John Roberts College Football

Friday, September 23, 2005

Week Four: Friday

WEEKEND STARS
Thoughts on who the stars of the weekend will be.

Game of the Week- Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech- With Yellow Jackets quarterback Reggie Ball upgraded to probable, things suddenly look very good for Georgia Tech. Between Ball, running back P.J. Daniels, and receiver Calvin Johnson, they may have more talent at the skill positions than the Hokies. The Hokies are very talented as well. This is a big game for Marcus Vick. The Virginia Tech quarterback needs to prove what he can do in a big game like this. Both defenses are superb. This is why I was surprised to see the line around ten all week. I'm not sure that either team is going to be scoring too many more than 17 points, which is going to make it difficult for either team to win by ten. This ought to be a very close, very low scoring game.

Upset Special- Illinois over Michigan State- I would like to say right off the bat that when I looked at the schedule this week, no major upsets jumped off the page at me as being possibilities. So, that means that in this section, I am picking the game that has the most upset potential, though I do not think it will happen. The Illinois Fighting Illini have looked pretty good so far, playing well last week against California before losing. Michigan State is coming off a very impressive win at Notre Dame. However, over the years, this is exactly when the Spartans blow a game they shouldn't. They have heard this over and over this week, so they should come out focused and ready to go, but they may struggle yet again. Next week is the Spartans big date with Michigan. This would be Ron Zook's first really big win as the Illinois head coach. Remember, he had a habit of winning big games and losing easy ones down at Florida.

Team of the Week- Arizona State Sun Devils- The Sun Devils are heading to Oregon State this weekend. Sam Keller has been doing an unbelievable job at quarterback for the Sun Devils. Last week, Oregon State's defense got lit up like a Christmas tree by the Louisville offense. Of course, Oregon State is much better at home than on the road, but people have to expect to see Keller and the Sun Devils put up huge numbers against this defense. They had well over 700 total yards last week. If Oregon State holds them to 450, then they will be doing well. I don't see that happening.

Players of the Week-
1) Brodie Croyle, Alabama- The Alabama quarterback is going against an Arkansas defense that allowed Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt's quarterback) and Matt Leinart (USC's quarterback) to both go wild on them. There is no shame in that, but Croyle has got to be licking his chops when he looks at this Arkansas defense. Croyle might be the worst quarterback of those three (we'll see...he might be the best), but he's still pretty darn good.
2) Sam Keller, Arizona State- Going against that very questionable Oregon State defense makes Keller a prime choice to be in here. Boise State also looked very good offensively for three quarters against Oregon State. Keller will probably throw for between 300 and 400 yards. He will put up big numbers and may even get into the Heisman conversation with his performance in this game.
3) A.J. Hawk, Ohio State- The Buckeyes linebacker is going against the Iowa Hawkeyes offense, which has not been too good so far. The running game for the Hawkeyes has been better this year, but Drew Tate hasn't been as sharp at quarterback and the offensive line hasn't been protecting him. Hawk should have a field day with this offense. He could put numbers similar to what Nicholson put up last weekend for Florida State against Boston College.
4) Matt Leinart, USC- The Oregon defense has not looked very good so far. Paul Pinegar (Fresno State) and Kevin Kolb (Houston) both have thrown the ball well on the Ducks, especially early in the game. Leinart is a cut above both of those guys. He ought to put up great numbers and the team ought to score in the 40s. The question about this game is if Oregon can keep up with their high powered offense. Leinart could probably be listed on here any week we felt like listing him.
5) Tyrone Moss, Miami- Colorado's defense looked good against New Mexicso State. However, either Moss (running back) or Kyle Wright (quarterback) should have a big game against this defense. The defense is good, but not great. Miami will be at home for the first time this season and they will be looking to make a statement about where they belong in the ACC. Moss looked especially strong against Clemson last week, and should be able to run for well over 100 yards again.

News & Notes

Tennessee and LSU have postponed their game from Saturday at 7:45 until Monday at 7:30 on ESPN2. Due to this change, you will notice no references to Tennessee and LSU in the "Weekend Stars" section up above. This change should benefit Tennessee as the crowd will not be as rowdy on a Monday night as on a Saturday night. The reason for the change was Hurricane Rita, which is a very serious thing. Let's all keep the people in Texas and Louisiana in our thoughts.

