Posted on: September 27, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 11:45 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
CBSSports.com senior college football writer Dennis Dodd spent his Saturday in College Station watching Oklahoma State pull off a furious comeback against homestanding Texas A&M, and in this edition of the "Doddcast," he breaks down the good and bad of what he saw from the Cowboys. He also discusses the Wisconsin-Nebraska showdown for the favorite's role in the Big Ten, talks Tennessee's Willie Lyles troubles, Alabama-Florida and more.
Listen below, download the mp3, listen in a popout player to keep browsing, and subscribe to the CFB Podcast in iTunes if you'd like to hear the next edition.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 4:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.
With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.
AP Poll Coaches Poll
(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)
Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC
Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Georgia Tech
Paul Johnson's team is undefeated and the triple option is humming down in Atlanta so far this season. The Yellow Jackets are ranked 21st in both polls and beat a solid North Carolina team this past weekend. They have been rolling over their competition with the number one offense in college football, a key component of which is actually the passing game with receiver Stephen Hill looking a bit like Calvin Johnson. The Tar Heels were the toughest team they have faced so far and they were able to move the ball on the defense so it's not like anybody is arguing they're a top 10 teams. The schedule is very manageable going forward and they should be a few spots higher than they are, perhaps ahead of one-loss TCU and directional school-playing Michigan. Four voters left the Yellow Jackets off their ballots. It's probably a little bit of a reach for Kyle Ringo to have them at 14 this week too.
Overrated: South Carolina
Four interceptions. That's how many quarterback Stephen Garcia threw against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Thankfully the Commodores couldn't move the ball at all against the Gamecocks' defense which, along with running back Marcus Lattimore, are the only reasons why South Carolina is currently undefeated. Currently sitting at 10th in the AP Poll and 9th in the coach, Steve Spurrier's ball club needs to look a little better if they're to live up to their ranking.
My colleague Tony Barnhart said it best in his column Monday: Here is South Carolina's reality: It is overrated as the No. 10 team in the nation and is living on borrowed time. The Gamecocks will be favored at home in their next two games against Auburn and Kentucky. But then Spurrier takes his team on the road to Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas.
A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.
Mr. Wolf finally decides to send in a ballot worse than his peers from the great state of California. He's the only voter to rank Navy and is one of two to rank Auburn, which he has 19th despite having one of the worst defenses in college football. Despite going on the road and beating a top 10 team at the time, Oklahoma State finds itself 15th. Apparently one of the best offenses in college football and a quarterback who has never lost on the road is not enough to be a top 10 team according to Wolf. He also ranked Nebraska 5th and has West Virginia, Oregon and South Florida ahead of Wisconsin. So... um... yeah, not so much.
What were you thinking? Coaches Poll and Colley Matrix Poll
First off, before getting into the BCS mess, we have to call out the coaches/sports information directors who vote for moving Stanford ahead of Boise State despite the Cardinal being off this week and the Broncos rolling Tulsa. Really, there's no excuses for such things. A big thanks to Peter Burns for bring up the Colley Matrix Poll to us on Twitter. You can view the entire poll here. Colley Matrix is one of the polls that make up the BCS computer rankings and frankly, judging by where they have some teams ranked right now, that's very concerning. Of course there's Michigan being ranked #1 but that's not as big of a head scratcher as LSU not having any top 25 wins. Not sure how Texas is 10th or Illinois 7th either. Louisiana-Lafayette is also in the top 25 so there's that too.
Our tech team at CBSSports.com is pretty awesome and came up with this neat tool to take a look at team and region bias in the AP Poll. Check it out below, it's a fun thing to play around with.
Tags: ACC, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Fischer, Calvin Johnson, Colley Matrix, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Jon Wilner, Kyle Ringo, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, MIchigan, Navy, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Poll Attacks, Ray Ratto, Scott Wolf, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Stephen Hill, Steve Spurrier, TCU, Texas, Tony Barnhart, USF, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 26, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
7/7. WisconsinI've said for the entire year that Wisconsin's closer to fourth or fifth in terms of talent and play quality, and there's nothing the Badgers have done to indicate that they're not one of the five best teams in the nation. Unfortunately, the Badgers have also played noooobody, especially compared to the six teams ranked above the Badgers, so I can't muster up any disapproval of Wisconsin sitting at seventh in both polls. Fortunately, the non-conference slate is over, and Wisconsin's playing a real opponent this week. Finally.
Hey, there's Wisconsin's conference opener right there, Nebraska! Nebraska's now only one spot behind Wisconsin, which if you've actually seen both teams play this year, is preposterous. The Huskers' trip to Madison is, I suspect, going to push both teams back toward where I think they both belong--mainly, Wisconsin at 5, and Nebraska at 15. So if Wisconsin wins by two scores, like I'm predicting, I don't think Nebraska falls very far in my rankings. That's what the 15th best team ought to do in a road game at the fifth best team, isn't it? Of course, in Win Go Up Lose Go Down Poll World, Nebraska's about to tumble, but that just seems like a correction that I don't need to make on my end. And yes, Sensitive Nebraska Fan, I am totally biased against your team now and forever, even while I still think the Huskers win the division title. Whatever you need to sleep at night.
Michigan as the third-highest ranked team in the Big Ten? Shows you what going 4-0 gets you, I suppose. This is higher than I have Michigan, although not by as much as before, and as long as Denard Robinson remains bulletproof things will continue to improve in Ann Arbor. It's just, jeez, that last half of the schedule might mean a 1-5 finish for the Maize and Blue. I'm letting it affect my voting habits for Michigan. I shouldn't yet. Punish the teams the losses they have and not the ones that loom, right? Right. So I suppose No. 19 is fine -- for now.
This ranking is about right. Illinois continues its unlikely unbeaten spree and will probably do so until at least October 15 when it hosts Ohio State. But honestly, that's going to be like a late-oughts Boise State 6-0: One tough opponent, and the rest a set of cupcakes that all but the worst BCS conference teams could go 5-0 against. And yet no matter how many qualifiers you attach to it, unbeaten is still unbeaten, and that puts Illinois on a higher level than 8 of their conference mates so far. Borderline Top 25 works for Illinois until the Ohio State game; that's when their conference season really kicks off.
NR/25. Michigan State
Sure, the Spartans slaughtered Central Michigan. I still don't trust that rushing attack after how well Notre Dame shut it down, and I won't trust it until MSU runs on a real defense. Sayyy, Michigan State goes to Ohio State this week! Show me something good, Sparty, and I'll be happy to return MSU to my Top 25 at once.
Also receiving votes: Michigan State (51 AP votes), Ohio State (15 AP votes, 61 coaches votes), Penn State (12 AP votes, 34 coaches votes), Northwestern (5 coaches votes) (what seriously oh god why)
Posted on: September 26, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 3:21 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Each week, the CBSSports.com college football staff offer their choice for the week's Expert Picks. But before we make our selections for Week 5, this is your chance to tell us who you think will come out on top in this week's biggest games.
Check the poll below to pick an outcome for seven of the week's biggest games, including Air Force at Navy, Alabama at Florida (both of which you can watch on CBS), Nebraska at Wisconsin, and Arkansas vs. Texas A&M in Dallas. To see the results of the poll, tune in to Inside College Football on the CBS Sports Network, Tuesday night at 8 ET.
As a sneak peek of this week's Expert Picks, here's this blogger's early impressions of the week's slate:
USF at Pitt (Thursday night): The Panthers struggled badly on defense vs. Iowa, then badly on offense vs. Notre Dame. They're just not clicking well enough right now to beat a Bulls team that's finally learned not to beat itself under Skip Holtz.
Nebraska at Wisconsin: The Badger defense has looked as championship-caliber as their offense so far, but against questionable competition. If they're up to shutting down Taylor Martinez, though, Wisconsin should roll.
Alabama at Florida: If the Tide don't let down from their big win over the Razorbacks, they should be able to corral the Jeff Demps-Chrris Rainey tag team well enough to pull out a win. But that's a decent-sized "if," and the Swamp will no doubt be rocking.
Arkansas at Texas A&M: In a battle of two teams licking their wounds from last Saturday, we like the matchup of Tyler Wilson and his outstanding receivers against the same Aggie secondary that Brandon Weeden so thoroughly torched to tilt things in the Hogs' favor.
Michigan State at Ohio State: The Buckeyes looked revitalized with Braxton Miller under center, but the Spartans should offer a much stiffer challenge than Colorado. Still, at home in Columbus, the Buckeyes should have enough top-to-bottom talent to squeak out a victory.
Baylor at Kansas State: Two surprising unbeatens square off in Manhattan. The Wildcats haven't gotten credit they deserve for winning in Miami, but not sure they have the firepower to hang with new Heisman poll No. 1 Robert Griffin III, even at home.
Air Force at Navy: Both teams have played "up" in competition once, with the Midshipmen taking South Carolina to the wire but the Falcons thumped at home by TCU. With Air Force also traveling cross-country, we're giving the edge to the home team.
Tags: Air Force, Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Chris Rainey, Colorado, Expert Picks, Florida, Iowa, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Kansas State, Michigan State, Navy, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pitt, poll, Robert Griffin III, Skip Holtz, South Carolina, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Texas A&M, USF, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:20 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
As much as it frustrates the rest of the country, there's a reason why the SEC is continually touted as the nation's best conference. There's a reason why they've won five straight BCS championships.There's a reason why the league is so competitive. And it's not hard to figure out either.
Defense, and lots of it. S-E-C Speed, S-E-C D.
With nearly half the league ranked 75th or worse in total offense through four games, five ranked teams and a 25-4 non-conference record don't happen by accident. Six teams are in the top 30 in scoring defense, including Alabama and Florida in the top five.
