Posted on: September 25, 2011 4:02 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 4:15 am
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Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:33 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite a first half from Stephen Garcia that even a half-completed Jenga tower would describe as "oh, way too damn shaky," the Gamecock defense showed that it still knows how to put the clamps on -- and that Vandy, for all its progress, still has a long way to go -- by holding the visiting 'Dores to 71 total yards, 5 first downs, and no scoring drive longer than ... wait for it ... six yards. That Marcus Lattimore kid continued proving he might be an all-right player, too--he collected 151 yards from scrimmage (78 rushing, 73 receiving) and two touchdowns, doing nothing to hurt his budding Heisman campaign.
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because if it's Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler isn't under center, it doesn't matter how energetic or shrewd the Commodore coaching staff might be: the offense is not going to do a whole lot.
Oh, James Franklin might change that eventually, but he hasn't been able to yet. Even against a questionable Gamecock secondary, Larry Smith was his usual inefficient, wobbly self, completing 13-of-17 but for a nonexistent 2.8 yards an attempt. The offensive line struggled all night against Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and Co., yielding six sacks and rushing for negative-1 yards for the night. And turnovers were, unsurprisingly, a major problem. Clowney stripped Smith twice -- once of those fumbles returned by a combination of Antonio Allen and Ingram for Ingram's third touchdown of the season -- and a Smith interception ended one of the 'Dores few forays across midfield.
Full credit goes to Ellis Johnson for his ever-consistent defensive coaching and the Gamecocks as a unit for a dominant display. But Vandy got a dream performance from Garcia -- an awful four-interception night that got him pulled for Connor Shaw in the fourth quarter and repeatedly set the 'Dores up in great field position -- and still couldn't even stay competitive. Until Franklin can find something to hang his offense's hat on, Vandy might move out of the East cellar (and we won't say that's not an accomplishment), but opponents like the Gamecocks are going to remain well, well out of reach.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite their offensive struggles, Garcia's generosity had the visitors poised to regroup at halftime only down 7-3. But with less than 30 seconds remaining and the ball still on the Gamecock side of the 50, Garcia flipped a screen pass to Lattimore ... and he was gone, slaloming through defenders for a Heisman-quality 52-yard score. The way the Carolina defense was locked in, that 11-point deficit might as well have been 30 or 40.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: A comfortable victory after a few weeks of drama, and a reminder that when their defensive line is on its game, they can cause enough havoc to win games nearly singlehandedly. Good thing, too, since Garcia did his best to lose it the same way.
WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: A little of the shine off their 3-0 start -- they won't be pulling any votes in next week's polls -- but not many were expecting them to pull this one out.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 4:57 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
Finally, we've reached the point of the season where conferences that aren't the Big Ten begin to offer actual meals rather than boring appetizers that add nothing. The SEC and ACC have delved into conference play a bit this season, but now the Big 12 and Pac-12 are diving in as well, which means we've got quite an impressive slate of games to sample from this weekend.
#22 Michigan vs. San Diego State - Big Ten Network 12pm ET
Brady Hoke is San Diego State's old coach (haven't you heard?), so that's all anybody's going to talk about during the game. Don't focus on that fact too much, though, otherwise you're liable to stop paying attention to Denard Robinson, and that's a terrible idea. If Shoelace plays four quarters Saturday, he'll put up mammoth numbers on the Aztec defense. - Adam Jacobi
#25 Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina - ESPN 12pm ET
The Yellow Jackets kick off conference play with one of their most formidable Coastal Division opponents in the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech leads the nation (yes, United States) in total offense right now, averaging just over 675 yards per game. The numbers have been inflated thanks to a schedule, but the potency of Paul Johnson's option offense cannot be underestimated. North Carolina's front seven is one of the ACC's best on paper, and Saturday is their chance for them to live up to the hype. - Chip Patterson
Pitt vs. Notre Dame - ABC 12pm ET
With so few must-see games going on in the morning, this matchup could prove to be quite entertaining. Notre Dame finally put a full 60 minutes together without driving off a cliff last week to pick up a win against Michigan State, and Pitt did quite the Notre Dame impression last Saturday while blowing a 27-10 lead over Iowa in the fourth quarter. Tune in for the future ACC follies! - Tom Fornelli
#3 Alabama vs. #14 Arkansas - CBS 3:30pm ET
The first clash of legitimate SEC heavyweights offers a compelling contrast in offensive styles: Arkansas's aerial circus of nationally-elite receivers and precision Tyler Wilson passes against a Tide attack that (thanks to the humdrum nature of AJ McCarron's performances to date) is likely to pound away with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, pound away some more, and when that fails? More pounding. Winner becomes heavy favorite to land at BCS bowl berth--at minimum. - Jerry Hinnen
#8 Texas A&M vs. #7 Oklahoma State - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET
The Big 12 no longer has a championship game, but this one could serve as a mini-playoff. The winner of this contest between two teams ranked in the top ten moves on to face Oklahoma later this season in a game that will likely decide the Big 12 title. Aside from the BCS implications, however, this matchup should be incredibly entertaining for all involved, as the Oklahoma State offense faces its toughest test of the season so far. - TF
#21 Clemson vs. #11 Florida State - ESPN 3:30pm ET
The Seminoles enter Death Valley banged and bruised after their 23-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma. The most popular word in the pre game notes for Florida State is QUESTIONABLE, and thus so is the outcome of this game. Clemson finally got their offense going against Auburn thanks to Tajh Boyd and breakout freshman Sammy Watkins, and the Tigers have a lot of momentum with their Atlantic Division rivals coming to town. Last season this game was decided by a 55-yard walk-off field goal by Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins. Saturday's tilt could be just as close. - CP
Ohio State vs. Colorado - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET
What looked like sort of a throwaway game in August now has some intrigue. Colorado's not very good at all, but Ohio State has its own quarterback issues to work out after last week's disastrous showing in a 24-6 loss at Miami. The game's in Columbus, so it's unlikely that all hell breaks loose, but if Colorado hangs around, you never know... - AJ
#12 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt - ESPN2 7pm ET
