Posted on: September 13, 2011 5:24 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:49 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Anyone who was paying attention knew it was inevitable sooner or later. As it turns out, Isaiah Crowell's acsension to Georgia's starting running back position wound up coming "sooner."
Mark Richt confirmed tuesday that Crowell would take over as the Bulldogs' No. 1 tailback, thanks to a combination of his performance against South Carolina and an injury to previous starter Richard Samuel. Crowell had 118 yards rushing and 40 more receiving, averaging a robust 8.8 yards per touch.
"I think he's a special back," Richt said. “As the (South Carolina) game was going on I thought he was running well, but when I looked at the film he made great runs."
Which is why Crowell likely would have jumped to the No. 1 spot even without Samuel's injury. But it no doubt made Richt's decision a little easier that Samuel is "kind of hobbled" by a heel contusion, Richt said. Despite being the nomianl starter, Samuel is only the team's third-leading rusher, having averged only 3.1 yards on his 18 carries.
Samuel is expected to receive limited practice time this week, and if he can't go against Bulldog Week 3 opponent Coastal Carolina, junior Carlton Thomas is expected to be Crowell's top backup. Redshirt freshman Ken Malcome may also get a look. (And if he doesn't, it won't be a very good sign at all for his future chances at contributing.)
But all eyes will be on the five-star freshman Saturday. Not so much for the boost he might give his team against the FCS Chanticleers (who would still be overwhelmed even if the puppy from Crowell's Signing Day announcement was named the Dawgs' starting tailback), but to see if he can repeat his breakout performance against the Gamecocks--and confirm himsef as the playmaker who might be able to drag the Bulldogs to a successful season after all.
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Posted on: September 12, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 1:04 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This Saturday was not kind to the SEC on the injury front. Here's the rundown.
GEORGIA. After the Week 1 injury to sophomore Alec Ogletree, there may not have been an area of the field where Georgia could less afford to sustain an injury than at inside linebacker. But that's exactly where they've sustained one all the same, as CBSSports.com RapidReporter Fletcher Page reported Sunday that junior Christian Robinson has injured his foot and will miss at least three games. Robinson leads the Bulldogs through two games with 22 tackles.
With former inside linebacker Richard Samuel now plying his trade at running back in the wake of the departures of Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, the two ILB starters for this week's meeting against Coastal Carolina will be some combination of senior walk-on Jeremy Sulek, junior Mike Gilliard, and trure freshman Amarlo Herrera. The trio combined for four tackles against South Carolina, three of them belonging to Gilliard. Mark Richt won't admit it even if it is what he's planning, but with Isaiah Crowell shining at tailback, we could see Samuel moved back to linebacker this week.
There is some good injury news for the Dawgs; starting offensive lineman Kenarious Gates should be back on the field this week after missing the Garolina game with a sprained ankle.
ARKANSAS. Though he's not currently expected to miss the Razorbacks' Saturday matchup with Troy, starting quarterback Tyler Wilson did leave his team's rout of New Mexico with concussion-like symptoms. Bobby Petrino said that though Wilson had not (and as of now, has not) been diagnosed with a concussion, they weren't taking any chanes.
Wilson wasn't the only Hog to take a knock against the Lobos. Though not currently expected to miss any time going forward, receiver Jarius Wright and defensive end Jake Bequette -- both key members of the Razorbak starting lineup -- missed the second half after being "nicked up" with a knee and hamstring injury, respectively.
MISSISSIPPI STATE. Bulldog fans had to fear the worst when starting left tackle James Carmon was carted off the field in the second half of State's loss to Auburn. And Carmon will indeed likely miss at least this Thursday's huge home tilt against LSU. But the good news here for MSU far outweighs the bad: Carmon will not face surgery, and Dan Mullen said that fellow injured lineman Quentin Saulsberry should be able to play against the Bayou Bengals.
Given both Carmon's and Saulsberry's importance to the State line and how serious both injuries appeared to look Saturday -- Carmon's in particular -- we suspect those sighs of relief you're hearing right now are coming from Starkville.
FLORIDA. The Gators are ailing, but as things stand now, they should have nearly everyone aavailable for their SEC opener against Tennessee. Running back Jeff Demps left the UAB drubbing with a shoulder injury but "should be fine" according to Will Muschamp. Starting tight end Jordan Reed should also be able to overcome a hamstring problem, and junior corner Jeremy Brown may be able to return from a knee injury after missing two weeks.
