This week was the Buckeyes' bye week. Including them about half of the current top ten was idle. Most of the games scheduled for yesterday sucked. That doesn't mean we didn't see significant things taking place. How has the playoff picture changed? What is the Buckeyes' place? Here are all the things you know to not sound like an idiot talking about college football this week:
What We Learned About the Buckeyes:
JT Barrett was arrested for OVI. He has been suspended for next week's game against Minnesota. You won't find any sanctimony on this situation in this column - either as it refers to the magnitude of the mistake or the magnitude of the punishment. I'd rather focus on what this means for the team. They are still trying to win a championship after all.
As a fan, it's disappointing that right after we all thought that this season's interminable quarterback controversy was finally settled, it's suddenly up in the air again. Cardale Jones has an opportunity that he probably thought he wouldn't get - a chance to start without having to look over his shoulder. The last games he played under those circumstances were in December and January of last season. Perhaps against Minnesota he can rediscover a bit of that confidence and form. In light of the way he played earlier in the season though, it is a little scary to have him out there with no safety net. On one hand Jones might be able to play more loose and free. On the other hand, if he struggles as badly as he did against Northern Illinois he and the coaches will have to find a way to fix what's wrong instead of just switching to the other guy.
I've never particularly been a Team Cardale or Team JT guy. I've tried to hold off on making projections about what will happen and stick to reacting to what I see. That said, I hope Jones makes that most of his start against Minnesota and renews his claim to the starting job. It would mean that the Buckeyes would not miss a beat, and keeping the team's goals on track is the most important thing at the moment.
What We Learned About the Rest of College Football:
- Nebraska is in a world of trouble. They are in the midst of a historically bad season for their program. They are only in the first year of coach Mike Riley's regime, and while many would say that the Cornhuskers can't fire him yet, there are plenty of reasons why it would be a good idea to do so. First of all, the way this has turned out has been completely predictable. The Oregon State program he left was poor. What we're seeing at Nebraska is simply a continuation of what he has been (not) accomplishing as a coach in recent years. Second, he's old. Even if he does eventually turn it around, how much longer after that would he be able to stick around to see it through. Third, the really can't afford not to. Nebraska does not sit in prime recruiting territory. They no longer have an offensive system that sets them apart like they did in the days of Devaney and Osborne. They have been getting by on the brand name they established for themselves back in those days. That is what has kept their ceiling at 8-10 wins in recent years rather than seeing it sink to something lower. They are in danger of squandering that. They need to scrap the Riley experiment, and they need to hit a home run with whomever they hire next.
- There are a few programs that could be in this discussion, but it's hard to argue anybody does less with more than Georgia. They are one of the established, big-boy programs in one of the nation's richest veins of football talent. They have money, they have facilities, they are situated in a fantastic college town but are not far away from the region's biggest city. They have a wonderful, very large on-campus stadium. They inhabit what is arguably the weakest division of any Power 5 conference. If they could ever manage to win that division they would get to play a virtual home game in the conference championship game. They should be contending for that division every year. When Florida was down, they should have been running away with it every year. Instead they've been nowhere to be found. Mark Richt has been there for ages and hasn't really come close to maximizing that program's potential. It's amazing that he has managed to keep the job as long as he has. When that job becomes vacant it is sure to go to the front of the line as the most desirable destination for top tier coaches on the market.
- Minnesota had all but beaten M*ch*g*n. It took a series of historic time management blunders from the Golden Gophers to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Folks will argue about the final play, where the Wolverines stuffed a quarterback sneak as time expired to seal the victory. Perhaps they should have kicked a field goal to go to overtime. Perhaps they should have gone for the win. The fact of the matter is, it didn't necessarily have to come to that. There were a few grave mistakes before it even got to that point. The replay review on the play that took them down to the 1-yard line was practically a free timeout. They correctly didn't spend the final real timeout they had in their pocket, and instead were lined up over the ball once the clock was restarted. The problem was, they lined up tight, took way too much time, then shifted to a spread formation to run what turned out to be a failed pass play. The clock ran during all of that waiting and shifting, and by the time the clock stopped on the incomplete throw there was only enough time for one more play. All of the screwing around completely negated the timeout they had held on to. With a first down at the 1-yard line, there's no excuse for giving yourself enough time to run at least three plays in that situation. In that situation with that field position, the odds of finding the end zone were so high that it should have been a longshot for it to even come down to a decision on whether to kick or go for it. Minnesota earned themselves a gilded chance to win the game or at least tie it, and they found a way to come out of it with nothing.
- While everybody was bitching about Minnesota, this was taking place on another channel:
- Temple lost a close on to Notre Dame. We still have this though:
- The kids know what I'm talking about:
- This is the best play you probably didn't see. It snapped the nation's longest losing streak:
- Kirk Herbstreit is a dang weenie:
- The refs in the Miami-Duke game. As a neutral fan it's fun to see this kind of crazy stuff. It's what makes you want to tune in for a full day of crappy sounding games. Imagine having something like this happen to the Buckeyes though. It's frightening. There's a commercial where they make light of refs missing calls and making stuff up on the spot just to make people think they're still in control. It's scary to see it unfolding for real. They took more than nine minutes to review a play that most fans at home could have diagnosed with one or two passes. At one point they made an annoucement only to seemingly call it off on a whim to look at it further:
Being a ref is hard. The game moves so quickly and the rules are so numerous and byzantine that things will be missed and mistakes will happen. Replay is supposed to help with that, but even replay itself has a ton of rules that make it easy to screw things up that should get corrected. One of the most frustrating things for fans is an obvious missed call that goes uncorrected because it is a supposedly "non-reviewable" judgement call. The current version of instant replay has been around for a while and we've seen the "not reviewable" clause invoked countless times. It was shocking then to see the refs seemingly use instant replay to review a flag for a block in the back when that sort of review has been said to be off limits by rule in the past. It was shocking that they bent the rules of replay to pick up one flag while not calling the other obvious fouls on the play. It was shocking to see this explanation from one of the officiating pundits now employed by a television network:
That reeks of bullshit. I've seen countless controversial plays and I've seen the "not reviewable" cop out invoked many times while never once seeing go outside of those boundaries to correct a major fuck up.
Oh, and there was the fact that the one guy's knee was down.
That IS reviewable, it was fairly clear on the replay and they asserted (twice!) that it never happened. Oh well, it was fun to watch. Just hope nothing like that ever happens to the Buckeyes.
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