Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
If you look at the players Notre Dame has in its latest recruiting class, you can see why the Irish are ranked at #17 in CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25 this year. After all, Brian Kelly and his staff managed to sign one of the top quarterbacks in the country with Gunner Kiel, got a perfectly named William Mahone -- if Irish fans aren't calling him "Pogue" before he even sets foot on the field, they're doing it wrong -- at running back, and continued to build on defense with players like Tee Shepard, Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones.
The problem is when you look at Notre Dame's list of commitments and realize who isn't there. That's when you notice wide receiver Deontay Greenberry is suddenly missing.
His name was supposed to be on that list, and his signature was supposed to be on a letter of intent coming across a fax machine, only it wasn't. Instead Brian Kelly was caught off-guard on Wednesday morning when he found out that Greenberry had given his letter of intent to Houston. Understandably, Kelly was a bit perturbed at the development.
"I used to have a saying about players like that and that was I'd rather play against him for four games than with him for four years," Kelly said shortly after hearing the news.
Kelly would later change his tune on Greenberry, saying it's hard "to feel disappointed about something I never had," but his original feelings reflected that of a fan base in shock. Five-star wide receivers just aren't supposed to turn down a chance to play at Notre Dame for a school like Houston. A school like Houston that just lost its head coach at that.
Times, however, they are a changing, both in South Bend where the Irish just aren't the powerhouse they want to be, and in the recruiting game, which is more national than ever before.
The real reason Greenberry's switch hurts is because Notre Dame has a big playmaker to replace on offense next season in Michael Floyd. Nobody knows who is going to be lining up under center for the Irish next season. It could be Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson or the newcomer, Kiel.
Whoever it ends up being, having a target like Greenberry available would have made things a lot easier.
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Posted on: January 6, 2012 1:44 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The 2011 Notre Dame season has come to an end much the same way the 2010 season did, in that Brian Kelly isn't sure who his starting quarterback will be next season. The good news for Kelly is that while he may not know who he'll have taking the snaps next season, whoever it is will still have tight end Tyler Eifert around to throw the ball to.
According to Irish Illustrated, Eifert informed the Notre Dame coaching staff of his decision on Friday.
"He's really come around and wants to come back," said Tyler's father Greg Eifert. "He wants to come back, get bigger, get stronger and get to a BCS bowl next year."
This is very good news for a Notre Dame offense that is already losing its biggest playmaker in Michael Floyd to the NFL, as Eifert finished the 2011 season second on the team in receptions (63), yards (803) and touchdowns (5). Eifert had submitted his NFL paperwork and was told that he was a third round pick, which was the same grade Michael Floyd heard from the NFL last season before deciding to return to South Bend. Floyd is now a consensus first round pick.
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Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:21 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
FLORIDA STATE WON. For the first 30 minutes of this game, Florida State looked pretty hopeless. An offensive line featuring four freshmen was being overwhelmed by Notre Dame's front seven leaving E.J. Manuel running for his life. The Seminoles were only able to manage a field goal in the first half, but even that was set up by a great kick return that only saw the 'Noles move backward and have to settle for 3 points. Then the second half came.
The offensive line figured things out at halftime, with some help from a lack of blitzes by the Irish, and Florida State owned the final thirty minutes, outscoring the Irish 15-0. It was not a pretty effort by any means, as Florida State managed only 290 yards of offense and was 3-of-14 on third down in the game, but the 'Noles got the job done thanks to some big throws by Manuel and some great grabs by Rashad Green. That and a defense that smothered Notre Dame for most of the night.
WHY FLORIDA STATE WON. Florida State won this game because it did the best thing a team can do when facing Notre Dame: let Notre Dame beat itself. The Irish turned the ball over 3 times in this one, including 2 turnovers in the red zone by quarterback Tommy Rees who twice tried to force a touchdown pass that just wasn't there. That and a strong defensive effort on a whole -- Notre Dame only scored one of its touchdowns on offense -- is why the Seminoles are leaving Orlando with a win.
WHEN FLORIDA STATE WON. With less than three minutes to go and Notre Dame trailing by 4 points inside Florida State territory, Tommy Rees launched an ill-advised pass into double coverage that was picked off by Terrence Brooks in the end zone. The Seminoles then ran out most of what remained on the clock.
WHAT FLORIDA STATE WON. Well, you can joke and say that by winning this game, Florida State has now earned the right to be the one of these two programs that is grossly overrated heading into the 2012 season. You know, kind of like both schools were going into 2011. Still, in reality, this is a nice win for Florida State and sends them into the offseason with some momentum. Florida State isn't a perfect team by any means, but it was also a better squad than what we saw in 2011.
