Sunday, October 5, 2014

Week 6 College Football Takeaways

We have hit just about the midway point in college football yesterday, and yet one quote, and only one holds true to this point. Someone on Twitter (pardon me for not recalling whom, actually brought up that because of absolutely crappy early season scheduling across the board, we truly had no clue about who anyone was. No day of the season thus far proved that as much as yesterday, with five AP top ten teams crumpling like cheap tents in a mild wind storm.
Oregon, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Alabama, and UCLA all fell upset victim on the same weekend, the most top ten teams to fall on the same weekend in the history of the AP poll. In all, truthfully, we knew very little about Oregon. Games against South Dakota and Wyoming really gave them no proving ground, but when the Ducks have had to play up in status, they have largely struggled. If Marcus Mariota were to be injured today, the Ducks would basically be an 8-4 football team. After struggling to get by Washington State, and then falling at home to Arizona, we now know that the Ducks are not that impressive after all.
In the case of Texas A&M, we saw the Aggies beating up on some lesser opponents early on, and that South Carolina win is looking less and less impressive. We got a glimpse of things to come last week when the Aggies had to rally late to carry Arkansas into OT in order to get a win, and we should have heeded that message yesterday at Mississippi State, because the Bulldogs certainly came to play.
Staying in the state of Mississippi, Alabama really is the only team on this list that really didn't show us that they had a collapse coming. This was the one game that I believe most folks felt was a lock for the Tide. After all, Ole Miss and Mississippi State had not ever both beaten top ten opponents in the same day...ever. In the case of Alabama, the Tide now looks vulnerable, but are the most likely team to bounce back from this loss in any kind of real fashion moving forward.
Finally, we reach UCLA. What happened in Pasadena last night was just another night in the history of UCLA and big games. In the last 34 years (period of time that I have devoted to following this program), the Bruins have historically always, and I mean always, dumped games that mattered where teams ahead of them in the rankings suffered fates such as yesterday. This has always been the case dating back five coaches, including Mora. And here is why the Bruins blew their chance to get into a top four position...everybody's overrated Heisman overhyped darling, Brett Hundley himself.
Sure, Hundley put up some nice 4th quarter numbers to get the Bruins into position to win the game, but let us start with the most glaring play of the night. In the first quarter of a scoreless game, Hundley overthrows a screen pass to a target that wasn't even available, and ends up tossing a pick six. That sets a tempo, places the Utes up 7-0, which had it never happened, UCLA wins this game 28-23.
Secondly, Hundley was sacked ten times. How, might you ask, do I blame him for that? Let me tell you. Certainly you can blame a portion on the line, and they deserved it. You can blame OC Noel Mazzone for not adjusting his scheme. He deserves that as well, as how can you not figure that when you only leave five blockers, and eight guys are rushing the QB, the numbers may not add up. The bone headed Mazzone finally learned how to count and adjust in the 4th quarter, which was virtually the only time all night UCLA looked like an offense. This is what I blame Hundley for on the sacks. When you get the ball in your hands as a QB, you basically have a three count to make your reads and deliver the football in today's game. That's how fast it all is. When you, like Hundley, fix your sights on one read and one read only, and hold the ball for four to six seconds waiting for your first read to get open (he wasn't), and you never look off of said read, you will get sacked. A bunch. It's QB 101. I don't give a damn how good or bad your line is, you are setting them and yourself up for failure. Hundley, in three seasons, is still making many of the same mistakes he made as a freshman. His deep ball is only accurate when he gets five to seven seconds to set it up, and he locks on to his main read, in this case Jordan Payton, all night long. He never understands progressions into his second and third reads in the offense, even though he is loaded with talent at the receiver position and doesn't have to rely on one target only. It is a basic lack of understanding of progressive reads and having a mental clock that all great QBs have that got Hundley sacked ten times last night. As I Said, blame the line some, and certainly blame the OC, but give Hundley his heaping share as well.

Now let's take a look at what else I took away from yesterday's action...

