2023-10-13 05:48

Back from vacation and in that period some great games did happen.

Colorado gets a lot of attention, still, even the team did lose some games now and did drop fast from the TOP25.
Louisville looks right now like a real contender inside the ACC and it also looks like the Alabama dominance is melting away.

In the previews I did state that Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern was let go before the season, thanks to same harassment accusations from players, and Mel Tucker of Michigan State was in trouble because of some sexual harassment things.
Well, Tucker was now officially fired.
And both coaches did now (of course, since those things are usually not black-and-white) file lawsuits against their former programs, claiming of course a lot of money.
Tucker has almost 100 mio on the bill guaranteed if fired, and Fitzgerald seeks 130 mio. , claiming money from the remaining contract time and compensation for damage.
As usual we won't hear much about the process, but likely there will be an agreement after time outside the court.

So far, no additional coach was fired during my vacation, which does make me a bit wonder, since some teams are just bad and the coach is usually the 1st victim of the wrath of the program presidents.

Let's have a look at the past few weeks results.


Sat. Sep 23
#15 Ole Miss @ #13 Alabama
Ole Miss did play fine for the 1st half, then it all fell apart and Alabama did turn the game in their favor.
The 3rd and 4th quarter were in Crimson Tides hand and Ole Miss had no answer.
That means Ole Miss will likely again roam on the 2nd level inside the division, since they are not able to overcome the dominating programs.
For Alabama at that point a great win to stay in contention.
#15 Ole Miss 10 @ #13 Alabama 24 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 8-5

#6 Ohio State @ #9 Notre Dame
This is a loss for Notre Dame, which will ring a long time.
A very defense driven game, the Irish made their 1st error, when they missed a 47-yard field goal try start of the 2nd quarter.
Ohio State needed some time but did sink a field goal a bit later to take the 3:0 lead into the locker room.
In the 3rd quarter did then OSU score a TD with a big play, but Notre Dame did counter that with a TD on their own after a long drive.
They did then stop the Buckeyes and made another good drive for a Touchdown 1 drive later, taking the 14:10 lead.
At that point did the Irish look slightly better, stopped Ohio State again, but failed to get another decent drive going.
Ohio State got the ball back, 1:26 left on the clock.
The Buckeyes did gain yardage, but with 15 seconds left, the did get an intentional grounding penalty, sending them to the Irish 22-yard line.
But they managed to get a pass going, and ND did stop the guy with 7 ticks left on the 1-yard line.
On 3rd and goal from the 1-yard line, the Buckeyes did run the ball in and scored a TD with 1 tick left on the clock on snap to win the game 17:14.
The bad news was, that Notre Dame had only 10 players on the field for the last 2 plays, and for some reason they did not commit a penalty to stop the clock (they were out of timeouts).
This will hang on the coach for a long time.
#6 Ohio State 17 @ #9 Notre Dame 14 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 8-6

#24 Iowa @ #7 Penn State
Oh man, this was sooooo one-sided.
Iowa was unable to score and did commit too many errors on top.
At the end did Penn State win 31:0, which says all about this game.
#24 Iowa 0 @ #7 Penn State 31 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 9-6

And some other interesting games:

Sat. Sep 23
#4 Florida State @ Clemson
This game was very open.
Clemson did look better in the 1st quarter but did only gain a field goal out of it.
Then the scoring did happen, drive, after drive, after drive, until halftime, in which Clemson did lead 17:14.
The 3rd quarter was then quite rough, and FSU was able to tie the game twice, 1st with a field goal, then with a fumble return TD.
The 4th quarter then did switch to defense and Clemson did manage to get 1 good drive going but missed a likely deciding 29-yard field goal.
FSU got the ball, but failed to get into scoring range and Clemson did run down the clock to get into OT.
The Seminoles got the ball 1st and scored with 2 plays a TD, Clemson did fail to score and lost the game, 24:31 (OT)
For FSU, this was big and did help them to stay on top of the ACC and high in the TOP25 rankings.
Clemson did lose the 2nd ACC game, which gives them a tough package to carry for the remaining season, if they still want to reach the ACC Championship game.
Jacks interesting games Score: 8-7

