Cleaning Up the Mess: Week 3

(Via Jeff Blake – USA Today Sports)

Cleaning Up the Mess is here to make sense of what just happened at your weekend-long television party. Who put Goldfish in the blender? And why is the thermostat on 42?

This week: The SEC East came from an open bar, outdoor wedding that was caught in a rainstorm and trekked mud all throughout the house. They also had time to pee on your nice rug before leaving. The ACC just sat on the couch mumbling about ‘golden years’ and ‘basketball’ then went the way of an Irish goodbye. Meanwhile, the Top Four teams drank soda all night and laughed at the latest ‘Lie Witness News’ sketch from Jimmy Kimmel. 

The Top Four teams in college football made mince meat of their lesser opponents especially Florida State. Everyone else below the current seats of power were trying to climb their way out of craters. Some ended up being the beneficiary of graceful bye weeks and gentle opponents while others bared the wrath of non-AQ teams as well as pesky ACC bottom feeders. The only thing that is still certain after this week are those who have been deemed elite but even that power structure could be erased as conference play starts to creep it’s way into view.

While the foundation of optimism looks shaky for all four teams that currently make up the top spots, there is not a single team that has as much to trounce through as Alabama. The Crimson Tide are in a division full of able bounty hunters. Most of the top tier within the SEC resides in the West division and looks stronger with each passing week. LSU and Ole Miss were able to pile drive their way through two Sunbelt teams in convincing fashion to drive both of their rank higher on the AP poll. Arkansas actually looks like it knows what it’s doing with Jonathan Williams rushing for 145 yards and four touchdowns to beat wily, former Southwest Conference rival Texas Tech 49-28. Texas A&M eviscerated an ailing Rice for 477 total yards and 38 points. Alabama has to face all of these teams as well as an Auburn team that knocked some of the shine off of the Tide’s armored dynasty. They are completely capable of winning all of these games. If a loss happens, it won’t be by way of a team like Mississippi State that has suffered from consistency issues. Issues that the ACC dealt with ten fold this past weekend.

The ACC was it’s regular smorgasbord of inconsistency. Boston College managed to manhandle USC with 17 tackles for a loss. Virginia upended a good Louisville team. Virginia Tech’s offensive production from their game against Ohio State was a non-existent entity against the victorious East Carolina Pirates. Syracuse placed 40 points on the board against a Central Michigan team that strangled Purdue in the previous week. Georgia Tech barely inched out a win against Georgia State. Florida State’s stature as the conference’s top team signifies a gulf between them and the rest of the riff raff but it’s not a certain thing. Sometimes teams play up to their level of competition while others just know what they are and stay down. Louisville will surely lose their spot in the AP Top 25 after losing to Virginia but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Cardinals to stage a national upset when they host the a title bound Seminole team. It’s the ACC – crazier things have happened to Florida State teams vying for a national championship.

In the SEC, the Eastern division is shaping up to be the Mad Division Title Scramble of 2013 when every team was cannibalized by injury, the Missouri Tigers or both. South Carolina bested Georgia by three points and a few centimeters in a 38-35 game that began later than scheduled due to roaming thunderstorms. The Tigers, meanwhile, boast an offense led by Maty Mauk that has averaged 274.4 of total yards in the last three games as well as a defense that is 22nd in the nation in points allowed. Over in Gainesville, the optimism stemming from week 2 seems to have been quelled as it took Florida three overtimes to overcome Kentucky 36-30. This has focused the lens of the SEC East picture which seems to look like the last standoff in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly between Georgia, Missouri, and South Carolina as Mizzou gets closer to its first real tests.

(Via Greg M. Cooper – USA Today Sports)

The Left Coast hierarchy begins with Oregon and from there becomes a complex flowchart of other top tier teams. The Trojans’ resurgence into national prominence has been stopped short by a trip to the East Coast. UCLA looks increasingly thin from week to week as the Bruins barely edged out a hapless Texas. Arizona’s papier-mache defense has them strikingly close to their first loss while in-state rivals Arizona State may have lost their biggest offensive threat in Taylor Kelly for a few weeks. Stanford redeemed themselves with a win against Army and are the closest competition the Ducks have at this point. Yet, all the other top tier teams that looked like strong predictions for the College Football Playoff now seem to be more than just a stone’s throw away from the coveted glass house of Nike. The only redeeming sign is that the Pac 12 can still embarrass the Big Ten (see: Washington – Illinois).

Speaking of the festering scab known as the Big Ten, it showed up in places it needed to and failed predictably in places where it was supposed to. Maryland engaged in a shoot out with West Virginia until the final whistle was blown and the Mountaineers walked out of College Park with a 40-37 win. TCU stomped all over a Minnesota team that showed signs of life as well as potential to try and resuscitate the corpse of Midwestern football from the outset. Iowa was edged out by Iowa State in Iowa City and Indiana lost in the last minute to Bowling Green. See above for Washington- Illinois. So, the only teams to win out of conference in the Big Ten this weekend? Ohio State and Michigan. Michigan State remained safe because they played no one which is the right thing to do in any college football situation, according to one luminary.



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