The upstart Commodores move up about three or four classes from their featherweight bout against Ole Miss when they travel to Columbia to take on Marcus Lattimore and Co. Knowing that Lattimore will get his and that the terrors on the Carolina defensive front will hamper any effort to run, any chance of Vandy springing the upset rests in the passing game--in Larry Smith taking advantage of the soft Gamecock secondary, and the ballhawking Vandy defensive backs wringing a couple of game-changing turnovers out of Stephen Garcia. - JH
Kentucky vs. #15 Florida - ESPN 7pm ET
You there, good sir (or madam): do you enjoy the spectacle of wholesale slaughter? Do you take pleasure in the most savage of horse-whippings? Then may we please direct your attention this-a-way to yonder annual meeting between the Wildcats and Gators, won by the Floridians by an average of 42 points these past three years. And with these unfortunate Wildcats having had their offensive teeth removed this offseason just hence -- from cuspid to canine! -- this sideshow could be the bloodiest yet! - JH
#1 Oklahoma vs. Missouri - FX 8pm ET
Last year on a Saturday night in Columbia, the Oklahoma Sooners came into town sporting a new spot atop the rankings. They would not return home with that #1 next to their name. This season it's the Tigers who come to Oklahoma to once again face the top-ranked team in the land. Can Missouri destroy Oklahoma's national title chances two years in a row? Tune in to find out. - TF
#16 West Virginia vs. #2 LSU - ABC 8pm ET
Anticipation for this game has had Morgantown buzzing since Monday, and I suggest you are settled into your spot on the couch (if city officials haven't removed it yet) by kickoff. Dana Holgorsen's offense has been among the most efficient in the nation, and LSU's defense has worn down and broken every challenger they have faced. I expect the Mountaineers to feed off the home crowd and get a fast start, the question will be how long they can keep it up against the tenacious Bayou Bengals defense. It's the heavyweight match up of the evening - no reason to miss this one. - CP
LATE NIGHT SNACKS
Arizona vs. #10 Oregon - ESPN2 10:15pm ET
Oregon begins conference play this weekend and is looking for their 13th-straight league victory against Arizona. The Ducks have bounced back from their opening loss against LSU to blow out a pair of opponents and get the offense cranked up again. Arizona is in the middle of a rough stretch to open the season but they do have an excellent quarterback in Nick Foles, the third best passer in the country, who has yet to throw an interception. - Bryan Fischer
Arizona State vs. #23 USC - ESPN 10:15pm ET
Though USC is ineligible for the Pac-12 South title, they will essentially be settling it on the field as the Trojans head to Tempe to take on Arizona State. Dennis Erickson's team fell to Illinois in a close game last week but are hoping to get things going again. ASU has lost 11 straight to USC so this game is about more than winning a game, it's about ending a long streak with the best team the Sun Devils have had. This game is worth watching just to see linebacker Vontaze Burfict take on Matt Barkley and Robert Woods. - BF
Tags: A.J. McCarron, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Brady Hoke, Bryan Fischer, Chip Patterson, Clemson, Colorado, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, Dennis Erickson, Dustin Hopkins, Eddie Lacy, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Jerry Hinnen, Kentucky, Larry Smith, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Matt Barkley, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Mountain West, Nick Foles, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Pitt, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, San Diego State, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Trent Richardson, Tyler Wilson, USC, Vanderbilt, Vontaze Burfict, West Virginia
Posted on: September 22, 2011 2:56 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.
Woman, she is proving to be a tough nut to crack. After her dominance in Week 1 of MWM, I chalked it up to beginner's luck. Then when she had another strong performance in Week 2 I didn't mind that much because I had a better week. But then she went and had another winning week last weekend, which means she's yet to get more games wrong than right.
This is becoming somewhat worrisome. Sure, it's still early in the season, but I've had to deal with her walking around talking smack for those three weeks, and it starts to wear on you. Which is why I'm clinging to the fact that after getting 11 games right in the first week, she picked 7 correct the next week and 6 last week. That's a downward progression! There is hope!
Could this finally be the week where she suffers the pain of a losing week, and has to hear me boast all day and all night? God I hope so.
Michigan (-8 1/2) vs. San Diego State - Saturday 12pm (All times Eastern)Man - It's hard for me to truly predict what Michigan is going to do on any given weekend because I'm just not sure how serious Brady Hoke is about making Denard Robinson a passing quarterback. Yes, he makes some nice throws from time to time, but it's like buying a Ferrari and then only using it to go to the grocery store. That being said, I'll still take the Wolverines at home in this one. Pick: Michigan
Woman - "What better payback for the coach who deserted you than beating him up in his new house? Unfortunately, he's the same coach who personally recruited you and designed your playbook. Don Corleone > Sonny Corleone." Pick: Michigan
Machine - Machines do not experience human emotion, so The Machine has no concept of Brady Hoke calling off the dogs against his former players as the Wolverines roll 45-17. Pick: Michigan
Alabama (-12 1/2) vs. Arkansas - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Tyler Wilson and the Razorbacks offense has had a nice start to the season, even without Knile Davis. Which makes that spread seem so very large, but at the same time, Arkansas hasn't faced a defense anywhere near the caliber of Alabama's. I'm not entirely comfortable with this pick, but I'll take the Tide defense at home and give up the points. Pick: Alabama
Woman - "The Tide rams and jams to a victory but Bobby Petrino's got a score to settle from last season, so I'll take the points. (Some stormy personalities. You may be want to watch this from the comfort of your root cellar.) " Pick: Arkansas
Machine - The Machine sees a big upset this weekend, as Arkansas comes into Tuscaloosa and takes down Nick Saban's squad 35-24. Pick: Arkansas
Texas A&M (-3 1/2) vs. Oklahoma State - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - This is one of the tougher games to figure out this weekend. You have a high-powered offense in Oklahoma State going against a Texas A&M offense that has been incredibly efficient so far this season. It's somewhat of a coin toss, and when that's the case, I have to go with the team I think has the better defense along with homefield advantage. Pick: Texas A&M
Woman - "First time in over 35 years that two top 10 teams meet at Kyle Field. Aggies coach Mike Sherman knows that revenge for an 0-3 record against OSU is best served red hot in front of 82,000 rabid fans." Pick: Texas A&M
Machine - The Machine has a lot of respect for Justin Blackmon and his tendency to destroy secondaries without remorse. Blackmon blows up for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Cowboys say goodbye to Kyle Field and win 41-31. Pick: Oklahoma State
Clemson vs. Florida State (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - With the question mark surrounding E.J. Manuel's availability this week, along with Florida State's recent track record in Death Valley, I have a very hard time giving up points with the Seminoles this weekend. I have to go with Clemson. Pick: Clemson
