We’re skilled to root for the hero in tales as a result of all of us wish to imagine we are the good man, too. But when we’re being sincere, the villains make a narrative enjoyable. Superman has the powers, however Lex Luthor has the character.
And so it’s with Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin, the stoic hero (Saban) pitted in opposition to his former protégé turned diabolical usurper (Kiffin). Marvel has nothing on this story.
In a 12 months through which film theaters went darkish, Alabama and Ole Miss gave us our blockbuster. The Tide gained 63-48 on Saturday, and the 2 groups piled up an SEC file for yardage. A nation on the sting of its seat questioned if Kiffin had in some way collected a fistful of infinity stones this offseason.
There have been different tales Saturday, in fact, with their very own heroes and villains. At Clemson, a ferocious protection reminded Miami that being again on prime additionally requires having no less than one receiver who can get open. Miami’s Keontra Smith additionally delivered a nasty hit on Trevor Lawrence that resulted in a concentrating on flag and compelled the Clemson QB to the sideline. Restricted attendance made it straightforward to listen to what the socially distanced Clemson followers considered the play, too. Lawrence returned and teamed with Travis Etienne to put waste to yet one more would-be ACC contender in a 42-17 win.
Clemson’s win — as messy because it was at occasions — together with Dabo Swinney’s unlucky choice to attempt to kick a 61-yard area aim on the finish of the primary half — supplied a way of normalcy on a day that had loads of different drama.
In LSU’s loss at Missouri, Bo Pelini’s protection imploded once more, with Ed Orgeron livid a couple of efficiency so embarrassing that Nebraska referred to as to ask if it might hearth Pelini once more. In Faculty Station, Jimbo Fisher lastly acquired his signature win, $75 million effectively spent. At Georgia, there was Stetson Bennett — positively the title of a superhero alter ego — main the Bulldogs to a different huge win over Tennessee and assuming agency command of the SEC East. Mike Leach’s Air Raid amounted to 2 factors, and he mentioned after the sport that some gamers may must stroll the plank.
However these have been all sideshows.
In Oxford, Mississippi, we watched the most effective sort of drama.
Except for Saban and Kiffin, there have been loads of different plot factors value following. Mac Jones continued to show he’s a worthy successor to Tua Tagovailoa. The Alabama protection confirmed indicators that it’s a good distance from its glory days. Ole Miss regarded, once more, like a crew that is going to hit the over in Las Vegas on a weekly foundation. However the backdrop for all of it was an X’s-and-O’s battle — and possibly just a little subterfuge, too — between two coaches with a shared historical past and a very divergent method to the job.
Earlier this week, Kiffin in contrast his relationship along with his former boss as “like a divorce.”
In that sense, this was a revenge story. Saban, in any case, rescued Kiffin from the scrap heap. When USC left Kiffin on an airport tarmac, Saban invited him onboard Alabama’s rocket ship as an alternative, a pairing that was destined to finish badly however assured loads of attention-grabbing twists and turns alongside the way in which. Kiffin left below less-than-ideal circumstances, pushed apart in a mid-playoff run after he took the head-coaching job at Florida Atlantic, and he has taken nice pleasure in needling Saban ever since. It is like Kylo Ren turning in opposition to Luke Skywalker, however on Twitter.
Kiffin is the right foil to Saban, an outspoken, unabashed, unrepentant gadfly. So when Ole Miss responded with a landing after seemingly each Alabama rating, it was unimaginable to not begin rooting for the unhealthy man just a bit. In any case, who did not wish to see Kiffin crack jokes within the postgame information convention whereas Saban silently seethed? Simply think about what would undergo Saban’s head when he picked up his cellphone Sunday morning to search out 20 more and more misspelled textual content messages from Kiffin that simply learn “Scoreboard.”
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. In fact Alabama gained. The hero is meant to win, and prefer it or not, Saban stays the hero of this story. Let’s simply hope we get a number of sequels, too.
Powerful occasions in Texas
In a Pink River Showdown sport for the ages, Oklahoma delivers the ultimate punch and knocks off Texas in 4 overtimes 53-45.
It’s completely potential neither crew is excellent this season, however it’s a must to hand it to Texas and Oklahoma — they’re by no means boring.
Or, no less than each two years they are not.
