The Top Whatever: Nation remembers Notre Dame is a thing
The Top Whatever is a weekly ranking of only the college football things that must be ranked.
1. Music, by Richard
I live near a gas station that has a manual car wash. All day, I hear cars come in. People blare music while they pump gas or clean their cars.
It’s a funny way to gauge which songs are popular in America, actually. There was the summer of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow,” for instance. Lately, it’s been “WAP” and Bad Bunny.
But this weekend, the gas station soundtrack was “FDT.” And my anecdotal experience seems to be part of a broader trend.
There are times when I sense the hokey romantic beauty in this city, and this was one of those times. I heard it between the honking horns and whooping cheers, constantly blaring out of car speakers, a clear sentiment in three words: Fuck Donald Trump.
2. FLORIDA, BY SPENCER
If we — and by that I mean the Florida Gators, the football team from my alma mater — are going to only beat Georgia once every four years from now on, then we have to make each of those victories count.
OH HEY, KIRBY. HOW YOU? WHILE YOU WERE GETTING A BOWL PUT OVER YOUR HEAD FOR YOUR WEEKLY HAIRCUT, FLORIDA WENT OUT AND GOT FOUR RUNNING BACKS WHO CAN CATCH. OUR QUARTERBACK CAN’T THROW THE BALL THROUGH CREPE PAPER, BUT HE STILL FOUND THEM IN STRIDE WITH PERFECT FRESH HOT MUFFIN BALLS FROM HEAVEN, DIDN’T HE? YOUR DEFENSE MIGHT HAVE AN ALLERGY, BECAUSE THIS GLUTEN-PACKED OFFENSE GAVE Y’ALL THE RUNS ALL DAY.
OH, BUT WE HAD OUR FOURTH-STRING QUARTERBACK IN THERE WAAAAAHHHHHH. SPARE ME, YOU SPOILED CRETINS. I’M A FLORIDA FAN. IN THE PAST DECADE, WE HAVE HAD A QUARTERBACK NAMED SKYLER START FOR US. WE STARTED A TRANSFER FROM PURDUE IN NOT JUST ONE GAME; YOUR SEC QUARTERBACK SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DO MATH. IT’S UN-AMERICAN AND AGAINST THE BYLAWS OF THE CONFERENCE.
I WATCHED POOR JOHN BRANTLEY RUN FACE-FIRST INTO A BULLDOZER 30 PLAYS IN A ROW BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THE PLAY CARD SAID. I DON’T KNOW HOW AN ACTUAL BULLDOZER GOT ON THE FIELD, BUT WHEN CHARLIE WEIS IS ALREADY YOUR PLAY CALLER, YOU STOP WORRYING LESS ABOUT HOW IT GOT IN THE BUILDING IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND MORE ABOUT GETTING IT OUT BEFORE IT RUNS OVER JOHN BRANTLEY FOR THE 31ST TIME.
YOUR QUARTERBACK WOES DO NOT MOVE ME. THEY WILL BE MET WITH NO PITY. THE BEST ONE YOU HAD LEFT AFTER YOUR COACH CHOSE JAKE FROMM. THAT SENTENCE IS ITS OWN JUDGE, JURY, AND EXECUTIONER. A TRANSFER QB DECIDED TO OPT OUT, WHICH IN RETROSPECT SEEMS LIKE A FANTASTIC DECISION, BUT IS ALSO A THING THAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU DECIDE TO RELY ON WAKE FOREST.
REPEAT THAT PART AGAIN, NO MATTER HOW GOOD AN IDEA IT SEEMED AT THE TIME: YOU WERE BANKING ON A TRANSFER FROM WAKE FOREST TO TAKE YOU TO THE PROMISED LAND IN A PLAGUE YEAR. IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN WORSE THAN YOU KNEW ALL ALONG, Y’ALL.
