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We’re sadly halfway through the season for most teams at this point, and for some, a week past it. We were all wrong about a lot. So this is the college football column version of your girlfriend or wife, or for any potential female reader, boyfriend or husband I suppose … of “you were wrong about a lotta stuff, and here I am here to tell you about it. I’ve been keeping tabs.”
We’ll all be wrong about more in the second half, even though we have at least a reasonable baseline to start with. But that’s the fun of it. If we knew the story’s ending before we read the book, how much would we enjoy reading? Then again, a bunch of people went and saw “Titanic” years ago, so maybe I have no grasp of what pop culture and people are worried about anymore.
1. UCLA is CFB Playoff ready: Pardon most of the nation for thinking it, since UCLA came in with arguably the top quarterback in the country and a steady ascent that suggested the Bruins were ready to take the next step in an ultra-tough Pac-12. Maybe the signs were there when they struggled against Virginia. But then again, Virgina is good at football apparently. Maybe the signs were there when they struggled against Memphis … but again … see: Virginia example. Whatever the case, UCLA is not quite ready as a program just yet. Losing two straight at home, including a draw and quartering from assumed 2014 playoff nemesis Oregon, and maybe everyone jumped the shark a bit on the Bruins.
2. Lower your expectations for Ohio State without Braxton Miller: After two weeks, you felt like this thought was house money. But the funny thing about house money a lot of times is that there’s not enough of it around the house. In J.T. Barrett, OSU had a garbage bag full of cash buried under a bush in the back yard and nobody knew about it. Since the loss to Virginia Tech, OSU has been an offensive murderer’s row, putting up an AVERAGE of 56 points per game, twice against Power 5 teams. With that have come old reliable … heavy expectations, again of winning the conference and, if the Buckeyes do that, a CFB Playoff spot isn’t out of the question — mine, yours, or anybody’s.
3. A new offensive coordinator will fix everything for Michigan: When Michigan went completely flaccid following a hot start last year, people rightly pointed at the offense. The numbers were abysmal. Blame normally falls on the coordinator first, coach second, players third, if ever. So out went Al Borges and his allegedly confusing offense, and in came shiny new Doug Nussmeier from Alabama by way of Washington before that. The offense was supposedly simpler and this was the year all that talent that had been so “misused” would prove fruitful. Well, Michigan is 108th in passing offense. The Wolverines are 103 in scoring offense and a dead-last 125th in turnover margin. Yeesh.
4. A new offensive coordinator will fix everything for Florida: Pretty much like Michigan above, Florida brought back a one-time highly decorated high school quarterback recruit turned senior. All he and the offense needed was a better coach. Enter Kurt Roper. While the offense has been better, Jeff Driskel mostly has not, and Florida sits at 3-2. The blame certainly isn’t all on Roper. Hell, Florida probably beats LSU last week without a horrible dropped pass in the end zone late. Moreover, Driskel has improved. Yet, it still feels as though the Gators win in spite of their offense rather than because of it.
5. Washington State and Texas Tech hired coaches that have them on the fast track to success: Granted, even I’m stunned by the struggles of Wazzu. Mike Leach has traditionally shown a high floor even for his less talented teams, and a capacity for marked improvement as he sticks around. Apparently, though, the Pac-12 is to the high flying spread offense what the chicken sandwich is to Chick-Fil-A: they invented it? Because it just hasn’t worked for Leach, and to boot, the defense has been terrible.
For TTU, Kingsbury’s hire and massive salary were considered big wins for a program looking to invest in a bright young coaching star, and that star committing to the school when the bigger names come for poaching. But the Red Raiders, like WSU, can’t plug a paper cut on defense and don’t have enough offense to compensate for it. These are vexing times in small towns used to being better at football.