Sweet Sixteen of College Football
Sixteen college football teams enter this week’s game unbeaten. Clemson, going 15-0, was the only undefeated Division 1 football team last fall. Alabama, Notre Dame and Central Florida entered the bowl season undefeated last season, but all fell. This year Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida, Wisconsin, Penn State, Boise State, Wake Forest, SMU, Baylor, Memphis, Minnesota and Appalachian State are all perfect. Going undefeated is not easy. Alabama’s last undefeated team was in 2009, Georgia in 1980, LSU in 1958 and Florida way back in 1911. Other undefeated teams of interest were Oklahoma (2000), Ohio State (2012), Wisconsin (1912), Penn State (1994), Boise State (2009). To add to this list is Laurel native Bobby Collins’ SMU team of 1982.
Pretender or Contender
The College Football Playoffs might have three openings for this year’s playoff. So often in college football the rich get richer, especially when it comes to a playoff spot. I assume, as of today, Clemson will be in this year’s playoffs, as they have been in the past several years. Clemson’s schedule almost guarantees them an undefeated season. Their toughest remaining tests are Florida State, Wake Forest and South Carolina. Alabama has been in the CFP seven times while Florida, LSU and Auburn have been in twice over the last two decades. Georgia made their second appearance last year. So the question is who the final CFP teams are. Many believe the three teams joining Clemson in the Final 4 will be among Alabama, LSU, Florida, Penn State, Georgia, Oklahoma or Wisconsin. Conference play will weed out the pretender from the contender. Let’s sit back and let the real games begin.
Rebels run over Vandy
Ole Miss won their second conference game of the young season with an impressive score of 31-6 over Vanderbilt. Many Rebels fans can only see 413 rushing yards as the reason for the win, but the defense stepped up big time. The offense, led by quarterback John Rhys Plumlees and running backs Scottie Phillips, Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner, played keep away as they controlled the clock. The defensive line led by Benito Jones (4 tackles, 2 ½ for losses and one sack) put pressure on the Vandy offense all night long. The visitors could muster only 62 yards on the ground. The linebacker play, led by Lakia Henry with 15 tackles, was much improved. The defensive backs held the Commodores in check all night. The Rebels are now 3-3 as they travel to Missouri this Saturday night. If the Rebs win, they might have a shot to go bowling in December.
MSU (3-2, 1-1) was off this past week and will head to Knoxville for an 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday. Most Bulldogs fans feel that Garrett Shrader is the future and needs to play now. This game may go a long way toward determining the quarterback position moving forward. The biggest problem for MSU has been the suspension issue. They need everyone back in the fold from here on out.
Southern Mississippi (3-2, 1-0) will host North Texas (2-3, 1-0) this Saturday night in their Homecoming at M.M. Roberts Stadium. The Eagles must take care of business to have a chance to make the conference championship game. This week and next week at La. Tech are key games.
Odds & Ends
Mississippi Valley, Millsaps and Alcorn were all winners while Mississippi College, Delta State, Belhaven and Jackson State all fell.
Former Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Willis had his #49 jersey retired this past Saturday in Oxford as he was honored by the College Football Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation.
Former Ole Miss great Wesley Walls was inducted into the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor. Walls was a five time pro bowler in his seven seasons with the Panthers. He played tight end in the NFL for 14 seasons.
Former Ole Miss baseball player Mickey Callaway was fired as manager of the New York Mets after only two seasons.
Dale is a Waynesboro native and has been writing sports since 1973.