John Roberts College Football

Friday, September 30, 2005

Week Five: Friday

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

Game of the Week- Florida at Alabama- This could be a preview of the SEC Championship Game. Both quarterbacks are looking to earn that respect that only comes from winning big games consistently. Brodie Croyle and Chris Leak could both have big games. The two defenses are among the best in the SEC, if not the two best. This game would put Alabama back on the map in the college football world. Yes, they've been moving slowly up the rankings, but they haven't really generated all that much talk so far. A win against the Gators and Urban Meyer would do just that. This is Meyer's first major SEC road test (Kentucky last week doesn't count). We'll see how the team responds.

Upset Special- Ole Miss at Tennessee- This is again not necessarily a game that I would pick the upset, but I'm just saying that the Rebels are going to keep this game very close and have a shot to win in the fourth quarter. The Vols played Monday night, pulled off one of the great comebacks in Tennessee football history, and went into overtime. Now, they are playing on Saturday in an early game. They really just had a few days to get ready for this game. The Rebels are not a particularly good team, but they will be playing in the perfect situation for them. Do not let the second half against LSU fool you. The Vols still have major problems on offense that need to get resolved. If the Rebels can play just enough offense to keep it close, then they should have a shot in the fourth.

Team of the Week- Florida State Seminoles- The Seminoles should rock the Syracuse Orange this weekend. The Orange and the 'Noles both have great defenses, but the fact is that Florida State and Drew Weatherford are itching to get out there and show that they have solved the teams offensive woes. For at least one game, they will look like they have this week against Syracuse. The Orange are very ineffective on offense and should struggle moving the ball, thus giving the ball to Florida State in good field position. That will mean that the 'Noles will eventually wear out the Syracuse defense and put up a bundle of points in the second half. Florida State should look very good this week.

Players of the Week-
1) Matt Leinart, USC- The Sun Devils defense gave up a load of yards to JaMarcus Russell. Arizona State will have a shot in this game because of their explosive offense (they better score more than the 13 that Oregon scored early in the game last week). But Leinart will absolutely have an incredible game. He didn't play all that well against the Ducks last week and will be looking to right the ship, so to speak.
2) Vince Young, Texas- This looks like a Heisman ballot, doesn't it? Well, who doesn't expect Young to have a monster game against Missouri? The Tigers have an OK defense, but their strength lies in their offense. Young ought to put up good numbers and run well on the Tigers defense.
3) Brandon Kirsch, Purdue- The Irish could score points in buckets this week against the Boilermakers, but something tells me that Kirsch will be putting up quite a few points against the Irish secondary as well. Kirsch will probably not implode like Chad Henne did when the Irish played Michigan a couple of weeks ago. Look for Kirsch to burn the Notre Dame secondary several times.
4) Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin- The Badgers are playing Indiana this week, and Calhoun should run wild on that defense. Calhoun will eventually see his numbers fall off a bit, particularly since he is bound to get tired from all the work, but look for Calhoun to put up a ton of yards this week against the Hoosiers.
5) Derrick Williams, Penn State- If the Nittany Lions are going to upset Minnesota this weekend, they need the big play freshmen to step up and make some plays. Williams is the most dangerous of all the freshmen. He can make some huge plays. It is this sort of game that the Nittany Lions recruited Williams to change the game with his playmaking ability. The freshmen have been good so far, but it is time to see what Williams and the Nittany Lions can do against a very good Gophers team.

THURSDAY REVIEW
Very quick recap of Thursday's games.

Colorado State 41, Air Force 23- The Rams gashed the Falcons defense with Kyle Bell running the ball for 197 yards. Bell and the Rams looked better than Utah or Wyoming did against the Falcons. The Falcons defense is beginning to get exposed. The Rams have to be considered a serious contender for the Mountain West title.

ONE LINERS
Incredibly basic previews of tonight's game.

Pittsburgh at Rutgers (8:00 ESPN2)- The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will be on TV in front of a captive audience! This is a huge game for their program. The Knights are 2-1, while the Panthers are 1-3. Brian Leonard and Ryan Hart are two of the more underrated skill position players in the country. Watch this game if for no other reason than just to watch them.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Week Five: 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. Texas at Missouri (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Vince Young vs. Brad Smith. I know it is easy to say, but these are two of the more athletic quarterbacks in the country. 2) Texas needs to avoid looking ahead to the Oklahoma game if they want next week's game to carry as much weight. 3) This would be a huge boost to the Big Twelve North if Missouri can come up with the upset and prove that the North can compete with the South.