The Tennessee-LSU game change has prompted College Gameday to change sites as well. It will now be held at Blacksburg, Virginia, for the Hokies and the Yellow Jackets. This may have been the better choice to begin with. I think the Oregon-USC game in Eugene, Oregon, would have been an excellent choice as well, but it matters little what I think.

THURSDAY REVIEW
Very quick recap of Thursday's games.

Utah 38, Air Force 35- The Utes looked to have the game in control until Air Force scored two touchdowns in the final 3:16 of the game to make this one slightly interesting. The Utes ran the ball very well behind Quinton Ganther and Brian Johnson looks like a legitimate star at quarterback. The Utes are a very good team offensively. Defensively, Air Force moved the ball all over them during the first half. Air Force looked like they have a real chance to be a bowl contender this year.

Texas A&M 44, Texas State 31- Not much to take out of this one. Neither team has the amount of time they thought they would to prepare, and it showed on the defensive side of the ball for both teams. Texas State got 493 total yards on the Aggies. The score was 41-17 in the third quarter. The Aggies looked very sharp offensively and should play much better games than this when a Hurricane isn't bearing down on the Texas coast.

Louisiana-Monroe 28, Florida Atlantic 21- The two teams combined for eight turnovers, but none were more costly that FAU's quarterback, Danny Embick, firing a interception that was returned to the six by Chaz Williams with just over a minute left in a tie ball game. The Indians came up with a nice road win to start off the Sun Belt season. ULM quarterback Steven Jyles made some nice plays for the offense, despite his three interceptions.

ONE LINERS
Incredibly basic previews of tonight's game.

Iowa State at Army (8:00 ESPN2)- Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer ought to have a huge day against a very average Army defense. However, Army head coach Bobby Ross knows what a good showing on national television could do for his team. They have a good quarterback in Zac Dahman who should be able to help keep them in the game. There will be a lot of excitement for Army at the beginning of this game.

California at New Mexico State (10:00 ESPN)- This game is strikingly similar to the 8:00 game. After all, New Mexico State has looked pretty bad so far, but this is their chance on national television to show that they belong. For California and quarterback Joe Ayoob, this is another chance to get all the kinks worked out in the offense. For New Mexico State and new head coach Hal Mumme, this is a chance to show that they are better than people think. The offense has been downright lousy so far for both teams, so the game may be lower scoring than people are expecting.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Week Four: Thursday

Viewer's Guide

Which games should you watch this weekend? What games should you be keeping your eyes on during each time period? We've got it all worked out for you.The day is divided into five parts. Some are more unequal than others due to the start time of the games.All times are Eastern. The time periods are early games (start time before 2:00), afternoon (start time from 2:15-5:00), late afternoon (start time from 5:15-7:15), evening (start time from 7:30-9:45), and late night (start time after 10:00). The games are ranked by time period and give you a couple of reasons to watch each game, whether it is questions that need to be answered or something else altogether. The games are the games listed on CollegeFootballNews.com as the television games for this weekend. Only Saturday games are included.

Let's get it started!

Early Games

1. Iowa at Ohio State (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Watch the linebackers. Amazing linebacker units for both Iowa and Ohio State. 2) This is an elimination game in the national championship picture if not in the Big Ten title chase. 3) After all the cries for it, surely this is the week that Teddy Ginn (Ohio State's receiver) gets his hands on the ball more often.

2. Purdue at Minnesota (12:00 ESPN)- 1) Laurence Maroney (Minnesota's running back) goes up against a defense that is allowing just 0.7 yards per carry and 16 rushing yards per game. 2) Brandon Kirsch (Purdue's quarterback) will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Arizona. 3) Purdue was a preseason darkhorse pick to win the Big Ten and maybe make a run at the Rose Bowl. This is the country's first chance to get a real good look at them and decide whether or not they believe this team is for real.

