Here is why college football is so much better than the NFL. We are only two weeks into the season and already we have:
• Two guys (Michigan's Tate Forcier and USC's Matt Barkley) who have blown a hole in the theory that true freshmen quarterbacks can't be trusted.
• Ohio State fans, at least the lunatic fringe, reacted to a three-point loss at home to USC by wondering aloud if old Jim Tressel is really the guy to be leading the Buckeyes. I can't understand that. Tressel has only won five Big Ten championships in eight years. He has only beaten Michigan seven out of eight times. And he has only played in seven New Year's Day-or-better bowls, including three BCS championship games. Yeah, that Tressel is doing a lousy job.
• The Pac-10, which has been abused from sea to shining sea as being a notch below the SEC and Big 12, sending two teams (UCLA and USC) into hostile stadiums of 100,000-plus and marching out with wins.
And just think how much fun we're going to have when everybody gets into conference play.
• Dodd: Weekend Watch List
With that, let's get on to Tony's Top 10:
1. Charlie, you are on the clock. Now, I barely made it through freshman algebra, so I'll readily admit that math has never been one of my strengths. But if you have the ball, a 34-31 lead with 3:07 to play and the other guy has all three of his timeouts left, then riddle me this: How do you give him the ball back with 2:13 left and two of his timeouts remaining?
That is the position Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis found himself in last Saturday at Ann Arbor and, quicker that you could say Tate Forcier, Michigan's freshman quarterback led the Wolverines to a 38-34 victory. Weis, of course, said he was simply "trying to win the game" by throwing the ball and stopping the clock. OK, coach, whatever you say.
It goes without saying that Weis needs a win Saturday against Michigan State (1-1), a team that is a little steamed after losing a crazy game to Central Michigan and has beaten Weis three out of the four seasons he has been at Notre Dame.
2. Bobby, you really, really need this one. The 38-34 loss to Miami at home on Sept. 7 was a real punch in the gut for Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who is less than two months away from his 80th birthday. The hangover from that loss lasted so long that the Seminoles forgot to show up for last Saturday's game with Jacksonville State. Florida State needed two scores inside the final 35 seconds to win 19-9.
Now Florida State goes on the road to face a BYU team that not only wants to win, but needs style points to stay within striking distance of the big boys in the polls. If Florida State loses this game and starts 1-2, things could start to unravel for Bowden.
3. Clemson just might take it out on Spaz. The Clemson Tigers are still steaming over a call and a non-call in their 30-27 loss at Georgia Tech on Sept. 10. The non-call came when Georgia Tech faked a field goal and the kicker, Scott Blair, threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Demaryius Thomas. But the reason Thomas was uncovered, Clemson argued, was that Georgia Tech illegally substituted on the play. The conference office agreed, my sources tell me. The officials missed it, as did the entire Clemson coaching staff. Nothing they can do about it now.
The call in question came in the fourth quarter, when Clemson was flagged for holding, negating a 38-yard pass to the Georgia Tech 18-yard line with the score tied. After reviewing the tape many, many times, Clemson argued that the hold never happened. The conference office agreed again.
At least Clemson came back from a 24-0 deficit to take the lead. "We have something to build on," said coach Dabo Swinney, who would not comment on either call. Boston College (2-0) and coach Frank Spaziani will be greeted by some angry Tigers at Death Valley.
|If Al Groh goes, Virginia still owes. (AP)|
Groh brought in Gregg Brandon, the former Urban Meyer assistant at Bowling Green who became head coach when Meyer left for Utah. The spread has not worked. In its first game with William & Mary, Virginia had seven turnovers. In the second game with TCU, the Cavaliers had only seven first downs and did not run an offensive play inside the Horned Frogs' 20-yard line.
So it is hard to believe things will get better Saturday at Southern Miss (2-0). But know these two facts: If Virginia forces Groh out, it owes him $4.5 million. Virginia president John Casteen, who has supported Groh in the past, is set to retire in August.
5. Florida will deliver a message to Tennessee in the Swamp. Right after national signing day in February, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin wanted to fire up his fans at a local gathering. That's when he uttered the immortal words, saying that Tennessee had signed receiver Nu'Keese Richardson, a native of Pahokee, Fla., despite the fact that Florida coach Urban Meyer "had cheated" in attempt to get Richardson to Gainesville.
