Cleaning Up the Mess: Week 4
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 Top Five get high anxiety because there are too many people in the house. Two ranked SEC schools are shown the door after clogging the toilet with paper towels. And East Carolina wouldn’t quit shouting how they were the best team in North Carolina.
A final sentencing was in for Jameis Winston late on Friday night: Winston would be suspended for the entirety of the Seminoles’ game against Clemson on Saturday. The star quarterback’s original punishment was to sit out for the first half but the Friday night announcement was made after Florida State conducted a further investigation into Jameis’ tone deaf act. From there, a scheduled interview with Jimbo Fisher for College Gameday was canceled. Then, there was Jameis walking out onto the field in full uniform and acting surprised when Fisher told him to get out of his gear. The situation is a toxic dynamic that speaks volumes about Jameis’ self-regard and how he views his necessity to the team. That arrogance is enabled by a faction of the fan base who shamed students that tweeted about the incident for “snitching” on the quarterback. Yet, the Florida State Seminoles who did play proved that they could win without him.
Sean Maguire got his start in one of the biggest conference games of the 2014 seasons. The nerves were evident in a game where Maguire threw two interceptions with a costly one in the 4th quarter inside FSU territory with 2:41 to play. The Seminoles relied largely on their defense to play a Clemson team whose shortcomings were glaringly more evident by their inability to hold onto the ball or covert a precious 4th and 1 in overtime with Adam Choice being stuffed for no game. The defense for Florida State is still a gnarly operation sans Jeremy Pruitt that caused a whole lot of frustration and forced a fumble to rattle the Tigers. Running back Karlos Williams proved to be the final nail in the coffin with a 12 yard run that sealed Clemson’s fate and kept the Seminoles atop the college football world. A fitting conclusion for a team that proved it is still really good without Winston.
Oregon retained their spot amongst the highly esteemed with a scary close win against Wazzu. The Cougars’ Connor Halliday threw all over an Oregon secondary that was the impact piece from the Ducks’ game against Michigan State. Halliday completed 43 of 63 passes for 436 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, Washington State still COUG’D IT by allowing the Robo-Duck Marcus Mariota to complete 21 of 25 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns. The final touchdown arriving late in the 4th quarter to keep the Playoff chances alive for another week. Oregon’s biggest game of the season remains it’s divisional rivalry with Stanford but there could be a chance that Arizona also gives them another scare next week because anything can happen in 2014. Need evidence? Arizona needed a Hail Mary to overcome Cal. ¡CAL!
On the East Coast, Milan Pusker Stadium in Morgantown was rocking with the sound of air raid sirens as Dana Holgorsen and Bob Stoops went point for point within the first half. Mountaineer QB Clint Trickett was able to expose the the shutdown Sooners secondary in Zack Sanchez by needling passes to Mario Alford and Kevin White. The momentum started shifting in the 3rd quarter when Oklahoma started to lean on their ground attack with Samaje Perine. Perine rushed for a total of 242 yards with four touchdowns while bruising the Mountaineers’ D to a pulp.
The vaunted Oklahoma defense started to make their appearance in the second half by squeezing the pocket on Trickett and batting away almost anything that was thrown. The last shred of hope for West Virginia was in an interception picked off by Wes Tonkery. The turnover was ultimately negated when Trickett threw an untimely pass that ended up in the hands of OU’s Quentin Hayes. The interception proved costly as Oklahoma turned it alchemy-like into points and controlled the game for the rest of the evening. With the win, the Sooners can say that they belong in the same breath as Alabama. They both have beaten a wild and wonderful West Virginia team as well as a team in the personified shruggie of the SEC East.
The box score indicates a slaughter at 42-21. Numbers lie despite whatever Michael Smith or Jemele Hill or Sabermetrics tells you. Alabama turned the ball over four times and against a competent offense, this game could have included a lot more Lane Kiffin pouts. Despite the turnovers, Jeff Driskel and the Gators’ offense played the best defense in the SEC – themselves. Driskel completed 9 of 28 passes for 93 yards and two interceptions. This is offense in the Will Muschamp era. The points that were scored by the Gators were due in part of Alabama error and the Florida defense. Otherwise, the calculation of offense + Florida is one function that Excel does not know.
The offense of Alabama, when it’s not turning over the ball, is finding lapses in coverage due to the mind of Kiffykins. The first stroke of genius was a pass from Tide quarterback Blake Sims to Kenyan Drake for 87 yards that elicited an ‘ah, jeeze’ from Gary Danielson. The next was a 79 yard bomb from Sims to Amari Cooper. This adoption of an air raid-like attack, coupled with a bruising running game in the form of Derrick Henry and TJ Yeldon looks like Alabama has finally ditched the slow anaconda-like squeeze that they used to favor. Now, a two-headed beast is approaching the SEC West and with LSU falling at night to Mississippi State, who knows what else lurks in the division.
The only hype Mississippi State received at the outset of the season was gracious amounts of praise for Dak Prescott. The hype for Prescott seemed a little unjust with a completion percentage that averaged 59.7% through his first three games. The first three opponents were also Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama. He also had an interception in the first two of his three appearances. Whatever gifts that the media hyped about for Prescott, they would surely be quelled by an atmosphere in Death Valley. That’s when strangeness ensued.
Prescott was outperforming anything that John Chavis threw at him. He threw for 268 yards, completing 15 of 24 passes for two touchdowns and no turnovers. He also ran for 105 yards as well as an additional touchdown. The LSU offense looked just as hapless as their defense with Anthony Jennings and the backfield of Leonard Fournette and Kenny Hilliard being stuffed behind the line. Les Miles, however, would orchestrate magic from the sideline with a serendipitous 25 yard fumble return for a touchdown as well exchanging Brandon Harris for Jennings in the QB position. LSU would pile up 29 points then had 20 seconds left to score which all depended on one last heave from Harris. As the ball went up, the hopes of the Tigers’ chances hung in the balance. Those chances would become marginally smaller as the ball ended up in the hands of Mississippi State’s Will Redmond which ended the Bulldogs’ 15 year losing streak to the Tigers. It would also end their 23 year losing streak to the Tigers in Death Valley. All of it making the picture in the SEC West a lot more interesting than whatever is going in the SEC East.
The whatever is going on starts with Florida’s offense and ends with Missouri losing to Indiana. Mind you, this is the same Hoosiers team that watched as Bowling Green, a middling MAC team, running away with a game. In the previous Cleaning Up the Mess, someone wrote about Missouri’s chances in the SEC East becoming a three way shootout with Georgia and South Carolina. Even with the loss against Indiana, I still think it still very much could be that. South Carolina very narrowly escaped a Vanderbilt team that looks like it lost it’s excitable puppy in James Franklin ever since the season began. Whatever’s going on in the East, it needs to stop. It’s getting a little too weird to watch.
OTHER LEFTOVER PARTY FAVORS
- Auburn finished an ugly game against Kansas State at 20-17. They retain their status among the elite yet still retain their egalitarian roots by being on the receiving end of a FarmersOnly.com sponsorship.
- Michigan football has been conquered by Utah. Brady Hoke has no answers thus it will be turned over to the tides of Lake Huron.
- BYU ended Virginia’s new workmanlike attitude in Provo. Now, they can go back to worrying about things like talking about how liquid their assets are.
- Georgia throttled Troy for 66 points making it one of their biggest wins since 1958.
- Texas A&M dismantled SMU 58-6 which doesn’t make them look any more or less terrifying.