Sprint Option: Week 5

Lots of teams were off this weekend. I went 5-5 on the picks I published (I took a cover by Michigan after the post and won that one). Not terrible, but I hold myself to a higher standard than being just as good as your lucky decision coin. I have some picks lined up this week already. I like them, I don’t love them. Of course, that means I’ll probably go undefeated (ha!). I digress; now that the polls are out, we can get to the Option.

So let’s do exactly that.

Jim McElwain gets signature win five games into his tenure as Florida’s head coach…

Before we get started, I have a message to Florida fans who are putting the Gators as SEC champion or in the national title conversation. Just calm down. Florida beat a very good Mississippi team and made the Rebels look incompetent. The Swamp became a venue to be feared again. Florida is now the only undefeated SEC team in the eastern division. Moreover, the Gators clicked. They did for 60 minutes-well, 56-what they did in the final 8 against Tennessee. The defense was dominant and well-schemed, the offense was clever and deliberate. Florida may win the East; hell, they may win the SEC, but it was just one game. The key is that the opinion on Florida changed literally overnight. They are once again a team no one wants to play. And now, they’re the 11th best team in the country with one of the hardest schedules remaining.

Editor’s Note: Preseason polls are stupid. Organically, Florida should be ranked ahead of Bama, Ole Miss, and Georgia, but because Bama was preseason Top 5, they sit ahead of UF with a loss to the team UF just demolished. But, the poll takes plenty of victims, these things have ways of sorting themselves out.

Alabama demoralized Georgia, and it went exactly the way it was supposed to…

Listen, everyone who had been talking about Alabama being dead should just crawl back into their holes. The Tide’s dynasty has been dead for awhile now, however, this is a team that had to give Ole Miss the ball 5 times on turnovers and give up an immaculate reception caliber play to lose by 6. Georgia has played no one, and are grossly one-dimensional. Alabama shut Chubb down (he still kept his 100 yard game streak), and Lambert is not going to beat anyone throwing the ball. The same could be said for LSU’s lack of a passing dynamic, but Fournette looks tougher to stop than Chubb. We shall see. Still, Georgia isn’t dead by a long stretch of the imagination, but several of the teams they play have defenses as good or better than Alabama’s. Lambert has to mature in a hurry, else the Dawgs will be losing a couple more before it’s over.

Arizona State knocks off UCLA, further muddying the waters of the PAC…

Listen, it’s week 5. At least two lead teams should have emerged from every conference by now-especially conferences with divisions. However, the PAC keeps cannibalizing its top teams like crabs in a bucket. The only teams undefeated are Cal (seriously) and Utah. Cal isn’t going to be undefeated long, they play Utah next weekend. After October 10th, the PAC may be putting all of its eggs in Utah’s basket to have a representative in the playoff. Also, the Utes (and Alabama) are a case study in the stupidity of preseason poll anchoring; everyone thought Oregon was going to be good, so Utah hanging 62 on them seems to be a huge deal. I imagine this win will erode as Oregon continues into PAC play. Meanwhile, Arizona State just beat a very good UCLA team, who beat a good Arizona team. The parity is killing this conference. It’ll be interesting which one or two loss team rises above the rest. My money is on UCLA bouncing back, but it’s a crap shoot.

Ohio State is 2014 FSU, Michigan State is taking on water…

I still think they should be ranked 1st in the AP on principle, but they’re trying very hard to change my mind. The dam is cracking. Ohio State has only 1 win through five games against the spread, meaning they aren’t winning the games the way they’re supposed to. They are fortunate to have a soft schedule and to keep the good times rolling against Maryland next weekend who has been so woeful they ought to be relegated to Division III-I’m not sure Division III takes them. Ohio State should win, but they’re favored by 32. I think OSU books another loss ATS. But, when you’re the defending champion, you live by one mantra: just win, baby. Unless the Buckeyes lose, they’re playing on New Year’s Eve. But, they have constantly seemed to be the team that manages to steal a win to stay afloat. I’m wondering how long that will last.

