The topic this week is Struggle Wins! [I stole that from Funny Maine] It seems to be a recurring theme among supposedly elite teams who have been playing neck-and-neck with lesser teams but then score a bunch of points at the end and make it look like a big win. And of course then the impressionable bozos at ESPN go all gaga over the final score.
On another front, several teams were walking around all proud, wagging their big ol’ butts because they were 3-0. Well, now that second digit is a 1 and the planet Earth came rushing at them at terrifying speeds. These teams include Okie State, Cal, Oregon, Colorado, Missy State, South Carolina, and the humbled Vanderbilt Commodores. Welcome home.
TCU 44 Oklahoma State 31 - Typical OSU. The Cowpokes get their “This is the Year” mantra going, then go out and lay an egg. It’s time to cut the mullet, Mike Gundy. You’re 50. Grow up.
But shame on us for not paying any attention to TCU. The Horned Frogs went into Fayetteville and shut up the Hogs. Then a trip to Stillwater to tame Heisman hopeful Mason Rudolph and his stable of all-star receivers. The TCU defense hassled Rudolph and forced him into mistakes including a fumble and two interceptions - one right into the belly of a defensive lineman. The Frogs (4-0) ran a balanced offense gaining 228 passing and 238 rushing. Okie Lite managed only 101 rushing yards, utilizing only one running back outside of a single rush by a second RB. Time to join us here in 2017, Gundy.
NC State 27 Florida State 21 - Was it rust? Was it lack of live action for freshman QB James Blackman? Or did everyone just overestimate the ‘Noles? It’s probably a little from each column to total up to a flat performance from a FSU team playing for the first time since a 24-7 loss to Alabama back on Labor Day weekend.
The Wolfpack came out swinging going right at FSU media darling Derwin James and the Seminole defense. The NCSU defense whipped the ‘Noles offensive line, holding RB Cam Akers to 56 yards on 12 carries, 104 rushing yards as a team. FSU certainly could have used the two games that were canceled to tune up their team. However, that is no excuse for losing at home to a team that lost to South Carolina.
Arizona State 37 Oregon 35 - Some observers were so ready to crown Willie Taggart and Oregon King of Pac-12 football yet the Quack Attack could not get by a sad little Sun Devils team who had already lost to San Diego State and Texas Tech. The Ducks found themselves back in the Top 25 rankings for the first time in over a year, only to give it all back to the doubters.
Oregon was 1-11 on third down conversions and punted 7 times, five of which were on consecutive possessions of the second quarter. During a stretch of the first half, the two teams punted to each other for nine straight possessions. PAC-12 footballz, y’all.
Some of these scores do not tell the whole story... Some do.
Oklahoma 49 Baylor 41 - On one side we have the Sooners who are supposed to be playoff bound. On the other side is the dumpster fire from Waco who has already lost to Liberty and Texas-San Antonio. Okie blew a 28-10 lead, allowing the Bears to hang around until a sack and fumble at midfield with 1:24 remaining sealed it for the Sooners.
I have a feeling Baylor got up for this game due to a bunch of silly pregame jawing from the Sooners led by the immature hothead extraordinaire Baker Mayfield. He is another Jay Cutler in the making - and not in a good way.
Clemson 34 Boston College 7 - Looks like a blowout, right? Look again (I’m talking to you ESPN Dunderheads). Clemson has a great defense and are probably worthy of the #2 rankings, but this offense is seriously lacking. After Tigers QB Kelly Bryant passed for 316 against a questionable Louisville defense, he regressed back to 140 yards, 0 TD and two INTs against the Eagles’ 106th ranked defense. This was a 7-7 game going into the final frame before BC started screwing up and the Tigers poured it on. With a 27-7 lead and 2:22 remaining, Clemson picked off a BC pass and could have run out the clock. (WWSD?) But no. Dabo Sweeney Todd kicked the Eagles while they were down and punched in one last unnecessary score to make the game look like a rout.
