Saturday, November 30, 2019

Eric Gray And The Vols Ran Over, Through, And Around Vanderbilt

Well, it certainly wasn’t the best performance Tennessee has had on their now five game winning streak, but today’s 28-10 victory over a bad Vanderbilt team has given the Vols their first winning record in conference play since 2015, and will more than likely propel them to their first New Year’s Day Bowl Game since then also.
Eric Gray was the best player on the field today, and his rushing performance will put him inside the Top 5 on many of the Vol record lists. His 94 yard rushing TD was the longest by any Tennessee player since Kelsey Finch’s 99 yard scamper against Florida in 1977, and his 246 yards are the fifth most by any Vol in a single game in the history of the program. Gray had shown flashes of explosiveness throughout the year, but he was very clearly the third back on the roster… until today. He finished the day with three rushing TDs and almost ten yards per carry.
Jarrett Guarantano was off today, and had by far his worst game of the Tennessee winning streak, completing only 6 of his 17 pass attempts. He started the game 0 for 7 and threw an interception that set up Vanderbilt’s early field goal. Of course, JG was still able to convert his six completions into 120 yards and a TD. 
Let’s be honest, the pouring rain and horrible weather conditions were a factor in limiting the passing game today. Vanderbilt’s two quarterbacks completed less than 50% of their throws also, and both teams combined for only 289 passing yards.
The best thing about Tennessee today was how they were able to dominate the game in the trenches. They couldn’t throw the ball a lick and were still able to blow Vandy off the ball on their way to 297 rushing yards and an 18 point win. The Vol defense held the Commodores to less than 300 yards of offense, and finished off their regular season by only allowing 71 points over the final five weeks (or 14.2 points per game. For reference, Florida, the second ranked defense in the SEC, only allows 14.2 points per game this season. So they’ve basically been on the level of the second ranked defense in their conference for the last five weeks.)
Most importantly, the Vols snapped their three game losing streak to Vanderbilt, something that never should’ve happened in the first place, and is further evidence of just how far this program had fallen over the last couple of years. Before last season, the Commodores hadn’t taken three in a row in this “rivalry” since 1926. I’m pretty sure that’s the year my Old Man was born. Or at least that’s what I thought he said when I asked him how old he was once. Again, he had a mouthful of Cheetos, so he could’ve said 1886 or 1962 or anything.
For those of you that wanted a blowout, a 50 point win, well, I’m sorry, but that was never going to happen today. The spread was 23.5 points, which was far too high considering the Vols have only beaten Vanderbilt by that many points twice since 2006. And while Tennessee has made a really nice turnaround this year, their largest margin of victory of this season against an FBS opponent was only 23 points. They won their last two games, at Kentucky and at Missouri, by a combined total of eight points. This isn’t, and never has been, a team that blows people out. Plus, the weather was terrible today, which severely limited their ability to get big plays and really open it up. They won by three possessions today. It's impossible for me to be upset about that.
Tennessee won’t learn their bowl fate until next Sunday, but with their winning conference record and hot finish to the season, I’d be shocked if they were anywhere other than a New Year’s Day Bowl. They’ll be in either the Gator Bowl, the Outback Bowl, or the Capital One Bowl against some quality Big Ten opponent, and will be going for their first 8 win season since 2016. No one would’ve predicted that after they blew the BYU game.
Crazy stat: today was the first time in his 16 conference games that Jeremy Pruitt was favored. He’s a not bad 7-9 in those 16 conference games, which is even more impressive if you remember (and I’m sure you all do) that this team was 0-8 in the SEC in 2017, the year before he arrived in Knoxville.
Pruitt is in the good graces of the fanbase now. Whether he remains there will depend on how they do against Alabama, Florida, and Georgia next season. But for now, let’s celebrate this season, and carry the fight to whoever they get in their bowl game.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Week In Football: Vols Become Bowl Eligible, Ohio State Asserts Themselves, And Oregon Goes Up In Flames

While it might’ve been a great weekend to be a Tennessee Vol, the same can’t be said for the fans of other schools, namely Oregon, who saw their playoff hopes go up in flames in Sun Devil Stadium, or Penn State, who lost to Ohio State for the third straight year.
Let’s just start with the Vols, like always….
Tennessee Beat Missouri To Become Bowl Eligible
The Vols, after a putrid 1-4 start, have rebounded to win five out of their last six and will now get to host an atrocious Vanderbilt team on Saturday with a potential January 1 Bowl Berth on the line.
No one would’ve predicted in September that Tennessee would be in this position, with a chance to finish with a winning record in conference play, after the way they started the year, with two atrocious home losses to Georgia State and BYU. I’m just glad they’re finally playing up to their potential.
Under normal circumstances, Jeremy Pruitt would be the SEC Coach of the Year, but with Ed Orgeron and LSU having the kind of season that they are, that award will probably end up in Baton Rouge.
As happy as I am, the Vols still have a lot of work to do. Winning four in a row is great, but ultimately, the fanbase is going to want those wins to start coming against Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. They’re going to want SEC Championships and Championship Game appearances. They’re going to want wins over ranked teams.
I know this makes me a “snowflake”, but can Jeremy Pruitt stop putting his hands on his players? Again, I don’t think he should be severely reprimanded for this, but he shouldn’t be dragging Shawn Shamburger around and acting like he as the head coach is the biggest bully on the prison block either. Anyone who is defending this behavior, I’d just ask you:
1.      What would you do if your boss put his hands on you at work like that? Wouldn't that violate every workplace norm know to man? Wouldn’t you want to take a swing at him? And wouldn’t your company fire your boss for that behavior? Wouldn’t you be horrified and angry, if at your job, your boss put his hands on another employee like that?
2.      How does this make Shamburger better? That’s what everyone always says when defending this style of "coaching". Pruitt put his hands on him and now Shamburger won’t hit Kelly Bryant late out of bounds anymore? What? How does that make sense? You know what’s way better and is completely within the bounds of acceptable conduct? An ass chewing and a benching. You can coach a player “hard” without attempting to assert yourself over him physically. A head coach should be able to communicate with his players without resorting to putting his hands on them. How hypocritical is it for Pruitt to demand ultimate composure from his players, but then display none of that himself?
Georgia’s Offense Sucks
The ‘Dawgs crappy offense gained just 260 yards, and Jake Fromm completed only 11 out of his 23 pass attempts. Luckily for them, their defense was able to hold Texas A&M to -1 rushing yards on 20 attempts. -1? How do you get that physically dominated up front if you’re the Aggies?
The fact that they held A&M to negative rushing yards but only won by six points should be concerning to Georgia. They’re going to beat the hell out of Georgia Tech on Saturday, but the SEC Championship against LSU, a must-win for the ‘Dawg playoff hopes, looks more difficult by the day despite the Tigers bad defense.