3. Boston College at Clemson (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Those losses last week were not good for either team. However, back-to-back losses would kill any chance of winning the conference title. That makes this game huge. 2) Charlie Whitehurst (Clemson's quarterback) has played very well so far this season. He will need to have a big game if Clemson's running game can't get going again. 3) Boston College has last week's win in hand against Florida State until Quinton Porter (quarterback) went down with an injury. If he's back (which he may not be), then the Eagles have a much better chance to win.

4. Colorado at Miami (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Miami showed a nice running game last week behind Tyrone Moss. 2) Colorado's pass defense hasn't been great so far. How will Kyle Wright (Miami's quarterback) do against it? 3) Joel Klatt (Colorado's quarterback) has had a lot of success throwing the football in his career at Colorado. How will he do this week against a tough Miami defense?

5. Michigan State at Illinois (12:00 ESPNU/Gameplan)- 1) The old Spartans lose a game like this after winning a monster game like that against Notre Dame. This year's Spartans...? 2) Say what you want about Ron Zook (head coach). The fact is that Illinois is much improved over last year. 3) Drew Stanton (Michigan State's quarterback) could use another big game to throw his hat into the Heisman race.

6. Penn State at Northwestern (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) The Nittany Lions offense has been getting better and better, week by week. This week is the time to finally see whether or not the offense is working. 2) We all knew that Brett Basanez (Northwestern's quarterback) was good heading into the season. But who knew that freshman Tyrell Sutton (running back) would be this good? 3) Penn State's great defense vs. Northwestern's great offense. Northwestern's horrid defense (over 700 yards allowed vs. Arizona State last week) vs. Penn State's average offense. Now those are interesting match-ups.

7. North Carolina at North Carolina State (12:00 JP)- 1) North Carolina pulled off a shocker that they are still arguing about last year. This rivalry got jacked up a few notches by last year's game. 2) How will Matt Baker (North Carolina's quarterback) fare against the tough Wolfpack defense? After all, Baker struggled a bit against Wisconsin's defense a week ago. 3) The 'Pack have been moving the ball relatively well behind Jay Davis (quarterback). The North Carolina defense is tough, though.

8. Arkansas at Alabama (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Jay Cutler, Matt Leinart, and now Brodie Croyle (Alabama's quarterback). That Razorback defense has to be sick of preparing for top notch quarterbacks. 2) This Razorbacks offense is pretty good and will provide a little bit of a challenege to Alabama. 3) The Tide better be ready, because the Arkansas team that was on the field last week will probably not show up this week. Alabama better be as focused as they were against South Carolina.

9. TCU at BYU (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Win at Oklahoma. Lose at SMU. Win against Utah. TCU's up and down season continues. 2) BYU and TCU both play some very solid defense. This game will be in the teens, and if you like defensive struggles, this should be one. 3) Aaron Brown (TCU's running back) looked like the next great Horned Frogs running back last week against Utah. Don't forget that Robert Merrill and Lonta Hobbs are still running the ball on this team.

10. East Carolina at West Virginia (12:00 ESPN Regional)- 1) The Mountaineers defense has been great so far this year giving up less than 200 yards per game. 2) Adam Bednarik and Pat White are both doing a good job for West Virginia at quarterback. 3) James Pickney (East Carolina) has looked pretty good throwing the ball so far.

Afternoon

1. Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) This game might just be the two best teams in the Coastal Division going at it. 2) If Reggie Ball (Georgia Tech's quarterback) plays, he, P.J. Daniels (running back), and Calvin Johnson (wide receiver) will put as much stress on Virginia Tech's solid defense as they will see all season. 3) Marcus Vick (Virginia Tech's quarterback) will be put to the test against a solid Georgia Tech defense.

2. Notre Dame at Washington (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Hard to call this an instant classic, but seeing Ty Willingham (Washington's coach) take on his former team should at least provide some intrigue. 2) How will the Irish bounce back after a deflating loss? 3) Brady Quinn (Notre Dame's quarterback) is developing rapidly into a very solid quarterback.

3. Maryland at Wake Forest (3:30 ESPNU)- 1) Neither team is off to a particularly hot start, as both are 1-2. The loser can pretty much forget being even a darkhorse contender in the ACC Atlantic Division. 2) Chris Barclay and Micah Andrews (Wake Forest running backs) are two very gifted running backs. 3) D'Qwell Jackson (Maryland's linebacker) could throw a serious wrench into the Deacons plans to run the ball. Jackson is one of the more underrated linebackers in the country.

