Both Upset Alerts from this week’s C&C proved to be true with Purdue looking strong against Boston College and Kentucky blowing out Mississippi State.
A brief look at 3 games that mattered:
Kentucky - 28 Mississippi State - 7
When Kentucky knocked off Florida it was a shocker but it could have also been discussed as a fluke. It makes good motivation for a team but it could just be a flash in the pan. But once another ranked opponent falls to the Wildcats, it looks a little more serious. Winning by 3 TDs makes it a statement. UK is now 4-0, 2-0 in SEC play and now have divisional advantage over Vandy, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina, who they face next week. The Bulldogs lose their SEC opener and now have Florida and the SEC West ahead.
Virginia Tech 35 Old Dominion 49
Old Dominion junior QB Blake Larussa received 0 D-1 scholarship offers coming out of high school. On Saturday he threw 4 TD passes and rushed for another TD, piling up 501 total yards against a Bud Foster defense. This is why you don’t trust recruiting stars. It’s also why they actually play games instead of trusting what’s on paper. This game will likely cost the Hokies their place in the ABG Poll and, more importantly, kill any playoff hopes they had.
Stanford 38 Oregon 31 OT
After further review, the score went from 31-7 to 24-14 in a handful of plays. Instead of putting away an opponent they’d dominated all night, Oregon found themselves losing momentum with Stanford knocking on the door. After the replay overturn and the scoop and score, Stanford took charge of the game. Stanford scored 24 in the 2nd half and then 7 in OT and that was the difference in the ballgame. In the span of 3 or 4 plays, not only the game’s momentum but also a serious advantage in the PAC 12 North and a spot in the Top 10 changed hands. This was likely a season changing game for both teams.
We are excited to be presenting the ABG Poll again this season. This year we have an expanded polling committee offering us a broader perspective. Each member has experience either working on a staff, writing, or both. So we are presenting a coaches AND writers poll. Two for the price of one.
Our poll features a Top 10 and will also note additional teams having also received votes. The Top 10 is compiled from the aggregate score of each team receiving votes. The poll allocates 5 first place votes to committee members. In this week's poll, a first place vote served as the tie breaker between Georgia and Clemson.
The ABG Poll
1. Alabama 59(4)
2. Georgia 43(1)
3. Clemson 43
4. Ohio State 32
5. Oklahoma 29
6. LSU 24
7. Stanford 13
8. Notre Dame 12
9. Auburn 10
Penn State 7
Virginia Tech 7
Also Receiving votes: West Virginia 3, Oklahoma State 2, Mississippi State 1, Washington 1
Week 3 saw some more action involving serious match ups. Some teams are still working through their cupcake schedule. Some of them, like Arkansas and Nebraska, aren't doing very well with it. If you're going to lose anyway, just play a top notch team.
Some teams tried that advice this weekend. Here are 3 games that mattered:
LSU 22 Auburn 21
This was predicted to be a good one and it did not disappoint. No one is surprised that it came down to a last second field goal. With wins over Miami and now at Auburn, it is time for the football world to start taking Ed Orgeron seriously, whether you want to or not.He has put a winner on the field and LSU is now a serious contender for the SEC West title. The road won't be easy with upcoming games against Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama, and A&M. This schedule keeps Auburn in the hunt, even with the loss.
Ohio State 40 TCU 28
The Frogs took control of the game tempo early on The incredible pace they set on offense threatened to wear down the Buckeye defense. But that defense is what kept Ohio State in the game. While the offense spit and sputtered under the relentless TCU pass rush, the Buckeye defense made the Frogs make offensive errors and then punished them severely for them. Three TCU turnovers were the difference in the game. Ohio State made no turnovers. That and controlling the game tempo in the second half earned them the W in their last game with head coach Urban Meyer on suspension.
Washington 21 Utah 7
The Huskies needed this win after that loss to Auburn. With a convalescent game in between, this was Washington's first real game since that loss. Regardless of rankings, Utah is a quality opponent. Washington went on the road and gave an excellent defensive effort. Washington was a locked door in the red zone all night. Even when Utah DL Pita Tonga intercepted an errant pass and runbled it down inside the 10 before fumbling it out of bounds, The Huskies defense came on the field and refused to give up any points, forcing a turnover on downs. Even with the loss to Auburn, don't count the Huskies out just yet. They are still very much in the running for the PAC-12 title. That could mean a playoff appearance.
Clemson @ Texas A&M
The Aggies list a controversial fumble through the end zone but that was a call they couldn’t change. What they could change was getting beat deep several times early in the game. A few adjustments and an increase in intensity turned the game around and showed the nation that the Aggies can hang with anyone. Clemson survives a scare late.
Kentucky @ Florida
Kentucky had not beaten Florida since 1986. They hadn’t won in Gainesville since 1979. That all changed Saturday night as the Cats held on late to pick up a win in The Swamp. Kentucky used a strong ground game, rushing for 303 yards. They also converted 9 of 13 Times on 3rd down. They carried a 2 score lead into the 4th and, unlike theiblast several tries, hung on late for the win.
