The 2018 World Cup is in full swing, but the tournament has already seen some of the most exciting moments in recent soccer history.
On Saturday, two top-10 teams were defeated. The Pac-12 has risen from the ashes of many years of adversity to make a powerful message on a national level. Nick Saban chastised his Alabama squad after winning 48-14. Texas is 0-1 in SEC play thus far.
Week 2 had all the makings of a fantastic day of college football, and it’s surprising it didn’t finish in even more turmoil, much like the Tennessee coaching hunt.
To be sure, Oregon threw a wrench into the College Football Playoff situation for 2021. With Oregon’s 35-28 victory against Ohio State, the Pac-12 now has a real competitor — and perhaps more. Arizona State is undefeated, and UCLA has already won a big nonconference game. (It’s a glass-half-full league, so ignore Washington, USC, Utah, and… well, it’s a glass-half-full league.) By Week 3, the Pac-12 had been an afterthought in prior years. However, in 2021, the league is like a pair of denim shorts, which we mocked for most of the previous 15 years but are suddenly fashionable again.
The Pac-12 is rejoicing, while the Big Ten is suffering. Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Indiana, the team’s top three preseason rankings, have already lost. Meanwhile, Iowa made a strong statement by capturing the Cy-Hawk Trophy, paving the stage for the now-inevitable 9-6 Big Ten championship game victory against Michigan.
However, although Oregon-Ohio State was a thrilling main event, the undercard enticed but ultimately disappointed.
It took a late TD pass from a quarterback with a dislocated finger to save Notre Dame from losing a heartbreaking game to Toledo. Brian Kelly tried his hand at comedy six days ago, suggesting that his team should be killed after squandering a 16-point lead in OT against Florida State. The Fighting Irish may want to consider witness protection after turning the ball over three times in a 32-29 victory on Saturday.
Texas A&M needed a thrilling fourth-quarter drive to defeat Colorado 10-7 in Denver. After starting quarterback Haynes King went down with an injury in the first quarter, the Aggies were unable to find a replacement since their entire money was dedicated to contract extensions for Jimbo Fisher. Colorado led 7-3 entering the fourth quarter, and A&M was only rescued from catastrophe by an 11-play, 77-yard drive with less than eight minutes remaining.
A cat fell from the top deck to the lower level of the stadium in Miami, but was fortunately rescued by two spectators holding an American flag. Then, with less than three minutes remaining, Andy Borregales rescued Miami with a 43-yard go-ahead field goal, allowing Miami to escape Appalachian State 25-23.
Watch this amazing video of Hard Rock Stadium fans rescuing a falling cat with an American flag.
The games will be remembered as victories for Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and Miami in months to come. They were heartburn-inducing, edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath wonders on Saturday. Even if Cinderella’s shoe didn’t always fit, the dance was still enjoyable.
Week 2 was expected to be a snoozer in the aftermath of Week 1’s blockbuster matches. Instead, we were treated to a circus, with five of the top-ranked clubs losing. Even yet, with fried turkey legs, demolition derbies, and even frightening clowns, it was more of a neighborhood circus than a Ringling Bros. production.
Iowa won the Cy-Hawk Trophy with a resounding victory. Matthew Putney/AP Photo
Iowa sends a message.
From Ashton Kutcher’s presence on College GameDay to the 15 total punts to the two teams managing to run the ball 66 times while averaging just 2.3 yards per carry, Saturday’s Cy-Hawk game was a lovely homage to all things Iowa. Monte Pottebaum (who, we presume, was legally obliged to play for Iowa from the moment he was born) provided the lead block for an Iowa score at one point. If an overcaffeinated Howard Dean had stopped the postgame press conference to scream out the names of the Hawkeyes’ next five opponents, this game would have been even more Iowa.
The result, on the other hand, was all too typical for Iowa State. This was meant to be the year of the Cyclones. They had all the preseason hype, a No. 9 ranking, a veteran-laden team, and a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoff. Nonetheless, this Cy-Hawk game ended the same way the other five had: with a stale offense, a heartbreaking defeat, and lowered season hopes.
Maybe the issue was that we were expecting something different. While Iowa State received all of the attention over the summer, Iowa suddenly seems to be a legitimate playoff contender. With Ohio State’s defeat, the Big Ten now seems to be completely winnable, and Iowa’s defense appears to be unstoppable, forcing four turnovers that made things a lot easier for the offense. It was still a bad day for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes only mustered 173 yards of offense, but maybe that’s why we ignore Kirk Ferentz’s squad so often.
Iowa isn’t very attractive — sorry, Ashton — but Ferentz has his squad in the top 10 once again, having grown from a cornfield to become one of the most feared teams in the nation.
The new Big 12 has a busy week ahead of them.
