Cavalcade: Notre Dame's Big Boo-Boo

Cavalcade: Notre Dame's Big Boo-Boo. The Play, FSU & the deep, deep sleeper College Football Playoff team.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

October 21

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- 2013 Cavalcades 
- Aug 26 Josh Shaw, playoff talk, and there's a new network?  
- Sept 2 College Football's big new problem  
- Sept 9 The impossible: defending the Big Ten 
- Sept. 16 More Big Ten issues, UCLA Jerry & More 
- Sept. 23 Read it right in the ...  
- Sept. 30 No, Florida State isn't No. 1 
- Oct. 7 Trevor, Katy & Ole Miss
- Oct. 14 Gurley, Jameis & Autographs 

Cavalcade of Whimsy
Part 2: Archie, Shawshank, The Pecking Order - Ten things to be grouchy about

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … it would’ve been perfectly implemented and I would’ve pulled off the season-changing, historical upset, but Brian Kelly taught me how to execute this column every day, and he and his staff do it legally, and that’s the way they coach it. They don’t coach illegal columns.

1) Considering the history of the sport … really? Notre Dame is arguing about being on the wrong side of a call? 2) Considering the recent history … really? Notre Dame is having a hard time figuring out the difference between legal and illegal? … Thank you, Everett Golson. No, really, THANK YOU, Everett Golson, for playing the part of the adult in the room.

If Notre Dame had come even remotely close to properly executing that pick play with any subtlety on the nullified touchdown pass to Corey Robinson with 13 seconds left, it wins. All William Fuller and C.J. Prosise had to do was turn their heads as if they were waiting for the ball to come their way, sweep across the Seminole defenders, trip and fall, do jumping jacks, anything but not drive-block FSU’s Ronald Darby and Jalen Ramsey out of the way, and no way, no how, no chance the flags come out.

While Brian Kelly continues to grouse about the play not being a penalty, even though it was so egregious that there was no choice, Golson gave the right tone and tenor in the press conference, saying the exact right thing highlighted by his, “just got to play through it” line. It was a penalty, there was one last shot, Golson and the offense couldn’t score, Florida State wins.

”When El Trousias, Maiden of the Clouds, blows the battle horn, let the battle begin!” … America, what is it going to take to convince you that this Florida State team is paying rent in the apartment complex of the really, really good, but isn’t close to the penthouse it stayed in last year? You have to allow for the possibility that the Seminoles, even though they’re unbeaten and just beat Notre Dame, still aren’t elite.

For all the all-in blather from Jimbo Fisher about “family” and “trust” and finding ways to win, there’s a flip side. Maybe, just maybe, this is a team that’s absolutely begging to get tagged and has simply survived – usually, the idea of rising up and getting the job done is the rallying cry of the less talented.

Don’t fall for your 2014 Florida State Seminoles.

After the first quarter of the 2013 opener against Pitt, you just knew that Seminole team had it. Maybe it wasn’t a sure thing to win the national title – considering the SEC’s run of BCS greatness – but it was certainly going to be in the mix, and Jameis Winston was going to be a really, really big deal. Jamies is still a really, really big deal – more on that in a moment – but overall this is just a very good team that just so happens to win in dramatic fashion.

This is the Anchorman 2 of college football teams. It’s overhyped, it has its moments, its signature star screams strange things, and it looks the part on the surface, but it’s not able to recreate the magic despite a viewing public that wants it to be good.

The 37-31 win over Oklahoma State that seemed like an aberration at the time now doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Citadel was a scrimmage, and Jameis or no Jameis, Clemson choked/fumbled away the 23-17 loss in Tallahassee.

NC State’s Jacoby Brissett looked like Aaron Rodgers against the FSU defense, completing 32-of-48 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 38 rushing yards in the 56-41 loss. The week after, Brissett completed 4-of-18 passes for 35 yards against Clemson as part of a brutally ugly four-game losing streak.

And then, after sluggish performances against Wake Forest and Syracuse came the Notre Dame game. When throwing in the Clemson win, Florida State is a fumble and a flag away from being a 5-2 afterthought.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, ifs and buts, but if the Tigers don’t fumble and the Irish were coached better on how to run a pick play, the Noles lose both games. That has nothing to do with a team finding a way to win – that has everything to do with the two decent teams on the schedule gagging in key moments.

So watch out.

Going to Louisville next Thursday night will be scary. Dealing with Virginia, at Miami, Boston College and Florida – yeah, that Florida – might be tougher than it appears, and then, even if the Seminoles get to the ACC title game unbeaten, really, don’t laugh, but watch out for …

”I know. They're waiting to see what crazy thing I’ll do next.”
“You mean like kissing a guy who parks cars?” …
You want the really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY off-the-wall, batspit-Bynes insane, College Football Playoff party crasher idea?

Duke is 6-1, and the schedule isn’t bad.

The Blue Devils aren’t killing anyone, they struggled to get by Georgia Tech on the road and Virginia at home, and they lost by 12 to Miami, but here’s the truly insane part – they’re getting it done with defense.

Last year’s D wasn’t bad until it had to deal with Mr. Winston and Mr. Manziel, but this year’s team is fifth in the nation in scoring D, fifth in pass efficiency defense, and phenomenal when it comes to taking the ball away with 13 takeaways in the last five games.

