MIDWEST ANARCHY

Pitt, Iowa, Duke, Southern California, Ole Miss, Georgia add exclamation points and discredit pollsters.

Leave it to college football to cap off a week of stunning upsets. #2 Clemson, #3 Michigan and #4 Washington are reeling after losing to conference opponents.

“We didn’t make enough plays to extend drives, and convert first downs,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said as reported by Land of 10. “Close, but we just … give Iowa credit. The tackled, they blocked, they played a very good football game. … We’ve got to move on.”

Harbaugh sentiments are felt by coaches around the country. Definitely those coaches who teams were predicted to win. However, games are not decided by projection algorithms. Games are won because of the execution of the players on the field.

It was only a matter of time before these upsets happened. Fortunately for college football fans, players can’t be counted on. Coaches try to isolate players so they can focus on the goal of winning. This past weekend showed that the players finally got caught up in foregone conclusions.

Clemson, a preseason favorite to make the playoffs struggled all year to show the potential fans assumed they possessed. Clemson players bought into the hype that quarterback Deshaun Watson could always rescue them when the games got close. The Pitt Panther’s proved them wrong with a last second field goal.

“We had a chance to put the game away and they stopped us,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said as reported by the Charlotte Observer. “We had been making those kinds of plays this year.”

#4 Washington may have suffered the most defining upset. Unlike Michigan and Clemson who lost by a point, Washington loss by 13.
Washington started the game against USC with an interception followed by a field goal, to take a three point lead. Their lead lasted 14:59 seconds. USC tied the game with a field goal of their own. After that, Washington never stepped up and make big plays to retake the lead. Consequently they were losing when the horn sounded to end the game.
Like Michigan, Washington benefited from playing a easy schedule of opponents. Those teams did not test Michigan or Washington’s ability to overcome adversity.
Michigan and Washington proved to be frauds on Saturday. Their basic game plans of lining up and knocking their opponents could never be sustained against tougher competition. Harbaugh and Washington coach Gary Peterson, were never prepared to make the necessary adjustments to combat their clever foes this weekend. They had in fact assumed that their opponents would shrink to perception that they were unbeatable .
“A wonderful football team that won’t be denied,” said coach Clay Helton about his team according to the L.A. Times.
“We know the season didn’t start how we wanted,” Adoree Jackson said. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Only two teams remain unbeaten, Alabama and Western Michigan. The rest of college football is in a major tailspin after this weekend.
Louisville is currently ahead of Clemson in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Washington is now second place in the Pac 12 Northern Division behind Washington State. Michigan still sits in first place of the Big 10 East Division, but another loss would elevate Penn State to the top spot.
The best part about all of this, these team must face each other in a couple of weeks. Even better, bitter rivals  such as Kentucky, Ohio State and Auburn have a chance to create even more chaos.
College football fans are in for a wild conclusion to the 2016 season.

Who to trust?

Believe in momentum and no team in the entire country has more momentum than Louisville. The Cardinals are being led by the Heisman front runner and a coach who has nothing to lose.

Booby Petrino has payed a price for his actions over his career. But he seems to benefit from coaching as if everyday could be his last.

Lamar Jackson, Pertrino’s star quarterback has a lean build. Yet Pertino has not been deterred to call for his best player to run the ball. Jackson is the nations leader in running touchdowns. Even though he did not rush for a touchdown during the victory Saturday against Wake Forest, Jackson did rush the ball 22 times for 153 yards.

Pay attention, 2016 is the year of the Cardinal. It’s time for fans to buy in now and believe in Jackson and Petrino. Don’t be shocked if Petrino is handed the National Championship Trophy in early January.

What a great story it would be if Louisville, Kentucky, home of Muhammad Ali, shakes up the world.

Plant Your Flag: College Football Statement Weekend

Serious conference championship chasers could suffer a major upset soon if they don’t handle business against this weekends opponents.

It’s time to separate the pretenders from the contenders. This weekend in college football is all about the teams who are looking to acquire the momentum needed to win a conference championship.

Right around Halloween time, a lull begins to hover over college football players. To be fair, most people in the United States experience the same lull. This time of year in the American experience, with the new school year energy worn off and people settled into their new responsibilities at work  and new life style, life seems stale. Right now, Americans are looking toward the holiday season and making plans.

When people especially college football players, look ahead instead of focusing on the task in front of them, disaster strikes.

This weekend as well as next weekend, fans will get to see which teams around the country are focused. The teams that are focused will be playing in conference championship’s games, a month from now.

So the point is, really good teams are on upset alert this weekend. Here is who needs to stay focused or pay dearly.

