If last week’s Alabama/Texas A&M-led bonanza was the biggest rager of the college football season, this week was the hangover. Three teams that field scholarship athletes who presumably know how to play football lost by scores of 63, 72 and 76*. Other teams struggled where they should have steamrolled in Notre Dame, Michigan and arguably Georgia. Even ‘Bama and A&M even seemed a little punch drunk only beating Colorado State and SMU by a combined score of 54. I’m not joking: that’s kind of a disappointment.
Going into Saturday, Auburn at LSU was a quietly trendy pick for game of the week. And despite looking like a LSU blowout early, Auburn battled back to keep the score a respectable 35-21. In many ways it was a microcosm of the week. All in all, a fine game but not a surprise nor a blockbuster. After last year’s disaster, Gus Malzahn deserves all the credit in the world for getting Auburn to 3 and 0 before LSU and even more credit for leaving Louisiana without any fatalities. LSU, on the other hand, is feeling pretty under the radar for a team that will likely yawn all the way to Alabama in week 11…unless Georgia wakes the hell up next week**.
Slightly boring week fours are just a byproduct of the necessary mechanics of college football. Not every Saturday can have a handful of marquee, out of conference match-ups. And one week has to draw the short straw of being right before conference play begins where regional rivalries and shared histories can suddenly turn even Toledo-Bowling Green into the most fascinating thing you’ve ever seen.
The best anyone can hope for out of conference punching bag weekend is that one of the punching bags gets to punch back. We almost had it last week with Akron-Michigan and this week with UConn…Michigan. At least we’ll always have week one 2013 college football season. And more importantly: at least no one got hurt. What’s that? Jeff who? Driskel? Broken right leg? Out for the year? Nevermind.
There was one bright spot, however. Without a barnburner of a game to distract them, ESPN and the rest of the sports media actually acknowledged a subtle act of civil disobedience from a handful of players. Players from Georgia Tech, Georgia and Northwestern took the field with the text “APU – All Players United” displayed on their jerseys to protest the many sins of the NCAA.
The players have been conference calling about it since before the season began but the timing this week was fortuitous on the heels of the Oklahoma State story and Arian Foster’s admission that he accepted payments at Tennessee. If this were the NFL, it would be a fines bonanza for everyone involved but the NCAA would actually have to pay the players in the first place to be able to fine them.
— The Jared Lorenzen Memorial Brass Balls of the Week Award goes to: Hunter Stover, Louisiana-Lafayette’s kicker. At some point as he was running up to the tee on a kick-off, the following thought must have crossed his mind. “Wait? Why am I giving Akron the ball? F*ck those guys. Seriously.”
— So how did Lincoln treat Bo Pelini now that they know that he is a contemptuous, petulant megalomaniac? Pretty much the same way they treated him when they only assumed he was a contemptuous, petulant megalomaniac, it turns out. Nebraska rolled even without Taylor Martinez***.
— What on Earth is going on in Ann Arbor? The best that can be said about Michigan’s 24-21 win against UConn is that UConn isn’t Akron. Brady Hoke is still clearly the best man for the job and has been the necessary palette cleanser after the sh*tsandwich that was the RichRod years, but at some point the Maize and Blue has to rack up some good old fashioned blowouts.
— Maryland, despite opening with an absolutely atrocious schedule, might be an interesting pick as a giant-killer once conference play opens. Their defense is starting to look preeeety stingy. Florida State can’t be thrilled that they face a defense that held a Big 12 QB to 62 yards passing on 22 attempts next week. And that’s not even mentioning the possibility that the Seminoles just fall to the ground, weeping in joyous praise that they didn’t have to face the glory of the Terps’ new “waving flag” helmets.
— More on Jeff Driskel: there is very little evidence to the support the fact that Driskel is/was any good. Sure, he was the top-ranked QB in the 2011 recruiting class and sure, his bizarre infant-like face is probably good for one dropped interception a game but his stats are completely pedestrian. And more importantly there was a noticeable momentum swing when back-up Tyler Murphy entered the game, this play withstanding:
Admittedly, that probably had plenty to do with Tennessee’s lack of preparation for Murphy and just general incompetence, but if Florida can’t find a way to replace a QB who threw for 477 yards through the first three games of the season, then it wasn’t destined to stick around the Top 25, Driskel or no.
— One of the very few (and I mean very few) admirable traits about Ohio State fans has been their ability to love Kenny Guiton as a back-up QB without starting any sort of nonsense push for him to become a starter. But every fanbase has their breaking point and Guiton must be pushing the Buckeye faithful to theirs. The dude has delivered every time he’s been on the field. Game-winning drive against Purdue last year and now a six-touchdowns half…HALF this year? Ridiculous.
Braxton Miller, pre-season Heisman candidate or no, has got to get his ass back to the field soon before Buckeye fans give into their sports talk radio instincts and start the slow Needless QB Controversy Death March*.
— Going into the season it was clear that Oregon and Stanford were the toast of the Pac-12 in some order with a whole pack clamoring for the ceremonial “might-sneak-in-to-the-championship-game-when-Oregon-and-Stanford-beat-each-other-spot.” Arizona State seemed like a logical choice even before the Wisconsin game that God clearly wanted them to win but after stepping up to Stanford without utterly melting down, they’re an even more viable candidate. State’s biggest threat, UCLA, may have straight-up brutalized New Mexico State today but they still have a date with both Stanford AND Oregon. If both teams can minimize the Stanford/Oregon damage, the Arizona State/UCLA match-up in late November could be an audition for the Pac-12 championship.
— Kudos to Georgia Tech sophomore Nick Selby for single-handedly willing the Yellow Jackets to victory over UNC through the brilliance of his convocation speech. IF YOU WANNA BEAT THE TAR HEELS LIKE A BADASS! YOU’RE AT GEORGIA TECH! YOU CAN DO THAT! (Yes the video is like 80 years old in Internet years but it needs to be seen).
* — Baylor 70, Louisiana-Monroe 7; Louisville 72, Florida International 0; Ohio State 76, Florida A&M 0
*** — Is it just me or does it seem like Taylor Martinez has been an NCAA QB for eight years?
**** — A sizable portion of OSU’s fans are Browns fans after all.