2. Michigan at Michigan State (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Last year's triple overtime classic in Ann Arbor was great. Can they possibly top that? 2) Drew Stanton has gone from unknown to a Heisman contender in the matter of two weeks. He will look to keep the early momentum going his way. 3) Can Michigan possibly fall to 2-3? That seemed unthinkable last month at this time, but here it is. It's time to put up or shut up for the Wolverines.

3. Virginia Tech at West Virginia (12:00 ESPN)- 1) After hearing their praises sung from the mountaintop for a week, can the Hokies get back up for a road trip to Morgantown? 2) These are two of the better defenses in the country. Of course, that's what I said last week when Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech played, and look how that turned out. But, West Virginia's defense is vastly underrated and could spark an upset. 3) The Mountaineers have had success in recent years against highly ranked Virginia Tech teams. Can they do it again?

4. Ole Miss at Tennessee (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) The Vols are coming off a dramatic, overtime win on Monday night and trying to play an early game on Saturday. Can they possibly have any energy or focus to put into this game? 2) The Vols offense is in the hands of Rick Clausen now. Will Fulmer have a quick hook again if Clausen struggles this week? 3) Gerald Riggs hasn't gotten his Heisman campaign really going yet. Can he do it against a defense that bottled up DeAngelo Williams?

5. Virginia at Maryland (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Marques Hagans is one of the more athletic quarterbacks on the East Coast. He's can be a lot of fun to watch. 2) Every week I say it, but I'll say it again. D'Qwell Jackson is a playmaker. 3) This is a key game for Maryland's bowl hopes as they are 2-2 right now. The Cavs are the only unbeaten in the Coastal Division other than Virginia Tech. That makes this an important game in the conference standings.

6. Indiana at Wisconsin (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) Suddenly people are talking about Wisconsin going undefeated. The bandwagon is filling up quick. Time to figure out if you want to be on it or not. 2) The Hoosiers are undefeated as well, but their competition hasn't been that tough. This is a chance to prove that they can compete in the Big Ten this year. The Hoosiers beat the Badgers in a shocker the last time they met. 3) Brian Calhoun is running his way right into the Heisman Trophy discussion. He needs to keep it going to stay there, as one bad game could really hurt his chances.

7. Baylor at Texas A&M (12:30 FSN)- 1) Reggie McNeal is Mr. Do-It-All at quarterback for the Aggies. He is truly a special player. 2) Anybody else remember the Bears stunning win in Waco last year against Texas A&M? The Aggies probably do too. 3) Baylor is off to a 3-0, which is always a positive. They think they might be able to contend for a bowl game this year. A win here would prove that they are serious about getting to one.

8. Illinois at Iowa (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Where, oh where, could Iowa's offense be? Could it finally show up against an average Illinois defense? 2) Drew Tate needs more protection so he can be more accurate. Illinois doesn't get great pressure on the quarterback. Can Tate finally show us why he was so highly regarded coming into the season? 3) Ron Zook had the Illini playing better until last week's blowout to Michigan State. Can Illinois get up and pull off the improbable upset?

9. Connecticut at Army (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) The Huskies have been competitive so far this year, posting an early 2-1 start. Their defense has only given up 28 points, but all of them came in their last outing against Georgia Tech. 2) Army has a solid quarterback in Zac Dahman that could give the Connecticut defense some trouble. 3) Terry Caulley and Cornell Brockington are the top 1-2 combination of running backs in the country.

Afternoon

1. Florida at Alabama (3:30 CBS)- 1) Chris Leak and the Gators offense need to show what they can do against Alabama's solid defense. 2) Brodie Croyle is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country. 3) This could be a preview of the SEC Championship Game.

2. USC at Arizona State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) How many yards will Matt Leinart and Sam Keller combine to throw for? How many points will they combine to put up? 2) USC's defense stiffened after early struggles against Oregon. Can they continue that against this explosive Sun Devils offense? 3) The Gameday crew will be there. How fired up will the Arizona State crowd be and will that have any effect at all on USC?