ELSEWHERE: South Carolina true freshman running back Shon Carson sustained a serious knee injury and will be "out for a while," per Steve Spurrier ... Tennessee had a pair of lineman starters leave the Cincinnati game with injuries, but both could see the field against Florida anyway ... Still no timetable on the return of backup Ole Miss running back Enrique Davis. (Starter Brandon Bolden is, of course, out with a broken ankle. Fortunately, third-stringer Jeff Scott appears more than capable of filling in.).
Tags: Alec Ogletree, Amarlo Herrera, Arkansas, Auburn, Bobby Petrino, Brandon Bolden, Caleb King, Christian Robinson, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Dan Mullen, Enrique Davis, Florida, Georgia, Isaiah Crowell, Jake Bequette, James carmon, Jarius Wright, Jeff Demps, Jeff Scott, Jeremy Brown, Jeremy Sulek, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Reed, Kenarious Gates, LSU, Mark Richt, Mike Gillard, Mississippi State, New Mexico, Quentin Saulsberry, Richard Samuel, SEC, Shon Carson, South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Troy, Tyler Wilson, UAB, Washaun Ealey, Will Muschamp
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
Posted on: September 11, 2011 2:16 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 2:20 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. Mark Richt is in deep, deep trouble. But he's not finished. It would be different if the Dawgs had lost Saturday the way they lost against Boise State, getting overwhelmed in the trenches and wilting in the second half. It would be different if Richt's team hadn't shown such drastic improvement from Week 1 to Week 2--not just on the scoreboard, but in everything from run blocking to tackling to special teams work. It would be different if Georgia hadn't had every opportunity to win the game Saturday. And most importantly, it would be different if the Dawgs were facing a different schedule.
But they are facing the schedule they're facing, which includes one tricky true road date (at Tennessee), the annual Cocktail Party showdown against Florida, two challenging home games against Auburn and Mississippi State ... and six other winnable games. Saving Richt's job won't be easy; we projected earlier it would take nine wins to do it, meaning Richt would have to go 3-1 in the games above and sweep the remaining six.
But it's certainly possible. His team hasn't thrown in the towel. He has a star on his hands in Isaiah Crowell, who in the Dawgs' next big game we'll wager won't carry only 16 times. He has a quarterback who remains one of the SEC's best, despite his serious mistakes against the Gamecocks. He has a defense that only really gave up 27 points and should be even better against anyone who's not Marcus Lattimore. He's not dead yet.
2. Alabama is a national title contender. This is something we've had confirmed, rather than outright "learned," but there's no other way to look at the Tide's strangle job on the Nittany Lions. AJ McCarron wasn't impressive statistically (just 5.3 yards per attempt), but that "zero" in the interceptions column is really the only statistic that matters. Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy combined for 196 yards on the ground. And after generously allowing Penn State a first-quarter field goal, the Tide defense barely let the Lions breathe again until the game was entirely out of reach.
Considering all of that was on the road against a quality Big Ten team, yes, the Tide deserve to be in the same breath with LSU and Oklahoma at the top of the polls until proven otherwise.
(A random aside: is it time for Lacy to start borrowing a few more of Richardson's carries? He's gotten only 19 attempts in two games to Richardson's 37, but boasts a per-carry average of 7.5 yards to Richardson's 3.8. Food for thought.)
3. Whatever else they are, Auburn is dangerous. Given that they share a division with the Tide, LSU and Arkansas, it's hard to see a team that's given up 979 yards in two games (one of them against Utah State) go on to win a division title. But focusing entirely on Auburn's defensive problems means missing the fact the Tigers have started the year with 83 points in those two games--42 in the first, 41 in the second. And that's before Gus Malzahn's attack has really put it all together, too. The run game sputtered in Week 1; the passing game was inconsistent in Week 2.
Combine a potentially even more lethal offense with a much-improved special teams (led by freshman kickoff return weapon Tre Mason and redshirt frosh kicker Cody Parkey), and there may not be any single game on Auburn's schedule where they couldn't erupt for 40-45 points and win.
