Winner: Mike Leach, KJ Costello, & the Return of Stark-Vegas

Who said the “Air Raid” offense would not work in the SEC? Oh, that was all of us. Mike Leach made us all look like absolute fools this weekend and KJ Costello was the perfect QB to bring down to Starkville. Nobody, especially Bo Pelini & Coach O, thought Mississippi State could come to Tiger Stadium and throw for an SEC record 623 yards, while putting up 44 points on the vaunted LSU defense. 

If you told any expert or LSU fan in the country that the LSU defense would have 5 sacks, force 4 turnovers, & hold Mississippi State to under 20 yards rushing; they would have predicted a complete beatdown by the Tigers. Instead, Costello set an SEC record that may never be touched by anyone other than him later this season, Kylin Hill found his place in this offense by being Alvin Kamara 2.0, & the Mississippi State defense racked up 7 sacks and made Myles Brennan uncomfortable for 60 minutes. The weapons on this Bulldogs offense is something to see, because whether it is Osirus Hill, Kylin Hill, JaVonta Peyton, or Tyrell Shavers; there is someone Costello is going to hit 10+ yards downfield and you cannot cover everyone. 

It was an absolute spectacle down in Baton Rouge Saturday and LSU may have been the first victim, but I assure you, it was not the last. This scheme is something none of the defensive coordinators in the SEC have seen and there’s going to be a learning curve; similar to Gus Malzahn’s HUNH offense in 2010. Look out for the Bulldogs this season, because as Baker Mayfield would say, “They woke up dangerous.”

 

Loser: LSU without Joe, Joe, & Dave

I released my “Way Too Early” Top-25 rankings a few months back and had LSU ranked #15 and I caught some push back from down in Baton Rouge. I felt as if the losses of Joe Burrow, Joe Brady, & especially Dave Arranda were going to be too much to overcome for the Tigers. Well, 1 game in the books, it looks like I was absolutely correct because this LSU team looked lost in almost every phase of the game. 

The defense did do some good things, but without Derek Stingley, the only DB to have a positive impact was Eli Ricks. Darren Evans got absolutely roasted, JaCoby Stevens did not play well in coverage, & Cordale Flott did not live up to all his preseason hype. This defense allowed the Bulldogs to convert 50% of their 3rd downs, while allowing 3 touchdowns on 3 of those. The defense did sack the QB, 5 sacks, but missed countless assignments that cost the Tigers the game. The defense lacked intensity, focus, and discipline. I think Dave Arranda would have brought a much better gameplan and kept this defense in better spots to succeed. 

The LSU offense had bright spots, such as Terrace Marshall & Arik Gilbert, but most of the players have nothing positive to take away. The Tigers somehow lost the T.O.P. battle to a team that only rushed for 9 total yards, which is an indictment on this team moving the chains and controlling the ball. Only converting 5 of their 17 3rd downs is not a recipe for success and 2 INTs really kept Mississippi State in the game. Myles Brennan looked uncomfortable in the pocket and the OL struggled with a DL that may be average at best, which could signal real problems down the stretch. The running game was abysmal as well, because a 2.1 rushing average is not going to win many SEC games. LSU has too much talent on this offense to struggle like this, but the OL is the biggest concern for me, because Florida, Alabama, & Auburn are much more talented than Mississippi State on the DL. 

Joe Burrow, Joe Brady, or Dave Arranda; if you are reading this please come back to Baton Rouge because I have friends & family who root for the LSU Tigers and they are not in a good place. They finally realize Bo Pelini, Myles Brennan, & Steve Ensminger are not good replacements, so for them, please take your talents back to LSU.

 

Winner: Kansas State

Listen, Kansas State deserves all the credit here for this win because they could have easily just mailed in the season after a brutal loss 2 weeks ago to Arkansas State. Add that to the fact Kansas State was missing 10 players due to COVID and we have one of the best upsets this season. 

Skyler Thompson (QB) outplayed Sooners’ QB, Spencer Ratter, this weekend and averaged an outstanding 13.4 yards per completion. Thompson also racked up 3 rushing TDs, which shows the versatility of the Wildcats’ QB. Between Thompson and breakout star, Deuce Vaughn, this Wildcats offense is absolutely a problem moving forward in the 2020 season. Vaughn had over 170 total scrimmage yards & 1 TD, which really was the turning point late in the game. 

The Kansas State defense, who 2 weeks ago could not stop the Arkansas State passing game, played opportunistic football down the stretch and kept the Wildcats in the game. I know this defense gave up over 500 yards of total offense, but that is a common theme down in Norman. The real difference became the 3 turnovers that this Wildcats’ defense forced Spencer Rattler into down the stretch. Those turnovers are why the Wildcats overcame 13 penalties for over 100 yards, losing the possession battle, being outgained in rushing & passing, and the 2/11 on 3rd down conversions this Saturday. The Wildcats showed they have heart and pulled off an even bigger upset this year when compared to last season’s huge upset in the “Little Apple.”

