Weekend Update: #CollegeFootball Edition

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—The rooms, built for various Jacksonville Jaguars to meet on NFL game days, stand about 50 feet apart. In each room, a man stood Saturday in front of a backdrop that matched his clothing. In each, cameras focused their unblinking eyes on the man in front of the backdrop. In one room, the man in front of the backdrop had a good answer to every question. In the other, the man in front of the backdrop seemed to have no answers at all.

“I don’t expect to lose, and I think we should never come into an event thinking we are going to come in second,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said after his team’s 27–3 win over Georgia all but wrapped up the SEC East title. McElwain had been asked if, entering this season, he’d expected the Gators to have a shot at reaching the SEC title game. He swore he had, but more as a matter of principle than a concrete belief that Florida would achieve any particular record in league play. “One thing you learn real quick in this business,” McElwain said, “is that there are no participation ribbons.”……(continue reading)

Source: The Mark Richt question: Is it time for Georgia to find a new coach?

Projected College Football Playoff

1. LSU (8–0)

The Tigers were on bye this week, but we’ll find out a lot more about them when they face Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Before that, we’ll find out what the College Football Playoff selection committee thinks about the Tigers and everyone else. The first rankings come out Tuesday, and I haven’t the slightest clue if the committee’s top four will resemble this one.

2. Clemson (8–0)

NC State kept things close until the middle of the third quarter in what felt like a trap game for Clemson—decent opponent, tough road atmosphere, a week before Florida State comes to Death Valley—but Tigers sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson poured it on in the second half of a 56–41 win. Watson finished with 383 passing yards with five passing touchdowns and 54 rushing yards with one rushing score. Next up for the Tigers is the unofficial ACC Atlantic Division championship against the Seminoles.

3. Baylor (7–0)

The Bears didn’t play this week, but we’ll get a look at how the offense works with freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham at the helm when Baylor visits Kansas State on Thursday night.

4. Ohio State (7–0)

Just when it seemed the Buckeyes had their quarterback rotation figured out, the situation gets muddled again. Starter J.T. Barrett’s OVI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) charge will keep him out of the game against a Minnesota team that pushed Michigan to the brink in Week 9. Once again, the Buckeyes are down to Cardale Jones. That worked out quite well the last time it happened, but the bigger question is what happens when Barrett comes off suspension.

A random ranking

I’m crowdsourcing topics once again, and this week’s is a twist on the one suggested by @JoshuaJGrubbs.

@Andy_Staples tv theme songs

— Swerve (@joshuajgrubbs) 1446351529.0

He wants TV theme songs, but I’ve already done an overall list. So, let’s narrow it to 1980s sitcom theme songs. These are judged on musical composition, scene selection, the actors’ excellence in turning to the camera as their names are displayed on screen and my inability to forget the words no matter how hard I try to replace them with more useful knowledge. As always, all decisions are final. (We’re not including The Wonder Years because I already included the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” in my ranking of greatest cover songs.)

……(continue reading)

pablo (10)

What No One Tells You About #Winning: College Football Week 8

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No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14

AP Photo-Karl B DeBlaker

1. Temple of Doom?

Temple is 7-0.  Just let that sink in for a minute……7-0.  Last night, Temple had to rally in the 4th qtr and you could say that ECU gave it to them with horrible QB play, but that’s what a team ranked in the top 25 for the first time does right? Rally?!  The Temple D is good and if they can throw it like they did in the 4th, they could be even more dangerous.  Getting a road-win, while being ranked is another big step for the Owls.  Setting up a huge test against Notre Dame.  Now maybe you aren’t impressed yet with Temple and maybe you have no idea where they are, and that’s ok.  But you will if they beat Notre Dame – Kali-Mah!

  • No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14 – No. 22 Temple finally cracked the Top 25 because of its defense and its ground game. Some timely passing will help the Owls stay there.  P.J. Walker threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, and Temple scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to rally past East Carolina 24-14 on Thursday night.  Walker finished 19 of 35 for 250 yards for the Owls (7-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference).  Anderson caught eight passes for 126 yards, with five of those grabs coming in the fourth quarter……(continue reading)

  • Rosen leads UCLA past No. 20 California, 40-24 – With UCLA’s season seemingly teetering on the brink of collapse, Josh Rosen calmly propped it back up with a passing performance that put the freshman’s name in the Bruins’ record book.  Rosen completed a school-record 34 passes and threw two of his three touchdown passes to Devin Fuller, and UCLA got back on track with a 40-24 victory over No. 20 California on Thursday night.  Rosen passed for 399 yards in another splendid game for the standout rookie, and Thomas Duarte had career highs of 10 catches for 141 yards for the Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12). UCLA rebounded from consecutive losses to……(continue reading)

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2. On With The Show This It…

It’s the second-half of the season and pretenders will separate from the contenders in an unappealing Saturday march to the playoff.  You know there aren’t any pivotal games when #GameDay travels to James Madison.  It doesn’t mean there couldn’t be chaos, because there could and we all saw it happen in 2007, in weeks just like this.  So with the Greatest Cyclone ever measured by humans, bears down on Mexico – Let’s brace ourselves and hope it all works out. (h/t Matt Brown)

Early Afternoon

No. 6 Clemson at Miami(+7)
Noon, ABC

Before we get to the Nov. 7 game that everyone has circled on their calendar, when Florida State visits Death Valley, Clemson has two tricky road games to deal with: at Miami and at N.C. State. This is only the second Clemson road trip of the season — the Tigers survived Louisville on a Thursday night in Week 3 — although Sun Life Stadium for an afternoon game isn’t necessarily the most imposing venue. Miami does pose a test for Clemson’s revamped defense, which has played at a high level through the first half of the season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown just one interception, and Miami averages a solid 6.4 yards per play. However, the Hurricanes do have questions about a rebuild offensive line — even if they’ve allowed just seven sacks — which could spell trouble against Shaq Lawson and a disruptive Clemson front. Saturday can be both a showcase game for them, as well as quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will look to pick apart a struggling Hurricanes defense that ranks 93rd in yards per play allowed. This is by no means a guaranteed win for a Clemson team with playoff aspirations, but the Tigers are quite simply a better all-around team, equipped to exploit Miami’s issues.