3. Minnesota at Penn State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Laurence Maroney should be on just about everyone's Heisman short list at this point. He'll be going against the best defense he has faced yet this year. 2) Michael Robinson has struggled at times this year, but he really looked like he came into his own last week against Northwestern late in the game. Was that what he needed to finally get over the hump? 3) This is the biggest game in Happy Valley in a couple of years. How jacked up will the crowd be? Will that bother a Minnesota team whose only road game was against Tulsa?

4. Iowa State at Nebraska (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Yes, Nebraska is unbeaten, but is anyone impressed by them? Let's go ahead and say the same thing about Iowa State. Other than that win over Iowa, neither team has really beaten anyone of note. 2) Both defenses have stepped it up this year. Which defense will lead to the most points off of turnovers? Whichever team that is wins the game. 3) When will the Corn Coast Offense begin to click for this Nebraska offense? Zac Taylor needs to prove he can run it starting now if the Cornhuskers hope to contend in the Big Twelve.

5. Clemson at Wake Forest (3:30 ESPNU)- 1) The Tigers have played four games that have been decided by a total of 13 points, including two overtime games the last two weeks. So we know this game will be close... 2) Chris Barclay and Micah Andrews have combined to rush for 861 yards already. 3) How good is Charlie Whitehurst? It seems that he is more comfortable this year than he has been at any other time as the Tigers quarterback.

6. LSU at Mississippi State (2:30 Gameplan)- 1) LSU's crushing loss to Tennessee on Monday night in overtime could provide a hangover for LSU in this road test. 2) The Bulldogs didn't look too bad when they hung with Georgia last week. 3) Jerious Norwood is one of the better backs in the SEC. Running the ball hasn't been easy for teams against LSU so far this year. How will Norwood fare?

7. Syracuse at Florida State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) If you love defense, you'll love this game. Neither team has shown anything resembling consistency on the offensive side of the ball so far this year, while both have been solid on defense. 2) Drew Weatherford looked like the light went off in the second half against Boston College. He needs to keep the momentum this week against Syracuse. 3) Last year's game in the Carrier Dome was very exciting, with Florida State winning on a late defensive stand. If this game is half that exciting, it'll be worth watching.

8. UNLV at Wyoming (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Cowboys are fresh off another win against Ole Miss. They are now 3-1, but must stay focused before next week's big conference battle with TCU. 2) UNLV has played some close games this year. They are the non-BCS conference version of Clemson right now. Can they keep it close against this good bunch of Cowboys? 3) You all know that you want to watch the game in Laramie, just to see what the city looks like.

Late Afternoon

1. Arizona at California (7:00 TBS)- 1) Mike Stoops is looking for a signature win to really get the program rolling. That win over Arizona State last year was nice, but a win over Cal this year would do wonders. 2) Joe Ayoob has been looking more and more comfortable at the quarterback spot for the Bears. 3) Cal could get caught looking ahead to UCLA. They better not, because Arizona has played two very close games in both of their losses.

2. New Mexicto at TCU (7:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Horned Frogs have two very high profile wins so far over Oklahoma and Utah. Even with that, their win over BYU last weekend may have been ever more exciting. 2) New Mexico finally lost last weekend at UTEP, but DonTrell Moore and the Lobos are one of the best team's that no one is talking about. 3) Could these be the two best teams in the Mountain West? Wyoming and Utah (at the very least) could have something to say about that, but these teams are close to the top if nothing else.

3. South Carolina at Auburn (7:00 ESPN2)- 1) Steve Spurrier really wants to prove that the performance against Alabama was a fluke, and that the real Gamecocks are the ones who showed up against Georgia and nearly shocked the world. 2) Brandon Cox and Auburn's offense has been rolling lately. The tune-ups are over. It's time to play. 3) Auburn is hoping to make a splash in the West, whereas a loss by South Carolina will really put them behind the eight ball in terms of getting to fourth in the East. Tennessee is 1-1 right now, Florida 2-0, Georgia 2-0, and Vanderbilt 2-0. With South Carolina already 0-2, fourth could be looking like a distant dream with another loss.

4. Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt (7:00 Gameplan)- 1) Yes, folks. Vanderbilt is gunning for a 5-0 start. How many people have seen them play? This is a great opportunity to see them before the huge LSU game next weekend. 2) Jay Cutler really might be the best quarterback in the SEC. 3) So far, the Blue Raiders defense has been solid. They hung tough against Alabama. They've beaten Vanderbilt the last two times they played them. Should this game be an upset alert?

