Saturday Reaction: Clemson, Big 10 and Mother Nature

It was a huge night of college football as the defending national champion was tested. While the story is and will continue to be Jameis Winston the real story should be how Clemson blew this game. Missed field goals and a bad fumble kept the Seminoles in it and now we have to listen to Winston talk for the next few months.

Coach Jimbo Fisher’s quote “We know how to win” at the end of the game on ABC is a stretch. Clemson helped FSU with a slow developing play call on fourth and one. The Tigers had a 407-318 lead in yards and still lost.

Florida State is still in the driver seat for the ACC title and a playoff spot. For college football as a whole though, Winston will continue to be a bad distraction. People don’t change this quickly and I’m bracing myself for the next bad report out of Tallahassee.

Winner: Sean Maguire, Florida State quarterback

Congratulations to Maguire for keeping the Seminoles alive for another national title. He did throw more picks (2) than touchdowns (1) but his 305 passing yards were unexpected for a guy who threw just 116 yards last season. That was probably in garbage time too. Florida State fans will always have respect for Maguire for years to come.

Loser: ACC

The conference looks weak outside of Florida State right now. North Carolina was rolled over by East Carolina in embarrassing fashion. Syracuse, Miami and Pittsburgh lost to Big Ten schools. The best win the conference had today was Duke over Tulane. Not going to move the needle with that one.

Winner: Samantha Ponder

Ponder gave a great take on Winston during College Gameday as she explained why his suspension was warranted. It was probably the best I’ve heard and that’s with everyone in the media giving their two cents. Please give her more time than David Pollack ESPN.

Loser: Florida State University

The school originally suspended Winston for just the first half of the Clemson game but changed course to a full game late Friday night. Nothing good is announced on a Friday night. The school came across as suspicious and incompetent. Better to stick to your original decision to than to try and sweep a new choice in past newspaper deadlines. It was bad public relations coming from a school that appears to not have any.

Winner: Mother Nature

Several games have been delayed due to lightning this year and more were impacted this week. Michigan vs. Utah, Illinois vs. Texas State and Toledo vs. Ball State were games that were severely delayed.

Loser: Michigan Athletics

Well this tweet from the Michigan Golf Club sums it up.

Should note that the golf club is not a varsity sport for Michigan but yeah, that’s disrespectful of the athletics department if that’s true.

Winner: Indiana

The Hoosiers got there first win against a Top 25 team under Kevin Wilson today after six unsuccessful tries. IU went into Columbia, Missouri and knocked off the No. 18 Tigers 31-27. This was huge for the Big Ten as the Hoosiers are the only school in the league with a win over an SEC school this year. SEC fans will go back to disowning Missouri on a convenient basis. Today, the Tigers are back in the Big 12.

Tough Day for the Sun Belt

Why is Western Kentucky still here?

Why is Western Kentucky still here?

While the Big 10 has been berated by media folk (rightfully so) one league had an even worse week. The Sun Belt went 0-10 Saturday against schools ranging from LSU to Abilene Christian. Yikes!

It was not completely negative as Georgia Southern gave Georgia Tech a scare losing 42-38 in Atlanta. UL-Monroe was only down 10-0 at LSU after the first half, but the Tigers put the upset to bed with a 30-0 final score. After that… well…
Troy State fell to 0-3 as FCS Abilene Christian shocked it 38-35. That was the probably the most winnable game for the Trojans.

Arkansas State, Louisiana and South Alabama were handled by power conference schools. Idaho was uncompetitive at home against MAC weakling Western Michigan. Texas State surrendered 28 straight points to Navy at home before scoring its first touchdown. UTEP controlled New Mexico State the whole way and Georgia State did what Georgia State does against Air Force. The Panthers even turned to advertising for content on Twitter. Not good.

This doesn’t mean the Sun Belt Conference “sucks” as we like to label struggling leagues. There were disappointing performances to be sure but the Sun Belt is in a bad spot geographically speaking. While the MAC and Conference USA gets to pick at the struggling teams of the Big Ten and Big 12, the Sun Belt is stuck scheduling the SEC. That never ends up well.

