1. The NCAA gave SMU the death penalty and the toll was such that the NCAA has never given it again. The toll that the 10 scholarships per year has taken on USC makes me think the NCAA won’t do that again, either. The Trojans are down to 58 scholarship players. They are redshirting five freshmen. The lack of depth means more plays per player, and more reps in practice. Three players have suffered season-ending injuries in practice this week. In an era of heightened safety awareness, 15 signees per year isn’t enough.
2. College football officials have pointed to fewer targeting fouls this season as evidence that the new, stricter rule is having the desired effect. Maybe so. But the fact that of the 52 fouls, 15 have been reversed upon review speaks to the difficulty of the task foisted upon the officials. And there’s still no good answer as to why, if a replay determines the targeting is not worthy of a suspension -- i.e., there was no targeting, why the penalty shouldn’t be overturned, too.
3. Never mind the calendar. The Third Saturday in October arrives a week late in Tuscaloosa, where Tennessee and No. 1 Alabama will renew one of the SEC’s best rivalries. The Vols have showed signs of life, taking Georgia into overtime and then upsetting South Carolina. But Tennessee played both those games in Neyland Stadium. Tennessee hasn’t won a road game outside the state of Tennessee since 2009, and it hasn’t beaten Alabama anywhere since 2006.