Woman - "With FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel questionable (and a ground game that's even more questionable), I have to take home field advantage + residual Tiger swagger from last week's victory + points." Pick: Clemson
Machine - This game was simulated with Manuel playing for Florida State, and it didn't matter. Clemson wins big, 38-14. Pick: Clemson
South Carolina (-16 1/2) vs. Vanderbilt - Saturday, 7pmMan - Every part of me feels like I should pick South Carolina in this matchup because Marcus Lattimore is an absolute beast, and Vanderbilt is freaking Vanderbilt. But so far this year Vandy has looked pretty stout on defense, and the Gamecocks are giving up 33 points a game. Football gods help me, but I have to go with the Commodores. Pick: Vanderbilt
Woman - "Not sure how a team that's ranked 10th nationally in defense ends up with this spread.. Maybe it's a point for every three minutes Vandy's D is going to be on the field? Regardless, I'll take 'em." Pick: Vanderbilt
Machine - The Machine recognize machines, and it does not care about this new Vanderbilt. Lattimore runs for over 200 yards and the Gamecocks roll 45-17. Pick: South Carolina
Kentucky vs. Florida (-17 1/2) - Saturday, 7pmMan - Giving up that many points as a road team in an SEC conference game? That's insane, right? No, it's not because I've seen Kentucky play football this season, and insanity would be watching it again. Pick: Florida
Woman - "I hate these picks. Will Florida win by two touchdowns? Three? Ten? It's like playing roulette. C'mon, lucky 18, 19, 20..." Pick: Florida
Machine - Bloodbath in Lexington. Florida wins 54-10. Pick: Florida
Oklahoma (-21 1/2) vs. Missouri - Saturday, 8pmMan - This spread seems abnormally large to me given that Missouri isn't some doormat, and the Tigers did beat Oklahoma last season. That being said, I don't see a lot of the passes James Franklin completed against Arizona State a couple weeks ago finding their way to the hands of his receivers against this secondary. Plus I just don't see Oklahoma's offense struggling two weeks in a row. So I guess it's Boomer Sooner. Pick: Oklahoma
Woman - "Missouri, you and your bonnie Prince Gabbert kept Oklahoma from achieving its rightful place as heir to the BCS throne last season. Well, it's time for you to apologize." Pick: Oklahoma
Machine - The Machine doesn't think Oklahoma will have too much trouble with Missouri this week, but it does feel that spread is a bit ridiculous as Oklahoma wins 34-21. Pick: Missouri
West Virginia vs. LSU (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - Forget the actual game, I just wanna hang out with Les Miles and Dana Holgorsen for a night. You know that would be a good time. As for the game, though, I've seen what LSU's defense can do to high-powered offenses before, so I'm reauxling with the Tigers. Pick: LSU
Woman - "I'm gonna be honest with y'all. I don't care who it is, until the Tigers lose, I'm picking Les." Pick: LSU
Machine - West Virginia's offense will definitely struggle against LSU, but the Mountaineers keep it close in a 24-20 loss. Pick: West Virginia
Arizona vs. Oregon (-16 1/2) - Saturday, 10:15pmMan - I've seen Arizona play a few times already this season, and to be honest, I'm just not nearly as impressed with Nick Foles and the offense as I have been before this season. I just have a hard time believing that from what I've seen so far that this Wildcats offense can hang with Oregon for a full 60 minutes. Pick: Oregon
Woman - "Another year, another dogfight. Question is, will it be like the 2009 squeaker or the 2010 2nd half blowout? I'm picking Wildcats QB wonderboy Nick Foles to keep it close. Oregon wins but doesn't cover." Pick: Arizona
Machine - Yeah, The Machine is pretty sure you're going to want to stay up late and watch this one. It's going to be rather fun to watch. Oregon wins 45-42. Pick: Arizona
Arizona State (-2 1/2) vs. USC - Saturday, 10:15pmMan - I remember watching this game last season, and it was one of the crazier, more entertaining games of the year. USC eventually squeaked by with a 34-33 win, which was their 11th straight win over Arizona State. Five of those wins have come in Tempe, so as close as a lot of these games have been in recent years, until Arizona State proves to me that it can actually beat USC, I can't go any other way. Pick: USC
Woman - "Here's a sure bet: Most Silicone At Any Football Game This Season. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils haven't beaten the Trojans since 1999. I'll go with that streak." Pick: USC
Machine - The Machine does not see a game like the one we all witnessed last year, as the Trojans win rather easily 27-14. Pick: USC
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Bobby Petrino, Brady Hoke, Clemson, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, E.J. Manuel, Florida, Florida State, James Franklin, Justin Blackmon, Kentucky, Knile Davis, Les Miles, LSU, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Marcus Lattimore, Michigan, Mike Sherman, Missouri, Mountain West, MWC, Nick Foles, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, San Diego State, SEC, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Wilson, USC, Vanderbilt, West Virginia
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:47 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A longtime Floridian told me Friday he couldn't remember the last time the state was the center of college football like it was this past weekend. Sure there have been big games and plenty of teams in championship contention, but it's hard to think of a time when each corner of the state had a big primetime match up. Equally surprising, he said, was that traditional rivalry Florida-Tennessee was only the third most interesting game on the docket.
The spotlight was indeed on the Sunshine State and things couldn't have gone better for the most part. At the northern end, number one Oklahoma rolled into Tallahassee to play Florida State and there were moments when you genuinely stopped and said, "FSU's back." A loss is a loss but the way the Noles played was encouraging.
The storyline coming out the game seems to be all about Big Game Bob Stoops' team getting their first non-conference road victory over a top-five team in over three decades. The Sooners were gritty, responding to scores like a top-ranked and championship team should. Quarterback Landry Jones had several clutch throws and it seemed like linebacker Tom Wort was making every other play on defense. Oklahoma looked the part and survived with a victory.
The key word being survived. Yes their road woes are well documented but the reason the game was close - closer than most thought - was that Florida State looked the part of a top five team as well. For three quarters at least, it was a knockdown, drag out fight between two high profile head coaches. After FSU freshman Rashad Greene caught a beautiful 56 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, Doak Campbell was rocking. As more than one writer said on Twitter, it was partying like it was 1999.
One wonders what might have been had quarterback E.J. Manuel not gotten hurt. Could he have pulled off the upset? Who knows? But the biggest take away was the defense held an explosive, veteran-laden OU offense to just 23 points and showed they are close to having the athletes at every position like they used too when things were rolling. They were kids last year in Norman and it took less than a year for them to grow up into men. The offense still needs some work - especially along the line - but the defense should help carry the Seminoles through ACC play.