The Sooners closed out a 53-45, 4-OT win within the Pink River … what are they calling it now? Rivalry? Showdown? Fracas? Let’s go along with “fracas.” It was probably the most factors scored within the rivalry sport’s historical past, topping the file that was set in 2018, which topped the earlier file set in 2016. So, look out for the 2022 model.
Will Tom Herman nonetheless be on the sideline for Texas in that one? It’s attending to be an attention-grabbing query given the Longhorns’ 2-2 begin.
QB Sam Ehlinger supplied postgame frustration for the second straight week, lamenting the self-inflicted wounds which have saved Texas from profitable. However actually, it has been a little bit of luck that the Longhorns have even been shut. Texas trailed by 14 with 4 minutes to play earlier than rallying to tie — the second time in three video games it has finished that.
Credit score to Ehlinger, who has posted 10 touchdowns and 684 yards up to now two video games — each losses.
Though Herman has two huge bowl wins to his credit score — vs. Utah final 12 months and Georgia in 2018 — the remainder of the résumé is trying awfully skinny. Prior to now calendar 12 months, Texas is simply 6-5, together with a two-point win vs. Kansas, a three-point win over Okay-State and its miraculous comeback final month in opposition to Texas Tech. Herman is simply 9-10 in his previous 19 regular-season video games and has misplaced 4 of 5 vs. the Sooners.
It simply means extra … offense
Kyle Trask and Kellen Mond battled forwards and backwards all afternoon, however it was Texas A&M kicker Seth Small who gained the day with a game-winning 26-yard area aim as time expired.
Jimbo Fisher lastly acquired his signature win at Texas A&M, pulling the upset over No. 4 Florida 41-38.
In the meantime, the defending champion LSU Tigers are actually below .500 after falling to Missouri 45-41.
And in the event you’re a bit stunned by these scores, there may be good purpose.
Florida’s protection has now allowed 100 factors by three video games, its worst three-game stretch since 1917, based on ESPN Stats & Info analysis.
LSU has allowed 96 factors by three video games as Bo Pelini takes over the protection, its most to start out a season in program historical past.
Missouri QB Connor Bazelak throws for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns whereas Myles Brennan passes for 430 yards and 4 TDs in LSU’s 45-41 loss.
When it was over, Ed Orgeron referred to as the Tigers’ D “embarrassing,” which is a phrase he often reserves for individuals who faucet out after three refills of all-you-can-eat crawfish. The place do the solutions come from for LSU? It is arduous to think about a fast repair. Missouri hadn’t scored greater than 24 in a sport in a 12 months.
In the meantime, Dan Mullen chalked up his crew’s loss to the group at Kyle Subject. Mullen added that he desires a packed home at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium subsequent week for the Gators’ sport in opposition to LSU, assuming — we guess — that the majority of these followers can even are available and play protection.
Fortunately, Tennessee was right here to revive order, reminding the world within the second half of its loss to Georgia that not each SEC sport ends in a shootout.
When taking part in a contact sport reminiscent of soccer, it is extremely essential to remain hydrated. We’ll assume that is what George Pickens was pondering when he used his water bottle to squirt Jarrett Guarantano because the Tennessee QB went out of bounds on a play alongside the UGA sideline.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano falls out of bounds after scrambling, whereas on the bottom Georgia’s George Pickens squirts water on him.
Quite than applauding Pickens’ helpfulness, officers flagged him for an unsportsmanlike penalty, and even head coach Kirby Sensible recommended that maybe the motivation might need been a bit extra infantile.
“When any individual comes out of bounds and also you squirt water at them, what are we? Are we 7 and eight years previous?” Sensible mentioned. “I imply, come on, let’s play soccer. Let’s [not] be foolish.”
And with this, it is unlikely that subsequent week we’ll see Richard LeCounte guarantee Mac Jones’ uniform is safe by giving him a wedgie.
One thing within the water?
UNC quarterback Sam Howell throws three landing passes, and the Tar Heels prime the Hokies 56-45.
It is a famously brief 21-mile jaunt from the campus at North Carolina to Duke. Their respective backfields appeared intent on masking that a lot floor on Saturday alone.
