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      Smack Zone — Colleges

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      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. 

      Football. Obviously.

      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

      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 


      • 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 



      Smack Zone Exclusive: Enlightening Page from USC Coach Steve Sarkisian's Playbook

      Smack Zone Exclusive: Enlightening Page from USC Coach Steve Sarkisian's Playbook

      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.

      We're Talking About Practice

      College basketball season is almost upon us. That means it's time for the University of Kentucky to make another one-and-done run at the men's national title. And ESPNU was allllllll over it with a national cable broadcast of ... practice. Let us repeat that, just so we're clear: ESPNU carried live coverage of the University of Kentucky's men's basketball practice over the weekend. And a Louisville newspaper wrote an analysis of said broadcast/practice: Takeaways from UK's Live-TV Practice. If it was not apparent before, it is certainly beyond official now: The ESPN family of networks has WAY too much time on its hands. Because, seriously. We're talking about practice. University of Kentucky men's basketball practice, sure. But it was practice. Not a game. PRACTICE. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d29VsG35DQM]

      Longhorns Beat Oklahoma; Still Suck

      [caption id="attachment_1312" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Texas Longhorns 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.