John Roberts College Football

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Week Five: Tuesday

UNDER PRESSURE
Mike Shula, Alabama

Alabama's head coach has not been overly impressive in his first two years with the Crimson Tide. However, this weekend, he gets a chance at a signature win over the Florida Gators. Shula has been behind the eight ball from the beginning, coming in on the heels of probation and a lot of lost scholarships. Depth is still a serious issue for his team. However, the Tide faithful will not settle for another average season. Right now, Alabama is 4-0, apparently well on their way to surpassing their win total of two years ago (4) and last year (6). This is his team's first chance to prove that they really belong in the upper echelon of the SEC. The fans have been grumbling a bit about Shula, and this game is huge for him to prove that he is the right man for the job.

Brad Smith, Missouri

Oh, the things Brad Smith was supposed to do for the Missouri football program! He has fallen far short of expectations, and some of that can be laid at the feet of his coaches. However, he was supposed to deliver big wins, and those have been few and far between. Now, he's a senior. His team already has one loss to New Mexico this year. But the Tigers are a dangerous crew, and they play host to Texas this Saturday. Vince Young and Smith are both cut out of a similar mold. Smith has been playing a little bit better this year than he did last year because he's being allowed to make plays with his feet again. He wants to prove that he is the same playmaker that we all saw against Oklahoma back in 2002 as a freshman. This is a huge game for how Smith will be remembered by the Missouri faithful.

College Gameday Site
Tempe, Arizona

Oh, they're coming to a Pac Ten city (or is that cit-ae)! The game between Arizona State and USC is clearly one of the two premier games of the day, with the other being Florida's visit to Alabama. The crew doesn't often go to a Pac Ten game, mainly because it is either 7:30 or 8:30 in the morning when the show comes on in the Pac Ten. That is awfully early to get a good crowd there. In the past, when they have gone to the Pac Ten, they have had wonderful crowds. This will give them a chance to go all out on their coverage of the Trojans, the number one team who has won back-to-back national titles. Arizona State poses one of the biggest threats to the Trojans this year. We'll all have to wait and see if that actually means that the game could be close.

Thoughts on the Rankings

Hurray! A new poll to bash! The Harris Poll has major flaws, and none are more major than the fact that an 0-4 Idaho team, fresh off a 24-0 whipping at the hands of Hawaii in Moscow, have received five votes. OK. It's time to throw this poll out the window for credibility too. I tried to maintain hope that this poll would be different, but...no.

As for the rest of the Harris Poll, there isn't much difference between it and the AP and Coaches Poll. There's nothing wrong with that.

The best thing about the Harris Poll is that it came out this late in the season. That has helped adjust teams to where they more appropriately should be ranked at this point. Of course, they are not 100% accurate, but they still are slightly more accurate than the AP and Coaches Polls that feel like they can't change their ballots after the first week without a crowbar, or a team losing.

Call me a non-believer but I just don't see how California can be ranked anywhere near as highly as they are. They are #11 in the Harris Poll, #12 in the AP Poll, and #11 in the Coaches Poll. Struggling to get by Sacramento State, Washington, Illinois, and New Mexico State is not exactly like striking out Ruth and Gehrig with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. They looked good at teams, but really struggled at other times. They needed to play well late to finally put away Illinois. That's the same Illinois team that got beat 61-14 by Michigan State last weekend. So how can Michigan State still be behind California in the Coaches Poll?

The Vanderbilt Watch- Vanderbilt played Richmond last weekend and won with ease, though there is starting to be some concern in Nashville about their defense. There is also concern that Wake Forest (1-3), Arkansas (1-3), Mississippi (1-2), and Richmond (Division 1-AA) are not all that great of competition. Things will pick up only slightly when the Commodores play Middle Tennessee this Saturday, but next Saturday against LSU should be the big test. In the AP Poll, Vanderbilt has 14 points. In the Coaches Poll, they have 35. In the Harris Poll, they have 47 points. Of course, the Harris Poll has way more voters than either the Coaches or the AP Poll, but they still are receiving respect from all the polls.

My Top 25

I've spent the last four weeks watching football and breaking down the teams. I've tried to rid myself of all my preconceived notions about what teams were better than other teams. I've thrown out my preseason rankings, which were merely predictions on where I thought the teams would finish the season. Now onto my Top 25. Their preseason rank in my rankings is in parentheses.

1. USC 3-0 (1)
2. Virginia Tech 4-0 (3)
3. Texas 3-0 (10)
4. Florida 4-0 (11)
5. Ohio State 3-1 (9)
6. Georgia 4-0 (15)
7. Michigan State 4-0 (68)
8. Tennessee 2-1 (8)
9. UCLA 3-0 (13)
10. Florida State 3-0 (17)
11. LSU 1-1 (2)
12. Arizona State 3-1 (16)
13. Alabama 4-0 (22)
14. Notre Dame 3-1 (45)
15. Miami, FL 2-1 (4)
16. Texas Tech 3-0 (21)
17. Minnesota 4-0 (26)
18. Wisconsin 4-0 (49)
19. Boston College 3-1 (14)
20. Georgia Tech 3-1 (19)
21. Iowa State 3-0 (25)
22. Penn State 4-0 (24)
23. Auburn 3-1 (31)
24. Clemson 2-2 (41)
25. California 4-0 (34)

The rankings are still very fluid. I know there are plenty of things to complain about in these rankings. My number one problem is that I've got zero non-BCS schools in there. However, so far, there hasn't been one that has truly separated themselves and proven that they belong in the Top 25. There can be major shake ups from any game. These obviously include last night's LSU-Tennessee classic.

One Liners
Incredibly basic previews of tonight's game.

Toledo at Fresno State (9:00 ESPN2)- The Rockets are lead by quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. Fresno State is lead by quarterback Paul Pinegar. This ought to be a truly great game between two of the best mid-majors in the country. Fresno still has an outside shot at a BCS bowl bid despite their loss to Oregon. Why? Because if they someone find a way to walk into Los Angeles and beat USC on November 19, they will soar up the charts. Toledo is still undefeated and is thinking about their outside shot at a BCS bowl bid as well. This ought to be a fun game.

Monday Review
Very quick recap of Thursday's games.

Tennessee 30, LSU 27 (OT)- If you went to bed at the end of the first half with LSU leading 21-0, or at the end of the third quarter with LSU leading 24-7, then you are absolutely stunned this morning. There was very little going on in the first half to suggest Tennessee had this type of comeback in them. After scoring just 24 points in their first ten quarters of football this year, the Vols exploded to 24 in the final two quarters of this game, plus the six in overtime. They scored 17 in the fourth quarter alone, and Rick Clausen has finally earned the starting quarterback job. The question now is, can he keep it for longer than a half?

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At 1:30 PM, Blogger Nico said...

Every Alabama fan I know gave Shula a free pass on the first season. After the Coach Fran bailout and the Price debacle, no one expected a coach that didn't even get to go through spring training with his team to do anything.

Last year was frustrating in that winnable games were lost.

We still have serious depth issues this year. If they get 7 wins this year, I'll still stand by him.

The '06 season is his make it or break it year as far as I'm concerned.

I think Alabama would do well to hang onto him at least through '06 (though his contract goes through '09) just to prove to other coaches that they'll get a decent chance and won't get canned upon arrival.

 
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