Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:45 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: That small town in western Texas known as Lubbock.
It was quite the week in Lubbock. It all started with a sandstorm that blocked out the sun, and ended with a lightning delay in Norman that caused Tech fans to stay up rather late to watch their Red Raiders. Though something tells me the fact that they were able to see Texas Tech knock off Oklahoma helped clear the sand from their eyes and made everything worth it.
LOSER: Oklahoma's title hopes
Any chance that Oklahoma had to finish its season in New Orleans went on the window on Saturday night. Yes, the end of its 39-game home-winning streak has to sting a bit, but not as much as the title hopes. The good news for Bob Stoops and Oklahoma is that the Sooners can still win the Big 12, though I doubt that is going to help ease the pain from this loss over the next few days.
WINNER: Seth Doege
Seth Doege is just another in a long line of Texas Tech quarterbacks to have success in Lubbock, but I have a feeling most people didn't know his name before tonight, or how to pronounce it (it's pronounced "day-gee"). Well, they'll know it now as Doege threw for 441 yards and 4 touchdowns against an Oklahoma defense that came into the game allowing only 201 passing yards a game, and had only allowed 5 passing touchdowns all season. Not to mention that Doege led a Raider offense to 41 points and Oklahoma had only been giving up 15 points per game this season.
LOSER: Michael Hunnicutt
Make no mistake about it, Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt does not deserve the blame in this Oklahoma loss. The Sooners had plenty of other problems on offense and defense, but most people will probably remember Hunnicutt's 28-yard field goal attempt in the final minutes that bounced off the right upright. In a three-point loss, that's going to stick and make Hunnicutt an easy scapegoat.
WINNERS: Kansas State and Oklahoma State
Nobody benefits more from Oklahoma's loss than both Kansas State and Oklahoma State. They are now the only two teams in the Big 12 that are still unbeaten on the season, though both also have to face Oklahoma and each other before the season is over. Kansas State gets Oklahoma in Manhattan next weekend, and considering Saturday's loss, you can bet that the Sooners will have something to prove in that contest.
LOSER: Hubert Anyiam
Oklahoma State may have beaten Missouri on Saturday but it lost one of its playmakers in the process. Wide receiver Hubert Anyiam broke his foot making a catch in the first half and his season is over. Anyiam had surgery on the foot before the season started, and was third on the Cowboys in receiving this season with 27 catches for 370 yards and 3 touchdowns. There were more problems for Cowboys receivers on Saturday as well, as Justin Blackmon sat out the entire second half with "concussion like" symptoms, though Mike Gundy expects Blackmon to play against Baylor next week.
WINNER: The Texas A&M secondary
It's been much maligned just about all year, but the Texas A&M secondary had a very strong performance on Saturday in Ames. Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett combined to complete only 16 of 40 passes for 180 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Making the feat more impressive was the fact that A&M didn't have Coryell Judie on Saturday, though depending on who you ask, that may have been a reason why the unit fared better. I don't quite see things that way, though.
LOSER: Turner Gill's job stability
Fair or not, the calls for Gill's head are only going to grow louder following Saturday's loss. Nobody at Kansas was expecting Gill to completely turn around the program in two years, but when you consider that the Jayhawks have now been outscored 128-28 in two contests against the rival Kansas State Wildcats, Kansas fans are going to be angry. The good news for Gill is that basketball season starts soon, so hopefully the basketball team can divert the attention of Kansas fans away from failures on the football field.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:45 am
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Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:42 am
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Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:20 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
We've reached the midway point of the college football season, and we can't think of a better time to hand out some mid-season awards. I mean, giving out mid-season awards two-thirds of the way through the season would be pretty stupid, right?
