Around Campus: Oct. 3-5 Edition
Hey, it’s Dan Mount and this is another edition of Around Campus. Conference play finally kicked into full swing last weekend with some really intriguing matchups. We also had a couple of coaching firings and we almost had a couple of games canceled due to the government shutdown. If you like (or don’t like) what I have to say please, leave comments below or follow me on Twitter @DanMountSports. Let’s get right into it.
The axe is falling: As you already know, USC fired Lane Kiffin after a disastrous 62-41 loss to Arizona State. This was the seventh loss in the last 11 for the former Golden Boy of coaching. The Trojans have fallen a long way from being the top-ranked team in the 2012 preseason. I do agree that it should’ve happen, but it should’ve been done a lot sooner. (Probably should’ve been done after the shocking loss to Georgia Tech at the Sun Bowl.)
Kiffin wasn’t the only one to get a pink slip this week as Connecticut dropped the hammer on Paul Pasqualoni. (Associate head coach George DeLeone also got fired.) UConn has been struggling mightily after losing to FCS top 10 team Towson and laying eggs in other games besides the near-upset of Michigan. (With the final straw coming after an embarrassing loss to Buffalo… and no I don’t mean the Bills.) Pasqualoni was also fired at Syracuse a few years ago. He’s a solid coordinator, but I think the head coaching game has passed him by.
So who might get fired next? If Earl Campbell has his way, Texas coach Mack Brown would be fired. Campbell is a legend at UT and made these statements earlier in the week and they are very telling. However, I think Campbell would quiet down if the Longhorns stun rival Oklahoma next weekend.
Other candidates for dismissal include Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe and Dan Enos of Central Michigan.
Georgia and Alabama still set for SEC Championship collision course: Two out of three wasn’t bad for the Georgia Bulldogs as they held off LSU 44-41 shootout in Athens. I told everyone to expect more offense than usual and the teams didn’t disappoint. Georgia still has an outside shot at the playing for the national title, but can’t afford any more losses. LSU will need to beat Alabama if it has any designs on the SEC Title game or a national title.
The Crimson Tide brought back its ferocious defense to lock down Mississippi. (Which is dealing with a scandal in relating to anti-gay slurs.) Alabama gave up 42 points to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M two weeks ago and didn’t have that good of a performance a week before against Colorado State. The Tide ramped up the intensity and shut out the Rebels. The Bama defense is going to miss defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. (He’s suspended due to an alleged incident involving receiving money from a former coach and possible ties to an agent.
Service academies to play: Plenty of people are being affected by the U.S. government shutdown and some thought college football would’ve been one of those parties. However, both Navy’s game against Air Force in Annapolis and Army’s game against Boston College will be played as scheduled. (Although other sporting events like soccer, swimming and volleyball have been closed down during the stoppage.) I’m not going to state a political opinion either way on this thing. (You can go elsewhere for that. I’m just a sports guy.) I think it would be awful if these players who had nothing to do with it get cheated out of games due to a Congressional squabble. Even though it has brought out the worst, United Airlines offered to fly Air Force to the game free of charge. I do hope things get straightened out.
Now that news is out of the way. Let’s get to some games I’m looking at.
(25) Maryland at (8) Florida State, Noon ET (ESPN): The Terps have really adapted to life under Randy Edsall as they’ve love to throw the ball thanks to the arm of C.J. Brown. Florida State knows it has to get to the conference title game in order to get a sniff of the national title. The Seminoles are led by rookie QB Jameis Winston and want that showdown with Clemson.
(4) Ohio State at (16) Northwestern, 8 p.m. ET (ABC): Braxton Miller didn’t miss a beat as he returned to the lineup in the Buckeyes win over Wisconsin. Kenny Guiton will still be a factor for this team. This one of the biggest games in Wildcat football history. Northwestern has its own two-headed QB monster in Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian. ESPN’s College GameDay is here this week for this Big Ten encounter.
(15) Washington at (5) Stanford, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): Both teams are coming off amazing offensive performances. The Huskies boast quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey. Stanford got a big effort out of Kevin Hogan (who passed for 286 yards) and Barry Sanders, Jr. (yes, the son of that Barry Sanders) against Washington State. Both defenses are underrated, but have not been tested.
Dan Mount is a college football and NHL writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, N.Y.