ACC

Louisville is going to play very well against lower tier ACC teams this fall, but may not be good enough to play with the big boys after a 28-6 win over Syracuse. The Orange have absolutely no offensive talent, and failed miserably to move the football. Syracuse and Wake Forest are battling out for the worst teams in the conference in 2014. Speaking of Wake Forest, sorry you had to play Florida State this week, and not some lower tier FCS squad that you like to beat up on early in the season to make you feel better about your miserable selves.
Hey NC State fans, welcome to pretenderville! After failing miserably to take out FSU, despite a huge lead last week, you failed to get off the bus to a Clemson team that is far inferior to the Seminoles in a 41-0 loss! Awesome job! After a 4-0 start, the Pack is now 0-2 in ACC play.
Hey UNC fans, your coach is a waste of your time! Virginia Tech is hardly who they were a decade ago, and you were supposed to have one of the most exciting QBs in the country. The most exciting part of your Saturday is getting those nachos at the concession stands, but only if you add Jalapenos. Larry Fedora is a fraud. You heard it here first. And this goes out to you Hokie fans...don't get too pumped about this win, you should have thumped the Heels anyway.
Hey Miami fan, where can I sign up to help you fire Al Golden? It's now quite clear that he is not the man to lead the Canes back to greatness, as that is evidently clear in losing to the most overrated 5-0 team in the nation in Georgia Tech. That defense that looked so good against Duke never entered the stadium this week.
Pitt fans, I guess that early 62-0 win over Delaware really didn't set you up for how bad your team can become when you rely on a huge RB, and have no other offense to really speak for. Here's something to take solace in...Virginia isn't bad, and Mike London is officially off of my Hot Seat for now.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Al Golden, Miami
Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Off of the Hot Seat
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Mike London, Virginia

AAC

UCF is still in rebuild mode, but a big win at Houston keeps the Knights alive and well in the conference race. Hay Houston fan, what is up with your Cougars? You were picked to win the conference and possibly even finish with 10 wins or more, and now you are 2-3, and have lost two games in your brand new house. That's like letting the neighbors piss on your brand new carpet.
There's nothing new here for SMU, other than to say that I won't pile on this week after a 45-24 loss to East Carolina. However, I will say that the Mustangs are a solid candidate to finish 0-12. East Carolina on the other hand is playing solid football, and Shane Carden is doing great things with the football.
If you are in Tulsa right now, all I can tell you after a 42-17 loss to Colorado State out of conference is that at least you beat Tulane. That's as good as it gets. Just let me know when you are onboard with my hammering of Bill Blankenship, who you should be drawing up a buyout for even as I type this report.
Memphis looks very good heading into conference play with a winning record, and pounded another conference favorite, Cincinnati, 41-14 in the conference opener. Memphis, yes Memphis, is a dark horse in the AAC this season. Cincinnati is already done. Toast. Great defense Bearcats. Giving up 45.5 points per game to Ohio State and Memphis makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Tony Levine, Houston
Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Tom Mason (Interim) SMU

Big 12

Congrats to Kansas State (45-13 over Texas Tech) and West Virginia (33-14) for being the only two favorites in play yesterday in the Big 12 that didn't come out flat. Kansas State ripped the Red Raiders, a practice that has become common, 45-13 after taking a 24-7 lead into the half. West Virginia, on the other hand, rolled out to a 26-0 lead on Kansas and new coach Clint Bowen, and cruised in the second half.
Congrats to TCU for showing everyone that Gary Patterson has brought the Frogs back into contention in the conference after a stunning 37-33 win at home over conference favorite Oklahoma. Not only does that win put OU behind the 8 ball in conference play and in the national title picture, it kept TCU alive for both.
Oklahoma needed a big game from their QB and defense yesterday, and got neither. Trevor Knight was just 14 of 35 passing, and the defense got run through in the secondary by a TCU passing game that isn't exactly epic most weeks.
Oklahoma State came out very flat, but Iowa State ran out of gas as the Cowboys pulled away to win 37-20. The Cowboys led just 13-6 at the half at home against the basement dwelling Cyclones.
Baylor was extremely flat as well, but do credit the Texas defense for really making life hard on Bryce Petty in the Bears 28-7 win at Texas. Petty played his worst game of the year, and Texas may have created a blueprint has to how to stop the high powered Bears offense.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Paul Rhoades, Iowa State
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Clint Bowen, Kansas (The AD may have guaranteed him a job after this season, but the new coach may not elect to keep him in a staff capacity, nor do I believe he has earned that guarantee.)