4. Speaking of dangerous: Tyler Bray is, too. That 5-of-30 performance in the Vols' spring game is far, far behind the sophomore now. Bray tore the visiting Cincinnati defense to pieces, completing 34 of his 41 passes for 405 yards, 4 touchdowns, and -- perhaps most importantly for a player whose coaches have occasionally accused of being too loose with his decision-making -- zero interceptions. Like Auburn, the Vol defense may not be strong enough to insert Bray's team alongside the Gamecocks and Gators in the SEC East race (the Bearcats ran for a whopping 6.4 yards on their 26 carries) ... but they might make things awfully interesting all the same.
5. Florida and Arkansas need to play someone. Full credit to the Gators and Hogs for dispatching lightweights UAB and New Mexico by a combined 88 points Saturday. But it's tough to know exactly how seriously to take either team playing cream-puff opponents like these or respective week 1 fodder FAU and Missouri State. (At least the Gators get serious next week against the Vols; the Hogs have to wait until a Week 4 showdown with the Tide.)
6. Vandy won't be an embarrassment. It remains to be seen how much headway they can make in the win column against their SEC slate, but that doesn't mean we should overlook that James Franklin's 'Dores already have as many wins in 2011 as they had in either 2009 or 2010. Thanks to a legitimately stingy defense that held UConn to fewer than 200 total yards, Vandy should be far more competitive than the 2010 squad that was outgained by 245 yards per SEC game.
Tags: AJ McCarron, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Boise State, Cincinnati, Cody Parkey, Eddie Lacy, FAU, Florida, Georgia, Gus Malzahn, Isaiah Crowell, James Franklin, James Franklin the Vanderbilt coach not the Missouri quarterback, Jerry Hinnen, LSU, Marcus LAttimore, Mark Richt, Mississippi State, Missouri State, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, Tre Mason, Trent Richardson, Tyler Bray, UAB, UConn, Utah State, Vanderbilt
Posted on: September 10, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 9:11 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WON: In another good old-fashioned SEC shootout (that's how it goes in this conference these days), the Gamecocks escaped Athens with a 45-42 victory, defeating Georgia in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2000-2001. Marcus Lattimore only enhanced his reputation as the league's preeminent Bulldog-slayer with 160 yards on just 26 carries, a 6.2 per-carry average. But the story was the opportunistic Gamecock defense and special teams, which scored three touchdowns directly -- two of them by defensive end/tackle Melvin Ingram, who rumbled 68 yards for a score on a fake punt and later recovered a fumble for a score -- and set up a fourth with a 57-yard Stephon Gilmore fumble return to the Georgia 5.
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because they made the plays that mattered. As with many of Georgia's losses a year ago, the Bulldogs were good enough from a statistical standpoint to win the game: they held Stephen Garcia to just 141 yards passing and picked him off twice; they outgained Carolina overall 435 yards to 389; they averaged a healthy 6.5 yards per-play and revived their moribund running game behind Isaiah Crowell's hard-charging 116 yards.
But in the end, none of that was enough to offset the Dawgs' three killer turnovers, which Carolina turned into a touchdown on all three opportunities. As sharp as Aaron Murray was overall, hitting 19-of-29 for 248 yards and four touchdowns, his two mistakes were backbreakers: first a pick-six thrown to Antonio Allen immediately following the momentum-changing fumble return to put the Bulldogs down eight entering the fourth, and then the all-but-game-ending fumble that Ingram returned to put Carolina up 10 with just 3:12 left.
Yes, as he was in 2010, Lattimore was the best player on the field; by the fourth quarter, he was powering over, past, and through Bulldog defenders much as he did in Columbia last year. But without the fake punt, the fumble returns, and Allen's interception, the Bulldogs likely would have found a way to outshine him anyway.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: How good was Ingram? Not only did he score on the momentum-turning fake punt (smoothly eluding a tackle attempt by UGA punt returner Branden Smith in the process), not only did he score the Gamecocks' final touchdown (after Jadeveon Clowney had forced the Murray fumble), but he also skied to recover the Bulldogs' well-executed last-gasp onside kick with 2:15 remaining. With Georgia only down three and having carved up the Gamecock secondary for much of the second half, Ingram's effort was critical ... and arguably sealed team MVP honors for the day.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: With Florida coming to Columbia later this season, the right to be called the clearcut SEC East favorites. Moreover, the win was another sign that the up-and-down malaise that affected the early years of Steve Spurrier's tenure are well and truly gone. The old Gamecocks would have found a way to wilt on the road in the face of a quality opponent playing quality football; the new ones have the big guns in Lattimore, Ingram, Clowney, and Alshon Jeffery to weather the storm and make enough plays to ride out the storm.
