The State of College Football: Rivalry Weekend
Florida and USC have their coaches, now what's next for LSU, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and the top coaching candidates. Plus, CFP predictions and Heisman guys.
It’s weekends like this that make me love college football. Not only did we have a huge upset in the Ohio State and Michigan game, but Auburn played Alabama close and Oklahoma State finally beat Oklahoma. Oh, and then Florida and USC hired new coaches on Sunday. What a time to be alive!
Top 25 Rankings
5. Oklahoma State
6. Notre Dame
7. Ohio State
8. Ole Miss
12. Michigan State
18. Wake Forest
19. NC State
22. San Diego State
25. Texas A&M
Offensive Player of the Week: Hassan Haskins, Michigan: 28 carries, 169 yards, 5 TDs
Defensive Player of the Week: Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan: 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 TFLs
Freshman of the Week: Will Shipley, Clemson: 19 carries, 128 yards, 1 TD
Coach of the Week: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Stetson Bennett, Georgia: 14/20, 255 yards, 4 TDs
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami: 34/49, 381 yards, 3 TDs
Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky: 25/48, 328 yards, 4 TDs
Breece Hall, Iowa State: 18 carries, 242 yards, 3 TDs
Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky: 16 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD
Tyjae Spears, Tulane: 30 carries, 264 yards, 2 TDs
Ali Jennings III, Old Dominion: 9 catches, 252 yards, 3 TDs
Skyy Moore, Western Michigan: 12 catches, 206 yards, 4 TDs
John Metchie III, Alabama: 13 catches, 150 yards
Brock Bowers, Georgia: 3 catches, 100 yards, 2 TDs
Michael Mayer , Notre Dame: 9 catches, 105 yards
Trey McBride, Colorado State: 6 catches, 113 yards, 1 carry, 69 yards, 1 TD
Air Force: 511 yards, 6 TDs - ZERO pass attempts
Kent State: 303 yards, 4 TDs
Kentucky: 362 yards, 7 TDs
Will Anderson Jr., Alabama: 7 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFLs
Derick Hall, Auburn: 6 tackles, 3 sacks, 3.5 TFLs
Micheal Clemons, Texas A&M: 4 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3.5 TFLs
Jack Campbell, Iowa: 16 tackles, 1 TFL
Damone Clark, LSU: 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 TFLs
Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State: 11 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFLs
Greg Eisworth II, Iowa State: 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT
Roger McCreary, Auburn: 7 tackles, 4 PBUs
Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson: 2 INTs
Where I Was Right / Where I Was Wrong
Right: The Big 12 and the CFP
I’m not saying they will get in but things really opened up for the Big 12 (Oklahoma State) to make it to the College Football Playoff. The Ohio State loss was huge for Ok State but so was the vulnerability of Alabama. Bama looks beat up and have displayed some weakness over the last couple games and now they’re set to take on Georgia in the SEC championship game. I can’t believe I'm about to say this, but Georgia could run away with this game. If they do, Alabama has no chance at making the playoff. So if Alabama is out, who is in? The committee would look hard at Notre Dame and I expect Notre Dame to be ranked higher than Oklahoma State this week, but if the Cowboys can get a convincing win over Baylor then we could see OSU sneak in at the last minute. There is plenty to be excited about for Championship week!
Wrong: Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State
I didn’t think Jim had it in him. I literally never thought Harbaugh would beat Ohio State but here we are. Michigan brought their A game on Saturday and used the weather, running game and their pass rush perfectly. Michigan had zero turnovers against their Big Ten rival and played a damn near perfect game. Hats off to you Jim Harbaugh. You earned this one.
The top four CANNOT stay in their current order. This Saturday we get the SEC championship game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama and no matter the outcome the order has to change. Early betting lines have Georgia as a 6.5 point favorite and if they cover, Alabama has to be out of the Playoff. Which creates a very good possibility for Notre Dame of Oklahoma State to get in.