4. Florida at Kentucky (3:30 CBS)- 1) The Wildcats looked very good against Louisville in just losing by seven. However, they were very unimpressive in their win against Idaho State and their blowout loss to Indiana. Which Kentucky team shows up? 2) Chris Leak (quarterback) and the Gators offense need to get their offensive problems ironed out this week with Alabama on the horizon. 3) Andre Woodson (Kentucky offense) is a very gifted quarterback that seems to relish the spotlight.

Late Afternoon

1. USC at Oregon (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Ducks love playing big home games. This qualifies. 2) Matt Leinart (quarterback), Reggie Bush (running back), Steve Smith (wide receiver), Dwayne Jarrett (wide receiver), LenDale White (running back)...how do you slow down the Trojans offense? 3) The Ducks offense is highly underrated with Kellen Clemens (quarterback), Terrence Whitehead (running back), Tim Day (tight end), and Demetrius Williams (receiver). This will be the first team that has the offense to challenge the USC defense.

2. Michigan at Wisconsin (6:00 ESPN2)- 1) Chad Henne's (Michigan's quarterback) last big game was a disaster against Notre Dame. Trying to improve against Wisconsin's defense is no fun. 2) Michigan has had Wisconsin's number in recent years, but the two teams haven't met in two years. Did the Badgers figure out the Wolverines puzzle in that amount of time? 3) Brian Calhoun (running back) and John Stocco (quarterback) have been lighting up the scoreboards so far this year for the Badgers. Playing against a questionable Michigan defense could help them.

3. Louisville at South Florida (6:45 ESPNU)- 1) Brian Brohm (Louisville's quarterback) is ultra-talented and could get onto the Heisman short list with a few more solid performances. 2) USF has typically had a pretty good home field advantage, but this is probably the best team to ever come to Tampa. 3) It is both teams first ever Big East game.

4. Nevada at Colorado State (6:00 ESPN Regional)- 1) Colorado State is 0-2, but Justin Holland (quarterback) is a playmaker. 2) Nevada is coming off of an exciting win over in-state rival, UNLV. How will they come down off that mountain? 3) Nevada's defense has been struggling to stop the run this year, but the Rams haven't been successful running the ball this year. Something has to give.

Evening

1. Tennessee at LSU (7:45 ESPN)- 1) Who will be the Vols quarterback, Erik Ainge or Rick Clausen? 2) LSU will be playing at home for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. There is bound to be a lot of excitement over the Tigers. 3) JaMarcus Russell (LSU) is a very special talent at quarterback, making plays with both his legs and his arm. The Vols defense slowed down (but didn't stop) Chris Leak a week ago. Can they do the same to Russell?

2. Georgia at Mississippi State (9:00 ESPN2)- 1) D.J. Shockley (Georgia's quarterback) has been very inconsistent so far. Will he play like he did against Boise State or like he did against South Carolina? 2) Jerious Norwood (Mississippi State) may be the best running back that Georgia faces all year. 3) At 2-1, Mississippi State is dreaming big. A home upset over Georgia would officially announce to the world that Mississippi State football was back on the map.

3. New Mexico at UTEP (9:00 CSTV)- 1) Jordan Palmer lit up Houston last week once he stopped throwing interceptions. The UTEP quarterback still hasn't quite stepped out of his Heisman Trophy winning brother's shadow (Carson). But he's getting close. 2) DonTrell Moore (New Mexico running back) is one that not enough people have seen play. People think DeAngelo Williams (Memphis) is underrated. Moore is even more underrated. 3) Two unbeaten teams without impossible schedules. (Yes, I know New Mexico has to go to TCU, Wyoming, and Utah. I also know that UTEP has to go to Tulane and Memphis. Both teams have other tough home games.) Could the winner of this game be an unbeaten non-BCS team trying to crack the BCS at season's end?

