It’s time for my weekly take on a few topics from the week in college football. It’s time for Four Downs.
1) Running Down a Bunch of Rebels
If, before kickoff, I told you that your team would hold the ball for about thirty minutes and turn the ball over four times on fumbles, it would be safe to assume that your team lost the football game.
If I then told you that your team didn’t punt the ball once and went 7-for-7 on third down conversions, you might think that I was talking about two totally different games.
Nope. These events transpired in the same game last Saturday, as the University of Nevada destroyed their arch-rivals, UNLV, 63-28 in Reno.
The Wolf Pack, who had been struggling most of the season, had 773 yards of total offense—559 of those yards coming on the ground!
The Wolf Pack had three players rush for 170 yards or more.
Oh, and did I mention that the game was tied 28-28 with about five minutes to go in the third quarter?
An abysmal performance by UNLV now has their head coach on the hot seat.
2) Celebrate Good Times—Until the Whistle Blows
Of course, Coach Mike Sanford’s seat is relatively cool compared to the heat that the crew from last week’s LSU-Georgia game must be feeling right now.
While everyone around the country has had a chance to review and super slo-mo the footage of Georgia wide receiver AJ Green’s post-game celebration that was apparently too hot for the officiating crew, once again, the spotlight falls onto the ridiculous hyper-enforcement of a rule that strips the joy out of the college game.
I understand the intent behind the rule; the committee that put the rule in place wanted to cut down on the “look at me” aspect of celebration. They didn’t want student athletes to call attention to themselves in any unseemly manner. It was viewed as a sportsmanship issue.
I’ve got that loud and clear.
But we know by now that that isn’t the case.
(I also want to make this clear mid-rant: there is no actual specific rule called illegal celebration. It more generally falls under the unsportsmanlike conduct rule. End of sidebar.)
If the celebration is choreographed; if the players all pull out white sequined gloves and do simultaneous moonwalks, then by all means throw the yellow flag.
If the player scores and points at the opposing player after scoring and/or mouths off at him, throw the flag.
But penalizing the player because you thought he pointed at the crowd?
How is that unsportsmanlike?
How is that taunting?
Especially when it’s his own crowd?
I am just completely and utterly baffled by the misapplication of this rule, and demand that the rules committee review and clarify the parameters under which an official should penalize a team for an excessive celebration.
(By the way, the penalty in and of itself did not cost Georgia the game; they still had opportunities to stop LSU on the final drive and failed to do so. However, the penalty still did have an impact on the game—mentally, if nothing else.)
3) A Cinderella Story—Busted!
Cinderella had it rough.
I’m not simply talking about the whole wicked stepmother and stepsisters thing, either. Granted, they did make her life a living hell, but she was pure of heart and was ultimately rewarded with an opportunity to head to the ball.
At the ball, she met Prince Charming, but a curfew forced her to leave before her date with destiny was supposed to end.
Yes, it did all work out for old Cindy in the end, because even though her stepmother broke one of the glass slippers, she managed to keep the other one just in case.
But if the (Disney) version of the story teaches us nothing else, it is this:
Glass slippers are fragile things. They break easily.
Don’t believe me? Ask the University of Houston right now.
After an amazing two-game stretch where they were able to knock off Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Cougars traveled across the state and allowed UTEP to score 58 points on them in a 58-41 loss.
This same UTEP team gained 53 yards in total in a beat down at the hands of the University of Texas last week.
But Houston still has their spare glass slipper in place. If they can handle Mississippi State easily this Saturday afternoon, they might—might!—have a chance to hop back into the BCS buster race.
Of course, they would need a lot of help from their fairy godmother.
4) A Difficult Decision
At this time, Tim Tebow is still considered a “game-time decision” as far as if he’s going to play against LSU.
The Florida Gators quarterback suffered a concussion during the third quarter of a victory over Kentucky two weeks ago.
Tebow has practiced this week, but has not been cleared for contact yet.
