Alabama is mortal. This is sensible intuitively, as a result of Nick Saban is human and his gamers are human. However all through the ultimate three quarters of that 31-29 showdown within the Swamp, Alabama wasn’t simply theoretically mortal. As a substitute, its flaws were visible.
The bottom recreation bumped into its share of brick partitions in opposition to Brenton Cox Jr. and the Florida defensive entrance, although Brian Robinson Jr. and Jase McClellan finally transformed the important thing third-down runs Alabama wanted.
Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young appeared overwhelmed at occasions by the deafening Florida crowd, although his three TD passes within the first quarter gave the Tide the cushion it wanted to outlive.
The protection bent usually and broke sometimes all through a frenetic and bodily second half, however when Florida wanted a two-point conversion to tie the sport with 3:10 left to play, Bama made the cease.
And Florida uncovered these cracks with the QB its followers wished benched, with a defensive coordinator who has spent a decade as an SEC punchline. There was nothing fancy like date night time at Applebee’s (why, why will not that music go away?), simply relentless, bodily soccer. And the Gators got here oh-so-close to tearing the highest off this school soccer season.
Folks usually overlook Rocky misplaced his first struggle with Apollo Creed, and Taylor Swift nonetheless took dwelling the 2009 VMA, regardless of Kanye West’s eloquent plea for Beyoncé. There are not any ethical victories, solely losses with upside.
Florida suffered a loss Saturday, however there was upside — for the Gators, and likewise for the world of school soccer. It is no shock, Florida wants a rematch. If Dan Mullen is Darth Vader, it isn’t till the second film that he cuts off Luke’s hand and encases Bryce Younger in carbonite. Alabama is mortal and, because the smart thinker Lloyd Christmas as soon as advised, we’re telling you there’s an opportunity.
There’s an opportunity Alabama will not dominate the game once more because it did in 2020, because it has with few exceptions for the previous 13 seasons. There’s an opportunity that every one the teaching turnover and all of the early departures to the NFL and the countless targets pinned to the gamers’ chests will lastly meet up with the Tide.
There’s an opportunity the category of actually elite groups — Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma and Notre Dame — are all susceptible, too. All have proven their flaws — some, gaping wounds — over three weeks.
There’s an opportunity this season may very well be outlined by the following wave of contenders. Oregon, Texas A&M, Georgia and Iowa all gained simply. Penn State smothered Auburn in a sea of white, so assured of its dominance it may afford to punt on third down. James Franklin can now rightly ask USC to put another zero on that contract offer. It helped that Auburn used an previous Gus Malzahn playbook on that remaining goal-to-go drive.
There’s an opportunity that, for the primary time in years, some true underdogs may discover their technique to the penthouse. Cincinnati made its case in opposition to a Energy 5 foe. Michigan State is 3-0. Michigan has been dominant. Rutgers has given New Jersey almost as a lot to sit up for as the brand new Sopranos film.
These are heady occasions in school soccer. By three weeks, 18 ranked groups have misplaced — a file within the AP ballot period, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data analysis. And if Saturday did not reshuffle the deck, it no less than confirmed the sport wasn’t rigged and the home does not all the time win. (On this analogy, Kansas is chain-smoking on the penny slots.)
However, there’s a good better likelihood that Saban was merely toying with us, convincing us to let our guard down, giving his workforce a fast dose of rat poison repellant earlier than Alabama once more emerges as an unstoppable power overwhelming the faculty soccer season with the identical ferocity as that horrific Applebee’s industrial (please, make it cease!).
That is nonetheless Alabama, in any case. Saban and Co. are simply fantastic watching you have a good time an ethical victory. They will take those that depend within the standings.
Clemson’s offense is sputtering. Ohio State’s protection is a large number. Spencer Rattler‘s Heisman hopes are working skinny. Is it time for followers to panic? We dig into the numbers to search out out.