#19 Colorado @ #10 Oregon
The Ducks did kick their ass big time to win 42:6. That did not stop the attention train but did cost them the TOP25 ranking.
I thought this would be closer, since the Buffalos offense was great in the past few weeks, but Oregon did it all right and stopped it.
Jacks interesting games Score: 9-7

#22 UCLA @ #11 Utah
A very defense driven game, which ended with a Utes win 14:7.
Utah scored on the 1st play by returning an INT for a TD, but then it took a long time to get something more.
UCLA did only score late in the 4th quarter, more or less in garage time, even with that kind of score (14:0 Utes at that time) it's not really garbage time, since they could still come back.
Surprisingly short on scoring.
Jacks interesting games Score: 10-7

#14 Oregon State @ #21 Washington State
This must have been a fun game to watch.
Washington State did score early and often, and the Beavers did the same.
At the half it was 28:14 Cougars, but then started to close the gap by stopping the Cougars from time to time, or at least let them only score a field goal.
With a bit more than a minute to play the Beavers came close by 3 points.
The onside kick was lost, and the Cougars did run down the clock to win 38:35.
Jacks interesting games Score: 10-8

And other odd results?
Georgia State did beat Coastal Carolina 30:17. Coastal Carolina seems to have a big issue with their coaching change and the team is by far not on the level of recent years.
Marshall did win against Virginia Tech, 24:17. I think it will be a rough season for VT.
West Virginia won against Texas Tech, 20:13. That's tough loss for TTU, likely will cost them something at the end of the year.
Iowa State did beat Oklahoma State 34:27. Their 1st inside the conference this season. They did not look good so far but might rebound.
Jacksonville State won against Eastern Michigan, 21:0. That's a good win for JVST, since they are quite new inside the FBS and EMU is supposed to content inside the MAC.
Central Michigan did win against South Alabama, 34:30. I had hopes for South Alabama this season, but it seems they will not fulfill those.
Texas State won against Nevada, 35:24. Nevada is one of those universities where I expect a pink slip soon. But so far nothing.
Indiana needed 4 OT to beat Akron, 29:27. Indiana is another program, where a coach change might happen.
Northwestern did win against Minnesota in OT, 37:34. Minnesota has issues this season.
James Madison did show again, they did the right move to join the FBS, winning against Utah State 45:38.
Hawaii got their 1st FBS win this season by beating New Mexico State 20:17.

That's it for week 4. No big surprises. But with week 5 the regular season gets into the 'real' mode, since most FCS-games and cupcake-games as non-conference games are done and most teams will now play teams from their own conference. This will shape up the conference standings fast, at least we will see fast who does NOT content.
I did pick only a few games as previews, so not so many reviews on the games.


Fri. Sep 29
#10 Utah @ #19 Oregon State
This is how it can be. Utah won the week before, the Beavers lost and in this game here, the whole 'so it must be this way'-logic was thrown away.
Utah was unable to do anything until late in the 4th quarter, when they were already way behind.
This did cost the Utes heavily and Oregon State did make a good statement to stay in contention.
#10 Utah 7 @ #19 Oregon State 21 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 10-6

Sat. Sep 30
#8 USC @ Colorado
The hype about Colorado did get a big splash from reality, when they lost against Oregon the week before.
Gone the TOP25 ranking, got the perfect winner image.
They did not lose close; they did lose big.
Still a lot of prominent people wanted to see Colorado taking on USC and they did get something to watch.
USC did lead at the half 34:14. That's a good margin.
And nothing did look like Colorado would get back.
USC did even extend the lead, but Colorado did also score.
Then again USC and Colorado did answer, now 48:27.
USC was intercepted on the next drive and Colorado did score a TD on their drive to cut the deficit.
Still a lot of time and USC was stopped.
Same for the Buffs, then USC got in Field Goal range and miss it! (38-yards)
Colorado made it all-in and with a bit under 2 minutes to play they did score to 48:41.
Onside kick did fail and USC did run down the clock to win it.
The hype got another splash of cold water.
#8 USC 48 @ Colorado 41 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 11-6

