Kiffin, Brown can't avoid hot seat anymore
Editor's note: This story has been updated since Manny Diaz was relieved of defensive coordinator duties at Texas.
About a month before the college football season kicked off, USC athletic director Pat Haden said he was "behind Lane Kiffin 100 percent" and insisted the Trojans' embattled coach wasn't on the hot seat.
But then No. 25 USC lost to Washington State 10-7 at home on Saturday night, throwing for only 54 yards in one of its most inept offensive performances in recent history.
In December 2012, as Texas was finishing up its third consecutive season with at least four losses, university president Bill Powers said coach Mack Brown had his "full support."
But then the No. 15 Longhorns lost at BYU 40-21 on Saturday night, allowing 550 rushing yards, the most ever surrendered by a UT defense.
Welcome to the hot seat, guys. It might be only Week 2 in the college football season, but it figures to be hot, hot, hot in Austin and Los Angeles this week.
Despite Haden's show of support, Kiffin might be in more trouble than Brown. At least Brown guided the Longhorns to a BCS national championship, albeit eight years ago. The Trojans have lost six of their past eight games under Kiffin, including a similarly ugly 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl at the end of the 2012 season.
Washington State didn't even score an offensive touchdown against the Trojans but still managed to beat them for the first time since 2002 and win at the Coliseum for the first time in 13 years. The Cougars tied the score on Damante Horton's 70-yard interception return for a touchdown near the end of the first half, and then won the game after Connor Halliday's 50-yard pass to Dom Williams set up Andrew Furney's 41-yard field goal with about three minutes to go.
Near the end of the game, USC fans chanted "Fire Kiffin."
"You can't worry about that, it is what it is," Kiffin said of the boos. "I think I heard those before the game started, in warm-ups. I'm getting used to it."
If Kiffin doesn't settle on a starting quarterback sometime soon, the booing only figures to get louder. USC quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek averaged 2.6 yards per pass attempt between them and didn't complete a pass longer than 8 yards. Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee, who entered the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, caught seven passes for 27 yards.
Kiffin calls the Trojans' offensive plays and seemed unwilling to throw the ball down the field, even against Washington State's much-maligned defense, which surrendered 394 yards of offense in its season-opening 31-24 loss at Auburn.
"That's just fans being fans," Lee told reporters. "They aren't seeing what they want. They're not out there and seeing what's going on. … It takes time. We don't have [former quarterback Matt] Barkley any more. New quarterbacks are coming in. They have to understand it takes time."
Brown seems to be running out of time to get Texas turned around, too, but his problems are on the other side of the ball. After spending the offseason transforming UT's offense into a hurry-up, spread attack, the Longhorns defense looks more confused than ever. BYU averaged 7.6 yards on 72 rushing attempts, and quarterback Taysom Hill ran for 259 yards, the second-highest total by an FBS quarterback in the last 10 years.
Brown didn't wait long to make a change, firing defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on Sunday and replacing him with former Syracuse coach Greg Robinson. Robinson, a former defensive coordinator at Texas and Michigan, joined the UT staff this season as a football analyst in the player personnel department. The Longhorns host SEC foe Ole Miss on Saturday night before opening Big 12 play against defending league champion Kansas State the next week.
"Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that," Brown said. "Greg will be here tonight and get with the staff and players to start preparing for Ole Miss. He will be running our defense immediately. We're very fortunate that Greg has been around, watched all of our practice video and has a good scouting report moving forward."
Diaz, one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the country, was under fire after UT allowed 161 points in a three-game stretch against West Virginia, Oklahoma and Baylor last season.
Still, UT's players seemed to support him, even after the ugly loss at BYU.
"He's the right guy because we all believe in Coach Diaz," UT cornerback Quandre Diggs said. "We don't care what y'all say or what anyone else says. We believe in Coach Diaz. He puts us in the right spots to make plays and we don't make plays. We can't blame everything on him."
After only two weeks, Brown and Kiffin are getting most of the blame.
Devin Gardner and Michigan control the moment
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After a weeklong debate about the significance of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry -- national, regional, historic, sporadic, mandatory, dispensable -- Devin Gardner provided an answer Saturday night.
Gardner had completed the best performance of his career on the grandest stage in front of the largest crowd ever to witness a college football game (115,109). He had proven himself as a big-game quarterback with four touchdown passes and a touchdown run in Michigan's 41-30 victory, not to mention rebounding from the worst play of his athletic career. He did it in his first game wearing the very un-quarterback-like No. 98 jersey, a tribute to former Michigan star Tom Harmon, the 1940 Heisman Trophy winner who was honored before the game.
The magnitude of the moment wasn't lost on the Michigan quarterback, who bounced around the field afterward with childlike enthusiasm, darting from teammate to teammate. But Gardner's joy didn't eclipse his perspective.
"This isn't the game that we want -- the Big Ten championship, the Rose Bowl game -- [but] this is a pretty big game," Gardner said. "... One hundred and fifteen thousand one hundred and nine, that's how many people were there, not to mention the people that were watching on TV, the only game on. It's amazing to be able to participate in something like this, but this isn't the big one that we really want."