Georgia isn’t going to be able to completely shut down the LSU attack, and if they can’t figure out a way to generate more of an offensive push themselves (and I don’t think they’ll be able to), they could find themselves on the outside of the playoff again.
Which brings us to this: are we sure Kirby Smart made the right decision at quarterback? Since his tenure at Georgia began, Kirby has had Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason, and Justin Fields on the roster at the quarterback position. Now, only Fromm remains. Eason v Fromm was a debate in the past, but it’s pretty much over now that Eason is the quarterback of a five loss Washington team. But how about Fromm v Fields? Fields is the quarterback of the high flying Ohio State Buckeyes, who rank inside the top five nationally in many offensive categories. I’m 100% certain that Fields is a better quarterback than Fromm. He’s a better athlete, more accurate, equally strong arm, etc. Do you really think Fields would’ve transferred to Ohio State if Kirby had told him he was going to be the starter at some point last year? And do you think Georgia loses to South Carolina in the fashion they did if Fields was their quarterback? And what happens to the Ohio State offense if they don’t have Fields? Are they even close to being as dynamic? No way, right? And what would happen to the Ohio State offense if Fromm was their quarterback? They certainly wouldn’t be better.
Ohio State Beat Penn State By Double Digits
And it would’ve been more if the Buckeyes didn’t lose three fumbles, including one right at the goal line as Fields was diving for a touchdown.
The Buckeyes outgained the Nittany Lions by almost 200 yards and held the football for almost ten more minutes in a game that wasn’t as close as the 28-17 score would suggest.
I’ve maintained for most of the season that Ohio State is the most complete team in the entirety of college football, and despite having a less impressive resume than LSU, should be ranked ahead of them because of the Tigers bad defense. If they could’ve held onto the football, I think that’s the position most people would’ve held coming out of the weekend.
Ohio State’s toughest test of the year might come on Saturday, when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on surging Michigan, who has won their last four games by 25 points or more. Do I think Jim Harbaugh is going to be Ohio State? No. But his team is playing really well and the Buckeyes don’t necessarily need to win this game to make the playoff. Could they be asleep at the wheel a little bit? Saturday should be fun.
No One Was At Vanderbilt’s Game Against ETSU on Saturday
This comes on the heels of Vanderbilt announcing that Derek Mason would be returning next season.
Is Mason really that bad of a coach? He’s certainly not James Franklin, but he has beaten the in-state rival Vols three years in a row (damn) and has been to two bowl games in six years. What are the expectations in Nashville exactly? SEC titles? Nine wins a year?
James Franklin was a historical anomaly for the Commodore program. It won’t happen again for decades that a guy like him shows up in that program and wins nine games back to back years. Mason isn’t a great football coach, but he’s pretty par for the course for the history of that program.
Ed Orgeron Roasted Arkansas
After racking up over 600 yards of offense and scoring 56 points against Arkansas, Ed Orgeron, in response to his team’s lack of celebration, told the media, “There wasn’t going to be a celebration for beating Arkansas. They haven’t beaten anyone in a long time.”
The lows keep on getting lower for the Razorbacks.
Oregon Is Out Of The Playoff
The Ducks (and Justin Herbert) sucked for three quarters, and when they finally got things together, their furious comeback was killed by Sun Devil quarterback Jayden Daniels’s 81 yard touchdown pass.
Herbert finished with over 300 yards passing, but he threw two costly interceptions and his completion percentage was below 50% before the comeback.
Saturday night just goes to show you why no team in the history of college football has ever won nine conference games AND the conference championship game in the same season. That’s what Oregon was going to have to do if they wanted to make the playoff. That extra conference game against an opponent with comparable talent gives you that much more of a chance to slip up. Oregon didn’t have the luxury of playing Western Carolina like the Alabama did this weekend.
Utah, on the other hand, was impressive again. Their 35-7 victory over Arizona gave them their seventh straight win, and six of those seven have been by 18 points or more. The Pac 12’s playoff hopes rest on Utah winning their next two now, though Oregon certainly won’t roll over for them in two weeks in the conference title game.
Teams Alive For The Playoff
As always, you remain in playoff contention as long as you have one loss or fewer in a Power 5 conference, with the exception of the ACC, which is such an awful league that one loss would eliminate you. (* by the undefeated teams)
ACC: *Clemson
The only thing between the Tigers and their fifth straight playoff appearance is a terrible South Carolina team and either Virginia or Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. So they’ll be in the playoff.
Big 10: *Ohio State, Minnesota
The Buckeyes are in if they win out or win the Big Ten Championship. What would happen if Ohio State beat Michigan this week, but then lost to either Minnesota or Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title Game? Wisconsin has been eliminated from playoff consideration due to their two losses, but would a 12-1 non-conference champ Ohio State still get in? What if Minnesota beat Wisconsin this weekend and then beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game? Would the Big Ten get 12-1 Minnesota and 12-1 non-champ Ohio State both in? And what if Georgia beat LSU in the SEC Championship Game? Who gets left out between 12-1 SEC Champ Georgia, 12-1 non champ LSU, 12-1 Big Ten Champ Minnesota, and 12-1 non champ Ohio State, assuming that Clemson wins out and finishes 13-0? How about 12-1 Big 12 Champ Oklahoma or 12-1 Big 12 Champ Baylor or 12-1 Pac 12 Champ Utah? We could have levels of chaos never seen before in the history of the playoff.
Big 12: Oklahoma, Baylor
Did Oregon’s loss open the door for the Big 12 champ? Is the committee going to value 12-1 Oklahoma or 12-1 Utah higher at the end of the year? So far it’s been Utah, but what happens if the Utes lose to Oregon in the Pac 12 Title Game and Oklahoma wins out? The door is very much open for the Big 12 still.
SEC: *LSU, Georgia, Alabama
I’m leaving the Tide here only because they have one loss, but out of every team listed, they have the fewest opportunities remaining to bolster their resume, because they won’t be playing in a conference championship game. Plus, there’s a good chance they lose to Auburn on the road this week.
Georgia has to win out to get in.
Pac 12: Utah
The Utes must do the same thing as Georgia.
My Top 4
1.      Ohio State
The most talented team in the country.
2.      LSU
The best resume in the country.
3.      Clemson
I guess.
4.      Georgia
Their offense is poor, but they maul teams defensively. Their isn’t a great choice at number 4.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

It's Great To Be A Tennessee Vol

It feels almost weird to come on here and constantly praise Tennessee, because there really hasn’t been a lot to get excited about in Knoxville over the last decade-plus, unless "Brick by Brick" was your thing. With their victory tonight in Columbia, the Vols have won four in a row, their longest winning streak since the Dobbsnail Boot, a sentence I never thought I’d be typing back in September.
