Rankman's late night Saturday wrap: Clemson's win and other selected stories of victory and woe

Rankman got cat-fished again, led astray by the promotional promise of three top-10 pairings the world would not soon forget.

To be honest, I am already drawing blanks on two of three.

The trifecta fest kicked off Friday night in Seattle and ended Saturday night in Death Valley.

The games went from horrible-better-best, concluding with No.3 Clemson’s thrilling, 42-36, win over No. 4 Louisville.

The losing team had a chance to win but receiver James Quick came up a yard short for first down inside the Clemson 10. It wasn’t exactly a sell-out effort, as he reached for the first-down marker like a sports writer for a dinner check.

Oh well, at least his uniform didn’t get dirty.

Lo and Louisville behold, though, there were actually other games besides the three sold to us like laundry detergent.

Did you see Georgia defeat Tennessee, in Athens, on that beautiful touchdown pass by Jacob Eason with 10 seconds left?

Because no team could possibly blow a lead with 10 seconds left, right?


A bone-headed unsportsmanlike penalty by Georgia set Tennessee up for one last heave into the end zone.

Joshua Dobbs’ throw to Jauan Jennings, on the game’s last play, will go down in Knoxville as “The Orange Mary.”[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

“I still can’t believe that happened,” Dobbs said on CBS after his far-fetched victory fling. “That’s crazy.”

Meanwhile, disenchanted Georgia fans were singing a tune from home-town REM: “Losing My Religion.”

This feels like one of those “moments” for Tennessee, which is 5-0 for the first time since 1998, the year the Vols won the national title the season after Peyton Manning left.

In ‘98, Tennessee got to the title game only by pulling off the escape of the century against Arkansas.

Before Saturday, the Vols had already defeated Appalachian State, in OT, by recovering a fumble (their own) for the game-winning touchdown.

Another game that grabbed me by the Tar Bells was North Carolina over Florida State, 37-35.

Neil Weiler, a stringy-haired kicker who may have recently appeared in the Chapel Hill summer stock production of the musical “Hair,” looked like he was going to be the goat after his missed extra point allowed Florida State to take a late, one-point lead.

Weiler got the final curtain bow, though, when he ripped a 54-field goal clean through and celebrated by doing the Tomahawk chop on the Seminoles’ field.

It snapped Florida State’s home winning streak at 22 and, also, any hope of crawling back into the playoff chase.

These weren’t the only good games: Oklahoma held off Texas Christian, by six points, in the latest incarnation of their crazy Big 12 series. Don’t ask anyone on the West Coast to tell you how the final minute ended because Fox jerked our feed chains to give us live action of USC and Arizona State warming up.

Baylor, god help them, stayed undefeated with a last-second field goal to win at Iowa State.

The Bears are this year’s “feel bad” story, the team everyone wants to lose…but hasn’t.

Another crazy ending had California’s defense making a goal line stand in Berkeley to preserve a 28-23 over Utah.

You read that right: Cal’s defense stopped somebody.

Be patient, people, we’ll get to those three “big” games. First, though, a quick update on coaches desperately trying to survive until the end of the season.

Time’s already up Les Miles, who watched LSU’s game against Missouri from home after getting fired last Sunday.

It looks like a brilliant move as LSU’s moribund offense, under interim Ed Orgeron, delivered a 42-7 win over Missouri.

Orgeron took the right, first step in trying to convince AD Joe Avella he should be the permanent replacement coach.

Brian Kelly’s hot seat cooled off a bit with Notre Dame’s 50-33 win over Syracuse, although his status is still listed as St. Patricks’ day-to-St. Patricks’ day.

Meanwhile, in shoe town, how long is Nike boss Phil Knight going to tolerate Mark Helfrich as the head coach at Oregon, which fell to 2-3 after a 51-33 loss at Washington State?

After close losses to Nebraska and Colorado, Helfrich noted his team was only two plays from being 4-0. He is now 15 or 16 plays from being 5-0.

Clay Helton also got USC fans off his back for 10 minutes after the Trojans looked strangely efficient at the Coliseum in a 21-point win over Arizona State.

This means Helton has, temporarily, put off his 21-gun salute.

Give Helton credit for finally, three games in, starting the right quarterback in Sam Darnold, the most potent thing to come out of San Clemente since those nuclear reactors.

USC fans are so conditioned to negativity these days, though, one Trojan fan was said to reflexively scream “Haden’s Fault!” after the win.

Texas Coach Charlie Strong didn’t do himself any favors by losing to Oklahoma State, prompting calls for his immediate removal so the Longhorns can join LSU in chasing after Houston Coach Tom Herman.

Or, if Herman goes to LSU, what about Texas making a move for Les Miles?

Texas AD Mike Perrin assured everyone no rash decision would be made until, at least, Monday at noon.

Ok, ok, the “Big Three” games that were supposed to "float our boats."

The first two, in Rankman's opinion, were Wisconsin dairy milk duds.

--No. 6 Stanford at No. 9 Washington on Friday turned out to be, for the Cardinal, the mistake by the lake. Washington won easily, 44-6, establishing itself as the new power in the Pac 12 North.

The new power in the South, in case you missed it, is Colorado.

Stanford looked beat up and tired and the farthest thing from the team picked to win the conference.

Washington, coached by former Boise State coach Chris Petersen, looks like a better version of his 2010 Boise team that challenged for the national title.

Husky Stadium was rocking, the crowd was electric, somewhere, Don James was smiling.

“I know it hasn’t felt like that certainly since I have been here,” Petersen, in his third year, said.

Washington is legit, folks, so deal with it.

The only good news for Stanford was getting to return to a campus that probably, while the team was way, invented a cure for cancer or an app to close your garage door while in Italy.

--No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 5 Michigan on Saturday was a close game, 14-7, but hardly a well-played one. Neither Big Ten school has a kicker, a thing you normally might need to compete for a national title. Wisconsin lost its star kicker to a season-ending injury, while two Michigan kickers combined to miss three field goals.

--Louisville at Clemson, thankfully, lived up to hype. This was a “big boy” game that sort of reminded Rankman of last year’s national title thriller featuring Alabama and Clemson.

It was a game so good Louisville won’t be overly damaged in defeat.

The ACC may have even proved, on Oct. 1, that it might deserve two teams in the four-team playoff. But make sure to check back Nov. 1. [/membership]