We start this week on a sad note, where Texas can’t get out of its own way. If Texas isn’t turning itself into a circus off the field, it’s putting its fans on a roller coaster that gets stuck at the top. After somehow battling back from a 3 touchdown fourth quarter deficit with an offense that has been anemic all year, the Longhorns scored what should have been the game-tying touchdown only to miss the extra point. Fast forward to 1:35 of the video if you’d like to see the carnage.
Another team that left its fans with heartbreak, albeit in a different fashion, was the USC Trojans, who did what USC always does in losing a game they weren’t supposed to. Before the season started this loss wouldn’t have been crushing, but after Stanford lost at Northwestern in the opener USC fans had to have expected a win here. But the Cardinal continue to have the Trojans’ number at The Coliseum and leave USC with little room for error the rest of the way. Also not a good sign, Southern Cal gave up 41 to Stanford, who has one of the worst offenses in the Pac-12. On the other side of the country, Clemson avoided doing what they usually do in fending off Louisville on Thursday night, squeaking by with a three point victory. They certainly won’t get any style points for this one, but I think anytime you can get a road win in a Thursday night game you just take it and move on.
Barely escaping was a common theme in the ACC this week. Along with Clemson, Florida State slugged their way to a 14-0 win at Boston College in a Friday night contest. The Seminoles offense continues to be hit and miss and will have to hope they can find some consistency as they move deeper into ACC play. Florida State’s rival Miami almost had a disastrous loss on Saturday. After dominating the whole game and entering the 4th up 33-10, Miami should have been able to cruise in the final quarter. Well they did a little too much cruising and not enough pedal to the metal, allowing the Cornhuskers to claw their way back and force overtime. Luckily the defensive backfield, one that appears light years ahead of where they’ve been the previous few seasons, intercepted Nebraska’s opening pass in OT, allowing Miami to just need a chip shot field goal to seal the win.
Georgia Tech was not able to escape with a win, albeit against significantly better competition than the rest of the ACC played. Even with QB Malik Zaire lost for the season, Notre Dame showed they are a complete team who will be in the playoff race all year. That defense is good, and they have a playmaker in the backfield with CJ Prosise and at wideout with William Fuller. In two weeks the Irish go on the road to play Clemson in what might be this year’s first playoff elimination game.
While Notre Dame was making their statement as a playoff contender, a couple other contenders were doing their best to look anything but. Ohio State sleep-walked through last week’s game against Hawaii before pulling away, and this past Saturday walked an even finer line in beating Northern Illinois by just a touchdown. I’m not sure if the Buckeyes aren’t nearly as good as last year’s team or if they’re just going through the motions because they’re so much better than the teams they have been playing. Either way they’ll need to have things rounding into form before they play Michigan State later in the year. TCU is the other member of the preseason Top 2 and they are struggling as well. Though I’m not sure the outcome was in doubt, the Horned Frogs gave up 37 points at home to SMU. Because of injuries, that defense is in shambles and will be hard to overcome in a conference that has seen Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State putting up points at will. I have the Horned Frogs on upset alert next week at Texas Tech.
It’s amazing that I’ve gotten this far without discussing the SEC. Might as well save the best for last right? Speaking of the best, LSU RB Leonard Fournette might be the best RB (or player in general) in the country. That dude is scary. Even though most college football fans know about his beastly running skills, it’s still amazing to watch when he puts on a display like the one he did against Auburn on Saturday. LSU pounded Auburn, who has quickly turned into a dumpster fire but is still somehow ranked. We wouldn’t want voters to be too flexible with their preseason opinions on teams now would we?
I should mention Georgia as well, if for no other reason than QB Greyson Lambert set an NCAA accuracy record by completing 96% of his passes on 25 attempts. This game probably says more about South Carolina than Georgia. The Gamecocks have fallen swiftly from their run of three straight 11-win seasons. Georgia has looked good, but considering their history no one is going to take them seriously until they win a big game. Ole Miss definitely won’t have that problem after going into Tuscaloosa and beating the Crimson Tide. They’re now top five in both polls and have much easier contests the next few weeks so they should be able to build even more momentum going into the stretch run. It’s hard for me to decide what I should take away from this game. On one hand you think of the two somewhat fluky long touchdowns the Rebels scored which had huge impacts on the game. But they also had multiple drives in the 2nd half where there was a ton of pressure on them to stave off the Alabama comeback, and they made the plays on both offense and defense when they had to. Either way, the Rebels are legit.
Losing at home is always a disaster for the Tide, but isn’t it a little impressive that they managed to only lose by one score in a game that they lost the turnover battle 5-0? That should show just how good they still are and certainly aren’t out of the race yet. However, they will definitely need help with Ole Miss having to lose two conference games in order for Bama to have a chance to make it to the SEC Championship game. Right now the SEC West has been turned upside down with pre-season frontrunners Alabama and Auburn losing to Ole Miss and LSU. We’ll see if the Rebels and Tigers can keep it up as the year goes on.