Forty names, games, teams and details make news in college football, true lessons corrective clock management are available in Fort Collins
FIRST QUARTER: THE LATE SEASON FIX-IT LIST
The Dash watched a plethora of competitions this weekend and in the midst of the fun and excitement there were a number of things that appeared to be broken and in need of repair. Some are quick fixes; others may require more elbow grease and ingenuity. The list:
Overtime (1). The new rules, which require games to be decided on two-point conversion games starting in the third OT, are appalling. As evidenced by the nine-OT festival of offensive ineptitude between Illinois and Penn State, a game that boils down to single-play possessions is a gimmick that departs from the sport’s fundamental cornerstone: four-play possessions and all the inherent strategy. to them.
The reason for the rule change was, as always, well-intentioned. Coaches and administrators try to protect players by limiting the number of plays – and therefore the number of collisions and chances of injury, which increase as exhaustion occurs. No one wants a repeat of the 2018 LSU-Texas A&M seven-OT game, in which there were 197 snaps with every possession from the 25-yard line. But in shrinking all the way to the soccer version of soccer penalty kicks, the NCAA missed the sweet spot.
In many places, high school overtime is simple and tidy: first and goal from the 10-yard line, with four downs to score or fail. That would yield less play than possession from 25, while maintaining the traditional length of possession. Field goals are part of the equation, so the trap game isn’t thrown aside as is the case with the two-point gimmick. If the concern is that it will become too easy to score and/or take kicks, they can play with two points after, say, the fifth OT. That is in any case theater of absurd territory.
Admittedly, few offenses are as obstinately futile as Illinois and Penn State. They were a combined 3-for-14 in two-run attempts, a 21.4% success rate. The national average is a 38.4% pass rate – lower than The Dash expected, but still far better than these two teams. (Never has three yards seemed as far as Saturday at Beaver Stadium.) Most games will end before they reach Dante’s Ninth Circle of Overtime Hell. But just in case better OT rules can allay the snap count concerns without turning games into single game randomizers.
The Penn State offense (2). A promising season has entered the disappointment zone and things could get worse from here. Since quarterback Sean Clifford was injured against Iowa on Oct. 9, the Nittany Lions have scored 13 points in just under seven full quarters of regulated play. They have three scoring drives in their last 22 regulated possessions, and one of them went just 23 yards after the Penn State defense produced a takeaway. And most importantly, they are 0-2.
It’s a sobering commentary on the quarterback depth of the program when Clifford was the best option against Illinois when he was clearly still in pain two weeks after being injured against Iowa. An open date didn’t heal the senior and raise his backups to game-ready even when the opponent was 2-5 Illinois.
Of course, it would help if Penn State could play the ball even just a little bit and force the defense to play them fairer. Illinois held the Nittany Lions to 2.14 yards per carry, their lowest of the season. James Franklin couldn’t count on Clifford’s normal walking ability—he had a career-worst minus-28 rushing yards—and Noah Cain and Keyvone Lee’s running tandem couldn’t catch the slack.
If Clifford doesn’t return to full health and cause the Penn State bout, good luck in upcoming games against Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.
All too unofficial jerks (3). For whatever reason, the forces in both professional and college football have decided they want to tackle the bullying. Among those who failed to notice that renewed emphasis during the off-season was Big 12 officials coordinator Greg Burks, who said on Big 12 media days: “It seems like every year we talk about unsportsmanlike conduct. It’s always an area. that needs to be addressed. And what we’re really going to focus on this year is challenging an opponent.”
Well, it’s being focused and there’s an idiot majoring in minors, which is what an official did during the Oklahoma State-Iowa State game. When Iowa State Xavier Henderson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct while celebrating a long touchdown catch and ran in an extremely friendly manner, it was arguably the worst flag of the season. (Or in NCAA history, according to the Iowa state radio team.) Luckily for Henderson, he scored a few plays later.
This piece should lead to a reassessment of this crackdown, the reason for which has not been properly explained to begin with. To college umpires everywhere, as the stakes mount over the next month, please don’t rule out games by flying flags at small celebrations. Light up, Francis.
Oklahoma’s ranking (4). Having endured the worst Power 5 program in the country in Kansas, the pollsters may be tired (mild and sluggish) of the Sooners’ disappointing act. They dropped one spot to fourth in the AP Top 25 and two spots to fourth in the coaches poll. It’s not far enough yet. The Dash said in recent weeks that they’ve been inflated with blue-blooded helium, and they seem to have a large supply of it. The fact is, Oklahoma has beaten almost no one and has not done it impressively. Yet they remain in the top five there.