#13 LSU @ #20 Ole Miss
And the next crucial game for Ole Miss.
If they want to crash the party of the 'we do dominate here' teams in the division, they NEED to win here.
And they did in a monster game.
LSU did lead at the half 31:28. Defense was left home for both teams.
Then came 3rd quarter and LSU did extent the lead. It looked like the typical 'see-we-are-better-as-usual'-day.
But in the 4th Old Miss did come back and outscored LSU 21:7 to win the game with 39 ticks left by 55:49.
And LSU even made it in that time remaining to the Rebels 16-yard line, but penalties did push them back and at the end, LSU was unable to answer that last TD.
The Fans did storm the field and the party started.
Huge win for the Rebel, bad loss for LSU.
#13 LSU 49 @ #20 Ole Miss 55 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 12-6

Other strange results:
Louisville did win against NC State 13:10 to stay perfect. Louisville really with a great win here and NC State has a problem.
BYU won against Cincinnati 35:27. For both teams the start inside the BIG12 is not easy, but Cincinnati has more problems now.
In an error prone game did Notre Dame win against Duke 21:14. 41 ticks prior the final peep Duke did look like the winner, but 2 long runs did bring the Irish into the endzone and Duke did fumble the ball away on the next drive.
Kentucky did beat ranked Florida 33:14 and their running game was unstoppable on that day.
Central Michigan was able to win against Eastern Michigan 26:23. I thought EMU would dominate this season inside the Michigan-Teams, but that was a wrong thought.
Bowling Green did win against Georgia Tech 38:27. A strange season for GT, winning and losing odd games.
Texas Tech did try to avenge their loss of last week and won against Houston, 49:28. Houston’s HCs seat is at least a bit warmer now.
Memphis won against Boise State, 35:32. Inside their conference are the Broncos still perfect, overall, not that good, so far.
Georgia Southern did beat Coastal Carolina 38:28 and now CCU has really a problem, since they are way worse than last year.
Virginia Tech did win against Pitt, 38:21. The Pitt HC likely also needs some cooling under his butt.
West Virginia won against TCU, 24:21. The high praised TCU do not look good THIS season, which is surprising and disappointing (depend on your view).

Some nice game results in week 5, upsets, blowouts, close games, all happened. That's how I like it.
And with week 6 it went on ....


Sat. Oct 7
#12 Oklahoma vs #3 Texas
The teams were ready, the crowd also.
A wild game, which had twists and turns.
Most of the time did Oklahoma look like the slightly better team, but Texas always found a way to get back into the conversation and regaining the lead.
The Sooners led at the half by 3 points, while trailing for a short period by 4.
Then they did extend the lead in the 3rd quarter to 7 points.
But the Longhorns did fight back, were able to stop the Sooners Offense and were lucky that Oklahoma made mistakes. But that's Football, right?
A Touchdown and a Field Goal did give Texas the lead with a bit more than a minute left to play.
Down by 3 did the Sooners manage the clock, had no Timeouts left and with a hard interference call against Texas did OU made it not only to FG range, they went for the full ticket and got it.
Oklahoma won the rivalry game 34:30 and Texas is now a game behind the Sooners.
But if all goes as expected (which happens from time to time) then the 2 teams will finish 1-2 and will meet again in the Conference Championship game for a rematch.
#12 Oklahoma 34 vs #3 Texas 30 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 12-7

#11 Alabama @ Texas A&M
Man, I would be pissed, if I would be an A&M fan.
The team played well in the 1st half, had a great 2nd quarter and went into the locker room with a 17:10 lead.
Then the team came out and the gold turned into shit.
Alabama did stop the Aggies on every drive until late in the 4th quarter and at that time the game was basically over.
When A&M finally scored again, they did settle for a Field Goal from the 2 yard line with 2 min left to play and down by 9 points.
Sure, they could have taken the risk and go for a TD, if they manage the onside-kick the still have to kick the game winner.
Or they could kick the FG and try the onside and go for a TD.
Just think about it, what is more likely?
I think I would have gone for 6 here, but they went for 3, lost the onside kick and the game 26:20.
Again, this season no title and also no win against Alabama.
#11 Alabama 26 @ Texas A&M 20 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 13-7

#13 Washington State @ UCLA
Not as funny and high scoring as expected.
The game was wide open, until in the 4th quarter UCLA just somehow stopped Wazzu for good and took the lead and never gave it back.
UCLA won this important game 25:17 to stay in contention and Washington State got their 1st conference loss.
#13 Washington State 17 @ UCLA 25 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 14-7

