Studs & Duds: Back Or Not Back?

Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you think you've got teams figured out, they throw you a change-up. It's true on both the college and pro level. Studs & Duds today tries to sift through the noise. But forgive me, it's a little confusing.

College Back Or Not Back?

Michigan Wolverines: Back. Then not back after being embarrassed by Notre Dame. Then dominant performances to regain "back" status. And then a 17-0 hole vs. Northwestern this past weekend. (Michigan won, though). Are they back?

Current status: Not back.

Texas Longhorns: Back. Then not back after being embarrassed by Maryland in week one. Then Texas ripped off dominant wins against USC and TCU. Status? #BACK! But the true measuring stick falls next week with a date against the Sooners.

Current status: Back.

Florida Gators: Back. Then not back after losing to the Kentucky Wildcats (who are ranked and 5-0, by the way!) for the first time since before I was born. I, for the record, am 29. Now? The Gators have us questioning if they are back again after a dominating performance against Mississippi State this past week.

Current status: Not back.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Back. Then one score victories against Vanderbilt and Ball State put the Irish's status in question. Turns out with a quarterback who isn't a complete liability, this team can be pretty damn good. Ian Book has totally transformed what the Irish can do offensively and now they have a signature wins against the Big Ten (Michigan) and the PAC 12 (Stanford). An Irish team that runs the table will be difficult to ignore. Beware against a tough Syracuse team, looking forward.

Current status: Definitely back.

NFL Back Or Not Back?

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins entered Sunday's contest with a chance to effectively wrangle a 3.5 game lead in the AFC East over the New England Patriots. The team was blanketed in the first half, looking lost offensively and sloppy defensively. A 24-0 halftime lead was all that was needed to stuff the dreams of Dolphins fans (and probably fans of many other AFC teams) back into reality.

The Patriots proved that they're not as dead as some may have hoped. As for the Dolphins? They still lead the AFC East with a record of 3-1 but the Patriots are hot on their tail and aren't going to be going anywhere.

Current status: Not back.

Football in Los Angeles: Yep. If you watched Thursday Night Football this past week, you saw the Rams out-gun the Vikings, 38-31. And we knew the Rams were going to be good. (Forgive me Chargers, but you're not the point I'm trying to make on this day...) But it was the turnout that was eye-popping. The big question when the Rams decided to leave St. Louis and come back to LA was if the fans would care.

The game drew 72,027 fans. Football in LA is....

Current status: Definitely back.

J.J. Watt: Watt had 3 sacks last week against the New York Giants. This weekend was another multi-sack effort, bringing him over 80 career sacks. It's hard to believe we haven't seen a 100% Watt in three seasons (2015). It's also hard to believe how much Watt accomplished in his first five years in the league (two 20+ sack seasons).

But Watt indeed looks to be back, which is good news for football fans everywhere. Well, except for those who have to face him on any given Sunday.

Current status: Back...thank goodness for that.

There. Now that we've cleared all that up, it's time to return to our regularly scheduled programming. Studs & Duds this week of comprised of a franchise quarterback, a new starter, a familiar narrative and a talented troublemaker.

STUD - QB Ian Book, Notre Dame

Before the season, I was critical of the Irish as a potential top team. Not anymore. The though process at the time? The Irish lost a lot of what made their team tick last year. Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey are off to the NFL. So too was the team's OL coach.

Just as important, QB Brandon Wimbush was back. Yikes.

But now? Book has the Irish humming offensively and the team's stout defense doesn't have the pressure to pitch shutouts is suddenly gone. Book's play against Stanford was dominating and if he sustains it, it will completely transform the Irish offense.

A transformed Irish offense equates to well deserved hype and a legit shot at the CFB Playoff.

DUD - DE Trevon Hill, Virginia Tech

Hill was dismissed last Sunday after the Hokies defense was torched by...ahem...Old Dominion? Welp.

Hill has some elite traits, he's explosive and flexible off the edge. Hill also looked as though he was prepared to have a career year, logged 3.5 sacks in 3 games, including a dominant showing against Florida State in Week One.

But Hill had multiple offenses with the coaching staff in Blacksburg and for whatever reason, the team had enough of Hill after the game against Old Dominion. A promising player, Hill would be wise to play college in 2019 where ever will have him and work to rehab his image for a season before looking to the pros.

STUD - QB Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Take a bow, young man. Goff exploded against a Vikings defense that was supposed to be one of the best in football on Thursday Night Football. The Rams looked unstoppable offensively, logging 38 points on the right arm of Goff.

We celebrated Goff on Studs & Duds last week and yet here we are again. After throwing for 354 passing yards in consecutive games, Goff threw for 465 against Minnesota. He's well on his way to establishing himself in the upper tier of the younger generation of franchise QBs we're seeing bubble up across the league.

Goff was terrific throwing deep, he was terrific navigating the pocket and he was terrific commanding his offense. With head coach Sean McVay running the show, it's hard to envision Goff not continuing to progress. In the process he'll make a lot of naysayers look silly.

DUD - Coach James Franklin, Penn State

You had 'em, Coach! Again! Franklin's list of offenses in Penn State's one point home loss? extensive. The Lions' last 4 losses, according to Ben Jones of, have been by a combined 8 points. And the Lions have led in the 4th quarter of all of them. Yikes. From the mismanagement of the timeouts to the poor decisions in Ohio State territory, Franklin's shoulders bear the brunt of the load for this abysmal loss.

Franklin said after the game that he would do everything in his power to turn Penn State into an elite program. Start by looking in the mirror, Coach.

STUD - Me, maybe.

Listen, last week in Studs & Duds, your boy questioned if the New England Patriots were cooked this season. (For the record I did not say yes.) It landed me on the Duds list. Sweet redemption this week for your host.

Ohio State (27) - Penn State (26). 4th and 5, game on the line. I made a simple request for the Buckeyes defense:

The Buckeyes obliged and DE Chase Young slashed through the line to put down Miles Sanders and ice the game.

I'll take this bounce back take in stride and undoubtedly land myself back on the Duds list at this time next week.

Thread Of The Week - Oregon Ducks (again)

It's not exactly breaking news that the Ducks have some of the best kits in the game. But for the second time in three weeks, no one in the country can touch them.

I'm personally a big proponent of matching tops and bottoms. Call me a sucker, but I liked the color rush experience for that reason. Especially when teams rocked white on white. The "Stormtrooper" look is simple and, when done right, is a favorite of mine.

[caption id="attachment_22918" align="alignnone" width="1024"] John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports[/caption]

The Ducks did it right this past weekend. Add in the two-tone chrome helmets? Terrific.

Written By:

Kyle Crabbs

Chief Brand Officer

CBO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Former NDT Scouting Overlord.