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Top 10 Teams Take Tough Tests in Week 3

Just like in school, college football’s first week saw a couple casualties.  There’s always that kid in class you can tell isn’t going to make it.

Week two, despite not a single matchup of ranked teams, was entertaining enough.  Generally speaking, this is the easiest part of the semester.  There aren’t many serious assignments.  You nod in-and-out of consciousness during class and, for the most part, you’re still all good.  Sorry, Cowpokes.

Before you realize it, we’re in the third week already.  By now, professors have stopped caring if you like them.  Seemingly, they’re out for blood and here comes that first exam.  Chances are it’s going to make you wish you’d paid better attention and taken higher quality notes.

Six of the top 10 teams in college football are playing what I consider “real games” this week.  These are the tough tests in week three:

#6 Houston at Cincinnati

Thursday night on ESPN

By no means is Cincinnati a great team, but playing your first true road game against a conference foe in primetime on a Thursday is certainly a challenge.  Account for the way the Bearcats and the record-breaking Nippert Stadium crowd showed up, and this game qualifies as a tough test.

It was good to see Houston follow up its solid win over Oklahoma two weeks ago.  No, the Cougars did not dominate an inferior opponent until late.  Still, Houston is a legitimate national title contender.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Houston gave up a touchdown, opening up a 16-12 deficit, Cincinnati failing a two-point try.  The Cougars answered with an efficient 10-play, 61-yard drive, going up 19-16.

Then they intercepted a pass on the following drive and Greg Ward Jr. led them 60 yards down the field, using 11 plays for a second consecutive touchdown drive.  Cincinnati’s next drive was another interception, this one a house call.  The first play of the next drive was a second consecutive pick six.

All of a sudden it was 40-16 with 3:40 left.  I bring this up because those who didn’t watch will look at the score and laugh, not knowing it took the Cougars’ best to finally dispose of the Bearcats.

This was a great game, but the most interesting part is that it’ll be a Big 12 matchup next year.  That’s right, keep that expansion mumbo jumbo rolling.

It’s no secret Houston is the prize pig for the weakest of the Power 5.  Interestingly, the Cincinnati Bearcats stepped up to the occasion and gave us an unusually exciting Thursday night game.  I think that scores them major points with the Big 12 big wigs.

Anyway, the Houston Cougars came away with a win similar to the one they’ll need every week the rest of the season to keep the Power-5-Playoff-busting dream alive.

#2 Florida State at #10 Louisville

Saturday noon on ABC

It’s really a shame that these two, along with Clemson, are all in the Atlantic division, while the Coastal can’t boast one team legitimately on the same level.  Essentially, this is an ACC semi-final.  The early season aspect makes it all the more interesting.

Lamar Jackson needs to do his thing if he’s going to be a serious Heisman contender this fall.  He’s wowed us with big numbers and flashy plays against inferior teams, thus far.  As Famous Jameis reminded them against Ole Miss two weeks ago, the Seminoles ain’t no puppies.

Winston goes on to say, “We got the best running back in the whole damn league,” referring to the best college running back in the whole damn country, Dalvin Cook.  Watch Cook feast on the Cardinals.

#1 Alabama at #19 Ole Miss

Saturday 3:30 p.m. on CBS

The Tide have lost but thrice in the past two seasons.  Two of those losses have come at the hands of the Rebels.  Recent history is telling us this is the toughest test for Nick Saban and the big, bad Bama boys.  I believe in superstitious stuff like that.

This’ll be closer than the experts think.  Break out your best bowties and slickest seersuckers.  It’s a game day at the Grove with Verne and Gary.

#3 Oh*o State at #14 Oklahoma

Saturday 7:30 p.m. on FOX

Incredibly, Oh*o State still hasn’t lost a true road game under Urban Meyer.  That includes one game in a ranked opponent’s barn in each of his four seasons as Head Buckeye.

You all know I have no love for Oh*o State, but I think it’s absolutely awesome it’s playing this game in Norman, Oklahoma.

The kicker is: Oklahoma cannot afford to take another loss, even if it is a non-conference contest.  I’m curious how, if, that motivates the Fighting Covered Wagons.

I’ll be focusing on the quarterback play.  We’ve got two of the most electric QBs in the nation, J.T. Barrett and Baker Mayfield, going head-to-head.  Expect a flurry of points late as these two go back-and-forth, after they get warmed up.

USC at #7 Stanford

Saturday 8 p.m. on ABC

USC could well have yet another average team that’ll live on unwarranted hype.  Still, this is a real rivalry game that Stanford will not be looking past.

The Cardinal took both the regular season square-off and the Pac-12 Championship Game last year.  The Trojans won the two matchups previous to that, including the last time this rivalry was played at Stanford, in 2014.

Five Progress Reports Pending

We learned a good deal about Houston on Thursday night.  You don’t have to go out on a limb to say that we’ll know much more about five other top ten teams after this weekend.

Good luck on your exams.  Hope you did a little studying in-between beers.


E-mail Mitch at mitch.gatzke@campuspressbox.com and follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke.

Photo: Flickr user – Ken Lund

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Is There Anything Worth Watching This Weekend?

After scouring Twitter and Google throughout the off-season for something to satiate my college football appetite, last weekend finally arrived. If the anticipation you went into that weekend with was anything like mine, it didn’t happen a moment too soon. And, like me, I’m sure you woke up Tuesday morning mesmerized by what you had witnessed all weekend long.

The season began with an overtime thriller between Appalachian State and Tennessee. Joshua Dobbs? Never stop being you.

