John Roberts College Football

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Week Eight: 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. Northwestern at Michigan State (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) You know you can't wait to watch the two best offenses in the Big Ten do battle. Neither team can stop anybody (or so it appears), and these offenses light it up. Look for lots of points. 2) The loser of this game will have three conference losses, which all but eliminates them from the Big Ten title chase. The winner stays just one loss behind the leaders. 3) Tyrell Sutton is one of the better running backs that people don't talk about. He has a chance to be something really special at Northwestern.

2. Nebraska at Missouri (12:30 FSN)- 1) There is so much riding on this game. The winner will be no worse than in a tie for the North lead with Colorado. The loser will fall a game behind the winner, and possibly also Colorado in the race for the division title. While it is not an elimination game in the North, it is pretty darn important. 2) Brad Smith is always capable of lighting it up or stinking it up. The Tigers certainly need him to be lighting it up this week against the very solid Huskers defense. 3) Nebraska won their first road game of the year last year at Baylor. They had to run the ball the whole second half to do it. Cory Ross is a very underrated running back for Nebraska, and he needs to have a big game to take the Missouri crowd out of the game.

3. Georgia Tech at Miami (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Miami isn't out of the national championship race yet, and that is due to their rock solid defense. Of course, they are playing another very talented defense in Georgia Tech. Look for this to be a slugfest. 2) The Yellow Jackets have the explosive Calvin Johnson catching passes and P.J. Daniels running the ball. If they can get the ball in their hands, they pose one of the more serious threats to the Miami defense than they have faced yet this year. 3) Kyle Wright has a sprained thumb and is expected to play. How will he perform with this injury?

4. Michigan at Iowa (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Don't look now, but here comes Iowa. Quietly, the Hawkeyes have moved into a tie for the Big Ten lead at 3-1. Most people still wonder if Iowa is for real or not, but they can go a long way to proving how for real they are this week against Michigan. 2) Michigan likes to win one, then lose one, then win one, then lose one so far this year. This is their week to lose if that's the case. Or, did the Wolverines dramatic win over Penn State last week finally propel them to the team that they were supposed to be in the preseason. 3) Drew Tate and Chad Henne both have been underachieving this year. They were considered by some to be the two best quarterbacks in the Big Ten in the preseason. Can either one of them break out of their struggles?

5. Virginia at North Carolina (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Um...Virginia. You still have a lot to prove. Last week's win over Florida State was nice. Let's see if you can follow it up with a nice game against North Carolina. 2) Interestingly, the Tar Heels are only one game behind Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division in the loss column. They need to beat a good team like Virginia as they prepare for Miami, Boston College, Maryland, and Virginia Tech down the stretch. 3) Marques Hagans looked like a solid quarterback last weekend against Florida State. His inconsistency has plagued him throughout his career, so another solid performance this week would be nice.

6. Ohio State at Indiana (12:00 ESPN)- 1) Ohio State needs to get Ted Ginn Jr. more involved in the offense...or Ginn needs to step up and be a player. Playing the Hoosiers defense ought to give him a chance to get involved. 2) The Hoosiers are lead by Blake Powers, who has already thrown a remarkable 20 touchdown passes this year. He hasn't faced a defense as good as Ohio State's yet. 3) Indiana can really make some noise with a huge home upset of the Buckeyes. They are 4-2, but people don't believe they are for real. This is a chance to show they are.

7. Arkansas at Georgia (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) The Dawgs could use a nice easy blowout win to show the world that they are one of the nation's best teams. So far, they have played somewhat close games pretty much every game except for the Boise State game. Of course, none of the games have really been in doubt in the final minutes, but none have been blowouts either. 2) Houston Nutt really needs a big win like this to keep his head off the chopping block. 3) D.J. Shockley has played very well as a quarterback. There have been inconsistencies, but he seems to be coming around.

8. Louisville at Cincinnati (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) The Cardinals struggled at Kentucky and lost at South Florida and West Virginia. Another road game, another chance for the Cardinals to get beat? 2) Cincinnati can get right into the heart of the Big East race with a win. They are currently 1-1 in conference. Louisville is 0-2 in conference play and probably playing spoiler in the conference race. How will the Cardinals respond to being reduced to a spoiler? 3) Brian Brohm and this Louisville offense have the potential to put up huge numbers. They are one of the more explosive offenses in the country.

9. Syracuse at Pittsburgh (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) This must be an awful match-up, right? No meaning here, right? If you haven't been paying attention, you probably haven't noticed that Pittsburgh has won back-to-back games and is sitting at 3-4 and 2-1 in the Big East. The Panthers are right back in the conference race. 2) Tyler Palko and the offense can score some points. Syracuse defense has been pretty good. They need to slow down the Panthers if they hope to win. 3) Damien Rhodes does everything for the Orange offense. He runs the ball. He catches the ball. He is a solid back.

