Gary Danielson said it best this week during Texas A&M’s come-from-behind victory over Arkansas: “Just keep playing.” If you’re up by multiple scores as a double-digit underdog, just keep playing. If you’re the No. 1 ranked team trailing by 17 playing in a stadium where you almost never win, just keep playing. If you’re riding a 15-game conference l0sing streak and allow a game-tying score with 21 seconds to play, just keep playing.
1. Last year’s Florida State team famously cranked the volume all the way to 11 at all times, blowing most teams away by the end of the first quarter. This year’s club, like many defending champions, it seems clear by now, will only do so when it feels threatened. How else do you explain the ‘Noles simultaneously getting outscored 24-7 and outscoring N.C. State 49-17 in the same afternoon?
2. CBS pointed out during the first quarter of Texas A&M’s win over Arkansas that the Razorbacks employed the largest offensive line in all of football – bigger than any NFL line. This happened to be the portion of the game where the Hogs’ line was mowing down Aggie defenders like it was a game of dodgeball against a team of three year-olds. And then in the second half, that success stopped. After running for nearly seven yards per carry in the first half (this isn’t counting the 51-yard fake punt), the Razorbacks ran for less than four yards per carry in the second half, and failed to get a sizable push on the decisive 4th-and-2 (although I thought Alex Collins would have had the necessary yardage if he’d simply put his head down and run, clearly he disagreed). The same pattern played out in Arkansas’ season-opening loss to Auburn, where the Razorbacks rushed for 151 yards in the first half and two in the second. Instead of wearing the opponent out, it seems Arkansas itself is getting worn down over the course of a game. Maybe having the heaviest line in the world isn’t an advantage after all.
3. No matter how ugly it looked at times, the Texas A&M staff has to love how that game turned out. The Aggies got better on Saturday.
4. I think Mike Slive gets too much credit for the SEC’s football success, but he clearly has combined with the people at Buffalo Wild Wings to create some sort of magic that makes every conference game go down to the wire. Saturday’s three SEC games: Todd Gurley goes off as Georgia outlasts Tennessee 35-32, Texas A&M rallies from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Arkansas 35-28 in overtime, and Missouri comes back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit on the road to stun South Carolina 21-20. And this was the undercard to next week’s blockbuster schedule.
5. An approximate ranking of college football divisions through September: 1) SEC West, 2) Pac-12 South, 3) Pac-12 North, 4) SEC East, 5) Whatever ACC division Florida State and Clemson are in, 6) Big Ten East, 7) Big Ten West, 8) Whatever ACC division Florida State and Clemson are not in.
6. This site (and this writer, specifically) heaped some effusive praise on Bill Clark and UAB earlier this season, but a 34-20 loss at home to Florida International is a step in the wrong direction for the Blazers.
7. You have to hand it to SMU. Like a gambler on an 0-8 streak, it’s impressive in an odd way to be last in the country in scoring offense, scoring defense and total offense, and be second-to-last in total defense.
8. It’s not often you see a box score with a larger spread between first downs than points. At the Horsehoe on Saturday night, Ohio State gained 30 more first downs than Cincinnati (45-15), and won the game by “only” 22 (50-28).
9. Saturday felt like the official end of an era for Boise State. It’s one thing to lose to Ole Miss by 22, especially when that can be written away as three competitive quarters and only horrific one, but what happened to the Broncos in Colorado Springs was entirely different. Boise State fell behind Air Force 28-0 and turned it over seven times en route to a 28-14 loss. The Broncos have now lost as many times in their last 18 games (seven) as they did in their previous 68. Getting blown out in a conference game solidifies that Boise State is no longer the gold standard for mid-major programs, and instead is now another solid Mountain West program until proven otherwise.
10. Following Thursday’s 45-35 loss in Stillwater, Texas Tech has now lost the turnover battle in 12 straight games, with 31 giveaways against only 12 takeaways. The Red Raiders have also been out-rushed by their last 10 FBS opponents by an average margin of 280-117. Texas Tech is also the most penalized team in the country. If you want a silver lining, at least the club’s problems are easily identifiable.
11. What’s more amazing, that Kansas managed to go 25-6 from 2007 through the middle of the 2009 season, or that the Jayhawks have gone 11-48 since? That’s a sudden rise and forceful dip reminiscent of the dot com boom around the turn of the last century. Kansas’ 24-21 defeat of Virginia Tech in the 2008 Orange Bowl now feels about as relevant to its current situation as its 33-7 win over Rice in the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl.
12. Most of the focus was on the coach on the opposite sideline of Minnesota’s 30-14 defeat of Michigan, but Jerry Kill has the Golden Gophers at 5-2 in their last seven Big Ten games with Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois and Iowa coming up in succession. This team could be 8-1 in mid November.
13. There are five unbeaten teams in the SEC West. No other conference – repeat, conference – has more than three.
14. The best game of the weekend that none of us saw: Yale 49, Army 43 in overtime. The Black Knights and Bulldogs combined for 1,222 yards of total offense on 8.2 yards per pass and 6.6 yards per rush on 170 total plays.