And So It Is Written ...
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The ten most important things to happen in the history of our great planet – at least this weekend. How will Week 5 of your college football season be remembered in the history books? And so it is written …
1. Chuck gets chucked
And so the coaching carousel begins. There weren’t any real signs of improvement under Charlie Weis, and now he’ll be spending the rest of his life not coaching the Kansas Jayhawks.
There was a time when losing 23-0 to Texas was actually a positive to keep it that close, but the firing of Weis was about more than just a bad performance – it was an acknowledgement that the program needed a new direction, and fast. Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen will get an audition to see if he can work miracles, but the job search is on to find someone who can bring in some offensive firepower to fill the massive void left by the inability of Weis’s teams to do much of anything interesting when they had the ball.
2008 was the last winning season, and the 2007 campaign with an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech seems like light years ago. Kansas is just looking to be interesting and relevant. Weis was supposed to do that, didn’t, and now 2014 is a lost football season with all eyes on the future instead of any potential turnarounds this year.
2. Brady Hoke, your table is ready
There are certain things you can never, ever do as the Michigan head coach. Like all Michigan fans, you can’t go a moment without wearing at least two things that say the word Michigan. You can’t get blown out by Ohio State, and you can’t lose to Michigan State. You can’t coach in the NCAA Tournament after accepting the Arizona State job, and you can’t be Rich Rodriguez. You also can’t lose the Little Brown Jug game to Minnesota when things aren’t going well, and you can’t lose the Little Brown Jug game to Minnesota 30-14 with 171 yards of total offense when things aren’t going well.
It took a miracle finish to get by Northwestern late last season. That Michigan’s only win over a Power 5 team in its last nine attempts, and now Hoke is 2-9 in his last 11 against the big boys since his team last took care of the Gophers in a 42-13 win last October 5th.
Going back to his days at Ball State, and including his three years at Michigan, Hoke has just one losing season in his last seven, and that was in a rebuilding mode in his first year at San Diego State in 2009. He knows how to coach, and he could do some big things if his recruiting classes are given a little more time, but it’s really, really not working for him in Ann Arbor. Worst of all, the fan interest isn’t quite there. It’s Michigan. It’s the Big House. It’s a Fire Marshal’s nightmare with over 110,000 people packed into a building that’s supposed to fit 109,900. You can’t be the Leaders and Best with empty seats.
Rutgers and Penn State are up next, and both games are winnable if something miraculous comes from the offense. If Hoke can somehow win those, then comes the shot at redemption and job security against Michigan State. But first, the team has to figure out a way to score on a regular basis and not look so painfully sad.
And the program needs Jim Harbaugh to become available.
3. UCLA decided it’s time to start the 2014 college football season
Wake up, little snoozy. The season is a month old, and UCLA apparently realized that it’s okay to be better at college football. The pass defense left something to be desired against Arizona State, but the 488 yards and three touchdowns didn’t really matter in the final outcome of the key win that might determine the Pac-12 South. One pass – an 80-yard touchdown play to Eldrige Massington early in the second – appeared to be the Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment that set everything in motion, and if the Thursday night win was any indication, everything is coming closer to be what everyone was expecting. The Bruins scored 28 straight points and all but ended the game, and the run and blowout proved that yes, this might be a true national title contender if it doesn’t gack against Utah this week. Oregon is the home game to follow on October 11th.
4. Bascially, every week is going to be interesting in the SEC West
The SEC West has lost three games this season. Arkansas lost to Auburn and Texas A&M, and LSU lost to Mississippi State. That’s it – all three came within the division. It’s by far the best division in football, and as A&M’s overtime thriller against the Hogs proved – as did the Mississippi State win over LSU after surviving a late rally and Hail Mary attempt – there isn’t going to be an easy out.
Memphis wasn’t playing all that poorly, and Ole Miss barely showed up, but it was an easy win, as was LSU’s blasting over New Mexico State and Auburn’s blowout over Louisiana Tech. And now comes the real fun with Texas A&M facing Mississippi State, Alabama taking on Ole Miss, and LSU facing Auburn. Unfortunately for everyone sick of SEC sucking up, yup, you have to pay attention, because it’s the most important game in town.
5. There’s an O in Ohio State, but there’s no D
Against Virginia Tech, the offense couldn’t block. Against Kent State, the defense became the ’85 Bears. But this week proved that Ohio State might simply be maddeningly inconsistent. Cincinnati couldn’t stop Miami University’s offense, so there’s no real need to get too excited about the Buckeye offense, but still, for an Ohio State team trying to find an identity, it was a big deal for it to pound away on the Bearcats for 380 yards while holding on to the ball for almost 42 minutes. Meanwhile, J.T. Barrett continues to improve, hitting 26-of-36 passes for 330 yards and four scores. And then there’s the Buckeye D that’s supposed to have the best line in the country. UC’s Gunner Kiel got nice and comfortable on the way to a 352-yard, four score performance. And now comes Big Ten play, and there’s still a chance at the playoff by running the table. First, though, is Maryland and its dangerous attack. Which OSU team will show up?
