Welcome back fans to the newest list of scorching HOT TAKES! We had a big upset this weekend in college football, and one of the early season upstarts came crashing down to earth. So enough bloviating, let’s get down to business.
-Very Happy Valley: I mentioned it in last week’s column that Ohio State could have been walking into an ambush. And, they did. Penn State got outgained and the Buckeyes didn’t turn the ball over. But a blocked punt by Grant Haley with 4:27 left shocked the world and gave Penn State a 24-21 win and puts OSU behind the 8-ball with other Big 10 schools as well as the undefeateds. The worst part is that they played well, and lost. Big win for the Nittany Lions.
-Another pretender to the throne: After Houston’s loss to a very good Navy team, we knew they were flawed, but still very talented. Well the national spotlight is totally off them after a 38-16 loss to SMU Saturday takes any chances to shock the world right out of the equation. Greg Ward struggled and the defense was exposed again. Ben Hicks outplayed Ward (who’s outside Heisman chances are also cooked) and the defense gave up over 400 yards of offense.
-Survival in Baton Rouge: In the wake of Les Miles’ dismissal, Ed Orgeron has kept LSU Afloat and he can thank ol’ #7 for that. Leonard Fournette set the school record with 284 yards on the ground in a 38-21 win over Ole Miss. Orgeron is 3-0 since Miles’ firing, and the Tigers’ day of reckoning comes in two weeks when Alabama comes to Death Valley in primetime on CBS.
-Smurf Turf magic: Remember Boise State? Yeah we thought they vanished into the abyss after being the original “underdog of the NCAA system”. Well guess what, they’re 7-0 after an ugly 28-27 win over BYU on the blue turf. The Broncos survived 5 turnovers with Brett Rypien throwing for 442 yards and help with hideous play calling. A fake punt attempt on your OWN 2 YARD LINE? Good grief you Mormons.
-Service Academy Update: Navy continues to shine with a 42-28 win over Memphis, which included a season high 447 yards rushing, to move to 5-1, the only blemish to Air Force. The Middies take on South Florida Friday night. Reality is settling in for Army, for after a 35-18 loss to North Texas, previously unbeaten after three games Army has lost three of four and is now 4-3 on the season. This week is a trip to Wake Forest. Air Force is just as ice cold, losing three straight after starting 4-0. The most recent loss, 35-27 to Hawaii, saw three turnovers and a blown defensive assignment in double overtime.
-The Tide Roll Again: Everyone knew going into Saturday that Alabama is probably the best team in the country. After Saturday they only further proved that they are just so much better than even the very best teams in the country, as they rolled through Texas A&M 33-14. Alabama actually trailed at one point in the third quarter, but once they were able to retake the lead they dominated the Aggies. Alabama did lose star CB Eddie Jackson to a broken leg, but I’m sure his backup is twice as good as most starters for other teams. It’s a big loss in the experience area, but the Tide will roll on.
-Louisville Star Pad Heisman Stats: Lamar Jackson has been my Heisman favorite all season, due to the way he entertains me watching him play and the ridiculous video game stats he puts up each and every week. The only thing working against him definitely being the Heisman favorite is the fact that his team has lost a game, and his main competition Deshaun Watson from Clemson and Jake Browning from Washington both have yet to lost a game. Of course injuries can strike at any time and his stats could decrease in the coming weeks, but one thing I’ve learned from watching him each and every week is that he is an amazing athlete and that he is tough as nails.
-War Eagle Pounds Pig Sooie: Alabama wasn’t the only team in the state of Alabama that dominated its competition, as the Auburn Tigers ran all over Arkansas on the Plains. You could tell this game was going to get bad after Auburn was able to score on the first play from scrimmage from 78 yards out, while following it up with an impressive 91 yard drive to go up 14-0. Even if the offense wasn’t able to run all over Arkansas, the Auburn defense was able to hold one of the best offense in the conference to only 3 points in the whole game. The Tigers have a ton of momentum after this 56-3 win and during their recent winning streak. If they continue to play like this the Iron Bowl could be even more of a must watch game.
-Texas Turns Up the Heat on Charlie Strong: Charlie Strong has pretty much permanently been on the hot seat during his entire tenure at Texas. Expectations of any Longhorns coach is to win and win a whole lot. While his record of 14-18 at Texas would be overlooked some other schools, Texas expects to be a contender on not only a Big 12 level but a national level. Needless to say they haven’t even been close to that in Strong’s 3 seasons. Everyone thought, including myself, that this was going to be the year where they made the jump and competed following their double overtime defeat of then #10 ranked Notre Dame. Notre Dame had proven to be dumpster fire since then (Sorry Scott), and Texas hasn’t looked much better. I would love to see Charlie right the ship but after another close defeat to Kansas State this week, their schedule is pretty tough the rest of the way.
-Pac-12 Standings Flipped Upside Down: If anyone told you at the beginning of the year that the combined Pac-12 records of Washington, Washington State, Colorado, and Utah was 16-2 would you have believed them? If you say yes you are definitely not telling the truth. Washington and Utah were supposed to be in the mix to compete for the conference title, but the usual suspects of Oregon, USC, and Stanford were supposed to be the frontrunners. Those 3 teams Pac-12 are a combined 6-9, with Oregon being 0-4. It will be interesting to see how the standings work themselves in the coming weeks but a few things are for sure, there will be a lot of points and it will be incredibly fun to watch.
Thank you sir. Now for the most recent AP Top 10:
So the Buckeyes are still in the race and there’s still pitfalls for the undefeated teams. Let’s look at the big games this weekend!
#10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State, Noon: Similar to Ohio State last week, Dana Holgerson could be walking into an ambush. Be on alert Mountaineers.
#2 Michigan at Michigan State, Noon: Who needs rankings? This will be the usual barroom fistfight with big implications.
#14 Florida vs. Georgia, 3:30pm: Cocktails, anyone? For PTBN’ers Chad Campbell, Nick Duke and other Bulldogs fans, this is one they REALLY want.
#8 Baylor at Texas, 3:30pm: If Charlie Strong wants to keep his job, he has to win this one.
Miami at Notre Dame, 3:30pm: Ah yes, Catholics vs. Convicts. Honestly it’s not the same as 1988, but I always tingle when these two play each other.
#4 Washington at #17 Utah: Big game for the Huskies if they want to stay in the Playoff talk.
#3 Clemson at #12 Florida State: This is probably the last hurdle for Dabo & the Tigers in the regular season.
#7 Nebraska at #11 Wisconsin: A full menu of epic games wraps in prime time with a huge Big 10 tilt in Camp Randall.