Sunday, October 4, 2015

Remember when the Florida Gators were bad at football? Yeah, that's over now

Four top-10 teams lost on what turned out to be 2015's first chaos Saturday, and the top two teams tried pretty hard to join them. But among all that, the only giant surprise was how badly No. 25 Florida ruined No. 3 Ole Miss, 38-10.

The Gators, coached by Will Muschamp just last year, went out and beat down the Rebels, who recently defeated Alabama. Florida, whose offense ranked No. 12 in the SEC last year, scored more points on Ole Miss than Cal scored on Washington State on Saturday. Florida, which gave up 42 to Missouri last year, allowed fewer points to Ole Miss than LSU allowed to Eastern Michigan.

Things have changed, is what we're saying.

Even weirder: the Gators are suddenly fun as heck to watch. They've got a dancing, all-world cornerback, a Piesman-eligible defensive lineman, a competent offense, a quarterback in Will Grier who plainly outdueled Chad Kelly and happy fans? What is going on?

They're 5-0 for the second time since 2009 and sure to be ranked in the top 20 for the first time in two years. And it's not easy to find a reason why they can't win the SEC East or beat Florida State.

For the Rebels, the hardest part might be the feeling that this loss was lurking: "If you are an Ole Miss fan, you had to figure this would happen."

Elsewhere in teams that are suddenly good again, Michigan has allowed all of 14 points since Sept. 3, the winner of next week's Cal-Utah GameDay game can be considered a Pac-12 favorite, Northwestern is starting to do what elite teams do and 5-0 Iowa won an "Old Kirk Ferentz" game.

Clemson emerges unscathed. The No. 12 Tigers hosted No. 6 Notre Dame in a Saturday night battle of undefeateds, and emerged victorious after a poorly conceived two-point conversion attempt. Notre Dame made it close at the end, but its version of effortin' early on left some to be desired. Two offensive linemen combined to tackle a Clemson lineman, while a Notre Dame defender shushed the Clemson crowd, trailing 21-3.

And we go live to ... Saturday's defining moment, ABC's awkward SportsCenter cutaway during Dabo Swinney's fiery post-Notre Dame sermon.
Beginning of the end for the end of Alabama's dynasty. The No. 13 Tide were favored in 72 straight contests before Saturday's game at No. 8 Georgia. They "upset" the Bulldogs by a final score of 38-10. All you need to know can be found in the sad eyes of UGA's mascot, and that Bama dynasty we were told to mourn will be back in the top 10 and in SEC contention.
Down go the Bruins. Arizona State took out No. 7 UCLA as the Pac-12 continues to cannibalize itself, sealing it by just dragging the entire Bruins defense into the end zone. At least UCLA's kicker made a literal heads-up tackle!
Don't just lock in on Baylor and TCU. No. 15 Oklahoma made easy work of No. 23 West Virginia, and thus look like co-favorites in the Big 12 race. The Sooners topped off their day by securing a commitment from a four-star California cornerback prospect over USC, UCLA and Tennessee, among others.
Yep, uh, still definitely No. 1. Ohio State barely squeaked by an Indiana team playing second-stringers at quarterback and running back, and a disastrous last play was the only thing between the Hoosiers and overtime. Buckeye fans are starting to get concerned, while the Hoosier faithful say the program has "truly turned the corner."
Bad decisions. Nebraska passed instead of running down the clock like a normal team, losing to Illinois and falling to 2-3. Washington State let Cal convert on a third-and-36 draw play. Georgia players crowded Bama's field entrance; never make Bama mad. And that bar that promised to give away free beer until UCF won? It ran out of beer and started giving away free liquor.
WORSE decision. The officiating crew in Kansas State-Oklahoma State really screwed up, gifting Oklahoma State a phantom first down. The Cowboys later scored on that drive and would go on to beat the Wildcats by two points.
Another bad day for Texas. Gary Patterson started Saturday by saying, "We've been better with less," and then No. 4 TCU went out and beat the Longhorns 50-7. It got so bad the Texas Rangers accidentally tweeted for Charlie Strong's firing and a Texas player retweeted a halftime plea from an A&M fan for him to transfer.
As for the rest of the top 10. No. 2 Michigan State beat Purdue by three and No. 9 LSU pulled away from Eastern Michigan late. No. 5 Baylor put 63 on Texas Tech, which by now is a perfectly normal Baylor thing to do.

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