It’s already Week 6 of the College Football Season. Our picks are in. Here are five thoughts on what should be an eventful Saturday.
SEC Narratives Collide in College Station
Texas A&M hosts Tennessee. Some prominent S-E-C aphorisms hinge on the result. The Swag Copter has risen. The Aggies have started 5-0. The achieved that in both 2014 and 2015, before nosediving. Texas A&M has gone just 3-8 vs. SEC teams after the first week in October since 2014. Kevin Sumlin can attain that elusive big win at Kyle Field. The Aggies have had the SEC’s worst home field advantage since joining in 2012. Mind the Lee Corso curse.
Then there’s Butch Jones and Tennessee. The Volunteers’ inclination toward destiny has overcome weird coaching and untimely injuries so far. Tennessee has ridden a Hail Mary, a fortuitous fumble, and an epic comeback to a 5-0 start. This game begins the back end of their four-game slog, with two top 10 opponents. These are the games that define a season. These are the games Butch did not win last year. Will fortune continue to favor the tight and timid?
Bob Stoops and Charlie Strong Better Come Out Firing
Texas and Oklahoma meet in the Red River Shootout. Winning it is vital, for both Charlie Strong and Bob Stoops. Strong had a rough week. The Longhorns lost to Oklahoma State. Things escalated quickly. Strong received the dreaded vote of confidence, through the end of the season. Tom Herman looks set to become quite wealthy. Strong is not out, yet. But, he needs a great run to close the season. That means rapid improvement and a win here.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Texas’ troubles? Bob Stoops. The Longhorns languishing has overshadowed Oklahoma not capitalizing on it. They reached the playoff last year. That was also their one outright Big 12 title this decade. High floor? Not enough edge to raise their ceiling? We’ve been having this discussion about Oklahoma for a while. The bowl losses issue has been extant. What would the optics be after a third “Big Game Bob” moment this season and a third loss to a disappointing Texas program in four years?
Gus Malzahn Needs To Beat Mississippi State
The Gus Bus is not yet running, but, after consecutive Louisiana wins, it’s back off the cinder blocks. Auburn’s defense looks strong. Both losses were against Top 10 opponents. Do we spot enough light creeping through for Gus Malzahn to earn another shot in 2017?
This is Auburn. The Tigers have a rep to protect when it comes to short leashes for accomplished coaches. Despite the LSU win, their recent SEC record remains no bueno. That said, there’s no obvious hire for Auburn to make. Auburn would be replacing Malzahn with leftovers after LSU and Texas made hires.
What is clear: at Mississippi State this weekend is a must win. If we presume a loss in Tuscaloosa, losing would give Auburn an eight-win ceiling. The Tigers would have to beat Arkansas and win road games at Ole Miss and at Georgia to get there.
A Hard Rain Is Going To Fall
Hurricane Matthew is creating unsafe weather conditions along the Southeastern Atlantic Coast. This will affect college football games. Georgia and South Carolina will commit a sacrilege, playing college football on an NFL Sunday. Charlotte and Florida Atlantic will do so as well.
LSU and Florida have postponed their game, to a date probably not to be named later. That spares fans the spectacle of watching two Purdue transfer QBs face off and hearing endless mentions of that factoid. That also works out swell for Florida. The Gators have only one ranked opponent and one road game left in SEC play. If they finish 6-1, they would place ahead of a 6-2 Tennessee team that beat them.
The storm will also affect games that are played with rain and wind. If betting on games such as N.C. State vs. Notre Dame and North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech, keep in mind who you trust to run the ball and to hang onto it.
This Is Where We Find Out About Mark Richt and Miami
Ranked Hurricanes and Seminoles teams collide. This is the marquee night game the ACC thought it would get every year, sort of. Mark Richt has Miami on sounder footing. Florida State has slipped a bit with two losses. There’s speculation Jimbo Fisher may leave for LSU. Is this where the programs pass each other at a crossroads? Maybe in a close game, as 12 of the past 16 in this series have been decided by one score?
Perhaps. It’s worth noting FSU has played the 9th toughest SRS schedule so far, and Miami the 76th. That should soften the Seminoles’ horrific defensive numbers a tad – they may actually have been around the 100th best FBS defense – and pump the breaks on the Hurricanes’ statistical dominance as well. Whether Miami can stop, or at least limit, Dalvin Cook should decide this. In two games against the Hurricanes, Cook has amassed 380 total yards and five touchdowns on just 34 touches.
Anyone hoping for another “Wide Right” game should be encouraged. The spread is Miami (-3). Aguayo the younger has already missed four field goals in 15 attempts for Florida State. Miami has missed two of its four attempts this season.