It’s the start of another week so you know what that means! Time for me to ramble on about what I saw on Saturday in today’s installment of winners and losers from another college football weekend.
Today, I take a quick nose dive into who stood out (for better or for worse) from Saturday.
I guess I jumped the gun because all of the sudden UGA looks like the team to beat again in the SEC-East. Florida has major issues on defense and has some soul searching to do after being exposed by both Ole Miss and now Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M.
Georgia meanwhile is riding a good looking defense and an improving Stetson Bennett who is holding his own so far after a shaky performance against Arkansas. The Dawgs have a pair of top-15 wins although I’m not sure those will still be top-15 wins a month from now.
Nevertheless, have to give credit where it is due. This weekend will be very, very telling as Kirby Smart matches up against his old boss, Nick Saban. His former assistants usually don’t have much luck against him as head coaches, but could this be the year that changes? Judging by the way Alabama’s defense looked so far, I wouldn’t say it’s that far out of reach.
It was a good weekend for the guys out on Tobacco Road. Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State were all winners this weekend in ACC play. The Blue Devils defeated Syracuse by a final score of 38-24 for their first win of the season. The Tar Heels remained perfect on the year and disposed of Virginia Tech, 56-45. UNC is now FIFTH in the nation in college football. That’s textbook 2020. I love it.
Hopefully they can keep it rolling and aren’t peaking too soon or get too comfortable or complacent down the stretch. It’s very reasonable to say Mack Brown’s squad could be undefeated when they host Notre Dame Nov. 27. Following that contest is a date on the road at Miami. Two massive ACC games at the end of the season for the Tar Heels.
Finally, NC State is feeling a little buzz after a 3-1 start on the year, the lone setback coming to Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack caught a Virginia squad licking its wounds after a 41-23 loss to Clemson last week. Cavs were down to their backup after Brennan Armstrong left the game and didn’t return as UVA fell to State, 38-21.
Clemson created a little more wiggle room between itself and the field Saturday night humbling Miami 42-17 in a game that truly wasn’t even that close. The Tigers dominated the Canes and had it not been for a blocked 61-yard field goal returned for a touchdown to end the half, Miami would have been held out of the end zone for the first half for the third straight time against the Tigers. D’Eriq King only made a pair of big plays with his legs but the offense struggled to find a rhythm and go tempo the way it wanted. Like a basketball team that likes to press, it becomes harder to run that style of defense if you aren’t scoring to set up the press. Miami wasn’t consistently moving the ball forward and threw a trio of interceptions in the rainy loss in Death Valley. Their lack of ability to sustain drives and move the chains was devastating to the Cane’s aspirations of an upset.
The State of Florida
Miami, Florida and FSU all suffered losses to give the Sunshine State a little bit of rain this weekend. Miami was no match for Clemson in Death Valley (42-17), FSU put up points but couldn’t outduel Notre Dame (42-26) and Florida was bitten by the upset bug on the road at College Station. Texas A&M went blow for blow with the Gators and held on for the win, 41-38. Running back Isaiah Spiller was a DUDE for the Aggies with 27 carries for 174 yards and two touchdowns. The good version of Kellen Mond decided to come out to play and he tossed for 338 yards and a trio of touchdowns on 25-of-35 passing. Seth Small came up BIG for A&M with a 27-yard game-winner as the clock hit triple zeroes at Kyle Field.
The Crimson Tide’s defense was exposed to put it nicely this weekend as Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss Rebels gave Nick Saban FITS all night long. So many fits in fact that Saban hinted that perhaps Kiffin had Alabama’s signs and was able to adjust to what the Tide was running on the fly. One thing is for sure, the Rebels were well-prepared but just didn’t have the horses to survive.
Despite losing 63-48 there are plenty of positives if you’re Ole Miss in year one. The Rebels have been in dog fights with both Florida and now Alabama. They racked up 647 yards of offense against a Nick Saban coached team. If Kiffin can recruit to Ole Miss well and get some nice pieces on defense, the Rebels could quickly become a problem in the SEC-West. We already see he can inject some life on the offensive side of the ball. Stay away from the NCAA violations and we might have Ole Miss back in the top 15 within the next 2-3 years.
The Wildcats captured a key Big-12 victory over TCU Saturday 21-14 but haver lost their starting quarterback Skylar Thompson for the season for a “upper body injury”. Thompson had led K-State to its second straight win over Oklahoma a few weeks ago. Per ESPN, Thompson has started 30 games for Kansas State and ranks in the top 10 in program history in 14 career categories, including completion percentage (fourth), passing efficiency (fifth), completions (fifth) and rushing yards by a quarterback (fifth). True freshman Will Howard will likely take over for now. K-State has this week off before preparing for Kansas on Oct. 24.
From defending champions to unranked….real quick. LSU is feeling the loss of a million starters gone from last year’s arguably best team of all time. The Tigers have now dropped games to Mississippi State and Missouri. Perhaps they get a pass for the State game. It was early, hard to really prepare for Mike Leach and who thought KJ Costello would throw for 1,000 yards? (I mean not literally BUT….).
The road doesn’t get any easier at all for the Tigers with a trip to Florida this weekend followed by a visit from a desperate South Carolina and Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks all of the sudden could be playing with a little more motivation after the win over Vanderbilt to help stop the early-season bleeding from setbacks to Tennessee (31-27) and Florida (38-24). After that? LSU visits Auburn and gets a week off before hosting Alabama. Don’t be surprised if the Bayou Bengals reach 4-5 losses this season.