Penn State 21 Iowa 19 - Gawd, the media is just salivating over PSU. They are trying so hard to convince everyone how AMAZING they are. You probably saw my rant from last week regarding how they haven’t really played anyone. They still haven't. The Hawkeyes came into this game 3-0 but were not ranked, while six one loss teams were ranked. That should give you the first clue. But here we were with Penn State losing 19-15 with 1:42 to play. Granted, the Nittany Lions did what they had to do, and that is drive the field and score the winning touchdown as the clock hit all zeroes. But what were they doing for the other 58:18? PSU outgained Iowa 579 to 273 and had 29 first downs to UI’s 11, yet they had to take it down to the wire. Someone is going to catch up to this charade real soon.
Michigan 28 Purdue 10 - The Wolverines stuck to the script they have been following all season letting an inferior opponent stick around way too long. Dreadful starting Michigan QB Wilton Speight went down to an injury early on and equally dreadful back-up John O'Korn came in and did enough to win the game. It was a 14-10 fourth quarter lead for UM until Purdue finally fell apart at the end.
It is a recurring theme with these Big Ten teams: play even until your depth finally takes over in the 4th quarter. But what is going to happen if you get into the playoffs and face an Alabama or a Clemson who has equal depth? I’ll tell you: this and this.
Southern Cal 30 Northern Cal 20 - Okay, so Cal has started out pretty well with wins over UNC and Ole Miss, but the Trojans are supposed to be playoff contenders. And this is still Cal. This game was knotted at 13 apiece until (wait for it) the Bears wore down at the end and the Trojans scored 17 fourth quarter points. The thing that doomed Cal were the SIX turnovers (4 INT, 2 fumbles lost). Media crush Sam Darnold had only one interception after throwing two in each of Southern Cal’s first three games. He has the third most picks thrown in the FBS.
Miami 52 Toledo 30 - It’s good to see that Mark Richt has brought his grand tradition of Struggle Wins to South Beach. Some people want to say “ooh, but it’s Toledo!” To that I say “Exactly. It’s Toledo.” In a game devoid of defense, the ‘Canes held an 8 point lead with 6 minutes to play before... you know what happened. A bunch of points at the end.
The most dangerous thing a coach can do is look past an opponent, no matter how weak. Both Tennessee and LSU planned ahead of time to put in their back-up QBs for a few series because, ya know, they’ll be up 42-0 by halftime. Right? Both were in unexpected dogfights and went ahead with their intentions anyway! The incompetency of coaches in this league is baffling.
LSU 35 Syracuse 26 - Two seasons ago, these two teams also played with LSU edging out the Orange 34-24. This is the same Syracuse team that has not been to a bowl game since 2013. Yet, LSU has a rich tradition of Struggle Wins against them. The Tigers follow a different struggle script then the others this week. They built a big lead and then kicked back, put up their feet, and had a few brews. With a 28-10 advantage, Coach O figured the game was over and inserted back-up QB Myles Brennan. Syracuse responded by bringing down Darrel Williams in the end zone for a safety. The short field allowed the Orange to drive for a touchdown. A Brennan interception led to another SU touchdown and suddenly the score was a 28-26 LSU advantage. Etling reentered the game a led the team on a 7 plays, 56 yards, 3:47 scoring drive that drained the clock and preserved the victory. LSU's offensive line was porous at best, producing only 151 rushing yards, 14 for Derrius Guice on 8 carries.
Tennessee 17 UMass 13 - UMass, likely the worst team in FBS and only team at 0-5, came into Knoxville and went toe-to-toe with the once mighty Volunteers. The Minutemen previously lost to Coastal Carolina by 10 and Old Dominion, also by 10. Yet here they were in the final minute with a chance to win the game.
Butch Jones put in Jarrett Guarantano for three consecutive series with a scant 17-13 lead and he actually managed to end up with negative passing yards on 2 for 5 passing. Two of his series were three and out with the third being 5 plays and a punt. Butchie finally put Quinten Dormady back in the game and he and John Kelly (25 car, 101 yds, 1 TD) ran out the clock. The Vols managed only 19 yards in the third quarter and punted 8 times.
