Lincoln Riley at USC would not have occurred with out Clay Helton

A yr in the past, on this identical second Saturday evening of the school soccer season, I sat down to put in writing a column demanding {that a} very good man lose his job.

Trying again, the surprising factor was that I didn’t really feel unhealthy or hesitant as I used to be writing it. Clay Helton had loads of time to show to his preposterously affected person bosses he was the precise man to guide USC soccer, and when the Trojans had been embarrassed on the Coliseum by Stanford, it was clear his presence on the sideline was solely going to result in extra pointless ache for legions of USC followers and alums.

Saturday evening, after the Trojans simply dealt with the identical Cardinal group in Palo Alto 41-28, I really feel even higher about it. USC is 2-0 and about to be ranked among the many prime eight groups within the nation. Lincoln Riley, this system’s new head coach, is a younger offensive savant with a cutthroat angle about successful. After I known as for Helton’s job, I by no means may have predicted USC athletic director Mike Bohn would have the ability to lure Riley away from Oklahoma, however he’s precisely the kind of coach who ought to be main certainly one of America’s most storied packages. He’s going to be value each penny spent.

So, I used to be already feeling fairly good, absolved of my non-existent guilt. After which, proper as Riley and USC quarterback Caleb Williams had been doing their celebratory postgame interviews on ABC, on one other TV display I noticed the Georgia Southern Eagles threatening to attain a game-winning landing over once-mighty Nebraska at venerable Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

It was straightforward to chuckle when Helton was scooped up final November by the Solar Belt Convention faculty primarily based in Statesboro, Ga. I joked with pals that the good of us down there have been about to expertise the “Statesboro Blues,” a reference to the Allman Brothers Band music title. However, all kidding apart, Helton, who grew up in Florida and Texas and performed school soccer at Auburn, appeared a greater cultural match for a plucky Group of 5 program nestled within the coronary heart of the South. Definitely, he had loads of head teaching expertise to attract from, for higher or worse.

Saturday evening, Helton coached the Eagles to their best victory, 45-42 over Nebraska. His quarterback, Kyle Vantrease, a red-haired switch from Buffalo nicknamed the “Ginger General,” dove throughout the aim line for the successful rating, driving the ultimate stake into Scott Frost’s tortured tenure as head coach of the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska will free their fanbase quickly sufficient, and the Husker trustworthy can solely hope and pray their athletic director and president do as properly within the coming months as Bohn and Carol Folt did determining the way to entice Riley to depart one thing nice for one thing that might be even higher.

USC coach Lincoln Riley watches the Trojans from the sideline throughout a 41-28 win over Stanford on Saturday.

(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Related Press)

A yr in the past, it could have been exhausting to think about Clay Helton’s teaching prowess getting one other coach fired. It additionally would have appeared inconceivable that USC, recovering from an unsightly 4-8 marketing campaign and simply two video games right into a promising new period, can be mentioned by ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit as a official School Soccer Playoff semifinal contender.

Certain, the Trojans are firmly within the combine, as I identified final week, however we’ve bought the remainder of the season to chart their course to their first CFP semifinals (it’s fairly easy — they need to simply go forward and win all their video games, they usually’ll be favored in each one besides doubtlessly at Utah Oct. 15).

I can’t make USC followers be rational, however I’m going to attempt anyway: please don’t wreck the present joyful second eager about the stinking playoff.

Get pleasure from beating Stanford on the highway for the primary time since 2014. Benefit from the buildup to what ought to be one other aggressive take a look at subsequent week towards Fresno State. Get pleasure from Williams performing just like the Trojans’ first critical Heisman Trophy candidate for the reason that Pete Carroll period. Get pleasure from his new favourite huge receiver, Jordan Addison, taking part in with such jaw-dropping grace that he can be a Heisman candidate if not for Williams.

Final one: Discover it deep down inside your hearts to take pleasure in Helton’s massive win over Nebraska and no matter success he finds in his new comfortable place.

This was a kind of breakups that was proper and completely timed for either side. It by no means was Helton’s fault that Pat Haden employed him as everlasting head coach, or that Lynn Swann prolonged his contract prematurely, or that Bohn didn’t really feel it prudent to let Helton go earlier than evaluating him via two lengthy offseasons.

Saturday evening offered another screaming knowledge level that means the Trojans discovered somebody means higher. Two video games into the Riley period, I nonetheless discover myself not believing what I’m seeing, and I’m going to guess I’m not alone in feeling that anticipation for what new factor I’m going to see on every play.

A yr after the evening that modified the whole lot for USC, that sensation — not flipping round that Stanford consequence — is probably the most jarring distinction.

Respect to the Belt

Marshall defensive lineman Owen Porter celebrates while laying down on a green field.