Jimbo Fisher has Florida State making waves on the recruiting trail and there are plenty of signs that the on the field product is coming along as well. The next step is winning games like the one on Saturday but, by all indications, that's coming. Party like it's 1999 indeed.
A couple hours down the road in Gainesville, two teams showed they still need work if they're to take the next step. It looked like Florida was going to run away with the game up 30-7 late in the third but the defense seemed to take the foot off the accelerator. For the most part though, the defensive line was active and did a great job of shutting down the Vols' running game. Completely. Florida's defense held Tennessee to just -9 yards on the ground, the third best mark in the country so far. The offense took a hit once receiver Justin Hunter went down but it was the young offensive line that just couldn't handle the pressure Florida was generating.
All-purpose threat Chris Rainey was everywhere Saturday for the Gators' offense. He had 233 all-purpose yards and recorded his fifth career blocked punt. The Gators are still adjusting to Charlie Weis' offense and Will Muschamp's defense but Rainey is a constant playmaker that the team will have to lean on as they get into the thick of the SEC schedule. Is this team in the same class as Alabama or LSU? Not even close. But there's enough there on both sides of the ball to put up a fight with Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.
Further South, some observers would have had no issue with vacating the Ineligibowl. It just wasn't a pretty game. Ohio State was a step slow all night and Miami struggled on offense outside of their scoring drives to open and close the game. Both teams got back several players from NCAA suspension and Miami's certainly made the difference in the game: Jacory Harris was efficient outside of two boneheaded interceptions and linebacker Sean Spence truly transformed the defense into a much stouter unit that was able to apply pressure on nearly every snap.
Sophomore running back Lamar Miller set the tone early with a big run on the first play of the game en his way to a career night that made him the fourth leading rusher in the country at 151.5 yards per game. There's plenty of talent on this team to get nine or so wins but there's still moments when the Hurricanes revert to last year's form and make a boneheaded mistake. It will be curious to see how they use this game as a momentum builder going forward. At full strength and with some confidence, the Hurricanes have a little bit of swagger back.
On the other side, Ohio State is lacking an identity and has to figure out their quarterback position and do so soon. The Buckeyes have no clue about what kind of team they want to be and there could be some doubt amongst the players about head coach Luke Fickell if post game comments are to be believed.
"I felt like me and Jordan (Hall) were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," tailback Carlos Hyde told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us."
Also, don't overlook the other game in Miami on Saturday: FIU following up it's big win over Louisville with a solid victory over in-state foe UCF to start 3-0 on the season. Many had pegged the Knights as a possible BCS buster at the beginning of the season so for FIU to knock them off does wonders for a program that was the definition of a rebuilding job just a few years ago. Yes it's a Sun Belt team but with the schedule like it is, don't be surprised if FIU keeps things rolling. The defense recorded six sacks against UCF and did a great job the week before against the Cardinals. Plus they did everything without all-everything star T.Y. Hilton, who missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. Take note, the program in the state with the most upside is the one that's not in a BCS conference.
The state of Florida won't be the center of the college football universe like it was this past weekend for some time. But while it was, it delivered.
Stat of the week
Auburn's win streak was snapped at 17 games by Clemson on Saturday, which was the longest in the nation. It was the 10th longest streak in the past decade and amazingly, 10 of the 17 games were decided by eight points or less. Stanford now has the longest win streak in the country with 11, just two seasons removed from a losing record and five seasons away from the school's 1-11 mark.
Biggest reason why the Tigers' streak ended? They're 117th in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 116th in rush defense, 107th in scoring defense and dead last in the country in third down stops. Yikes.
Other stats of note
- Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for highest completion percentage for 40 or more completions in a game. He completed 40 of 44 against New Mexico for a healthy 90.1 percent clip. He also hit 15 passes in a row at one point, tying a school record on his way to a 401 yard and five touchdown day.
- Kellen Moore's 457 yards of offense against Toledo was third most in the country this year and he averaged nearly 10.39 yards a play. His completion percentage on the season is at a remarkable 78.9 percent.
- With the loss to LSU on Thursday, Dan Mullen fell to 2-10 versus the SEC West as head coach at Mississippi State. Both wins are over rival Ole Miss. While the Bulldogs have been much more competitive under Mullen, they still haven't quite gotten over the hump just yet. He was 8-6 against the West while an assistant at Florida.
- There are beat downs and there's what Missouri did against Western Illinois. The Tigers defense allowed just one first down and 44 total yards on the day while the offense rolled up 744 total yards to set a school record that had been set just after World War II. Tailback Henry Josey ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns, the most in a game this season. The mark was also good enough to move him into sixth place on the national rushing list.
- Of the five players to top 200 yards rushing in a game so far this year, three did so on Saturday (Josey, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James).
- Georgia Tech's game against Kansas was pretty amazing to take a look at after the fact. The game delivered the longest run from scrimmage of the season (Orwin Smith went 95 yards for a touchdown), featured two 100 yard rushers and had five players with over 70 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets also piled up a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of them via the running game. The 12.1 yards per rush also set an NCAA record for highest in a game.
- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly has games with 18, 17 and 23 tackles to lead the nation in that category. His 58 total tackles are 19 more than the next player.
- Jeff Fuller became Texas A&M's all-time receptions leader against Idaho while Cyrus Gray topped the 100 yard mark rushing for the ninth time in a row.
- Via senior writer Bruce Feldman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has eight touchdowns and just eight incompletions.
- Impressive, impressive comeback by Iowa from down 24-3 in the 3rd quarter to Pitt. James Vanderberg has been a little underrated early in the season in the face of replacing a longtime starter and doing so with plenty of fresh faces around him. The junior quarterback is 31st in the country in passing efficiency and 25th in total offense after Saturday's game in which he had several impressive throws in the second half in route to a 399 yard and three touchdown day. The lack of a running game has to be concerning if you're Kirk Ferentz, especially as the begin Big Ten play in two weeks with a trip to Penn State. A heck of a comeback but it's apparent there's plenty of flaws in the Hawkeyes.
- Why hello there Sammy Watkins. While it has taken some time for the Clemson offense to adjust to Chad Morris' new system, Watkins has been an explosive playmaker for the Tigers they really haven't had since C.J. Spiller left for the NFL. Yes it was against a porous Auburn defense, but this week was Watkins' coming out party to the nation with 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He shows an explosiveness you just can't teach whenever he gets the ball in his hands and was the spark that allowed Clemson to turn things around. A former five-star recruit, he was ranked behind fellow Tiger frosh Charone Peake coming out of high school by Maxpreps which should give you some indication what kind of young nucleus Dabo Swinney has assembled when you add in running back Mike Bellamy and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Speaking of Swinney, he channeled his inner-Howard Dean in his post game remarks on television.
