NCAA College Football : The Week Three Rehash

The upside to the Miami Hurricanes having an off-week; getting to fully dive Saturday’s action with no skin in the game.

When “The U” is playing, seems the action before, during and after sort of get lost in the shuffle—a win resulting in the re-watching of the action courtesy of the DVR, while a loss creates a punch-drunk fog; followed by a re-watch of different sorts, like an obsessed coordinator breaking down where it all went wrong.

While Miami sits at 3-0—however the Hurricanes got there and whoever it was against—a logical thing to do early in the week after another quirky weekend is to look at the recent slate of games, how things played out and to employ some perspective.

Many remain tweaked regarding the fourth quarter against the Huskers weeks back—with some further dissecting the process with some jacked-up form of deductive reasoning, breaking down how both Nebraska and BYU played (the Cougars knocking off the Huskers in the opener)—in some formulaic fashion that explains how folks should assess the Canes.

Some random thoughts regarding how last weekend college football slate played out:

Boise State throttled Virginia in Charlottesville on Friday night, 56-14. Weeks ago the Cavaliers took Notre Dame to the wire, giving up a touchdown with :12 remaining when previously leading by one. The Irish since knocked off Georgia Tech (we’ll get to them in a minute) and UMass.

Conversely, Boise State fell a week ago to BYU—the Cougars topping Nebraska on a Hail Mary in the opener, falling at UCLA by a point and then skunked at Michigan, 31-0. The point?

All this ‘Team A’ beat ‘Team C’ and ‘Team C’ beat ‘Team B’ who lost to ‘Team D’ in overtime, therefore ‘Team E’ is the best, means absolutely nothing. Bad teams win. Good teams lose. Sometimes it’s the other way. Regardless, what one does to another means nothing for games down the road.

Michigan State—the second-ranked team in the land—”only” beat Central Michigan, 30-10. So much for style points and dominating an opponent. Sparty also piled on late, leading 17-10 entering the fourth quarter.

MSU’s three-point win over Oregon also looks less impressive based on how the Ducks performed at home last weekend (more on that), as does a 14-point win over Air Force. @Michigan, @Nebraska and @Ohio State could provide trouble down the road.

Duke rolled up Georgia Tech, 34-20 in Durham, putting the Yellow Jackets in a tough position as 2-2 when they were expected by some to win the ACC; not just the Coastal, but the whole damn thing.

While the Rambling Wreck only have one conference loss, fact remains the Blue Devils’ defense held them in check. Georgia Tech dominated time of possession and won the turnover battle, but couldn’t close.

Georgia Tech gets Clemson, Florida State and Miami (in conference) down the stretch, while Duke has smooth sailing and is now in the Coastal driver’s seat, based on competition the rest of the division faces.

LSU is 3-0, but barely survived Mississippi State in the opener and didn’t look stellar at Syracuse. Hardly the dominant SEC program the Tigers have been in years past.

The ground attack is potent-as-hell, but the Tigers look rather one-dimensional offensively this year (re: only 71 passing yards in win over MSU.) How will LSU fare with Florida, @Alabama, @Ole Miss and Texas A&M lurking?

Oklahoma State at Texas; one that will leave both fan bases frustrated. The Longhorns had it in the bag and choked it away; a heartbreak program as of late that got destroyed by Notre Dame (38-3), lost a shootout to Cal (45-44 with a missed extra point) and had a special teams gaffe, allowing the Cowboys to kick the game-winning field goal.

If you’re OSU, a frustrating win against a team it should’ve throttled—whooping up on UTSA last week and Central Arkansas the week before, though only topping Central Michigan by 11 in the opener.

Texas gets TCU and Oklahoma back-to-back, while Oklahoma state preps for Kansas State and West Virginia.

Virginia Tech; a generally dominant program over the past few decades, falls at East Carolina, 35-28. The Pirates are a “little brother” type program that got the Hokies a few years back and if you’re VPI, here we go again.

Losing to Ohio State in the opener was tolerable, but falling to ECU with some big ACC games around the corner? Rather inexcusable.

The Hokies’ program is an interesting one as it’s been the opposite of the Canes over the years—nothing but stability. Long-time coaching staff with little turnover. No sanctions or off-the-field woes.

Virginia Tech has been a machine; one that began to dominate in the late nineties and did so for the next decade. Over the past few years, the Hokies have been humbled a bit—getting close to playing for titles, but never winning the big one.

It’s easy to pinpoint where and why Miami fell off, but what excuse does a program like Virginia Tech have? Even a Florida or Texas, for that matter. Two of the largest athletic budgets in the nation, yet both have struggled in the head coaching department in epic fail style much like private school Miami at times.

Tennessee. Tennessee. Tennessee. Has Florida on the ropes with a shot at winning for the first time in a decade and chokes it away; on the heels of blowing a huge lead against Oklahoma a week ago and then losing in overtime.

Can only imagine how Miami fans are reacting with those back-to-back losses. Banners flying over a stadium? Child’s play in comparison to the full-blown meltdowns.

As for the Gators, a good comeback against the Vols, but some serious holes on that team—who also struggled against East Carolina and has a tough SEC schedule coming up; hosting third-ranked Ole Miss this weekend, visiting LSU in two weeks and prepping for the annual cocktail party with Georgia late-October.

Ohio State. Defending national champs and tops in the nation, but a sloppy bunch that is playing like they’re believing their own hype. A 20-13 win over Northern Illinois last weekend was supposed to be aberration, but a 38-12 win over Western Michigan wasn’t much better.

The schedule is hot garbage most of the way, but back-to-back games against Michigan State and at Michigan could knock this underachieving squad right out of The Playoffs.

In a season where style points count, the Buckeyes are rocking a plaid suit with a striped polyester tie, so far.