Afternoon

1. Texas Tech at Texas (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The winner of this game will be heavily favored in all their remaining games, which means the winner becomes the favorite, not only in the Big Twelve, but also to go undefeated. 2) The Red Raiders offense can put up huge numbers behind Cody Hodges and Taurean Henderson. Texas' defense is very good, but it is just about impossible to keep the Red Raiders from scoring some points. 3) Texas is lead by Heisman Trophy frontrunner (or at least among the top three), Vince Young. He can do it all. He really hasn't had a bad game yet. If he keeps that up, the Red Raiders defense will not be able to contain him.

2. Tennessee at Alabama (3:30 CBS)- 1) This is one of the more bitter rivalries in the SEC. These two teams really just flat out don't like each other. The Vols would love nothing more than to end their archrivals unbeaten season. 2) Brodie Croyle, Ken Darby and the rest of the Alabama offense looked completely out of sync against Ole Miss last week in their first week without Tyrone Prothro. Is that what the offense is going to look like from here on out? Tennessee's defense is solid, so it will be a test. 3) Erik Ainge. Rick Clausen. Clausen. Ainge. Then Ainge. Then Clausen. Or is it Ainge? Or is it Clausen? The quarterback merry-go-round continues for the Vols this weekend.

3. Purdue at Wisconsin (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Boilermakers are looking to work their way back towards a bowl game. They're going to need some great performances down the stretch to get there since they are 2-4 right now. A win against Wisconsin would be a nice start. 2) The Badgers played the "we rather be lucky than good" card last week against Minnesota. How good are the Badgers? We still don't really know. 3) Brian Calhoun and John Stocco lead an offense that has been explosive lately against a Purdue defense that is a huge question mark.

4. Rutgers at Connecticut (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) This game is more or less an elimination game in the Big East race. Rutgers has already lost to frontrunner West Virginia, so they can't afford another conference loss. Both teams have just one conference loss, so winning here would be a huge boost to both teams. 2) Brian Leonard and Tres Moses are two of the more explosive player in the Big East. 3) Terry Caulley is the key player in the Huskies offense. If he gets the ball running, the Huskies offense can be tough to contain.

5. TCU at Air Force (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Horned Frogs are running away with the Mountain West title. Colorado State is the only other team with less than two conference losses. However, one conference loss by TCU opens the door for a whole slew of teams to get back in the race. 2) Shaun Carney will be looking to get his Falcons to a big home win. They've missed out on a couple of chances this year, but have another chance here. 3) Aaron Brown and Robert Merrills running against the smaller Falcons defense should produce great games.

6. USC at Washington (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Trojans could use a nice easy game. They have had a rough last four games against Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, and Notre Dame. 2) Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and LenDale White have a chance to absolutely explode against a very average Huskies defense. 3) Will USC come mentally prepared to play after last week's nailbiter against Notre Dame? If they don't, and the Huskies can get some early momentum at home, this could turn into one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. The Huskies have put up nice efforts against California and Notre Dame for a little over a quarter, and hung with UCLA for four full quarters.

7. Wyoming at Colorado State (3:00 ESPN Classic)- 1) The Rams are hoping that they can stay around in the Mountain West title chase. They are only one loss behind TCU and have a trip to Fort Worth coming up in a few weeks. 2) The Cowboys are still a very good team. They have lost two in a row, but really could get back on the right track with a win at a very good Colorado State team. 3) Corey Bramlett is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country.

8. Vanderbilt at South Carolina (3:30 Gameplan)- 1) More than likely, this is a battle for fourth in the SEC East. The Commodores and Gamecocks both desperately need the win to try to become bowl eligible. 2) Jay Cutler hasn't been playing well lately. He may be due for a huge game. 3) The Gamecocks offense hasn't been explosive this year under Steve Spurrier until the fourth quarter of the Kentucky game. Can they keep the momentum going?

9. BYU at Notre Dame (2:30 NBC)- 1) The Irish are coming off a heartbreaking loss to USC last week. They might not be mentally focused on the Cougars. 2) Brady Quinn is a darn good quarterback. The Cougars defense has been playing well lately, especially last weekend against Colorado State. 3) John Beck is another quarterback that doesn't get the respect he deserves. Of course, he is throwing the ball to Todd Watkins, which sure makes things easier.

10. Florida State at Duke (3:30 ESPNU)- 1) Florida State is trying to bounce back from their loss last week at Virginia. Duke normally is the cure for that. 2) Doesn't it seem like the Blue Devils always either hang around in a game or pull off the upset in a game that they have no business doing it during the second half of the season? Is this that game this year? 3) Where have running backs Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker been for the Seminoles? They are averaging combined about 17 carries a game. Given that they are both future NFL backs, this is not enough touches.

