I’m sure I’ve said this before, but this past Saturday was honestly the greatest day of college football I have ever seen. Almost all of the big games lived up to the hype, we had some thrillers in the G5, and, most importantly, we had actual rivalry games. It was the kind of weekend that reminds you why you put up with all the garbage and outside noise that comes with this sport. Nothing compares to the pure emotion and pageantry that is college football. So, let’s take a look back this incredible week with the usual 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.
Sickos Game of the Week: The game that you enjoy for all of the wrong reasons. The train wreck that you can’t look away from. This is the game that makes you shake your head and say “Only in college football.”
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: Tennessee vs. Alabama
What more can I say about this game? It was everything that’s great about college football. It was a back and forth shootout in a raucous environment with serious stakes. Even if the stakes weren’t high, this win would mean everything to Tennessee fans. It was an exorcism. Words can’t describe this game and the celebrations that followed, so here are some videos that will.
Most Important Game of the Week: TCU vs. Oklahoma State
Reminder: each game can only appear once in this recap. Tennessee vs. Alabama was obviously the most important game this week, but since they’ve already appeared, this game gets the runner-up spot. Michigan’s win over Penn State was a close third, but the looming specter of Ohio State makes that one a little less important. Not only was this an incredible game, it probably served as playoff elimination game. With the way the rest of the country is shaping up, it seems like the Big 12 champ will need to be undefeated to make it in the final four. TCU came back to continue their amazing start to the season. They’ve already reached their preseason projection of six wins, and will face off against Kansas State next weekend for sole possession of first place in the conference.
Drunkest Game of the Week: None
As amazing as this week was, it wasn’t very chaotic. It was good, clean, old-fashion awesomeness.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: Stanford vs. Notre Dame
Marcus Freeman might’ve pulled the conversion card a bit too early. The Irish seemed to have things rolling after a rough start, piling up a combined 1,000 yards in good wins against UNC and BYU. Then they got out gained by Stanford, who hadn’t beaten an FCS opponent all season (fun fact, ND is also Marshall’s only FBS win). Notre Dame couldn’t overcome Stanford’s 82nd ranked offense and 92nd ranked defense, and bowl eligibility has suddenly become a challenge. Stanford is a shell of it’s former self. Even at their worst, Notre Dame should not be losing this game.
Sickos Game of the Week: Colorado vs. California
Gross. This game was gross. The only redeeming quality was that Colorado won a game, and is no longer the worst team in the Power 5. If you’re plugged in at all to the college coaching carousel, you’ve been hearing for years that California’s head coach Justin Wilcox will get a major coaching job if he could just figure out how to run a decent offense. The fact he’s still at Cal tells you all you need to know about how that’s worked out. They also lost this game in the saddest way possible.
Hype Killer of the Week: Utah vs. USC
If you asked me before the season, I’d have told you Utah would win this game. Then the season happened, and these two teams went in opposite directions. USC rolled through most of their schedule, while Utah lost to the two even halfway decent teams they played. Utah winning this game wasn’t as much of a surprise as how they won it. Utah doesn’t win shootouts. They hadn’t won a game where both teams scored at least 30 points since 2016. Both QBs had over 400 total yards and 5 touchdowns (both career highs for Utah’s Cam Rising). It was an insane (in a good way) ending with even more insane (in a bad way) officiating. Lincoln Riley and his transfer army had USC rolling, but now they aren’t even the highest ranked team in their own city. With the way the rest of the country is shaking out, a one loss PAC 12 champ might already be eliminated from the playoff. USC will have an amazing season, but will almost certainly fall short of the expectations the splash hire of Lincoln Riley set for that team.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: ECU vs. Memphis
Things change quickly in this sport. Just two weeks ago, Memphis was 4-1 and looking great. Then they blew a 16-point lead in the last eight minutes against Houston, and now they lost in four overtimes to ECU. If the Tigers lose their next two games, which they probably will, the talk behind the scenes will start getting pretty loud. If you told a Memphis fan ten years ago their coach would be fired for making a bowl game every season, they’d try and institutionalize you. The standard has changed. Much like in the Big 12, there’s a major window for opportunity coming up. Memphis seems like the favorite to become the new dominant force in future American Athletic Conference, and the administration won’t be afraid to move on from Ryan Silverfield if they don’t think he’s the man to take them to the top.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: West Virginia vs. Baylor
West Virginia desperately needed this win. Without it, they’d most likely be looking at a 4-8 finish at best, which would be tied for their second worst record this century and their first ever last place finish in the Big 12. Neal Brown’s buyout is significant, but college football is moving faster than ever. The Big 12 is even more volatile, as every school knows the conference is opening up when Texas and Oklahoma leave in two years. They all know this is a potentially program-changing window of opportunity, the chance to become the new big dog in a power five conference. If West Virginia feels like they need a new coach, they’ll find to money to get a new coach. Thankfully for Brown, this win gets them back on track, and makes bowl eligibility a realistic goal to reach.
Your Future Coach: Old Dominion vs. Coastal Carolina
Ricky Rahne walked into as bizarre a situation as you can get. His first season as a head coach didn’t happen. He took over at the beginning of 2020, only for Old Dominion to be one of the three teams to cancel their entire season. He followed that up with the school’s second bowl appearance ever. Now, they almost certainly won’t make a bowl game this season, as they moved into the infinitely more difficult Sun Belt, but they’ve already picked up two big wins. The Monarchs took down instate rival Virginia Tech to start the year (after one of the funniest game-delays ever), and now beat Sun Belt powerhouse Coastal Carolina. He also was a miracle worker in his years at Penn State, turning Christian Hackenberg and Trace McSorley into All-Big Ten level QBs. Rahne is one of those G5 coaches who won’t get noticed because of a poor overall record, but is winning in a place where that’s not an easy thing to do.
Dealer’s Choice: Michigan vs. Penn State
Of the three matchups between undefeated teams, this was the only one that disappointed. The first half was deceptively close, with Penn State trailing 16-14, even though each of those touchdowns came from a bizarre play. The Nittany Lions took the lead at the start of the second half, and then Michigan decided to stop screwing around. They scored on every 25 unanswered points while rushing for an astonishing 418 yards. Michigan proved that they’re in the top tier of the Big 10 and a legitimately playoff contender, while Penn State remains a clear cut below. Which brings up the real question: how long is James Franklin going to get away with this? He has as many 7-win seasons as 11-win seasons at Penn State. He’s never made the playoff and has only made the Big 10 championship game once. He’s 4-13 against Michigan and Ohio State. All of this is perfectly fine for 95% of teams, but is it fine at Penn State? The seventh winningest program in college football history? On top of that, is he really worth the $75 million contract the school gave him just a few months ago? He built an incredible team in 2016 and 2017, when they had 20 NFL draft picks on the roster and the coaching staff included four current head coaches and two Broyles Award winners (assistant coach of the year), but is that sustainable? It’s a fascinating case of a school deciding what it wants to be, and how committed they are to winning at the highest level. If Penn State wants to genuinely compete with the Ohio States of the world, it might be time for a very expensive change.
(Header Courtesy of Fox Chattanooga)