College Football Matches Week 13: Steve Sarkisian in the spotlight as Iron Bowl adds intrigue for Alabama, Auburn

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Steve Sarkisian has climbed the mountain of coaches – once again. Five years ago, Sark was sent back to USC after failing to show up for training. Several Trojans have told the Los Angeles Daily News they could smell alcohol on his breath. This sparked a series of events that are impacting college football today.

Clay Helton became the interim coach that season and was given the permanent job after going 5-4. In four full seasons at USC, Helton won a Pac-12 title and led the Trojans to two New Years Six Bowls.

Meanwhile, Sark has escaped the spotlight. He went to rehab and rebuilt his personal and professional life. There was doubt that he would ever be head coach again. But less than a year after being fired, he was hired in September 2016 to be an analyst in Alabama. It started a comeback which now has as the designated head coach on the field Saturday in the Iron Bowl.

For the second time this season, Sarkisian has been named team leader after Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19. Sark’s first chance was scuttled before the game in Georgia when Saban was able to return as his test turned out to be a false positive. This time it’s for real after Saban felt symptoms of COVID-19 before a PCR test gave a positive result.

The Iron Bowl is almost more about Sarkissian’s big second chance than Saban’s absence. The feeling is that No.1 Crimson Tide is in good hands against No.22 Auburn. Sark will call his attack as normal. He will just have a few more decisions to make. Perhaps by the time the final whistle blows, his remade career will feel strong enough that leading a team is once again a possibility.

“Based on all the work in terms of what our attack was able to accomplish last year and this year, no one can claim that he did a fantastic job,” said Saban. “The body of work really speaks for itself. ”

In case you missed it, Sarkisian, 46, was behind the latest historic transformation of this offense in Alabama. In 2016, he took over as offensive coordinator at short notice after Lane Kiffin’s hasty departure for FAU. Alabama lost that national college football playoff championship in the dying seconds to Clemson, but Sark called it a fantastic game that night.

Before this match, I asked Sarkissian if the rehabilitation was working. He was adamant in his efficiency.

Since then, Sarkisian has returned to the NFL as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons (2017-18) before returning to Alabama in 2019. He oversaw not only Tua Tagovailoa’s final season, but the transition to Mac as well. Jones.

“He was a good coach before, he only got better and bigger with the experience he got from being with the Falcons for two years and being with Nick,” said the official. NFL Devin Bonik. “Steve earned Matt Ryan’s respect from the start, and it’s not always easy to do as a college coach. ”

As you might expect, Sarkissian’s name started popping up in job postings, especially last year in Colorado. If Arizona takes a step with Kevin Sumlin, a West Coast guy like Sark would probably be one of the better candidates. He comes remade and reconditioned as a head coach, having traveled 46-35 at Washington and USC.

At the turn of this century, Sarkissian was one of the young guns in USC serving a combined seven years under Pete Carroll and making it into the 2003 National Championship at the age of 29.

Under the new Sark, the Bama attack has never been better. There is an FBS current record of 20 consecutive games, the team has scored at least 35 points. If the current 49.4 points per game average is maintained, this would be the third consecutive season that Alabama has set the school’s scoring record.

Even with the loss of wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, Jones continues to be a Heisman Trophy contender as the SEC’s top-rated passer. Najee Harris leads the conference in rushing yards and touchdowns (16).

All of this after Sarkissian underwent heart surgery last offseason. Not bad for a guy whose career looked ruined five years ago.

Shootout coming up on Black Friday?

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea could win his biggest challenge of the season on Friday at No. 19 overall in North Carolina. The Tar Heels have the best offense in the ACC (60 yards per game better than Clemson at 563.4 yards!). More than that, Mack Brown’s unit is more balanced than Clemson with the 1-2 punch at the back – Javante Williams and Michael Carter.

The magic number for the winner appears to be 30-35 points. North Carolina should be able to do this easily. No. 2 Notre Dame on the road this year averages 40.3 points, the highest in at least 11 years. Lea’s top 10 defense gave up more than 26 points once, in the 47-40 double overtime win over Clemson.

By the way, expect Lea’s name to appear in Vanderbilt if Derek Mason isn’t chosen.

All the rest of week 13

Historical cyclone (s): No.13 Iowa State (6-2) can’t quite land a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game with a win over No.17 Texas on Friday. There is still a scenario where a three-way tie for second would leave the Cyclones out. The state of Iowa has not won a conference championship since 1912.

Do you remember Clemson? Trevor Lawrence returns to the field for the first time in five weeks when Pittsburgh visits the No. 3 Tigers. First order of business: start the running game. Since Lawrence fell with COVID-19, Clemson has averaged 2.18 yards per carry. Over a full season, it would currently be the second worst in the country.

Duck! The state of Oregon is no longer a walk for No. 15 Oregon in what was once known as the Civil War. The Beavers had Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Jermar Jefferson – a much underrated fullback who ran for 196 yards against The Beavers have the intangible that can work. They have blocked two of the opponent’s 12 punts this season. By the way, the teams have abandoned the “Civil War” label on its link with slavery.

Egg bowl flashback: A year has passed since Elijah Moore caused one of the biggest butterfly effects in college football history. It was Moore, wide receiver Ole Miss, whose imitation of a dog in a fire hydrant led to a personal foul penalty that pushed back the extra point tied at the end of last year’s game in the Mississippi State. As you might expect, the kick was missed. This sparked a cascading series of events that led to the dismissal of Matt Luke, the hiring of Lane Kiffin and a corresponding decision by the state of Mississippi. He got rid of Joe Moorhead and replaced him with Mike Leach. How’s that for a return? Moore leads the country in catches (74) and yards (1054).

Cakewalk northwest: It’s not too early to suggest that the No.8 Northwestern (5-0) should be able to skate towards the Big Ten West title. The Wildcats already have wins over all three teams directly below them in the standings (Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin). They end the season against Michigan State (Saturday), Illinois and Minnesota, whose combined record stands at 5-9.

Tulsa pity: Philip Montgomery’s schedule deserves some sort of reward for his diligence and patience at the end of the season. When their game against Houston was postponed this week, the No.25 Golden Hurricane lost their seventh game due to a postponement or cancellation. If that doesn’t impact the AAC Championship game, the game will be caught on December 19. At 5-0, Tulsa remains half a game off the AAC leader and on track to play Cincinnati twice, once in the regular season and again in the conference title game.

Turkey of the week: Penn State (0-5) at Michigan (2-3). The worst team in Penn State against a defense that is poised to be the worst in Michigan.

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