The show goes on. This week certainly didn’t live up to the insanity that was week 7, but that’s an impossible bar anyways. Week 8 continued to slowly chip away at the playoff contenders, separating the good teams from great teams. Hidden gems dominated this weekend, so let’s look back at some of those 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: UTSA vs. North Texas
It’s become a trend this season that games will have an unwatchable first half, only for things to explode and create an amazing ending. This game was no different, with North Texas leading 6-3 at halftime. Both sides combined to score 35 points in the fourth quarter, and 21 of those came in the last three minutes. They took turns scoring to take the lead, with the nail in the coffin coming from an incredible De’Corian Clark catch with just a few seconds to go. UNT didn’t have a chance to answer after fumbling the ensuing kickoff, because this is college football after all. This was another great reminder that there’s always good football on. Sometimes you just need to dig a little to find it.
Most Important Game of the Week: Oregon vs. UCLA
Hand up, I was a part of the mob that wrote off Oregon too early. It turns out that losing to Georgia by a billion points doesn’t mean you’re a bad team. They’ve dominated the rest of their schedule, and Bo Nix has improved so much under this new offense. He’s focused. He’s having fun. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a dark horse for the Heis- okay that’s a little too far. Here’s a fun Bo Nix stat though: he threw as many touchdowns against UCLA as Auburn has all season. The Ducks look like a juggernaut and won’t play another difficult game until Utah comes to town in a month. This win firmly puts them in control of the Pac-12, while UCLA’s cross-town showdown with USC has now become a play-in game for the conference championship.
Drunkest Game of the Week: Montana State vs. Weber State
For the first time ever, I’m dipping into the FCS ranks for a game. That’s how hammered this top five matchup was. Weber State gave up two points on a terrible punt snap.
Unfortunate, but it happens. Long snappers are human. Weber State bounced back to build a sizable lead before getting stopped and needing to punt again
Okay, clearly something is going on with the long snapper. For whatever reason, he doesn’t have it today. There’s no way they have a backup, so the coaches need to go and make sure he knows exactly what to do next time.
Alright, they’re doing this on purpose. There’s no other explanation. Weber State is attempting to make some sort of artistic statement about, I don’t know, the dehumanization of special teams players or something. Everyone with a functioning brain understands that under no circumstances should this team try to punt again.
I have no words.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: Duke vs. Miami
Rebuilds are common in college football. With the way recruiting works, it takes time for a new coach to establish a culture and build a roster fit to run their scheme of choice. But, as with everything in this sport, context is king. The floor of what is considered respectable in a rebuild changes depending on the school. It’s okay for a new Vanderbilt coach to go 2-10. It’s not okay for a new LSU coach to go 2-10. And it is never, ever okay for a new Miami coach to lose to Duke and MTSU in the same season. Miami tried their absolute hardest to lose this game. The Canes had some life to start the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the first two minutes to take the lead. Here’s how the rest of their drives in this game ended:
Turnover on downs
Interception (returned for touchdown)
Miami turned the ball over a total of eight times on the day, giving us the best stat of the weekend:
Miami isn’t just disappointing, they’re downright bad. Mario Cristobal was supposed to lead this team straight to the ACC championship game. Instead, he’ll have to fight just to reach a bowl game.
Sickos Game of the Week: Ohio State vs. Iowa
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Iowa’s defense outscored their offense. Ohio State had four different scoring drives of under twenty yards. They genuinely would have been better off if they punted the second they got the ball the entire game. I’ll let this Iowa fan sum up this game.
Hype Killer of the Week: LSU vs. Ole Miss
At a macro level, college football is one of the most predictable sports there is. While there is nothing but chaos week to week, we can always expect a few principles to remain true. One of these truths is that the Mississippi schools don’t win in Death Valley. This century, they are a combined 4-20 in Baton Rouge, and one of those wins came in the COVID year. If you told any Ole Miss fan that they were going to lose this game, they’d shrug their shoulders at you, because it wouldn’t be a shock. Their resume as a top ten team was suspect to say the least, and LSU has seemingly gotten their stuff together since their rough start. Ole Miss was never going to make the playoff, but the hype for their upcoming game against Alabama has certainly died down.
Seat-Warmer of the Week: Buffalo vs. Toledo
Hear me out. It sounds crazy that a coach who has never had a losing season at a MAC school, a conference that is notoriously volatile, would be on the hot seat. Even now, they’re in first place in their division and on track for another winning season, but context is king. First of all, Toledo is consistently the most talented team in the MAC, but Jason Candle has only won a single conference championship in his six full seasons in charge. However, the fact that he’s losing games isn’t as much of a problem has how he’s losing them. Candle has low-key become Scott Frost lite, losing seven straight one score games dating back to the start of last year. Almost every single one of those losses was also due to gross mismanagement of either the clock or the end of the game in general, and this loss to Buffalo is the perfect encapsulation of that. Buffalo outscored the Rockets 24-0 in the fourth quarter. If Candle doesn’t start finishing off games, the powers that be in Toledo are almost certainly going to get tired of blown leads and decide to make a change.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: Boise State vs. Air Force
Firing a coordinator mid-season is usually a death rattle, the ultimate CYA move meant to show you’re still trying. It never actually works. Boise State has broken that mold. After a loss to UTEP that seemed like a death knell to Andy Avalos, he made the move to fire their offensive coordinator, leading to their starting QB and second highest rated recruit ever Hank Bachmeier to leave the team and enter the transfer portal. Avalos promoted analyst and former Boise and NFL head coach Dirk Koetter to the job, another move that reeked of desperation. Since then, they’ve handed San Diego State and Fresno State their only conference losses, and just beat a very talented Air Force team on the road. A few weeks ago, I had penciled in the Boise State job as opened in my mind. Now, anything less than 8-4 is an absolute failure, and they’re the clear favorites to win the entire mountain west. Things change quickly in this sport.
Your Future Coach: Troy vs. South Alabama
I typically avoid picking coaches in their first season for this category, but there weren’t many better options this week. Plus, Jon Sumrall has done a hell of a job in his first year at Troy. The Alabama native was the assistant head coach under Neal Brown for the best stretch of seasons in Troy’s history, and has returned after a few years in the SEC. In just his first year, he has Troy at 6-2, with those only two losses being on the road to Ole Miss and on a ridiculously Hail Mary at App State. This win in the Battle for the Belt puts them in the driver’s seat in the Sun Belt West, and I would be shocked if they didn’t win 10 games. Considering how far Troy fell under Chip Lindsey, Sumrall is leading the best turnaround in the nation, and should be the favorite for every coach of the year award, although we all know he won’t be.
Dealer’s Choice: TCU vs. Kansas State
They can’t keep getting away with this. TCU is a joy to watch, and their offense is legit, but they’ve had some of the most insane injury luck I’ve ever seen. Oklahoma and Kansas both lost their starting QB during the game, Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders was injured but played through it, and now Kansas State somehow lost two QBs to injury in this game. K-State was running away with this game until the end of the first half. TCU scored late to start a 28-0 run, during which the second Wildcat quarterback went down, guaranteeing they wouldn’t make a comeback. Obviously, this isn’t TCU’s fault by any means, and all they can do is beat the team put in front of them, but at some point the luck has to run out. Unless it doesn’t, then we can go ahead and congratulate 2022 national champion and team of destiny, the TCU Horned Frogs.
(Header photo courtesy of The Register-Guard)