5. Kansas State at Oklahoma (7:00 FSN)- 1) Is Adrian Peterson frustrated? Of course he is. Is he about to walk off the team? Probably not, but the reports that he was better not have gotten in the way of his preparation. 2) Thomas Clayton was arrested this past week. The star running back for Kansas State will be playing in spite of the charges (which he denies vehemently). How focused will he be? Should he even be playing? 3) This rematch of the 2003 Big Twelve Championship Game is a key game to both teams. The Wildcats are 3-0, but have not built any believers based on their performance so far. Oklahoma is 1-2 and have looked awful. The Sooners need to start looking better to be ready for Texas next week, while the Wildcats could really prove just how good they are with a win.

6. Nevada at San Jose State (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe is an underrated talent. 2) The quarterback controversy is getting kind of heated at SJSU. Adam Tafralis and Chad Bozzo both performed poorly against San Diego State. P.J. Greco came in and did well, but is not expected to be a major player in this game. 3) Hard to believe this match-up of 1-2 teams from the WAC is the reason that some people will not get to see Missouri-Texas or Michigan-Michigan State. What to know why? Then I guess we'll all have to find out together when we watch.

Evening

1. Notre Dame at Purdue (7:45 ESPN)- 1) Talk about potential for an offensive shootout! Brady Quinn and the Irish go up against Brandon Kirsch and the Boilermakers. This ought to be fun. 2) The Boilermakers absolutely embarrassed the Irish a year ago. The Irish would really like to get revenge. 3) Notre Dame is undefeated at 3-0 on the road this year. Can they run that mark to 4-0?

2. South Florida at Miami (8:00 ESPNU)- 1) Is Miami going to possibly become known as the fourth best team in Florida? They already lost to Florida State and trail Florida in the polls. A loss to USF would doom them to fourth in the state. 2) South Florida's stunning win against Louisville established them as contenders in the Big East. Andre Hall is a very talented back and Ben Moffitt is quickly gaining recognition for his work at linebacker. This team is solid. 3) Kyle Wright doesn't look quite right yet. He needs to start putting it together before the meat of ACC play begins.

3. UTEP at Memphis (8:00 CSTV)- 1) Yep, that's the Miners...still undefeated. The offense is sound, the defense is sound. This team is a good all around team. 2) Memphis is off to a very disappointing 1-2 start and could really use a win to stay alive in the C-USA title chase (0-1 at the moment). 3) Jordan Palmer may be overrated, but DeAngelo Williams is not. These are two of the better known players from non-BCS teams. It ought to be quite a show.

Late Night

1. Washington at UCLA (10:15 FSN Regional)- 1) Could UCLA be looking ahead to their huge showdown with Cal next week? They better not. Washington has shown the ability to stay in games for a half so far this year. If they can put two halves together, they may be able to stun the Bruins. 2) Washington is 1-3, but they are getting a little bit better every week. That needs to continue, because their future schedule looks like a bunch of games they shouldn't win. 3) Maurice Drew is trying to prove that Reggie Bush isn't the only all purpose player in town.

2. Boise State at Hawaii (12:05 Midnight Gameplan)- 1) Hawaii's offense hasn't looked great so far, but you can count on it to start rolling soon. 2) Boise State rolled up huge numbers last week at home. This week, they go back on the road, where they have struggled this year so far. Hawaii always does well at home. Oh, that wacky WAC! 3) All of Hawaii's toughest conference games are at home this year, with both Boise and Fresno coming to Honolulu. Can the Warriors win the conference title? Knock off the co-favorites and people would start talking!

3. BYU at San Diego State (10:00 ESPN Classic/Gameplan)- 1) The good ole days of BYU football were alive and well last week as the Cougars lost to TCU 51-50. If this game is half as exciting as that one, you should stay up until 2:00 AM (Eastern...or heck, if it's on replay on the West Coast later) watching it. 2) At 1-3, San Diego State appears to be down. But they have played well the last two weeks, hanging tough with Ohio State and beating San Jose State. Kevin O'Connell has been playing well at quarterback. Has the whole team turned a corner? 3) Todd Watkins might just be the best wide receiver in the country. He is a real treat to watch make big play after big play.