Are they good enough to win on the road at Pitt and Syracuse over the next two weeks and at home against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest? Probably not, but let’s say they are and get to the ACC championship at 11-1 to face Florida State. Let’s say the Noles are 12-0. How utterly delicious would it be if Duke is your 12-1 ACC champ?

”Ah, you're right, Ed. A parachute not opening ... that's a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine ... having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that's the way I wanna go.” … Out of the roughly 150,000 college football games ever played, good luck finding a weirder one than Missouri’s win over Florida.

Mizzou finished with 119 yards of total offense, came up with 11 penalties, and generated just seven first downs and 20 passing yards, and yet it had a 42-0 lead in the third quarter. And here’s the really weird part – if you’re Florida, take away how it looked overall, and you’re probably better off than you think because of that defense, and only because of that defense.

Would you be off-your-chair floored if someone told you on November 2nd that the Gators came up with a brutally ugly 13-12 win over Georgia? Would you be slap-you-in-the-face-and-call-you-Judy shocked if they beat Vanderbilt, beat South Carolina at home, and got by Eastern Kentucky? It’s one thing to put Michigan in the Brady Hoke-is-gone category, because nothing is really working, but Alabama game aside, Florida has a D, and Will Muschamp might be one Cocktail Party away from being relevant for more than wanting to can the coach.

How weird was Florida’s loss to Missouri? … Distracted and dismayed thanks the media overhype and overreaction, the Gators were so concerned about being beheaded by a slew of Ebola-filled ISIS warriors that they were caught out of position on Marcus Murphy’s 96-yard kickoff return for a score.

Or else A&M just sucks and the SEC West is hopelessly overrated after fattening up on a mediocre team with a lot of flash … Oh my gosh (pant, pant) what’s wrong with Texas A&M? What’s up with the Aggies’ collapse? Why have the wheels fallen off? Is it the offensive line? Is it no Johnny Manziel? Will Kevin Sumlin ever have a defense? Is he on the hot seat? What’s the problem? Gee, take a wild, freakin’ guess. The Aggies played the three best teams in college football – Mississippi State and Alabama on the road and Ole Miss at home, and they have to go to Auburn in a few weeks. You stick this team in the Big Ten and it probably wins. It probably wins the Big 12, is No. 2 in the Pac-12 next to Oregon, and it fights Florida State for the ACC title.

How weird was Florida’s loss to Missouri? … The Gator punt coverage team came out of the locker room still wondering when and if baseball was going to have a post-season, and if it was, if the games were going to be televised. When informed that they the playoffs had indeed begun, the players were so busy trying to figure out if they were on TNT or TBS – and got trapped into a How I Met Your Mother rerun – and were so dismayed that they couldn’t find FOX Sports 1, they allowed Marcus Murphy to return a second half punt 82 yards for a score.

”Golf - the best way to spoil a good walk. Winston Churchill said that. I say it's a dog-eat-dog world. And I got bigger teeth than you two” … If Mississippi State goes to the SEC championship, the Heisman race is probably over and Dak Prescott might have the thing locked up tight considering he has showcase games at Alabama and Ole Miss ahead – or, he has to still deal with the Alabama and Ole Miss defenses on the road and bad things are about to happen.

I’ll soon make the pretentious Clint Trickett Heisman case in an Andre Williams sort of way, and Everett Golson is in New York if he gets the Irish to 11-1, but they’re not winning it without something crazy happening.

Sorry, but voting for Marcus Mariota, even though he’s having a great year and has yet to throw a pick, is a bit like going to a great steakhouse and ordering the baked chicken. It’s more than fine, and it’ll get the job done, but you’re picking him over something better, even if it’s really, really bad for you.

So as the season goes on, assuming he doesn’t get nailed by the autograph situation, Jameis Winston is going to be more and more in the Heisman discussion, but in a different sort of way. He’s not going to win it – I’ll vote for him if he’s the signature player of the 2014 season, but I’ll be alone – because no way, no chance the voters are going to make this guy the second two-time winner.

And that’s going to be the debate. If he’s eligible, and he’s on the field playing, no matter what we all might think or believe, he’s in the running. As we go on, that Heisman field is becoming thinner and thinner, and Winston’s on-field season will be harder and harder to ignore.

”I never do a job unless I have a clean car, I like to make my wheels look crisp.” … For this season and this season only, the record at Texas doesn’t matter, and going to a bowl only means something for the extra practices. If sophomore QB Tyrone Swoopes keeps on playing like he has over the last two weeks, this isn’t a lost year for Texas as much as it is a rebuilding one. The defense is eventually going to be fantastic on a consistent basis under the new regime, but this doesn’t work at the level that Longhorn fans might like unless Swoopes turns into something special. At 6-4 and 245 pounds with great mobility, all the tools are there, and somewhat quietly on a national scale, he’s starting to produce throwing for 334 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma and 321 with a score against Iowa State. With 185 yards and two touchdowns over the last three games, he’s running more. It’s not a stretch to call him one of the Big 12’s biggest X factors over the second half of the year. If he’s great, Texas could be a problem.

Part One would’ve been better … but I’m worried I’ll be punished by Jimbo Fisher if “the facts change.”

Cavalcade of Whimsy
Part 2: Archie, Shawshank, The Pecking Order - Ten things to be grouchy about

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