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      Tuesday Takeaways (10/4)

      Tuesday Takeaways (10/4)

      1) Maybe Georgia isn’t indestructible…?

      Hand up, I’ll admit that I was POTENTIALLY wrong about Georgia cruising to another National Championship. In the last two weeks, Georgia had a tough time putting away Kent State at home and had to make a fourth quarter comeback against Missouri. Of course a win is a win, but if I’m a Georgia fan, I’m starting to feel a little uneasy.

      Now a few weeks in, their schedule doesn't look as simple as it seemed before the season started. This version of Tennessee is a top 10 team, Mississippi State is starting to show some life, and facing Kentucky on the road will be a tough test. Throw in that Billy Nappier will have his Florida team fired up for the World’s Largest Cocktail Party and I’m starting to see more than one hurdle in their quest to go back to back.

      2) Chip Kelly will have UCLA ready for the Big 10.

      The impact has taken a lot longer than everyone expected, and to be honest I kind of forgot all about good ol’ Chip Kelly. When UCLA announced Kelly as their new head coach a lot of people expected immediate results. Looks like turning around the second best football program in Los Angeles isn’t as easy as one may have thought, but I think we can all now say that Chip is on his way. UCLA got their first big win of the Kelly era this past Friday with the manhandling of top 15 Washington. Yet more importantly than the win, is the fact that you can finally see Kelly’s stamp on this roster.

      Initially it seemed as if UCLA was the Los Angeles afterthought within the Big 10 merger, but they might be clawing their way to primetime.

      3) Stay away from the Dabo coaching tree.

      On paper, hiring a coach away from a perennial National Championship contender makes complete sense… Let’s review though:

      • Longtime Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venebles took his dream job at Oklahoma this offseason. However, bad losses to Kansas St. and TCU, where his defense was gashed for four straight quarters, may have him re-thinking his schemes that previously worked so well in the ACC. 
      • Former Clemson wide receiver coach, Jeff Scott, has been at the helm of the University of South Florida for three years now and managed ONE win against a FBS team. ONE. Not much more to say about.
      • It’s a little too early to get a read on Virginia’s ‘Clemson hire’ Tony Elliot, but sitting in seventh place with a 1-4 record can’t be what the Cavalier Brass had in mind when they plucked Elliot from the Dabo tree.

      4) Some college program is about to hit the Matt Rhule lottery. 

      Matt Rhule in the NFL hasn’t worked out, it just hasn’t. Carolina is going to move on from Rhule at the end of this season, if not sooner. What’s the NFL’s trash will be a college programs treasure.

      Rhule made the jump to the NFL, and who could blame him? Rhule more than proved himself in college, and it seemed like a natural next step. Unfortunately, not all dreams go to plan.

      The Matt Rhule superpower seems to be that he can turn around any college program, no matter how dire the situation. Which college program wins that jackpot?

      At one point in his coaching career, Rhule had Temple in the top 25…TEMPLE. He also took the helm of a heavily sanctioned Baylor football program on the brink of exile, and lead them back to a top 10 program on the path to a Big 12 title. 

      No known suitors yet, but if I’m a program desperate for hope, I’m backing up the Brinks truck for Matt Rhule. 

      5) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

      Let’s simply soak in that this is the best time of the year for sports fans:

      • the MLB playoffs “pitch off” this weekend with the new Wild Card three game matchups 
      • college football conference games are upon us 
      • one month into the NFL season and the universe is beginning to separate contenders from pretenders 
      • NHL and NBA are right around the corner
      • MLS Playoffs start in two weeks 

      What a time to be alive.

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/20

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/20

      1. Don’t Sleep on the “Basketball Schools”

      Let’s play a game. Headed into Week Four of college football season, what do these seven “basketball schools” have in common?

      • Syracuse
      • Kentucky
      • Indiana
      • Duke
      • UNC
      • Kansas
      • UCLA

      Give Up? How about that they’re all undefeated. That’s right, these perennial powerhouses of basketball and usual doormats of the college football universe are all off to HOT starts this season.

      Some of these of course were to be expected. You have Mack Brown running the show at UNC, and Mark Stoops has been slowly turning around that Kentucky program, so those shouldn’t surprise you. But Duke? Syracuse? Kansas?! These programs are off to hot starts with no signs of slowing down.

