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College Football Random Thoughts From Around the Country: Sluggish Starts

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The wild, wacky, and wonderful world of College Football!

Jalen Hurts guides the Tide to another W.
Jalen Hurts guides the Tide to another W.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend saw many SEC teams get off to lethargic beginnings of their games. One has to wonder if the rigors of a long season are starting to wear down on teams. Fans of schools from other conferences will counter that all teams have to play a 12 game schedule. While this may be true, not all teams have to play an SEC schedule. It is hard to argue that there is any conference stronger top to bottom than the SEC.

mullen dancing

Mississippi State 35 Texas A&M 28 - This is what separates good coaches from great coaches. Can you keep your players from getting swelled heads? Can you keep their focus on the game at hand? After unexpectedly gaining the #4 spot from the first CFP rankings, clearly the Aggies thought they were just going to waltz into Starkville and destroy the Bullies. QB Trevor Knight was knocked out of the game with an apparent right shoulder injury but by that point TAMU was down 28-7. The final score was not indicative of this game which MSU led after their first drive to the final gun. I wonder if Dan Mullen (above) will be dancing this coming Saturday night?

Auburn 23 Vanderbilt 16 - Gustavo just will not learn. After finally righting the ship with QB Sean White at the helm, Malzahn decided to make John Franklin the unannounced starter over White, who was reported as "injured". Down 13-10 at the half at home, White finally entered the game and took over for the unimpressive Franklin (2 for 4 passing, 9 yards). Kamryn Pettway gained 173 yards on 25 carries but pulled up lame during a long run. "He pulled something obviously," Malzahn said. No word on his status from the Aubie Super Secret Injured List.

Arkansas 31 Florida 10 - True colors flew for two teams in this game. In their last game, a tired Arky team was battered by a rested Auburn team coming off a bye. If the two teams had played a rematch this past weekend, the Hogs might have just beaten the Tigers. As it was, Arkansas played Florida and exposed the inadequacies of this Gators offense. For all they hype around Like Del Rio (19-37, 229 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT), he is just not very good. His back-up, Austin Appleby, is not much better. The Razorbacks' Rawleigh Williams rushed for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Gators were held to 12 rushing yards and converted 1 of 11 third downs.

Ole Miss 37 Georgia Southern 27 - Also looking a bit sluggish were the Rebs of Ole Missy. The Eagles jumped out to a 14-3 lead but Chad Kelly led the team to 28 second quarter points. He would later leave the game (see the sick-looking guy below) and with him went all the oxygen in the stadium. The Rebels hung on to win but they are nothing without Kelly. OM could very well lose out. See the SEC logo below.

ELIMINATION GAMES

Alabama 10 LSU 0 - This battle will be another one of those games that folks look back at in a few years and point out how many players are currently on NFL rosters. Two fantastic defenses were on display, but Bama got to the LSU QB and the Tigers could not touch the Tide's signal caller.

Ohio State 62 Nebraska 3 - To this point, the Cornhuskers had been playing way over their heads. Nobody expected them to be in contention for anything other than mediocrity this late in the season. Not to say that Nebraska had a chance but after Tommy Armstrong got knocked out of the game in the second quarter (see sick guy below), this team was done. Without their quarterback, Nebraska gained just 90 yards with 63 on one drive. Twice they gave the ball over on downs, they had three three-and-outs, and a pick six. OSU also ran the second half kickoff back for a score.

TCU 62 Baylor 22 - If anyone had any inkling of a belief that Baylor was still alive for the CFP, this defeat put those silly thoughts to rest. The Bears got a big heaping spoonful of Karma when the seniors chose to wore all-black uniforms, as well as having black T-shirts sold outside the stadium supporting disgraced former coach Art Briles. #ShameOnYouBaylor. TCU amassed 688 yards of total offense and 34 first downs.

slow clap

Clemson 54 Syracuse 0 - An impressive win bt the Tigers. JUST KIDDING. Nobody is impressed with a home win over Syracuse. However of note, Deshaun Watson left the game with a bruised shoulder. It is not likely to be a serious injury.
Louisville 52 Boston College 7 - The 'Ville finally stepped up and slobberknockered one of these lame-o ACC teams like they are supposed to.
Florida State 24 NC State 20 - Dalvin Cook was held to 65 yards on 18 carries, so it was up to QB Deondre Francois to pull this one out. The Noles came back from down 20-10 to win it with 3 minutes to go.