The MAC didn’t do great this week either but when a Bowling Green defeats Indiana people tend to forget how badly Central Michigan, Ball State and Kent State played.Sensor Scans

With no big win among the conference other than ULM over Wake Forest in week 1 (not flashy) it’s hard to cover the stinky games up.

Southern Miss Stays Positive

What do you do when you’re getting blown out by No. 2 Alabama? Talk about the field goals your kicker is making and not about the extra points he never tried. The Golden Eagles lost 52-12 but did kick a field goal in each quarter. If that makes Southern Miss fans feel better.

Vanderbilt Hides Football

Forget about “Anchor Down” as Vanderbilt was losing to MAC doormat UMass on Saturday. The Commodores rallied to get their first win but not before reporting on how the school’s cross-country team did on Saturday. This resulted in this awesome exchange.

Vanderbilt might be able to “AnchorDown” against FCS Charleston Southern so fire up that 2-10 season Commodores. You’ll always have cross-country to turn to.

FCS Power Faceplants

No. 15 Sam Houston State was seen as a contender for the FCS playoffs but I’m sure that changed after Colorado State Pueblo destroyed it Saturday. Did I mention that Colorado State Pueblo was Division II? This is like an episode of “Defiance” being better than an episode of “Doctor Who.” It should not happen.

Division II knows how to "Bring the Thunder"

Division II knows how to “Bring the Thunder”

Even more surprising is how this game was never close. The ThunderWolves were up 14-0 after the first quarter and 27-0 at half. The 47-21 final was actually the result of mercy and garbage touchdowns by the Bearkats.

It’s going to be hard for Sam Houston State to come back from this one but maybe it was a learning experience for the Bearkats. One can only hope.

Enjoy the Check Kent State, Southern Miss and Wyoming

This is a soft slate of college football games this week as Georgia vs. South Carolina is the only match-up between Top 25 teams. There is a reason why the College GameDay gang is at North Dakota State tomorrow and that’s because there isn’t a better place to go. So that means it’s time to see what mid-majors are bold enough to get paid and destroyed by the big boys. Welcome to the Budget Games.Budget Games new

Kent State at Ohio State

The Buckeyes will pay the Golden Flashes $850,000 to travel to Columbus and take a beating Saturday. Or will they? Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is trying to fill in for injured Braxton Miller and has thrown 4 picks. Three of which came in its 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech.

Kent State though couldn’t break 300 yards of offense against Ohio and South Alabama so the Ohio State defense will be a mountain. This upset is simply not happening as I give 0-2 Kent State a 2 percent chance.

Southern Mississippi at Alabama

Say hello to a beating Golden Eagles. Southern Mississippi was trashed by Mississippi State 49-0 and No.3 Alabama is better than Mississippi State. Southern Miss barely survived FCS Alcorn State 26-20 so this game is going to get ugly and get ugly fast. This has a zero percent chance of an upset.

Wyoming at Oregon

Just think about this moment when Oregon is up 56-14 Wyoming fans.

Just think about this moment when Oregon is up 56-14 Wyoming fans.

No. 2 Oregon just had a huge win over Michigan State and Wyoming just had a huge win over… Air Force. Wyoming is 2-0 but the average margin of victory is 4.5 points. That includes a tight 17-12 decision over FCS Montana. Oregon had nearly 500 yards of offense against a strong defense in Michigan State while Wyoming had 300 yards against Montana. Not good. Zero percent chance of upset.

Other Budget Games: UL-Monroe at LSU, Miami U at Michigan, UMass at Vanderbilt, Louisiana at Ole Miss

The Pain of Miami University Football

The poor Miami RedHawks had a chance to snap their gargantuan losing streak Saturday to FCS Eastern Kentucky but fell to the Colonels 17-10. It may have been Miami University’s best chance to win on the season and now…  there’s this.

