Burke: It’s about more than the stats in Week 13


The last week of the regular season is not a happy time for a lot of college football teams. Preseason goals have not been reached and sometimes it costs coaches their jobs. Players that had high hopes, both personally and on a team level, fall short of expectations. Today and tomorrow could be days in which those teams rally one last time to make a memory together and salvage something out of the season.

Other times, the opposite happens. We’re not privy to what happens in a college football locker room. We don’t know what the dynamics are. All we can do is speculate based on the situation. Here are a few speculations on my part for this weekend.


Washington State (-1) vs. Washington

The Cougars have a backdoor path into the Pac-12 Championship Game and the way that they have rallied behind interim head coach Jake Dickert has been impressive. Regardless of how you, me or the players feel about the vaccine, Nick Rolovich’s dismissal is something that most will argue could have been avoided. Imagine how the players, most of whom were vaccinated, felt about Rolovich putting himself over them.

I’m not making any judgments about Rolovich (or the others that were let go), I’m just trying to think about this from a player’s perspective. There also wasn’t a lot of loyalty to Rolovich anyway. His tenure was tumultuous at best and most of the players were recruited by the previous regime. Since Rolovich’s dismissal, Washington State has really stepped up nicely and performed well in what could have been a lost season.

It appears, at least from the outside, that they’ve responded well to Dickert and maybe there are some feelings that a win here is what could get him the full-time job. I have to think Wazzu shows up big.


Tulsa vs. SMU (-6.5)

Take Tulsa vs. SMU as one example. It was announced a few days ago that TCU has keyed in on Sonny Dykes to replace interim head coach Jerry Kill, who took over for Gary Patterson. We’re talking about sweeping changes to a program that has largely had status quo for two decades. Also consider that TCU is viewed as a close rival of SMU in that DFW metro area.

Usually players understand when a coach has a chance at a bigger opportunity, much like they understand when juniors want to leave early for the NFL. It takes on a different feel when a rival program is poaching said coach. I think there’s a very good chance we get a no-show from SMU today against a Tulsa team fighting for a bowl game. A Mustangs no-show in a bowl game is also a possibility.


West Virginia (-15.5) vs. Kansas

There will be no quit in the Kansas Jayhawks this week. Lance Leipold is establishing a new culture in Lawrence. West Virginia is vying for bowl eligibility here, but the Jayhawks could pull a second big upset and play spoiler. More than that, though, this is a team battling to the end, despite a huge talent deficit.

Programs going in the right direction usually have strong efforts to end the season. It can oftentimes be the opposite for those going the wrong way. I think Kansas is going the right way. The stats and the point differentials and all of that don’t look good, but I’d fully anticipate a big effort here.

Just something to think about with these games. While I still look at the stats and the matchups, there are a lot of extenuating circumstances at the end of the season to keep in mind.