Even struggling, can FSU coast?


It looked like a quiet weekend of college football, so the BMOC thought he could slip away to his Scottish castle for Ryder Cup week, feast on kippers and haggis, and then jaunt back in his Gulfstream G650ER in time for the college football season to reveal all its secrets this week.

He handed over his ancient, sacred typewriter and gamboled off, leaving this space to a substitute, a proxy, a mere stand-in, a RSDOC -- Regular Sized Dude on Campus. That would be me. G'day, gav'nuhs!

While the RSDOC at first felt like Joel Goodson at the beginning of "Risky Business" when his parents were leaving town -- "Just use your best judgment, RSDOC: You know we trust you" -- he ended up feeling like Jack Nicholson was hacking at his office door with an axe while bellowing with wide, demented eyes, "THERE ARE NO QUIET WEEKENDS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL!'"


The Charlie Weis era at Kansas is over. It feels like someone should at least play a quick dirge on a kazoo.

He went 6-22 overall and 1-18 in Big 12 play, his last statement as the Jayhawks coach being a 23-to-bagel defeat to Texas, thereby keeping a tradition alive that started in 1938: Kansas losing to the Longhorns. His winning percentage of .214 is the worst for any Power 5 team over the past two-plus seasons.

Weis, the first of what might be more than a few big-name heads to roll over the coming weeks -- yes, we're casting quick glance toward Ann Arbor -- never produced that "decided schematic advantage" he promised everyone when he was hired at Notre Dame in 2005. The man does know how to negotiate a contract, though. According to USA Today, his combined severance from Notre Dame and Kansas in 2015 will be nearly $4.6 million, which will rank him among the highest paid coaches in the country.

Only he'll be chilling on the sofa eating Cheetos. Life is so cool!

Not to paint rainbows on the past or anything, because we recognize Mark Mangino could be as prickly and volatile as a porcupine on steroids, but his 50-48 record over eight seasons continues to accrue after-the-fact luster. The Jayhawks went 12-1, won the Orange Bowl and finished ranked seventh in 2007. That season probably now feels like a fairy tale Kansas fans tell their disbelieving children at bedtime.


As NC State piled it on early against top-ranked Florida State, the negative ESPN Sports & Information factoids flowed. Once they hit Twitter, they were quickly flavored just a bit by schadenfreude, as the Seminoles and QB Jameis Winston are closing in on the SEC as the dominant college football entity some folks love to hate.

• In FSU's past eight visits to Carter-Finley Stadium, the Seminoles had lost five times as a ranked team playing the unranked Wolfpack, including a 2012 defeat when they entered ranked No. 3 and blew a 16-0 lead.

• NC State's 24 points were the most first-quarter points allowed by Florida State in the past 10 seasons. Those, in fact, were the first first-quarter points the Seminoles had allowed this season. Last year in Tallahassee, the Seminoles led the Wolfpack 35-0 after the first quarter.

• The first year of FSU football was 1947; Saturday was the program's 769th game. NC State was the first opponent to score 24 points in the first quarter.

• This was the first time since 2011 that FSU had trailed at halftime in consecutive games.

• The 41 points the Seminoles gave up are the fourth-most surrendered by an AP No. 1 team against an unranked team.

When the smoke -- and factoids -- cleared, Florida State won 56-41. Haters had to reingest their schadenfreude and perhaps take a Beano or two.

The story before the game was the return of Winston from a one-game suspension for making an obscene public comment on campus. Winston had a fumble and two interceptions, but he led four consecutive second-half touchdown drives, passing for 365 yards and four touchdowns. While it could be argued he was outplayed by Jacoby Brissett, a Florida transfer of all things, who passed for 359 yards, three TDs and no picks, the bottom line is Winston and company kept alive a school-record 20-game winning streak.

Of course, on Sunday, the Seminoles woke up to news they'd fallen out of the top spot of the coaches poll. Oh well.

While Florida State's defense is struggling and injury-riddled, the schedule ahead is forgiving, as it features just one ranked team: A visit from Notre Dame on Oct. 18. The Seminoles will be heavy favorites in every remaining game, though it's not a good thing that no other ACC team is ranked.

The big question for the Seminoles is whether they can feel confident in a playoff spot should they suffer an upset defeat along the way to another ACC title.


For three quarters, it appeared that Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill might have to change his nickname from "Trill" to "Spill," as Arkansas was trying to cure itself a rare disease in the SEC West: unranked-itis.

But Hill and the Aggies, as they are wont to do, exploded with touchdown passes of 86 and 59 yards to force overtime, and then he hit a 25-yard strike for a 35-28 victory after a defensive stand.

