Illuminating Week 11
Another fantastic exhibition of college football
Another amazing week of college football is in the books. We saw a return to dominance for some of the top programs but also some big and wild upsets. There are also schools that are suddenly in the cusp of coaching changes. It’s quite an ebb and flow. Here are our storylines that emerged:
Top teams held serve save one big exception…Georgia was its typical dominant self but Ohio State also asserted themselves with a blowout win over Purdue. Alabama and Cincinnati each had a cupcake game and Michigan State won easily over Maryland. Michigan toughed it out at Penn State and Oregon had a solid win over Washington State. Even Notre Dame won convincingly. However, Oklahoma’s 13 point loss to Baylor shakes up the back end of the playoff race in such a way that Ohio State and Oregon now both look likely to make Playoff if they win out. Oh, and Wake Forest got back on winning track, basically locking up the ACC Atlantic with win over top-20 N.C. State.
The biggest upsets or near-upsets of the weekend were in the games involving underachieving teams whose fan bases are absolutely livid. Texas lost to Kansas, Florida gave up 52 points to SAMford (not Stanford) even though they won. Miami lost on a 4th & 14 play to previously 3-6 Florida State. In all three situations the coaching got seat temperature becomes “en fuego” - even at Texas with Sarkisian in his first year.
So here is the state of the coaching carousel with basically two weeks to go in the 2021 season: LSU and USC (along with TCU, Texas Tech, Washington State and Georgia Southern) were already open. Virginia Tech will be open as will FIU. Nebraska has come off the board because of a restructured contract with Scott Frost. However, Miami and Manny Diaz seemed to be moving towards staying together - then the Canes blew their rivalry game against Florida State. AND Washington has ended its ill-fated year and a half with Jimmy Lake. Now, the Florida - Mullen relationship has apparently soured. Some people think he may be gone no matter what - I’m inclined to think if he wins the last two games he’s safe but another loss likely means Mullen is gone.
It’s going to be wild and crazy - particularly if a big name Coach like James Franklin leaves Penn State for, say, USC. Hold on to your hats!
Game of the Day:
Texas Tech 41 - Iowa State 38
This game was back and forth in West Texas with the underdog Red Raiders winning on a last second 62 yard field goal. Texas Tech - who fired their coach mid-season and have now hired his replacement - is bowl eligible. Big win and fun game.
Best Coaching Performances of Week 11
1. Dave Aranda - Baylor: The Bears had the most impressive performance in the country in my opinion, shutting down Oklahoma’s offense and playing opportunistic offense themselves. The final was 27-14 but it probably wasn’t even that close. A huge win on the Brazos River for this program and Aranda has shot up coaching search lists - will he stay and keep building? I kind of hope so.
2. Lance Leipold- Kansas: Leipold came in post-Spring practice to possibly the worst Power 5 job in the country right now and has gotten the Jayhawks at least a little competitive - but they were 1-8 before upsetting Texas 57-56 in a thriller. This is going to be a long build but Leipold definitely seems like the right man for the job - he won at Buffalo as well. Kudos also for going for two to win in OT.
3. Mike Leach - Mississippi State: On the road at Auburn is a house of horrors for a lot of programs - but the Bulldogs in particular have suffered huge disappointments. They promptly fell down 28-3 but then surged back to win 43-34. Leach is funny, goofy and unorthodox. However, that unorthodox nature includes calm and patience with the Air Raid offense even when things look bad.
Ryan Day, Ohio State, Jim Harbaugh, Michigan, Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Three Worst Coaching Performances:
1. Steve Sarkisian - Texas: Clearly there are major cultural problems happening in Austin with player buyin, entitlement and some coaching staff incompatibility perhaps - not all of that is on Sark but you can’t lose to Kansas, you just can’t. And surrendering over 50 points is a fireable offense for somebody on the staff.
2. Brian Harsin - Auburn: Midway through the Mississippi State game we might’ve had Harsin on a different list but then the Tigers stagnated on offense and blew a 28-3 (sound familiar?) lead on defense. After a loss last week where they scored just 3 points, this was a pretty bad loss. He’s a first year coach and Auburn has shown signs of getting things going in right direction but make no mistake, blowing a huge lead at home to inferior competition is bad.
3. David Shaw - Stanford: What has happened to the Cardinal? The last three years have been mediocre to bad and it seems to be culminating with a crash this year, including a 52-3 drubbing at the hands of Utah on Friday night. Stanford had the one big upset of Oregon but has otherwise mostly struggled this year. Change won’t happen now, but Shaw needs to freshen things up and fast.
Herm Edwards, Arizona State, Dino Babers, Syracuse, Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech
Week 11 was amazing and I know Week 12 will be too - check back later this week for the Most Meaningful Matchups for Week 12. Be sure to follow me at @ReadyCFB for more goodness throughout the week.