 

Winner: Miami’s Hype Train & King’s Heisman Run

I was on the hype train for the Hurricanes, but Gregory Rousseau’s opt out made me hesitantly hop off. Well, I was completely wrong because D’Eriq King and those boys are dominating down there in South Beach. The Hurricanes are 3-0 now and even have a road win over a ranked team (Louisville), but the biggest thing is how Miami is winning these games. 

D’Eriq King has been playing elite football since Day 1 this season, which should come as no surprise to anybody. I think he is on track to put up stats better than Justin Fields did in the 2019 season, because I think he is a more efficient runner when compared to Fields. Zero turnovers compared to 7 total TDs through 3 games is the biggest, most important stat to know about King’s season. This weekend he threw the football more than any other game this season, but still had his highest completion percentage (72.5%). King’s Heisman run is off to an outstanding start, but 2 weeks in Death Valley may be the biggest stage King has ever been on and he needs to perform. 

The Hurricanes’ defense seems to have clicked and, even without Rousseau, this defensive line has been unstoppable. Quincy Roche, Jaelan Phillips, & Nesta Jade Silvera have been arguably the best DL unit in the entire country. Racking up 6 sacks this week along with forcing 3 INTs shows how physical, opportunistic, & talented this Hurricanes defense is in 2020. All 3 INTs were by different players, all 6 sacks were by different players, so let that sink in. The secondary locked down Louisville’s explosive attack last week, while shutting down Florida State’s offense from the first drive. 

Right now, based strictly off of performance in the 2020 season, Miami is clearly the 2nd best team in the ACC. They look much, much better than Notre Dame, they have a much better defense than UNC, & I think they are the biggest threat to Clemson as of today. If King, Cam’Ron Harris, & this defense continue to play at this high level, then I think that Clemson-Miami matchup in 2 weeks may be one for the ages.

 

Loser: Florida State’s Entire Existence

Just refer to the tweets above for how I feel about Florida State’s football program. Let’s start with the fact that HC Mike Norvell could not even coach this week due to a positive COVID test late last week. I do not necessarily blame him, but if we are going to preach accountability for players, then why does the HC of a program not get held to a higher standard than his players? It just encompasses the lack of direction, leadership, & discipline that has plagued this program since the Bobby Bowden days. 

On the field has been an absolute disaster for the Seminoles in 2020 and even dating back to 2016. A loss to Georgia Tech (Who is now 1-2 after being boat raced by Syracuse this weekend) is inexcusable when that defense has 7-9 future NFL players, while Georgia Tech may have a handful. This weekend the Seminoles lost 52-10 to their archrival in a primetime game, in which College Gameday showed up. The Noles allowed Miami to score on every single 1st half possession, while allowing them to convert over 60% of their 3rd downs. The Noles also racked up over 110 yards on penalties, while turning the ball over 3 times. It was an absolute beatdown by the Hurricanes and the Noles may be looking at a winless ACC schedule this season if things do not turn around. 

The reasons Jimbo Fisher left Florida State have come to light over the last few seasons. This may be the worst job in the ACC, because there seems to be systemic issues within leadership & the locker room. There is a giant QB issue, because none of the QBs on the roster look like they can lead a team to a meaningful win and even wins in games they should win. Mike Norvell may already be on the hot seat; especially if Florida State fails to finish Top-8 in the ACC, which they won’t. Florida State is the biggest dumpster fire in the ACC and maybe even the country, because there is no reason a program like Florida State should struggle like this. 

 

Winner: Kyle Pitts

I don’t think I have ever seen a TE as dominant as Kyle Pitts in my entire life. Pitts has the size (6’6; 240 lbs.) and the speed (4.6-4.7) to be an absolute matchup nightmare for any defender that must try to cover him. Pitts should be the #1 TE drafted once he heads to the NFL and I think he should be a Top-10 pick, because every great dynasty has had a dominant TE. 

Ole Miss did not have a single defensive player that could stop Pitts this weekend, which is evident by his 170 yards & 4 TD performance down in Oxford. Pitts averaged over 21 yards per catch and consistently was either wide open or made dominant catches over defenders, which kept the momentum with the Gators throughout the game. Pro Football Focus gave Pitts a grade of 95.7 for his performance, which is about as close to perfect as a TE could probably ever be. I would say Pitts had the most impressive, dominant performance over the weekend due to the flawlessness of his game and the absolute domination. 

 

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