Saturday Football: Lane Kiffin's pennies, Michigan hype and Alabama without Jaylen Waddle
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Good morning and happy Wednesday! There were 45 FBS games played last week. As of right now, there are 45 on the schedule again this week, beginning tomorrow night! Now, we’ll just continue waiting for the Pac-12 and MAC to return to action. Mid-week MACtion will be here before we know it!
In today’s newsletter, we’ll discuss Alabama’s outlook in the wake of Jaylen Waddle’s season-ending ankle injury. Then, we’ll take a look at Michigan. The Wolverines are coming off a big Week 1 win and now face rival Michigan State. Can the Wolverines avoid a letdown and show they can contend with Ohio State in the Big Ten? Finally, we’ll dive into the madness and hilarity Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has provided via Twitter this week. Without further ado, let’s get started!
JAYLEN WADDLE’S IMPACT
Alabama lost star WR Jaylen Waddle to a season-ending injury. How does that affect the Tide’s CFP chances?
The Alabama Crimson Tide lost star WR Jaylen Waddle on the opening kickoff of Saturday’s game against Tennessee. The speedy receiver broke his ankle and had to leave Neyland Stadium in an ambulance. We’ve already seen the heart-warming images of the fellow Alabama receivers posing for a picture with Waddle in the ambulance with his ankle in a cast, celebrating the Tide victory with a cigar.
Now, the question becomes about Alabama’s offense moving forward. Losing a dynamic player like Waddle is never easy, even for a team as deep as the Crimson Tide. So, what does this loss mean for Alabama? Let’s take a look at some of the stories about the Tide this week:
- First, we’ll start with some positive news about Waddle’s recovery. On Monday, coach Nick Saban said the surgery went well, though Waddle was still pretty groggy. QB Mac Jones said he’s confident his teammate will bounce back in a big way. Don’t want to take a quarterback’s word for it? Well, a former NFL doctor also said Waddle has a good chance of recovering fully from his injury. And, he added, Waddle could come back even stronger from this injury. There’s a scary thought for NFL defenses.
- But, the question remains about Alabama replacing Waddle this year. You can’t just plug a backup into his spot and have everything remain alright. Slade Bolden replaced Waddle on Saturday and had 6 catches for 94 yards in an impressive performance. He spoke about his opportunity and said he hopes to prove himself on the field this season. Saturday Down South’s David Wasson wrote about Bolden, John Metchie III and other Alabama receivers and what they must do to help replace Waddle’s production.
- Could this hurt Alabama’s chances to make the College Football Playoff? ESPN analyst David Pollack thinks so. “I think it’s over for Bama,” Pollack said this week. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum didn’t go that far, but did note some times when Waddle’s absence could hurt the Tide. In his weekly Monday Down South column, Matt Hinton of SDS noted that Alabama can still win big without Waddle, but adds that there’s no way to replace a player of his caliber.
It’s always unfortunate to see a player like Waddle injured. Yes, Alabama is deep, but the Tide will certainly miss his contributions moving forward. Will Bolden thrive in his new role? We’ll find out starting this weekend, as the Tide take on Mississippi State’s strong defense.
- ESPN’s College GameDay will be at The Masters on Nov. 14. It will be an interesting marriage between two iconic institutions. Since no fans are allowed at GameDay this year, and no fans will be allowed at The Masters, either, it’s a move that makes sense. In this great piece from Saturday Down South’s Neil Blackmon, he makes one major request — swap out GameDay’s normal “Coming to Your City” intro with The Masters’ theme song.
- The Missouri Tigers have been fun this year under Eli Drinkwitz. Saturday’s 20-10 win over Kentucky was far from pretty, but there was a lot to love about RB Larry Rountree III’s day. Saturday Down South’s Adam Spencer wrote about Rountree’s 37-carry day and why we should all be appreciating the Mizzou star more.
- The 2021 NFL Draft is a few months away, but approaching quickly. For a number of top draft prospects, they’re starting to see which teams are jockeying for position to draft them. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox put together a piece pairing 11 of the top draft prospects with the team that best suits them.
