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College Football Recap: Week 4

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We have managed to make it a third of the way through the season! Stand tall and be proud. But what do we know now that we didn’t last week? Let’s see, shall we?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Wisconsin
Considering his teams are now 1-9 versus Top 10 opponents and 0-7 as underdogs, Jim Harbaugh and Michigan sure do spend quite a bit of time ranked in the national polls.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that South Carolina game was fun, huh?

The first half was a snoozefest saved only by Cale Garrett’s one-of-a-kind touchdown. It was most unconventional, but made perfect sense when you consider the Mizzou-South Carolina rivalry, right?

Saturday very well could be a season-defining win of sorts, and time will determine the exact impact. If nothing else, we learned that Mizzou is much entrenched in the thick of things in the SEC East.

Cue the flow of Victory Whiskey:

But what else went down on in college football over the weekend? Let’s dive in.

What We Learned

SMU Should Be Ranked For The First Time Since 1986

When last SMU was ranked, a gallon of gas cost 89 cents. The nation mourned the Challenger disaster. Oprah debuted her own TV show. And kids nationwide geeked out over Nintendo.

Never mind the players themselves. The last time the SMU football program was ranked in the national polls, presumably none of its current roster members’ parents were yet even in high school.

At one time, SMU was one of college football’s preeminent programs. From 1980 to 1986, the Mustangs — led most famously by the Pony Express backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James —compiled a 52-19-1 record, won three Southwest Conference titles, appeared in four bowl games, and housed five All-American performers.

The only problem was, school officials and boosters thought it would be cool to pay players. (editor’s note: you mean, it’s not?)

Because the program already on probation for three years due to violations uncovered in 1985, the following year the NCAA slapped SMU with its infamous “death penalty” for breaking its newly-formed Repeat Violator Rule bylaw, finding that more than 20 players received roughly $61,000 in cash payments from a slush fund created by a university booster.

The entire 1987 season was banished. Ultimately, with a roster void of any upperclassmen due to a hoard of transfers, SMU would voluntarily surrender the 1988 season as well. The program lost more than 50 scholarships over the next few years, and the NCAA prohibited a host of crucial recruiting-related activities, crippling SMU’s ability to build any type of viability for the foreseeable future.

The punishment, some would say, fit the crime, and the Mustangs have not been the same since. Despite constant turnover in the coaching staff over the next three decades, it would be 10 years before SMU finished a season with a winning record and 25 before the program would participate in a bowl game.

Today, the SMU program looks much different.

SMU v TCU
Party like it’s 1986: SMU players celebrate their 41-38 win over No. 25 TCU on Saturday. The victory could very well catapult the undefeated Mustangs into the national polls for the first time in 33 years.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The significance of Saturday’s 41-38 road win over No. 25 TCU to give SMU its first 4-0 start since 1986 is evident, even if it may be lost on head coach Sonny Dykes and his players – all of whom can only identify with SMU football as it was several decades after unprecedented NCAA decimation.

”I haven’t been here 35 years. It’s a big deal for our fans, and I get it,” said Dykes, 49, who was attending high school in Lubbock, Texas, the last time SMU was ranked in the polls. “I don’t try to get caught up in all of that stuff during the season, just because I think it’s a bit of a distraction. ... Look, I appreciate winning.”

But if SMU indeed is included in the latest poll rankings, to be released sometime Sunday, Dykes and his team will undoubtedly have to deal with a distraction that may very well only grow larger the longer the Mustangs stay undefeated.

With TCU now in the rear view, SMU will not face another ranked team the rest of the regular season, and only four of its remaining seven opponents currently have a winning record.

Although Dykes will never admit it, things are arranged pretty conveniently for SMU to make a run, and double digit wins is certainly not out of the question. The last time that happened at SMU was 1984.

As any SMU fan will tell you, a lot has changed since then.

What We’d Still Like to Know

Must We Still Pretend That Michigan Is an Elite Program?

Can we please stop it with this? The only program that’s more insufferable when it comes to bloated preseason expectations is Notre Dame.

Michigan was ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll. Thus far this season, the Wolverines have needed three-plus quarters to put away Middle Tennessee State and a double-overtime 4th-down stop to avoid falling to Army.

