College Football Notes: SEC Down, Pac-12 Up; Stanford's Slide; Quotes of Note
In this, the final year of the Pac-12, the world has gone topsy-turvy. Suddenly, the all-powerful SEC is struggling, and the Pac-12, which hasn't placed a team in the College Football Playoff since 2017, is the dominant conference in college football.
SEC powerhouses Georgia and Alabama, who between them have won five of the last eight national championships, looked decidedly ordinary against inferior opponents over the weekend.
Two-time defending national champion Georgia fell behind mediocre South Carolina 14-3 at the half before rallying to win 24-14.
The Crimson Tide, stll smarting from a beatdown at the hands of Texas, squeezed past a USF team that has gone 4-29 the last three years, 17-3. The game was much closer than the score indicated, tied 3-3 late in the third quarter. Coach Nick Saban has tried three different quarterbacks, and all have been found wanting.
The Pac-12, meanwhile, continues to flourish, with seven of its eight top 25 teams winning (USC had a bye).
In this week's rankings: USC is No. 5, Washington No. 8, Oregon No. 10, Utah No. 11, Oregon State No.14, Colorado No. 19, Washington State No. 21 and UCLA No. 22.
The Buffs' 43-35 overtime win against Colorado State was a classic Pac-12 After Dark affair. Shedeur Sanders, Coach Prime's son, led his team 98 yards for the tying touchdown and two-point conversion in the final two minutes.
Colorado State's 17 penalties, including what seemed like a dozen cheap shot personal fouls, were the product of either bad coaching, ignorance, or dirty play. Whatever the reason, it was disturbing to watch. One of the late hits knocked Colorado's two-way superstar Travis Hunter out of the game and into the hospital.
Traveling Men: It was a big day for transfer quarterbacks. Kedon Slovis, formerly of USC and Pitt, led BYU to a 38-31 win over Arkansas. Jayden Daniels, formerly of Arizona State, led LSU to a 41-14 rout of Mississippi State. And Sam Hartman, formerly of Wake Forest, led Notre Dame to a 41-17 win over Central Michigan. Our choice for the three best transfer portal QBs all reside in the Pac-12. USC's Caleb Williams (Oklahoma) had the day off, but Washington's Michael Penix Jr. (Indiana), and Oregon's Bo Nix (Auburn) continued to roll in easy victories over Michigan State and Hawaii. Penix (pictured above), in my opinion one of the early leaders for the Heisman Trophy, threw four first half TD passes en route to a 27-35, 473 yard game in a 41-7 rout. He has passed for over 400 yards in each of the Huskies' first three games and has 8 TD's and only one intereception so far this season.
Stanford Slides: In one of the Pac-12's few down notes, Sacramento State, one of the top FCS teams in the country, upset Stanford 30-23. It had to be a bittersweet evening for Stanford coach Troy Taylor, who'd won three straight Big Sky Conference titles at Sacramento State before being hired by the Cardinal last December.
Taylor had to feel both immense pride in the program he'd built at Sac State, but a grim realization of how far Stanford football has fallen. At this point, his Cardinal will be the underdog in every game for the rest of the season.
He has a lot of work to do.
True Green: One of the few bright spots in Stanford's home opening loss was the appearance of the field. The Stanford Stadium turf has been an issue since the renovated stadium was built in 2006 and an eyesore--more brown than green--in recent years. On Saturday, it looked so good I thought it was artificial turf. Senior Associate Athletic Director Matt Doyle assured me it's still grass, and credited a new field maintenance crew for the improvement.
Great Matchups This Week: Last week was an unusually weak one in terms of interesting games. This week will be the exact opposite. Consider these upcoming contests: No. 4 Florida State at Clemson, No. 15 Mississippi at No. 13 Alabama, No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon, No. 22 UCLA at No. 11 Utah, No. 14 Oregon State at No. 21 Washington State, No. 24 Iowa at No. 7 Penn State, and No. 6 Ohio State at No. 9 Notre Dame.
Quotes of Note: Colorado coach Deion Sanders on coaching his two sons Shedeur (quarterback) and Shiloh (defensive back): "This is not new to us. I’ve always been Shedeur's coach, so it’s no balance. Like, I’ve been his coach. He does not know any other coach. He’s never played for anybody else in his life. Shiloh has only played for one other coach, ‘cause he went to South Carolina. But my—I’ve coached all my kids and my daughters all their life.
"It’s no preferential treatment. It’s truth and honestly. Matter of fact, I may be harder on mine than I am on the rest of ‘em. And if you come out there and watch me coach, you shouldn’t be able to tell which one is mine, ever since they were young ones. If you could tell which one is mine, I’m not doing my job."
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, having just served a three-game suspension (imposed by his school in the hope of preventing more substantive action by the NCAA) for buying a recruit a hamburger and then denying it: "What I don't understand is how the NCAA television networks, conferences, universities and coaches can continue to pull in millions--and in some cases, billions--of dollars in revenue off the efforts of college student-athletes across the country without providing enough opportunity to share in the ever-increasing revenues.
"The game of football has evolved since inception and dramatically started to change in the 1970s. At that time one game a week was televised. Today, every game during the 12-week regular season is broadcast. In the major conferences, every game is nationally televised to millions of households and sold-out stadiums every Saturday. Why wouldn't we let the student-athletes share in the success of their sport?"