Locker Room: ‘You gotta’ be kidding me’

The above headline was my response when I was informed that Syracuse had defeated Clemson last Friday evening. It seems every year when that weekend comes along that there are no big top 25 matchups the upsets are stunning.

Let’s see, unranked Syracuse knocked off Clemson who now seems to be in a bit of trouble with an injured quarterback, then Cal routs Washington State, Arizona State dominates Washington, LSU comes from 20 down to knockoff Auburn, Boise upsets San Diego State, and West Virginia KOs Texas Tech. That’s two of the top five, four of the top 10, and six of the top 25 going down in one weekend. And Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, and Southern Cal were all very fortunate to win. Michigan had to beat Indiana in overtime, and Miami beat Georgia Tech, the nation’s best two-loss team, on a deflected pass in the pouring rain on a fourth and 10 play. This is why college football is so exciting, or frustrating, both actually.

Clemson can still win the ACC, and can still be in the Final Four playoff, but the road looks a lot more rocky than it did a few days ago. North Carolina State is now solidly in the picture, and so is Miami and Virginia Tech, and the Wahoos of Virginia are on a roll and they have a shot in the ACC until somebody says otherwise.

TCU and Oklahoma figure to fight it out down the road for the Big 12 title, and one of those two would seem to have a shot at the playoff. The Big 10 East is the toughest division in college football with 6-0 Penn State, 6-1 Ohio State, 5-1 Michigan, and 5-1 Michigan State. Penn State and Michigan play this week. That’s going to be a dramatic round robin between those four teams. The winner would certainly have a great shot at the playoff.

The Pac 12? Maybe Southern Cal, but I believe last weekend badly hurt the two teams from the state of Washington. Big game this weekend, Southern Cal at Notre Dame. If USC wins they are in the mix, if Notre Dame wins the Irish are definitely in the mix and the Trojans and the PAC 12 would be out of the playoff running.

The situation continues to thin out in the SEC. Auburn is no longer in the chase. But Alabama and Georgia certainly are. I do not think it’s likely, but at this stage with both the Tide and Bulldogs being unbeaten and ranked in the top five, should they meet in the SEC title game both undefeated, depending on what happens elsewhere, the winner and the loser could possibly get in the playoff.

Other Stuff:

Two coaches may have saved their jobs. Ed Ogeron at LSU and Dennis Sumlin at Texas A&M………Two coaches have probably lost their jobs, Butch Jones at Tennessee and Mike Riley at Nebraska. To me this is a stunning record, 359 consecutive sellouts at Nebraska and the last 10 years haven’t been great, and we’re talking almost 90,000 for each game, it’s a big house. Cornhusker fans are as loyal as any in the country, more so than most for sure because they keep coming back.

But those fans can speak loudly without even making a noise. At halftime of the Ohio State game in Lincoln last Saturday, over 50,000 Nebraska fans got up and walked out. No noise, no booing, nothing like that. They just walked out and went home. By the end of the third quarter another 20,000 had left. Never has people leaving in silence spoken so loudly. Both Tennessee and Nebraska are former “blue blood” programs that badly want back it the mix. From 1945 to 2005 Nebraska won more football games than any program in the nation, and the second place team Penn State was 44 games behind!

Both UT and Nebraska have made bad choices since the Vols fired Phillip Fulmer and Tom Osborne retired in Lincoln. Since then there has been nothing but bad decisions made in the athletic directors office and the coaches on the field. Both desperately need to make a good hire. Both need to find the right man. How about Paul Johnson from Georgia Tech?

Dabo Swinney has a strong constitution. After getting knocked off by Syracuse last Friday, he showed up at Alabama the next day to be with his old team that won the 1990 national title. For sure, some of the glitz had to be worn off for Swinney. And this is both a cool and refreshing statistic. Army has won twice this season without completing a single pass.

And hats off to the Dukes of James Madison who just keep rolling along, and to Virginia Tech, Virginia, and West Virginia. All three still have the opportunity for really outstanding seasons. And the next coach that could be on the hot seat? Hokie fans will see him Saturday in Lane Stadium. He’ll be wearing Carolina Blue.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot