This week may not have reached the heights of the last two, there’s still plenty to talk about. A coach came into the game and threw the winning touchdown pass, and it wasn’t even the craziest thing to happen in his own conference. So before we get into it, here’s a quick reminder of how this all works:
Game of the Week: The game that was the most fun to watch that week. Importance could be a factor, but it isn’t necessary to qualify.
Most Important Game of the Week: The game that had the biggest impact on the playoff race or the college football landscape as a whole.
Drunkest Game of the Week: The game that scrambled your brain just watching. A drunk game is full of chaos, but not the good kind. As the name implies, it’s a game where it wouldn’t be a shock to find out everyone involved chugged a fifth of Admiral Nelson’s beforehand.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: The result that makes less and less sense the more you look at it. This is a celebration of the random, outlier games that we look back on later in the year in awe.
Saddest Game of the Week: The game that just made you feel sad watching. Usually a blowout, either of a team that came in full of hope or one that has already been dead for a while.
Hype Killer of the Week: The game where one bandwagon comes to a screeching halt. The game where a team that looked like a future college football darling crashed back down to Earth.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: The game that pushed a coach’s job security into the danger zone because coach search season never ends. It’s usually about the coach of the losing team, but that’s not always the case.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: The opposite of the seat-warmer, this is the game that will let the winning coach sleep a little more soundly at night. At least for now.
Your Future Coach: A new category where I look at a game involving an up-and-coming G5 coach that probably won’t be sticking around very long. If your team is ever in the Seat Warmer section, this one is for you.
Dealer’s Choice of the Week: The game that I just feel like talking about. It could be because it was especially fun, or stupid, or just because I want to make fun of a team I don’t like. It’s more of a catch-all category than anything.
All caught up? Good, let’s go.
Game of the Week: South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt
Let this be proof that I will deliver the honest truth about the games each week, no matter how I feel about it. Because I don’t want to even acknowledge that this game existed. Watching my team struggle to beat one of the worst teams in the nation caused me nothing but pain. All that aside, this was the best game of the week. It featured a genuine storybook ending, with coach turned backup quarterback Zebuliah Noland coming in and bailing out the Gamecocks at the last minute. It’s yet another example of why college football is amazing. All of the money that was being set aside for the McKenzie Milton movie should be sent over to the Zeb movie immediately.
Most Important Game of the Week: Oklahoma State vs. Texas
All things considered, there weren’t many consequential games this week. Even this game will most likely end up not mattering. It gives Oklahoma State a relatively clear path to Bedlam, but they won’t win. But this week, that’s enough to qualify. Texas is decidedly not back, blowing yet another big lead because of a bad passing game and an undisciplined defense. If this game was your first time watching Oklahoma State in a few years, you were probably shocked at what you saw. The Cowboys have sneakily turned into a Big 10 team, focusing on running the football and playing great defense. It’s made them one of the most consistent teams in the country, even if it won’t win them any championships.
Drunkest Game of the Week: Tennessee vs. Ole Miss
You already know why this is here. In case you somehow missed it, the end of this game was delayed for about 20 minutes because Tennessee fans, upset at what they thought was a bad spot on a 4th down attempt (it wasn’t), threw myriad projectiles onto the field and at the Ole Miss players. Water bottles, vape pens, and golf balls rained down on the Rebels, although the stray mustard was the clear star of the show. As you can imagine, everybody had an opinion, but most missed the mark. The truth, as it often does, lies somewhere in the middle. First, let me state the obvious: this was bad. It’s unacceptable behavior that should not be tolerated and could have seriously hurt someone. The key word there is could. Despite how many Monday morning think pieces portrayed it, the incident wasn’t some Hillsborough level disaster that shook the sports world. Everyone was fine, so ultimately no harm no foul. And as much as I would love to dunk on the Tennessee fan base, the truth is this could’ve happened anywhere. In fact, it basically has. When I was a sophomore at South Carolina, a few drunk idiots threw water bottles at Clemson players. It didn’t escalate to the same level because the police at Williams-Brice don’t mess around and got things under control. What happened at Neyland was an issue of crowd control more than anything else. It’s not an indictment of Tennessee fans, it’s an indictment of all of us fans. College football fans in particular (myself included) grow attached to our teams in extremely unhealthy ways. For many, it’s only a matter of time before this passion is expressed through violence. Dari Nowkhah was spot on when he said after the game that a lot of fans needed to reevaluate their priorities, but that goes for all of us.