- Al Golden didn't leave the cupboard bare at Temple as the Owls almost beat Penn State for the first time since Joe Paterno started coaching in Happy Valley. Despite giving up the lead late, Steve Addazio's club showed they can play with bigger and stronger team and should have no problem contending for a MAC championship this year.
- Kudos to James Franklin and what he's been able to do with Vanderbilt. After a close, 4th quarter win against defending Big East champ UConn, the Commodores embarrassed Ole Miss on Saturday 30-7. Franklin has really gotten the team and the rest of the community to buy into what he's building there and it's starting to pay off with the team's 3-0 start. Quarterback Larry Smith isn't sharp enough in the passing game yet but the offense is moving the chains on the ground and playing good defense - they're currently 10th in the country in total D. Things will get much tougher as they head on the road to face South Carolina and Alabama but with home games against Army and Kentucky and a date with Wake Forest, bowl eligibility is possible in Franklin's first year.
- It looked like West Virginia finally started to get their rushing attack going against Maryland this weekend. Geno Smith is putting up great numbers from the quarterback position but head coach Dana Holgorsen knows that if the team wants to win the Big East - or beat LSU this week - they're going to have to be able to run the ball. Whether the answer at tailback is Vernard Roberts or Andrew Buie still remains to be seen but it can't just be all Smith, all the time. Tavon Austin is a dynamic threat who adds a few wrinkles but there still needs to be a consistent rushing attack so the defense can't play nickel the entire game. The Mountaineers did have an impressive three players top the 100 yard receiving mark last Saturday though.
- It was not pretty at the Rose Bowl as critics briefly turned their attention from overrating Texas to remarking on how hot UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat is. He's an alum who probably cares more about the program winning than anyone there yet there's been hardly any progress to show for it. The defense was supposed to be much better this year and strength of the team but it was anything but in the blowout loss to the Longhorns. Case McCoy (with a little David Ash mixed in) appears to be the answer for UT at quarterback and freshman tailback Malcolm Brown showed flashes on his way to a 110 yard day.
- I am not a believer in Nebraska's defense after playing Washington last week but they'll still do just enough to make it to the title game in their first year in the Big Ten. Still, the effort against the Huskies had a lot to be desired of a top 10 team.
- After returning from Sun Life Stadium late in the Miami night, I was surprised to find out there was not one, but two football games on and I managed to stay up for Oklahoma State-Tulsa late, late, late into the night. I couldn't believe they kicked off after midnight local time, much less that Brandon Weeden was still throwing to Justin Blackmon late in the fourth quarter - and well past 3 AM Central - with the game well in hand. Mike Gundy is not only a man, he's all in on this Cowboys team it appears. All or nothing, this is the most talented squad since Barry Sanders was in Stillwater and everybody is onboard. Why Gundy still had his stars on the field that late in the game for a blowout continues to baffle me however.
- I thought Navy's offense in the middle of the season always spelled trouble for teams that weren't ready for it - especially those coming off an emotional victory like South Carolina. The Midshipmen had a chance late but ultimately the Gamecocks ended up winning 24-21 thanks to a last minute interception. As one head coach told me, you schedule option offenses early or play them in a bowl game or else you'll end up upset. South Carolina wasn't upset but they nearly were with the way they played.
- I couldn't believe the score when I first saw it but here it was, Utah 54, BYU 10. A week ago in the Coliseum, I saw the dejected faces on the Utes sideline as their rally came up short against USC. I thought it would be another tough battle in the Holy War but the Utes smacked everybody around Saturday. Don't count out Utah as representing the Pac-12 South with USC ineligible for the title game and Arizona State still Arizona State.
- Kudos also go out to Wyoming, who blocked Bowling Green's extra point to win 28-27. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…
Quote of the week
Craig James during LSU-Mississippi State: "You play four quarters in the SEC."
Tweet of the week
Myself following the second ESPN account to feature the word Genocide in place of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Not a bad nickname if he keeps putting up passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's offense however.
"Company-wide memo about Geno & autocorrect on Monday. RT @McShay13: WVU QB Genocide Smith off to a fast start."
My top 10 after week 2:
4. Boise State
7. Texas A&M
8. Oklahoma State
9. Florida State
Where we'll be this week
Tony Barnhart will be at the big Arkansas-Alabama game, Dennis Dodd will be in College Station for the top 10 matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Brett McMurphy gets another great game this weekend, showing up at LSU-West Virginia Saturday night.
Leaning this way
Arkansas-Alabama: The secondary for Alabama will be flying around and turnovers will doom an explosive Arkansas offense.
Oklahoma State-Texas A&M: The Aggies defense is underrated but this game will still be a shootout. The home crowd will give them the edge in a close one.
LSU vs. West Virginia: LSU's defense is just too much late in the game for Dana Holgorsen's offense to break through.
Across the goal line
I was going to write about conference expansion in this space but figured things would change by the time I finished writing the final paragraph.
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Buie, Arizona State, Arkansas, Army, Auburn, Barry Sanders, Baylor, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big East, Big Ten, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Boise State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, BYU, C.J. Spiller, Carlos Hyde, Case McCoy, Chad Morris, Charlie Weis, Charone Peake, Chris Rainey, Clemson, Craig James, Cyrus Gray, Dabo Swinney, Dan Mullen, Dana Holgorsen, David Ash, Dennis Dodd, Doak Campbell, EJ Manuel, FIU, Florida, Florida State, Geno Smith, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Henry Josey, Idaho, Iowa, Jacory Harris, James Franklin, James Vanderberg, Jeff Fuller, Jimbo Fisher, Joe Paterno, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Larry Smith, Louisville, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Kuechly, MAC, Malcolm Brown, Marcus Lattimore, Maryland, Miami, Mike Bellamy, Mike Gundy, Mississippi State, Missorui, Navy, NCAA, Nebraksa, New Mexico, NFL, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Rashad Greene, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Rose Bowl, Sammy Watkins, Sean Spence, SEC, Seth Doege, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Addazio, Sun Belt, Sun Life Stadium, Surveying the Field, T.Y. Hilton, Tajh Boyd, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Toldeo, Tom Wort, Tony Barnhart, Travon Austin, Tulsa, UCF, UCLA, UConn, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Vernard Roberts, Wake Forest, Washington, West Virginia, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Posted on: September 17, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 1:32 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Just one reason, in the end, and we'll give you a hint: it rhymes with "Blarcus Blattiblore."
