College Football Week 5: An Absolutely Agonizing Saturday

Alright, folks: the Georgia Bulldogs are officially on Fraud Watch™.

I didn’t say anything after their 33-0 win against Samford.

I refused to put them on Fraud Watch™ after their hideously close 39-22 win over Kent State.

But now, after barely escaping 2-2 Missouri on the road, 26-22, Georgia is officially on Fraud Watch™.

Mizzou’s kicker was just sensational in that game, by the way. Dude was 5/5 on his kicks and even hit a 56 yarder in the 4th quarter.

But the problem is you can’t kick field goals against a team like Georgia and expect to win.

There was one play in the first half that I knew would come back to bite Missouri. Their running back Cody Schrader busted off a 63 yard run in the second quarter with Missouri up 13-3, but he got tackled at the one yard line. I just knew right there that Georgia would find a way to hold them to a field goal, and that missing out on that TD would haunt Mizzou for the rest of the game.

And it did. Mizzou false-started on their next play, got held to a field goal, and look at that: they ended up losing the game by 4 points.

In fairness to Georgia, they really started to dominate this game, particularly in the 4th quarter. But there really is no excuse for this. Mizzou is not some secretly good team. I’ve got them 53rd in the country in my power ratings, just 4 spots ahead of Rutgers, a team Ohio State just beat 49-10.

I understand it’s tough to play teams on the road at night, but there’s no way you can come away from this Georgia game without some significant concerns for the Dawgs.

We’re getting close to the point where we may have to consider putting Georgia into that group with teams like 2014 Florida State–teams that won the National Championship, came back highly ranked, but were an accident waiting to happen all season. That 2014 Florida State team kept scraping by inferior teams, and got all the way to the playoff, then got dump-trucked 59-20 by Oregon.

I am not ready to put Georgia in that category yet. Luckily for them they get their next two games (Auburn, Vanderbilt) at home, and then they have the neutral site rivalry game with Florida in Jacksonville after that. They host Tennessee on November 5, and that should be their toughest game seeing as Kentucky just lost today to Ole Miss on the road (a ton of late turnovers doomed the Wildcats in a game they otherwise could’ve won).

It feels like Georgia is going to lose somewhere along the way. It feels like they’re an accident waiting to happen. And yet, the way college football is structured these days–the way it’s so incredibly top-heavy, with so much of the elite talent concentrated in just three teams–it feels like Georgia might just be able to get away with playing like crap for the foreseeable future.

Around the 5 minute mark of this video, Joel Klatt explains just how massive the talent gap is between the top 3 and the rest:

He points out that, per the 247 Composite Talent Rankings, which assigns an number to each team based on the overall talent on the roster, the gap between Alabama and USC in talent is equal to the gap between USC and Florida Atlantic.

That is insane. Alabama is #1 in roster talent, USC is #11. FAU is #69. And Alabama is as far ahead of USC as USC is ahead of FAU.

This is the reality of the college football landscape in 2022. Georgia and Ohio State are a touch behind Alabama in overall talent, and then they’re really in a class of their own.

The top-3 teams in the country are so far ahead of the everyone else that I really do think Georgia still has a great shot at going 12-0 in the regular season. They could very well be able to skate by on talent alone and cruise into the SEC Championship game undefeated. Now, they will definitely have to pull their heads out of their asses and play better than they did against Mizzou, because if they keep playing like that, someone will beat them. It’s only a matter of time.

But I think they will. And I still think there’s a great chance Georgia goes 12-0. It won’t be as pretty or as dominant as last year, but the sheer talent on that roster puts them at a significant advantage over every team they play.

After last week, I was starting to think that despite Georgia’s ugly win over Kent State, there was a clear tier system emerging in the college football landscape this season: Georgia, Bama and Ohio State as the three clear-cut best teams in the nation, and then teams like Michigan, USC and Clemson in the next tier. Then you’ve got teams like Tennessee, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Utah, and maybe even LSU, who my power rankings really like but who are kind of flying under the radar.

I still think that’s largely the case, just because of the sheer talent gap between the top three and the next three, but right now, even the top-3 teams appear to be kind of vulnerable. Georgia for obvious reasons, Bama for how they looked against Texas and now the uncertainty over the Bryce Young injury, and Ohio State because of the fact that their players just seem to be dropping like flies (more on this a bit later on).

I don’t know. I still think the top-3 are in a league of their own and at the end of the day, the national champion will be one of them. But it’s starting to feel more and more wide-open, more so than in any year that I can remember.