South Carolina 17 Louisiana Tech 16 - I am not sure if this counts as a Struggle Win since sadly SC and LaTech are pretty much on the same level these days. The Gamecocks were scoreless for three quarters as the Bulldogs built a 13-0 lead. SC's first five possessions went Missed FG > Punt > Interception > Missed FG > Fumble. The Gamecocks scored two touchdowns in the 4th quarter but the Techsters responded with a field goal with just under a minute to play for a 16-14 lead. Jake Bentley worked some magic including a big YOLO connection that would make JFF jealous. Finally, the SC kicker found the middle of the uprights and won the game with 4 ticks left from 31 yards out.
It’s an easy formula for this team: South Carolina - Deebo Samuel = Fringe Bowl Team.
SEC vs SEC
Alabama 59 Vanderbilt 0 - You saw the game. The numbers tell it all. Great stats but taking a knee at the other team’s goal line is gonna hurt the Red Zone stats, PAAWWWWLLL!
Georgia 31 Mississippi State 3 - Bully got knocked off their high horse right off the bat when UGA scored on a 59-yard flea flicker on the very first play from scrimmage. Georgia scored on the next possession as well and it just felt like the game was over. UGA was more physical and MSU just seem to quit early on. Nick Fitzgerald was pretty awful (14/29 passing, 83 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT, 10-47 rushing). UGA’s defense looks pretty good (and pretty familiar to Bama fans).
Now it is time to see what kind of coach Kirby Smart is. In recent seasons, Mark Richt has been in this situation and had trouble keeping his team from getting big heads and they go out and lose a game they have no business losing. UGA has just such a game on Saturday at Tennessee. The other issue Smart faces is sticking with QB Jake Fromm or going back to Jacob Eason once he is healthy.
Florida 28 Kentucky 27 - To look at UK QB Stephen Johnson you wouldn’t think he couldn’t play football. He is tall and lanky with big crazy bulging eyes, but he can ball (17-25, 196, 3 TD, 0 INT). He and his Wildcats teammates deserved this win but inexcusable coaching led to this loss. On two separate occasions, the Kentucky defense let receivers stand uncovered for wide open touchdowns including the game winner. First is the error of not having the right personnel and defensive formation. Second is not having the wherewithal to call a time out. Even if it means taking a penalty, a coach needs to run at the referee screaming bloody murder to get the timeout.
For the Gators, Luke Del Rio is the third most athletic quarterback on the team. However, he has the smarts, the coolness, and the leadership this team needs. Starting QB Feleipe Franks is more talented but looked scared and confused at times. Del Rio rallied Florida from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to sneak out of Lexington with the W.
Florida has found themselves winning games in a flukey “Miracle” manner that a certain school east of Tuscaloosa tends to celebrate. The Gators fans are not so pleased winning in this manner. I admire them for that.
Texas A&M 50 Arkansas 43 (OT) - It wouldn’t be TAMU-Arky without a crazy back and forth high scoring affair that went into overtime. Three of the last four meetings between these two have gone to OT. QB Kellen Mond and RB Keith Ford both rushed for over 100 yards for the Aggies to make it six straight wins over the Hogs.
Auburn 51 Missouri 14 - Say what you will about Aubie, at least they took care of business against an awful awful team. Kerryon Johnson made his return from the IR to rush for a career-high five touchdowns. However he gained only 48 yards on 18 carries.
Virginia 42 Boise 23 - An uncharacteristic home loss to a crap team for the Smurfs. Could this be the beginning of the end for Boise?
Washington 37 Colorado 10 - Three interceptions and Myles Gaskin rushing (27-202, 2 TD) tipped this one the Huskies’ way. Shhh. They don’t want anyone to know they are good.
Texas Tech 27 Houston 24 - I included this one becuase of the shocking way Tech won: running the ball every now and then (two rushers with 98+ yards) and playing some D (2 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries). Maybe Kliff Kingsbury is growing up? Nah...
UCF 38 Maryland 10 - “Remember that time we routed Texas? Good times... ”
Wake Forest 20 Appalachian State 19 - Demon Deacons are two wins away from bowl eligibility.
