WHEN DABO SWINNEY’S name popped up on a few lists of potential candidates for the soon-to-be-vacant Florida coaching position, the plusses and minuses of his career at Clemson were held to the light.
On the positive side, Swinney is 59-26 as Clemson’s coach. One statistic that keeps being listed on the other side of the ledger is his 9-16 record against ranked opponents.
The latter number needs context. It is much like the first time a TV network posted that a baseball team wins more than 95 percent of its games when leading after the eighth inning. It sounded great on its own, only to find out later that number is pretty much the norm for all teams.
In comparison to Swinney, Steve Spurrier’s teams are 19-25 against ranked opponents in his 10 seasons at USC. Even Mark Richt, who has had a successful 14-season run at Georgia, is 31-29 against ranked opponents, and that includes a combined 9-0 record in the 2002 and 2007 seasons.
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About that targeting Almost unnoticed this season is the virtual elimination of targeting in college football.
A season ago, the NCAA implemented new rules designed to eliminate the use of the helmet in making tackles and the hitting of players above the shoulders. Many coaches initially claimed it was removing a vital part of the game: hard hitting.
Still, defensive coaches began changing the way they taught tackling, particularly against pass receivers in the open field. As the 2013 season wore on, there were fewer targeting penalties. By season’s end, there had been 19 targeting calls in games involving SEC teams. With 112 games during the regular season, that amounts to about one targeting call every two games.
With two weekends of regular-season games remaining this season, there have been 14 targeting calls against SEC teams. Of those, three were overturned by replay officials, meaning there were 11.
“When you look at film, I think we have definitely seen a positive change in player behavior regarding targeting,” said Steve Shaw, the SEC supervisor of officials. “We now see defensive players lowering their targets or backing off altogether on making unnecessary hits.”
Eight standing Not a single team was eliminated in Week 13 from the college football playoff that is the regular season.
TCU was idle. Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, Marshall, Mississippi State, Ohio State and Oregon all remained alive with victories.
Since Marshall can go unbeaten and still will not play the College Football Playoff, essentially there are seven teams remaining for the final field of four. The final week of the regular season and the ensuing conference championship games should take care of at least three teams.
Leftovers Talk about contrasting opponents. Clemson’s defense is No. 1 in the nation, allowing 252 yards per game. USC’s offense is 26th at 461 yards per game. On the other side, Clemson’s offense is 61st at 403 yards per game, and USC’s defense is 87th, allowing 428 yards per game. ... When Coastal Carolina lost its regular-season finale on Saturday against Liberty to finish at 11-1, it again proved how difficult it is to go undefeated. Florida State and Marshall remain the only two unbeaten teams in the FBS. Harvard, at 10-0, was the only FCS program to complete the regular season undefeated. ... When Oklahoma freshman Smaje Perine broke the week-old NCAA rushing record with 427 yards Saturday against Kansas, he surpassed in one game the rushing total (415 yards) for Wake Forest in 11 games. ... Mississippi State demolished Vanderbilt 51-0 Saturday, giving the SEC West a 10-3 record against the SEC East with one remaining regular-season game on Saturday when Arkansas plays at Missouri.