In yet another example of ground-breaking journalism, Smack Zone staffers risked life and limb to attain this enlightening page from the Steve Sarkisian playbook.[/caption] Look, we don't want to make light of a man's alcohol problem. And clearly, Southern Cal football coach Steve Sarkisian has a very real alcohol problem. But we here in the Smack Zone central office take our public service role seriously. So, when our enterprising editorial staff acquired a top secret page from Sarkisian's playbook, we felt it was in the interest of Trojans and other college football fans throughout the land that we share this enlightening information. We wish Coach Sarkisian a long, healthy, happy recovery during his enforced, indefinite leave of absence. We also wish to offer the USC Trojans a sober wish of ... well, sobriety under interim coach Clay Helton.
[caption id="attachment_1312" align="aligncenter" width="474"] Texas shocked Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry Saturday, but all that did was raise the question: Where was that performance against everyone else? Smack Zone illustration: Steve Hill.[/caption] OK, we'll own it. We were wrong about the outcome of the Red River Rivalry. We incorrectly wrote off the Texas Longhorns, and they came out Saturday and put it on the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-17. Good job, Longhorns. You deserved to win and you can bask in the glory of another upset of your biggest rival. Too bad you still suck. What? You won, sure. Congratulations. You're 2-4, 1-2 in the Big 12. You still lost to Notre Dame and Texas Christian by a combined score of 88-10. Yes, Coach Charlie Strong body-surfed his way out of the Texas State Fairground Saturday, and his players could congratulate themselves for "winning one for Coach." That can work -- once or twice. College football is great because occasionally, the young men who strap it on can get motivated to play above their collective ability and shock the world. In the long run, though, talent defeats motivation. That's how the Longhorns used to win: They had better players than the other guys. Now? Not so much. Oh, and here is the bottom line when it comes to the Red River Rivalry: As long as victories by Texas are considered "upsets," the Longhorns are a long way away from their former national prominence.
[caption id="attachment_1267" align="alignright" width="178"] Michigan is rolling, but can the Wolverines overcome Northwestern's stingy D?[/caption] The mid-point of college football season is just about here. Some games this week mean something. Here is a breakdown of three of those games, with the Smack Zone fearless forecast. Read it, then register for the Smack Zone weekly football picks contest for a chance to win Smack Apparel merchandise (see link below). (Yes, we know Texas plays Oklahoma this week, but we figure anyone who picks the Longhorns in that one isn't qualified to be here or even watch sports.) No. 13 Northwestern (5-0, 3-0 BIG 10) vs. No. 18 Michigan (4-1, 1-0 BIG 10) Anyone who tells you that they predicted a 5-0 start for Northwestern is, quite simply, a liar. After a stunning upset of Stanford to open the season, the Wildcats have somewhat quietly climbed their way into the top 15. A win in Ann Arbor on Saturday afternoon would solidify Pat Fitzgerald’s squad as a team to be reckoned with in the second half of the season. While their offense is far from overwhelming, their defense has been stifling. Led by Senior DL Dean Lowry, Northwestern is allowing an FBS best seven points per game. Under first-year coach and Michigan man, Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines have wasted little time returning to national relevancy. With a victory this Saturday, Michigan will have already matched their win total from 2014. Although their passing game has left much to be desired, the Wolverines’ rushing attack has picked up the slack, averaging more than 230 yards per game during their four-game winning streak. Of course, like Northwestern, they have relied heavily on a defense that has posted back-to-back shutouts against BYU and Maryland, and is giving up just 7.6 points per game. Smack Zone’s Pick: If you’re a fan of defense and tough, old-school football, this game is definitely right up your alley. Barring Jim Harbaugh making a return to play quarterback for his alma mater, don’t expect many fireworks in the Big House Saturday afternoon. We like the Wolverines in a slugfest, 17-13. No. 23 California (5-0, 2-0 PAC 12) vs. No. 5 Utah (4-0, 1-0 PAC 12) It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, the