McGuire’s Musings: Please don’t talk about the College Football Playoff race yet

·9 min read

The college football season is still being broken in, and I already am having gripes with some of my most hated features of college football; a lack of goal-line cameras, bad coaching, and way-too-early College Football Playoff debates.

Of course, neither are avoidable any time you settle in for a weekend of college football consumption. And with a top-five showdown between Ohio State and Notre Dame and a game pitting Georgia and Oregon, you are bound to hear the phrase “playoff implications.” That’s a bunch of garbage as far as I’m concerned, and it’s about to be even more ridiculous once the College Football Playoff expands. So, naturally, as Utah lost to Florida hours after Oregon was demolished by Georgia, the quick reaction from some was to ponder if the PAC-12 had been eliminated from the playoff already.

Have we not learned the lessons of the past that show one loss in Week 1 or Week 2 is not the kind of playoff eliminator some may want to believe it is? Going 11-1 and winning your conference still gives you a mighty strong argument to make for the playoff conversation, and we can have those conversations later in the season.

When is the appropriate time to start talking about the playoff hunt? How about at least waiting until after the first release of the College Football Playoff rankings? Honestly, that’s probably still too soon to take it seriously. But I have decided I’m not going to start talking about the playoff picture until I at least move out of shorts weather. And I like to try sticking to shorts until my birthday, which isn’t until early November.

Anyway, I think Alabama and Georgia are going to have a good chance to be in.

Did Notre Dame just give the Big Ten some hope?

Coming into the season, there was little dispute that the Ohio State Buckeyes are the team to beat in the Big Ten. And that may still be true! But the Buckeyes had a struggle against Notre Dame at home in a highly-anticipated matchup. The Irish felt they were being disrespected coming in, and I’ll be among the first to admit I was on board with the idea of Ohio State pulling away and taking care of business.

Whoops.

Ohio State still managed to get the win thanks to a tough and resilient roster built by head coach Ryan Day, but it took time and patience to cross the finish line with the win.

But the question now becomes is anyone in the Big Ten good enough to do what Notre Dame did to Ohio State, to the point that the Buckeyes still are not the team to beat in the conference? Michigan seems to be the most likely candidate, as they should be after topping Ohio State last year and winning the Big Ten. But is there anyone else in the Big Ten that could pose a similar threat to Ohio State?

In fairness, Ohio State did lose their dynamic playmaking wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but there should still be a load of offense coming from Ohio State this season. Notre Dame’s defense deserves credit for causing the problems it did for the prohibitive Big Ten favorite.

I certainly would hate to be Arkansas State in Week 2. The RedWolves come into Ohio Stadium next weekend, and it may not be pretty as Ohio State looks to vent some frustrations over this one.

NEXT: Billy Napier scores a big win in his Florida debut

What a start for Billy Napier at Florida

Sep 3, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier talks with running back Nay’Quan Wright (5) and running back Lorenzo Lingard (21) during the second quarter at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I loved the hiring of Billy Napier at Florida in the last round of the coaching carousel. And I actually liked his chances to start his tenure in Gainesville with a big win against the defending PAC-12 champion Utah Utes. Utah is about as well-coached and well-rounded a program as you will find, and Florida had to be prepared for an absolute battle. They did just that, coming out on top of Utah thanks to an interception in the end zone in the final 30 seconds of the game to seal the win.

During the evening on Saturday, I proposed the idea that Penn State stands a good chance of being ranked in the top 25 by the time the Week 2 home opener against Ohio comes around. But Florida’s big win over the Utes could throw a wrinkle in that idea. The Gators are a lock for a top 25 ranking in Week 2 and will easily jump ahead of Penn State in the process from the others receiving votes category.

So, can Florida capitalize on the early season momentum a win like this brings? Or will the Gators still prove they are in a rebuilding situation once they move into SEC play and have to prove this game was not a fluke?

Why take the timeout?

East Carolina was down against NC State because its kicker missed a potential game-tying PAT on their previous possession. With no timeouts to use and in need of a scramble to get a field goal unit on the field, East Carolina was in full-on scramble mode to try and make amends for the missed PAT.

So, naturally, NC State head coach Dave Doern called a timeout and allowed East Carolina to take its time to get the field goal unit set. Under any worthy circumstances, Doeren and NC State would have been burned by the college football gods for allowing this to happen. But the gods must have been plugged into another game, because East Carolina missed the game-winning field goal attempt anyway.

That doesn’t mean Doern was right for calling the timeout. He was flat-out wrong. He just got away with it, and so did NC State.

NEXT: So, about that UNC-Appalachian State game…

Elsewhere in the state of North Carolina…

North Carolina outlasted a valiant effort from Appalachian State, who scored 40 points in the fourth quarter and nearly got the win. This two-point conversion attempt could not have been better for the Mountaineers.

Which brings us to our next boneheaded college football decision, and perhaps a case of bad coaching. In this case, it is about awareness of the situation. Down one point as a result of the missed two-point conversion attempt, Appalachian State went for the onside kick. They did not recover, and North Carolina returned the attempt for a touchdown.

A competent special teams coach, if not the head coach,m would have made sure everyone on the kickoff team was aware that the play to make is downing the football. A return for a touchdown makes a one-score game a one-score game with time left for Appalachian State. Falling on the football allows UNC to run out the clock.

So what happened? Appalachian State drove right down the field on the ensuing possession and once again had a shot to tie things up with another two-point play. What looked like the same exact play was much better covered by the Tar Heels and UNC escaped.

Some coaching gaffes by the staffs at NC State and UNC didn’t come back to haunt them on the road against these Group of Five teams. Clearly, the college football gods were asleep at the wheel.

Arkansas disrespects Cincinnati in more ways than one

Delaware’s head coach is bleeping proud to be a Blue Hen

Meet new Delaware head coach Ryan Carty. He celebrated his first game as head coach of the Blue Hens by scoring a solid road win at Navy to get the season started. Why wouldn’t he be excited about that? That’s a big accomplishment for the FCS program and sets the tone for what Carty hopes to establish at Delaware once again.

And he just couldn’t help but drop an f-bomb in an on-field postgame interview. But at least he apologized for his choice of words.

Penn State will host Carty and his Blue Hens next season in the first meeting between the two schools. Penn State is scheduled to host Delaware on September 9, 2023.

Why you should be a fan of Old Dominion

Not only is Old Dominion being well-coached by former Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne (who just beat former defensive coordinator Brent Pry in his coaching debut with Virginia Tech), but the Monarchs have arguably the cutest fan in college football.

It’s a rescue puppy wearing crocs!

How stinkin’ cute is that? Forget my argument earlier. Put Old Dominion in the playoff just for the sake of this very good boy.

Looking ahead to Week 2

Week 2 isn’t exactly packing much firepower on the schedule but it does have a couple of games worth watching. Alabama heads to Texas for what will be massively hyped and likely ends with Alabama stomping the Longhorns. Tennessee also makes a trip to Pennsylvania, to face Pitt.

Baylor visiting BYU will be a good reason to stay up late next Saturday. It is the only game between ranked opponents on the slate next weekend (pending Week 2 poll updates).

Penn State fans may be watching Akron’s road trip to Michigan State as former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead looks to coach the Zips to a massive upset in East Lansing. It won’t happen, but you can always have something to root for.

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