Postscripts is my weekly wrap of the week that was on the road and in college football. Look for my travel news and notes here each Thursday, along with some of my opinions about what’s happening in the college game we all love. – Matthew Postins
A six-pack of thoughts as we hit the midway point of the college football season.
Auburn is the big hurdle game for Georgia in regards to being a legit playoff team, even with a loss to Alabama in the SEC title game (because, let’s face it, the Tide is the team to beat in the SEC West). And that Georgia-Auburn game comes down to young quarterback Jake Fromm. He truly hasn’t been tested yet. The Tigers will test him all game long. If Georgia survives that game and wins, it will be because Fromm make a play or two you’re not expecting a true freshman to make. It also means that, in my opinion, Georgia makes the College Football Playoff, assuming it goes 12-0 in the regular season, regardless of whether it wins the SEC title game. You really think the committee will hold a loss against the nation’s No. 1 team against the nation’s current No. 3 team? I don’t.
From our publisher Kendall Webb, during a conversation we had earlier this week:
“The Missouri Valley Football Conference is just ridiculous. Five teams in the Top 13, and Youngstown (State) is still No. 9 in the country despite being 3-3.”
For the record, it’s North Dakota State at No. 2, South Dakota at No. 4, Youngstown at No. 9, Western Illinois at No. 12 and South Dakota State at No. 13. I’m not sure if all five make the playoffs because, at some point, they’re going to start beating up on each other. But count on at least four making the postseason.
I’m starting to think that it’s the Pac-12, and not the Big 12, that has the most to worry about in terms of missing the College Football Playoff. Washington’s loss really hurt the Huskies and the conference overall. Washington State is good enough to beat Washington in the Apple Bowl, but probably not good enough to win all its remaining games. Those are two of the three teams in the league with a loss. USC is the third. The Trojans have Notre Dame this weekend and still have both Arizona teams and UCLA. I could see all three losing another game before they get to the Pac-12 title game. I think the Big 12 will have at least one 1-loss team when it’s all said and done.
Kendall hit the Emporia State game last weekend. During that game, Webb saw Division II’s No. 2 passer in terms of yards, Braxton Marstall (2,314 yards through 7 games). What is more impressive is the senior’s 19-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio.
Butch Jones, your time is darned near up. I just don’t see Tennessee keeping him much longer. It could be as soon as this weekend after the Vols lose to Alabama.
Who is your sneaky conference champ in the Group of 5? How about Fresno State, the team our Chuck Cox saw this past weekend. The Bulldogs were 1-11 last year, fired Tim DeRuyter, hired former Cal boss Jeff Tedford and they’re 3-0 in Mountain West action. Now, FSU still has San Diego State and ends the season with Boise State. But if Fresno State beats SDSU this weekend, the Bulldogs would have a two-game lead in the West Division, control their own destiny and afford to lose their finale with Boise State and still make the league title game.
My adventures in media. A quick look at the weird stuff that happened to me as I covered my game this week:
If you ever lived in Denton, Texas, for any length of time you know the roads there are in a perpetual state of construction. Now I hadn’t been up I-35 from Lewisville to Denton in a couple of years, so imagine my surprise when the construction was … largely … done. It was, for once, a pleasant drive up to Denton.
One thing you know if you cover UNT games is to get there early if you want some of the Prairie House Barbecue in the media dining area. Heck I got there 80 minutes before kick and the brisket and ribs were gone. Man can live on cole slaw and blackberry cobbler alone, but only for a short time. Whataburger was required after the game.
Photo vests are one of those things I’m not real wild about, mostly because few schools or conferences get it right. Baylor’s photos vests are like tents. Arkansas was the same way. TCU’s vests were a little better. The Pac-12 gets it right, but UNT nailed it. A plain tan vest held together with Velcro (just like the Pac-12 vests), but UNT takes it one better. They put a plastic sleeve on the left breast so you can put your pass in there. Genius.
My post-trip quick note. We have plenty of content coming at College Football America and RoadTripSports.com from our Week 7 travels. But for me, here are my quick notes on the stadium I visited last week:
North Texas: I’ve been going to UNT games since 1993. Back then they played in the FCS and played at Fouts Field (which is still standing on campus and serves as the primary venue for track and field and intramurals). I even covered the Mean Green as a sidebar writer and columnist for a couple of years while working for the Denton Record-Chronicle from 2002-04. These days the Mean Green play at Apogee Stadium, one of the best Group of 5 stadiums you’ll set foot in. It’s a far cry from Fouts Field, and Apogee features suites, ample concourse room and positioning that keeps its home fans out of the sun for late afternoon games. The stadium was built on the grounds of the old UNT golf course, so it has plenty of areas to tailgate and is part of a larger athletic complex that has built up around the stadium. There are two interesting features of Apogee Stadium. The first is its certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification. That means the stadium is built in a way that is supposed to have no impact on the environment. Of note are the three large wind turbines that are set near the home side of the stadium to help provide power to the complex. The second feature are the seats on the east side of the stadium behind the end zone. Built to look like a wing, it’s one of the most distinctive seating arrangements you’ll see in college football. It’s a great stadium. If you can get there one day, do it.