Panic degree: There’s an anvil hanging by a thread
We’re three video games into the season, and D.J. Uiagalelei has extra interceptions than TDs. The bottom recreation has gone nowhere. Towards two FBS foes, Clemson has a grand whole of two touchdowns. It is one factor to battle in opposition to an elite Georgia protection. It is one factor to play a bit flat in opposition to an FCS opponent. It is one other factor to have seven factors on the board halfway via the fourth quarter in opposition to Georgia Tech, a workforce that misplaced to Northern Illinois. The dearth of a downfield passing recreation (Clemson did not have a completion of greater than 17 yards Saturday) and the lack for the offensive line to open working lanes (the Tigers averaged Four yards per carry) has put offensive coordinator Tony Elliott in an inconceivable place. Uiagalelei has an enormous arm, but when there is not any one open downfield, it does not matter. Will Shipley is an rising star, however he cannot persistently transfer via a stacked field. With out one other big-stage recreation left on the schedule, Clemson wants model factors. Proper now, Clemson’s model quantities to cargo shorts and a fanny pack.
Panic degree: The examine engine mild is on
Rattler is clearly a gifted QB with tons of upside, however the bar for Lincoln Riley QBs is ready awfully excessive, and to this point, he has hovered nicely beneath it. Rattler was a pedestrian 23-of-34 for 214 yards and a TD in a 23-16 win over Nebraska, a second subpar effort after narrowly edging Tulane within the opener. However it goes again additional than that. Throughout Lincoln Riley’s first 39 video games, Oklahoma topped 500 yards of offense 31 occasions. It has hit that mark in simply six of its previous 17 courting again to 2019, nevertheless, and Rattler has solely completed it in opposition to Texas Tech, Kansas, Kansas State (in a loss), and two FCS opponents, in addition to final yr’s bowl win over a disinterested Florida. So what provides? Has Riley misplaced his contact? Is Rattler failing to dwell as much as his potential? Is it simply these powerful SEC defenses getting in Oklahoma’s head earlier than it has even joined the league? For now, we’ll name it a blip. There’s nonetheless a fairly skinny Huge 12 schedule forward and loads of time to get proper.
Cincinnati’s playoff hopes
Panic degree: Did we keep in mind to show the oven off?
Here is the issue with utilizing power of schedule to find out playoff rankings: Cincinnati landed what must be a powerful win on the highway at Indiana that included a dominant second half. However what if Indiana is not fairly the workforce it was a yr in the past? The Bearcats ought to be capable of earn a press release win for the committee in two weeks after they journey to Notre Dame. Solely, the Irish have seemed lackluster, at finest, thus far this yr. What about that UCF recreation on Oct. 16? There’s not a lot shine left on the Golden Knights after Friday’s loss to Louisville. This was presupposed to be the primary yr the Group of 5 had an actual playoff challenger with a schedule worthy of consideration — however workforce’s do not management what their opposition does in these different 11 video games. The Bearcats certain seemed like they have been able to enjoying with anybody throughout a near-flawless fourth quarter in opposition to the Hoosiers, however do not be shocked if we’re listening to the identical previous chorus about lackluster competitors when the primary set of rankings is revealed.
Panic degree: Our portfolio is heavy on GameStop
Jack Coan has been good. By three video games, the Wisconsin switch is averaging 8.5 yards per move with eight touchdowns and simply two picks — one among which was a last-second heave on the finish of regulation in opposition to Florida State. However that does not imply the Irish do not miss Ian Ebook. The issue? The O-line. Whereas Ebook was distinctive at extending performs, scurrying out of the pocket and scrambling when he wanted to, Coan is solely not a runner. And final yr’s Irish line was distinctive, with three members chosen within the first three rounds of this yr’s draft. Now? Up entrance, the Irish have struggled. Coan has been pressured repeatedly, and setting apart Kyren Williams‘ 51-yard TD run late in Saturday’s 27-13 win over Purdue, the bottom recreation mustered simply 69 yards on 33 carries. The following few defenses — Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech — are a lot harder than Purdue’s. Issues may get ugly quick for the Irish if the O-line does not take a giant step ahead.
Panic degree: The flight attendant is twirling a roll of duct tape
The excellent news: Ohio State racked up 316 yards on the bottom in opposition to Tulsa — a 41-20 win that was a lot nearer than the ultimate rating suggests — simply 13 yards lower than it had in its first two video games mixed. The dangerous information: That revamped protection nonetheless struggled, surrendering 428 yards via the air, one week after giving up 269 on the bottom. If the defensive scheme goes to be some model of whack-a-mole every week, the Buckeyes may very well be waving goodbye to their playoff hopes by the tip of October. Worse … Michigan is likely to be good. The horror. The horror.
