5 Things I Think: After Week 3!

My “5 Things” going into Week 3 wasn’t able to be published due to unforeseen circumstances. I’d have been wrong about Texas A&M winning a close game and my upset pick of Eastern Washington over Toledo. I’d have gotten UCLA over Nebraska (but who saw a comeback like that?!), Ole Miss over Texas, and Ohio State over California. There was a lot of excitement this weekend and some outstanding performances. That Team Up North nearly fell to the Zips of Akron Saturday and that would have been a big deal when one considers that Akron only won one in each of the three seasons. It was an impressive day for Terry Bowden’s squad considering his team bettered TTUN in every major team category except rushing (which they lost by a mere 70 total yards).

1. What a TAMU vs. UA game! In Saban’s tenure at Alabama, the Tide has only allowed 40 points one other time … in a 2007 loss (LSU, 41). Say what you want about Manziel and his off-the-field soap opera, his smack-talking, or his autograph scandal … this kid’s a baller. Consider that in 2012 Alabama’s top-ranked and stout defense allowed just 3500 combined passing and rushing yards and that Manziel combined for 562 yards on Saturday — that’s 16% of last year’s total! The Aggies didn’t pull off the upset (keeping Saban’s revenge game % quite high), but the defending Heisman winner did not disappoint. Alabama’s offense looked much better than it did in the season debut as well. I thought going into this season that the Tide would win more games due to their offense than they have in recent years because I don’t think they’ve had this much talent offensively in quite a long time. AJ McCarron averaged 11.5 yards per completion and threw no interceptions on a day that saw 10 Alabama receivers catch a pass. What surprised me about that was that redshirt freshman Chris Black wasn’t among them. Perhaps Saban was trying to massage the ego of Kenny Bell who quit momentarily between these two games, or perhaps Black didn’t have a good week of practice. Either way, I was a bit surprised by it because I felt like Saban didn’t play him against Virginia Tech to ensure Kevin Sumlin didn’t have any tape on him. Any chance we can trade the UA vs. Colorado State game in Week 4 and have another UA vs. TAMU game? I’d sign up to watch!

2. Kenny G is so smooth! Okay, okay, so it was Cal and not LSU, but Kenny Guiton played excellent in place of Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller on Saturday. I don’t know if he’s the best backup in the country — as I’ve heard and read many say this week — but I know I’m proud of his performances thus far. One of the concerns going into this game was the number of plays Cal would try to run as they were averaging 97 per game over the first two weeks in Sonny Dykes’ offense. The Golden Bears still ran 90 plays on Saturday, but the Buckeyes ran just three fewer plays (up from averaging 69 in the first two weeks). I don’t think anyone would have guessed going into the season that if TOSU played against Cal in Week 3 with no Braxton Miller and no Carlos Hyde, that they’d run 87 plays for 608 yards and put up 52 points. I wrote last week that I’d sit Miller and let him rest until Week 5 against Wisconsin, but if Guiton has to go, for whatever reason, against the Badgers, I think I am fine with that. Obviously, I’d rather have Miller, but against a Badgers team that won’t be undefeated and that they’ll be playing against in Columbus, I think Kenny G will do just fine as the next week at Northwestern won’t be an easy game. Kenny Guiton — not bad for a guy who was picked up at the last minute when Tajh Boyd switched to Clemson and who was about to go play at Prairie View A&M!

3. Seats are warming up. I think it’s probably too early to say coaches are in the hot seat, but there are a few seats that are starting to warm up a little bit. There is a strong contingent of Texas fans that are calling for Mack Brown to either step down or be fired after allowing 550 yards rushing to BYU in Week 2 and now losing to an Ole Miss team that the Longhorns put 66 points on last year. Brown has played for two national titles in the last eight years and is coming off a nine-win season, but fans are getting restless especially after he sounded so confident that they were “back” this offseason. Speaking with a friend last week about this we determined that Brown has only beaten Oklahoma 6 out of 15 times and those six wins were with either Major Applewhite, Vince Young, or Colt McCoy at quarterback and either Carl Reese, Will Muschamp, or Gene Chizik in a defensive coordinator role. Why not call Gene Chizik to to take Manny Diaz’ place? Brown has nothing to lose and I’m guessing Chizik wouldn’t mind getting back into coaching (although, as my friend pointed out, Chizik may still have some Auburn money coming to him). Lane Kiffin at USC got a win this week after finally naming a starting quarterback (Cody Kessler), but I’m convinced had they lost to Boston College, Kiffin might not have been allowed to board the plane back to California. AD Pat Haden insists Kiffin is in no danger of losing his job, but if the Trojans don’t starting putting up some W’s, it will be hard for him to justify that given they have the best player in college football. A name I think will surface as the season progresses as a potential replacement for either of these guys should their seat start burning their hindquarters is Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern. He’s a Wildcat through and through, but I don’t know he’d pass up an opportunity to coach at one of the two biggest programs in the country.

4. Some seats that are quite cool. Mike McIntyre at Colorado had his game postponed in Week 3 against Fresno State. Would he have won? It’s doubtful given that some people has Fresno State as a possible BCS Buster this season, but for a team that won just one game last season (a game that the Buffaloes won with just seconds left against Washington State), the fact that I’m even suggesting the possibility is exciting. This is McIntyre’s first season at Colorado and he’s already surpassed last year’s win total. In Week 4 they take on an Oregon State team that has already been upset once this season (Eastern Washington) and with quarterback Connor Wood playing well, it’s hard to say it’s an easy W for the Beavers. Auburn fans have to thrilled right now. The Tigers won just three games last season and were winless in the SEC and after Saturday’s late-game win against Mississippi State, Gus Malzahn’s squad as tied the former and surpassed the latter. Malzahn was probably the best fit of all of the 31 new head coaches going into the season in that he was returning to a team still filled with players that were recruited to run his system. Even with that being true, one has to keep in mind that he is starting a former defensive back at Georgia (Auburn’s rival), Nick Marshall, at quarterback! Malzahn eased Marshall into the system, as he only had 36 combined passing attempts in the first two games, but let him loose against the Bulldogs. Saturday he was 23 for 34 for 339 yards passing (2 TDs, 2 INTs). Three of their next four games will be tough (at LSU, Ole Miss, and at Texas A&M), but the Tigers have a legitimate shot at a bowl game given they only need three more wins. Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic should take care of two of those easily and then if they can win one of their road games against Arkansas or Tennessee, they’re going bowling. I have them beating Tennessee in Week 11!

5. Changing positions? No problem! Florida State has already shown that it has a wealth of riches in their backfield with phenom quarterback Jameis Winston and running backs James Wilder, Jr. and Devonta Green, but the rich seemingly have gotten richer. Junior Karlos Williams went from playing safety for the Seminoles to running back after their Week 1 win against Pittsburgh and led the team in rushing this past week! Williams rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries against Nevada on Saturday and the transition seemed simple enough for him. If Winston continues to play lights out in the air (he has three incompletions on the season), and the Seminoles can play these three guys on the ground (oh yeah, Winston can run a little too), Florida State could be a matchup problem all season. They won’t get tested until Week 7 against Clemson, a week that is shaping up to be filled with entertaining games (TAMU at Ole Miss, Northwestern at Wisconsin, Florida at LSU, and Oklahoma at Texas), but look for the Seminoles to put up some crazy numbers in the next few weeks. It’s a backfield that I’m calling WWW.Green.comeonman, right now!

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