Bryce Young’s Shoulder Injury Overshadows Bama’s 49-26 win over Arkansas

Bama will most likely overtake Georgia in the rankings when they’re released. It’s not just because Georgia looked like hot ass against Mizzou, but because Bama had an impressive win. It did not look like it at times, but the bottom line is that Bama went on the road and beat the #20 team in the country by 23 points in a game where Bama’s Heisman QB got injured pretty early in the game. Bama was up 14-0 when Young got hurt, and still managed to score 35 additional points after losing him.

Bama was up 28-0, then Arkansas stormed back on the back of some trick plays and some Bama mistakes (that botched punt snap… what on earth was that?) to make it 28-23. Then Bama busted off some big runs with Jahmyr Gibbs to end the game on a 21-3 run. (Also, does anyone else think Gibbs reminds them of Alvin Kamara? I saw someone mention that on Twitter and now all I can see when I watch Jahmyr Gibbs is Alvin Kamara Jr.)

Gibbs finished with 18 runs for 206 yards and 2 TDs. Jalen Milroe, the backup QB, was only 4-9 for 65 yards passing with a TD, but on the ground he had 6 carries for 91 yards. Bama was able to rack up 317 rushing yards in this game on 42 carries–an astonishing 7.5 yards per carry. 7.5 yards per carry is impressive as it is, but to do that on 42 carries is ridiculous.

Now, 148 of Gibbs’ 206 yards came on two big TD runs, and thus if you take those two big runs away, Bama had 169 yards on 40 carries, or 4.2 yards per carry, so it’s bit misleading to say Bama was gashing Arkansas for 7.5 yards per carry every time they handed the ball off. But those two big runs counted, you can’t fully take them out of the equation.

The bottom line here for Bama is that yes, they got a great win over a ranked team on the road. But if Bryce Young’s shoulder keeps him out for multiple games, Bama could be in some trouble. They have the hardest stretch of their schedule upcoming: vs. Texas A&M, at Tennessee, vs. Mississippi State, bye week, at LSU, at Ole Miss. If they don’t have Bryce Young, they are not winning all those games.

Now, Bama can certainly count on most if not all of those teams to half beat themselves. That’s what Arkansas did in falling down 28-0 to start the game, and it’s what we see over and over and over again with teams that play Bama. It’s like 80% of the time the game is over before it even starts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a team play against Alabama and immediately proceed to piss down their legs for the whole first half of the game, fall down into a huge deficit, and then settle in in the second half and start playing better, but they’re still too far behind to actually have a chance to win the game.

I watched Arkansas drop open passes, turn the ball over, and just generally shoot themselves in the foot for most of the first half against Alabama. The only explanation I can think of is that most teams are terrified of Bama, and so they play the whole first half (if not more) nervous and uptight.

But man, this Bama team is beatable. Texas has already shown that. They are very beatable if Bryce Young misses time. Teams need to just stop being afraid of Alabama. Texas wasn’t, and you saw how close they came to winning even with a backup QB. Stop being afraid of Alabama!

Injuries are the only thing that can derail Ohio State

When you’re a team like Ohio State and you play Rutgers, you only have two goals: don’t get embarassed, and don’t get injured.

It looked like Ohio State avoided injuries in the game, but they had several key players sit this game out. Starting running back Treyveon Henderson was a late addition to the injury report and didn’t play. And that’s okay, because as impressive as Henderson is, his vision is a bit lacking and I think the backup running back, Miyan Williams, is probably the better overall back. Henderson is more talented, but Miyan Williams–nicknamed “pork chop”–looks tougher, runs more violently, and hits the holes better. I think Henderson will get better with time and repetitions (he’s only a true sophomore) but right now it looks like Miyan Williams is probably the better back. Williams was able to rush for an Ohio State-record 5 touchdowns on the ground (tied record, more accurately).

But Ohio State was also missing Jaxon Smith-Njigba, probably the nation’s best receiver. He has missed most of the season and probably won’t be back for another several weeks with a hamstring injury. Ohio State probably rushed him back too early a couple weeks back, and the word is that he re-injured his hamstring and will miss more time. So who knows how long he’ll be out.

Safety/nickel-cornerback Tanner McCalister got hurt during the Rutgers game. Altogether, 12 players on Ohio State missed the game, including 5 defensive backs in an already thin secondary. Ohio State only has, I believe, 6 cornerbacks on the roster. That’s a very low number for a premier college football program. Just one injury and things could get ugly in the secondary.