The Notre Dame game isn't the apex for Gardner and his Michigan teammates. But it's a starting point, an early gauge for where they are on their desired path to Indianapolis and, eventually, Pasadena.
To read Adam Rittenberg's full story, Click here.
UGA's in the driver's seat, but the finish line is far
Georgia's thrilling 41-30 win over No. 6 South Carolina inside Sanford Stadium Saturday night set a familiar tone for the SEC Eastern Division: No lead or team is safe.
The 12th-ranked Bulldogs (1-1) went from being outmuscled a week prior in their heartbreaking loss to ACC foe Clemson, to doing most of the pushing around, as the Bulldogs catapulted themselves to the top of the East standings.
"The team that loses this game is waiting for the other's bus to break down," Georgia coach Mark Richt said Saturday. "We've been chasing them the last three years. South Carolina has a very good team, and this year, we get a chance to sit in the driver's seat. & We haven't been 1-0 in the league in a while because South Carolina's been getting us. Today, we got them, and I'm so thankful."
The road to Atlanta for the SEC championship game yet again has to go through Athens, but the Bulldogs are far from perfect ... just like the top contenders looking up at the Dawgs.
While Georgia's defense has given up 68 points and allowed an average of 460.5 yards to opposing offenses in the first two games of the season, South Carolina's defense struggled mightily on Saturday after Florida's offense developed a fear of the red zone in its unsettling 21-16 loss to Miami.
Georgia is in the driver's seat for its third consecutive SEC East title, but the East certainly hasn't been won two weeks into the season. If anyone should know that, it's Georgia.
To read Edward Aschoff's full story, click here.
The ACC needed Miami's win
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The statement was made, and well, Miami simply could not contain its raw emotions, perhaps because this was all so new.
Al Golden sprinted across the field with 4.4 40 speed to shake Will Muschamp's hand. His players gathered en mass in one corner of the end zone to celebrate with fans then sprinted across the field to the end zone on the other end of the field to celebrate some more.
In between it all, an inflatable alligator float lay deflating on the field, its snout taped shut.
"We've been through so much," Golden said after his team's 21-16 win over No. 12 Florida on Saturday afternoon. "It was almost cathartic, to be honest with you. It was just 26 months unleashed there."
Miami, trying to take baby steps back to the top, had not been able to win a big game like this under Golden. The spotlight shined on the Canes last season in games against nationally ranked Kansas State, then unbeaten Notre Dame, then eventual ACC champ Florida State. Each time, Miami wilted or failed to show up, its defense exposed as a major liability, its toughness questioned.
Everybody inside the program knew it needed this win. But the Hurricanes were not the only ones who needed it badly. So did the ACC.
To read Andrea Adelson's full story, click here.
Not the trend the Pac-12 wanted
All day Saturday, the question seemed to hang in the air. Who was it going to be this week? Who would be the Week 2 goat?
The Pac-12 was a double-digit favorite in all of its nonconference games. Yet it always seems there is one team that fails to meet expectation, underwhelms and ultimately coughs up one that it shouldn't. California? Oregon State, again? How about Colorado, which hasn't been 2-0 since 2008?
Turns out we should have been looking in-conference. Because while Cal, Oregon State and Colorado all got scares, they eventually held serve, and the Pac-12 went 8-0 against nonconference competition. The rest of the league looked dominant against over-matched opponents.
However for the second consecutive week, the league also saw one of its ranked teams fall after Washington State shocked the No. 25 Trojans at home, 10-7. It was USC's first home-opening loss since 2000 -- which coincidentally also came at the hands of Washington State.
To read Kevin Gemmell's full story, Click here.
Big 12's marquee teams struggle in Week 2
NORMAN, Okla. -- About the time Oklahoma benched quarterback Trevor Knight, 1,800 miles away BYU running back Paul Lasike stiff-armed his way through the Texas defense for yet another rushing touchdown.
What a strange Saturday it was in this brave new Big 12 where one traditional power cant complete a pass and the other cant stop the run.
Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight was pulled against West Virginia as the Sooners sputtered on offense. OU coach Bob Stoops indicated that Blake Bell might start next week vs. Tulsa.
And as Oklahoma and Texas showed why theyre still miles away from contending on the national stage again, the conference race looks even more wide open than it did in the preseason.
In Norman, the Sooners struggled to a 16-7 win over West Virginia, which struggled to escape William & Mary just last week.
To read Jake Trotter's full story, click here.
Week 2 Takeaways
The Week 2 Takeaways center on Saturday's three big wins by Georgia, Michigan and Miami ... and two big losses. What in the heck, Texas and USC? Also: Braxton Miller's knee and whether Jadeveon Clowney's draft stock really is slipping (hint: some NFL teams sure hope so).
1. Georgia and Michigan are well-positioned after wins
I couldn't help but notice that the two biggest games of the day finished with the home team winning 41-30. The games were really very similar, which was fitting because in both cases the wins set up their teams well for the future. Georgia and Michigan jumped out to early leads, held off various charges throughout from South Carolina and Notre Dame, respectively, and eventually pulled away thanks to key drives led by their quarterbacks.
