I. Florida lost to who?
That would be Georgia Southern of the FCS, which went into the Swamp and gigged the Gators. Any time you have two players from your team blocking each other on a play (please just watch the video) you should lose. How about that? I just instituted a new rule for college football. It was a tough game to play for the Gators as Georgia Southern runs the tricky, assignment-oriented triple option – especially this late in the season. For this reason, I think people saying Muschamp has to go are naive and uninformed. The Gators need two things: a new identity and a quarterback. Unfortunately both of those things come in the offseason. Muschamp needs to weather this storm the rest of the season and try not to get embarrassed by FSU this week. After that, it’s time to make some assistant coach and player changes and I think everything will be okay in the Swamp. Take a deep breath and step away from the ledge, Gator fans.
II. Ducks and Beavers drowned last week… redemption game today.
Last Saturday may have been the worst day in the recent memory of a college football fan living in the state of Oregon. Oregon melted down and got punched in the mouth by Arizona, losing 42-16, and Oregon State got run out of the stadium to the tune of 530 rushing yards from Washington in a 69-27 defeat. What was the common theme? Half-hearted effort. To see your team get beat by a physically more talented or better team is tough to swallow. However, to have an explosive roster of talent and then see no effort, energy or determination is deplorable. I have the call on this game this week and I could give you a bunch of stats and key matchups, but heart is what is going to win this game. Maybe these programs (especially Oregon) have had too much success lately and have become spoiled, but this week’s Civil War will be a defining moment for each of these programs. Come out and play hard and leave it on the field and the program is saved. Put out a careless and half-hearted effort and the effects will linger with your program for years.
III. Is Arizona State the new Oregon?
Two things happened last Saturday: one, Oregon lost a second game this season by being physically dominated versus Arizona leading some to say that Oregon’s era of blur-speed scoring in shiny uniforms has come to a crashing end. Two, the Arizona State Sun Devils went into UCLA’s house and dominated in a game I got to see first hand. ASU has the up-tempo high-scoring offense, but unlike Oregon they also have physicality on offense and an attacking, turnover-causing defense….all elements that take on the demeanor of their disciplined, energetic second-year head coach Todd Graham. To me, where Oregon exudes the impression of being entitled and soft, Arizona State gives you the impression of a team with great athletes but also the grit and determination to play when things get tough. I don’t think its much of a stretch at all to say that with a few more top recruiting classes, which Graham (who is a tenacious and accomplished recruiter) can bring, Arizona State may become the class of the Pac-12… and possibly all of college football.
IV. Another team that’s for real: Mizzou.
No longer MizzWho, Missouri is for real, ladies and gentlemen. They dispatched Ole Miss last week 24-10 and I feel they have what it takes to play with Alabama if it came down to it. On offense they have an athletic quarterback in James Franklin, who showed no signs of rust in his return last week, coupled with a stable of big, fast athletes that can spread you out and make you look foolish in space. Defensively, they lead the league in sacks and are physical up front. If that doesn’t sound like a team that matches up well with Alabama, I don’t know what does. The Tigers have a slippery task this week containing Johnny Manziel and A&M but I think they win handily. Win this week and they are your SEC East champion, setting up an enticing matchup in the title game versus either the unbeaten Crimson Tide or a one-loss Auburn team coming off of an Iron Bowl win over Alabama. Either way, that’s one heck of a game.
V. Iron Bowl of Dreams
Speaking of… At the start of the season, no one could have imagined that a 10-1 and red-hot Auburn team (recently bumped up to #4 in the BCS) would be hosting Alabama in a monumental Iron Bowl showdown. The winner of this game has gone to the BCS title game each of the past three seasons, with the Tigers going and winning in 2010 with Cam Newton at quarterback. While I would feel more confident if someone found a hidden year of eligibility for Cam Newton and he could come back and play, Auburn still has a shot to do the impossible and beat the Crimson Tide. Auburn has two very important things going for them right now. One, they are coming off a magical, Hail Mary win versus Georgia two weeks ago. Never underestimate the mystical element in football. Sometimes, when things start to fall in line for a team, they feel like they are a team of destiny and that it is their time. As a member of the 2006 Colts Super Bowl team, we had that feeling and rolled all the way to the Lombardi Trophy. After last week, Auburn feels this way and a supernatural-type confidence can be deadly in sports. The second thing Auburn has going for it this week is that they are coming off a bye. Extra time for preparation will help anybody going up against a Nick Saban-coached team. If Auburn can keep it close enough to get it to the fourth quarter, they may have enough mojo to pull off the upset.
– Rocky Boiman
Rocky Boiman is an analyst for WestwoodOne’s coverage of NCAA Football. Each week in “Rocky’s V,” the former Notre Dame captain and Super Bowl champion writes about five topics that have captured his interest from around college football. You can also follow Rocky on Twitter.