Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (Monopoly money sold separately at Kentucky, where coach Mark Stoops got a $3.95 million bonus for beating Vanderbilt on Saturday):
POWER FIVE RELEGATION FANTASIES
If college sports would come to its senses and install The Dash as its Benevolent Overlord, things would be so much better in so many ways. Among those ways: There would be annual Power Five conference relegation.
We would do it the way the English Premier League does it, sending down underachievers from Power Five conferences and calling up strivers from the lower levels — with geographical relevance taken into consideration. And in 2017, here’s the way it would go down:
Out — North Carolina (Sagarin Rating of 77). Yes, the Tar Heels have an injury excuse — a colossal injury excuse. But there are no excuses in football. You are your record, and North Carolina is 2-8.
In — Central Florida (Sagarin Rating of 19). The Knights are undefeated, red hot and hoping to keep their second-year coach, Scott Frost. If anything could do that, ACC membership would. (Alas, UCF fans, this is all just make-believe.)
Big 12 (32):
Out — Kansas (Sagarin Rating of 156). This is not a difficult call. Come back when you can beat a MAC team, Jayhawks.
In — Memphis (Sagarin Rating of 36). The Tigers tried mightily to earn Big 12 expansion inclusion last year, with local corporate giant FedEx even offering to sponsor the league title game. They’ve gone 35-13 the past four seasons and have a hot-shot coach of their own in Mike Norvell.
Big Ten (33):
Out — Illinois (Sagarin Rating of 121). The lowest-scoring Power Five team, winless against Power Five competition this year, is easily replaceable. Last winning season: 2011.
In — North Dakota State (Sagarin Rating of 40). It’s time for the Bison to jump all the way from FCS past the Group of Five into the Power Five. Program consistency is amazing, and Big Ten expansion into the Dakotas would give Nebraska some company out on the Western frontier.
Out — Oregon State (Sagarin Rating of 120). The Beavers’ only victory of the season is against FCS Portland State. They have scored the fewest points and surrendered the most of any Pac-12 team, and only Kansas has given up more points than Oregon State’s 407.
In — Boise State (Sagarin Rating of 32). It is time to drive the Boise Bus into the gated community. The Broncos have won at least eight games for 19 straight seasons, across four different coaches.
Out — Vanderbilt (Sagarin Rating of 88). That James Franklin momentum is gone. The Commodores are winless in the SEC, 4-6 overall, and likely to record a fourth straight losing season — and this was supposed to be a good year for the ‘Dores. Back to being ‘Dore mats.
In — South Florida (Sagarin Rating of 39). The Bulls have won 19 of 22 games the past two seasons, with two different coaches. That level of play might be difficult to maintain in the immediate aftermath of losing senior quarterback Quinton Flowers, but Charlie Strong will get his share of Sunshine State recruits.
THE PAC-12’S WEEKNIGHT PROBLEM
One of the big reasons the league is all but eliminated from College Football Playoff contention is a succession of road losses by top teams on Friday nights. USC (36) was upset on the road at Washington State on Sept. 29. Then, Washington State (37) was upset on the road at California on Oct. 13. Last week, Washington (38) lost on the road at Stanford. There go your playoff hopes right there.
In all, road teams are 2-4 in league games on weeknights, and are fortunate not to be 0-6. Stanford massively underperformed on a Thursday night in Corvallis, beating an abysmal Oregon State team by a point. Utah, at the time undefeated, needed a fumble recovery at its own 20-yard line with 2½ minutes left to hold off 2-2 Arizona.
Like other leagues, the Pac-12 has moved several games to Thursday and Friday night — especially Friday — to buttress TV inventory. But in several cases the schedule was tilted against the road team in those games. Consider the predicaments visiting teams were put in:
USC’s loss at Washington State — the most remote location in the league — came six days after a road game against California.
Washington State’s loss at Cal came six days after a road game against Oregon. The blowout in Berkeley was the Cougars’ worst performance of the year, by far.
UCLA’s game at Utah came six days after a road game against Washington. The Bruins lost to the Utes by 31 points, arguably their worst performance of the year as well.
Still to come: Cal plays at UCLA six days after playing at Stanford (a short commute, but still a road game).
That’s simply bad league scheduling in conjunction with broadcasting partners ESPN and Fox. The idea of playing a second consecutive road game on short rest is a lousy one in terms of ensuring a level playing field. The Pac-12 needs to rethink that unfair dynamic for 2018.
COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK
Barry Odom (39), Missouri. Nobody has regrouped and responded to a bad season start as well as Odom’s Tigers. A month ago Mizzou was 1-5 despite playing its first four games at home, and fans were calling for Odom’s head just 18 games into his head-coaching tenure. Today the Tigers are 5-5 after four straight blowout victories (average winning margin: 37.3 points). Yeah, it helps to have played Idaho, Connecticut and two SEC teams in quit mode (Florida and Tennessee) — but Mizzou couldn’t beat any FBS opponents before this streak, much less blow one out, much less blow four out.
After mauling Tennessee, Butch Jones was the first coach to be Odom’d. Next? Well …
COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK
Bret Bielema (40), Arkansas. Here’s how bad it is: The only thing separating the Razorbacks from being winless since September are a pair of one-point victories over Mississippi and Coastal Carolina, both in games Arkansas trailed by two scores more than halfway through the fourth quarter. The Hogs’ other results in October and November: a 26-point loss to South Carolina; a 32-point loss to Alabama; a 32-point loss to Auburn; and a 23-point loss to LSU. Arkansas isn’t even close to beating decent competition. If that continues against Mississippi State on Saturday and Barry Odom’s Mizzou team Nov. 24, Bielema will be history in Fayetteville. Might well be anyway.
The Dash ate nothing noteworthy and drank only the beer that was in the Dash fridge this past week, so there are no new offerings. Apologies. Next week will be a different story, guaranteed. Go ahead and beat the rush, thank The Dash ahead of time.
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