I thought this tweet summarized Saturday’s action perfectly.
This feels like the first real week of college football.
— The Solid Verbal (@SolidVerbal) September 21, 2014
The 2014 season has been going for nearly a month now, but this was the first Saturday college football truly felt back.
Here are 13 thoughts summarizing a wild weekend.
1. As a voting member of the FWAA, I nominated Mississippi State as my National Team of the Week, and they very much deserve it. I can’t tell you the last time a team walked into Death Valley at night and grabbed a 34-10 lead, but I can tell you it’s been a while. I’ve been critical of Dan Mullen’s ability to build a real SEC West contender, and, with one SEC game down, it appears he’s on his way. Now the Bulldogs have to do it again, and again. After a bye week, Mississippi State’s next two games: vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, vs. No. 5 Auburn.
2. As exciting as Arizona’s Hail Mary win over Cal was for Rich Rod and the Wildcats, you have to feel for Sonny Dykes and the Cal staff. Seeking their first Pac-12 win since mid-October of 2012, the Golden Bears led 31-13 entering the fourth quarter, and still lost. How often do you see a team take an 18-point lead to the fourth quarter, score two touchdowns in that final quarter, and still lose? The good news is Dykes should only have to wait an extra seven days for his first conference win. Colorado comes to Berkeley on Saturday.
3. I hope John Swofford has organized some sort of emergency support group for his coaches this week. How did Virginia Tech lose to Georgia Tech? How did Pittsburgh lose to Iowa? How did Clemson blow that game to Florida State? How?
4. The most frustrating thing for Michigan in its two losses is that the Wolverines actually outgained Notre Dame and Utah in its two losses. Granted, the margins were 289-280 against Notre Dame and 308-286 versus Utah, but those numbers don’t indicate Michigan would be on the wrong end of a 57-10 cumulative score with zero offensive touchdowns. That’s what a minus-7 turnover differential will do for you.
5. Yardage totals can be deceiving, but this one says a whole heck of a lot: Alabama 645, Florida 200.
6. Mississippi State’s win over LSU means that if Arkansas beats Texas A&M on Saturday at AT&T Stadium, all seven SEC West teams will be ranked a week from now. This feels like the right time to mention that the Hogs are averaging 7.13 yards per carry with 17 touchdowns in on 45.5 carries per game. The Aggies’ front had better put some bricks in their britches on Saturday.
7. I’m only mentioning this because the selection committee will notice it: Oklahoma beat West Virginia on the road more convincingly than Alabama did in a quasi-home game.
8. Speaking of the Big 12, Kansas State’s loss to Auburn was the conference’s final chance to snag a win over a national title contender outside the conference. West Virginia almost beat Alabama, but didn’t. Oklahoma State almost beat Florida State, but didn’t. Texas almost beat UCLA, but didn’t. And Kansas State should have beaten Auburn, but didn’t. Considering the cannibalisitc nature of the league’s round-robin schedule, where an undefeated national title contender has been cut down in a November road game every year since the Big 12 moved to a nine-game schedule, and it potentially leaves the conference in a precarious place come Selection Sunday.
9. Kansas beat Central Michigan 24-10 on Saturday. The last time the Jayhawks beat an FBS opponent by two touchdowns? A 42-16 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 25, 2010. That was 43 games ago, back when Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M were still in the Big 12.
10. A statement that perhaps summarizes where both programs stand on the college football pecking order: Miami visited Nebraska on Saturday night, two historic programs that have squared off for multiple national championships, at one time the best inter-sectional pseudo-rivalry in college football, and the game was relegated to ESPN2, with nary a ripple on the overall national landscape.
Although I have to say this is awesome.
Shoutout to the Nebraska Student section. THIS IS AWESOME !!!!! pic.twitter.com/qZDlAiFEd9
— Tim Beck (@NU_speed_kills) September 21, 2014
11. Congrats to Old Dominion. The Monarchs’ 45-42 win at Rice gave Old Dominion a win in their inaugural Conference USA game. This from a program that wasn’t playing football as recently as 2008. The competition hasn’t been great, but Bobby Wilder going 49-15 with a rebuilt football program is impressive.
12. A number of games this week were not suitable for children. Wisconsin dropped 68 on Bowling Green, Michigan State hit Eastern Michigan for 73, East Carolina left a 70-point bomb on North Carolina, Georgia blanked Troy 66-0, Temple dusted Delaware State 59-0, and North Texas tied a Conference USA record by dropping 77 on poor Nicholls State.
13. And finally, congrats to the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets for defending Reveille from SMU wide receiver Der’ikk Thompson on Saturday.
This now evens the scoreboard at Corps of Cadets 1, SMU 1.