WHAT NOTRE DAME LOST. A chance to end the season on a positive note. Instead this bowl game served as a 60-minute microcosm of the entire Notre Dame season in 2011. Terrible turnovers by an inconsistent offense combined with a defense that played well, but just couldn't play well enough to make up for the offense. So now, heading into 2012, the Irish face the same exact questions they had coming into 2011. Namely, who is going to be this team's quarterback?
THAT WAS CRAZY. Michael Floyd played his last game for Notre Dame, and also became the first receiver in school history to catch 100 passes in a season. Unfortunately he wasn't able to finish the game after suffering an undisclosed injury,but before leaving he made this ridiculous touchdown grab and saved Tommy Rees from a third red zone turnover in the process.
GRADE: C+. I gave this game the "+" because at the very least it was close. However, other than that, there wasn't really much to enjoy here save for some spectacular grabs by guys like Michael Floyd and Rashad Green. If those two had just put on a trick catch competition instead of the actual game, the grade likely would have been a lot higher.
Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:52 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 11:52 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
STANFORD WON. Andrew Luck had one last chance and a national spotlight to try to further impress possible Heisman voters following Trent Richardson's big day for Alabama, and there wasn't much wrong with what could have been his final game in Palo Alto. Luck finished the night with 233 yards passing and had 4 touchdowns, but also had an interception to go with it. Still, Stanford stuck with the same formula that it had followed all season long, and rushed for 226 yards against the Notre Dame defense. Though it did save the touchdown glory for its quarterback.
Stepfan Taylor rushed for 149 yards for the Cardinal on 20 carries, while Coby Fleener caught 4 passes for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Floyd had 8 receptions for 92 yards and a score to lead the Irish on offense.
WHY STANFORD WON. Notre Dame got off to a slow start in this one, falling into a hole early and there was just no way the Irish could climb out of it. The Stanford offense is just too balanced to be able to stop it consistently, and the Irish didn't really have the speed or playmakers they needed on offense to exploit the Stanford defense.
WHEN STANFORD WON. The Cardinal let Notre Dame hang around for a while in this contest, as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never buried the Irish completely. However, when Notre Dame had two successive drives while 21-7 end in Stanford territory without scoring any points and Luck then hit Fleener for a 59-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 it was the final nail in the coffin everyone had been waiting for.
WHAT STANFORD WON. With Alabama winning in such convincing fashion against Auburn earlier on Saturday and Stanford not having another game to play, the odds aren't in its favor, but with this win, the chances of going to New Orleans to play for the BCS title are still alive. Which is probably the best Stanford can hope for right now, though if nothing else, it's almost assured of a BCS bowl game at this point. Possibly the Fiesta Bowl to face Oklahoma State.
WHAT NOTRE DAME LOST. Notre Dame will never be able to claim a win against Andrew Luck, as he became the third quarterback in history to beat the Irish three times in his career. Still, there may be some good news to emerge for the Irish in all this as Andrew Hendrix took over for Tommy Rees on Saturday night, and he appears to be the quarterback of the future in South Bend. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't starting for Notre Dame when they finish the year in a bowl game.
Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 11:50 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's first home night game since 1990 was supposed to be all about the Irish. New gold helmets, multiple five-star recruits on the sideline, even talk coming into the game about winning out and going to a BCS game.
USCheard all of the talk about the game and shrugged it off. Rivalry game? It was just another game to them. They were disrespected - first time in school history they were 5-1 and unranked in the polls on top of being a nine-point underdog - and were taking a business trip to the Midwest.
Behind a surprising rushing attack and the reliable duo of Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, the Trojans pulled off the upset 31-17 and stunned a capacity crowd of 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:36 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 4:44 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There wasn't a particularly appetizing slate of college football games this week. Sure there was the Red River Shootout Beatdown Blowout Rivalry and a few other entertaining match ups but there truly was not a must watch game from kickoff to the final whistle most of the day. AP Top 25 teams in week 6 won by an average of 24.8 points, with Florida State being the lone upset to an unranked team.
It was another good week of college football, don't get me wrong, but the drama was a bit lacking until late Saturday night when Ohio State-Nebraska took the stage down in Lincoln. The game itself was nothing to write home about in terms of style points but it made up for it in second half theatrics. Taylor Martinez helped lead the storied program's biggest comeback ever, from down 21 points, with three scores, 102 yards rushing and an efficient 191 yards on 16 of 22 passing.
When I watched OSU against Miami, I saw a team that was half a step slower than the Hurricanes and looked like they were going through their first spring practice execution-wise. They were a solid Big Ten team but one who just couldn't execute like previous years. It was much different from when my colleague Gregg Doyel watched the Buckeyes in their opener in early September. There was a sense of relief then after a tumultuous offseason and, just as important to the OSU faithful, hope that they would be ok until most of the 'Buckeye Five' returned from their suspensions. Luke Fickell was a coach to believe in and this was a team that still had seemed to have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, according to Doyel:
It was Akron, so who really can say, but what the heck -- I'll go ahead and say it:Well, that was Akron and things certainly have changed since Doyel wrote that column (one he'd love to have back, I'm sure), including the step up in competition with Nebraska. Granted this isn't your father's Cornhuskers team. They're 46th in total offense and, even more surprising with the Pelini brothers patrolling the sidelines, 59th in total defense. They got whacked by Wisconsin and have flirted with several close games before putting inferior opponents away late. They are no Akron but they're not a top 10 team either.