"The Simpsons" episode from Nov. 6:

Homer: We won every game. Kirk is like a sports genius who everyone hates.

Marge: Worse than Jim Harbaugh?

Homer: Well, not that bad.

Michigan 59 Maryland 3 - This is what happens when you invite a school into your conference because they can play bouncey-balls.
West Virginia 48 Kansas 21 - The Jayhawks tip off the season on Friday Nov. 11 against Indiana in the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. Get your tickets NOW!

circling the drain

CIRCLING THE DRAIN

Illinois 31 Michigan State 27 - Seriously now. WTF is going on with Sparty?! I know they have had some injuries but they were a playoff team a year ago. Illinois? ILLINOIS???

Navy 28 Notre Dame 27 - LOL. This was no fluke. The Midshipmen have proved that they are a better team than the Irish. QB Will Worth ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns

Southern Cal 45 Oregon 20 - There has been a lot of chatter that the Ducks' team owner Phil Knight is willing to shell out $10 million per year to get his team a big time coach. The main target is Chip Kelly but he claims to have no interest. It would be tempting but I am not sure what major coaching talent would want to work for such a meddlesome booster.

BYU 20 Cincinnati 3 - Might this be the end of the road for Tommy Tuberville? The 62 year old coach has Cincy at 4-5, losing four of the last five. The only team they have beaten that has a winning record is FCS Tennessee-Martin who is 6-4. On Saturday, he got into a shouting match with a heckling fan and told him to "go to hell".

Washington State 69 Arizona 7 - Another coach who may be on the outs soon is Rich Rodriguez. His Wildcats are 2-7 with the only wins being over Grambling and Hawaii. Can you imagine if RichRod had accepted the Bama job?!

GRAB BAG

Washington 66 Cal 27 - Jake Browning threw for 378 yards and six touchdowns. Cal's Davis Webb threw three interceptions and one touchdown. Up next for the Huskies is a home game against the resurgent Southern Cal Trojans.
Texas 45 Texas Tech 37 - Some Texas fans must be hating all this winning. It makes it harder to fire Charlie Strong. The 'Horns have found some momentum winning three of the last four games. With overrated West Virginia coming to town, expect another Texas win and more hand-wringing by those who want Strong gone.
Miami 51 Pittsburgh 28 - The Canes might be the streakiest team in America. Four wins followed by four losses might just turn into four more wins. The 'U' beat Pitt and should be able to handle UVa, NC State and Duke.
Minnesota 44 Purdue 31 - People are laughing about Kentucky's standings in the SEC East but Minnesota is doing the same thing. They are tied with Wisky and Nebraska for first place in the Big Ten West.
Stanford 26 Oregon State 15 - The Trees may have finally righted the ship with their second straight win. They have games at Oregon and at Cal, wrapping up the regular season at home against lowly Rice.

SEC logo

South Carolina 31 Missouri 21 - I admit it. I was wrong. Three games ago, Will Muschamp pulled the redshirt off freshman quarterback Jake Bentley and all he has done is go 3-0. The Gamecocks were outgained 465 to 428 but three Mizzou turnovers gave this game to SC.
Tennessee 55 Tennessee Tech 0 - In retrospective, diva Jalen Hurd leaving the Vols is probably the best thing that could happen to the team. It was a chance for every member of that team to take a good long look at themselves and figure out if they want to be a part of that team and rededicate themselves. Yes, the opponent was a bad FCS team but the Vols played a pretty flawless game. With the expected return of Alvin Kamara and Cameron Sutton, it is not too late to save their season.
Georgia 27 Kentucky 24 - Reminiscent of the UGA-Mizz game, Jacob Eason had to bring the Dawgs from behind late. Down 21-16 in the fourth quarter, he twice drove UGA 67 yards in under three minutes. The first drive resulted in a TD+2 to take a 3 point lead. UK answered with a game-tying FG. On Eason's last drive of the game, the Bulldogs connected on a 25-yard FG for the winning points as time expired.