JT DANIELS IS STILL INJURED. THAT’S NO ONE’S FAULT, BUT THAT MEANS TWO OWN GOALS AND ONE STROKE OF INJURY LUCK LEFT YOU WITH JUST ONE FOUR-STAR RECRUIT TO RELY ON. GIVEN NO PATIENCE IN A START AGAINST ARKANSAS, YOU YANKED D’WAN MATHIS AFTER A HALF AND PUT IN — GASP! — YOUR MERE THREE-STAR RECRUIT, STETSON BENNETT, WHO THOUGH BEING SOLD AS A GRITTY-ZERO START UNDERDOG, WAS IN FACT A BEYOND-RESPECTABLE THREE-STAR JUCO.
THAT’S HOW YOU CRY POVERTY, GEORGIA FANS, WHILE SHOVELING $100 BILLS INTO THE FIREPLACE ON A 60-DEGREE NIGHT AND DRYING YOUR TEARS WITH BOND CERTIFICATES. WHY RHETT! WE AH DOWN TO OUAH MERE THREE-STAR QUAHTAHBACK! WHY, NEXT YOU’LL TELL US WE’RE OUT OF THE CHATEAUBRIANDS AND STOOPING TO THE NEW YORK STRIPS! HORROR OF HORRORS!
MEANWHILE, FLORIDA JUST HUNG 571 YARDS ON YOUR OVERSTOCKED TEN-STAR DEFENSE WITH A DUDE WHO COULDN’T EVEN START AT HIS OWN HIGH SCHOOL. KYLE TRASK PLAYS WITH A ELEPHANTINE KNEE BRACE ON ONE LEG. HE RUNS LIKE SOMEONE STANDING IN HIS OWN PERSONAL LAP POOL AT ALL TIMES. HIS ARM STRENGTH IS “NOT.” HIS PASSES MOVE SLOWLY ENOUGH THAT FLORIDA SHOULD SELL PRINT ADS ON THE BALL. HIS DEEP BALL LOOKS LIKE JOAKIM NOAH SHOOTING A FREE THROW.
AND YET HE TORCHED Y’ALL WITH MUFFIN BALL AFTER MUFFIN BALL, BURYING YOU IN A PILE OF HOT BAKED GOODS SHOTPUTTED INTO THE END ZONE BY A HILARIOUSLY OVERACHIEVING 2.5-STAR QUARTERBACK.
DON’T PLEAD INJURIES, EITHER. WE VOLUNTARILY EMPLOY TODD GRANTHAM. YOU CAN’T SUFFER MORE INJURY THAN WE DO TO OURSELVES.
NOT THAT YOU DIDN’T TRY, BY WATCHING ZAMIR WHITE RUN FOR A LONG TD ON THE FIRST CARRY AND THEN GIVING HIM JUST SIX MORE CARRIES. NOT IN THE FIRST HALF: THAT’S FOR THE REST OF THE ENTIRE GAME, A DECISION AS BAD AS KIRBY’S HAIRCUT OR QUARTERBACK MANAGEMENT. WILD HOW Y’ALL BUILT A TEAM AROUND FOUR RUNNING BACKS NO ONE CAN TACKLE, THEN ABANDON THEM THE INSTANT Y’ALL GET DOWN BY A SCORE, THUS LETTING FLORIDA’S OFFENSE COME RIGHT BACK ONTO THE FIELD.
THAT’S DEFINITELY THE PHASE OF THE GAME YOU WANT TO SEE FROM US, NOT THE SIDE COACHED BY A TALKING, RABID BULLMASTIFF WALKING AROUND ON ITS HIND LEGS IN A WINDBREAKER LIKE IT’S PEOPLE.
ANYWAY, Y’ALL LOST, AND IT DOESN’T HAPPEN THAT OFTEN, SO WE’RE GONNA DO DONUTS TILL THE WHEELS COME OFF THIS THING. WHICH WILL PROBABLY BE NEXT WEEK AGAINST ARKANSAS AT HOME FOR NO REASON, OR DEFINITELY AGAINST ALABAMA IN THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, WHEN ALL THREE OF THEIR STARTING WIDE RECEIVERS HAVE 200 YARDS EACH AGAINST OUR SIEVE OF A SECONDARY. ALABAMA’S A LOT LIKE Y’ALL, ACTUALLY, BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALL THE TALENT IN THE WORLD.
