Saturday Football: Michigan meltdown, Swamp brawl and uniform talk
The Saturday Football newsletter goes out to subscribers up to 3 days a week and discusses the major events going on around the nation in college football. You can subscribe by clicking here.
Good morning and happy Monday! There were quite a few blowouts on Saturday, particularly in the SEC, but that doesn’t mean we have nothing to talk about to kick off this week. Indeed, there are many interesting stories to discuss as we enter the first week of November.
Today, we’ll head to Ann Arbor, where the Michigan Wolverines are reeling after yet another disappointing loss under Jim Harbaugh. Then, we’ll head to Florida, where an ugly brawl marred the end of the first half between the Gators and the Missouri Tigers. Finally, we’ll take a look at some of the best uniform combinations of the week. Let’s get started, shall we?
Michigan’s loss to MSU may be one of the worst of the Harbaugh era. Will the Wolverines ever meet expectations?
Once again, Michigan was built up as a team capable of winning the B1G East. Once again, Jim Harbaugh’s team is falling short of expectations. Hey, at least fans only had to wait two weeks before experiencing the disappointment this year, if you want to look at this as a glass-half-full situation. Michigan dropped a 27-24 decision to Michigan State on Saturday in Ann Arbor. The loss means that Harbaugh’s teams are just 1-5 at home against MSU and Ohio State in his six seasons with the program.
Saturday’s loss prompted Michigan fans to start calling for Jim Harbaugh’s job on social media shortly after the clock struck zero. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum was back to his old antics on Sunday, saying Harbaugh is one of the “most overrated” coaches in college football.
What were some of the other reactions from Saturday’s loss? Let’s take a look:
- Michigan’s players and coaches were shocked by the loss. The Wolverines were more than a three-touchdown favorite against the Spartans, but consistently shot themselves in the foot, allowing Michigan State to sneak out of Ann Arbor with a win. As Saturday Tradition’s Adam Biggers writes, Michigan beat itself on Saturday afternoon. Running back Hassan Haskins told reporters he “was in disbelief” over the outcome. But there was no passing blame inside the locker room, with Harbaugh saying “we have to own this” in his postgame presser.
- Who is to blame for the outcome, though? Charles Woodson was very vocal on FOX after the game, pointing the fingers at the defensive staff and Michigan’s defensive backs. At the end of the day, Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi was credited with 323 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air — not a good sign for the Michigan defense. Urban Meyer also chimed in, saying that U-M QB Joe Milton wasn’t the one to blame for losing the Paul Bunyan Trophy.
- Speaking of Joe Milton… The first-year starting QB at Michigan made some headlines after the game, despite the outcome. While speaking with reporters after the game, Milton was asked if he was aware of the talent level of MSU LB Antjuan Simmons. Milton responded by saying “who’s that,” and Simmons didn’t take too kindly to that. The Michigan State LB clapped back by saying “We got Pauly B back.”
- A little history was made by Mel Tucker, too. With the 3-point win for the Spartans, Tucker became the second coach in program history to beat Michigan in his first game in the rivalry. The other? Nick Saban. That’s pretty good company. Tucker’s first win at MSU earned him a shoutout from both former head coach Mark Dantonio and alum and former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Michigan’s loss has resulted in a drop in a lot of rankings. Saturday Tradition’s Jim Tomlin has the Wolverines at No. 7 in the B1G Power Rankings, and Harbaugh’s crew fell from No. 13 to No. 23 in the latest Associated Press Poll. Perhaps more significantly, though, Michigan appears to have dropped out of the B1G East race. It makes you wonder if the Wolverines will ever work their way back in with Harbaugh in charge.
Another week, another offensive explosion in college football. Heck, Alabama WR DeVonta Smith tried to get a season’s worth of yards and touchdowns in his 203-yard, 4-touchdown performance against Mississippi State. Elsewhere, Justin Fields continued to be nearly perfect for Ohio State and there were some other big-time stat performances across the board.
