Tennessee Ends Years of Florida Frustration – College Football Week 4
VolsTennessee got a Gator-sized chip off its shoulder, Wisconsin showed it will be a player in the Big Ten and Notre Dame's nightmare season continued. Here are some of the takeaways from Week 4 in college football.
Tennessee Ended 12 Years of Frustration the Hard Way
No. 14 Tennessee had lost 11 straight games to Florida and, for the first 30 minutes on Saturday, it looked like another disappointment. The No. 19 Gators jumped out to a 21-0 lead and the Vols left the field at the end of the first half to a chorus of boos from the home fans.
I don't know what Tennessee coach Butch Jones said at halftime, but they should bottle and sell it, as the Volunteers came out of the locker room and erupted for 35 unanswered points in a 15 minute span en route to a 38-28 win. While Tennessee made the game much more exciting than it should have been, the second half earned the seal of approval from at least one former Vol.
The Tennessee win, combined with Georgia's blowout loss at Ole Miss, puts the Volunteers squarely in the driver's seat in the SEC East. While Tennessee has been in this position before and found ways to blow it, for now we're just going to let the Vols enjoy this moment that's been a dozen years in the making.
Wisconsin Will Be a Contender
With its 30-6 rout of No. 8 Michigan State, No. 11 Wisconsin announced emphatically that it will be a force with which to reckon in the Big Ten. The Badgers' next four games are against No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan, defending Big Ten West champion Iowa and No. 20 Nebraska. And Nebraska and Minnesota, the other two unbeaten teams in the Big Ten West, both have easier schedules. So the Badgers certainly have an uphill battle. But with wins over LSU and Michigan State already in its back pocket, Wisconsin showed this weekend that it is ready to contend--and not just play spoiler--in the Big Ten.
The Lamar Jackson Hype Train Keeps Picking Up Steam
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson scored seven touchdowns in the Cardinals' 59-28 win over Marshall. The sophomore has more touchdowns through four games (25) than any player since 2005 and is the only player in that same span to have multiple seven-touchdown games in a season. Jackson now has more touchdowns than all but one team in FBS.
It seems odd to say someone could lock up the Heisman trophy by the first of October but, if Jackson can have another big performance in a win next week over No. 3 Clemson, at this point it's difficult to imagine anyone catching up to him.
Les Miles' Seat is Getting Really Warm
Last year, Les Miles barely survived a behind-the-scenes effort by some big-time boosters to fire him as the Tigers' head coach. This year he might not be so lucky.
No. 18 LSU thought they had pulled off a last-second comeback win against Auburn when quarterback Danny Etling hit receiver D.J. Shark for a 15-yard touchdown as time expired. The play was originally ruled a game-winning score for LSU, but the play was reviewed and replay showed the Tigers hadn't gotten the play off before time expired, giving the win back to Auburn.
That emotional swing, combined with an overall anemic offense (111th nationally) and the season-opening loss to Wisconsin is ratcheting up the pressure on Les MIles to right the ship once again. But with the cream of the SEC West--Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M--still looming ahead on the schedule, that might be easier said than done.
This Could Be a Long Year for Notre Dame
In retrospect, maybe we should have seen the warning signs after Notre Dame gave up 517 yards and 50 points in a season-opening loss to Texas. But after this week's loss to Duke, it is painfully obvious that the Fighting Irish defense is not only not championship caliber, but might make it tough for Notre Dame to even be bowl eligible at the end of season.
The Fighting Irish gave up 38 points and 498 yards to a Duke team that averaged just 13.5 points and 382 yards in two previous matchups with FBS opponents (both losses). So far this season, Notre Dame has given up 134 total points, the most it has ever allowed through the first four games in a season.
(Update: Since this article was originally published, Notre Dame announced that defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder has been fired.)
Unfortunately for Irish faithful, things could get a lot worse before they get better. Notre Dame's eight remaining opponents have a combined record of 20-8 and only one (1-3 USC) currently has a losing record.