Florida State finally gets a statement win under Jimbo Fisher

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From the moment our preseason top 25 was released, to last week when the demons (of Wake Forest) were finally exorcised, we here at CFT have thought long and thought hard about whether Florida State was really… you know…”back.”

It’s a four-letter word of vulgar yet somehow simultaneously diluted meaning because it’s a movie we’ve seen before. The plot goes as such: the Seminoles enter the season with lofty expectations with promises that this finally the year of a return to national prominence, only to underachieve and end up in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Though FSU was 3-0 heading into tonight’s game against No. 10 Clemson, could you blame anyone for thinking this year was any different? Sure, a 69-3 season-opening win over Murray State and consecutive shutouts against Savannah State and Wake Forest is worth at least a raise of the eyebrow, but it’s also Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest.

So forgive me for having a Stephen A. Smith moment when I thought “the Clemson Tigers are not the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.”

As it turns out, though, Florida State may not be Florida State, or at least the Florida State of old. You know, the one that loses to Wake Forest and can’t beat top-ranked Oklahoma to thrust itself back into college football’s elite group. This time around, the fourth-ranked Seminoles seized the opportunity to knock off Clemson 49-37. It was Jimbo Fisher‘s first win over a top-10 team since taking over for Bobby Bowden in 2010.

And Fisher needed a big win. For all the hype, the top recruiting classes, FSU has had nothing meaningful to show for it in Fisher’s short tenure. The ACC needed it too. Since expanding to 12 members in 2005, the ACC has not become the football power conference it was expected to be. If anything, it’s been right around, or just above, the level of the Big East. To change its perception, the ACC needs a traditional power to be nationally relevant again.

What team better than Florida State?

Could that happen this year? Perhaps. We’re not ready to use the “B-word” just yet, but the ‘Noles continue to give off the appearance that they’re for real (and we mean it this time, we think).  Keep in mind that September is for overreactions, October should be when the polls are first released and November is for separating the contenders from the pretenders. So right now, everyone’s just guessing. Want to stop the guesses? Keep winning and no one will wonder about Florida State.

They’ll wonder if the Mayans were right.

Love quiet as Stanford leads Cal at the half

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Stanford is halfway to keeping its namesake Axe. The Cardinal leads Cal 10-6 at the break in Palo Alto.

Stanford broke a 3-3 tie by moving 70 yards in 10 plays, the last 17 on a K.J. Costello pass to Kaden Smith. Costello hit 11-of-20 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the final play of the half.

Cal moved inside the Stanford red zone with a chance to tie, but the drive stalled at the 9-yard line and Matt Anderson booted a 26-yard field goal to pull the Bears within 10-6 with 2:43 left in the half.

On a night when he could win some points back in the Heisman race, Bryce Love has carried just six times for 17 yards.

Cal will receive to open the second half.

Report: Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall a person of interest in Oregon State coach search

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This is an intriguing potential development.

With Gary Andersen abruptly and unexpectedly stepping down earlier this season, Oregon State finds itself on the hunt for a new head football coach.  On the same day the Beavers fell to 1-10 on the lost season, a new name surfaced as a reported possibility: Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

At least, according to John Canzano of The Oregonian, who lists Mendenhall as a person of interest in the search.  Canzano writes that Mendenhall “interviewed for the job in 2014 and was the runner-up when Andersen was hired,” then goes on to put him on OSU’s short list, along with Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin.

Mendenhall, should he decide to jump ship, certainly has ties to that area of the country — and to the university.

Born in Utah, Mendenhall began his collegiate playing career at an in-state junior college before transferring to, you guessed it, OSU for his last two years of eligibility.  He then began his coaching career with the Beavers as a graduate assistant and defensive line coach in 1989-90.  He then returned to his alma mater in 1995 as line coach, spending the following season as defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach.  Nearly a decade later, he became the head coach at BYU, spending 11 seasons with that program before abruptly leaving for the Virginia job after the 2015 season.

After going 99-43 with the Cougars, and after a 2-10 first season in Charlottesville, Mendenhall has the Cavaliers bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011.

Tennessee fumbles its way to a halftime deficit vs. LSU

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If only Marquez Callaway could catch a punt. Callaway’s two fumbled punts handed LSU 10 of its 17 points as Tennessee trails 17-10 at the half at a windy, rainy Neyland Stadium.

Callaway’s first fumble came at his own 15 yard line, which LSU’s Russell Gage hopped on. The Tigers gained only two yards on the ensuing possession, but it was enough to allow Connor Culp to knock through a 30-yard field goal.

Tennessee answered with a 14-play, 53-yard drive that killed over half a quarter. The 7-minute, 39-second march ended at the LSU 27-yard line, allowing Aaron Medley to tie the game with a 45-yard boot with 13:59 left in the second quarter.

LSU’s offense went three-and-out again, but Callaway again fumbled the ensuing punt, which Michael Divinity, Jr. grabbed at the Tennessee 19. LSU’s offense capitalized this time, as Darrel Williams rushed in from 10 yards out to put the Tigers up 10-3 with 11:31 left in the frame. 

Tennessee strung together another double-digit play drive that ended at nearly the exact same spot as the previous one — this one was the 28 — but swirling winds pushed Medley’s 46-yard field goal (far, far) wide left.

But as the weather picked up, both offenses came alive.

LSU closed the half by putting up its first self-made points of the night. The Tigers needed only 28 seconds to move 61 yards as Danny Etling hit Derrick Dillon for a 12-yard completion, Williams rushed for 36 yards and Etling carried for a 13-yard touchdown with 2:08 left in the first half. Etling conected on 8-of-12 passes for 50 yards, and Williams led all rushers with 50 yards on three carries. Derrius Guice mustered only four carries for 10 yards.

The Vols struck back after LSU’s score, moving 75 yards in four plays and 45 seconds. Jarrett Guarantano hit Callaway for consecutive long passes, one for 26 yards and another for 46, which Callaway caught through pass interference and turned into a touchdown with 1:23 left in the first half.

hit 10-of-12 passes for 144 yards, and John Kelly led the Vols with 17 carries for 29 yards.

A 53-yard Culp field goal clanged off the right upright as time expired.

Tennessee will receive to open the second half.

Baker Mayfield ‘truly apologizes,’ calls crotch grab ‘unacceptable’

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You could see, smell and hear this coming from hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.

Inexplicably, Kansas decided to take the low road when, during the pregame meeting of captains at midfield, one of them refused to shake the hand of Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.  Then, one decided to go facemask-to-facemask as the midfield meet-and-greet was breaking up.  Add to all of the pregame stuff some questionable in-game shots Mayfield took, and the Heisman Trophy frontrunner was agitated.

So agitated, in fact, that he went lowbrow in lobbing a televised crotch grab at the Jayhawks bench after one of his three touchdowns on the day.  Predictably, and just as he did after the infamous attempt at a midfield flag-planting after beating Ohio State in Columbus — and after his offseason arrest —  Mayfield offered up a mea culpa.

So, there you have it.  As I intimated earlier, it’s going to be very interesting to see how this situation plays out in the minds of Heisman voters.  Then again, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston won Heismans in recent years without stellar off-field pedigrees, so there’s that as well.

UPDATED 8:31 p.m. ET: In addition to the apology in his postgame press conference, Mayfield also tweeted a mea culpa.