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College Football Awards, Week 4 (2018) September 23, 2018

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(Note:  All rankings are current AP [week 4] unless otherwise noted.)

COACHES
Wish I were him: Tom Herman, Texas

Glad I’m not him: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

Lucky guy: David Shaw, Stanford

Poor guy: Mario Cristobal, Oregon

Desperately seeking a wake-up call: Bobby Petrino, Louisville

Desperately seeking a P.R. man: Luke Fickell, Cincinnati

Desperately seeking sunglasses and a fake beard: Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

Desperately seeking … anything:  Scott Frost, Nebraska

TEAMS
Thought you’d kick butt, you did: Penn State (defeated Illinois 63-24)

Thought you’d kick butt, you didn’t: Oklahoma (defeated Army 28-21 in OT)

Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you did: Tulane (lost to No. 9 Ohio State 49-6)

Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you didn’t:  Army (lost to Oklahoma 28-21 in OT)

Thought you wouldn’t kick butt, you did:  Texas Tech (defeated No. 15 Oklahoma State 17)

Dang, they’re good: Clemson

Dang, they’re bad:  Arkansas

Can’t Stand Prosperity:  Virginia Tech

Did the season start?  Nebraska

Can the season end?  Rutgers

Can the season never endAlabama

GAMES
Play this again:  No. 7 Stanford 38, No. 20 Oregon 31

Play this again, too:  SMU 31, Navy 30

Never play this again: Appalachian State 72, Gardner-Webb 7

What? Purdue 30, No. 23 Boston College 13

HuhTexas Tech 41, No. 15 Oklahoma State 17

Double HuhIllinois State 35, Colorado State 19

Are you kidding me??  Kentucky 28, No. 14 Mississippi State 7

Oh – my – GodOld Dominion 49, No. 13 Virginia Tech 35

NEXT WEEK (Rankings are current AP, week 5)
Ticket to die for:  No. 4 Ohio State @ No. 9 Penn State

Also:  No. 7 Stanford @ No. 8 Notre Dame

Best non-Power Five vs. Power Five  matchup: Pitt @ UCF

Best non-Power Five matchup: Toledo @ Fresno State

Upset alert: Texas Tech @ No. 12 West Virginia

Must win: Purdue @ Nebraska

Offensive explosion: Toledo @ Fresno State

Defensive struggle: Florida @ No. 23 Mississippi State

Great game no one is talking about: No.18 Texas @ Kansas State

Intriguing coaching matchup:  Bill Snyder of Kansas State vs. Tom Herman of Texas

Who’s bringing the body bags? Louisiana @ No. 1 Alabama

Why are they playing? Southern Miss @ No. 10 Auburn

Plenty of good seats remaining: UTEP @ UTSA

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?  Tennessee State @ Vanderbilt

Week 4 Thoughts:

 Purdue has started the season as a major head-scratcher.  Coming off a surprising winning season after the Hazell-era doldrums, including a bowl win, the Boilermaker faithful had high hopes for the team in 2018.  Thus far, after an understandable, opening-season loss to then-ranked Northwestern, Purdue proceeded to lose squeakers at home to beatable teams, including [shudder], Eastern Michigan – a directional school.  Chalk it up to an undisciplined defense and a lack of a running game.  Regardless, the Boilers have their first win of the year, and, all things considered, it’s a rather big one, handily defeating No. 23 Boston College 30-13.  To be sure, Purdue did step it up on defense, and if they can maintain this newfound intensity on that side of the ball, there’s hope for the season yet.  All that said, sometimes it takes a few weeks for a good team to find its footing and thus to play up to its potential.

The team now becoming an even bigger head-scratcher is Louisville.  Sure, they lost badly to Alabama, but the Crimson Tide is such a juggernaut this year that most winning-season teams will look pathetic against them.  What really raised concerns was having to struggle, at home, to beat Western Kentucky – another directional school!  Let us thus give the Cardinals an ex-post-facto “Thought you’d kick butt, you didn’t”.  But now they got embarrassed, on the road to a beatable team in Virginia.  At 27-3, are the Cavaliers that much better than the Cards?  Is their offense that poor that they failed to punch it into the endzone, with only a sad field goal to open the 3rd quarter?  A comparison of recent seasonal performances of both teams would say no, but today’s score would suggest so.  Here is one possible diagnosis of Louisville’s under-performance.  In the last few years (basically since Lamar Jackson was QB), Petrino has been fixated on “skills” players while acting as if he can get any lumbering lummox to block on the line.  So, while he might have NFL-caliber talent on the wings, he has no way of executing plays.  Has the time come to where Petrino would be better off as an offensive coordinator instead of a head coach?  Further observation and analysis of the team’s performance shall tell us yes or no.