4. UNLV at Utah State (8:05 Gameplan)- 1) Shane Steichen (UNLV's quarterback) is steadily improving, little by little. 2) Leon Jackson (Utah State's quarterback) is pretty good, but he'll need to throw the ball well against a fairly weak UNLV secondary. 3) Utah State's pass defense was a joke against Utah. It must improve to give them a shot in this game.

5. San Jose State at San Diego State (8:00 Gameplan)- 1) Adam Tafralis (San Jose State's quarterback) is a very talented quarterback and capable of putting points on the board against anyone. 2) The Aztecs defense looked much better last week against Ohio State, holding the powerful Buckeyes to just 27 points. Was that the turning point? 3) Kevin O'Connell (San Diego State's quarterback) needs to keep on improving and play well against a weak San Jose State defense.

Late Night

1. Arizona State at Oregon State (10:00 TBS)- 1) Sam Keller (Arizona State quarterback) could really light up a beleagured Oregon State secondary. 2) Matt Moore (Oregon State's quarterback) to Mike Haas (receiver) is one of the top pass and catch tandems in the country. This Beavers offense is explosive. 3) Both teams are 2-1, but this begins the Pac Ten schedule. Arizona State takes on USC next week, and they need to stay focused on this pretty good Beavers team.

2. Hawaii at Idaho (10:00 ESPNU)- 1) Hawaii's defense has been no better so far this year under the guidance of Jerry Glanville. But this is their first conference game and this is when it matters. 2) Colt Brennan is a good fit for the Warriors at quarterback. He should be able to move the ball quite well against the Vandals. 3) On the other hand, Steve Wichman (Idaho's quarterback) has already been WAC Player of the Week once this year. There is no reason to believe that he can't put up big numbers against the Warriors defense.

One Liners
Incredibly quick previews of tonights games.

Air Force at Utah (7:30 ESPN)- The Utes must win to keep alive their hopes of winning the Moutain West. Air Force is never an easy team to beat. It doesn't matter where or when you are playing them.

Louisiana-Monroe at Florida Atlantic (7:30 ESPN2)- The Owls could easily find their first win as an official Division 1-A team this week. Their team speed poses problems for the Indians and their athletic quarterback, Steven Jyles.

Texas State at Texas A&M (7:30 Fox Sports Net)- This game has been moved from Saturday due to Hurricane Rita. This should be nothing more than a walk in the park for the Aggies. The only chance for Texas State is that Texas A&M is not prepared to play since the game is two days early. The problem is that Texas State has two less days as well. Both will be sloppy.

For a complete preview of Thursday's games, click Thursday Night Throwdown.

Quick Review of Wednesday Night's Games
Very brief recap of last night's games.

Boise State 48, Bowling Green 20- Really, the game wasn't this close as the Broncos absolutely dominated the Falcons. It was the first home game for Boise State and they played like a completely different team. They dominated with their ground game. It was quite a show by the explosive Broncos offense.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Week Four: Wednesday

Overreaction Wednesday
Getting a little bit crazy and having some knee jerk reactions to last weekend's games.

Michigan State has just become the Big Ten favorite. With Purdue looking OK against Arizona, and Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State already having lost (admittedly all in out of conference games), the Spartans are the team to beat in the Big Ten.

This week's Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game is a match-up of the two best teams in the Coastal Division, with the winner going to the inaugural ACC Championship Game.

The Bowden Bowl just got bigger in the ACC. The November 12 game between Florida State and Clemson at Clemson will be for the ACC Atlantic Division title. Yes, Boston College and North Carolina State could have something to say about it, but these two teams have separated themselves just a little bit.

Tulane's defense will lead them to a bowl game with a 7-4 record.

UCLA will be 9-0 before taking on Arizona State and USC in the final two games of the year.

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.

Quotables

Rich Brooks, Kentucky's head coach: "To think we are some special team and take anybody lightly or be confident thinking this will be an easy game for us does baffle me. I have an older mind than most of my players. I am more aware of the pitfalls. I obviously did not have the ability to communicate that to them."

Mike Leach, Texas Tech's head coach: "We don't go into a game with a set goal of points we want to score, but we do look at everything from an improvement standpoint. We need to keep playing better and work hard on every play, especially this week before we start conference play. I've been pretty pleased with what we have done so far, and we just need to keep getting better."