Golden Bears finished 1-11 and were one of college football’s worst teams. Now in their third season under head coach Sonny Dykes, Cal is seeking its first 6-0 start since 1950. Junior quarterback and NFL prospect Jared Goff has already thrown 15 touchdowns this year and is completing better than 70 percent of his passes for a Golden Bears’ offense that is averaging over 43 points per game. Not to be outdone, their defense leads the FBS with 18 takeaways through 5 games. Utah has climbed all the way up to No. 5 in the AP Poll after a 63-20 rout of Oregon in Eugene. Senior quarterback Travis Wilson picked a great time to play one of the best games of his career, accounting for nearly 330 yards of total offense and torching the Ducks’ secondary for four touchdown passes. Coming off a bye week, the Utes will look to keep that momentum going with another victory over a Top 25 team. Through five games, this is a team that certainly deserves much consideration as a legitimate playoff contender. Smack Zone’s Pick: College GameDay will be on campus in Salt Lake City for this matchup of the PAC 12’s lone remaining unbeatens. Both offenses will surely put up points, however, Utah’s defense, and a rowdy home crowd will seal this one in the fourth quarter. We’ll take the Utes in a good one, 38-31. [caption id="attachment_1268" align="alignleft" width="300"] Florida State will roll. Right? Oh, yeah. That's right.[/caption] Miami (3-1, 0-0 ACC) vs. No. 12 Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC) We’re only a week into October and Miami fans are already calling for Al Golden’s job. (Again) If he loses to rival Florida State for the fifth time in five tries on Saturday night, the Hurricane faithful may not even welcome him back to South Florida. Miami’s offense has largely been led by two sophomores, quarterback Brad Kaaya and running back Joseph Yearby, who have combined for nine touchdowns. They’ll certainly look to get the Hurricanes off to a fast start offensively, just as they did in last year’s matchup against Florida State, when they jumped out to a 16-0 lead. After suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter of a win over Wake Forest last weekend, ACC rushing leader, Dalvin Cook, is currently listed as day to day. Although Jimbo Fisher is confident that his star running back will be ready to go Saturday night, Johnathan Vickers and Jacques Patrick can be expected to see additional snaps with backup Mario Pender still hospitalized with complications due to a collapsed lung. Thankfully for Florida State, their defense has been stout thus far this year allowing just 11.5 points per game, good for sixth in the country. Smack Zone’s Pick: This has been a historically great rivalry, and that’s enough of a reason to tune in. Everett Golson hasn’t been lights out so far (he’s no Jameis Winston) but he has yet to throw an interception this year. Meanwhile, Miami ranks second-to-last in the FBS in third-down efficiency and Kaaya is just 2-6 on the road as a starter. Miami will make mistakes and Florida State will take advantage. We’ve got the Noles, 31-17. Think you can do better? Test your pigskin prognostication prowess in the Smack Zone weekly football picks contest. Register and pick at CONTEST.SMACKAPPAREL.COM. The weekly winner receives three Smack Apparel t-shirts and the runner-up gets one t-shirt. DO IT!
[caption id="attachment_1236" align="aligncenter" width="474"] Things are bad for the University of Texas, but it could always be worse. Illustration: Steve Hill for Smack Zone.[/caption] We know what you’re thinking: What college football team sucks more than the Texas Longhorns under second-year coach Charlie Strong? Wait a minute. WHY WOULD YOU ASK SUCH A QUESTION? What are you, some kind of agitator? Do you relish negativity? Are you one of those people who enjoys the misery of others? Damn, that’s cold, dude. And at the start of Red River Rivalry week, too. You ought to be ashamed. Rather than ask such a negative, nasty, unhelpful question, why not take a positive approach? Why not think of it in terms of how much better University of Texas football is than these 33 things:
- A root canal.
- Dropping a bowling ball on your big toe.
- Taking a sip of coffee that you thought was still warm but turns out to be ice-freaking-cold.
- Taking a sip of coffee you didn’t realize was about 8,000 degrees and burning the hell of out your tongue.
- Unpassable kidney stones.
- Running out of gas on Route 90 between Del Rio, Texas, and Van Horn, Texas.
- NOT running out of gas on Route 90 between Del Rio and Van Horn.