It turned out that Kiffin didn't know the rules and Meyer had not cheated when he called Richardson during his official visit to Tennessee. Since that moment a lot of people, some who pull for Florida and some who are just curious, have been waiting for Tennessee's trip to The Swamp.
Legend has it that Florida's Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, sent a text message to Meyer right after Kiffin's remarks in effect, saying, "Let's save our timeouts." Meyer, you'll recall, used a time out to tack on an extra touchdown in last season's 49-10 destruction of Georgia. This could get really ugly.
6. Latex gloves in The Grove? Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt told me earlier this week that the Rebels had 31 players missing from practice last week with symptoms of the flu. That was the bad news. The good news was that Ole Miss didn't have a game last Saturday. "I don't know that we could have played," Nutt said.
Before a home game, the Ole Miss players traditionally walk through corridor of fans in The Grove on their way to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Nutt told me that his medical staff was considering asking the players to wear latex gloves as a preventative measure. "I know it sounds crazy, but the people are high-fiving them and shaking their hands," Nutt said. "That is how that stuff is spread."
Ole Miss hosts Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday before going to South Carolina next Thursday.
7. Longhorns try to be "One Second Better." I talked to Texas coach Mack Brown his week about Saturday's game with Texas Tech in Austin. Last year's 39-33 loss to the Red Raiders in Lubbock cost the Longhorns everything -- a shot at the Big 12 championship and the national championship. Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech gave us the defining moment of the 2008 season when he scored the winning touchdown with one second left. Thus, the Texas motto for 2009 is "One Second Better."
Texas went on to finish 12-1 with a win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and had to clench its teeth and watch Oklahoma, which Texas beat 45-35, get a shot at Florida for the national championship.
"All we could say was that we should have won them all. That is the system," said Brown, who is in favor of a playoff to determine college football's national championship. "Let's just say that we are very focused on Texas Tech."
8. Bo wants a win in Blacksburg. Nebraska, in my opinion, will not be the Nebraska of old until the Cornhuskers can go on the road and beat a good team. That's why Saturday's trip to Virginia Tech looms large in the rebuilding plans of coach Bo Pelini.
|Mardy Gilyard is a name worth knowing. (AP)|
"All those things, national TV, mean nothing. Where we are playing means nothing," Pelini said. "It's about executing between the lines and executing our football. Period. End of story."
Well, this is a big game for the ACC, I can tell you that. Virginia Tech, the defending ACC champion, was considered to be the closest thing the league had to a national title contender in the preseason. The Hokies played Alabama tough for three quarters before losing 34-24 in Atlanta.
9. If you don't know Mardy Gilyard, you should. Logically, Cincinnati (2-0) should not be thinking about defending its Big East championship from 2008. The Bearcats lost 10 starters from their defense. But after embarrassing Big East foe Rutgers (47-15) in the opener and destroying Southeast Missouri State (70-3) last week, it looks like the Bearcats have a shot at going back to a BCS bowl.
If you haven't seen the passing combination of Tony Pike to Gilyard, do yourself a favor and check them out. Granted, the competition wasn't the best, but here is what Gilyard did last Saturday:
• Returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown.
• Ran for a touchdown out of the Wildcat formation.
• Caught touchdown passes of 8 and 37 yards.
Saturday the Bearcats go to Oregon State (2-0), which barely escaped UNLV (23-21) last week.
10. Upset alert. Last week's Upset Alert came to pass as Oklahoma State came out flat and lost at home to Houston (45-35) and Case Keenum. This week's Alert can be found in Seattle, where Washington hosts a USC team that won a tough game on the road at Ohio State and may be without freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, who has a bruised right shoulder.
Steve Sarkisian has given the Huskies a little extra energy, which was evident when Washington rolled up 478 yards on LSU but lost 31-23. Jake Locker is a dangerous quarterback. Remember that USC sophomore Aaron Corp, who will go if Barkley can't go, won the starting job in the spring but suffered a preseason injury that opened the door for Barkley.
Watch The Tony Barnhart Show every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on CBS College Sports Network.