Well here we are folks after another action-packed weekend of collegiate athletics. It’s hard to fathom that “Week 10” of college football has come and gone already. Rewind a few months back to around August- It didn’t look promising that a 2020 college football season was even going to take place. Fans all around the nation were itching for answers. Would their team suit up and see the gridiron this fall? How would programs monitor and ensure the safety of their players and staffs? What was the fan attendance situation going to look like? How would rankings work? And the list goes on and on…The complexity and uncertainness at that time was unsettling for those that had hoped for a season to occur.
Sitting here now in November, I believe I speak for all NCAA football fans when I say I am stoked that each of the conferences found a way to make it work. This season has been just as exciting as any other and for some teams, we are just getting started. Sure, there have been games that have been postponed, moved, or rescheduled. I think many anticipated these types of delays to occur and some, like myself, may be surprised that we have not experienced more up to this point. If you take a look at how frequently it was happening at the beginning of the NFL season, college fans have to be content where we are at. As for the matchups that have taken place thus far, they’ve been fun to watch and week 10 was a prime example of that. Enough of the COVID babble though, let’s dive in and discuss the takeaways from each of the power five conferences after the games this past weekend.
SEC TAKEAWAY OF THE WEEK:
FLORIDA GATORS ARE BACK AND KYLE TRASK IS THE REASON WHY
The major takeaway from the SEC this week is that the Florida Gators have emerged from the Swamp and are back baby! The Gators have a STUD at the quarterback position in Kyle Trask. The red-shirt senior looked great in the game versus Georgia, throwing for 474 yards and four touchdowns. And to be honest, I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Trask. He currently is tied for first for most passing touchdowns this season in the FBS and shares the leaderboard with some good company. Currently, Trask shares the number one spot with his counterparts Brady White of Memphis and Sam Ehlinger of Texas. Not to mention, the Florida QB has thrown for over 300 yards in four out of his first five games and has shown no signs of slowing down. He has the talent, he has the poise, and he has the experience to lead this team to an SEC Championship game. They’ll have to eventually beat the juggernaut in the Alabama Crimson Tide if they want to be in the playoffs but crazier things have happened. Look out for the Gators because they are a force to reckoned with.
AP Photo / John Raoux
ACC TAKEAWAY OF THE WEEK:
FIGHTING IRISH PLAYED LIKE CHAMPIONS ON SATURDAY
Where do I even begin with this game?! Talk about an absolute emotional roller coaster. See, as a kid who is from Boston and also happens to be an Irish Catholic, I am loyal to two football teams. One being the New England Patriots in the NFL aka the Boston in me and the other being the Notre Dame Fighting Irish aka the Irish Catholic in me. Now in my twenty-three years of life, being a Pats fan has been an easy, smooth sailing ride (let’s disregard this season). Being a Fighting Irish fan? Not so much. You go into every season hoping that it will finally be the year they get over the hump and bring a national championship back to South Bend. Well ladies and gentlemen, this MAY just be the year! I know what you’re thinking, “This guy is crazy and bias, and a moron. They beat a Clemson team without Trevor Lawrence…big deal.” And that is exactly what it is folks…A BIG DEAL!!
Do not be fooled, the Clemson Tigers are still the Clemson Tigers regardless of who is under center. Having the talented, athletic DJ Uiagalelei taking snaps for them does not make them less of a powerhouse. This team entered Saturday’s game with a 36-game regular season winning streak. Let’s forget about how good Clemson even is for a minute and consider this: Notre Dame has not beaten a No. 1 ranked team since 1993 before this game. And on top of that, Coach Brian Kelly’s record against top five teams while at the helm of the Fighting Irish, was a dismal 0-5 before this big win. Long story short, Notre Dame was not supposed to win this game. And they did. If they can keep the momentum going over the next few weeks, they are going to be in a great position come playoff time and have a serious shot to win it all this season.
USA TODAY / Matt Cashore
BIG TEN TAKEAWAY OF THE WEEK:
THREE WORDS…COACHING CHANGES COMING
Week 10 was a tough one for multiple programs in the Big 10 and I imagine that some coaches’ seats are burning up. A few years ago, there was some serious chatter within the college football universe that the Big 10 could overtake the SEC as the most dominant and successful conference in NCAA football. Turns out that notion never came to fruition and it just turned out to be a good ole case of wishful thinking. There are several teams within this conference that are supposed to be national championship contender’s year in and year out yet they have completely underperformed.
The first team, and most disappointing in my opinion is the Michigan Wolverines. When Michigan hired coach Jim Harbaugh back in December of 2014, they were looking to create a dynasty. Harbaugh seemed like the right man for the job. He had had success at San Diego where he got his first head coaching gig. He then headed to Stanford and turned them into a Pac-12 contender. After that, he moved up to the big boys’ league and took the San Francisco 49ers to the Superbowl. Harbaugh had a great track record and what better person to hire than a former alum?
Well since Harbaugh has taken over for the Wolverines, they have not sniffed the college football playoff, have not won a single conference title, and are 1-4 in their past five bowl games. That, my friends, is the textbook definition of not getting it done. With the Wolverines starting this season out at 1-2, the narrative looks like it will be the same. I like Jim Harbaugh and believe if fired, he will gain another coaching opportunity elsewhere but his time in Ann Arbor is dwindling and his dismissal appears to be imminent.
USA TODAY Sports / Tim Fuller
Another Big Ten program that has not been living up to expectations is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Cornhuskers have been struggling ever since Bo Pelini was let go back in 2014. Pelini had a 9-3 record his last season on the sideline in Nebraska and probably never should have been fired. Worked out for him though in the long run. He ended up landing the defensive coordinator role at LSU this season for the reigning champs after spending the past few seasons as head coach of Youngstown State. The same can’t be said for the squad in Lincoln. Nebraska has only gathered nine wins in a season once since then and have hired two new coaches.
