Hlist Week 8: Stalled SEC, angry Ducks
And Dan McCarney is winning
The Hlist was at Ohio State this weekend, and came home convinced more than ever that the best college football is played elsewhere. Namely, in the West, the Southwest and Southeast.
1. The Man With the Golden Arm: That Johnny Manziel story last year at Texas A&M was pretty special and all, but this Jameis Winston deal at Florida State is something else.
The redshirt reshman went to No. 3 Clemson, the belly of the beast, and fired five touchdown passes to help the Seminoles destroy the Tigers, 51-14. And it wasn't the first time Winston had messed with Clemson. He was a relief pitcher and outfielder for Florida State's baseball team last season. Clemson tried to run on him. So did Virginia Tech. Mistake.
He was selected in the 15th round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Texas Rangers.
Winston is second in the nation in passing efficiency. He has 20 touchdown passes, three interceptions, and has completed 71.3 percent of his passes. Again, he is a redshirt freshman.
2. BCS Interlopers: The first BCS standings of the season were released Sunday night, with many of the usual suspects like No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Oregon. But Missouri is No. 5, Baylor No. 8, and Texas Tech No. 10.
Phil Steele, to cite just one example, picked Mizzou to tie for fifth in the SEC West, Baylor to place fifth in the Big 12, and Texas Tech to finish seventh in the Big 12.
Now, there's a lot of season left and any of the three could go belly-up. Missouri is least likely, since it has already derailed Georgia and Florida. Baylor and Tech have yet to face the best of their Big 12 brethren. But still ... who saw this coming? Or Auburn, which is 11th in the BCS standings?
“Oh trust me, trust me,” Mizzou wide receiver L'Damian Washington said after the Tigers trounced Florida Saturday, 36-17. “There’s not a day that goes by that we didn’t say we have to show that we belong (in the SEC). We even talked about it (during Friday team meetings).”
Missou Coach Gary Pinkel said the following in Bryan Burwell's column about the Tigers in Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“There is a confidence level on this team. I thought we were going to be a good football team. I don’t know why anyone else thought we weren’t going to be a good football team. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
3. SEC is Stalled: The conference that is the king of the world in college football looks wobbly.
A lot of cannibalism went on last weekend. Unranked Vanderbilt beat ranked Georgia. Unranked Tennessee beat ranked South Carolina. Unranked Mississippi beat ranked LSU. And, Auburn upset Texas A&M in College Station.
Five SEC teams were underdogs by less than four touchdowns Saturday. All five were winners, with Missouri joining the aforementioned four winners in the previous paragraph.
South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier again thought he was a funny man last week, saying "Will be the 14th time I've coached in Neyland Stadium. ... I've coached there more than some of their head coaches."
Spurrier wasn't laughing Saturday after his team lost to the Volunteers, 23-21, and pretty much assured this will be his ninth year at Carolina without an SEC title.
4. Duck and Beaver are Pacesetters: Many states with far more residents than Oregon would like to have one quarterback as good as the two that lead that state's football teams.
Sean Mannion of Oregon State is directly responsible for 29 touchdowns, all via passing. Oregon's Marcus Mariota is directly responsible for 28 TDs, 19 passing and 9 rushing. That makes them 1-2 in the nation.
Mannion is the best-kept secret in college football. He has thrown for 427 yards per game, and has not had fewer than three TD passes in a game this year.
Mariota is well-known, with reason. He is fifth in the nation in passing efficiency (Mannion is seventh), and has yet to throw a pick this season in 197 passes. He also has rushed for 70.4 yards per game. And, he hasn't spent an overwhelming amount of time on the field given the number of Oregon blowout wins.
What's almost sad is Oregon State would be matching Oregon's 7-0 record if it hadn't lost in its season-opener to ... FCS Eastern Washington. The Eagles of Cheney are 5-2, with losses to Toledo and Sam Houston State.