We had the chance to watch Wisconsin turn Les Miles’ and LSU’s world upside down. Can Leonard Fournette save Miles’ job?

There was that beat down that Alabama put on USC. Hey, look. Kiffin just dialed up another 4th down touchdown and Saban just hired another former head coach.

Texas may or may not be back on top of the college football world after beating a highly-ranked Notre Dame team. Was that Bobby Boucher quarterbacking the Longhorns? Ah, it was Bouchele.

And to top it all off, Florida State staged a furious comeback as the Seminoles beat Ole Miss behind a halftime pep talk from Jameis Winston that will rank right up there with that Gipper speech.

What. An. Opening. Weekend.

And now we come to Week 2. I’m sorry, but after that epic first weekend, I really thought my college football life would be different. Surely we’d find a few games that we’d not only circle but also plan our Saturday around.

You know what I’m talking about. Hit Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond, but only if there was time to squeeze it into our college football viewing schedule.

Week 2? You suck.

There isn’t a single game being played between two ranked teams. At least in the Week 1 matchups of ranked vs. unranked teams we had what I would describe as solid matchups. You know, games like LSU vs. Wisconsin or UCLA vs. Texas A&M.

Week 2 is setting up to be a big pile of disappointment.

Week 2 gives us the battle of the A&Ms as Texas A&M takes on Prairie View A&M. Sorry, but do the alumni of these two schools even care about this one? I didn’t think so.

There is some excitement behind the Virginia Tech vs Tennessee game, but it’s really a game based on fabricated fluff. All that can really be said about this game is that it’s being played at Bristol Motor Speedway. Terrific! A made for TV game.

I don’t watch college basketball games on aircraft carriers and I don’t care if I ever see another football game played in Yankee Stadium. So having a football game at a race track just doesn’t do it for me.

Here’s what you can expect my Saturday to look like. I’ll wake up, have my coffee and get my oil changed. I may even hit Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Who really knows? If there’s time, I’ll tune in to that Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee game. Why that game? Easy. Because I want to see the statistical masterpiece that Dobbs will create as his encore to his performance against Appalachian State.

E-mail Seth at seth.merenbloom@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

Photo: flickr.com

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Smackdown Friday: “Swag” Kelly and Ole Miss will Teach Florida State What Strong Looks Like

Labor Day is just a welcomed day off from both work and school for most people. But for Ole Miss this year, it’s the day they take down the Florida State Seminoles. It will definitely feel like a holiday for the Rebels on Monday night.

Let’s just revisit how both teams ended the year last season…

Ole Miss was selected to play the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Sugar Bowl. Florida State got the opportunity to play the Houston Cougars in the Peach Bowl. The Rebels won the Sugar Bowl against the #16 Cowboys by 28 points. Crazy, right? What a blowout! The Seminoles lost the Peach Bowl to the #14 Cougars by 14. Not quite a blowout, but also not a good showing for the Seminoles against a non Power Five opponent. I bet that one still hurts a little bit in Tallahassee.

Heading into this season, I didn’t get the chance to ask Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois how he and his teammates got psyched up for this first game. But thanks to Florida State’s most infamous rhetorician, Jameis Winston, I do have an idea of how he might reply. It would probably go a little something like this…

“And those men looked me in the eye and they said ‘We got this, Deondre.’ And I said…we said…I said, ‘Are you scrong?’ They said, ‘I’m scrong if you scrong.’ And I said ‘we scrong then.’”

So now I have a question… Are we talking ACC “scrong” or SEC strong? Because those are two entirely different things when it comes to college football. Florida State can be ACC “scrong” all they want, but when you’re enjoying cakewalks in most of your conference play, then you clearly have no idea what strong means to a conference like the SEC. Ole Miss beat the eventual National Champion last season. Florida State, on the other hand, lost to the eventual Runner-Up last year. Clearly there are two different standards for strength/”scrength” here.

And I have another question about being “scrong.” How do you really consider a game in Orlando to be a neutral site game? Are you that scared to leave the state and play a formidable opponent? Tallahassee is practically on the way to Orlando for Ole Miss fans. But of course the Seminoles think this is a great matchup, many of them citing the neutral setting making it an even harder matchup for them. A neutral setting being exponentially closer to your fan base doesn’t sound so “scrong” to me. But I guess Seminole fans can just keep saying whatever helps them sleep at night now that Bobby Bowden is gone.

Do you know what actually sounds strong? Ole Miss quarterback Chad “Swag” Kelly. If Francois pays close attention on the sidelines while the Ole Miss offense dominates the game, he might be able to learn a thing or two about being a quarterback. Swag Kelly has been vocal in saying he’s the best quarterback not just in the SEC, but also in the entire country. He’s not just saying he’s strong if his teammates are strong. He’s saying he’s stronger than anyone else regardless. I can’t wait to see that confidence in action versus a non-SEC defense. I mean, talk about swag. Running up the scoreboard on a top five program sounds right up Kelly’s alley.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ole Miss has proven to be pretty clever leading up to this game. Clever is a word I don’t imagine many Florida State players would understand. It came to light that Florida State running back Dalvin Cook actually has ties to Ole Miss. His brother, Deandre Burnett, plays on their basketball team. Because of this connection, Ole Miss and Mr. Swag Kelly himself chose to make a nice little parody video to get the season going.

As much as I clearly love the Seminoles I love the SEC more. No team in the ACC will ever compare in my heart. And while Ole Miss may have their own issues to resolve with the NCAA, at least their star players aren’t stupid enough to walk out of a grocery store without paying for $32 worth of crab legs or yell obscene things in the middle of the school union. And their fans seem to understand the concept of reflective surfaces, unlike my favorite Seminoles fan. You do you, Tallahassee. But you stay classy, Oxford!

