The 69th Emmy awards were appropriately nice. And controversial. They contained all the hallmarks of bauble-based self-aggrandizing yet were a perfectly fine way to spend a few hours. Like sneezing, giving out awards is very contagious so let’s lavish some material goods at the feet of some standout college football players and programs from the weekend.
Outstanding Drama Series: USC 27, Texas 24. Many critics wrote this remake of the 2006 classic off after a few plodding and sloppy episodes. A crazy plot twist at the halfway mark then set pure brilliance in motion. Sam Darnold excelled in the role of an uneven quarterback with the weight of heavy expectations on his shoulders. Tom Herman once again shined when given a major part. His Longhorns were plucky underdog protagonists coming of age in real time. The decision to have the storybook ending fall short in an extended finale was brilliant and left a nation wanting more.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Mason Rudolph. The Oklahoma State Cowboys’ road victory over Pittsburgh was extremely gory. But the violence wasn’t gratuitous. There was an end goal. Mason Rudolph wants a Heisman Trophy and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it happens a la Walter White. Rudolph cooked up 497 yards passing and five touchdowns in a 59-17 rout. Through three games he has 1,135 yards through the air and 11 touchdowns. His rating is 210.9. Stillwater-based productions often struggle to capture critic’s eyes, but what Rudolph is doing is so powerful and raw that he’s forced them to take notice.
Outstanding Limited Series: LSU. The Tigers’ two-game run back into national prominence was a hell of a lot of fun. Breezy, feel-good television with a gregarious star in Ed Orgeron leading the way. Those laughers against BYU and Chattanooga were carefree romps. Very smart of the university to keep this year’s season a two-parter. If they had played a third game — say against Mississippi State — their lack of discipline could have come back to haunt them. Worst case scenario: LSU suffers a humiliating defeat and people start getting nostalgic for Les Miles’ direction.
Outstanding Comedy Series: Baylor. On the bright side, Matt Rhule’s team did not allow Duke to cover and prevented a local blogger from going 5-0 against the spread. On the bright side, the Bears’ third straight demoralizing loss was televised, leading to further questions about why this disturbing series has not yet been canceled. Considering the scandal that rocked this project in recent years, many are delighting in the campy horror show, as is their prerogative. This feels like an outrageous sentence to type but it is warranted: Baylor may be looking at an 0-12 year. They will likely be the underdog in every game the rest of the way with the possible exceptions of at Kansas and against texas tech.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Les Miles. What the former LSU honcho did during his FS1 gig on Saturday was far from professional. It was, however, very funny. Miles, whose son plays for the Cornhuskers, repeatedly donned a partisan hat as Northern Illinois pulled the upset. Awful Announcing has a thorough recap. It’s pretty embarrassing.
Outstanding Directing for Drama Series: James Franklin. OK, so Penn State could have destroyed Georgia State with a replacement-level showrunner. But name another that would have iced the opposing kicker with a 56-0 lead and 11 seconds on the clock. You can’t. The results and reaction speak for themselves. The Nittany Lions may just be the class of the Big Ten and Franklin is poking his finger in the eye of all opponents. Love it.
Outstanding Reality Competition Series: The Getback Boys. Very good to see these unheralded superstars finally get their due. The journey from nobody to guy who holds back a coach from running on the field starts with a dream. Gripping and powerful insight into the human condition.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Tyrie Cleveland. In many ways, the Tennessee-Florida game was a prototype for Texas-USC. A lot of bad, plodding football happened for three hours before the excitement started. But let’s give credit to the writers room for designing a climatic finish. Gators wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland just kept running and was rewarded with the game-winning reception.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Jake Bentley. This one was the lock of the night. South Carolina’s quarterback committed to physical comedy in a way not seen since Michael Richards in an attempt to draw a 15-yard penalty against Kentucky. It did not work. On the bright side, he’s now being seriously considered for every future Kevin James or Melissa McCarthy vehicle. Well worth it.