So taking a look at what has been a pretty good season for the Big 12 as a whole so far this season -- save for Kansas -- it wasn't that easy to come up with people to give these awards to. Plenty of players, coaches and teams all deserved consideration, and I realize plenty of people will disagree. So feel free to leave your choices in the comments.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor. There are so many good offensive players in this conference, but from my perspective, there is nobody whom I enjoy watching more every Saturday than Robert Griffin. He has track speed, but unlike a lot of quarterbacks in college who can run, Griffin prefers throwing the ball and he has one of the most accurate arms I've ever seen. Which is why he's completed 78% of his passes in 2011 for 1,950 yards, 22 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He trails only Russell Wilson with an efficiency rating of 205.7, and he's rushed for another 295 yards and another 2 scores. The man can do it all. Also considered: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma; Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Defensive Player Of The Year: Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M. This wasn't the easiest of decisions, but after weighing a few options like Tony Jefferson and Arthur Brown, I went with Porter. Texas A&M's secondary may not be having the best season, but it isn't because Porter isn't doing his best to help out. The linebacker has 38 tackles this season, 9 1/2 for loss, and leads the entire Big 12 with 7 1/2 sacks. Also considered: Arthur Brown, Kansas State; Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, Jake Knott, Iowa State
Coach of the Year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State. Okay, so this one was easy. Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy are doing fantastic jobs with their teams, but that doesn't come as much of a surprise. Now, Kansas State being 6-0 and being ranked eleventh in the initial BCS rankings? That was not expected, but maybe it should have been. After all, Bill Snyder has pulled this off in Manhattan before. Also considered: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Surprise: Kansas State. Obviously this is Kansas State. As I said above, the Wildcats are 6-0 and a serious contender in the Big 12. Before the season started, most pundits had Kansas State pegged to finish somewhere around sixth or seventh. Heck, I even picked them as my sleeper team before the season began, and even that just meant fifth place. Also considered: Nobody
Disappointment: Missouri. I thought about putting Texas A&M here, but the more I thought about it, Missouri is more disappointing to me than the Aggies. I didn't think Mizzou would compete for a Big 12 title this season after having to replace Blaine Gabbert, but I didn't expect the offense to look so anemic under James Franklin either. The good news is the Tigers and Franklin looked very good against Iowa State last week, and hopefully that trend will continue. Also considered: Texas A&M, Kansas
Game Of The Year (So Far): Oklahoma State at Texas A&M. We all knew that Oklahoma was going to contend for a Big 12 title coming into the season, the bigger question was which team would challenge them? Well, this game would give us the early indicator, and Oklahoma State came back from a 17-point deficit on the road in College Station and let the Big 12 know that it's a team that came to play in 2011. Also considered: Arkansas at Texas A&M, TCU at Baylor
Game Of The Year (To Come): Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. It's called Bedlam for a reason, people. As if the rivalry between these two schools didn't mean enough, there's a chance that when Oklahoma comes to Stillwater on December 3rd, not could these teams be undefeated and playing for a Big 12 title, but for a berth in the BCS title game as well. There's a long way to go before then, but I'd love to see it happen. Also considered: Oklahoma at Kansas State, Texas A&M at Oklahoma
Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma. Kansas State and Texas A&M will have something to say about it before it's over, but I think that this conference race will come down to the two schools from Oklahoma. So when I compare the two teams, I see two very strong offenses, but I only see one strong defense. Because of that, I have to go with the Sooners at this point, but I'm far from certain here. Also considered: Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas A&M
Tags: Arthur Brown, Baylor, Big 12, Big 12 Midseason Awards, Big 12 Midseason Report, Bill Snyder, Blaine Gabbert, Bob Stoops, Brandon Weeden, Iowa State, Jake Knott, James Franklin, Kansas, Kansas State, Midseason Awards, Midseason Report, Midseason Reports, Mike Gundy, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Ryan Broyles, Ryan Tannehill, Sean Porter, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tony Jefferson
Posted on: October 16, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 12:01 pm
Posted by Eye On College Football
On Sunday night the first BCS standings of the season were released. While the Coaches Poll and AP remain divided on the order of the top three, the most important rankings have LSU with a slight numerical advantage over Alabama for the No. 1 spot. The Bedlam rivals hold down 3 and 4, while Boise State is holding down the familiar position of the outside looking in.
You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.
1. LSU : Les Miles' team is in the drivers seat, so it's pretty simple. Keep winning and the Tigers are playing for a national title. Though with games against Alabama, Arkansas and the SEC title game left, it won't be easy. - Tom Fornelli
2. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have faced three ranked opponents, played four SEC conference games, and still are only allowing 7.0 points per game. The methodical beatdowns of Alabama's opponents have set up the armageddon match against LSU on Nov. 5. If the Tide win that game and continue their high level of play, they will find themselves competing for Nick Saban's third championship in New Orleans come January. - Chip Patterson
3. Oklahoma: The Sooners find themselves behind both LSU and Alabama, which means that Oklahoma wouldn't be playing for a national title if the season ended now. The good news for Oklahoma is that LSU and Alabama still have to play each other, so if the Sooners win out, they'll likely finish in the top two. - TF
4. Oklahoma State : The computers love the Cowboys, but that's not enough to get them into the top two spots. Good news for them, though, is they still control their own destiny as they get to play Oklahoma and LSU will play Alabama. - TF