Nothing came easy in the SEC on a weekend when that was supposed to be the case, and Arkansas' performance further crystalized the general perception that life in the West, which is now 23-0 against teams not in the SEC West, is going to be even more rugged than imagined in the preseason. Which, honestly, is difficult to imagine.

The SEC East? Who the heck knows?

Georgia needed all the Todd Gurley it could muster to slip Tennessee 35-32, while Missouri shook off an embarrassing loss to Indiana -- the dregs of the Big Ten! -- to win at South Carolina, shocking the Gamecocks with two late touchdowns in a 21-20 victory. Georgia, of course, already lost to South Carolina, but that second conference defeat for the Gamecocks puts the Bulldogs in good position with an Oct. 11 trip to Missouri looming large in the race for East supremacy.


For your halftime entertainment we have brains and Brown, surprising wins and unsurprising losses.

Amid Saturday's tumult, Yale defeated Army in overtime at the Yale Bowl, 49-43. That was the first Ivy League victory over an FBS opponent since 1986 (Penn over Navy), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Yale played host to Army as part of the celebration surrounding its 100th season at the Yale Bowl, the Bulldogs' home field since 1914.

Further noting things happening by the hundreds, we turn to peripatetic Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, older brother to Mack, who became the first coach in NCAA football history to lose 200 games when his Golden Eagles lost 50-7 to Northern Iowa.

Brown, er, eclipsed Amos Alonzo Stagg and is now 128-200-1 in 29 seasons. It took Stagg 57 seasons to reach 199, but who's counting?

Brown, 64, previously has coached at UAB, Vanderbilt, Rice, Cincinnati and Austin Peay, which explains a lot.

And further...

• Tennessee has lost 21 straight road games versus ranked foes.

• Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson threw a 12-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-10 with 1:02 left, earning the Rams a 24-21 victory over Boston College, a team, you might remember, that beat USC.

• Auburn's 45-17 win over Louisiana Tech was the Tigers' 300th win in Jordan-Hare Stadium, which opened in 1939. The Tigers have won 25 consecutive nonconference home games, last losing to South Florida in 2007.

• In an under-the-radar game on Saturday, Ohio State visits 4-1 Maryland, erstwhile ACC team, which opened Big Ten play with a 37-15 victory at Indiana. Could the Turtles shock the Buckeyes and become a threat in the East Division?

• Talk about a mixed bag, Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 25 consecutive passes against Syracuse, one completion shy of an FBS record, but he also threw his first two interceptions of the season, one that was returned for a TD. He also fumbled and curiously messed up an attempt to spike the ball late in the first half to stop the clock.


Winning is important at Michigan, and the Wolverines have done that as well as anybody in college football history. But Michigan Men often tell us -- boy, do they tell us -- that Michigan football is about more than winning.

Coach Brady Hoke hasn't done much winning this season or last, but he could always lean on being a Michigan Man -- at least in terms of coaching pedigree -- and his understanding that Michigan football is about more than winning. At least, until now.

In the fourth quarter of the Wolverines' mailed-in 30-14 loss to Minnesota, quarterback Shane Morris was blown up by Gophers defensive lineman Theiren Cockran. It was a late hit, despite no flag, and it clearly did significant damage to Morris, who was struggling to stand afterward. Yet Morris stayed in the game and threw a pass before being pulled for Devin Gardner. Morris would even later re-enter the game for one play when Gardner lost his helmet.

ESPN analyst Ed Cunningham was incensed, as quoted by The Detroit Free Press.

"Shane Morris cannot be going back into this game," Cunningham said. "This young man looked groggy after that hit, he's being put back on the field. He can barely stand up. This is not good player management. We've talked about player safety in this game, guys getting hit in the head. This is atrocious to me."

After the game, Hoke awkwardly and inexplicably pleaded ignorance.

"I don't know if he had a concussion or not," Hoke said. "Shane's a pretty tough kid and Shane wanted to be the quarterback. Believe me, if he didn't want to be, he would have come to the sideline, or stayed down."

That Hoke's team just lost the Little Brown Jug for the fourth time in 43 meetings is not the biggest issue, nor are empty seats in the majestic Big House, nor is it a 2-3 record, even though this is the first time Michigan has three losses in a season before Oct. 1 in its 135-year football history.

It's that Hoke looked clueless on the health and safety of his sophomore quarterback. That's inexcusable, and certainly substantial grounds for Michigan Men who do care about winning to gain traction with the more forgiving Michigan Men to show Hoke the door.


The Transitive Property of College Football -- if Team A beats Team B and Team B beats Team C, then Team A beats Team C -- is always great fun, even if it's an exercise that reveals little, unless the sole purpose is to troll a rival fan base.