For LSU, the fearsome part of their defense is the backend. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu repeated as Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week thanks to six tackles and two turnovers against West Virginia. A week earlier, his teammate Morris Claiborne was tabbed for the award after two interceptions against Mississippi State. If there's a better pair of corners in the country on one team, they're in the NFL. Mathieu's interception that he took down to the one right before halftime helped stretch the Tigers' lead to 20 and Claiborne's 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown ended all hopes of a Mountaineers rally and kept momentum planted firmly on the LSU sideline.
"West Virginia did a very good job, but our defense showed up to play and we got off to a nice start," Les Miles said after the game. " Morris Claiborne’s return was right on time, and we were able to finish it off. We made some mistakes, but we overcame that adversity."
What was surprising Saturday was just how little pressure LSU's front seven were able to get on opposing quarterback Geno Smith. He finished with a school-record 468 yards of total offense as the Tigers game up more yards in a game than they had since 2005. Giving up chunks of yards to a Dana Holgorsen-led offense is nothing new, but what kept the game in LSU's favor was the big play ability of coordinator John Chavis' defense.
Ultimately, the Tigers don't win by scoring, they win by scoring on defense.
Mathieu, who wears Patrick Peterson's old number seven, is as ball-hawking as you can get. Peterson was a one-man island last season, often taking away half of the field by himself in zone coverage if he wasn't locking up his man one-on-one. While Mathieu isn't as good in coverage as the man he took over for, he has a great feel for the game and reads plays as well as anybody on the back half. When he roams or blitzes, things just happen - as they did in Morgantown on Saturday. Despite losing Peterson, this secondary is better and deeper than it was a year ago as Claiborne and others have elevated their game. As one NFL scout told CBSSports.com writer Gregg Doyel, there are actually more than four NFL players among this group.
Read more about Tyrann Mathieu in Bruce Feldman's Big Picture
"The offensive game plan was not a problem," Holgorsen said. "Turning the ball over four times is a problem, and they have something to do with that too. They have a pretty good defense."
LSU has scored first and led at halftime in each of the Tigers' games this year. It's all part of the plan: Score first, play defense, be opporunistic and win the fourth quarter.
Alabama uses a similar strategy. Before the season, one person inside the program said what many had been saying: this defense was better than 2009's championship squad and might be one of the most talented ever under Nick Saban. They might have an even faster secondary than LSU and use the speed to play everything in front of them, swarming to ball seconds after the snap.
Against Arkansas, they also delivered shot, after shot, after shot on quarterback Tyler Wilson. The 3-4 the team runs allows Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart to mix in plenty of zone blitzes to create pressure on quarterbacks who rarely can tell where it's coming from before the snap. The Tide recruit athletes who can move well in they scheme more than anything and that's translated into a fearsome unit that is living up to their reputation as the best in the country. They play smart and play well.
"Well we set out to establish that we were going against the best offense in the SEC and a lot of people were labeling us as the best defense in the SEC, so we wanted to go out and show people what we were capable of with all cylinders turning," linebacker Dont'a Hightower said.
Though the highlight of the game with Arkansas was Marquis Maze's punt return for a touchdown, that was nearly the straw that broke the razorback's back. As Saban and others admitted it was a defensive play, DeQuan Menzie's interception, that shifted the momentum after the offense couldn't convert on the goal line.
"That was a big turning point in the game from a momentum stand point, and you know, we need to make more plays like that, get more turnovers," Saban said. "People are going to see what we do and figure out ways to deal with it. Our challenge is to get better every day."
That's a scary thought - for Alabama or for any SEC defense. Can't wait to see them match up with LSU on November 5 as much as the offensive coordinators do not.
Stat of the week
After wrapping up a 56-31 win over Rice, just about everybody was talking about Heisman candidate and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Look up the box score and it's easy to see why: he went a ho-hum 29-33 for 338 yards and five touchdowns as the Bears racked up 673 yards of offense. Even more eye-popping was the fact that he threw more touchdowns than incompletions for the second consecutive game. Griffin has also thrown more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) this season. He is completing 85% of his passes, hasn't thrown an interception and is throwing for nearly 12 yards per attempt. As one would expect, he tops the NCAA efficiency rankings, just ahead of Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.
Other stats of note
- Florida beat Kentucky for the 25th time in a row and by at least 34 points for the fourth straight year. The Wildcats are on the losing end of the two longest active losing streaks to one team, the other being the 26 game streak to Tennessee.
- Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz set a school record and tied the NCAA record by throwing seven touchdown passes against UC Davis over the weekend. He sat out the second half after the Warriors led 49-0 at half but not before he also passed for a school record 424 yards in a half.
- Notre Dame is dead last in the country in turnover margin at -2.50 a game. The Irish have given the ball away 15 times in four games, more than they did in all of 2009 and 2006. The defense has forced just five this year.
- Quarterback Denard Robinson is the nation's leading rusher at 168.7 yards per game, over 15 yards a game more than runner up LaMichael James. While that's pretty impressive, he wouldn't be in the top spot were it not for the NCAA not counting his stats from the game against Western Michigan - which was stopped early. Of course, who knows, he might have been able to pad his stats during that game and still be in the lead a few weeks later like he is now.
- Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray had his nine-game streak of at least 100 yards rushing broken. The Aggies really went away from the ground game in the second half and never did establish Gray against Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden set school records for completions (47) and passing yardage (438).
- James was back to putting up video game numbers for Oregon against Arizona this weekend. He rushed for a school record 288 yards and also set the all-purpose mark. His first quarter touchdown run also gave him the Ducks record for career touchdowns as well. His 288 yards were more than the Wildcats have rushed for all year (249).
- Florida Atlantic had just one first down against Michigan State but racked up 20 against Auburn's defense in a 30-14 loss. The Owls are dead last in the country in offense and have scored only 17 points all year. 62% of FAU's offensive yardage this year came against Auburn.
- South Carolina's defense allowed just 77 yards to Vanderbilt and only five first downs all game. Defensive stud Melvin Ingram scored yet another touchdown, his third in as many weeks. By reaching the end zone, Ingram is tied for third on the team for points scored with quarterback Stephen Garcia.
- A few miles away from Columbia, Clemson receiver and freshman sensation Sammy Watkins is leading the Tigers in scoring after 141 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a victory over Florida State. Through four games this year he has 433 yards receiving and six touchdowns, marks that would have placed him second and third on the team respectively in each category last year.
- Four teams topped the 400 yard rushing mark last Saturday, led by Air Force rolling up 595 yards against hapless Tennessee State. Oregon had 415 yards against Arizona, Florida rushed for 405 against Kentucky and Army pounded Ball State for 402 yards. A team has rushed for over 400 yards 10 times this year while a team has passed for over 400 yards 22 times through week four.
- According to SI.com's Stewart Mandel, Illinois is 4-0 for the first time since 1951. I'm with him, how is that possible?
- Georgia Tech has six plays of 70+ yards this year and seven one-play scoring drives.
- Hats off to Mike Gundy's halftime adjustments. After being held about 1,000 points below their average in the first half to trail by 17, the Cowboys offense exploded as Brandon Weeden started picking apart Texas A&M's secondary with intermediate passes on their way to a comeback win. The Aggies turned the ball over three times and anytime you give Weeden the ball on a short field, watch out. The most telling sign was the lack of panic on the OSU sidelines as they fell behind. Though they hadn't been in the position before, it was as if they knew what to do and went out and executed. The defense isn't quite as good as Oklahoma's but they'll be able to ride the offense quite far in Big 12 play.
- I'm not quite ready to say the Michigan defense is good but it's certainly much improved and solid enough in a weaker Big Ten for new coordinator Greg Mattison. After the much maligned unit struggled all of last year, they seemed to turn a corner against a very good offense in San Diego State. The Wolverines shutout talented running back Ronnie Hillman and the Aztecs in the first half, the first time they've pulled off the feat in the first half in over two years. Hillman hadn't fumbled since the first carry of his freshmen season last year and yet coughed it up twice. We've been in this position with the Wolverines before last year - a fast start, Denard Robinson being Denard Robinson - before fading badly at the end in Rich Rodriguez' last year as head coach. This year, though, might be different. The schedule is manageable and with the defense being more opportunistic than they have been in the past, Michigan could have a much different ending.
- Michigan's archival Ohio State doesn't have the kind of stability that the Wolverines have but they had to be encouraged with the solid first start for quarterback Braxton Miller. He didn't cause anybody to label him the "next" anything after going 5-13 for 83 yards and rushing for 83 yards but it looks like he's the future after a disastrous passing game for the Buckeyes I saw firsthand against Miami. What's funny is the last time I saw Ohio State play on the road was a couple of years ago at USC. The offense struggled and the next game a talented true freshman by the name of Terrelle Pryor started for the first time. Pryor tossed four touchdowns in that game and led the Buckeyes to an 8-1 record as a starter. While Miller didn't come anywhere close to looking like his predecessor, he looked comfortable running the offense and playing with what the defense was giving him. No one's saying he'll be able to replicate what Pryor did on the field but it looks like yet again the Buckeyes have another true freshman ready to lead them into Big Ten play this year.
"I slept pretty good," he said of his first start. "I really didn't have any jitters at all."
With improved play from Miller and the rest of the offense, head coach Luke Fickell might sleep better too.