The featured picture is my rendition of my favorite Florida State fan and of course, my favorite fan herself. Yes, I did actually wear that to a Halloween party in Gainesville, Florida last year.

Email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

For Once We Need Jim Harbaugh To Keep Talking

For those of you who aren’t up to date on all things Jim Harbaugh, Harbaugh was asked about three freshmen players that didn’t appear in the team photo. He really didn’t want to give any information at all about the players later identified as Kareem Walker, Ahmir Mitchell, and Shelton Johnson. He admitted that two of them were suspended, later confirmed to be Mitchell and Johnson, but that was all. The reporters kept pressing and then Harbaugh came back with this gem before leaving:

“That’s why I don’t give you any information. Because you’re never satisfied. You always want a second question, a third question, a fourth question. I just said we’d handle it internally. Thank you.” Source

Look, the issue here isn’t that Harbaugh was mean to the press or stormed out of the press conference, if it can actually be called storming. Plenty of other coaches have gone off on the press and we either let it go or laughed about it. I’ve got no problem with Jim Harbaugh not wanting to answer questions usually, but this is a different situation.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for a while, it really hit the fan at Baylor. Our own Kristen Botica did a fantastic job covering the drama at Florida. Mississippi State suspended a player for punching a woman. To be perfectly frank there isn’t a whole lot of good going on with college football right now.

So there’s two players that are suspended and one that still has an uncertain status. The coach won’t say anything other than it’s going to be handled internally and won’t take questions from the press about it? You don’t have to be a crackpot conspiracy theorist in order to think that something is up in Ann Arbor.

This is why I have a problem with Harbaugh not wanting to talk about these suspensions.

In a time where we’ve now been programmed to think the worst about college football letting people think what they want is the worst thing that can be done. Saying that you’re going to “handle things internally” is equivalent to saying “Yeah, we aren’t going to do much” to most people.

Florida appointed a sports booster to investigate a rape claim.

Florida State Police admitted to basically not trying very hard in the Jameis Winston case.

Art Briles is still claiming that he did nothing “illegal, immoral or unethical” despite being fired, having several of his players in jail for rape and his assistants saying he knew.

There is no reason for the media or the fans to give coaches the benefit of the doubt anymore. Even formerly beloved coach Joe Paterno had scandals lurking in his closet. Not wanting to talk about it just makes people want to know more.

Like sharks are drawn to blood, as soon as a coach doesn’t want to talk about something that’s a sign that it’s something major. With as much publicity that Jim Harbaugh has received this season, you can only imagine that reporters whose allegiances lie with other conferences are starting to lick their chops. Can you imagine if the savior of the Maize and Blue was derailed in only his second year thanks to a scandal? From the Michigan-Ohio border south, every journalist has to be wondering if they can be the ones to take down Khaki Jesus.

To be perfectly honest with you, I’m surprised that this isn’t a bigger story. Everyone outside of University of Michigan fans really don’t care for Jim Harbaugh. You could honestly say that the majority of college football fans, and probably a lot of the media, even despise the man. So the fact that he stormed out of a press conference is getting so little attention is strange. There’s an article on ESPN about where he goes for vacation but nothing about this.

Harbaugh can be prickly, sure, and he likes to do things on his own terms but for someone as  adept at handling the media as Harbaugh, you’d really think he’d know better. As soon as he emerges from practice, his house, or the bathroom Jim Harbaugh is news. Liked or not, he is a top story for most news outlets.

There’s still time to get on top of this story before the rumors really begin to swirl. The school was the group who confirmed the two suspensions shortly after the initial press conference, which was a smart move. Now someone needs to address why the two players that are suspended were reprimanded as such and what the status of Kareem Walker is. Michigan fans above all others should be clamoring to find out why these kids are carrying the statuses that they are. After years of being the butt of jokes, the Wolverines are now back in the public eye for a good reason. Let’s hope they can keep it that way and at least mitigate the damage.

E-mail Tim at tim.bach@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @Tbach84.

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Image courtesy of Flickr

Top-10 List of Things That Will Happen Before Lane Kiffin Leaves Alabama for UCLA

Do you know who has it easy right now? Lane Kiffin, that’s who. As Alabama’s offensive coordinator Kiffin has coached in two national championship games and won one of them. Not bad for a coach who has the reputation of “falling up.”

Kiffin arguably has the best job in the history of sports. As Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator Kiffin has to orchestrate just enough points to win games and, with the Alabama defense, not many points are needed. He has also had the luxury of coaching Derrick Henry, Amari Cooper and a laundry list of other high caliber offensive weapons. Talent like this is not going to dry up any time soon at Alabama.

So here’s the question: Why would he even think about leaving Tuscaloosa?

That is the question that UCLA should have asked themselves prior to making their offer to Kiffin. UCLA really thought that Kiffin would leave Alabama to be the offensive coordinator for UCLA?

Again, Kiffin has the easiest job in sports right now.

I guess UCLA thought that Kiffin couldn’t say “yes” unless he was at least offered the job. This was a completely far fetched idea on the part of UCLA.

Here’s my Top-10 list of far fetched things that could have happened before Lane Kiffin left Alabama for UCLA.