This Week’s Prediction:
Final (next week’s) CFP Prediction:
Bryce Young and CJ Stroud both had great opportunities for a “Heisman moment” on Saturday but neither really delivered. Both quarterbacks played well but only one won - Bryce Young. Because of that win Bryce Young is now the betting favorite for the Heisman and will get one more opportunity to win the award. The problem is that he will be trying to do so against the historically great Georgia defense. So, even though Young is the favorite, the award is far from his right now. Georgia also has Jordan Davis - who many like for the award - but the defensive tackle would have to have an outstanding game to get real consideration. Other names that deserve credit and a trip to the ceremony are Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan and Will Anderson of Alabama.
Hutchinson has the Michigan record for sacks in a season with 13 - three of them came on Saturday in a huge upset win over Ohio State - a true Heisman moment.
Will Anderson Jr. has 14.5 sacks for Alabama and at least one sack in six straight games. Should Anderson have a big game against Georgia it could be enough for the talented sophomore to get some Heisman love.
—Billy Napier to Florida
On Sunday morning I thought this would be the huge coaching move we were talking about. Even though it’s not the biggest move, it’s still a great move and Florida wasted no time getting their guy. Napier’s name should have been mentioned with Matt Campbell and Luke Fickell all along. While at Louisiana, Napier led the Ragin’ Cajuns to three straight 10-win seasons and two bowl wins so far - Napier will coach the Sun Belt Championship game for Louisiana and possibly a bowl game. While Napier may seem like a small school coach (I guess he is) he has experience at big programs at Alabama, under Nick Saban and Clemson under Dabo Swinney. A lot of SEC schools will regret not giving Napier more of an opportunity. I’m looking at you Tennessee, Auburn and LSU!
—Lincoln Riley to USC
Let me tell ya - I am EXCITED about this move. I love Lincoln Riley as a coach and this gets him far away from my Texas Longhorns! Riley took over for Bob Stoops in the summer of 2017 and led the Sooners to two Heisman Trophy wins (Mayfield and Murray) and four Big 12 championships. But now he is moving on to USC and this was a phenomenal hire by USC. First off, Riley is one of the great offensive minds in college football. Secondly, He can instantly turn around the program and culture at USC. Lastly, and most importantly, he can recruit and does it well in California.
Many people are looking at Riley and expecting OU quarterback Caleb Williams to follow him. But as the great Lee Corso always says, “Not so fast my friend.” USC is set at quarterback with Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart already on roster. However, I do expect Slovis to transfer - but with Dart already on roster I don’t feel USC is a good move for Caleb Williams. Williams may prefer to transfer somewhere closer to his Washington D.C. home, or could stay at OU. Georgia and Ole Miss would be two schools I would keep an eye on - if he enters the portal.
Another reason Caleb Williams isn’t a good fit at USC is because 2023 recruit Malachi Nelson. Nelson is an OU commit but he is a California kid who may want to stay with his coach at USC. Speaking of California recruits - Riley also has commitments from 2022 California running back Raleek Brown and two more from the 2023 California class - Makai Lemon (5*, ATH), DeAndre Moore Jr. (4*, WR). If Riley is already recruiting this well in California I can’t imagine what he will do once he is in state. It’s a good time to be a Trojans fan.
—Coaching vacancy predictions
Two of the top names this coaching cycle were James Franklin at Penn State and Mel Tucker at Michigan State. But this weekend we saw both coaches sign new, 10-year, contracts at their current school. So their names can be removed from any rumors.
