Week Eleven: Wednesday
Getting a little bit crazy and having some knee jerk reactions to last weekend's games.
After watching California and UCLA be underwhelming last weekend, it becomes more clear that Fresno State could be the toughest game left on USC's schedule. For this to be true, it is absolutely critical that the Bulldogs take care of business on Thursday night against Boise State. They can not show any weakness right before the USC game. On a good note for the Bulldogs, a win over Boise would be huge for the program as well. Since the game is on Thursday night, they will have time to celebrate and then begin to focus on the Trojans.
The key game in the SEC title race (in both divisions) is Georgia-Auburn this Saturday. If Georgia wins, they likely win the East. If Auburn wins, it makes next weekend's Iron Bowl even bigger. Regardless of who wins the LSU-Alabama game, both Alabama and Auburn will enter the game with SEC title aspirations as long as Aubun wins. So excuse me if that is the game that I am most focused on this weekend, even though it isn't as big as the other SEC battle.
Should we count out Iowa State? I haven't counted them out yet. They are playing as well as any team in the Big Twelve, and if they can beat Colorado this weekend, it will mean that the Nebraska-Colorado game will determine the Big Twelve North Champ (assuming that Iowa State wins at Kansas, which may not be a safe assumption). Now, should anyone count on Nebraska winning a game that matters? Of course not. But it would be foolish to count out the Cyclones quite yet. If Colorado beats them this Saturday, then the race is over, though.
I'm not really supposed to cheer for any teams, but...I may find myself cheering for USF the next three weeks against Syracuse, Cincinnati and Connecticut. Why? Because I want that West Virginia-USF game on December 3 (Championship Saturday) to be for the Big East title. The only way it would be if USF loses a game, would be if WVU loses one as well. Then tiebreakers with numerous teams could come into play. However, West Virginia's visit to South Florida could be a Big East Championship Game, much like Virginia Tech at Miami was the ACC Championship Game last year. USF's win over Rutgers was their biggest remaining hurdle before that game. The Bulls are looking more and more like the only team (other than Louisville) that can truly contend with West Virginia out of the Big East. The Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia should be highly entertaining though. Don't be shocked if Pitt, not USF, hands WVU their first loss of the Big East season. Do be shocked if Cincinnati does tonight.
Remember that some of these things are gross overreactions to the way teams played this weekend. These are not necessarily straight predictions, but rather thoughts that many may not consider that are very distinct possibilities.
News & Notes
Jim Hofher, Buffalo's head coach, has been fired. He will be leaving at the end of the season. The Bulls typically struggle every year, and they needed a change to try to turn things around. That's what Hofher was supposed to do, but he could never quite get it done.
D.J Shockley is prepared to play this weekend as Georgia takes on Auburn. A win likely sends the Dawgs to the SEC Championship Game. This is a huge game for them, and Shockley's health is a key to their success.
Rich Brooks will return for Kentucky as their head coach next year. This is interesting news. Brooks has been on the hot seat seemingly since the day he stepped foot on campus, and many seemed to believe that this was finally the year that he would not be able to survive. Yet he has. The Wildcats have been on probation, so winning has been difficult, but the disappointing performances against teams such as Idaho State and Ohio have left Kentucky fans wanting more. They won't be getting more until at least the end of next year.
Michael Bush, Louisville's star running back, is questionable for their game against Rutgers this Saturday. He has a sprained foot. The game is a key game in the race for second in the Big East. With both Rutgers and Louisville already having lost to current second place team, South Florida, the game could have more bearing on who finishes third in the conference. Still, with the logjam of two loss teams in the Big East, one of these teams will break out, and Louisville could certainly use the services of their best player.
Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State's head coach: "I didn't think they (Alabama) played with as much class as Alabama teams usually do. All that bumping and some of the other little things they did between plays … I wasn't impressed with that at all...We've played three or four teams that are better from a talent standpoint, but they know how to get it done."
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland's head coach: "I don't think he's (starting QB Sam Hollenbach) like he was before he got hurt, but I think he's back to being able to play at full capacity, let's put it that way. Obviously we're concerned at how he holds up, but I'm hoping he'll be able to run the whole thing."
Bill Callahan, Nebraska's head coach: "Just to start with to begin this media conference, I just want to point out that we are not at all happy about where we are, what has transpired, what has taken place over the weekend. This staff, our players, our program are disappointed – bitterly disappointed about what occurred. We’re going to do everything we can this weekend to rectify it. Several situations have been addressed during the course of the weekend, and all I can tell you is that we will work hard. We are working hard to correct the error in our game. It is not to my standard, and despite what anybody else thinks out there, it’s not my standard the way we are existing right now as a program. We’re very disappointed. We’re very disappointed in terms of assignment football, very disappointed in terms of how our players have come out and put the effort into a game like we had this past weekend. We’re looking forward to this weekend to rectify the error in our game.”
Rant of the Week
Again, lots of good things to choose from for the Rant of the Week. Obviously, this was written before Saturday's games (as it references both Virginia Tech and UCLA being in the Top Five).
I think Notre Dame is a decent team, but they are not top 10 material, and what I took away from the ND-USC game was USC is not as good as everyone thinks. Lets face it, USC has not beat a good team this year, they have beaten plenty of avg. teams, but no good teams. Which leads me to my next prediction of USC losing by 14 in the NC if they play Texas or VTech (save this email, it will happen)...Back to USC. If this quote from the CFN site does not say everything about how badly everyone wants USC to be number 1 I do not know what does. “Computer this. USC took a potent Washington State team and blew it out like it was the Trojan third string. Any time you can crank out 745 yards of total offense and 55 points, you’re doing something right.” Have you looked at who Washington State has beat? They have not beat a team in the PAC10 (which ranks below the Big12 this year in my opinion). Washington St’s only wins come against #102 Idaho, #75 Nevada, and Grambling a IAA team. How does this validate how good USC is?UCLA has beat 1 ranked team (a team which will not be ranked at the end of the year) and everyone thinks they are great. Now do not get me wrong, they deserve to be in the 5th spot because they have not lost yet, but someone needs to step up and say they would get beat by every team in the top 10 and maybe the top 15.Here is the worst part of it all, USC will beat UCLA in a close game and this will validate USC as being the top team and deserving of the #1 spot, all by beating an undefeated team which has beaten 1 ranked team??? Does anyone else share my confusion?
Do I agree with this? Of course not. I believe the Big Twelve is below the Pac Ten and I believe that beating Washington State, who had been playing every Pac Ten team close, by such a wide margin did say that USC was a pretty darn good team. Just like Texas beating an OK Baylor team so badly tells us that Texas is pretty darn good. When teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat convincingly, that is the sign of a good team. Still, I try to keep other viewpoints out there so that people can see them. This is Ben's take on things.
Keep those e-mails coming. I love getting your rants.
A quick preview of tonight's game.
West Virginia at Cincinnati (7:30 ESPN2)- The Mountaineers continue their quest to win the Big East title and earn a BCS bowl bid. They have basically put away every team except for South Florida in the race for the title, since the Bulls are just one loss behind the Mountaineers and they still have a game to be played. They are at least two games up on every other team, including tonight's opponent. The Bearcats are 4-4 and holding onto hopes that they can find a way to a bowl game. A win in this one would be huge for that cause.
Review of Tuesday's games
A very quick recap of last nights game.
Southern Miss 27, Marshall 24 (OT)- The Golden Eagles lead a double digit lead slip away in the fourth quarter, but were able to win in overtime. They keep their dreams of a CUSA title alive. Dustin Almond and Larry Thomas both had pretty good games for the USM offense. Marshall needs to win out to avoid a losing season.