Michigan (7-0)

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The Wolverines will travel face their in-state rival Michigan State Spartans. After the heartbreaking loss the Wolverines suffered last year, one might assumed they are extra focused to avenge last years failure. The Spartans are underdogs to the Wolverines for Saturday’s game. MSU has a 0-4 record this year when playing Big Ten opponents. Michigan might be overlooking their opponent expecting an easy win. Nothing would make the Spartans happier than to beat the Wolverines and ruin the historic season they are having. Look out!

Nebraska (7-0)

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Oh you didn’t know?! The Cornhuskers are undefeated. However, the only marquee win on the Huskers schedule so far is against Oregon, a game the Huskers won at home. Saturday they travel to Camp Randell Stadium in Wisconsin to battle the Badgers. The Badgers started off the season strong, but have lost two out of their last three games. What better way for the Badgers to get back on track then to defeat a undefeated team? This could produce some big momentum for the Badgers to run the table the rest of the way. If they can win out, the Badgers will be in a major bowl game in late December. What does that mean? About $14 million for the university.

West Virginia (6-0)

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The Mountaineers are facing the toughest test of the season this year, and it’s a underrated Oklahoma State team. Don’t get blindsided by the Cowboys and receiver James Washington. Washington is a deep threat who should expect to hear his name in the first round of the NFL draft, whenever he enters. Coach Mike Gundy is looking to save his job this weekend as well. Even though his teams record is 5-2, the team suffered losses to Central Michigan (albeit controversial) and Baylor (undefeated), which is below expectations for a group of players this versatile. Gundy is looking for a big win to prove why he is the man that can get his team over the hump and win the Big 12 championship. This game will resemble a brawl.

Clemson  (7-0)

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No one is more at risk of losing Saturday than the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers take on talent laden yet erratic Florida State. Clemson hasn’t performed like the dominant team that played for a national championship at the end of last year. Florida State’s defense has been awful this year, but a prime-time game against Clemson could bring together this FSU bunch to focus on a common enemy. Clemson better be ready for a bloody fight.

Huskies Bite Hard

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Visiting offensive lines have this shared experience in Husky Stadium, home of the University of Washington football team.

It’s loud, over 70,000 fans are  screaming at 133.6 decibel level. You can’t hear anything your coach is saying. Along with your teammates, you jog onto the field. After getting lined up in your spot, across the line of scrimmage your opponents look at you and put their hand in the ground, the traditional three – point stance.

Its you and your fellow lineman’s job to act like a wall. The opponent is looking for wholes in the wall to break through. No one is allowed to touch the ball carrier, that is the rule you must enforce. Now there are five of you and only four of them.

You know what is going to happen, there is no blitz from a linebacker coming, it’s still five on four. The guy who is lined up in front of you is coming straight ahead, he is going to try and make a whole where you are standing. It’s raining.

The ref blows his whistle, the ball is hiked and then you get knocked back on your ass. A teammate of yours grabs you by the hand and helps you stand to your feet. That’s when it dawns on you, this is how you will spend your Saturday afternoon.

The Washington Huskies are 6-0 and a big reason for that is the play of the defensive line unit. The play of Greg Gaines, Vita Vea, Elijah Qualls, Joe Mathis has been spectacular this season. Especially against the Stanford Cardinals on Sept 30 where the unit got four sacks. Even though the Cardinals have played disappointing this season, the dominance displayed by Gaines and company was astonishing.

Combine that with an effective offense, Washington looks like a real contender for the College Football Playoffs. Last week the Huskies scored 70 points against Oregon.  Right now the Huskies are ranked fifth in the Associated Press and Coaches Poll.

Ohio State and Michigan currently are ranked second and third respectively, but will play each on Nov. 26. So if the Huskies can win out or limit themselves to one loss they can get into that fourth spot and enter the playoffs spot as PAC 12 champions.

Looking ahead the Huskies have a relatively easy schedule, the only foreseeable obstacle being Utah on Oct. 29. So the path to the playoffs is wide open for Washington.

Another key to the Husky success has been the play of sophomore quarterback Jake Browning. Browning has thrown 23 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions. Browning has run the offense to perfection. Head coach Chris Petersen is known for tricky play calling that keeps opposing defenses off balance. This style of play calling seems to be a perfect match for Browning’s skill set.

chris_petersen_9_25_2010Petersen was the former head coach at Boise State from 2006 – 2013. The program went undefeated three times during his tenure, but was routinely shunned from the BCS championship games.  Now Petersen might be able to get exactly what he deserves, a shot at the national championship.

It’s a little puzzling that Petersen is even coaching at Washington. Petersen has 113 wins as a head coach with only 24 losses. As the head coach of Boise State he was 92-12, with a victory in the Fiesta Bowl.