Caleb Williams is Ridiculous

I stayed up late and watched USC play Arizona State. I wanted to get a good look at USC because I really haven’t been able to watch them this year. I have fond memories of USC being the best team in the country when I was a kid, they have the most epic fight song in the country, and I just think college football is so much better when USC is elite. So I am rooting for them to get back to their glory days. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as dominant as they were under Pete Carroll, because Pete Carroll’s USC teams were all-time great. That was an all-time historic run for any program.

Caleb Williams is ridiculous. He made this throw in the second quarter against ASU that was so good I just had to laugh. Looked like ASU had him dead to rights, right on the goal line, possibly about to get him for a safety, but he jumped up and threw a pass toward the sideline. It looked like it was just going to sail out of bounds, but it was caught by Jordan Addison for a first down. They showed the pass on a replay and it was a perfectly thrown spiral to a place that only Addison could catch it. It was amazing.

The dude is so creative and so crafty out there, I’m just amazed by him every time I watch him play. Now I know he didn’t have a great game last weekend at Oregon State, but that was a one-off. Caleb Williams is such an incredible talent. I’ve already looked at some 2024 drafts and he’s considered a lock to be the #1 pick when he’s able to go pro. I watched him play a bit when he was at Oklahoma and he made some unbelievable plays. He’s continuing that at USC. The guy makes plays that I’ve never seen QBs make before, and that’s just about the highest compliment I can pay an athlete.

I put a futures bet on him to win the Heisman before the season. It’s probably a long-shot because it really seems like it’s CJ Stroud’s year, and if USC drops a few games it’ll really hurt his Heisman candidacy, but he is so good. I would even say he’s arguably better than Stroud and Bryce Young at this point. That is how impressed I am with him. Not only can he make all the throws, he’s mobile, too.

The knock on CJ Stroud is that while he’s got a golden arm, he’s not that mobile. And Bryce Young is a bit under-sized (listed at 6’0″, 194lbs). Williams can throw, he can run, he’s crafty as hell, he throws accurately on the run, and on top of all that, he’s so hard to bring down. He’s a low-key tank of a quarterback. It’s not that he’s a big guy or anything (listed at 6’1″, 215lbs) but he’s just so hard to tackle for some reason. He’s elusive and he sheds tackles.

I can’t say enough good things about Caleb Williams. He’s an incredible talent. In my heart of hearts, I think he’s probably better than Bryce Young and CJ Stroud. Not to say those guys are bad or overrated or anything, either. I think both those guys are elite. It’s just that Caleb Williams is that freaking good.

Now, that said, as good as Caleb Williams is, the USC defense is hot ass. Caleb Williams was brilliant in that first half, leading USC to three touchdown drives, but they were only up 21-17. They need Caleb Williams to be absolutely sensational in order to beat pretty much anybody. ASU is not a good team–they were 1-3 coming into last night. I’ve got them ranked #74 in my power ratings.

Emory Jones lost his starting job at Florida to Anthony Richardson, then transferred to Arizona State. It looked to me like Emory Jones is a better QB than Richardson. Now I know I just got done talking about how mid USC’s defense is, and it’s a far cry from the SEC defenses Anthony Richardson is going up against on a weekly basis, but I think I’m convinced that Emory Jones is better than AR-15.

Michigan Beats Iowa… You Want a Cookie?

If you read this blog regularly, you have probably figured out that there are two college football teams I just can’t stand: Clemson and Michigan. Easily my two least favorite programs out there. Hate just about everything about them.

But I’m fair to them. I give them credit when they deserve it. The fact that I am admitting to you that I am biased against Clemson and Michigan is itself proof that I am fair to them. I’m not one of those people who pretends they’re not biased while trying to sneak in propaganda and slander while passing it off as objective analysis and honest, good-faith opinion. I am openly telling you I’m a big time Clemson hater and a big time Michigan hater.

I gave Michigan credit when they beat Ohio State last year. I even went as far as to say I thought Michigan had a legit chance to beat Georgia in the playoff last year.

So while I am a Michigan hater, I am a fair Michigan hater.

But I’m here to tell you: this 2022 Michigan team is not good. They beat Iowa 27-14 at Kinnick–big whoop. Iowa is the worst offense in America. Trust me; I’m an Iowa alum. Iowa is the worst offense in the FBS. They couldn’t score a touchdown against SOUTH DAKOTA STATE. They are literally 131 out of 131 in total yards per game. They are tied for 4th-worst in yards per play offensively.

