By Jordan Merritt

Week 3 in College Football feels like the calm before the storm. That usually means chaos will ensue. Jordan Merritt gives us his four burning questions heading into the weekend.

Which Head Coaches have the hottest seat?

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It’s only early in the 2023 college football season, but that doesn’t stop out-of-form teams from questioning their head coach position. Some will have gone into the season with winning games being a much-needed tonic to keep their coaches’ seats cooler than Mike Posner. Unfortunately, winning games in college football doesn’t come as easy as many would like. This means that guys will be replaced faster than you can say, ‘Urban Meyer is interested in the open position’.

A handful of head coaches came into the 2023 season already on the hot seat. Over in Texas, the Aggies HC Jimbo Fisher, coming off a disappointing losing season in 2022, was under fire. Despite recruiting some of the best talent in college football, Fisher could not get it to click. This season has taken a wrong turn already, with the loss to Miami at the weekend. Yes, Miami could be back so that judgment can be passed upon for now. A big-money buyout could prolong the torture for A&M fans if it continues to spiral.

Jeff Hafley could be one of the first to go if things don’t improve. A torrid 2022 season saw Boston College win just 3 games, with some of the losses filed in the cabinet as dreadful. When things didn’t look like they could get worse, Hafley, I can only imagine, asked the AD to hold his choice of beverage. The Eagles’ week one loss to Northern Illinois was followed up by scraping past FCS Holy Cross. It’s FSU and Louisville next, and my guess is he might not last long after that.

A few other names who need to turn their teams’ fortunes around are Dana Holgorsen of Houston, Danny Gonzales of New Mexico and Neal Brown of West Virginia. Of course, a few others know that time is not something head coaches get enough of.

Does Georgia need to get out of neutral anytime soon?

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I think I could answer this with just no, but I best give you some more material to read. If you look on paper at the opening two results, it looks like business as usual for the Bulldogs against weaker opposition. 

We didn’t see points against Ball State at the weekend until the 2nd quarter. They came on a punt return. We then saw the Bulldogs add 24 points in the same quarter, thanks partially to some volleyball-type interceptions. 

With no disrespect to the SEC East, it will not add any stiff competition for Kirby Smart’s team if they perform adequately. Their schedule was ranked around the 63rd most difficult in all of college football, and that seemed generous. Tennessee and Florida are no threat as it stands, with Ole Miss from the West the only potential challenge. 

It could be that we don’t see the best of Georgia until the back end of their schedule, on their way to the inevitable SEC Championship game. Neutral should be fine again when South Carolina comes to Athens this week. However, the gear stick needs to stay away from complacent, just in case.

Does North Carolina have enough to make a championship game?

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Which North Carolina team are we talking about? The one that took apart South Carolina in week 1? Or the one who sneaked past Appalachian State for the second season in a row? I guess this is the problem with the Tar Heels, inconsistency.

The defense still has big question marks, giving up nearly 500 offensive yards to App State. If that is to continue, then I can’t see how they make an ACC championship game. As good as Drake Maye was, he took a step back against some better defenses at the back end of the 2022 season.

This, combined with the bad defense meant the ACC championship game slipped through their fingertips. Frustratingly for Maye and the offense, who had pulled them to a great position nine games in. 

It does feel a little like De ja vu a couple of games in. With Miami and Florida State improving, even with the potential demise of Clemson, it’s going to be a big ask for Mack Brown’s team. The run game looks to be taking some strain off Drake Maye. If we see that week 1 defense consistently, then maybe they have a chance.

Are JT Daniels and Rice genuine AAC contenders?

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From 2018 through to 2022, nobody would have predicted that JT Daniels would be the starting QB in the AAC for the Rice Owls. Yet, here we are in Daniels’ 6th collegiate season, with his 4th team, 4th conference and a team that is never really fancied. Are things about to change? Or was the week two overtime win over Houston an isolated case of the big underdog prevailing?

This is the first season in the American conference for Rice after moving from Conference USA, part of the major college realignment we are seeing. The last time the Owls had a winning season was under David Bailiff back in 2014, since then it’s been a struggle. 

The last time Rice defeated a Power 5 opponent was back in 2013 against Kansas, then going on to win the C-USA. Yes, Houston themselves are only a recent addition to the Power 5. However, you aren’t considering excuses to say it’s not a Power 5 victory if you are Rice.

Is Rice capable of competing in the AAC? Their odds of winning the conference were that big at the start of the season; you needed to extend the page to find them. It’s hard to be sure right now, as we don’t know how that Houston win looks this early.

On the performance, JT Daniels was excellent. Like the Daniels most were high on early in his collegiate days at USC. Former QB turned receiver Luke McCaffrey looked like a seasoned veteran at the position. The defense only gave up four more yards against Texas in week one than Alabama did at the weekend.

On the small sample size, Rice has as much chance as anybody in the American Conference to compete for a championship. The question is, can they keep the consistency in conference play?


College Football Analyst

Ever since he entered Husky Stadium in 2017, Jordan has been a huge fan of College Football. Over the past 3 years he has covered the PAC-12 at 5 Yard College, While recently becoming a contributor at FanSided for The Husky Haul. Follow Jordan @jordm87!