Mike Bellotti, Oregon's head coach: "It's the same old thing. They're football players, they're college students. They're a very talented football team, but they've got to play us at our place.
We have some talent also. I'm pretty proud of where we're at right now. We feel good about ourselves, I feel positive about what this team can do those are the key issues to my way of thinking. I think we're in a good state of mind right now."

News & Notes

Several games could be forced to moved by Hurricane Rita. Texas A&M-Texas State, Rice-Navy, and Houston-Southern Miss are all contemplating shifting their games to other dates. The storm is expected to make landfall Saturday in the very early morning on the Texas coast. There is still a chance that the storm could take a turn and hit Louisiana.

The Sugar Bowl has narrowed down the list of possible sites for their game this year to two. Baton Rouge would be the logical choice, since it is close to New Orleans, the previous home of the Sugar Bowl. However, there is fear that there may not be enough hotel rooms to house all the out of towners coming into the city for the bowl game. The other possibility is Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. The Sugar Bowl hosts the SEC Champion in years that team does not go to the BCS Championship Game, and the SEC Championship Game is in Atlanta. That would make Atlanta another logical host.

Tennessee and Oklahoma have announced that they will play a home-and-home in 2014 and 2015. Everyone remember that these are two of the top programs in the country right now. If either one is not up to snuff in those seasons, try not to hold it against them too much when they play in 2014 and 2015. This has potential to be a great two game series.

Speaking of Tennessee, Erik Ainge will get the start at quarterback against LSU. The question is, will Fulmer stick with one guy for longer than two series and let him get into the flow of the game? How will Ainge perform in the tough environment? Who is the right choice at quarterback? The questions never cease coming out of Knoxville.

Florida won on Saturday night, but lost two key players. Wide receiver Andre Caldwell is out for the rest of the season. Defensive end Ray McDonald is out for 4-6 weeks. Over the next six weeks, Florida plays at Kentucky, at Alabama, Mississippi State, at LSU, Georgia (in Jacksonville), and Vanderbilt. The Gators are a solid team. We'll have to see how they handle the injuries now.
RANT OF THE WEEK

There were lots of worthy contenders to get in this section this week. The likely winner got excluded because it did not have a name attached to it, so just remember next week to include your name and location. In the end, this was the winner. There was one other e-mail very similar to this one...about a different team.

Being a life long Michigan fan, I know too well the history of their coaches. Get ridiculous talent, play conservative, watch team lose games. Now I hear about Lloyd Carr warming up the job for D-Coordinator Jim Hermann to take over when he leaves, and it makes me puke. As much as I love that they have never gone through the random losing or .500 season like most powerhouse programs, that's what needs to happen to get some new blood in there. When will someone in the program realize that the goal every year is not to win 9 games and just go to the Rose Bowl. Michigan is stuck in what I call "Trailblazer land." The Portland Trailblazers won all those games in the late 80's and early 90's, just good enough to make the playoffs, always bad enough to not win them. No titles, no draft picks to build on, no win situation. Now most will probably think I'm a spoiled fan; that's ridiculous. Michigan easily has the top 5 talent in the country, every single year. Yet their coach is known to publicly prefer winning the Big Ten over the BCS title game. I guess that's why they haven't been undefeated in October since Brady was playing.

--Tony, New York

The other team you ask? The Tennessee Volunteers. I guess ever since the Charles Woodson-Peyton Manning Heisman Trophy debate, these two programs have been permanently linked.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Week Four: Tuesday

Under Pressure
Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee

The Vols head coach has won almost eighty percent of his games, but that hasn't stopped the grumblings coming from Knoxville. Fulmer hasn't won an SEC title since 1998, and the Vols often seem to underperform in big games. Last week against Florida is a prime example. With an offense that is supposed to be explosive, Fulmer's offensive scheme generates just seven points. Not pretty at all. The Vols will be going to Baton Rouge to take on LSU in a huge game. If the Vols lose, an SEC title becomes almost an impossibility. Another frustrating loss, and the cries for Fulmer to make some changes or be changed himself will grow even louder. Fulmer will not be fired, but he is starting to wear thin on the patience of Vol fans.

