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Week 5 is in the books. Let’s fire up the college football narratives!
Each week, the College Football Narrative Watch will list and track narratives permeating college football, and add new ones when they arise. Keep in mind, the Narrative Watch will neither attempt to create narratives, nor purport to agree with all of the narratives listed (it may agree with all or some) it is simply a list based on the study of reactions of fans, media, and players, from week-to-week, of prevailing thoughts flowing through the college football landscape. People may feel that some of the narratives are false. That is okay. Just like life, narratives are not always fair. Regardless of their veracity, they exist (Check out the week 4 Narrative Watch here).
WILL MUSCHAMP AND SOUTH CAROLINA WERE OVERHYPED
We see this type of story almost every season: A team seemingly has a great season where it seemingly overachieves resulting in an over calculation of their ceiling throughout the ensuing offseason. Then, the following season they do not live up to the inflated hype, and everyone is disappointed. After five weeks, that appears to be path on which South Carolina is headed in 2018. The Gamecocks finished 9-4 in 2017, closing strong with a satisfying 23-21 Outback Bowl victory over Michigan on New Years Day. As a result, many were singing third-year head coach Will Muschamp’s praises about how he had the Gamecock’s rebuild ahead of schedule and that they were ready to take another step toward contention in 2018.
Will Muschamp has done a great job at South Carolina. I didn’t see this coming after his Florida tenure.
— Chad Withrow (@withrowzone) January 1, 2018
South Carolina just won 9 games and is only getting better. Brings back QB. Muschamp finally getting defensive personnel in there. OL getting much better. Get back first-team all-purpose SEC WR/KR.
— Christopher Smith (@csmithSEC) January 2, 2018
In May, Ryan Green of Gridiron Now, wrote that Muschamp is “tormenting” Florida Gator fans with his success at South Carolina because Florida fired Muschamp in 2014 after an inconsistent and mostly mediocre four-year tenure as coach of the Gators. Given that the Muschamp’s successor in Gainesville, Jim McElwain, had an even worse tenure than Muschamp, Green also hypothesized:
“You know those sayings ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,’ or ‘be careful what you wish for?’ Perhaps that is what Gator fans think of now in regards to Muschamp.”
I’m not sure there were many UF fans who had this mentality, but it goes to show how positive the sentiment toward the trajectory of the South Carolina program was this offseason. Some circled South Carolina’s week two matchup with CFP finalist, and reigning SEC champion, Georgia in Columbia as the game where the Cocks were going to break into prominence. Instead, the Gamecocks were pummeled by the Dawgs 41-17, and looked completely overmatched. On Saturday, Carolina were thoroughly beaten 24-10 by a revitalized Kentucky team in Lexington. There is still a lot of season left for South Carolina. But the narrative of a program on the rise to being contenders, has fizzled. The question now becomes whether Muschamp can ever get this program to contender status? If not, will that be acceptable?
NOTRE DAME IS A LEGITIMATE PLAYOFF CONTENDER
Notre Dame picked up its biggest win of the season Saturday in South Bend pummeling Stanford 38-17 in South Bend. The Fighting Irish currently sit at 5-0, but after its first three games, it looked like they could have been heading for trouble as they st struggled to score points during each of the wins. However, before last Saturday’s game against Wake Forest, Irish head coach Brian Kelly replaced quarterback Brandon Wimbush with Ian Book and the offense has thrived since. Now the Irish look like a legit contender, and perhaps more importantly, the rest of the games on their schedule are extremely winnable. Their toughest test may be Saturday when they face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. If Notre Dame can win out, with no conference championship game in its way, they will certainly book a spot in the College Football Playoff. That may be their only path. But it is a path that many believe is very doable.
Notre Dame in perfect position to put a big wrench in the college playoffs https://t.co/rT2lrYwY7M
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) October 4, 2018
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) October 3, 2018
— IndyStar (@indystar) October 3, 2018
OHIO STATE WON, BUT LOOK VULNERABLE
Ohio State picked up a huge win Saturday night, as they went into Penn State, spotted the Nittany Lions a 14-0 lead, then came back from a fourth quarter deficit to shock PSU, putting themselves in prime position for their third College Football Playoff appearance. However, because the Buckeyes trailed most of the game and star quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Jr struggled for much of it, some weren’t impressed with the win.
