What We Learned
The Battle for That Fourth Playoff Spot Is Crowded
The next three weeks should be fun. Of course, this is coming from someone, unfortunately, with no skin in the game.
For those that do, I’ll trade places.
For those who read last week, I think LSU and Ohio State finish the season undefeated as your top two seeds. Clemson, by virtue of accruing style points in killing everyone, especially over the last couple months, is your clear No. 3.
What to do with that last spot? Let’s examine the candidates.
- Georgia: May likely leapfrog Clemson after beating No. 12 Auburn Saturday, but would a loss to top-ranked LSU in the SEC Championship relegate the Bulldogs to a New Year’s Six game?
- Utah: The Utes have ascended up the rankings undetected since losing their lone game against USC in September, and a dominant defense could lead to a PAC-12 title, but would that be enough to supplant a one-loss SEC team?
- Alabama: The loss of Tua cannot be overstated, but the Tide – as talented as anyone in the country – still have the firepower to finish with one loss and give the playoff committee something to think about – particularly if injuries are part of the selection criteria
- Oregon: After blistering Arizona, the Ducks have won nine straight and could boast the best resume of the one-loss teams with a conference title, but does that scenario leave them in the same limbo as Utah?
- Oklahoma: The Sooners re-entered the discussion with an improbable (and historic) comeback in Waco, but how much juice would they get out of beating Baylor a second time in the Big 12 Championship?
- Baylor: The undefeated Bears were already on thin ice before Saturday’s collapse because of close wins dotted across a pretty weak schedule, but joining the one-loss club now means anything short of dominant wins over Texas, Kansas, and OU in a rematch won’t cut it.
Who you going with?
What We’d Still Like to Know
Anyone Else Taking Pleasure in That Texas Loss?
In full disclosure, I never really had a reason to hate Texas for a long time.
When the Big 12 coalesced in 1996, Mizzou had already been getting bludgeoned by the likes of Nebraska and Oklahoma for years. If Texas, every bit as prestigious as those other two, was good enough to join the fray, so be it, but there wasn’t any hate there.
Years later, once Mizzou and other Big 8 underlings began to see the same arrogance that Texas’ punching bags in the old Southwestern Conference had to endure, the vitriol began to seep in for me.
It all came to a head during the realignment frenzy of 2010.
DeLoss Dodds. Chip Brown. The general attitude that Texas could better the college football landscape by doing whatever Texas wanted to do, even if it was out of spite for whomever wouldn’t let the Longhorns get their way. I hated it all.
The landscape has indeed since changed, and as such, my feelings toward Texas should have simmered by now, but they haven’t. For that, I must thank Tom Herman, for it was his mocking of Drew Lock in the Texas Bowl a couple years ago that has allowed me to sustain my general hatred for an entire program, rather than one man.
With Saturday’s delightful last-second 23-21 loss at unranked Iowa State, Texas is now 6-4 and will be absent from the polls come Sunday. Let’s relish this Longhorn folly on a number of counts:
- Iowa State had only beaten Texas twice in its previous 16 attempts
- Texas jumped offsides on Iowa State’s field goal attempt with just over two minutes left, resulting in a first down and allowing the Cyclones to run out the clock for kicker Connor Assalley, who appeared to have missed the initial 42-yarder wide right
- Texas has now lost four or more games for the 10th consecutive season, something that happened only once in previous 11
Similar to Notre Dame and others, Texas is one of those programs who enjoyed preeminence for a long time but has been forced by parity across college football to rely upon its brand name to retain national relevance.
And from that brand name comes the arrogance that has come to personify Texas football. At least for one night, it was satisfying seeing that arrogance take a hit.
What We’d Like to Forget
An Offense That Commits Three Penalties on a Single Snap
Prior to its 23-6 loss to Florida, Missouri had committed 0.05 penalties per play this season, ranked 96th nationally.
When you extrapolate that number over of an entire game, you’re left with roughly 6.9 penalties per game for an average of just under 68 yards, ranked 113th out of 130 FBS teams.
Depressing as those numbers may be, they may actually improve once updated. Overall, the Tigers were flagged six times for 55 yards against Florida – their fifth-lowest penalty yardage total this season.
But when you consider that three of those infractions were personal foul penalties, including one on Case Cook to complete the rarely seen Yellow Flag Trifecta, you are reminded of how lack of fundamentals and, perhaps more damning, recklessness in key situations is becoming all too common for Barry Odom’s team.
Following a Florida score to make it a 14-point game in the waning minutes of the third quarter, the Tiger offense started to show signs of life with a pair of rare 3rd-down conversions and seemed prime to cross midfield for one of the few times all day.
And this is despite not receiving the benefit of an obvious pass interference call on Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam, which ultimately lead to a sideline warning for Missouri from officials.
That dream was killed, however, when the drive stalled plays later to start the fourth.
On 3rd-and-13, Kelly Bryant, who seemed to scramble sideline-to-sideline all game, escaped the pocket and unloaded a nice pass to Larry Rountree III, who merely picked up the first down. Had the play stood, it would have set up an interesting call on 4th-and-1 from the Florida 43 yard-line, with the game still undecided.
Instead, what we got was a redo of the previous down, only with 25 yards tacked on, and an embarrassment on live TV that had the broadcast’s announcers chuckling.
Not to mention some ribbing from peeps covering the Gators.
<cheat code>— Florida Gator Content from... (@OurTwoBits) November 16, 2019
ALL THE PENALTIES ON #Mizzou.
Let’s break it down:
- Penalty No. 1: Mizzou was flagged for an illegal formation by an unnamed player, although I suspect (from what I could see on the replay) that Jonathan Nance was guilty of not lining up on the LOS as the leftmost player in the formation; nonetheless the penalty was declined because of the abomination to come
- Penalty No. 2: The reason why Bryant escaped the pocket, Larry Borom was called for holding, wrapping one hand around the head of Florida defensive end Jonathan Greenard
- Penalty No. 3: Cook sums up the entire season with one bonehead decision, getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after shoving Florida’s Marco Wilson for lightly grabbing Rountree after the whistle
The first penalty is a lack of focus. The second, either a lack of talent or fundamental technique. The third, a violation of mental toughness to the nth degree.
I can look past some of the deficiencies on offense, even if they have resulted in at least nine punts in consecutive games for the first time in 20 years.
I cringe to think of where this season would be were it not for the defense, which performed valiantly again, but don’t forget that Nick Bolton and DeMarkus Acy each dropped what could have been a pick-six at a critical point in the game against the Gators.
In some cases, I can even respect the intentions of Cook, who, in his head, was coming to the aid of a teammate, but on this day, no aid was needed. Just walk away.
It’s obvious at this point in the season that this Mizzou team is short on talent. Even more troubling, though, is that it’s also short on poise and discipline.
Combine the two, and you get a team that underperforms against lesser teams and looks lost against worthy competition.