What about USC?  Before losing badly on the road to Texas last week, they were ranked and poised to compete for the Pac-12 title again.  But on Friday night, they had to play hard at home to beat unranked Washington State.  One possible explanation:  Sam Darnold’s talent at QB papered over the mediocrity of talent on the coaching staff.  While I’m not a Trojans fan personally, I nevertheless recognize that when a traditional power like USC does well, it’s good for college football (same goes for other traditional powers like Georgia, Texas, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, or even Miami (Fla.)).  Conversely, a mediocre Southern Cal team is thus not great for college football.  Let us hope that they can eventually rise back to national title contention to help keep the west coast markets engaged in the game.  After all, it’s never good for a sport to become regional (looking your way, Major League Baseball).

Speaking of Texas, are they “back”?  And why were they ever, well, not back?  This article by Pete Thamel explains the nature of why a national brand and a massively-valued program ever needed turning around in the first place (hint:  turning around an aircraft carrier takes much, much longer than turning around, say, a personal sailboat).  Forget, for a moment, that the program sure did not help anybody, least of all themselves, by laying an egg on the road to Maryland, and then under-performing at home the next week against Tulsa.  The Longhorns’ big win over USC last week might not indicate that the team is “back” as strongly as one would think due to USC’s apparent mediocrity at the moment.  But then again, Texas did follow up with another big win, this time over No. 16 TCU, 31-16.  So the current conclusion is, if they’re not “back” yet, they’re certainly headed in the right direction.  Onward and upward.

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College Football Week 12 Awards November 17, 2013

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(Note:  All rankings are current AP [week 12] unless otherwise noted.)

COACHES
Wish I were him: Ed Orgeron, USC

Glad I’m not him: Mack Brown, Texas

Lucky guy: Gus Malzahn, Auburn

Poor guy: Mark Richt, Georgia

Desperately seeking a clue: Frank Solich, Ohio U
Desperately seeking a P.R. man: David Bailiff, Rice

Desperately seeking sunglasses and a fake beard: Al Golden, Miami (Fla.)

Desperately seeking … anything:  Sonny Dykes, Cal

TEAMS
Thought you’d kick butt, you did: Oklahoma (defeated Iowa State 48-10)
Thought you’d kick butt, you didn’t: Central Florida (defeated Temple 39-36)

Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you did: Syracuse (lost to Florida State 59-3)

Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you didn’t:  Temple (lost to UCF 39-36)

Thought you wouldn’t kick butt, you did:  Bowling Green (defeated Ohio U 49-0)

Dang, they’re good: Baylor

Dang, they’re bad:  Ohio U

Can’t Stand Prosperity: Stanford

Did the season start?  Rutgers
Can the season end?  Cal

Can the season never endUSC

GAMES
Play this again:  No. 7 Auburn 43, No. 25 Georgia 38

Play this again, too:  Kansas State 33, TCU 31

Never play this again: No. 2 Florida State 59, Syracuse 3

What? Maryland 27, Virginia Tech 24, OT

HuhKansas 31, West Virginia 19

Are you kidding me?  Duke 48, No. 23 Miami 30
Oh – my – GodUSC 20, No. 4 Stanford 17

Told you so:  No. 4 Baylor 63, Texas Tech 34

NEXT WEEK

(rankings are current AP (post-week 12, pre-week 13)
Ticket to die for:  No. 4 Baylor @ No. 14 Oklahoma State

Ticket to die for, SEC edition:  No. 15 Texas A&M @ No. 12 LSU

Best non-Big Six vs. Big Six matchup: BYU @ Notre Dame

Best non-Big Six matchup: Texas State @ Western Kentucky

Upset alert: No. 18 Oklahoma @ Kansas State

Must win: No. 8 Missouri @ Ole Miss

Offensive explosion: Baylor @ Oklahoma State

Defensive struggle: Michigan @ Iowa

Great game no one is talking about: Cincinnati @ Houston

Intriguing coaching matchup: Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M vs. Les Miles of LSU

Who’s bringing the body bags? Idaho @ No. 2 Florida State

Why are they playing? Chattanooga @ No. 1 Alabama

Plenty of good seats remaining: UConn @ Temple

Plenty of good seats remaining, Big Ten edition:  Illinois @ Purdue

They shoot horses, don’t they?  Coastal Carolina @ No. 11 South Carolina

Week 12 Random Thoughts

Okay, so this week was not big on upsets; some of the lower-tiered ones listed here were borderline reaches.  But there were some eye-popping, jaw-to-the-floor-dropping catches.  For instance, there was one flying, one-handed touchdown catch by a UCF receiver that put the Golden Knights even with Temple, and thus put them on the path to preserve their undefeated season.

A different sort of catch, but one that solidified victory was a tipped pass on 4-and-forever that just so happened to fall within reach of an Auburn receiver going deep.  Ricardo Louis managed to reach for the ball in stride and cruise to the end zone for a touchdown that caused Jordan-Hare Stadium to erupt in ecstasy.

USC, meanwhile, seems to have been rejuvenated under the leadership of Ed Orgeron.  Few experts were predicting a win over No. 4-ranked Stanford, what with the Cardinal’s hard-charging power running game.  But the Trojans’ defense help firm enough to nullify the Cardinal’s advantage, and in the end, helped produce the biggest win for USC yet this season.  In case someone might think that last statement is an exaggeration, when, might I ask in return, was the last time you saw the students rush the field at LA Coliseum this year?

