I. R.I.P. Arkansas Football 2012
September 15th, 2012 may go down as the single worst day in Arkansas football history. It took three hours and eight minutes for Alabama to utterly dismantle Arkansas on the field. But it took only 67 seconds for QB Tyler Wilson to make the day even more of a mess. In his just-over-a-minute rant, Wilson threw his teammates back under the very bus that Alabama had already steamrolled them with. He stated in his self-called press conference that his teammates had quit during the game. I believe he was aiming for a heartfelt call to arms for his program reminiscent of Tim Tebow’s “Promise” speech that he gave to Gator faithful in 2008. The problem is that he didn’t play in the game. Speaking as a former player, that is rule #1: if you didn’t play in the game in question, you CANNOT harshly criticize how your team played. I felt after watching the press conference that Wilson may have been thinking “I gave up being at worst a third-round draft pick last year to come back for this?”
II. Gene Chizik on the hot seat?
Its hard to imagine that only two years removed from a BCS title Auburn head coach Gene Chizik would be in jeopardy of being fired, but Auburn’s horrible display of football has been bewildering. Following ugly losses to Clemson and Mississippi State to open the season, they narrowly escaped a loss against Louisiana-Monroe last week. Only a missed Warhawk field goal in overtime saved the Tigers. While his team’s performance has been bad, it’s the conference he plays in, the SEC, that makes his seat toasty. The utter dominance of conference coaching foes Nick Saban at Alabama and Les Miles at LSU makes it tough to tolerate mediocrity. I truly believe that if Chizik and Auburn were in another conference the grace period for a post-championship sag would be closer to five years. But in the big, bad SEC, Chizik must right this Auburn ship or he will be a former SEC coach by December.
III. Alabama/LSU deja vu
Even this early in the season the pack of teams that may find themselves in the BCS Championship Game dwindles more every week. Last Saturday it was both USC and Michigan State that saw dreams of a national title go out the window with bad losses on national TV. Yet while other teams fall by the wayside, both Alabama and LSU are surging away from the pack to the point that a Crimson Tide/Tigers re-match of last year’s title game seems very possible – or even inevitable. With the SEC having so many good teams, if an Alabama or an LSU do happen to hit a speed bump midseason, it does not eliminate them from title contention (just like happened to ‘Bama last year). This is not the case for any other conference in college football. But regardless, the deep rosters of talent of both Alabama and LSU make them my not-so-risky pick for the 2012 title game.
IV. Notre Dame beats a good team.
With a convincing opening-day win over Navy and a narrow edging of Purdue in Week 2, most college football fans were saying “Yeah, and?” Everyone was waiting for the Irish to do their typical win-their-first-two-games-then-get-trounced-in-the-third routine that’s been so common in South Bend for the past few years. But Notre Dame went into a tough environment at night versus a very good Michigan State team and won convincingly 20-3. Notre Dame’s defense was electric, generating four sacks — against a team that hadn’t given up one coming in — two tackles for loss, and eight passes broken up. So far this season the Irish have limited opponents to 10 points per game and are off to the program’s first 3-0 start in 10 years.
V. Clemson-Florida State match-up this week will be exciting
Both these teams were preseason contenders but were always taken with a grain of salt because both have shown in their history the ability to have let-downs against teams the shouldn’t. But, on Saturday, FSU dominated Wake Forest in a 52-0 win and Clemson has been perfect this year and getting stronger every week. The winner of this week’s clash in Tallahassee will give a faint glimmer of national title hope to a team not named LSU or Alabama. Expect offensive explosions with Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel and his variety of weapons at the skill positions taking turns lighting up the scoreboard with the Tigers and the juggernaut that is WR Sammy Watkins.
— Rocky Boiman
Rocky Boiman is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Football. This weekend, John Sadak and Rocky will be in Tallahassee for the big FSU-Clemson showdown. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM Eastern Saturday.