Duke 27 North Carolina 17 - The Dukies could probably lose the rest of their games and the fans would be happy. They won’t though.
Notre Dame 38 Michigan State 18 - MSU is in dire straits.
Wyoming 28 Hawaii 21 (OT) - NFL QB prospect Josh Allen looked like trash (9 of 19 for 92 yards, 1 TD). I think he benefited from having RB Brian Hill last year.
Stanford 58 UCLA 34 - Pac-12 Loser's Bracket
Georgia Tech 35 Pitt 17 - Remember how Penn State beat their chests for beating Pitt 33-14? Yeah. This^.
THE DESMOND HOWARD JINX
The ESPN blabbermouth picked
Stanford, Georgia, Wisconsin, Miami, and Okie State to win their conferences. One down, four to go.
- TCU 44 Okie State 31 - OSU is not out of it yet but pretty darn close.
- Georgia - wait for it.
- Wisconsin - wait for it.
- Miami - close call against (snicker) Toledo - wait for it.
THE NEXT BIG THING?
Dave Clawson has had four head coaching jobs. At each stop, he has taken a perennial loser and got them up to post-season status. His first season at Fordham finished 0–11. His teams then went 3-8, 7-4 and then 10-3 and into the playoffs. A step up to Richmond went in similar fashion from 3-8 to the FCS Semifinals inside of four seasons. Next was Bowling Green who went from losing seasons to bowl games peaking in 2013 with a 10-3 record that included a MAC Championship Game win over #16 Northern Illinois.
Clawson’s latest reclamation project is Wake Forest. After a pair of 3-9 seasons, the Demon Deacons went 7-6 and won the Military Bowl last year. This season, Wake is 4-0 for just the sixth time in school history. While the schedule has not been tough, they have outscored their opponent 151-46 with two wins on the road. The schedule gets real tough real soon but maybe they can upset an ACC apple cart or two.
IRMA Keeps Whoopin’ Up on Lame Sunshine State ADs
The hurricanes may be in our rear view mirrors but the rescheduling is just getting started. East Carolina and UConn played a rare non-Week 1 Sunday game. It is all part of a reshuffling of American Athletic Conference games due to a visionless overpaid lazy ass ADs at South Florida and UCF. Saturday was not available to ECU and UConn because two MLS soccer teams had a game. If you care, ECU won 41-38.
BAMA STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
The Crimson Tide don’t need no strength of schedule (SOS) on their side this season! Just keep winning.
- FSU (0-2) The ‘Noles looked weak in their home loss to NC State 27-21. Up next, they play at Wake Forest.
- Colorado State (2-2) The Rams had the week off. Up next: Hawaii.
- Fresno (1-2) did not play. This week, it’s a home game with Nevada (0-4).
- Mercer (1-3) OT loss to East Tennessee State.
- San Diego State (4-0) Rashaad Penny scored three times to slip by Air Force 28-24.
- Memphis (3-0) may have been basking in the glow of their UCLA win a bit, but managed to outscore Southern Illinois 44-31.
We all know who little brother is. These guys are more like cousins that you hang out with on holidays.
- South Alabama (1-3) lost to Idaho in double OT. It does not look like a good year for the Jags. After the game, head coach Joey Jones gave his offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent a pink slip.
- Troy (3-1) beat Akron Zips, still coached by Terry “Spanky” Bowden.
UAB lost to lowly North Texas. Both Blazers fans would’ve been upset but they have moved on to other things to blame on Alabama.
SALUTE TO OUR TROOPS
- Air Force (1-2) - The Falcons gave San Diego State a scare, as they did Michigan the week before. They should get back in the win column with a trip to New Mexico.
- Army (2-2) - The Black Knights took a surprising and disappointing loss at Tulane 21-17 after the Green Wave scored with 23 second to go. Army should get back on the winning side against UTEP (0-4).
- Navy (3-0) - The Midshipmen ran for 569 yards in 42-32 win over Cincinnati - the same team who gave Michigan fits for three quarters a few weeks ago. Are you sensing a theme here? Up next, a trip to Tulsa.
