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We’ve now reached week five of the college football season, and that means it’s October! So you get out the pumpkin spice, or hot chocolate if that’s your preference. I’ll pull out all the info you need to know from this past week in college football in my weekly review.
Houston, We Have A Problem
When head coach Dana Holgorsen left West Virginia in favor of the Houston Cougars, I knew something was up. My brother and I had endless conversations about how some backdoor deal had to be in motion already for them to be coming to the Big 12. Simply put, why would he leave a Power Five school where he was ultra successful, and go to a Group of Five school if it had no plan to join a big conference?
Well, turns out we were right as evidence surfaced that Oklahoma and Texas, who are leaving for the SEC, had begun talks a few years ago. Just as the news broke, it was just fitting that Houston was one of the first schools to put a bid in to join the conference. Even if Oklahoma and Texas weren’t leaving, I still believe Houston would have been on the move, but that’s besides the point.
The point is that right now, the Cougars couldn’t be in worse form. They are 2-3 on the year, having gone to overtime in three of those games. The losses are in OT against Texas Tech and Tulane, while the other is a 48-30 stomping by the admittedly better #19 Kansas Jayhawks.
That means that they are 0-2 in games against conference foes next season, and haven’t looked great in their wins, either. Not saying Holgorsen is on the hot seat, but if they go into season one of the Big 12 and look terrible, then it may be panic mode. Especially because with the new Power Five designation, and elite high schools such as North Shore and Katy in their backyard, the program could reach heights seen in the 1970s. A bad coach shouldn’t have to slow them down.
All Bark, No Bite
After a lot of thought, and going over what I had seen from the likes of North Carolina State and the Utah Utes, I decided to rank the Washington Huskies inside my top 10. This was mostly because of the way they dismantled their past two opponents, Michigan State and Stanford.
However, just as they had put the beating on the other two squads, the favor was brutally returned on Friday night. The Huskies got the early 7-0 lead, and even stuffed UCLA inside the 10 yard line on their first drive. Then momentum shifted and the Huskies turned a toss play into a safety. That right there got UCLA going and opened the floodgates early.
Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. had his worst game as a Husky, turning into the turnover machine that he was at Indiana last season. Not all is lost for them as the PAC-12 is wide open. The plus is that UCLA isn’t in the same division, so that 40-32 loss isn’t a killer. Another conference slip up may be the nail in the coffin in their PAC-12 title hopes.
I can do the average complaining about missed or bad calls made in football games, while also understanding the possibility of human error. What I saw Saturday afternoon in the Oklahoma Sooners and TCU Horned Frogs game was beyond the realm of simple mistakes, but more so embarrassing for the officiating crew.
When a head coach calls a timeout during a stoppage in play just to rip you a new one, you must have really messed up. That’s exactly what TCU head coach Sonny Dykes did, referencing a blatant pass interference call that went unnoticed, that also could have been targeting. To make matters worse, on the next change of possession when the Horned Frogs got the ball back, the refs blew the play dead on a non-existent fair catch signal. Like they say on the Monday Night Countdown, “C’mon man!”
This year the Kentucky Wildcats have been one of the surprise teams in the country. Even though they just suffered their first loss on Saturday to the #9 Ole Miss Rebels, they have two players on the defensive side of the ball that have caught my eye. They are cornerback Keidron Smith and outside linebacker Jordan Turner. Both have made tons of plays this year that have been essential to this run the Wildcats have been on.
Turner is extremely athletic off the edge, and just adds to the lineage of Kentucky edge defenders like Bud Dupree and Josh Allen who excelled in Lexington on their way to NFL. If all goes according to plan, Turner will be a first round pick. Dupree was a first rounder in 2015, Allen was in 2019, so it’s fitting to follow the pattern of every four years in 2023 that Turner will be one as well.
Smith doesn’t have the best stats, but I’ve just seen his jersey all over the field when the ball is in the air. As a player on the outside looking in for the NFL Draft, he has to be picking up steam. If I’m at home able to notice he is making plays, so should the scouts.
Knuckle Up And Buckle Up
Last year before the season, I wrote a piece on the offensive firepower that TCU has. Scratch off running back Zach Evans who is now at Ole Miss, but the rest of the analysis remains intact. Under Dykes, quarterback Max Duggan has completely evolved into the dual threat that I envisioned him being. The ground game with Kendre Miller is a problem to stop, and once elite receiver Quentin Johnston gets rollin’…Sheesh.
UFC 280 Ryan Day vs. Greg Schiano
There’s no beating around the bush when saying that the Rutgers Scarlet Knights play-calling when going against the Ohio State Buckeyes is anything but straightforward. They’ll try fake punts and onside kicks on special teams, then throwback screens and double passes on offense. Schiano knows the only way to beat Ohio State is to try and confuse them and be one step ahead.
On Saturday, his plan backfired as his Rutgers squad got trounced, 49-10. It would have been even worse if Emeka Egbuka didn’t muff the opening punt and hand the Scarlet Knights the ball way into plus territory. The biggest headline from this game came well into the fourth quarter with the game already in hand.
Rutgers brought the house on the right side to try and block Jesse Mirco’s punt, and got burned by doing it. As Mirco looked up to see his target, there wasn’t a soul around. Seeing this as his golden opportunity, he took off and picked up 22 yards plus the first down.
The issue is that return man, Aron Cruickshank, took offense to it and destroyed Mirco after he had taken multiple steps out of bounds. This caused quite the commotion as both coaching staffs got fired up, seeing Schiano come all the way across the field to get into the exchange. If you are even a novice lip reader, you could see that Day was very displeased with the events, going ballistic on Schiano, who was also visibly angry himself.
All I wonder is if somewhere in one of Marvel’s gazillion universes, do these two gentlemen throw hands? If so, who comes out on top?
Liberty Mutually Ridiculous Catches
If the Liberty Flames were ranked like they were the last few years with Malik Willis, then maybe the pair of catches I saw on Twitter would be picking up more steam. Jaivian Lofton tried to do his best Odell Beckham Jr. replication, and made a wild one handed grab in the end zone to put the Flames up 7-0. Minutes later, CJ Yarbrough pulled a Franco Harris and recreated the immaculate reception, hauling in what should have been an interception on his way to the end zone.
I have no idea how the rest of the game would have lived up to those incredible plays in the first eight minutes of the game. If I was an Old Dominion fan, who were on the wrong side of greatness here, I would have just bounced right after that. Ironically, those two highlight plays were the difference in the 38-24 Flames victory.
Unlike Stephen F. Austin, who I called savages last week for running up the score on NAIA Warner, Syracuse took a more civil approach. In a mutual agreement between coaches, the teams decided to play a shortened second half, consisting of 10, not 15 minute quarters. Being up 49-0 at the break, it is wise to limit the injuries to both squads and condense the game.
I’ve never seen this happen in the past, but will now be on the lookout for it. Those that don’t suggest it in future blowouts, I’ll just assume that the coach has poor sportsmanship. The blueprint is there so let’s make it happen more often.