The Buckeyes looked like they were on their way to a win Saturday by a surprising margin, ruining the Big Ten debut of Memorial Stadium. Things weren't going great but they were at least good. Freshman Braxton Miller looked comfortable running the offense, making plays with his feet and doing plenty to stake the team to a 27-6 lead in the 3rd. After the offense had looked pitiful against Miami and Michigan State the previous two weeks, there were signs of life for the scarlet and gray. With about five minutes left in the third quarter, Ohio State led 27-13 and had rolled up 312 yards of offense.
Then Miller sprained his ankle and all hell seemed to break lose.
"I'd like to say no," tight end Reid Fragel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer when asked if Miller's absence affected the whole team, "but it's one of those things at the back of everybody's mind. I'd like to say no, but at the same time, everybody cares about our quarterback and was kind of worried about him."
Senior Joe Bauserman came on to replace him and went 1 of 10 for 13 yards while the team as a whole had just 39 yards of offense the rest of the game. The Buckeyes went from grabbing an uplifting win on the road to a devastating loss; from a good team to mediocre to bad in a span of about 20 minutes of game time. There were mistakes in every phase of the game and at every level. Execution was lacking and any playmakers on the team seemed to be sitting on the bench drinking Gatorade.
Who deserves blame for it? Well there's plenty to go around. Bauserman, certainly, for the interception and stagnant offense. The defense too, for allowing Nebraska to rush for nearly 200 yards in the second half after holding them to just 37 in the first half. Many OSU fans are quick to blame offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and he rightfully deserves the lion's share for one reason: he didn't have a game plan for Bauserman. At all. He bet big on Miller and when it came time for Bauserman to take over at a key point in the game, Bollman seemed to panic and out-think himself.
What makes it interesting is that Bauserman was at one time the starter and he's played in every game this year. You'd think they would adjust the play calling so that he could nurse the lead and allow the senior to manage the game. Following Miller's injury, there were eight rushes and 10 passes, one of which was intercepted.
"No, Joe is not as mobile," Fickell said after the game. "We have to do a better job of putting him in situations he can handle a little better."
"The floodgates kind of opened and we started to panic a little bit and we never got ourselves back on track."
Those are not the words of a head coach. Jim Tressel - despite his compliance issues - was a terrific head coach because he had everybody buy in to what he was doing. More importantly, he knew what he was doing.
Fickell, a Buckeye through and through, seems to be in over his head and the inexperience really came through Saturday. There are plenty of people rooting for him to succeed but there's a reason why so many other names have been mentioned as the head coach of the team in 2012. Fickell has been thrown into the fire, a very hot one, and is doing the best that he can. Knowing how to manage a program, especially one like this, is not something many know how to do. It takes time and it takes a very good coach, one who is in control of everything and knows just what button to push at the right time. At this point in the season, it's hard to say Fickell has total control nor knows what to do. It's unfortunate but it's also life.
Ohio State's 3-3 with six games left, four of which they'll likely be decided underdogs. A bowl game is probably still likely but the program seems like it's adrift and capable of falling off the cliff if the staff isn't careful.
"You've got to rely on some guys," Fickell said. "And it's about leadership. But I don't know. That's what we're going to have to really look back at."
The leadership has to come from Fickell and the upperclassmen on the team, it shouldn't be 'I don't know' coming from the head coach or something that they'll 'have to look at.' There will be a lot of soul-searching going on in Columbus this week as well as some growing up for Fickell and company.
Stat of the week
According to the Associated Press, the state of Florida has been shut out of the AP poll for the first time since December 6, 1982. Not just the big three of Florida, Florida State and Miami, the entire state. There's just one California team (7. Stanford) and four from the state of Texas (20. Baylor, 21. Texas A&M, 22. Texas, 25. Houston).
Stats of the week
- Florida's loss to LSU was the worst loss for the program since 1996.
- Texas A&M is ranked in the top 25 but feature the nation's worst pass defense at 347.6 yards per game. They're behind Kansas and UNLV who have three wins between them.
- There were five SEC conference games and the winning quarterbacks had a combined 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
- Mark Richt earned his 100th win at Georgia and has a 100-36 overall record with the program.
- 27 players across the country are averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. Last year, just 19 finished with an average over the century mark.