Marshall defensive lineman Owen Porter celebrates after a 26-21 upset win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

(Michael Conroy / Related Press)

Helton’s big upset win at Nebraska was a distant third amongst Solar Belt statements on Saturday.

Earlier within the day, Marshall traveled to South Bend and upended No. 8 Notre Dame 26-21. Not lengthy after the Thundering Herd shocked the school soccer world, Appalachian State pulled off a 17-14 win at No. 6 Texas A&M in entrance of 100,000-plus at Kyle Discipline.

To suppose, this was alleged to be a ho-hum slate of video games. School soccer by no means disappoints, and I can’t assist however take into consideration how well-timed these upsets had been.

After USC and UCLA bolting for the Large Ten, the game felt headed for a “Power Two” construction with the Large Ten and the Southeastern Convention probably with the ability to proceed including massive manufacturers and creating their very own postseason down the road. Fortunately, the presidents on the prime of the School Soccer Playoff stepped in and voted to approve growth to 12 groups, with the sector together with the six top-ranked convention champions.

Meaning the Solar Belt champion — whether it is certainly the most effective of the Group of 5 league champions — would have a shot to win the nationwide championship at yr’s finish.

The Group of 5 inclusion within the playoff makes me far more more likely to need to study in regards to the Solar Belt groups past simply hoping they randomly pull an upset. Many diehard followers can be far more more likely to watch Marshall-App State if the winner had been doubtlessly a playoff group.

It’s about time these extremely aggressive and enjoyable groups begin getting handled with some primary respect on the prime of the game.

In any case, they did the soiled work for USC, clearing out the Combating Irish and Aggies from playoff competition. (Though, the Trojans most likely would have benefited extra from their season finale towards Notre Dame having extra nationwide hype than it is going to have now).

Horns whiff hurts

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian waves to the fans after the Longhorns' loss to Alabama.

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian waves to the followers after the Longhorns’ loss to Alabama.

(Michael Thomas / Related Press)

One other factor that will be good for school soccer? Alabama shedding.


Texas ought to have made it occur right now, however a clavicle damage to quarterback Quinn Ewers within the first quarter, plus a serious officiating blunder (it regarded like quarterback Bryce Younger grounded the ball ultimately zone for a security, didn’t it?) and a missed subject aim on the finish of the primary half saved the Longhorns from benefiting from one of many worst video games Alabama has performed below Nick Saban.

The Crimson Tide eked out a 20-19 victory on a last-minute subject aim regardless of committing 15 penalties and searching nothing like a No. 1 group.

Alabama regarded so beatable it could be straightforward to imagine it is going to get tripped up a couple of occasions the remainder of the way in which, however we now have seen too many Crimson Tide groups enhance over the course of the season and attain their potential.

An enormous purpose we’re nonetheless more likely to see Alabama within the playoff, after all, is Younger. He’s additionally the explanation the Tide escaped Austin. On Alabama’s game-winning drive, he dodged a blitz that will have taken down most quarterbacks and took off for an enormous acquire.

He deserves all of the reward for saving Alabama but once more, however he should do rather more statistically going ahead to carry off Williams and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud within the Heisman race.

Florida’s loss unhealthy for Utah?

Florida wide receiver Ja'Quavion Fraziars drops a pass in front of Kentucky defensive back Carrington Valentine.

Florida huge receiver Ja’Quavion Fraziars drops a go in entrance of Kentucky defensive again Carrington Valentine in the course of the Gatos’ loss Saturday.

(John Raoux / Related Press)

Final week, Utah misplaced a heartbreaker 29-26 at Florida. This week the Gators, who vaulted to No. 12 within the nation, misplaced 26-16 within the Swamp to No. 20 Kentucky. Does this make the Utes’ loss look worse or ought to it change the way in which we really feel about them going ahead? No and no.

In my preseason picks, I had Utah shedding at Florida after which the Wildcats beating the Gators. Kentucky is an efficient group that has a ton extra data of Florida and its personnel as a convention rival, plus the Gators spent the entire week listening to how nice they’re and that quarterback Anthony Richardson is a Heisman candidate.

I additionally picked Utah to win its subsequent 12 video games and make the playoff. USC could have one thing to say about that.

Week 2 Future Large Ten energy rankings

1. Ohio State

2. Michigan

3. USC

4. Penn State

5. Michigan State

6. Purdue (up 1)

7. Minnesota (up 1)

8. UCLA (up 2)

9. Wisconsin (down 3)

10. Maryland (up 1)

11. Rutgers (up 3)

12. Indiana (up 1)

13. Iowa (down 4)

14. Illinois (up 2)

15. Northwestern (down 3)

16. Nebraska (down 1)