Week 3 is upon us, which means it’s time to examine the coaches with the most to gain and the coaches with the most at risk this weekend. Let’s get right to it with those with the most to gain.
Chad Morris: There’s no doubt Morris senses the gravity of the moment ahead of him. SMU is 2-0 for the first time since 2009. The Mustangs haven’t started 3-0 since 1984.
— #PonyUpTempo (@SMU_Football) September 12, 2017
It’s fitting that this moment comes against TCU. TCU’s climb from the pits of college football hell to Big 12 and national title contention is exactly where SMU wants to be. There’s no better way to announce yourself as a program and a head coach to be reckoned with than by beating a program that holds a 21-6 record against you since coming back from the death penalty — particularly if Morris and SMU can put up points on a defense that held Arkansas to seven points in Fayetteville a week ago.
Jeff Brohm: The Brohm Revolution is ahead of schedule in West Lafayette. The Boilers scored 28 points against Louisville and held a lead in the second half, and enjoyed a 44-21 blowout of an Ohio team many expect to compete for the MAC title. And, yes, I realize what it means to give a Big Ten team credit for blowing out a MAC team, but this is the state of the Purdue program Brohm inherited. No one expects the Missouri team Purdue faces Saturday to challenge Alabama for SEC supremacy, but it would still be an important step forward for Brohm. Purdue hasn’t won a road game anywhere other than Champaign, Ill., since beating Iowa in Nov. 2012 — two head coaches ago. The last time Purdue won a non-conference game against a Power 5 opponent away from West Lafayette? 2005.
Yeah, a win Saturday in Columbia would mean a lot.
Mike Norvell: In 2015, No. 13 Ole Miss came to the Liberty Bowl and got smacked by Memphis, 37-24 in a game televised nationally by ABC. The Tigers would appear in the AP Top 25 the next week at No. 18, the first time in program history Memphis had been ranked above No. 25. They would climb as high as No. 15 before eventually falling out, but the statement had been made. Justin Fuente was named Virginia Tech’s new head coach a month and a half after that Ole Miss victory.
A similar opportunity sits in front of Mike Norvell on Saturday. UCLA, ranked No. 25 this week, travels to the Liberty Bowl in a game that will be televised nationally by ABC. What’s more: the game kicks at 11 a.m. local time, and 9 a.m. body clock time for the visiting Bruins.
The coaches with the most at risk. Stop me if you notice a theme here.
Jim McElwain: Florida’s offensive output in its last seven games against Power 5 opponents: 3, 20, 16, 6, 14, 23, and 3. Florida fans have a very low tolerance for losing, and an even lower tolerance for losing — the Gators are 3-4 over that stretch — while scoring one offensive touchdown a game. McElwain, coaching in just the second home game of the Scott Stricklin era, needs to beat Tennessee. And if he can’t beat Tennessee, he at least needs to score.
Butch Jones: There was an airing of grievances going on while it looked like Tennessee was going to lose to Georgia Tech on Labor Day night. It started right about the time Vols fans started pouring out of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Losing to a Florida team that, ahem, has averaged one offensive touchdown over its last seven games, would get that conveyer belt of complaints rolling again at double speed.
Todd Graham: Following each of his first four seasons in Tempe, Arizona State handed Graham a 1-year contract extension. AD Ray Anderson declined that option this year. “That’s not an automatic provision in the contract. It wasn’t rolled over because it didn’t need to be rolled over,” he said in June. Anderson, remember, was the NFL’s vice president for football operations before taking the Arizona State job. He also didn’t hire Graham.
After back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2013-14, Arizona State slunk to 11-14 over the past two seasons, including a 2-7 mark in Pac-12 play last season. The Sun Devils lost 30-20 to San Diego State at home last week, and visit Texas Tech on Saturday. Winning in Lubbock, at night, won’t be easy. Know what else won’t be easy? The Sun Devils’ next five games: vs. Oregon, at Stanford, vs. Washington, at Utah, vs. USC.