A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in this space that BookMaker had a prop up on whether Les Miles would be LSU's head coach after New Year's Eve, the date of this year's College Football Playoff semifinals. I wrote that I was shocked that "yes" was heavily favored and would have bet "no".
Can't say I thought LSU would lose at Auburn on Saturday, but the visiting Tigers did when their final-second touchdown pass was waived off as QB Danny Etling didn't get the snap off before the clock hit zeroes. Thus, can't say I was surprised that LSU then fired Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Sunday. Offense was really Miles' problem for the past few years as he failed to adjust to the times. LSU was a boring, I-formation running team. Alabama used to be that way, but the Tide have adjusted to the new trends in football. Not Miles. He was too stubborn to do so and could never find a great quarterback regardless. I had LSU winning the SEC title this season, and that's obviously looking pretty unlikely now. That team is absolutely stacked with future NFL players and there's no excuse for it to be 2-2. Miles finished his career at LSU with a 114-34 record, two SEC championships and one national title. He'll get hired somewhere for next season assuming he still wants to coach.
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Why do this now? LSU wanted to get out ahead of a coaching search before possible big-time jobs come open at Southern Cal and Penn State, to name two. I've heard Miles linked to Penn State already. Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron has been named the interim LSU head coach. He was 10-25 in three seasons as the Ole Miss from 2005-07 and was 6-2 as an interim coach at USC when he replaced the fired Lane Kiffin. Orgeron is considered one of the best recruiters in the country and LSU has another stellar class lined up for 2017, but there's little chance he gets the full-time job unless the Tigers do run the table. LSU is -13 this week at home vs. Missouri.
I have yet to see a site post odds on the next LSU coach, but you know it's coming. There are two names that stand clearly above the rest: Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Houston's Tom Herman. Fisher is a former LSU assistant whom the school tried to pluck last season when Miles was almost fired. The job would be Fisher's if he wants it, but I'm not sure why he'd leave a great situation at FSU. Herman, meanwhile, is the hottest name in all of college football. If the Big 12 decides to expand, which should be decided next month, and Houston is one of the schools invited, that might make it more likely Herman sticks around.
Here are a few Week 5 opening lines that caught my eye. Rankings from AP poll and games Saturday unless noted.
No. 13 Baylor at Iowa State (+17): Could be a huge trap game for the Bears off a big win in Week 4 over Oklahoma State as Baylor finally played someone decent. It beat the Pokes 35-24 behind four touchdown passes from Seth Russell. Baylor lost top receiver K.D. Cannon in the game to a groin strain in the third quarter. Monitor his status as Cannon is one of the nation's best. He has 27 catches for 370 yards and four touchdowns. Fellow receiver Ishmael Zamora made his season debut against OSU after serving a three-game suspension. Zamora had career highs of 175 yards receiving and two touchdowns on eight catches. Iowa State got its first win for new coach Matt Campbell, stomping San Jose State 44-10 on Saturday. Baylor has won three straight in the series, all by at least 18 points. The pick: I'll take the points and hope the line rises at least a half-point.
No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 4 Michigan (-10.5): I was totally wrong about the Badgers last week as I didn't expect them to go to East Lansing and beat then-No. 8 Michigan State, but UW rolled 30-6 in maybe the most impressive win of any school on Saturday. In this space, I wrote that it was likely that redshirt freshman QB Alex Hornibrook would make his first start for Wisconsin, and he did. Hornibrook lost a fumble on the game's first drive but played well otherwise, completing 16 of 26 for 195 yards with a TD and a pick. Corey Clement was questionable to play with an injury but rushed for two scores. The Badgers really got hosed schedule-wise this year because not only did they have to face Michigan State and then Michigan this week but also Ohio State on Oct. 15. Nebraska, probably Wisconsin's top competition for the West Division title, just plays OSU. Perhaps Minnesota could steal the West as it doesn't face any of those three East powerhouses. Michigan trashed Penn State 49-10 on Saturday. The Wolverines rushed for 326 yards and six scores. Wisconsin's rush defense ranks 10th nationally and first in the Big Ten at 80.5 yards per game. These schools haven't played in six years: The pick: Michigan.
No. 3 Louisville at No. 5 Clemson (-2.5): This is your national TV Saturday night game on ABC and ESPN GameDay also will be there. We can just about give the Heisman Trophy to Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson he if goes off again and leads the Cardinals to another huge win. Of course he already torched No. 2 Florida State, and last week Jackson accounted for seven more touchdowns in a blowout win at Marshall, a game I thought could be a trap for Louisville. He has accounted for more TDs this season (25) than all but a handful of FBS schools have even scored. This is the second matchup of Top-10 ACC teams already, and previously the conference has had just two seasons with multiple Top-10 showdowns. Clemson has a slight advantage in that it played last Thursday night and was defensively dominant in a 26-7 win at Georgia Tech. It's quite possible that if Clemson wins this game but the Tigers lose at Florida State on Oct. 29, we could finish with a three-way tie atop the ACC Atlantic at the end of the season. If that happens, the ACC has hired a privately contracted statistical company, SportSource Analytics, to determine which team will play for the league title. The highest-ranked team in the team rating score metric would win the Atlantic Division. Clemson won at Louisville last year 20-17. Jackson wasn't his team's starter then. The pick: Clemson.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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