- There's no offense quite like Georgia Tech's. It's an option attack but one that has a dangerous passing game that is part of the reason the Yellow Jackets are leading the nation in yards per game. They piled up 496 yards on Saturday in a nice win over North Carolina. Quarterback Tevin Washington is the triggerman but unlike previous players at the position under Paul Johnson, he looks like he can legitimately get the ball down the field accurately. Of course, it helps to throw the ball to 6-foot-5 receiver Steven Hill. There were times where he looked just like Calvin Johnson while making one-handed catches on his way to 151 yards and a touchdown. Hill might be the best receiver no one's really talking about but with Washington throwing the ball and running back Orwin Smith helping out on the ground, expect to hear more about Georgia Tech going forward.
- Poor N.C. State fans. As if it weren't enough to see former quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm for a top 10 team, Thursday's blowout loss to Cincinnati couldn't have given anybody any confidence in what's to come this season. The offensive line gave up six sacks to go on top of three turnovers, two of which were interceptions thrown by Wilson's replacement Mike Glennon without much thought. There's some talent on the team but clearly not enough in a much tougher ACC this year. It's going to be a long season until North Carolina's Committee on Infractions hearing for Wolfpack fans.
- I thought the Clemson game would be a bit of a letdown game for Florida State and while they made it close, the execution just was not there for the Seminoles. Of course they wanted to win and definitely were without some key players, but they invested so much into the game against Oklahoma one would have to think that they spent a little too much time watching film from last week instead of film of the Tigers. Just when it seemed like the defense was ready to make a stop or the offense get going, there'd be a penalty (they finished with 11 for 124 yards). On the other side, it finally appears that Clemson is getting the hang of offensive coordinator Chad Morris' new hurry-up system. Tajh Boyd still has moments that must make Morris rip out some hair but he is looking much more comfortable behind center. With electric freshman Sammy Watkins making plays every time you tune in, it's easy to see why there's plenty of optimism in Death Valley.
"I'm super excited about how our players keep growing this offense and executing. And we're only four games into this offense," Morris said. "It's crazy."
- Penn State beat Eastern Michigan 34-6 as part of the Big Ten's weekend of home games against directional schools to raise money for themselves. The Nittany Lions might have come out with a victory but it was a costly one - starting outside linebacker Mike Mauti will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Considered to be the team's best backer, this is needless to say a big blow to a team that already has struggled some on both sides of the ball. Mauti missed the 2009 season with an ACL injury to his other knee and was limited at times last year due to a shoulder injury. Senior corner D'Anton Lynn was also hurt and had to be transported to the hospital to have his head and neck examined after a hit.
- Speaking of Penn State, the team that almost beat them last week, Temple, ended up routing Maryland 38-7. Steve Addazio has quietly taken what Al Golden left him and turned the Owls in a forced to be reckoned with. Junior back Bernard Pierce is the Northeast's best kept secret, as he rushed for five touchdowns and 149 yards to power Temple's first road win over a BCS foe in nine years.
- How bad is Oregon State? The Beavers lost 27-19 to a UCLA team that is not without their own issues on both sides of the ball. Many expected them to get a boost - they were favored at home - with the return of all-purpose threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni but it was to no avail. It's the worst start of the Mike Riley era and unlike many of his previous teams, there's just no execution. There's been issues behind the scenes and at quarterback on offense while the defense is still breaking in plenty of new players. As Pac-12 play continues, don't expect things to get any easier until the Beavers get back to their roots of playing smart football and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. For UCLA, it was a game they just had to have if they're to sneak into a bowl game this year. According to the LA Daily News , a joyous Rick Neuheisel told a group of fans after the game "Anybody have fun on the flight here? Not as much as you'll have on the flight home!" Of course, he also added that the Bruins haven't been 1-0 in the conference, "in a long time."
"Big 12! Big 12! Big 12!" - Oklahoma State fans after their victory at Kyle Field. Perhaps it was also fitting that Texas A&M had two 12th man penalties on defense early in the game.
Quote of the week, part II
"The speed of the game, it's kind of lighting struck the outhouse and we were in it." - Kentucky defensive coordinator Rick Minter after the Wildcats' 48-10 loss to Florida.
Tweets of the week
"Arizona will always be a basketball school.. So Child please!" and "If one more person EVER tells me Arizona is turning into a "football" school .. Can kiss the baby"
- Former Arizona forward Derrick Williams during his football team's blowout loss to Oregon. Ouch.
4. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
9. Virginia Tech
Where we'll be this week
The big CBS primetime matchup between Alabama and Florida from the Swamp will have Mr. College Football himself, Tony Barnhart, in attendance. Dennis Dodd will be at Camp Randall for Nebraska's first Big Ten conference game against Wisconsin while Brett McMurphy will be listening to 'Enter Sandman' as Clemson plays at Virginia Tech. I've got early duty as I'll be at Texas A&M's first SEC conference game (well, first unofficial one anyway) against Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium.
Leaning this way
Alabama at Florida (8 p.m. ET, CBS)
The past three meetings has featured one of two teams ranked number one overall and while neither will be in the top spot in the polls this year, a top 12 matchup awaits down in the Swamp. Both the Gators and Tide have tough defenses that are ranked in the top five nationally in the three big defensive categories (total/rushing/scoring defense) so each offense figures to have a little more trouble moving the ball than they have so far this year. Alabama's speed will be the difference as they bottle up Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps to come out with a victory.