The Vols have rebounded thanks to the best senior class they’ve had in years. Jauan Jennings (5 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD) and Marquez Callaway (6 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD) dominated the Mizzou secondary, and Daniel Bituli and Nigel Warrior were all over the field tonight defensively.
Jennings is slowly working his way onto the list of most beloved Vols of the century. He was already involved in two of the most famous plays in Tennessee history (the receiver on the Dobbsnail Boot and his TD against Florida), but now, his leadership and high level of play on the grittiest Tennessee team since the Fulmer era has pushed him to another level. I never would’ve thought his Vol career would end this way after he got booted off the team two years ago.

He’s not the only Vol on a redemption tour; how about Jarrett Guarantano? 415 passing yards and 2 TDs against Missouri, one of the best defenses in the SEC? A major (sometimes deciding) factor in the last five Tennessee wins? The Vol receivers (Palmer, Jennings, Callaway) were great tonight, but they don’t become the first trio in program history to each have over 100 receiving yards in the same game if JG doesn’t play like he did tonight. Sure, he missed too many throws tonight, but he always seemed to rebound on the next play with a 20 yard laser in a place where only his guy could catch it.
The whole second half of the year has been completely unexpected. After four weeks, Jeremy Pruitt was going to get fired, Phillip Fulmer was going to take over, and Tennessee was never going to win anything substantial ever again. Now, they’re bowl eligible and are going to beat the crap out of a horrible Vanderbilt team in Knoxville next week, and then go to Capital One Bowl or the Outback Bowl or somewhere in January.
Look, they were far from perfect tonight, and there’s a ton they need to clean up, but dammit, it’s just nice to win games again. I know, beating a 5-5 Mizzou team isn’t the same as beating Florida or Alabama, but hell, I just want to enjoy this one and the way the season is ending. 
Yeah, it’s going to be difficult to replace the seniors. Darrell Taylor is the best pass rusher on the roster, Bituli is the best tackler and the leader on the defense, and Jennings is the most beloved Vol in years. But let’s just appreciate what these guys have done for the program this season, a year where they could’ve just packed it in after the horrific 1-4 start. These guys could end up being the leaders of the team that restores the program into what the fanbase has been clamoring for. Not quite the Sugar Vols, but close.
Pruitt and the staff just need to keep recruiting well, coaching the guys hard, and never being satisfied. Cole Cubelic basically had to beg Pruitt to get excited and praise this team on the field after the game. Nick Saban’s post game comments always make it sound like Alabama lost by two touchdowns. Pruitt sounds the same way.
Pruitt really seems to be growing into the job, and I think he’s done a lot better with the CEO type stuff that comes with running a big time program like Tennessee. I think he struggled a lot with the off-field responsibilities that comes with the job earlier in the season (rats on the Titanic), but of course, it’s easy to botch that stuff when the fanbase is turning against you and you’re losing to Georgia State.
Tennessee isn’t “back” yet, but they appear to be on the way. This has been a nice season for a team that looked dead two months ago. Let’s hope they don’t need a five game warmup in 2020.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Tennessee Needs To Beat Mizzou And Week 13 College Football Picks

It’s Week 13 (I can’t believe it) of the college football season, and sadly, there’s only three more Saturdays full of college football left until we enter the bowl season. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
Which brings us to Tennessee’s 2019 season. Way back in October, the Vols were 1-4 and looked like they might’ve been one more bad loss away from Jeremy Pruitt getting the Chad Morris treatment. Since then, they’ve rallied to go 4-1 over their last five, and find themselves with the opportunity to sweep November and finish with a winning record in conference play for the first time since 2015. The recruiting has been good, the team has shown grit, and a January 1 Bowl Game could be a reality if they can find a way to win their final two games. The fanbase optimism is as high as it’s been since the Dobbsnail Boot.
With all that said, this is still just a 5-5 football team who is in the exact same position as they were last season. The 2018 Vols beat the hell out of Kentucky in Knoxville to get to .500, and had themselves one win away from bowl eligibility. All they had to do was beat either Missouri at home or win at Vanderbilt. Instead, they lost both by a combined score of 98-30, and missed a bowl game for the sixth time since 2008.
The Vols are better now than they’ve been at anytime since 2016. This weekend, at Missouri, is a game they should win. The Tigers offense has completely evaporated over the last month; in their last four games (all losses), Mizzou has a total of 27 points. Kelly Bryant’s transfer from Clemson has been a disaster for his football future, and I can’t imagine he’d have still chosen to go there if he had the chance to do it over again. Like at this point, he’d have to meet his future wife on the Mizzou campus for it be worth it. He’s gone from the starter on a playoff team in 2017 to an irrelevant college player who no one will hear from again in a couple of weeks.
Tennessee’s quarterback situation continues to be up in the air. Pruitt said at a press conference this week that he’s named a starter, but has no plans to announce who it will be. JT Shrout didn’t see the field against Kentucky, so I can only assume he won’t be out there. Jarrett Guarantano has appeared in relief each of the last six weeks. Brian Maurer, coming off multiple concussions, started against Kentucky but was pulled for JG in the second half due to his uneven play. Guarantano has been the best Vol quarterback since the South Carolina game, but that doesn’t mean he’ll start or get the majority of the snaps. Whoever ends up starting, I suspect that we’ll once again see two quarterbacks, hell maybe even all three, to varying degrees, unless whoever the starter is comes out and lights it up so much that there would be a team mutiny if he got pulled. Guarantano has played well enough recently to where the job should probably be his, except for the fact that he’s been so awful at other times that I (and hell, probably the entire Tennessee staff) half expect him to throw an interception every time he drops back to pass.
Regardless, these are two teams going in opposite directions. Mizzou has lost four in a row, while the Vols have won four out of five. As a program that seems to be going in the right direction, these are the kinds of games you should win. The Tigers are a mess, and the Vols had an extra week to prepare for Saturday. I actually think this would be a bad look for Pruitt if Tennessee goes in there and loses because of the circumstances and the perceptions around both teams at the moment. In fact, if the Vols don’t win out, I think the fans would have the right to be disappointed. Hell, I’m disappointed they didn’t beat Georgia State and BYU.
With all that said, the fact that Missouri is a four point favorite here is ridiculous, because their offense has been so bad that I’m not even sure they could score that many points. So that would mean that they could shut Tennessee out and still not cover. And while I don’t think the Vols have the most dynamic offense to ever grace the SEC, the Tigers looked miffed by Kentucky’s one trick pony attack. Vols +4 is the “Bet The Mortgage Pick of the Week.”
