Published 10:25 PM EDT Sep 8, 2018
At this rate, it’s not ridiculous to say that South Carolina may never beat Georgia again. OK, so it’s a little ridiculous. The Gamecocks might get one here or there against the Bulldogs, but Saturday’s 41-17 loss made one thing clear: The gap between South Carolina and Georgia is only getting bigger.
And South Carolina’s pretty good! The Gamecocks, No. 24 in this week’s Amway Coaches Poll, is predicted to be the second-best team in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference and a threat for eight or nine wins during the regular season. Coach Will Muschamp is doing a nice job. Junior quarterback Jake Bentley is one of the SEC’s best at his position. The Gamecocks have good coaching and good talent, a winning combination.
And they can’t even sniff Georgia. After drawing within a touchdown midway through the second quarter, South Carolina wilted under the Bulldogs’ 21-0 stretch to open the second half. Even when it was close, like at 14-7 or 17-10, it wasn’t close — if that makes sense.
If not now, when? Maybe the Gamecocks’ window has already closed. With every and every passing recruiting class and offseason, Kirby Smart widens the gap between his program and the rest of the SEC East. Florida saw that writing on the wall and jettisoned former coach Jim McElwain in an effort to catch up. Best of luck with all that, Dan Mullen. When it comes to this year’s division, South Carolina was seen as the Bulldogs’ strongest challenger. And the Gamecocks just lost by 27 points ... at home.
In a way, though, this doesn’t change anything. South Carolina’s still the second-best team in the East. Probably. Georgia’s still headed for the SEC title game and potentially a spot in the College Football Playoff. Saturday’s game just painted that in bright colors. It’s still a little painful for South Carolina to consider.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Saturday’s college football action:
The Jayhawks played a game, as they do every week. But something funny happened: Kansas won. On the road. In football. Yeah, I’m talking about the Jayhawks. One week after losing to Nicholls State, KU went on the road to Central Michigan and won 31-7 for the program’s first road victory since Sept. 12, 2009. That’s a 46-game span. An NCAA record. I’m just saying: The Jayhawks aren’t technically eliminated from the playoff race. That’s true, technically.
Another week of excellence from the Sooners’ dual-sport star vaults Murray into the thick of the Heisman Trophy race after two weeks. He threw for 306 yards, rushed for 69 yards and accounted for five touchdowns in Oklahoma’s 49-21 win against UCLA. More on the Bruins in a moment.
NO LETDOWN: Oklahoma offense looks as dominant with Murray as Mayfield
The most impressive part about Mississippi State’s 31-10 win at Kansas State was how routine it felt. The Bulldogs and first-year coach Joe Moorhead took control of the game early and owned the line of scrimmage against Bill Snyder’s Wildcats, who might have some major issues at quarterback but rarely get so owned up front. If you thought Mississippi State was good heading into the year, feel free to boast and brag.
The Blue Devils might be for real. One week after putting the clamps on a good Army team, Duke went on the road and handed Northwestern another loss, this one a 21-7 decision that never felt in doubt. Hey, this David Cutcliffe guy knows what he’s doing! Hopefully, all will be well with quarterback Daniel Jones, who left the game with a shoulder injury.
Points, 49 of ‘em, and — wait for it — touchdown passes to wide receivers. It had been almost a year since we'd seen one of those from Michigan. The Wolverines’ offense earned a steak dinner for pacing an easy win against Western Michigan.
Coach Mike MacIntyre tends to do his best work when on the hot seat, so it makes sense that his Buffaloes are 2-0 after a 33-28 road win against once-and-future rival Nebraska. It wasn’t easy, and probably shouldn’t have happened, but Colorado can feel very positive about the play of quarterback Steven Montez and wide receiver Laviska Shenault, which might be the most underrated duo in college football.
The transitive property when it comes to coaches on the hot seat goes something like this: A coach on the hot seat who loses to another coach on the hot seat then finds his seat becoming doubly hot. It’s not complex mathematics. But you’re seeing quite a situation unfold for North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who led his Tar Heels through a 41-19 loss to East Carolina and its coach, Scottie Montgomery, who has been under fire since a season-opening loss to North Carolina A&T. Fedora’s seat gets significantly hotter. Montgomery’s cools a bit. I mean, UNC lost to ECU by 22 points. This fits.
This is bad! Some people — not naming names, and how dare you suggest I mean myself — thought the Wildcats would win the Pac-12 South and earn a spot in the Top 25. There’s no chance of that happening. There are a number of concerns amid the Wildcats’ 0-2 start under Kevin Sumlin. Like, for instance, what’s wrong with quarterback Khalil Tate? And what happened to the idea that Arizona would be more explosive under Sumlin, not less? Forget about the Wildcats doing anything in 2018 and think instead about whether or not this team can just get to six wins and reach a bowl game.
Not a lot was expected of Chip Kelly and UCLA heading into the year, for good reason: This isn’t a good football team. With the Bruins sitting at 0-2, let’s do an exercise. Where are the wins coming from in Kelly’s debut? Next week’s opponent, Fresno State, will be favored to win. Maybe the Bruins can get California on the road? Maybe? Maybe Arizona State on the road? It’s possible? Hope you took the under when betting on the Bruins’ win total. Better days are coming, however.
To think that Purdue coach Jeff Brohm was a strong option at Tennessee just this past offseason. It might take another year for Brohm’s stock to hit that same level after a 20-19 loss at home to Eastern Michigan handed Purdue its second loss in a row to start the year. If anything, the game was even uglier than that score suggests. It might be a long year for the Boilermakers.
Wins and great and all that, but can the Rebels feel good about a 76-41 win against Southern Illinois of the Football Championship Subdivision after allowing 38 points in the first half? In coach Matt Luke’s, the defense gave up just 27 points to Texas Tech a week ago. Still, the Rebels need to get that defense buttoned up before Alabama comes to town next week.