Playoff Favorite Does Not Mean Indomitable
Neither Clemson nor Ohio State lost this weekend. But, both needed overtime to get past Week 7 obstacles. Clemson played a good, but not great N.C. State team at home. They barely evaded a “Clemsoning,” with the Wolfpack missing an easy field goal to close regulation. Clemson’s offense has looked off all season. Five fumbles (three lost) and an interception in that game won’t calm anyone.
Clemson will still be favored to win out. But, the ACC race changing dramatically next week at Tallahassee does not seem as improbable.
Ohio State played the better team, Wisconsin, and didn’t play that badly in a 30-23 overtime win. Still, the Buckeyes showed they can be beaten. Wisconsin was able to get traction and find holes against Ohio State’s defense. Had the Badgers been better finishing drives, they would have won. Wisconsin also bottled up Ohio State’s running backs and forced J.T. Barrett to win it (which he did).
Wisconsin left a blue print for Michigan to build on. Though, the Wolverines have to face Ohio State in Columbus.
Lane Kiffin’s Rehabilitation Status: Complete
Alabama obliterated Tennessee 49-10. The game was never competitive. Lane Kiffin’s offense ran up 599 total yards on 76 plays, 438 of it on the ground. The Tide have now outscored Kiffin’s two former college employers 101-16 this season. Alabama, again, looks like the clear best team in college football.
Lane Kiffin has completed his reverse metamorphosis, from washed-up former USC coach to intriguing, still young offensive coordinator. It’s possible Kiffin has found his “lane” as either a college or NFL offensive coordinator. But, it seems probable he gets another crack at college head coaching after this season.
Brian Kelly May Be Melting To His Seat
Notre Dame had an opportunity. Stanford was fresh off two beatdowns. They were without Christian McCaffrey. A win, any sort of win, at home would have stabilized things. The Irish even took a 10-0 lead into halftime. Notre Dame missed that opportunity.
Stanford outscored the Irish 17-0 in the second half. Brian Kelly spent the half eradicating any last trace of DeShone Kizer’s confidence. The Irish fell to 2-5 with multiple tough games remaining. The Irish have work to do to approach Charlie Weis-level mediocrity. Kelly’s current gravitas level is “being taunted by opposing strength coaches.” Strength coaches are the absolute worst, but still…
Patience among the Irish faithful, if still extant, appears to be wearing thin. Even an epic rebound after the bye would only get Notre Dame back to the 7-8 win plateau where they have spent much of Kelly’s tenure.
The Michigan State Spartans Are a Mess
Michigan State lost by two touchdowns at home to Northwestern and gave up 54 points in the process. A highlights montage will now be shown every time Michigan State plays Northwestern from here forward.
This was the Northwestern team that had no offense in 2015 and was held to single digits in a loss earlier this season to Illinois…State. After four straight losses, the truths are becoming self-evident. MSU can’t run the ball. MSU can’t stop the pass. MSU does not have a two-star recruit destined to be a great, multiple-year starter at quarterback. This just isn’t a good football team.
Michigan State has enough wins left for the bowl play on the schedule, if the Spartans have any fight left in them. More motivating than Christmas in Detroit may be ruining Michigan’s season. The Wolverines have not won by more than one score in East Lansing since the Charles Woodson interception game in 1997. Wise Michigan fans should refrain from “disrespekting” the Dantonio until after the game.
Kirby Smart Should Brace For The Will Muschamp Comparisons
Georgia fell to 4-3, somehow losing 17-16 at home to Vanderbilt. There hasn’t been an impressive win for Kirby Smart, since the opener vs. North Carolina. With an Ole Miss steamrolling and fourth-quarter collapse against Georgia on the books, it’s hard to definitively pick a worst loss. The malaise will doubtless draw comparisons to another Georgia grad and Saban scion.
Smart, obviously, deserves time. Unlike poor Will Muschamp, he appears to have a promising quarterback in Jacob Eason. But, falling to 4-3, after 9-3 got Mark Richt fired is a bad look. The downside of the Nick Saban “process” is it grates on people when you aren’t winning. The Florida game in two weeks could be a boon, or a terrible blow.
West Virginia Looks Like a Big 12 Title Contender
West Virginia moved to 5-0, after dumping Texas Tech 48-17. The 650 total yards from the Mountaineers did not surprise. The shut-down defense, holding the potent Red Raiders under five yards/play, did. Moreover, this wasn’t West Virginia capitalizing on its well-established home field advantage. The game was in Lubbock.
Could West Virginia win the Big 12? It’s not out of the question. The Mountaineers have five home games this season. That includes perhaps their three biggest competitors – Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU. Even if West Virginia does not win the conference, a solid finish could secure Holgorsen a contract extension (or get him a better job).
Purdue Dumped Darrell Hazell, Finally
We had planned to make fun of Purdue for this useless timeout. Then the school fired Darrell Hazell, following the Boilermakers’ 49-35 loss to Iowa. There’s no arguing with the decision. Hazell went 5-33 vs. FBS teams. Trying to out-B1G the rest of the B1G was a manifest failure. The only second-guessing is why Purdue didn’t fire him last November, when they could have been in play for Matt Campbell or P.J. Fleck.
Hope is better than certain craptitude. But, Boilermakers fans should have reasonable expectations. Purdue is in an awkward place. It’s too big and too far downhill to be a stepping stone job. The financial commitment is not enough to make it a desirable destination. Purdue’s hire will be someone who has no better place to go. Of course, if the school is willing to invest, that someone could be Les Miles.
Clemson Rushing The Field Is Totally Awesome Because It’s a Tradition You Guys
Quirks, traditions, and revered history differentiate college football from the homogenized NFL. Dotting the “I,” touching banners, and coming roaring out to Metallica on a Thursday Night are all great. But, there is a threshold with these things. Clemson exceeds it.
The pregame routine with multiple traditions is familiar to anyone who has waited for Clemson to kickoff on a Saturday Night ABC game. Players drop their poker chips in a bucket. The buses circle the stadium slowly (or dramatically). Players touch a magic rock, then try to avoid a calamitous “jack and jill” situation as they progress down a hill. We hear it’s awesome in person.
Many of us were reminded this week Clemson also has a postgame tradition of “gathering at the paw,” which is basically rushing the field. So, fans of the Top 5 Tigers dutifully rushed the field, after a lucky escape from a turnover apocalypse against an unranked opponent. That would be a gross violation of even the most lenient laws of field/court rushing, were it not under the “tradition” banner. So, don’t, under any circumstances, make fun of Clemson fans for this.