Believe it or not, the college football season is almost over. The playoff picture is starting to come into focus, and the list of undefeated teams is shrinking every week. 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: LSU vs. Alabama
Say what you want about Brian Kelly as a person (he’s a terrible one, by the way), but he is a hell of a football coach. Jayden Daniels looks like an entirely different QB than he did at the beginning of the season. The Tigers controlled this game until the end, with Bryce Young singlehandedly keeping Bama around to take it to overtime. Kelly made the right call to go for two and the win on a single play and picked up his first signature win on the Bayou. His faaamily is surely proud of him.
Most Important Game of the Week: Georgia vs. Tennessee
It turns out Georgia is pretty good. They dominated every facet of this game, but their control of the line of scrimmage was the difference maker. Tennessee’s offense is amazing to watch and the most explosive in the nation, but they did absolutely nothing today. No offense can withstand giving up pressure to a four-man rush, which Georgia had every single play. This win essentially guarantees that Georgia will be in the playoff, and that Tennessee will need some help if they want it to really feel like ’98. Oh, and Stetson Bennett is almost certainly going to win the Heisman, so you better start coming to terms with that now.
Drunkest Game of the Week: Mississippi State vs. Auburn
Cadillac Williams’ first game as interim coach at Auburn got real stupid. Mississippi State was rolling to start the game, jumping out to a 24-3 lead. Auburn apparently wanted revenge for last year and went on a 22-0 run to take the lead. The two went back and forth, until State hit a game tying field goal with 29 seconds left. Auburn was supposed to have one last chance to win the game, until State pulled off a perfect and completely unintentional onside kick.
State would miss a field goal, Auburn would miss their field goal in overtime, and State would score to avoid disaster and seal what was easily the dumbest win of the day.
Head-Scratcher of the Week: Michigan State vs. Illinois
This result is head-scratching, but the way it played out was simple. Illinois had the ball in the red-zone four times and came away with seven points. It’s nearly impossible to win a game with that many wasted opportunities, even with a defense as good as Illinois’. Michigan State rebounded nicely from their embarrassing loss both on and off the field last week. Illinois is still in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten West and the honor of being the sacrificial lamb for Ohio State or Michigan, but they looked genuinely bad for the first time this season.
Sickos Game of the Week: SMU vs. Houston
A sickos game doesn’t always mean a team wins 5-3. It’s something that can only happen in college football. Literally, in this case. The highest scoring game in NFL history combined for 113 points, a full 27 points lower than this shootout. SMU opened the game with nine straight touchdowns, before the streak ended midway through the third quarter when they punted for the first and only time. Tanner Mordecai, the SMU QB, scored 10, yes 10, touchdowns. For reference, Iowa didn’t score their 10th touchdown of the season until week eight! Houston managed to lose a game where they didn’t punt a single time. College football’s greatest strength is variety, and the fact that you can watch this game and Air Force’s 13-7 win over Army on the same day is perfect.
Hype Killer of the Week: Notre Dame vs. Clemson
On behalf of the entire country: thank you, Notre Dame. It’s been clear for nearly two months now that Clemson is not an elite team. They seemed destined for what some have deemed the “Oklahoma spot,” aka the team that goes undefeated against a bad schedule, makes the playoff, and loses by thirty in the semifinal. Notre Dame seemed like our last line of defense against this, and the Fighting Irish came through. First year head coach Marcus Freeman instantly atoned for some of the worst losses in school history by picking up their biggest win in years, and he didn’t just win this game. To quote Dabo Sweeney himself, “This was an ass kicking.”
Seat-Warmer of the Week: Iowa State vs. West Virginia
With USF’s Jeff Scott getting his pink slip on Sunday, the pickings were a bit slim this week. West Virginia probably won’t fire Neal Brown thanks to a $20 million buyout, but things are undeniably grim in Morgantown. This loss to Iowa State almost guarantees that WVU will finish last in the Big 12 for the first time ever, miss a bowl game for the first time since 2013, and finish with their lowest win total since 2001 (which is also tied for their worst season since 1978). Brown has already replaced both coordinators once, which most coaches are allowed to do before they get fired themselves, and he received the dreaded “vote of confidence” earlier this season. All signs point to next season being a make-or-break year for Neal Brown.
Seat-Cooler of the Week: Ohio vs. Buffalo
You never want to be the guy who replaces The Guy. That’s exactly what Tim Albin is at Ohio. Frank Solich is the greatest coach in Ohio history, and it’s not particularly close. When he decided to hang it up after the 2020 season, he picked his longtime OC Tim Albin to succeed him. Albin led the Bobcats to their worst season since 2003, finishing 3-9. You see, the reason you don’t see many legendary coaches name their replacements when they retire is because it almost never works. For example, of the five coaches to take this route before Albin, two have already been fired (Jimmy Lake and Barry Odom), one could very well be fired this year (Brady Hoke), one took over after a “retirement” (Ryan Day), and one is Lincoln Riley.
Your Future Coach: Coastal Carolina vs. App State
Coastal Carolina has quietly had a very interesting season. The Chants started out a very shaky 6-0 with one score wins over bad teams like Gardner-Webb and Louisiana Monroe. Old Dominion ended the streak when they went to Myrtle Beach and beat the breaks off of Coastal. Jamey Chadwell has quietly rebounded and picked up two solid wins over Marshall and now App State. The offense is as electric as ever, proving that the triple-option can be modernized and successful with different kinds of athletes than we’re used to seeing. If they can get over the triple-option association and their own pomposity, Georgia Tech should undoubtedly hire the man with the mullet and “I Piss Teal” shirt to bring the Yellow Jackets back to glory.
Dealer’s Choice: UTSA vs. UAB
If you take the stakes out of it and judge on pure entertainment value, this was probably the best game of the week. Two of the best teams in CUSA met for the last time before they both move onto the American Athletic Conference next season and produced a great double-overtime follow up to their thriller from last season. This was also UTSA’s last big test and seem poised to cruise to a second straight CUSA title. Frank Harris is the most electrifying quarterback you’ve probably never heard of, and he balled out again today. Let this game serve as your weekly reminder that if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find some of the most exciting games in college football just below the surface.
(Photo courtesy of SI.com)