WHAT GEORGIA LOST: Give Mark Richt this: his team played far, far better than they did a week ago, and they could have very easily won the game. But there have been many Bulldog football games over the past three years where Georgia could have won, where they played well but not well enough to win. With the Bulldogs now staring down a de facto two-game hole in the SEC East race and sitting at 0-2 overall, Richt has no doubt now lost every last shred of "margin for error" or "benefit of the doubt" his tenure possessed. He must win the overwhelming majority of his remaining games -- surely, nothing less than nine of them -- or he will be fired.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 3:02 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.
Admittedly the menu this week is not as artery-clogging as last week's, but that's probably a good thing. After the five-day all-you-can-eat buffet that was the first week of the season, we should all eat a bit lighter this week. Of course, just because we won't be feasting on meals guaranteed to shorten our life spans, that doesn't mean there aren't some tasty entrees at our disposal.
Let's take a look at what we have to dine on this Saturday.
#8 Wisconsin vs. Oregon State - ESPN 12pm ET
It's hard to imagine two seasons starting in such opposite directions. Oregon State dropped an overtime thriller to Sacramento State, while Wisconsin breezed to victory over UNLV. If these teams play at the same level tomorrow, this could be a historic blowout. And we all like watching touchdowns by the bucket, don't we? - Adam Jacobi
#17 Michigan State vs. FAU - ESPN2 12pm ET
Howard Schnellenberger's five-game road trip to kick off his farewell season rolls into Detroit to face a Spartan team looking to rebound from a sluggish start. This was supposed to be a home game for FAU, but with the $70-million stadium in Boca Raton still under construction the contest was moved to Ford Field. After coaching from the press box last week due to complications from hip surgery, Schnellenberger will return to the sideline and try to inspire more than 137 yards of offense for the Owls. Michigan State fans will also want to see more cohesion out of the Spartans, who committed eight penalties and never really hit their stride against an inferior Youngstown State squad. - Chip Patterson
Auburn vs. #16 Mississippi State - SEC Network 12:21pm ET
It won't have the divisional title implications of the Georgia-South Carolina matchup, but both the Tigers and Bulldogs will be fighting every bit as tooth-and-nail for a victory here as their Eastern counterparts will later in the day. Dan Mullen's State team wants to cement its status as a legitimate West division factor but simply can't without a win over the brutally inexperienced Tigers; Auburn, meanwhile, is in desperate danger of being branded a one-year wonder if they follow up their escape from Utah State with a loss in one of the most winnable games on their SEC slate. - Jerry Hinnen
#23 Penn State vs. #3 Alabama - ABC 3:30pm ET
If Penn State fans want some respect from the national media for this team, the Nittany Lions are going to have to earn it on the national stage, hosting No. 2 Alabama. The Tide is loaded again this year, but like PSU, there's some QB drama at Bama. Watch to see if McCarron or whoever else the Tide throws out there on Saturday can handle what promises to be a maniacally loud Beaver Stadium. - AJ
#13 Oregon vs. Nevada - FX 3:30pm ET
After getting embarrassed by LSU's defense in the opener, I expect Mark Helfrich to have the attack meter all the way turned up against the Wolf Pack. Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and Co. have not derailed from their 2010 form, it just seems these massive SEC defenses are the Ducks' kryptonite. After a frustrating loss, coaches will want to take advantage of every single snap against their next opponent. You will want to watch this game because Oregon will put the foot on the gas pedal (Cliff Harris!) and never let up for four quarters. - CP
Air Force vs. #25 TCU - Versus 3:30pm ET
You can be sure that TCU didn't exactly enjoy having the entire country see Baylor tear its defense apart last Friday, and the unit is going to look to save some face against Air Force on Saturday afternoon. This game will also mark the beginning of the final year of Mountain West conference play for the Horned Frogs, and I'm sure they'd like to go out with quite a bang. - Tom Fornelli
Georgia vs. #12 South Carolina - ESPN 4:30pm ET
