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College FB Drama; Stanford Sinks Further; Money Matters; NFL Notes; Cardinal Basketball Hopes

Week 10 was another wild, wacky week of college football drama, last-minute heroics and disappointments.

The big news: perennial College Football Playoff teams Alabama and Clemson both appear to have been ousted from the playoff picture. Going into this season, Alabama had been invited to seven of the eight playoffs, while Clemson had been selected six times.

Not this year.

Here’s what happened Saturday.

No. 3 Georgia 27, No. 1 Tennessee 13. In a game that was not nearly as close as the score indicated, the Bulldogs' defense completely shut down Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker and the nation's highest scoring offense. Georgia will no doubt move to No. 1 in tomorrow's rankings. Tennessee will likely drop to 4 or 5. And maybe it's time to start including Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett in the Heisman conversation.

No. 2 Ohio State 21, Northwestern 7. An unimpressive performance by the high-scoring Buckeyes against a terrible Northwestern team. The weather undoubtedly had something to do with it, but Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud has underperformed the past three weeks, and the running game has lost its mojo.

Notre Dame 35, No. 4 Clemson 14. The worst loss in Dabo Swinney's eight year reign at Clemson will send his Tigers plummeting in the CFP rankings. Nice to see Irish coach Marcus Freeman putting things together. Without the inexplicable losses to Marshall and Stanford, Notre Dame would be in the thick of the playoff chase.

No. 10 LSU 32, No. 6 Alabama 31. In one of the most exciting games of the year, the Tigers rode the outstanding performance of quarterback Jayden Daniels (the transfer from Arizona State). Nick Saban's teams have had trouble with running quarterbacks in recent years and this was no exception, as Daniels reeled off several long runs and escaped pressure throughout.

I'm not a Brian Kelly fan, but his decision to go for the two-point conversation and the win rather than kick the tying PAT was gutsy, won over any doubters on his team, and gave the two-loss Tigers a chance to get into the playoff if they beat Georgia in the SEC title game.

No. 5 Michigan 52, Rutgers 17. Michigan was actually behind 17-14 at the half, then reeled off 38 unanswered points after the intermission. Coach Jim Harbaugh's team is the best in the Big Ten right now.

No. 7 TCU 34, Kansas State 24. The Horned Frogs came from behind again to win. Coach Sonny Dykes' team may have to beat Texas this week to get into the top four. It's a match made in heaven, as Steve Sarkisian’s Longhorns have a habit of blowing early leads and TCU likes to rally late.

No 8 Oregon 49, Colorado 10. Oregon scored over 40 points for the eighth week in a row. Quarterback Bo Nix, who has moved into Heisman consideration, threw for two touchdowns, ran for two scores, and caught a TD pass. If they run the table the Ducks may sneak into the playoff.

SMU 77, Houston 63. In the highest scoring non-overtime game in division 1 history, Mustang quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for nine touchdowns and ran for another.

And on the other end of the college football spectrum, we have, drumroll please:

Washington State 52, Stanford 14. The Cougars have Stanford's number, beating the Cardinal for the sixth straight time. This one was over in the first quarter. Yes, Stanford lost four more defensive starters to injury, but things have gotten pretty dire in Palo Alto.

Stanford has a lousy team, a rapidly dwindling fan base, and a browned, chewed up playing field that looks like youth soccer has taken over the stadium or the grounds crew has been on vacation for the last month. (see photo)

Things are so bad that the lure of free “test drive” tickets for 2023 didn't move the needle. A piece of unsolicited advice: desperation marketing campaigns rarely work, and when you offer free tickets you devalue the product.

The official attendance for ASU last week was listed as 25,061. This week it was 26,515. In both cases, the actual crowd was less than half the announced number.

Maybe Stanford should consider offering leftover turkeys to anyone who attends the BYU game Nov. 26. It would be a fitting end to a season that has been, let's be honest, a real turkey.

Funny Money: Auburn fired head coach Bryan Harsin the other day. Harsin was hired two years ago, after Auburn showed Gus Malzahn the door. The school is now on the hook to pay a combined $40 million to two fired football coaches.

That $40M would buy a lot of meals, clothing, books, and health care for those in need in Alabama.

Then we have the subject of guaranteed contracts. Texas A&M is paying Jimbo Fisher $9.5 million per year, guaranteed, for another nine years. Despite having all the resources one could ask for and the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, the Aggies, who were ranked No. 6 in the pre-season, are 3-6.

Meanwhile, down the road at Miami, former Oregon coach Mario Crisobal, who left Eugene to grab a 10-year, $80 million guaranteed gig with the Hurricanes, was humiliated 45-3 Saturday by Fisher's former team, Florida State. Miami is now 4-5 and previously lost to Middle Tennessee.

Can you blame fans for getting turned off when they see stratospheric, long-term guaranteed contracts being paid to over-rated and under-performing coaches?

It's ridiculous.

NFL nuggets:

  • Shocking how bad Aaron Rodgers is playing, He misses Davante Adams.

  • Great to see Geno Smith doing so well after 10 years of struggles with the Jets, Giants, Chargers and Seahawks.

  • Patrick Mahomes is flat-out amazing.

  • Now you see why Kyle Shanahan wanted Kirk Cousins. His Vikings are 7-1.

  • Now you see why I recommended the 49ers draft Justin Fields instead of Trey Lance.

  • Now you see why everyone thought former 49ers’ defensive coordinator Robert Saleh would be an excellent head coach. The Jets are 6-3.

  • Now you see why so many people questioned the Raiders' decision hire re-tread Josh McDaniels as head coach.

Will Stanford Get Some Relief in Basketball: Those searching for some positive news at Stanford have only to look at the women's basketball program, a three time national champion and perennial Final Four team under iconic coach Tara VanDerveer. She will have another title contender this season, led by returning stars Haley Jones and Cameron Brink, and 6-7 newcomer Lauren Betts.

Many Cardinal fans are also hoping that things finally come together this year for Coach Jerod Haase's men's basketball team.

Haase has been a stellar recruiter, but he hasn't been able to produce a winner. His teams have finished above .5000 only three times and have not made the NCAA Tournament in his six years on the Farm.

Haase's teams have been marked by late-season collapses. In 2019-20, Stanford was 20-9 before losing its final three games. In 2020-21, Stanford was 14-8 before losing its last five games, Last season, Stanford again was 14-8 before dropping eight of its final 10.

This despite the fact that in seven recruiting classes Haase has signed 13 blue chip (four or five star) recruits.

Five-star recruit Ziaire Williams didn't start for much of the 20-21 season before going No. 10 overall in the 2021 NBA draft and becoming a solid contributor for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Williams was expected to be a “one-and-done”, but Haase has also lost Tyrell Terry, who prematurely turned pro after one season and hasn't been able to stick in the NBA, Cormac Ryan, who transferred to Notre Dame after one season, and KZ Okpala, who left for the pros after two years and is languishing on the Sacramento Kings bench.

Understandably, the fan base has become impatient and apathetic. Last year Stanford ranked last in the Pac-12 in home attendance at 2,360 per game.

This year, expectations are high. Haase has returning players like Harrison Ingram, Spencer Jones and Michael O'Connell plus sharpshooting transfer Miichael Jones.

It's time—past time in our opinion—that he turns his talent into an NCAA Tournament team.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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