Week 10 was an especially weird one. Despite multiple top 10 teams losing, nothing from last weekend felt particularly important. But looking in the margins is where you find college football in its purest form. The only way to enjoy this sport is to embrace the nonsense, the monkey business so to speak, and there was plenty of that. But before we dive in, a brief recap 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: Wake Forest vs. North Carolina
This game offered the full college football experience. An in-state rivalry, a top 10 team that was actually an underdog getting “upset”, no defense whatsoever. Just the best. These two teams combined for over 1,100 yards and 113 points, with Sam Hartman and Ty Chandler specifically putting up video game numbers. Hartman himself scored 7 touchdowns and still lost! But it wouldn’t be fully college football without a bit of absurdity. This battle between ACC rivals was not an ACC game. Wake Forest and UNC actually scheduled this as a non-conference game because before the 2020 wonkiness, the two weren’t scheduled to play for an entire 7 years. Both fanbases obviously wanted to keep this rivalry alive, and so the schools found a creative solution. Besides being a great trivia question, it’s further proof that all these weird scheduling restrictions are fake and it’s totally feasible to just make it up as you go along. Long live college football.
Most Important Game of the Week: Texas A&M vs. Auburn
Oddly enough, there weren’t very many important games last week. Even though there were technically plenty of upsets, none of them were actually that surprising, as evidenced by those wizards out in the desert. #3 Michigan State was only a 2.5-point favorite over unranked Purdue, while undefeated, #9 Wake Forest was a straight-up underdog to unranked UNC. So almost by default, I decided to go with the only ranked matchup of the week. Calling this game a slog would make it sound way too exciting. The score was 6-3 going into the fourth quarter, and neither team ended up scoring an offensive touchdown. But it does help clear up the logjam in the SEC West a bit. Texas A&M now holds the tiebreaker over 2 of the other 3 teams in contention and has a chance to complete the trifecta this weekend at Ole Miss. If Texas A&M wins out the rest of the year, all they would need is for Auburn to pull another Iron Bowl miracle, and they’ll be making their first-ever trip to Atlanta.
Drunkest Game of the Week: Tennessee vs. Kentucky
If you just looked at the box score and tried to explain what happened in this game, you’d get every bit of it wrong. Kentucky, aka Iowa Southern, threw for 387 yards, had the ball for over 75% of the game, ran over 100 plays, and lost! Watching this game was deeply disturbing because everything about it just felt wrong. Outside of some officiating shenanigans, there weren’t many single drunk moments, but the entire thing feels like the beginning of The Hangover. Tennessee also might just permanently take over this spot.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: TCU vs. Baylor
When you fire the literal foundation of your football program, the one thing you’re not supposed to do is get better. The new-look TCU looked like the opposite of the Gary Patterson teams, throwing bombs the entire game and racking up 468 passing yards to pull the upset. I still think Baylor is great, but I don’t know what to make of this result. Maybe the Bears aren’t that great, or maybe it’s just a soccer-esque new coach bump. I still believe that we’ll look back on this when the season’s over and wonder what the hell happened here.
Saddest Game of the Week: Texas vs. Iowa State
They fired Tom Herman for this? The Longhorns are now on a four-game losing streak and are in serious danger of missing a bowl game for the first time in five years, and just the fourth time since the turn of the millennium. These former blue-bloods have been passed on the field by Oklahoma, TCU, and even Iowa State. No offense to the Cyclones, but that should never happen when you’re the richest team in college football. Now obviously it’s way too early to make any judgments on the hiring of Steve Sarkisian, but the early returns feel eerily similar to the first post-Mack Brown years. Texas football is hitting a new low, and it’s sad to watch.
But odds are, you don’t care about any of that. You’re here for the monkey. For those who aren’t chronically online, I’ll give you a summary of #monkeygate. On Halloween, a report came out that a child was bitten by a monkey owned by Texas’ special teams coach Jeff Banks. When then found out that the monkey was actually owned by Banks’ wife, a former stripper who went by the name Pole Assassin, who then jumped into the conversation in order to clear her name. What followed was one of those “I remember where I was” nights, full of twists and turns that make a rollercoaster seem tame. I beg of you, go read the full summary HERE.
