Monday, October 29, 2018

The Week In College Football: Tennessee Isn't Close, Georgia Is Back, And Bobby Petrino And Louisville Are A Train Wreck

Another Saturday, another Tennessee loss. My god. Hell, let’s just start there…
Tennessee lost to South Carolina for the third straight year and to Will Muschamp for the 7th straight time
You want a stat to tell the story of how far the Vol program has fallen? From 1903-2004, these two programs played 23 times and South Carolina won only twice. Two times in 100 years, but since 2005, the Gamecocks beaten them in eight of the 14 matchups. South Carolina! A program that’s won one conference title (the ACC in 1969) and is only 29 games above .500 in their entire history as a football team.
I wrote about this on Saturday, but the Vols had the game in their control, up 12 with twenty minutes to go, before they got outscored 18-3 down the stretch and committed a gaggle of errors, specifically on the offensive line and in the front seven. Jarrett Guarantano had rushers in his face on almost every drop back, while the Vol defense literally tackled like they all had broken arms. I made this point on Saturday night, and I think it's worth repeating that this program isn’t close to regaining the status that the fan base wants or expects, and it’s arguable that they’re in worse shape now than all the other programs in the SEC East. Georgia was in the national championship game last year, has beat the hell out of the Vols the last two seasons, and have won 24 of their last 28 games with Kirby Smart as their head coach. Florida has beaten Tennessee 13 of the last 14 years, and has arguably the second best coach in the conference in Dan Mullen, who hasn’t had any trouble pulling them out of the dumpster fire that Jim McElwain turned them into last season. South Carolina is coached by a glorified middle school coach in Muschamp and they’ve still beaten the Vols three years in a row. Vanderbilt has two straight wins against Tennessee, and with the matchup between these two happening in Nashville this year, they have an excellent shot to beat the Vols for the third straight year for the first time since 1926. Kentucky has one loss this season, and if they beat Georgia next week in Lexington, they’ll win the SEC East for the first time ever. Maybe you’d rather be Tennessee than Missouri? Maybe? That’s a four loss team that’s about to lose their NFL quarterback and has Derek Dooley as their offensive coordinator.
The point is, the Tennessee program is in as dark a place as it’s ever been, and the light at the of the tunnel turned out to be an oncoming train. There is no end in sight to the torment. The program is in embarrassing shape. Sure, I get it, they’ll have the entire starting offense back for next season, but that also means they’ll bring back the same Swiss cheese offensive line, full of guys that haven't blocked anyone since they've been in Knoxville. So why would I feel good about that? And sure, they’ll lose some guys from their defense that can’t tackle, but what does it tell you about the backups that the guys who can’t tackle are starting over them? Which means they could play a ton of freshmen AGAIN next season, and when they get blown out at Florida next year, everyone can hop on the internet and talk AGAIN about how they’re too young and still need experience and "don't know how to win yet". It’s the same damn thing every year with this program. Next year is a big one for Pruitt. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, since the conference implemented the SEC Championship Game back in 1992, every coach that’s won the SEC had at least 9 victories by his second year at the school. Meaning if you’re a conference-championship level coach, you get the damn thing turned around quickly. We’ve got 25 years of evidence of this now.
Kentucky won a rock fight against Missouri
The Wildcat offense scored only one offensive touchdown the whole day, but it was a biggie on the last play of the game as they came back from down 11 in the final 5:18 to stun Missouri. Kentucky used a punt return and a miraculous, out-of-nowhere TD drive in the final 1:24 to pull off the 15-14 miracle.
Their defense was incredible though, particularly in the second half, when they kept Mizzou from getting a first down the entire final thirty minutes. Here’s the Tiger drives in the second half: 3 plays, 1 yard, punt; 3 plays, 8 yards, punt; 3 plays, -6 yards, punt; 3 plays, 9 yards, punt; 3 plays, -2 yards, punt; 3 plays, 7 yards, punt; 3 plays, 9 yards, punt; 3 plays, 8 yards, punt. My god. Either Drew Lock shouldn’t sniff an NFL roster, or Derek Dooley is the worst offensive coordinator in the history of the SEC. Because that’s abominable. Yeah, Kentucky has a good defense, but the Tigers couldn’t even get a first down? They weren’t playing the ’85 Bears!
Here's the funniest thing about the 2018 Wildcats; somehow, freaking no tradition Kentucky had better hire before the 2013 season than either so-so tradition Arkansas or Top Ten All Time In Wins Tennessee. Butch Jones never had the Vols at 7-1 and one victory away from a division title like Mark Stoops has the Wildcats now, while Bret Bielema made sure to always have the Razorbacks eliminated from anything substantial by the fourth game of the season.
Kentucky’s best shot this weekend against Georgia would be if they can turn the game into into a brawl, control the tempo and time of possession, and keep the score in the teens. Not sure they’ll be able to do that. But still, it’s been a great year for the Wildcats! I didn’t think they’d be able to do it with a head coach that looks like a 40+ year old guy who hasn’t quite given up on his dreams of making the WWE.
Georgia took apart Florida in the Cocktail Party and appear to have fixed their rushing woes.
The ‘Dawgs had 189 rushing yards, with 104 of them coming on 12 carries from DeAndre Swift. Of course, their biggest ally was Florida’s quarterback, Feleipe Franks, who realistically shouldn’t be starting for any SEC team. The Gators had no confidence in him throwing the ball down the field or making any important decisions on second and third and longs, and it completely limited their offense.
I don’t think Jake Fromm is a great thrower of the football, but Georgia has been able to cover up for that by running the ball week to week the last season and half, and they’ve really only been exposed as a team when they’ve been unable to do so. If they’re going to get almost 200 yards a game on the ground the rest of the season though, then I don’t see them losing another game until… Alabama in the SEC Title Game. But still.
Here’s a question my Angry Old Man asked me on Saturday that I thought was worth thinking about: if you could only have one of these coaches going forward for the next ten years, Kirby Smart or Dan Mullen, which one would you take? Mullen was the best coach in the history of Mississippi State, and that program has completely collapsed since he left (though they did dominate Texas A&M on Saturday). Meanwhile, Kirby has far less experience, and won a ton of games last season with players recruited by Mark Richt. Then again, Richt never came within overtime of winning a national title while at Georgia, and also went his last ten years in Athens without winning an SEC Title. So Kirby should get some credit for stepping in there and quickly elevating the program. I’d like to see where they are in two years when the program is only full of guys he's recruited. Mullen is probably the safer pick, but he’s had some trouble recruiting at UF so far….. I think I’d take Mullen, but what’s really disheartening is that Jeremy Pruitt might just lose to both of them every year and get fired after the 2020 season and the Tennessee downward spiral will never end. It’s a damn curse. Are we sure Phillip Fulmer didn’t make a blood sacrifice to the football gods on the sidelines at Arkansas in 1998 so Clint Stoerner would fumble that ball? Did he trade a miracle and a national title for like 40 years of torment thereafter? Or were the football gods so horrified by Sean McDonough’s voice crack that they decided to punish the team that was the subject of his euphoria?  