  1. Clay Travis leaves Fox Sports after accepting an offer from Campus Pressbox. Our benefit package isn’t much, but we make up for it with a kick-ass slack.com app.
  2. I, Seth Merenbloom, will grow a full, luxurious head of hair so I am no longer Campus Pressbox’s “Bald Headed Bastard.”
  3. Donald Trump gets elected President. He names only his kids as cabinet members.
  4. Stan Kroenke updates his last will and testament and leaves his toupe to the city of St. Louis.
  5. Mike Wilson, Campus Pressbox Sr. Pac-12 Writer, starts drinking his scotch the right way. Neat.
  6. Oklahoma leaves the Big 12 and becomes a member of the SEC. Bob Stoops publicly admits that the SEC is the best conference in college football.
  7. Rick Pitino holds a press conference from the bathroom of a Louisville restaurant where he admits to running The Best Little Whore House In Louisville.
  8. Roy Williams’ entire North Carolina basketball team not only makes the Dean’s List, but are in a 16 student tie for Valedictorian.
  9. Jameis Winston retires from the NFL to pursue his true passion which is being an Alaskan king crab fisherman.
  10. Urban Meyer is found to be in perfect health and remains at Ohio State for the remainder of his coaching career.
E-mail Seth at seth.merenbloom@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

Feature image courtesy of pixabay.com

What Tampa Bay is Getting with Dirk Koetter, If He’s Named The Buccaneers Head Coach

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t the only team to the play fast and loose with their head coaching position, but the Glazers have certainly made some eyebrow-raising moves since winning the Super Bowl with Jon Gruden thirteen years ago. It began with Gruden, currently ESPN’s color analyst for Monday Night Football, being shown the door after consecutive 9-7 seasons, and there’s been a folly of errors with the Bucs top job, including the questionable dismissal of Lovie Smith earlier this week.

The team’s improvement to 6-10, from 2-14 in Smith’s first season, apparently wasn’t enough, so the core of Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston, and Mike Evans will get their marching orders from a new leader when mini-camps and OTAs begin later this year. We’ve heard rumors from the ridiculous to the absolutely reasonable, so you can rule out Alabama head coach Nick Saban, but there are other candidates not named Dirk Koetter interviewing for a job they like won’t be offered when it’s all said and done.

Say what you will about the Rooney Rule, I personally understand the spirit behind it, but I don’t feel the mandate for a minority candidate interview fulfills its purpose, nor do I feel its necessary, given how much we’ve evolved since Art Shell was hired in 19891Shell was the second African American Head Coach in professional football history, and the first since Fritz Pollard stopped coaching the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928. It’s difficult to put a name to this, and I don’t care to insult the man, but with Koetter being the in-house favorite, we’re going to label Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin as the Rooney Rule candidate.

It isn’t fair to Goodwin, available to interview during the Cardinals’ bye week, but all parties involved can get something out of this. Best case scenario, speaking to supporters of the Rooney Rule, Goodwin blows them away, and gets the job. Under this scenario, Koetter walks, which is something of a wash, because Goodwin will certainly want to be the architect of the offense, in his first steps away from the shadow of Bruce Arians, aka “The Quarterback Whisperer”. Bottom line: This is an interview Goodwin deserves, but many will see it as a farce, and only the ones in the room will ever really have a feel for how legitimate the process is.

Until Cam Newton started to make Riverboat Ron Rivera’s offense tick, the strength of Carolina’s game is what you see when the Panthers don’t have the football. Sean McDermott has been coordinating that defensive unit since 2011. Give him credit for knowing how to utilize Luke Kuchely, and how to disrupt in the trenches, his defense is the reason they sit on the 1-line in the NFC as we enter the playoffs. He’s a candidate, but he’d have his work cut out for him with the 7th-worst scoring defense in the game, and that was in Year 2 of Lovie Smith.2This is more about personnel. Gerald McCoy is great, but he doesn’t play around a lot of great talent…not yet.

I could get hit by a bus, but I’ll probably be home for dinner.

Barring a very genuine surprise, the former Arizona State head coach will be promoted by the Tampa Bay brass from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach very soon, but they have to complete the process. Honestly, what does it hurt to talk to viable candidates, even when you’re 99% of the direction you want to go? In Jacksonville, Atlanta, and now Tampa Bay, Dirk Koetter has received a lot of praise for the way he calls an offensive game for whoever was featured on the Jaguars offense from 2007 to 2011, for Matt Ryan, and for the very talented Jameis Winston.

One area of concern remains; there’s a big difference between being the Skipper and the First mate. The Glazer family, Jason Licht, and everyone involved with this rumored decision to put Koetter in charge of the show are willing to make a leap that no has dared to attempt since failing to elevate the Arizona State over six seasons3Koetter was 40-34, and impossibly bad in the state of California against the four conference rivals who reside there.. Koetter put a few players in the NFL, most notably Terrell Suggs and Zach Miller, but the Sun Devil football program never could conquer the Pac-10 on his watch.

He may be another Norv Turner, a guy who is brilliant until he gets the big whistle and a challenge flag, but I have to commend the Buccaneers commitment to stability for Jameis Winston, even if you might want to denigrate them for pink-slipping Smith after two seasons, and just one with the services of Winston. After all, you usually hear about the head coach/quarterback tandem more than the chemistry between the signal caller and the OC.

You might hear conversations about Brady and Weis, McDaniels, and O’Brien, but none of them roll off the tongue like Brady & Belichick or Belichick & Brady do. Things tend to change over time. Maybe under the guidance of Jack Del Rio and Mike Smith, he understands the head coaching role better now, as well as the NFL game. There’s a precedent for that with the aforementioned Belichick. He didn’t get it done with the Browns, spent more time with Bill Parcells, and quickly took the Patriots to the promised land with his first second chance. I might believe Josh McDaniels was on the verge of that, but he’s got some work to do if he ends up in Nashville.

