SEC Upsets, Notre Dame Loss Highlight Big Stories from Week 5 in College Football
Upsets shook up the SEC race while Notre Dame’s luck finally ran out. Those were just some of the big highlights from this week in college football.
Alabama Is Still King of the Mountain
A wise man once said “If you want to be the man, you gotta beat the man.” And while this might not be the greatest Alabama team Nick Saban has fielded, they’re still the 800-pound gorilla in the SEC’s living room.
The Crimson Tide dismantled No. 8 Georgia, 38-10, on the road to show they’re still the team to beat in the SEC. Bulldog running back Nick Chubb did set a school record with his 13th 100+ yard game but, aside from his performance, the Alabama defense was dominant. Georgia quarterbacks combined to go just 11/31 for 106 yards and three interceptions while the Tide defense held the Bulldogs to 299 total yards. The 28-point margin marked Georgia’s worst-ever home loss under Mark Richt.
Vegas made Alabama an underdog for the first time since 2009 and some idiots people wondered if the Crimson Tide’s loss to Ole Miss signaled a changing of the guard in the SEC. Alabama’s statement win—combined with Florida’s upset of Ole Miss (more on that next) showed that the road to the SEC still goes through Tuscaloosa.
Florida Could Be a Contender
A weekend that was supposed to serve as Georgia’s coronation in the SEC East ended up turning the division on its head. Don’t look now but Florida, after upsetting No. 3 Ole Miss, is suddenly a legitimate conference contender. Under first-year coach Jim McElwain, Florida finds itself squarely in the mix for its first SEC title game run since 2009 which, coincidentally, is the last year the Gators beat a team ranked in the AP top 3.
The Gators still have to play No. 7 LSU and No. 19 Georgia in the SEC slate (plus the annual non-con against No. 12 Florida State) but avoid Alabama and Texas A&M out of the West. To be sure, Georgia is probably still the favorite in the East. But this weekend’s performances show that’s not a done deal yet.
The Luck of the Irish Finally Ran Out
After overcoming a freakish number of injuries to key starters this year, Notre Dame’s streak of good fortune finally came to an end in a downpour at Clemson. The No. 12 Tigers jumped out quickly and held a 21-3 lead early in the third quarter. But the Irish rallied in the fourth quarter to pull within two with just seven seconds left. However, that was as close as they would get as quarterback DeShone Kizer was stuffed on a QB keeper on the two-point conversion that would have tied the game.
But Notre Dame could still have reason for optimism—the Irish had about as bad a game as possible (four turnovers) but still outgained the Tigers 437-296 and came within two yards of sending the game into overtime. While Notre Dame’s margin for error is very small, it has a friendly schedule (just two ranked opponents—No. 17 USC and No. 16 Stanford) the rest of the way. So don’t write the Irish out of the playoff picture just yet.
Texas Makes it Twitter Official
Fans taking to social media calling for coaches’ heads is nothing new. Heck, that’s practically our national pastime. But players taking to their Twitter feeds at halftime of their own games to express displeasure with their own coaches? Well that takes some guts.
With the Longhorns falling into a 30-0 first quarter hole against TCU, a Texas A&M fan took to Twitter to encourage some key Longhorn players to transfer. Freshman cornerback Kris Boyd retweeted the tweet during halftime.
Although Boyd didn’t officially comment on the tweet, the fact that he was even checking in and acknowledging rival fans during halftime of his own game speaks volumes about coach Charlie Strong’s hold on the team. And if Strong didn’t have enough trouble with his own players, the Texas Rangers’ official Twitter feed got in on the action as well.
The unnamed Rangers’ social media employee has since been fired but, barring a major upset of archrival Oklahoma this week, the heat on Strong is going to reach volcanic proportions.
The Jim Harbaugh Rebuilding Project is Ahead of Schedule
Most observers expected Michigan to rebound from the wreckage of the Brady Hoke era, but thought it might take new coach Jim Harbaugh era a few years to get his system in place. But Harbaugh has never been known as a patient man.
So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Wolverines have already shown marked improvement. After a Week 1 loss to Utah (which, in retrospect, now doesn’t appear so bad), Michigan has rebounded with four straight dominating wins, including back-to-back shutouts of BYU and Maryland. (It is the first time Michigan has recorded consecutive shutouts since 2000.)
With their next two games against No. 13 Northwestern and No. 4 Michigan State, we’re about to find out just how good the Wolverines really are. But there’s no question that Michigan is ahead of the curve.
Stats of the Week
- Ole Miss has beaten Alabama two years in a row but the Rebels’ last three losses (to Florida, TCU and Arkansas) have been by a combined score of 110-6.
- In games after 28+-point losses, Arizona State coach Todd Graham is now 7-1 after this week’s upset of No. 20 UCLA.
- Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott had 243 rushing yards—in the second half.
- Duke’s 9-7 win over Boston College marked the first time the Blue Devils got a win without scoring a touchdown in 35 years.
- With 233 yards and three touchdowns against Eastern Michigan, LSU’s Leonard Fournette is the first player in SEC history to record three consecutive 200+ yard rushing games.