6. Florida State is not the No. 1 team in the country
Florida State is obviously going to be in the College Football Playoff if it’s 13-0 with an ACC championship, and it’s a mortal lock to get in at 12-1 with a conference title as well, but in terms of the rankings – which don’t mean anything unless they’re coming from 13 committee members in Dallas a month from now – it’s not playing like the best team in the land.
The rushing attack that averaged over 203 yards per game last season is coming up with a mere 124 yards a game this season, coming up with 166 against NC State. Granted, there were four scores and the five yards per carry were solid, but it wasn’t a consistent effort. Last year, the Noles led the nation in pass defense and scoring defense, and they were third in the country in turnover margin and total D. Against the Wolfpack, the defense got ripped up by Jacoby Brissett for 359 passing yards and three touchdowns, the offense turned it over four times, and the 520 yards allowed were the most given up – and the first time the team has allowed over 500 yards – since getting destroyed by the Fighting Tebows of Florida to end the 2009 regular season.
Fortunately for the defending national champions, Wake Forest and Syracuse are up next before hosting Notre Dame.
7. Notre Dame is lurking
It might not have been the most consistent of efforts, but Notre Dame yawned its way past Syracuse to stay in the discussion for really, really big things. Everett Golson isn’t quite in the Heisman discussion, but he’s getting close after completing 26 straight passes in a 32-of-39, 362-yard, four score effort against the Orange. His two interceptions including a pick-six put a wee bit of a damper on his magnificent day, but it was still a survive-and-advance double-digit blowout. Stanford has been solid, but as USC proved and as Washington showed in a curious and somewhat controversial loss – helped by a poorly-timed fake punt attempt – this isn’t an unbeatable team. Notre Dame, get by the Cardinal, blow past North Carolina, and the Seminoles are all yours for the taking.
8. AAC … AAAAAAACK
Pointing out the flaws in the American Athletic Conference is like questioning Tom Watson as a golf captain – it’s sort of sad and it doesn’t really matter – but the league took it on the chin in a big way this weekend. The conference’s lone win came from Temple – against fellow AACer, UConn in a brutally ugly 36-10 game. SMU (TCU), Tulane (Rutgers), South Florida (Wisconsin), Memphis (Ole Miss), and Cincinnati (Ohio State), all lost by a combined score of 188 to 47, and Tulsa lost at home to Texas State, a Sun Belt team, putting the league at 15-24 in non-conference play.
9. You figure out the Mountain West
Boise State is absolutely, positively the best team in the Mountain West. At least it was until it turned ball over seven times including five interceptions in a weird loss to Air Force. Nevada is now absolutely, positively the best team in the Mountain West, but it wasn’t all that great in a sluggish win over San Jose State. Wyoming leads the Mountain division with a 1-0 record, beating Air Force, but it can’t seem to figure out how to score, failing to hit the 20-point mark this season, and while Colorado State is coming off a great win over Boston College, it got destroyed by Boise State a few weeks ago. Fresno State beat New Mexico, but it was hardly convincing, and San Diego State and Donnel Pumphrey ran wild on UNLV, but so does everyone else. Which means Boise State is still, probably, sort of, maybe … good luck trying to handicap this race.
10. You need to watch more college football, and this weekend was the reason why
Go ahead and tell your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/all-of-the-above that you don’t watch enough college football on a Saturday, because you’ll be right.
Of course you watched the Arkansas-Texas A&M thriller, and you almost certainly caught bits and pieces of several other key games, but you missed the best games of the weekend that didn’t involve Cal and Colorado clubbing each other over the head with passing statistics.
Yale’s Tyler Varga ran for his fifth touchdown in overtime to get by Army, who had a chance in regulation to win, but missed a field goal and missed another in OT to open the door for the Bulldogs. The first time these two schools played? 1893 – a 28-0 Yale win. Meanwhile, Bears-Buffs had nothing on Bowling Green-UMass, with the two teams combining for over 1,300 yards of total offense with UMass QB Blake Frohnapfel throwing for 589 yards and five touchdowns in a 47-42 loss. Those two games were fantastic – if you’re enough of a junkie to get this far, really, check them out online – but they took a back seat to Texas State-Tulsa, which took three overtimes for the Bobcats to win after forcing the extra frames with a one-yard score with ten seconds left in regulation.
What else are you going to do, hang out with your family? Really, watch more college football. It’s okay.