I wonder what has kept him out of the NFL and for that matter the Southeastern Conference. Will Muschamp has had two SEC head coaching jobs since 20011, his record is 30-25.

Petersen could be on the verge of defining his legacy as the greatest coach in college football not named Nick Saban or Urban Meyer. Even without ever getting a coaching job in the SEC.

The only unfortunate thing for Washington is they don’t have the opportunity to play that potential playoff game at Husky Stadium, when its twelve on eleven.

College Football: I’ve learned nothing.

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Aerial photograph of Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee River. The fans in different sections are wearing orange and white colored shirts to emulate the endzone checkerboard pattern in the stands.

I had my shovel ready. Gary Danielson, the color commentator for the game on CBS, thought it was over. The Florida Gators lead at halftime 21- 3 and Danielson said, “The radio stations are going to be hot after this one.” At the time he was right. Most observers and fans however were completely wrong about the Tennessee Volunteers by the end of the game.

The Vols struggled in their first game against FCS school Appalachian State. Knoxville residents were not pleased with the 20-13 victory. A trip to Bristol Motor Speedway seemed to bring some calm to Rocky Top with high expectations. Tennessee routed Virginia Tech 45-24, but then had another disappointing win against Ohio University. Knowing  all of this, I was ready to bury the  rest of their season in Neyland Stadium.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

I don’t know what Butch Jones said to those kids, but they came out in the second -half poised. They believed in the adjustments made at halftime and executed. Producing a monumental momentum swing.

The momentum swing started when Vols QB Josh Dobbs threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Jalen Hurd. Hurd was open on a wheel route that started out of the backfield. Hurd’s touchdown is a notable adjustment made by Tennessee, because the next Vols touchdown by Ethan Wolf, started with Wolf lined up in the backfield.

The Vols outscored the Gators 34- 7 in the second half.Tennessee finished the game  with 21 fourth quarter points, for a 38-28 win.

SEC up in the air?

So Tennessee is 4-0, but what did they prove? I’m not sure if the Vols have a chance of beating Alabama in the SEC championship game. I’m not sure what I believe about the SEC. Ole Miss after playing Alabama tough, beat down Georgia 45-14. Texas A&M is 4-0 after beating Arkansas. Arkansas is a really good football team, so you can’t count them out. What I’m sure of is there is a lot more drama to this SEC season, then I originally thought.

Les_Miles_060622-A-7969G-008_0T62T_crop.jpgNot for Les Miles though. He and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were fired Sunday. I’m not sure who they are going to replace Miles with but he had to go. Ed Orgeron is the interim coach for now, but it’s a shame it had to happen this way. Cameron was a disaster and Miles stood by him, for no reason other than friendship. Miles has to learn this lesson at his next stop. LSU fans should be worried though, their next head coach could be Lane Kiffin.

Don’t get in this Lane

Speaking of Kiffin, he better not get that LSU job. If he does, I’M CALLING FOUL! That’s right, institutional racism in college coaching. Kiffin has already been the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Vols, and USC. What minority coach has gotten that many opportunities? Randy Shannon is the associate head coach at Florida, and the former Miami Hurricanes head coach. He has yet to receive a second opportunity, this would be Kiffin’s fourth. I won’t say anything about Tom Herman, who is likely to get the job (if Houston does not win a national championship). Kiffin? Not him, not this job. Shannon at Miami graduated more players than any coach previous to him, during his tenure. He got fired because he did not win and recruit enough criminals, but he deserves a second shot. LSU should not be let off the hook if they hire Kiffin.

BIG 10 BIG SURPRISE

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Wisconsin Badgers celebrating their win over Minnesota Golden Gophers by carrying around Paul Bunyan’s Axe after the game Oct 3, 2009

Count on Wisconsin to be this years October surprise. The Badgers have come out of nowhere to 4-0. This team has already surpassed expectations. Corey Clement is a good running back, he is not a dominant player Melvin Gordon or Montee Ball, but he is very good. Clement and the Badger defense has transformed Wisconsin into title contenders and the Big 10 to competitive conference.

 

 

 

Michigan, Ohio State, and now Wisconsin along with Nebraska, make the Big 10 the showcase conference for 2016. Get ready for some exciting Saturday’s. In particular this Saturday when Wisconsin travels to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines.

Oklahoma Chokes as it Blows

Photo Bob Stoops Licensed on Flickr with CC-BY-SA-2.0

I can’t in recent memory remember a team and a coach that has let me down more times then Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners. Now to be clear, I believed they would lose to the University of Houston, which they did on Sept. 3, 33-23. After that loss I believed the Sooners would rebound after beating up on Louisiana- Monroe, and defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sept. 17. Well they beat ULM, and subsequently got humiliated by the Buckeyes. Seriously, it’s one thing to lose, its another to get annihilated 45-24.