If any of these jobs were easy or “good”, there probably wouldn’t be vacancies, so they’re all difficult undertakings. Keep in mind, there are no exclusive rights to Koetter’s service, despite the Bucs being his current employer. He’s talking to San Francisco and perhaps Philadelphia, but probably isn’t the favorite to land either of those jobs. The move makes sense, and honestly, Goodwin and McDermott are logical targets, but potentially giving Jameis Winston the same voice for the foreseeable future carries a value that can’t be matched. Sun Devil fans won’t believe they’re watching the same guy when they see the pewter, orange, and red on their screen on Sundays.

1 Shell was the second African American Head Coach in professional football history, and the first since Fritz Pollard stopped coaching the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928.
2 This is more about personnel. Gerald McCoy is great, but he doesn’t play around a lot of great talent…not yet.
3 Koetter was 40-34, and impossibly bad in the state of California against the four conference rivals who reside there.

Seminoles defeat the Gators; ACC Wrap Up

On Saturday the Florida State Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators in dominant fashion 27-2. The Seminoles have now won five of their past six games against the Gators. Without an ACC Championship berth, the Seminoles head into bowl season with a 10-2 regular season record.

This wasn’t the prettiest game to watch for non-Floridians, as both offenses struggled to gain momentum for most of the game. At 13-0 heading into the fourth, the Florida Gators held the ‘Noles in check for most of the game, but Dalvin Cook eventually wore the Gators down and proved to be too much for them to handle. Cook ran for 150 of his 186 rushing yards in the fourth quarter, scored two touchdowns and ultimately brought home the victory for the Seminoles.

Florida State’s defense simply shut the Gator’s offense down, holding them to only 262 total yards. Gator’s quarterback Treon Harris’ poor play continued against the Seminoles, and Kelvin Taylor’s 136 rushing yards weren’t enough to carry the entire offense. Florida’s offensive ineptitude was one of the biggest takeaways from this game, and one has to wonder how they are going to score against Alabama in the SEC Championship.

For Seminoles, this was the perfect way to end the season. In a year that was supposed to be a transition year after losing Jameis Winston, the Seminoles were only a couple of plays away from playing in the ACC Championship Game. In total, it was a pretty successful season for the Seminoles. Despite shuffling quarterbacks during the season, they still managed another ten-win season, and there are a lot of positives to take into the next season. The Noles still have one more season from superstar running back Dalvin Cook, and freshman safety Derwin James looks ready to lead the defense in the future.

It wasn’t an ACC Championship year or a particularly great season for Florida State fans with lofty expectations, but fans have to be happy about how the year panned out and the way the team played. Jimbo Fisher turned in one of his best seasons as the head coach, and made a team that lost NFL players at many positions a top ten team in the nation. Going 10-2 in a year that was considered a transition year speaks to the amount of talent that Florida State has within the program. Coach Fisher continues to bring in top recruiting classes, and this season really tested the depth of his team.

At 10-2, the Seminoles have some time off before their bowl game and opponent are announced.

Here’s what else is happening in the ACC:


On Saturday the #1 Clemson Tigers will play #10 North Carolina in the ACC Championship. Even with North Carolina’s relatively low ranking, the winner of this game will probably find themselves representing the ACC in the College Football Playoff. This has all the makings for a high-scoring game that showcases the two best quarterbacks in the ACC between Deshaun Watson and Marquise Williams. Prior to the season it wouldn’t have surprised many people to see Clemson playing in the Championship game, but UNC has been the surprise of the year in the ACC. Behind Marquise Williams’ great season, the Tarheels have the #11 ranked offense in the nation in points scored. That offense will face their toughest task of the season against Clemson’s 7th ranked defense in yards allowed. In order for the Tarheels to win Williams will have to prove to the nation he is as advertised. The ACC Championship is at 8pm on Saturday the 5th.


Virginia Tech defeated Virginia on the road 23-20, and will be playing in a bowl game in Frank Beamer’s last season with the Hokies. The scene after the game on Saturday was one that would put a smile on anybody’s face watching Beamer celebrate with his team. At 6-6, it hasn’t been a good season by any means, but considering the circumstances Hokie fans have to be content with the way the season ended up playing out. In a bowl game yet to be determined, Beamer has a chance to end up with a winning season in his last year with the program.


Heading into championship weekend, the ACC has three teams ranked in the top ten between #1 Clemson, #9 Florida State and #10 North Carolina. The ACC as a whole is pretty top heavy, but three teams placed in the top ten is great for any conference. With five conferences and an independent team ranked in the top ten, the ACC and Big-10 are the only conferences with multiple top ten teams. It goes without being said that it has been a strong year for the ACC. With either UNC or Clemson participating in the Playoff, the ACC has a chance to win two of the last three College Championships.

.099 Problems and A Suspension Ain’t One

I just want to start off by saying this isn’t an article meant to attack Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. I’m one of the Michigan faithful and tend to publish a lot of work on Michigan so I just wanted to set that straight before we get going.

Normally I’d say something like “unless you’ve been living in a cave” or something like that but for this situation, it’s actually had cooled off rather quickly. There was a lot of hubbub on Saturday when Ohio State starting quarterback J.T. Barrett was cited for operating a vehicle while impaired and apparently registered a .099 on the breathalyzer. It was announced that he would be suspended for the Minnesota game on November 14.

Therein lies the problem.