The quote from Coach Martin, “Anybody that doubts us, I would doubt us too” at the three-minute mark speaks to the depression that is Miami University football. Having Office Max as a sponsor shows the depression too. The last time Miami won a game was in October of 2012. Think about where you were 23 months ago. For me, I’ve changed jobs three times since then. The Republicans thought they were going to take down Obama in the 2012 election. Ray Rice was a productive running back leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl. Comic book fans were genuinely optimistic about Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 coming out the following summer. That’s how long it has been since Miami of Ohio beat someone in football.

Saturday’s game led to this depressing tweet.

That’s right, six turnovers. Yet Miami only lost by a touchdown.

Miami’s next four remaining home games all are winnable but road trips to Michigan and Cincinnati come first. Miami will enter MAC play on a 20-game losing streak, the longest streak among FBS teams by a massive margin. If the RedHawks can enter MAC action without any injuries, then maybe Miami can steal a game this year. Otherwise Coach Chuck Martin is going to have several more painful press conferences.

Clemson Runs Up the ScoreSensor Scans

The Clemson Tigers were not happy about their loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the first week and took their frustrations out on FCS South Carolina State Saturday. We’re talking 73-7 frustration. Clemson had a 44-0 lead in the third quarter and were still passing the ball. The Tigers even put the ball in the air in the fourth quarter. Don’t care if you’re second string is in, you don’t pass the football against an inferior opponent when you’re up by six touchdowns in the second half. This is not a video game.

South Carolina State got revenge late when the score was 73-0. The Bulldogs took a fumble and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Whether it was karma, football Gods, or the Holy Spirit, Clemson was denied their precious 73-0 shutout. They play at Florida State on Sept. 20 and you can bet who I’ll be rooting for. Let’s see them run up the score against FSU.

Appalachian State Loves Cupcakes

Appalachian State earned or should I say received its first win of the year Saturday, smashing Campbell 66-0. Problem is Campbell is a member of the Pioneer League, a FCS conference that does not offer athletic scholarships for football. So basically, the Moutaineers defeated the equivalent of a Division II school. This is App State’s first year in the FBS but come on. Again, the Holy Spirit or Doctor Who interfered with the blowout as the game had a lightning delay after the first half. Few came back to watch the one-sided affair.

Campbell tried to make the most of it, as it featured pictures of Campbell students on a bus traveling to the game.

Congratulations to the Campbell Camels for showing spirit despite the mismatch.

Division II Pride

Congratulations to Division II McMurry for defeating FCS Houston Baptist Saturday 26-17. Sure, it was the first official game in the history of Houston Baptist football but it is always a big deal when a D-2 team knocks off a D-1. Just ask McMurry.

McMurry is referencing how ESPN and other cable outlets only display Division I scores in the bottom ticker. Getting on it as a winner is huge for McMurry. Maybe the school should reconsider dropping down to Division III.

It’s going to be a tough starting out for Houston Baptist as the Southland Conference will not show much mercy on them. Such is life as a football start-up.

Night Life in El-Paso

UTEP wanted to make sure its home game with Texas Tech was televised and went to great lengths to do so. Like having the kickoff at 11 p.m. Eastern Time so Fox Sports 1 would broadcast it. FS1 showed BYU at Texas earlier in the evening as that game took priority. While the game started a 9 p.m. local time it didn’t end until 12:41 a.m. in El-Paso and 2:41 back East. UTEP lost 30-26 so I hope the late night exposure was worth it.

Week 2 Upset Alert

Soft scheduling is a bit of an epidemic in the second week of the season. Only two games are between Top 25 teams and eight of the Top 25 scheduled a FCS school. Here is a look at some of the games that can put a member of the autonomous five in jeopardy.

Eastern Washington at Washington

Washington dropped out of the Top 25 despite defeating Hawaii last week 17-16. That’s how vulnerable the Huskies looked against a 1-11 team and in comes the No. 2 FCS school in country this Saturday. Eastern Washington posted 625 yards of offense in its win over PAC 12 Oregon State last season and that was second highest total OSU allowed all year. Washington will have to have a solid performance to avoid the upset. I don’t think it will as the FCS will get its third win on the season against a FBS school. Hawaii outgained Washington last week and that is a giant red flag.