Am I wrong to expect more from Stoops, who is not only a national champion (2000), but has won 9 Big 12 Championships? What is missing from this OU team? Baker Mayfield finished fourth in Heisman voting last year, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are the best backfield tandem in the country. Charles Walker is a potential first round pick at defensive tackle. Walker leads a defense that is full of future pros. What is missing? Ohio State is a well coached school with a more recent national championship success, but is OU that bad?

To be honest, maybe OU is that bad. In retrospective Stoops nickname, “Big Game Bob” is ratcheting up my ire. The real reason I am pissed, is not only did OU lose and cost themselves any chance at a playoff birth, but Houston as well. Houston is the most deserving team of a college football playoff selection.  If OU would have beaten Ohio State and won the Big 12, ( which they could still do) a chaos scenario would have emerged. I want chaos!!! Now Houston and the University of Louisville for that matter needs a prayer to get in. The playoff committee is not interested in a Cinderella story like Houston or Louisville. Their job is to get the largest payday for schools and conferences. Which means they need a large fan bases to buy tickets to these games. Unfortunately that doesn’t exist at Houston or Louisville like it does at Southern California, Ohio State, or Oklahoma. It’s midnight for Cinderella.

Speaking of let downs, what in the hell happened to Florida State? Losing 63-20 to Louisville, 63! They didn’t just lose, or get outscored, FSU was dominated in every aspect of that football game. I can remember watching the University of Texas play Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game in 2009, and I was astonished how the Texas O-line got dominated by Ndamukong Suh and the Nebraska defensive line. Louisville may have topped that performance Saturday night. They were able to knock FSU back and hold future first round pick  Dalvin Cook, to 3.4 yards per carry. How bad was it? Louisville missed a field goal with 13:20 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Florida State then scored a touchdown, making the score 14-10. UL then scored 6 unanswered touchdowns.

Even worse, now I gotta tip my hat to Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. Say what you will and I’m thinking the same thing, but no one bounces back better from more self-inflicted adversity then Petrino. Petrino for all his public personal flaws can really coach a football team. He will likely and be well deserving of enshrinement in the College Football Hall of Fame. Petrino is still most responsible for putting Louisville football in the national conversation as one of the best college programs in the country. When he does leave Louisville ( which he will) and takes his next big time coaching job at Mississippi State or Arizona State, he will deserve it. He has paid a price for his dubious actions, and it’s time to move on.

Here are the biggest winners and losers from this past weekend. Omission: Louisville. Even though they had a gigantic win, I can’t say they were big winners. Oklahoma lost, so they were big loser as well for reasons I pointed out earlier. So even if they beat Houston, what will it mean? Florida St would need to win the ACC (don’t count on it). Two conference champions would have to have at least a two or three losses. Teams like Stanford and Baylor. In summary, they won big and lost big.

Winners 

My brother and Ohio State fans My younger brother warned me about picking against Ohio State. No way I thought Ohio State would be that good, in Norman. O-H-I-O looked dominant. I do wonder how long the can win games with the puny arm strength of QB J.T. Barrett. Let me stop hating, they won and they are starting to remind me of Kobe’s Lakers. When you pick against them, they leave you silent in front of your T.V. contemplating life decisions.

Michigan State Big win over Notre Dame, and the Spartans have a really good passing attack featuring QB Tyler O’Connor and WR Donnie Corley. The Spartans are a team to look out for, especially since they came into this season under the radar. The Big 10 conference is no longer a two team race. Things could get interesting for Michigan and Ohio State before late November.

North Dakota State The Bison make this look routine but beating #13 ranked Iowa in Iowa City was special. Congratulations to the Bison for continuing to dominate their schedule year in and year out. Question is, how long can they maintain head coach Chris Klieman? There is a $8 million per year check out there for him when he wants it.

Losers

These Fools Joe Mixon, Vic Enwere, and all the other players who have fumbled the ball on the 1 yard line before scoring a touchdown. This is getting on my last nerve, cross the goal line and then punt the ball into the stands. At least then you have done something positive while punishing your team. Personally I hope their respective coaches punishes them hard with some type of community service. This is so uncalled for.

Oregon Is it really over? Has Oregon really fallen behind this much much since Marcus Mariota graduated. To lose to Nebraska, a program that has been a footnote in recent college football history is disturbing. Eugene is home to great facilities and a state of the art campus. During that game Nebraska had superior players. That’s disheartening.

Georgia Yes they won, they beat Missouri 28-27 in Columbia. However, Kirby Smart has to get this offense together. This is a team that is struggling with injuries, but not to the point where they should be playing close games to the Tigers. They got the win but it’s certainly not a good sign for a team that was supposed to challenge Alabama.