All non-Power 5 teams.
NEW: Florida State, Maryland, Michigan State, Oregon, Arky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Vanderbilt.
AND... Ole Miss
A way WAY WAY too early look at the College Football Playoff (CFP) picture:
- ACC - It’s funny how all the flapping gums were talking about how AMAZING the ACC is and here we are after four weeks and only Clemson has a prayer of getting in.
- Big Ten - Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan (Struggle Win leader) all still breathing. Ohio State hanging on.
- Big 12 - With a loss to TCU, Okie State will have to win out which means beating Oklahoma and then win the B12 Championship Game. If the Cowpokes get that far, the opponent looks like it will be Okie again or TCU again.
- PAC-12 - Jekyll & Hyde Southern Cal or under-the-radar Washington.
Oregonis kaput. Wazzu and Utah are both still 4-0 but I’m not sure how long they can keep that up.
- SEC - Alabama followed by an impressive UGA. Auburn and Florida are not looking strong.
LSUis likely out.
- KENTUCKY! FSU was basically a shoe-in at the beginning of the season. FSU lost to NC State who lost to South Carolina who lost to Kentucky. So the Wildcats are in the playoffs, right?
Indies- Notre Dame, BYU- #LoLNope
SERIOUSLY! These guys on ESPN. Do they actually watch the games? You are right there in the ESPN studios! All you have to do is look up and there is a game on a widescreen TV!!! Professional numbskulls Joey Galloway and Jesse Palmer both ranked Clemson above Alabama even though the Tide absolutely destroyed Vandy and the Tigers struggled against BC.
- The talk is still all about Clemson.
- Pollsters still have Alabama up top, but the idiots controlling the airwaves have them behind the Tigers.
- Oklahoma is still in there even after their Struggle Win over train wreck Baylor.
- Penn State remains at #4 due to the flavor of the month, Saquon Barkley. KEEP THOSE BAD VIBES AIMED NORTH!
+ TCU and UGA are starting to get some attention.
NICE PRODUCTION VALUES, ESPN!
Speaking of these ESPN dimwits, have you seen the Alabama helmet they have on display? What is the deal with the huge-mongous numbers?
Krazy Kristi's "SHUT UP!" of the Week goes to the all the idjits who tried to cram Derwin James into the Heisman talk for absolutely no reason. He won’t win that trophy but he certainly deserves the Jabrill Peppers Trophy for must overhyped defensive back. [BTW, Peppers still has one career INT since high school.]
STAT OF THE DAY
Clearly all the Stats of the Day belonged to the Crimson Tide.
With the exception of TWO YEARS, the Heisman Trophy voting is basically a hype award. Last year was yet another exhibit of the voters falling in love with someone way too early. That being the case, we'll bring you "Who Will Win" and "Who Should Win".
- Who Will Win -
Saquon Barkley - (RB Penn State) Cuz he ran all over a bunch of undersized farmers. And what have I been telling you about the way voters got all giddy when Lamar Jackson jumped over a Syracuse defender last season? Yep, they are back at their schoolgirl crushes. Total defense rankings of PSU opponents: Akron #102, Pitt #114, Ga State #76, Iowa #78.
Baker Mayfield (QB Oklahoma) The Sooners had a difficult go against Baylor, but the voters won’t remember that game. Just the W and the TDs. However, if Mayfield wants to win this thing, he needs to start acting like an adult.
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State) Taking it on the chin at home hurt his chances. Two picks, one to a DT and a big fat L.
Sam Darnold (QB Southern Cal) Too inconsistent. Fortuanely for him, he plays late at night and nobody can see his flaws.
Lamar Jackson (QB Louisville) Who?
- Who Should Win - I am sure you all are getting tired of hearing about San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (20-128, 3 TD), so how about Virginia Tech's Cam Phillips? The senior WR already has 34 receptions for 523 yards and 5 scores. Let’s hope he has another big game Saturday vs Clemson.