- The SEC appears to be the class of college football again. That doesn’t mean other conferences are chopped liver, though. ESPN’s college football staff put together a ranking of every conference that has played thus far, and then ranked every team within those conferences.
Michigan impressed in a blowout win over Minnesota. Is it time to buy the hype on Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines?
If you hear the loud whistle of a barreling locomotive racing down the tracks, it’s just the sound of the Michigan hype train. It’s up and running at full steam again, needing just the coal from a 49-24 win over Minnesota to fuel the engine.
Michigan did deserve every bit of credit it received for the 25-point thumping it laid on Minnesota, though. And no, it wasn’t just because Jim Harbaugh wore something other than his trademark khakis. The Wolverines had a balanced offensive attack, rushing for 256 yards and throwing for 225 more. Joe Milton was stellar in his debut as a starter for U-M, completing 15-of-22 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with an additional 52 rushing yards and one score on the ground. The offense was so good that even Urban Meyer was impressed, giving Milton and the offensive line some major props on Big Ten Network.
After a dominating performance, it’s easy to see why the Michigan hype train is back up and running. But should we buy it this year?
- Urban Meyer wasn’t the only expert who was impressed. Michigan made a splash with Kirk Herbstreit, who was on the call in Minneapolis Saturday night. The ESPN analyst gushed over how well the offensive line played with four new starters, and how well the Wolverines ran the football. Joey Galloway and Jesse Palmer didn’t expect to see Michigan handle the Gophers with such ease, and even Paul Finebaum, a known Harbaugh critic, proclaimed that the Wolverines looked “unusually good” in the season opener.
- Michigan looked like a contender on Saturday night. To be fair, Penn State’s loss to Indiana added to the praise the Wolverines received about challenging the Buckeyes in the B1G. But, as Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara writes, the Wolverines are finally a team capable of competing with Ohio State, and it’s not just the hype talking. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) isn’t quite on board with that yet, still labeling Michigan as underdogs to Wisconsin and Penn State before “The Game” at the end of the season.
- First things first — the state championship. As fun as it is to talk about Michigan-Ohio State at the end of the season with a B1G title hanging in the balance, the Maize and Blue understand that they have to remain focused on Michigan State. It’s a game Harbaugh labels as “the state championship” in Michigan. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson also said the Wolverines “can’t underestimate” the Spartans and expect to be winners of three straight.
- We know all-to-well about those fantastic finishes. The battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy has certainly had some entertaining moments. Who could forget the botched punt that resulted in a Sparty touchdown (and victory) in the closing seconds in 2015? And the Spartans walked into Ann Arbor in 2017 and won a sloppy 14-10 contest in one of the ugliest games of the series. Michigan has won the last two meetings and his hoping to make it three straight for the first time under Harbaugh. New MSU head coach Mel Tucker added fuel to the rivalry this weekend, refusing to call Michigan by its actual name during his weekly presser — a page out of Urban Meyer’s book.
Getting excited over Michigan’s win on Saturday is certainly understandable. Nobody expected the Wolverines to pound the Golden Gophers into the mud after an 11-2 season. And while it’s fair for everyone else to talk about whether or not this is the year for the Wolverines, everyone inside the U-M locker room is just focused on Saturday’s game against Sparty.
JUST FOR FUN
Last weekend, there were six ranked teams that lost. Two of them lost to unranked opponents, while four of them fell to other ranked squads. For today’s quiz, can you name those six ranked teams that lost? Bonus points if you can name the teams they lost to!
Scroll down to see the answers to today’s quiz.
Lane Kiffin is needling the SEC on Twitter. He’s been fined once already. Could more be on the way?
We broke down Auburn’s controversial win over Ole Miss in Monday’s newsletter, but we’re back on the topic today because everything that has happened since Sunday night has been *chef’s kiss* beautiful. At the center of everything (as he often is) is Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin. He’s one of the best follows on Twitter, but that has gotten him into trouble already this week.
