Following Week 9, we have only six undefeated teams remaining. Oklahoma and Southern Cal were dismissed from the national-title conversation with losses vs. Notre Dame and at Arizona, respectively.
Let’s start by taking a look at the three biggest stories of the weekend…
1-At a 2:00 p.m. teleconference Sunday in Columbia, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier revealed only that junior running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a dislocated kneecap that was put back in place. Spurrier said that the doctors are uncertain if Lattimore will be able to return in 2013.
Let’s just hope that Lattimore’s career isn’t over.
The grotesque injury reminded me of three I’ve seen through the years. Tyrone Prothro had a nasty injury in a win over Florida in 2005 and never played again. When he was featured on HBO’s Real Sports a few years ago, Prothro was still walking with a little bit of a limp.
In 1985, Giants Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor sacked Washington quarterback Joe Theismann, who suffered a compound leg fracture. His attempts at a comeback came up short and he never played in an NFL regular-season game again.
The third injury that I recalled after watching Lattimore go down Saturday was to Miami Hurricanes’ RB Willis McGahee in the BCS Championship Game against Ohio St. Let’s hope that Lattimore’s prognosis is similar to that of McGahee’s. He didn’t play the following season but has enjoyed a solid pro career and is still playing for the Broncos.
Lattimore is a true junior so he could conceivably sit out next season as a redshirt and play for the Gameococks as a fifth-year senior in 2014. McGahee went ahead and turned pro knowing he couldn’t play as a rookie, and the Bills took a chance on him with a late first-round pick.
I hope Lattimore does the same because I want this kid with great character to get paid. Coming back to South Carolina in 2014 might hurt his stock if it’s clear that the injury took away from his speed and quickness.
Best wishes to Lattimore, probably the best player in South Carolina football history.
2- In the school’s biggest game in years, Notre Dame (8-0 straight up, 5-3 against the spread) went into Norman and captured a 30-13 win as an 11-point road underdog. The Fighting Irish had another stellar defensive effort, holding an eighth straight foe to 17 points or less. They are now second in the country in scoring defense, giving up only 9.9 points per game.
Cierre Wood rushed for 74 yards on just seven carries, including a 62-yard touchdown scamper to give Notre Dame its first lead midway through the first quarter. Freshman QB Everett Golson threw for 177 yards and ran for 64 and, most importantly, didn’t commit a turnover.
Brian Kelly’s team has four games left on the regular-season slate: vs. Pitt, at Boston College, vs. Wake Forest and at USC.
3- Before Saturday’s trip to Jacksonville, Georgia was 2-5 ATS and had been underachieving all year long against a soft schedule. But after forcing six turnover to win a 17-9 decision over arch-rival Florida, the Bulldogs now control their own destiny in the SEC East and are definitely ‘in the mix’ of national-title contenders.
Truth be told, both teams played horrible, especially on offense. But Jarvis Jones made plays galore, including a forced fumble late in the fourth quarter when UF tight end Jordan Reed lunged toward the end zone at about the three yard line. UGA recovered the fumble to seal the victory, just their fifth over the Gators in the last 23 years. Jones finished with 13 total tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries.
For the first time since 1972, Kent St. will go bowling this year. That became a certainty when the Flashes went into New Jersey as 13 ½-point underdogs and beat previously-unbeaten Rutgers, 35-23.
Louisville is the only remaining unbeaten team in the Big East after knocking off Cincinnati on Friday night, 34-31. The Bearcats lost for the second straight week but they hooked up their backers as 3 ½-point underdogs. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 416 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
U of L will be heavily favored in two remaining home games vs. Temple and UConn. The Cardinals will also be favored at Syracuse and they’ll play their regular-season finale at Rutgers on a Thursday in frigid conditions. The longer Louisville stays unbeaten, the more head coach Charlie Strong will be mentioned as a candidate for a slew of jobs that’ll be opening soon. Only time will tell how the Cards will handle those distractions.
Speaking of coaching changes, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is on his way out. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens at some point Monday, but Tony Basilio indicated on his blog this morning that the move probably won’t happen for a few more weeks.
Nevertheless, it’s a given that Dooley is a goner. The Vols covered the number in Saturday’s 38-35 loss at South Carolina, but they are now 0-5 in SEC play and have dropped 12 of their last 13 SEC games.