Drew Tate, Iowa

Tate was supposed to be on the First Team All Big Ten ballot at the end of the year. After his performance against Iowa State, no one would put him there. He struggled throughout the first half, and then left with a concussion. Now, in an even bigger spotlight game, the Hawkeyes will be taking on Ohio State in Columbus. Tate is going to be going against an outstanding defense and will be looking to prove he deserved all those preseason accolades. We'll see. The game is huge for both teams because the loser will have not chance to get to the national championship game and the winner takes the first step to the Big Ten title.

College Gameday Site
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

It is a little surprising that Gameday is going to Baton Rouge, given that the city is already busting at the seams with people. However, this will provide the gang the opportunity to have lots of human interest stories on the people of Louisiana and their struggle to survive after Hurricane Katrina. The game between LSU and Tennessee will be on ESPN at 7:45, so to have Gameday there makes sense from that standpoint. If Hurricane Rita makes a turn from its currently projected path and heads toward Louisiana, then the crew will likely stay in Bristol and do the show from the studio. Of course, there would be much bigger problems if that happens. Let's all hope it does not.

Thoughts on the Rankings

Sigh. Do the voters not get it? Notre Dame beats Michigan AT Michigan. Michigan State beats Notre Dame AT Notre Dame. So which team is the highest ranked in both polls on Monday morning? Michigan, of course. The Wolverines are #13 in the Coaches Poll and #14 in the AP Poll. Notre Dame is #18 in the Coaches Poll and #16 in the AP Poll. Michigan State is #22 in the Coaches Poll and #17 in the AP Poll. This early in the season, the only thing we have to go by are head to head games. The team that wins that game has to be ranked ahead of the other team, as long as the teams have the same record.

The biggest problem the voters have is that they have to be struggling to get all the teams that deserve to be ranked in the Top 25. Last night, I counted roughly 35 teams that I felt deserved to be ranked. It is a mighty to task to narrow that down to just 25 teams.

The Vanderbilt Watch- This week the Commodores have collected eight points in the Coaches Poll, and six points in the AP Poll. The Commodores are 3-0, having won at Wake Forest and Arkansas and won at home against Ole Miss. A 5-0 start seems probable with Richmond and Middle Tennessee ahead. Then comes a home date with LSU.

The Harris Poll will be released for the first time next Monday. This will be the voters last chance to get a good look at some teams before voting. Here's to hoping that they take the time to get a good look at some of these teams.

In honor of the Harris Poll, my rankings will also be coming out for the first time next Monday or Tuesday. Just so everyone knows, my rankings will be based entirely on what I have seen on the field so far. I will try to take out any preconceived notions of the teams and look solely at how they played on the football field. This is, of course, a very difficult thing to do, and I probably will not be able to do it successfully, but I will not be using my preseason rankings or anything else to help in this judgement. I will go solely on what I have seen on the football field from all 119 teams.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Week Four: Monday

GAME OF THE WEEK
Michigan State 44, Notre Dame 41, OT

George Teague scampered into the endzone from 19 yards away in overtime to give the Spartans a 44-41 win over Notre Dame in South Bend. This marked the fifth consecutive time Michigan State has walked into Notre Dame and won. The Spartans went up 38-17 with 5:07 left in the third quarter when Matt Trannon caught a 65 yard pass from Drew Stanton. From there, the Irish battled back. Darius Walker, Maurice Stovall, and Jeff Samardzija all scored on touchdown passes from Brady Quinn. The last one came with 2:31 left in the game. Both the Spartans and the Irish got a shot to win it after that, but failed to be able to move the ball. D.J. Fitzpatrick kicked a field goal in overtime for the Irish, but Teague ran the ball in for the winning score. This game was truly a great game and the Irish showed that they have a great offense but need some help on the defensive side of the ball. The Irish are a good team, but not a great team yet. Michigan State has announced that they want to be a player in this year's Big Ten race. This was the Spartans ninth win in their last ten games against Top Ten teams.

