Some random thoughts …
Not sure what they’re smoking these days in the College Football Playoff selection committee room, or through Zoom, but, if you ask me, that’s two weeks in a row the band of 13 got it right. Heck, they not only got the all-important top four slots right in the current rankings with Georgia, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State, but they were on point with the next seven as well – especially with finally getting the better rep of Oklahoma (Okie State) in the top 10 at No. 9.
Arguments could be made that Notre Dame deserves to be higher than No. 8, but those grandstanding that the Irish would beat the one team it lost to this season – No. 5 Cincinnati – if they met again really haven’t been paying attention. The Desmond Ridder-led Bearcats prevailed five weeks ago in South Bend just like they always do, by winning ugly. Opponent doesn’t matter. Every time they take the field, they make everyone look bad – including themselves. But they win.
Oddly enough, Cincy is the second most-likely top-10 squad to fall this coming weekend when it squares off against high-scoring Southern Methodist with Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai at quarterback. The most likely? No. 10 Wake Forest, which faces subtly-rising-from-the-ashes Clemson in Death Valley. A perennial CFP entrant, the Tigers have no shot at reaching the national semis this season, but they could put the Demon Deacons on edge for their ACC title berth. Watch out for Will Shipley.
Eagles fans and completely uninformed Philly sports talkers can make fun of Howie Roseman and the object of desire last Thursday night in Pittsburgh – Kenny Pickett – all they want. The reality is, their favorite GM was watching the best player in college football this season work his magic in typical oh-so-cool for the homestanding Pitt Panthers in a 30-23 victory against North Carolina. How good is Pickett? His 346-yard, three-TD effort was labeled by the cheesesteak-chomping geniuses in southeastern Pa. as subpar.
The Justin Fuente Experiment at Virginia Tech ended Tuesday, probably about four years after it became apparent it was never going to quite success. Year 3 in Blacksburg was the turning point following a strong 19-8 start to his reign. Mistakes and mediocrity, in all facets for a program, became the norm. Very weird, especially when you consider the guy who followed him at Fuente’s previous stop in Memphis, Mike Norvell, has struggled at Florida State since leaving the Tigers, too.
Not sure about the Jim Mora hiring at Connecticut. The Huskies are kinda trapped in the FBS hinterlands anymore, having bolted the American Athletic Conference for independence – i.e., the ass-kissing of its hoops programs, so they could rejoin its former old Big East mates in the new Big East. He hasn't coached since 2017, when UCLA let him go after he went 17-19 in his final three seasons there. Then again, he went 29-11 in his first three. Plus, he's a name.
Jimbo Fisher ... just shut up. When you accept the LSU gig, if you're offered it, then you can talk about it and you being the "dumbest human."
PENN STATE MISTAKE
As the torchbearers push him closer to the edge of a cliff, Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin can fend them off with so many realities … except this one: He screwed up on his choice at quarterback.
Despite comments to the contrary, there never was competition for the position once Trace McSorley called it a career in Happy Valley. Sean Clifford was Franklin’s guy from the get-go at that point. He saw another McSorley, a “dude” who’d get it done no matter the cost – with a little style, maybe a little flair, and some serious skill – at least at the college level to boot.
Will Levis, Clifford’s adversary for the starting gig at Penn State in 2019 and 2020, OK, sure, he was a physical specimen, he brought a toughness that surpassed what a willing Clifford could provide, he just as big-time a recruit, but … geez, he just didn’t remind Franklin of McSorley. Ahhh, Clifford did, though.
Which is why we now see, in 2021, Levis elevating Kentucky – yes, Kentucky – to national relevance while the Lions, now 11-9 in Clifford’s last 20 starts after Saturday’s gut-wrenching 21-17 loss to No. 6 Michigan before 109K at Beaver Stadium (sadly, PSU fans, including undergrads left before effin’ halftime – SERIOUSLY?!!!), drifting into the abyss of what used to be, but is no longer.
Kinda like Nebraska under Scott Frost’s tutelage in Lincoln, Neb.
The conference takes more than its fair share of heat year in and year out. Maybe it is time to acknowledge some its … well, greatness. Yep, greatness – as in greatness at the game’s most important position, QB. The ACC can proudly claim five of the nation’s top 20 statistical signal-callers, with Pickett coming in behind Virginia southpaw Brennan Armstrong in passing yards. Both have thrown for more than 3,500 yards and account for more than 30 TDs. They’re not alone, though. Wake’s Sam Hartman, N.C. State’s Devin Leary and North Carolina’s Sam Howell ain’t far behind.
Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei, who entered the season a Heisman favorite? He doesn’t even crack the top six in the ACC as Miami redshirt freshman Tyler Van Dyke (four straight starts with 300-plus yards and three or more TDs passing) has emerged as a star and possible job-saver for Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz.