Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin doubled down on his accusation that Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Steele wasn’t calling plays for the Crimson Tide during their 17-3 win over South Florida last Saturday.
Kiffin told reporters Monday that he wasn’t attempting to make waves when he said Sunday that it appeared that defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson had taken over playcalling duties after Alabama’s loss to Texas — something Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban had not announced.
Ole Miss travels to play Alabama on Saturday.
“I was asked the question, ‘What’s it like going against Steele’s defense?’ I wasn’t trying to start this big thing,” Kiffin said. “We saw things on TV copy just where it was different. First off, of what the play looked like — the calls and stuff. And so we looked into that further. And then it ain’t no secret that people in these buildings know each other, so we obviously got some information that way, too.”
Unprompted, Alabama coach Nick Saban refuted that suggestion during his Monday news conference.
“On this other thing I hear floating around out there — I’m sure you’ve seen the same reports that I’ve seen — is that Kevin Steele is the defensive coordinator,” Saban said. “He has all the defensive coordinator responsibilities. The only thing that we tried to improve from an administrative standpoint was game day administration of getting the signals in quicker, alright? So that was the only thing we worked on as a staff, and the whole staff made a contribution to it and I think it was a lot better in this game [against USF] than it was in the Texas game.”
Alabama, which lost to Texas 34-24, rebounded defensively to beat USF 17-3.
Steele, 65, is on his third stint working for Saban at Alabama. He originally joined the staff during Saban’s first year in 2007 as defensive coordinator.
Steele, who coached linebackers at Alabama during Kiffin’s time as offensive coordinator in 2014, returned as defensive coordinator this offseason after holding in the same position at LSU, Auburn, and Miami.
On Monday, Kiffin reiterated his appreciation for Saban hiring him on the heels of his firing as head coach at USC.
“People give people opportunities all the time,” Kiffin said. “But the things I learned from him defensively, things I learned from him organizationally — discipline. I’m extremely grateful to him. He really helped him at a really challenging time in my life.”
Saban said that Ole Miss is a good team and “Lane has done a good job with the program.”
“This is one of the best offensive teams in the country in terms of the things they do, the multiples they have,” he said.
He later added, “We’re going to have to play our best and we need to improve to be able to do that.”
Buffs fall out of AP Top 25; Buckeyes up to No. 4
Colorado and Deion Sanders fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 college football poll Sunday after a resounding loss in one of the weekend’s showcase games, and the teams toward the top of the rankings were shuffled and tightened.
A season-high six teams received first-place votes, the most since the 2016 preseason poll. Georgia is still where it started at No. 1 but is down to 55 first-place votes out of a possible 63.
Michigan remained No. 2 and got a first-place vote. Texas stayed at No. 3 with two first-place votes. Ohio State moved up two spots to No. 4 and got a first-place vote after beating Notre Dame with a touchdown on its final offensive play.
The Fighting Irish slipped to two spots to No. 11.
The Ducks’ blowout of Sanders’ Colorado team knocked the Buffaloes all the way out of the AP Top 25 from No. 19.
Colorado has been the story of the early season, starting 3-0 after winning just one game last season. The Buffaloes jumped into the rankings with an opening-week upset of TCU, last season’s national runner-up.
After the Buffaloes were dominated at Oregon, USC comes to Boulder next week to give Colorado a chance to either jump back in the rankings or become an afterthought for voters for the rest of the season.
Utah’s victory over UCLA sent the Bruins falling out of the poll, leaving the Pac-12 with six ranked teams after two weeks with a conference-record eight.
Six teams receiving first-place votes is the most in a regular-season poll since Nov. 1, 2015.
In that poll, Ohio State was the No. 1 team, and like Georgia, it had been that way since the preseason as the defending national champion. The Buckeyes received only 39 first-place votes. No. 2 Baylor got six first-place votes, as did No. 3 Clemson. No. 4 LSU got five. No. 5 TCU received four and No. 7 Alabama had one.
Three teams entered the rankings this week, all for the first time this season:
No. 23 Missouri is ranked for the first time since a brief stay in 2019.
No. 24 Kansas is ranked for the second consecutive season. The Jayhawks have not had two straight years with poll appearances of any kind since 2008-09.
No. 25 Fresno State, which has won 13 straight games, the second-longest streak in the country behind Georgia, finished last season at No. 24.
Joining Colorado and UCLA in falling out the poll was Iowa. The Hawkeyes have yo-yoed in and out of the rankings and did not receive a point this week after getting shut out at Penn State.
The SEC moves back into the top spot, though more than half are in the bottom batch.
SEC: 7 (Nos. 1, 12, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23)
Pac-12: 6 (Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 16, 19)
ACC: 4 (Nos. 5, 15, 17, 18)
Big Ten: 3 (Nos. 2, 4, 6)
Big 12: 3 (Nos. 3, 14, 24)
Mountain West: 1 (No. 25)
Independent: 1 (No. 11)
Ranked vs. ranked
No. 10 Utah at No. 19 Oregon State: First ranked matchup between the two after 25 meetings.
No. 24 Kansas at No. 3 Texas: The first time the Jayhawks have played the Longhorns when they are ranked.
No. 13 LSU at No. 20 Ole Miss: The 11th ranked matchup in the rivalry.