THE SICK REPORT
- No Alabama injuries to report! Linebackers Rashaan Evans and Anfernee Jennings both started and played with no difficulties.
- Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown and center Sean Rawlings will be game-time decisions against Alabama. Brown is the Rebs’ most explosive player. He had 16 receptions for 389 yards and 4 TDs in Ole Miss’ first two games but missed the second half against Cal with a strained knee. Rawlings recently had surgery on his injured left ankle. Defensive end Victor Evans (knee) and kicker Gary Wunderlich (hamstring) are practicing this week and are probable for the game.
- Arkansas leading receiver Jared Cornelius suffered an Achilles injury in the second half of Arkansas’ 50-43 overtime loss to Texas A&M and is out for the season.
- Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett are among nine Florida Gators facing felony charges, specifically, for making improper charges on their student debit cards at the school bookstore and then selling those items for cash. All nine players remain indefinitely suspended from the football program and, based on a report, they will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Calloway had 54 receptions a season ago for 721 yards and 3 TDs. Scarlett ran for 889 yards and six scores. Both were expected to be vital pieces of the offense in 2017.
- The @darling of the Big Ten@, Rutgers, was hit by the NCAA with 2-year probation period for failure to monitor its football program. Some of the violations included positive drug tests that went unreported, a recruit-hosting group that didn't follow NCAA guidelines, attempts to influence players' grades, recruiting violations committed by an assistant coach, and members of the football program lying to NCAA investigators. A one-year show-cause order for former coach Kyle Flood (27–24 from 2012-2015) was issued. BIG TEN Y’ALL!
- In other news, James Franklin is still an a-hole.
Below are just the highlights for games this weekend. If you want to know the game time of San Jose State-UNLV, you should probably look elsewhere.
Thursday, Sept 28:
Texas at Iowa State 7pm/8pm ESPN - Longhorns looking to double their win output!
Friday, Sept 29:
Miami at Duke 7pm/8pm ESPN - Upset Alert!
Nebraska at Illinois 8pm/9pm FS1 - lose this one and Mike Riley might as well stay in Illinois.
BYU at Utah State 8pm/9pm CBSSN - Round 2 of Mormons versus kinda Mormons.
Southern Cal at Washington State 9:30/10:30 ESPN - A pretty important game in the Pac-12 standings. Too bad it’s on so frickin late.
Saturday, Sept 30:
Vanderbilt at Florida 11am/Noon ESPN - Will Vandy be motivated or deflated?
New Mexico State at Arkansas 11am/Noon SECN - Think you can handle this one, Bert?
Georgia at Tennessee 2:30/3:30 CBS - Potential letdown game for UGA?
Eastern Michigan at Kentucky 3pm/4pm SECN - UK needs to put the Florida loss behind them.
Mississippi State at Auburn 5pm/6pm ESPN - Elimination game.
Troy at LSU 6pm/7pm ESPNU - Can the Bayou Bengals get their ish together?
South Carolina at Texas A&M 6:30/7:30 SECN - Aggies better not get too full of themselves.
Best of the Rest:
Northwestern at Wisconsin 11am/Noon ABC - The Wildcats have a history of getting upsets every now and then.
Florida State at Wake Forest 2:30/3:30 ABC - Whoda thunk Wake would be the undefeated one and FSU would be the winless team? Not sure why this is on ABC.
Memphis at UCF 6pm/7pm ESPN2 - 3-0 vs 2-0.
Clemson at Virginia Tech 7pm/8pm ABC - Maybe the most important game of the weekend (outside of Bama vs whoevah, of course). This could be that last roadblock for the Tigers on their way back to the playoffs.
Colorado State at Hawaii 10:59/11:59 Alohavision
GAME 5 Bryant Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Ole Miss at ALABAMA Saturday, September 30, 2017, 8pm/9pm ESPN - make sure to get in a nap. Bama is blessed to get Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge with Holly Rowe.
Is UGA for real?
This poll is closed
Yes, they are a Bama clone.
Maybe. We’ll see if they can keep their heads.
No, it’s a mirage