Well, this is it: the defining game of Mark Richt's Georgia tenure. Lose it, and any shred of momentum from the "Dream Team" offseason or hope of a divisional title (most likely) is gone. Win it, and the Dawgs suddenly sit in the East catbird seat with the SEC's easiest schedule on tap. It's either the miserable end for one of the sport's most visible coaches, or the giddy start to a stunning reclamation project, with no in-between ... and Stephen Garcia's involved, too. A must-watch. - JH
#24 Texas vs. BYU - ESPN2 7pm ET
The Big 12 of the future! Does BYU win the game in hopes of gaining a Big 12 invite, or does it show its true Big 12 street cred by allowing Texas to walk all over it? Tune in to find out! Seriously, though, this will be a much better indication of how improved Texas is this year than last week's game against Rice. BYU is fresh off a nice road win against Ole Miss and should provide a much tougher test for the Longhorns. - TF
USC vs. Utah - Versus 7:30pm ET
The Pac-12 officially kicks off conference play and it should be a good one as former BCS busters Utah will try and prove they can play with the conference's most storied program from the get-go. USC's record-setting pair of quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods won't have much time to throw the ball around as the Utes have a very good front seven this year. Old friend Norm Chow also returns to the Coliseum, this time with a solid quarterback in Jordan Wynn, so it should be a fun league opener. - Bryan Fischer
Michigan vs. Notre Dame - ESPN 8pm ET
The first night game in the history of the Big House has plenty to offer everyone. How will Michigan's defense perform this week now that it might have to play an entire 60 minutes, and do so against a Notre Dame offense that features a lot more weapons than Western Michigan's did. Also, will Denard Robinson have an encore performance of his game against the Irish last year? That's the one that made him a household name last September when he accounted for 502 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns. - TF
LATE NIGHT SNACK
UCLA vs. San Jose State - 10pm ET
Rick Neuheisel cares. He might be the only one at UCLA who cares, but he really does care passionately about his alma matter. The Bruins hope to turn things around after their disappointing loss to Houston in which the defense looked like a mess. San Jose State isn't the most appealing opponent but it's the only late night game on Saturday and the Bruins should get the offense going no matter who's in the backfield. - BF
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Air Force, Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Bryan Fischer, BYU, Chip Patterson, Cliff Harris, Dan Mullen, Darron Thomas, Denard Robinson, FAU, Georgia, Howard Schnellenberger, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Wynn, LaMichael James, LSU, Mark Helfrich, Mark Richt, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Mountain West, MWC, Nevada, Norm Chow, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Rice, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Woods, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, TCU, Texas, Tom Fornelli, UCLA, UNLV, USC, Utah, Utah State, WAC, Western Michigan, Wisconsin, Youngstown State
Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:58 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 5:44 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Each Thursday we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:
Mike Bobo: do you know what you're doing with an up-tempo shotgun offense? After rumblings from fall camp that Georgia would unveil a no-huddle spread offense gainst Boise State, the Bulldogs didn't quite go the full Dana Holgorsen ... but they definitely flirted with it, breaking away from their traditional pro-style I-formation look for a multitude of quick snaps, multi-receiver sets, and shotgun handoffs. The results were occasionally spectacular (see Brandon Boykin's 80-yard touchdown run) but more frequently sputterrific (see the other 25 rushes for all of 57 yards, or Boise's six sacks).
So why the change? "We wanted to get more plays, which we didn’t do on Saturday,” Bulldog coordinator Bobo said. “But we’re committed to doing it, and more plays equals more opportunities, and more chances to score.”
This is true, technically speaking. A faster tempo does lead to more possessions and plays packed into a game, and more scoring chances. But that's true for both teams, not just the one running the no-huddle; barring onside kick shenanigans or the occasional odd break at the end of a half, possessions in football are always going to be equal. For seasoned practitioners of the no-huddle like Holgorsen or Gus Malzahn, tempo is partially about giving their offense as many opportunities as possible, but it's also about making it more efficient by keeping an opposing defense off-balance and wearing it down over the course of 60 minutes.