So, who leads the FBS level in some key statistical categories? Here are your leaders in nine important stats as things stand entering November (via CFBStats.com):
- Passing yards: Dillon Gabriel, UCF — 2,506
- Passing TDs: Dillon Gabriel, UCF — 21
- Rushing yards: Sincere McCormick, UTSA — 921
- Rushing TDs: Najee Harris, Alabama — 14
- Receiving yards: Marlon Williams, UCF — 840
- Receiving TDs: Jaelon Darden, North Texas — 10
- Sacks: Two players tied — 7.5
- Tackles: Tyler Grubbs, Louisiana Tech — 72
- Interceptions: 19 players tied — 3
Who will dominate on the field this weekend and climb up the leaderboards? One thing is for sure — we’ll see more big numbers across the country this weekend once again. Oh, and maybe someone will finally snag a fourth interception, perhaps?
- There were six SEC games on Saturday and they were all blowouts. The closest games were Texas A&M’s win over Arkansas and Georgia’s win over Kentucky, both by 11 points. So, where do things stand in the conference now? Saturday Down South’s Joe Cox updated his weekly SEC power rankings, where the top tier continues to pull away from the rest of the pack.
- Alabama is the top team in the SEC and perhaps the entire country. After the Tide’s 41-0 beatdown of Mississippi State on Saturday night, the offense is looking like the best in all of college football. Saturday Down South’s David Wasson described Alabama’s offense as “Joyless Murderball.” That’s certainly how it feels trying to slow down the well-oiled machine wearing crimson and white.
- Alabama is a Playoff contender, but who else is worthy? This season seems to feature three elite teams — Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. Then, there’s a mess fighting for the No. 4 spot. Notre Dame could enter the conversation with a win over Clemson this weekend, but who else is in the discussion? Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller dives into the battle for the No. 4 spot in the Playoff.
- The Big 12 is likely out of the Playoff picture after Saturday. After Oklahoma State fell at home to Texas, every team in the conference has at least one loss in conference play. In fact, each Big 12 team other than the Cowboys has at least two total losses on the season. ESPN’s Heather Dinich explains how the Big 12’s lack of contenders impacts the CFP picture.
BRAWL AT THE SWAMP
Florida and Mizzou engaged in an ugly brawl at halftime of Saturday’s game. What penalties will be handed out?
Before the teams could head to the locker rooms for halftime of the Mizzou-Florida game on Saturday, a brawl broke out. Punches were thrown at players wearing helmets, coaches (including Florida’s Dan Mullen) were yelling and being held back, and ejections and penalties were handed out.
This is certainly something the SEC league office will be looking at, and suspensions for each team’s next game (vs. Georgia in Jacksonville on Nov. 7 for Florida and vs. Georgia on Nov. 14 for Mizzou) could be coming. So, what happened in Gainesville on Saturday night?
- The fracas started thanks to the final play of the second quarter. When Florida QB Kyle Trask launched a Hail Mary attempt, Mizzou DL Trajan Jeffcoat hit Trask very late. Florida players took issue with the hit, and chaos ensued. Here’s a video of the brawl. Two Gators — Zach Carter and Antwuan Powell — and one Tiger — Tre Williams — were ejected for their roles in the brawl and every player was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the second half.
- Dan Mullen was a major part of the action on the field. There are some people concerned he could be suspended for the Georgia game, which would be a huge loss for the Gators, obviously. Mullen said he was trying to get the players off the field, but that’s going to be a tough sell to the league office when officials see this video of Mullen. And then there’s the fact that he came back out of the tunnel after the brawl to pump up Gator fans. At the very least, that is probably going to cost Mullen in the form of a hefty fine.
- The Gators and Tigers released a joint statement on the incident. The statement says both teams will try to learn from the fight. Carter also issued an apology on social media after the game. We’ll see if that helps all involved parties avoid suspensions. Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz called it “an ugly scene for college football.”
