10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 6 in the SEC
Penny for my thoughts?
Oh, I have about 2.5 million of them regarding Lane Kiffin, the Big Ten’s COVID policies, Clemson’s escape and Michigan-ing.
Those are among the 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after another Saturday Down South in and around the SEC.
10. There’s no way the SEC should have fined Lane Kiffin
SEC game officials caused this mess. And then the SEC league office piled on.
Unnecessary roughness? Targeting? Illegal use of authority? All of it.
SEC game officials blew the original call last week in the Ole Miss-Auburn game. They blew the review process. Then the SEC, which promised 2 years ago to be more transparent about officiating calls, essentially put tape over Lane Kiffin’s mouth so he wouldn’t share what they told him.
And then the SEC league office fined him $25,000 because he kind of told us what happened without telling us what happened?
That’s crazy. That’s worse than a referee or umpire making a bad call and then tossing a player or coach who reacted to the bad call.
Without the bad call and worse review, there is no reaction. Kiffin deserved the right to react without being punished.
I must say I am looking forward to the next time because Kiffin most certainly will have a bigger reaction.
More Lane Kiffin on the SEC fine: "I did say to (Sankey) when he was fining me, 'well, that's not really exciting. I didn't get to say anything or make a joke. I just did a retweet; that's not worth it."
— Tom Green (@Tomas_Verde) October 28, 2020
(10b. And they better not fine Dan Mullen …)
How was that hit not flagged?
Here’s what started the fight at halftime of Florida vs. Missouri pic.twitter.com/rP7uo9O63E
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) November 1, 2020
No wonder the Gators wanted to fight everybody and Mullen waved to the crowd while walking off the field at halftime.
That wasn’t a football play. That was a way-too-late shot at a Heisman Trophy contender. (Time will tell whether this was Trask’s Joe Burrow-UCF cheap shot moment, but Burrow and LSU never lost again after that play).
There is no way, no way any Gator who reacted to that should suffer any penalty and/or suspension ahead of next week’s Georgia showdown.
Want to punish somebody? Start with the crew chief.
9. College football should have adopted 1 COVID policy
This isn’t a plea for a college football commissioner, though in this case, that might have helped.
This is, however, a plea for common sense. College football’s Power 5 power brokers should have agreed to the same set of restrictions regarding positive COVID test results.
Whether it was sitting out 10 days, 14 days or 21 days is moot, but it should have been the same across the country.
The problem, obviously, is that different leagues are handling positive COVD tests differently. The result is pretty obvious: The Big Ten, with roster thresholds and a 21-day quarantine, is at an obvious competitive disadvantage any time one of its players tests positive.
Wisconsin’s Playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. Saturday’s game was canceled — OK, no big deal — but next week’s game against Purdue is in jeopardy, too.
It’s too late to do unify the 5 conferences this season, but it’s a discussion worth having to prevent a similar situation from impacting another season.
The B1G’s best hope is to simply — and swifty — modify its policies. Copying the SEC would be my recommendation.
8. Also … why does the B1G hate Nebraska?
There’s no need to rehash the offseason revolt and backlash to Nebraska’s bold attempt to play football with or without the B1G, but clearly the B1G thought it got the last laugh when it rescheduled the ‘Skers to open with Ohio State and face Wisconsin in Week 2. You know, the 2 teams expected to meet in the Big Ten Championship Game.
When COVID forced Wisky to cancel Saturday’s game and pause all football activities, Nebraska once again found a way to play. The ‘Skers arranged to play FCS UT-Chattanooga on Saturday, all expenses paid, all safety requirements met.
Until the B1G said no to that, too.
Nebraska didn’t publicly push back this time. It said it “respected” the decision.
All that was missing was a “bless your heart” at the end.
(P.S.: Nebraska, you’re welcome to come to the SEC any time.)
7. Does Bo Pelini still have a job?
If so, why?
LSU fans can’t wait until Tell the Truth Monday. Judging by their reaction Saturday, they want a press conference before heading to church today.
Coming into the LSU-Auburn game, many SEC fans were joking that Auburn would be 1-4 if not for some bad calls.
The only bad call I saw Saturday was the offseason decision to replace Dave Aranda with Bo Pelini.
One thing we know about Ed Orgeron: He’s not afraid to admit he made a mistake.
He made one with this hire. Sooner or later, he’ll fix it.
6. New rule: Nobody gets to wear a “Walker 34” jersey
That belongs to Herschel, OK?
There’s nothing anyone can do to add more prestige to the combo. So don’t stain the memories and bring dishonor to the “Walker 34” jersey. If your name is Walker, pick another number.
I hadn’t noticed many other “Walker 34s” in college football — until I caught the tail end of Minnesota’s crazy comeback effort against Maryland. Minnesota trailed by 14, then went on a 31-0 run to take a 17-point lead into the 4th quarter. Maryland rallied to force OT, then scored first in OT. Minnesota answered. All it needed was for “Walker 34” to kick the extra point. Then this happened.
Minnesota just lost via a missed PAT in OT.