In the coming days and weeks, you’ll hear rumors about Jon Gruden being UT’s No. 1 choice. Without a doubt, UT has the money to make him the highest paid coach in America. And there are legitimate connections to UT for Gruden, who met his wife while serving as a graduate assistant for the Vols in the mid-1980s. But I consider this a major longshot and won’t believe it until I see it.
Basilio, who is the host of one of the most popular sports talk shows in Knoxville, reported that Gruden is doing his due diligence in relation to the job. According to Basilio, Gruden called Lane Kiffin last Wednesday and Kiffin gave a ringing endorsement of the job, the facilities and the community.
I think the realistic candidates will be Strong, Sonny Dykes, Gary Patterson, Kirby Smart and possibly Butch Davis. I didn’t include Boise St.’s Chris Petersen because he’ll only leave for an ideal situation and even though UT is an elite job, there are issues that need to be fixed and the last half-dozen years have been a nightmare.
The most likely destination for Petersen will be Oregon if/when Chip Kelly bolts for the pros.
Ole Miss picked the right man when it hired Hugh Freeze, who inherited a mess but has the Rebels sporting a 5-3 SU record and a 7-1 ATS mark. Freeze’s team went into Little Rock on Saturday and collected a 30-27 win as a 6 ½-point underdog.
Bryson Rose buried a 31-yard field goal to win it as time expired. Bo Wallace outplayed Tyler Wilson and now Ole Miss will go to Athens to try and become bowl eligible and renew the chances of Florida and South Carolina in the SEC East
Staying in the SEC, Texas A&M trounced Auburn 63-21 by producing the most points ever by an opponent at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Aggies covered the spread as 15 ½-point road favorites. Like Dooley, AU head coach Gene Chizik will be out of a job at the end of the season, if not sooner.
Like I said a few weeks ago, if there’s an institution that won’t hesitate to hire Bobby Petrino, this is the one. If it doesn’t work out with Auburn and Petrino, Arkansas St. head coach Gus Malzahn could be in play here. Then again, Malzahn might prefer the Arkansas job over Auburn’s, but is Malzahn the top choice in Fayetteville? I’m not sure that he is.
Tommy Tuberville and Butch Davis are both originally from Arkansas. Tuberville wants back in the SEC badly and Davis would be elated to get any SEC job. Both men still have plenty of good coaching left in them and would be solid hires. I still say Western Kentucky’s Willie Taggart will be the next head coach at Kentucky.
If there are two teams that certainly aren’t looking for new coaches, it’s Ohio St. and Penn St. The Buckeyes remained unbeaten and ended Penn State’s 6-0 ATS run by going into Happy Valley and emerging with a 35-23 win as one-point road favorites. Braxton Miller ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Coach of the Year Candidates:
1-Bill Snyder (Kansas St.)
2-Brian Kelly (Notre Dame)
3-Nick Saban (Alabama)
4-Charlie Strong (Louisville)
5-Will Muschamp (Florida)
--The ‘over’ remains a perfect 8-0 in Tennessee games. The Vols can score but can’t stop anybody.
--North Carolina rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win a 43-35 decision over North Carolina St. as a seven-point home favorite. With 13 seconds left, UNC running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 73 yards for a TD. Then the miracle cover came when UNC scored a two-point conversion when the PAT snap was bad. I can't remember a cover on a two-point conversion off of a bad PAT snap since Atlanta beat San Francisco 20-18 as a three-point home favorite in the 1998 playoffs. I was at the Ga. Dome that day. The Falcons led 20-0 in the first half but when the 49ers cut the deficit to 20-16 late in the fourth quarter, most bettors appeared poised for a push as San Francisco lined up for the extra point. But a bad snap forced Steve Young to recover the ball and roll to his left before finding a receiver in the end zone, giving 49er backers a miraculous cover.
--BYU went into Atlanta and thumped Ga. Tech by a 41-17 count as a two-point underdog. Jamaal Williams ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns. The Cougars have the nation’s most underrated defense. When you hold a Paul Johnson offense to only 157 yards of total offense, you know you’re playing some serious defense.
1-Collin Klein (Kansas St.)
2-A.J. McCarron (Alabama)
3-Manti Te'o (Notre Dame)
4-Geno Smith (West Va.)
5-Colby Cameron (La. Tech)
6-Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
--Click here to check out my Power Rankings going into Week 10.
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.