- Arizona's Nick Foles leads the country in completions per game, is third in yards per game, second in total yards, fourth in total offense and has a 5-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Yet his team is 1-5 because the defense is 115th in total defense, 117th in scoring defense and second to last in the country in sacks.
- With a touchdown catch against Texas, Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles is the active leader in career receiving touchdowns with 10 more than the next guy, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.
- Surprisingly Illinois is tied for the nation's third longest winning streak at seven games. Stanford has the longest (13) followed by Oklahoma (10). Alabama and LSU both have seven game streaks as well but obviously will play each other in November. New Mexico and Florida Atlantic have the longest losing streaks at eight games, while Memphis has lost 15 straight in conference.
- The Pac-12 leads the country in passing and has 31 more passing touchdowns than any other conference (153 total). The Big Ten leads the country in rushing and has 11 more rushing touchdowns than any other conference.
- UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel improved to 9-0 against Washington State at three different schools (Colorado, Washington, UCLA). One of the wins came as a non-conference win while at Colorado. With eight wins in conference play, that would mean 25% of Neuheisel's Pac-12 conference victories have come at the expense of the Cougars.
- According to the Big Ten Network, every time Michigan has started 6-0, they've gone to the Rose Bowl.
- There was plenty of Boomer Sooner at the Cotton Bowl this weekend, enough to cause Bevo to turn away from the field of play so he didn't have to see anymore of the Longhorns. Most saw Texas as overrated, moving into the top 10 largely because they hadn't lost and because they're, well, Texas. They had some momentum coming into the game and thought they had a solid backfield that would be able to make a few plays in Bryan Harsin's offense. Nope. The story of the game wasn't Oklahoma's potent offense, but its spectacular defense that had a coming out party and reminding everyone that though they might not be Alabama or LSU's, they are still pretty good. The Sooners set six defensive school records against the Horns, including eight sacks. Final score: Oklahoma's offense 34, Oklahoma defense 21, Texas 17.
- It really didn't matter what true freshman quarterback took snaps under center for Florida, they were getting fed to the wolves. Or at least one Honey Badger, who picked off starter Jacoby Brissett's deep pass in the third quarter. It's rare for LSU to have the advantage at the quarterback position but it was pretty clear they had the advantage at just about every position in their 41-11 rout at home. The Gators have issues but they're still a solid football that's just trying to find some footing. The Tigers, meanwhile, look like they used the weekend to tune up every phase of their game, controlling throughout and limiting their opponent to 2 of 11 on third down and 213 total yards. The lasting images of the game might have come from a punter and a back up quarterback. Much-maligned quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw a touchdown pass in a manner Florida fans are quite familiar with - a jump pass near the goal line. Brad Wing became an overnight sensation after faking a punt and taking it 52 yards to the house late in the first. Wing, however, raised his arms slightly before crossing the goal line and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag that took the points off the board. That was about the only thing that went wrong all day for Les Miles' crew.
"We showed everybody that we are capable of some special things against a really good Florida team," said Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery. "I want more. I want a National Championship. I want to play the best ever."
- Virginia Tech just doesn't lose back-to-back games at home under Frank Beamer. Perhaps it's the 'Enter Sandman' music the PA announcer puts on late in games but there's not much you can do to stop the Hokies. Miami thought they did thanks to Lamar Miller, who broke off several big runs in the fourth quarter before catching a throwback pass for a touchdown to pull the Hurricanes to within three. He gave them the lead with a 30 yard run late in the game before Tech quarterback Logan Thomas said 'Sorry, I'll take that' on an option on fourth-and-one to scamper 19 yards for the game-winning score. The comeback by Thomas capped an overall great day for him, going 23 of 25 for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
- Staying in the ACC, the surprise team in the league might be Georgia Tech, not Clemson. The 6-0 Yellow Jackets held off a late charge from Maryland after building a 21-3 lead going into the fourth. "They whipped our tail pretty good in the end," Tech coach Bobby Johnson said. Still, his squad is undefeated and among the top 10 in a good number of offensive categories. The passing game wasn't there against the Terrapins like it was in previous games but they still managed to eek out a victory. By the way, it's ok if you missed watching this game on account of Maryland's uniform combination, which featured mustard yellow pants.
- Arizona State has finally started to live up to expectations while Utah hasn't even come close to them. The Sun Devils defense forced three straight turnovers at one point in the third quarter, quick enough that quarterback Brock Osweiler couldn't even get his jersey cleaned in time. "They were cleaning it one second and the next second it was, 'Hey, you got to go,"' he said. "But that's a credit to our defense. They were staying focused, playing with a lot of intensity, creating turnovers." As sharp as the defense has looked the past few games, the offense has shown off an explosive side as well, scoring 18 straight points in four minutes. Dennis Erickson's squad also won a road game, big because they have a showdown and possible championship game preview with Oregon this week. For the Utes, we all worried about the grind of a BCS conference and it does seem like they're wearing down in the second half of games after starting relativly strong. Of course, it helps to have a healthy quarterback but they just haven't had one as Jordan Wynn missed yet another game. They've lost six of their last 10 and need to do something against the back half of their conference schedule to make a bowl.