Bobo is not one of those seasoned practitioners. As the Athens Banner-Herald points out, in 2010 Georgia ran fewer plays than any other team in the SEC. Suddenly lurching into a part-time, only-half-committed shotgun spread outfit seems from here to be a good way to neither execute that plan well nor the Bulldogs' traditional power-running and play-action bread-and-butter. One Georgia blogger has cleverly referred to Bobo's plan as the Cheesecake Factory offense--one that attempts to do everything, and in the end does none of it well enough to win.
Mark Richt, for what it's worth, is firmly on board with Bobo's approach. But if it doesn't pay far more dividends against South Carolina than it did against Boise (and if there's a bigger red flag than giving up six sacks to the Broncos the week before facing Devin Taylor, Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney, we haven't seen it), Richt may pay for that support with an 0-2 start and the hottest seat in the country.
Auburn's defensive line: what can you do with Mississippi State? The surprising thing about Utah State's 84-play slice-and-dice job on the Tiger defense wasn't the 22-of-31 passing from true freshman Chuckie Keeton, or the resulting 13-of-20 mark for the Aggies on third- and fourth-down conversions; Ted Roof's Tiger teams have always had issues with a tight, controlled passing game like USU's. But they've also usually been stout enough against the run to make up for that Achilles heel -- Auburn led the SEC in rush defense last year -- making the true stunner the Aggies' 227 yards on the ground.
Unfortunately for Roof and the Tigers, things only get tougher this week. State boasts the league's best dual-threat quarterback in Chris Relf, a veteran line featuring three senior starters, Dan Mullen's tried-and-true option schemes, and one of the nation's most underrated tailbacks in Vick Ballard. Even Auburn is obviously a far cry from Memphis, but the 309 rushing yards and 8.1 yard per-carry average racked up by the Bulldogs in Week 1 still make for a hell of a warning shot across the bow of the Tiger front seven.
That front seven should get a boost with the return of suspended senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman, and Roof's long track record of run-stuffing success suggests some level of improvement is due. But the Tiger front remains so young -- all four starting defensive linemen are sophomores -- that it will take a major, major leap forward for Auburn to avoid getting steamrolled. Are they up to it?
Alabama: is your offense good enough to stake a claim to No. 1? Maybe we'll be proven wrong about this. But the guess here is that despite the change of venue to Happy Valley, there won't be any more competitive drama in Saturday's Alabama-Penn State clash than there was in last year's 24-3 Tide throttling in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban's loaded roster of future pros dominated the Nittany Lions physically in nearly every aspect of the 2010 meeting, and that's not a problem we see Joe Paterno repairing in the space of one offseason.
Which means the burning question is one of degree: does the Tide offense have the chops to go on the road and put together a performance worthy of putting the team in the top-of-the-polls discussion? Underrated though Kent State's defense may be (10th in FBS total defense in 2010), the Tide still looked surprisingly sloppy on attack, despite the 48-7 final. The quarterbacks threw four interceptions; the offensive line missed a handful of assignments; the Tide receivers and quarterbacks put the ball on the ground four times.
Were those opening-week jitters ... or something more serious that might deprive the Tide of championships once the 2011 season is finished? A dominant performance against a Lion team with plenty of questions of its own in the front seven would go a long way towards affirming it was the former.
Also worth asking: Can Tennessee's Janzen Jackson-less secondary hold up against Cincinnati's lively passing game? (The league's most underrated Week 2 matchup could be decided here.) Can Vanderbilt look like a real team another real team? (Despite their 45-14 win over FCS Elon, the 'Dores were outgained by 14 yards. Jury's well out.) Will Kentucky or Ole Miss show any signs of life on offense? (If the 'Cats and Rebels can't get better against Central Michigan and Southern Illinois, respectively, it's going to be a long season.)
Tags: Alabama, Auburn, Boise State, Brandon Boykin, Central Michigan, Cheesecake Factory, Chris Relf, Chuckie Keeton, Cincinnati, Dan Mullen, Dana Holgorsen, Devin Taylor, Eltoro Freeman, Georgia, Gus Malzahn, Jadeveon Clowney, Jerry Hinnen, Joe Paterno, Kent State, Kentucky, Mark Richt, Melvin Ingram, Memphis, Mike Bobo, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, Penn State, SEC, SEC Interrogation, South Carolina, Southern Illinois, Ted Roof, Tennessee, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Vick Ballard
Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 2:41 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.