The Big 12 made it official on Friday. BYU, UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati will replace SEC-bound Texas and Oklahoma in order to keep the conference’s Power 5 classification.
At least for a weekend, it seemed like a decent deal.
The SEC gave Texas a taste of life, and it didn’t go well. The Longhorns were unable to pass the ball, failed to run, and saw their defense surrender over 300 yards on the ground. Tom Herman was laughing like a Bond villain somewhere.
Meanwhile, the Big 12’s newcomers all won comfortably. Cincinnati defeated Murray State 42-7 after a 7-7 halftime tie. Houston crushed Rice in a battle of longtime Southwest Conference rivals, while UCF cruised to a 2-0 record.
What does this imply in the long run for the Big 12? Probably nothing, but when the league has a chance to laugh at Texas, it should take advantage of it.
This isn’t the case. pic.twitter.com/tWRzlZuFh8
September 12, 2021 — Arkansas Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB)
Is FSU at an all-time low?
There are setbacks. There have been some unfortunate losses. Then there’s what occurred on Saturday at Florida State.
Even in an overtime defeat to Notre Dame, McKenzie Milton and the Seminoles were one of college football’s feel-good tales a week ago. On Saturday, whatever goodwill Mike Norvell’s squad had established was shattered when Damond Philyaw-Johnson of Jacksonville State dashed into the end zone with no time remaining to defeat FSU 20-17.
How terrible did it get?
Start with the reality that this was Florida State’s first defeat against a current FCS football team since 1959. The attack was a complete disaster. The Seminoles averaged less than 4 yards per pass attempt and squandered a chance to seal the game halfway through the fourth quarter when they fumbled consecutive plays from within the 3-yard line. In the last 4:45 of the game, the defense, which had been playing effectively, let up 13 points.
But nothing will ever compare to how it ended. Former Clemson quarterback Zerrick Cooper dropped back to pass on a fourth-and-10 with 1 second left, hitting Duke transfer Philyaw-Johnson near the sideline, and Philyaw-Johnson made two defenders miss as he cut back across the field and into the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown reception and the victory.
FSU has had a lot of strange performances over the previous five years, but the defense’s inability to have defenders deep on Cooper’s last-second pass may represent a new low point.
Indeed, as much as we like “celebrating NC State fan” and “book-reading FSU professor,” these cheerleaders may have even given us a new leader among the terrible FSU defeat response GIFs on Saturday.
September 12, 2021 — Evan (@krikmnave)
It was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Stock Report for Week 2
Coming off the second full week of college football action, who’s hot, who’s not, and who’s simply biding their time?
Oregon’s offensive line is a good buy.
There was enough of praise to go around for Oregon’s huge victory, but the Ducks’ front five put in the most effort. Anthony Brown, the quarterback, had a clean pocket for almost the whole day and was not sacked once. Meanwhile, Oregon rushed for 269 yards, including a staggering 206 yards before contact. The outside run game was particularly deadly, as Oregon scored three touchdowns with the identical run play, unleashed by crackback blocks at the line. It was especially remarkable given how seldom the Buckeyes’ defense has looked so awful. It only occurs against historically great teams like Alabama last year, Clemson in 2016, and, uh, Purdue in 2018.
UAB’s ‘turnover dragon’ is available for purchase.
UAB deserves credit for pulling off a “Game of Thrones” reversal. The Blazers’ performance against Georgia was the polar opposite of the show’s storyline, as they were awful for the most of the game until finishing on a high note with a 61-yard pick-six that ended with an amazing dragon.
After his 60-yard pick-six against Georgia, UAB’s Keondre Swoopes displays a turnover chain that you have to see to believe.
Florida has a quarterback controversy.
Dan Mullen was adamant about not talking about it. After that, he denied it. But the statistics speak for themselves: a quarterback debate is developing in Florida. So far this season, Emory Jones has looked dreadful in two games against weaker competition (two touchdown passes, four interceptions), while backup Anthony Richardson has been spectacular. Richardson threw three passes in a 42-20 victory against USF on Saturday, but he ended with more passing yards (152) than Jones (151) on 22 attempts.
I pretended to be on the run, then dropped the dime. pic.twitter.com/KNaKLDRoNG
September 11, 2021 — ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB)
Randy Edsall’s jokes are on hold.
Sure, the UConn coach resigned last week following the Huskies’ 0-2 start, but his former players were unimpressed with the move. Purdue thrashed UConn 49-0, the worst loss for the Huskies since 2018. But you have to give it to Edsall: He understands how to manipulate a contract, since a close examination of his retirement papers reveals that every drop in performance after his leave earns him another $140 and a week of free sandwiches at any Quiznos store in the region.