Big 10

No matter what happens moving forward, I just cannot see a way that Tim Beckman is the head coach at Illinois in 2015 after the Illini gave up 38 points in a loss to Purdue at home. If there was a win to grab for the Illini, this was it.
Ohio State is very much alive in the Big Ten race, and JT Barrett is getting better every week, but Ohio State has only been able to muscle up on weaker competition, and Maryland is certainly a pretender. Look for a Terp slide after the52-24 ass kicking.
Indiana looked great against another cupcake, but I look for the Hoosiers to come back to earth next week after a 49-24 win over North Texas.
Hey Northwestern fans, you can take your coach off of the Hot Seat for now after that stunning 20-14 win over Wisconsin yesterday. But please do find a QB who can pass for 200 per game at any point you wish. It would make you so much more watchable.
Hey Wisconsin fan, see my note on the Northwestern QB situation. You could use to find one who is capable of learning what color jersey his receivers have on. Melvin Gordon is all you got.
Rutgers fans can take Kyle Flood off of the Hot Seat for now, but please Michigan fan, find a way to fire Brady Hoke this week. He has lost that football team.
Michigan State is still the class of the Big Ten after making sure that the conference would not have an undefeated team left after surviving a late Nebraska rally at home last night.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Tim Beckman, Illinois
Brady Hoke, Michigan

Conference USA

What in the hell is going on down in South Florida with FAU and FIU? I had FIU dead in the water two weeks ago, but now they are 2-0 in CUSA play. FAU was coming off of a thumping of Tulsa, but now they are sinking like a stone. FIU absolutely drilled FAU 38-10, and Ron Turner has climbed himself out of the Dead Pool and onto dry land.
Marshall is getting better every week, and is the only group of five program worth mentioning for the New Years Six bowls right now. Old Dominion, after beating Rice, is headed in the opposite direction.
Middle Tennessee is now 3-0 in conference play, but needed to withstand a huge rally by a Southern Miss team that is starting to show a little life. The Eagle scored 19 in the 4th, but it was too little, too late.
North Texas isn't likely going back to a bowl game this season. They have been awful out of conference, and can't win on the road. That'll cost them later as conference play takes shape for them.
UTSA's offense has dried up and died. The Roadrunners, who beat Houston in the opener, haven't won since, and scored just 9 points in a loss to miserable New Mexico. Again, this was another preseason darling that has been flat out awful this season.
Rice got a win, and it was against Hawaii 28-14. So there's that.
UAB desperately needed a win yesterday in CUSA play, and came up big on the road at Western Kentucky in a 42-39 thriller. Bill Clark is an early coach of the year candidate in conference play for the life he has breathed into the Blazers. WKU, on the other hand, is dead last in the east at 0-2 now.
Louisiana Tech returned to life after back to back losses, and crushed UTEP 55-3. The Bulldogs are now 2-0 and leading the west, but they have to make a consistent effort every week. UTEP should start sinking like a stone any time now.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Ron Turner, FIU (Still could fall back)
Sean Kruger, UTEP (Looking for improvements, not finding many)
David Bailiff, Rice (Always survives, but is he out of lives?)

Independents

Notre Dame could very well be placing themselves in the middle of a national title hunt after beating Stanford on a late Everett Goulston TD toss to beat Stanford 17-14. The Irish are 5-0 for the second time in three seasons, and could run the table moving forward.
BYU will now begin a painful slide that began with Taysom Hill breaking his leg in a 35-20 upset loss to Utah State. The problem was that the Cougars weren't exactly playing a great game when the injury occurred. The Cougars looked  like a dark horse before, but look like an also ran now.
Navy is going to struggle to earn their 6 wins and a bowl bid after they have finished the first half of their season 2-4. That loss to Air Force was terrible because it was a loss, even worse because it was a Commander in Chief game.
Army beat Ball State, proving that a win is a win, and it sure beats the hell out of losing to Yale.