UNLIKE Y’ALL, THEY’LL BEAT US WITH IT.
3. Playoff BYU, by Alex
As we stated weeks ago on new and good podcast Split Zone Duo, BYU is going undefeated. This is increasingly clear now that the Cougars have gone onto Boise State’s blue turf and thrashed the Group of 5’s model program 51-17, even if Boise was down to its QB3 for most of the game. BYU’s remaining games are straightforward wins against North Alabama and San Diego State.
Right now, there’s not a clear Playoff spot for the Cougs. If everything is chalk, three Playoff spots will go to Alabama, Ohio State, and whoever wins the ACC Championship. There’s a reasonable chance the fourth spot will go to the loser of either the SEC or ACC title game. But things can change quickly, and this sport has a way of peeling off Playoff contenders one by one The Big 12 won’t have a Playoff-worthy team, and the Pac-12’s season might be too short.
BYU is currently in the first group with its face pressed up against the glass, along with Cincinnati. Don’t count them out.
BYU’s schedule is light, but I’m insistent that anyone who watches the Cougars will get it. They have an NFL QB in Zach Wilson, multiple NFL receivers, a basically impenetrable offensive line, and a brutal front seven on defense. They even have a stud kicker. This team could beat someone great, and if it doesn’t get the chance, it might just go win a New Year’s Six bowl and then claim a national championship anyway.
4. Rutgers going out on its goddamned shield, by Richard
In no universe was Rutgers going to beat Ohio State, but they could make them mad. They could make them look funny. They could, for a moment, embarrass them.
The last one completes the spiritual circle from last week’s insane trick play, when Raiqwon O'Neal yelled jackpot to set up one of the most unlikely touchdowns ever seen on a football field (wiped away after the fact, I know). Rutgers is now both competent and obnoxious.
5. Ranking the quality of Indiana’s three wins, by Jason
6. A fourth-and-goal punt, by the goddess of beauty
7. Cutting into a primetime football broadcast with a victory speech by a newly elected president, by Alex
NBC moved much of the second quarter of Clemson-Notre Dame to the USA Network, replacing the game on the main airwaves with President-elect Joe Biden.
Yes, we’re going to TigerNet, where the news was met this way:
Hope all you liberals are happy.
Not even in the White House yet and screwing up football.
And this way:
So glad I don't have to wear the uniform anymore for this country and call that jackleg my 'commander in chief'. What a mockery of this glorious country we still have. Reckon this will satisfy the folks burning down our cities? I doubt it..
Some Notre Dame fans questioned why this was happening at all, like this one:
And this one:
Might the channel change have some Biden voters feeling buyer’s remorse? It most certainly might:
Was Biden’s victory speech a premeditated effort to stick it to Trump supporters? Might it result in the reversal of the election results all on its own?
Folks, it might. Why not just disrupt MACTION instead?
And if you thought this wasn’t a bipartisan fury …
… you’d be wrong.
However, the best people in this equation are not the college football fans who had politics foisted upon them, but the non-college football fans forced to get a taste of the sport:
Jock, you’re getting it already.
Photo: Notre Dame Athletics
8. Delaying Saturday Night Live because of college football, by Alex
Millions of people tuned into NBC on Saturday night to watch an organization that was last elite in the 1990s but still maintains a bizarre perch in our mainstream culture. Indeed, Notre Dame played, and then Saturday Night Live followed.
Thousands of people expressed their fury at being made to wait on SNL, but only one needs to be shown to you here:
9. Nebraska, by Jason
The Cornhuskers spent the whole offseason demanding to speak to the manager until someone gave them a football schedule, then demanded to further speak to the manager regarding the football schedule they received.