No. 11 Notre Dame at No. 17 Duke: Maybe the biggest home game in Duke history will be the first trip to Durham, North Carolina, for ESPN’s “College GameDay.” With Duke off the board, only six schools in Power 5 conferences have not hosted the pregame show: California, Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia.
Ohio State’s victory over Notre Dame helped the Buckeyes creep up a spot to No. 3 in the AFCA Coaches Poll. No. 1 Georgia earned 61 of 64 first-place votes, while No. 2 Michigan earned two votes and No. 8 Washington got the other.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Texas lands 4-star Baker, No. 2 OT in 2024 class
Four-star offensive tackle Brandon Baker committed to Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns on Sunday night.
The Mater Dei High School (California) product would be the first ESPN 300 offensive tackle to sign with the program since Devon “DJ” Campbell, Kelvin Banks and Neto Umeozulu were all part of a 2022 class that was ranked fifth by ESPN.
Texas’ offense has averaged 432.8 total yards through four games (seventh in the Big 12) and is fifth in the conference with 277 passing yards a game.
Rangers finish sweep of M’s, lead AL West by 2.5
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers secured a crucial three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners in the tight AL West by hanging on through a rough patch from a bullpen that not long ago threatened to derail a promising season.
Suddenly 2 1/2 games up in the division after a 9-8 victory in their home finale Sunday, the Rangers hit the road for the final seven games looking to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the American League playoffs and home-field advantage in a Division Series.
“I packed like a normal seven-day trip,” Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi said. “We can always buy more clothes on the road. Yes, it’s a lot more clear. But we still have a lot of work that has to be done.”
Texas (85-70), in its first winning season since 2016, won its fifth consecutive game while defending World Series champion Houston, which started the weekend with a half-game lead in division, was swept at home by 102-loss Kansas City.
Teoscar Hernandez, who homered, drove in two runs for the Mariners along with Jarred Kelenic and Eugenio Suarez. Seattle nearly erased deficits of five and four runs before getting swept for the second time in three series.
Seattle (84-71) trails Houston by a half-game for the third and final wild card.
The Mariners play their final seven games at home, starting with the Astros on Monday before meeting Texas again in a season-ending four-game series. The Rangers start the week at the Los Angeles Angels.
“We will turn the page,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We will let it go. I know there will be 45,000 of our closest friends there helping us out the way they can. It’s going to be super exciting. What can I say?”
Texas reliever Chris Stratton gave up consecutive two-out RBI singles to Hernández, Kelenic and Suárez as Seattle closed to 9-8 in the seventh before Jonathan Hernandez came on to get pinch-hitter Dominic Canzone on a popout.
Jose Leclerc finished for his fourth save, with first baseman Nathaniel Lowe making a nifty snag of a sharp grounder down the line from pinch-hitter Jose Caballero for the final out with the potential tying run at second base.
“We got through it,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “We used a lot of pitchers, but we found a way to get through it. Great series. Entertaining series. A lot of drama.”
That bullpen was a big part of the reason the Rangers dropped as far as three games back earlier this month after leading the division all but one day of the season into late August, but Texas got the crucial outs needed in all three games to improve to 8-1 against the Mariners this season.
“We did what we were hoping to do,” Bochy said. “To get a sweep, that’s tough to do against a good club like Seattle. We have seven games left here so we’re in better position than … not too long ago. Just shows you the fight in this club, the determination.”
Semien hit his 10th leadoff homer this season, extending his club record. The drive came off Bryan Woo, who gave up a double to Semien and a single to Seager on the first two pitches of his major league career in his debut at Texas in June.
A solo shot in the fourth gave Semien his third multi-homer game this season, all in September, on a drive to center that caromed out of the glove of Julio Rodriguez and over the wall.
Semien’s 27th homer that could have been an out on a spectacular play gave him 178 hits for the season, but Rodríguez retook the AL lead with two hits for 179 as they jockey for tops in the league in that category.
“No, I think it was more Julio saying I owe him one,” Semien, a second baseman, said when asked if his teammates said anything in the dugout. “I don’t think a ball at second base can get over the fence, so I’ll have to figure out a way to give him something back.”
Seager’s 33rd homer gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the third, and Taveras ended Woo’s outing with his 13th home run, a two-run shot in the fourth.
Woo (4-5) matched the six runs he allowed in his debut against the Rangers, in 3 1/3 innings this time after lasting just two innings in Texas’ 16-6 win on June 3.
Eovaldi (12-4) won for the first time since July 18, making his fifth start since missing seven weeks with a right forearm strain. He left with the bases loaded and a 7-2 lead in the sixth, but ended up allowing five runs in five-plus innings.
The Rangers drew 35,412 fans to finish the season at 2,533,044, an average of 31,272. The total was the club’s largest since 2016, the last time Texas had a winning record. The Rangers saw a 26% increase from last season, the biggest year-to-year jump since a 31% increase from 1995 to 1996.
RHP Luis Castillo (14-7, 3.06 ERA) pitches for Seattle against Houston. He is fourth in the AL in ERA.
RHP Jon Gray (8-8, 4.22) is set for Texas to open a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. He hasn’t made it through the fourth inning in any of his past three starts.
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