Apologies if you’ve missed this column for the last week or two – whilst we may have been otherwise distracted, College Football certainly hasn’t been. The SEC is going largely to plan, but the opening two weeks of the Big 10 has thrown up some shocks and anticipation has been building for the PAC-12 next weekend.
This week there was plenty of drama, Boston College ran Clemson close in South Carolina, Michigan fell to Michigan State in the 113th matchup between the two and Auburn blew out LSU. But other than Clemson, the other title favorites strolled to success with clinical efficiency, and Alabama did so without dropping a point.
But we start our winners section with an unbeaten team which seem to be going for strength to strength…
- Cincinnati Bearcats
A ‘small school’ has never made the CFB playoffs, but there’s one team in the AAC that’s making a case for inclusion in 2020. The Cincinnati Bearcats moved to 5-0 with a crushing win over the Memphis Tigers on Saturday, and we had the privilege of watching it as the featured early game in the UK.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder accounted for 5 TDs (three through the air, two on the ground), in what was a clinical performance. However, it was Jerome Ford who stole the show, with his nine carries translating into 116 yards and 2 TDs, including a 48 yard burst to put the cherry on the top of the 49-10 victory. Houston are up next for the Bearcats, but it’s the looming matchup with UCF in several weeks which looks set to be make or break for their season.
- Texas A&M
In their second game of the season, Alabama rolled over the Aggies with little problem. But since then, Kellen Mond and co have taken down three SEC rivals to move to 4-1. Saturday’s victory over a much improved Arkansas was the latest sign that Jimbo Fisher might finally be getting the best out of his much hyped Junior Quarterback. Indeed, the Texas native surpassed Johnny Manziel to become A&M’s leading passer in yardage at the weekend.
In a back and forth game with the Razorbacks, Mond relied on playmaking Tight End, Jalen Wydermyer as his go to receiver whilst Isaiah Spiller moved the chains in the running game. On defense Myles Jones continued to improve his draft stock, batting away two passes and making seven tackles throughout the course of the game.
With Fisher having A&M at 19-2 against unranked opponents, and a grand total of 0 ranked opponents on their schedule at present – is there anyone brave enough to say that the Aggies could still make the playoffs?
- Justin Fields
Two games into the Big10 season and you can see why so many players were adamant that they wanted to play this season. Justin Fields was always going to be a first round pick in 2021, but the suspension of the season earlier this year led to murmurings of ‘he’s only played one season’. Well, it’s fair to say two confident wins against solid opposition has shown that the former QB1 star is certainly not a one season wonder.
On Saturday, Fields went 28 of 34 and threw 4 TDs, with the pick of the bunch a beautiful back shoulder throw to Chris Olave for the second touchdown of the day. With throws consistently on time and calmness in the face of pressure, Fields looked every bit the first round pick. A favourable run of games look set to showcase that to an even wider audience in coming weeks.
- LSU Tigers
I am sure that we will hear all about this on Wednesday’s podcast but the Louisiana State University Tigers are a disaster zone at the moment.
TJ Finley threw two picks and coughed up the football on a fumble which led to 21 points, the fumble was a scoop and score and the two picks left gave Auburn great field position – When you have a defense which is giving up points in bunches, you have to have ball security. This led to Finley being benched for Max Johnson in the second half.
Unlike previous weeks and previous losses, LSU couldn’t muster any offense at all, it took the reigning champions until the 4th quarter to close a touchdown.
I know Keiran is going to have some words to say about Bo Pelini, the Tigers defensive coordinator, and with good reason.
The LSU defense played with no gap and eye discipline – they were constantly over pursuing and giving the Auburn offense all kinds of space on screens and misdirection plays, they also made Bo Nix look like prime Tim Tebow at times.
Don’t get me wrong Auburn were good but LSU made them look like world beaters out there on Saturday.
- Fans of Seeing New Teams in the College Football Playoff
We have been saying it for a couple of weeks now on the podcast but even now, as we now move in November, the college football playoff line up seems like it’s 75% locked in barring the order of the top three teams.
Boston College made it very interesting for most of their game against Clemson, but the Tigers overcame the loss of Trevor Lawrence, with DJ Uiagalelei performing admirably in his stead. Travis Etienne also came up big with a statement game of over 200 all purpose yards – Etienne was Clemson’s leading rusher and receiver on the day.
However, as usual Clemson got the W and should remain locked in to the #1 seed.
Elsewhere at the top, Alabama put on a shellacking as they shut out Mississippi State 41-0. DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris both had big games, especially Smith, who racked up 203 (!) yards receiving.
Ohio State also put up a nice win, seeing off Penn State 38-25 – This was pretty much the last chance for Ohio State to lose, given their remaining schedule.
In fact, between these three teams, the only potential loss I see for the remainder of the season is Clemson’s game against Notre Dame next week.
This means that there is only the 4th spot open for other teams, and as we discussed on last week’s podcast the folks who run the polls are cowards and it’ll be the same old story with the same old teams again. Big sad.
- Michigan Wolverines
As I always say, Michigan is bad.
They have a big name coach, they get big name recruits but do they get big time results?
Their fans gave it the big time with all the little brother jibes towards Michigan State but do you know what have to do if you give it all of the big licks..?
Otherwise you leave yourself open to some almighty comeuppance. Which the Michigan State Twitter account had lined up the whole time.
And it was glorious, and the Spartans took back the Paul Bunyan Trophy.
Michigan needs to drop out of the rankings, they need to clear house and rediscover that winning mentality, and quick!
We’re talking about a blue-blood college football programme who have been nothing but mediocre for years now.
Until that happens, even if we don’t write it and publish it, you can include Michigan in the losers column for me.