Is there any team in the SEC capable of beating Texas A&M in a shootout? Besides Alabama, of course. If not, the Aggies could put up some unbelievable offensive numbers this season. Texas A&M once again broke the 500-yard mark in a 45-33 victory at Arkansas Saturday.
Dating back to last season, the Aggies have gone over 500 yards of total offense in 12 of 17 games Manziel has started in. For the sake of comparison, Texas A&M had 11 games with over 500 yards of offense in 2011 and 2010 while playing in the Big 12 and we have yet to reach the month of October this season. So are the Aggies thriving with a playmaker like Manziel under center? Is it the coaching of Kevin Sumlin? Is the SEC more wide-open than we may have been led to believe compared to the Big 12? If some of the more notable SEC games this month have been any indication, it may actually be a mix of all three.
Johnny Manziel had another fine performance, which has become expected at this point. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner completed 23-of-30 pass attempts for 281 yards and two touchdowns and did not throw an interception. Manziel also carried the football six times for 59 yards. The entire workload of the running game was shared among the options in the backfield, with Trey Williams rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown, Ben Malena adding 40 yards and two touchdowns and Tra Carson chipping in for 64 yards as well.
Here is what we do know. Texas A&M continues to have one of the top offenses in the SEC, and it remains to be seen just who else on their schedule the rest of the way will have the firepower to top them in any regulation game. On the road at Ole Miss could be entertaining, and a road game at LSU could make for a worthy challenge as well. Ole Miss is next on the schedule for Texas A&M, but that game comes after a bye week. At this point, a bye week could serve Texas A&M well as they look for a way to solve some defensive issues. As good as the offense has been, the defense has been giving up some big plays and big yardage on a regular occasion.
On Saturday Texas A&M gave up 33 points and 483 yards, but the Razorbacks also had two turnovers. In a game in which Texas A&M did not lose the football, being able to match the Aggies on the scoreboard would prove to be much more difficult for Arkansas.
Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.
Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.
But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.
“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”
The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.
The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.
According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.
Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”
Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.
If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.
Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.
Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.
“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”
Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).
Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.
Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.
“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.
“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”
Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.
“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”
Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.
Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.
From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:
Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much. Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.
Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.
For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.
And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.