Sure, the Gamecocks got an efficient-enough performance from Stephen Garcia (18-of-25, 204 yards), minus one wretched second-half red zone interception; sure, they committed just that one turnover and won the time-of-possession battle against a team that thrives on burning clock; sure, new placekicker Jay Wooten further cemented a hot start with a key 48-yarder. But given all the success the Midshipmen enjoyed in the option and the palpable sense of pressure in Williams-Brice Stadium once the visitors took their late four-point lead, it's safe to say the Gamecocks simply don't win this game without the nation's best running back (yeah, we said it) seizing the game by the throat and refusing to let it go.
Carolina's game-winning touchdown drive spanned 15 plays; Lattimore touched the ball on 11 of those. He is, as the kids say, the man.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Though Navy was never likely to drive from their own 6 into field goal range after taking over with just 5:36 to play, no one in Columbia breathed easy until quarterback Kriss Proctor's 4th-and-7 pass was picked off by Antonio Allen with under 2 minutes to play. Proctor had already bailed the Mids out once on the possession with a 4th-and-15 conversion, but Jadeveon Clowney wreaking havoc in the backfield meant a second miracle was out of reach.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Won? Well, they're 3-0, and they "won" the right to not have a matched set of upsets at the hands of Navy shoved in their face for forever. But Steve Spurrier can't be happy after such a narrow escape at home--particularly after he admitted his team was "outplayed" a week ago at Georgia.
WHAT NAVY LOST: A chance at a potential season-making upset and arguably the biggest win of Ken Niumatalolo's career. But there's no doubt the Midshipmen gained a ton of respect, both in Columbia and across the SEC, for having pushed a top-10 team to its limit.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 5:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The all-seeing, all-knowing experts here at the Eye on College Football (and CBSSports.com's equally all-knowing Adam Aizer) have voted, and here is the first Heisman Hopefuls breakdown of the season.
Our collective ballot's top five looks like this:
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (37-of-54, 461 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT)
2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (28-of-34, 261 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT; no game last week)
3. Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor (21-of-27, 359 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT; 38 yards rush; no game last week)
4. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (148 rush yards, 3.8 YPC, 5 TD; 35 yards receiving)
5. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (35-of-47, 375 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; no game last week)
Five other players received at least one vote across our six ballots, which, again, you can see here. Breaking down the race:
WHO'S NO. 1? Luck's stats aren't quite as over-the-moon as you might expect from a Heisman front-runner who'd faced a pair of patsy defenses in San Jose State and Duke (he's currently 20th in passer rating, after finishing third a year ago), but the weak opposition also means the Cardinal haven't had to ride their future No. 1 overall draft pick all that hard, either. It's too early for most of us to back a horse in this race other than the favorite.
WATCH OUT FOR: Jones. The senior Sooner's precision performance against Tulsa might have drawn more notice if it wasn't the sort of outing we've come to expect from whoever lines up under center for OU ... and if it hasn't come against Tulsa. But if Jones repeats those kind of numbers in a road victory this Saturday against Florida State, there won't be any shortage of attention thrown his way.
OVERLOOKED? Your current national leader in total offense? Houston's Case Keenum, bearing down on the all-time NCAA passing record after throwing the Cougars to a 38-34 Week 1 win over UCLA and shredding North Texas for 458 yards in a 48-23 win Week 2. It still wasn't enough for Keenum to appear on any of our six ballots, though, not with so many outstanding quarterbacks -- most of which have faced stiffer competition -- in front of him.
OVERRATED? Obviously this opinion isn't shared by all the voters, and it's still early enough that it makes some sense to vote on pure talent and potential -- which Trent Richardson has in overabundance -- rather than production. But Richardson's statistics simply aren't at Heisman levels just yet; he's lagging 140 total rushing yards behind Marcus Lattimore, for instance, and averaging a full two yards less per-carry than the Gamecock back. Much of that is sitting for most of the second half in his team's rout of Kent State, and maybe even more of it is an offensive line that Tide observers say hasn't lived up to its billing just yet. But sooner rather than later, Richardson will have to put up some bigger numbers (especially in the per-carry average department) to keep pace.
DEFENSIVE NOMINEE OF THE WEEK: We all know a defensive player has a chance of winning the Heisman somewhere between zero and lottery ticket, so each week we'll use this spot to highlight a defender who deserves some kind of a nod. This week's honoree: Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, who after two weeks aleady has 11 more tackles than any other player in the nation. Maybe he can play both ways for the sputtering Eagle offense?
Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 10:03 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
College football's encore weekend not only lived up to expectations, but beat them.
It also caused at least few hearts to skip a beat or two around the country. It seemed like every channel you were on, there was a game coming down to the wire or ready to head to overtime. From the noon games to the night games, last Saturday was one big, drama-filled day.
Notre Dame-Michigan, USC-Utah, Cal-Colorado, Washington-Hawaii, North Carolina-Rutgers, Auburn-Mississippi State, Ohio State-Toledo, Texas-BYU, Iowa State-Iowa, Vanderbilt-UConn and several others left everyone on the edge of their seats. There weren't a ton of great defenses among the group but that didn't hamper the fun as teams either came back or fell just short. Heck, the first night game in Ann Arbor had as much drama as any of them in just 72 seconds.
One game I was really looking forward to going into Saturday was between the Hedges and that game more than lived up to expectations and put one coach in even hotter water.
The game seemed to be South Carolina personified. It's why everybody's hand trembled writing them in to win the SEC East this year. Not only was it the Gamecocks' history but they had a quarterback who frustrated fans and Old Ball Coaches alike in Stephen Garcia. When he threw his first interception of the game, it was simply Garcia being Garcia. The ESPN director, as if he understood perfectly, cut to a shot of Garcia with his hands on his hips, staring down his mistake while clinching his lips and a coach yelling at him. Later in the game he rolled out of the pocket and threw a beautiful pass that reminded everybody of his talent. Again, just Garcia being Garcia.
This is a good and very talented Gamecocks team that can beat anybody on any given Saturday if they don't wind up beating themselves first.
“Georgia outplayed us, give them credit, they outplayed us but somehow or another we won the game,” Steve Spurrier said post game. “Somehow it happens like that. Somebody was looking out for us tonight.”