One Liners
Incredibly fast preview of tonight's games.

Air Force at Colorado State- Very interesting game for these two rivals. Both have explosive offenses and questionable defenses. For a full preview, click here.

Quick Recap of Wednesday's Games
Very quick recap of last night's games.

Miami, OH 44, Cincinnati 16- The RedHawks were dominant in every facet of the game. The Bearcats look like they have a lot of work to do before they can contend in the Big East. At 2-2, next week's game at Pittsburgh will tell us all a lot more about the Bearcats. For Miami, next week's game at Northern Illinois will say whether this was a huge step forward, or just a momentary escape from a nosedive season.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Week Five: Wednesday

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

Penn State finally grew an offense. They will prove a tough out for any team in the remainder of the conference race with their mixture of offense and defense.

Florida State locked up the ACC Atlantic Division title when Boston College beat Clemson.

Michigan will struggle to get to a bowl game. With trips to Michigan State and Iowa ahead along with home games against Minnesota, Penn State, and Ohio State, this team could easily finish 5-6.

Tennessee will score about 24 points in the first half against Ole Miss, and then promptly score 24 in the next ten quarters against Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama. They've already done that trick to the country once this year.

Boise State will never lose at home again. I'm convinced. Never doubt the blue turf.

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

Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M head coach: "I wish I knew what our main problem was defensively at this point. We talked to a lot of our defensive players over the weekend, and the Baylor game is the next game, it's a Big 12 game, and they are aware of last year's outcome."

Joe Paterno, Penn State head coach: "He (quarterback Michael Robinson) is reckless. He wants to get every inch and he gets a little careless with the ball."

Joint statement in Morgantown, West Virginia released Monday: "Our message remains unified, consistent and clear: There will be no tolerance for illegal behavior, including rushing the playing field, throwing objects onto the field or possessing alcohol beverages at the stadium. Further, any post-game actions involving illegal burnings, destruction of property, charging entry to a house party, underage drinking and other unlawful acts will also be punishable by law. If all fans are mindful of their behavior, then a hard-fought college football game will be the outcome, not any inappropriate conduct or irresponsible behavior.

One Liners
Incredibly basic previews of tonight's game

Cincinnati at Miami, OH (7:00 ESPN2)- The Victory Bell is on the line when these two teams hook up for the 11o time. The RedHawks and the Bearcats both have been unimpressive so far this year. Cincinnati might be able to start thinking about a bowl game if they can get their third win tonight heading into the wide open Big East play.

Tuesday in Review
Very quick recap of Tuesday's games.

Fresno State 44, Toledo 14- This is twice in two weeks that a WAC team has taken it to a MAC team. Of course, the Bulldogs didn't get much in way of total offense, but they dominated the other facets of the game. Toledo was without starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, but still this was a blowout to serve notice that Fresno State is a pretty darn good football team this year.

Rant of the week

Again, there were several good rants this week, but this one made me sit up and take notice. This one struck a cord in the heart of every college football fan that wants to see better games.

What is up with East Coast teams, mainly SEC and big 12 teams LOADING up their schedules with weak opponents. There is barely enough division 2 teams for them to play. Honestly, these schools have such little confidence in their teams, and there is so much emphasis on "getting a bowl game" that there is barely any teams with any quality wins (props to Texas and Ohio State). There needs to be a massive penalty, both in BCS, AP and coaches bowl for teams that refuse to play good competition. That way we can say to these weenie athletic directors "hey, you can have your bowl game, or you can compete for a championship, you choose."

--Geoff

Thanks for the rant, Geoff. Everyone else, keep them coming!

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?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Week Five: Monday

GAME OF THE WEEK
Minnesota 42, Purdue 35 (2OT)

The Gophers finally got a close win over a big name opponent. Minnesota has pulled off a handful of these over the years, but it seems like they haven't been able to do it on a big stage in a long time. That is mostly because of their renowned struggles Michigan. Purdue returned a Bryan Cupito pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Boilermakers up by eight and make most people around the country say, "Same ole Gophers." But the Gophers responded with a stirring twelve play drive and capped it off with a two point conversion. Laurence Maroney ran for a career high 216 yards on a career high 46 carries. The Gophers defense held on second, third, and fourth and short in the second overtime to give the Gophers the big win.