Clemson 34.7  –  17.85  83.85%


Iowa State at No. 2 Baylor(-37)
Noon, ESPN

On a Saturday that isn’t looking like the most appealing day of football, you might as well watch Baylor do its Baylor thing and score over 60 points again. The Bears average 63.8 points per game, with wide receiver Corey Coleman’s 16 receiving touchdowns out-pacing the touchdown output of 16 entire teams. Iowa State has nine passing touchdowns in six games and has given up 16, and that trend will surely continue. The last time Iowa State visited Waco, Baylor scored 71. After giving TCU trouble for a quarter with three touchdowns last week, Iowa State went on to get shut out the rest of the game. Baylor will take care of business, get a week off and then move on to its much more difficult November schedule

Baylor 51.35  –  20.35  95.8%


Auburn at Arkansas(-6)
Noon, SEC Network

Part of the reason that this Saturday’s slate doesn’t look great is because games that looked important in the preseason suddenly look depressing. Exhibit A: Auburn at Arkansas, featuring two of the most disappointing teams in the country. Auburn is actually 4-2, but it barely beat Jacksonville State, barely got a hand on Leonard Fournette, switched quarterbacks in September and has dropped from 76th to 83rd in defensive yards per play under Will Muschamp. Arkansas lost to Toledo and Texas Tech in nonconference play, and while it did win at Tennessee, it is 2-4 and is going to need multiple upsets to get to a bowl. It can at least start getting on track here by running the ball at home against a vulnerable Auburn defense.

Arkansas 36.65  –  23.65  78.75%


Kansas State at Texas(-4)
Noon, Fox Sports 1

Both the Wildcats and Longhorns, in seasons expected to be struggles, have now faced embarrassments. Texas got steamrolled by both Notre Dame and TCU, while Kansas State — after two near-upsets of Oklahoma State and TCU — lost 55-0 to Oklahoma. After an off week, this is the first time we’ve seen the Longhorns since their jubilant win over rival Oklahoma. Whether it’s a turning point for Charlie Strong and Texas remains to be seen. The win over Oklahoma was huge, but it’s also a rivalry in which unexpected results have happened in the past. Texas’ offense does, at least, have better big-play capability than Kansas State, who may have been exposed by the Sooners in a clear rebuilding season.

Texas 28.9  –  KState 27.6  59.9%


Northwestern at Nebraska(-7.5)
Noon, ESPN2

Remember what happened the last time Northwestern played in Lincoln?:

Since then, this year, Nebraska has suffered a Hail Mary loss in nearly the exact same spot … in addition to three other horrifying, heartbreaking losses. Nebraska has lost four games by a total of 11 points, while Northwestern — who started 5-0 — has lost two games by 68. The Wildcats defense has struggled two weeks in a row, giving up over 200 yards last week to a backup Iowa running back, while the struggling offense hasn’t made much progress, ranking 126th in yards per play. Nebraska may have the nation’s worst pass defense, but Northwestern isn’t the team to exploit that weakness.

Nebraska 25.1  –  Northwestern 18.8  66.55%


No. 25 Pittsburgh at Syracuse(+7)
Noon, ESPN2

Did you know that Pitt is ranked in the AP poll? Or that Pitt has only one loss, on a 57-yard field goal by Iowa as time expired? Every season has these types of out-of-nowhere records that sneak up on you, but Pat Narduzzi has done a fine job in his first season as a head coach, despite a season-ending injury to star tailback James Conner. This weekend should bring another win to get Pitt to bowl eligibility already after four straight seasons in which it has finished 6-7 or 7-6. It has done this despite playing only two home games so far this season, with four of the last five at home. The bad news is that the last five games feature North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville and Miami, so the run in the top 25 might not last too long after Saturday’s visit to the Carrier Dome.

Pitt 31.7  –  ‘cuse 21.5  71.85%


Late Afternoon

Tennessee at No. 8 Alabama(-15.5)
3:30 p.m., CBS

The rivalry known as the Third Saturday of October will once again taken place on the month’s fourth Saturday, and it hasn’t been much of a rivalry lately either. Alabama has won eight in a row, covering the entire Nick Saban era, with only one game staying within one score. Tennessee was hoping to AltX.Logo.whitefinally turn things around and compete with the Crimson Tide again, but it enters Saturday just 3-3, thanks to three blown leads against Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee. The Vols have been inconsistent on offense under new coordinator Mike DeBord, and the defense ranks 88th in yards per play allowed. Neither is good news against Alabama, which has possibly the most terrifying defense in the country, and one of the most terrifying offensive players in tailback Derrick Henry. Alabama’s defensive front should dominate the game, and Henry can wear down what has been a beatable Vols defense. There still isn’t a good reason to pick Tennessee to win in this series.

‘Bama 31.5  –  UT 17.3  81.75%


Texas Tech at No. 17 Oklahoma(-14)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Baker Mayfield walked on and started right away at Texas Tech as a freshman in 2013, and now, in his debut season at Oklahoma, few quarterbacks are playing better. Oklahoma bounced back from its loss to Texas by blowing away Kansas State 55-0, behind a five-touchdown outing from Mayfield. He’s fourth in the nation in passer rating, and he has a solid core of skill players at his disposal, led by receiver Sterling Shepard. We know Oklahoma will be able to score here. The big test is its defense, which ranks ninth in yards per play and is coming off a shutout. The Sooners have yet to be tested by an offense like the Red Raiders’ unit, and this will be an interesting measuring stick before we get to November with their back-to-back games against Baylor and TCU.