(The Bet The Mortgage Pick of The Week is on fire by the way. We’re 7-1 on the year and have won five weeks in a row. I’m giving away a free mortgage every week here and all you have to do is reach out and take it. Of course, these could implode at any week…..)
Prediction: Tennessee
Texas A&M at #4 Georgia
The last time the Aggies faced a defense as good as Georgia’s, it was Clemson, and they scored ten points, gained 289 yards (and only 53 on the ground) and turned the ball over twice. Why won’t something similar happen tomorrow?
I’m going to keep beating this drum until I’m proven wrong, but are we sure Jimbo Fisher is still a great coach? He’s just 21-13 over the last three seasons, and it really seems like he should be taking more of the blame than he is for the implosion of the Florida State program. He was hired to take A&M to heights that Kevin Sumlin couldn’t reach, but so far, through 23 games, he’s been worse (16-7) than Sumlin was (19-4). Sumlin lost both his 24th and 25th games, on the road against Top 25 teams. Jimbo gets Georgia on the road this week, and finishes next week at LSU. Sounds like two more losses.
Prediction: Georgia
UCLA at #23 USC
I’ve thought all year that Clay Helton was going to get fired at the end of the year and be replaced by Urban Meyer. There probably isn’t a coach in the country that I’ve made fun of more than Helton the last few years, and deservedly so by the way.
With all that said… I think he’s going to be the coach at USC in 2020. I can’t believe it, but he’s got the Trojans ranked inside the Top 25 and they’re a win against a crappy UCLA team away from being 8-4. Helton has a large buyout (reportedly around $15 million), and the team, while not close to the USC standard, hasn’t been a complete dumpster fire either. They’ll probably get invited to a nice bowl game and have chance to get their ninth win of the year.
Clay Helton is Butch Jones without the catch phrases and platitudes (by the way, Butch uttered “Champions of Life” three years ago yesterday. Damn. Three years later and it’s still the most cringe-worthy thing anyone has ever said outside of Justin Trudeau’s “Peoplekind”).

It doesn’t seem at this point like either Urban or USC have enough mutual interest in each other for the Trojans to fire a coach with a $15 million buyout.
Prediction: USC
Texas at #14 Baylor
The Longhorns have to be the most disappointing team in the country this season. They’ve lost three of their last five games, and their two victories in those five, over Kansas State and Kansas, came by a combined five points. I think Tom Herman needs to cut out the strip club visits until Texas gets the ship righted.
Baylor’s playoff chances blew to smithereens last week after they couldn’t hold a 28-3 second quarter lead on Oklahoma, and there’s a chance that a loss like that could torpedo their entire season.
Or, on the other hand, this struggling Texas team is exactly who Baylor would want to face coming off a loss like that. The Bears are still in contention to win the Big 12 and play in a New Years Six Bowl, something they haven’t done since Art Briles was the coach, and they could clinch a spot in the conference championship game with a win tomorrow.
Prediction: Baylor
#6 Oregon at Arizona State
This is our ABC Saturday Night Game AND Oregon’s toughest remaining game on their schedule, outside of their probable matchup with Utah in the Pac 12 Championship Game.
ASU’s problem tomorrow is that they stink. It’s just a bad football team. The Sun Devils have lost four games in a row and five of their last seven, and the “Oh damn, maybe Herm Edwards WILL work at Arizona State even though he’d been out of coaching for a decade” take has taken a major hit the last two months.
Prediction: Oregon
Arkansas at #1 LSU (-44)
There’s no better cure for your team’s crappy defense than Arkansas coming to town. The only thing interesting about this game tomorrow will be if LSU can cover the 44 point spread. The Tigers have beaten two teams this year by more than 44, Georgia Southern and Northwestern State. Their biggest win in conference play this season was over Vanderbilt by 28. I get it, Arkansas is a train wreck, but are they 16 points worse than the Commodores?
Prediction: LSU wins but doesn’t cover
#8 Penn State at #2 Ohio State
The game of the day and the best on-paper Big Noon Kickoff of the year.
Ohio State is favored by 18.5 points tomorrow, which seems like ten points too high, considering the Buckeyes haven’t covered the week before the Michigan game in the last six years. And while OSU certainly has better overall roster talent than the Nittany Lions, they’ve had that the last three years in this game and still needed two fourth quarter comebacks to avoid being 0-3 in this matchup. This will be a game in the fourth quarter as long as Penn State’s Sean Clifford can take care of the football.
With all that said, Ohio State is ranked in the Top 5 in total offense and total defense for a reason, and eventually their overall talent will push them over the top here. They'll punch in a late score tomorrow that makes this one a two possession game.
Enjoy football this weekend, you deserve it!

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Week In Football: Tua Dislocates His Hip, LSU Can't Stop Anyone, And Baylor Collapses

It was a great weekend of college football for everyone…. except Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Let’s just start there…
Tua Has Played His Last Snap In An Alabama Uniform
Tua was going to be a top 5 pick in the 2020 NFL draft if he chose to leave school. Now, he has no reason to stay. Two ankle surgeries, and now, this hip injury? In general, I think it’s good for a quarterback to get as many college starts as possible, but in Tua’s situation, he’s a smaller guy that seems to take a lot of hard hits, and one more of those unfortunate breaks could end up costing him millions. So it’s a no brainer that he should enter the draft, and then pray to God that he doesn’t get popped like that again in the NFL.
Of course, why has Tua taken so many hits, whereas guys like Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson haven’t? Those guys run even more than Tua does, and yet, they’ve been able to avoid getting their heads taken off. I think Tua’s problem is not knowing when to give up on a play. 
If you go back and look at his injury from Saturday, he’s out of the tackle box with two defenders hot on his heels. Of course, he’s still holding onto the football, even though the play is going no where and he has no receiver even close to being open. He should’ve chucked the ball out of bounds and lived to fight another down two seconds earlier. Instead he holds it, allows himself to be caught, and then flings it away as he’s getting slammed into the ground from two different angles.
As a quarterback with the skill level that he has, he needs to learn that the most important asset he can bring to his team week to week is being available. I’m not saying fluke injuries won’t happen, but Tua is on his third surgery in less than a year. At a certain point it’s not a fluke anymore.
Nick Saban Is Getting Killed For Leaving Tua In
Honestly, I’m not sure why. What seems to be lost on everyone is that Tua’s hip is not his ankle. This is an entirely different injury, one that easily could’ve happened if Tua had a healthy ankle. If your argument is that Tua was banged up and shouldn’t have been in there because it was 35-7, then why even let him play at all? College teams don’t pull their quarterbacks in that situation normally. Hell, Oklahoma came back from a 25 point deficit on Saturday. You’re saying Alabama should’ve relaxed with a 28 point lead? Plus, how good is Alabama without Tua really? Mac Jones played in the second half and they scored 3 points. I’m not 100% sure they win on Saturday if Jones starts. Yeah, they probably do, but if your Alabama, you can’t afford another loss, and if Tua wants to play and has been cleared by the doctors, are you really in the position to not play him?