The Geese stand alone
Here is the excellent news for the Pac-12: The league has a official playoff contender in Oregon.
The dangerous information? Every little thing else.
The Geese are actually the Pac-12’s lone undefeated workforce after Arizona State and UCLA each misplaced Saturday. Mixed with Arizona’s loss to Northern Arizona, the Pac-12 finishes Week Three having compiled a woeful 16-16 file in out-of-conference video games, together with 10 losses in opposition to groups exterior the Energy 5.
UCLA’s loss was significantly galling. The Bruins blew two leads within the remaining three minutes of the sport, together with surrendering a six-play, 75-yard TD drive to Fresno State in 40 seconds. On the upside, as a result of the ending got here at 2:30 a.m. ET and it was on the poorly distributed Pac-12 Community, virtually no person noticed it.
The brand new Bowden Bowl
If Florida State’s depressing efficiency in a 35-14 loss to Wake Forest and the Seminoles’ first 0-Three begin since 1976 did not persuade its followers to stab forks via their eyes, they bought the prospect to tune in to a different dismal slog with massive FSU implications.
Bobby Bowden’s son, Terry, led Louisiana-Monroe to a 12-7 win over Jackson State, a workforce coached by arguably Bobby Bowden’s finest all-time participant, Deion Sanders.
Was it classic Bowden-era FSU? Ah, no. The 2 groups mixed for simply 390 yards of offense, and ULM turned the primary FBS workforce to win a recreation with out scoring a landing since San Diego State in 2019. And but, FSU followers nonetheless would’ve loved this expertise greater than their very own recreation.
It is a Sparty Get together
Michigan State is 3-Zero for the primary time since 2015, the yr it made the School Soccer Playoff. It beat Miami 38-17 on Saturday, the third straight time the Spartans have scored no less than 38 this season. Actually, Sparty hit that mark simply thrice whole from 2018 to 2020. They’ve new life behind QB Payton Thorne (4 passing TDs Saturday), have a dominant working again in Wake Forest switch Kenneth Walker III (172 yards speeding) and a stingy protection.
In different phrases, the Huge Ten may need a official shock workforce on its fingers.
After all, the Spartans’ three wins have additionally come in opposition to a workforce whose season spotlight concerned a free-falling cat, an FCS foe and a Huge Ten opponent that misplaced to Duke on Saturday. So maybe we will mood the keenness only a tad.
However this is a scorching take we hope you will overlook when it appears to be like foolish years from now: We’re all the time questioning who may finally exchange Nick Saban at Alabama (probably in 2063 after the Tide wins the nationwide championship on the moon), and Mel Tucker ought to most likely maintain a distinguished area in that dialog. He has spent two stints with Saban (at LSU and Alabama), coached protection for 3 years within the SEC (at Georgia) and has a decade of expertise within the NFL. Whereas a lot of the different oft-mentioned names both appear unlikely to wish to succeed a legend (Dabo Swinney, Kirby Good) or unqualified for the job, Tucker is likely to be a reputation to observe within the years to come back. Nonetheless, our prediction stays a Saban hologram powered by some kind of synthetic intelligence he designed whereas killing time between recruiting visits.
We’ll all the time have 7-0
Every week in the past, Colorado scored a landing late within the first quarter in opposition to Texas A&M and went on to push the No. 5 Aggies to the brink earlier than finally falling 10-7.
These have been excessive occasions for the Buffaloes.
Since taking that 7-Zero lead, Colorado has run 93 performs and mustered a measly 226 yards — 2.43 per play — and a grand whole of zero factors.
Saturday’s 30-Zero loss to Minnesota was significantly galling. Colorado completed with -19 yards on the bottom and simply 63 whole yards for the sport. That was the bottom yardage output by a Energy 5 workforce since Kansas managed simply 21 in opposition to TCU in 2017.
Week Three shoutouts
It is a glass-half-full column, so this is somewhat constructive power for some applications in want of a lift.
Congrats to … UConn!
