed up. You’ll have people touting the Aggies for the playoff this week. There are few things sexier than a Kevin Sumlin team in September.
Let’s look back.
2015: Texas A&M starts 5-0. Two solid SEC wins. A three-touchdown blowout of Arizona State. Top 10 heading into Bama. The Aggies…lose five of seven against FBS to close the season. Both quarterbacks transfer.
2014: Texas A&M starts 5-0 with Kenny Trill. The Aggies jump into the top 10 after crushing South Carolina in the opener. The Aggies…lose five of eight to close the season.
That John Chavis-built defensive front is no joke. This Aggie team offers some legit cause for optimism. But, hark back before you hit publish on that Trevor Knight paean.
Michigan State Is Down, But Not Out
Most saw Michigan State winning comfortably against Wisconsin. Instead Wisconsin badgered the heck out of the Spartans for 30-6 demolition. MSU’s second-game offense may have been a Brian Van Gorder-induced miracle. But, the scoreline overstates matters. MSU fans should not be too worried.
The box score was about equal. MSU handled Wisconsin’s running attack. Turnovers, four of them, made the difference. That is something the coaching staff can correct.
Wisconsin remains nebulous. Should they be a Top 5 team by right? Determining that depends on jury still out assessments of LSU and the Spartans. The Badgers have a very good defense. They are solid. They capitalized on mistakes. At Michigan next week and Ohio State at home after the bye should elucidate things.
Clay Helton Looks Out of His Depth
Clay Helton looked bound for the hot seat. The Trojans blew a lead at Utah. If the burner is not lit, this program is not serious about winning. USC entered with a quality game plan. They moved the ball. But what distinguishes the very good to great coaches from the others is seeing the parts in motion and situational decision-making.
Justin Davis was averaging 12 yards/carry. He touched the ball once after USC took a 24-10 lead in the third quarter. On 4th and 3 from the Utah 37, Helton trusted his defense, which had been worked down the field for touchdowns the past two drives, more than his offense to gain three yards.
Helton may learn with more experience. He better start learning quickly. USC does not have a lock down win left on the schedule.
No One In The Pac 12 Wants To Play Colorado Right Now
Colorado gave Michigan a jolt on the road last week. This week, they upset Oregon 41-38 in Autzen. It’s the biggest program win since the Gary Barnett era. The Buffaloes accomplished that with their backup quarterback Steven Montez, who had a brutal time filling in during the second half against the Wolverines.
The Buffaloes showed competitive glimpses last season. Colorado fought for one-score losses against USC, UCLA, Utah, and Arizona. This year it’s coming to fruition. Relevant in the Pac 12 race may be a step too far. But, Mike Macintyre has this team back making blips on the radar.
Considering where they were, he’s done one of the nation’s best coaching jobs.
Happy Valley Is a Weird Place
Penn Live ran this article before the Penn State vs. Michigan game. It seemed to imply Jim Harbaugh was burning bridges in Ann Arbor. All four writers asserted with confidence they would rather have James Franklin coaching their team than Harbaugh. Incredible that was even a topic for debate.
Franklin struggling isn’t surprising. Penn State’s sanctions hit the offensive and defensive lines hard. The Nittany Lions can’t weather anything resembling an injury crisis, such as having all the starting linebackers out. Still, whirlwinds of bad decision-making such as this, are noteworthy.
Wake Forest is 4-0
Wake Forest beat Indiana 33-28 to move to 4-0. That is their second Power 5 road win. That is their second Power 5 win while scoring more than a field goal in regulation, increasing Dave Clawson’s number of those in three years to two. Clawson had to show something this year.
The Demon Deacons have Syracuse, Army, Virginia, and BC at home. Winning two of those four will get Wake Forest to their first bowl game since 2011.
Bad Beats Are a Killer
So, my picks last week went 0-5. I faded the public. I lose. Reanalyzing my analysis, I’d make most of them. Sometimes, bad beats just crush you.
There’s the obvious bad beat. UCLA controlled the game against Stanford. Then, the novice quarterback works a two-minute drill. A fumble on the final play gets returned for a touchdown. Cardinal win, and cover.
There’s the slow burning bad beat. Clemson’s offense gets skunked, as expected, against Georgia Tech. Paul Johnson’s offense can’t stop tripping over its own feet at home.
There’s the unorthodox touchdown apocalypse. Georgia Southern held Western Michigan’s run game in check. P.J. Fleck’s team kept the boat rowing at a brisk pace with a kick return touchdown, a pick six, and a touchdown drive set up inside the red zone by a fumble.
Finally, there’s the coach who is cognizant of the point spread. Bobby Petrino brought Lamar Jackson back in during the 4th quarter to seal off the back door against Marshall.