OU 43.35  –  TT 24.05  87.35%


Indiana at No. 7 Michigan State(-16.5)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Every game feels like a trap for Michigan State, who beat Purdue by three and Rutgers by seven. Now, it has to re-focus after one of the most improbable wins in football history, against its archrival, hosting an Indiana team that nearly upset Ohio State. The Hoosiers are still waiting on the return of tailback Jordan Howard from an ankle injury, and on Saturday they’ll surely be relying plenty on the arm of quarterback Nate Sudfeld against a somewhat depleted Michigan State back seven. The Spartans are mediocre defensively, compared with past seasons, and thus Indiana is the type of team that can put a scare into them. The problem, as always, is that Indiana can’t cover anyone. Connor Cook and receiver Aaron Burbridge have formed a fantastic pairing this year, and they’ll keep rolling against the Hoosiers, even if it won’t be surprising if the Spartans get off to a slow start.

MichSt 37.9  –  Indiana 21.5  83.25%


Washington State at Arizona(-7.5)
4 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Washington State has back-to-back Pac-12 wins after sweeping the state of Oregon, as Luke Falk has hit his stride in Mike Leach’s offense. Falk is averaging 395.2 yards per game, leading the Cougars to 45 points against Oregon and 52 against Oregon State. Arizona’s defense is certainly beatable, as the Wildcats continue to play without star linebacker Scooby Wright. Of course, it works both ways. Washington State’s defense has issues, like always, and Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon has yet to throw an interception. While Arizona is at home, injuries could shift this one in Wazzu’s favor. Wright is out, and tailback Nick Wilson, cornerback DaVonte’ Neal and safety Tellas Jones are all questionable.

Wazzu 35.1  –  ‘Zona 29.65  67.25%


No. 23 Duke at Virginia Tech(-2.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPNU

Virginia Tech was supposed to rebound this year and perhaps take control of the ACC Coastal again — it dominated the division most of last decade — but instead the Blue Devils go to Blacksburg with a 5-1 record, while the Hokies are just 3-4, with questions swirling about Frank Beamer’s future. Virginia Tech does at least get back quarterback Michael Brewer, who has been out since his injury in the opener against Ohio State. Duke has been excellent defensively, but the question is whether its passing game can do enough on the road against Virginia Tech’s pass rush. This feels like a game that comes down to whichever team makes a big play on defense or special teams.

Duke 23.3  –  VaTech 17.85  62.5%


Virginia at North Carolina(-17.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPN3

North Carolina joins Duke and Pitt in the ACC Coastal’s surprising one-loss club. The Tar Heels blew their opening game vs. South Carolina with red-zone turnovers, but the offense has started to roll behind a stout offensive line and the running game, led by Elijah Hood. And while Will Muschamp’s presence at Auburn hasn’t made an immediate difference in the Tigers’ defense, North Carolina has improved from 117th to 32nd in yards per play allowed under Gene Chizik. UNC’s best wins right now are Illinois and a struggling Georgia Tech, but this team may be the best in the division.

UNC 41.25  –  18.15  90.75%


Penn State vs. Maryland(+6.5) (at Baltimore)
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Congratulations to Randy Edsall, who at least finished his tenure as Maryland coach with a perfect 1-0 record against Penn State. Every other Maryland coach in history has a combined record of 1-35-1 against the Nittany Lions. This is the debut of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as interim coach, but we have seen Locksley as a head coach before: He went 2-26 at New Mexico. So, Locksley has two career wins as a head coach, and Maryland has two wins against Penn State in the history of what the Terrapins really want to be a rivalry — see the refusal to shake hands last year. Penn State has plenty of issues, but its defensive line may dominate this game, and the Terps will have to slow down star Nittany Lions freshman Saquon Barkley, who has 389 rushing yards in two games against Big Ten opponents.

PennSt 31.55  –  Maryland 16.2  82.55%


Wisconsin at Illinois(+6.5)
3:30 p.m., BTN

Iowa controls the Big Ten West with a perfect record, while Wisconsin and Illinois are tying to keep pace at one loss each. The Fighting Illini have had a solid season under interim coach Bill Cubit, and they need only two more wins to get to bowl eligibility. There’s a good chance they’ll do it, although Saturday will be a tough challenge to consistently move the ball against the Badgers defense. Wisconsin is still waiting for the return of running back Corey Clement from sports hernia surgery, but here it might be able to keep winning with that defense, led by linebacker Joe Schobert, who has 9 ½ sacks.

Illinois 21.3  – Wiscy 20.05  52.45%


Prime Time

No. 3 Utah at USC(-3.5)
7:30 p.m., Fox

USC began the season ranked eighth in the AP poll. Now it’s 3-3 with an interim coach. And yet… the Trojans are three-point favorites against the undefeated, third-ranked Utes, who have beaten Michigan, California, Oregon and Arizona State. Utah has played better football than USC this year, but it’s not surprising to see the Trojans considered favorites. They’re still talented, especially on offense, where they actually rank fifth in yards per play. They actually averaged over seven yards per play in the losses to Notre Dame and Stanford, which means defense has been the problem — run defense in particular. Utah will attack the Trojans as much as possible with versatile tailback Devontae Booker, who continues to be the overwhelming focal point of the Utes offense. It might be enough, especially if the Utes can continue to force turnovers. But despite the disappointment it has faced this year, this is the type of game where USC might be able to re-group and pull of a much-needed win, because it still has the individual talent to compete with anybody.