Hype Killer of the Week: Michigan State vs. Purdue
Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.-Robert Oppenheimer
Anyone who has watched much college football saw this coming. Michigan State has been fun to watch but hasn’t been very convincing as a playoff contender. Plus, Purdue is literally the biggest giant killer in the history of the sport. All of that aside, this is still the biggest hype killer this week. MSU was coming off a huge comeback against their biggest rival, so they were feeling themselves a bit. The thing to watch now is if the playoff committee decides to be merciful to Ohio State and rank Purdue.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: Florida vs. South Carolina
Ed Orgeron’s collapse at LSU gained all the headlines, but what is happening to Dan Mullen right now is perhaps even more shocking. LSU won a national championship in 2019, but most outsiders could see that was lightning in a bottle. Once literally everyone else from that team left, the clock started for Coach O. Absolutely none of this applies to Florida. Less than a year ago, they were 6 points away from winning an SEC championship and sealing the Gators’ first playoff berth. Since then, Mullen is 2-6 against P5 competition, and one of those wins was Vanderbilt. The shocking loss to LSU marked the beginning of the end. The fanbase turned on him, and he didn’t do himself any favors with a string of press conference train wrecks. And then he got his ass whipped by the second-worst team in the SEC (I’m an SC fan, I can say that). Mullen seemed doomed for a few weeks, but this loss accelerates the timeline from “let’s maybe give him another year” to “leave him in Columbia”. He already offered up embattled DC Todd Grantham and OL coach John Hevesy as sacrificial lambs, but I’m not convinced that will pacify the guys holding the purse strings down in the swamp.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: Troy vs. South Alabama
Troy is one of those G5 programs that quietly had an amazing run in the late 2010s. Under Neal Brown, the Trojans racked up three straight 10-win seasons, a run that Brown parlayed into the HC job at West Virginia. In a move that made a lot of sense, they brought in Chip Lindsey, then offensive coordinator at in-state Auburn, to replace him. But things started going south in a hurry. Just four months after hiring Lindsey, the athletic director Jeremy McClain bolted for Southern Miss. In college sports, losing the boss that hired you tanks a coach’s job security instantly. Throw on top of that the fact that Lindsey has yet to have a winning season, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. They came into this game sitting at 4-4 with games against the conference’s two biggest powerhouses still remaining. To have any chance at making his first bowl game, Lindsey had to win this game. To raise the stakes even more, South Alabama is Troy’s biggest rival. Winning the Battle for the Belt almost certainly saved Lindsey’s job, if only for one more week.
Your Future Coach: Nevada vs. San Jose State
So, I was going to open this part about how all the similarities between Jay and his brother Mike, but after looking it up it turns out they aren’t related at all. The more you know. Despite that, Jay has had a ton of success over the course of his career, leading prolific offenses at some blue blood programs. Unfortunately, he’s all too often been the victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. He took over as the offensive coordinator at Nebraska at the beginning of the disastrous Bill Callahan era, before jumping on the sinking ship of Karl Dorrell’s last year at UCLA. Thankfully, he landed in a great spot. After a few years as an assistant, he joined forces with now Tennessee coach Josh Heupel to run some record-breaking offenses at Oklahoma. Ever since 2017, he’s been the head coach at Nevada. After an obligatory rebuilding year, the Wolfpack have won at least 7 games each season. That doesn’t sound impressive, but Nevada sits at a big disadvantage in their conference. Boise State is a national brand that will always be more talented, while Fresno State, San Diego State, and San Jose State are all based in one of the most fertile recruiting states in the country. Norvell is a name that keeps popping up for the mid-tier PAC 12 jobs, including Arizona deciding they were too cheap to hire him. With it now looking like both Washington jobs will be open this year, keep an eye on Norvell.
Dealer’s Choice: The Return of MACtion
I know this is cheating, but MACtion is one of the greatest joys in college football, and it returned with a vengeance last week. Of the five MAC games that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday night, four of them were decided by less than 6 points. The “defensive battle” of the week between Ball State and Akron ended 31-25. Just like the Wake Forest-UNC game, MACtion showcases what makes college football special. Playing on a Tuesday is absurd, it’s objectively the worst conference in the nation this season, and none of these games have any national implications whatsoever. There is no reason to watch any of these games, but they’re so much fun. Just watch one MACtion game, and you’ll see what I mean.