Was it the craziest college football weekend ever? That, the possible coaching changes, Alabama’s problems, and the big things to take away from Week 7 … in the Cavalcade of Whimsy.
Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …
It – along with the No. 2, No. 6, No. 7. No. 8, No. 15, No. 16, No. 19 and No. 21 teams in the country – didn’t show up this week and got destroyed by a combined total of 88 points.
Soccer is a gateway sport, you know. Next thing you know you’re going to be watching lacrosse.
On a very special Cavalcade …. Week 7.
If any one of the bajillion weird things that just happened occurred on a normal weekend, that would be easy. But on one wonderful, whirlwind October Saturday, it was as if every game went goofy at once.
Since I’ve been doing this, there have been some insane days – 1998 Championship Saturday is still my all-timer, with Kansas State collapsing in the Big 12 Championship to Texas A&M, an okay Miami taking down an unbeaten UCLA, and Tennessee pulling out the perfect run to win the SEC title in the first year of the BCS era, all happening as I tried to get over a near-death experience involving a bee pollen (which, by the way, is actually concentrated ragweed) smoothie – but this … this …
Every year there’s that Saturday with a few funky upsets, along with a couple of crazy letdowns and unexplainable anomalies. But this weekend started wacky and just never stopped.
You want wild? You want storylines? You want the unexplainable? Put a log on the fire, take a deep breath, and let’s go …
Start with this. Pretty much the entire weekend was one giant balloon bouquet from the college football gods delivered just to Notre Dame. And now, the path is almost totally clear. Go 12-0, and get in the College Football Playoff.
TCU doesn’t have an offense. Either the, or Texas Tech actually played some really, really good defense. Actually, it was both. The 17-14 home loss for the Horned Frogs was more about TCU’s O, which sucked for the third straight game. And Texas Tech’s O? In the name of Patrick Mahomes, it got the job done because of a … running quarterback?!
The American Athletic Conference might just be the most interesting conference race going, and I’ll explain why you remotely care in just a second. USF is 6-0, and it needed everything in the bag to come back late on a Friday night to take down a Tulsa team that has yet to win an FBS game.
Memphis isn’t all that great, and yet it rose up and almost took out UCF in a 31-30 win by the defending national champion. Meanwhile, Temple is still unbeaten in conference play after dropping Navy, Houston kept rolling, and unbeaten Cincinnati got a week off to chill. So, again, you give a poop because …
UCF rimrocked Pitt 45-14 just three weeks ago. You know, the Pitt team that – in the 19-14 loss in South Bend – exposed exactly how painful the Notre Dame offensive crash will be if it somehow gets into the College Football Playoff.
Utah might actually win the Pac-12 South. Blowing up Arizona 42-10 is hardly anything special, but now the Ute offense is really, really working. Utah is the only Pac-12 South team who has yet to play in the Pac-12 Championship.
2018 Heisman Trophy Winner Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t the best Alabama quarterback against Missouri. Tagovailoa aggravated a knee injury sliding – he’s fine – and it didn’t matter. And why? Jalen Hurts – that Jalen Hurts – completed 7-of-8 passes for 115 yards in the 39-10 win over Missouri. Hurts had a better, more efficient passing day than future NFL starter Drew Lock.
Ohio State is a national championship-amazing team just begging to get tagged. Dwayne Haskins cemented his spot as a Heisman finalist in the 30-14 win over Minnesota, but the Buckeyes are playing like they know they’re better than just about everyone else and can turn it on at any time. That’s true, and that’s fine, but when great teams do that, you eventually get …
LSU 36, Georgia 16. That wasn’t close to 2017 Iowa 55, Ohio State 24, but in terms of a national championship-caliber team getting wiped out in an almost disqualifying sort of way, this was bad. Of course Georgia will win it all if it doesn’t lose another game, but the loss destroyed the idea that the Dawgs can lose the SEC Championship and get into the CFP.
Notre Dame, that might have been the biggest piece for your puzzle.
Iowa State went Iowa State, as previously unbeaten West Virginia got dumped harder than Pete Davidson. When a true freshman outplays the Heisman/NFL-caliber veteran quarterback, something is off.