Oregon State at Hawaii

To the school that nearly defeated Washington as Hawaii gets another crack at a PAC 12 team this week at home. The Rainbow Warriors are better than last season’s 1-11 team and look for them to come out wanting to prove it. FCS Portland State actually had a 14-13 lead at the half last week against Oregon State before the Beavers pulled away in the second half for a 29-14 win. I’ll pick Hawaii since I don’t think Oregon State is stronger than Washington. Plus, this pregame Hawaiian chant is just too cool.

Missouri at Toledo

A MAC frontrunner hosting a SEC team that’s in for a bit of a regression year. Now we’re talking. Toledo pulled away from a very good FCS team in New Hampshire Saturday and has an experienced team. The Tigers defeated the Rockets last year 38-23 but it was only 24-23 in the third quarter. Toledo is going throw everything into this game and that’s why I’m picking them.

Western Kentucky at Illinois

This is a slam dunk, Illinois nearly lost to FCS Youngstown State last week. Now comes CUSA Western Kentucky, who trashed the defending MAC champion Bowling Green State 59-31. The Hilltoppers scored over 30 points per game last season and the Fighting Illini could only do 28 against a FCS squad. Not good. I’m taking WKU.

Central Michigan at Purdue

Purdue is coming off a 1-11 year and showed little improvement against Western Michigan last Saturday who was also 1-11. While the Boilers won 43-34 they are going up against a stronger MAC school in the Chippewas this week. I knew Central would struggle against a quality FCS team in Chattanooga but its defense held a good offense to just 16 points. Honestly, I think Chattanooga’s offense is better than the Purdue squad Central Michigan will face. Purdue has to prove to it can beat an average team before I feel comfortable picking them.

Northern Illinois at Northwestern

This one is also obvious as Northern Illinois has a history of devouring weak Big Ten teams. It beat Iowa and pummeled Purdue 55-24 last season and Northwestern is a sitting duck. The Wildcats have lost eight of their last nine games so it’s insane to see them as a favorite against anyone. My main concern is that NIU winning is not really an upset. Maybe the Huskies will take this game lightly while the Wildcats will be in redemption mode? Until Northwestern shows some life I have to go with NIU.

Old Dominion at NC State

NC State will always be on upset alert when it plays a team from the group of five. CUSA Old Dominion hung in there against Pittsburgh last season in a 35-24 and returns most its team. NC State barely survived Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt last week 24-23 and lost its last eight games of 2013. This is a coin flip and always go with the underdog in that case. Look for ODU to get a big win over an ACC school.

Other upset alert games: Texas Tech at UTEP, Stony Brook at Connecticut, Alcorn State at Southern Miss, Washington State at Nevada

The Slightly Better Football Teams

I take it "Cal Wins" doesn't happen very much.

I take it “Cal Wins” doesn’t happen very much.

You can’t win a national title in the first week of the season but you can satisfy the expectations of your fan base. For those hoping their football team would just “get better” then you’re in luck if you are a fan of one of these teams from each conference.

ACC: Virginia

Virginia hung in there against UCLA Saturday and that’s a win for a 2-10 team in 2013. Heck, this was a squad that was trashed by Ball State at home last season 48-27 so losing 28-20 to No. 7 UCLA is amazing. The Cavaliers have an experienced team and should break their ACC losing streak this season given how weak the league is. Going to a bowl game will be tough but anything over 2 wins should be a plus.

PAC-12: California

Remember how California lost by two touchdowns to Northwestern in the season opener a season ago in Berkeley? Things changed as the 1-11 Golden Bears won their first game at Northwestern 31-24 in what I thought was the biggest upset of the weekend. Cal has already matched last season’s win total and now gets to host FCS Sacramento State this week.

Big Ten: Rutgers

Big Ten fans are happily claiming Rutgers after its road trip to Seattle where it knocked off Washington State 41-38. The Scarlet Knights did go 7-6 last season but not many were expecting them to do much in the Big Ten. Maybe Rutgers will avoid the Big Ten cellar after all.