- Fans and media members aren’t letting them off the hook, though. Twitter was abuzz after the fight with people blaming Mullen for inciting things and letting the brawl get out of hand. Hutson Mason was on the call for the SEC Network, and he said the blame falls on Mullen’s shoulders for letting it get out of control. It only matters what SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and league officials think, though.
Now we wait. The SEC office will certainly be reviewing everything from the incident, and fines and suspensions could be announced today. Since Georgia is the next opponent for both Mizzou and Florida, the Bulldogs could stand to benefit handsomely from any additional discipline. Stay tuned, because this story isn’t over yet!
JUST FOR FUN
You’re going to be hearing a lot about Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania tomorrow, thanks to the election. We’ll stay out of politics here in this newsletter, but for today’s quiz, let’s see if you can name all the FBS programs in those states. There are a total of 22 FBS schools in those states. Here’s how they’re broken down:
- Florida (7)
- Pennsylvania (3)
- Texas (12)
Scroll down to see the answers to today’s quiz.
The great uniform combinations continue this season. Who wore it best over the weekend?
This past weekend’s games were played on Halloween, and let’s just say there were a few teams that got into the holiday spirit. We saw some great uniform combinations, including some special looks and throwback helmets. It was a great week for fans of new uniforms.
So, which teams wore it best over the weekend? Let’s break down some of the best combinations we saw from this week’s FBS action:
- Halftime brawls aside, the Mizzou-Florida game was great visually. As always, the Tigers trotted out a spectacular uniform combo, going with an all-white look and a white helmet with a gold “Block M.” The Tigers revealed the uniforms with a spooky Halloween-themed video. The Gators also had a cool throwback look, featuring an old-school helmet. Social media was abuzz with strong reactions both for and against Florida’s look.
- Next, let’s keep the Halloween-themed uniforms going. The Louisville Cardinals went with an all-black look for their home game against Virginia Tech. It didn’t work, as the Cardinals fell 42-35 to the Hokies. They also did a Halloween-themed video release, though, and it was awesome.
- Georgia Tech also went with black jerseys, but not for Halloween. The Yellow Jackets honored their iconic “Black Watch” defense of the mid-1980s with these cool black jerseys and black helmet stickers. A cool tribute to a defense that struck fear in opponents.
We’ve got some big-time games coming up next week and beyond. Rivalries can sometimes lead to impressive uniform combinations. Which teams will bring their “A” games both to the field and to the equipment room this week? Tune in next Monday for some more uniform talk!
Here are the answers to today’s swing state FBS programs quiz. The FBS programs from Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas are:
- FIU Panthers
- Florida Gators
- FAU Owls
- Florida State Seminoles
- Miami Hurricanes
- USF Bulls
- UCF Knights
- Penn State Nittany Lions
- Pitt Panthers
- Temple Owls
- Baylor Bears
- Houston Cougars
- North Texas Mean Green
- Rice Owls
- SMU Mustangs
- TCU Horned Frogs
- Texas Longhorns
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Texas State Bobcats
- Texas Tech Red Raiders
- UTEP Miners
- UTSA Roadrunners
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We evaluate everything, I’m always evaluating, but you’ve got to go through a season. Give everybody a chance and look at what we’re doing, and at the end of the season we’ll evaluate everything.”
– LSU coach Ed Orgeron seemed to indicate DC Bo Pelini’s job will be safe until at least the end of the 2020 season. Fans were calling for him to be fired after Saturday’s 48-11 loss at Auburn.
TWEET OF THE DAY
It has been a good start to the football season in Indiana. Notre Dame is 6-0 in the ACC, while Indiana and Purdue are both pleasant 2-0 surprises in the Big Ten. It’ll be tough for the state to improve to 14-0 next week, though. Ball State returns to action in the MAC against Miami (Ohio), Notre Dame faces undefeated Clemson, Indiana hosts Michigan and Purdue travels to Wisconsin.