Seven down, seven to go. Weeks, that is.
We're halfway through the Year of the Upset, which has given us more story lines than a Quentin Tarantino movie.
|South Florida's hot start seems to bring a smile to everyone's face. (Getty Images)|
Our view of the first half:
In the macro: Traditional powers have gone down -- hard. Michigan, USC, Texas, Auburn and others have all suffered embarrassing losses at home. Eleven of the top 12 in the AP's preseason top 25 have already lost.
The Year of the Upset has produced a wholesale shift in the power structure. Whether it lasts no one is sure, but it is entertaining. Check out these conference leaders (best overall record) at the halfway point:
ACC -- Boston College
Big 12 -- Kansas
Big East -- South Florida
Pac-10 -- Arizona State
SEC -- South Carolina (leads the East Division at 3-1)
In the micro: The best story is South Florida. A head coach (Jim Leavitt) who buries himself in the film room has largely missed the emergence of a new power in the state. Raymond James Stadium is now selling out. Ticket lines extend around the building. Is this what it was like at Florida State in the late 70s?
Leavitt has done a great job of bargain-basement shopping for his recruits. All-American-to-be defensive end George Selvie was a center being recruited by Division II schools. South Florida was linebacker Tyrone McKenzie's third school (Michigan State and Iowa State were first). A couple of tailbacks transferred from Alabama.
|1. Matt Ryan, Boston College|
|2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma|
|3. Andre' Woodson, Kentucky|
|4. Tim Tebow, Florida|
|5. Chase Daniel, Missouri|
When Nick Saban questioned the school's admission standards, he was way off. If South Florida is using renegades then how does august Stanford beat USC? It's up to each individual school as to how they set up their program. As long as they adhere to NCAA bylaws, everything is cool.
And right now, everything is cool all over the country.
Player of the (half) year
Matt Ryan, Boston College: With more freedom in a more wide open offense, Ryan is the biggest reason BC is off to its best start (7-0) in 65 years.
The nation's 37th rated passer (what does the NCAA know?) is the heart and soul of the Eagles, who are thriving under first-year coach Jeff Jagodzinski. A budding NFL talent in an NFL town. Look out Tom Brady.
Honorable mentions: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma; Tim Tebow, Florida; Glenn Dorsey, LSU; Andre Woodson, Kentucky; Michael Hart, Michigan.
Coach of the (half) year
Rich Brooks, Kentucky: Since getting blasted back to the Stone Age by LSU in 2006, the Wildcats are 11-2. The school's first victory over a No. 1 since 1964 on Saturday put the quotable Brooks at the top of this list. Turning around Oregon is one thing. Doing it in the meat grinder that is the SEC is pure brilliance.
Honorable mentions: Leavitt, Jagodzinski, Mark Mangino, Kansas; Ron Zook, Illinois; Bill Lynch, Indiana; Dennis Erickson, Arizona State; Steve Spurrier, South Carolina.
The line forms to the left for these coaches in danger of losing their radio shows, country club memberships, complimentary cars, living allowance and, oh yeah, their jobs.
It's going to be an interesting and active offseason.
|Psst, Bill Callahan might want to start gathering moving boxes. (US Presswire)|
Houston Nutt, Arkansas: Only the Paleozoic Era lasted longer than this guy on the hot seat. You have to feel sorry for Nutt. Some dope actually spent money to fly a banner over Razorback Stadium. "There's Nuttin' like being 0-2 in the SEC." Possible replacement: Tommy Tuberville.
Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M: What better way to supplement your $2 million salary than to set up a secret e-mail newsletter spewing information that walks the thin line of ethics. Having survived FranScam for now, the coach has to win the Big 12 South to save his job. Possible replacements: Tuberville, Gene Stallings, Willie Martinez (Georgia DC).
Bill Doba, Washington State: Mike Price hasn't said no yet, which means the former Cougars coach is considering becoming the current Cougars coach after his dalliance at Alabama and Texas-El Paso. Possible replacement: Doba as Price's defensive coordinator.
Greg Robinson, Syracuse: Calling Rutgers a "one-hit wonder" is bad enough. Getting your players crushed by Rutgers in a 24-point home loss? Priceless. Possible replacements: Will Muschamp (Auburn DC), Skip Holtz, Randy Edsall.
Boise 69, Nevada 67, Sunday.