Tua’s Injury Knocks The Tide Out Of The Playoff Conversation
Alabama has an average defense and can’t run the ball with any consistency. Everything revolved around Tua bombing the ball down the field to their overwhelming amount of NFL receivers. Mac Jones is the more traditional Saban quarterback, in the ilk of Jake Coker, Greg McElroy, and A.J. McCarron, where he can succeed if he has a strong running game backed by a stout defense. He would’ve worked on most Saban teams, but not this one. So even if they do run the table the next two weeks (and I think they’ll struggle to score against Auburn’s defense on the road), I don’t think they’ll do it impressively, which means they’ll be passed up by a team like Oregon or Utah, assuming one of those teams finishes 12-1. They might’ve been passed up even if they had Tua; now, without him, there’s not an argument for them as a Top 4 team.
LSU’s Defense Sucks
Never has a football team’s strength flipped so sharply in one year. LSU’s brand for years was defense and physicality, but that’s completely gone in 2019, a season that has seen the Tigers give up 28 points or more five times. Ole Miss gained 614 yards on offense and 402 yards on the ground on their way to 37 points. Granted, LSU scored 58 points and put up 714 yards themselves, but are they going to be able to win the national title playing Big 12-level defense? Hell, are they going to be able to beat Georgia in the SEC Title Game playing defense like that? If the ‘Dawgs can slow LSU’s offense down even a little bit (and with their defense, they’re capable), it could be trouble for the Tigers. The problem with winning shootouts every week is that eventually your offense has a bad game and the other team torches your crappy defense. Oklahoma has had more offensive explosiveness than anyone in the country since Lincoln Riley joined their coaching staff, and yet, they’re 0-3 in the playoffs. Why? Because they’ve ran into more complete teams who could make them work to score points offensively. No one is going to shut down this LSU offense, but some school (Ohio State, Georgia) with a great defense is going to be able to put up a hell of a resistance.
What The Hell Is Matt Rhule Wearing?
Seriously? What is that? Who does that? He looks like he’s wearing his adult league basketball jersey over a jacket. Is he trying to stand out on the sideline so the quarterback can find him? If that’s the case, then why isn’t he literally wearing anything else? He could start dressing like Chief Screaming Chicken and not look as ridiculous as he did on Saturday.
Of course, the only thing worse than his outfit on Saturday was when his Baylor team blew up their playoff chances in a two hour period. Up 28-3 in the second quarter, thanks in large part to Jalen Hurts’s Clint Stoerner impression, the Bears proceeded to get outscored 31-3 the rest of the way.
I can’t decide what part of their team was worse during the Sooner comeback, the offense, which only ran 16 plays in the entirety of the second half, or the defense, which had OU behind the chains on second and third down all night and could never get off the field.
I’d be sick if I was a Baylor fan, but probably not as sick as Matt Rhule should be when he looks in the mirror and realizes that dresses like one of Baylor’s team managers.
Georgia Shuts My Angry Old Man Up
My old man was adamant last week that Georgia was going to go to Auburn a lose by a hundred. In between his mouthfuls of Cheetos, I’ve never heard him say anything nice about Kirby Smart. I guess that’s just the Tennessee fan in him talking. “Kirby won with Mark Richt’s players!” “Kibry needs to keep his overly energetic ass on the sidelines!” “Kirby helped coordinate the JFK assassination!” “Kirby Smart is the Zodiac Killer!” I know, I know, the incoherent babblings of a senile, old man.
I don’t know if Kirby is going to ever win the national title at Georgia, or even end up being better than Mark Richt was long term, but I think he’s proven himself to be a pretty good hire at this point. He’s won the SEC East each of the last three years and is 6-0 over that span against Tennessee and Florida, his principle rivals in division. Plus, his SEC record is 20-3 since 2017. Don’t get me wrong, I hope Kirby never wins another game; he’s the Georgia coach and he comes off like a used car salesman the same way Dabo Swinney does, but the guy has been a great coach so far and has managed to build a great program in Athens.
Teams Still Alive For The Playoff
As always, teams are still alive for the playoff as long as they are in a Power 5 conference and have one loss or fewer, with the exception of the ACC, which is such an atrociously bad league that a single loss would eliminate you. (* by the undefeated teams)
ACC: *Clemson
The Tigers have won their last five games by five touchdowns or more, and are an ass kicking against South Carolina and whatever crappy team they play in the ACC Title Game away from making the playoff for the fifth straight year. I don’t know if the Tigers are actually one of the four best teams because they haven’t been challenged by any quality opponents (and looked shaky in the beginning of the year against subpar competition), but this the exact same thing that happened last year and they ended up winning the championship anyway. So I don’t know what to think.
Big Ten: *Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota
The Gophers lost at Iowa on Saturday, thanks in large part to their week long hangover from their Penn State victory. Minny didn’t get going offensively until it was too late.
Ohio State and Penn State play in Columbus on Saturday in a game that is for the Big Ten East. The Nittany Lions are eliminated from playoff consideration with a loss, and while the Buckeyes wouldn’t be, their road would become much more difficult. Could the Big Ten get two teams in the playoff? I guess it would just depend on what happens everywhere else. We’ve still got a ton of football left to play.
Big 12: Oklahoma, Baylor
Baylor’s collapse on Saturday night slammed the casket shut on their playoff chances. They were already getting barely any respect from the committee, and with them definitely dropping when the rankings come out tomorrow, I don’t see anyway they jump the amount of teams they’ll need to get into the top 4. Oklahoma has a better chance, but they’ll have to have a ton of carnage in front of them.
SEC: *LSU, Georgia, Alabama
Georgia and LSU both make it if they win out, and the Tigers could still potentially make it as a 12-1 non SEC Champ due to their resume. I think Alabama is done, unless they get a miracle from the lips of God himself.
Pac 12: Oregon, Utah
I think the Pac 12 Champ will end up making the playoff as long as they are 12-1. If Oregon wins out, they’ll be the first team in the history of college football to win nine conference games and a conference championship game in the same year.
My Top 4
1.      Ohio State
The Buckeyes are the most complete team, and they, along with Clemson, are the only teams in college football that are in the Top 5 nationally in total offense and total defense. Ohio State actually ranks 1st in yards allowed per game and points allowed per game.
2.      LSU
I’m dropping the Tigers this week because of concerns about their defense. They aren’t going to win a national title mimicking a matador on that side of the ball.