And then there was Saturday. Michigan visited Camp Randall Stadium for its first road game of the year against No. 13 Wisconsin and was railroaded, 35-14, in a game that served as a microcosm of how the Wolverines have played in big games under Jim Harbaugh, who is now 1-6 against ranked opponents on the road since taking over in 2015.

Billed as a Big Ten cross-division matchup to determine the league’s second-best team behind Ohio State, the game was never in question, and Wisconsin had plenty of help from the Wolverines, who trailed 28-0 at the half.

Poll

Which is the most overrated program from season to season?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Michigan
    (65 votes)
  • 24%
    Notre Dame
    (71 votes)
  • 25%
    Nebraska
    (75 votes)
  • 11%
    Florida
    (34 votes)
  • 16%
    Kansas basketball
    (47 votes)
292 votes total Vote Now

Michigan committed four turnovers, including two fumbles (the Wolverines have now turned the ball over nine times this season), rushed for 40 yards on 19 carries, and held the ball for all of 18 minutes. Defensively, they surrendered 203 yards on the ground to Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

During his post-game press conference, Harbaugh addressed the obvious, saying that his team was out-prepared, out-played, and out-coached. Michigan fans have heard the line before, and the overall script is becoming all too familiar.

In Harbaugh’s first four seasons, Michigan was ranked in the preseason Top 15 of the AP Poll three times, including a Top 10 preseason ranking in 2016. In those seasons, not once have the Wolverines either lost fewer than three games or finished the year with a ranking higher than that with which it was graciously bestowed in the preseason polls.

With four more ranked teams on the schedule – Iowa, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State – Harbaugh and Michigan will almost certainly continue that trend this season.

What We’d Like to Forget

Iowa Band Members Report Incidences of Abuse

Football is an emotional game. And it affects coaches, players, and fans alike.

But neither that emotion – nor the violence that can emerge as a byproduct – should ever be manifested to the point that it puts those not on the playing field in harm’s way.

But yet, sadly, sometimes it is.

Administrators at the University of Iowa announced Friday that they plan to reopen an investigation into claims made by members of the school’s band that they were verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted by Iowa State fans before, during, and after the Hawkeyes’ Cy-Hawk Series win in Ames last week.

Band members reported being called racial slurs, having beer bottles thrown at them, and being pushed and shoved as they made their way both within and outside of Jack Trice Stadium. One member was taken to the hospital and treated for fractured ribs, while others reported minor injuries after getting hit with debris.

According to The Gazette, school officials decided to relaunch the investigation after some band members expressed displeasure on social media with what they felt was an insufficient response from officials to initial reports of the abuse, even documenting visual evidence of injuries sustained during encounters with what one member identified as “adult” fans – not Iowa State band members or other students from the rival school.

A spokesperson for the University of Iowa said Friday that the feedback the school received from band members made it clear that administrators failed to adequately inform students of the steps they plan to take to address the reports of abuse.

Iowa v Iowa State
Members of the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Marching Band are upset with school officials after reporting that they were subjects of abuse during the Hawkeyes’ game at Iowa State on September 14. School officials announced on Friday that they plan to reopen an investigation.
Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

The school said earlier in the week that its president, Bruce Harreld, in conjunction with the presidents from Iowa State and Northern Iowa universities, is “committed to discussing and adopting a uniform safety protocol prior to next season.”

“Student safety is our number one priority and we are committed to ensuring a safe experience on game day for our students,” UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said. “Additionally, we are continuing our investigation to ensure all of our students have the ability to share their experiences with the appropriate authorities.”

But for some band members, it’s too little, too late.

“Today, I no longer care,” third-year band member Corey Knopp wrote on Facebook Thursday. “Thank you, Iowa Athletics and the University of Iowa, for showing me that when I’m physically assaulted at an away football game as part of the Hawkeye Marching Band, you don’t have my back and you don’t care.”

Knopp — who says he was shoved by a fan who tried to make his way through Knopp and the rest of the band as they waited to get on their bus following Iowa’s 18-17 win — chided university officials for warning students to be careful of what they post on social media.

He also theorized that the school would be prone to taking more immediate action if he were part of the Iowa football team and was subjected to the same “completely unacceptable” behavior.

“We expect to get booed and cussed at,” Knopp wrote. “But never for violence to take place.”