Look, I’m not naive enough to believe that college kids drink. I went to college. I remember what it was like both before and after I was legally able to drink. Let’s just say that if you want to drink, you’re going to find a way to drink. That’s not the problem.

The first part of this is addressed to the students and fans at Ohio State.

Really? I mean, really? The starting quarterback of one of the most storied college football programs is out drinking and no one gives him a ride home? Where are his friends? Where are the fans? The fact that there wasn’t at least one person with Barrett who had the wisdom to say “No man, let me drive you home.” Or even call Uber. Come on man.

Literally all he would have to do is stand up on a chair and say “I’m J.T. Barrett. Can someone drive me home?”. I’m sure there’s a number of ladies (or gentlemen, I don’t know or care which way he goes) would’ve loved the prospect of taking home that quarterback if you know what I mean. Hell, half the taxi drivers probably would’ve given him a free ride home.

The second part of this is addressed to the society.

Why don’t we care about this?

Why aren’t we making a bigger deal about this than anyone is? Sure he didn’t hurt anyone but he certainly could have. Let’s say you or me get pulled over for the same offense. What’s going to happen to you? I bet we get more than a slap on the wrist. Depending on where you work, you could even lose your job.

It speaks volumes to our values as a society when people who play sports get preferential treatment. It’s not just at Ohio State either. Michigan, Michigan State, and all over the nation it’s all the same. If you play football or whatever that particular state worships, you get off easy.

Go back and look at the Jameis Winstons and Florida State situation. There was almost as many articles written about how the police intervened on behalf of Florida State as there were about the fact that Winston was being accused of rape. Then he steals some crab legs. Outside of some funny memes, not a whole lot happened there either.

Maybe this is why so many of these college athletes end up continually running into trouble with the law whether it’s drinking and driving, drugs, or domestic disputes. We value college football wins over the welfare of a young woman or the lives of others.

No one has ever told them no or that they’re not above everyone else.

Take a look at the NFL. 99% of those players were college football players at some point and almost every month you’re hearing about an NFL player getting arrested or getting into trouble with the law. Maybe if someone had told them that they really aren’t that special they wouldn’t think that they are.

The third part of this is addressed to the schools themselves.

You guys are the worst.

These schools protect and cover up every single thing that they can when a player is good enough or sometimes even when they’re not. Just to be fair, let’s take a look at Michigan. Kicker Brendan Gibbons had been accused of rape in 2009. It was never mentioned at all until he was “separated” from the university at the end of 2013. Funny thing about that: Gibbons had run out of eligibility. Only after Gibbons was no longer of use does this come out.

A similar thing is now happening down at Missouri with former quarterback Maty Mauk. Mauk lost his starting position and has not dealt with it well. Suddenly Missouri cuts him and there’s people coming out of the woodwork to say what a terrible person he is. Once again, not until he’s not of any value to the school.

J.T.  Barrett was cited for an OVI and he’s underage. The fact that he couldn’t legally drink should’ve made it worse. He’s 20 and he could’ve killed someone. But have even the remnants of pot in your system and the NCAA catches you and you’re done for the year. Yet the NCAA remains silent on this offense and all the other athletes who are booked for the same offense. It’s so numerous that it’s not even big news anymore. There is literally a website dedicated to nothing but tracking it.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised when bad things happen when we’re allowing them to happen.


What FSU’s Loss Means

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple days, you’ve probably seen the Seminoles’ blocked field goal attempt that Georgia Tech subsequently returned for a touchdown to give the Yellow Jackets the lead and win the game as time expired. At 6-1, the Seminoles are now ranked 17th, and trail Clemson by a game in the Atlantic division of the ACC.

I’m not here to talk about why the Seminoles lost, or what they could have done, or how bad their kick coverage was once the field goal got blocked, I’m just going to focus on what the loss means for Florida State going forward.

First and foremost, National Title hopes are most likely over for the ‘Noles. Of course there is always a chance for the Seminoles to go undefeated the rest of the way and slide into the fourth playoff spot, but based off of what we saw on Saturday night, going undefeated the rest of the season doesn’t seem very likely. Sure the Seminoles could defeat #3 Clemson in two weeks, but Clemson just defeated Miami 58-0, and Miami took the ‘Noles to the last drive of the game. Oh yea, and the Seminoles finish the season at #11 Florida. Florida State fans can still hold on to the glimmer of hope that remains, but all signs point to this loss forcing them out of the playoff picture.

Surprisingly the loss actually doesn’t do a whole lot to diminish ACC title hopes for the Seminoles. With only one loss, and due to the way the Atlantic division is shaping up, a win at Clemson would put the ‘Noles in the driver seat to win the Atlantic division and advance to the ACC Championship. Unfortunately Clemson might be the best team in the country and defeating them will be a very tall task for the ‘Noles. The result of the game against Clemson will either definitively end the Seminoles title chances, or catapult them back up the rankings.

Although Dalvin Cook’s Heisman chances were slim before the loss, this loss basically signals the end of those dreams for Cook. Realistically the only way that Cook could have won the Heisman was if the Noles went undefeated, finished with a higher ranking than LSU, and LSU’s Leonard Fournette would have to have had a slump at some point in the season. Alas, Florida State has lost, LSU hasn’t, and Cook didn’t have a “Cook-like” performance in the loss to Georgia Tech.