MAC

Ball State sucks in 2014. That s about all one can say. Nothing has gone right for the Cardinals, as they have now lost to Indiana State and Army, one an FCS program, and another who plays like one.
Eastern Michigan hired a new coach this season. Too bad he is still coaching like all of his predecessors. The Eagles got crushed by Akron 31-6.
Speaking of Akron, the Zips have now won two straight, but need to show me that this is consistent effort week I and out for me to totally buy in. I certainly want to.
Miami (Ohio), another MAC bottom feeder, beat off another bottom feeder to claim the scraps at the bottom of the basement by wildly rallying for a 42-41 win over U Mass. U Mass has become synonymous with blowing big leads late in games to lose.
Frank Solich has some offensive problems at Ohio, as has been evident all season. That loss to Central Michigan yesterday gave the Chippewas and embattled coach Dan Enos some life, and brought the Bobcats back to the middle of the pool.
Buffalo obviously forgot to exit the locker room after the half, as they had carried a 28-20 lead over Bowling Green in after the first half whistles had occurred.  They scored 7 the rest of the way in the loss to the Falcons, allowing BGSU sole custody of first place in the East.
Maybe Northern Illinois was looking ahead during yesterdays game against Kent State, one they easily should have won. However, Kent State had other ideas, but fell short in a 17-14 Husky win.
Toledo now has sole control of the West at 3-0 in MAC play after a hard fought 20-19 OT win over PJ Flecks improving Western Michigan Broncos. WMU may be the team to beat in 2015.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Paul Haynes, Kent State (Sooner or later, he is headed out)

Mountain West

As bad as Fresno State was early, they have now come back swinging and have worked out their issues nicely. The Bulldogs now sit alone in the West in first place after a 24-13 win over San Diego State, who falls to 2-3 overall.
Utah State was already hammering at BYU when Taysom Hill went down. USU has BYU's number in recent years, and that was the case once more. The Aggies led 28-14 at the half in the win.
Colorado State jumped out to a 28-7 lead at the half in a 42-17 win over Tulsa out of conference. Now the Rams need some conference wins as they sit tied in the cellar of the Mountain at 0-1.
Bob Davie has rallied New Mexico just a bit after beating UTSA out of conference 21-9. If a move is made by the Lobos, it has to be now, as they have already lost in conference to Fresno State.
Air Force got Troy Calhoun out of the Hot Seat and Dog House with a 30-21 win over Navy yesterday, The Falcons are now 4-1 and seem to be finding their way, but already have a conference loss to Wyoming. Still, a bowl game looks more possible.
Hawaii loses again...and again...and again. Norm Chow is now just 5-24.
San Jose State, in desperation mode, fell behind early 7-0 to UNLV, and then outscored the Rebels 33-3 the rest of the way. The Spartans stay alive in conference play, while UNLV is sinking like a stone. Bobby Hauck is done.
Nevada had control of the west, but could not put up a defensive stand against a desperate Boise State club, and the Broncos pulled the upset with an early onslaught 51-46. Nevada charged back, but their lack of defense on the night just killed them overall.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Rocky Long, San Diego State
Bob Davie, New Mexico
Off the Hot Seat
Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Norm Chow, Hawaii
Bobby Hauck, UNLV