With all that serious stuff being said, this ending will go down as one of the funniest moments in college football history.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: Louisiana-Monroe vs. Liberty
This is an all-time great head-scratcher. ULM was a 32.5-point underdog, meaning they pulled off the biggest upset since the Howard Bison beat UNLV in the largest upset ever back in 2017. Liberty had absolutely no offense outside of Malik Willis, who accounted for 292 of the team’s 386 yards. That’s 75 percent! I don’t have much to say about this game because it just makes so little sense. But at least now there are some legitimate on-field reasons for desperate P5 schools to not hire Hugh Freeze to go along with all the off-field ones.
Saddest Game of the Week: Arizona vs. Colorado
It hasn’t been that long since Arizona was good. They won their division and played in the Fiesta Bowl just 7 years ago. Since then, the Wildcats have absolutely cratered. Colorado was their last decent chance to get a win this season, but they weren’t even competitive. Arizona hasn’t won a football game in 746 days and shows no signs of getting better. They followed up the disastrous Kevin Sumlin experiment with one of the most uninspiring hires in recent memory when they brought Jedd Fisch in from the NFL. Fisch has no ties to Arizona and very limited college experience. Perhaps worst of all, he’s one of the sport’s most notorious job hoppers. He’s stayed with one team for more than three seasons one single time. Arizona is his 15th team in his 24-year career. These are the kind of facts that get you eaten alive in recruiting. How are you going to convince someone to commit four years of their life to you when you’ve never done the same? So with all this working against him, why did Arizona go with Fisch? Much more successful coaches like Brent Brennan from San Jose State and Ken Niumatalolo from Navy were supposedly very interested. Why Fisch? Well, he just so happens to be good buddies with Robert Robbins, the president of the University of Arizona. Cronyism is common in college sports, but this hire sticks out as especially egregious. I feel sad for Arizona fans because the root of their problems is at the institutional level. Anything can happen, but the future looks bleak for Arizona football.
Hype Killer of the Week: Purdue vs. Iowa
It’s safe to say a lot of people saw this coming. Iowa was testing the limits of how much a team could be carried by a defense, and they finally fell over the edge. Their offense has been downright putrid, but up to this point that’s been okay. They’ve constantly been working with a short field thanks to the defense racking up a bonkers number of interceptions, which masked a lot of issues. Problem is, Purdue didn’t throw any on Saturday, meaning this lack of production couldn’t be overcome. Iowa is one of the best teams in the nation when it comes to dictating the game. The problem is that when they get dragged into a track meet or are forced to play from behind, they are completely helpless. At least we don’t have to worry about watching them in the playoffs now.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: Nebraska vs. Minnesota
Over the last few weeks, college football Twitter has reluctantly acknowledged that Nebraska is a pretty good team that’s suffered from a tough schedule. This was not one of those tough games. Minnesota’s 4-2 record is very deceiving. They struggled to put away Miami of Ohio and lost at home to Bowling Green. To add injury to insult, they lost their star player, Mohamed Ibrahim, in the first game of the season. Nebraska could not afford to lose this game. But as they have so many times in the Scott Frost era, they found a way to do just that. Bowl eligibility looks like a distant dream for the Cornhuskers this year. Scott Frost threw away all of the goodwill he’s been building since the embarrassing loss to Illinois when he lost the internet’s favorite rivalry. Barring a miracle upset, Frost has worked his way firmly back onto the hot seat.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion
Oh boy. This was originally going to be LSU vs. Florida. I had all the notes written out and was ready to go, and then…
Thanks a lot, LSU. This move really isn’t surprising though. Things in Baton Rouge have been trending downwards ever since the championship win in 2019, and the administration surely wanted to avoid another Les Miles situation (maybe in more ways than one). So instead, let’s go to the opposite end of the CFB spectrum and talk about Western Kentucky’s win over Old Dominion. WKU had a quietly great decade in the 2010s. Head coach Tyson Helton helped close that out by going 9-4 in 2019, his first season there. Since then, the Hilltoppers have been on a steady decline. They entered last week 1-4, desperately needing a win, and they got a big one. Yes, ODU is flaming garbage, but it could be a get-right game for Helton. The strategy of importing an entire offense is obviously working, and the second half of the schedule is exponentially easier, so this was a big-time win for Helton.