SEC BOWL PROJECTIONS:

In: Alabama, Texas A&M, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas.

Should be in: UK needs one win (Austin Peay); UGA needs one win (Aub, UL-Laf, GaTech); SC needs one win (Western Car).

Not so fast: LSU needs one win (@Ark, Fla, @TAMU); Ole Miss needs two wins with no Chad Kelly (@TAMU, @Vandy, MSU).

It's possible: Vandy needs two wins (@Miz, OM, Tenn);

Longshot at best: MSU needs two wins (Ark, @OM).

NFW: Mizzou has seven losses.

alabama helmet

BAMA STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

  • Southern Cal is bowl eligible after a 45-20 romp over Oregon. They improve to 6-3 (PAC 5-2). Up next is a trip to Seattle to face Washington.
  • WKU - The Hilltoppers (7-3, 5-1) defeated FIU 49-21. They lead the C-USA East Division. WKU will face a sad North Texas team on Saturday.
  • Chattanooga (8-1) had a bye week. They are #8 in FCS.
  • Kent State (3-6) had the weekend off to prepare for the whooping Western Michigan will put on them.
  • Tennessee, OM, Arky, Aub, and Missy State all won.
  • TAMU and Kentucky lost.

~~~~~

ADOPT-A-TEAM

  • Jacksonville State (8-1) beat Southeast Missouri State 17-10. They remain the #2 FCS team.
  • South Alabama lost to La-Monroe 42-34 in overtime. With a record of 4-5, the Jags will have to win two of their three remaining games: Presbyterian, @Idaho, New Mexico State.
  • Wyoming (7-2, 5-0) crushed Utah State 52-28. The Cowboys lead the Mountain West, Mountain Division (yes, their divisions are the "Mountain" and the "West"). Brian Hill had 142 yards on 25 carries with 2 TDs. Up next, UNLV.
  • Colorado (7-2) broke the 5 game spell the UCLA Bruins had over them with a 20-10 win. The Buffs lead the PAC-12 South standings with a 5-1 conference record.

SALUTE TO OUR TROOPS

RS-Patriot

  • Air Force (6-3) defeated Army (5-4) to the tune of 31-12. With the Falcons win earlier in the season over Navy, they clinch the Commander in Chief's Trophy.
  • Navy (6-2) beat Notre Dame 28-27. The Irish (3-6) find themselves one loss away from bowl elimination.

ELIMINATED*:

All non P5 teams, all Big 12 teams.

NEBRASKA, TEXAS A&M, LSU

* crazier things

boxers

THE CONTENDERS

A way WAY too early look at the College Football Playoff (CFP) picture:

  • ACC - Clemson has a pretty easy path: Pitt, @Wake, SC. Louisville has only one loss but they have some sketchy wins (See Krazy Kristi's thoughts on the matter below). Remaining games: Wake, @Hou, UK.
  • Big Ten - Just as we expected, it likely will come down to the Michigan-Ohio State game. Before that, Mich is @Iowa and home against Indy. OSU is @Maryland and @Sparty.
  • Big 12 - Some seem to think Oklahoma has an outside shot, but...
  • PAC-12 - Washington keeps cruising.
  • SEC - Alabama is looking good.
  • Notre Dame

The CFP Committee will release their second rankings of the season on Tuesday evening. Four FBS teams remain unbeaten. The committee would be hard-pressed to not acknowledge those four teams. On a personal note, I am rooting for Washington to get in so that neither the ACC nor the B1G can be the first conference to get two teams into the CFP.

My seedings of the New Year's Six are as follows:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Michigan
  4. Washington
  5. Ohio State
  6. Louisville

What does your top 6 look like?