- Remember when Florida State was fifth in the country and everybody was whispering they were back? Me neither. The only ranked team to lose to an unranked foe, the Seminoles had their issues with Wake Forest. After a previously injured E.J. Manuel returned in the second quarter to replace starter Clint Trickett, he threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene and many expected FSU to start moving from there. Wake running back Josh Harris had other ideas, breaking off big run after big run on his way to 136 yards and an upset. The Demon Deacons have now won four straight and are undefeated in ACC play even if they are flying under most people's radar. Wake has only five wins against Florida State all-time but have won four of them since 2006 and four of the last six.
- On one hand, it was Kentucky. On the other hand, it was an impressive showing by South Carolina. Steve Spurrier made a change at quarterback and Connor Shaw paid off as the Gamecocks had more yards on offense since the Old Ball Coach started calling plays in Columbia. The 54-3 win was also South Carolina's biggest victory since joining the SEC, thanks in large part to the sharp play of Shaw, who went 26 of 39 for 311 yards and four touchdowns. About the only one who didn't score was running back Marcus Lattimore.
"That #11 ranking was such a farce. If Texas had Complete Scouting Services they wouldn't lose to OU so bad."
- Infamous recruiting scout Willie Lyles.
Like the AP poll, my top 10 does not change.
4. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
10. Georgia Tech
Where we'll be this week
Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will see if Connor Shaw is the real deal as South Carolina heads to Starkvegas to play Mississippi State. Dennis Dodd will take in the sights and sounds of Knoxville as LSU plays Tennessee. Brett McMurphy will see if Texas shows any improvement as they host Oklahoma State while Bruce Feldman will head to the Pacific Northwest to see a possible Pac-12 Championship Game preview with Arizona State and Oregon.
Leaning this way
Michigan at Michigan State
Anything can happen in rivalry games and it would certainly make the Spartans' season if they pulled off an upset of Big Blue and a top 10 team. Mark Dantonio has had a bye week to help prepare to stop Denard Robinson but Michigan's improved defense will be enough to help squeak by in a close game in East Lansing.
Oklahoma State at Texas
Those 55 points Oklahoma scored? Oklahoma State had that by halftime last week. The young Texas defense will have their hands full again this week with what might be an even better passing offense. The defense for the Cowboys is nothing special so the Horns should be able to put up some points of their own but there's just too many weapons for Brandon Weeden to keep it close.
Arizona State at Oregon
Dennis Erickson's squad got a road win and have been playing as well as anyone on defense the past couple of weeks. They've been forcing turnovers left and right and will need to continue that if they're to have a shot against the Ducks. LaMichael James won't play but the offense is still potent with Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas coming out of the backfield. This could be a championship game preview and Oregon wins thanks to another big second half.
Tags: ACC, Akron, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bobby Johnson, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Brett McMurphy, Brock Osweiler, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Buckeye Five, Celmson, Clint Trickett, Colorado, Connor Shaw, Cotton Bowl, DeAnthony Thomas, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, Dennis Erickson, E.J. Manuel, FAU, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Gregg Doyel, Houston, Illinois, Jacoby Brissett, Jim Bollman, Jim Tressel, Joe Bauserman, Jordan Jefferson, Jordan Wynn, Josh Harris, Kansas, Kenjon Barner, Kentucky, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, LSU, Luke Fickell, Marcus Lattimore, Mark Dantonio, Mark Richt, Maryland, Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Miami, Michael Floyd, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nick Foles, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Rashad Greene, Red River Rivalry, Reid Fragel, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Ryan Broyles, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Spurrier, Taylor Martinez, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Oklahoma, Tony Barnhart, UCLA, UNLV, Utah, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington STate, Willie Lyles, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 3, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 1:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A buddy of mine was talking about how college football right now has a few elite teams and a bunch of others that could be grouped into a couple of classes. After a lengthy discussion, I decided to run with that after week five to see how everyone shapes up. Feel free to get angry at me in the comments.
(In no particular order)
Wisconsin: It's all Russell Wilson for the frontrunners in the Big Ten title race but this is a very good squad that has balance on offense and a very well coached defense.
Alabama: Best defense Nick Saban's ever had plus two great running backs and an efficient offense. The Tide will continue to roll this year.
Oklahoma: Another win, another week they lose some ground in the polls despite being the best team not playing in the SEC.
LSU: They have a Honey Badger so who cares how mediocre the offense has been?
Boise State: Kellen Moore and the offense get all the press but the defensive line is among the best in college football.
We're still not sure how good they are:
Stanford: They have the best quarterback in the country but haven't played anyone of note and lost their best linebacker to a knee injury.