UPSET OF THE WEEK
UC-Davis 20, Stanford 17

You may have missed this one late Saturday night. But it was absolutely shocking. Stanford was ahead 17-0 with 6:21 left to play in the second quarter. Then the Cardinal did not score again for the remainder of the game. The Aggies played ball control offense and hard nosed defense to upset Stanford. The Aggies are transitioning from Division II to Division 1-AA this year, and they lost their first two games to New Hampshire and Portland State. With eight seconds left, Jon Grant hit Ryan Blaise Smith from three yards away for the game winning touchdown. The Aggies outgained Stanford 361-180 and held the ball for over 35 minutes.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
A.J. Nicholson, Florida State

Nicholson intercepted two passes for the Seminoles on Boston College's first two drives of the night. One he returned 19 yards for a touchdown. He also made seventeen tackles. The linebacker was all over the field constantly wreaking havoc with the Eagles offense. Yes, the Seminoles offense started to look better in the fourth quarter, but the truth is that Florida State probably does not win this game without the outstanding play of Nicholson. In a big game with the biggest spotlight, he played one of the best games of his career.

TEAM OF THE WEEK
USC Trojans

It is not a sexy pick to say that the top team in the country is the Team of the Week. However, with the Trojans absolutely dominating Arkansas, 70-17, it is easier to say that. No team looked more prepared or more ready to play than the Trojans this weekend, especially on the offensive end. The defense does still have some question marks, but when the offense is clicking, it basically renders those defensive questions meaningless. Who is going to beat the Trojans is they are putting up 50...60...70 points in a game? The answer is...nobody. Someone is going to have to come up with a way to slow down that offense to have a prayer against them.

STAT OF THE WEEK
69-58

Those numbers are the rushing yards for Maurice Drew of UCLA and Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma. It was a highly anticipated match-up between two quality running backs, and in the end neither did a whole lot. Drew outgained Peterson though. Before the game, people said the only way the Sooners had a chance was if Peterson had a huge game. As evidenced by the 58 rushing yards, he did not. With Drew having more rushing yards than him, any chance for Oklahoma to win went out the window. The Sooners got beat, 41-24.

PLAY OF THE WEEK
Andre Caldwell's reverse

The Florida Gators beat Tennessee 16-7 last Saturday, only scoring one touchdown. However, the touchdown was a beautiful play. Andre Caldwell, a wide receiver, got the ball on a reverse and the whole Tennessee defense was running in the other direction. Caldwell scampered in from 18 yards away with 4:14 to play in the first quarter to put the Gators up 7-0. For the rest of the game, the Vols defense did a better job of playing assignment football, and this opened up other opportunities for the Gators offense. This reverse helped open up the field for the Gators which eventually helped them win the game, 16-7.

TURNOVER OF THE WEEK
Kenny Phillips overtime interception

Miami safety, Kenny Phillips, intercepted Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in the third overtime to end the Tigers threat to win the football game. After the Tigers had rallied from 20-10 down with less than five minutes to play in regulation, the Hurricanes had taken the 36-30 lead in the third overtime. When Phillips intercepted the Whitehurst pass, the game was over and the Hurricanes had won. After Clemson had upset Miami in overtime in Miami last year, this victory was especially sweet for the 'Canes.

KEY FIRST HALF MOMENT OF THE WEEK
James Wilhoit's blocked field goal

With just over three and a half minutes left in the first half and the Vols and the Gators tied at 7, Tennessee lined up for a 37 yard field goal try. James Wilhoit had his kick blocked. The Gators had given the ball to Tennessee at their own 44 yard line, and for the Vols to come away with no points was huge. The play before the blocked kick had been ruled a catch at the one yard line before being rightly overturned on replay. The blocked kick completely changed the momentum of the game. If the Vols had had that field goal, the score would have been 16-10 in the fourth quarter and they would not have had to abandon the run in the fourth quarter. In the end, this kick killed the Vols chances of winning in The Swamp and gave Urban Meyer and the Gators their first win in the SEC.

MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Jason Snelling's four yard run

Jason Snelling, Virginia's fullback, was called upon to run the ball on a fourth down and one from the Syracuse 9 yard line with just over one minute remaining. The score was 24-24, and the call was a gutsy one for Al Groh. However, Snelling pounded his way into the line, gained four yards and got the first down. It was one of the gutsier calls of the weekend, and a very memorable moment in what was a surprisingly thrilling game.