10 most memorable college football moments this season so far
Late last week I proposed to my editors writing some sort of midseason superlatives column and/or All-American Team to run this week. It’s something I’ve done at the halfway point every year for about the past decade.
Unfortunately, it seems pretty much every other site on the Internet not only does the same thing now, but their writers also complete them much more quickly — which means you most likely already have seen 27 other writers tell you that Leonard Fournette is their midseason MVP, Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman their All-American receivers, etc., etc.
Clearly, I needed to take a different approach.
Ultimately, college football is about moments. If you’re a nerd like me, all it takes is someone to say "2013" and you immediately remember "Alabama-Auburn Kick-Six." Or, in a different vein, "Lane Kiffin gets fired at the airport." Increasingly, the sport’s off-field soap opera is nearly as riveting as its on-field drama.
With that in mind, let’s take this opportunity to relive the best moments of the first half of 2015.
10 MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS OF FIRST SEVEN WEEKS
Sept. 7: Braxton Miller hits "spin" button — After months of speculation about the former quarterback’s new role, Miller goes out in Ohio State’s Monday night opener against Virginia Tech and scores two 50-plus-yard touchdowns, the second capped by a vicious spin move. All of which sets up weeks of subsequent consternation when both he and the defending national champs’ offense as a whole go strangely missing.
Sept. 12: Bret Bielema’s foot meets mouth — People love to hate cocky coaches, self-serving coaches and the SEC West in general. So there is much schadenfreude to go around when, just days after belittling Ohio State’s schedule, Bielema’s Arkansas team loses 16-12 to Toledo. Earlier the same day, preseason favorite Auburn nearly loses to FCS foe Jacksonville State. And everyone still will flock to SEC Media Days next summer.
Sept. 19: Alabama dynasty ends (again) — No. 15 Ole Miss goes to Tuscaloosa and upsets the third-ranked Crimson Tide 43-37 in a game that includes what is now only the second-flukiest touchdown of the season. This being the Tide’s fifth loss in their past 30 games, Nick Saban’s coaching career is put on life support . . . right up until his team stomps top-10 teams Georgia and Texas A&M a few weeks later.
— ESPN (@espn) September 20, 2015
Sept. 19: Leonard Fournette goes full-Herschel on Auburn — The LSU star had been garnering Heisman buzz from before the time he stepped on campus. But the legend becomes real with a 19-carry, 228-yard performance in which he trucks a dude on one touchdown and flips a guy over his shoulder on another. No one’s been able to stop him since.
Sept. 26: Utah hangs 62 on Oregon — In one night at Autzen Stadium, all of that aura Phil Knight Oregon spent six years building goes up in smoke, while the Utes go from cute little Pac-12 newbies to legit title contenders. Utah, picked to finish fifth in its division, is now up to No. 3 in the country. The only thing crazier would be if Washington State starts beating Oregon . . . wait, what’s that?
Oct. 3: TCU nearly gets Charlie Strong fired — Or so it seemed after the Horned Frogs plowed struggling Texas 50-7, sending the ‘Horns to their first 1-4 start since 1956. Strong, who demoted his offensive coordinator after a similar Week 1 drubbing at Notre Dame, gets moved to the top of every Hot Seat list in the country . . . and promptly gets removed a week later and carried off on his players’ shoulders when Texas beats Oklahoma.
Oct. 3: Notre Dame and Clemson play in a monsoon — This game was so epic that within a week you forget it was completely one-sided for three quarters. But the Irish rally from a 21-3 fourth-quarter deficit to come within a last-second, two-point conversion of sending the game to overtime. The Tigers stop it, after which Clemson coach Dabo Swinney delivers a phenomenal postgame interview that gets cut off for guys with iPads.
Oct. 3/10: Holy crap, Florida and Michigan are good — How did that happen so quickly? The Wolverines, having struggled to gain a first down for most of Brady Hoke’s tenure, are suddenly beating a ranked foe, Northwestern, 38-0 under Jim Harbaugh. The Gators, having struggled to complete a pass for most of Will Muschamp’s tenure, are suddenly beating a ranked foe, Ole Miss, 38-10 under Jim McElwain. What could possibly go wrong?
Oct. 11-12: Everyone gets fired — In the span of about 24 hours, Maryland fires Randy Edsall, having previously leaked it would do so; North Texas fires Dan McCarney after he loses 66-7 to an FCS opponent; USC fires Steve Sarkisian after he showed up to the office in no condition to work; and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier fires himself. Soon we’re going to need search firms to help hire interim coaches.
Oct. 17: Michigan muffs a punt snap — Well, that and the ball ends up falling into the hands of a Michigan State player who returns it for a touchdown with no time left, preserves his team’s undefeated record, absolutely crushes the archrival fans’ souls . . . and breaks his hip getting tackled. Jalen Watts-Jackson ends up in the hospital, undergoes surgery, is out for the season and in a wheelchair — and says he’d gladly do it all over again.
It’s been a wild season so far, and that’s without including the fact that Iowa is 7-0 while Georgia Tech is 2-5. Or that Temple and Memphis are ranked, while USC and Georgia are not. Or that Florida State has yet to commit a turnover, while Boise State coughed up eight in one game. Or that TCU has won games by scores of 55-52 and 52-45, while Missouri has been involved in two 9-6 contests. Or that Baylor receiver Corey Coleman has more touchdowns (16) than 110 FBS teams. Or that UCF has rushed for fewer yards in six games (374) than Western Michigan did against Ohio (430).
What happens from here? I can’t wait to find out. There will be a whole lot of unforgettable moments from 2015 that have not yet happened. And I can’t help having the premonition that Les Miles will be involved in seven of them.