The Tar Heels ran for 399 yards and 5 touchdowns in a wild win over No. 19 Virginia Tech, with Michael Carter and Javonte Williams every topping 160 yards. Carter had two scores on 17 carries, dashing for 214, together with a 64-yard scamper. Williams completed with 169 and two touchdowns, too.
In the meantime Duke leaned on its tailback tandem to select up win No. 1 of the season in Syracuse. Deon Jackson ran for 169 yards, whereas Mataeo Durant added 161 and two touchdowns. For the sport, Duke completed with 363 yards dashing — simply 31 fewer than it totaled in its first 4 contests of the 12 months.
How uncommon was that? It was the primary time Duke has ever had a number of gamers rush for 160 yards, based on ESPN Stats & Info analysis. North Carolina hadn’t had it occur since 1931.
For the Blue Devils, it was a much-needed reprieve amid a dismal begin to the 2020 season. For the Heels, it was an enormous step up in credibility.
North Carolina’s 56 factors have been its most ever in opposition to an AP-ranked opponent, and the Heels are actually 3-0 for the primary time since 2011.
All of it had head coach Mack Brown excited about actual property.
“We have to purchase a home on this neighborhood,” Brown mentioned of UNC’s ascendance into the realm of playoff contender. “We have been visiting the primary couple weeks within the prime 10. It is who we wish to be, however have we earned it but? Taking part in a top-20 crew in Virginia Tech that was dominating their first two video games after we weren’t gave us an opportunity to show we might be good.”
Overreaction of the week
Did all of us overrate BYU a bit after its early dominance? It regarded that method because the Cougars struggled to get previous UTSA in a sport they have been favored to win by 35. As a substitute, BYU needed to maintain off a late rally to flee 27-20. So, issues for the Cougs?
BYU clearly did not play its greatest sport, however with 470 yards of offense and one other spectacular efficiency from QB Zach Wilson (22-of-30 for 292 and two touchdowns) there’s not a lot want to fret. As a substitute, it’s most likely a credit score to a UTSA crew that is much better than it was in previous years. At 3-2, the Roadrunners are inside a win of final 12 months’s season whole already, and each losses are by a mixed 15 factors.
Underneath-reaction of the week
Certain, it might be straightforward sufficient to shrug off South Carolina’s dominant win over Vanderbilt with the apparent chorus: It was solely Vandy. However that will undervalue simply how anemic the Gamecocks’ offense has been for the previous — effectively, just about all the Will Muschamp period.
South Carolina hung 41 on Vandy on Saturday, marking the primary time the Gamecocks have hit 40 in an SEC sport since November 2018 in opposition to Ole Miss, and simply the third time since Muschamp took over this system in 2016.
Underneath-the-radar sport of the week
Life comes at you quick. Nobody is aware of that higher than Pittsburgh kicker Alex Kessman. With Pitt trailing Boston Faculty by three with 40 seconds to play, Kessman booted a 58-yard area aim to ship the sport to additional time. Free Primanti Brothers for all times! However, very like consuming a sandwich through which french fries are a condiment, the enjoyment did not final lengthy. After BC scored on the primary possession of OT, Pitt responded with a landing of its personal — solely Kessman botched the additional level, sending the Panthers to a second straight one-point loss.
Underneath-the-radar play of the week
Maybe the worst a part of this abridged school soccer season to this point is the dearth of big-man TDs. So it’s with nice pleasure that we applaud 320-pound Alim McNeill, who pulled off probably the most athletic big-man scores you will ever see. The NC State defensive sort out batted a cross within the air, fielded it like a pop fly, then rumbled 18 yards for a landing. And he did not cease when he acquired to the top zone, springing alongside the again line in celebration. Who says linemen hate doing additional cardio?
NC State defensive lineman Alim McNeill ideas the interception to himself and is ready to return it for a landing.
Bear in mind final month, when the Large 12 opened its season with some embarrassing out-of-conference losses? Kansas State fell to Arkansas State, and Iowa State acquired thumped by Louisiana, and all of us had a very good giggle about Bob Bowlsby’s choice to play nonconference video games in any respect. These have been the times.
Yeah, humorous factor about that. Kansas State beat TCU on Saturday, and Iowa State stomped Texas Tech, and each are actually 3-0 in Large 12 play and atop the league’s standings.
Does this imply the Solar Belt champ will get the Large 12’s New 12 months’s Six bids? It might solely be truthful.