~~~~~

Kristi_malzahn_says_shut_up_medium

Krazy Kristi's "SHUT UP!" of the Week goes to whiny little baby Bobby Petrino who complained this week that maybe his team should've put up 80 on FSU to get the committee's attention. Hey, Bobby. How about not waiting until the waning moments of the game to put away teams like Virginia and Duke and we'll work our way up from there?

Sad_face_medium

  • Nick Saban had no new injuries to report. Roll Tide!
  • Saban pointed out in his Monday news conference that the Crimson Tide has to work on kickoff returns. (Personally, I am not going to complain when the other team only kicks off once!)
  • The Chad Kelly era is over at Ole Miss. The senior quarterback was diagnosed with a torn ACL and torn lateral meniscus in his knee, suffered in the third quarter against Southern Miss. It was an odd play that knocked him out of the game. Kelly took a hard body blow and did not seem to come down hard on his knee or land awkwardly. He even started to stay in the game for the next play before realizing something was wrong. It's possible that he injured it on a previous play and stayed in the game too long.
  • Based on his comments from the Monday presser, it sounds as if Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze never had a plan in place in case Kelly ever went down. There is basically nobody worthwhile as a back-up. Plan B might just be to take a chapter out of Will Muschamp's book and take the redshirt off of true frosh Shea Patterson. That may determine how much Freeze values this season versus the 2020 season, when I assume he figures Patterson will be a fourth year starter as a redshirt senior.
  • In a scary moment in Columbus, Ohio, Nebraska 4-year starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong lay motionless on the sideline after hitting his head on the turf after a clean tackle. The medical personnel on site took every precaution as he lost consciousness for awhile. Armstrong was strapped to a board and transported to an ambulance. Fortunately, it wasn't as bad as it appeared. Armstrong rejoined his teammates at the stadium after being checked out at a local hospital. He will go through concussion protocol to determine when he can return.
  • Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio is again out indefinitely. This time it is a shoulder injury. Austin Appleby will likely take over under center.
  • Florida will also be without junior Alex Anzalone who suffered a season-ending injury after breaking his left arm against Arkansas. The WILL linebacker was second on the team in tackles (22 solo, 31 asst) with three sacks.
  • Things are starting to deteriorate further in Waco. Baylor running back Shock Linwood, the school's all-time leading rusher, was suspended and will not play against Oklahoma because of "attitude issues". Linwood reportedly shoved a coach on the sideline during their loss to TCU. I say "reportedly" because there isn't video, but yeah, it happened.

tiny football

STAT OF THE DAY

Texas running back D'Onta Foreman has run for a combined 591 yards the last two weeks against the Swiss cheese of Baylor (32-250, 2 TD) and Texas Tech (33-341, 3 TD). His lowest output of the season was versus Kansas State (24-124) who was the only team to deny him the end zone. K-State won the game 24-21.

participation award

GOOD TRY

Participation Award goes to LSU's Leonard Fournette. In three seasons against Alabama, he rushed for 57 times for 145 yards and one touchdown (garbage time in 2015). That averages to 48.3 yards and 0.3 TDs per game.

2014: 21 rushes 79 yds 0 TD
2015: 19 rushes 31 yds 1 TD
2016: 17 rushes 35 yds 0 TD

Gundy mullet 2

MULLET OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is all business in the front, party in the back. C'mon Mike. You're a man! You're 49! Cut that @#$%!

KEY & PEELE PLAYER NAME OF THE WEEK

Buffalo WR Kamathi Holsey. It sounds like a name Fletch would make up.

LET'S GO BOWLING!

  • 48 FBS teams now have six or more wins, enough to fill 24 bowl games, which sounds like too many. An additional 61 teams have a chance to reach number six.
  • 19 teams including FBS schools Arizona, Michigan State, Missouri, Oregon State, Rutgers, and Virginia have seven or more losses.