Michigan State @ Arizona State
Herm has his doubters when he made the move back to coaching and Arizona State. They weren’t all silenced by his big opening win. And they likely aren’t all silenced even now. But that was no UTSA they knocked off last night. The Sun Devils has a strong 4th quarter and outlasted Michigan State 16-13. This win sends Herm to 2-0 and casts some shade on the Big Ten East hype from the preseason. The division has now seen Michigan fall to Notre Dame, Michigan State fall to Arizona State, and Penn State squeak out an overtime win over Appalachian State. The Coach picked this as his game of the week and it didn’t disappoint. Sparky will rebound and keep your eye on Herm’s Sun Devils.
We are excited to once again be offering our flagship publication at ABG CFB, Curator and Coach. We'll once again be presenting our weekly preview and giving some commentary on the progression of the season. We start this season of C & C by discussing a few teams we are excited or at least interested to see this year. These may be up and coming, or in transition, or in some other way they have our attention.
Thanks for reading along.
Sam Burnham, Curator
At ABG CFB, we like to pride ourselves that we take a bit of a different approach to the coverage of the game. You can turn on ESPN or even your nightly news and see plenty of running backs reaching the end zone, quarterbacks throwing a frozen rope downfield to a fleet-footed receiver who carries it in for 6, and even crafty defensive ends who swim and sweep their way to a sack and then a celebratory dance. What you don't see is what makes the first two happen and prevents the third one from happening every play.
There is an amazing fact about football. On defense, you can arrange and distribute your 11 players however you wish, as long as they are all on the field at the right time. On offense, you can opt to have five receivers or no receivers. You can run a full house backfield, or empty it. You don't even have to have a true quarterback on any given play. The only positions you are required to have, by rule, is five offensive linemen. Oh, you can spread them out, you can run four of them way off to the side in that ridiculous "Lonesome Possum" formation, but you will have five interior linemen on the field or you will be penalized.
Barring a few rare circumstances, an offensive lineman cannot catch a pass. Barring even rarer circumstances he will not be running with the ball. He's probably not going to get a highlight on SportsCenter. But he's the guy who moves the ball. But he doesn't get the credit for it.
What if I told you there was a six time pro bowler who has a Super Bowl ring, and holds several records after 16 years in the league but is not in the Hall of Fame? Ray Donaldson of Rome, Georgia was likely the first black player to start at center in the NFL. He played 16 seasons for the Colts, Seahawks, and Cowboys. He started in 60 consecutive games, started in a 228 of his 244 games. All of that without even playing center until his sophomore year at Georgia. You've probably heard of Eric Dickerson and Emmit Smith. But did you realize Ray Donaldson was clearing the way for them? I used to stand and look at his retired 88 jersey in my high school trophy case. It was an offensive lineman's dream inspiration.
To anyone that would argue that the offensive line is not exciting or doesn't require much skill, I'd argue that you've never noticed guards pulling around the corner looking to crush corner backs on a sweep play. You've never seen the look of surprise on the face of a defensive tackle when the center steps down, he sees the guard emerge from the other side, and knows he's caught in the trap and can only brace for impact.
So here's a friendly reminder. This season if you see Bryce Love powering into the secondary before making contact with a defender, there was someone who got him there. If Jake Fromm has an extra second to find the open receiver, his linemen were moving their feet like they've been taught to. If you see a linebacker suddenly turn his nose to the sky, he had help getting that way.
Furthermore, if you want to take your experience to the next level, watch the line play. Look for traps, pulls, crosses. Watch how the line adjusts to cover stunts. During pass protection, watch the linemen's feet and how they keep their hips under them while keeping themselves between the quarterback and the pass rush. On the runs, watch who comes downfield to pick up the linebacker. Any nitwit who has never seen the game can tell you when a quarterback throws a pass or a running back takes a hand off. Learn to appreciate the men who really get the job done. This is where you begin to draw the line between a football fan and a connoisseur.
And the South has produced some greats. I've already mentioned Georgia great, Ray Donaldson. There's a Tar Heel by the name of Jeff Saturday you may have heard of. Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Little was born in Savannah and played high school ball in Miami before starring at Bethune Cookman. Probably my favorite was Patriots and Crimson Tide great John Hannah, who was born in Canton, Georgia. There are plenty more where they came from. I'll be looking for them on the college fields this season, just like I do every season.
Sam Burnham, Curator
Most of the press is directed at next weekend but the truth is, there is college football today. Before we reached this point we have already waded through the nasty scandals at Ohio State and Maryland. The drama surrounding CTE and other brain-injury-related illness continues to cast its shadow. But now it is time to put the ball on the tee and kick it down the field. It's time to play football.
For every negative there are numerous positives. Try watching some of the videos of walk-ons receiving their scholarships. Watch the Iowa fan with their new tradition of waving to the kids in the children's hospital that overlooks the stadium. Listen to the heartfelt stories of kids who overcame poverty, tragedy, illness, and injury to reach this point and get to pay for their education by playing a game they love.
There will always be negatives with any sport, activity, or interest. And college football may have more than its share. But it is also possible that it has more than its share of positives. It has a way of bringing people together, of forging lifelong friendships. We're reminded that Tim Tebo's parents had their first date at the Georgia-Florida game. One of the greatest players the game has seen would possibly not be with us if not for the sport.
So starting today, when Duquesne and Massachusetts kick things off for 2018, the goal will be to try to focus on what is happening on the field more than behind the scenes. We'll never completely avoid off-field drama but at least we now have the game to help moderate it. Our game coverage starts this week. And we couldn't be more excited.