Utah 29.75  –  SoCal 26.05  71%


No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 24 Ole Miss(-6)
7 p.m., ESPN

This is Week 8’s only game between ranked opponents, but it lost its luster last week thanks to losses by both teams: Texas A&M to Alabama and Ole Miss to Memphis. Both stand at one loss within the SEC, meaning this might as well be considered an SEC West elimination game. It AltX.Logo.whitewill feature one of the best matchups of the season, as Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett — arguably the nation’s best defensive player — squares off against Ole Miss offensive tackle — arguably the nation’s best offensive lineman — who returns at just the right time after sitting out the first half of the season for improper benefits. While the Rebels get one star back, they might be without defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who suffered a concussion while playing running back against Memphis. This game will be won on the perimeter, as neither team cares much about establishing the run and both are loaded with weapons at receiver, headlined by Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk. Ole Miss has the better defense, so it’s tough to pick against the Rebels at home, but last Saturday’s loss to Memphis didn’t look like an accident. Look for a bounce-back game from Texas A&M Kyle Allen.

OleMiss 28.15  –  Texas a+m 27.5  68.5%


No. 9 Florida State at Georgia Tech(+6.5)
7 p.m., ESPN2

This looked like a potential ACC title game preview in the preseason. Now, Georgia Tech is desperately trying to stop the bleeding. The Yellow Jackets won last year’s Orange Bowl and began this season with two blowouts of overmatched opponents, but now they’ve dropped five straight games, plummeting to 2-5. Even with a difficult schedule, this team was hoping for another major bowl bid. Now it’s just trying to get to the postseason, which is an unlikely proposition. Florida State continues to quietly roll along undefeated, with Everett Golson committing zero turnovers and Dalvin Cook averaging 8.7 yards per carry as he tries to make a case for the Heisman. Maybe Georgia Tech can finally turn things around. Maybe it can start converting third downs (it has dropped from first to 114th in that category) and get the option moving against a team it ran well against last year. It is a bit of a trap possibility for Florida State. But as long as Cook stays healthy (he’s battled a hamstring injury), the Seminoles should be fine against a team that has struggled to replicate last year’s offensive efficiency.

FSU 34.4  –  GaTech 23.4  74.5%


No. 1 Ohio State at Rutgers(-21)
8 p.m., ABC

Rutgers finally has something going for itself, as Kyle Flood returned from suspension in time for the Scarlet Knights to beat Indiana 55-52, erasing a 52-27 second-half deficit, tying the game with 6:29 left but having the extra point blocked and the winning on a field goal as time expired. It was a nice comeback for Rutgers, who is now 3-3, but reality is about to hit. Last year, the Buckeyes beat the Knights 56-17, and this starts a tough string of games with Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska next for Rutgers. Ohio State is turning to J.T. Barrett as starting quarterback, a wise decision, and Barrett should keep the Buckeyes rolling against one of the nation’s worst defenses. To make matters worse for Rutgers, standout receiver Leonte Carroo is questionable with an ankle injury.

OhSt 38.5  –  Rutgers 18.25  89.05%


Western Kentucky at No. 5 LSU(-17)
7 p.m., ESPNU

There is a high probability that Leonard Fournette trounces the Hilltoppers for 200 yards, and that this isn’t much of a game. Safety Jalen Mills is returning to the LSU secondary after missing the first half of the season, re-joining a talented group led by Tre’Davious White, and while Western Kentucky has a ridiculously prolific passing offense, it was held to 14 points (in a win) at Vanderbilt. Western Kentucky is a fun team, and this matchup does have some intrigue, because the Hilltoppers are capable of scaring anyone. Since the Vandy game, Brandon Doughty has thrown for at least 350 yards every week, completing 74 percent for 2,709 yards and 24 touchdowns overall. So perhaps the Hilltoppers can put a scare into LSU after its tight win vs. Florida last week. But this WKU defense can’t slow down Fournette.

LSU 39.05  –  WKU 26.55  76.7%


Kentucky at Mississippi State(-11.5)
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Kentucky had not won an SEC road game since 2009, until it won at South Carolina on Sept. 12. This is actually its first road game since then, as the Wildcats continue to push for their first bowl bid since 2010. They’re 4-2, with their only losses coming by a total of eight points to Florida and Auburn. Winning in Starkville is a steep challenge, though. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott isn’t the national superstar he was a year ago — Mississippi State was No. 1 when these teams met last October — but he has yet to throw an interception and continues to produce for a team that’s flying under the radar because of its two SEC losses. Mississippi State isn’t the team it was last year, but it’s still a competitive squad that will be chasing eight or nine wins.

MissSt 35.55  –  ‘Tucky 19.25  84.3%


Late Night

Washington at No. 10 Stanford(-1)
10:30 p.m., ESPN

Back in Week 1, this would have looked like a possible 6-3 struggle in which both teams struggled to cross midfield. Now, Stanford is playing the best football in the country. The Cardinal offense has looked terrific, with Christian McCaffrey emerging as one of the nation’s top playmakers behind a sturdy line, while Kevin Hogan has made strides at quarterback. The Stanford offense is actually well ahead of the defense, which bucks recent trends. The opposite is true for the Huskies, who have played really well on defense despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL. Freshman quarterback Jake Browning — who may not be 100 percent with a shoulder injury — has struggled against top competition, and the Huskies are going to need the hot streak of freshman running back Myles Gaskin to continue to hang with the Cardinal on the road. Stanford’s playing too well right now for it to happen.

Stanford 31  –  UW 21.6  72.05%

pablo (10)

 

Weekend Update: #SadFansAreSad

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1. This Is Sparta!

Poor Michigan Fan – you’ve endured a lot of pain and suffering on the gridiron and on the hardwood.  Sad fans being sad is almost your motto and after this Saturday, it’ gonna take a whole lotta cheese-curds and whiskey to get you thru this latest loss.  For the rest of us – IT. WAS. AMAZING!  To see how you snatched defeat from the jaws of victory is one of the best endings in College Football history – you’ll have to relive this moment forever every fall, because TV will show it over and over and over and over, and it got us thinking about the rest of the miracles we’ve seen over the years in college football.