And what else?
Oklahoma State did beat Kansas State 29:21. The Cowboys are like an on-off-machine. Sometimes they can play, sometimes they don't. I don't think they will at the end have a say in the conference championship seats, but they might spoil the fun for some teams.
Nebraska did win against Illinois their 1st conference game, 20:7. Illinois looks bad, but still no heat-seat-debate as it seems.
USC needed 3 OT to beat Arizona 43:41. Now the conversation runs wild, why the USC defense acted so bad.
Louisville did win against Notre Dame, 33:20. With this, even this was a non-conference game, is Louisville officially a contender inside the ACC. The Irish have a lot of ACC teams on the schedule and just 2 weeks ago there was a question whether any team can beat ND, implicating that ND (who won the ACC in corona-season 2020, when they joined the conference for that 1 season) is better than any team from the ACC on their schedule. Well, Louisville did prove them wrong, and it will be interesting to see the Cardinals against Duke and Miami. They avoid FSU and Clemson, so they MIGHT sneak into the Championship game, which would be a real surprise.
Georgia Tech did win against Miami, 23:20. The Hurricanes had the win basically cashed in, all they had to do was to kneel down. Instead, they ran the football, fumbled, lost the ball and GT had 25 seconds left to win the game and 2 long pass plays did the miracle. If I would be a Hurricanes fan .....
LSU won against Missouri 49:39. Both teams needed that win (of course) and I did pick Mizzou here, but LSU was able to win this and stays in contention.
Wyoming won against Fresno State, 24:19. Fresno State was ranked prior the game, but the Cowboys did end the 14-game winning streak of the Bulldogs.
Louisiana did win against Texas State, 34:20. Texas State did look prior the game (at least for me) like a winner, but overall Louisiana did play better and now both teams are 1-1 inside the conference and 4-2 overall.
Iowa State did beat TCU, 27:14. Now I'm worried about TCU. Last season they were unbeatable and this season they seemed to be a completely different team.

That's it for the recaps. I did write Alabama’s dominance seems to be melting away. The reason for that is, even they are 3-0 inside the conference and 5-1 overall, they do not win as in recent years. For me, right now, it looks like only the right time and place and Alabama will lose a game or two this season MORE and will not win the division. But of course, that's just a gut feeling. But with crucial games against Tennessee, LSU, Kentucky, and Auburn (the last 2 on the road) the team will get tested heavily. If they survive this, they will win the division and can than face off against Georgia again, but I have my doubts.

During my vacation I had the idea to cover every conference in a high-level way to the championship game by providing a simple list I did call myself the BUBBLE WATCH.
On the list will be only the team having at that moment the best chance to get into the championship game.
I will do this by counting the conference losses, not the wins, because the losses are marked in stone, the wins will differ, because of the scheduling and it will all come together regarding the conference standings finally on last gameday. So, the losses are a better indicator from my point of view.
A team with a 1-1 record is worse than at that time a team with 0-0, since the 0-0 team COULD still go undefeated.
Since right now there are still a lot of teams in the mix I will start after next week, then likely 50%+ of the teams are already out of the list.
Over time it might happen that teams which were NOT on the list do enter again, since the standings did change that way that this team now has a chance again.
I will only have the team(s) with the best losing record (most of the time unbeaten) and the next worse teams (most of the time 1-loss-teams) on the list.
But only from next week onward, since otherwise the list would be too long, and I have enough to work with from my vacation.
Playoff chances will then be put in as comment.

But let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 7

I selected several games, which impact will be, that the losers will drop in a tough way in the conference standings and having a hard time to catch up.
Those teams are all competitors and those games, will likely be crucial on the final regular season standings and several of the losers will likely come short with a spot in a Conference Championship game.
Some might recover (you never know when upsets happen).

Sat. Oct 14
#8 Oregon @ #7 Washington
With the switch to the one-conference-no-division-model, this could be the championship game matchup.
The winner will be in a very handsome situation, the loser will have several teams ahead of them and also, if the winner loses at some point, the direct compare will always hunt that losing team for the rest of the season.
The Vegas line is Washington -3.0, which is from my point of view fair.
Both teams did play good teams (and worse), but no great ones, both did win all games, very clearly.
I think right now, both teams are values almost the same way, so having the home team favored by a field goal is OK, I think.
Likely this will be a high scoring game, which will be decided by those small errors which can and do usually happen. Penalties, INTs, fumbles, drops and so on.
I do believe Washington is a bit more complete, as far as I can judge this, but this game can go any way.
In doubt for the home team.
Huskies win.

