Is the head coach at LSU in danger of losing his job?
Athlon editors Steven Lassan, Mitch Light and Braden Gall debate five burning questions about Week 6 in college football:
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1. Will Les Miles be the head coach at LSU in 2011?
Braden: LSU fans can talk all they want about Zack Pianalto dropping two game-winning TDs for North Carolina in Week 1, Derek Dooley's substitution patterns, a Matt Flynn-to-Demetrius Byrd prayer of a fade route or home-field advantage in the 2007 BCS Championship game, because none of it matters. All that matters is what happens in upcoming games against Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas. If the 91st ranked offense (11th in the SEC) does not start producing, LSU will lose all of those games and Miles will be out on the street after three straight 4-loss SEC seasons. With that roster, 4-4 is simply unacceptable.
Steven: I think Les Miles’ future at LSU hinges on what happens over the final seven regular season games. Games at Florida, Auburn and Arkansas, along with a home date against Alabama figure to be losses. However, if the Tigers pull out one or two upsets, Miles could stick around for 2011. If Miles survives this season, expect significant changes on the offensive staff, starting with coordinator Gary Crowton. With the roster in place, there is no way this team should be finishing 7-5 or 8-4. The clock incident against Tennessee was embarrassing, and let’s remember that this wasn’t the first in-game management blunder by Miles. Even if Miles returns in 2011, it’s clear he won’t be around in Baton Rouge much longer.
Mitch: I don’t believe Miles will be back at LSU in 2011 — the school’s administration will realize it is time for a change. He has simply made too many egregious mistakes as the CEO of a college football program. He can obviously recruit (who can’t recruit to LSU?), but his game-management skills are lacking and his team’s performance on offense in recent seasons has been horrendous. There is no reason that a team with so much talent should continue to struggle putting points on the board.
2. Is the Florida State-at-Miami game this weekend a preview of the ACC Championship Game?
Braden: Those running the ship at the Atlantic Coast Conference certainly hope so. Miami will have to host Virginia Tech late in November in a game that will likely determine the Coastal Division champ. Florida State still has to hurdle NC State, Clemson and Boston College but should be a heavy favorite in each game. I like Miami to win this weekend on, oh, I don't know, a missed Nole field goal? Wide left, let's say.
Steven: I think so. Florida State still has some hurdles to overcome in the Atlantic, specifically a much-improved NC State and Clemson. However, I think the Seminoles are the best team in that division. The Coastal doesn’t appear to be as strong as most expected in the preseason, but Virginia Tech continues to improve and should be the biggest challenger to Miami. With the Hurricanes hosting Virginia Tech this year, I think Miami has to be the frontrunner in the Coastal.
Mitch: I’d say yes — FSU and Miami will (finally) meet in the ACC title game. At the beginning of the season, the Coastal looked to be a four-team race, but North Carolina won’t be a factor due to suspensions/controversy and Georgia Tech has been a bit of a disappointment. That leaves Virginia Tech as Miami’s chief competition, and I believe the Canes are the better team. Florida State appears to be the class of the Atlantic Division.
3. Would the Boise State Broncos win the SEC East this year?
Braden: In any other year, I would say no. But in 2010, unfortunately for you AQ snobs out there, the answer is yes. The SEC East went 0-5 last week and has registered one win over the SEC West this fall — Vanderbilt over Ole Miss. Yes, the triumvirate of Florida-Georgia-Tennessee have played tough slates thus far, but Boise would not have lost to Colorado or gone to overtime with UAB (and has beaten Oregon twice in the last three years, mind you). When was the last time the Vols and Dawgs combined for 7 losses after only five games? Here is a hint: never. Since the inception of the SEC in 1933, UT and UGA have combined for 6 L's in the first five weeks only twice (1958, 1988).
