Tony's Top 10: Johnny Drama shines in spotlight; Ole Miss' Texas test
Barnhart: Johnny Manziel has been center stage since leading the Aggies to victory in Tuscaloosa last year, and there's no reason to believe he caves to pressure now.
We're only in the third weekend of the season and there is already drama -- lots and lots of drama.
Lane Kiffin, aka, The Boy Wonder, already has the Southern California fan base calling for his head.
Mack Brown fired his defensive coordinator just two games into the season, which is never a good sign.
And it's only mid-September.
So many questions. So little time. Here are 10 to ponder:
Does Johnny Football wilt under spotlight?
This question takes me back to July, the day before Manziel was scheduled to speak at the SEC media days in Hoover, Ala. Remember that the indiscretion at the Manning Passing Academy had just taken place. In the lobby of the hotel, I ran into somebody I knew from Texas A&M and asked: "So how is Johnny going to handle tomorrow?"
My friend from A&M said: "When the spotlight comes on, he will perform well."
And he did. He handled the media as deftly as he avoids a pass rush.
Things that would distract a mere mortal do not bother this guy. He loves to compete and the tougher the situation the more he likes it. A lot of people out there are pulling against Johnny Manziel this Saturday, thinking he is the poster child for the spoiled athlete.
I've been critical of Manziel's behavior off the field but that doesn't blind me to his talent on the field, which is extraordinary. He will play well against Alabama. Will it be enough to beat the No. 1 team in the nation? I don't think so.
Does Miller even NEED to play against Cal?
The Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller tweaked his knee early in last week's game against San Diego State and did not return. Coach Urban Meyer lists Miller as "day to day" as <span data-shortcode= State" data-canon="Ohio Bobcats" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> travels to California.
Kenny Guiton more than filled in for Miller with 152 yards passing and 83 rushing. Yes, California under Sonny Dykes will try to speed things up with freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who had 935 yards passing in his first two college football games.
Still, with Florida A&M coming up next week before the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin, wouldn't this be a good week for Miller to sit? Just asking.
Is Ole Miss ready to win a game like this?
The Rebels have not forgotten how Texas laid the wood to them (66-31) last season in Oxford. On Saturday they go to Austin with a team that has three really good weapons in quarterback Bo Wallace, running back Jeff Scott and freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who is going to be a superstar. In fact there are eight freshmen from that highly ranked recruiting class, including the nation's No. 1 recruit in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, on the two-deep for this game.
With Mack Brown's defense in disarray and his back firmly against the wall, is this a game a young team like Ole Miss can win?
Did the Head Ball Coach get his D in shape for Vandy?
Steve Spurrier doesn't like to spend a whole lot of time in the defensive meeting room. It just isn't his thing. But he was more than a little critical of the unit after Georgia pounded the Gamecocks 41-30 last Saturday in Athens.
"We just can't stand around and hope good things will happen," Spurrier said. "If you play smart and you play hard then I don't have a problem. We didn't do that."
Can Tennessee hold Oregon under 50?
A couple of things have gotten my attention concerning the Ducks.
No. 1: To fly from the West Coast to the East Coast and hang 59 points on a Virginia team that beat BYU the week before? That got my attention.
No. 2: Oregon is a 27 1/2-point favorite against Tennessee on Saturday in Eugene. Granted, Tennessee is a traditional SEC power that has been down for several years. But it's still Tennessee. That's a huge number.
Oregon has scored 66 and 59 points in its first two games. Unless Tennessee can control the ball with its big ol' offensive line, the Ducks will get at least a half a hundred.
Does Strong drop the hammer at Kentucky?
Yep, and here's why.
Louisville, as we have said, plays the easiest schedule of any team with legitimate aspirations to play for the BCS national championship. There is nothing the Cardinals can do about their schedule. It's set. What they can do is impress as many voters as possible with consistent poundings of the opposition.
Secondly, there are only a handful five-star recruits each year in the state of Kentucky and Strong wants to make sure that the vast majority of them come to Louisville.
Is the student ready to beat the teacher?
About 20 years ago George O'Leary, then the head coach at Georgia Tech, took a recommendation from a friend who suggested that he hire a bright young graduate assistant from Brown. His name was Bill O'Brien.
O'Brien worked at Georgia Tech for eight seasons and learned lessons that would serve him well for four seasons with the New England Patriots and again in 2012 when he was called upon to hold the ship together as the new head coach at Penn State.
Saturday night the two will meet as head coaches for the first time as O'Leary's Central Florida Knights (2-0) go to Penn State (2-0). Keep an eye on this one. UCF has one of the best quarterbacks you've never heard of in Blake Bortels.
How many total yards by Brett Hundley?
A year ago the UCLA quarterback was a redshirt freshman starting his second career game when the Bruins played host to Nebraska. Hundley lit the Cornhuskers up, completing 21 of 33 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 53 yards in a 36-30 UCLA victory.
Saturday he goes to Lincoln, where the Nebraska defense is a mystery after two games. The Cornhuskers gave up 602 yards in their first game against Wyoming and then held woeful Southern Mississippi to 284 yards. Let's say Hundley goes north of 350. Will that be enough to win? Yep.
Time to pay more attention to Washington?
I think so. I wasn't surprised when the Huskies beat Boise State two weeks ago in Seattle. I was surprised they won the game 38-6. Seeing as how Chris Petersen's worst loss in eight years at Boise was by 14 points, getting beat by 32 should get our attention.
Steve Sarkisian has some players. Keith Price, who completed 23 of 27 passes in that game, is a good quarterback trying to bounce back from a subpar 2012. Bishop Sankey ran for 161 yards on 25 carries against Boise.
Let's see how Washington (1-0) does against Illinois (2-0) on Saturday at Soldier Field. If the Huskies win comfortably, the rest of the Pac-12 should take notice.
What's second-best game Saturday?
My pick is Wisconsin at Arizona State .
The answer is no. The Badgers are going to continue to pound the football and enter Saturday's game with Arizona with three rushers (Melvin Gordon, James White, Corey Clement) all averaging over 125 yards rushing in the first two games.
It will be a big-time measuring stick for Todd Graham's team, which opened with an easy win over Sacramento State.
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