In a year that has seen decidedly more downs than ups, the arrival of college football a few weeks ago has been a much-needed bright spot for many. Even supporters of schools that have been disappointing, like my Georgia Bulldogs, have hopefully been able to find some distraction these last few weeks, even in mostly empty stadiums.
The college football season is now halfway finished, or something like that? I mean, the Big 10 and Pac 12 are just starting, so who knows where we actually are in terms of things that used to matter in our lives. You know, things like time.
Anyway, while the same big names as always are dominating the headlines in college football—Bama! Clemson! Ohio State!—there have also been some fun, smaller stories worth keeping an eye on. Here are four storylines I haven’t been able to get enough of this season…
Zach Wilson and BYU—Heading into last season, I thought BYU was primed for a big year. Wilson had finished his freshman year strong, and I suspected the Cougars were primed to breakout. But they were inconsistent, and defensively weren’t strong enough to stay in a lot of games.
Turns out I was a season early. This year, BYU has been lights out, starting 8-0, including most recently a 51-17 destruction of a pretty good Boise State team. And while they’ve been good defensively, what keeps me watching week after week is junior quarterback Zach Wilson, who can really do everything in all the ways a modern quarterback is supposed to do them. Wilson can run the ball on the run-pass option if needed, but it’s his accuracy and power when throwing the ball that I find so exciting. He’s pretty much fearless to attempt passes, some of which would probably be discouraged by a conservative-minded coach. But Wilson is so entertaining to watch, it doesn’t really matter. Trevor Lawrence might be the best quarterback in the country. But to me, Wilson is the most fun.
BYU only has two regular season games left, and they should win both of them. Will a 10-0 BYU make it into the playoff picture? I’d love to see it. Stranger things have happened in 2020.
2. Coastal Carolina
When you google Coastal Carolina Football, the first three questions that pop up are:
- Is Coastal Carolina Football good?
- Does Coastal Carolina have a medical program?
- Is Coastal Carolina a party school?
I don’t know the answers to numbers two and three—I’m guessing probably and sure?—but as for one, definitely, Coastal Carolina is really good at football this season. I don’t even know on which Carolina coast Coastal Carolina is located, but the Chanticleers have been awesome, running out to a 7-0 start, and doing it in an entertaining fashion, playing on teal turf in a stadium named for the founder of Hooters. They’re currently ranked 15th in the country, and while freshman QB Grayson McCall has been phenomenal, Coastal hasn’t really played anyone of note just yet. They do, however, have what could be a surprisingly consequential game looming down the road. More on that in a moment…
The Hoosiers? In a football column? Look, the only Indiana college football players of any consequence that I remember in my lifetime are Anthony Thompson and Antwan Randle-El. Indiana football has always been around, just not really needing much attention. But all of a sudden, Indiana is really good! QB Michael Penix is electric, and the Hoosiers have already thumped some good teams, like Michigan and Penn State. (Counter-argument: Maybe Penn State and Michigan actually aren’t all that good?)
Anyway, here we are! A friend who is an IU grad and who recently adopted a puppy excitedly told me on Saturday night that his dog has never seen Indiana lose a football game. The ride may end the next two weeks when Indiana plays at Michigan State and at Ohio State, but either way, it’s been exciting to watch.
If you hadn’t heard, the Grizzlies recently announced a major partnership deal with FanDuel, now that sports betting is legal in Tennessee. As part of all this, FanDuel announced they would give a $20 bonus to anyone who signed up using the promo code “Grizzlies.” So, I signed up late last week, and when scrolling the college football lines, saw Liberty listed as a 16-and-a-half-point underdog against Virginia Tech. I didn’t know much about Tech, but I knew enough to quickly put the entire $20 in my account on the Liberty Flames, especially if I was getting three scores. As it turned out, Liberty not only covered, they outright won the game. I appreciate you, FanDuel.
If you didn’t know, Liberty is the University founded by the Falwell family up in the hills of Virginia. And yes, Liberty is coached by Hugh Freeze, the former Ole Miss coach who got run out of Oxford for various indiscretions, both personal and professional. Yes, there are definitely some Righteous Gemstones vibes about this whole situation, but what you can’t deny is that Liberty is really good. They’ve been one of our teams to bank on on “The Odds Couple,” because for all the weirdness around all of this, Hugh Freeze is a great football coach, particularly on offense, and Auburn-transfer QB Malik Willis has been terrific.
Liberty is currently ranked in the low twenties, but still has a game coming up against NC State, and then to close out the season? At Coastal Carolina.
Considering the year we’ve all had, I propose ABC make Coastal vs. Liberty the primetime game, and we call it The Fun Bowl.
Who says no?