11. East Carolina at Memphis (3:30 CSTV)- 1) This is a pretty important game in the East Division of Conference USA. The Pirates have just one conference loss and are tied for the division lead. The Tigers have two conference losses and are just behind those four tied at the top. 2) DeAngelo WIlliams is one of the country's best running backs. It is too bad he plays on a team like Memphis because we all deserve to get to se him more. 3) Skip Holtz is doing one of the best jobs in the country making this Pirates team competitive. A win over the Tigers in Memphis could establish the Pirates as a serious contender for the division title.

Late Afternoon

1. Oregon State at UCLA (7:00 TBS)- 1) The Bruins are unbeaten, but have been severly tested the last three weeks against Washington, Washington State, and California. Can they continue along their unbeaten path? 2) The Beavers stunned California in Berkley last Saturday afternoon. Can they possibly do the same thing to the Bruins this Saturday and thrust themselves back into the Pac Ten race? 3) Maurice Drew is one of the best (if not the best) all-purpose back in the country.

2. West Virginia at South Florida (7:00 ESPNU)- 1) Anybody else remember what the Bulls did the last time they played a home game? Only demolish the preseason Big East favorite, Louisville. Now, they look to do the same to the current Big East favorite. 2) The Mountaineers are lead by Steve Slatton running the ball. He should put up nice numbers on the ground. 3) How high will the Mountaineers be after their win against Louisville? Will they be flat after the triple overtime thriller?

3. Baylor at Oklahoma (7:00 FSN)- 1) If you are an Oklahoma fan, you better be a little concerned about this game. Baylor has been playing very well this year (for Baylor), while the Sooners have been underachieving. This looks like a classic spot for a huge upset, but the Sooners still have much more talent. 2) Adrian Peterson is not at full strength and Rhett Bomar is just average on offense. The Sooners could struggle to move the ball against a fairly sturdy Baylor defense. 3) Shawn Bell is a good quarterback, but will be seriously tested by a good Oklahoma defense.

4. Penn State at Illinois (7:00 ESPN2)- 1) The Nittany Lions need to bounce back quick from last week's tough loss because they still are in control of their Big Ten championship hopes. 2) Ron Zook could use a nice win over a ranked team to get his tenure at Illinois off the ground. Zook had success at Florida getting his team prepared to play when nobody expected them to be able to win. This is one of those games. 3) Illinois' offense has been struggling in Big Ten play. Penn State's defense is among the best in the country. Good luck with that, Illini.

5. Florida Atlantic at Arkansas State (7:00 Gameplan)- 1) These Sun Belt games are slowly becoming some of the more entertaining games in the country. Are they as talented as the big name programs? No way. Are they putting on great shows? Yes they are. 2) Arkansas State gave up a ton of rushing yards last week to Louisiana-Lafayette. However, the Owls are still looking to get their running game going. 3) Arkansas State is right in the running for the wide open Sun Belt title. They sit just one game behind conference leader Louisiana-Monroe.

6. Utah at UNLV (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Who would have guessed that this would be a match-up where the loser would be all alone in the basement of the Mountain West? Utah has lost three straight games suddenly and finds themselves where they did not expect to be. 2) Quinton Ganther and Brian Johnson have been playing very well for the Utes offense. They just haven't quite put it all together yet for that one monster game. Could this be it? 3) Jarrod Jackson has been doing OK for the Rebels at quarterback. The offensive line isn't doing a great job and the deep ball has been a non-threat, but Jackson has been completing passes and making a few things happen.

7. Hawaii at San Jose State (6:00 Gameplan)- 1) Colt Brennan got on a roll last week for the Warriors. He needs to keep it going this week and keep his momentum going with huge games coming up against Fresno State and Nevada. 2) The San Jose State offense has some serious flaws. Still, what defense would you want to play to figure out your offensive flaws? Clearly, Hawaii is up near the top of that list. 3) Hawaii is notoriously bad on the road, and the Spartans have won one of their two home games.

Evening

1. Auburn at LSU (7:45 ESPN)- 1) This is the first game of the round robin that will determine the SEC West title. Both teams still have Alabama on their schedule. 2) Auburn's Brandon Cox has been playing well since that opening night debacle against Georgia Tech. Of course, the Tigers haven't played anyone of note since then. LSU's pass defense has been questionable this year at times, so Cox may have a shot to put some nice numbers on the board against them. 3) It's LSU. It's a night game. It's a big game on a Saturday. What more could you want? Well, it certainly doesn't hurt things any that LSU's high powered offense is going up against Auburn's rock solid defense. Wow. This one ought to be fun.