Steven: Certainly possible, but I would still pick Florida ahead of Boise State if they were in the SEC East this year. This argument would be more interesting if Tennessee and Georgia weren’t struggling to reach bowl eligibility this season. Florida certainly has some problems, but the defense is still one of the best in the nation and this offense should continue to improve over the second half of the season.
Mitch: Very difficult question. I will say no. I’ll stick with Florida. But Boise would be a factor and likely be in a battle with South Carolina for second.
4. Both quarterbacks were masterful in wins last week, so in this week's head-to-head rivalry, who has the better game: Michigan State's Kirk Cousins or Michigan's Denard Robinson?
Braden: The only thing that has remotely slowed Robinson this season was his own right knee. He got a little nicked up against Bowling Green and sat out three quarters. Cousins has been quietly very impressive for Sparty. He handled the play-action with ease last week and worked it to a big victory over a top ten team in Wisconsin. He has a better backfield behind him and maybe a better receiving corps. However, he does not have the wheels D-Rob has, so unless Mark Dantonio has figured out some magical contain blitz package that keeps Robinson in the pocket, it will be the one wearing Maize and Blue.
Steven: Both players are going to have a huge statistical game, but until somebody slows down Denard Robinson, that's who I have to go with. Kirk Cousins should throw for plenty of yards against an awful Wolverine defense, but Robinson means everything to Michigan's offense and another day of 300 total yards seems likely. The Michigan State defense is better than Indiana and ranks 20th nationally against the run, but should have a hard time slowing down Robinson.
Mitch: I’ve got to go with Denard Robinson. The guy leads the nation in rushing AND ranks fourth in passing efficiency. That is an astounding combination. Kirk Cousins will have a big game (doesn’t every quarterback that faces Michigan have a big game?), but Robinson will be the difference in the game.
5. Has there been a worse loss this season than Rutgers losing to Tulane at home last week?
Braden: It is in the conversation with Minnesota-South Dakota, Ole Miss-Jacksonville State, and Kansas-North Dakota State. But all three of the BCS schools were picked at or near the bottom of their respective leagues. Rutgers was not. Tulane has the nation's 112th offense and is only slightly better on defense. There is no excuse for the Scarlet Knights to lose to the Green Wave in New Orleans, much less in Piscataway. All that being said, Texas getting beat at home by the UCLA Bruins the way they did is the still the most shocking boxscore I have read through this season.
Steven: It’s certainly among the worst this year, but I’d put Kansas’ loss to North Dakota State and Ole Miss’ to Jacksonville State ahead of Rutgers losing to Tulane. Kansas and Ole Miss have no excuse to lose to those two teams, especially considering the Rebels held a 31-10 lead at one point and North Dakota State was 3-8 last year.
Mitch: I’d go with Ole Miss’ loss to Jacksonville State. Yes, Jacksonville State is a solid FCS program, but Ole Miss has far superior talent and the game was played in Oxford. An FBS program from a BCS conference should never lose to an FCS school. Never. Ever.
Year Three of the Campus Challenge returns as Mitch returns to defend his championship. The rules: Each person picks a quarterback, running back and wide receiver to make up his "team" for the week in an effort to amass as many passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns as possible. Whoever has the best stats as the end of the year wins. All players selected must be from a BCS conference team playing an FBS opponent, and each editor can only use a player once during the season.
Week 6 Selections
|Quarterback||Andrew Luck, Stan.||Cameron Newton, Aub.||Denard Robinson, Mich.|
|Running back||Shane Vereen, Cal||Bilal Powell, Louis.||Mark Ingram, Ala.|
|Receiver||D.J. Woods, Cinn.||T.J. Moe, Mizz.||Justin Blackmon, OSU|
|Week 5 Results||Steven||Mitch||Braden|
|Passing Yards||1314 (2)||1432 (1)||1125 (3)|
|Rushing Yards||977 (1)||735 (3)||777 (2)|
|Receiving Yards||710 (1)||342 (3)||562 (2)|
|Touchdowns||33 (1)||20 (3)||25 (2)|