You’d be forgiven for forgetting that some important football games happened last weekend. The wildest coaching carousel in history went into overdrive this week, with two of the best coaches in the country unexpectedly bolting for greener pastures. But all that is a discussion for another day. Rivalry week is the best weekend in all of sports and deserves a proper recap. So let’s dive in. But first, a refresher on the categories:
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: Alabama vs. Auburn
Odd-year Iron Bowls never disappoint. Remember that train wrecks can be just as entertaining to watch as great football games. Neither team could do anything right on offense until the last minute of the game, when Alabama went 97 yards in 71 seconds to tie it because of course they did. To put things in perspective, Auburn had a success rate of 32% and almost won. A decent batting average was almost enough to beat the #3 team in the country. But this year’s Auburn team is so bad that not even Auburn Jesus could save them, but that didn’t stop him from trying. Oddly, the biggest play of the game was an extra point. Auburn coach Bryan Harsin decided to kick after scoring in the first overtime, opting to extend the game instead of going for the win. Deciding to play longer against a more talented team with a hobbled backup quarterback is certainly a choice. It became even more frustrating after seeing them complete the mandatory 2-point conversion in the third OT with a perfectly drawn up play. All known data says he should’ve gone for the win when he had a chance, but I guess Harsin did his own research and decided against it.
Most Important Game of the Week: Ohio State vs. Michigan
To use the scientific term, Ohio State got their ass beat. Michigan saw every crack in the armor that Oregon exposed earlier in the season and ripped them open until they were the size of the Grand Canyon. The Wolverines averaged a mind-boggling 7.24 yards per carry. Jim Harbaugh has finally established an identity at Michigan. He’s gone back to the style of smash mouth, punch you in the face football that brought a bunch of Stanford nerds to national prominence. The Wolverine defensive line was just as dominant, with Aidan Hutchinson earning himself a trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony. I can’t put into words how important this was for Jim Harbaugh. He bet on himself when he signed an extension with no buyout, and it finally paid off. He got the monkey off his back and set himself up to make the playoff for the first time in Michigan history. All they have to do is beat a struggling Iowa team in the Big 10 Championship. Surely there’s no way they screw that up, right?
Drunkest Game of the Week: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
So much happened in this game that one paragraph can’t do it justice. The best way to experience Bedlam is through a chronological Twitter thread:
Head-Scratcher of the Week: Texas A&M vs. LSU
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Texas A&M finished the season 8-4. That makes this the 9th season in a row that the Aggies finished the regular season with either 7 or 8 wins, which is a genuinely impressive feat. Granted, they probably would’ve won more last year if it wasn’t for the COVID shortened schedule, but everything was weird last year, so it evens out. In classic A&M fashion, they pulled off an earth-shattering upset of #1 Alabama and then finished fifth in the division. In Jimbo Fisher’s four seasons in Aggieland, they’ve finished on average in fifth place in the SEC. Impressive, no doubt, but is it worth $95 million? Money isn’t a real thing in the world of Texas oil barons, but surely they’re expecting a better return on their investment than this. Maybe this is just who Jimbo is? Which would be totally fine, but it makes him an odd choice to be the new standard of college football coaching contracts. He was the first to sign a 10-year contract, an anomaly in the “what have you done for me lately” world of sports. This year alone, four coaches have signed 10-year deals. And despite being paid more money than some entire conferences have, Jimbo just lost to the worst LSU team of the 21st century. At least Coach O got to leave on a high note.
Saddest Game of the Week: SMU vs. Tulsa
Sonny Dykes looked like a hero at SMU. After flaming out at Cal, he came home to Texas to bring the Mustangs back from the dead. In 2019, he led SMU to their first 10-win season since the NCAA struck them down with the death penalty back in the 1980s. The man was set for life. But like a lot of other things this season, things changed quickly. SMU got left behind in the Big 12’s expansion, and rumors started swirling that Dykes was the prime candidate to take over at TCU. If you weren’t aware, those two schools absolutely hate each other. Just two months ago, there was a whole lotta nonsense surrounding that game. That would be like leaving Auburn to go to Alabama. For the soccer fans out there, the best equivalent would be like someone crossing the park in Merseyside, something that hasn’t happened in nearly 20 years. Those rumors were confirmed by ESPN on Friday. Needless to say, SMU fans felt betrayed and made their feelings known during Dykes’ last home game.