3.      Georgia
The ‘Dawgs rank second in the country in points allowed per game.
4.      Clemson
What the hell. Why not.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Letdown Saturday And Week 12 College Football Picks

It’s Week 12 (I can’t believe it) of the college football season, or as it should be referred to by a couple of teams, “Letdown Saturday”.
Last week, LSU and Minnesota both won their Super Bowls. The Gophers beat Penn State at home to get the biggest win in their program since their claimed 1960 national championship. Meanwhile, LSU exorcised all of their Alabama demons by knocking off the Tide for the first time since 2011. Both schools jumped in the polls, the Tigers to #1 and the Gophers to #8, and have heard how great they are the entire week. Joe Burrow got a fantasy hero's welcome back in Baton Rouge, and everyone has already declared him the Heisman winner. Clyde Edwards-Helaire weeped in his father’s arms like a boxer who just captured the heavyweight title. Ed Orgeron got the double Gatorade bath. PJ Fleck got carried into the locker room. The fan base rushed the field.
I’d just be careful if I were them. Both go on the road this weekend, Minnesota to Iowa and LSU to Ole Miss.
Let’s just start there….
#1 LSU at Ole Miss
I know, I know, this is a mismatch. No way the Rebels could beat the Tigers, right?
Of course, don’t forget that Ole Miss has hung around with better competition all year. They slapped up 31 points on Alabama, and lost by a touchdown or less to both Texas A&M and Auburn. LSU isn’t just going to be able to show up here and win, particularly not if they’re still hungover from last Saturday. You don't get the same 19-20 year olds week to week, and how locked in are they going to be on this game when everything before and after tomorrow is way more interesting and flashy? This really is the classic trap game.
I’m not going to pick Ole Miss, but I think LSU will start slow, and this will still be a game in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: LSU
#8 Minnesota at #20 Iowa
The Gophers are going to have the same problem as the Tigers, only they’re playing a better opponent. The only thing that might save them is that Iowa has a crappy offense that has scored 30 points one time this season against a Power 5 team, and that was against Rutgers, who might be the worst program in the country.
On the other hand, the Hawkeyes haven’t allowed more than 24 points in any game, and they’re going to do everything in their power to ugly up the game and limit Minnesota’s possessions. Factor in the whole Super Bowl thing last week with the weird stuff that seems to happen to opponents in Kinnick Stadium, and I like Iowa here in a choppy game played in the teens.
Prediction: Iowa
Michigan State at #15 Michigan
This is Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff this weekend. Yuck. The only thing that’s been more disappointing than the Big Noon Kickoff this season is Michigan State, who blew a 25 point second quarter lead at home last week to Illinois and Lovie Smith’s Santa beard. Illinois!
This rivalry game is so one sided this year that I don’t even think Jim Harbaugh could screw it up.
Are we sure Mark Dantonio is going to be the coach in East Lansing next year? Since getting shut out in the playoff by Alabama in 2015, he is a paltry 24-23. 24-23! He’s going to be .500 over a four year span after Saturday! Derek Dooley and Butch Jones were disasters at Tennessee and even they were never that bad.
Prediction: Michigan
#11 Florida at Missouri
The Tigers are in a free fall, having lost three in a row to Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Georgia by a combined score of 77-21. The only argument for the Tigers I’ve heard came from my old man last week, in between bites of Cheetos, when he said something to the effect of “Yeah, Florida might struggle having to travel north in the cold.” Or at least, that’s what I thought he said, but again, sometimes it’s hard to discern exactly what is coming out of his mouth with all the crunching sounds.
I mean, it is going to be in the low 40s at kickoff. Will that matter against a team that couldn’t beat Vanderbilt? Seems unlikely.
Prediction: Florida
Wake Forest at #3 Clemson
This Clemson’s toughest test left until whoever they get in the playoff semifinals. Maybe the competition will be tougher in ACC Championship Game? Maybe?
What a terrible, atrocious league. Does anyone actually think that the Tigers are the 3rd best team in the country? That they’d be undefeated against the LSU schedule? The Auburn schedule? The Georgia schedule? The Penn State schedule? And yet, they’re going to make the playoff anyway.
Can we just relegate the ACC to the Group of Five?
This is going to be the Bet The Mortgage Pick of the Week by the way. Clemson is a 32.5 point favorite tomorrow, a tiny spread considering they’ve beaten each of their last four opponents by at least 35 points. They might have 32.5 covered by the middle of the second quarter.
Prediction: Clemson
South Carolina at Texas A&M
The time for Will Muschamp to save his job begins tomorrow, on the road at Kyle Field against an Aggie team that needs this game to avoid a probable 6-6 season in Jimbo Fisher’s second year. A&M will be a double digit underdog the next two weeks at both Georgia and LSU, meaning this might be their only real chance to get that seventh win.
South Carolina is terrible so there’s no way they’re going to travel halfway across the country and win against a superior opponent. The more interesting thing about tomorrow will be how disappointing Jimbo has been his first two years in College Station. I don’t care about what A&M has been historically, they’re in Texas, have a ton of money, outstanding facilities, and oh yeah, they’re paying Jimbo $7.5 million a year. So far, he’s 15-7, which would be fine if he was just making $3 million, but he's not, and he was brought in to be the savior, and the guy that would bring this program SEC Titles and playoff appearances. I’d be bummed out if I was them because I just shelled out this kind of money and Jimbo has returned basically the exact same results that Kevin Sumlin did so far. It’s a good thing Jimbo’s contract is fully guaranteed, because there’s nothing better than paying $75 million over ten years for mediocrity!
Prediction: Texas A&M
#10 Oklahoma at #13 Baylor
This probable playoff eliminator is the ABC Saturday Night Game.
Baylor may be the worst 9-0 team I’ve ever seen. They’ve won four of their conference games by single digits in a Big 12 that is only a few steps above the ACC in terms of mediocrity. Matt Rhule is a horrific dresser, and he looks like a guy that’s always trying to rip you off on a car deal.
Meanwhile, there’s Oklahoma, who has given up more than 40 points in both of their last two games, outings that have seen the return of the horrible Sooner defenses that have become a staple of the Lincoln Riley era.
Of course, the fewest amount of points the Sooner have scored in any game this season is 34. They’ve been over 40 every other week, and there’s no reason to think they won’t reach that number again tomorrow, which means Baylor is going to have to match them point for point. The Bears had nine points at the end of regulation last week against TCU, and if OU can bring the same intensity on D that they had earlier in the year, they could win by three touchdowns. If not, this is going to be a game in 40s or 50s where no one stops anyone for 4 and a half hours. Both teams are going to be moved more frequently than a turnstile. 
