College Football Recap: The Reverse Jinx and the Return of Coach O
Yeah, it's college football, and even ho-hum college football is still better than 80 percent of what sports has to offer. And yeah, we have the usual tasty controversy brewing with four undefeated teams going for two championship game slots. And yeah, well, Johnny Football!
But by and large, this is a season long on blowouts and short on signature moments. I mean, those four undefeated teams (Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor) are a combined 39-0 and have played in a mere combined two games that finished with a single-digit margin of victory. Blowouts galore.
I haven't had many "sit in front of the television and watch games" Saturdays this season either, so maybe my frustration with the lack of drama boiled over, but as another Saturday ripe with walkovers was in full swing this past weekend, around 5:30 p.m. Houston time, I tweeted this:
I love college football, but today's games are testing that love. Garbage slate so far.— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) November 16, 2013
And then a funny thing happened. Actually, a few funny things happened. First, this:
And while Michigan and Northwestern were banging out three overtimes on the Big Ten Network, over on CBS, there was this:
And finally, out west, the night was capped off with this:
Apparently, the Saturday in college football just needed some "toughening up," and I was Richie Incognito! I bullied the afternoon into being compelling! Don't mess with me, college football!
Okay, let's take a look at where we are now heading into the home stretch and let's do it "4 Winners, 4 Losers" style:
4. BCS "Control Your Own Destiny" Club
The BCS Title Game is obviously the sweet nectar, and right now that one is easy -- Alabama and Florida State win out, and they will both go to Pasadena to play for all the marbles.
As for berths in the other four BCS bowl games (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta), here are the teams that still control their own destiny for the big pay day (NOTE: With a third loss last week, independent Notre Dame is now out of the mix, and the non-AQ schools may need help to get their automatic berth, more on this below.):
SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Missouri
ACC: Florida State, Duke
Big Ten: Ohio State, Michigan State
Big 12: Baylor, Oklahoma State
Pac-12: Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA
Duke! Props to David Cutcliffe! Is it ok for me to like Duke football and despise Duke basketball? Just pretend they're not the same school, right?
3. University of Texas
I know what you're saying -- "Wait, Sean! How can Texas be a 'winner' this week? They lost their membership in the 'Control Your Own Destiny' Club this weekend, and did so in grand fashion, with the worst home loss of the Mack Brown Era to Oklahoma State!" And you would be partially right. But this assessment isn't about this weekend, it's a bigger picture assessment. A lot of T-sips are angry that Mack Brown has decided to stay around longer than he should have. In retrospect, leaving after 2009 would've kept his legacy totally intact, and leaving after 2010 was probably the right thing to do. However, if Mack had left after 2010, you'd be in the middle of the Will Muschamp Era, Texas. Ask Florida how that's going. Mack will be done after this year, and Texas will have a new head coach -- a new head coach a whole lot better than the 2013 version of Mack Brown. And better than any version of Will Muschamp.
2. Eddie O (and Cajun restaurants in Los Angeles
I think we can all agree that life is better when USC interim coach Ed Orgeron is part of it, and if you disagree, may I direct you to this ad for a Mississippi Hummer dealership when Coach O was the head man in Oxford almost a decade ago:
Now, Orgeron is trying to do the seemingly impossible -- take a group of kids recruited by Lane Kiffin, a group of kids whose will to play college football had seemingly been squelched by Kiffin, and lead them to the Rose Bowl, and then in turn land the USC job permanently.
When Orgeron was fired by Ole Miss after 2007, the odds on him landing the USC head coaching job someday would have been somewhere around 1,000,000,000,000,000/1. Now, he may not be the favorite, but he's certainly a dark horse, he's the favorite of the players, and according to many close to him, a different and better head coach than he was seven years ago.
Let me say that, as a graduate of one of USC's primary rivals, I will take my chances that there's still plenty of the old "10-25 in three seasons at Ole Miss" Coach O still rattling around inside the big Cajun. Haden, HIRE THIS MAN!
1. Aaron Murray
As Georgia was trailing Auburn 37-17 early in the fourth quarter on Saturday, the Aaron Murray tweets were flying, and the general consensus on Twitter (which is a solid referendum for public sentiment if you can wade through the gigabytes of trolling, bullying, and general web meanness) was that Murray will be the next generation's Matt Schaub -- third roundish pick, just good enough to consistently tease a team into paying him millions, but not good enough to win.
This season has helped further that image, although the injuries around him have certainly had a major impact. On Saturday, though, down 20 on the road, Murray brought the Bulldogs all the way back. He did it with a 76 yard drive, a 56 yard drive, and then finishing the go ahead drive with as tough a run as you'll see, putting his head down and barreling into the end zone (a play, for the record, that would split Schaub in two if he attempted it). If Georgia's defense just knocks down the 4th and 18 pass that turned into the winning touchdown, we are talking about a redefining win for Murray, a moment where he picked his team up, raised them to a higher place, and saved their season. As it was, he still drove them to a second chance at redemption, but ran out of time.
Yes, on the ledger, it was another close loss, but Aaron Murray got some "Stone Cold passing out in a pool of his own blood at Wrestlemania 13" respect from me on Saturday. Unfortunately, there are no moral victories for....