We love to talk about heated rivalries in college football, but this was a rare case where one side showed genuine vitriol. Seeing the hatred directed toward Dykes all game was sad to see, even if he didn’t handle the whole situation very well. To make things even worse, he lost the game. Dykes decided if he was going out, he was going out sad.
Hype Killer of the Week: Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
It flew under the radar because of the heavyweight battles in the Big 10 East, but Wisconsin has controlled their destiny in the West since back in Week 9. All they had to do was beat archival Minnesota to get a shot at another Rose Bowl trip. They came into the game on a hot streak, winning seven in a row on the back of newfound sensation Braelon Allen. The 17-year-old running back had burst onto the scene, averaging an astounding 145 yards per game during that streak. If I told you he finished the game Saturday with 47 yards, you could probably guess how the final score ended up. For only the second time in eighteen years, the Badgers had to turn over Paul Bunyan’s Axe, and their championship hopes along with it. Plus, now we all have to watch more Iowa football, so thanks a lot Wisconsin.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: Colorado State vs. Nevada
Everyone expected Colorado State to lose this game, but Steve Addazio’s antics are what stuck out. The former Vine star was ejected in the first half after picking up two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for arguing with the refs. It’s another in a long list of embarrassing moments during Addazio’s short time in Fort Collins, a tenure that probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place. After firing Mike Bobo (who is about to be at his fourth school in four years, by the way), the CSU administration brought in Urban Meyer to advise them on the hire. And by advise, I mean make the decision for them. As he is wont to do, Meyer chose his good buddy Steve Addazio, who then returned the favor by hiring both Urban’s son-in-law and his own son to the coaching staff. Surprise surprise: it’s been a disaster. The Rams are 4-12 under Addazio, and fans are ready to move on. At least Saturday gave them something to celebrate.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: North Texas vs. UTSA
I mentioned last week that I was considering putting North Texas in this spot but decided against it because Seth Littrell was doomed anyway. Well, one big upset changed all of that. UNT went from 1-6, looking like one of the worst teams in the country, to 6-6 and headed to a bowl game with a win over a nationally ranked team. UNT would seem insane to move on from the coach that engineered that turnaround, so Littrell earned himself at least one more season. On the other side, it’s really sad to see UTSA’s dream of an undefeated season die. At least they still have a shot at a conference championship, as they get ready for a rematch against Western Kentucky this Friday.
Your Future Coach: Fresno State vs. San Jose State
The coaching carousel moves fast. Since I started writing this, DeBoer was announced as the new head coach of the Washington Huskies. The fact that I was planning on writing about him shows you that I think this is an incredible hire. DeBoer has led explosive offenses at every stop and turned Fresno State into a legitimate threat out on the west coast. If you need any proof, just look at what’s happened at Indiana since he and DC Kane Wommack left. And with the news that he’s bringing QB Jake Haener with him to Seattle, along with the bombshell of Lincoln Riley heading to LA, the PAC 12 is looking more interesting than it has been in decades.
Dealer’s Choice: North Carolina vs. NC State
This was a bonkers game that was a candidate for multiple categories on this list. I couldn’t bring myself to not write about what happened here. The game was essentially over. North Carolina had a 9-point lead with two minutes left, with a 99.9% win probability. Then the wheels fell off. NC State scored with 1:35 on the clock, recovered the onside kick, and then scored again in just 26 seconds. It’s a fitting end to a disastrous season for UNC, who entered the year as a top 10 team, only to end it with an epic collapse against their biggest (football) rival. The same can be said for QB Sam Howell, who started out as the Heisman favorite and future #1 overall pick and ended his Tar Heel career with a game-losing interception.
(Header photo courtesy of the Montgomery Advertiser)