Obviously, they lost to Ohio State, but that was merely a matter of principle. They had to lose to Ohio State, in order to prove how unfairly they’d been treated by the scheduling manager.
They then lucked out of a game against Wisconsin (yes, Wisconsin’s manager was then spoken to) before finally beginning the process of winning the games they’d been granted by the spoken-to manager. Up first: Northwestern, a school with a 3-9 record in 2019 and little particularly burning desire to be playing football in 2020.
The Huskers lost, 21-13, and now have to play an increasingly desperate Penn State.
Excuse me, Nebraska would like to speak to the manager.
10. The weekly Will Muschamp ranking, by Spencer
Down by a whole month’s worth of points, watching the season circle down the drain (again), and across the field from someone with whom he once co-owned a beach house, the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks decided to kick a field goal on fourth-and-13 with 5:55 left.
I don’t really know what the point of that was. The idea might have been to give the kicker reps in a meaningless blowout, something I might buy because South Carolina sits toward the bottom of the country in kicking, making just 61% on the year. That wouldn’t be bad for a team that doesn’t use their kicker that much, but South Carolina leads the SEC in field goal attempts.
In other words: South Carolina not only decided to wave the white flag and skip another offensive rep for Collin Hill at QB, they brought out the thing they already use more frequently and with less effect than any other team in the conference. There will be a press conference in which Muschamp will explain how logical all of this is to people who played football. Then, with no visible improvement at all from the previous week, they will lose again.
For Muschamp, making it 41-3 constituted success. That’s where you’re at, South Carolina, and that’s where you’ll stay, because this is what you bought when you hired him. This has all happened before. This has now all happened again.
[Editor’s note: South Carolina then gave up another touchdown.]
11. Jeremy Pruitt’s contract extension, by Jason
In September, the Vols gave the 13-12 head coach of the SEC East’s #3 preseason team a $4.2 million annual deal through 2025, surely heading off the dozens of NFL franchises lusting after the Gator Bowl champ.
As of November, Pruitt is now 15-16, the same record earned by Butch Jones at this point.
12. USC, by Jason
Defeating Arizona State in a 28-27 comeback, the Trojans moved to 1-0 on the year. However, for the first time in seven weeks, they did not improve in the AP Poll, remaining at #20.
The last two months thus prove we only like USC in theory, not in application. This season was going so much better for Clay Helton, back when USC was not playing any football.
Last: Justin Fuente, by Alex
The Hokies and Liberty were tied at 35 with eight seconds left in Blacksburg. Liberty sent out the kicker for a 59-yard field goal. Then, the Hokies’ head coach took over and performed the single worst last-second bungling I’ve ever seen. You will soon understand that I’m not exaggerating.
He called Virginia Tech’s last timeout to try and freeze Liberty’s kicker, but he didn’t do it until right before the Flames snapped the ball. This meant Liberty got a free kick.
But most of the players on the field didn’t realize a timeout had come down. Virginia Tech’s players surely didn’t, when they blocked the kick and ran it back for a buzzer-beating touchdown to win the game. Of course, it didn’t count.
Thanks to Fuente, Hugh Freeze was now fully aware it wouldn’t be a good idea to try another long field goal. So Liberty ran another offensive play from Tech’s 41-yard line.
Despite it being fourth-and-6 and Liberty clearly having enough time to run a play and then kick a shorter field goal, Tech’s defense backed way off and gave up a freebie eight-yard completion. And I do mean a freebie. Look at this shit:
So all of a sudden, a 59-yard kick was a 51-yarder. And this time, Alex Barber knocked it through, giving Liberty the biggest win in its history and Virginia Tech an infuriating loss.
To be clear, icing the kicker can be an effective tactic.
But there’s a catch there as well. Fuente explained later that he wasn’t even trying to ice the kicker, but that he wanted to make sure Tech had the right blocking team on the field. Well, Coach: You did.
A few bits of promo:
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