5. Boise State: The Broncos' best chance for a late quality win was assumed to be their one-time MWC showdown with TCU. With the Horned Frogs suffering a significant drop-off from 2010, Boise could easily finish the season undefeated and find themselves outside the top 2 (or 4) in the polls and BCS rankings. Boise State's best chance to make their first appearance in a title game is to get a lot of upset help from the Big 12 and SEC - CP
6. Wisconsin: While it's certainly disappointing to see a team of Wisconsin's caliber rated this low in the BCS, it's not exactly surprising; Wisconsin's first half of the season has been one blowout after another, and in a rating system that's not allowed to consider margin of victory, the only thing that matters is the teams you play. At the very least, Wisconsin is set to face some tougher competition in the coming weeks, so don't expect to see the Badgers ranked at 10th or lower in as many polls by the time November rolls around. - Adam Jacobi
7. Clemson: While the nation waits for Clemson's suspected collapse, Dabo Swinney's squad continues to grind out victories and hang out just inside the Top 10. Tajh Boyd's development and Sammy Watkins' arrival have come at the perfect time for the Tigers, who are four victories away from running the table in the ACC. - CP
8. Stanford:The Cardinal find themselves eighth in the initial BCS standings this year, an improvement from the 13th spot they debuted at last season. While some expected Andrew Luck and company to be slightly higher, their schedule has hurt them in the computer rankings because they have not played a ranked team yet. Stanford still controls their own destiny for the Rose Bowl but have a remote national title shot unless they get some help. - Bryan Fischer
9. Arkansas:The highest ranked one-loss team in the initial BCS standings, the Razorbacks could wind up in a BCS bowl again this year. They also have the chance to play spoiler for top ranked LSU and Alabama and cause some serious chaos in the national title race.- BF
10. Oregon: Fresh off a victory over probably Pac-12 South division winner Arizona State, the Ducks are in a good spot in the top 10 of the initial standings. They are the second highest one-loss team, right behind Arkansas, and their only loss is to top-ranked LSU. The computers send a mixed message about Oregon but as long as they keep winning, they have nowhere to go but up. - BF
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Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Andre Ellington, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, BCS Formula, BCS Order, BCS Rankings, BCS Standings, BCS Standings, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Chip Kelly, Chip Patterson, Chris Peterson, Clemson, College Football Order, College Football Rankings, College Football Standings, Dabo Swinney, Jerry Hinnen, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Les Miles, LSU, Mike Gundy, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Russell Wilson, Sammy Watkins, SEC, Stanford, Tajh Boyd, Tom Fornelli
Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:39 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
If you enjoyed this podcast -- and let's be honest, you did -- be sure to subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast on iTunes.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 3:46 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big 12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
The Sooners don't budge in the polls this week after destroying Texas on Saturday, and while I think the Sooners have a much stronger case for being on top in both polls after that win, I don't really begrudge the AP voters for keeping them third either. So far this season the Sooners two biggest wins have come against a Texas team that it made look really bad on Saturday afternoon, and a Florida State team that just lost to Wake Forest this weekend. That kind of hurts Oklahoma's resume. That being said, LSU and Alabama are going to play each other in November, and as long as Oklahoma keeps on winning, it will likely end up playing for a BCS title.
6/7. Oklahoma State
Much like Oklahoma, the Cowboys don't move in the polls this week after annihilating Kansas on Saturday. Oklahoma State put up 70 points on the Jayhawks, and that was after it took its starters out with over three minutes left in the second quarter. I honestly believe that had Mike Gundy kept Brandon Weeden and company in for the entire sixty minutes, the Cowboys would have broken the century mark. They also might have climbed a spot or two in the rankings because of it.
17/18. Kansas State
This is about right for the Wildcats, as the team moved up three spots in both the AP and Coaches Poll this week. The Wildcats are undefeated, but aside from the win over Baylor, they haven't beat a really strong opponent yet. Yes, the win over Miami on the road was a nice win, but the Hurricanes are 2-3 this season with their only wins coming over Bethune Cookman and a bad Ohio State team. Not that any of this is Kansas State's fault, but until the Wildcats host the Sooners at the end of the month, we won't have a great idea of what exactly we have in Manhattan. Though a win over a Texas Tech team that gave Texas A&M trouble on Saturday night in Lubbock this weekend would make things a bit clearer as well.
I really don't understand why the coaches have no respect for this Baylor team yet. It's only loss of the year has come against an unbeaten Kansas State, and it had a win over TCU to start the season. I've been more impressed with what Baylor has done this season than I have Texas A&M and Texas, yet both of those schools are ahead of them in the Coaches Poll.
21/23. Texas A&M
When the season is over, will Texas A&M be one of the 25 best schools in the country? I'd say, barring some more late collapses, yes. Though that doesn't mean a team that is 3-2 should be ranked right now, especially when both those losses -- which did come against ranked teams -- came in such embarrassing fashion.
I said last week that I felt like the Longhorns were ranked a bit too high compared to what they had actually accomplished on the season, and I think that came through on Saturday. This is a young team with a lot of talent and a lot to learn still, and this is the first time all season in which I feel the voters have Texas pegged just right. A good team, but not upper echelon.
Others Receiving Votes
The Red Raiders lost some support from voters this week, as they showed up on only two ballots in the AP voting and nine coaches ballots. Which makes sense because Tech is coming off a loss, and though it's 4-1 on the year none of those four victories are anything you'd want to brag about. Something that could change when Kansas State comes to town on Saturday. If Tech wins that game then it's going to crack the Top 25.
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