Read What You Want Into Texas A&M Beating Tennessee
Texas A&M outlasted Tennessee 45-38 in overtime. It was exciting SEC action that produced more than 1,200 yards of total offense. It was a ramshackle disaster of a game in which the teams combined for 10 turnovers. Both the Aggies and Vols look like top 10 teams. Both coaches are off their hot seats. Many narratives are supported. Do we feel at all confident about either team facing Alabama?
The Aggies won a big one, at home. That has been rare under Sumlin. Though, this was the second time this year Texas A&M coughed away a multiple-touchdown lead in the closing minutes and needed overtime. A&M has given reasons to trust them and not trust them. There’s still a tough schedule left. It just feels like there’s a Trevor Knight regression coming.
Tennessee is resilient. They have fought despite injuries. But, the Zombie Vols routine did not pan out this week. If it were not for this superb defensive play, it may have been an easy Texas A&M win. Four quarters of solid play remains elusive. Giving up 7-plus yards/carry on the ground and turning the ball over seven times isn’t a recipe for greatness. Not that Tennessee needs to be great to finish up 10-2 and win the SEC East.
It’s Time To Blame Brian Kelly For Notre Dame’s 2016
Notre Dame has unraveled. The Irish are 2-4, with wins over Nevada and Syracuse. Brian Kelly has blamed just about everyone and everything so far, except his game planning. After the 10-3 loss to N.C. State, he should reevaluate that stance. Brian Kelly knew the weather would be atrocious. Notre Dame did not adjust its offense, at all.
Sure. the Irish ran the ball 38 times to 26 passing attempts. Look closer. Notre Dame handed the ball to a running back just 20 times. Fifteen of those carries were DeShone Kizer for 15 yards. Many of those were bailing out on pass attempts. The Irish spent the bulk of the game throwing, from the shotgun, in wind and rain. Often, it wasn’t clear Kizer could even see the receiver he was supposed to target downfield. Josh Adams was only gaining 3.6 yards/carry, but that was much more than the Irish passing game.
Perhaps, Kelly is right. Notre Dame’s center had a bad game. That center was converted to center last spring, had never played the position, and, thus, had zero experience snapping a ball in weather like that. Players win and lose games. A coach’s job is to put them in the best position to do so.
Brady Hoke Has Had Better Weeks
Poor Brady Hoke. His Oregon defense gave up 70 points to Washington in Autzen. The Huskies ran up 682 total yards, averaging 10.9 yards/pass and 8.4 yards/carry. After second half adjustments, Washington reeled off five-straight touchdown drives. That loss was embarrassing. It may not be survivable, for Hoke or Helfrich.
Across the country, Brady Hoke’s Michigan players, under different coaching, delivered the beatdown of the season in a 78-0 romp. Rutgers basically didn’t convert a first down or a forward pass attempt the entire game. That was a game Brady Hoke lost in 2014.
Miami Missed An Extra Point And An Opportunity
Miami drove for the game-tying touchdown, then had the extra point blocked. The Seminoles survived for a much needed 20-19 win. Dalvin Cook had 209 yards on 28 touches. This is the shakiest Florida State team this decade. The Hurricanes have an upperclassman quarterback high on NFL boards. They missed a chance here.
The Miami program is built on swagger and reputation. When they have that winning edge, it’s awesome. When they don’t, the stadium is empty. Winning this game and moving to 5-0 was an opportunity to revive that. Mark Richt needs to guard against any letdown effect. North Carolina next weekend is followed by a short-week, Thursday night game on the road in Blacksburg.
Au Revoir, Charlie Strong
Charlie Strong still had a slight window to save himself at Texas. He rode “the 18 wheeler package” right by it in a 45-40 loss to Oklahoma. Strong calling the defense had no impact. The Longhorns’ defense gave up 681 total yards at 7.8 yards/play. It was the fourth time in four Power 5 games Texas gave up 40 or more points. Only Sooner turnovers kept it close.
That’s three defeats in a row. Texas does not have a regulation win against a Power 5 team. Winning out saves Strong? Maybe? Most would agree he’s a good coach. Most would agree Texas isn’t a great fit for him. The Longhorns have a new AD and a mandate to keep Texas fans excited about football. The only thing exciting them right now is the prospect of Tom Herman coaching their quarterback the next three years.
Stanford Is Not Stanford This Year
Washington rolled over Stanford last week. Washington State did it to Stanford again in Palo Alto, crushing them 42-16. The Cardinal offensive line is no longer a thing. Their defense isn’t that great either. We’ll run through the Stanford drives from this game – Punt, Missed FG, Punt, FG, Fumble, Missed FG, Halftime, Interception, Punt, Punt, Interception, Face Saving TD. This is not a Top 15 or Pac 12 title-caliber team.
Death, Taxes, TCU Inexplicably Struggling Against Kansas
Kansas has been the Big 12’s worst team, if not the Power 5’s worst. TCU has flirted with the playoff. When those teams meet, their records have not mattered. The Horned Frogs held on for a 24-23 win on Saturday, after being four-touchdown favorites. It was TCU’s third-straight one-score win against the Jayhawks. The other two games were one-score well into the fourth quarter. Kansas State grad Gary Patterson getting psyched out playing his old rival?
Houston’s Playoff Campaign Was Fun While It Lasted
Navy upset Houston 46-40. The Cougars are out of the playoff mix, barring incredible circumstances. This came down to lapses. Houston allowed an 85-yard kickoff return that set up a short touchdown. The Cougars began the second half with a fumble, setting up a short field for a Navy touchdown. They followed that up with a pick six. Enduring takeaway: it’s very hard to get 19-20 year-olds to play at optimal efficiency for 12 weeks.
Not Sure Whether This Says More About Maryland or Penn State
Maryland finally faced an okay opponent. It did not go well for the until-then-undefeated Terps. Penn State flattened them 38-14. Saquon Barkley ran for 202 yards on 31 carries. Five different Nittany Lions had a run of 13 yards or longer. Penn State’s 524 total yards were the most under Franklin. This was only the second time under him Penn State has eclipsed 200 yards rushing in a conference game. Nittany Lions offense turning a corner? Time to slam the brakes on Maryland? A bit of both?
There’s a Clear Top 5
No let downs or look aheads this past weekend. Alabama took care of business with a three-touchdown win at Arkansas. Ohio State held off Indiana in a look-ahead spot by three touchdowns. Clemson did not let down a bit, throttling Boston College on the road Friday night. Michigan and Washington had the aforementioned obliterations of Rutgers and Oregon. Maybe Louisville is near that level. Beyond that, it is a long way down.