Lang’s World: College Football Winners and Losers

Lang’s World: College Football Winners and Losers

We have hit Week Ten of the college football season, about to turn into the final third of the season, and right when you think you’re getting things figured out, suddenly you don’t know anything. This weekend was nuts, with four top 15 teams catching an L, and a bunch of other teams that I felt pretty confident running with either not covering or just straight up losing.

So, I thought this would be another good week to look at some college football winners and losers. And the more I looked at my notes, the more I realized we may have more losers than winners on our hands.

WINNER: Stetson Bennett IV

What if I told you that the number one team in the country would be quarterbacked by a two-star prospect who was a walk on, who just months ago lost his starting job to a Heisman Trophy candidate in JT Daniels? And despite UGA having a roster jammed with top prospects, including at least three other highly-touted QBs, somehow Stetson Bennett appears to have solidified his hold on the starting job.

He hasn’t been flashy, but man has Bennett been effective. Two weeks ago versus Florida, Bennett completed just 10 passes, but UGA won 34-7. This week against Missouri, Bennett completed a whopping 13 passes, but UGA won 43-6. This is like Trent Dilfer when he was on the Ravens. More than anything, Bennett limits mistakes and puts UGA’s lights-out defense in a position to carry this team. I still think Daniels is the better player, but right now the best team in college football has a quarterback who probably won’t get selected in the NFL Draft.

Never give up on your dreams, kids.

Stetson Bennett

LOSER: Cincinnati

Cincy made a lot of noise last week when the College Football Playoff rankings were announced and the undefeated Bearcats were not among the top four teams. Did they win at Notre Dame? Sure, and it was a good win! But this week they eked out a win over a 3-5 Tulsa team, while one of the few teams that could burnish Cincy’s strength of schedule down the road, SMU, lost to Memphis.

How does Cincy move on up? I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alabama drop a spot or two this week, particularly after struggling against LSU and running for only 6(!) yards. Michigan State caught an L this week, giving every team in the Big 10 at least one loss, and I still think Oklahoma is probably more deserving to make the Final Four than Cincy. But perhaps the best way for the Bearcats to climb the rankings would be just dominating the games they have remaining. Sweating out wins against bad teams does not a compelling argument make.

LOSER: Dan Mullen

The Florida Gators are two-thirds of the way through the season and are under .500, with a 4-5 record. After creating a QB controversy by not playing his most talented QB (Anthony Richardson) early in the season, Florida coach Dan Mullen acquiesced and stuck Richardson in the starting lineup two weeks ago against UGA. It began well, until UGA preyed on Richardson for 21 straight points just before halftime, and then coasted to a 34-7 win. Still, it seemed like something Richardson could build on going forward, perhaps giving Florida some hope. And then this week, with Richardson out after injuring his knee dancing at the team hotel, Florida got crushed by a bumbling South Carolina team, 40-17.

It was a stunning result, honestly. Florida was favored by 18 points! Mullen responded by firing his offensive line coach and, more significantly, his defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who hasn’t been good for years. But putting the blame on Grantham isn’t completely fair—Florida has been a turnover machine on offense, no matter who was in at QB.

All of this comes on the heels of Mullen refusing to talk recruiting at last week’s press conference, which eventually led to all media availability being canceled.

BTW, Dan Mullen just received a three-year contract extension heading into this season. LOL.

Dan Mullen

WINNER: Tennessee

Just a few weeks ago, it sure seemed as though the Vols were treading water. Tennessee got off to a 2-2 start, and after the tortured coaching search that ended up with Josh Heupel at the helm, I was worried about how this would play out long term.

Since then, though, the Vols have gone 3-2 against SEC opponents, but more importantly, they have scored an average of 40.4 points per game, which would seem to suggest they’re getting some stuff figured out in Knoxville. (Making Hendon Hooker the starter at QB was clearly a good start.)

Tennessee plays Georgia this week, so why not test the Vols right away?

LOSERS: Liberty and Ole Miss

I was pretty excited for this matchup last weekend, with two of the more explosive offenses in college football facing off. Of course, it was deeper than that, as Liberty coach Hugh Freeze was formerly the coach at Ole Miss, until the whole football program was swept up in scandal and Freeze was frozen out. But Freeze rose again in the hills of Virginia at the venerable Liberty University, where he’s built a team that has managed to crack the Top 25 the last few seasons.

I figured Freeze would keep it close, scoring a lot of point while looking for some sort of vague retribution. This would Liberty’s chance to show they could compete against the big boys! But Ole Miss scored the first 24 points in the game, and then coasted to a 27-14 win. So much for Liberty getting to that next level.

But then Ole Miss went and did something very Ole Miss, and they started making fun of Freeze on their official Twitter account.

I could see maybe one tweet making a joke about Liberty football or something, but making fun of Freeze being in a hospital bed? Making fun of what Freeze said when people were looking into impropriety AT OLE MISS? I guess Ole Miss is gonna Ole Miss, no matter what.

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