      Duke’s schedule hasn’t been anything crazy, but given that they easily beat Temple and handled the Big 10’s Northwestern, they deserve some credit.

      Syracuse knocked off Louisville opening week, and beat Purdue in what might have been the “game of the week” in Week Three.

      The Kansas Jayhawks, whose win total was previously listed at 2.5 for the entire season, has wins against West Virginia, and knocked off preseason top 25 Houston.

      However, all good things must come to an end when Duke and Kansas will go head to head in Week Four, but keep an eye out for these seven programs. If these schools all end up bowl eligible come December, it’ll be time to start putting some respect on the name of these football programs.

      2. ALABAMA... I Mean Georgia

      We’re only three weeks into the season, and I addressed this after Week One, but the time may have come for Alabama to pass the crown.

      Georgia not only beats teams – they embarrass them. Everything that we’ve thought about Alabama for the last decade is now what we should believe about Georgia.

      Stetson Bennett is putting up numbers we haven’t seen since Patrick Mahomes and looking like CFB’s top QB this season. The defense that was due for a drop off after losing players to the NFL somehow improved – they didn’t rebuild, they reloaded.

      Kirby Smart has built something in Athens that people will be talking about for a long time, and we anticipate watching the Dawgs go for several more national titles in the foreseeable future.

      3. Time to give the PAC 12 real respect.

      For the last few months, the PAC 12 has been the laughing stock of college football, and admittedly, I was a critic too. In Week One, Utah and Oregon both lost to SEC schools on national TV, and things were looking rough. BUT you have to give credit where credit’s due.

      Since Week One, the PAC 12 has quietly become a force to be reckoned with. If you note some of the wins they’ve managed, it’s time to consider the PAC 12 may be the second best conference right now. (We know this sentiment won't last once the playoff conversation starts, but at least I can suggest it now.)

      • USC looks like a powerhouse
      • Washington has a legitimate quarterback in Michael Penix Jr, and embarrassed a once-considered Top 10 Michigan State
      • Washington State went on the road to beat Wisconsin
      • Oregon bounced back in a big way and dominated BYU
      • Utah is STILL one of the best teams in the country, despite the loss to Florida
      • Oregon State is no slouch
      • UCLA is undefeated (they don’t look great, but still)

      The PAC 12 is deep and they deserve some national respect for what they’ve done so far.

      4. The future of the NFL is in good hands.

      Look at this list of quarterbacks:

      Lamar Jackson

      Tua Tagovailoa

      Jalen Hurts

      Josh Allen

      Kyler Murray

      Patrick Mahomes

      Justin Herbert

      Joe Burrow

      Buckle up, fam – I think we’ve got some good years of NFL ahead of us.

      5. The Detroit Lions should be everyone’s second favorite team.. (outside of Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago fans, of course)

      There are very few times in sports that the loveable loser franchises can captivate a country. The Chicago Cubs. The Boston Red Sox. The Buffalo Bills of the 90’s. Similar to those franchises, this Detroit Lions team has the makeup of a team that makes it hard to root against them.

      Head coach Dan Campbell is a man of the people. He’s emotional, he’s down to earth and more than anything, he just seems like a funny human. The Detroit fan base in itself is likable. They understand their franchise has been irrelevant for the better part of their existence, but year after year, they still show up and believe hard. Even quarterback Jarrod Goff is likable. He was shipped out of Los Angeles, only to watch his replacement have instant Super Bowl success after one season. It’s hard not to root for a guy like that.

      I believe Detroit will have captured the hearts of America by the end of season. Good luck to ‘em!

      THE WEEKEND AHEAD (9/16)

      THE WEEKEND AHEAD (9/16)

      Get your picks in!: Smack Apparel College Pick ‘Em

      This week our panel of “Experts” are joined by Oregon football legend and former Heisman candidate, Joey Harrington. (Let us state for the record, he should have won.)

      Joey laid out his picks for 10 of the weekend’s biggest games and gave us some insider analysis of arguably the biggest game of the week, #12 BYU at #25 Oregon. For the full video and breakdown, head on over to our YouTube page.

      As far as our “Experts” go, The Bear is leading the way with a 15-4 overall record, followed by Wayne Dawg at 12-7, while Jeff and Kenny are both bringing up the rear at 11-8. 

      WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
      Football. Obviously.