For Florida State fans, the loss was a brutal reminder that Everett Golson is not Jameis Winston. With Winston, Seminole fans had become accustomed to winning every game that they played in the past couple of seasons, having ridden one of the best college quarterbacks in recent history. The loss bring with it the realization that maybe expectations for this team were a little too high, assuming that a new quarterback would be able to jump in and bring the Seminoles to another playoff. It also served as a much needed reality check to Seminole fans that National Title runs are hard to come by and shouldn’t define the success of a season. In a vacuum, a team that loses the #1 overall draft pick to the NFL, has a new quarterback, and loses key players on defense forcing the team to rely on less-experiences players would most likely result in a few more losses. That’s exactly what is happening for the 2015-16 Seminoles.

The Seminoles will look to get back on track this weekend at home with Syracuse coming into town, before heading to Death Valley to take on #3 Clemson.

College Football Death Threats and the Best Remaining Games of 2015

Week 7 was crazy. Jason (@Jlindy87) did a good job of recapping the best, so I have thoughts on Blake O’Neill’s detractors then on to the best of the rest of 2015 and my mock playoff committee ballot.

The two saddest and funniest fans of Week 7.

On Michigan State’s scoop and score

Well, I’ve never done anything in front of 100k plus people live and millions more on television, so I can’t imagine what that pressure is like when “all” you have to do is punt the ball away to secure your programs most important victory of the season. That said, mistakes happen and pressure is high, and Blake O’Neill will be fine. The people who aren’t fine are those who made death threats or suggested the kid kill himself.

If you’re one of the people that decided to get in touch with O’Neill and suggest terrible things to him, you’re the problem with society. If you think football – college football at that – is literally going to ruin your weekend if your team loses, then re-evaluate your life’s priorities.

The play was huge and yeah, it’s a little crazy how it went down, but keep things in perspective.

The hilarious audio from the Michigan State radio. The color guy is really the show.

The most important games of the rest of the season

Hyperbole and all that. That said, these are the games that will define college football the rest of the season. All the other games are also-rans.

Week 10 – Saturday, November 7

TCU at Oklahoma State – If Kansas State didn’t put a scare into TCU, Oklahoma State will. We’ll assume both teams head into the game undefeated, but Mike Gundy needs to win this game more than Gary Patterson. Sure, the powers-that-be in the Big 12 would prefer TCU to win to bolster the end of season matchup with Baylor, but Gundy needs to win this game to prove that he can win big games. Oklahoma State was atrocious in 2014, and 2015 looks to be its best season in several years. Little OSU could certainly shake up the entire Top 25 – and probably find its way into the Top 10 – with a win over TCU.

LSU at Alabama – I’ll say it now: The Game of the Century. It’s been awhile since these two have played in a GOTC, so why not make this one? No. 5 LSU looks great with Leonard Fournette running all over the place and Brandon Harris might actually be a decent quarterback for the Tigers. No. 8 Alabama is shootin’ its regular, (as my inner-city friends would say) and certainly looked like they could beat the world after the first half against Teas A&M on Saturday. This game being in Tuscaloosa (not a great college town) certainly hurts the wow factor, but I’ll figuratively bet against my tide and take Les Miles and the Tigers. See below about why LSU winning this game is super-duper important.

Florida State at Clemson – This is obvious. Florida State looks great again. Dalvin Cook is the real deal and I have no idea what Jimbo Fisher did this off-season to grow his hair back and fix Everett Golson, but that sounds like the coup of 2015. Clemson for the sake of ‘Clemsoning’ needs to beat Florida State which it hasn’t been able to do since 2011, and overall is 8-20 versus the Seminoles. Florida State can solidify its playoff-contender status by beating Clemson on the road and staying undefeated. I have to say, I had zero faith in Florida State this season after its playoff exit, but Golson and Cook have sold me. Keep on truckin, Florida State.

Week 11 – Saturday, November 11

Memphis at Houston – This makes the list because I’m from Ohio and I guess I have to love Tom Herman. He’s a great offensive mind that Ohio State wishes they still had. Memphis beat Ole Miss last weekend and will face Navy on November 7. Houston faces somehow-Power 5 Vanderbilt on October 31, then plays should-be-Power 5 Cincinnati on November 7 before hosting Memphis. Assuming both teams remain undefeated, the winner of this game has a great shot a New Year’s Six appearance.

Oklahoma at Baylor – Big Game Bob or his usual No Game Bob? We’ll find out. If Oklahoma didn’t get up for the Red River Shootout, I’d be shocked and awed that they’d get up for Baylor. Oklahoma certainly cannot score as many points as Baylor, but if their defense can slow it down throughout the entirety of the game it may provide a blueprint for everyone else. Maybe.

Week 12 – Saturday, November 17

LSU at Ole Miss – This is simple. Let’s assume LSU beats Alabama, but loses to Ole Miss. Ole Miss owns the SEC West tie breaker. If Ole Miss then goes on the SEC Championship Game and wins, the SEC will not make the college football playoff. That’s why this game is super-duper important. I talked to Kristen (@OGKristenB) who told me I don’t know what I’m talking about and that Ole Miss only has the tiebreaker over Alabama (obviously). So, while fun, this game as of right now is NOT super-duper important.

UCLA at Utah – I gave up on the Cleveland Browns years ago, but I’m not ready to give up on UCLA. UCLA still has hope and Utah looked shaky against Cal a few weeks, so I’d say if there were any team that could upset them between now and the Pac-12 Championship Game it would be Cal. The only thing that would make this better is if this were on a Thursday.

Michigan State at Ohio State – This will decide the champion of the Big Ten East. No other game in the entire conference is more important this season. I’ll make my conditional pick right now, if Urban Meyer is still trying to re-live Tim Tebow and Chris Leak with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones then Michigan State wins. If Meyer names and sticks with Barrett then Ohio State wins. Winner is in the playoff unless they lose to West Division champion Iowa. Yeah, I said it. See below.