Running back Marcus Lattimore broke out for 176 yards and a touchdown as the team rode him for 27 carries. USC will have to be wearing of overusing Lattimore because he's the key to their success but at least he had 10 fewer carries than he did against the Bulldogs a year ago. His ability to find just a little hole and take off is special and he certainly can run very hard between the tackles.
On the other side of the ball, how scary is the Gamecocks' defensive line? We knew it was going to be good but maybe not quite this nasty. Melvin Ingram was superb, taking a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown and scooping up a fumble for a touchdown after fellow end Jadeveon Clowney nearly took off the head of UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. Only in the SEC do 275-pound defensive ends score twice in a game and run 68 yards while doing so.
The thing about Clowney, the nation's consensus number one recruit out of high school, is how he stands out on every snap just due to his size. Then, as soon as the ball is snapped, he stands out for his explosiveness and physicality - making you drop your job and say 'Wow' a couple of times a game. Heck, Murray might want to leave school early just to get away from him. Clowney still isn't up to speed mentally but it's coming and coming quickly. If you're an SEC quarterback with South Carolina on the schedule, prepare your ice bath in advance.
For Mark Richt, he might have to go bang his head against the wall a few times after every game. He's had injuries and suspensions and even NCAA issues thrown his way but there's still no getting around the fact that this is a good group of players who haven't lived up to expectations. Just when it seemed like Georgia was about to break through, they'd commit a big error. The good news is it looked like freshman running back Isaiah Crowell got going, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown after breaking a few nice runs into the open field. But even as he took two steps forward, his fumble at midfield that Stephon Gilmore returned to the red zone was a step back. He's still a little behind in pass protection but the flashes he showed reminded everybody, coaches included, why he was so highly recruited out of high school.
The biggest thing that Richt can do next week is get his team to have fun against Coastal Carolina. There will be no avoiding hearing about his job status as the heat was turned up even higher after the loss - he has to get his team refocused before starting the heart of their SEC schedule. Get everybody involved, call some trick plays, something - anything - to get his team focused on having fun playing football instead of worrying about him. He can't eliminate all the distractions but he can get his team to buy back in week-by-week. The schedule is manageable enough that they could conceivably go 10-2 this year - more than enough to quiet critics for a few more months. The Bulldogs are talented but lost to two teams they should have to fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1996.
Now the trick is winning out using their own talented roster. No easy task but one that can certainly happen.
Stat of the week
If I had to take someone to Vegas with me, I just might select Gene Chizik. All he seems to do is give heart attack to the Auburn faithful and win last second games. The Tigers pulled off the upset this week against Mississippi State thanks to a goal line stand that kept quarterback Chris Relf out of the end zone by inches to preserve a 41-34 win at home.
"We'd prefer to win football games a lot different than we are, but there's something to be said when you can fight down to the end when it doesn't look good and still win the game," Chizik said after the game.
While the head coach certainly would prefer a less stressful ending to games, he might need to get used to them if his team is to keep winning. After taking nearly two hours just to play the first half against the Bulldogs, I was digging around looking for the total game time but managed to find an even more eye-popping stat.
Auburn's offense has averaged 56.5 plays during their first two games while the defense has averaged 90.5 snaps per game. Yes, the defense is almost literally on the field twice as long the offense. For a young team with issues on both sides of the ball, that's an uh-oh.
For comparison's sake, Arkansas has averaged 74.5 plays on offense and 57.5 on defense during their light non-conference schedule. Only two SEC teams have average more than 70 snaps on defense, and just six teams nationally have their defense on the field for more than 80 plays a game. No one even approaches 90 defensive plays a game. The national average for number of plays on defense is 67.3 and 68.8 on offense.
Up against that little issue, it's almost shocking Auburn's 2-0 but they are thanks to some late game heroics. Whether this is a serious flaw of just the byproduct of two crazy games remains to be seen but, bottom-line, Chizik needs to make some adjustments.
Other stats of note
- Michigan's Denard Robinson thrilled the country against Notre Dame and became the first UM quarterback to beat the Irish twice since Jim Harbaugh did so back in the late 1980's. He also has accounted for an astounding 96% of the offense the last two games between the schools.
- Texas has outscored its opponents 35-6 in the second half while USC outscored their opponent in the 4th quarter for just the fourth time in 15 games this weekend.
- Tyler Bray's 405 yards are the most for a Tennessee quarterback since the legend himself, Peyton Manning, wore orange. Bray finished 34-of-41 and tossed four touchdowns. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers both had 10 catches for over 100 yards and the pair combined for three TD receptions.
- In the last 11 years, the Georgia-South Carolina series has only been decided by nine points or less eight times. Since 2004, the winner has had fewer than 20 points every year but 2009 and 2011.
- Alabama has not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter for seven straight games.
- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine once again this year. He has a nation's-best 35 total tackles while the next closest player has 27.
- What an impressive, almost surgical attack led by Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys' offense came out and pretty much blew away the Arizona secondary on Thursday en route to a 37-14 win in Stillwater. Weeden connected on his 13 passes and finished up with a ho-hum 397 yards after slowing down in the second half. He's flown under the radar a little bit (even in his own state) but in 15 starts, he has only two losses by a total of 16 points. It's sometime easy to say a lot of his success is due to receiver Justin Blackmon but Weeden is the triggerman for what the team does. This team can also run the ball pretty well - Joseph Randle is 15th in the country in rushing - and should make for a fun Big 12 regular season when they play fellow top 15 teams Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
- Senior writer Bruce Feldman touched on FIU in his Sunday column but what a win for Mario Cristobal's program. Their win over Louisville was the first win ever for the program over BCS team and showed that the Golden Panthers are more than just the dynamic all-purpose superstar T.Y. Hilton. They take on another rising in-state program in UCF this week and if they can pull off the upset, a run at going undefeated isn't out of the question. It will be tough to stop the Knights but FIU has the athletes and coaches to make it a game.
- Speaking of Louisville, their game against Kentucky might be downright unwatchable. Louisville is a mess offensively and their defense is suspect. Luckily for Charlie Strong, they'll face a Kentucky team that has serious issues with both lines. It's going to really be rough once the Wildcats get into SEC play this year if they continue to play as sloppy as they have been during their first two games. Fans from both schools are probably counting down the days until basketball season already.
- If there's one thing that might be different under Luke Fickell at Ohio State, it's the offense is involving the tight end more. Senior Jake Stoneburner came into the season with 22 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Through two games this season he has eight catches for 93 yards and four TD's and seems to be one of quarterback Joe Bauserman's favorite targets. The Buckeyes haven't look completely in rhythm on offense but that's not Stoneburner's fault.
