The College Quickie: What an “Off Weekend”

Remember last week when we all looked at this weekend’ schedule and thought what a boring weekend this would be? That was stupid. Has there been a better weekend so far this season in college football? Probably not.[insert standard line here about playoff devaluing the regular season.] First, R.I.P. Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon. You aren’t dead, and your bank accounts won’t be dead for a long time, but the end has come for you two at Michigan. It was a decent run while it lasted, but to be honest, it’s time for both of y’all to leave. I don’t know who your replacements will be, but they have a serious mess to clean up. Oh, and Mark Dantonio: "I can only be diplomatic for so long..." Now that we’ve got the sadness out of the way, let’s talk about the important things in life. That’s right, Bert had a fat man throw a touchdown pass. I’m 32, and I’m almost positive I’ve never seen that in my life, and I’m positive no one at UAB saw it either, which explains the absolute look of confusion on their faces when it happened. I don’t suggest Arkansas run this play often, but it was fun and cute, and it got you to the top of the College Quickie. That may not seem important now, but it’s certainly a feather to keep in your cap.

When You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

How’s that saying go, when you don’t have anything nice to say talk about the Big Ten? Right, thought so. Anyway, Rutgers and Maryland…are bad. But, so is Indiana and Iowa. Yearly. And you can probably sneak Illinois and Minnesota in there, even though the latter two are playing very well this year. Maryland’s conference wins are against Indiana and Iowa, who aren’t really awesome at football, but wins are wins; and Rutgers’ conference win is against Michigan. See above about Michigan. Before we pass judgment on either consider this, Maryland is 5-3 (2-2 Big Ten) after being waxed by Wisconsin 52-7, and Rutgers is 5-3 (1-3) after being slightly less embarrassed by Nebraska 42-24. Both teams have winning records. Are some of the their wins against less than quality opponents, sure, but who plays the cream of the crop every week in the Big Ten? They’re new, and this “brand of football” is different. Remember when Missouri and Texas A&M went to the SEC and everyone thought they’d be terrible in their first year? Missouri was less than stellar, and A&M was awesome. They’ve since flipped, and the cycle continues. The point is, time and patience. Maryland and Rutgers will get better at Big Ten football, or they won’t and they’ll be like Iowa and Indiana. Remember, this is all about the student-athletes ($$$).

What Did Hugh Do? I’m not sure what Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze was thinking in Death Valley, but not kicking the field goal was the wrong choice. I don’t know if your Wunderlich kid is a good, bad, or average kicker, but he’s certainly better than trying to pass for 28-yards when you only need 7 on 3rd and 7. It was a poor choice, and there’s little explanation that works here. Aside from Freeze looking bad, neither LSU’s Anthony Jennings nor Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace looked good. Jennings and LSU had four turnovers and what felt like five other near turnovers, and Wallace escaped with only one interception when there was a potential to have three or better. What does Ole Miss lose here: probably not much? A few spots in the AP poll, but at the end of the day, we know how difficult it is to play at LSU at night. The Rebels have Auburn at home next Saturday, and have #1 Mississippi State also at home in the Egg Bowl on November 29. Ole Miss still has a good shot at making the playoff, but they’ll certainly need to make better decisions than the ones they did last night. What helps Ole Miss here is that they’re playing close games or losing to ranked teams. I’m not sure if LSU is ranked in the right spot, but if you’re an Ole Miss fan there are lots of good takeaways from last night’s loss. LSU fans have to be significantly happy with their defense, and also happy to know that Les Miles still has a horseshoe firmly implanted in his ass. This game was nothing more than highly entertaining. Hugh Freeze probably cost his team a chance at the first playoff, and Les Mile’s “damn strong football team” once again showed why it’s so hard to win in Baton Rouge at night.

Happy Endings in Happy Valley

I won’t lie, that what I expected. I really thought Ohio State had turned the corner, and I thought last night’s game against Penn State would be their coming out party. It wasn’t. They survived, and they’ll advance, and that’s all that matters in life, but their chances of making the playoff are significantly diminished if not completely gone. Penn State was no slouch last night, and J.T. Barrett showed how freshman act in front of 107,000 crazy people all wearing white. It was probably a scary place to be. I’m not really sure why Ohio State stopped scoring, but to allow 24 unanswered to points to Penn State and then going to overtime was mindboggling. I’m not going to gloss over the questionable officiating either. John O’Neill is a good referee, but his crew and replay official did him no favors last night. Remember, in college football the replay official is the final authority not the referee, which is still crazy. Three plays stick out in my mind. The first is Von Bell’s interception in the first quarter. It wasn’t an interception. Getting these plays right in real-time is very difficult, so I don’t fault the officials for not seeing it live, but for a number of poorly explained reasons, O’Neill and replay official Tom Fielder said they didn’t have enough feeds to overturn the call (transcript at end of this section). If true, that’s terrible. If we can see it on television, then why don’t the replay officials have access to it? It’s the same issue the professional sports leagues went through, and in 2014 it’s shittastic that the Big Ten can’t figure this out. Secondly, delay of game. Now this is a bit trickier. I’ve never refereed football, so I’m not exactly sure of the mechanics here, but I obviously what we see on television isn’t official. It’s synced electronically (sometimes) from the in-house scoreboard. The back judge is responsible for the game and play clocks in college football. I don’t know if his view was obscured in this case or if he got it wrong. If obfuscation, then move the clocks. If he’s just bad, replace him. The third, and probably fourth problems happened in the fourth quarter when the officials awarded both Penn State then Ohio State timeouts they didn’t ask for. In that case the officials anticipated the awarding of the timeouts by both coaches even though neither coach actually asked for the timeout. I can only speak to basketball, but once those timeouts are awarded you’re stuck. All-in-all, the officials in this game did not have a great day. The fourth quarter of that game was some of the worst football I’ve seen in weeks. And yes, the Big Ten is bad, so the standard is lowered, but neither team looked great for the “final” 15 minutes. If Ohio State gives game balls to anyone it should go to first Joey Bosa, who I think should run for Governor right now, and then Ohio State’s offensive line. It appears that without both Ohio State probably loses this game. And Bosa: Ohio State’s next big test comes against Michigan State in two weeks. If they play like they did last night, they’ll lose by 20. More importantly, I’ll owe Nick Markijohn a case of “Disani.”

West Coast Madness

I'm not ignoring the craziness of Utah beating USC last night, and yes - Utah fans stormed the field after the game. It was also highly entertaining. Steve Sarkisian decided to go for it on 4th and 2, and obviously didn't convert. He finishes second to Hugh Freeze in the 'I made a really poor coaching decision' game today. Tim Beckman up there also, although he has an excuse: he hasn't had to make any tough decisions in a really long time.