BLITZING SEVEN: Racism, Big 12's Big Weekend & Lamar Jackson Bandwagon is Back
1. Racism Rears its Head In College Station: After the week 1 collapse against UCLA Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin received a racist letter. Sadly given the passions involved it is not surprising. Those who point to the letter as a product of some newly racist climate in America haven’t been paying attention. These types of letters have appeared at a number of schools for years. In 2000 Penn State’s starting quarterback was black and was falsely accused of hitting a white police officer. I was the quarterbacks coach at the time. After Joe Paterno refused to suspend him, letters and e-mails received by our quarterback, head coach and by me contained the same menacing racist rhetoric aimed at all of us. Kevin Sumlin’s letter may be shocking to many but it is certainly not new nor is it isolated.
2. Which Longhorns Will Show Up: After being shocked by Maryland at home Texas absolutely rolled San Jose State 56-0 in week two. The offense has been capable of scoring in both games, the defense in week one surrendered over 400 yards of offense. After turning the ball over twice in week one the Longhorns had none in week two. USC’s defense is vulnerable but if Texas is to have a chance at #4 USC they’ll have win the turnover battle. As good as USC quarterback Sam Darnold is he has thrown interceptions in both games this year.
3. The Big 12’s Big Weekend: After two weeks the Big 12 has win just 2 games against Power-5 teams in just 5 games. The Big 12’s 8-5 record versus FBS teams leads only the ACC’s 7-7 mark. There have been bad losses to Central Michigan, Liberty and UTSA. Oklahoma’s win at Ohio State was huge, but one win does not make a conference’s resume complete. The conference can boost that resume this week with 5 Power-5 games against Pitt, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Duke and at #4 USC.
4. Baylor Has a Long Climb: Baylor is off to a rough start having lost games to Liberty and UTSA. But new Head Coach Matt Rhule has been here before taking Temple from a 2-win season to a 10-win team. This week they draw Duke which is coming off a 41-17 win over Northwestern. Don’t expect Baylor to beat the Blue Devils, but Baylor fans can expect the program to rebuild over time.
5. Lamar Jackson Bandwagon is Back: Some have argued that race was the reason Lamar Jackson was not seen as a pre-season Heisman favorite. Really it has more to do with last season’s finish and possibly Heisman buyer’s remorse. No player ever limped into the Heisman Trophy with the types of bad losses Jackson did. In week 11 he was sacked 10 times and had a fumble in a 36-10 loss to Houston. In the season finale Jackson threw 3 interceptions and lost a fumble in a loss to unranked Kentucky. After he won the Heisman Jackson’s team could only muster 9 points in bowl rout at the hands of LSU. In 2017 with toughly 1,000 total yard against Purdue and UNC the Bandwagon is back. Tomorrow night he faces #3 Clemson and one of the best d-lines in the game. If the Cardinals win tomorrow night expect the bandwagon to get very crowded as more people climb back on.
6. After two weeks the Best Big Ten Team is…..: Based solely on the 2017 resume after two games it is Michigan. That does not mean they will be the best four weeks from now. Like the playoff committee we're looking only at the on-field results. Michigan has wins over Florida (on a neutral field) and Cincinnati while Penn State has wins over Akron and Pitt both played at home. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley may be the Big Ten’s best player but in a conference without an elite-level pro QB prospect the Big Ten title may come down to the team with the best defense. But time and Penn State games against Michigan and Ohio State will tell the tale.
7. The Best Conference Week 2: Sorry SEC fans but after week 2 it is a toss-up between the Pac 12 and the Big Ten. The Big Ten is 19-6 versus FBS teams, 6-5 against Power-5 teams and 2-3 against ranked teams but in 2 of those losses the Big Ten team was an unranked underdog. The Pac 12 is 13-4 against FBS teams and 4-1 against Power-5 teams but has yet to play a non-conference game against a ranked team. The SEC you ask? The SEC is just 11-5 against FBS teams and 4-4 against Power-5 teams (including Notre Dame) and 2-3 against ranked teams. The Big 10 scores points for avoiding scheduling FCS teams (only 1 so far) while the SEC has played seven.