Sure, their defense is ranked high, but that’s because prior to Michigan they played South Dakota State, Nevada, Iowa State and Rutgers. Those are not good teams. Nevada is a bottom-10 offense in the country. Iowa State ranks 75th in total yards. Rutgers ranks 99th. And So-Dak is an FCS school.

Yeah, Iowa might have a good defense, but that’s mainly because they’ve played some of the worst offenses in the country. They let Michigan march down the field and score a TD on the first drive of the game. That is not something an elite defense does.

Iowa’s defense only seems good because their offense is so bad, and because they’ve played some horrible, horrible teams this season.

Michigan barely beat Iowa today. I know the score shows 27-14, but it was 20-7 and Iowa had the ball within the 5 yard line in the 4th quarter. Michigan added a stat-padder TD late in that game (because that’s what Jim Harbaugh does–he runs up the score to make it look like his team is better than it is. He consistently does this every season). Iowa, as bad as they were all afternoon, actually had a shot at winning this game. And Iowa has THE WORST offense in America. They cannot move the ball. Iowa’s offense is stuck in 1946. It is unbelievably bad. Horrifically bad. And Michigan could not put Iowa away until very late in the game.

I’ve heard all this hype over JJ McCarthy–JJ McCarthy this, JJ McCarthy that. But I am not impressed by what I’ve seen out of him. 18-24 passing for 155 yards and 1 TD. Eh.

McCarthy strikes me as one of those guys who is afraid to throw the ball. People laud him for his running ability, and he is a nice runner, but I see a guy who runs because he’d rather run it than throw it. I’ve watched college football for long enough to know it when I see it: JJ McCarthy is afraid to throw the ball. He sits back there in the pocket, hesitant, waiting for someone to get blatantly, hilariously wide-ass open, and then when no one does, he just tucks it and runs it. I see the same tendency in DJ Uiagaleilei–dude would rather run it than throw it.

McCarthy is one of those quarterbacks who won’t throw the ball until his receiver has like 5 yards of separation–like I said, blatantly, hilariously wide-open. That’s what he’s looking for.

And it’s good to have a QB that can run, no doubt. You need to be able to pick up free yards and first downs when the defense is letting you have them. One of my biggest knocks on Ohio State’s CJ Stroud is that he doesn’t do that–he won’t take the free yards on the ground. He is not a good runner at all.

But you cannot win games by just being a runner who tucks it and picks up yards when no one is open. You have to have the ability to push the ball down the field and complete throws. You have to be able to move the chains on third and long. I just don’t see JJ McCarthy as a guy who can throw the ball 40-45 times and lead his team to victory with his arm.

Look, there’s a reason JJ McCarthy only won the starting job a few weeks ago. Cade McNamara was the starter all throughout the offseason and training camp, and into the season. If JJ McCarthy was really as incredible as people say he is, why didn’t he win the starting job months ago? Why did it take him this long to beat out McNamara?

Because McCarthy isn’t as good as Michigan fans think (hope) he is. It’s more like wishful thinking. He’s got the backup QB phenomenon–because fans know the starter, Cade McNamara, and he’s not that good, they look at the backup QB as a potential savior just because he was an unknown quantity. He might be the greatest QB ever! It’s the fact that the starter is disappointing coupled with the unknown potential of the backup QB that appeals to fans. They want to roll the dice on the backup QB because the sky could be the limit with him, potentially. “He’s gotta be better! He just has to be!”

McCarthy is probably more dynamic than McNamara. But his floor is lower, too. He’s not as experienced, and he could make some mistakes that McNamara wouldn’t make.

Look, overall, Michigan is a good-not-great team. They struggled with Maryland last week, and they kind of struggled with Iowa this week. Iowa is a bad team. Like, legit bad.

Michigan will lose at least two games this season, probably three.