Oklahoma and Northern Illinois have the most single-score wins in the nation with five. The Sooners’ average margin of victory against FBS opponents is 8.9 points. Wake Forest, also undefeated, has an FBS average win margin of 15.5 points against a slightly weaker schedule. There isn’t much daylight between the two programs on paper, but there is in the polls: Oklahoma is nine places ahead of the Demon Deacons in both major polls.
What the College Football Playoff selection committee thinks of the Sooners will be extremely interesting and relevant for the rest of the season. We’ll get our first lecture on that next week, along with another fascinating dilemma…
Oregon-Ohio State Rank (5). The Ducks have moved up three places in the AP poll and are now just two behind the Buckeyes. They are three places behind the coaches poll. That’s closer, but it remains mind-boggling how Oregon fell far behind a team with the same record beating it on the road while missing its best player (striker end Kayvon Thibodeaux). In a vacuum, Oregon’s loss to Stanford isn’t good, but it came with important extenuating circumstances: Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead made the trip but missed the game and underwent emergency surgery in the Bay Area; and the game was sent into overtime by a touchdown on an untimed down following a controversial interference call in the end zone.
Ohio State is the best team in the country after knocking out three Big Ten opponents in a row. But it still takes a willingness to ignore what happened opposite to rank them ahead of Oregon.
Clemson (6). The Tigers’ run of games against the FBS league in which they failed to score 20 points in the regulations has now reached six, three of them losing. That comes after a run of 39 consecutive games that scored more than 20. Clemson’s offensive collapse was a complete system failure, from chronic line problems to a sudden pedestrian core of skill players to – most notably – terrible quarterback play. DJ Uiagalelei was touted as a rising star but crashed amid the weight of expectations and Dr. Pepper commercials. His efficiency score of 102.89 is by far the lowest of any starting quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and his performance with two interceptions and no touchdown in Saturday’s loss to Pittsburgh was the worst start of his career (a score of 75.01). .
Coach Dabo Swinney, he of the $90 million contract, rightly took the blame after the game, saying it “rests 100% on him”. But besides that, he said there will be no staff changes, suggesting his inherent stubbornness. This season may prove to be an aberration and the Tigers recover back to national prominence in 2022, but as it is a long shot at winning the ACC Atlantic Division that has dominated it for years, it seems to deserve a long look under the hood. A harsh evaluation of the coaching staff and the quarterback’s position — five-star Cade Klubnik coming, meaning Uiagalelei will have competition — seems like the least Swinney can do.
FOUR FOR THE PLAY OFF
The Dash’s weekly look at how the playoff should shake off if today was Squad Sunday:
Orange Bowl: Top seed Georgia (7) vs. fourth seed Cincinnati (8).
The Bulldogs (7-0) had a week off, which allowed Kirby to personally explore Smart Arch Manning in New Orleans. His team hasn’t shown an ounce of complacency so far, and that shouldn’t change with rival Florida in front — not after the Gators housed Georgia in a disturbed ravage last year.
Next for Georgia: Florida in Jacksonville.
The Bearcats (7-0) had some anxious moments against Navy on Saturday, but came out undefeated, extending their regular season winning streak to 15 games. Cincy’s solid run defense held out against the Midshipmen option, allowing only 2.87 yards per carry. Cincinnati’s attack yielded modest numbers, but much of that was due to running only 51 total plays while Navy monopolized the ball.
Next for Cincinnati: in Tulane.
Cotton Bowl: second seed Michigan (9) vs. third seed Michigan State (10).
The Wolverines (7-0) shutout 23-0 in the bottom half to get away from Northwestern. They lost their first two fumbles of the season, but countered that with two takeaways and also blocked a punt. One-two running back punch Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins each had 100-yard games — fourth of the season for Corum and third for Haskins.
Next for Michigan: in Michigan State.
The Spartans (7-0) had a week off to gear up for the showdown with in-state rival Michigan, a game likely to identify who looms as the biggest threat to the state of Ohio in the Big Ten East. Michigan State had some work to do during open week to reinvigorate a violation held at just 241 yards and 3.89 yards per game in Indiana on October 16.
Next for Michigan State: Michigan in East Lansing.
Also considered: Oregon, Ohio State, Alabama.
More College Football Coverage:
• SI’s Top 10: Michigan rules supreme
• Washington State’s coaching staff can only blame themselves
• Ed Orgeron’s Rapid Fall at LSU: A Stunning Post-Title Collapse
• Wake Forest’s confusing RPO system has an attack of demon deacons
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