Football

NCAA football: Saturday morning national blitz

Hot reads

1. Spurrier, unplugged: There is not a more amusing coach in America than the Head Ball Coach, aka, Steve Spurrier. His South Carolina Gamecocks are ranked and leading the SEC East, two good things.

HBC didn’t exactly see it that way after South Carolina allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns and barely escaped Vanderbilt 48-34.

Spurrier leads the country in usage of “embarrassing.” A sampling from one of his better postgame interviews:

“That was a game I didn’t like a bit, although I’m proud of the offensive kids for scoring a bunch of points, here and there. ... The way we played was embarrassing. I told the guys, it’s embarrassing. And I’m the head coach of this embarrassing group of guys. Allowed two kickoff returns, our defensive backs won’t turn around and look for the ball when they lob it down the field.

“It’s embarrassing, but we are who we are. We’re not a very good team, but we’re 3-1 somehow and we got all the voters fooled thinking we’re pretty good, I guess because we beat Georgia. ...

“It was discouraging, but it is what it is. We have to almost score a touchdown every time or we’re going to get our butts beat. ...

“I’ll try to get smarter in the future and hopefully we can get better. But it was embarrassing, it was embarrassing the way we played.

“Vanderbilt has not been an offensive juggernaut in the SEC ... but holding Vandy to 380 yards? I think that’s their best of the year. We did some good plays here and there, but overall, we can’t brag about what we did defensively today. ...

“I don’t know. We’ve all seen good football teams. We ain’t one. Don’t say we’re one right now. But maybe we can be. I don’t know. But it’s embarrassing. It’s no fun for me watching us play tonight. ...

“I don’t know. I should be nicer, I guess. But it was frustrating. But we did win. And I’m happy ...”

2. Run Dawgs, run: Tarboro’s Todd Gurley is averaging 9.8 yards per carry, and somehow, that is second on his team. Sony Michel is averaging 10.3.

3. Big Ten searching ... : Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio thinks only conference champions should be eligible for the Final Four. Of course he does. That would guarantee only one SEC team and also give the Big Ten its best shot at being represented. Sorry, coach. Save the campaign speech. The results don’t lie: You had your chance to make an impression against Oregon.

Tracking the Top 25

Saturday’s games ... comments where deserving.

No. 1 Florida State (3-0) at N.C. State (4-0), 3:30 p.m.: You know who is back in the saddle for the Seminoles. Keep it classy, Pack fans.

No. 5 Auburn (3-0) vs. Louisiana Tech (2-2), 4 p.m.: Nobody talks about Auburn, but then again, nobody talked about the Tigers last season, either. The weren’t even ranked for much of the year and didn’t crack the top 10 until Week 11. WR D’haquille Williams, a JuCo transfer, could be the SEC’s next big thing to hit the NFL.

No. 6 Texas A&M (4-0) vs. Arkansas (3-1) at Arlington, Texas, 3:30 p.m.: Kenny Trill (13 TDs, 1 INT) gets to perform at Jerry World, whose owner, Jerry Jones, openly coveted the previous A&M QB.

No. 7 Baylor (3-0) at Iowa State (1-2), 8 p.m.

No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) vs. Syracuse (2-1) at East Rutherford, N.J., 8 p.m.: One reason Irish are unbeaten? They have scored on all 14 trips inside the red zone (12 TDs/2 FGs).

No. 9 Michigan State (2-1) vs. Wyoming (3-1), Noon:

No. 10 Mississippi (3-0) vs. Memphis (2-1), 7:30 p.m.: Final tuneup before five weeks of, well, something that rhymes with well. The slate: Alabama, at Texas A&M, Tennessee, at LSU, Auburn.

No. 12 Georgia (2-1) vs. Tennessee (2-1), Noon: Todd Gurley right. Todd Gurley left. Dawgs are averaging 304 rushing yards per game. Tennessee has had two weeks to prepare for the punishing style.

No. 13 South Carolina (3-1) vs. Missouri (3-1), 7 p.m.: They kicked Missouri out of the Top 25 after losing to a bad Big Ten team last week. Tigers lose to another any time soon, they might kick them out of the SEC.

No. 16 Stanford (2-1) at Washington (4-0), 4:15 p.m.

No. 17 LSU (3-1) vs. New Mexico State (2-2), 7:30 p.m.

No. 18 Southern Cal (2-1) vs. Oregon State (3-0), 10:30 p.m.

No. 19 Wisconsin (2-1) vs. South Florida (2-2), Noon: No, Big Ten, this will not count as a win over one of Florida’s Big 3 or dent the argument that you can’t deal with all of that Florida speed.

No. 21 Nebraska (4-0) vs. Illinois (3-1), 9 p.m.: Cornhuskers RB Ameer Abdullah dominated Miami last week. He’s firmly in the Heisman race, or as much as any RB can be in the race any more.

No. 22 Ohio State (2-1) vs. Cincinnati (2-0), 6 p.m.: QB Gunner Kiel trying to lead Bearcats to Ohio state championship after knocking off Toledo and Miami (Ohio).

No. 25 Kansas State (2-1) vs. UTEP (2-1), Noon

Number to know

199 Career losses for Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown (Mack’s brother), tied with Alonzo Stagg for most in NCAA history. Loss No. 200 could come Saturday at Northern Iowa.

Final Word

“Sorry everyone, we just got a little bit too excited. Our mistake is your win. The hat sale is still on. Have a great weekend.” – Tweet from Cal’s fan shop, which sent an email as the Bears were blowing out Arizona. One problem: Arizona scored 36 points in the fourth quarter and won on a Hail Mary on the final play.

Compiled by Chris Wright with assists from the AP, ESPN, Pat Forde and various team websites

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