- Idaho football. Barely.
- Dropping your iPhone in the toilet.
- Losing the remote. Again.
- Sitting in a recliner 15 feet away from the coffee table, which is where the remote turned out to be.
- Graduating with $60,000 in student loan debt and having to move back in with your parents.
- Standing in line for an hour at the DMV with no signal on your iPhone.
- When the PlayStation network is hacked again and all you want to do is play FIFA 16.
- Going into the Swamp on a high with national title aspirations and getting the crap kicked out of you.
- Getting sand in your Tag Heuer at the beach.
- Not being able to figure out what Instagram filter works best on your amazing sunset photo.
- Drafting Jordy Nelson in the first round on your fantasy football team.
- When Tori Spelling spills the beans about your summer romance.
- Any given Kardashian.
- At least half of the kickers in the NFL today.
- Stepping in dog poop – barefoot.
- Getting eliminated from baseball’s post-season on the last day of the season.
- Getting your name spelled incorrectly on the cup at Starbucks.
- When you have the perfect tweet about how bad Texas football is, but it’s too many characters.
- Finding out Darth Vader is your father.
- Finding out Hayden Christensen is Darth Vader.
- Making out with Michael Scott of the Office.
- Having to login EVERY TIME you open an app on a free Wi-Fi signal.
- Craving Chick-fil-A on a Sunday.
- Watching your carefully planned and choreographed Star Trek routine turn into a national laughing stock when the band loses its shape on the field and it starts to look like a giant Jawhawk performing oral sex instead of battling the Enterprise. [caption id="attachment_931" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Image: Kansas State University.[/caption]
- Toby Flenderson.
Week five of the college football season is shaping up to be the best so far. There are so many marquee matchups. More on that below, because one game stands head and shoulders above ANYTHING the rest of the country can conjure. Eastern Michigan at Louisiana State University. Wait. What? Let us explain: Earlier this week, Herschel Walker said that he thinks Leonard Fournette is a better running back in college than he was. Walker is regarded as one of the top college players of all time, and a winner of the Heisman trophy. For him to say Fournette is better makes us think HARD about it. And you know what? Walker might have a point.
Fournette is averaging over 200 yards a game so far. He is so good, he has many people saying he should sit out next year to not hurt his draft stock *cough cough Marcus Lattimore*. There are a few worthy candidates for the Heisman this season, including RB Nick Chubb of Georgia, QB Jared Goff of Cal, and any given Ohio State Buckeye skill player. Fournette needs to keep his torrid pace to be the first non QB to win the award since Mark Ingram in 2009.
We aren’t talking another 200-yard, 2 TD game here. No. We want to see Fournette go off for 400 yards and 6 TD. Just absolutely demolish that Eastern Michigan defense. Against weaker competition, he needs to be the dean of Ball-So-Hard University. Come Saturday night, we fully expect Fournette to run wild and take even more of strangle hold on the Heisman.
Apparently, EMU's defense sucks. Like, really sucks. So, his biggest competition Saturday night could very well be his playing time and touches. Just give him the damn ball, LSU. Just let him do him.
Oh, as we mentioned, there are a FEW other things to watch besides Fournette’s assault on the college football history book. Here’s a quick look at the games we’ll be watching:
No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma: They battle to see who will finish behind TCU and Baylor.
No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana: This will be Cardele Jones’s first true road game, and if this was Indiana basketball, he might have to worry. IU football? Not so much. Probably.
No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida: The Rebs bring their championship hopes to Gainesville, where the Gators might have to rely on another fourth-quarter meltdown in order to win.
No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia: This will be the first time Bama is an underdog (+1.5) in five years. Let the panic ensue!
No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson: Hopefully no ND more players get injured before the game or they might have to forfeit.
Feeling lucky? Want to prove your prognostication prowess? Play the Smack Apparel weekly picks contest. You could win Smack Apparel t-shirts and bragging rights.
They can't tackle him pic.twitter.com/spxFwlkcNl
— The LSU Logo (@LSU_Logo) September 19, 2015