Dammit, why am I talking about Tennessee again?
Texas eliminated themselves from the playoff race by getting torched by a mediocre Oklahoma State team
The Cowboys gained 502 yards and their quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw for over 300 yards and averaged 9 yards per attempt. Games like this one just prove my point about the Big 12; it’s a pillow fight conference where players sometimes inadvertently run into each other, and on even rarer occasions, perform this archaic technique called “tackling”. It’s why no team from that league is going to win a national title anytime soon; Oklahoma is a great offense with a fantastic quarterback in Kyler Murray, and yet, there’s no way in hell they could win a national championship playing the kind of defense they do. Think about all the top ranked teams right now; Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU; they all bring something to the table defensively and don’t get torched every week. And don’t give me the pace of play argument; I don’t buy the “our defense sucks and can’t get stops because they’re on the field a million times throughout the game because our offense scores too quickly” because Alabama has put up a million points this season, and oftentimes rapidly, and yet, they have no problem getting stops defensively. The same thing goes for Notre Dame, or hell, even Clemson. When there’s a competent defensive team in the Big 12 again, we can talk about them as realistic contenders. Otherwise, I don't want to hear about it.
Side note: what a horrendously cold take from me here. I thought Texas would blow them out, and even joked that it would get so bad that noted OK State donor T. Boone Pickens would reconsider his loyalties. The lesson, as always; I’m an idiot.
The ACC is abominable
Outside of Clemson, which program is currently trending in a direction where you could see them making the playoff in the next five years? It certainly isn’t FSU and Willie Taggart; the ‘Noles lost by 49 at home to Clemson, their largest home defeat in program history. Miami and Mark Richt are 5-3 this season, the Turnover Chain is dead, and they just lost by double digits to Boston College. Maybe Virginia Tech? Maybe, though that program hasn’t finished ranked in the Top 10 since 2009 and hasn’t seriously contended for a national title since Michael Vick was the quarterback almost twenty years ago. Otherwise, it’s full of a bunch of programs like Virginia, who has never finished a season in the entire history of its program ranked in the Top Ten; Boston College, which hasn’t had a ten win season or finished ranked since 2007; and N.C. State, who just got destroyed by Clemson and then lost to Syracuse. Syracuse? That’s one of the worst Power 5 jobs in the country and the fact that Dino Babers has them at 6-2 and ranked for the first time in 17 years is a miracle and shows just how good of a coach he is. But they aren’t ever going to seriously contend for the playoff. Duke hasn’t won the ACC since the 1989 and probably won’t ever again, North Carolina is 12-20 the last three years, Wake Forest is Wake Forest and not close to contention, Pittsburgh hasn’t won more than 8 games in any season this decade, and Georgia Tech runs a 1950s offense in a passing age and is 21-23 the last four seasons. It’s why I’ve said that the ACC is the only Power 5 conference that should have its teams eliminated from playoff contention after their first loss; that league is terrible! Clemson is going to finish the season, probably undefeated, and their best win will be over a three or four loss Texas A&M team and Syracuse, who is an okay squad that will have an inflated record thanks to all the creampuffs they got to play through this season.
Ah yes, there’s one ACC team I left out here…
What the hell has happened to Bobby Petrino and Louisville?
The Cardinals are 10-14 in their last 24 games under Petrino, are 2-6 this year, and have lost five games in a row, four of them coming by 18 points or more. They went from losing by a few yards to the eventual national champion Clemson Tigers in 2016 to being unable to stay within 22 points of WAKE FOREST on Saturday. Wake Forest! In the process, Petrino has removed himself from the “edgy, but maybe we’ll roll the dice on him” at a bigger program list to “No, we can’t even consider the guy who had his mistress on the payroll AND lost to almost every ACC team by three scores” list of irrelevancy. I had him on every “Who should replace Butch Jones at Tennessee” list I did back in 2016, but the prospect of him ever getting a better job than Louisville is laughable now; hell, it’s far more likely he gets fired there and fades away into obscurity.
The only thing that won’t ever go away? This glorious picture!

Teams still alive for the playoff
Like always, teams from the Power 5 conferences are eliminated if they have more than one loss, with the exception of the ACC, a league that has been so awful that a single loss should knock you completely out of contention. And also like always, there’s no teams from the Group of 5 here, because none of them are worthy or good enough of making it, because it’s laughable to consider any of them one of the four best teams, which is the standard that the committee has been tasked with figuring out. I count 11 teams still alive (* by the undefeated teams).
SEC: *Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Kentucky
Alabama and LSU will meet in Baton Rouge this weekend, while Georgia travels to Kentucky, meaning there’s a shot we could have two teams eliminated from playoff contention out of the conference by this time next week. Here’s a fascinating question though; what if Alabama loses this weekend to LSU, but then wins the rest of their games, and finishes 11-1, while LSU wins out, makes the SEC Title Game out of the Western Division, and plays 11-1 Georgia. The winner of that game would obviously make the playoff, but what would you do with Alabama? Would the Tide make it over a one loss conference champ from another league? Sure, they didn’t make the SEC Championship Game last year and still ended up in the playoff, but that had more to do with Ohio State, their other competition for the fourth spot, going on the road to Iowa and getting their doors blown off, giving them their second loss of the season. The committee has not left out a single loss conference champion since 2014, when they kept both Baylor and TCU, the Big 12 “champions” out, after the league refused to crown either of them the official champs even though Baylor won the game between the two of them in the regular season. But even then, the committee still took four conference champs, three of whom had one loss. I think the committee values the conference title as being a tie breaker between one loss teams from difference leagues, so if the Tide were unable to win this weekend, and LSU ended up making the SEC Championship Game, they’d probably need some help to get in, probably something like the the Big 12, Pac 12, and Big Ten champions all having two losses. Of course, the Tide can take care of any questions like this by just winning the rest of their games, which is something I think they’ll do. Not that I want that to happen, of course.
Georgia has a tall task here. They need to win out to avoid having two losses, and that could mean having to get by Alabama in the SEC Title Game. Otherwise I don’t think an 11-2 ‘Dawg team would get any real playoff consideration here.
ACC: *Clemson
Clemson’s path is easy here; win the rest of their games and they’ll be in. Lose one and things get a bit dicey; I think they’d need some of the other conference champs to finish with two losses to make it in, even though in reality I think any one loss ACC team should be eliminated immediately. If you can’t run the table against that creampuff schedule, you shouldn’t be in the playoff.
Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State
Both these programs have losable games on the schedule before they meet the weekend after Thanksgiving. Michigan has been inarguably better the last month; Ohio State can’t run the ball, tackle anyone, and Urban Meyer constantly looks like he just got halfway drawn and quartered on the sidelines. I think the Wolverines take care of Penn State this weekend, beat Ohio State on the road, and head into the Big Ten championship with only one loss. Win that and there’s no way a one loss conference champ from the Big Ten gets left out.
Big 12: Oklahoma, West Virginia
West Virginia could knock themselves out this weekend by losing at Texas. But if they get by that one, they’ll play Oklahoma at home in the final week of the season in what could be a playoff elimination game. But here’s the even crazier thing; depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, these two teams could play each other in the conference championship game the next weekend if they finish first and second in the conference standings. So there’s a chance OU could hand WVU their second loss of the season after Thanksgiving, and then lose their second game of the season to the Mountaineers in the Big 12 Title Game the next weekend. I actually think OU will run the table (their offense and Kyler Murray are incredible), but with as bad as their defense is, it’d be pretty easy for them to have a game where they give up 600+ yards, can’t get off the field, and lose.
Pac 12: Washington State
The Cougars have some scheduling breaks! Here’s their last four: home against three loss Cal, at Colorado, who just blew a 31-3 second half lead to Oregon State (my god), home for 5 loss Arizona, and home for Washington, who just lost for the third time in a game where they scored just 10 points. They could very easily be 11-1 and headed to the conference championship game against probably Utah, a team they already beat back in late September. The question for Washington State, assuming they go 12-1 and win the Pac 12, will be whether or not the relative lack of strength in their conference keeps them out. So if we have an undefeated Alabama, undefeated Clemson, undefeated Notre Dame, and one loss Michigan, whose only loss was on the road to undefeated Notre Dame by 7 points, what is on Washington State’s resume that makes them better than any of the four of them? Remember, their loss is a bad one, to a four loss USC team that’s struggled at times to score. Why would they have a better resume than a one loss Oklahoma team that wins the Big 12? So I think they’ll need a lot of help to make it.
Independents: *Notre Dame
The final four of the Irish schedule looks a bit tougher than it did a month ago. At Northwestern this weekend will be a tough one with as well as the Wildcats have played the last month, and Syracuse in Yankee Stadium won’t be a push over either. Home for FSU and USC won’t be too difficult I don’t imagine, but both of those games are on the road and thousands of miles from the Notre Dame campus. Sure, I think the Irish should win all those games, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they got tripped up in one of those. I think 11-1 Notre Dame would still be one of the four best teams, but I’d be interested to see how the committee would deal with them, considering the Irish really haven’t been in the conversation for a playoff spot yet this late in the season.
My Top 4
The first playoff committee rankings come out tomorrow; I don’t think they’ll agree with my top four, but here’s how I’d rank them if I was the czar of football.
The Tide were idle this week and look to continue their streak of dominance at LSU on Saturday.
The Wolverines were also on bye, and have a tough game at home against Penn State this weekend. 2018 Michigan is one of the best college defenses I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And yes, I realize the Wolverines lost to Notre Dame back in Week 1, but if the teams played tomorrow on a neutral field, I think Michigan would win. So that’s my rationale.
Notre Dame
The Irish took care of Navy on Saturday, and now travel to Northwestern to face a Wildcat team that’s won four games in a row.
I don’t think the Tigers will be in my Top 4 for the rest of the season once they get dismantled by Alabama this weekend, but I’ll leave them here for now because I don’t think there’s more than three teams out there that should be favored against them, based solely on how everyone has looked so far.
I’d have Georgia fifth, Oklahoma sixth, and… if you’re going to twist my arm, Clemson seventh, even though they’re in a cupcake league and I’m pretty sure they’d have two losses by now in either the Big Ten or the SEC.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tennessee Is An Embarrassing, Irrelevant Program, And I Don't Know Why I Continue To Care

Let’s just get right to the point; tonight sucked. It was an embarrassment, on par with some of Butch Jones’s worst defeats, and frankly, it makes me wonder why the hell I even care about Tennessee football at all anymore. I mean, it’s the same damn team every year; they can’t block, tackle, hold leads, or worst of all, ever beat Will Muschamp’s fat ass gut. Muschamp is the most mediocre of all the football coaches and yet, he somehow just moved to 7-0 in his career against Tennessee, which is perhaps the most embarrassing Vol statistic of what has been an absolutely abominable decade-plus for what was once one of the proudest and best teams in all of college football.
There were no positives tonight. The offensive line was terrible, and let so many unimpeded rushers slam into Jarrett Guarantano that I’m surprised he didn’t die on the field, while the upperclassmen-laden defense was so porous that they gave up 224 rushing yards. It's no wonder the Vols got outscored 18-3 in the final 25 minutes of the game and blew a 12 point lead to Jake Freaking Bentley and Will "Beer Gut" Muschamp. The best thing about tonight was that Bentley wasn't even effective or good (11-16, 152 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and he still was able to lead the comeback. And yes, "best" is completely 100% sarcastic.
And I don’t want to hear about the officiating. You know what didn’t matter at all? The defensive pass interference call on South Carolina’s game-winning field goal drive. You know why? Because the Tennessee defense was so awful that it’s not like that extra 15 yards would’ve made any difference, considering the defense tackled about as well as a team full of ghosts would have. You know what else didn’t matter? South Carolina's “fumble” in the third quarter down around the goal line. I have no idea if Rico Dowdle fumbled or not, and neither do you because he regathered the ball right before he slammed into a throng of bodies that impeded everyone’s view and made it impossible for anyone to see where the ball or his knee was. What would’ve actually made a difference would’ve been if Tennessee had kept Dowdle to under ten yards a carry. And yes, I realized I just triggered everyone on #voltwitter.
Here’s the dumbest take of the whole night, courtesy of the same loudmouths on #voltwitter: “Oh hell yeah bro, wasn’t it great when Jauan Jennings slammed that ball into the South Carolina defender’s chest? Yeah brah! Showed him!” You know, I wouldn’t have had as much of a problem with this if Jauan had actually made some plays the rest of the game. Instead, he completely disappeared, and it was honestly like he wasn't even out there for any of the second half. His ball slam in the chest rings about as hollow as Rashaan Gaulden’s double birds into the crowd at Alabama last year. Hey Jauan! You guys blew a 12 point second half lead! But way to go on “showing” South Carolina. Congrats on that highlight brah.
But yeah, can't wait to tee it up and kick it off against Charlotte next week. Yeah, we'll really learn a lot in that one! Can't wait to flip on the TV!