Week 13 – Friday, November 27

Baylor at TCU – First to 70 wins. We’ll assume both teams are undefeated, so the winner of this is the Big 12 champion. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d put my money on Baylor. There will be absolutely zero defense in this game, but I think Art Briles’ offense is just too much for TCU to handle. Again, TCU struggled against Kansas State and Texas Tech. Baylor puts up 60 almost every week and tells you to come get them.

Week 13 – Saturday, November 28

Notre Dame at Stanford – Playoff implications and all that. Will both teams enter with only one loss? Stanford needs to win this game in case it loses the Pac-12 Championship Game to even have a sniff of the College Football Playoff. Every game is a must win for Notre Dame because of its loss to Clemson who I think loses to Florida State a few weeks earlier. Everything is murky, but this is probably the best game on the board right now.

Florida State at Florida – I’m still not sure what to think of Florida. Their only loss was a close one to LSU this past weekend and they aren’t scheduled to face another ranked opponent until they welcome the Seminoles to the Swamp. In the interim, Florida State will travel to Clemson, where I think they win, but this game isn’t as important as the game at Clemson. If Florida hasn’t lost another game and is en route to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, then the Gators will want to claim their first win over the Seminoles since 2012 and second in seven years.

Explained: My Week 8 Top Ten Ballot

Baylor, Utah, TCU, LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and Notre Dame

That’s my ballot for the Campus Pressbox mock playoff committee this week. Thoughts, quickie style:

  • I’m bearish on Baylor because even though they don’t play defense it seems like they can outscore anyone. The biggest test for them will obviously be TCU, who struggled against Kansas State and allowed Iowa State to score 21 this weekend. I’m temporarily giving them the benefit of the doubt. Keep reading.
  • I’m under the impression that Urban Meyer will finally name J.T. Barrett the starting quarterback for Ohio State. I’ve said since they won the National Championship he should be no matter what Cardale Jones did for the team last season. If Barrett is named the starter, I’m back on the Ohio State train and will have no problem replacing TCU with them in the top four. The ballot is that fluid.
  • Dalvin Cook and Everett Golson put Florida State into my top 10. I really have no idea where Florida State came from. I think a lot of us wrote them off with the departure of Jameis Winston, but Florida State looks good. Their biggest hurdle is the weak ACC, so beating Clemson (read above) should vault them back into the national conversation. I hope their playoff performance this season is better than the last.
  • Number 11 is Iowa. They’re good and if we’re going to give Ohio State respect despite their schedule we have to do the same for Iowa. I’ve made no secret of my shock that Kirk Ferentz still has a job. I’m also 33 and able to admit when I was wrong, and Kirk has earned his paycheck this year. Iowa doesn’t face Ohio State or Michigan State, but Iowa doesn’t make the schedule and if the Hawkeye’s played both teams and beat or hung around both then they’d still at least be in the Top 15. Mea culpa.
  • I’m still not sure about Alabama and Clemson. Talk to me after November 7th. Scroll up.

Links That I like (sorry, no short reads allowed)

The Sad Story of Steve Sarkisian: Too much, too soon [Jack Follman/Pacific Takes] – Jack is a great writer. Here’s the story of former USC coach Steve Sarkian’s demons and how he got in and out of USC so fast.

Former Louisville recruit about his visit: ‘It was like I was in a strip club’ [John Barr and Jeff Goodman/ESPN] – Where there is smoke, there’s probably fire. I’m not sure this type of behavior doesn’t go on at every school, but that doesn’t make it right. I don’t think this matters much this season, but I didn’t think Jim Boeheim would essentially be forced into early retirement. Keep an eye on this.

LSU’s Leonard Fournette is calling to mind the greats, but what does hype matter to a child of Katrina? [Alan Shipnuck/Campus Rush] – I have no idea if Leonard Fournette is going to play football next year, but it’s clear at least right now that he’s the best running back, if not the best player, in college football. I’m not 100% on board with Seth’s (@SMerenbloom) assessment that players should be able to go right to the NFL – which is the NFL’s policy – but I will concede that certain players should be allowed to go if a plurality of the NFL teams think he’s ready. It’s also bad for college football if Leonard Fournette sits out because then no one gets to see his amazing talent. Also, a child of Hurricane Katrina? Jesus, I am old.

How They Do in Oxford [Kiese Laymon/ESPN] – I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t like Ole Miss. I love any place that tailgates and despite everything that’s happened in the past at Ole Miss, I think it’s one of the best stories in America. If you haven’t read Wright Thompson’s Ghost’s of Mississippi or seen the 30 for 30 – Ghosts of Ole Miss then you’re truly missing out. Racism is still a thing in America, but the read and the film show how deep it was and how many of us were and are shielded from it. Laymon’s take is decidedly different, but worth the 12 minutes it will take you to read it.

The Persecution of Patriots Nation [Erik Malinowski/Rolling Stone] – Love or hate the Patriots, it’s clear the goal of the team and their fans is to have Roger Goodell handing Tom Brady another Super Bowl trophy on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara. I’m always for people scoring their comeuppance, so I hope this works out for them. I know, it’s NFL – you’ll be alright.

Epic Blue Jays–Rangers seventh inning will be talked about for years [Bruce Arthur/Toronto Star] – This is some of the best baseball writing I’ve seen in years. I can’t imagine another inning of baseball will be better this post-season. Read, re-live and repeat.

E-mail Damien at damien.bowman@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.