Around Campus: Oct. 17-19
It’s Dan Mount again with another edition of Around Campus. What a weekend we had last Saturday! It was filled with upsets and all the things college football fans look forward to. This week promises some big games that could clear up the muddled National Championship picture. As always you can leave comments below or follow me on Twitter @DanMountSports.
Anarchy Saturday: There’s always one of these every year and last Saturday was the day filled with massive upsets that saw the championship dreams of a couple of teams die. Georgia’s quest for the national title was halted by Missouri in a 41-26 loss in between the hedges. The Bulldogs were ravaged by injuries, but Mizzou quarterback James Franklin torched the heralded UGA defense. (Franklin did injure his shoulder and will be out for 3-5 weeks according to Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel. Georgia was without its dynamic running back duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, but give Missouri full credit for going into a hostile environment and getting a huge SEC road win. It’s going to be difficult for the Tigers to keep up this hot start without Franklin, but this team is a pleasant surprise.
Another huge upset came from the Red River Rivalry as Texas shocked #10 Oklahoma 36-20 in Dallas. This was the first win for the Longhorns over the Sooners since 2009, when Texas made it to the national title game. This was a huge win for Mack Brown as he was facing heat from plenty of people that wanted him fire. (There are still some that think Brown is on the hot seat.) This wasn’t just Texas squeaking by against their archrival as the Longhorns dominated. They turned the tables on the Sooners and ran the ball down Oklahoma’s throat and got strong QB play from Case McCoy.
Perhaps the most surprising win of the weekend was when Utah stunned fifth-ranked Stanford 27-21. Utes’ coach Kyle Whittingham finally gets a signature Pac-12 win and it was the first victory for the program at home over a top-five opponent. (Utah did beat Alabama, but that was at the Sugar Bowl a couple of years ago.) The Utes have struggled through a period of adjustment since moving to the tougher conference from the Mountain West, but they have a chance to be a solid team in that conference for years to come. (They’ve certainly adjusted to life a lot better than the other school that joined them, Colorado.)
Still the Manziel: At the beginning of the year, there were a lot of people wondering if Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manizel was worth all of the headaches. He got suspended for a half against Rice and then got benched after taunting the Owls late in the game. Johnny Football has played better (he almost lead the Aggies past Alabama for a second straight season.) and he proved it again as he carried A&M past Mississippi in Oxford by engineering a touchdown to tie the game and then led a game-winning drive that led to an Aggie field goal to win 41-38.
As much as we love to think he’s overhyped and think he’ll be a lousy NFL quarterback like a Tim Tebow, he’s still one hell of a college football player. I caught most of the fourth quarter and I couldn’t believe how Manziel was able to escape sure sacks by the Rebel defense and make plays. Manziel still has a shot to get Texas A&M to a BCS Bowl game. They have a test against a resurgent Auburn team, but they’ve settled into a grove.
Here’s a look at this week’s games.
(22) Florida at (14) Missouri, 12:21 p.m. ET (SEC Network, check local listings): This is the battle between two teams with a lot in common. Both are surprising teams (Florida more of a disappointment, Mizzou a surprise) and both are missing their starting quarterbacks (Jeff Driskel for the Gator and James Franklin for the Tigers.) It will be interesting to see if Missouri has a bit of an emotional hangover after its big win over Georgia. Both defenses will need to step up in order to get a win.
(24) Auburn at (7) Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. (CBS): The Tigers have been a pleasant surprise this season, and will get Nick Marshall back after sitting out last week with a knee injury. However, Auburn’s defense has not seen a guy like Manziel this season. Plus, we know the Yell Leaders and the Corps will be ready for this young Tigers team.
(9) UCLA at (13) Stanford, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2): The Cardinal could still be smarting after its shocking loss to Utah. Kevin Hogan uncharacteristically made mistakes against the Utes. The Bruins have become the team of Los Angeles after USC’s recent bad run. UCLA sees a lot of itself in Stanford with smart quarterback play, a solid running game and good defense. This is going to be a very even contest.
(5) Florida State at (3) Clemson, 8 p.m. (ABC): This is going to be a national title eliminator game. Both teams have dynamic quarterbacks (Jameis Winston with the Seminoles and Tajh Boyd with the Tigers). Both have playmakers on both sides of the ball. Also, the trash talking between the teams has really picked up. It’s going to be another nip-and-tuck game and I think whoever wins the turnover battle will win the game.
That’s it for this week and I’ll see you with more Around Campus next week.
Dan Mount is a college football and NHL columnist for TJRSports.com. He is based in Watertown, NY.