Whether you spend your Tuesday nights watching Bachelor in Paradise or midweek #MACtion, the threat of elimination is a powerful draw for audiences of all kinds.
Can Bowling Green make it back to a bowl game for the first time since 2015, or will a tough November slate knock the Falcons out of contention? Will Rodney and Eliza get together, or will their inability to communicate ultimately prevent them from finding love on the beach? These are the questions that keep us up late into the night.
Week 10 of the college football season brought its own fair share of decisive eliminations. These are just a handful of the contestants whose seasons came to an untimely end over the weekend.
The autoimmune deficiency that prevents Brian Kelly from winning big games
What happened to LSU head coach Brian Kelly?
The purple that once flushed his face as he screamed at referees — or his own quarterback — now adorns his polo. The top-10 matchups that haunted him at Notre Dame have led to two of the Tigers’ best wins in as many years. He quietly has one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC with Jayden Daniels, and he even had the cajones — ESPN’s Chris Fowlers’ words, absolutely not mine — to go for two and the win against Alabama.
It’s like I don’t even recognize Kelly. Something about the bayou has altered his very DNA. He’s like a werewolf, except instead of fangs and fur he grows a slight paunch and strong opinions about the distinction between cornbread and corn cake.
Kansas’ 14-year bowl drought
For the first time since 2008, the sun shines on David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Feel the warm breeze gently graze your face and roll off like an Oklahoma State linebacker. Look into the vast expanse of sky where dark clouds hung for so long. Is that the face of God, or just the brilliant golden glimmer of a Cheez-It Bowl trophy on the horizon?
The Clemson defensive line’s will to live
Notre Dame’s Tommy Rees isn’t a good offensive coordinator… right?
Rees doesn’t appear to have a game plan that couldn’t fit on the back of a napkin. He doesn’t have any obvious game changers at wideout, and he certainly doesn’t have a quarterback to throw to them. But he does have something no amount of NFL talent or game planning on Clemson’s defense could overcome — some of the absolute thickest individuals East of the Mississippi.
The Irish offensive line? Thick. Tight end Michael Mayer? Thick, plus he can catch. Running back Audric Estimé? I think you mean Audricc, with two C’s.
Illinois’ case as a top-10 team
No. Not like this. Last week, I explained why allowing yourself to believe in Illinois is one of the scariest things you can do as a college football fan. This. Is. Why.
A gimme at home against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten? Yeah, here’s 15 points. But hey, just look at all that offensive yardage!
Illinois has visited the red zone 16 times in its last four games and come away with just four touchdowns. There’s a joke somewhere in there about Illinois getting close but never meeting expectations, but even with the ideal setup I’m not sure I can deliver.
The very concept of defense Dallas
SMU upset No. 3 Houston 77-63 on Saturday, a program-defining win for Mustangs basketb— wait, what? Football?
SMU somehow-still-in-college quarterback Tanner Mordecai chased school records as if he were chasing AARP eligibility, tossing nine touchdown passes. And he still had fewer passing yards than Houston. Absurd.
Obviously, with defenses this atrocious, neither SMU nor Houston are going to win any hypothetical championships in the minds of high school football coaches anywhere. However, that raises two important counterpoints: A) it was really fun, and B) who cares?
Tennessee’s National Championship hype
Some day in the distant future when my bones are brittle and the only things I consume are tapioca pudding and highly questionable news sources, I’ll tell my grandchildren about the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers.
I’ll tell them how quarterback Hendon Hooker eviscerated defenses with one of the most efficient offenses in America. How we believed Georgia’s defense had finally met its match. How for a few glorious weeks, people somehow tricked themselves into thinking they actually liked hearing Rocky Top blare every few minutes.
My granddaughter will look into my glassy eyes with her kind smile. “That’s nice, Pop-Pop,” she’ll say. Then she’ll gently pat my hand with her own, turn to the nurse at my bedside, and quietly whisper to her that my mind is fully gone.