I don’t think that this is a matter of gamesman ship by the Florida Gators. I think that they truly don’t know if he will be cleared to go yet, and might not know until Saturday afternoon.
With all of the information that is out there right now about concussions (and with more studies still pending), the prudent thing to do is to wait for the medical staff to clear him before putting him at further risk.
I don’t expect them to clear him unless he is a hundred percent ready to go.
And that is the prudent thing to do.
Last week, I went 3-3 again in my Pick Six, bringing my overall record to 19-11 for the season. And it only gets harder from here:
Nebraska 24, Missouri 22: This score is based around the projected forecast of up to five inches of rain hitting the Columbia, Missouri area around game-time.
Of course, the rain could come before the game or come after. It’s Missouri. Just wait for 10 minutes; the weather will change.
However, if the rain does arrive during the game, look for Missouri’s strength (the passing game) to be somewhat neutralized by the inclement conditions. Missouri’s defensive front struggled with runs up the gut by Nevada in their last game two weeks ago.
Look for Nebraska’s stable of backs to try and attack the Missouri front with Roy Helu and company, and the Husker’s front four will get enough pressure to force Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert to make a mistake in the bad weather. That will give Nebraska the win and the inside track to the Big 12 North title.
Georgia Tech 40, Florida State 27: Florida State is a program in disarray right now due to the controversy surrounding Bobby Bowden’s status as the head of the Seminoles program. A season that started out with a lot of promise looks like it’s teetering on the brink, and I think that the triple option offense will push the young defense over the edge. A home crowd that will start out supportive of the ‘Noles will turn ugly by the end of the game as Georgia Tech pulls away on the ground.
TCU 24, Air Force 17: The hope of the Mountain West Conference getting back to the BCS rests on the shoulders of the Horned Frogs. These are two teams that like to run the football, and will try to do so initially. I think that TCU’s defense is stronger than Air Forces, which is usually a bit undersized. I think the Frogs will wear down the Falcons and grind out a close victory with ball control and that typically tenacious defense.
Ohio State 33, Wisconsin 24: I’m still not quite sure how Wisconsin is 5-0; luck and ingenuity as best as I can tell. Scott Tolzein has been a find at quarterback, and the Badgers are ranked 14th in the country in rushing.
The Buckeyes are ranked 10th in rushing defense. Something has to give.
I’m also concerned by how many points that Wisconsin’s defense is giving up. I think the Badgers will struggle with Terrelle Pryor’s versatility and his ability to make plays on the move.
Alabama 31, Ole Miss 17: I think it’s hard to say that anyone is playing harder than Alabama right now. Greg McElroy and Mark Ingram are keying an offense that is averaging 40 points a game. Oh, and Julio Jones has been a non-factor this season. Imagine if they managed to actually get him the ball?
Plus, the Tide is number two in total defense.
But Ole Miss is now the underdog. The Rebels collapsed under the weight of expectations against South Carolina. But Houston Nutt is an excellent motivator when his team is not expected to win.
But the Tide are (excuse the pun) rolling right now. They’ll take Ole Miss best shot, but they will easily win in Oxford this weekend.
LSU 17, Florida 16: This prediction is based on my assumption that Tim Tebow will not dress out for this game. The Gators offense will look somewhat different with John Brantley. If Tebow does not play, look for the running backs to enact some of the single-wing; Wildcat style plays. But not having Tebow to hammer the defenses on third and short will put the Gators at a slight disadvantage.
LSU’s offense is a bit of disappointment this year, averaging 322 yards per game. The offensive line is improving, but is still struggling with being a cohesive unit. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson has struggled as well, missing open receivers with bad overthrows at times.
So why do I think LSU will win? I think that the bag of tricks will be opened up by Les Miles. They may not throw every gadget out there, but count on at least one special teams touchdown—either from a fake field goal or from kick returner Trindon Holliday—being the difference for the Tigers at night in Death Valley.