This is West Virginia. This is Will Grier. Iowa State’s Brock Purdy and company should not outgain these Mountaineers 498 yards to 152. But here’s the issue. If Iowa State can rise up and do that – and maybe it’s because Purdy took over – then why can’t it keeping doing it the rest of the way and pick off, say, Texas to screw things up for the Big 12? Speaking of which …
Really, Michigan State? Now it’ll be fashionable again to love Mark Dantonio, but this team played like dog food over the first half of the season. It didn’t show up against Northwestern, lost to Arizona State, and should’ve lost to Utah State. You can’t have it both ways. If MSU is really good enough to beat Penn State 21-17 in Happy Valley, then why didn’t it show up earlier? And thus ends Penn State’s season – considering this is a Big Ten title/CFP-caliber program now – which again, helps out Notre Dame.
Texas keeps on winning close, fun games. Baylor had the puck on its stick in the final moments of the 23-17 loss to the Longhorns, but, to Bear quarterback Charlie Brewer, and all passers everywhere … if you have one play left and you need a touchdown, DON’T THROW IT THROUGH THE END ZONE INTO THE FIFTH ROW. Oklahoma is going to win the Big 12.
Wisconsin didn’t quit, but when you go more than two quarters without completing a pass, and punt on the opponents’ side of the field when you desperately need a score, it wasn’t a good look in the 38-13 loss to Michigan. If you want an old school reference – trust me, millennials, the 1980 Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran fight was a THING, and you, as a sports fan, need to have this moment in your vernacular – the bully declared no más.
And oh, by the way, Jim Harbaugh won a really, really big game on a national stage. And it’ll get totally ignored if his Wolverines don’t show up against Michigan State this week.
Washington missed a game-winning field goal, and now Oregon is even on the weird-break endings on the season. It was a fabulous overtime game, and … Washington is still going to win the Pac-12 title.
Miami was exposed for being a giant offensive dud in the 16-13 loss to Virginia. The Canes still have the defense, and they’re still going to win the Coastal – maybe – but the school of Kelly, Testaverde, Erickson, Walsh, Torretta and Dorsey needs a quarterback.
Colorado is still 0-for-its-life against USC. The Trojans aren’t very good, but they’re now in a position to all but take the South title against Utah this week. The Buffs are now out of the ranks of the unbeatens. So …
Wisconsin, Penn State, Miami, Colorado, West Virginia, gone. Cheer, cheer for …
Oh wait. But there was so much more.
I’ve even tried other sodas …
Finally, Auburn’s offense actually worked, and the team still lost at home to a mediocre Tennessee team because on this day, the Vols got slightly better quarterback play. And now, in just two weeks, Auburn went from a College Football Playoff dreamer, to SEC Championship hopeful, to not being assured a bowl game if if loses at Ole Miss this weekend. After the Rebels? Texas A&M, at Georgia, Liberty, at Alabama, and the Tigers need two more wins.
Maryland destroyed Rutgers, which wouldn’t normally register more than a yurp – part yawn, part burp, all good – but Terp quarterbacks combined to complete 9-of-20 passes for 85 yards and three scores. Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome were Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes wrapped up in one compared to the Scarlet Knight passers, who combined to go – wait for it … – 2-of-17 for eight yards and five interceptions. Speaking of awful Big Ten play …
Nebraska invented a new way to lose – let’s call it the Super-Teriffic Nuclear Choke – by putting on a What Not To Do clinic after going up 31-21 with 5:41 to play. Clayton Thorson led the Cats on a 99-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes, forced overtime, and won 34-31 after the Huskers screwed up in OT, too. Oh yeah, and Nebraska is 0-6 for the first time in school history. This Scott Frost thing is going GRREAAAAT.
Troy, the team that beat the Huskers in Lincoln, and is one of the stars of the Sun Belt, lost to Liberty, coached by … Nebraska legend Turner Gill. This Scott Frost thing is going really, really GRREAAAAT.
Eastern Michigan played its fourth straight game decided by three points or fewer – beating Toledo 28-26 – and now, going back to last year, have played eight straight games against FBS teams decided by a touchdown or less. To go even wackier, 15 of the last 17 EMU games against FBS teams have been decided by seven points or fewer.
UCLA got its first win of the year by destroying Cal. Bear QB Brandon McIlwain was a turnover machine, the Bruins looked fantastic, and Chip Kelly got his first UCLA win, 37-7.
And to close this out with something truly special …
Army beat San Jose State 52-3. And this is interesting because … San Jose State’s second half. One play fumble, one play fumble, three plays fumble, five plays fumble for scoop and score touchdown, nine plays punt, three plays punt, drive home safely.
NEXT: Your next big head coaching opening is at … ?