Kiffin is refreshingly averse to coach-speak, providing entertainment nearly every time he gets in front of a microphone or picks up his phone to go on Twitter. So, what got Kiffin in trouble and what is the latest from this entertaining saga? Let’s take a look at the latest headlines out of Oxford:
- First, let’s recap the situation for those who might be unaware. A controversial play from Saturday’s game wasn’t reviewed, and it likely cost the Rebels a touchdown. Kiffin said he didn’t understand why the play wasn’t reviewed during his postgame press conference. He also retweeted someone who blasted SEC officiating in that game.
- That retweet came with a hefty price tag for Kiffin, though. The SEC announced in a statement on Monday that Kiffin was being fined $25,000. Interestingly, the SEC also admitted in that statement that officials should have reviewed the play. So, basically, the league said Kiffin was right, but fined him anyway. (Naturally, Kiffin retweeted a reporter who pointed that out.) Kiffin was careful with his words during a Monday press conference, but expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the SEC’s policy on not revealing details of conversations.
- From there, Kiffin’s Twitter account became a real treat on Monday night. He joked about his son, Knox, being worried that his college fund was gone due to the fine. Then, he wondered if he could pay the fine entirely in pennies. That led to a hilarious journey in which Kiffin had to try three times to figure out how many pennies were in $25,000. He started with 25,000, but quickly realized that was a mistake. He then said 250,000, which is also wrong (but our newsletter editor was willing to cut him a break on that one. We’re no math experts here). He eventually settled on the correct figure — 2.5 million pennies.
- If he wants help paying his fine to spare poor Knox’s college fund, he has plenty of support from around the SEC (including many kindred spirits from Arkansas, as the Razorbacks also lost to Auburn in controversial fashion). Many flocked to Twitter to offer their pennies to Kiffin. Fans also started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the fine. Oh, and be sure to check out our new “Penny Lane” T-shirts here.
At its root, this is a very unfortunate situation for Ole Miss, as the Rebels missed out on a big chance to potentially pull out a victory over Auburn. However, it’s nice to see Kiffin going to war for his players, even at the expense of his bank account. His willingness to speak his mind and be entertaining while doing so continues to make him a popular coach. Yes, Ole Miss is only 1-4 right now, but there’s an argument to be made that they should be 2-3. And there are a few winnable games remaining on the Rebels’ schedule, starting this Saturday against Vanderbilt. At the very least, Kiffin will keep us all entertained on Twitter for the rest of the season.
The six ranked teams that lost last weekend were:
- No. 8 Penn State (36-35 at Indiana)
- No. 16 SMU (42-13 vs. No. 9 Cincinnati)
- No. 17 Iowa State (24-21 at No. 6 Oklahoma State)
- No. 19 Virginia Tech (23-16 at Wake Forest)
- No. 21 Minnesota (49-24 vs. No. 18 Michigan)
- No. 23 NC State (48-21 at No. 13 North Carolina)
There’s only one matchup of ranked teams this week, with No. 3 Ohio State heading to No. 18 Penn State. How many current AP Poll top 25 teams will lose over the course of the weekend?
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Barry’s a special guy and I’ve known that for a long time, 20 years. We’ll do our best. There’s different ways to keep a man. I think he’s happy here, I think his family’s happy here. Obviously if he gets a big-time head coaching job, I’d be ecstatic for him and happy for him but if he doesn’t or doesn’t get the job that he wants, there’s ways to keep a man happy.”
– Arkansas coach Sam Pittman deserves a ton of credit for helping the Razorbacks turn things around so quickly after the disastrous Chad Morris era. But, equally important to the Hogs’ success so far this year is DC Barry Odom. Pittman said he’ll do everything he can to keep Odom in Fayetteville for years to come.
TWEET OF THE DAY
FOX Sports host Colin Cowherd savagely trolled Tennessee fans after the Vols’ 14th-straight loss to Alabama. After a 2-0 start, the Vols now find themselves with a 2-3 record after a blowout defeat at the hands of the Crimson Tide.