5. Mike Leach Answers to No Foe: Washington State, to no surprise, lost 62-38 at Oregon Saturday.
Down 62-24 in the fourth quarter, and with Oregon's starters out, Leach continued to play his starting quarterback. Connor Halliday kept passing, and set an FBS record for pass attempts in a game with 89, completing 58 (tying the FBS record) for a school-record 557 yards. The record had been held by Purdue's Drew Brees, who threw 83 times in the Boilermaker's 31-24 loss to Wisconsin in 1999.
Wazzau had just 12 rushing plays, which gained a total of two yards. Four of those rushes were Halliday getting sacked.
Halliday's 89th pass was a touchdown toss with 11 seconds left.
“That’s total (B.S.) that he threw the ball at the end of the game like he did,’’ Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. “And you can print that and you can send it to him, and he can comment, too. I think it’s low class and it’s (B.S.) to throw the ball when the game is completely over against our kids that are basically our scout team.
“Make sure he knows that. Because I don’t really care.’’
Oh, Alioti also called Leach "low class." He used a barnyard epithet twice in his comments.
“I don’t criticize other teams or coaches,” Leach said in a text to the Seattle Times' Bud Withers Sunday evening. “I focus on coaching my team.”
CBSsports.com's Tom Fornelli had a good read on this, writing this:
Well how dare Washington State not just lay down and die! They were playing the mighty Oregon Ducks! You don't try to score points against the Oregon Ducks reserves, you just take your 50-point beating and tell the Ducks you were honored to have the privilege of being run over!
Seriously, Nick Aliotti is upset with Mike Leach because his team kept playing for the entire 60 minutes when it was losing. He's claiming Mike Leach just wanted the stats, when odds are he's only upset because Oregon's defensive stats don't look nearly as good after the Cougars put up another 14 points in the final minutes of the game, finishing the day with 559 total yards.
But the story has a happy ending. Alioti apologized Sunday night via that tried-and-true method, a prepared statement delivered via the university.
"I'm embarrassed that I got caught up in the moment after the game," Aliotti said in the release. "There's no excuse, but sometimes right after the game the adrenaline is still flowing and I made a huge, human error in judgment. I wish I could take it back, and I promise it won't happen again.
“I'd like to apologize to Mike Leach and (Washington State athletics director) Bill Moos, Washington State and its fans, and Oregon and our fans.”
And what about Halliday? You know, the young man who threw all those passes and took a lot of hits.
“My shoulder’s pretty messed up, my ankle’s pretty messed up, my hip’s pretty messed up, so it’s kind of a perfect time for the bye week,” Halliday told the Spokane Spokesman-Record.
6. Dan McCarney is Winning: Former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney is trying to make North Texas football relevant. That's tough, because the Mean Green haven't had a winning season since 2004.
McCarney's first two UNT teams went 5-7 and 4-8. Saturday, his guys won 28-13 at Louisiana Tech to climb to 4-3 overall, 2-1 in Conference USA.
It's the first back-to-back wins for the Mean Green since 2004.
“All I wanted to see was this football team and this program to improve,” McCarney said. “People who are close to this program know that we have built it from scratch the right way.”
North Texas is at Southern Mississippi Saturday. USM has an 18-game losing streak. A lot of Iowa State fans will join North Texas' followers in hoping that streak gets extended to 19.
... let me give a special shout-out to Washington State, which, since January, has had players arrested for a DUI, for underage possession of alcohol, for public intoxication and third-degree theft, for assault and battery and for a hit-and-run, plus another cited for providing police with a false name and birthdate.
A WSU lineman even got arrested earlier this month at a game, on second-degree assault for an alleged locker-room fight.
By the way, the WSU player charged with theft was arrested after allegedly shoving two bottles of tequila down his trousers at a grocery store; this is exceedingly dumb, practically speaking, in terms of limiting your mobility for a getaway. Plus, when I was at Maryland, I always found tequila tasted better through a straw than through a pants pocket.