College Football Lessons
The Weekend that Was – Things We Learned
Crazy Comebacks Often Happen on the West Coast. Why is that? Saturday is was Arizona coming back from a 28-6 halftime deficit and 31-13 going into the fourth quarter. Oh, and to make matters more fun, the Wildcats had to go 85 yards in less than a minute without the benefit of any timeouts. And they did. Anu Soloman’s 47-yard Hail Mary was caught by Austin Hill as time expired and Arizona had a 49-45 win. Too bad many of us were already in bed:
The Gap Between the 2nd and 3rd Best Conference is larger than 1st to 2nd. By far. The SEC is still the king (spare me any comparisons, Bob). The Pac-12 was considered the SEC’s best competition entering the season, and there is no doubt this is true. Utah went to Ann Arbor and beat Michigan. I don’t care how down the Wolverines are, winning in the Big House ain’t easy. Washington State gave Oregon all they could handle, and credit the Cougars on that one. Cal stunk last year but has taken significant strides. Top-to-bottom, the Pac-12 is pretty darn good.
The wrong SEC West team was ranked high. Mississippi State went into Death Valley and took out No. 8 LSU for the first time since 1999. The final score might have been close, but in reality this was no contest. The main reason – MSU has a (great) quarterback and LSU does not. Dak Prescott threw for 268 yards and added 105 on the ground, responsible for three touchdowns. State is loaded with upper classmen, another big difference between them and LSU. Prescott carries this team. Can he continue to do so? State’s next four games – vs. Texas A&M, vs. Auburn, at Kentucky, vs. Arkansas. We’ll find out.
West Virginia finally adds to the Big 12. When the Mountaineers joined the conference, they were considered an “upgrade” by some over departing A&M and Mizzou. Um, no. But, this season West Virginia looks more like an upper-half team in the Big 12 rather than a cellar-dweller. Dana Holgerson’s offense is finally on track, though his team came up short against Alabama and OU. The good news – West Virginia has a great chance to win most of their remaining conference games, and that includes Baylor at home. Beware of the trip to Oklahoma State the following week though. But all-in-all, I think it’s safe to say that this team will go bowling.
Florida State is not the best team in the nation. I don’t care what the AP poll says or that Jameis Winston was out. If Dabo Swinney knew how to manage his team inside the red zone, Clemson would have won Saturday night in Tallahassee. Instead, the Seminoles escaped. Kudos to them but it left me unimpressed. Good for them that they play in a terrible ACC this year. This team would be a middle-of-the-pack squad in the SEC. I’ll say this – this team is not repeating.
Things We’ll Learn in Six Days (or less)
Is Arkansas Improved Enough to win an SEC game or two this time around? The Hogs face Texas A&M at Jerryworld Saturday. These two teams lead all of college football in scoring, ranked one and two. Can Arkansas keep up with the Aggie offense? Doubtful, but if they can run the ball and keep the Texas A&M offense off the field, this one may be closer than we think. The Aggies need to shake off the slow starts they’ve made over the last two weeks. Hope Arkansas’ secondary likes to run. Hope A&M’s front seven can tackle. Should be a fun one at AT&T Stadium at 2:30 pm Saturday on CBS.
Which SEC East Team will fall behind? Missouri plays at South Carolina, both coming off tough performances. The loser of this game will be in a tough spot as it comes to the SEC standings. Dylan Thompson remains the biggest question mark for me on South Carolina. I just don’t believe in him. But I do believe in the Gamecocks at home and Steve Spurrier. Take the Gamecocks in this one.
Is UCLA a Pretender? The Bruins have struggled in three wins this season, rallying to beat Texas in Arlington the last time we saw them. This week, it’s a trip to Arizona State, who is 3-0 as well. Will UCLA’s luck run out? Here’s a vote for “yes.”
What’s Next for Texas Tech? Kliff Kingsbury was forced to say good bye to his defensive coordinator last week. He’s tried to patch up this Red Raiders team with JUCO transfers, but that’s clearly not working. Much of the talent on this team is young and they still need a year to gel and get better. Tech travels to Stillwater for their first Big 12 game Thursday night. While I predicted the Raiders to be a surprise team this season, I smell the beginning of the end for their 2014 season.
Does SMU have a chance vs. rival TCU? My mother taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So I’ll close out this column with one word: no.