So what did we learn over the weekend?
1. Georgia Tech should be concerned if it gets a rematch with Clemson: Clemson’s 14-10 loss to TCU at home (a game where Clemson had the ball inside the TCU 20-yard line with 1:55 left left) looks better and better. Clemson (7-3) can clinch the ACC Atlantic Division title with a win at home on Saturday against Virginia (3-7). Georgia Tech, which had to rally to beat Clemson 30-27 on Sept. 10, will really have to control the ball and keep it out of the hands of C.J. Spiller. Spiller is the hottest college football player in the country right now. Saturday against N.C. State Spiller ran 16 yards for a touchdown, caught a 34-yard touchdown pass, and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Dye. It would be Clemson’s first-ever trip to the ACC championship game. With the excitement level at Clemson and Georgia Tech, the ACC championship game in Tampa will get its much-needed sellout.
2. TCU is for real: I had a chance to work Saturday’s Utah-TCU game for the CBS College Sports Network and trust me when I tell you that this team is for real. They are fast and athletic on defense. Defensive end Jerry Hughes reminds me to Dwight Freeney, the great defensive end at Syracuse who nobody could block. They played a good Utah team and made it look easy, beating them 55-28. It could have easily been 42-7 at halftime. This is a team that went on the road and won at Clemson. They will easily finish 12-0 with remaining games against Wyoming (5-5) and New Mexico (0-10). Can the Horned Frogs get into the BCS championship game? Not without some help. It’s a pretty sure bet that the winner of the SEC championship game will get one spot in the BCS championship. TCU’s best shot is for No. 3 Texas to lose in the Big 12 championship game to Nebraska or Kansas State.
3. Charlie Weis is done at Notre Dame: When Charlie Weis took Notre Dame to the Fiesta Bowl in 2005 it appeared he might have a good run. But now the Irish are 6-4 and will have to win one of its two remaining games against UConn or Stanford to become bowl eligible. Weis has not made a lot of friends in his time at South Bend and so he is not going to get the benefit of the doubt from the old line Golden Domers. His buyout is substantial but that won’t matter. Who will be the next coach? You know Urban Myer’s people will get a call and Notre Dame will make him say no. The next obvious choice is Brian Kelly, who has pretty much maxed out what he can do at Cincinnati. Kelly has told me he is prepared to stay at Cincinnati if the school wants to play ball at the highest level. They can’t afford to do that. The courageous call by Notre Dame would be to call Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson. Notre Dame needs to be running the option, given the realities of its situation (weather, recruiting). But I don’t think the folks who run things at Notre Dame are willing to think outside the box that much.
4. It’s soon going to be payday for Paul Johnson–again: Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson got a contract extension and a nice bump in pay (to over $2 million per season) after his first season. But is AD Dan Radakovich going to have to sweeten the deal again? Johnson took less money to come to Georgia Tech (SMU would have given him more) because, he told me at the time, “If we’re successful then that will take care of itself.” Georgia Tech is now 10-1, has punched its ticket to the ACC championship game, and has a good shot of beating Georgia for the second straight year. Georgia Tech is being talked about on a national level again with a combination of admiration and fear. In other words, nobody wants to play these guys. Johnson knows he’s got a pretty good gig at Georgia Tech but he also knows the phone is going to ring because he’s proven that his offense will work at the BCS level. It’s going to hurt a little bit, but Georgia Tech needs to lock this guy up with a nice raise and a contract extension.
5. The Southern Cal dynasty is over. The Trojans have gotten embarrassed in two of the past three weeks to Oregon (47-20) and Stanford (55-21). The Trojans are 7-3 and will soon see their string of Pac-10 championships end at seven. They will miss out on a BCS bowl for the first time since 2001. We know that the decision of Mark Sanchez to turn pro early put Pete Carroll behind the eight ball and forced him to play a freshman quarterback (Matt Barkley). But that doesn’t explain the total collapse of the defense, which gave up 394 yards rushing to Oregon and just got manhandled by Stanford. The longest NCAA investigation in history (or least it seems that way) continues to hang over the program. Could the stars be aligning for this dynasty to come to an end? Stay tuned.
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