UPSET OF THE WEEK
South Florida 45, Louisville 14

Strange things happen in college football. This was one of them. A week after I said that Louisville would go down to Oregon State, the Cardinals decided to lay egg. An embarrassing 45-14 loss to South Florida was not on the radar. No one could have expected the Bulls to win by this margin. Louisville looked unfocused and (get this) slow. As the score continued to come up throughout the first half, the nation waited for Louisville to turn it around. That moment never came. Suddenly USF has to be considered a team to be reckoned with in the Big East, and Louisville has to go back to the drawing board and find out where they went wrong.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Drew Stanton, Michigan State

His numbers may not be mind blowing, but he got the job done in what was expected to be a landmine game for the Spartans against Illinois. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 259 yards and five touchdowns. The five touchdowns were especially important. He ran the offense to perfection in the 61-14 win over the Illini. Stanton has made his presence felt in the Heisman Trophy race.

TEAM OF THE WEEK
Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies 51-7 win over Georgia Tech was proof of exactly where the Hokies stand in the college football world. After watching the Hokies this year, I think there could be a reasonable debate about which team should be number one- USC, Texas, or Virginia Tech. The Hokies scored three touchdowns on special teams and defense. Georgia Tech's quarterback Reggie Ball wasn't 100%, which meant that the Hokies defense was able to tee off on him, but the pummeling proves that Virginia Tech is the team to beat in the ACC this year.

STAT OF THE WEEK
Iowa's 137 total yards

The Hawkeyes offense did next to nothing against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon. They gained just 137 total yards, with 146 yards coming from the passing game. Yes, that means that the Iowa rushing attack was up to their old tricks of losing nine yards for the game. Of course, the main reason for the negative yardage rushing was that Drew Tate was absolutely crushed by the Ohio State defense. The Hawkeyes offensive line couldn't block long enough for Tate to be able to get off his passes. Ohio State's 530 total yards on offense were impressive, but the fact that they held the Hawkeyes to just 137 was even more impressive.

PLAY OF THE WEEK
Chad Simpson's kickoff return

South Florida's Chad Simpson took the second half kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown. Above everything else, this play put the game away. The Bulls were ahead of Louisville 27-7 at the half, but most people around the country probably expected the Cardinals to come storming back in the second half. When Simpson returned that kickoff for a touchdown, it took all the wind out of the Cardinals sails and proved that USF was going to beat Louisville. There wasn't going to be any let up from these Bulls.

TURNOVER OF THE WEEK
Arkansas throws an interception

The score was 17-13, Alabama. There was just a little bit over five and a half minutes to play in the game. The Razorbacks had been dominated last week by USC by allowing 70 points. This week, they were hanging with another Top 25 team. Things couldn't have been going better for the Razorbacks. They were at their own 45 yard line, so they were in good field position to drive down the field for the winning touchdown. However, Robert Johnson threw an interception to Juwan Simpson that effectively put the game away. Simspon returned the interception to the Arkansas 40 yard line, and eight plays later, the Tide was in the endzone for the touchdown that really put the game away. The Razorbacks victory was not to be. That turnover was as much the Razorbacks undoing as anything.

KEY FIRST HALF MOMENT OF THE WEEK
The penalty against Oregon

The Ducks Kellen Clemens completed a pass down to the USC 1 yard line with around 9 minutes to play in the first half. The score was already 10-0 Oregon. It looked like it was going to be 17-0. But, the play got called back because of a personal foul penalty against Oregon, and one that was questionable by many accounts. The Ducks wound up settling for a field goal and a 13-0 lead. From that point forward, though, the momentum had changed. The Ducks had left the door ever so slightly open, and a great team like USC took advantage of that. The Trojans won 45-13, but the Ducks could have made it a different game if they jump out to a 17-0 lead. Probably not, but maybe.

MOMENT OF THE WEEK
John Stocco's four yard touchdown run

The Badgers coach Barry Alvarez had never beaten Lloyd Carr of Michigan, going 0-6 all time against him. This being Alvarez' last year, this was his final shot. Down 20-16 with time running out, the Badgers called a quarterback draw from the Michigan four yard line. John Stocco ran it to perfection and snuck into the endzone for the game winning touchdown. The crowd roared and Alvarez (24 seconds later) would finally have that elusive win over Carr. It was truly a special moment for the Badgers.