College football is at the half-way point of the season, and there have been several storylines that have stood out so far in 2015. Many of them revolve around the polls and teams that have been surprises thus far, but there are also some that have left teams devastated to the core because of late-game drama.
10. Poll prejudice
Top 10 teams have struggled week in and week out so far, but there appears to be some favoritism going on with the polls in 2015. I’ve never been a fan of preseason polls — or dropping teams who keep winning — and these occurrences prove that neither computer nor human are perfect. Seventh-ranked Michigan State has dropped three spots in the AP Poll after back-to-back close wins against losing teams. Auburn suffered the same fate after squeaking out an overtime win against Jacksonville State but prior to the wheel’s falling completely off in 2015. The biggest question is this: If voters dropped these other teams for close wins over losing teams, why hasn’t Ohio State dropped from the No. 1 spot for close wins over Northern Illinois (3-3) and Indiana (4-2)?
9. Trojans tumble
USC came into this season as Pac-12 favorites but have now lost two games to unranked teams and have found themselves at 3-2 with a conference record of 1-2. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they have also fallen out of the Top 25 and had better hope that they can right the ship. The shock and awe approach that the Trojans used to use has lost its luster and teams are no longer afraid of a matchup against the Steve Sarkisian led Trojans. And now, according to ESPN, Sarkisian is taking a leave of absence to deal with personal issues — and it wasn’t his choice.
8. This is Sparta
Michigan State has struggled as of late, but they still find themselves undefeated and ranked No. 7 by the AP. How have they stayed undefeated? Mainly because their opponents have shot themselves in the foot for a chance to boot stomp them in the chest.
What’s next for the Spartans? Not much, just a trip to the Big House to face rival Michigan and Coach Jim Harbaugh.
7. Michigan shutout streak
The Wolverines have held their last three opponents scoreless but, as noted in No. 8, have a date with Michigan State on Saturday. Jim Harbaugh has done an admirable job this season — his first with Michigan — but it’s no surprise that he is succeeding at the college level because he has done it in the past. They will battle it out for the Paul Bunyan trophy and the series record sits at 68-34-5 in favor of the Wolverines. Michigan has looked impressive this season and Michigan State has been underwhelming, but it isn’t called a rivalry for nothing.
6. Comeback Kings
Third-ranked TCU has had some impressive comebacks this season, and they probably should have lost to Texas Tech and Kansas State this season. If it weren’t for an impressive tipped touchdown catch against Tech, they would have lost. If the defense hadn’t risen up in the second half, they would have lost. Notice the recurring theme here? They are lucky (or skilled) to be at 6-0, and Saturday’s 52-45 win against the Wildcats didn’t happen until quarterback Trevone Boykin threw a 55-yard TD pass to Josh Doctson with 1:10 remaining in the fourth quarter.
5. Nebraska heartache
As if losing to BYU on a Hail Mary wasn’t bad enough, the Cornhuskers lost to Wisconsin on a last second field goal. One school should not have to go through this much heartache in one season, but sometimes it isn’t your year. It’s just one of those years for Big Red. All of their three losses have come on their opponent’s last drive of the game.
Here’s the Hail Mary loss to BYU:
Then the loss in overtime to the Miami Hurricanes after mounting a second half comeback:
And finally Saturday’s loss to the Wisconsin Badgers on a last second field goal:
4. LSU’s class and Fournette and the Machine
The LSU and South Carolina game was moved to Baton Rouge, LA due to flooding in SC and the Tigers’ pulled out all the stops to make their guests feel welcome. They put up billboards in honor of the Gamecocks, the LSU band learned the fight song and alma mater for the Gamecocks, people were donating hotel rooms that were already paid for to help those displaced by the flooding and Leonard Fournette offered up his game worn jersey to auction off and raise money for the victims of the flooding. That is Southern hospitality at its finest, folks.
Speaking of Fournette, the running back is having an absolutely stunning performance this season and he has already amassed 1,022 yards and 12 touchdowns in his 2015 campaign. There are times that people say foolish things such as “We need to limit his carries,” or “He shouldn’t be held out of the NFL and possibly get injured.” And yes, both of those comments were made to me personally over the last couple of days by friends. The machine — LSU — and Fournette will keep running until someone stops him. Can the Florida Gators keep him under 200 yards rushing when they head to Death Valley on Saturday?
3. LB Myles Jack leaves UCLA
Myles Jack suffered a knee injury and is out for the season–and no longer at UCLA. You read that right, Jack was lost for the season and has chosen to leave UCLA as well. He was on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike Show” to explain the reason why he decided to leave school.
“You take all of that into account. When you see people making money off your likeness and your name, nobody else wears No. 30 at UCLA, so that jersey is mine,” Jack told the “Mike & Mike” show. “I would like to receive compensation for what I’ve done. That’s something you’re thinking about. I took all that into consideration, and I felt like it was time, and that I had done enough at UCLA. I felt like this was my chance, this was my shot. Why not go for it?” — via the Seattle Times.
Chalk this up to the new state of college football and the desire to be compensated for playing as a student-athlete.
2. Resurgence in the Swamp
The Gators snagged Jim McElwain from Colorado State and knew that he would help them get over the hump in the SEC. No one expected it to happen this fast though, and the Gators find themselves up to No. 8 in the AP Poll. This was to be a rebuilding year for the program — with all the players that left the program — but McElwain has worked his magic and the Gators are gaining confidence on a weekly basis. The past two weeks have seen the Gators blowout Ole Miss and chomp down on defense in a 21-3 victory over Missouri on the road.
1. Duck Hunt
We aren’t talking about the classic Nintendo game, rather the football program formerly known as the Oregon Ducks. Former Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams transferred to Oregon during the offseason and the Ducks were expecting to fight for the Pac-12 crown. The opposite has happened and they instead find themselves with a record of 3-3 and conference losses to Utah (62-20) and Washington State (45-38) in double overtime. Mind you, Adams has been hurt, but the Ducks have looked more like ducklings in 2015. Does this look like the same Oregon team that lost in the National Championship game last season?