For Aaron Murray, that meant a lot more. As ESPNU's Anish Shroff mentioned to me, the senior had Donkey Kong on his back when it came to big games. Murray was 1-9 versus top-15 teams in his career, with the only win coming despite three interceptions. Now he has two such victories. With LSU coming to Athens at the end of September and more big games on the docket after that, that's a very positive development for UGA.
To read Travis Haney's full story, click here.
Three weekend observations
1. Miami's 21-16 upset of No. 12 Florida was anything but. For the first time in years, Miami won a game by being the better-disciplined team. The Canes for so long under Larry Coker and Randy Shannon were a sum lesser than their parts. In the third season under Al Golden, Miami won the turnover battle 5 to 1 and committed five penalties to Florida's 10. That's the highest-ranked team Miami has beaten in four years, and it was no fluke.
2. No. 19 Northwestern, with its 48-27 rout of Syracuse, has won four consecutive games by at least 14 points -- Illinois and Mississippi State (Gator Bowl) last season and Cal last week are the others. That's something that not even the sainted Rose Bowl Wildcats of 1995 did. In fact, the last Northwestern team to win four straight by 14 points or more shared the Big Ten title -- in 1930.
3. The complexion of the Big 12 race changed greatly Saturday. TCU lost starting quarterback Casey Pachall for "multiple" games to an arm injury. No. 15 Texas' defense got exposed at BYU. No. 16 Oklahoma struggled to put away West Virginia. No. 13 Oklahoma State has notified the NCAA of allegations of vast wrongdoing that are reported to be made by Sports Illustrated. And then there's No. 23 Baylor, which put up 70 points and 781 yards against Buffalo a week after getting 69 and 689, respectively, against FCS foe Wofford. Should we trust Baylor? Ignore the travails of everyone else?
Week 2 Impact Performances
GameDay crew final thoughts
It's obviously very early in the season, but if we get to a scenario at the end of the year when we have one-loss teams in contention for the championship game, I think the past two weeks' wins by ACC teams against SEC powers at home will help the cause of teams like Clemson or Florida State. Maybe it won't be such a no-brainer that the one-loss team from the SEC automatically goes to the top of the pile.
There's a lot of football to be played, and certainly circumstances can change, but the ACC with these two wins -- Miami over Florida on Saturday and Clemson over Georgia last week -- has set the foundation to be a much bigger player in the national championship race even if it doesn't have a team that's undefeated.
Helmet stickers go to ...
Saturday was a major rebound for the Georgia Bulldogs. Mark Richt did a terrific job of coaching their offensive line, which did much better than anyone thought it would after the four sacks it allowed against Clemson. Aaron Murray had a big game, and if you look at Todd Gurley, he is a beast running the football.
Who's going to stop Oregon running up and down the field? De'Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota, that defense has played extremely well the first two weeks. They get a little bigger test next week against Tennessee, but nobody has slowed this offense down.
Looking at Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel had another big game. I've been impressed with his pocket presence and throwing the ball vertically from the pocket. He had excellent touch in the game and he's ready to go in their matchup with Alabama next week.
How does Texas, with the talent and facilities it has, go to Provo and get run out of the stadium? BYU had 550 yards rushing; that's embarrassing for the Longhorns. Mack Brown and that program need to get a quick wake-up call. Take your hats off to BYU -- Bronco Mendenhall had the Cougars ready to play.
Helmet stickers go to ...
For South Carolina, Notre Dame and Florida, Saturday's losses are really going to hurt them after they look at the film. It always happens when you look at film, you get sick watching it. Those things can be corrected. But Texas has to really examine some things -- it didn't play very well.
I think you have a different team every week. You think you're going to have the same team, but as the season unfolds those are two great wins for the ACC -- Miami beating Florida and Clemson beating Georgia.
What really bothered me: 34 games Saturday were against FCS opponents. That's not the way college football should be. I applaud teams like Northwestern that play a really tough nonconference schedule.
We'll be getting into conference races soon. I think Michigan's win over Notre Dame was really big because it validates the Big Ten to a certain extent. If Wisconsin can beat Arizona State and Nebraska can beat UCLA in Week 3, that would really validate the conference. Northwestern's going to be an interesting team to keep an eye on. I'm looking forward to the conference races starting.
Helmet stickers go to ...
• RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
• QB J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
What we learned in Week 2
Click below to see what our bloggers learned in each conference after the second weekend.
It's not The U of old after two games, sure, but Miami is looking good in big games. ACC
So much excitement, and so much letdown. So it goes for Texas in its recent history. Elsewhere around the league, though, hope radiates. Big 12
Since last season's undefeated run, Ohio State has been assumed the top of the pack in the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes have company in the form of their biggest rival, Michigan. Big Ten
The Pac-12 did really well in nonconference contests -- a welcomed step up from Week 1 -- but disappointment still existed in the league slate. Pac-12
The Georgia-South Carolina game proved the SEC East is up for grabs, but Florida won't have a chance at it if it doesn't get its offensive act together. SEC
Helmet stickers for Week 2
Every week our bloggers will hand out helmet stickers to the week's top players, coaches, teams or anything else worth this honor.