LSU - Luke Fickell, Lane Kiffin, Matt Campbell
In my opinion, LSU has done a very poor job of handling the coaching search. They were one of the first schools to open their coaching position but they let both USC and Florida hire guys before them. Clearly, Lincoln Riley wasn’t that interested in the LSU job. Obviously, Florida swooped in and stole Napier. Now LSU is looking at the next tier of coaches - but some very good candidates. I like Luke Fickell for this job but it might not be the exciting hire LSU is looking for. The exciting, flashy, big hire would be Lane Kiffin and honestly LSU should probably give him a call. Ole Miss is a good job and Kiffin has them ranked higher than LSU but if we’re all being honest we know the Ole Miss job is nowhere close to the LSU job. Plus, one of the reasons Coach O was fired at LSU was because the Tigers were not in on Arch Manning. Kiffin is in on Manning and could bring the next generation of football’s first family to Baton Rouge. The big deciding factor could be money. Kiffin may want the keys to the vault and Fickell could be had for a decent price. I view Matt Campbell as a distant third for LSU.
Oklahoma - Bob Stoops, Josh Heupel
The OU job should be one of the most attractive jobs in the country and now it is open. However, Oklahoma was quick to name Bob Stoops interim coach for the remainder of this season and Big Game Bob was already on campus when Riley announced he was leaving. It’s also pretty obvious that Stoops wants back into coaching but doesn’t want a college job outside Norman, OK. Stoops just turned 61 years old and could take over right where he left off at OU. Another name circulating is Josh Heupel at Tennessee. Heupel was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2000 for the Sooners and led OU to a National Championship in 2001. He has only spent one year at Tennessee but colleges love to bring their guys home and guys love to return home too. Oklahoma should put out more feelers and see who is interested in this job. The only coaches I can imagine turning this job down are Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Jim Harbaugh, Ryan Day, Kirby Smart and Brian Kelly. Everyone else should be answering calls from Oklahoma.
Kliff Kinsbury’s name was floated out there by Adam Schefter on Sunday but I’m going to call BS on this one. Shefty probably got a text from Kliff’s agent and put out the tweet but this is a move to get Kingsbury paid. I’m not buying in - but I would love this hire.
Virginia Tech - Matt Campbell, Shane Beamer, Jamey Chadwell
Dave Clawson (Wake Forest) had been rumored for this job but Clawson signed an extension to stay at Wake over the weekend. Now the Hookies are left without a lot of great candidates. Matt Campbell could be in the running should LSU not offer but at this point I’m not sure how much better of a job VT is over Iowa State. The Cyclones could become a top school in the Big 12 when Texas and OU leave. Shane Beamer, Virginia Tech legend Frank Beamer’s son, has been talked about for the Tech job but trying to fill the shoes of his old man may be too much and he has called his current job, South Carolina, a dream job. The logical hire may be Jamey Chadwell of Coastal Carolina. Chadwell has built a tremendous program in a hurry and could do the same at Virginia Tech.
Washington - Matt Campbell, Kalen DeBoer, Bryan Harsin
The Huskies are a bit of an outlier as they’re a very good program but have struggled in recent years. Matt Campbell could be a top choice for the Huskies but Campbell would be in unfamiliar territory. A more likely candidate is Kalen DeBoer from Fresno State. DeBoer is in line to get a bigger job and is much more familiar with recruiting on the West coast. The last name, Bryan Harsin, is a wild one to watch. Harsin has felt a lot of pressure in his one year at Auburn and could look to return to the Pacific Northwest.
Fickell is one of the top coaching candidates and has been rumored for numerous positions but there is a bit of a hurdle for Fickell. It’s looking more and more likely that Cincinnati makes the College Football Playoff and that could delay Fickell’s ability to interview for open jobs. I wouldn’t count out Fickell staying at Cincinnati BUT he is losing most of his starters - including six seniors headed to this year’s Senior Bowl.
Week 14 Games to Watch - Championship Games
Friday, December 3rd
Oregon vs Utah, 7:00 CT, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV, ABC
Saturday, December 4th
Baylor vs Oklahoma State, 11:00 CT, AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX, ABC
Georgia vs Alabama, 3:00 CT, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA, CBS
Houston @ Cincinnati, 3:00 CT, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, ABC
Michigan vs Iowa, 7:00 CT, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN, FOX
Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest, 7:00 CT, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC, ABC