Around Campus: Sept. 19-21 Edition
Hey, Dan Mount again and this is another edition of Around Campus. As always, I’ll be looking at what we learned last week as well as he games and headlines to watch for the coming week. If you like (or don’t like) what I have to say, leave comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanMountSports.
Don’t bet against Nick Saban in a revenge game. The Crimson Tide head coach proved that you don’t go against him when he’s looking to get a win back as they beat Texas A&M 49-42 in a big time shootout at College Station. The Tide started out slow, but really turned it on to rally past the Aggies. Saban has always been great in return matches after his team loses. (Ask LSU about that.) Even though A&M lost, Johnny Manziel looked great against a normally stingy Alabama defense. The loss didn’t do much to damage the back-to-back Heisman Trophy hopes of Johnny Football. The Aggies’ shot at the national title is pretty much dead.
Not in an OK State. I mentioned last week that I would touch on the scandal in Stillwater surrounding the Oklahoma State football program. The Cliff Notes version of the scandal was there were alleged bonus payments for players and other assorted things such as sex, cheating and the usual madness whenever a scandal like this breaks. (Sports Illustrated was the one who originally broke the story in a five-part series.) The actions started allegedly started under Les Miles (now at LSU) and continued into the tenure of current head coach Mike Gundy. There are some questions on whether the report is biased due to one of the authors (Thayer Evans) being a graduate of Bedlam rival Oklahoma. The team hasn’t acted like it’s been distracted, but it will come up if the Cowboys get into a big game.
Michigan nearly gets upset again at home. The Wolverines were flying high after ending the rivalry with Notre Dame two weeks ago, but they almost gave it away when they survived against lowly Akron (which had only one a single game in the last three seasons) 28-24. Michigan had to make a stop on fourth-and-goal to even hang on to win. Wolverine fans know all too well in recent years about epic upsets at home to lower-quality opponents. (Anyone remember the loss to Appalachain State?) Michigan is going to have to get things right if they have any designs at getting back to a BCS bowl game like they went to last year.
Desert disaster. I’m still scratching my head about the ending of the Wisconsin-Arizona State game. The Badgers tried to center the ball to position themselves for a game-winning field goal, but the game officials did not spot the ball before time expired. (These were Pac-12 officials.) The refs were sanctioned for their actions. I think there’s blame to go around on all sides. Yes, the officials should’ve done a better job spotting the ball in a more efficient manner, but Wisconsin should not have risked it by centering the ball. You’re a big time college program and your kicker should be able to make a kick like that.
This week’s action.
There really aren’t a whole lot of high-profile games this weekend.(As evidenced by ESPN’s College GameDay going to Fargo, North Dakota to cover two-time FCS Champion North Dakota State’s game against Delaware State.) There is only one game Top 25 teams are going on this week. There are a couple of solid matchups that I will get to in games to watch.
(3) Clemson at North Carolina State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN): The Tigers are up there for the second spot in the rankings. (Or as I call it, the race to face Alabama.) QB Tajh Boyd really has Coach Dabo Sweeney’s team humming along, but it’s always tough going on the road for the first conference game of the year. The Wolfpack are also 2-0, but haven’t face competition like the Tigers yet.
Michigan St. at (22) Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. (NBC): This is a going to be a tough test for the Irish as they face the nation’s top-ranked defense in the country. Notre Dame had a hard time against Purdue, but they always find a way to win. Tommy Rees is going to have to deal with a stingy D and needs to play a lot better if they want another win over a B1G Ten team.
Kansas State at Texas, 8 p.m. (ABC): Normally this game would have Big 12 title implications. However, this year has been different with Mack Brown facing a ton of troubles. (I mentioned it in last week's edition.) K-State may be 2-1, but did lose to FCS champion North Dakota State to start the year. Texas is dealing with QB issues as David Ash is out and one of the numerous McCoy brothers is starting for the Horns. A win here would go a long way into easing the troubles down in Texas.
That’s it for this week. Hope you join me next week for another edition of Around Campus.
Dan Mount is a college football/NHL writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY.