Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has had to claw his way up the ranks since taking over the Clemson coaching gig, but today he rests comfortably among the elites in college football. Swinney coached Clemson back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter against the previously unbeaten Alabama Crimson Tide to deliver Clemson’s first national championship since 1981.
Swinney has left no doubt he now belongs firmly in the conversation when discussing the top college football coaches in the country, although he was likely already there based off the last few years. Swinney is now the fifth active coach to own a national championship, joining his division rival Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and, of course, Alabama’s Nick Saban. As it just so happens, Swinney now owns head-to-head victories against the other four.
That’s a pretty remarkable feat, and has to be pretty rare. Saban has wins against Meyer, Swinney and Stoops, but has yet to face Fisher (that will be handled in the 2017 season opener in Atlanta). Meyer has wins against Saban and Stoops but is 0-2 against Swinney and has not faced Fisher. Stoops has wins against Saban but not against Swinney or Meyer and he has never faced Fisher. So yes, Swinney is currently sitting in exclusive company as the only head coach to own wins against all other active head coaches with a national title.
Swinney has been chipping away with a heavy hammer and chisel at how he has been perceived in recent years, but a national championship changes everything. Swinney has long since put behind the idea that Clemson could not win a big game, and now he has coached the Tigers to the biggest win possible. Getting to a championship game is no easy feat. Doing so two years in a row is even more difficult. Just to pull that off is remarkable in itself and speaks volumes about what Swinney is doing with the Clemson program. But to come from behind to win the national title in the fashion they did, against an Alabama defense that had shutdown opponents all season long, this had to be extra special for the Alabama graduate.
Welcome to college football’s elite Swinney. Make yourself comfortable, because you will be here for a while.
Big wins over ranked opponents pushed Georgia and TCU into the top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll, released Sunday. Voters were apparently more impressed with Georgia’s 31-3 whipping of then-No. 17 Mississippi State in Athens than they were of TCU’s 44-31 upset of then-No. 6 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Georgia moved up four spots while TCU jumped seven, but the Bulldogs remained ahead of the Frogs by two spots, No. 7 to No. 9.
Elsewhere, Washington creeped forward one spot, Washington State and Louisville nudged forward two, and South Florida, San Diego State and Utah leaped three spots forward. Notre Dame and West Virginia returned to this week’s poll at Nos. 22 and 23, replacing upset losers Florida State and Oregon. Unlike the Coaches’ Poll, voters remembered that Mississippi State hammered LSU by 30 points just eight days ago, keeping the Bulldogs one spot ahead of the Bayou Bengals.
The full poll:
- Alabama — 1,515 total points (52 first-place votes)
- Clemson — 1,458 (2)
- Oklahoma — 1,397 (1)
- Penn State — 1,304
- USC — 1,247
- Washington — 1,188
- Georgia — 1,136
- Michigan — 1,088
- TCU — 1,028
- Wisconsin — 1,023
- Ohio State — 1,016
- Virginia Tech — 828
- Auburn — 701
- Miami — 693
- Oklahoma State — 665
- Washington State — 551
- Louisville — 502
- South Florida — 406
- San Diego State — 365
- Utah — 356
- Florida — 342
- Notre Dame — 246
- West Virginia — 212
- Mississippi State — 148
- LSU — 92
The more irrelevant of college football’s two exhibition polls is out following Week 4 action, and it’s not radically different from last week’s edition. Georgia and TCU were this week’s biggest movers, jumping four spots apiece for their respective wins over then-No. 17 Mississippi State and then-No. 7 Oklahoma State. Each of the losers of those games dropped seven spots, Oklahoma State to No. 14 and Mississippi State to No. 24, which is somehow two spots behind an LSU team that these Bulldogs absolutely hammered just eight days ago.
Mississippi State remains one spot ahead of Florida State, who somehow edged out Notre Dame for the final spot despite losing to unranked NC State at home. West Virginia returned to the poll at No. 23, taking the place of Oregon, who fell out after falling 37-35 at Arizona State.
The full poll:
- Alabama — 1,570 total points (59 first-place votes)
- Clemson — 1,499 (4)
- Oklahoma — 1,443
- Penn State — 1,328
- USC — 1,306
- Washington — 1,277
- Michigan — 1,152
- Georgia — 1,089
- Ohio State — 1,066
- Wisconsin — 1,029
- TCU — 985
- Virginia Tech — 877
- Miami — 727
- Oklahoma State — 687
- Auburn — 664
- Washington State — 574
- South Florida — 522
- Louisville — 505
- Utah — 437
- Florida — 345
- San Diego State — 315
- LSU — 221
- West Virginia — 184
- Mississippi State — 132
- Florida State — 104
The SEC conference office isn’t supposed to take sides, but deep down the league had to be rooting for Texas A&M to beat Arkansas yesterday.
In the second quarter, Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond took off for what should have been an 89-yard touchdown scamper to bring his Aggies to within 21-14. Except the side judge incorrectly ruled him out of bounds, mistaking his white cleat of Arkansas defensive back Josh Liddell. It was a human error mistake that no one could do anything about once it happened.
Texas A&M settled for a field goal on the drive, losing four points that should have been theirs. Sure, it wasn’t the refs’ fault that the Aggies couldn’t cash in a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, but that isn’t A&M’s problem. Mond ran into the end zone without being brought down or stepping out of bounds.
The point, thankfully, became moot hours later when Mond and his charges completed the comeback, winning 50-43 in overtime.
Still, the SEC office on Sunday acknowledged the mistake and that there was nothing anyone could do about it.
“On the play at 10:02 in the second quarter of the Arkansas vs. Texas A&M game, the ball carrier was incorrectly ruled out of bounds and the play whistled dead by the official.
“Based on NCAA football playing rule 12-3-3-g, ‘If the ball carrier is ruled out of bounds, the play is not reviewable.”
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if the NCAA can change the rule on plays such as this. Rules makers adapted to add a clear recovery clause in which a fumble is prematurely blown dead, and the play above shows that Liddell kept trying to tackle Mond even after Mond was incorrectly ruled out of bounds. So why not just allow the touchdown to stand?
For a half, Colorado had No. 7 Washington just where they wanted in a Pac-12 Championship Game rematch from a year ago. Just like in that matchup in Santa Clara 10 months ago, the Buffs trailed by just a score going into halftime and looked surprisingly sharp against their highly ranked opponents from Seattle.
Just like it did last December though, the third quarter rolled around and Huskies reminded everybody why they reign supreme in the Pac-12 until further notice, capping off a dominant second half to capture a key road win in Boulder 37-10 over the Buffs.
While Jake Browning still didn’t seem to figure out Mike MacIntyre‘s defense the second time around (11/21, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), it’s not like the UW signal-caller needed to with the effort his run game and defense were able to provide on a rainy night under the Flatirons. Tailback Myles Gaskin had no problem shouldering more of the load with his backup out, rushing for 202 yards and two scores while breaking off big run after big run to slowly crush the home crowd’s spirits. If there was anything that did really go wrong for the offense in the second half, it was the fact that wide receiver Chico McClatcher was carted off after a gruesome ankle injury that figures to sideline him for some time to come.
Still, the impressive performance on the scoreboard was really the result of the Huskies’ stifling defense coming to play after some adjustments in the locker room. Linebacker Azeem Victor hit the double-digit mark for tackles and corner Myles Bryant pulled down a pick-six — one of three interceptions on the night. As a result, what was a close game for about two and a half quarters, ended up turning into a runaway win for the defending Pac-12 North champs.
While it was a tough night on the scoreboard with nothing going in the second half, there were some positives for the Buffs early on. Quarterback Steven Montez did look sharp working the middle of the field until the pressure was turned up and running back Phillip Lindsay managed 68 yards and a touchdown against one of the stiffer run defenses in the country. Given some of USC’s early struggles, it’s pretty clear that Colorado will remain a factor in the Pac-12 South battle if nothing else.
In the end though, it was the same ol’ same ol’ out West as Washington remained unbeaten and looking again like a College Football Playoff contender once again.