Meanwhile, we all knew this week would come.  This time around, it just so happens to be Week 13 where most SEC teams have the unenviable task of being pitiless executioner to FCS fare, glorified or otherwise.   The irony is that this time around, these teams are not chump D-1AA teams.  Alabama is playing Chattanooga, who is currently 8-3.  South Carolina is to play Coastal Carolina, who is currently 10-1 (at least they’re not playing Wofford this time!).  Florida will play Georgia Southern, who might only be 6-4 in FCS play, but they’re still a traditional power at that level.  But that aside, why schedule these glorified body bag games so late in year?  Did we not get enough of these sub-par matchups in September?

Speaking of Georgia Southern, though, maybe Florida will finally be able to win a game again.  No, that is not a type-o.  The Florida Gators (yes, THE Florida Gators) are on a five-game losing streak.  Why, you might ask?  Perhaps these stats might explain a few things:  they rank 101st in the FBS in passing yardage, 82nd in rushing yards, and 112th in “points for,” meaning the total number of points their offense has scored.  Yet they rank 14th in points against.  The latter is a more-than-respectable stat; the rest of positively abysmal, especially by Florida standards.  Clearly, they have a good defense; they are just atrocious on offense.  Who is to blame?  One possibility is Will Muschamp, who is a defensive coordinator by trade before becoming the head coach in Gainesville.  Could he invest some capital in a better offensive coordinator?  That might help.  But at this point, it leaves fans and observers alike to wonder if he is the man for this sort of job.

At this point, it’s a fairly safe bet that that Florida could snap their five-game losing streak on Nov. 23; but the following week they face No. 2 Florida State.  What is the “over-under” for the Gators going 5-7 this year, Vegas?

Bowl Game “Categories” December 11, 2012

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COACHES: (following Week 15)

Lucky Guy:  Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

Poor Guy:  Rich Ellerson, Army

TEAMS:

Thought you’d kick butt, you didn’t:  Navy

Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you didn’t:  Army

UPCOMING BOWL GAMES:

Ticket to die for:  No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama in the BCS National Championship, Miami, Jan. 7

Best non-Big Six vs. Big Six matchup: Nevada vs. Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 15

Best non-Big Six matchup: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 22

Upset alert: No. 16 Nebraska over No. 7 Georgia in the Capital One Bowl (formerly the Citrus Bowl), Orlando, Fla., Jan. 1 (the reasons for this possibility are to be explained in a subsequent article).

Old Rivals Reunite:  No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, Dallas (Arlington), Jan. 4    Also:  West Virginia vs. Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, Bronx, N.Y., Dec. 29

Home Field Advantage:   Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 31

Must win:  Pitt vs. Ole Miss (both 6-6) in the BBVA Compass Bowl, Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 5

Offensive explosion: Baylor vs. No. 17 UCLA in the Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Dec. 27

Defensive struggle: possibly none.  Then again, possibly TCU vs. Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 29.

Great game no one is talking about: Mississippi State vs. No. 20 Northwestern in the Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Jan. 1

Intriguing coaching matchup:  Ken Niumatalolo of Navy vs. Todd Graham of Arizona State in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, San Francisco, Dec. 29

Intriguing Lack-of-Coach matchup:  No. 25 Kent State vs. Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, Mobile, Ala., Jan. 6

Who’s bringing the body bags? No. 21 Louisville vs. No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, Jan. 2               Also:  See next item below!

Why are they playing? No. 15 Northern Illinois vs. No. 12 Florida State in the Orange Bowl, Miami, Jan. 1

Plenty of good seats remaining: Rice vs. Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 29

They shoot horses, don’t they?  USC vs. Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas, Dec. 31

ArmyNavy2012-1When it comes to the bowl games themselves, plenty more humorously-talented writers than I have taken their stab at wryly skewering most of the matchups.  Perhaps the best example of this would be the talented folks at everydayshouldbesaturday.com, who have done just that regarding the aforementioned skewering.

Having said that, a brief pause is in order for the Army-Navy game this past weekend, for it was a viewing pleasure.  The game was the best of this storied match-up in recent memory; big plays on both sides, a close score throughout the game, and lots of heart and extra efforts on both sides of the ball.  It was a darn shame one of them had to lose, especially Army, who lost in heartbreaking fashion after fumbling the ball with only 15 yards and a minute to go before scoring a touchdown to otherwise win the game.  Instead, the Midshipmen have triumphed over the Black Knights for the 11th year in a row (!).  But the game was also a viewing pleasure from a uniforms aesthetics standpoint, too.  The gold in Army’s helmets was a true old gold, and harkened directly back to the glory days of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis.  Why don’t they use that gold in their helmets all the time today?  The WWII maps in their jersey numbers and black helmet stripe was a way-cool touch, too!  Meanwhile, Navy’s tri-tone white helmet was awesome to behold.  Chrome-gold on blue on white is something never before seen at any major level of football; congrats to the Middies for this new innovation in artistic helmet design!