Well it wasn’t exactly the prettiest day of football but three teams in the top 5 went down in this “Shakeup Saturday”. The hype was enormous coming into today’s action and while some of the big games were duds we still learned a lot to take forward the rest of this season. Enough talk, let’s get right to the nuggets.
THE ELITE EIGHT:
Florida State Seminoles: This was supposed to be the year the ‘Noles returned to prominance. They took care of the Clemson Tigers at home in a huge primetime win and the schedule was manageable going forward. Oops. They went to play a very average NC State Wolfpack squad and decided to stop playing after 30 minutes. Wolfpack QB Mike Glennon hit a 4th down pass late and frankly you could tell it was coming. The Seminoles got virtually no pressure in the 2nd half on a signal caller many believe will be a star at the next level.
Florida Gators: It’s great to be a Gator tonight, or any night I suppose if you know what I mean! Anyways back to the game. Quarterback Jeff Driskel did just enough including picking up 2 big 1st downs with his feet. Running back Mike Gillislee ran over the LSU Tigers front 7 in the 2nd half as his team grinded out a huge win. It does seem a little ridiculous that LSU is probably out of the national title hunt when they played a big chunk of the game without two of their starting linebackers. Of course, if Zach Mettenberger could have done anything in the pass game or receiver Odell Beckham didn’t fumble on the one pass he did complete deep, we might be telling another story.
Georgia Bulldogs: How do you not show up for a nationally televised primetime game? I want every Bulldogs player asking themselves that this week. After their defense was gashed last week by the Tennessee Volunteers, I expected them to come out jacked. Instead we saw busted coverages left and right, lack of gap discipline in the run game and an overall lack of effort. You have to wonder whether the suspensions of Bacarri Rambo and Alex Ogletree, among others, are just killing any continunity the unit as a whole is looking for. I know exactly what they’ll be talking about on talk radio come Monday, “why Mark Richt can’t win a big one”…
West Virginia Mountaineers: I love Geno Smith but he can’t do this all on his own. Fortuently for him and his teammates they actually saw a running game come to life. Sophomore Andrew Buie nabbed over 200 yards on the ground to wear down the Texas Longhorns defense that eventually folded late. Still, the Mountaineers are going to have to play some defense if they want to be a legit national title contender. Texas quarterback David Ash had plenty of time to step up and make a play although the West Virginia secondary actually played decently just a week after a number of walk-in TDs were given up to the Baylor Bears.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Miami Hurricanes aren’t a good football team. They’ve been lucky that most of the nation didn’t take them seriously coming into this year. However, the Irish finally got the running game going with both Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III going over 100 yards. Quarterback Everett Golson actually played under control and head coach Brian Kelly continued to get him on the perimeter where he was able to use his legs when needed.
Stanford Cardinal: Remember my comment that Stanford’s front 7 was SEC lite? Ok, well, that was a big whiff on my part. They were carved up by Arizona Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott today and frankly got a little lucky as they survived down 14 late. Whatever you do, just give the ball to running back Stepfan Taylor. He went over 140 yards again and was the bellcow the Cardinal needed. This team really needs to work on tackling. The amount of mistakes I saw on that side of the ball were a bit stunning.
Purdue Boilermakers: Yeah they were supposed to be a real sleeper this Big Ten season, you can forget about that. They were completely dominated by the Michigan Wolverines at home. Mistakes on special teams, inability to protect the quarterback and a fundamental lack of understanding on how to stop the zone read run game from Michigan were among the gaffes. Just like their Big Ten brethern the Northwestern Wildcats, this team isn’t ready for primetime.
Texas A&M Aggies: Johnny Manziel is such a fun player to watch. The dual threat Aggies QB helped lead his team to a late rally as they somehow won a game it looked like was lost. Somehow he avoided a safety on the drive before the winning score and if he didn’t this game would have been over. Certain players just have “it”. He’s one of them.
Next week doesn’t look as good on paper as this one did but heck maybe that’s good. This Saturday’s “paper” schedule didn’t live up to the hype as it was. We’ve still got the Red River Shootout, Stanford/Notre Dame, USC/Washington and South Carolina/LSU. Not too shabby. Can’t wait for next Saturday!