Miracle at Michigan, 1994

Bluegrass Miracle, 2002

Statue of Liberty, Fiesta Bowl 2007

Miracle In Miami, 1984

Kick 6, 2013

The Play, 1982


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2. Same As It Ever Was…

So what did we learn this Saturday – we learned that the SEC West will still come down to the November 7th game between LSU and Alabama.  The Crimson Tide took A&M behind the woodshed again and let them know that they are still not ready, and LSU overcame Florida by dusting off an old favorite – seriously coach, how do you not expect that from Les Miles – those who fail to learn their history are doomed to repeat it…The Spread infiltrated the SEC, but it seems POWER still wins.  So we’ll see, both teams seem to be getting better.  The same can’t be said for Ole Miss.

Recaps

Michigan State 27, Michigan 23
Ohio State 38, Penn State 10
Notre Dame 41, USC 31
LSU 35, Florida 28
Alabama 41, Texas A&M 23
Memphis 37, Ole Miss 24
Baylor 62, West Virginia 38
Iowa 40, Northwestern 10

Weekend Update: #MondayMotivation

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1. Sark-cano

It’s no longer funny. Steve has a problem and so does USC.  Word is, Steve was drunk on the sideline against Arizona State and furthermore the pep rally incident was not the first time – so where was the leadership Pat Haden?  This should have been handled by you, at the beginning – not by Cody Kessler and other seniors making him do “up-downs” and other penalties if he was late to meetings, etc…The writing apparently was on the wall and no one took it seriously until a 5-star recruit decommitted.

Steve has a long road ahead and sobriety is his only way back if he ever wants to be a Big-Time coach again.  Parents will avoid sending their kids to a man who has a substance abuse problem, but more so, to a program that fails in its responsibilities to do the right thing, again.

But this is more about substance abuse, this is about money and afterall USC has had a license to print.  No one is saying a few drinks is an issue, but Sark seems to have gone from functioning alcoholic to dysfunctional in a swirling vortex of dumb.  A drunk ruins recruiting and at the University of Spoiled Children, that, can’t, happen.  If they truly were concerned about Sark’s drinking problem today, then why did they hire him?  They knew before, his prowess for being loaded; it was witnessed on the sidelines and bars with Pete and as a head coach up in Seattle.

Maybe USC should have kept coach O, but maybe the administration should send Pat Haden on an indefinite leave of absence too.  Pat, hired and fired Lame Kitten, and he personally selected a mediocre coach with a drinking problem.  It’s not funny anymore.


2. Duck-nado

What took a decade to build, has taken 5 weeks to crumble.  Say goodbye to the Pac-12 North bully – the Oregon Ducks.  We should have noticed earlier when Oregon had to go shopping for a QB at the Graduate-Transfer bargain bin.  Who knew Oregon was so thin on talent.  That’s an indictment on the coaching staff.  Once again, Vernon Adams was out with a broken finger, and again Oregon had to use 2 other guys to move an offense that looked more like #TheWalkingDead and lost to Washington State, 45-38 in double O.T.

That tells me, the staff has not recruited well, nor have they developed anyone neither.  Gone is the hallmark of Oregon’s success – player development.  Helfrich can say all he wants about the success of the “team”…win-or-lose…it’s not one guy…blah blah blah.  I’m sure they are all working their tails off,  but someone has to do something about that secondary – woof.


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Chris Morris/ESPN

3. More Goose-Eggs sir

Michigan got another convincing win by recording their third shutout over Northwestern.  TCU escapes Manhattan, Michigan State survives a ridiculous 4th down spike against Rutgers, Charlie Strong ambushes Oklahoma and Utah survives California – in what was a very entertaining Saturday.  If I were to be on the committee this is who I would have in my tournament as of today:

  1. Utah: The Utes should have done more with the five interceptions of Jared Goff, but they still held on for a win against a previously undefeated opponent. And in the wacky Pac-12 – home teams are 5–11 in conference games – surviving at home is enough. Remember that 24–17 win over Michigan on Sept. 3?  It looks better and better each week.
  2. Baylor:  I still need to see Baylor play a few more decent opponents – Kansas was no challenge in a 66–7 beatdown on Saturday – but a visit from West Virginia this weekend should provide a challenge and a better glimpse. The difference between Baylor and just about everyone else at the top – Baylor has absolutely destroyed inferior competition instead of farting around.
  3. Clemson:  The Tigers kept the hammer down after an emotional win over Notre Dame. Georgia Tech isn’t the same team it was last year, but any team that can hold the Yellow Jackets to 71 rushing yards and a 1.7 yards-per-carry average is playing excellent defense.
  4. ???: Ohio State is sleep-walking and does not have the same fire as last year.  It’s always dangerous in sports to think you can just flip-a-switch and dominate any opponent.  That thinking takes away from your preparation and makes you vulnerable, and that means this:  Ohio State will run into a team that is hungrier and will not run out of gas – Ohio State is no Baylor – but until they lose…

Game Recaps:

Florida State 29, Miami 24
TCU 52, Kansas State 45
Michigan State 31, Rutgers 24
Washington State 45, Oregon 38
Texas 24, Oklahoma 17
Tennessee 38, Georgia 31
Michigan 38, Northwestern 0
Wake Forest 3, Boston College 0
Ohio State 49, Maryland 28

What You Need To Know for #CollegeGameDay This Weekend

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USATSI_8849584

Since the days of Agamemnon – the Trojans always lose

1. More ‘Cutty’ Sark?

He is who we thought he was!  At least some of us thought that.  Others thought that he would be more Pete than Lane.  They never listened when the handful of us told USC fan, this guy is not your answer to returned-glory.  The Trojans lost again, at home, and to Sark’s former program that now employs Chris Petersen.  Of the two coaches, who would USC fan rather have now?