#10 USC @ #21 Notre Dame
This rivalry game would have been more spicey, if the Irish wouldn't have lost against Louisville last week.
By that loss the Irish are more or less eliminated from all playoff considerations, if not a heavy meltdown on unbeaten and 1-loss-teams happens.
Still for both teams, beside the rivalry itself, the game is important.
For USC it is a quality game, boosting their schedule for the playoff considerations and for the Irish it might make a difference between a high-profile bowl and a mid-to-low-profile bowl.
Notre Dame is still favored, at home, by 3.0 points.
Likely this is, because the did lose twice to great teams and they did also not struggle against not-so-good-teams.
USC did themselves no favor, when they did almost lose to a bad Arizona team.
It will be interesting to see, who this will work out.
USC offense seems to be stable and powerful, but I don't think they did face a defense like Notre Dame so far.
And Notre Dame’s offense did struggle a bit lately, but the USC defense is soft as a marshmallow.
So, will we see a high-scoring game, or a low-scoring game?
I'm willing to pick USC here, in a close one.
Trojans win.

#25 Miami @ #12 North Carolina
In the past, this could have been the divisional deciding game for the championship game, but no division, means, this does only count against the record.
The winner will stay in the hunt, the loser will take a step back.
With Miami’s problems last week and UNC playing very good this season so far, I don't think Miami will stand a chance here.
Vegas has them only favored by 3.5 points, which is likely a result of that strange event on the Hurricanes game.
But overall I doubt Miami will beat UNC, at home, even with some extra motivation to avenge the stupid error of last week.
Tar Heels win.

And some other interesting games:

Fri. Oct 13
Tulane @ Memphis
Right now, both teams have overall a 4-1 record and inside the conference a 1-0 record. So, all open, sure, but they are both the best teams inside the American Athletics and will likely finish on the top level of the conference.
But the loser might have a crucial loss too much.
Played in Memphis, the Vegas favorite is still Tulane with 4.5 points.
There are arguments for both teams to be favored from my point of view, but I do prefer Memphis here.
Not only because of the home field factor, but also because Tulane had some trouble against likely weaker teams and every streak of luck ends.
My gut feeling says it ends here.
Don't get me wrong, if Tulane wins here, I would not be surprised, but since I have to pick a winner in a quite open game, it's ....
Tigers win.

Sat. Oct 14
#18 UCLA @ #15 Oregon State
Both teams are already 1 loss behind the leading teams inside the conference and that means, the loser will have a longer way back to the top to get into the championship game.
UCLA has statistically one of the best defenses in the nation, but did not face many real threats so far, the only loss was against Utah on the road, where they were able to contain the Utah offense quite good, but not good enough.
Oregon State has a good offense and a quite good defense, their only loss was against Washington State on the road in a high scoring game, so maybe we will see something here.
I don't buy the UCLA defense 100%, which will likely mean the Beavers have chances to score.
The main question for me is, whether the UCLA offense can come up big against Oregon State on the road.
Vegas has the Beavers ahead by 3.5 points, which sounds OK, but I would even see them a bit higher in the lead at the end.
Beavers win.

Missouri @ #24 Kentucky
Kentucky has again a good season, as it seems.
The are favored here by 2.0 points, which is likely the result of the Mizzou loss last week, which was an awful beatdown by Georgia, while Kentucky did at least stay in the game against LSU. Both teams did get their 1st loss of the season last week, so one team will rebound here, and one will drop fast.
As home team, chances are good for Kentucky to be the rebounding team.
But Mizzou is also playing much better this season than at least I did expect them to play.
I expect a close game and wouldn't be surprised by any winner, but do pick ...
Wildcats win.

Wyoming @ Air Force
And a bonus game here, the top game inside the Mountain West.
Both teams are quite hot right now, Air Force a bit more than Wyoming, which did lose against Texas a few weeks back, while the Falcons are so far unbeaten.
Vegas has the Academy ahead by 11.0 points, so likely this will be quite clear, but don't underestimate Wyoming, which did upset Fresno State last week.
Could be closer than expected, but I believe in the Falcons.
Falcons win.

'Til next time

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