The way I’d describe Week 5 of the college football season is the invisible fence test. If you’re unfamiliar, and you shouldn’t be since I just made it up, I’m referring to the phenomenon that is big dogs shrugging off the shock of an electric barrier.
My uncle Mark had a yellow lab — I believe his name was Grizz — and Grizz didn’t give a shit about a shock. When he saw freedom, he was gone. I had an old chocolate lab, aptly named Karma, who would spend the next day (weekend) in the garage after the weakest buzz the collar had to offer.
Programs capable of running through adversity like Grizz are rare. Alabama went into Fayetteville, lost their Heisman trophy winner, let a 28-point lead shrink to five at the start of the fourth, and still won by 23. Georgia spent the majority of their evening in Columbia trailing Mizzou only to methodically chip away and take their first lead with four minutes left in the contest. Clemson’s turn to survive a test was last week, and if you thought it was a bad omen, the Tigers mauled No. 10 NC State and QB Devin Leary during a 30-20 win that wasn’t as close as the final score. Michigan didn’t have the easiest time with Maryland a week ago, and Ohio State’s mental lapse came in Week 1 against Notre Dame.
Those five teams — Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, and Michigan — are the only teams ranked in the top 10 in the preseason that remain there. Of the other five schools that made up that 10, only Utah has one loss. Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Baylor all have two L’s on their resume. The Utes are likely to bump up back into the top 10, but the Bears are the only one of those overhyped teams with a shot of remaining in the top 25 this week.
If you want to swap out Oklahoma for USC because of the Lincoln Riley factor, I’ll allow it. However, what I’m really trying to hammer home is that the number of programs that could realistically win the national championship is six, maximum eight. The move to expand the College Football Playoff to 12 is a Pandora’s Box (if the initial four-team tourney wasn’t already) to more complaints and calls for expansion.
The four major bowl games — the Fiesta, Orange, Rose, and Sugar — are the perfect amount because it’s really the ideal number. You’ve got your power five winners, and three at-large bids. Earning a trip to LA, Miami, Tempe, or New Orleans meant you had a great year, and there are only so many possible great years.
Four teams is too little, and as much as I hate to admit it, the SEC deserves two bids most seasons. When you get into 12 teams, it becomes impossible to justify a three-win team over another. The top 10 will inevitably fluctuate before the end of this year, but after the conference title games, the top eight to 10-ish programs have survived enough scares, traps, upset bids, injuries, and near collapses to know whose bad loss was really an outlier.
Aside from my love of the big New Year’s Day bowl games mattering, the reason I tried a different approach than “a 12-team tournament is dangerous” is because people are already over talking about it. College football players are explosive athletes, and a lot of them fly around as if they’re never going to play again. Anything over three rounds is too many, and until these kids are paid, over-insured, and have a pension plan, they shouldn’t be subjected to 16, possibly 17 contests per year.
While we’re all on edge after Tua Tagovailoa seized up on national television Thursday, I watched his younger brother Taulia take a violent hit against Michigan last Saturday, leave, go to the tent, and return to action. It wasn’t a head injury. He just got form-tackled by a hulking defensive end mid-throw and driven into the ground like a sack of potatoes. Regardless of head trauma, I watched it live and remember thinking half his organs had to be bleeding internally.
If you want an incident as terrifying as Tua’s, LSU defensive back Sevyn Banks was carted off with a neck injury on the opening kickoff of the Bayou Bengals’ game against Auburn last night. Thankfully, team officials said he had feeling in all of his extremities.
I didn’t watch that live, but I did flip to the channel when everyone was taking a knee, and it’s unnerving how commonplace injuries like those are now, and it’s even more unsettling how quickly we move on from it when it’s a special teams player or college kid and not a star quarterback.
Here are some highlights for making it to the end of my rant
First, who doesn’t love a punt return for a touchdown. It’s even better when a return man has to work for it, and Fresno State’s Nikko Remigio.
Despite the utilization of the full button layout on the 87-yard scamper, UConn beat the Bulldogs, 19-14.
And now we’ll end with Liberty’s Jaivian Lofton snagging a 34-yard touchdown like it’s a frisbee and he’s got a beer in his off-hand.
Nonchalance is the best kind of chalance on a grab of that splendor. The score helped the Flames beat Old Dominion, 38-24.