Football

NCAA football: Saturday morning national blitz 09.20.14

Hot reads

1. Must-win for Muschamp: The Head Ball Coach held his own against Bobby Bowden and brought Florida its first national title. Urban Meyer followed Steve Spurrier with two more. Will Muschamp? He won at FSU in 2012 but is just 4-11 against ranked teams, including 0-4 last year.

In other words, the natives are restless. The fourth-year Florida coach could use a signature victory Saturday at No. 3 Alabama.

“They’re all statement games,” Muschamp told reporters at his weekly press conference. “They’re all important. They all count for one, so we understand the importance of the game. It’s an SEC game. It’s the next game. We’re in a series of one-game seasons as far as I’m concerned right now, and that’s how we’re looking at it.”

If Muschamp doesn’t soon win one of these, he’s going to run out of “one-game seasons.”

2. Life lessons from Dabo: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had some fun in his weekly news conference. Talk of a QB controversy has grown louder by the week. So Swinney opened his presser by describing in detail another position battle – on the offensive line – involving a long-time player who had never started.

“Don’t want to talk about that?” Swinney said. “That ain’t sexy enough, is it? That won’t get any headlines.”

No, but Cliff Stout vs. Deshaun Watson will. Stout, who sat behind Tajh Boyd for three seasons, started the first two games, and Watson has replaced him in both.

“Fans just see a glimpse of something, and say, ‘Oh, (Watson’s) got great potential.’ ” Swinney said. “Absolutely. But Deshaun hasn’t won the job yet. He may. He didn’t win it in fall camp, clearly. His first week-and-a-half of camp, it was really bad. But that last week, man, he came on. He did not win the job. You can’t just make a guy the starter on potential. It doesn’t work that way. Guys have to earn things.”

3. Jameis, again: Twitter exploded (again) after FSU (eventually) suspended Jameis Winston (for the first half of Saturday’s game) after the QB shouted “sexual remarks” on campus. A very small sample of the printable tweets:

NFL draft analyst Matt Miller@nfldraftscout: To recap: Jameis Winston suspended for 1st half after saying something stupid. No suspension (from football) for rape allegation or theft.

NFL columnist Mike Freeman@mikefreemannfl: Some of the things NFL scouts are texting me about Jameis Winston…holy crap. Not good for Winston. At all.

Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel@DanWetzel: Txt from NFL scout on Jameis Winston: “he keeps filling up the ‘recurring stupidity’ column.”

Bottom line: Somebody still will take him very early in the NFL draft ...

Tracking the Top 25

Saturday’s games ... comments where deserving.

No. 1 Florida State (2-0) vs. No. 22 Clemson (1-1), 8 p.m.: Just to make it fair, Clemson has to prepare to face two quarterbacks, too.

No. 2 Oregon (3-0) at Washington State (1-2), 10:30 p.m.: Johnny Manziel’s off-field antics turned off Heisman voters last year, opening the door for Jameis Winston. Ducks QB Marcus Mariota could benefit most if voters grow wary of Winston. Mariota’s 203 QB rating won’t hurt, either.

No. 3 Alabama (3-0) vs. Florida (2-0), 3:30 p.m.: Fair to wonder: Would Gators be better if Jacoby Brissett had stayed and Jeff Driskel transferred?

No. 4 Oklahoma (3-0) at West Virginia (2-1), 7:30 p.m.: Bob Stoops loves beating up on the SEC. Last year Alabama. Last week Tennessee. He’ll have to settle for West Virginia this week.

No. 6 Texas A&M (3-0) at SMU (0-2), 3:30 p.m.: Kenny Trill’s TD-INT ratio (11-0) figures to improve.

No. 8 LSU (3-0) vs. Mississippi State (3-0), 7 p.m.: If only the Bulldogs were in the SEC East ...

No. 11 Michigan State (1-1) vs. Eastern Michigan (1-2), Noon: Spartans had two weeks to prepare for E. Michigan’s vaunted offense (11.3 points per game, 125th in nation). ... Or two weeks to recover from that Oregon beatdown.

No. 13 Georgia (1-1) vs. Troy (0-3), Noon: Tarboro’s Todd Gurley is averaging 9.4 yards per carry. That’s an awful lot of 2nd-and-18 inches.

No. 14 South Carolina (2-1) at Vanderbilt (1-2), 7:30 p.m.: Don’t bet against the Ball Coach when he plays teams from his home state. He’s won 5 straight against the Commodores, though the margins have been closer than you might expect.

No. 18 Missouri (3-0) vs. Indiana (1-1), 4 p.m.: Misleading geography aside, this will be another example of an SEC team thumping a Big Ten team.

No. 19 Wisconsin (1-1) vs. Bowling Green (2-1), Noon: Bowling Green beat Indiana last week, but that’s where the transitive property of college football ends. Indiana hasn’t beaten Wisconsin since 2002.

No. 21 BYU (3-0) vs. Virginia (2-1), 3:30 p.m.: You know it’s a different era of college football when BYU’s QB runs it 26 times and only throws it 34. QB Taysom Hill (6-2, 232) has rushed for 97, 99 and 160 yards in first three games.

No. 24 Nebraska (3-0) vs. Miami (2-1), 8 p.m.: Good line from Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote on the Canes’ offense: “Ready ... Dorsett ... Go!”

Number to know

5 Teams receiving first-place votes in the AP poll. How many teams are in the Final Four again?

Final Word

“Yes, yes and yes.” – Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson, when asked whether his offensive line issues were related to a lack of athleticism, strength or technique.

Compiled by Chris Wright with the help of AP, Dan Collins, Pat Forde and various team websites

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