The game started in the twilight (omen?) with a sparse crowd that watched a double-digit underdog upset USC 17-12.  The Huskies of U-Dub looked enthusiastic and the USC offense never just ran the DAMN ball.  Does Steve drink on the sidelines?  How does Tre Madden average 7.1 ypc and Ronald Jones II averages 8.1 ypc, but you only give them the ball 25 times?  Reads like a repeat of the game against Texas in the Rose Bowl a few years ago when he was the O.C.

SoCal fan had a lot of Hot Takes after the game and they are correct – he is doing turrable, (said ina Charles Barkley voice) with all this perceived talent.  We have seen all we need to see of ‘Cutty’ Sark – from his sophmorish behavior at a pep rally, to choosing to throw the ball on second and third downs – to then settle for a 45yd FG on 4th down, to trying to get the crowd fired up on the sideline – that’s what those nice girls in the white sweaters are for!  Sark will not make it at USC and the program will sink to pre-Pete levels.  Although, I bet Terry Saban wouldn’t mind living in Palm Springs – it beats Tuscaloosa!

2. You Better You Bet

In year’s past, all we would hear about this week, is OU v. Texas, or Miami v. FSU – but right now I’d hedge that more people are interested in Northwestern-Michigan, and Utah-California – at least I am, along with a few other games that are slated this Saturday – all times EASTERN.  So Let’s Get It On!

Morning Games

  • (10) Oklahoma v. Texas (@Dallas) noon ABC – OU -17.5
    • There is no reason for Texas to keep this close. Oklahoma is a legitimate Big 12 contender. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is averaging 10.2 yards per attempt, proving to be an effective fit for Lincoln Riley’s system, but also a dangerous improviser. Beyond struggles against Tulsa’s Baylor-influenced offense, Oklahoma’s defense has been excellent too. Simply put, the Sooners are a much better, more complete team than the Longhorns. Texas’ offense is a mess, its defense ranks 110th in yards per play and the team is suffering social media meltdowns.
      • Oklahoma 41 – Texas 14—94.85%

  • Maryland @ (1) Ohio St – noon Big (not)10 Network – OSU -33
    • Ohio State may put an end to the Randy Edsall era. On Thursday, 247Sports reported that Maryland is planning to fire Edsall, perhaps after the Terrapins inevitably lose to the Buckeyes. They have a bye week next, so the timing would make sense if they’re planning to cut him loose during the season. Maryland has been awful thus far, getting off to a 2-3 start with a blowout home loss to Bowling Green, and a total of six points scored the last two weeks in embarrassments at the hands of West Virginia and Michigan.
      • Maryland 7 – Ohio St 39—93.3%

  • Illinois @ (22) Iowa – noon ESPN2 – Iowa -11
    • Raise your hand if you had these teams a combined 9-1 at this stage in the season. The Fighting Illini will likely fall off a bit, but Iowa might be the best bet in the Big Ten West right now. The Hawkeyes won 10-6 on the road vs. Wisconsin last week, and they play Maryland and Indiana in their two cross-division games. They won that game despite the fact that quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sharp in September, completed just 9 of 21 passes for 77 yards. The Hawkeyes are doing what the best Kirk Ferentz teams have done.
      • Illinois 16.45 – Iowa 27.55—73.9%

  • No. 3 Baylor at Kansas – noon, FS1 – Kansas +44
    • Last week, Baylor scored seven first-half touchdowns in a 63-35 win over Texas Tech. The 63 total points merely matched the Bears’ season average. Kansas, meanwhile, is well on its way to losing every game this season. It can reasonably be assumed that Baylor can name its point total in this one. It’s a 44-point favorite on the road in a conference game, and in the last three matchups Baylor has won by a total score of 160-42. Unless Baylor shows up completely uninterested, this will get out of hand in a hurry.
      • Baylor 54.1 – Kansas 16.3—97.05%

  • Indiana at Penn State – Noon, ESPN – PSU -6.5
    • The Hoosiers, who have never won in Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions are a combined 8-2, but their wins have come against Southern Illinois, FIU, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State and Army. There hasn’t been a whole lot proved here, with Indiana coming close to an upset of Ohio State and Penn State’s offense, despite the presence of touted quarterback Christian Hackenberg, seeming to rely solely on the health of stud freshman tailback Saquon Barkley, who averages nearly nine yards per carry despite playing behind a suspect O-line.
      • Indiana 20.35 – PennSt 30.3—73.15%

Afternoon

  • No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan – 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network – Michigan -7.5
    • Last year, Michigan beat Northwestern in the infamous M00N game. It took more than 38 minutes for either team to score. They each turned the ball over three times. And Northwestern out-gained Michigan 264 to 256. There was a lot of bad offense, between two mediocre teams. This year … well, the result could be very similar, even if both teams have now played their way into the top 20. That’s because both defenses have been excellent.
      • Northwestern 13.15 – Michigan 20.9—67.25%

  • Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Clemson -7
    • This would seem to be the perfect opportunity for Clemson to fall victim to a trap or hangover or whatever you want to call it. The Tigers just vaulted into the playoff frontrunner discussion by holding off Notre Dame for a key win at home. Now, they welcome in Georgia Tech and its option offense. This was supposed to be one of the biggest games of the ACC season, but Georgia Tech has faltered, losing to Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina for a puzzling three-game losing streak.
      • GaTech 16.95 – Clemson 32.05—82.35%

  • No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee – 3:30 p.m., CBS – Tennessee +3
    • The same thing could be said about last week’s Tennessee-Arkansas game: Both of these teams desperately need a win here. Georgia needs to rebound from its embarrassment at the hands of Alabama. Tennessee, after losing yet another close game to Arkansas, has to finally win a big game. The Vols, expected to be SEC East contenders, are sitting at 2-3, and now both teams are staring up at Florida in the division. Tennessee has had a chance to win every game, while Georgia simply failed to show-up against Alabama last week.
      • Georgia 28.15 – Tennessee 26.05—61.95%

