So it’s been a minute since we got one of these published (I had some written, just unable to publish) but the landscape of college football for this season has changed tremendously. I think this weekend has been the most eye opening so far. A few thoughts:
– It’s amazing what can happen when players believe in their leader. Auburn’s looked stale and hapless for the eight games they played under now-former head coach Bryan Harsin. In the one game under interim head coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, they actually look like a team that wants to show up and play. They cut a massive deficit to Mississippi State and even took the lead, which was not something this team was thought to be able to do. They looked bad until they didn’t, and for once this season, they actually got hot during a game and looked like they could put together a win by sheer effort. I don’t think Coach Caddy is the answer long-term, but it shows neither was Harsin.
– Speaking of Mississippi State, that’s the most like a loss a win has felt like in a minute. Once again, State had a big lead at halftime—24-6—and once again, played the second half like it was a scrimmage. Auburn responded with 19 unanswered points to take the lead, and if not for some clutch plays from QB Will Rodgers and the State defense finally coming alive late, the Bulldogs could very easily have lost that contest. The Big Maroon’s got to figure out a way to play a full game—especially before the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss in a few weeks.
– So, um, I may have been wrong about LSU. I picked them to go toe-to-toe with Auburn for LAST in the SEC West. And for a minute, it looked like I might be right. As the scientists say, not no more. Not only did the Bayou Bengals stand tall against Alabama, they did so with flair. I figured that when they left Alabama a little over 1:30 to go, it was over. I also figured that when they held Alabama to a field goal to go to overtime, it was over. And when they went for two, I figured it would get stopped. I apologize, Tiger fans. I’ll quit doubting them.
I also apologize for the incoming loss to Arkansas now.
– I thought this Alabama team would be the reckoning team, with unfinished business to take care of from last season. They aren’t. They didn’t look good at Tennessee and they couldn’t finish LSU off. It’s hard to believe several of their fans are saying the season’s over because they aren’t going to play for a conference or national championship. That said, there’s something about this team that I can’t quite put my finger on. They just don’t seem to have the hallmarks of traditional teams under Nick Saban. I think every program is entitled to some down years–I mean, Tide fans are comparing this disappointing season to the most recent one twelve years ago–so I give this squad a pass. If this continues next year, then it may be time to be concerned.
– Georgia is very, very good. For the first time I can remember, they are a scary team to face. What’s scarier? I think they know how good they are. This was supposed to be a rebuild/down year. If this is a down year, I’m scared to see what a good one firing on all cylinders looks like.
– Tennessee fans should have nothing to be ashamed about. This is a program that’s still on the rise; every program with sustained success has that one “oh look, they’re actually pretty good” year before ascending to greatness. Sure, Georgia and Mother Nature both tag-teamed like Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man on the Vols this weekend, but as I’ve said before–losing to Georgia may end up being a plus.
– I’m so scared to jump on the TCU bandwagon, because I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a jinx this year. So I’ll just admire the Horned Frogs from a distance, and hope they keep doing their thing.
– SMU and Houston gave the world a preview of the Turkey Bowl, the annual football game our family plays on Thanksgiving: zero defense, 1,254 yards, 100+ points, and zero people watching, but still a whole lot of fun.
– Notre Dame, man. It’s like they were finally like “You guys think I only get what I do based on my name, midwest sportswriters, and a favorable schedule? Fine. Hold my beer.” And dismantled Clemson. This is the same team that got spanked by Marshall. When did they become a spunky underdog?
– Clemson always felt like they were walking a very precarious tightrope; I never felt like they were on solid ground to dominate all season, and one trip up would unravel the whole thing–and it did. I don’t think their dynasty is dead just like I don’t think Alabama’s is, but I do think the NIL has put both programs on notice.
– I really wanted Wake Forest to win the ACC and show us all what a small school is capable of. Unfortunately, with three losses now, they’ll get a decent bowl but not much else. I still think Dave Clawson should be on Auburn’s short list of potential hires.
– Tulane is ranked, and after watching them a little Saturday, all jokes aside, this team is pretty good. Here’s hoping they can keep the magic going.
On to next week!