- Not sure what to make of Texas' win over BYU other than it's a baby step back to respectability. Garrett Gilbert's not who Mack Brown wanted him to be coming out of camp, looking shaky again with some bad decisions before being pulled for David Ash and Case McCoy. Using Ash in some zone read situations was a good change of pace and was a productive play with their speed at running back - a group that finally got going, including freshman Malcolm Brown. The defense still is a concern, as BYU seemed to pick apart the middle of the field. Might take awhile for everybody to get comfortable with Manny Diaz' system but there's some talent on the team. Baby steps.
- Two quarterbacks in the Northwest were rolling this weekend. In Oregon, Darron Thomas and the Ducks offense seemed to be back in their normal sixth-gear against Nevada. Thomas had just 13 attempts - after throwing for 54 against LSU - but six of them were for touchdowns on Saturday. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas had over 200 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns. He's a small but tough back who has speed to burn, should be fun to see what Chip Kelly does with him as he learns more of the playbook.
At Washington, Keith Price got the Huskies off to a 2-0 start by throwing for 315 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on his first eight throws and has spread the ball around to a good receiving group well. Things got a little tight against Hawaii but Price and running back Chris Polk kept the Huskies moving. This team may not be a top 15-caliber squad but they're certainly going to give others fits if they can stop playing down to their competition at times.
- I was a bit shocked to see that Clemson opened up as a favorite against Auburn this week, their own issues aside. Dabo Swinney's club struggled against Wafford and things are not going to get any easier. The offense is productive in the stat sheet but in they're still struggling to adjust to Chad Morris' system. The rush defense in particular is very concerning, ranking 107th in the country after two games against a Sun Belt and an FCS opponent.
- Several people in the Alabama program told me that the Crimson Tide defense might be the best ever under Nick Saban. After watching two games, I think they're close to being right. The score was a bit closer than expected against Penn State at 27-11 but this is a very good group. They look faster and deeper than the national championship squad a couple of years ago and are not the opposing quarterback's best friend, to say the least.
My top 10 after week 2:
4. Boise State
5. Texas A&M
8. Florida State
9. Oklahoma State
10. South Carolina
Where we'll be this week
I'll be out at the Ineligible Bowl, Ohio State at Miami on Saturday. Senior writer Brett McMurphy is in Tallahassee for the top five showdown of Oklahoma and Florida State.
Across the goal line
There were a series of firsts in the USC-Utah game I was at this weekend. Trojans kicker Andre Heidari recorded the first points in Pac-12 conference history while teammate Marc Tyler will be in the record books for scoring the first touchdown. Thanks to their 17-14 win over the Utes, USC won the final Pac-10 game and the very first Pac-12 game.
In many ways, the first ever Pac-12 conference game - which wasn't really true because Colorado and Cal played earlier that day in an overtime "non-conference" game - featured many of the same elements of its Pac-10 predecessors. There were big plays on offense, a close game, USC on national (cable) television at night and, oh yeah, an officiating controversy.
As I walked down the steps of the Coliseum toward the field right before their drive, I kept thinking this was a welcome to the conference moment for Utah. Boy was it ever.
I was about 10 yards away when, on 4th down, DeVonte Christopher caught an in-route that seemed to fall just short of the first down marker. It seemed like a bad spot but the refs said it was a turnover on downs. Then they reviewed it, remarked the spot and gave Utah a first down. Saved by Pac-10… er, -12 replay officials.
Then there was the pass interference call on the next play. That set up the Utes' field goal attempt. I couldn't quite see the holder but was looking at the middle of the line in case the kick was blocked. Next thing I know the ball is bouncing right into the hands of USC corner Torin Harris and he's off to the end zone. The crowd and sidelines were going crazy as he raced to the end zone. I turned to talk to a colleague and saw a few players run out to get a better angle on the return. Seconds later I saw the flag, then the announcement that the game was over. The touchdown didn't count, but the game was over.
What just happened I wondered. Duty, however, called as I tried to grab a few players to talk about the win (or, in the case of the Utes, loss). I kept thinking how close Utah had gotten and, in their first conference game, they had played like they belonged despite coming up short in the win column. They came into a storied venue and almost knocked off the conference's most storied program. Utah is a good team that was well coached but wasn't quite good enough on a beautiful Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Then there was a tweet that popped up as I got back to the press box to begin transcribing. Hold your horses, the score was in question. The Pac-12 was reviewing what happened at the end of the game. As Michael Lev of the O.C. Register noted down on the field, the touchdown had huge implications for bettors across the country with USC favored by 8-8.5 points.
That's when the story changed from Utah being not quite good enough to, apparently, the Pac-12 officials "miss-communicating" and they were actually nine points from being good enough.
It was an unusual ending that I'm still trying to get my head around because the score itself changed after the fact - regardless what the conference says. The Caesars, MGM and Wynn sports books apparently stayed with the 17-14 result. The Hilton, Cantor, South Point sports books switched to 23-14. Some honored both. If you threw away a winning ticket, that is a bad beat that will be with you for a long time.
A finish that was wild, unbelievable and involved money. In a roundabout way, the first ever Pac-12 game got me very prepared for the Ineligible Bowl next week.
I knew you were good Larry Scott, didn't know you were this good.
Tags: Aaron Murray, ACC, Alabama, Alabama, Andre Heidarai, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Boston College, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, BYU, Cal, Case McCoy, Chad Morris, Charlie Strong, Chip Kelly, Chris Polk, Chris Relf, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Coliseum, Colorado, Da'Rick Rogers, Dab Swinney, Darron Thomas, David Ash, De'Anthony Thomas, Denard Robinson, DeVonte Christopher, FCS, FIU, Garrett Gilbert, Gene Chizik, Hawaii, Iowa, Iowa State, Isaiah Crowell, Jake Stoneburner, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Bauserman, Joseph Randle, Justin Blackmon, Justin Hunter, Keith Price, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Kuechly, Mack Brown, Manny Diaz, Marc Tyler, Marcus Lattimore, Mario Christobal, Mark Richt, Melvin Ingram, Miami, Michael Lev, Michigan, Mississippi State, NCAA, Nevada, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-12, Penn State, Peyton Manning, Rutgers, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Stephon Gilmore, Steve Spurrier, Sun Belt, Surveying the Field, T.Y. Hilton, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Toledo, Torin Harris, Tyler Bray, UCF, UConn, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Wafford, Washington, Wisconsin