PAC-12

We already discussed Oregon earlier in this piece, but who really thought that Arizona would be riding some freshmen into holding onto 1st in the South all alone at this point? Rich Rodriguez is proving that he can coach down in the desert. The Wildcats could very well be playing for a conference title in December.
Stanford was destined to slip this fall, but the offense has been worse than I thought it could be. I never thought it would be this bad, but the Cardinal can't score. They are out of the PAC-12 race at this point. Against ranked and PAC-12 opponents, Stanford is averaging just 14.67 points per game. Against Army and UC-Davis, they average 40.
Oregon State bounced back from their loss to USC to hold off Colorado, but these Beavers look vulnerable once conference play gets deeper. Mike Riley seems to be holding these guys together with band aids and bubble gum right about now.
Colorado has been so much improved in so many areas, but they have to start winning some of these close games. They fell to Oregon State 36-31, and fell to 0-3 in PAC-12 play. They are losing their games this fall by an average of just 9 points per game, so the Buffs aren't that far away.
Arizona State was about to fall to 1-2 in conference play, but a Jalen Strong TD catch on a hail Mary as time expired swung it the other way, and the Sun Devils survived to beat USC 38-34. The USC Trojans fell to 2-1 as well in conference play, but suffered their second loss, and like Oregon State, they look a bit vulnerable, and I do believe that they were overrated to begin with.
Utah nearly blew their second 4th quarter lead in as many weeks, and they did before heading down field to drill a game winning FG with a minute left to kill UCLA. Kyle Whittingham has the Utes in range to go bowling this fall, and they may do more than play spoiler moving forward. Replacing Tyler Wilson with Kendal Thompson was brilliant, and gave the Utes an entirely different dimension.

SEC

All hail the State of Mississippi this week, as Ole Miss took down Alabama, and Mississippi State dominated Texas A&M. Look for the Rebels and Bulldogs to move into top 5 category this week, and they are now dark horse players for an SEC title, and also to maybe crack the final 4. Crazier things have happened.
This season brought us a Florida/Tennessee game that nobody outside of those two programs gave a crap about. How often can you say that? Florida is a false 3-1, and I look for the fa├žade to crumble against tougher competition. Tennessee hasn't been worth anything in years, and they are still in a total spin. Neither team has a QB worth a damn, and it showed in a boring 10-9 Florida win.
I really bought into Derek Mason being hired at Vanderbilt as a very good thing for that program, but I am back tracking on that sentiment for now. Vandy has been putrid all season long, and their 44-17 loss to Georgia was a non-event for both schools. Todd Gurley had another huge day and now leads my balloting for the Heisman if I had to vote today (Melvin Gordon would be second).
LSU, like Stanford, was due for a slip this fall, but that slip has turned into a full fledged avalanche, with the Tigers getting brutally crushed by Auburn 41-7. Again, LSU has major QB issues, and that is killing their season, amongst other issues on defense. With the win, Auburn has firmly grabbed a spot in the final 4 as of this moment.
South Carolina's season may as well be done now. A top ten team when the season began, the Gamecocks fell to Kentucky of all people last night, and now fall to 2-3 in conference play, 3-3 overall. This was not the dream season that Spurrier and pals wished for. Kentucky is improving rapidly under the watch of Mark Stoops, and at 4-1, seems a shoe in for a bowl bid.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Butch Jones, Tennessee
Coaches off of the Hot Seat
Will Muschamp, Florida (May be back)

Sun Belt

Joey Jones and South Alabama woke up for conference play on the road with an unrelenting 47-21 win over Appalachian State. Brandon Bridge tossed 3 TDs, and USA scored 20 in the third to blow it open. The Mountaineers are now 0-2 in conference play.
UL-Monroe had a shot to take the reins in conference play this week, but the offense disappeared in a 28-14 loss to Arkansas State, handing first over to Georgia Southern, who has raced out to a 3-0 conference mark under new coach Willie Fritz after beating New Mexico State on the road.
UL-Lafayette is in full desperation mode, and barely hung on in a 34-31 win over Georgia State, who has now lost four straight. ULL is now 2-3 overall, but 1-0 in conference play.
Idaho has now fallen to 0-5 after a well fought battle on the road against Texas State. The Bobcats fought off a rally, got a massive 284 yard effort from RB Terrence Franks on 15 carries. He added 3 TDs to the effort in the win.
Coaches on the Hot Seat
Trent Miles, Georgia State
Coaches Swimming in the Dead Pool
Larry Blakeney, Troy


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