Gump 4 Heisman

HEISMAN HYPE
With the exception of TWO YEARS, the Heisman Trophy voting is basically a hype award. That being the case, we'll bring you "Who Will Win" and "Who Should Win".

  • Who Will Win - The flapping lips found a shiny new toy and it's Texas RB D'Onta Foreman (see Stat of the Day above). However, he is playing on a crummy team against porous Big 12 defenses... It wasn't an exciting opponent but Lamar Jackson ran for three touchdowns and threw for four more in just three quarters against Boston College... Jim Harbaugh continues to blatantly feature Jabril Peppers against the cupcakes. This might actually turn some voters off... And if we are going to nominate a defensive player, than why not Pinson, Alabama native Zach Cunningham who might just be college football's defensive player of the year?... Deshaun Watson left the game with an injury. He is not going to win the Heisman, but he'll probably be invited to New York...
  • Who Should Win - Honestly, nobody really deserves it at this point. Lamar is a really good player but that Louisville schedule is so lame. I have to wonder how good he would be if he was playing an SEC schedule.

Black_white_tv_salesman_medium

CBS’ coverage of the Alabama-LSU game dominated the Saturday prime time ratings. The marquee matchup gave the network 9.83 million viewers. Viewership for the Ohio State-Nebraska game on ABC was nearly half the amount at 5.07 million. Meanwhile, NFL numbers continue to drop.

Times are CT/ET.

Tuesday, November 8

MAC team vs MAC team primetime, sports channel

Wednesday, November 9

MAC team vs MAC team primetime, sports channel

Thursday, November 10

North Carolina at Duke 6:30/7:30 ESPN ESPN - No, not hoops.
Louisiana Lafayette at Georgia Southern 6:30/7:30 ESPNU ESPNU
Utah at Arizona State 8:30/9:30 FS1

Friday, November 11

Boston College at Florida State 6:30/7:30 ESPN2

Saturday, November 12

SEC:

South Carolina at Florida 11am/noon CBS- This game suddenly got a lot more interesting.
Kentucky at Tennessee 11am/noon SECN- Has Tennessee gotten over themselves? Can UK get that mojo back?
Auburn at Georgia 2:30pm/3:30pm CBS - Can the Dawgs put up any kind of fight?
Vanderbilt at Missouri 2:30pm/3:30pm SECN- For fanatics only.
LSU at Arkansas 6pm/7pm ESPNESPN - Battle for the Golden Boot!
Ole Miss at Texas A&M 6:30/7:30 SECN- Can the Aggies get over their hangover? Ole Miss is on the brink of a losing season at 4-5.

DURING COMMERCIALS:

Not much worth flipping over for.

Baylor at Oklahoma 11am/noon ABCABC- You're not really going to flip Bama-MSU for this, are you?
Tulsa at Navy 11am/noon CBSSN – Go Navy!
Rutgers at Michigan State 11am/noon Crapovision – Ya think you can manage this one, Sparty?
Army at Notre Dame 2:30pm/3:30pm NBC – Wouldn't it be funny if...
Pitt at Clemson 2:30pm/3:30pm ABCABC- Clemson may need some style points.
Ohio State at Maryland 2:30pm/3:30pm ESPNESPN - It must be nice to play cupcake conference teams in November.
Southern Cal at Washington 6:30/7:30 FOXFOX wordmark.svg – Could this be the Huskies last real challenge?

CAN'T SLEEP?

Colorado at Arizona 9pm/10pm FS1 - An honest question: Could the Buffs possibly get full of themselves, look past this awful team, and lose?
Cal at Washington State 9:30/10:30 ESPNESPN - Can Wazzu handle success and recognition?

alabama logo script a 100x100

#ALABAMA

Mississippi State at ALABAMA ESPN ESPN 11am/noon - Home Sweet Home! The Crimson Tide returns home for the first of three games at Bryant-Denny to wrap up the regular season.

The Chattanooga game on Nov. 19 will be played at 6pm CT at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Either ESPN2 or ESPNU will carry the game.

#RollTide!