  • South Carolina at No. 7 LSU – 3:30 p.m., ESPN – LSU -15
    • This game was supposed to be played at South Carolina, but the devastating flooding there has forced a move to Baton Rouge. LSU is admirably doing everything it can to make South Carolina feel at home, with all the revenue going to South Carolina.
      • SCAR 18.25 – LSU 38.6—87.95%

  • Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame – 3:30 p.m., NBC – Notre Dame -14.5
    • Notre Dame has to respond to a heartbreaking road loss at Clemson by stopping another option team. The Fighting Irish did it against Georgia Tech three weeks ago, and now they’ll take a shot at containing Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who is four touchdowns away from tying Montee Ball’s FBS career rushing touchdowns record. Last year, Reynolds didn’t run for a touchdown against the Irish, but Navy still pushed them in a 49-39 Notre Dame win.
      • Navy 24.1 – Notre Dame 36.95—76.65%
  • Wisconsin at Nebraska – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Nebraska -1
    • So much for this being the Big Ten West game of the year. Wisconsin can’t run without Corey Clement. Nebraska can’t stop its run of agonizing losses. What Wisconsin can do, however, is play suffocating defense. Linebacker Joe Schobert leads the nation with nine sacks, and only Alabama has moved the ball on the Badgers at all. If their defense can frustrate the inconsistent Tommy Armstrong and force Nebraska to make mistakes, the Badgers might be able to do enough to win a key game on the road and stay near the top of the division race.
      • Wisconsin 24.3 – Nebraska 24.8—57%
  • Minnesota at Purdue – 3:30 p.m., ESPNU – Purdue +3
    • Minnesota, expected by many to be a Big Ten West contender this season, has not been impressive. Its highlight thus far was holding TCU to 23 points in the opener. Since then, the Golden Gophers have beat Ohio, Kent State and Colorado State by three points each, and they’ve been blown out 27-0 by Northwestern.
      • Minnesota 26.75 – Purdue 19.8—66.05%

Prime Time

  • Miami at No. 12 Florida State – 8 p.m., ABC – FSU -9
    • Miami has become known for getting up for the Florida State game, before losing and having its season spiral out of control. Al Golden has yet to beat the rival Seminoles, and his tenure in Coral Gables appears to be careening toward its end. The Hurricanes didn’t bother to wait for the FSU game to start losing; they looked disinterested in a 34-23 loss at Cincinnati last Thursday. Florida State hasn’t exactly been impressive this season either — it won 24-16 at Wake Forest last week.
      • Miami 17.6 – FSU 35.7—86.95%

  • No. 2 TCU at Kansas State – 7:30 p.m., Fox – KState +9.5
    • Last week, Kansas State nearly beat Oklahoma State on the road despite playing most of the game with fifth-string quarterback Kody Cook, primarily a wide receiver, taking snaps because of injuries. Now, it appears that Joe Hubener is ready to return — he passed concussion tests — meaning the former walk-on should be starting at quarterback. (Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury now.) Based on all of the above, this is truly a Bill Snyder team.
      • TCU 29.85 – KState 28.9—52.65%

  • Arkansas at No. 8 Alabama – 7 p.m., ESPN – Alabama -17
    • The best bet for beating Alabama is challenging the Crimson Tide on the perimeter with tempo. This is not what Arkansas does best. The Arkansas offensive line may be big and powerful, but it’s not enough to overwhelm the Crimson Tide. And given that Jake Coker played well against Georgia and Arkansas’ defense has taken a step back from last year, this should be an opportunity for Alabama to earn another decisive win before a huge trip to Texas A&M next week.
      • Arkansas 15.1 – Alabama 39.8—93.2%

  • No. 11 Florida at Missouri – 7:30 p.m., SEC Network – Missouri +6
    • Nobody in Florida wants to ever speak of last year’s Missouri-Florida game ever again, but we’re going to have to quickly do so now. Missouri won 42-13, despite the fact that quarterback Maty Mauk went 6 of 18 for 20 yards and led the team with 38 rushing yards. Missouri won by 29 points despite the fact that it had 119 total yards. It did so because it returned a punt, kickoff, interception and fumble for touchdowns. There were many miserable losses for Florida in the Will Muschamp era, but this was one of the most miserable losses by anybody ever.
      • FU 28.4 – Mizzou 15.8—78.95%

  • No. 21 Oklahoma State at West Virginia – 7 p.m., ESPN2 – West Virginia -7
    • Oklahoma State is off to a 5-0 start, and it visits a West Virginia team that has just lost to Oklahoma by 20 and lost its best player, safety Karl Joseph, to a season-ending knee injury. Maybe this is a good opportunity for a conference road win for the Cowboys. But then again, not all 5-0 records are made equally.
      • OkSt 22.35 – WV 30.05—76.8%

  • No. 4 Michigan State at Rutgers – 8 p.m., Big Ten Network – Rutgers +14.5
    • We have reached the third and final game of the Kyle Flood suspension, and Rutgers may have star receiver Leonte Carroo back after he was reinstated this week. Maybe it will matter, because the Spartans have hardly been impressive this season, even with their win over Oregon (which has since been diminished a bit). Last week, Michigan State nearly choked away a home game against Purdue, winning just 24-21.
      • MichiganSt 40.6 – Rutgers 15.85—92.45%

  • Washington State at Oregon – 6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – Oregon -17
    • With Vernon Adams still dealing with his broken finger, Oregon used both Jeff Lockie and Taylor Allie in last week’s win over Colorado. The Ducks were far from perfect, but they at least bounced back from the Utah debacle with a road win over the Buffaloes. They racked up 361 yards on the ground, with Royce Freeman and Taj Griffin both breaking 100 yards, and it’s likely that we’ll see a similar strategy at home against Washington State.
      • Wazzu 21.75 – Oregon 41.35—87.45%