Urban Meyer’s on-field success at Ohio State has created a narrative monster. For most teams, a win against a top 10 opponent on the road would generate momentum and an overwhelmingly positive projections for the rest of the season. But the Buckeyes are not most teams. With Ohio State, the standards for excellence are much higher. Also, ever since Urban and Ohio State beat Saban during the 2014 seasons playoffs, Alabama is now the standard by which Ohio State is judged. Since Alabama has seemingly made it look so easy, and has looked so dominant (albeit, the Tide hasn’t faced an opponent as good as TCU or Penn State), to some, it diminishes Ohio State’s last minute win over the Nittany Lions.
They were incredibly fortunate to win and gave up nearly 500 yards of offense. If they play Bama they will lose by three TDs.
Regardless of the nation’s opinions, the Buckeyes regular season path looks like a cakewalk until the Michigan in November. Just like every other season, they will have to prove it on the field.
THE HONEYMOON IS OVER FOR JOE MOORHEAD AT MISSISSIPPI STATE
What a difference a few weeks makes for Mississippi State. Three weeks ago, the Bulldogs had beat Kansas State in Manhattan, and the Narrative Watch highlighted how Mississippi State fans were over-the-moon about new head coach Joe Moorhead. In addition, that same week, Dan Mullen, who had left Mississippi State for Florida last November, saw his Gators lose to Kentucky for the first time in 31 years. At that moment, many MSU fans confirmed that they had the better coach and they were fortunate for the offseason coaching change.
‘An oh did Starkville celebrate Dan Mullen’s misfortune’
– Moorhead 3:16
— Ryan Phillips (@JournoRyan) September 9, 2018
Dan Mullen tried to be cool. Joe Moorhead is cool.
— State Football (@mwnfootball) September 10, 2018
Thank you for taking Dan Mullen away from Starkville
— DN (@damnorcross) September 9, 2018
Fast forward three weeks later to Saturday. After MSU was stifled the previous week in a 28-7 loss at Kentucky, they suffered a demoralizing 13-6 loss to Dan Mullen’s Gators in Mullen’s return to Starkville in a matchup that the entire Mississippi State brass had circled on their calendars the entire offseason. It was a game that, three weeks ago, Bulldog fans thought would be a sure victory.
Moorhead, who had made his bones from his offensive acumen, has seen Mississippi State’s offense look less than stellar the past two weeks, and now the media and Bulldog fans have done a complete 180 on jim. The honeymoon is effectively over for the MSU coach.
People are going to hate Dan Mullen more after this game.
Don’t. If anything, this should make us appreciate the success he had.
— Daniel Black (@danielcblack) September 30, 2018
Doubts arise about Mississippi State's offense after Mullen out-coaches Moorhead https://t.co/foMPJewLnC
— Clarion Ledger (@clarionledger) October 1, 2018
Miss State loses to Florida to drop to 3-2, 0-2 in the SEC. For all the talk about how bad first-year coaches like Chip Kelly/Scott Frost/Willie Taggart/Chad Morris have been – Joe Moorhead is getting a free pass. No first year coach has done less, with more talent than Moorehead
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) September 30, 2018
With Auburn next week, and Alabama, LSU coming up thereafter, Mississippi State is staring a losing season in the face. Far cry from the expectations that preceded it.
JUSTIN FIELDS, AT SOME POINT, WILL TAKE OVER FOR JAKE FROMM AS QB FOR GEORGIA
The Georgia Bulldogs have been rolling the past two seasons, and sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm has led the team to a 17-2 record as a starter. This season, the Dawgs are 5-0, the overwhelming favorites to win the SEC East, and prime contenders to make the College Football Playoff for the second straight year. Yet Fromm finds himself in a unique situation. There is this lingering narrative hanging over his head like a gloomy cloud. It consists of a presumption is that, at some point, Fromm is going to lose his job to dynamic freshman Justin Fields. Fields was one of the top recruits in the 2018 recruiting class and the top rated high school quarterback in the country. He is mobile and quick, as opposed to the more pocket-based Fromm and brings another added dimension. But Fromm has been he’s very efficient, and has done nothing to lose his job. Fromm may keep hold of the starting job this season, but this situation won’t continue forever. Fromm is only a sophomore, and with Fields’ hype and potential, he will eventually get a chance.
It’s time for the legitimate Fromm/Fields debate to begin.
Will be a fun week on The Second String Podcast. #UGA
— Logan Booker (@LoganMBooker) September 29, 2018
Without anyone saying it, Fromm appears to be a lame duck. For Georgia, to have a lame duck quarterback who is as talented and efficient as Fromm must be nice.
Fred Segal is an attorney from West Palm Beach, FL. He operates the popular Freezing Cold Takes twitter account (@OldTakesExposed) which highlights, among other things, hilarious unprophetic and inaccurate takes and predictions.