Big 12: West Virginia

Going up against Alabama, many thought West Virginia would be cannon fodder but the Mountaineers made a game of it. It was a 33-23 defeat but the Mountaineers trailed by only three at halftime. After a 4-8 season, West Virginia has a chance to win four of its next five games. Its date with Maryland on Sept. 13 will be crucial.

SEC: Tennessee

Tennessee shutdown an explosive offense in Utah State Sunday night, holding it to seven points. Tennessee is looking to improve from 5-7 this season and should be favored in at least five more games this season. The Vols should be going bowling.

American Athletic Conference: Temple

One team in the SEC that did not improve was Vanderbilt, a school that was embarrassed by Temple on Thursday 37-7. Temple was 2-10 in 2013 and is a lock to surpass last season’s win total. Temple really made the new SEC Network look bad as all the “experts” called for a Vanderbilt rout. Nice job Owls.

Mountain West: Hawaii

Hawaii only won one game last season but showed improvement in its one point loss to No. 25 Washington 17-16. The Rainbow Warriors should have won this game as they held the Huskies scoreless in the 2nd half. They will get another crack at a PAC 12 school as Oregon State comes to the islands Saturday.

Sun Belt: Georgia State

Georgia State surpassed last season’s win total with a victory over FCS Abilene Christian Wednesday 38-37 meaning it is already an amazing season for Panther fans. Seriously, everything from here on out is bonus money. The Panthers will have a great shot at beating a FBS team for the first time in school history this Saturday as they host the Aggies of New Mexico State.

MAC: Akron

The MAC East is has no clear favorite this season and maybe Akron can sneak in. The Zips blew out FCS Howard Thursday and that is an upgrade from last season. All five of Akron’s wins in 2013 had a margin of victory of a touchdown or less. This could be the year of the Zips. We’re pulling for you Terry Bowden.

Conference USA: UAB

UAB hasn’t even sniffed bowl eligibility in the last few years but that could be changing. UAB broke a three-game losing streak to in-state rival Troy State Saturday. In the rebuilt Conference USA look for the Blazers to do some damage despite a 2-10 record in 2013.

What Not to Miss on Labor Day Weekend

Not a math major but it seems like something is not right here.

Not a math major but it seems like something is not right here.

With all the football going on this weekend here are some events to keep in mind during one of the busiest times on the college sports calendar.

FootballObscurity Report new

Talk is swirling that Hawaii is considering a move to drop its football team. If that is the case then be sure to watch its late night home opener against Washington. Will be interesting to see how the Rainbow Warriors fight a superior team with all the negativity going on. Coming off a 1-11 season doesn’t help either. The marketing department appears desperate as season tickets are less than the price of two single games. Even their promotional video shows plenty of empty seats at the 20 second mark.

A Hawaii upset would be the story of the week in my opinion. Stay up just in case it’s close.

Men’s Soccer

Down in Bloomington, Indiana, the defending champions and No. 1 Notre Dame will be taking on two top 12 teams this weekend in the IU Classic. Today at 5 p.m. will be No. 12 Marquette with No. 9 Georgetown Sunday at 11:30. Both the Golden Eagles and Hoyas lost in the third round of the tournament last season and will test the Fighting Irish.

Women’s Soccer

No. 1 UCLA is also defending its championship and will host the 2012 champion, No. 9 North Carolina Friday night. The Bruins are on 23-game winning streak but the last team who beat them were the Tar Heels . UCLA is 1-9 all-time against UNC but won where it most mattered last season in the NCAA quarterfinals 1-0. In its first two games, UCLA hasn’t even allowed a single shot on goal or corner kick. So good luck against that defense North Carolina. Maybe UCLA can take a break from practice with a win.

Women’s Volleyball

No. 3 Stanford travels to No. 7 Nebraska Sunday as the women’s volleyball season gets underway. This is a big test for Stanford as it will host defending champ and No. 1 overall Penn State next week. Both the Cardinal and the Cornhuskers lost in the quarterfinals last season with Stanford losing to Penn State in five sets. Stanford was the only team to take Penn State to five in the tournament so look for the Cardinal to be confident going into the season. One thing’s for sure, the team knows how to manipulate the camera.