Week 7 saw some really big games, a few upsets, and plenty of drama. Without question, the ranked-against-ranked matchups of Penn State-Michigan, Alabama-Tennessee, and USC-Utah dominated the coverage leading into the weekend and for good reason: Heisman hopefuls, playoff title contenders, the return of one or two programs returning to the group of college football blue bloods, there were storylines galore. Now that the dust has settled from the weekend, let’s check in on three fanbases from those big matchups and see what they’re saying.
The loss to Utah had to sting pretty bad. The Utes had previously been worked over by Chip Kelly’s UCLA squad and Lincoln Riley’s high-powered Trojan offense, led by Heisman contender Caleb Williams, looked to do the same. But while the offense performed very well, Williams threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns, the USC defense gave up a total of 424 passing yards to a team that now ranks 32nd in terms of passing offense. All that being said, it’s a good loss that can be overcome but the margin for error is microscopic.
The only thing I disagree with here is the cheating refs part. I’m sure some do cheat but I think it’s just them being dumb while also having to watch 22 dudes wail on each other all at once. It’s mostly the instant chaos but after watching the refs struggle in Alabama-Tennessee you can’t rule out dumb. As for the other parts, I’m pretty sure the conference title appearance will happen but a playoff appearance is dicey at best. The Utah game was one of just two against ranked opponents the Trojans have this year. Even if it’d won and ended the season undefeated, USC would likely still need some dominos to fall in order to make the playoffs because of the PAC-12’s place on the conference totem pole. Outside of UCLA, the Trojans’ remaining games are against Arizona, Cal, Colorado and Notre Dame, who currently have a combined record of 10-15. Wins over these teams won’t move the needle much. It’ll take a convincing win over UCLA and multiple losses to jump some of the teams at the top. You can hope, but keep some perspective; the Trojans aren’t even through Year 1 of Lincoln Riley and there’s talk about them competing for nattys. Don’t fret if things don’t work right now, they will eventually.
As you saw after the final horn, the win over Alabama was the culmination of years of frustration caused not only by the Crimson Tide but top programs in general. It was the perfect springboard for the Volunteers to re-emerge in the college football landscape. After such a statement win, how do the Tennessee faithful feel about things moving forward?
Vols fans, y’all better act like an 18-wheeler heading downhill and pump those brakes. First, you can’t compare offenses that run different schemes. That’s downright silly. UGA TE Brock Bowers can take over a game unlike Alabama’s Cameron Latu and WR Ladd McConkey can seemingly do it all. Secondly, playing Alabama at home is different than playing top-ranked Georgia in Athens. Throw in the additional motivation Tennessee had going into the Third Saturday in October and it was a perfect environment for a massive win. I will say that the Alabama win gives Tennessee a massive boost in confidence so they certainly have a chance at beating Georgia but let’s be realistic about the situation. A tougher task lies ahead, Vols fans. As we millennials are fond of saying, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Penn State Nittany Lions
My article from last week highlighting the games I thought would be the best of the weekend intentionally didn’t mention the Penn State-Michigan game because a James Franklin Penn State team failed miserably in a big game like I thought they would. Some fans are trying to cope the best they can.
Nittany Lions fans, please know I’m not hating on your team. I have at least two friends who are Penn State alums (hey Boods) so I say this with love: y’all deserve better than James Franklin. Dump him gurl! All he’s done regularly is be kinda good and flirt with other schools to get y’all to extend him. He has to be his agent’s favorite client. There’s nothing wrong with being kinda good regularly and no harm in talking to other schools but they only seem to want to Franklin after he’s had another season of underperforming expectations. It’s like he’s holding Penn State hostage and sends the school ever-increasing ransom amounts with no intention of ever letting you go. I don’t know where y’all go from here but I have a refurbished Bill O’Brien in Tuscaloosa that I can send to you at a reduced rate and I know y’all had a good time together so let’s rekindle that fire and get you two hooked back up.
And thus ends your Week 7 vibe check. Week 8 has five games in which both teams are ranked, so next week should be fun as well. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with setting unrealistic expectations then wildly yelling on the internet with a bunch of your buddies about them not being met in the safe confines of a friendly team message board.