Purchase: An old-school offense
On Saturday, Army’s option met high-flying Western Kentucky in a clash of styles so stark that there may as well have been a postgame concert with Kenny G opening for Insane Clown Posse. However, in a matchup of old-school rushing systems (Army carried the ball 67 times) against new-school up-tempo passing games (WKU passed for 435 yards on 42 tries), the option approach prevailed 38-35.
In Commander-in-Chief Cup games, sell the over.
In the first game between military schools this season, Air Force defeated Navy 23-3, continuing one of college football’s most constant patterns. Since 2005, 39 of 49 games have failed to meet the amount set by Las Vegas. The over/under for Saturday’s game was set at an absurdly low 39.5, and the game never came close to exceeding that number. On Nov. 6, Air Force will face Army, so mark your calendars to wager on that game as well.
Five Heisman Trophy winners
Even though most of the top Heisman candidates had cupcake opponents on the schedule for Week 2, our top five had a little shake-up — even if the top name didn’t move.
1. Alabama quarterback Young, Bryce
Alabama’s top quarterback had a mediocre effort against an FCS opponent, completing 19 of 27 passes for 227 yards, but remember, Mercer has a penchant for shutting down stars. In the NCAA tournament, the Bears limited Jabari Parker to 4-of-14 shooting and defeated Duke. Young, on the other hand, had a fantastic day.
2. Quarterback, Ole Miss Corral, Matt
The bad news is that no dogs were there to see Corral’s newest passing accomplishments. The good news is that Corral’s Heisman campaign has taken off in the last week, first with a dominating performance against Ole Miss and then another easy victory against Austin Peay five days later. By defeating Alabama on Oct. 2 or tossing a touchdown to a golden retriever in the Egg Bowl, Corral will almost certainly win the prize. I’m crossing my fingers for the latter.
3. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler is a character in the film Spencer Rattler
Rattler bounced back from his Week 1 troubles against Western Carolina, tossing two more first-quarter touchdowns on Saturday than he did against Tulane (one). Of course, when the Sooners play Nebraska next week, he’ll have an opportunity to put his Heisman campaign (and the “Fire Scott Frost” campaign) into overdrive.
4. Ohio State quarterback Stroud, C.J.
It’s difficult to hold Stroud responsible for the Buckeyes’ defeat. He was fantastic until a last interception ruined the game. He had 484 yards and three touchdowns with three separate 100-yard receivers. Stroud, on the other hand, received little assistance. The running game struggled (averaging just 4.1 yards per carry), and the defense couldn’t get off the field when it needed to.
5. Backup quarterbacks in the SEC East
At halftime, Georgia is up 35-0, and Stetson Bennett has already matched the Bulldogs’ single-game touchdown throw record with five.
Can we give a group award to Florida’s Richardson, Georgia’s Stetson Bennett (who came on in relief of Joe Milton and nearly led the Volunteers to a come-from-behind win over Pitt) and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker (who came on in relief of Joe Milton and nearly led the Volunteers to a come-from-behind win over Pitt)? The three backup quarterbacks in the SEC East combined to complete 28-of-36 passes for 629 yards, 183 yards on the ground, and 10 total touchdowns with only one interception. With South Carolina’s second consecutive victory behind grad assistant-turned-starting quarterback Zeb Noland, the SEC East can legitimately claim to be the finest division in the nation for backup quarterbacks. Texas A&M might learn a thing or two from this.
Play of the Week: Off the Beaten Path
Nothing creates more excitement on a college football Saturday than some really spectacular punting, so forget about Buffalo’s loss to Nebraska. The highlight of the game was an 81-yard punt late in the first half, which was the longest punt of 2021 so far. Are you unimpressed? Oh, and we almost forgot to add that the kick was delivered by Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease. It wasn’t completely out of character, however. Vantrease began his career as a punter before becoming the team’s starting quarterback in 2019, and he added a 42-yard kick against Ball State last season.
Kyle Vantrease, the Buffalo quarterback, punts the ball 81 yards into the end zone for a touchback.
Game of the Week: Off the Beaten Path
Northern Illinois didn’t win a game in 2020, but so far in 2021, it’s been one of the most entertaining teams to watch. A week after shocking Georgia Tech with a two-point conversion with less than a minute to go, the Huskies were on the verge of pulling off another stunning comeback.
Midway through the third quarter, NIU quarterback Rocky Lombardi (and winner of the Flash Gordon look-alike contest) led three TD drives in seven minutes to bring the Huskies within 42-36. With 9:58 remaining, NIU regained possession and marched 45 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown and a one-point advantage.
Unfortunately, the enchantment wore off in the last five minutes of play, as Wyoming scored on a 75-yard touchdown of their own to win 50-43.
NIU was the first team since Colorado State accomplished it against San Jose State in 2018 to trail by at least 26 in the third quarter of a game and then lead in the fourth quarter. It’s just the sixth time in the last decade that this has happened.