Yo, Notre Dame: Just how bad is this thing going to get?
Is it possible to take in a Saturday of college football while immersing oneself in a Cubs foray into the National League Championship Series? Yes. Well, no. Let’s go with sort of. Takeaways from Week 7:
1. We’re going to have to start looking at just how bad it might get for Notre Dame. The Irish are 2-5 after Saturday’s 17-10 defeat at home against Christian McCaffrey-less Stanford. Coach Brian Kelly pulled quarterback DeShone Kizer from this one, replacing him with Malik Zaire to no avail. The Irish defense showed up for a change, but it wasn’t enough.
For a team thought to be a playoff contender heading into the season, everything is awful.
So let’s consider the Charlie Weis-led hideous 3-9 campaign of 2007 as the low bar. Are these Irish possibly that sorry, that dysfunctional, that embarrassing to an iconic football brand?
Short answer: Yeah, maybe.
The remaining schedule — vs. Miami, at Navy, vs. Army, vs. Virginia Tech, at USC — is far more arduous than it appeared heading into the season. One must wonder how negative the culture is right now behind Notre Dame’s football walls.
2. A couple of hours down the road in West Lafayette, Ind., Purdue is in the market for a new head coach. Apparently, winning at Illinois — which Darrell Hazell did both times he visited — wasn’t a job-saver.
Some call the Purdue job a career-killer. Will Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck agree? Fleck would be an ideal candidate, though Illinois State’s Brock Spack might be the guy. He’s a Purdue alum who was Joe Tiller’s defensive coordinator for over a decade at the school.
3. Alabama 49, Tennessee 10. Anybody voting for a different No. 1 in the polls is full of it. Oh, and there’s Lane Kiffin. The Tide’s controversial offensive coordinator has helped beat the schools that fired him as head coach — USC and Tennessee — by a combined score of 101-16. Kiffin oozes talent as a coach. Unfortunately, that’s not all he oozes. But he’ll have another head job in 2017 if he wants one.
4. Wisconsin, a loser in overtime to Ohio State, now has taken two for the “team,” if we can call the Big Ten that. Both Michigan and OSU have been extended to the maximum by the Badgers, and both are better off for it. When one or both teams make the playoff, the Badgers will have had something to do with it.
5. Meanwhile, somebody has to win the Big Ten West. If Wisconsin has anything left in the tank next week at Iowa, it could end up being the Badgers; they host current unbeaten Nebraska the following weekend. The Huskers still have to play at Ohio State. Iowa, with one league defeat, still has Michigan on the schedule. However it shakes out, the West clearly is improving and is holding up its end of the bargain.
6. And how about Northwestern? The Wildcats are 2-1 in league play after consecutive road victories — and 92 points scored — at Iowa and Michigan State. They have turned their season around and are squarely in the West race, too. Is anyone calling for offensive coordinator Mick McCall’s job now?
7. Congrats to Lovie Smith on his first Big Ten victory at Illinois, a 24-7 affair at mind-numbingly bad Rutgers. Hate to dampen the party, but there does have to be concern about Smith’s apparent discomfort with game management at the college level. Not Smith’s first clear flub of the season, this time he neglected to use his timeouts in the final minute of the first half and turned an obvious scoring opportunity into a missed long field goal attempt. It was a bad look.
8. West Virginia is sneaky-good and the quietest unbeaten team in the country. Keep an eye on the Mountaineers in the Big 12.
9. Former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren is doing bang-up work at North Carolina State, which lost in overtime at third-ranked Clemson. The Wolfpack were soft for a long time. They’re tough and dangerous now.
10. Georgia lost at home to Vanderbilt — unthinkable. First-year head coach Kirby Smart, former defensive coordinator to Nick Saban at Alabama, is the apparent successor to Will Muschamp as the great DC who may not be cut out for being an HC.
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