I have no idea what to make of Jeremy Pruitt 8 games in. There's been some things I like (his in game aggression and lack of fear in taking chances) mixed with a ton of things I don't like (typical coach speak, crying at the podium about Tennessee's effort after they got blown out by Georgia by 26 points). Tonight was really bad. This team had been trending in the right direction the last few weeks, but this was a huge step backward, particularly in the trenches. South Carolina couldn't rush the passer all year (only ten sacks coming into tonight) and yet they were able to smack Guarantano around more times than a Steven Seagal movie. Look, I'm not punting on him yet, but it's concerning that they're basically the same team on the offensive line and in the front seven as they were all the way back in Week 1 when West Virginia blew them off the field. They're never going to win anything if they continue to be egregiously bad in those areas. 
I seriously don’t even know why I care this much or why I continue to let this crap get to me, or why I ever let myself buy into this irrelevant program week after week and year after year. Because they’re never going to get it turned around down there; hell, they might be the worst team with the worst situation in the entire division AGAIN. Think about it: South Carolina is an awful program with a below average head coach and Tennessee couldn’t even hold a twelve point lead against them. Plus, they’ve lost to them three years in a row! To Will Muschamp! Florida was almost equally as bad as Tennessee was last year, and yet, they’ll probably win 9 or 10 games this season with their first year head coach Dan Mullen, whereas Tennessee will be lucky to make a bowl game. Georgia blew out the Vols a few weeks ago for the second year in a row and have won 24 of their last 28 games with Kirby Smart as their head coach. Vanderbilt has beat them two years in a row (my god) and that game is in Nashville this year; after tonight’s performance by the Vols, three losses in a row to them is completely in play. Kentucky has one loss this season, is ranked in the top 12, and has a chance to clinch the SEC East next week if they beat Georgia. Maybe Missouri is a worse place? Maybe?
The Vols are stuck in the pit of misery, only they keep finding new lows. No program/team in the entire country has trolled their fan base more aggressively than Tennessee the last decade-plus. Beating Auburn on the road was the football gods cruel way of drawing us back in so they could destroy us once again for stupidly continuing to root for this week to week embarrassment. Good lord. Maybe it’s time to just fold the whole damn thing. Or at least purge the entire offensive line and start from scratch.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Week 9 College Football Picks: How The Hell Is Will Muschamp 6-0 Against The Vols?

I can't believe it's Week 9 of the college football season already. It seems like just yesterday that I wrote a 4000+ word manifesto about the 2018 season in which I picked Michigan State to make the playoff. Yikes!
Onto the games!
Tennessee at South Carolina
Will Muschamp and his beer gut have somehow never lost to the Vols as a head coach, going 6-0 against them during his tenures at Florida and South Carolina. This is made more incredible by the fact that he’s only a mediocre 40-35 against every other opponent. Not breaking any news here, and I’ve said this before, but if Muschamp weren’t a head football coach, he’d be out of shape strength coach who downs entire cases of tall boy Natty Lights seven nights a week. As a head football coach, he pops in his second year with a school and tricks everyone into thinking he’s going to be great, until the program goes in the toilet Year 3, which leads to an awful Year 4, which then finds him unemployed. That was exactly the way his tenure played out at Florida, and he’s torpedoing in that direction again at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are 3-3 this season, and their signature win is… at home against a 4-3 Missouri team that’s offense disintegrated in a torrential downpour in the second half? If it doesn’t start pouring harder than it did during Noah’s Ark, Muschamp is 2-4 halfway through his third year with one conference wins, losses against all three ranked teams he’s faced, and a beer gut that isn’t getting any smaller.

Which makes me think this Tennessee game is a really big one for him. The Gamecocks are coming off their bye week at home against a four loss Vol team that will be without Trey Smith, their only good lineman, due to blood clots in his lungs. If South Carolina loses tomorrow, here’s their final four games: at Ole Miss, at #9 Florida, home for Chattanooga, and at #2 Clemson. Sheesh. The only game they’d definitely win is Chattanooga, but those other three games are all on the road and could easily be losses, which means he could potentially finish 4-7 in Year 3 and go into 2019 with the hottest seat in the conference. His Year 3 record at Florida? 4-8.
I really like Tennessee in this game to break the still strange Muschamp streak and win by two touchdowns. These programs are trending in the opposite direction; the Vols got smoked by Alabama last week (who hasn’t been?), but were coming off a victory at Auburn and a good effort against Georgia the week prior. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks have been outscored 60-17 in the first half of their last three conference games, and their third year starting quarterback Jake Bentley got booed by the home fans during the Texas A&M game. Vol QB Jarrett Guarantano got knocked out of the Alabama game, but should be good to go this week; of course, it’s not like South Carolina gets after the passer, or even stops anyone, as they rank second to last in the conference in sacks and have the 61st ranked defense in the country in terms of yards per game. This is a good match up for a team with a bad O-Line like the Vols since the Gamecocks don’t consistently hit or even pressure the quarterback week to week. As long as the offensive line doesn’t completely self-destruct (which could totally happen), they should be able to move the ball and put up points, potentially even more than the 30 they scored at Auburn two weeks ago.
Side note: If the Vols win this one, they’ll move to 4-4 with four games left: home for Charlotte, home for #12 Kentucky, home for Missouri, and at Vanderbilt. Realistically, which of those games actually scares you? Kentucky, maybe? Maybe? This same team that didn’t run a play in Texas A&M territory the entirety of regulation in their game a few weeks ago. Why couldn’t they run the table against that slate? At the very least, they could still be 7-5 and go bowling, and I think we’d all accept that after how bad they looked in the Florida game in late September.
Prediction: Tennessee
#2 Clemson at Florida State
The Tigers have done quite well in this rivalry as of late, winning the last three meetings, twice by double digits. Since last year’s 31-14 beatdown at Clemson, FSU has downgraded head coaches from Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart and gone 3-3 in their last six games against FBS opponents. Going from Jimbo to Willie is like going from living in the United States to being sent to Siberia in Soviet Russia.
In Week 1, the ‘Noles scored 3 points against a Virginia Tech team that ended up giving up over 600 yards of offense to Old Dominion a few weeks later. Clemson’s problems and shakiness have been on offense this season, but I’ve never questioned their defensive prowess, particularly in the front seven (the Tigers defense rank 4th in the country in yards per game at just 266.3). I still don’t trust their offense, particularly with true freshman Trevor Lawrence leading them, but I don’t think it’ll matter this week because FSU’s offense won’t have a shot at moving the ball against the Clemson D. Plus, Willie Taggart is still the Florida State coach; he’s got a 51-53 record for a reason. The Tigers win by double digits.
