Welcome back to my newest column “How’s the Baker Feeling?” where I’ll be sharing some thoughts and opinions from the past week of football and prepare for the upcoming week.
I’m Not Worried Yet
If the season ended today, the Packers (3-2-1) would make the NFC playoffs as the sixth seed, thanks to some tie breakers. The Packers have been can’t miss tv so far this season, mostly for following up terrible stretches of with play with dramatic comebacks. Inconsistent play, periods of defensive ineptitude, and costly mistakes (think penalties & missed field goals) have made this team feel worse than I think they are, but they don’t seem to have the sort of feel around them that Packer playoff teams typically have. Granted, they are just a handful of plays (phantom roughing the passer penalties & 5 missed kicks) away from being 5-1. It’s been a weird start to the season and getting healthy over the bye week could have them at full strength for a gauntlet of a schedule over their next five games. The jury is still out on this team, but we will find out soon against the Rams, Patriots, Dolphins, Seahawks, and Vikings, just how good this team really is. Getting Aaron Rodgers ten days of rest on his injured knee, getting Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, Brashaud Breeland, and Jaire Alexander back, and figuring out the correct way to utilize Aaron Jones will make for a busy bye week, but I’m not selling on this team yet. Mike McCarthy’s teams have historically been slow starters, so there’s precedent to believe that things are going to improve.
I’ve never been more fired up about a win against a 1-5 team, but Monday night has me feeling as irrationally confident in the Pack as possible. Like I said, I’m not worried yet.
College Football is in Trouble
The world off the field in college football has drastically changed over the last couple of years. We’ve seen how the new transfer rules are affecting teams, national standings, etc. We saw it just a few weeks ago when Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant decided to transfer almost immediately after being benched and now we’re seeing something similar with Nick Bosa deciding to forego the rest of his season with Ohio State to focus on the NFL Draft.
Bosa suffered a core muscle injury a month ago and was expected to return to the OSU Defense in November. He’s decided it is not worth the risk to potentially be the number-one pick in the draft. We’ve seen guys skip glorified exhibition, bowl games, but this is the first real instance that I can think of where a guy has skipped competitive games in the middle of a title race. Granted, Bosa is injured and may not have been ready to play anyways, but still it is a jarring new reality for the college game. It’s hard to blame people who feel strongly about this issue on either side. Fans want to win and players want to get paid. I’m not sure how the NCAA is going to correct these problems moving forward. The risks outweigh the rewards, everyone thought that potential playoff/championship games would be enough incentive to keep players from leaving school to jump to the pro game. It was a nice thought, but that bubble has been burst now. Again, I can’t say I blame the players who can’t afford to miss a once-in-a-lifetime window, but this is bad news for college football. I’m not sure how this issue can be fixed moving forward.
More: Pick-Up Lines: Week 7
With Notre Dame being on a bye this week and Ohio State playing a night game at Purdue, I will have some unexpected free-time on Saturday afternoon. Perfect timing for the Third Saturday in October. I’ll make sure to dust off some Volunteer orange in my closet and hop on the bandwagon with the rest of the Barn crew. Coming off of last week’s surprising upset of Auburn, can Tennessee be the first team to give Bama a game? They’re 29-point underdogs to do just that, but Tua Tagovailoa was shaken up against Missouri last week and it’ll be interesting to see if he’s 100% and will be able to go the entire game. Not like Alabama doesn’t have arguably the best backup quarterback in the country in Jalen Hurts. The Vols have shown plenty of game recently, playing Georgia tough and beating Auburn. Neyland will be anything but welcoming and this game gets an added element of intrigue with Butch Jones returning as a special adviser to the Crimson Tide. This used to be one of the best rivalries in all of football. Let’s hope that Tennessee can remind the Tide of that on Saturday. If you missed it, check out Farmer Barn’s latest post about the Vols’ defense here: HOW TWO FRESHMEN CORNERS ARE LEADING THE CHARGE OF A RESURGENT VOLS D
Team of the Week
I’m obviously biased here, but Miami is in the midst of yet another great midseason turnaround. They’ve won two in a row and three out of their last four after starting 0-3. A few plays here & there against Cincinnati & Western Michigan and this team easily could be 5-2 instead of 3-4. They’ll travel to Army on Saturday and I’m hopeful the turnaround will continue. The big showdown will come on Tuesday 10/30 when MACtion will get into full effect. Miami heads to Buffalo which could decide who will win the MAC East. We’re on the long rebuild, but important steps in that process are threatening to win your conference and becoming bowl eligible. Two huge games in a row to make that a reality. Also, these helmets to benefit cancer research from Saturday were awesome:
Video of the Week
I’m not sure if there are awards for commercial of the year, but this needs to be strongly considered if so. I’m wondering if the NFL can fine Clay for this? If not, I’m sure he’ll get flagged next weekend against the Rams as soon as he steps on the field.
I’m hopeful that this is the last time any of you hear from me. While my luck has taken a poor turn in the fantasy football, spread betting, and survivor pool world, The Mega Millions is expected to be a record $900 million for Friday night’s drawing and I have all intentions of taking that money and running. This is a reminder to get your ticket.
If that doesn’t work out, I’ll see ya’ll soon.