LSU v Florida

Gators’ dumping of LSU shakes up SEC, BcS races


One of myriad talking points woven into the first few weeks of the 2012 season was whether past national powers like Florida State and Notre Dame were “back.”

With both of those schools chugging along the unbeaten path, a part of that focus has shifted to Florida.  And, in resounding defensive fashion, the Gators have loudly and emphatically proclaimed “yes!”

Masterpiece or a thing of ugly, No. 10 UF’s win over No. 4 LSU in The Swamp signaled a turning of the corner for a football program that had wandered aimlessly through the final year of Urban Meyer in Gainesville and the first under Will Muschamp.  While the 2012 Gators don’t possess the entertaining Meyer spread offense of years gone by, they ride a suffocating defense that, in this game, was made even more suffocating by a limp LSU offense that could muster little offensively.

It was far from pretty — perhaps something only a mother or a fan of the program could love — but it has propelled Florida back toward both the SEC and national stage.

Unbeaten at 5-0 on the season and 4-0 in conference play, UF will hit their respective pillows tonight tied for first place in the SEC West with either No. 5 Georgia or No. 6 South Carolina, pending the outcome of tonight’s matchup of unbeatens in Columbia.  Of course, there’s still the little matter of, after a trip to Vanderbilt next weekend, squaring off against the Bulldogs and Gamecocks in back-to-back weekends, although both of those game will be played in the state of Florida.

And then there’s the big picture nationally.  With LSU’s loss and either UGA or USC guaranteed its first loss of the season, the Gators are primed to take a significant jump when the polls are released Sunday afternoon.

Simply getting through the UGA/USC gauntlet, though, guarantees nothing nationally as there would still be a trip to Tallahassee to face No. 3 Florida State the final weekend of the regular season, not to mention the possibility of an SEC championship game against the likes of No. 1 Alabama or, even, a rematch with LSU on a neutral field.

Regardless of whether UF can sustain the momentum that’s slowly been building throughout the first half of the season, it appears — appears — Muschamp, after an up-and-down first season at the school, has the Gators headed back to where they had been for a better part of the last decade — being a factor in the chase for the BcS crystal.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.