Nebraska at Wisconsin
Welcome to the Big Ten Nebraska. Camp Randall should be jumping around as they welcome in the Cornhuskers and Taylor Martinez. Look for Russell Wilson to continue to be sharp and not turn the ball over and the Badgers' defense to make just enough plays to win. Martinez should be able to move the ball though, Wisconsin's defense hasn't really been tested - much less by an offense like Nebraska's.
Clemson at Virginia Tech
The first big test for both teams as Clemson goes on the road to take on Frank Beamer's squad. Clemson made several key mistakes that kept Florida State in the game last week and if they turn the ball over, that plays right into the Hokies game plan. Virginia Tech should win but don't be surprised if this is a close ACC battle.
Tags: ACC, Air Force, Al Golden, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Army, Ball State, Baylor, BCS, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryant Moniz, Calvin Johnson, Camp Randall, Chad Morris, Chris Rainey, Cincinnati, Clemson, Cowboys Stadium, Cyrus Gray, D'Anton Lynn, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, DeQuan Menzie, Derrick Williams, Dont'a Hightower, Eastern Michigan, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Geno Smith, Georgia Tech, Greg Mattison, Gregg Doyel, Hawaii, Heisman, Illinois, James Rodgers, Jeff Demps, Joe Halahuni, John Chavis, Kentucky, Kirby Smart, Kyle Field, LaMichael James, Les Miles, LSU, Luke Fickell, Marquis Maze, Maryland, Melvin Inrgam, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Gundy, Mike Mauti, Mike Riley, Mississippi State, Morris Claiborne, N.C. State, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Patrick Peterson, Paul Johnson, Penn State, Rice, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Minter, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Ronnie Hillman, Russell Wilson, Sammy Watkins, San Diego State, SEC, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Addazio, Steven Hill, Stewart Mandel, Tajh Boyd, Taylor Martinez, Temple, Tennessee, Terrelle Pryor, Tevin Washington, Texas A&M, Tony Barnhart, UC Davis, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 25, 2011 4:19 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 12:19 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. The Big Ten can't even get cheap wins correctly. There's no nice way to put this: this was possibly the worst week in Big Ten history in terms of opponent quality. The total amount of AP and coaches poll votes held by the Big Ten's Week 4 opponents? 22, received by Michigan opponent San Diego State, who will likely see that number fall to zero on Sunday after the Wolverines prevailed 28-7. Handfuls of undeserved votes aside, the best team anybody in the Big Ten faced today was Western Michigan, who took Illinois to the limit in Champaign. Again: Western Michigan, a MAC team with no AP or coaches poll votes, looked like the most talented opponent of Week 4 for anybody in the Big Ten. And being that there were no riots on any of the Big Ten campuses, apparently fans are willing to allow this scheduling practice to continue.
So it would stand to reason that the Big Ten went 10-0 this week (Purdue and Northwestern are on bye weeks) then, correct? Well, no. Indiana couldn't overcome a 24-point deficit in a 24-21 home road loss to North Texas, and Minnesota increased its losing streak against North Dakota State to two games (also lost to Bison in 2007) by dropping Saturday's game, 37-24. As for how such a shocking loss could have possibly happened to a Big Ten team, well, look at the picture above. It's Minnesota. There were blowouts everywhere else in the conference, which is the way it ought to be, but 8-2 against a slate of cupcakes? Shame on the Big Ten for that.
2. Speaking of which, Indiana and Minnesota may be worse than we thought. It was obvious already that Indiana and Minnesota were going to be taking up residence in the basements of their respective divisions, what with the Hoosiers losing to Ball State in Week 1 and Minnesota dropping one to New Mexico State already this year. But both teams' losses to low-level competition this Saturday were even worse, because for most of the game, they weren't even close. North Texas was 0-3 on the year coming into the game, and built a 24-0 lead while moving the ball at will on the Hoosier defense, while NDSU held a 31-14 advantage in the second half before holding on for the win. We're talking about a previously winless Sun Belt team and an FCS school who both looked like they belonged in the Big Ten more than the Hoosiers or Gophers. That? That's not good.
3. Braxton Miller is not on Terrelle Pryor's level... yet. Ohio State cruised to a 37-17 victory over visiting Pac-12 doormat Colorado, but the big story here was Braxton Miller's debut as a starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. Miller was a force on the ground, registering 83 yards on 17 carries, and he also threw for two touchdowns. That's the good part. The bad part is that Miller was just 5-13 for 83 yards through the air, and he just doesn't have a very good read progression at this point. Really, he wasn't even supposed to be playing this year, much less starting, but then Terrelle Pryor's eligibility walked out the door and now here we are with a true freshman under center in Columbus.