Late night

  • No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah – 10 p.m., ESPN – Utah -7.5
    • These two are the only undefeated teams left in the Pac-12. California has the nation’s top NFL draft quarterback prospect in Jared Goff. Utah owns wins over Michigan and Oregon and has gotten improved play out of quarterback Travis Wilson, on top of its stellar defense. The Utes are unbeaten despite the fact that their defense ranks 75th in yards per play and star tailback Devontae Booker is averaging just 4.2 yards per carry, so they still have some things to prove, no matter how impressive their demolition of Oregon was, especially on the road.
      • Cal 20.2 – Utah 37.15—83.35%

  • CU at Arizona State – 10 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – ASU -15
    • After a tough September featuring a loss to Texas A&M and a blowout home loss to USC, Arizona State finally snapped out of its funk last week, upsetting UCLA on the road. Now, it returns home to face a sandwich game against the Buffaloes, before big games against Utah and Oregon. Arizona State is not above disappointing losses — last year, it lost at Oregon State a week after blowing out Notre Dame — but the Sun Devils should hopefully use the UCLA win as a springboard. This offense still lacks explosiveness, but Arizona State should be able to effectively utilize its running backs and short passing game to sustain drives against a beatable Colorado defense.
      • CU 13.15 – ASU 39.7—93.2%

3rd Stone From the Sun

Animals! Anarchy! I have always hated kids, especially at this time of year. They wander in and out of the house, babbling and drooling on each other, and when it snows, piling up, up, up, then flooding with filth when it melts. … Yes sir, haven’t I been telling you all along that March is a horrible month? It sucks in nine-thousand ways.  Especially in Texas.  The whole state went 0’fer.

But not all ways, as it turns out. No. Shaquille O’Neal was born in March, along with my son and other sons I’m related too, and the bastard child of Charles Manson. How many more games can be decided by a single point?

Hot damn! I could go on and on about this, but that would drive us all mad. Justin Bieber was spawned in March, along with Jack Kerouac, Queen Latifah, Albert Einstein and Osama bin Laden.

So let’s get back to basketball and the looming UCLA-UAB game. Even the president is worried about it.

We live in downhill times, in basketball and everywhere else. By this time next year, we will all be arrested for something, whether we’re guilty or not. “Terrorism” has many, many faces. Frankly, I will not be shocked to see the NCAA basketball tournament being played in a titanium cage at Guantanamo Bay, with defrocked priests as Referees calling goal-tending.

But the LSU situation haunts me more than the others, right now, if only because I watched upset after upset yesterday – and the beloved Tigers missing 20 consecutive shots. My heart is heavy, my mood is glum.  How is that goal-tending?! Bracket Destruction is a horrible pig. It is sort of like texting a lady late at night after washing down your tears with Jameson and Miller Lite.

Yeah. Suck on that one for a minute.

As for my quasi-flaky Tigers, professional circumstance has already spared me the agony of deciding where to put my money today. Right, no more of this s***-eating grief. I have finally grown up, I have matured — the Office Pool bracket sheet says I have already picked Northern Iowa in the Elite 8.

Indeed. I did it Monday, when I thought I was still thinking clearly. You bet: The Bruins are a No. 11 seed. And UAB is the No. 14.

It’s easy: Just bet the higher-seeded team in every game, and forget that amateur crap about “Personal Loyalties” and Home Team hunches that reveal themselves to you just before dawn on game day. You are probably an Alcoholic, anyway, and you are prone to Doubling Up/down, so what? Pay no attention to any yo-yo who tells you that Wisconsin is going to win. That is nonsense, that is impossible, nobody in basketball would bet Wisconsin over Kentucky. It would be 33-1 or 44-1, if you thought about monetizing it.

And some people will, at any odds. What the hell? I would bet heavily on my people at 22-1, and a bit less heavily at 15-1, or even 11-1. Why not? Big Risk is what this ball-busting March Madness is all about, right? Go long, get weird, kick ass — and if we Lose, get really Weird.

Yes sir, that is exactly what we do around here in March, folks. We load up on everything we can get our hands on, then crawl into a huge vat of ice water and bet gigantic money with jokers on both coasts.

It is not much different from that giggly, blind-dumb limbo that a gambler will get into when he knows in his heart that he finally has a Sure Thing, a sleeping dog who can’t lose, etc. etc.

But let me tell you for sure, people, that Gonzaga can lose, and the ‘Zags probably will. It is actually about a 57-1 shot, which is not for your everyday hometown beer drunk. … NoDakSt might be simply Bigger, Faster, Smarter, Tougher and on most days just a little more adventurous than this Gonzaga team, which is not even as good as the one that lost to UConn in the Elite Eight in 1999. They have the shooters, but do they have the muscle or the depth to play 40 minutes with the Bison?

The final spread will be at least two digits. Try 18, as in 89-71. I have already predicted this with my blind-dog-smokin-bracket-sheet, which was strictly impersonal.

Or almost impersonal, anyway: In a fit of stupid loyalty or love or maybe just a pimp’s lust for melodrama, I fell for crowd-pleasing Cinderella-teams like Iowa St, Baylor and Eastern Washington, which all got busted early. Screw them. All of my Final Four picks are still alive, and that is more than some people can say.

My attorney will almost certainly live to be 122 years old, when he will still be the amazing all-time champion of sports and literature that he is today, and has been for the past 12 years. Whatever it is that he eats after midnight, we should all eat more of it. Take it from me: I know how it feels to run at top speed for years and still believe in Santa Claus.

Whoops, maybe not Santa, but definitely Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July. It was my attorney, in fact, who told me to bet Arizona even, with no points at all, at 13-1 odds to win it all. Got it? That means Wisconsin, Villanova and Duke, too.

So I will, and nevermind what I really think — which is that Northern Iowa will knock off ‘Nova and Wichita St will somehow beat Kansas. Right, and that’s about it for my ramblings of an insane gambler, for now. I hear the gong, and I must have whiskey.