      FRIDAY NIGHT:
      Florida State at Louisville, 7:30pm – ESPN

      It’s no secret around here that Waynedawg and Kenny went to Florida State, and will pick the Seminoles on any given Saturday. FSU is coming off a bye week after a big win against LSU, while Louisville is coming off a fresh win at UCF. This game will be a big test for both teams to see who is a real player in the ACC this year.

      Prediction: FSU 31- Louisville 24
      SATURDAY:

      Georgia at South Carolina, Noon – ESPN

      On paper this shouldn’t be much of a game, but on the road in the SEC, you just never know what to expect. I’m interested to see if the new-look Gamecocks can use their home field advantage to keep things close against the best team in the country. My guess is no, but in the Sandstorm, anything is possible.

      Prediction: Georgia 52 - South Carolina 24

      Penn State at Auburn, 3:30pm – CBS

      Last year the Tigers went into Happy Valley and played the Nittany Lions close, but ultimately came up short. This year Auburn is hoping to return the favor in what would be one of the biggest program wins they’ve had in a while.

      Penn State on the other hand, is aiming for a climb up the top 25 rankings and cementing themselves as a contender. There’s no doubt that Jordan Hare Stadium will be ROCKIN for this one, but at the end of the day, I think Penn State has too much talent and the atmosphere is nothing Penn State’s sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford hasn’t seen before.

      Prediction: Penn State 20 - Auburn 17


      Miami at Texas A&M, 9:00pm – ESPN

      By now everyone knows Texas A&M was embarrassed last week by Appalachian State. Since then, they’ve named a new starting quarterback, and spent the last week trying to defend their program and weird traditions on the internet. This feels like a must-win for Jimbo Fisher if he wants to keep his oil money boosters happy.

      For Miami this is the first big test of the Cristobal era, and a win here would no doubt have those “donors” feeling good about their investment.

      As much as I love our “Sucks to be U” shirts, I think it’s going to be a “Sucks to be Us” for Texas A&M fans, as last year’s Alabama win fades further into Aggieland memory.

      Prediction: Miami 24 - Texas A&M 17 


      OTHER GAMES TO KEEP AN EYE ON

      • Oklahoma at Nebraska, Noon – FOX
        First game in the post Scott Frost Era
      • BYU at Oregon, 3:30pm – FOX
        Potentially huge playoff implications out West early in the season
      • USF at Florida, 7:30pm – SEC NETWORK
        No reason other than that we have some USF graduates in the Smack house, and avoiding embarrassment at the hand of the Gators would be a win.
      NFL Sunday: 
      Sunday Night Football: Chicago at Green Bay, 8:30pm – NBC

      No love lost between these two rivals! Chicago is 1-0, while Green Bay is off to another slow start. Should be a fun one to finish the weekend! 

      Enjoy your weekend, Smack Fam! Keep an eye on our socials for gametime Smack talk! 

      To celebrate Friday, enjoy 15% off the entire website with promo code: SMACK 

      www.SmackApparel.com

       

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/14: Forget Everything You Thought You Knew

      Tuesday Takeaways 9/14: Forget Everything You Thought You Knew

      Week Two of college football left us all wondering what the hell just happened, and Week One of the NFL felt a lot like a glorified preseason game. Here are our five takeaways from what we saw:

      1. DON’T “F” WITH THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE. 

      There were three massive “upsets” in college football this weekend:

      • Appalachian State beat Texas A&M 17-14 in College Station 
      • Marshall beat Notre Dame 26-21 in South Bend
      • Georgia Southern beat Nebraska 45-42 in Lincoln 

      What do all of these upsets have in common? They all came at the hands of the Sun Belt Conference. What’s important to remember is that these aren’t just one-off upsets either. Hell, just last week Old Dominion (ahem, also Sun Belt) beat Virginia Tech, while two years ago Coastal Carolina (yep, Sun Belt) beat 13th ranked BYU. 

      These teams play a fun brand of football and can clearly go toe to toe with almost anyone in the country. The best part? They’ll take your million-dollar payouts and come beat you in your own house. 

      All I’m saying is that after this weekend, I’d think long and hard about scheduling a team from the Sun Belt if you’re looking for an early season “easy-wins.”