It is clear that this is a fight that will not be won easily, as both Woman and Machine dealt me a crushing blow in the first week of the season. Fear not, my fellow containers of the Y chromosome, for a war is not lost in the first battle, and we have many more to fight. So let's get to the senseless slaughter, shall we?
Oklahoma State (-14 1/2) vs. Arizona - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)Man - This one could wind up being quite the barnburner much along the lines of the Baylor/TCU game we saw on Friday night. It's two good offenses facing off against each other, and it may come down to which defense can make a stop when it has to. Even though I'd give the edge on defense to Arizona, the fact that this game is being played in Stillwater makes me lean toward the Cowboys, but at the same time Oklahoma State's defense makes me think this one could be a lot closer than the spread indicates. Of course, it's hard to forget Oklahoma State beating Arizona 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl. Screw it, I'm riding with the Cowboys. Pick: Oklahoma State
Woman - "Remember the Alamo Bowl." Pick: Oklahoma State
Machine - The Machine sees a lot more defense in this one than I'd expect, and Brandon Weeden struggles against Mike Stoops' defense, throwing for only 245 yards and 1 touchdown. OSU wins 27-14, but the Cats cover. Pick: Arizona
Arizona State (-7 1/2) vs. Missouri - Friday, 10:30pmMan - I really don't have a lot of faith in the Missouri offense after last week's performance, but it's hard to get a decent read on Arizona State based on one game against UC-Davis. While I still believe in the Missouri defense, I think being on the road will catch up to them in the second half and the Sun Devils pull this one off. Pick: Arizona State
Woman - "This is Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather. This is your football team on Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather. Any questions?" Pick: Arizona State
Machine - The Machine is fearful of James Franklin's inability to throw passes over 7 yards as well, but it does not think that will keep the Tigers from putting up points and the defense from smothering ASU. Missouri 24-10. Pick: Missouri
Wisconsin (-21 1/2) vs. Oregon State - Saturday, 12pmMan - Bret Bielema let me down last week. After Wisconsin buried UNLV early on Thursday night he decided to call off the dogs and not pursue 100 points. That being said, Oregon State lost at home to Sacramento State. I don't care how kind and cuddly this new version of Bret Bielema has become, nor how large the spread, I am not picking a team that loses at home to Sacramento State. Pick: Wisconsin
Woman - "On one hand, Russell Wilson magic and a monster Badger homefield advantage. On the other hand, a hammy-challenged Beaver rusher and a secondary that might as well be wearing Louboutin athletic shoes. Wait, that's the same hand. Wisconsin wins easily but throttles back, so doesn't quite cover." Pick: Oregon State
Machine - ALERT! ALERT! THE MACHINE HAS BEEN COMPROMISED! IT IS ON DRUGS! IT HAS OREGON STATE WINNING THIS GAME 16-0! Pick: Oregon State
Auburn vs. Mississippi State (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 12:21pmMan: We saw how tough life could be for Auburn this season without Cam Newton when the Tigers barely had the power to squeak by Utah State at home last weekend, and Mississippi State is a much tougher foe than the Aggies were. That being said, a spread this large for a team on the road in the SEC seems rather ominous, so while I wouldn't be shocked if Auburn loses, it's going to be another close game. Pick: Auburn
Woman - "Pay no attention to the neutered Tiger behind the curtain. Mississippi State wins but doesn't cover." Pick: Auburn
Machine - According to The Machine, Auburn will once again find itself in a whole during the fourth quarter this week, but unlike last Saturday, this hole will be too deep to climb out of. Mississippi State wins 35-21. Pick: Mississippi State
Penn State vs. Alabama (-9 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - An SEC team makes a rare appearance in a Big Ten stadium this week, and I have a feeling that the Tide won't be the most polite visitors the conference has seen. I know that there are still some questions on offense for Alabama, but I just don't see Penn State's offense being able to do much against that Alabama defense. Pick: Alabama
Woman - "Do you ever wonder if Joe Paterno is actually comatose lying in a hospital bed at some nursing home called Happy Valley and we're all just figments of his imagination? No? Uh, me either... Regardless, good D versus great D means JoePa's gonna have bad dreams." Pick: Alabama
