The disappointments from this week in the college football world.
Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter
Notice that DeRuyter’s name no longer gets mentioned in connection with job openings? It wasn’t that long ago that the 52-year-old was on the supposed short list of athletic directors looking for new leadership. But the Bulldogs have fallen on hard times, going 6-8 a year ago and drifting out of bowl eligibility with Thursday’s home loss to Nevada. Good coach, DeRuyter, but it’ll be a while before he’s a hot commodity again.
Losers of six in a row, the Orange last won a game in the middle of September. And by all accounts, the wheels have completely come off for head coach Scott Shafer, who’ll have a difficult time surviving the collapse of his team. On Saturday, Syracuse was throttled for 579 yards and 23 first downs by a Louisville squad that was having problems moving the ball all season long. At this rate, some new staff is liable to inherit a team that begins 2016 on a nine-game losing skid.
In a battle of middling Big 12 programs, the Red Raiders drifted further back in the league pecking order with its 31-26 loss to West Virginia. Unable to slow the Mountaineer running duo of Wendell Smallwood and Rushel Shell, Texas Tech is now 0-5 against Big 12 opponents not named Iowa State or Kansas. And if it stumbles in the final two games with Kansas State and Texas, it’ll miss the postseason for a second straight year.
The two-time defending SEC East champions are in danger of not even being a part of this year’s postseason, despite a schedule that began with Southeast Missouri State, Arkansas State and UConn. The defense has been fine, though Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott did peg it for four touchdown passes on Thursday night. It’s the offense, which went over a month without reaching the end zone, which has the Tigers a game below .500.
The Aggies have to be missing the Big 12 just a little, don’t they? A&M would be such a better fit in a wide-open league, where Kevin Sumlin’s system can really flourish against suspect defenses. In the SEC, the program is experiencing a second-half slide for a third straight year. Since 2013, the Aggies are 8-11 in the months of October and November. Plus, after flailing at home against Auburn in Week 10, A&M has now dropped three of the last four, with each loss coming by at least two touchdowns.
Ohio State offense (without J.T. Barrett)
Urban Meyer will reevaluate his quarterback situation this week before heading to Illinois. Of course he will. While the Buckeyes beat Minnesota to remain unblemished, they didn’t look very good doing it. Cardale Jones closed out the Gophers with a 38-yard touchdown run, but he was otherwise uninspiring and fit to remain as the backup. Barrett clearly gives Ohio State its best chance for a repeat national championship. Now use your off-field transgression as a learning moment, son, and get back to the business of being Meyer’s top option behind center.
Yes, the Gators survived, which good teams do when they’re not at their best. And by doing so, they’ve won the SEC East for the first time since 2009. However, Jim McElwain must fine-tune his offense before closing the regular season against Florida State and whoever wins the SEC West. Florida was necrotic against an underrated Vandy defense, producing 2.7 yards a carry and a single field goal over the final 51 minutes. That field goal was the game-winner, but the Gators will need better ball security and more from their blockers and their quarterback, Treon Harris, to remain a one-loss team.
No disrespect to Arkansas QB Brandon Allen, but six touchdown passes? Unacceptable. The Rebels, with ongoing SEC West contention riding on the outcome, could not stop Allen … or receivers Drew Morgan and Dominique Reed for that matter. Ole Miss failed to make the necessary stops in overtime, including one on a bizarre lateral when it looked as if the game was over. And now the team that rose to as high as No. 3 nationally has dropped half of its last six contests.
Naturally, the blown out of bounds call on Husker Brandon Reilly’s game-winning touchdown will generate the most attention. Fair. But why were the Spartans even in a game with Nebraska, which was 3-6 and fresh off a spanking at the hands of Purdue? Oh, and how do you allow the Huskers to drive 91 yards in just 38 seconds for the aforementioned clincher? Focus on the officials if you must, but their error doesn’t take the Spartans off the hook for losing for the first time against a poor Nebraska team.
The Alabama D may have helped win the Heisman for its teammate, RB Derrick Henry, with Saturday night’s performance. The Tide did the unthinkable in the game of the year with LSU, shutting down Leonard Fournette. Fournette, who’d steamrolled for at least 150 yards in each of his first seven games, managed just 31 yards and a score on 19 carries. And while TCU QB Trevon Boykin would seemingly fill the void, he threw four picks earlier in the day in the Frogs’ first loss of 2015. The path to New York City hasn’t been this clear since before Fournette treated the Auburn D like a collection of ragdolls.