With one more week of college football gone, another weekend of large middle-aged men in undersized jerseys yelling at 18- to 22-year-olds on a screen is in the past. Let us look back on another day of near-upsets, fan reactions, and schadenfreude.
Notre Dame dodged a major bullet, but absorbed a crushing injury in a nail-biter in Charlottesville. To-be star quarterback Malik Zaire fractured his ankle, but backup Deshone Kizer filled in marvelously, capping off a last-second comeback with a Hail Mary to stick a dagger in the hearts of Hoo fans. And yes, more than anyone else, there was this guy. Sorry Hoos, I couldn’t resist. Especially after all the talk you’ve been giving us in basketball the last two years (P.S. How’s that Michigan State matchup looking?).
Auburn nearly bowed out to FCS opponent Jacksonville State, but the overtime heroics of Tigers’ running back Peyton Barber saved us from the Alabaman internet forums being set ablaze. In the meantime, this loss established JVSU as Jacksonville’s official team, leaving the Jaguars behind in a distant second that no one wants to come near.
Arkansas fans were sent for a jolt in Little Rock, as visiting Toledo took it to the hosting Hogs and dealt them one of the most embarrassing losses in program history. Hogs Head Coach Bret Bielema was thrust under the spotlight immediately afterward, coming under fire for his comment earlier in the week that “Ohio State has one game remaining with a ranked opponent. We have eight remaining against teams that are ranked.” Mocking chants of “S-E-C” are sure to follow Coach Bielema for the rest of eternity. We get it, Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn, Steve Spurrier and the rest of you Southeastern Conference cronies. You’re planning your next move to reign dominance over the landscape of college football and move “SEC Football and Grill” right next to “Netflix and Chill” in the dictionary of the idiomatic pop culture dilettante. But please, reign in your dogs from time to time. Urban Meyer is laughing as he reads this.
The Oregon-Michigan State game had everything we wanted: the national powerhouses, the high-strung offenses, and of course, the chic uniforms. But after a day of shanked footballs and otherwise disappointing play, the Ducks and Spartans put on a show of aerial attacks, stout defense when it mattered, and a showdown between two of the more entertaining mascots in college sports (seriously, a dancing Spartan and a Fighting Duck; it doesn’t get better than that). We can only hope these two programs manage to go unblemished for the rest of the season, meet again in the postseason, and end the rule of the Evil Empire in Columbus, Ohio.
Triangle Football Dominance:
As a native of the region, I have to pick a side. Even though I bleed Carolina Blue, I take immense pride that our three teams, NC State, Duke, and Carolina, combined to outscore their opponents 143-14. That’s some Seahawks versus Broncos shit right there. With high hopes for each of the Triangle teams, there can only be bitter, bitter disappointment come November (or October, let us off the hook early this year). But for now, let’s take pride in the collective stomping of North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, and Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. That should be enough to get me through the inevitable beatdown us Tar Heels will get in Atlanta against Georgia Tech on October 3. 8-5, here we come!
Previewing next week’s games based on popcorn level (1-10):
#1 The Ohio State vs Northern Illinois
Popcorn Level: 1
Seriously, there’s nothing here to see. Just another good ol’ fashioned beatdown at the hands of the Buckeyes, where the 77 million NFL quarterbacks they have on the roster morph into a hydra to torch the poor Huskies by an ungodly score. Coach Urban Meyer can sit pretty until the heart of Big 10 season, where the only perceived threat is Michigan State (Sorry Harbaugh).
FINAL SCORE: The Ohio State 45, Northern Illinois 6
#18 Auburn vs #13 LSU
Popcorn Level: 4
Ah, the classic Tiger brawl. Honestly, Auburn shouldn’t even be in the rankings currently. Surviving in OT against paltry opposition, no, Sisters of the Poor, counts as a loss in every single measure except the actual W/L column. Leonard Fournette is about to go beast mode on this two-bit team, and Gus Malzahn will be mourning for the days where he had an actual quarterback. Not much heart-pounding action here, folks.
FINAL SCORE: LSU 38, Auburn 13
#8 Notre Dame vs #14 Georgia Tech
Popcorn Level: 8
OK, here we go. Notre Dame figures to be out-of-sorts following the confirmed departure of QB Malik Zaire for the season, but don’t sleep on Deshone Kizer of the last-second scramble and bomb for a win against UVA. However, the Yellow Jackets’ triple option will pose too much of a hurdle to overcome for a recuperating Fighting Irish squad. Brian Kelly’s boys will stay neck and neck, but in the end, too much running from Tech will seal this one.
FINAL SCORE: Georgia Tech 42, Notre Dame 38