Prediction: Oklahoma
#4 Georgia at #12 Auburn
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is the game of the day.
I received the following text from my old man yesterday, and I’m going to print it exactly the way it was sent to me:
Old Man: “Auburn beats Georgia Saturday”
Me: “That’s your old man take of the week?”
Old Man: “With a big bowl of Cheetos”
Me: “Give me your rationale so I can quote you”
Old man: “I will write it for you.”
Old man: “Last night, my angry old man texted me with his hot take as he was obviously in middle of stuffing his face with something unhealthy. My go to is almost always Cheetos. But it could’ve been Oreos or Krystal Burgers. He said “Auburn will beat Georgia”. That was his hot take. No other explanation??? I wanted to hear more. So I texted back to ask him why. He didn’t answer for a long time. My step mother, who just has to be a saint to put up with my dad, texted me back and said he was doing his nightly visit to the “library”. About a half hour later, he finally answered. “Dawgs will wilt under the pressure of being ranked in the top 4 of the playoff rankings. Plus, Kirby Smart is overrated as a coach”. Profound punditry from my old man. I’m sure after that he went back to being grumpy and stuffing his face.”
That was so on point that I couldn’t have written it any better myself.  It was like a super computer read all my stuff for the last couple of years and then typed out its own take.
Prediction: Auburn
Enjoy football this weekend, you deserve it.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Week In Football: Vols Win A Rock Fight, Orgeron Beats Saban, And Chad Morris Gets Axed

What a fantastic weekend of football! Tennessee won (albeit ugly), Minnesota pulled off the biggest victory in the modern history of their program, and LSU and Coach O finally knocked off the Tide. I don’t think anyone outside of the most hardcore and delusional Bayou Bengal fans ever thought that would happen.
Let’s start with the Vols, like always….
Tennessee Beat Kentucky For The 33rd Time In 35 Tries
In doing so, the Vols improved to 81-25-1 in the “rivalry”, and moved their record to 5-5 on the year.
Amazing how things have changed in Knoxville. A month ago, Tennessee was off to a disastrous 1-4 start that had a large portion of the fanbase calling for Jeremy Pruitt’s head. Now they’re a win away from bowl eligibility, and two wins away from finishing with a winning record in conference play for only the second time in the last 12 years. Just another stat that perfectly explains how dire the situation has been on Rocky Top the last decade-plus.
Tennessee gets their bye this Saturday, and then finishes at a free-falling Missouri team and at home against an awful Vanderbilt team. The Vols could very easily win both of those, and could potentially find themselves playing in a January 1 Bowl Game, something that, again, seemed impossible a month ago.
I’ve been, at times, really critical of Jeremy Pruitt, particularly earlier in the year when the Vols looked like the worst team in the SEC. But I don’t think he’s getting enough credit nationally for the job he’s done the last six weeks. If Ed Orgeron didn’t have LSU on their way to an undefeated regular season and a probable playoff berth, I think Pruitt would inarguably be the coach of the year in the conference. This team could’ve quit on the season and the coaching staff a million different times, and yet, they’ve stuck it out and improved every week. The offense is still a bit clunky, and the defense is frustrating sometimes, but this team has shown a lot of heart down the stretch and seem to have bought into what Pruitt is selling.
With all that said, the job is still a long way from being done. Tennessee fans know this, and while it’s fun to celebrate these kinds of wins, ultimately, if Pruitt is going to be considered a success, he’s going to have to start winning games against Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. Every Tennessee coach, even the bad ones have been able to beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky with ease. Most have done well against the South Carolinas and Mississippi States of the world. Derek Dooley won four straight games at the end of 2010 to become bowl eligible. He got fired two years later. Butch Jones had strong finishes in 2014 and 2015 and still became the most reviled man in Tennessee athletics by 2017.
Pruitt hasn’t had REAL expectations on him yet, like what Butch faced in 2015 and 2016. If the Vols win out and finish the year 8-5, we all know how the fanbase is going to be feeling about this team going into next year. The Vols will probably be ranked in the preseason Top 25, and the fans will be looking at what should be a more manageable schedule (Florida and Alabama come to Knoxville, and the Georgia game has been moved to November. At Oklahoma will be a tough game, but the Sooners will have a new quarterback) and come away with the expectation that Tennessee will be able to compete in the East.
I went to the Orange and White Game in 2015 with my old man, and I remember two things from that trip: 1. He devoured about 500 bags of Cheetos in two hours and 2. Their was an energy in the stadium, and between mouthfuls of snacks, my old man made a comment to me about how much buzz there was around the program, a type of feeling that hadn’t been there for years.
We all know how that turned out, of course. The Vols were frustrating in 2015, and outright disappointing in 2016. Butch became the most hated man to ever be associated with Tennessee athletics for a lot of reasons, but it all started with his lack of ability to come close to the rightful expectations of the fanbase.
How will Pruitt respond to those expectations? People were mad about how this year began, but no one expected Tennessee to be contenders in the division. Next year, they will. And if they are still getting pounded by Florida in his third year, are the fans going to accept the only tired clich├ęs of “We are playing too many young guys” or “We have to learn how to finish” or “We need to execute better”? They barely bought that crap this year.
LSU Went Into Tuscaloosa And Beat Alabama For The First Time Since 2011
Joe Burrow clinched the Heisman (barring a 5 interception showing somewhere in their final four games) with his marvelous performance yesterday. He had 393 yards passing and three touchdowns, but even more impressive were some of his scampers on third downs that extended LSU drives, particularly in the second half.
Alabama couldn’t figure out a way to tackle Clyde Ewards-Helaire (180 scrimmage yards and four total TDs), but what really undid them was their first half. Tua had an atrocious redzone fumble on their first drive, and their punter failed to catch the snap on their next drive. Both mistakes led to Tiger points. And then, down 26-13 late in the half, Tua threw a back breaking interception that led to another LSU TD and an almost insurmountable twenty point halftime deficit. It didn’t matter that they outscored the Tigers 28-13 in the second half because they had dug themselves such a deep hole in the first 30 minutes. 
Congratulations to LSU and Orgeron though, because almost no one (including me) thought they were going to go in there and get the win.

As for Alabama, I don’t think they’re done in the playoff race, but the problem they’re going to have going forward is that 1. At Auburn on Thanksgiving Weekend is going to be a tough game and 2. Even if they do win out and go 11-1, they’ll have one quality win (at Auburn) and won’t be a division or conference champ and 3. The teams behind them in the playoff race currently all have an opportunity to improve their resumes in a greater way than the Tide do. Oregon/Utah can finish 12-1, win their conference, and get another quality win against each other. Baylor could go 13-0 and win the Big 12 (though I think they will lose against Oklahoma this weekend), or Oklahoma could 12-1 and win the Big 12, picking up more quality wins along the way. If Georgia were to win out and beat LSU in the SEC Championship Game, both the ‘Dawgs and the Tigers would be more deserving of being in the playoff than Alabama.
