Sprint Option: Week 9

Another week is in the books and we are finally staring down the first college football playoff rankings. Notwithstanding the fact that these rankings have been anchored by the absurd preseason polls, they give us the clearest road map to the January games. A lot of undefeated teams saw their perfect season dissolve–many more flirted with disaster. It’s November and we’re now in the home stretch. Where in the world did the fall go?

Let’s get to the option. 

Florida State gives Clemson all it can handle, but can’t quite hang on…

First off, it was absolutely, 100% without doubt an a) illegal block and b) below the waist. 

The official rule allows for downfield blocks below the waist, as long as they begin from the front–specifically defined as on the arc between 10 and 2 on a clock drawn around the player where the belt buckle is 12. The block above is initiated below the waist and from the side. This isn’t a hard call, and should be made more often. The official who called it had no way to know that he would be calling back a massive run. It was hardly ‘cowardly’ in nature. Jimbo also earned the hell out of his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (and his fine) by coming unhinged on the officials. I maintain that only Jimbo, Swinney, and Petrino would get out of that with only a nominal fine. Any other ACC coach would have been rightly suspended for at least a game. But, win like those three, and you too can get preferential treatment by your conference. It’s just how the game is played. 

All told, Florida State played the best football they’ve played all season and Dalvin Cook finally had a chance to show the nation that he’s still got the skills he showcased last year. Clemson had to come from behind and had to work to win this one. FSU is capable of putting a solid product on the field, despite their losses. Now, they get to play spoiler, and that’s a dangerous team for anyone to play. Clemson, on the other hand, has a good chance to win out with both FSU and Louisville in the bag. It’s not like the Coastal is putting up much of a fight. Also, it’s a tough call on who is more overrated, Florida at 10 or FSU at 19. The Gators play like a 19, and FSU has three losses. Tough call. 

Florida dominates Georgia, but…then again…there’s the offense…

As previously noted, Florida may be the most overrated team in the country. Seriously, has anyone with a ballot watched them play? On offense that is. If you want to know how good Florida’s defense is, just watch an offensive series commanded by Luke Del Rio. The ineptitude of the pass game alone could be the subject of a Shakespearean tragedy. Georgia, on the other hand, is lost. They have no idea which way is up and aren’t done losing. Any year you drop to Vandy, you need to reevaluate whether your school even wants to play football anymore. Also, can we throw a retirement party for the “Kirby Dumb” nickname given to Coach Smart. Seriously, what are we? 8 years old? You can do better than that, Internet. 

Texas breaks Baylor late, makes Longhorn boosters mighty uncomfortable…

Many powerful people in Texas were looking to cut Charlie Strong’s life line after this year. Heck, many people didn’t want Charlie there to begin with. Maybe it was the fact that he was a defensive guy in an offensive conference. Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t have a proven track record commensurate with the proud tradition of Texas football. Maybe it was because he’s black. While not all of the foregoing reasons are legitimate, two are fair complaints. However, Strong inherited the Big XII equivalent of the University of Florida after Urban Meyer–to wit: Sherman left more behind in Atlanta. Now, the calls for his job have grown louder to where Texas AD, Mike Perrin, has effectively drawn an 8-win line in the sand for Strong to keep his job. The reason this is a headache is that Strong clearly has the team. Those players love playing for him, but the issue is that now he has beaten another top ten team. Texas boosters better not let facts get in the way of a good story if their aim is to fire him. He can clearly do the job. Give the man time. My guess is that they won’t and will rationalize it as ‘Baylor wasn’t that good.’

Kentucky is a Florida loss from leading the SEC East…in Football…

The Wildcats going to Atlanta portends the end of days. I’m pretty sure it’s in between the seals and the trumpets. 

Tennessee loses to the fighting Will Muschamps and is responsible for the above…

So, remember when Tennessee fans forgot they were people and actually called out Florida fans for dodging LSU and called them vulgar names? Yeah, all of that was because UT didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to win the head to head tiebreaker against a team it hadn’t beaten in over a decade. It’s got to be rough being a Tennessee fan when you are hedging your bets against a loss. Anyway, it turns out that the Vols are pretty much out of any conversation for Atlanta barring a biblical flameout for the Gators and Wildcats. The division tried to retain Butch by throwing this season, but sadly, it looks like he may be out of a job. But, his recruiting is a dumpster fire, who wants to go there? You still play Alabama every season. 

VPI narrowly edges Pitt in a shootout…

“Defense Optional” needs to be the ACC motto this season. The guys in Charlotte need to get in touch with the holders of that trademark–the Big XII–and lease it for a year. Don’t get me wrong, Pitt plays above average this year. But, how in the world did Bud Foster let them score 36?! Yes, it was a short week. But, that smacks of unprepared, not underprepared. VPI is hard to read this year as the Hokies lost that game against Tennessee, who has proven to be pretty bad. Then, there was that howler against Syracuse. But in their wins, VT has looked awesome. So it’s a question of what team will show up. If I’m Clemson, I am hoping anyone but VT wins the Coastal. 

That’s all I really had this week. There were close games that really shouldn’t have been. Ohio State barely beat Northwestern and Michigan barely beat Michigan State. Those teams are average at best. It’s going to be a photo finish this year of most overrated conference top to bottom, but I think the Big XII takes the gold on that podium with the B1G a split-decision second and the ACC/SEC fighting it out for bronze. SEC fans, blame early season Tennessee and late season Florida. ACC fans, blame FSU. Big XII fan, blame Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU–as usual. B1G fans, blame Nebraska, Ohio State, and Michigan. 

Lots of football left, but the podium is taking shape nicely. 


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