Prediction: Clemson
#18 Iowa at #17 Penn State
I suppose this is a playoff elimination game for the Hawkeyes, who could still win out and make the playoff as a one loss conference champion, as unlikely as that seems. 
Did you know Kirk Ferentz makes over $5 million a year, which is one of the top coaching salaries in the country? Did you also know that he hasn’t won the Big Ten in almost a decade and a half (2004)? Or that he’s finished ranked just three times since 2005? I get it; it’s Iowa and it’s nothing more than a middle of the pack Big Ten job, so we shouldn’t expect them to be Ohio State every year, but how the hell is he worth $5 million a year? Does he have naked pictures of everyone in the Iowa athletic department? Did he catch the university president in bed with a horse?
Plus, let’s be honest, Iowa is a deceptive 6-1; here are their wins: Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, and Maryland. And their one loss came against the only ranked team they’ve played all season, Wisconsin. I don’t think Penn State is great or anything, and they certainly have issues in pass defense, but they’ve got better players, are at home, and have the better coach in James Franklin. Plus, with Butch Jones largely removed from a microphone week to week, Franklin has firmly grasped the crown for the best coach speak in the country. His ‘average to good to great but not elite’ speech after they blew the Ohio State game for the second consecutive year was something to behold, though it’ll never top “Leadership Reps” “Five Star Hearts” “Brick by Brick” or smoking cigars in the locker room after Alabama completely took apart a Tennessee team almost completely full of the guys you recruited. Oh crap, why the hell am I blabbering on about Butch Jones again? Sorry, old habits. Making fun of Butch Jones is my Stockholm Syndrome.
Prediction: Penn State
#14 Washington State at #24 Stanford
This is one of the biggest Pac 12 games of the entire season and it’s somehow only on the Pac 12 Network. They couldn’t have put this game on anywhere else? Washington at Cal is on at 6:30 on FS1… why wouldn’t they take this one in that slot instead since it’s a significantly better game? Who is making these decisions?
Anyway, State is the last team in the Pac 12 with one loss or fewer, and I think they'll keep it that way, at least this week. Cougar head coach Mike Leach, after losing to Stanford in each his first four tries, has won the last two games against them. Plus, the Stanford offense has been, at times, really pitiful; they’re 106th in the nation in total offense, and they’ve scored more than 30 points against an FBS opponent only once this season, and they needed overtime to do that. Meanwhile, the Cougar defense is really good; they shut out Oregon’s offense in the first half last week and limited them to just 328 total yards, and only 58 on the ground. I think Stanford will struggle to move the ball against them all game and lose by at least ten points.
Prediction: Washington State
#6 Texas at Oklahoma State
The last time we saw Texas, they barely held onto beat Baylor at home as the Bears threw multiple passes into the end zone at the end of the game. Some of their offensive woes in that game could be attributed to them losing their starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger due to injury, but he’s supposed to be back and healthy for tomorrow’s game. And assuming he is, I don’t see any way the Longhorns don’t embarrass Oklahoma State so badly that 90 year old T. Boone Pickens reconsiders his loyalties. This is a really bad Cowboy team, maybe the worst Mike Gundy has had since his first year in 2005 when they went 4-7. Their only win against a Power 5 team in 2018 was when they beat Kansas on September 29th. Kansas, a team that’s 17-76 this decade. 17-76!  
I think there’s still at least one loss on the Texas schedule the final month of the year (West Virginia, at Texas Tech, home for Iowa State, at Kansas), but they shouldn’t have any trouble with Oklahoma State tomorrow.
Prediction: Texas
#16 Texas A&M at Mississippi State
You could argue that Texas A&M made the biggest coaching upgrade in the entire country this off-season when they replaced Kevin Sumlin with Jimbo Fisher. Sumlin is in his 11th year as a head coach (it’s his first year at Arizona) and he’s had 11 bad defenses, whereas Fisher is one of four active coaches with a national title. Plus, Sumlin is a supposed offensive guru that's offenses completely fell apart by the end of every season that he didn't have Johnny Manziel under center.
On the other side, there probably wasn’t a program who made a bigger coaching downgrade than Mississippi State (except for maybe Florida State with Willie Taggart!), who replaced the best coach in school history, Dan Mullen, with Joe Moorhead, a guy who consistently looks like he just got done playing “Magic: The Gathering” for 12 straight hours. I was under the impression that Bulldog QB Nick Fitzgerald was one of the best returning starters at that position in the SEC, but he’s completely regressed as a passer in his first year with Moorhead. His completion percentage has plummeted from 55.6% in 2017 to 46.9% this year, his yards per attempt have dropped by a full yard, and he's thrown 7 interceptions to just 4 touchdowns. Sheesh. The only thing worse for his play than Moorhead’s coaching would be if he picked up a three pack a day cigarette habit.
A&M is trending in the right direction; their only losses this season are to the current #1 and #2 teams in the AP poll, and they played ‘Bama closer than anyone (22 points, but still) and were just a few plays away from beating Clemson. Jimbo is going to get it rolling there, and may even have the Aggies as a contender in that division by next season.
Prediction: Texas A&M
#12 Kentucky at Missouri
I love Missouri here; the Wildcat offense has secretly been just average this season (they haven’t scored more than 27 points against any Power 5 team in 2018), and in their last two games, they slogged around with a bad Vanderbilt team for four quarters and preceded it the week before by not running a play in Texas A&M territory until overtime. Plus, the biggest game of their entire season could be next weekend when they host Georgia. If the Bulldogs beat Florida tomorrow, it doesn’t matter what Kentucky does against Mizzou because all they’d need to do to be in the driver’s seat in the East Division would be to win that game. Meaning they could be looking ahead to that one and may not take tomorrow’s showdown as seriously against a Mizzou offense that’s put up points almost every week.
Prediction: Missouri
#9 Florida vs #7 Georgia (in Jacksonville)
The Cocktail Party is the definitive game of the week in the entire country. The Gators have dominated this rivalry as of late by winning 21 of the 28 matchups since 1990, though the ‘Dawgs did manhandle them 42-7 just last year.
The argument for Florida here is easy; they’re one of the most improved teams in the country from the opening snap of the season until right now, and Dan Mullen might be the best coach in the conference outside of Nick Saban. Meanwhile, the Georgia offense has struggled to run the ball consistently all year without backup QB Justin Fields in the game, and the last thing they put on tape was an absolutely abominable performance against LSU. Of course, I feel terrible about picking any team that’s quarterbacked by Feleipe Franks, who happens to don a Gator helmet every week. That dude can throw the ball really far and.... that’s about it. I mean, he’s considerably better than he was last season and he still completes less than 57% of his passes.
This game is going to be a rock fight, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the final score was 13-10 or something like that. I'll take Georgia solely because the Jake Fromm/Fields quarterback combo is better than what the Gators will trot out there with Franks, even if I think it's arguable that Florida has a better overall roster. 