Michigan State put on an equally weak performance against Purdue (yes, seriously, why are you laughing?). I’m not sure if it’s the weight of expectations, or if it’s just Sparty looking past the lowly Boilermakers, but MSU is cruising to get snakebit and the blame will rest squarely on Dantonio. Obviously, the Spartans and Buckeyes are the class of the B1G this year; but, with how soft the conference is and with how the Oregon win will erode, Michigan State has zero margin for error. Not to mention that both these teams have to play Harbaugh’s Michigan (you can stop laughing, just keep reading).

Texas A&M looks very, very good…

The Aggies are running roughshod through SEC opponents, albeit ones that are highly suspect, and their early win over Arizona State keeps looking better. This team excels on both sides of the ball. Kyle Allen appears to be an excellent signal caller and defensive end Myles Garrett, well, just damn. Ole Miss now looks very beatable for A&M, and the tilt against Bama will be incredible television. The only unknown is LSU, as they have yet to really play anyone. While they are a better version of Georgia on offense with Fournette, they still are incomplete and remain to be tested. We’ll know more after LSU takes on Florida in two weeks. Have mercy, what a game that will be if they both are undefeated at that meeting. Still, right now, A&M seems to be a very able challenger for the SEC title.

Al Golden, Butch Jones, and maybe Steve Spurrier are in hot water…

I’ll talk about Spurrier in a second. But, we’ll start with Golden. Miami has looked like hot garbage this year, and has had to manufacture wins out of not much to work with. I thought for sure that Golden would be the first coach in awhile fired after a win. I guessed it would occur after Nebraska. It didn’t, but you get the sense that he is on borrowed time. Now that the Canes are no longer inexplicably undefeated, it may speed up proceedings. I get the feeling that beating FSU this coming weekend is a necessity for Golden to keep his job. It’s at night, in Doak, and the GameDay game. I don’t think a clinic on coaching incompetence can go unanswered by Miami’s AD on a major national rivalry game. I’m thinking Al has been told that he has to win or it’s over.

The hits keep coming for Butch Jones. First, he was a case study in coaching idiocy and game mismanagement in the last minute loss to Florida. Then, Arkansas came to town for the Somebody’s Got to Win Bowl and beat Tennessee. Now, the Vols have two SEC losses and the heart of their schedule coming up. They could not afford to drop both the Florida game and the Arkansas game. They did, and now more losses are on the way. Volunteer fans have got to feel that this coach from Cincinnati has sold them a bill of goods and spews nothing valuable at press conferences, only trite cliches. I’m pretty sure Butch Jones is getting fired.

Now, to the Head Ball Coach. Spurrier has pretty much guaranteed he gets to call his shot and retire on his own terms, but South Carolina is not competitive. He’s in hot water because he has a dearth of talent and cannot cobble together a gameplan effective enough to stay in a game. And, the Cocks’ execution is awful. I’m not sure how they managed to beat UNC, but the coming games are savage. Spurrier is going to struggle to be bowl eligible this year. Despite that, I’m not sure clamoring for the man’s job is intelligent. He took a program from obscurity in the SEC, made them competitive, and has dominated in-state little brother, Clemson. Carolina fans should be careful what they wish for. It’s understandable that people don’t know how to react since Spurrier has never had a losing season.

Notre Dame beats Clemson…at imploding…

Clemson’s school name has become synonymous with implosion and self-defeat for years. No matter how talented, Clemson always seems to find a way to shoot itself in the foot with a bazooka. They still tried, but not to be outdone, Notre Dame found a way to out-Clemson the Tigers. Neither team appeared particularly worthy of being considered a top ten team, but past wins and conventional ranking meant that the winner gets to be ranked within striking distance of the playoff. Also, Dabo promised the whip and nae nae and did not disappoint. The man is a lunatic.

Pitt dropped VT like a sack of flour…

I, uh, I have nothing to add. Pitt has lost both their QB and RB for the year and managed to beat VT. The ACC is crap this year, that goes double for the Coastal.

Undefeated Northwestern may have a tough time getting in the playoff…

I don’t fully believe that, because they’d be undefeated. But, a one loss NW team is out for sure, and that’s ridiculous.

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