Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter.
--The Box Tops
Let's unbuckle this week’s mailbag:
Has Rankman’s preseason #1 ever flamed out as quickly as ND did this year?
No, this could be the all-time, Coleman stove, Bunsen-burner flame out. How did I know the “Fighting” Irish would pick this year to give up the fight and become as non-aggressive as Switzerland? And with just as many holes in their cheese?[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Notre Dame is making Rankman look bad. Rankman, like Tarzan, no like that. One of the reasons I put Notre Dame on top this year, though, was to put some heat on a program that shouldn’t be afraid to be ranked No.1.
Trust me, I have made much riskier picks that have turned out better.
I picked North Carolina preseason No.1 in 1997 and the Tar Heels did me proud, finishing 11-1 and No. 4 in the final coaches’ poll. The Tar Heels’ only loss was, at home, to Florida State.
In 2010, I risked my reputation on Boise State as No.1 and the Broncos made it standing up until the day after Thanksgiving, when they suffered that gut-wrench loss at Colin Kaepernick’s Nevada.
Boise was a play, or two, that year from playing in the national title game.
In 2013, I made Stanford No.1, a stretch given the Cardinal had never even been picked to win the Pac 12, Pac 10 or Pac 8. Stanford finally broke through this year when it was picked to win the league in the preseason media poll.
Stanford started 5-0 in 2013 before a six-point loss at Utah wrecked its title hopes. The game ended when Stanford couldn’t score the game-winner near Utah’s goal line. Stanford’s only other regular season loss was by three, to USC. The Cardinal then lost the Rose Bowl, by four points, to Michigan State.
So that’s three losses by 12 points--a very respectful return on a risky preseason choice.
Notre Dame, though, has already lost twice. There is no shame in losing to Texas and Michigan State, by eight total points, in regulation. The shock has been Notre Dame allowing 86 points in those losses. I didn’t expect Notre Dame’s defense to be ranked No. 102 this week.
I still think the Irish are talented. They still have potential big-bank games against Stanford, Miami and USC.
“Obviously, a bad start to our season,” Coach Brian Kelly said this week “Poor start, whatever way you want to characterize it. Three games into the season, nobody wants to be where we are, but we are 1-2. I’m a 1-2 coach. We’ve got to work to get better.”
Can it be reasonably argued that Cal have the most high-profile win so far in the Pac 12? Seems somehow wrong.
Phillip smith @smittycap
I think it is inarguable that Cal have it. Or the Bears has it. Or Cal has it and\or the Bears have it. Cal is the only Pac 12 team with a win over the No. 11 team in the country. Not that No. 11 is anything to brag about. This week, the No.11 team in the USA Today coach’s poll is Georgia, coming off a two-game stretch in which it defeated Nicholls State by two and Missouri by one.
I will say the Cal Bears are better than I thought. They also have the Pac 12’s best win this year in Australia. The Bears’ defense still stinks a terrible, dank odor, but Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb has kept Sonny Dykes’ squirrel derby offense humming.
The problem Cal has had this year is with HOW to score touchdowns without dropping the ball before running into the end zone. Dykes has ordered that, from this point going forward, all players will hand the ball to the official AFTER crossing the goal line.
I just WISH that a USC receiver would get so close to scoring a TD that he was able to drop the ball short of the goal line.
Snark of Troy @Lame_Kiffin
Excellent, snarky, point. It seems as if JuJu Smith-Schuster is more interested in making spectacular, one-handed catches rather than using both hands. At least that’s the way I read quarterback Max Browne’s body language after an incomplete pass last week against Stanford. It seemed Browne got testy after JuJu didn’t try the “old-school,” two-handed method last Saturday. Browne probably should have waited until he got to the sideline instead of showing up a superstar on national television. People are wondering if that’s why Browne got yanked and replaced by Sam Darnold, who has reportedly vowed to throw more passes to both of JuJu’s hands.
Lose the Day
Mark Allen @mbgolf1974
Wait, we thought Oregon’s motto was “Win the Day.”
Ok, we get it. That’s a beautifully sarcastic comeback to Oregon’s three-point loss at Nebraska. The game in which Oregon failed on four, two-point conversion attempts not thinking those points might come in handy.
“Win the Day,” was a term coined and\or ripped off by former Coach Chip Kelly, who used the phrase to keep his team focused on an hourly basis.
Kelly did a lot of innovative and unconventional things at Oregon that kept the Ducks on the cutting edge. But he’s clearly not the coach anymore.
I think Helfrich thinks College had adopted the NFL’s 33-yard PAT.
Tom S. @ObiWanKobe
I thought at first Mark Helfrich was going for two all the time because his kicker got kidnapped or something. But that’s not the case at all.
Aidan Schneider is batting 1000% on tries this year. He’s seven-for-seven on PATs and has made both field goal tries. Schneider, in fact, is the most accurate kicker in Oregon history. He made all 62 PAT tries last year and 40 of 42 the year before. By my math that’s pretty good.
I think UW is a class above Stanford this season
Mark Scott @tokyotrojan
You could be right and this is the month to prove it, as Stanford plays at Washington on Sept. 30. That could be the game of the year in the Pac 12. I’ve been very impressed by Washington so far even though the Huskies have played nobody. But, they have destroyed those nobodies so that’s all you can ask. This is starting to look like one of Chris Petersen’s really good Boise State teams. Of course, those Boise teams didn’t have to navigate the Pac 12 North, which could be the best division this year outside the Big Ten East.
Finally got around to subscribing @DufRankman. Glad to be reading your stuff again.
Thank you Heisenferg! Curious as to how you found me? Was it that note I posted on the lamp post in Pullman? Or the target-ad TMG College Sports took out in “Field & Stream?” Anyway, glad to have you aboard.
So if Utah wins on Friday, is USC coach shopping?
I do think it is smart to to wait until after Labor Day to get a good bargain, but it will be impossible to "re-gift" Clay Helton for a couple more years.
That’s the problem when you commit to an interim coach at the end of a lousy season.
The truly fed up say “well they fired Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian during these season.”
Yes, but...Kiffin was actually fired five games into this FOURTH season. And Sark’s termination was due to a personal problem, although I’m sure his win-loss record didn’t help.
It’s early. B1G has at least a half-dozen teams that are absolute cream puffs. SOS will plummet as season goes on.
Dear Winflop: You big, fat, ignorant…wait, I think you’re right! You have to rank the Big Ten very high right now because the elite teams have scored big non-conference wins against LSU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. I think Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan are potentially elite. Still not completely sold yet on Wisconsin, but the rest of the 14-team league is average-to-poor.
Having three or four teams in the top 10 mix, however, makes it likely the Big Ten will push a team, maybe TWO, into the playoff.
The “arc” of the CFB season creates such awesome tension and momentum (up and down). It’s why I love it.
Me too. That’s why I’m still working and not just sitting on the couch all the time watching football on television.
Wait, that IS actually what I am still doing. [/membership]