Prediction: Georgia

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Week In Football: Alabama Destroys Tennessee, Michigan Ascends, And Ohio State Loses By Almost 30 On The Road

For the 12th straight year, Alabama won the Third Saturday In October. I can barely even remember what it feels like to beat the Crimson Tide. Holy crap. Let’s just start there….
Alabama wore out Tennessee again and scored the most points in the history of the rivalry
This game was over in the first five minutes when Alabama drove the field, scored a TD, rocked Vol QB Jarrett Guarantano, forced him to fumble, and then scored again. The only worse sequence was the start of the second half, when Tennessee’s Ty Chandler signaled for a fair catch on the kickoff at the 2 yard line AFTER he caught the ball, followed immediately by Vol QB Keller Chryst tripping over an offensive lineman and falling into the end zone for a safety, which was made worse when running back Jeremy Banks picked up a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. If you wanted to explain this game to someone, you’d just show them those two sequences, as well as Guarantano getting clocked in the chest so hard that he had to leave the game in the first half.
I’m not going to freak out over this game, one that Tennessee didn’t have a chance in hell of winning, but there also wasn’t really anything positive to take away either. I like that Jeremy Pruitt continues to be aggressive, but it’s incredible to me that the Vols have executed a surprise onside kick to almost near perfection three times this season and still haven’t been able to come up with the ball a single time. What’s even more amazing is that the offensive line has been unable to block consistently for the last decade-plus. They’ve had multiple NFL draft picks and All SEC performers and they’ve still been mostly an abomination. I get it; every once in a while a team is going to have issues with protection. Sometimes you have injuries, sometimes you lose a ton of guys to graduation/NFL, but eventually you figure things out up front. No program, particularly one like Tennessee, with the resources it has, should have this much trouble finding a five man unit that can hold blocks long enough to be able to consistently create offense. Of course, no program with the resources of Tennessee should be this atrocious for over a decade. Holy hell. This is why I drink.
Alabama was incredible, of course. Their defense played probably the best game they have all season, and if they can get by LSU in Tiger Stadium in two weeks (and I think they will), then I don’t see any team being able to play them within two touchdowns unless Tua gets hurt. 2018 Alabama is like the super team you’d create on Madden, only you’d play the entire schedule on Rookie Mode and just murder everyone. And Tua is like what would happen if a video game became real life. He and Nick Saban are just running through these SEC programs every week like they’re the American troops at Custer’s Last Stand.
I guess it’s… onto South Carolina? What a stinker on Saturday. Geez. The Vols aren’t close.
Which brings me to this: when the hell is Tennessee going to beat Alabama again? It won’t be next year; the game is in Tuscaloosa and Tua will still be the quarterback. How about 2020? Maybe? Tua could’ve gone pro by then, but it’s not like Alabama has been a push over without a great QB. 2021? Again, that game will be in Tuscaloosa. If Pruitt works out, 2022 will be his fifth year. Do we really have to wait that long? Holy hell.
Speaking of things that suck…..
Butch Jones got a Gatorade bath

Butch has been an intern on the Alabama staff this year and got doused with Gatorade after the game. He also smoked victory cigars in the locker room. What a chump. You really know your career has gone up in flames when a team you recruited a majority of the players for gets blown out by more than 30 and you celebrate like you won the national title. What an absolute indictment of your coaching career. This goes down as the undisputed dumbest coach moment of the week, dumber than LSU’s strength coach intentionally slamming his head into players helmets.

Ohio State got annihilated on the road by Purdue
The box score on this game is incredible; Ohio State actually outgained Purdue by 7 yards, only had one turnover, got 7 more first downs, won the time of possession, got 470 passing yards from Dwayne Haskins, and still lost by 29.
OSU’s issue was that they slogged around for the first 40 minutes, and only really ratcheted it up after they were down 28-6. This is typical Buckeyes though; about once a year they don’t show up for a game and get blasted by an inferior opponent. Last year it happened when they went to Iowa and lost by 31. In 2014, they lost to a 7-6 Virginia Tech team by 14 points in Columbus. They aren’t out of the playoff discussion, but the margin for error is completely gone now; plus, with as sloppy as they’ve looked the last month, they don’t look like a team that’s capable of running the slate, which is exactly what they’ll have to do if they want to being playing in a semifinal game. I know that the Michigan game is at home, but with as good as the Wolverine defense has been, and as poor as the Buckeyes have been running the football (only 76 yards on Saturday), I can’t see them being able to move the ball all that much against them unless Dwayne Haskins just plays out of his mind. That Michigan State game in East Lansing could be tough also.
I’m not shedding a tear for them either, by the way, considering this is the same university that still employs Urban Meyer despite the fact that he’s both a hypocrite and a liar. He’s the college football version of a televangelist that constantly preaches against gay marriage and then gets caught with a male escort.
Side note: this game ended up being my coldest take of the season. When I made my prediction on Friday, I said “Ohio State (by a million)”. Really nailed that one. Whoops.
The Pac 12 is one team away from missing the playoff for the third time in five years.
Colorado lost by two touchdowns to Washington, while Oregon got shellacked by Washington State. Another cold take from me; I thought the Ducks were really good but they got completely run off the field in the first half by the Cougars, who are now the only team alive for the playoff from the Pac 12. Here’s the remaining Washington State schedule: at Stanford, home for Cal, at Colorado, home for Arizona, home for Washington. I was really impressed by them on Saturday, and I think Mike Leach is a really good coach, but that schedule looks like it includes at least one loss; it might even be at Stanford this weekend. Of course, just because the Pac 12 will be out doesn’t mean the playoff picture will be any clearer. But more on that later.
Side note: I’m not sure what kind of sway Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott or the rest of the conference’s athletic directors have with the rest of the playoff committee, but I can’t imagine they’ll be happy with being left out of the playoff AGAIN. And imagine if the Big Ten doesn’t make it for the second consecutive year…. I’m not in favor of an eight team playoff, but that’s ultimately where this thing is headed. There’s too much money to be made for these big time conferences to accept being left out.
The ACC is pitiful
Great, Clemson smacked around an N.C. State team that would be a three or four loss team in any other league. If that’s the second best team in the conference, then who is the third best? Miami? They got taken apart by LSU, trailed Willie Taggart’s FSU team in the second half, and lost to Virginia. How about those Cavaliers? They lost to Indiana and were N.C. State’s “signature win” coming into Saturday. Virginia Tech? They gave up over 600 yards to Old Dominion. Syracuse? I like Dino Babers but they needed overtime to beat an absolutely abominable North Carolina team. Duke? Please. I’ve been eliminating teams from playoff contention once they lose their second game, but with as atrocious as the ACC is, I’m going to go ahead and drop any team from that league that loses a single game. Meaning N.C. State is already done. This is a one team league that’s flanked by a whole lot of garbage. And yes, I’m sure this entire paragraph just triggered Danny Kanell, though not as badly as that time when the 7th best program historically in the SEC, Texas A&M, poached the head coach from his alma mater, Florida State, which is arguably the best job in the ACC. Sucks to suck.