Also, check out the galleries from some of the stadiums I’ve visited this season (more are coming):
Stadium counts. According to our handy FBS Stadiums We’ve Visited list at RoadTripSports.com, I am now up to 51 FBS stadiums visited.
My photos. My galleries from my Week 7 game is below. Plus, to see all of our game and stadium galleries, click here to go to our Facebook page.
Heisman candidate of the week. I really don’t know if Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate can wiggle his way into the Heisman conversation, but it sure has been a fun couple of weeks, hasn’t it? In just two games he’s set the Pac-12 ablaze as the league’s next hot dual-threat quarterback. In fact, his 327 yards rushing against Colorado on Oct. 7 and his 230 yards rushing against UCLA on Oct. 14 are two of the Top 6 rushing performances in Wildcats history. He’s a solid passer (300 yards passing, two scores and no interceptions in two games), but if defenses can’t slow Tate down in the run game he’s just going to keep running over them. He’s made the Wildcats contenders in the Pac-12 South and may have just saved head coach Rich Rodriguez’s job. This is what happens in RichRod’s offense when he has the right quarterback. Tate looks like the right one. Next up? Rebuilding Cal, coming off that monster win over Washington State.
Previous Heisman Candidates of the Week profiled: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (Week 1); Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (Week 2); Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (Week 3); Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (Week 4); Stanford RB Bryce Love (Week 5); San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny (Week 6).
Hot seat coach of the week. Matt Wells was the beneficiary of the departure of Gary Andersen, when the latter coach left to take the Wisconsin job and Wells accepted the promotion from offensive coordinator. For two years, the Aggies remained successful in the Mountain West, winning a division crown in Wells’ first season and 19 games overall in his first two. The Aggies won bowl games both years as well. But since then the program has taken some hits, starting with a 6-7 2015 that saw the Aggies reach a bowl game. In 2016 the Aggies won just three games and this season, to this point, the Aggies have won just three games. Worse, they haven’t been competitive in the Mountain West (just two league wins since the start of the 2016 season). The remaining five games on Utah State’s schedules features just one team with a winning record in league play (Boise State), so it’s possible for Wells to turn it around and make it a respectable season. But if he can’t, would the brass at Utah State make a change? And might Wells’ roots at Utah State (he played quarterback there in the 1990s) help afford him another chance in 2018?
Previous hot seat coaches profiled: Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (Week 1); Bret Bielema, Arkansas (Week 2); Mike Riley, Nebraska (Week 3); Steve Addazio, Boston College (Week 4); Ed Orgeron, LSU (Week 5); Brad Lambert, Charlotte (Week 6).
Hot coaching name of the week. It’s time to start thinking of James Madison head coach Mike Houston as a coach that could make the leap into FBS in 2018. Since working his way into the head-coaching ranks in 2011 at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne, Houston has led his teams to four playoff berths, a Division II national championship game and an FCS championship with James Madison last year. In between he turned The Citadel back into a winner, going 9-4 in his final season in 2015 and took the Bulldogs to the second round of the FCS playoffs. Right now he has a career record of 62-20, and ESPN College Gameday’s recent visit to JMU offered Houston a chance to show off his program to potential recruits and potential new bosses (read: FBS athletic directors). The Bulldogs are probably due another deep playoff run as the nation’s No. 1 team in FCS, so anyone hoping to hire Houston will have to wait. But he may well be worth it.
Previous hot name coaches profiled: Mike London, Howard (Week 1); Tim Rebowe, Nicholls State (Week 2); Frank Wilson, UTSA (Week 3); Dave Clawson, Wake Forest (Week 4); Neal Brown, Troy (Week 5); Scott Frost, UCF (Week 6).
A special thanks. Each week College Football America Yearbook is on the road covering college football games, and we couldn’t do it without the cooperation of the sports information directors that work for those schools. We just want to thank the following SID departments for their graciousness and help in doing what we do — North Texas (Matthew Postins), Fresno City CC and Fresno State (Chuck Cox), Missouri Baptist and Lindenwood (Kendall Webb).
By the time you read this we’ll be ready for Week 8 and I’ll be prepping for my next game.
Our work on other sites. The great thing about what we do with College Football America is that it enables us to support other partners that we work with, such as the American Football Coaches Association, CowboysHQ.com and HeartlandCollegeSports.com. Our photos are used in AFCA newsletter and publications on a regular basis. I cover the Cowboys for CowboysHQ and am putting together scouting pieces on potential 2018 draft picks. I also cover the Big 12 for HCS. Below you’ll find links to some of our work with those entities in the past week.
The Top 6️⃣ Characteristics & ?’s to becoming a successful WR by @CoachJayNorvell
— AFCA (@WeAreAFCA) October 17, 2017
— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) October 18, 2017
— RoadTripSports (@RoadTripSports) October 17, 2017
Where I’ll be this week. It’s time to get some Division II in as I’ll head to Commerce, Texas, to see the No. 10 Texas A&M-Commerce Lions host Angelo State in Lone Star Conference action.
We’ll see you down the road.
Matthew Postins is the editor-in-chief of the College Football America Yearbook. Catch up with him on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.
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