After Appalachian State-Michigan and South Florida-West Virginia, we got this classic of classics. The WAC went back to its roots with a four-overtime game that lasted almost four hours.
• The 136 combined points were the most since the NCAA began keeping records in 1937.
• Nevada set an NCAA record for most points by a losing team.
• Eight times Boise State's basketball team didn't reach 69 points last season.
Michael Hart: After a tough start and while fighting off injuries, Michigan's senior tailback is leading the nation in rushing.
Turner Gill: Buffalo's second-year coach has the Bulls (3-4) a half-game out of the MAC East lead a year after going 2-10.
Dennis Erickson: He's good, but the Sun Devils are playing defense, too.
Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree on his Breaking Glass Tour to shatter almost every major receiving record -- as a freshman.
Notre Dame going into the tank.
Mike Gundy going on a rampage.
Sonny Lubick and Colorado State (0-6) riding off into the sunset together.
Cal's Kevin Riley. Throw the damn ball!
The offensive revolution continues
Halfway through the season, offenses are on a pace to shatter, not just break, all-time records for points, total offense and passing.
NCAA I-A record for points per team: 27.3, 2002
So far this season: 28.5
Record for total offense per team: 382.6, 2003
So far this season: 392
Record for completion percentage per game: 58.4 percent, 2006
So far his season: 59.2 percent
Record for passing yards per team: 224.6, 2005
So far this season: 234.6
Record for yards per play: 5.42, 2006
So far this season: 5.47
BCS bowl projections
So much for predictions. How we saw it in August:
BCS championship game: USC vs. West Virginia
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Wisconsin
Rose Bowl: Michigan vs. Cal
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Florida
How we see it now:
BCS championship game: LSU vs. Oklahoma
Sugar Bowl: Kentucky vs. Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl: Michigan vs. Cal
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. South Florida
ACC: Virginia Tech
Big 12: Oklahoma
Big East: South Florida
Big Ten: Michigan
Conference USA: Tulsa
Mountain West: BYU
MAC: Miami (Ohio)
Sun Belt: Troy
Will Hawaii make it to the BCS bowl?
The short answer is no.
|Sorry Colt Brennan, but Dodd doesn't see the BCS in your future. (US Presswire)|
The feeling here is that the voters will wake up and realize Hawaii has played the easiest schedule of any team in the top 25. The Warriors barely snuck by San Jose State in overtime last Friday. Colt Brennan has been injured and is just not as good as he was last season.
Last season's darling Boise State played and beat Oregon State before debuting at No. 15 in the BCS last season. Hawaii is three spots lower with no impressive wins. There are no teams on its schedule that are currently ranked. Check back in late November when the Warriors finish with Boise State and Washington.
The 30-yard-line solution
We predicted in this space in August that the new kickoff rule would revolutionize the game.
Not so much. Moving the kickoff back to the 30 has had a negligible impact. Through seven weeks, the average starting position is the 30.39 yard line, up from 26.99 the past two seasons combined. Touchbacks are down (12.8 percent compared to 30 percent the last two seasons). The average kickoff is landing at the 8.25 yard line compared to the 5.56.
Touchdowns are up only slightly. Only one percent of kickoffs have been returned for touchdowns compared to .77 percent in 2005-06.
Fine and dandy at Kentucky
The most meaningless rule in the SEC right now might be the one that prohibits "access to competition areas" by fans. The league instituted a fine system a few years back because fans storming the field had become a problem.
A welcome problem in Lexington. Monday marked the third time in the last year the school had been fined; this time after the big win against LSU on Saturday. The progressive fine system means the schools was docked $50,000 this time. Last year it was hit with a $5,000 fine after beating Georgia and was fined $25,000 this season after a win over Louisville.
No word what a fourth violation would be worth but it's doubtful Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart cares. There are home games left against Florida, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
What's an SEC title worth? You're seeing the answer being played out in front of you.
• Nick Saban playing his old school, LSU, on Nov. 3
• Kentucky or South Carolina possibly winning the SEC East
• USC's almost impossible trek back to the BCS title game.
• An unsettled Heisman race.
• Will Miami and Florida State (combined 2-4 in the ACC) stage a late comeback?
• Michigan and Ohio State going head-to-head (again) in the Big Ten.
• Dec. 1. Could be another Armageddon day to finish the season. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC title games could have national championship implications. Plus, Hawaii hosts Washington in a game that could settle the final BCS berth and extend the season into Dec. 2, ET.