      Sunbelt Conference

      2. You Don’t Want Bama.

      In what I’d consider the best game of the weekend, Texas and Alabama went toe to toe in front of 100k+ in Austin, Texas. The Longhorns looked better for most of the game but ultimately it was Bryce Young making plays, and a late field goal that sealed the win for the Crimson Tide. 

      The big story from this game (outside of the fact that Texas was almost “back”) was that Texas freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers was injured and knocked out of the game in the first half. As Ewers laid on the ground and the camera panned the stadium, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a familiar situation that hit close to home.

      In 2017, #1 Alabama opened the season against #3 Florida State and much like the Texas game, it was a back and forth affair. That was until the play that sent Florida State’s program into a free fall.

      FSU’s highly touted quarterback, Deondre Francois, took a hard (clean) hit from an Alabama defender and was knocked out of the game, and eventually the season with a knee injury…

      That season and injury proved to be the beginning of the end for the Jimbo Fisher era at FSU, and eventually put the program in a hole that they just now appear to be slowly climbing out of.

      Now I’m not saying that level of destruction will happen to Texas, but perhaps teams should think twice before they schedule Alabama. You never know what can happen with that Nick Saban juju…

      3. Contrary to last week’s newsletter, turns out the state of Florida might not be back.

      UCF lost at home to Louisville on Friday night, and the Florida Gators lost to Kentucky in The Swamp. I’ll admit, I may have jumped the gun last week claiming that the once-powerhouse state was back from the dead. Stay tuned. 

      4. The State of Texas could be in for a long year.  

      As if Saturday’s losses weren’t hard enough for the good-football-loving people of Texas (Baylor also lost to BYU), things only got worse on NFL Sunday. 

      To start the day, the Houston Texans blew a 17-point lead to end up playing for a tie in overtime vs the Indianapolis Colts. Meanwhile in Arlington, the beloved Dallas Cowboys lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-3.

      However, the big story from Sunday was the injury to Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, Dak Prescott. Midway through the fourth quarter, Dak pulled himself out of the game with a thumb injury to his throwing hands. After the game, Dallas’ worst fears were confirmed, and that thumb injury will require surgery, keeping the QB sidelined for at least two months. 

      5. NFL Week One is a Mirage

      Some results from Week One will leave a lot of people scratching their heads, but I wouldn’t look too much into what happened Sunday (and Monday.)

      Most, if not all, of the starters across the league hadn’t played a full game of football since last year and that “rust” won the day. 

      The NFL is a marathon, not a sprint – and a lot of these Week One losses were just an example of a couple vets being slow out of the gates. 

      Is Pat McAfee the Heir Apparent to Lee Corso on College Gameday?

      Is Pat McAfee the Heir Apparent to Lee Corso on College Gameday?

      A rumor made its internet rounds last night that the ex-NFL punter turned must-see TV media analyst, Pat McAfee, would be joining the College Gameday crew for the rest of the season… This morning those rumors were confirmed.

      First thing first – this is a MASSIVE win for ESPN. Since his first day at Barstool Sports, when he announced his retirement via a fake news conference at the Super Bowl, McAfee brought an energy and refreshing new twist to the way sports are covered in this country.

      Before any traditionalists jump to the conclusion that McAfee isn’t for them, I suggest giving his podcast “The Pat McAfee Show 2.0” a listen. His interviews, knowledge and overall ability to make boring seem fun make him someone any Smack fan can appreciate.

      McAfee has a long history of putting entertainment first. He’s not afraid to push the envelope to get the audience engaged and laughing. He was once arrested during his college days at West Virginia – the police report is enough to prove he's comedic gold. 

      Given his larger-than-life personality, and ESPN’s need to fill it’s most important seat to date, this leads us to the obvious question:

      Is Pat McAfee the heir apparent to Lee Corso?

      The timing definitely checks out, especially when you consider that the Great Lee Corso is 87 years young, and ESPN will need to pull off a smooth transition sooner rather than later.

      Possibly even more important than the timing, is getting the right person to fill the chair. College Gameday is one of the greatest shows on the planet, and with McAfee, ESPN has found the perfect replacement to continue their reign.

      He will certainly have some big shoes to fill. Lee Corso is a beloved staple in American football, after firing up the crowds, dropping accidental F-bombs and throwing on mascots head gear for 35 years. Time will tell if Pat is up to the challenge, but we’re excited to watch the chemistry unfold!