College football is the world’s grandest carousel. You can laugh yourself silly riding on it, or throw up and wind up screaming to get off, or simply stumble away dizzy and a little unclear on what just happened. All on the same Saturday afternoon.
These random and ridiculous thoughts come to me as No. 8 Miami prepares to play Syracuse on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. There are a couple of ways Mark Richt could play this.
He might say “Syracuse just beat Clemson, the defending national champion, so that means the Orange are as good as anyone in America.”
He might say “Syracuse lost to Middle Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee lost to Florida Atlantic, and FAU hasn’t had a winning season since the guys on our team outgrew trick-or-treating, so that means the Orange must be as bad as anyone in America.”
You know he won’t use that second option, but he could.
Likewise, Lane Kiffin could point FAU toward Saturday’s game with North Texas and build off the Owls’ recent 58-28 rout of Old Dominion. Here’s how that fictional rallying cry might go.
“Men, I’m going to be mightily disappointed if we have to settle for 58 points this week. North Texas got beat 54-32 by SMU last month. Then SMU went out and gave up 56 points to TCU. Now you tell me why we shouldn’t score 80 this week, and why I shouldn’t be benching some starters if we fall short.”
No, that would be stupid, and it’s nothing short of rat poison for me even to suggest it.
You just can’t build logical chains with these results, or else you wind up with something like this.
LSU beat Auburn.
Troy beat LSU.
South Alabama beat Troy.
South Alabama’s only other win this year is against an FCS team, Alabama A&M.
Conclusion: South Alabama should schedule Auburn for homecoming next year. Of course, that would never happen, and, of course, that would end very badly for South Alabama.
One more thought on Miami vs. Syracuse before we go.
In 1998, when those two teams were members of the Big East, I covered a game at the Carrier Dome in which the Orange utterly destroyed the Hurricanes 66-13 to clinch the conference title. Couldn’t have been more shocking, or more dangerous for what Butch Davis was trying to build. So what happened next?
Miami upset UCLA, then No. 3 in the AP poll, the following week. Syracuse, meanwhile, got rolled 31-10 by Florida in the Orange Bowl game.
That’s the way the carousel spins. It’s why Richt can legitimately say of the 2017 Hurricanes, “We’re a very, very solid football team that’s fighting like mad just to win the close battles.”
Clearly, he’s been around, and around, and around.