Your Future Coach: UAB vs. Southern Miss
Bill Clark at UAB is the best coach you’ve never heard of. What he’s done there is nothing short of a miracle. Before he started in 2014, the Blazers had three winning seasons. He’s now two wins away from clinching his fifth winning season in a row. He’s won two C-USA championships and played in a third. That would be impressive on its own, but there’s a whole other story here. After Clark finished his first season in 2014, the president of UAB announced that they would be disbanding the football program. It was dead. 72 players left the team. The board of trustees had decided that it wasn’t financially sustainable to play football. To say that the BOT and UAB football have a history would be an understatement. If you didn’t already know, UAB is a part of the University of Alabama system. This means that the bigwigs in Tuscaloosa have the final say on everything back in Birmingham. In 2006, this relationship went South. After firing Watson Brown, the Blazers were all set to promote offensive coordinator Pat Sullivan, when the BOT blocked it. An odd move, but nothing earth-shattering. So they moved on and came to a hand-shake agreement with another southern offensive coordinator: a guy named Jimbo Fisher. But, out of nowhere, the board tells them no. You know what happens next. Fisher went on to win a national championship at Florida State, while UAB closed everything down. Nobody knows for sure why all of this went down. Some speculate that it was the result of an old beef between basketball coaches, others believe it was because Fisher was still a candidate for the open OC job in Tuscaloosa. Thanks to a dedicated fanbase, UAB football raised enough money to resume playing in 2017, with Clark still at the helm. All of this was just a long way to say that UAB football does not get much institutional support, but they win championships anyways. So if you root for a southern school that doesn’t care about football (hey there Miami), keep Clark on your radar.
Dealer’s Choice of the Week: Baylor vs. BYU
The Jeff Grimes Bowl ended up as a win for the Baylor Bears and, due to a very odd bowl contract, clinched BYU’s trip to beautiful Shreveport for the Independence Bowl. The game was solid, but what’s more interesting is that Baylor is now 6-1, with their only loss coming on the road at Oklahoma State. Head coach Dave Aranda has already tripled their win total in his first season. The way he turned things around should be a blueprint for all former coordinators who make the leap. Aranda is one of the best defensive minds in the sport, there’s no debating that. When a specialist on one side of the ball becomes a head coach, the most important hire they make is the other coordinator. Aranda immediately fell into the most common trap for coaches in his position. He made a splashy hire, bringing in a well-known coordinator who had just flamed out as a head coach. In this case, that big name was Larry Fedora. Baylor finished last season ranked 101st in scoring offense. But Aranda did what so many first-time coaches are scared to do: he fired Fedora. Firing a coordinator after one season is usually a bad idea, but sometimes it’s just clear that someone isn’t “the guy”. Aranda then did what way more P5 coaches should be looking to do. He brought in Jeff Grimes, a G5 coordinator with a proven track record of success. The year before he led one of the nation’s most electrifying offenses at BYU and helped Zach Wilson transform from relative unknown to #2 overall NFL draft pick. The impact has been unbelievable. As of now, Baylor is scoring 38 points per game, puts them at #16 in the country, and is 15 points more than last year. The Bears have a lot of natural hurdles to overcome in order to be a perennial contender, but Aranda’s blueprint is a great foundation.