Saturday was a fun day of football. The Tigers had a win in the bank, so I was free to just take in the multiple big time matchups that occurred. As I saw what happened to Auburn it helped me remember to just enjoy the wins as much as you can. Clemson hasn't played a clean game since destroying NC State but has found a way to win regardless. Before folks jump on the "well, those aren't SEC teams" I will remind them that Texas A&M isn't some juggernaut opponent. Their defense is not good and they had just gotten outgained by 100 yards by Louisiana Monroe the week before. Auburn paid for coming out flat and paid even more for incredibly sloppy execution late in the game. Where are all the Malzahn worshipers when those types of things happen? Gus is indeed a great coach and it just goes to show sometimes college kids just screw things up no matter what you do. Let's appreciate winning.
I'm sure everyone has seen the absolute gutless response by the ACC and NCAA regarding the Robert Smith ejection. It is yet another example of the type of people running this conference. I saw a targeting call get reversed yesterday where the contact was made even higher than what Smith did by the SEC. Meanwhile, we see John Swofford hide behind bogus explanations for his role in the extra probation put on Clemson in the 1980s while he was A.D. at UNC. I'm supposed to believe nobody was going to pay attention to him because he was the "newbie" in the room? There was no doubt that the Tobacco Road institutions were controlling the league at the time and UNC is at the top of that list. Now that his beloved tarholes are in the crosshairs for sustained academic fraud surpassing anything Clemson ever did under Pell or Ford, he chooses to claim the ACC will just abide by the NCAA rulings.
Clemson deserves better than this conference and it is a damn shame we didn't have the fortitude to leave it in the 1980s when the conference sent a clear message how they felt about us. Had we done that then, there is no doubt we would have gotten into the SEC ahead of South Carolina in 1992. The Head of ACC officials has predictably fallen on his sword about "not seeing the video" like the replay officials. He was in the booth watching the same video they would have seen. Just admit you screwed up the call and don't attempt to insult our intelligence as you have repeatedly attempted to do, ACC front office.
I watched a good bit of Georgia Tech's destruction of NC State on Saturday. They were extremely aggressive on the short to intermediate throws and I expect Morris to attack them over the top repeatedly with Watson. One thing is certain, the turnovers have to stop in Atlanta because giving that option extra possessions is a recipe for disaster no matter how good the defense is. Of course, GT looked incredible running the ball because the B-back was established. Clemson eliminated the B back last year and needs to do so again, but thankfully the best player on the team resides at DT with a rotation of solid players next to him. I expect we might see a lot more playing time for D.J. Reader opposite Jarrett this week. He's so big that you'd think he could effectively jam his gap when they option away from Jarrett, which is very likely going to happen. I'll get more into this for the preview later this week.
I will be interested to see how Duke is treated in the polls. The final score made that game look like an easy win but it wasn't. Duke had the good fortune of facing the fourth string QB for the Orange when Long got hurt. It took a Crowder punt return for the Devils to get some breathing room midway through the fourth quarter. Our win over Wake was much more dominant statistically and their points were all set up by turnovers or penalties (mostly bogus penalties at that). If Duke jumps us on Tuesday, I will be convinced they aren't watching as much film as they claim to be. That will be the typical AP poll approach of checking the score and jumping to conclusions.
I'm sure many of you were pulling for LSU to beat 'Bama as I was. It was another case of some bonehead mistakes deciding a game. LSU had a crippling penalty after the late Yeldon fumble which had them just settling for the field goal rather than entertaining a touchdown. No doubt they line up and pound the run game if that drive would have started where it should have. Then they followed that up with just an awful attempt at a squib kick. Of course, Bama shanked a 27-yarder off the post earlier in the game as well. You just can never forget about the importance of special teams.
Kentucky must have employed our kick coverage scheme from the first game of the year when they faced UGA. Isiah McKenzie ran through a gaping hole untouched for a TD on the opening kickoff. Dawg fans must be beside themselves when they see their squad dismantle Mizzou and Kentucky on the road yet roll over and play dead against the Gators and Coots. That Auburn/UGA game might be a 51-48 type game when you figure UGA has Gurley back to go with Chubb and Michel. Auburn is bad on defense and the SEC has often resembled the Big 12 lately. There is some bad defense getting played in that league.
I'm happy Louisville handled Boston College. The game was predictably tight for a while, but the Cardinals just have more answers on offense and it eventually made the difference. We need the Cards to win out and take their rightful place in the top 25 because I'm convinced they are one of the top 25 teams in the land after watching a bunch of other teams yesterday (including Utah, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and West Virginia). The Cards still have Notre Dame and Kentucky to play and can notch some good wins.
GT has really improved from early in the year, mostly on offense. Their defense is not good but they are feeling free to gamble a ton because they figure they are going to score a lot of points. That has resulted in creating a ton of turnovers the last few games which has helped the Jackets pull away from folks. They now give us a chance to get a win over a ranked team on the road, which is going to be very important for the resume at the end.
I'm more convinced than ever that the SEC West is going to produce a 2-loss champion who will be favored pretty heavily in the SEC title game against Mizzou (should they make it). UGA is the best team in the East when at full strength, but they have dealt with problems on defense that make them vulnerable. They also showed serious cracks in games where they had to try to throw the ball to win. If they fall behind like they did in Jacksonville, they are not the same team.
Ohio State dealt a serious blow to the Big 10 yesterday by winning. TCU is now a virtual lock for the playoffs with only Texas left that might cause them trouble (though I seriously doubt it). Oregon and Arizona State appear destined for the Pac-12 title game. If both win out 'till then, the winner will be in. FSU, like Clemson, has gotten to games where they need to tighten up to keep winning. Miami is much improved from early in the year because Kaaya has grown up. They are going to score points so it will be up to Winston and the offense to not help them out with the turnovers they have been giving out lately. I'll reserve judgement on Florida until after they play the coots in terms of their threat level.
Feel free to comment on any or all of the above, especially if it is to bash Swofford and the ACC office.