By GLENN GUILBEAU | Tiger Rag Featured Columnist
BATON ROUGE – Somehow, Texas A&M defense figured out a way to gush a lead away worse than the Houston Oilers at Buffalo 24 years ago.
The Aggies, under “defensive” coordinator John Chavis, formerly of LSU by the way, led by 34 points at UCLA, 44-10, Sunday night late in the third quarter. They lost, 45-44, after getting gushed out, 28-0, in the fourth quarter on drives of 85 yards in 2:04, 96 yards in 1:06, 74 yards in 1:31 and 66 yards in 1:06. It is the second largest comeback in college football history behind Michigan State’s 41-38 win at Northwestern on Oct. 21, 2006, in which Northwestern led by 35 points at 38-3 midway through the third quarter.
Wow, and we thought Chavis had lost it when he blew a 17-14 LSU lead over Alabama in the final minute for a 21-17 loss in 2012. Head coach Les Miles had a hand in that one, though, as he took the ball out of the hands of rolling quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was so much on fire with 24-of-35 passing for 298 yards that Alabama coach Nick Saban admitted the Tide couldn’t stop him. But Miles did on LSU’s last possession.
On Jan. 3, 1993, the Houston Oilers under “defensive” coordinator Jim Eddy led by 32 points at Buffalo, 35-3, early in the third quarter of the AFC Wild Card playoff game. They lost, 41-38 in overtime, after outscoring Houston 28-7 in the third quarter, 7-3 in the fourth and 3-0 in overtime. It was and is the largest comeback in NFL history. Amazingly, later that same day in the Louisiana Superdome, the New Orleans Saints led Philadelphia in the NFC Wild Card playoff, 20-7, late in the third quarter only to lose, 36-20, after getting gushed out, 26-0, in the fourth quarter.
Eddy was fired the next day as was defensive backs coach Pat Thomas. Houston head coach Jack Pardee and the Oilers recovered to go 12-4 in 1993 and win the AFC Central. But quarterback Warren Moon was traded to Minnesota before the 1994 season. The Oilers started ’94 at 1-9. Pardee was fired. And the Oilers moved to Tennessee after the ’96 season.
Chavis is undoubtedly in trouble as his defense finished No. 13 in the SEC last season in pass defense with 250 yards allowed a game and 10th in total defense with 442 yards given up a game. In 2015, the Aggies were 13th out of 14 SEC teams against the run with 214 yards allowed a game.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin may be counting the days and weeks, too, after such an historic debacle. Sumlin is more accustomed to the bottom gushing out at the end of seasons. He has finished 8-5 the last three seasons after starts of 6-0, 5-0 and 5-0, respectively. He may be getting an early start this season.
This all made for a wild opening weekend in college football. On Saturday, Howard University, a school of 10,000 in Washington, D.C., pulled off the largest upset in college football history based on point spread as it beat 45-point favorite UNLV, 43-40. The previous best point spread upset was 40-point underdog Stanford and Coach Jim Harbaugh beating USC, 24-23, in 2007.
Meanwhile, there was no upset in Atlanta as No. 1 Alabama handled No. 3 Florida State, 24-7. Bama coach Nick Saban won his 19th game over an Associated Press top five team, passing former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden for the most of all time. Of the 19 top five A.P. wins, three came at LSU – 31-20 over No. 2 Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game in 2001, 34-13 over No. 5 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game in 2003 and 21-14 over No. 3 Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 1, 2004. And two came against LSU as Alabama’s coach – 21-0 over No. 1 LSU in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 9, 2012 and 21-17 over No. 5 LSU in 2012 at Tiger Stadium.
Saban also went to 11-0 against former assistant coaches who became head coaches with the win over Florida State. He is 1-0 against the best one of those coaches – Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, whom he hired to be his offensive coordinator at LSU in 2000.
Here is the rest of the Sabanator’s list:
3-0 vs. former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, whom he hired as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at LSU in 2000; 3-0 vs. former Colorado State/present Florida coach Jim McElwain, who worked under him at Alabama, with one of the wins over Colorado State; 2-0 vs. former Florida coach/present South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, whom he hired as linebackers coach at LSU in 2001, with both of the wins when Muschamp was at Florida; and 2-0 vs. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, who worked under him at Michigan State.
GUILBEAU POLL: 1. Alabama (1-0), beat No. 3 Florida State, 24-7. 2. LSU (1-0), beat BYU, 27-0. 3. Auburn (1-0), beat Georgia Southern, 41-7. 4. Georgia (1-0), beat Appalachian State, 31-10. 5. Florida (0-1), lost to No. 11 Michigan, 33-17. 6. Tennessee (0-0, vs. Georgia Tech on Labor Day). 7. South Carolina (1-0), beat North Carolina State, 35-28. 8. Missouri (1-0), beat Missouri State, 72-43. 9. Arkansas (1-0), beat Florida A&M, 49-7. 10. Mississippi State (1-0), beat Charleston Southern, 49-0. 11. Texas A&M (0-1), lost to UCLA, 45-44. 12. Ole Miss (1-0), beat South Alabama, 47-27. 13. Kentucky (1-0), beat Southern Mississippi, 24-17. 14 Vanderbilt (1-0), beat Middle Tennessee State, 28-6.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “They showed some of the best defense I’ve seen in college football.”
… BYU coach Kalani Sitake after losing to LSU, 27-0, in which his team “gained” -5 yards rushing and was held to 97 total yards – the lowest by a BYU team since 92 against Iowa State in 1974.