A few of the prime contenders took a loss this week, and we’re nonetheless one other two weeks from including the Large Ten’s stars to the combination. That places our prime two effectively forward of the remainder of the pack.
Trevor Lawrence throws for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Travis Etienne rushes for 149 yards and two touchdowns as Clemson goes on to defeat Miami 42-17.
1. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence
One other sport, one other 4 touchdowns for Lawrence, who needed to share the highlight with a game-changing tailback and a dominant protection however nonetheless stays atop our Heisman rankings.
2. Alabama QB Mac Jones
Jones’ first three video games of the season: 79.5% completions, 1,101 passing yards, eight TDs. Examine that to Tua Tagovailoa’s first three of 2019: 76.9% completions, 1,007 passing yards and 12 TDs.
3. Florida QB Kyle Trask
It is arduous accountable the QB for the loss Saturday. Trask was distinctive once more, and he now has 14 TD passes, together with 4 in three straight video games. The one SEC QBs to do it in 4 straight up to now decade are Tua Tagovailoa and Johnny Manziel.
4. BYU QB Zach Wilson
He was 22-of-30 for 292 yards and two touchdowns in opposition to UTSA, and that was thought-about a nasty sport. Wilson is the true deal, and he’s simply beginning to get the nationwide consideration he deserves.
5. Clemson RB Travis Etienne
There’s not a extra dynamic operating again in school soccer than Etienne, who had 149 yards and two touchdowns on the bottom to go along with eight catches for 73 yards by the air.
Large Bets and Dangerous Beats
Down 10 with 5 minutes left in its sport in opposition to NC State, Virginia went for it on fourth-and-10 at its personal 23 — and went nowhere. That handed the ball over to the Wolfpack, intent on operating out the clock. 4 straight runs adopted, however earlier than Zonovan Knight might attain the top of the sport, he reached the top zone, scoring on a 2-yard run with 1:49 to play. That put the rating at 38-21 — cashing the over by half a degree.
Bettors may wish to costume up as Brock Purdy for Halloween, as a result of he makes the month of October awfully enjoyable for Iowa State backers. With Purdy helming the offense, the Cyclones are 8-1 in opposition to the unfold in October, based on ESPN Stats & Info analysis, together with masking a 10-point unfold in a 31-15 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. How a lot does Purdy love all of the Halloween hijinks of October? His completion share in October is … 66.6%. Spooky.
For causes even Dabo Swinney most likely cannot fairly clarify, Clemson determined to wrap a primary half of what was shaping up as a blowout of Miami with a 61-yard area aim try. It did not go effectively. Sporting a 21-3 lead, with the Hurricanes’ offense unable to do something in opposition to the Tigers’ stout D, Swinney wished to run it up only a tick extra with an extended kick because the clock expired. As a substitute, the kick was blocked, and Miami’s DJ Ivey picked it up and returned it 48 yards for a landing. It was an embarrassing second for Swinney and the Tigers, however it was a present for anybody who guess the over for the half, which was set at 30 factors. The landing introduced the mixed rating to 31.
Alabama wanted each rating it might get to maintain tempo with Ole Miss on Saturday, however the closing landing was a little bit of a nail within the coffin. With 1:09 to play and the sport in hand, Najee Harris broke off a 39 yard run for a landing, bringing the ultimate rating to 63-48 and guaranteeing the Tide coated the second half unfold of minus-10. Or maybe Nick Saban simply wished so as to add just a little salt — or rat poison — to Lane Kiffin’s wounds.
The ready sport
We’re used to touting the ball-control potential of Navy’s choice offense, however the closing drive to shut out a win in opposition to Temple on Saturday was one thing much more astonishing than we thought potential. Credit score Navy’s sports activities info director Scott Strasemeier for the information.
Navy’s closing offensive drive that arrange the Nichols area aim is statistically unimaginable: Took 9:06 off the clock, ran 15 performs, and gained 26 yards.
— Scott Strasemeier (@ScottStras) October 11, 2020
It might sound unimaginable to take greater than 9 minutes off the clock and acquire solely 26 yards, however Navy’s components was foolproof. No play gained greater than 6 yards. The Midshipmen transformed a fourth down. Each play was a run. They even used two timeouts for good measure.