BARNEStorming: Thoughts Around the College Football World
OXFORD, Miss. — After dropping a 33-21 decision to Arkansas Saturday, Ole Miss needs players to step up more than ever. Make that step up like Moore than ever.
Elijah Moore caught 11 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown against the Razorbacks. It is Moore’s third 100-yard receiving game this season. He is also the only receiver in the country to have at least ten catches in every game this year.
Sophomore running back Jerrion Ealy is also stepping up, running for 113 yards on a career-high 23 carries. He also notched 100 yards last week against Alabama.
In Lane Kiffin’s fill-the-air-with-footballs offense, a ground game will be vital for any success the Rebels have this season.
Ole Miss will be looking for more than Ealy and Moore to perform.
A UNIQUE HEISMAN POSSIBILITY:
Most agree Trevor Lawrence is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season thus far. The junior is putting up astronomical numbers for the top-ranked team in the nation.
Should the Clemson quarterback win the award, he would have the honor of winning it at a school at which John Heisman, himself, coached. Heisman was the head coach of the Tigers from 1900-03. It would be unique, but not a stand-alone trivia answer.
From 1895-99, Heisman coached at Auburn. The Tigers have had three Heisman winners – Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton.
If anyone is wondering, possibly Georgia Tech or maybe Rice could have a Heisman candidate to add to the list sometime in the future. But it is doubtful a winner would come from Heisman’s other coaching stops: Oberlin, Bucknell, Penn or Washington and Jefferson.
BACK FOR A MINUTE (or two), MAN
In the summer, UMass decided to cancel its season. Then in the early fall, the Minutemen decided they wanted to play. There was one problem: every team on the original schedule had replaced them. That left UMass scrambling to find games. So far, the Minutemen have played one game — they played that Saturday, losing at Georgia Southern 41-0.
Last week, associate director of athletic communications at UMass, Cody Lahl, indicated the team was still searching for more games. “UMass is intent on playing a shortened season featuring more than this (Georgia Southern) game, but it is the only one that has been officially added to the schedule since the university announced the return of the football season,” he said.
However, Lahl was true to his word as today the Minutemen announced their second game of the season, a matchup with No. 22 Marshall.
𝗕𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝘁𝗼 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗼𝗻 𝗡𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝟳
— UMass Football (@UMassFootball) October 19, 2020
At this point, one has to wonder if an abbreviated, two-game season is really worth the effort?
SPRING PRACTICE AND SPRING BREAK
Coastal Carolina beat No. 21 Louisiana, 30-27, Wednesday. It was the Chanticleers’ first-ever win over a ranked opponent and moved their record to 3-0.
Coastal does have an advantage over most other teams – it had a full spring practice.
The Chants held their spring drills in late January and into February before the full impact of COVID-19 hit the college football world. Those 15 practices have proven to be a benefit for Coastal.
By the way, who can blame them for having the workouts early? The school’s campus is minutes from Myrtle Beach, S.C. Only foolish people would rather practice football in the spring rather than hanging out on the beach.
ANYONE CAN BOWL
The NCAA ruled recently that even teams with losing records will be eligible for bowl games this season. Two games, the Bahamas Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl have been cancelled due to travel concerns. That still leaves a plethora of post-season opportunities for teams.
But will this change the selection process?
If a bowl committee is faced with the choice of a team with a winning record or a team with a losing record with a better brand to market for the game, which team goes?
GETTING THE LEDDIE OUT
West Virginia’s Leddie Brown ran for 195 yards in the Mountaineers 38-17 win over Kansas Saturday. That total includes an 87-yard touchdown run that was only 87 yards to the end zone. It could have been a touchdown run of a mile he was so behind the Jayhawks’ defense.
— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) October 17, 2020
Brown has now rushed for 100 yards in three-of-four games this season. Prior to this year, he had just two 100-yard games. And what is more, he runs with an angry attitude making defenders shy away at times.
West Virginia is now 3-1 and plays Texas Tech this week in Lubbock.
THE BATON ROUGE SAINTS?
The New Orleans Saints recently had discussions with LSU about playing home games in Tiger Stadium. The Saints call the Mercedes Benz Superdome home, but they are unable to host fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Until fans are approved to attend games, the team believes an outdoor venue will be able to accommodate a crowd of some kind.
But if things don’t work out at LSU, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has a suggestion for the Saints.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) October 13, 2020
Former Ole Miss and New Orleans’ Saint legend Deuce McAllister is on board with Kiffin’s suggestion.
— deuce mcallister (@dmcallister26) October 13, 2020
But the bigger news out of the Big Easy is New Orleans will be hosting the 2025 Super Bowl on February 9, 2025. The city wanted the 2024 game, but a look at the calendar showed the date fell during the Mardi Gras celebration. That was a wise move to wait a year.
The Saints should still be good in 2025. Imagine a Super Bowl in New Orleans featuring the Saints during Mardi Gras. That might poke a hole in the space-time continuum.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.