Miller's going to improve over the course of the year, one would imagine, and that's good because don't let the touchdowns fool you: he's got a ways to go yet before he's as reliable as Luke Fickell is going to need him to be in conference play. Miller did show flashes of the athleticism and play-making ability that made him such a sought-after prospect on Saturday, but the consistency is going to be the key, and that comes mainly with time -- time that, with Michigan State coming to town next Saturday, Ohio State doesn't really have.
4. Michael Mauti's luck is just wretched. Penn State beat Eastern Michigan 34-6, but the real story for PSU is the injuries suffered on the defensive side of the ball. CB D'Anton Lynn was carted off the field in the second half with an apparent neck injury, but he's expected to be fine. The real problem for the Nittany Lions is the absence of All-American candidate Michael Mauti, who suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact injury in the first quarter and will miss the rest of the year. Mauti was forced to redshirt in 2009, his second year with Penn State, after tearing his right ACL; Saturday's injury happened to Mauti's left. It's early enough in the year that he'll likely be able to apply for a sixth year of eligibility in 2013 if he wants it.
This marks the third season marred by injury for the talented linebacker; in addition to the 2009 ACL injury mentioned earlier, Mauti was plagued by ankle and shoulder issues in 2010 and never seemed to be at 100% during Big Ten play even when he was healthy enough to be on the field (not always the case). Mauti had looked great in early play this season, and although Nate Stupar is no slouch in relief, losing a high-caliber player like Mauti is tough for a team that's going to be leaning heavily on its defense this season with the continuing difficulties at quarterback.
We hope Mauti's recovery is swift and complete, and that he finally gets at least one healthy season to put it all together for Penn State. Anything less, frankly, would be unfair.
5. There are going to be a lot of quarterbacks getting All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition. The best quarterback in the Big Ten is probably Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, and if it's not, it's Mr. Michigan, Denard Robinson.(seen at left, rushing for one of his three scores Saturday). Short of injury, there's basically no way these two dynamos cede the All-Big Ten first team and second team honors at the end of this season.
That means honorable mention is going to have to accommodate a lot of Big Ten quarterbacks who are off to great starts this season in their own right. Nathan Scheelhaase is basically a job-saver for Ron Zook at Illinois, epitomizing the "dual threat" label with a high option IQ and an accurate arm. James Vandenberg is probably the best pure passer Kirk Ferentz has ever had at Iowa, and the junior has nearly 1100 yards, 10 TDs, and only one interception in his first four games this year. MSU's Kirk Cousins was my preseason pick as 2011's top QB in the Big Ten, and he still may be so when the dust settles. Nebraska's option man Taylor Martinez would be the most dynamic rushing quarterback in the Big Ten since Antwaan Randle-El if it weren't for that Denard fellow in Ann Arbor. And oh yes, Dan Persa is coming back next week for Northwestern; if he can replicate his pre-Achilles injury form, Northwestern's going to be in great shape. That's a lot of very, very good quarterbacks for just one conference, and the scary part is that only Wilson and Cousins are seniors. Meanwhile, Indiana brings in top prospect Dusty Kiel next season and Braxton Miller will be the unquestioned starter in Columbus with a full year of experience under his belt in 2012. The high-profile quarterback isn't going anywhere soon in the Big Ten.
One school that's conspicuously absent in this discussion is Penn State, who struggled again with quarterback play in the Rob Bolden/Matt McGloin quarterback platoon that seemed to hit a stride of sorts this week... against EMU, who isn't even good by MAC standards. How the Penn State quarterback situation got so dire is a question that gets beaten past any semblance of sense on a weekly basis in Happy Valley, but it doesn't change the fact that Penn State's in a quarterback-heavy league without a true No. 1 quarterback, and it's probably going to cost the Nittany Lions this year. It would be false to ascribe this to an institutional weakness on the part of Joe Paterno, since his last full-time starting quarterback was Daryll Clark, who was only the Big Ten OPOTY in 2008. It would also be false to think this problem will fix itself, though, because if there were a legitimate, game-ready quarterback on Penn State's roster, well, we would have seen him by now.
6. Well, at least that's all done. There are only two non-conference games left for anybody in the Big Ten; Purdue faces Notre Dame next week, and Northwestern has a date with Rice in November. For everyone else, it's nothing but Big Ten play from here on out. No more FCS patsies, no more MACrifices, and no more cupcakes showing up for a paycheck. It's the way the Big Ten was meant to be played. Let's go.
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Tags: Adam Jacobi, Antwaan Randle-El, Ball State, Big Ten, Braxton Miller, Colorado, D'Anton Lynn, Dan Persa, Daryll Clark, Denard Robinson, Dusty Kiel, Eastern Michigan, FCS, Illinois, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, James Vandenberg, Joe Paterno, Kirk Cousins, Kirk Ferentz, Luke Fickell, Matt McGloin, Michael Mauti, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nate Stupar, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Non-BCS, North Dakota State, North Texas, Northwestern, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rice, Rob Bolden, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, San Diego State, Sun Belt, Taylor Martinez, Terrelle Pryor, Western Michigan, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 24, 2011 11:23 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
NEBRASKA WON. Nebraska halfback Rex Burkhead and the rest of the Husker offense ran wild against a porous Wyoming D, and Big Red came away with a relatively stress-free 38-14 win in Laramie.