For example: Stanford lost to USC, which lost to Boston College, which lost to Pittsburgh, which lost to Akron, which lost to Penn State, which lost to Northwestern, which lost to California, which will be glad to win the Big Game over the hated Cardinal any way it can.

Or: Middle Tennessee beat Western Kentucky, which beat Bowling Green, which beat Indiana, which beat Missouri, which beat South Carolina, which beat Georgia. So the Blue Raiders rule the SEC East!

By season's end, you'll probably be able to use the transitive property to suggest a Sun Belt team is superior to at least one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff.


The state of California made its move in the Pac-12 this week.

First, UCLA made its first quality statement of the season at Arizona State on Thursday night, with injured quarterback Brett Hundley brilliantly returning to action in a 62-27 beatdown. The Bruins had eight plays of 20-plus yards, three that went for 80 or more yards and averaged a stout 10 yards per play.

Second, Stanford relied on its dominant defense to overwhelm previously unbeaten Washington, holding the Huskies to just 179 yards in a 20-13 victory.

Then California, the conference's woeful, 1-11 doormat in 2013, coach Sonny Dykes first season, nipped Colorado in a 59-56 double-overtime barnburner that ended the Bears' 15-game Pac-12 losing streak. Both QBs, Cal's Jared Goff and Colorado's Sefo Liufau, threw seven touchdown passes, but Cal got a surprising goal-line stand to set up the field goal victory.

Finally, USC, which was last seen getting road-graded by Boston College, bounced back after a bye with an impressive 35-10 victory over previously unbeaten Oregon State. The Trojans dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Beavers 461 yards to 181.

The end result is Stanford -- again -- established itself as Oregon's main rival in the North Division, while the South looks like an L.A. battle between the Bruins and Trojans.


Folks, buckle up. Week 6 is going to be HUGE.

We start on Thursday with unbeaten but perhaps untested Arizona visiting No. 2 Oregon. Why is that a big game? Well, last year the Wildcats humiliated the Ducks 42-16 in Tucson. On Friday, we continue our season-long, "What the heck are we going to do with BYU?" discussion with the unbeaten Cougars playing host to Utah State.

Then we get to the main course, a transcendent SEC West barbecue with all the fixins: No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss; No. 15 LSU at No. 5 Auburn; and No. 7 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi State.

Are you kidding me? That means at least three top-15 teams will go down on Saturday, all of whom play in the same division. It certainly will be the biggest weekend of football in the state of Mississippi since a Manning played there -- as in the Archie version in 1969-70. ESPN's "College GameDay" will be in Oxford for the first time.

Heck, for SEC fans still living in the 1990s, you can entertain yourself with Florida at Tennessee.

Outside of the SEC, Stanford visits Notre Dame, with the Irish trying to establish its CFP bona fides, and the Cardinal trying to take revenge for a controversial defeat in South Bend in 2012. The Big Ten even has a Big Game, as the conference's last unbeaten team, No. 19 Nebraska, visits its highest ranked team, No. 10 Michigan State.

Finally, amid this hubbub, No. 4 Oklahoma has a potentially tricky one at unbeaten and 25th-ranked TCU.


Top 10

1. Oklahoma: While no team has established itself as dominant, the Sooners have been the most urbanely businesslike while rolling to a 4-0 start.

2. Alabama: Lane Kiffin has given Nick Saban an offense worthy of his defense, though the measure of everything will be the SEC West schedule, starting in Oxford on Saturday.

3. Florida State: While the Seminoles haven't always been pretty, they figure to be double-digit favorites in every remaining game, even the visit from Notre Dame on Oct. 18.

4. Oregon: The Ducks need to get healthy on the offensive line -- at least healthier -- but QB Marcus Mariota makes up for a lot of potential issues. Visit to UCLA on Oct. 11 looms large.

5. Auburn: LSU comes to Jordan-Hare wounded. That makes wily coach Les Miles and his Tigers seem even more dangerous.

6. Texas A&M: QB Kenny Hill can bolster his Heisman resume as well as the Aggies CFP resume with a win at Mississippi State, which already owns a win over LSU.

7. UCLA: Bruins play host to Utah on Saturday. They can't afford to look ahead to Oregon.

8. Baylor: No. 7 Bears won't play a ranked team until Nov. 8 at Oklahoma.

9. Notre Dame: A win over Stanford would make the Oct. 18 trip to FSU feel like 1993 all over again -- only this time in Tallahassee.

10. Michigan State: The Spartans can separate themselves from the rest of the Big Ten with a win over Nebraska.


Who's in:

Oklahoma vs. Oregon -- Ducks looking for first national title. Bob Stoops looking to retake his Big Game Bob title.

Alabama vs. Florida State -- The Master meets his Apprentice. Past two BCS title winners.