Mississippi teams keep rolling. Todd Gurley suspended. Accused Florida QB reinstated.
Here are five takeaways from the big weekend in college football.
Mississippi Teams Roll
Mississippi State’s win over #2 Auburn vaulted the Bulldogs over Florida State into the #1 spot in the AP Poll for the first time in school history. Dan Mullen surely hopes that his team has played its ugliest game of the season, committing four turnovers and relying on four Auburn turnovers to get the win. With a final box score that is almost identical, MSU showed that it has the grit to get the job done, even against top competition.
Ole Miss fired on all cylinders as it went into Kyle Field to take on Texas A&M. Much derided QB Bo Wallace continues to dispel the “good Bo, bad Bo” label earned over the last few seasons, finishing the game with a no interceptions and a QBR of 85.5. On the other side of the ball, the stout Ole Miss “Land Shark” defense forced three turnovers and held the Aggies to 20 points, where they averaged 47 points coming into the game.
Ole Miss plays the most efficient team in the nations when combining offense, defense, and special teams productivity. Mississippi State ranks as number four. The Egg Bowl is still on course to be an epic tilt…for now.
Florida QB Reinstated
QB Treon Harris was reinstated to the Florida football team after his accuser withdrew her complaint of sexual battery. Although Harris was neither arrested nor charged with a crime, the University of Florida suspended Harris until the matter could be resolved, stating, “We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus.”
This situation underlines the inherent issue between public relations and allowing the accused to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Harris, unfortunately, was treated as guilty until proven otherwise, a modus operandi that will likely continue given the current national spotlight on domestic and sexual abuse. Also, the federal investigation taking place in Tallahassee as a result of the FSU’s mishandling of the Jameis Winston sexual assault case cannot be overlooked. These circumstances are producing a new standard of what is “fair” in the treatment of accused athletes.
Todd Gurley Suspension
Georgia RB, Heisman front-runner and NFL shoo-in Todd Gurley was suspended by the university for, allegedly, signing autographs. Unlike the Ohio State memorabilia scandal that claimed the job of Jim Tressel and college career of QB Terrelle Pryor, and unlike the autograph “scandal” that cost Jonny Manziel almost nothing, Todd Gurley has the displeasure and distinction of being ratted out by the slimebag makeshift memorabilia merchant, who, in essence, was Gurley’s black market employer.
At the end of the day, Gurley knew the NCAA’s rules and violated them. His punishment is just. Yet, what is disconcerting is that the rat used the NCAA’s oppressive rules to manipulate and ultimately tear down Gurley, citing his displeasure that the running back was signing for other merchants, thus decreasing the value of his signed goods. The lack of bargaining, negotiating, and earning power of NCAA athletes is the real story here, not autographs.
Baylor Stuns TCU
Baylor recovered from a 21-point fourth quarter deficit to stun TCU on Saturday in what was an extravagant offensive exhibition of the highest proportions. Last week TCU stunned then #4 Oklahoma. The immediate question now is, “Who is good in the Big 12?” The evidence to this point clearly shows that Baylor has unseated Oklahoma as the conference’s front-runner, but with the conference’s depth, it’s gonna be a Texas-style shootout until the very end.
With former Heisman frontrunners falling on hard times, here are two dark horse players to watch:
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon racked up 175 rushing yards this weekend, increasing his season total to 1,046 on 7.9 yards per carry. Wisconsin doesn’t play conference rivals Ohio State or Michigan State, which should make his Heisman candidacy more favorable.
Alabama WR Amari Cooper leads the SEC in receiving yards. The dynamic receiver could make a serious bid for the trophy if Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin can find a way to reinvigorate the Tide offense.
Follow Daniel Freeman on Twitter @djfree.