Chad Withrow: Top 5 CFB Storylines To Follow Include Fired Coaches, Clemson Legitimacy

Every week of this beautiful, complicated sport offers up more and more drama. This week will be no different. I could write 20 CFB storylines to watch this Saturday but none of you would read that far so instead I’m narrowing it down to an easy to digest Top 5.

Let’s dive in to the top CFB storylines to follow this weekend: 

Which Coach Is Next To Get Fired?

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin got bailed out by a missed 26-yard chip shot field goal and a Missouri RB that decided to inexplicably hurl the football into the end zone in OT. If Missouri doesn’t do the worst possible thing in either scenario, Harsin likely gets fired last Sunday. Instead, Auburn wins and Harsin lives to battle Brian Kelly and LSU on Saturday. A loss to LSU probably wouldn’t cost Harsin his job, but getting blown out and looking lifeless in front of the home crowd certainly could.

Colorado coach Karl Dorrell might need a permanent timeout. (Getty Images)

BetOnline has odds on the next coach to lose his job, and Colorado’s Karl Dorrell and Stanford’s David Shaw are hovering around the same odds as Harsin. Given Shaw’s solid track record at Stanford, I don’t see that administration making any decisions until after the season. But Dorrell is one to watch. He finished 4-8 in his first season and is currently 0-4. The Buffs are losing by an average of 31.5 ppg. Could Colorado make a move if Arizona doubles the spread (17.5) on them this weekend? It’s a situation worth watching. 

Hurricane Ian’s Impact

Florida State-Wake Forest is a huge game with big stakes in the ACC and it’s in danger of being moved because of Hurricane Ian. Weather conditions could be bad across the south as venues deal with the residual effects from the storm. Here are the games that have already been moved as of this writing:

  • South Florida-ECU moved from Tampa to Boca Raton
  • Florida-Eastern Washington postponed to Sunday at Noon ET
  • UCF-SMU postponed to Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • South Carolina-South Carolina State moved up to Thursday at 7 p.m. ET

Kentucky Or Ole Miss Can Secure 3rd Place In SEC

I’m not saying this will be true by the end of the season, but the winner of the Kentucky-Ole Miss game has a great argument (alongside Tennessee) that they are right behind Georgia and Alabama in the SEC pecking order.

Ole Miss alternates between dominant and average in its 4-0 start. But with an improved defense and an offense continuing to find its way, the Rebels can show that a second straight trip to a New Year’s 6 Bowl Game is well within their reach if they take care of the Wildcats this Saturday.

Of these two teams, Kentucky owns the best win (at Florida) but also struggles at times against inferior opponents. The Wildcats held a measly 13-10 lead at halftime over Miami (OH) in the opener and found themselves in a fight with Northern Illinois, which was playing with its backup QB last week. The Cats ultimately win, but they also look like a team that could get exposed against the right opponent. We will find out on Saturday if Ole Miss is that “right opponent.”

And if Ole Miss continues to win, maybe Lane Kiffin will decide to make Oxford his permanent home, instead of allowing himself to be rumored for every available job every offseason. 

Will The Jayhawk Party Continue For Another Week?

The feel-good story of the season so far has been what coach Lance Leipold has accomplished at Kansas. In Year One, he took the worst program in the Power 5 on the road to Austin and beat Texas. In Year 2, he has one of the best offenses in the nation (third in offensive TDs) and the Jayhawks are 4-0 with wins over West Virginia, Duke and Houston. 

Kansas not being ranked in the Top 25 is criminal. If the Jayhawks are able to beat Iowa State at home as a slight underdog (+3) and aren’t ranked on Sunday, the AP should dissolve their authority over the poll. The bad news for Kansas is that it is entering a stretch in its schedule where it may not be favored again this season. Here’s the schedule after Iowa State this Saturday. 

  • TCU
  • at Oklahoma
  • at Baylor
  • Oklahoma State
  • at Texas Tech
  • Texas
  • at Kansas State

Brutal. The good news is they have one of the most dynamic playmakers in all of college football in QB Jalon Daniels. Since AP voters don’t see fit to give KU the love they deserve for this 4-0 start, this column will gladly do so. Now let’s see if Kansas can win another big game in front of a raucous home atmosphere like we saw last week against Duke. 

Are Clemson, Michigan On Par With Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State?

My answer to this question right now is a resounding NO. But great opportunities await this weekend for both Clemson and Michigan to change the national narrative around their respective teams.

Clemson QN DJ Uiagalelei. (Getty Images)

Michigan has looked dominant against teams that love getting dominated. The Wolverines beat Colorado State, Hawaii, and UCONN by an average of almost 50 points. But they looked choppy in an uneven 34-27 win over Maryland. If you are one of the best teams in the country, you go to Iowa this weekend and suffocate one of the worst offenses in all of college football and find ways to put the ball in the end zone against one of the best defenses in all of college football. Michigan is an 11-point road favorite against the Hawkeyes. It should clear that margin easily.

As for Clemson, I’m not a believer in NC State, the Tigers’ opponent Saturday. Coach Dave Doeren’s Wolfpack team is good but are they 10th in the nation good? I don’t think so. Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei found some mojo in his 371-yard, 5-TD performance against Wake Forest. The normally stout Clemson defense gave up points against the Deacs but NC State’s offense is not on par with Wake’s. This is a golden opportunity for a true statement making performance for Clemson.

Chad Withrow is a host of “OutKick 360.” Follow him on Twitter: @TheChadWithrow

Written by Chad Withrow

Chad Withrow hosts OutKick 360 and has covered Nashville sports, statewide, and SEC college issues and headlines since 2004.

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