On Saturday, Clemson flipped the ball four times, trailed by a full 14, replaced his starting QB on the bench, and won. It’s, as Dabo Sweeney said, a headline.

Clear?

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No, don’t ask about the argument with the quarterback. It does not exist. Fruit of your imagination. Sweeney is essentially Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House, standing in the middle of a stampede yelling “It’s okay!”

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Sweeney has spent the entire off-season promoting DJ Uiagalelei despite his struggles in 2021. The coach spent the first seven weeks of this season repeating “I told you so” after another, including most recently last week when he expressed doubts about Uiagalelei being “embarrassing” and a product of “the world we now live in”.

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And with Clemson trailing by 10 and Wiagaleley coughing up his third loss of the game in the middle of the third quarter, Sweeney came in with a hook.

Why? Sweeney believed freshman Cade Strawberry could light the fire on offense and the move worked. Clemson scored on three of the next four drives. Of course, Strawberry only made two passes in a game, so his inspiration was more Rob Schneider in “Waterman” than Bill Pullman in “Independence Day.” But hey, a win is a win.

Following this, Sweeney resolutely assured Clemson fans that Wiagalelei was still in the starting lineup as the 8-0 Tigers head into the weekend with their ACC Atlantic Division crown all but assured. This year they will not play with another opponent in the rating.

But Sweeney is right. The world is a cold and callous place, and so we must also ask the bigger question: Can this team win the national championship 8-0?

Until last season, the answer could have been a resounding “Yes!” After all, we’ve already seen Clemson shrug off mediocrity and keep winning. Think back to Sweeney’s first national title in the 2016 campaign. That season, the Tigers struggled with Troy, beat North Carolina State only by a missed chip shot after time expired, and lost to Pitt. But Deshawn Watson did find Hunter Renfroe in the back end of the end zone at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium in the title game against Alabama, and no one needed to remember that regular season struggle after that.

But then came 2021, and despite his 10-3 finish, Clemson was clearly vulnerable. The victories were not so much fate as strong determination. This is commendable, but perhaps unsustainable.

It took Clemson double overtime to get past Wake Forest and narrowly missed the lead against Florida State a week ago. And if it wasn’t for Syracuse’s utterly stunning decision on Saturday to put Sean Tucker into the witness protection program – “I felt like he was the only guy who could have beaten us,” Sweeney said later, “there’s every reason to believe it could have happened.” . be larger than 2021 than 2016.

And yet, is this question different from those asked in Oregon, Alabama, Michigan, and beyond?

The Ducks thrashed UCLA on Saturday and established themselves as the clear leader in the Pac-12, but does that matter when Georgia already crushed them in Game 1?

Should we forget how the Bulldogs destroyed them once, if the latest data is much more impressive? Do we need a rematch of a game that ended by the end of the first quarter? It’s Complicated.

Ole Miss offered the SEC an alternative to the Crimson Tide, but LSU sent the rebels out of Louisiana like crayfish in a steam boiler, as Brian Kelly would say.

But Lane Kiffin’s team will still get a chance in Alabama, and if they win, won’t the Rebels make the playoffs? It’s Complicated.

Or how about the Crimson Tide? Nick Saban probably spent this week of training as a Jigsaw, planning even more sadistic dilemmas for his team’s maneuvers, but rat poison was successfully banished from the Alabama system thanks to a 30-6 win over Mississippi State. Yes, the Tide looked vulnerable against Texas and A&M both lost to Tennessee, but does anyone really think Alabama can’t be a playoff team? Well, it’s difficult.

Despite an easy win, Alabama finished with just 290 offensive yards, the lowest total in an SEC game since 2014.

Are we sold in Tennessee? Georgia just entered the season like it’s a warm bath? Is Michigan a suitable opponent for Ohio State?

Max Duggan wasn’t perfect Saturday in TCU’s 38-28 win, but he was exceptional when he should have been, and the Horned Frogs’ ground game at Kansas State was a success until the Wildcats finally conceded. TCU has been tied or trailed in the second half of each of their last three games, including against backup QB Kansas State on Saturday, all of which may underline how narrow the lead is for the Horned Frogs, but it’s a line they’re yet to cross. Does that make TCU a playoff team? Well, it’s difficult.

If we nitpick, we will find that almost all teams are reluctant. In a word, everything is difficult.