Oregon: Still the class of the conference, they might be better on offense then they were last year.
Oklahoma State: Questions still remain about the defense but Brandon Weeden and company are legit.
Florida: They're a top 25 team but haven't played anyone besides Alabama and will trot out a true freshman in their first road trip against LSU. Yikes.
Notre Dame: The Irish have rolled up 500 yard games like they're no big deal but turnovers are the difference between 5-0 and 3-2.
Nebraska: The defense should be better than what they've shown so far but their struggles are reflective in the team as a whole.
Texas: Undefeated heading into the Red River Shootout, this young team will have their hands full this week but have come along nicely under their two young coordinators.
Clemson: An impressive victory on the road against Virginia Tech but there's no denying that everyone thinks Clemson will be Clemson at some point this year.
Virginia Tech: Many had pegged them as a national title dark horse but that is no more after losing to Clemson at home.
Kansas State: Bill Snyder is a miracle worker but the Wildcats haven't faced a big time opponent until this week.
South Carolina: They have a great running back, a great defense, a great wide receiver but the team itself is a giant question mark week-to-week.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have an explosive offense that's difficult to prepare for but the defense remains questionable at best.
Arkansas: The stunning comeback this week proved one thing: the defense is average but the offense can carry this team.
Illinois: Ron Zook is their head coach so there is that but both the offense and the defense have responded when needed to keep the Illini undefeated.
Michigan: The defense does look better but they haven't really been tested by a good team and have yet to play a game outside the Big House.
Good not great group:
Arizona State: Injuries have hurt on defense but they're the class of the Pac-12 South.
North Carolina: Perhaps a little surprising at 4-1 but they've played solid football and bonded as a team with all that has gone on around the program.
Southern Miss: They've lost to Marshall which hurts them in conference play but this is an ok football team that could breakthrough.
Hawaii: Their offense gives everyone fits but it's really hard to comprehend how they lost to UNLV.
Washington: Perhaps the surprise of the Pac-12 North division, the defense isn't super but Keith Price and the offense are very dangerous.
SMU: A big win over a ranked TCU is a huge sign of progress under June Jones.
West Virginia: The loss to LSU was a setback but this is a very good football team that can score some points.
Baylor: They have a quarterback who's among the best at his position this year in Robert Griffin III but the defense has issues.
Auburn: They're winners, that's for sure, but the defense struggles every game and the offense has been inconsistent.
Michigan State: They've got the defense but the offense hasn't clicked like it should under Kirk Cousins.
Cincinnati: There's plenty of questions about this team but they're solid and can beat any Big East team.
Tennessee: They can't run the ball at all but they sure can throw it.
Texas Tech: Undefeated but have struggled in the first half just about every game they've played.
Georgia: SEC East is wide open and the Bulldogs are fighting hard each game so don't be surprised if they make a run for it.
Florida State: Injuries have made them thin but Jimbo Fisher should regroup them and turn them into a good team by the end of the year.
Houston: Best offense to watch in college football is good because the defense will allow points galore.
Looking forward to 2012:
UCLA, Oregon State, New Mexico State, East Carolina, Rice, Louisiana Tech, Utah, North Texas, Tulsa, Ball State, Ole Miss, Purdue, New Mexico, UAB, Troy, FAU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Duke, FIU, Iowa State, Colorado State, TCU, USC, Arizona, Washington State, Colorado, Bowling Green, Virginia, Idaho, N.C. State, Ohio State, Maryland, Miami, UConn, Western Michigan, Louisville, Marshall, Nevada, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Ohio, Akron, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Wake Forest, Boston College, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Navy, Air Force, Army, Tulane, Kansas, Northwestern, Temple, Toledo, Minnesota, Rutgers, Syracuse, Penn State, Indiana, Mississippi State, BYU, Utah State, USF, Pitt, UTEP.
Stat of the week
Via the blog Hustle Belt, the last time Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Central Michigan all won on the same day: November 5, 1994. Add in the fact that the Detroit Lions won on Sunday and it's a pretty good weekend for football in the state of Michigan.
Stats of the week
- With four touchdowns against Nebraska, Wisconsin's Montee Ball now has 13 on the ground this season. That's halfway to the Big 10 record of 26 (by week 5) and his 14 total touchdowns leads the country. Ball has scored 14 points more than the next person on the scoring list.
- Oklahoma had the ball 15 times against Ball State and scored seven touchdowns. Wisconsin had the ball 10 times against Nebraska and scored seven touchdowns (via Brian Fremeau)
- USC has allowed 40 points in consecutive games for the first time in 119 seasons. Matt Barkley did set a school record for passing yards and total offense against Arizona however.
