The world did not end Saturday, as predicted by one of those religious whack-jobs always trying to ruin your weekend.
But it was shattered for some:
--UCLA. Man your battle stations--this could get ugly. UCLA dropped its 10th straight to Stanford, its seventh straight under coach Jim Mora. But it was so much worse than that. Saturday's 58-34 loss at Stanford had an "uh-oh" quality to it. Last year, UCLA played Stanford even until the final gun at the Rose Bowl. This wasn't that game. The Bruins were thoroughly gashed by a 1-2 team that was playing its third-string quarterback.
The euphoria of that 34-point comeback against Texas A&M is gone. UCLA played great the next week against Hawaii but has now lost two straight. Last week's three-point loss to Memphis was a precursor to Saturday's embarrassment in the Bay Area.
Mora kept saying after Texas A&M "it's one game, it's only one game," knowing one exciting win does not make a season.
What now? USC fired Lane Kiffin, at the airport, following a 62-41 loss at Arizona State--almost exactly four years ago this week. I thought it was a bush-league move by the school at the time, but USC takes its football much more seriously. UCLA's Dan Guerrero doesn't want to hire another football, or basketball coach. He wants to retire.
Only a full, post-Stanford meltdown could force him into a decision--but a meltdown could happen. UCLA's performance against Stanford cannot be acceptable to anyone who 8-claps. UCLA's defense, battered as it is, cannot allow 405 yards to a team it knows is going to run.
We knew there would come a crossroads moment with Jim Mora and UCLA and this is it. This isn't about Josh Rosen, who threw for 480 yards against the Cardinal. Rosen throws beautiful passes, sometimes to the other team. This is now a question of whether UCLA is going to quit on Mora and the season. At what point does Rosen start protecting his future interests?
This is the tipping point, perhaps the point of no return. Colorado comes to town next week. Teams can come back from 2-2. Heck, USC was 1-3 last year and made it all the way back to No. 3 in the final polls.
Saturday, though, was a bad, bad night for a team and a coach already coming off a 4-8 year. If it doesn't get better soon in Westwood, it's going to get worse. Stay tuned.
--Kentucky. Back to your greasy buckets of Col. Sanders. The Wildcats' blew a crispy, golden chance to end Florida's 30-game winning streak by putting 10 men on the defensive front on the most important play in the game. You get 11 in college football. Kentucky was leading, 27-21, defending its own goal, but forgot to cover Florida receiver Freddie Swain.
How did quarterback Luke Del Rio know Swain was open? He was waving his arms frantically as he stood uncovered, split right, at the in line of scrimmage. Florida scored with 43 seconds left, 27-26, but only after a Kentucky chance to win on a last-second field goal was negated by a holding call.
We think the sun will come out tomorrow in Lexington.
--Vanderbilt: Oops. Every 15, 20 or 30 years we get a heads-up that Vanderbilt may be up to something in football. This was supposed to be that year after the Commodores entered Saturday’s home game against top-ranked Alabama.
Vanderbilt entered the contest, fresh off a huge upset against Kansas State, with the nation’s No. 1 defense. Gamblers I know flocked to the "Under" bet of 43 1\2 total points.
Final score: Alabama 59-0. And for your files: Vanderbilt is now 0-52 versus the AP top five.
It was Grantland Rice, a Vandy grad, who penned the famous poem about competition.
“Though the world my romp again your spine, let every game’s end find you still upon the battle line. For when the one great scorer comes to mark against your name. He writes not that you won or lost—but how you played the game.”
Well, Vanderbilt played a lousy game. Battle lines were torn. Alabama romped across its spine.
Great Scorer’s mark against your name: F.
--Florida State. You’d have lost big money in August betting Jimbo Fisher’s team, thought by many as a national title contender, would not have a victory on Sept. 23.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Ok, there were extenuating circumstances, as Hurricane Irma forced the postponement of two Florida State games. The Semi-noles also lost their starting quarterback in the opening loss to Alabama, but still…No one could have foreseen Saturday’s home loss to North Carolina State, which dropped Florida State to 0-2 for the first time since 1989.
“There is no panic,” Fisher said after Saturday’s loss. “But there’s an urgency.”
Things change fast.
On July 13, Fisher said of the ACC, “We’ve established ourselves as, I think, the premier conference in college football.”
Saturday, FSU lost to NC State, a team that lost to South Carolina, which beat Louisiana Tech, 17-16.
For good measure, NC State star Bradley Chubb capped Saturday’s 27-21 win by spitting on FSU’s logo at midfield.
In other ACC action: Wake Forest needed a blocked field goal to hold off Appalachian State, 20-19.
--Oklahoma State\Oklahoma: Ok, how do you “un-circle” that Bedlam showdown on the Nov. 4 calendar? Only last week, Oklahoma State was a rising star in CFB playoff projections. Mason Rudolph was a top-drawer Heisman candidate. And coach Mike Gundy's mullet recently won top prize at the annual Fur Traders company picnic.
Saturday, Oklahoma State lost at home, to Texas Christian. Third-ranked Oklahoma had to hold on at Baylor, 49-41, to beat the listless Bears. Quarterback Baker Mayfield had a good game but a lousy pregame, as he was caught on tape Baylor players with "You forgot who Daddy is. I'm going to have to spank you today."
Oklahoma probably won't add that clip to his Heisman highlight package this week. But at least he didn't spit on his opponent's logo?
--Arkansas. The Razorbacks wore special uniforms to honor Jerry Jones, who played under Frank Broyles on the Arkansas team of 1964.
Jones then watched his old school, in the stadium he built, lose again to Texas A&M.
This was Hogs’ coach Bret Bielema’s fifth straight loss to TAMU Coach Kevin Sumlin. It was speculated the losing coach in the game might not be back next season. Bielema is now 10-23 in SEC play.
News Flash: David Meade, the self-published author and tea-leaf reader who predicted the world would end Saturday with a collision between “Planet Nibiru” and Earth, amended his prediction to the Washington Post.
Meade said that only the world “as we know it,” will be ending.
Whew. This came as comforting news for panicky fans who saw things flashing before their eyes:
--USC. The Trojans were tied—tied!—with California in the third quarter of Saturday’s game in Berkeley.
What’s wrong with Sam Darnold!?
USC had not lost to Cal since 2003, after which it collapsed all the way to the AP national championship.
This week's result was USC winning Saturday’s game, 30-20. The Trojans outscored the Bears, 17-7, in the final quarter.
Darnold still doesn’t look like the quarterback who led USC to last year’s Rose Bowl win. But he is still the quarterback who has led the Trojans to 12 straight wins. And the Sam who makes plays when he has to make them. Darnold threw another interception, bringing his season total to seven.
So, a deep breath: the end of the world for USC fans has been extended to next Friday night’s game at Washington State.
--Clemson. The Tigers and Boston College Eagles were tied, 7-7, entering the fourth quarter.
Relax. As Mack Brown said back in the studio, a coach can’t get his team up for every game.
Clemson woke up with 28, unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Memo to those, however, who anointed Clemson as the nation’s best team ahead of Alabama.