Notes on a golf scorecard while hoping that if my power gets knocked out by Hurricane Sally it gets restored before the U.S. Open begins Thursday …
… For their sake, the LSU Tigers should have been doing a little scoreboard watching this weekend to remind them how crazy and volatile college football can be in 2020. All those Sun Belt Conference upsets of Big 12 teams (more on that later) and a slew of other odd-looking results the first couple off weeks of the season tell us it could be a lot crazier than normal without the normal amount of preseason preparation. Fox Sports’ Spencer Tillman, during his call of the Coastal Carolina-Kansas game, predicted that it could take three or four weeks of the season before things calm down.
Defenses seem to have suffered the most, most of all no-tackling Navy in its 55-3 loss to BYU. This is a cautionary tale for an LSU defense trying to come to grips with a new 4-3 defensive scheme under Bo Pelini with a second line of former stars having left for or preparing for the NFL.
It makes the Tigers’ Sept. 26 season opener against Mississippi State look just a little more anxiety-inducing. Yes, the Bulldogs will be adjusting to Mike Leach’s new offense, and on the road no less, but this could be an offensive buffet, something resembling LSU’s Week 2 45-38 victory last season at Texas.
In other words, the Tigers’ offense should be on its game as well.
The biggest concern is, of course, LSU’s defensive line. After Ray Parker’s suspension (I wouldn’t assume he could return soon if at all) the Tigers are left with only eight defensive linemen. Of those only two — Glen Logan and Jarrell Cherry — saw the field in the CFP National Championship Game against Clemson.
While offense is what drove LSU to the title in 2019, what has made the Southeastern Conference great over the past 20 years has been its stout defensive line play. Somehow, the Tigers have to find a way to make this an effective and healthy group and make it last all season long.
In two weeks, Tiger Stadium will host LSU's first football game at 25% capacity.
… It was a historic trip to Ames, Iowa, for the UL Ragin’ Cajuns, who came home with a 31-14 upset of former No. 23 Iowa State and their first ranking in The Associated Press poll since 1943.
It was a top 20 then, folks, not a top 25. And the poll then included military base teams Iowa Pre-Flight and Del Monte Pre-Flight, with Great Lakes Naval receiving votes.
The Cajuns had to share the spotlight with their Sun Belt brethren, however. In one bright, bright sunshiny Saturday for the Sun Belt, Arkansas State went to Kansas State and stunned the Wildcats 35-31, and Coastal Carolina went to Kansas and beat the Fighting Les Mileses 38-23.
Sure, there were big plays that played a huge role in UL’s road upset of No. 23 Iowa State.
It was a total eclipse Saturday for the not-so-Big 12, which also saw Texas Tech barely escape an upset loss to Houston Baptist 35-33. Right about now, the Big 12 has to be regretting that revamped schedule format that had them playing one non-conference game.
It wasn’t just that the Cajuns and Coastal posted those upsets. They pushed their victims around. If this was the Premier League, the Big 12 would be getting relegated to the Group of Five conferences while the SBC got promoted to the Power Five.
Yes, it’s only one week and the top Big 12 teams — Oklahoma and Texas — dominated while Oklahoma State had to postpone its opener with Tulsa for COVID-19 concerns. But assuming there will be a playoff, is this a week the CFP committee will hold against the eventual Big 12 champion?
In the largest social demonstration from LSU’s athletic department this year, players and coaches from almost every sport marched Saturday morning around Tiger Stadium to protest racial injustice.
… Speaking of playoffs, looks like the Big Ten’s anti-football façade is starting to crack. There was growing belief Sunday that the conference was going to walk back its decision not to play football this fall and possibly start a season about a month from now.
If so, and if the Big Ten revives its prior plan to conduct a 10-game season, how could that affect the CFP? An 11-week season with a built-in open date would take them to Dec. 26. Then if there’s a Big Ten title game, that’s Jan. 2.
The CFP semis are supposed to be in the Sugar and Rose bowls on Jan. 1. Will the Big Ten apply pressure on the other conferences to push the playoffs back? I’m sure it will, and I’m sure the CFP will give in. Personally, I’d tell the Big Ten (and the Pac-12 if it decides to play), you decided to snooze, so you lose.
… Another hurricane heading for our shores? I don’t wish a bad storm on anyone, but Louisiana has suffered enough. What did we ever do to you, 2020?