— Connor O'Gara (@cjogara) October 31, 2020
I didn’t even know the kid’s name. He’s Minnesota’s backup kicker, forced into duty because the starter is out on COVID protocol. The backup kicker’s last name is not the point. His choice of number is.
Minnesota fans would argue accuracy is the point, but they’re wrong: Accuracy is temporary. “Walker 34” is forever. There should only be one.
5. Bottom 5 of Power 5
The worst of the weak:
1. Mississippi State: Mike Leach’s SEC debut was a smashing success. It also seems like it happened 20 years ago. The Air Raid Bulldogs have scored 30 points in the past 4 games. Not per game. Total. Two weeks after Kentucky became the first team to keep a Leach offense off the scoreboard in a 24-2 victory, Alabama pitched a shutout (and scored on a pick-6). I’m not going to keep harping on this all season, but it will get better. Leach didn’t inherit any playmakers on the outside. He’ll have to recruit those.
2. Kentucky’s passing game: The Wildcats changed QBs (due to injury), but it didn’t matter. Joey Gatewood threw for 91 yards. That’s the 5th consecutive week Kentucky has been held below 160 yards passing. Kentucky has 4 TD passes in 6 games.
3. Georgia’s passing game: The Dawgs weren’t considerably better. Stetson Bennett IV was held to 131 yards passing and threw 2 more interceptions. George Pickens didn’t play but …
4. Michigan’s 4th-down defense: Goodness. Michigan State got embarrassed in the B1G’s Week 1. Seven days later, Sparty knocked off hated rival Michigan. The key play: 4th-and-3 near midfield, trying to secure the win, Sparty picked it up with a QB sneak. Well, Michigan, at least Ohio State didn’t derail your dreams again.
5. The Oklahoma State person who came up with this idea: Guarantee you, we won’t see a video board like this again.
How about all the fake yellow lines by Oklahoma State’s big board?!? pic.twitter.com/HGV2EQF8kE
— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) October 31, 2020
Didn’t work, either. Texas still knocked off No. 6 Oklahoma State in overtime.
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Clemson, 4. Cincinnati
Two notes to know before you write off the Tigers:
- 1. Clemson just completed the largest home comeback in program history — with its backup QB playing every snap of the game. He’ll start next week, too, against Notre Dame.
- Notre Dame, which somehow is ranked No. 4 in the country, was far less impressive in home wins over Duke (14-point win) and Louisville (5-point win). Duke and Louisville entered the weekend a combined 3-9.
Notre Dame is No. 5, followed by Florida and Georgia. The Irish and Gators/Dawgs obviously still have huge opportunities next week to improve their Playoff stock. Cincinnati needs continued chaos.
3. Happy birthday, Nick
This skit was great …
Nick Saban greets trick or treaters pic.twitter.com/ZGrGCq2Tcr
— Joey (@JoeyMulinaro) October 31, 2020
… but why in the world did the SEC schedule 3 games on Halloween night, which doubles as Saban’s birthday?
2. I can’t wait for Clemson-Notre Dame
Trevor Lawrence will miss next week’s game. We learned that Saturday.
So D.J. Uiagalelei will make his 2nd consecutive start.
All he did in his emergency first start was throw for 342 yards and 2 TDs and rush for another TD while leading a wild comeback against a pretty good Boston College team.
Notre Dame, in theory, will present a tougher challenge. Uiagalelei also will be a bit better prepared. I’m sure he was getting plenty of practice reps before last week, but he’ll get almost all of them this week.
Most of Uiagalelei’s completions Saturday were safe, short-to-mid-range. Clemson entered the game tops in the ACC with 35 completions covering at least 20 yards.
Look for the target zone to expand a bit at Notre Dame as Uiagalelei gets more comfortable.
1. Chad Morris called the perfect game
Chad Morris has been an easy punching bag. But as I’ve said repeatedly, the guy knows offense. He was one of the driving forces when Clemson started its college football takeover. He didn’t forget how to call a ball play.
At Auburn, he inherited an in-progress QB with a penchant for running. The first month was rough. The loss to South Carolina was embarrassing. Last week, Morris redrew the game plan. More running, less throwing. Critics scoffed: That was Ole Miss — and you still need the refs’ help!
OK, fine. Saturday, he called the perfect game.
More RPOs, more than enough designed runs, more easy throws for Bo Nix, capped by a run-weary defense reacting to a perfectly timed play-action call that created an easy 91-yard bomb from Nix to Anthony Schwartz.
Nix finished with 300 yards and 3 TD passes on just 24 attempts. He added 81 yards rushing and a score, in the process becoming the first Auburn QB since Cam Newton to compile a 300-3TD-1TD run day.
I haven’t been this impressed with an Auburn plan of attack since Kerryon Johnson and Jarrett Stidham dismantled Georgia in 2017.
Auburn can’t win the West because it has 2 losses and Alabama isn’t losing 2 games.
But the Auburn we saw Saturday night absolutely can become the first SEC team since Ole Miss in 2014 and 2015 to beat the Tide in back-to-back seasons.