WHY NEBRASKA WON: There's no question that Nebraska is far and away more talented than Wyoming, and that was made evident early and often in this game. Wyoming's true freshman QB Brett Smith will probably be a productive player down the road, but his inexperience showed in this contest as Wyoming was forced to punt on its first five possessions. Considering Nebraska was missing All-American DT Jared Crick to injury, the effort and production were commendable up front for the Husker defense. Meanwhile, on offense, Nebraska rushed for 333 yards and four of its five touchdowns on 49 carries.
WHEN NEBRASKA WON: Midway through the third quarter with Nebraska up 24-7 when Ameer Abdullah fumbled on a 3rd down reception near midfield. Wyoming took advantage and drove into Nebraska's red zone, but a 32-yard field goal that could have made it a 2-possession game was missed, and Nebraska uncorked an 80-yard touchdown drive in response. 31-7, ballgame.
WHAT NEBRASKA WON: The message to the rest of the Big Ten is clear: Nebraska's here to rush the ball with authority, and the Huskers did exactly that on Saturday with 6.8 yards per carry and a 7-13 3rd down conversion rate. And yet, this was still a 14-7 game at halftime, making Nebraska 4-for-4 on slow starts this year. That's concerning as the team heads into Big Ten play against competition that isn't going to allow the Huskers to get away with taking a couple quarters off very often.
WHAT WYOMING LOST: Thinking about playing a heavy favorite in terms of "losing" things is a little counterintuitive, as really, Wyoming had nothing to lose except for health. Being that the Cowboys stayed pretty much injury-free on Saturday, this is a rather productive loss to take. Wyoming players shouldn't be happy or anything, but this isn't going to wreck the Cowboys' season by any stretch. They hosted a big-time program and gave it 60 minutes of solid effort. Not bad.
THAT WAS CRAZY: In the fourth quarter, on a 3rd and 6 at Nebraska's 10-yard line, Brett Smith threw a fade route to wideout Josh Doctson, who stretched to make the catch on the sideline in the end zone. The play was ruled incomplete, and the call stood on the field.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 12:44 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Up north, fans at their tailgates are shivering, seeing their breath, and calling it "football weather." Down south, the fans are chanting "SEC! SEC! SEC!" Can't blame 'em. We have a loaded slate of afternoon games this week, which means it's right in the sweet spot for weather this time of year. Don't forget, though -- in a month or so, all these 3:30 games are going to be ending under the lights. Onward!
As always, all times listed are Eastern.
North Carolina at No. 25 Georgia Tech, 12:00, Atlanta, GA: Low 70s, clear
San Diego State at No. 22 Michigan, 12:00, Ann Arbor, MI: Low 60s, cloudy, showers
Portland State at No. 20 TCU, 2:00, Fort Worth, TX: Low 90s, clear
No. 11 Florida State at No. 21 Clemson, 3:30, Clemson, SC: Low 80s, partly cloudy
No. 13 Virginia Tech at Marshall, 3:30, Huntington, WV: Low 70s, partly cloudy
No. 14 Arkansas at No. 3 Alabama, 3:30, Tuscaloosa, AL: Upper 70s, clear
Western Michigan at No. 24 Illinois, 3:30, Champaign, IL: Mid 60s, cloudy, storms
South Dakota at No. 6 Wisconsin, 3:30, Madison, WI: Upper 50s, cloudy, showers
No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M, 3:30, College Station, TX: Low 90s, clear
No. 15 Florida at Kentucky, 7:00, Lexington, KY: Mid 60s, partly cloudy
UTEP at No. 18 South Florida, 7:00, Tampa, FL: Upper 70s, mostly cloudy, storms
Rice at No. 17 Baylor, 7:00, Waco, TX: Low 90s, clear
Vanderbilt at No. 12 South Carolina, 7:00, Columbia, SC: Upper 70s, mostly cloudy, storms
No. 9 Nebraska at Wyoming, 7:30, Laramie, WY: Low 70s, clear
No. 2 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia, 8:00, Morgantown, WV: Low 60s, mostly cloudy
Missouri at No. 1 Oklahoma, 8:00, Norman, OK: Low 70s, partly cloudy
Tulsa at No. 4 Boise State, 8:00, Boise, ID: Mid 80s, clear
Late night kickoffs
No. 23 Southern California at Arizona State, 10:15, Tempe, AZ: Upper 90s, partly cloudy, storms
No. 10 Oregon at Arizona, 10:15, Tucson, AZ: Low 90s, partly cloudy, storms
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