After a few mediocre seasons with Mike Riley from 2015-2017, the Cornhuskers pulled a play out of Michigan’s playbook and hired one of their alums in Scott Frost. Frost was a hell of a player for the legendary Tom Osborne and the Cornhuskers back in the 90’s. He won two national championships while attending Nebraska and was an integral part of the ‘97 championship team where he was the starting quarterback of that roster.
Frost’s coaching career, similar to Jim Harbaugh’s, began with much success. He served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach at Oregon when a guy named Marcus Mariota was there.
Soon after, in 2016, he migrated down to the sunshine state to take over an atrocious UFC football program that had been winless the year prior. Frost turned an 0-12 team around to be 6-7 in his first season. How did they do in year two you ask? Well they went undefeated and beat an SEC beast in Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Except in his first two seasons at his alma mater, he has yet to pull his Nebraska team out of the mud and get them back to winning seasons. After losing an early lead this past Sunday to Northwestern, the Cornhusker’s are now sitting at 0-2. Nebraska is known for its pregame ritual, the “Husker Prayer”, and right now Scott Frost could use some prayers to keep his job.
Provided by The Spun
The third and final team that may be looking for a new head coach in the offseason and that I will touch upon briefly is the Penn State Nittany Lions. James Franklin and State suffered a major loss this past weekend to Maryland dropping them to 0-3 on the season. They currently sit in last place in their division and this is just unacceptable when it comes to that school’s standards and expectations. Franklin has done a superb job in Pennsylvania since arriving in 2014 and has made that program a desirable place to play again after all that it had been through during the early 2010’s. But that being said, Penn State wants to win national championships, not just make it to bowl games.
They have yet to make the college football playoff or surpass Ohio State as the top dogs in that conference. They enter each season with the hope of losing zero games and this year they already have a three in that column. Out of Harbaugh, Frost, and Franklin, Penn State’s top play-caller has the best chance of retaining his job but he needs to start winning games and winning them quickly.
BIG 12 TAKEAWAY OF THE WEEK:
OK STATE STAYING ALIVE..FOR NOW
The Oklahoma State Cowboys took a trip up north to Manhattan, Kansas this past weekend to take on an underrated Kansas State football team. The No. 14 Cowboys were coming off of a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Texas Longhorns the week prior and were looking for a rebound win against the Wildcats. Boy did they have to earn this win however. K State came out strong in this one and held the Cowboys offense in check for the entire first half. As a result, they had a pretty comfortable, two-score lead of 12-0 heading into the locker room.
Coach Mike Gundy must have reamed his guys during halftime because OK State showed up to play in the second half. Although their offense continued to struggle and could not find their groove moving the ball down field, the defense kept them in it. Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders wasn’t great but he did just enough to keep the offense afloat. LD Brown, OSU’s senior starting running back, ran the ball well and made up for the lack of the passing game. He finished the day with 15 carries and 110 yards. The defense though, the defense for the Cowboys were the reason they won this dogfight of a matchup. They made plays when they needed to and scored a huge defensive touchdown with about six minutes left in the game. Kansas State responded with a late touchdown but the OSU D kept them out of the endzone on the two-point conversion attempt to seal the game. Hats off to those guys for their “bend don’t break” attitude and for their impressive performance.
The takeaway from this game for me is that OSU has a good football team, and they are still in contention to compete for the Big 12 Title. The Cowboys are now 3-1 in Big 12 Play, and currently sit behind K State and Iowa State who are 4-1 in conference play. The good thing for them is that they have already beaten these two teams so they would win any tiebreaker if it were to come down to that. The bad thing for the OK state boys is that if they lose another conference game, they could be out of the race. Next week, the Cowboys will face their inner state rival, the Oklahoma Sooners, in Norman and that is going to be a much more difficult task for them than Kansas State was. The game will have huge implications and we’ll see whether they can handle this big test.
AP Photo / Orlin Wagner
Pac-12 TAKEAWAY OF THE WEEK:
Welcome back! Teams to watch going forward
The Pac-12 Conference made its 2020 debut this past weekend and all four of the games that were played were good tilts. With the exception of the Oregon-Stanford game, all the opening matchups were decided by ten points or less which made for exciting football. It’s far too early to predict who will be on top of this conference when the season concludes but my early guess is that the No. 12 Ducks will repeat as Pac-12 champs. No Justin Herbert? No problem! Sophomore quarterback Tyler Shough has big shoes to fill now that his predecessor is in Los Angeles playing for the Chargers, but I believe he’ll rise to the occasion. This team’s offense displayed no signs of regression on Saturday against a David Shaw led Cardinals team that always plays tough and keeps games close.
The Oregonian / Sam Meagher
Another team that snuck out a win this past weekend and will be a team to watch will be the No. 20 USC Trojans. The boys from SoCal barely got by Arizona State so it will be interesting to see if Saturday’s game was a slow start or an early indication of what the season will be like. I’d love to see the Trojans rise up again to elite status in college football like the early 2000’s but this just doesn’t feel like the year it happens. Hopefully they will prove me wrong and take the Pac-12 by storm. They showed some great resiliency and heart in their come from behind win against ASU and sometimes that’s the best thing a team can have.
And on a final note, I’m eager for the Washington Huskies first game next weekend. This will be the first season in six years that Chris Petersen is not on the sidelines for the Huskies. Petersen stepped down last season and former defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake was promoted to head coach. The Huskies had been predominantly known as a basketball school before Petersen arrived in 2014 from Boise State. That script was quickly flipped and they have not looked back, continuously being a contender in the Pac-12 since then. Time will tell whether the rookie head coach can keep the winning tradition alive in the Emerald city.