By Phil Rodriguez
Is Louisville Even Good? Washington Probably Isn’t.
Tide Rolls AGAIN (I Mean Sheesh…)
Half of Top 10 Pulls a “Chicken Little”
Two Loss Schools Make a Case for Playoff
Boy, did I call this one wrong. The Trojans allowed only 276 total yards and one touchdown against the Washington Huskies, who were averaging 48 points per game coming into the matchup. Jake Browning had a miserable day, failing to complete 50 percent of his passes for the first time this season, while throwing two interceptions. Myles Gaskin managed only 51 yards on 15 carries, while the speedy Lavon Coleman was only handed the ball twice for six yards. It’s hard to overemphasize how disappointing Browning was, whose incredible efficiency this season has been the spark in the motors of Coleman and Gaskin, who have combined for 1609 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. Shutting down the run put Browning under pressure to perform, and he simply couldn’t do it against a tough and in-form Trojans defense. USC has now won six straight, with an average margin of victory of approximately 20 points in those six games, but they have some tough matchups ahead. Dates at the Rose Bowl against UCLA and at home to disappointing Notre Dame loom, but the Trojans can still clinch a spot in the Pac 12 Championship with some help from Colorado.
In some parallel universe, there’s a giggling Alabama fan controlling all of this on some sort of gaming console straight out of a sci-fi serial. Only an odd, out-there scenario could explain Alabama’s total dominance in college football the last nine years, especially this season. Nick Saban has crafted the ultimate modern dynasty, with a ridiculous four national titles in his first eight years and a good chance at winning a fifth this year. Alabama’s defense looks impenetrable this season, and freshman Jalen Hurts has been steadily improving with more and more Lamar Jackson-esque stats. Barring a shocking loss in the Iron Bowl or SEC Championship (it is college football, after all), Alabama should breeze into the national championship game. Here’s hoping for a Lamar Jackson versus Alabama matchup in the playoffs…
The Top 10 and the College Football Playoff Committee
Holy Smokes, look out! They’re all going down! Half of the top 10 in the CFP Committee’s rankings lost on Saturday: the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th and 9th ranked teams. This resulted in a slight shakeup in this week’s rankings, although perhaps not the seismic shift that some expected. Second-ranked Clemson lost at home on a last-second field goal to the inconsistent Pittsburgh Panthers, while 4th-ranked Washington laid an absolute egg at home to the USC Trojans. Michigan, ranked 3rd, was the only team from the top four that had the decency to lose on the road, losing their first game this season and dropping their fifth straight loss in a row to the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. The CFP Committee seemed to barely notice, still ranking the Wolverines 3rd after the now 2nd-ranked Buckeyes, while Clemson only bumped down to 4th. You can hear much more of my thoughts on this week’s rankings here, so that way I can keep from ranting too much in this column.
Shea Patterson QB Ole Miss
An overachiever in the purest sense, true freshman Patterson had a dream first start in place of an injured Chad Kelly against 8th-ranked Texas A&M. Patterson and the Rebels went on an absolute tear in the fourth quarter, coming back from a 21-6 deficit to win 29-28 and silence the crowd at Kyle Field. The freshman threw for 338 yards with two touchdowns and added 64 yards on the ground, looking almost Manziel-like with his extending of plays. Patterson had been redshirted, and some were quick to judge coach Hugh Freeze for pulling his redshirt with three games to go. Clearly Freeze is vindicated, as Ole Miss are now one win away from bowl contention with two games left to go, including the annual Egg Bowl versus rival Mississippi State. After a disappointing season so far, Patterson is a welcome ray of hope for Ole Miss fans.
Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
Yeah yeah, it’s a homer pick. Deal with it. Mayfield was terrific and nearly perfect against
Baylor, hitting 20 of 25 passes for 300 yards and 2 TDs while adding another on the ground. The Sooner quarterback’s consistent play has been a big source of momentum for the Sooners’ 7-game win streak, and he’ll take that into Morgantown this Saturday to face the Mountaineers. Mayfield will face a defense that has allowed only 253 passing yards per game, but also gave up three touchdowns and almost 300 yards to Mason Rudolph in their loss at Oklahoma State.
Wayne Gallman RB Clemson
Gallman scored three touchdowns in Clemson’s 43-42 loss to Pitt, but gained only 36 yards on 18 carries against a decent-at-best Panthers defense. The low output on the ground was a big reason for DeShaun Watson’s ridiculous 70 passing attempts, and the pressure this put on Watson could be partly to blame for this three interceptions, which played a big role in shaping the game. Gallman is regarded as one of the better backs in college football and has the stats to back it up, so his poor performance brought a lot of questions and concerns about this Clemson offense and Gallman’s status. If Gallman is having injury issues, the torch will be passed to sophomore back C.J Fuller who, despite sharing his first name, is not nearly as explosive as a certain former Clemson running back: Fuller has averaged only 3.7 yards per carry this year.
This team seemed to have so much promise at the beginning of the season, especially on offense. Trevor Knight, Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford combined to make a three-headed rushing beast that few could contain, until they met Alabama. Since then they’re 1-2, with their only win coming against New Mexico State. The Aggies will have a nice recovery game against UTSA this weekend, but then it’s back into the fire against Louisiana State on Thanksgiving Day. With the Tigers looking much improved after their loss to Alabama, one has to wonder about A&M’s chances for a decent bowl game.