Quick Hits

  • Auburn-LSU is pretty reliably one of the stupidest games in college football every year. There’s always a comical level of mismanagement and boneheaded-ness from both sides whenever they meet. I don’t know why it is, but it happened yet again.
    • First of all, Auburn jumped out to a 17-0 lead with about 7 minutes left in the first half. Then they gave up a strip-sack scoop-n-score TD to LSU to make it 17-7. They then missed a 40-yard field goal on their next drive that would’ve made it 20-7. Then LSU scored a TD on their next drive to close out the first half, meaning Auburn blew a 17-0 lead in the final 7 minutes of the first half. In fact, Auburn wouldn’t score again after going up 17-0 in the first half. They lost the game 21-17.
    • Auburn turned the ball over 4 times in the game (LSU once). That’s Auburn-LSU stupidity at its finest right there. Both teams were trying to lose the game in the fourth quarter, it seemed like, as they combined for three turnovers in the final quarter. I’ll just embed the game highlights from YouTube so you can see for yourself if you didn’t watch. Just sheer ridiculousness.
  • Just look at this box score:
  • Are you kidding me, Auburn? You outgain LSU by 168 yards and hold them to just 85 passing yards and you still lose? Auburn-LSU is the drunkest game in college football every year. Just a complete mess.
  • Oklahoma got their doors blown off by TCU, 55-24. I told you during the week that I thought TCU would win the game outright, so I hope you capitalized and made some money off that. It was one of the most stress-free moneyline bets on an underdog you’ve ever seen. TCU was up like 20-3 in the first quarter. TCU had that game won pretty early on. There was no sweating that one at all.
  • Oklahoma fans were riding high after the first three weeks of the season. They pulverized Nebraska, and it looked like they were in great shape under Brent Venables. Now OU fans are doing the whole, “Well, Nick Saban was only 7-6 in his first year at Alabama–including a loss to UL-Monroe!”
  • The back-half of the top-25… what the hell, man:
  • Washington lost a great game on Friday night to UCLA, who is now quietly 5-0. Washington was down 40-16, rallied to make it 40-32, but couldn’t stop UCLA at the end, and UCLA was able to run out the clock.
  • Baylor got beat pretty good by Oklahoma State.
  • Texas A&M… well they finally lost another one. They should’ve lost to Arkansas last week. They probably could’ve lost to Miami, and Miami isn’t good. Texas A&M isn’t a good team. They have no offense and finally the dam broke on their defense. Mississippi State hung 42 on them. And the worst part is that Jimbo Fisher is there to stay:
  • Oklahoma as we know got pulverized by TCU.
  • BYU got a win on Thursday night, although it was a close game–way too close. They beat Utah State 38-26 at home, and Utah State is a BAD team.
  • Arkansas lost to Bama. Arkansas’s run defense wasn’t ranked poorly coming into that Bama game, but Arkansas’s run defense is hot ass. They got absolutely thrashed on the ground by Bama.
  • Minnesota, the darling of the Big Ten West, got beat by Purdue at home. Purdue is that team that isn’t that great, but they still ruin everyone’s season in the Big Ten. By the way, Purdue’s QB Aidan O’Connell, while he might not be a first round pick, I think the dude can sling it. Unless I’m completely wrong, that dude can play in the NFL. I don’t think he’ll become some superstar or anything, but I think he will eventually be starting games in the NFL.
  • Wake Forest won, beating Florida State. I think my power ratings over-ranked the Noles. They’re better than they have been in the past few years, but they’re still a ways away.
  • And finally, Pitt lost to… Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is a bad football team. They’re 98th in my power ratings.

So that means….

Kansas will finally be ranked!

The Kansas FOOTBALL Jayhawks are officially 5-0 after winning a very ugly game against Iowa State, final score 14-11.

And now, College Gameday is going to Lawrence, Kansas for the first time ever.

Twitter meme’d it into existence.

I said this weekend of college football was “agonizing” because of all the near-upsets. Georgia, Bama when it was 28-23, Michigan when Iowa had the ball late, Clemson when NC State looked like the better team in the first half, USC when it was 21-17…

All the higher-ranked teams pulled away it seemed like. Kentucky lost to Ole Miss, but I thought Ole Miss was the better team before the game, even though the rankings had them lower.

We want to see some upsets, man! It kind of sucks when the big boys escape upsets.

At least give us one, man!

Georgia was the one we needed to have this weekend. Even though Mizzou got outplayed in the second half of that game, I think Mizzou deserved the win. At least their kicker did. I was a little bit pissed off when Georgia pulled that one out late, because they didn’t deserve to win that game. The way Georgia has been playing these past two weeks, they deserve to lose a game. And that was it.

And here’s the reason it’s agonizing: because it’s agonizing for people who are just watching for upsets, and it’s agonizing for fans of the top-ranked teams. Imagine being a Georgia fan, or a Bama fan, or a Michigan fan right now. You’re probably pretty disappointed in your team for almost losing to an inferior opponent. Georgia fans especially. That was almost a MASSIVE, historic upset.

Georgia was a 31 point favorite going into that game.

As frustrated as many people were that Georgia escaped that game, Georgia fans are probably 10x more frustrated with how poorly their team played.

So that’s why I say it was an agonizing weekend of college football.

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