Machine - The Machine sees Robert Bolden enjoying his date against Alabama a lot more this season, but unfortunately a late 40-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson makes it a Not-So-Happy Valley. Alabama just gets by 24-23. Pick: Penn State
Duke vs. Stanford (-21 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Let me make this clear: There is nothing I enjoy less than picking against a home team that is a 21 1/2-point underdog. That being said, one of these teams has Andrew Luck and the other one lost to Richmond last week. Pick: Stanford
Woman - "Crimson last year, now Cardinal? Red looks terrible on Duke. Coincidentally, reverse the spread and it would equal the mean IQ point differential in respective student bodies." Pick: Stanford
Machine - The Machine does not experience human emotions, but it is torn on this game. Does The Machine go with the kids who designed it, or the kids who begged mommy and daddy to buy it for them? Stanford wins 34-31. Pick: Duke
Georgia vs. South Carolina (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 4:30pmMan - This is an incredibly important game for so early in the season as it could play a large role in who wins the SEC East. It also features yet another home underdog, but to be honest, I'm not all that concerned this time around. What I am concerned about is the fact I have so much faith in a team that features Stephen Garcia as its quarterback. Pick: South Carolina
Woman - "I'm assuming Mark Richt's players want him to get out of Sanford Stadium alive." Pick: Georgia
Machine - Stephen Garcia not only starts for the Gamecocks, but he plays so unbelievably well that Steve Spurrier doesn't even think about pulling him. Garcia throws for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns as Mark Richt's seat grows even hotter. South Carolina wins 28-21. Pick: South Carolina
Nebraska (-28.5) vs. Fresno State - Saturday, 7pmMan - While I have no doubts about the fact that the Nebraska defense is going to make life hell on the Fresno State offense, I'm just not ready to give the Cornhusker offense enough credit in this one. Until Taylor Martinez can show me he can have consistently good games, a spread like this is just too large to bet against. Pick: Fresno State
Woman - "Quick question: Can Bo Pelini find out where I live? He can?" Pick: Nebraska
Machine - Much like The Woman, The Machine fears Bo Pelini smashing it into a million pieces. Nebraska wins easily, 48-17. Pick: Nebraska
USC (-9 1/2) vs. Utah - Saturday, 7:30pmMan - We all saw how much trouble that USC had with Minnesota last week, and I have a hard time believing that Utah is any weaker than the Golden Gophers. Plus at some point Lane Kiffin is going to blow USC's chances of covering by going for two and failing, and I don't want to have to rely on one of Kiffin's dumb decisions paying off to get me a win. Pick: Utah
Woman - "I'll take the points over boneheaded Lane Kiffin, even if the Song Girls try to lure the Utes into the rocks." Pick: Utah
Machine - The Machine's pick does not disappoint me this week, though I was saddened to see that USC kicked two field goals rather than failing on a two-point conversion. Utah wins 21-6. Pick: Utah
Michigan vs. Notre Dame (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - You know, Notre Dame's offense actually had a great game against South Florida last week if you could somehow erase the five turnovers, and the idea of that same offense facing a Michigan defense that can't be totally over 2010 causes me to lean towards picking the Irish here. That being said, the first ever night game at the Big House is bound to give the Wolverines a pretty nice boost, and I think this game is going to be pretty darn close. I'm not sure who wins, but I have to take the home team and the points here. Pick: Michigan
Woman - "After last week, Notre Dame has officially become the Chicago Cubs of college football." Pick:Michigan
Machine - The Machine nailed Notre Dame's loss last week, but it seems its faith in the school has been restored a bit. Or at least it believes in the healing powers of Tommy Rees as the new Irish starter throws for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Irish cruise to a 46-29 win. Pick: Notre Dame
StandingsSeason Record (Last Week)
1. Machine 11-4 (11-4)
1. Woman 11-4 (11-4)
3. Man 8-7 (8-7)
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bo Pelini, Brandon Weeden, Bret Bielema, Cam Newton, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, James Franklin, Joe Paterno, Lane Kiffin, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Mark Richt, Michigan, Mike Stoops, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pac-12, Penn State, Robert Bolden, Russell Wilson, Sacramento State, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Tom Fornelli, Tommy Rees, Trent Richardson, UC-Davis, UNLV, USC, Utah, Utah State, Wisconsin