Alabama bounced back with a 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe a week after falling to Ole Miss at home, but it still doesn’t feel like the Crimson Tide is clicking proper.

A 37-10 win over Middle Tennessee weeks back ad a 35-17 win over Wisconsin in the opener? Alabama of recent years would’ve throttled teams like that. This bunch hasn’t yet found its way and could struggle with Georgia, @TexasA&M, LSU, Mississippi State and @Auburn still on the roster.

Could a three-loss season be in the cards for the Tide?

Texas Christian; third-ranked in the nation and lays down 55 points and 750 yards on Texas Tech. Impressive. Not-so-impressive; giving up 52 points and 607 yards while needing a fourth down miracle touchdown to steal a win against an unranked conference foe.

Would Canes fans love to have the Horned Frogs’ success over the past few years? Absolutely. But for all the grief Miami’s defense has taken as of late, no one is going to be happy with a three-point, last-second win when lighting up the scoreboard for 55 points.

Texas A&M; dominated Arizona State in the opener. Rolled up Ball State and Nevada since. Needs overtime to knock off a garbage Arkansas team that already lost to Toledo this season.

For all those doing their insane reasoning with BYU or Nebraska and how it relates to the Canes, what does it say for the Aggies if they needed overtime to beat the Razorbacks—including a two-point conversion to even force the extra period?

aTm is a favorite in the vaunted SEC West and looked super-average in victory.

Arizona, undefeated at 3-0, welcomes a UCLA team that struggled against BYU—only to get rolled up, 56-30. Three turnovers were the difference and the Wildcats were embarrassed in a must-win game for Southern Division supremacy.

The Wildcats only beat UTSA by ten, before smacking up Nevada and Northern Arizona. Next up, @Stanford and a tough three-game stretch to end the season; @Southern Cal, Utah and @Arizona State.

Oregon; absolutely pantsed on the main stage—destroyed at home by Utah, 62-20. All that chatter about Autzen Stadium and the Ducks’ recent dominance? Forget it. The Utes racked up 530 yards, forced three turnovers and dominated; scoring 49 points in the second and third quarters combined.

UO has knocked on the door for years; playing in a few title games, rolling in the Pac-12, reaching the Rose Bowl and looking on their way to being a modern-day power. Now this. The Ducks immediately dropped out of the Top 25 and with Arizona State, Stanford, Southern Cal and Oregon State still on the schedule, could be looking at a serious fall from grace this season. The mystique is gone.

Staying with the Pac-12 theme; Arizona State was thought to be an up and coming program over the past few years, but it looks like more of the same coming out of Tempe. A good season here or there is followed by setbacks and stunted growth.

The Sun Devils understandably fell to Texas A&M in the opener, but responded with wins over Cal Poly and New Mexico before conference play was in effect. Southern Cal rolled in and the Trojans beat the Sun Devils like a rented mule, 42-14.

Even worse for ASU; the upcoming schedule—@UCLA, @Utah and Oregon over the next month.

The takeaway for those who are still on board? This isn’t your big brother’s or father’s version of college football anymore. The game has changed; chalk full of money, parity and a different style of sport.

None of the above is meant to excuse any mediocrity the Miami Hurricanes program has suffered over the past decade.

There have been some instances and occurrences that are unacceptable in regards to this program—while there have also been some other real moments that help explain how and why “The U” has fallen; right down to other programs willing to pick up the slack, poach players, steal spotlight and carry on.

Miami has it’s work cut out as a program trying to get back on top. It starts with winning those winnable games and taking care of conference opponents. Get that right and there’s a chance to rep the division with a conference title on the line. Win there and the BCS awaits; and hopefully a Playoffs berth and advancing to the national championship.

The Canes’ hey day was an era where one could arguably count on one hand how many teams were title contenders. Three games into 2015, you can count on one hand how many new teams have already entered the Playoffs picture since the preseason, where they weren’t even in the mix.

Everyone is going after the same thing and the competition is cutthroat. Programs like Alabama have been top dogs the past few years, yet three weeks into a new season might’ve already played themselves out of contention.

The old adage of losing early and winning late; that might not even be enough anymore as the talent level has been ratcheted-up several notches and a handful of teams are due to go wire-to-wire.

For Miami, this needs to be a year of progress and a giant step forward; proving once and for all if head coach Al Golden is the guy, or exposing him along the way.

So much talk about winning the Coastal Division as some form of a benchmark; as well as setting and over/under on wins.

Fact is, the Canes could conceivably go 10-2 and still not represent the division due to scheduling. On paper, seeing Georgia Tech lose to Duke might’ve felt like a win—but in reality, it wasn’t.

The Yellow Jackets still travel to Clemson, Virginia and Miami, while hosting Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh, in conference. Translation; they’ll lose again along the day.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils get an Atlantic break with Boston College and Wake Forest this year, while Miami gets Florida State and Clemson. The rest of Duke’s conference action; @Virginia Tech, @North Carolina, Pittsburgh and @Virginia. No guarantees, but looks like a much easier stretch than the Canes or Yellow Jackets will face.

The questions and measurables remain pretty cut and dry for Miami. Prepared for a mid-week road trip to Cincinnati? Ready to go toe-to-toe with Florida State in Tallahassee? Win or lose against the Noles, emotionally ready to host Virginia Tech the following weekend—and Clemson the weekend after that?

What about a late-October road trip to Duke with the Coastal Division title on the line? Virginia visits a week later, then a road trip to North Carolina—where the Tar Heels have given the Canes fits over the years. Georgia Tech treks south a week later; another game-of-the-year type situation in the Coastal, followed by a season-finale at Pittsburgh; where it could theoretically come down to one more conference win for the Canes.

Get better as a program. Take steps forward. Ride out the final three-quarters of the season. Evaluate everything when it’s all said and done.