- Arkansas had nine plays of 20 or more yards against Texas A&M. At one point, receiver Jarius Wright had more yards of total offense than Penn State, Indiana, Minnesota and Kentucky as well as 80% of the Razorbacks' offense at halftime.
- Tyrann Mathieu has the LSU record for career forced fumbles with eight in 18 games (via Scott Rabalais).
- RussellMania is indeed here. Wilson's masterful performance against Nebraska really was something to behold as he made play after play. The knock on Wisconsin was that they haven't played anyone (they still haven't on the road). That question seems to have been answered with their resounding victory against Nebraska on Saturday however. Wilson was efficient once again, going 14-20 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He had some beautiful throws, placing the ball perfectly into the hands of his receivers on a few big gains. Though Wilson doesn't look to run like other quarterbacks, he can and will if need be. That added dimension is what separates this Badgers team from previous iterations. On the other side, Nebraska's B1G moment - their first ever conference game - very much exposed them as a team with serious issues.
- Coming into their primetime game, both Florida and Alabama featured top 10 defenses and plenty of future NFL draft picks. Yet, you just got the feeling as Trent Richardson was running through players like a battering ram that the Gators were boys among men. There's plenty of talented four- and five-star recruits but they're still young and almost seemed overwhelmed by the big stage. The swarming Tide defense, meanwhile, was punishing Florida players left and right - including quarterback John Brantley. With a true freshman seeing his first significant game action, plenty of people on Twitter were calling for Charlie Weis to call plays that simply didn't get Jeff Driskel killed by an Alabama defender. Richardson ran for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns and was pretty much the offense. Good defense, good running game and a big, big road victory for Nick Saban's squad.
- Poor, poor Utah State. The team has been minutes from being 4-0 and likely ranked in the top 25 but instead they're 1-3 thanks to a last second loss to BYU on Friday. They lost to a backup quarterback who threw a pass that was deflected by an Aggie defensive back right into the hands of Marcus Matthews for the game-winning touchdown; which pretty much sums up what Utah State has gone through, coming close to a win before tipping it into the hands of the opponent. They nearly upset Auburn before a perfect onside kick and subsequent score and lost to Colorado State on a failed two-point conversion in OT last week. The Aggies might be the best, unluckiest team in college football.
- I'm still not sure how Arkansas pulled off that comeback other than to say Texas A&M allowed them to. Mike Sherman seemed to deflect some blame for the loss but one has to put this one (and last week's) solely on his shoulders. His first half play-calling has been great but it's like the Aggies go into the locker room and fail to make a single adjustment. They had great success rushing the ball but failed to go for it on a key 4th down in Arkansas territory and punted the ball instead. At that point, the momentum had fully shifted to the Razorbacks, who made play after play to rally from 18 down. A&M looked like they'd be fine in the SEC if you watched that first half but if you watched the second... they looked more like Ole Miss.
- Melvin Ingram had 11 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception but that just wasn't enough for South Carolina, who lost to Auburn thanks to an anemic offense that was actually playing one of the worst defenses in the SEC. I listened to part of the game on radio and I'm glad I did because it saved me having to see some terrible quarterback play on both sides. The Gamecocks' defense is good but the offense has been puzzling - not something one would expect with Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey. But then again, they do have Stephen Garcia at quarterback.
- Michigan State's defense is well coached and the best in the Big Ten so far this year but that doesn't explain the offensive ineptitude of Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes had negative yardage for most of the game before getting a 4th quarter touchdown in the final 10 seconds to avoid the program's first shutout in nearly 18 years. As much as people mocked Tresselball, Buckeyes fans would welcome a return to those days in a heartbeat.
- Notre Dame's win over Purdue is best summed up by two words: Michael Floyd. After grabbing just four catches against Pitt, Floyd grabbed 12 for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Boilermakers. As one would expect given the competition, the Irish were rolling on offense and racked up 551 yards with Cierre Wood running for a career-high 191 yards on 20 carries. Most importantly, there were no turnovers after 15 in Notre Dame's first four games.
- It's rare for an SEC team to leave the South so props to Ole Miss for traveling to Fresno State to play. Randall Mackey had an ok day but made the big play when needed, including an 88 yard drive to seal the win. This is the Rebels' first win over and FBS team and, with more SEC West play ahead of them, could be their last for a while.
- Playing so late, it's doubtful that many in the Eastern or Central time zones stayed up to catch Stanford crush UCLA 45-19 so here's a quick recap: Andrew Luck is really, really good. He had a Heisman highlight moment with a spectacular one-handed catch and somehow managed to stay in bounds. Just as impressive as Luck (23-27, 227 yards, 3 TDs), the Cardinal played before a sellout crowd and looked solid on defense against the Bruins' Pistol offense that looked like it had some life. Still, the story in this game was Luck, who surprisingly called his own plays on a couple of drives Peyton Manning-style. "He called better plays than me," head coach David Shaw said after the game.
