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fc-the-solid-verbal

The fine folks over at Fancred have helped us expand the reach of The Solid Verbal by giving us a slick profile page and a direct portal into the passionate minds of college football fans around the world.  So, to express our gratitude, we solicited questions from its growing network of fans for a special Fancred-only mailbag:

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I love the implication here that Florida’s 94th ranked offense was some sort of meteor headed towards Baton Rogue.  Trust me, the reason LSU’s defense seemed to “wake up” was more because it played against Florida than any great epiphanies on the defensive side of the ball.  For sleepy defenses, Florida’s offense is the perfect combination Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy and Reese Feldman’s undetectable cocaine from Starsky & Hutch.

But you’re not entirely off base.  I’ll actually take it a step further—I’m most impressed with the way LSU controlled the football game.  Did you watch this game?  At one point in the second half, LSU led only 14-6, but it truly felt like a 34-6 game.  You won’t find many dominating performances that are this humble.  And though I kid, I still think Florida is a really good football team.

With that in mind, I do think this LSU team can challenge Alabama later this year.  The Tigers may have the best stable of running backs in the country, and it helps that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has found a way to give this offense a sense of organization and balance.

fc-baylor
Well, to keep our sanity, let’s assume that both Baylor and Oregon, Clemson, Florida State, or Ohio State go unbeaten. And let’s plan on Alabama being a lock for the BCS Championship Game, because it’s Alabama…

If Oregon goes 13-0, there’s no way the Ducks aren’t playing for the title.  The Pac-12 is the second best conference in FBS and it’s not even close.  This is the matchup that some people wanted to see last year and still the matchup people want in Pasadena.  It’d be a fascinating game of contrasting styles, and though I’d still lean Alabama in a hypothetical matchup, the Ducks could change my mind with an impressive showing when they take on a physical Stanford team.

Likewise, I don’t think Baylor would jump over an undefeated Clemson or Florida State.  If Clemson runs the table, we’re looking at a Tigers team that knocked off Georgia, Florida State, South Carolina, Miami or Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, and didn’t Clemson itself on the road against Maryland.  If Florida State stays perfect, we’re talking about road wins over Clemson and Florida as well as a victory (or two) over Miami, or possibly Virginia Tech in the conference championship.  I think both these resumes are better than the best-case scenario for the Bears. This might also be one of those dumb situations where preseason polls shift opinion in favor of Clemson/Florida State.

What about Ohio State?  Maybe.  I don’t think the Buckeyes would have a clear advantage in terms of resume, nor do I think that playing in the Big Ten should fast-track them to Pasadena.  But I do feel the most confident in their ability to stay undefeated when compared to the other teams in this question.  Ultimately, if it comes down to the Buckeyes and Bears, I think Ohio State gets the nod to set up a battle of two teams that, over the span of two seasons, would be a combined 52-0 headed into the title game.

With all that said, I can envision a scenario in which Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, Florida State and Ohio State all finish with at least one loss.  So, this discussion may be obsolete in 24 hours.

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I don’t know, but Danny Sheridan does.

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For reference, we’ve lovingly referred to Winston as The Wonderful Monster all season.  We did this after a Verballer left us a voice message which programmatically transcribed “Winston” as “Wonderful Monster”.  Technology is a beautiful thing.

By every statistical measure through seven weeks of college football, Winston is one of the best.  He’s completed exactly 73.2-percent of his passes, which ties him with Johnny Manziel and means he’s having a pretty remarkable run.  Still, there’s plenty of room for cynicism when you consider that Winston has essentially padded his stats against below average competition.  Granted, that’s not his fault, but it’s as good a reason as any to pump the brakes until we see him play a better team.

Enter Saturday’s road showdown with Clemson.  Nobody knows how Winston will perform in a hostile setting, but I feel pretty confident in him having a massive game against a defense that is still fairly untrustworthy.  If Florida State loses, it’ll likely be the fault of the Seminole defense and not The Wonderful Monster.

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From a fan’s perspective, I think it feels this way because the SEC isn’t quite the dominating defensive juggernaut that we’ve come to know over the last couple seasons.  The narrative here is priceless, because for years, SEC fans got super defensive about “big boy football” and (low-scoring) Games of the Century, and how it all was the result of a higher caliber product.

Now, all of a sudden… HEY, WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT DEFENSE?!?  WE’VE GOT SOME OF THE BEST OFFENSES IN THE COUNTRY!  The plot has completely flipped, and it’s been fun to watch every SEC homer walk back their comments about defensive slugfests being at all indicative of a higher level of play.

Speaking of which…

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Probably not, but he did save some face.

On a side note, is anyone else rooting for the Longhorns to win out, take the Big 12 and go to a BCS bowl, just so Texas fans can hang in a state of great unknown for another year?  I envision this situation as the original concept behind Leo DiCaprio’s “limbo” state in Inception, where every insecurity is magnified and time feels like it stands still.

fc-mizzou

Look, if Missouri keeps ripping off wins after it gets to the meat of its SEC schedule, we need to commission a team to investigate what kind of deal Gary Pinkel made with the devil.  I’m not sure I fully understand this turnaround.  Three months ago, we were chatting about Pinkel potentially being the first SEC coach fired in 2013.  Now, he’s 6-0, guaranteed a spot in a bowl game, and coming down from a season-defining win over Georgia.  Oh, and first place in the SEC East.  Go figure.

I do think Missouri has benefited from an easy schedule, and certainly from Georgia’s injuries.  But I don’t honestly think that a weak schedule and injuries are the main reason why the Tigers are 6-0.  Good teams take advantage of the circumstances, and this really is a good team.  The weapons are there on offense and the defense has been better than I expected.

But how good?  We’ll find out more about the Tigers this weekend, but I can’t see this magic run lasting much longer if James Franklin is out with a bum shoulder.  After this week’s game against Florida, Missouri still has South Carolina, Ole Miss and Texas A&M on the schedule.  I think the Tigers lose on Saturday and go on to finish 10-2 or 9-3.

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For as much as I’d like to go with Phillip Fulmer or Derek Dooley, the answer just has to be Lane Kiffin.  There’s no reason to overthink this—it just can’t be anyone else.

Consider this: Tennessee was essentially the midpoint during Kiffin’s fall from grace.  They literally got him on the way down, unlike Dooley who seemed like an up-and-comer and Fulmer, who was a legendary coach before things went awry.  Kiffin’s fall has been so spectacular, in fact, that it’s made the Oakland Raiders look intelligent.  Let that sink in.

The great irony is that Kiffin will weasel his way into another head coaching gig.  It might not be next season, but he’ll eventually convince some desperate AD that he’s learned from his mistakes and has figured out the formula.  The better question is how many head coaching jobs Lane Kiffin will have under his belt 25 years from now.  He already has three and he’s only 38.  I’ve long said the appropriate over/under is five.

Ty Hildenbrandt co-hosts The Solid Verbal college football podcast. Follow him on Twitter.