Sidelines: This week in sports

Mississippi v Alabama

One of the greatest things about writing Sidelines is when it’s production day, and more sports stories keep rolling in that add to the mix of an already exciting week. This morning, it’s the video of Nick Saban fuming over a question about his quarterbacks from ESPN’s Maria Taylor after his Tide rolled past Louisville 51-14.

Here’s the thing — Saban telling a reporter to “quit asking” about his quarterbacks, is ridiculous. Sure, Saban is probably tired of getting questions about his quarterbacks, but he keeps getting questions because he never gives a real answer. Okay, both saw playing time in the first game of the season against a non-conference opponent, but now things are different. Saban has seen Tua Tagovailoa play for the majority of a regular season game. He’s seen Jalen Hurts in game action this season in a completely different situation than last season.

The reporter’s job is to ask the big questions, and for the Crimson Tide, all the big questions right now revolve around Saban’s quarterbacks. For Saban to blow up after the first game about a question regarding his quarterbacks … well, he’s going to have a long season of frustration if that’s where his emotions are at right now. So long as Saban continues to play his two quarterbacks throughout the season, starting with next week against Arkansas State, he’ll always be answering questions about it, and he should just accept it.

In other college football action this weekend, perhaps the most anticipated game from this past weekend was Michigan at Notre Dame. The Wolverines are on a decline in the “Harbaugh era” — after going 10-3 in his first and second season, Michigan went 8-5 last season. Dating back to their 10th game last season, the Wolverines have now lost four in a row (Wisconsin, Ohio State, South Carolina, and Notre Dame). Granted, all four of those losses are to ranked teams, but Michigan fans expected more from Jim Harbaugh. They expected to be winning games like the one this past Saturday against Notre Dame. They expected to be dominant every season and fighting for Big Ten championships, winning divisions, and pushing for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Michigan could still find themselves hunting for a playoff bid come November — one loss doesn’t eliminate you from contention, especially if that loss came to a ranked team who also contends for a playoff bid. But there are still many issues for Harbaugh to resolve before his team is ready to take on the likes of their opponents in the second half of the season.

In the next state over, Ohio State took on Oregon State in Columbus to kick off their three-game Ryan Day head coach era. The Buckeyes looked different without JT Barrett — but it was a good different, no doubt. Dwayne Haskins threw the ball extremely well and made it very clear he is the real deal for the Buckeyes. Though special teams and defense both had their fair share of mistakes, the Buckeyes were able to dominate the Beavers. While their next game against Rutgers will likely bring another 60 or 70-some points, their week three matchup against TCU will be Ohio State’s first real testament as to whether or not their talented roster can dominate in big games.

Another game which was slated to determine the fate of two CFP hopefuls was Washington vs. Auburn. The Tigers won a narrow 21-16 matchup in front of a mostly-home crowd in Atlanta, sending the Huskies home to Seattle with all the pressure on Chris Peterson and company to win their next 11 games. For Auburn, even a loss later in the season to one of their conference opponents (Georgia, Alabama), could still leave them in a position to take the fourth spot in the playoff. Or, in even crazier circumstances, could still allow them to play for an SEC championship if Bama or Georgia end up with other losses, but that’s all far in the future. Washington’s best chance of making their second trip to the CFP is to win out the rest of the year and take home the Pac-12 championship. Anything else and they’ll have to settle for a New Year’s six bowl.

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