Is Michigan one of the four best teams?
The Wolverines took apart Michigan State in East Lansing on an disgusting day in what was probably the best defensive performance by any team all season. The Spartans had just 94 total yards the whole game and only 15 on the ground. MSU QB Brian Lewerke was a Nathan Peterman-esque 5-25 with only 66 yards passing.
Here’s the points and yards allowed by the Michigan defense in every game this season:
Notre Dame: 24 points (only three in the second half) and 302 yards
Western Michigan: 3 points and 208 yards
SMU: 20 points and 319 yards
Nebraska: 10 points and 132 yards
Northwestern: 17 points and 202 yards
Maryland: 14 points and 220 yards
Wisconsin: 13 points and 283 yards
Michigan State: 7 points and 94 yards
Good lord. In an era where defense has almost completely vanished (have you seen the Big 12?), the Wolverines are like an old school team that’s built on mauling opposing offenses every week. No team has gotten better from the first snap of the season until now than Michigan, and the funny thing is that they haven’t even really gotten good play from their quarterback Shea Patterson yet. I like them at home by two touchdowns in two weeks against Penn State. They’re a definite playoff team if they win out. Hell, I might take them over everyone except Alabama on a neutral field right now.
Teams still alive for the playoff
Every Group of Five Team has been eliminated because none of them are worthy of making the playoff EVEN IF they went undefeated. I’ve also eliminated every two loss team from the Power 5 conferences, with the exception of the ACC, which is such a bad league that one loss eliminates you. Can we just relegate the entire conference to the Group of Five?
From my count, we’ve got 14 teams still alive (* by the undefeated teams)
SEC: *Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky
Georgia could eliminate Florida if they win the Cocktail Party on Saturday, or be eliminated themselves if they lose. If they beat the Gators, they’ll have the same scenario on November 4th when they play at Kentucky. Alabama can bury the Swamp Monster’s hopes when they go into Tiger Stadium in two weeks and win. If the SEC East winner makes the Conference Championship game with just one loss opposite an undefeated Alabama, the Tide could eliminate that team if they win. But what would happen if that one loss East division team beats Alabama? Obviously that team would make the playoff, but would the committee take a one loss Alabama team over a one loss conference champion? Or what if the East division winner has two losses and then beats Alabama? Would that eliminate the SEC entirely? Probably not? Maybe? Still a ton up in the air.
Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa
The road map for these three is easy; win the rest of your games. I’m not sure how good Iowa actually is, but I know for a fact that I’d take the Michigan-Ohio State winner over the Hawkeyes if Iowa made the Big Ten Title game against one of them. Right now I think Michigan has the best chance of these three to run the table.
Big 12: Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia
WVU still has games against both OU and Texas, and I think they’ll lose one of those and eliminate themselves. But if any of these three win out they’d inarguably have a better resume than a 13-0 Clemson team. Not saying that will put them in, though.
ACC: *Clemson
I don’t think the Tigers are one of the four best teams, but I can’t see them getting left out if they run the table.
Pac 12: Washington State
I think the Cougars will lose one of their final five games, but they’d have a good case if they win out. Their defeat by a three loss USC team is a pretty tough pill to swallow though.
Independents: *Notre Dame
The Irish have already played the most difficult part of their schedule, and their toughest remaining opponent is probably Syracuse, a game they’ll get at home. No way an undefeated Notre Dame team gets left out.
Here’s something important to remember though: in the playoff era, we’ve only had three undefeated teams: 2014 FSU, 2015 Clemson, and 2016 Alabama. That’s less than one a year. Odds are at least one of the Alabama-Notre Dame-Clemson trio will lose before the end of the year, and based on the last four years, maybe two of them. If Clemson loses once they’re out because of the garbage league+shaky play equation. Notre Dame would be sweating too, though they’d be helped if Michigan keeps wearing everyone out. I’d be shocked if anyone beats Alabama. Like always though, the committee will land on four teams by early December and we’ll all tune in to watch the playoff.
My Top 4
No one has been within 3 touchdowns of them all season. They’ve got the Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and the best coach in the history of the sport. There is no one else to consider here.
Yes, yes, I know Notre Dame beat them in Week 1, but that game was in South Bend and the Wolverines really outplayed them in the final three quarters. If they played today on a neutral field, with as well as the Michigan defense has played all year, I think they might break Ian Book.
Notre Dame
The Irish were idle this week, and have a weird game in San Diego against Navy on Saturday.
The Tigers slogged their way through Mississippi State on Saturday, a game where Bulldogs head coach Joe Moorhead revealed himself to be a traveling tube sock salesman. I thought Nick Fitzgerald was one of the best returning quarterbacks in the conference; why were the Tigers begging and daring him to throw? Let’s be honest, going from Dan Mullen to Joe Moorhead is like going from dating Jessica Alba to dating Rosie O’Donnell.
Coach O has a chance to become and LSU legend if he can knock off Alabama in two weeks. Hell, they might literally need Orgeron to turn into a Swamp Monster and take the field to beat the Crimson Tide. But more on that one in two weeks.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Can Tennessee beat Alabama? Plus, Week 8 College Football Picks

It's the Third Saturday in October! It's Tennessee-Alabama! It could be... a blowout! Uh oh!
#1 Alabama at Tennessee
On paper, this one could get ugly. The Tide enter as 28.5 point favorites with the top scoring offense in the country and an 11 game winning streak over the Vols that runs the entirety of Nick Saban’s tenure. Plus, here’s the margin of victory for ‘Bama in the five games in Knoxville since 2008: 20, 31, 31, 14, and 39. Lotta great football played by Tennessee there!
Assuming Tua’s knee injury won’t take him off the field at any point, I don’t see how Tennessee slows this team down. Sure, the defense held strong last week at Auburn, particularly in the second half, but Tua hasn’t shown himself to be a poor decision maker who throws the ball up for grabs the way Jarrett Stidham has. Plus, Tua's been a machine this year (71.5% completion percentage, 14.3 yards per attempt, 21 TDs, and 0 interceptions) and I think the Vols will have a hard time stopping the Tide offense much the same way everyone else has this season. Tennessee already gave up over 400 passing yards to a similarly talented QB in Will Grier back in Week 1, and if they aren’t forcing turnovers, their defense hasn't shown themselves to be that formidable.