Quote of the week
"I apologize to the fans of Nebraska because that was a joke."
- Huskers head coach Bo Pelini on his team's embarrassing loss to Wisconsin and the state of the defense.
4. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
10. Georgia Tech
Where we'll be this week
Senior writer Dennis Dodd will head to Dallas for one of the best events you can go to, the Red River Shootout (or, if being politically correct, Rivalry) between undefeated Texas and Oklahoma. While he's trying the fried beer, Tony Barnhart will be in Baton Rouge for a LSU night game against Florida. Brett McMurphy will pack his bags for Manhattan (Kansas) to see Missouri play undefeated Kansas State and see first hand how good a coaching job Bill Snyder has been doing.
Leaning this way
Oklahoma vs. Texas
I have to imagine that Dan Beebe, from his comfortable Dallas home, will have this game on his television set rooting for both teams to end this in a tie. Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has done some very good things with some young talent and without a doubt has some surprises up his sleeve for OU. That said, the Sooners are the top team in the country and will be scoring enough points to keep the fans singing 'Boomer Sooner' well into the afternoon.
Florida at LSU
This will be the coming out party for true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel with the injury to Jeff Brantley. And by coming out, I mean just that he'll come out. Having seen his film and him throw in person, I think Driskel will be a good quarterback but he's just going to be overwhelmed by the scenery in Death Valley. LSU makes several plays on defense to blow this one open and let the Tigers push the Gators around.
Ohio State at Nebraska
After both teams lost, I didn't really consider this game in this spot until I remembered this was a B1G game not only in terms of conference standings, but the fact that the Tattoo Four will make their return to the Buckeyes. Nebraska was embarrassed on the road but I don't think they'll allow that at home as the Ohio State returns several much-needed starters. In the end though, there's just been such a lack of execution by the Buckeyes as a whole to pick anyone but Nebraska by more than a touchdown.
Tags: Alabama, Alshon Jeffrey, Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Ball State, Baylor, Bill Snyder, Bo Pelini, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Harsin, Central Michigan, Charlie Weis, Cincinnati, Clemson, Dan Beebe, David Shaw, Detroit Lions, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Heisman Trophy, Houston, Illinois, Jarius Wright, Jeff Driskel, Jimbo Fisher, John Brantley, June Jones, Kansas State, Keith Price, Kellen Moore, Kirk Cousins, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Marcus Matthews, Marshall, Matt Barkley, Melvin Ingram, Michael Floyd, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Sherman, Montee Ball, Nebraska, NFL, Nick Saban, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Peyton Manning, Randall Mackey, RGIII, Robert Griffin III, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, SMU, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Stanford, Stehpen Garcia, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, UNLV, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
NOTRE DAME WON. Notre Dame finally looked like the team it was hoping to be this year, and all it took was a date against Purdue to do so. This game was never really in doubt as the Irish scored a touchdown within the first 30 seconds of the opening kickoff, and finished the night with 549 yards of total offense. The majority of that damage came on the ground, as well, with Cierre Wood rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown while Jonas Gray rushed for 93 yards and a score of his own. Tommy Rees threw for 3 touchdowns and Michael Floyd returned to form with 12 receptions for 137 yards.
HOW NOTRE DAME WON. To put it simply, Notre Dame just has a lot more talent on its roster than Purdue does, and unlike the first four games of the Irish season, the Domers didn't hurt themselves with turnovers. That's right, for the first time this season, Notre Dame played a full 60 minutes without turning the ball over. And it was also the best that the Irish have looked all season. Coincidence? I don't think so.
WHEN NOTRE DAME WON. This one was over early. Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush's first pass of the evening was picked off after he tried to force a bad throw into coverage, and two plays later Tommy Rees was connecting with Michael Floyd on a 35-yard touchdown. It was only 24 seconds into the game, but after those first three plays, you already had the feeling that Notre Dame wasn't going to have a lot of trouble on Saturday night.
WHAT NOTRE DAME WON. It's always nice for Notre Dame to beat an in-state rival, but really this is a game that the Irish should have won. Of course, considering the trouble that the Irish had in their first four games, coming out and dominating a team that it should dominate is a good sign. Outside of games with USC and Stanford, Notre Dame is through the toughest part of its schedule this year, and a 9-win campaign isn't completely out of the question.
WHAT PURDUE LOST. Purdue fans seemed to take exception to Brian Kelly's comments that this game was Purdue's "Super Bowl" earlier in the week, and I hope those Purdue fans were right, because if this was Purdue's Super Bowl, then there's a lot to worry about in West Lafayette this season. Purdue is now 2-2 on the year, and looking at the rest of its schedule and the way this team has played, it's hard to see the Boilermakers getting much more than 4 wins this season.
THAT WAS CRAZY. I repeat, Notre Dame played a full game without turning the ball over.