I don’t think the Tide will get in unless there is a lot of chaos the last couple of weeks. We’re talking about two loss champs in both the Big 12 and the Pac 12, only one playoff worthy team in the SEC, maybe only one playoff worthy team in the Big Ten, and a Clemson team out of the ACC that finishes with a loss. I don’t think the committee is going to reward them for playing a soft non-conference schedule, and not winning their division or conference unless multiple playoff contenders screw up.
I think Ohio State is still the best team in the country, and I would pick them to beat LSU, but I think the Tigers have to be the number 1 team in the country this week. They’ll have had four quality wins (at Texas, at Alabama, Auburn, Florida), and all those teams were ranked in the Top ten when they beat them. The eye test is a factor, but I don’t think what Ohio State has put on film surpasses what the Tigers have put in their resume.
Minnesota Held On To Knock Off Penn State And Capture Their Biggest Win In The Modern History Of Their Program
The Golden Gophers picked off Sean Clifford three times, including the game clincher as the Nittany Lions were driving for the winning score.
I don’t think Minnesota will make the playoff or win the Big Ten, but their passing offense was incredible and Penn State’s normally stout defense had no chance of covering their receivers. Their quarterback Tanner Morgan only had two incompletions, and Rashod Bateman picked up 203 yards on only seven catches.
Assuming the Gophers win the Big Ten West (and they can do that with victories the next two weeks), they won’t be a pushover against either Ohio State or Penn State in the Big Ten Title Game. We already know they can beat the Nittany Lions, though I don’t know if they could do it again, and while Ohio State will probably be a ten point favorite or more in that hypothetical matchup, I think the Gophers could hang with them for three quarters.
Row the boat!
Arkansas Fired Chad Morris
His dismissal comes on the heels of a 45-19 home loss against an average Western Kentucky team. The 2019 Razorbacks were worse than the 2018 Razorbacks, and have arguably been the worst program in the history of the SEC this season.
Morris leaves Fayetteville at 4-18 and 0-14 in conference play. What a disaster.
If I were Arkansas, the first person I’d call would be Mike Leach. I get it, he’s kooky and his unhinged press conferences about zombies and marriage would wear thin if the team continued to be terrible, but the guy is a hell of a coach and has won a lot of games at Texas Tech and Washington State, two places that are in the middle of nowhere and have been tough to win at historically. Plus, the kind of offense that Morris was trying to implement at Arkansas isn’t all that different from what Leach has been running for the last twenty years. It wouldn’t be like shoving a square peg in a round hole, which is what Morris was attempting to do by transitioning away from the “three yards and a cloud of dust” offense that Bret Bielema built for the five years prior. Morris has already taken some of the steps, which would make the transition to Leach easier, at least on that front.

The other person I’d call would be Lane Kiffin. I already made the case for him at Florida State, but the guy is still young, knows how to coach offense, and is a hell of a recruiter. He’s going to get another bigger job than FAU at some point, so why not this one? Of course, maybe Kiffin thinks he’s better than Arkansas, so I’m not 100% sure he’d take the job if it was offered to him. Hell, are we sure that Leach would be thrilled about competing in the same division with Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Texas A&M every year? I think it’s easier for him to win at Washington State than it is for him to win at Arkansas. Which means they’d probably have to blow him away with an offer, which is not something they might be capable of considering they’re still paying Bret Bielema’s buyout and now have to foot the bill on Morris’s, which is over $10 million. This could be the first coaching search in history where a school settles for their 50th choice.
Will Muschamp’s Seat Is Hotter Than All The Plates Of Hot Wings He’s Devoured To Get His Gut
South Carolina lost at home to Appalachian State on Saturday night, all but guaranteeing that they’ll finish the season with a 4-8 record. The Gamecocks have games at Texas A&M and home against Clemson left, and they'll be double digit underdogs against both.
Muschamp is 11-12 in his last 23 games at South Carolina, and is a miracle win against Georgia this season away from being 3-9. He’s lucky as hell that the powers in Columbia handed him a ridiculous contract that gave him a buyout of $22 million. $22 million! For Will Freaking Muschamp, who has one season of more than seven wins in four years.
Regardless, that dollar amount will keep him employed for at least another season, which is good news for the rest of the SEC.
Teams Still Alive For The Playoff
As always, teams remain alive for the playoff as long as they are in the Power 5 and have one loss or fewer, with the exception of the ACC, which is such an awful league that one loss eliminates you. (* next to the undefeated teams)
ACC: *Clemson
The Tigers beat the hell out of another one of their terrible conference opponents, this time NC State. As long as Clemson wins out, they’ll be in the playoff for the fifth straight year, even if they realistically aren’t one of the four best teams.
Big 10: *Ohio State, *Minnesota, Penn State
Penn State’s loss in Minneapolis won’t eliminate them from the playoff, because they needed to beat Ohio State on the road on November 23 to make the playoff anyway. I suppose the loss mandated that they can’t get in without winning the Big Ten Championship Game, but realistically, they probably would have needed to do that anyway because I don’t think a 12-1 non-conference champ Penn State would've gotten in over a 12-1 Minnesota Big Ten Champ.
Big 12: *Baylor, Oklahoma
These two play in Waco on Saturday night. That game is probably a playoff elimination game, particularly for Oklahoma. If Baylor goes 13-0, they’ll be in. If they go 12-1, I think they’ll be left out, based on the initial playoff rankings that placed them 12th. OU has a better chance to make it, but I think they’ll be left out because the committee will hold their atrocious defense against them.
SEC: *LSU, Alabama, Georgia
LSU makes it in assuming they go at least 12-1, based on the eye test and their resume, which is by far the best in the country. Georgia only makes it in if they finish as the 12-1 SEC Champ. Alabama needs a lot of help.
Pac 12: Oregon, Utah
The only chance for one of these teams to make it in is if they finish as the 12-1 Pac 12 Champion, and even that might not be good enough.
My Top 4
1.      LSU
By far the best combination of resume and eye test.
2.      Ohio State
I think they have the best roster in the nation, but the Chase Young situation could end up costing them, as he’s their second most important player outside of Justin Fields.
3.      Georgia
I’ll slot the ‘Dawgs here based solely on how dominant their defense has been. Georgia has three shutouts in 2019.
4.      Alabama
I’ll leave the Tide here for now, though I don’t think they’ll be here at the end of the season. One of the other playoff contenders will run the table and bump the Tide.