Which means the Vols will need to rely on the football gods in this one. And there’s some nice, interesting numerical occurrences at play here…..
  • The last time Alabama won 11 straight games over Tennessee was from 1971-1981, and the Tide rolled into Knoxville in 1982 ranked #2 in the country against an overmatched and unranked Vol team (sounds like tomorrow’s game, right?). Tennessee snapped the streak that day and won 35-28.
  • Tennessee snapped an 11 game SEC losing streak last week when they went into Auburn and won.
  • If you add the individual digits together that make up the year 2018, you get…. 11!

Coincidence? I think not!
Plus, if there’s a weakness on this Alabama team, it’s their defense, which is arguably the worst one Saban has had during his time in Tuscaloosa. They aren’t a train wreck, sure, but teams have been able to move the ball on them in 2018. And if the Vols can bring the same offense tomorrow that they did into Auburn last week, they should be able to put up some points. Jarrett Guarantano has the fourth highest passer rating in the conference, and Tennessee has some big, physical receivers that showed last week an ability to consistently win jump balls down the field. All of this is dependent on the offensive line holding it together and actually blocking consistently, which is admittedly a concern, but if they do even a half decent job, Guarantano has demonstrated time and time again his accuracy as a passer.
Plus, you could argue that this is the toughest game the Tide have played all year. Sure, Tennessee isn’t their most difficult opponent, but it’s on the road and the last of eight consecutive games that Alabama will play before their bye week. Plus, Jeremy Pruitt was on the Tide staff last year; the only person more familiar with Alabama and their personnel would be anyone that’s still on their current coaching staff.
Am I allowed to get ideas here? Am I allowed to pick Tennessee without looking like an idiot and coming off like a massive homer? No? Crap…
Prediction: Alabama (but it’ll be closer than everyone thinks!)
#6 Michigan at #24 Michigan State
Another massive game for Jim Harbaugh; he’s 1-2 in this instate rivalry, with the only victory coming against the 2016 Spartans, a team that went 3-9. Which means he hasn’t beaten a competent Michigan State team yet. 
My feel for this one is the same as it was last week for Michigan-Wisconsin; the Wolverines have better players, are arguably better in all three facets of the game, have one of the best defenses in the country, and should win this game.  Shea Patterson has been really effective since the Notre Dame loss, while Michigan State has been wildly inconsistent, particularly on offense. I think Michigan’s defense throttles them.
Prediction: Michigan
#9 Oklahoma at TCU
Before the season, this looked like one of the games of the year in the Big 12. And when TCU almost beat Ohio State in Week 3, it looked even juicier. Whoops! The Horned Frogs have lost two of their last three since then and face an Oklahoma team that is coming off their bye week looking to bounce back from getting torched by Texas. Sure, they’ll probably get torched this week also, and every week for the rest of the season, and maybe every week for the rest of the time Lincoln Riley is their head coach, but OU QB Kyler Murray is incredible and guarantees his team at least 35 points just by being on the field. Plus, the Sooners need to win this one to keep themselves in the conference and playoff race, whereas TCU’s season is basically over at this point, except for a trip at the end of the season to the Belk Bowl or the Poinsettia Bowl or the Waste Management Bowl or the “Don’t Use The Bathroom Outside Antarctica Bowl” or the “Kim Jong Il Memorial North Korea Bowl”.
Prediction: Oklahoma
#16 N.C. State at #3 Clemson
Here’s a tweet from ACC homer Danny Kanell from earlier this week: “If N.C. State had an SEC logo they would be ranked in the Top 10. The fact that they are #16 is a joke. #bias #undefeated”. Danny’s just upset that Texas A&M, an SEC school, poached Jimbo Fisher, the head coach from his alma mater, Florida State, because they have significantly more money, better facilities, and arguably better access to the large swath of instate talent. I don’t understand this anti-SEC bias from some in the media; college football just matters more down here in the South, and it makes sense that the league would be superior to the others year to year. A&M isn’t one of the six best programs historically in the SEC and they were still able to get the coach from what is arguably the best job in the ACC. Don’t be mad, Danny, just embrace the truth buddy.
In terms of this game, if Clemson is going to be deserving of a playoff spot, they should blow the Wolfpack out this weekend. I’m struggling to find a signature win on the N.C. State schedule… man, that time they beat Boston College at home by 5 was really nice. How about their 17 point victory over Marshall. Hell yeah! They beat Virginia by 14? Awesome! Sign me up brah!
Stop with N.C. State. They’ve got the worst resume of any undefeated team, and yes, they’d be a two or three loss team if they were in the SEC.
Prediction: Clemson
#22 Mississippi State at #5 LSU
Incredibly enough, this will be the 110th meeting between these schools, a rivalry that is the longest in school history for LSU and the second longest for Mississippi State, behind only the Egg Bowl. The Bulldogs have also done quite well in this game recently, winning two of the last four meetings, including last year’s 37-7 throttling in Starkville.
I can’t seem to get a feel for LSU week to week, but they should, under the lights in the raucous Tiger Stadium, win this one against a State team that has scored more than 30 points against a FBS opponent only once this season. I think the Mississippi State will struggle to move the ball against the physical Tiger defensive front, and with how much Bulldog QB Nick Fitzgerald has regressed this season, this game feels like one that could get out of contention quickly.
If LSU wins, it'll set up a massive showdown in two weeks with Alabama. Can the Swamp Monster beat Nick Saban? If he can, a bronze Ed Orgeron statue will probably rise out of the swamps of the Bayou.
Prediction: LSU
Vanderbilt at #14 Kentucky
In a matchup of two glorified P.E. teachers, I’ll take the one that didn’t blow an 18 point lead to Florida at home last week.
Prediction: Kentucky
#2 Ohio State at Purdue
Somehow this is the ABC Saturday Night Game. Sheesh. I can’t think of a way this one gets interesting unless Purdue’s head coach Jeff Brohm goes full XFL on everyone again.

Prediction: Ohio State (by a million)
#12 Oregon at #25 Washington State
I’ve said since the Stanford game (which they botched horribly) that I thought Oregon was one of the best teams in the country, led by QB Justin Herbert, who has a real shot to be the #1 overall pick in April’s NFL draft. This is also a playoff elimination game, since both teams have a loss.
I scoured the Washington State schedule trying to find an impressive win. Their victory over a two loss Utah team by four at home was the best I could find, unless you want to count the time they beat a 1-5 Oregon State by 19 (and I don’t). Sure, it’s entirely possible that the Cougars win on Saturday, but I’ll take the Ducks, with their NFL quarterback and a million fast guys, even if I don’t totally trust their head coach Mario Cristobal yet.
Prediction: Oregon
Enjoy college football this weekend, you deserve it!