Week 12 of college football is in the metaphorical record books. Here are seven things we learned.
Texas’ Route Forward Is Clear
Tom Herman’s Houston team, healthy again, crushed Louisville at home Thursday night. That emphatic win amplified the pressure on Charlie Strong at Texas. The Longhorns followed this up by losing at Kansas, who had not beaten an FBS opponent since Nov. 2014 and had not beaten Texas since 1938. The loss all but secured the Longhorns a third-straight losing season.
There has been a dispute about who decided what officially when. But, there is no dispute about the eventual outcome. The results have not been there. Bringing Charlie Strong back for 2017 is untenable. Texas players have been standing behind Charlie Strong on Twitter. They did not do so on the field multiple times this season, or the coaching staff did not put them in a position to do so.
Few wish Strong poor fortune in the future. Most expect he will find success elsewhere (Cincinnati? South Florida, if Willie Taggert gets called up to the bigs?). But, Strong did not wake college football’s biggest sleeping giant. It’s time for Tom Herman to get that chance.
Wilton Speight Did Not Get Enough Credit
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight broke his collarbone. John O’Korn stepped in for the Indiana game. The combination of the weather, weaknesses in pass protection, and the Hoosiers’ underrated defense made for an ugly day.
O’Korn went 7 for 16 for 59 yards. By the second half, Michigan was bailing out and running on third and longs, when they had the wind. If the Wolverines’ goal was to be vanilla and to leave little on film for Ohio State, they succeeded.
Harbaugh still insists Speight may play against Ohio State. Whoever is playing quarterback, Michigan must create more non-De’Veon Smith-related offense to beat the Buckeyes. The Wolverines need the formation shifts and the jet sweeps from earlier in the season. They need to deploy Jabrill Peppers in a fashion beyond telegraphed run plays out of the wildcat within striking distance of the end zone.
On the plus side, Ohio State was nearly as bad as Michigan throwing the ball on Saturday in similar conditions, with their star quarterback against Michigan State.
Ed Orgeron May Not Be The Right Fit For LSU
Coach O is auditioning for the permanent job at LSU. He may just be an awesome substitute teacher. The Tigers have lost two of three (getting shut out by Alabama was not a win) after falling to a banged up, less talented Florida 16-10 at home. Much of their Ed Orgeron resurgence came against Missouri, Southern Miss, and an awful Ole Miss.
Orgeron is a character. He is popular in the locker room. He can recruit. But, the centerpiece of his argument is him hiring an elite coach, not being one. LSU just fired a charismatic, coordinator-dependent CEO. The broadest sample of Orgeron as a head coach is still him going 3-21 in the SEC at Ole Miss and having another coach come in and win a lot more games with the talent on hand.
Jim McElwain doing more with less emphasized what LSU has not been getting the past decade. If the will is mutual and there is a financial way, the Tigers should present Jimbo Fisher with a tough decision to make.
Kliff Kingsbury Must Find a Defense
Texas Tech is not going to a bowl game. That was confirmed in about the worst way possible, a 66-10 loss at Iowa State. The Red Raiders had an off day on offense and turned the ball over three times. Their defense gave up 15.3 yards/pass and 6.3 yards/carry to Iowa State. It’s safe to say 4-7 was not where Texas Tech anticipated being in year four of Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure.
The clear culprit has been Tech’s defense. The Red Raiders rank 128th in yards/play allowed vs. FBS this year at 7.50 in 2016. Their best finish since 2014 in that category was 115th.
Kingsbury was a Texas Tech quarterback. He also has a hefty $9.7 million buyout. He should get another year. But, looking at that defensive situation on paper, it’s not clear how it improves quickly.
Dana Holgorsen Blew An Opportunity
Bob Stoops won a big game on the road, and it came at Dana Holgorsen’s expense. The Mountaineers showed a little fight, bringing it back to 41-28 against Oklahoma after falling behind 41-7. Then they conceded two more touchdowns for a 56-28 final.
West Virginia did the near impossible: have a tailback run for 331 yards on 24 carries in inclement weather and not even come close to winning. The sloppy, back-breaking turnover apocalypse marring an otherwise excellent statistical performance was very “West Virginia under Dana Holgorsen.”
That loss cost West Virginia the Big 12 title and an outside shot at the playoff. It was also big for perception. The Mountaineers have now played two quality-ish opponents and lost both games by double-digits. A 10-2 finish still gets Holgo a contract extension or, perhaps, another Power 5 job more to his liking. But, his prospects looked better a week ago.
The Big Ten Should Relegate Rutgers
Rutgers lost 39-0 to Penn State on Senior Day. The Nittany Lions did not even spare the student section. The Scarlet Knights are 0-8 in the B1G, 0-9 vs. P5. The four powers in the B1G East most seasons – Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State – outscored Rutgers 224-0, outgained Rutgers 2258-391, and thwarted 49/57 third down attempts.
The Scarlet Knights are 4-20 in the conference since joining the B1G, with one win by more than a field goal. Football is their better sport. They may be even worse at basketball. That’s before we get into the athletic department scandals. Good job locking down that TV market, Jim Delany.
Bob Diaco Is Handsome. He Has That Going For Him.
As bad as Rutgers’ season is going, UConn’s may be worse. Boston College shut out the Huskies 30-0. UConn has now gone 28 offensive possessions and counting without scoring. Here is Bob Diaco’s explanation for attempting a fake field goal on 4th and 18 in the second quarter.
Diaco is only 43. Would it be the worst thing for him to pull a “Dan Enos,” return to Notre Dame as defensive coordinator for a couple of seasons to regroup, and try again?