But Sweeney doesn’t quibble. Well, sure, he hit a few nits on Saturday with his starting quarterback, but now the past is over. The thing is, Clemson won. The same thing happened to Alabama, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. Their chase continues.

In the end, Clemson was 8-0, leaving one of the six teams (Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, and TCU) with a zero in the losing column.

And when it comes time for the committee to pick up nits and get smart, that zero seems awfully big, because winning every game is the only way to erase all the complexity and make it easier for the committee to decide.


Nicks, ducks roll past UCLA

We’d like to make a formal apology to Bo Nix. It wasn’t because of him that Auburn fans had been banging their heads against the wall for four years, yelling, “Stop it! Stop!”.

The Knicks outscored UCLA 45-30 with a stellar performance on Saturday, throwing 22 of 28 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns. He ran another 51 yards. He has electrified a fan base that remains blissfully unaware of all the pain he once helped inflict in his former life.

Yes, the numbers at Auburn seemed to suggest that Nix was the root of the problem, but as Mark Twain said, there are lies, damned lies and statistics, and Nix’s numbers were the most insidious of lies.

Yes, we watched the Knicks struggle in his Oregon debut when the Ducks were thrashed by Georgia, but it was an unfair example. It was like I started from scratch at a new high school with the chance to finally fit in with the cool kids, only to run into an old classmate at the mall. Georgia knew Auburn Bo Nicks all too well.

But look beyond all this. Look what the Knicks have become now that he’s gotten rid of Auburn, passed Gus Malzan and Brian Harsin, and… god, it feels like there were six or seven other coaches there. Oh, sure, Nyx was Auburn’s heritage and a five-star recruit, but the Plains absorbed better people. But after years of turmoil, Nicks finally realized that this relationship was toxic, that he needed to move on. Nothing in Taylor Swift’s discography captures the emotion of this breakup.

And when Nix left, he went as far as he could. And finally, he was free.

The Knicks have Oregon 6-1 and an undefeated Pac-12 in the game. Despite a brutal debut against Georgia, the Ducks miraculously returned to playoff talk. Nicks’ performance on Saturday helped the Oregon fanbase completely exorcize one of its demons, forcing Chip Kelly back, defeated, to the dreary, empty-pool country apartment we all assume he lives in.

What happened at the Auburn was inevitable. Nicks happened to be playing QB at the time, as the event manager on the Titanic. So, consider Nix’s “Good Will Hunting” moment. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault.


Eight is enough

Over the summer, Mario Cristobal wanted to reassure the public that Miami was serious about winning and didn’t need any tricks to get the job done. So, Cristobal said, no more supply chain.

Big mistake.

The turnover chain was not a gimmick. It was a sacred relic, and its destruction marked the end of the world in Coral Gables.

On Saturday, Duke crushed Miami 45-21 as the Hurricanes coughed up the ball eight times.

Eight. once.

Now it would be easy enough to chalk up all the losses to the simple fact that Miami is a very bad football team. But that’s like assuming there are so many Fast & Furious movies because Vin Diesel is America’s greatest living playwright. Both things are true, but these facts alone cannot explain such a copious result.

No, for Miami, there can only be one obvious culprit: Cristobal has pissed off the football gods, and now he must embark on a mythical quest, down hallways haunted by the ghosts of Al Golden and Randy Shannon, and climb the invincible mountains of ACC’s coastal division. and survive an epic freestyle battle with Uncle Luke to reclaim the turnover chain and return it to its rightful place on the Miami sideline.

All of this is already in development at HBO.


Sanders leads the Cowboys past Texas

Quinn Evers has had some tough moments this season. His car was towed. He injured his shoulder. He had to watch Oklahoma play the whole game. But Saturday was his bottom.

Evers completed just 19 of 49 throws and had three interceptions in Texas’ 41–34 loss at Oklahoma State.

The Pokes played with a battered offensive line, but Spencer Sanders still hit some critical shots for two touchdowns, and Jayden Nixon showed he could get past the Texas defense in slippers.

It was a huge win for Oklahoma State after losing a belated loss to TCU last week. The Cowboys are 6-1, and Sanders has firmly established himself as either the best bad quarterback or the worst good quarterback in the country.

After the Longhorns lost twice without Evers earlier this season, Saturday’s loss could at least eliminate any long-running “What if” debate and allow Texas to shift its focus entirely to keeping joke or treat lovers away from