Positive, UConn misplaced Saturday in yet one more blowout — this time, 52-21 to Military — however on the Huskies’ 34th drive of the season in opposition to FBS competitors, they lastly scored factors. The celebration in Storrs will lengthy be remembered, and the statue commemorating Tyler Phommachanh‘s miracle (it will be manufactured from popsicle sticks and elbow macaroni) must be completed by week’s finish.
Mad props to … Lengthy Island College!
LIU’s grueling three-game stretch versus FBS groups has mercifully come to an finish after a 42-7 loss to Miami (Ohio). For the Sharks (that is their title, we seemed it up), that brings the mixed rating via an 0-Three begin to 156-17. The excellent news is we lastly know the place all these Division I provides for Bishop Sycamore gamers got here from. However in contrast to that makeshift highschool, Lengthy Island has a superb tutorial repute with, we assume, applications like Billy Joel research and iced tea chemistry.
A tip of the cap to … USC!
Oh, certain, Saturday’s massive 45-14 win at Washington State marked a pleasant turning level within the Trojans’ first recreation after firing Clay Helton. That they did it after beginning down 14-Zero and with out QB Kedon Slovis, who left due to an damage, is even higher information. However what we actually love about USC’s Saturday is that this: The Trojans are actually the uncommon workforce that, when somebody says, “Keep in mind that time that wild factor that occurred on an airport tarmac,” an individual can moderately reply, “Which one?“
When’s the final time so many preseason contenders have fallen off the radar so badly three weeks into the season? Rattler, Uiagalelei, Sam Howell, Tate Martell (wait, no, not him) — it has been a battle for all of them. So for now, it is a two-QB race, and the remainder of the category is large open.
1. Alabama QB Bryce Young
It is shortly changing into a one-man race as Younger handed a giant highway take a look at by throwing three TDs and avoiding any disasters in a raucous recreation on the Swamp. And in contrast to Mac Jones final yr, Younger is correctly spreading the ball round so he does not have some pesky receiver up and steal the award from him.
2. Ole Miss QB Matt Corral
Rattler managed simply two TDs in his recreation vs. Tulane. Corral doubled that whole … by halftime. The Ole Miss QB continues to dominate, and the one factor higher than the SEC West coming right down to Nick Saban vs. Lane Kiffin can be a Heisman race between their two QBs, too.
3. Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker
Walker entered Week Three at +7500 odds for the Heisman however racked up 189 yards and a landing as Michigan State upended Miami. Walker is averaging 8.7 yards per rush via three video games and has shortly grow to be the nation’s most efficient again.
4. Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud
It was an unpleasant day for Stroud, however his TD move to Garrett Wilson proved decisive as Ohio State escaped one other too-close-for-comfort recreation in opposition to Tulsa. The most effective information for Stroud is that the Buckeyes’ floor recreation had an enormous day, which ought to make shutting down the Ohio State passing recreation a harder alternative for defenses going ahead.
5. Michigan RB Blake Corum
The No. 5 spot in our rankings every week goes to an off-the-board candidate who deserves somewhat extra consideration, and Corum actually turned heads in Michigan’s 63-10 win over NIU. Corum carried 13 occasions for 125 yards and three touchdowns within the win. He is the primary Michigan again to tally 100 speeding yards in every of his first three video games since his place coach, Mike Hart, did it in 2007, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data analysis.
Beneath-the-radar play of the day
Within the field rating, it is your common 94-yard punt return TD for Memphis‘ Calvin Austin III. In actuality, it is sheer confusion (and was later revealed to be a blown call). The punt bounds towards the tip zone however is batted again into play by Mississippi State, which then seems to down it. As a substitute, Austin races in, scoops up the ball, then dashes 94 yards into the tip zone.
Mississippi State seems to down the ball on a punt, however Memphis WR Calvin Austin III picks up the ball and returns it 94 yards for a landing.
Beneath-the-radar recreation of the day
It was an old-school defensive showdown between SEC East rivals Kentucky and Tennessee and … oh, no, that was truly Tennessee-Chattanooga, and the FCS Mocs had a 16-14 lead over the Wildcats early within the fourth quarter. Solely a 31-yard TD move from Will Levis and a 95-yard pick-six helped Kentucky keep undefeated. The Wildcats’ precise recreation in opposition to Tennessee ought to go rather more easily.
Landing! Tyrell Ajian scores vs. Chattanooga Mocs