2. Marshall at UTEP (9:00 i/PAX)- 1) This has potential to be the preview of the Conference USA Championship Game. Marshall and UTEP both are currently tied in the loss column atop their divisions in C-USA. 2) Jordan Palmer and Marcus Thomas give UTEP a lot of explosion on the offensive side of the ball. They need to keep the ball moving and put up some points on a pretty good Marshall defense. 3) Ahmad Bradshaw and the Thundering Herd running game haven't been great, but he is good enough to put up huge numbers in any game that he plays. UTEP's defense hasn't exactly proven to be a brick wall this year.

Late Night

1. Washington State at California (10:15 FSN)- 1) California's quarterback, Joe Ayoob, has been struggling lately. However, the Cougars defense might be just the solution to the problem. 2) Washington State's offense is absolutely explosive. Jerome Harrison is as good of a running back as there is in the Pac Ten. Cal's defense isn't bad, either, though. 3) Marshawn Lynch was benched during the second half last week. Can he bounce back with a big performance?

2. New Mexico at San Diego State (10:00 Gameplan)- 1) The winner of this game will be 3-2 in conference play, which will put them no worse than a tie for third at the end of the day, and in second if Colorado State loses to Wyoming. 2) DonTrell Moore got the job done against Wyoming last week. He's one of the more underrated running backs in the country and a load of fun to watch. 3) Kevin O'Connell seems to have grown into a solid quarterback for the Aztecs. He did nothing but make huge plays last weekend to help them stun Utah.

One Liners
Very quick preview of Thursday night's games.

Virginia Tech at Maryland (7:45 ESPN)- The Hokies and the Terrapins are both holding out ACC Championship dreams. Maryland would love to put an end to Virginia Tech's dream season on national television.

Florida International at Troy (7:30 ESPNU)- Troy is trying to get back into the Sun Belt Conference race after last week's drumming at the hands of Louisaina-Monroe. The Golden Panthers would like to come up with their first win against Division 1-A competition.

For a complete preview of Thursday night's games via the Thursday Night Throwdown, click here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Week Eight: Wednesday

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

Florida State is bound and determined to lose at least one more game. They are too inconsistent on offense and don't get the ball into their running backs hands enough to make things happen. Plus, their defense showed a few lapses this weekend. There are road trips to Clemson and Florida still ahead on the schedule, while home dates with Maryland and North Carolina State are both potential landmines.

We will only have two unbeatens at most at the end of the regular season. What are the odds that we have a second consecutive regular season with three teams from major conferences undefeated? We hadn't dealt with that issue in a long time. Better yet, what are the odds that for the second consecutive season the preseason #1 and #2 teams survive unbeaten and play for the national title? In other words, Texas or USC seems to be a near lock to lose at some point. The question is, to who and how?

The Big Ten title still runs through the Ohio State-Michigan game. If both teams win between now and then, that game will likely determine who wins the conference title. Yes, there's still the small factor that Wisconsin will need to drop some more conference games, and Penn State will have to drop one to someone along the way, but the Ohio State-Michigan game is still the most important game in the Big Ten.

Conference USA has been turned upside down. UTEP and Tulsa appear prepared to battle it out for the West title, but there is no better conference race (outside of the wild Big Ten) than the Conference USA East title. Southern Miss, UCF, Marshall, and East Carolina all have one conference loss. UAB and Memphis each have two. Ummm...somebody sort this out for everyone please!

Don't be so quick to discount Vanderbilt just yet. Yes, they have lost three straight games to Middle Tennessee, LSU, and Georgia. But they were close against LSU and Georgia with just a few more breaks. They will be favored against Kentucky, and have looked better than South Carolina so far, so that should get them to six wins. However, they may have enough to become a very serious threat to either Tennessee or Florida unless they start playing better. The Vols and Gators both have looked very weak lately, and the Commodores would love nothing more than to knock off one of those giants.

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

Urban Meyer has stated that Chris Leak will remain the starting quarterback and will not be replaced by freshman Josh Portis. Remember three years ago when Leak very publicly switched his commitment from Tennessee to Florida? At the time, this was seen as a huge blow to the Vols. Now, Leak is being questioned about whether or not he should be the starter on his team. While he may be better than any quarterback the Vols have, the demise of Chris Leak (particularly under the guidance of Urban Meyer) has been quite rapid.

Hurricane Wilma is pounding down on South Florida, thus making it tough to tell if either West Virginia's visit to South Florida or Georgia Tech's road date at Miami will be able to come off. The game could be moved. Expect announcements on both games sometime today.

Quotables

Mike Leach, Texas Tech's head coach: "It used to that our non-conference was several bowl teams, and we just changed it around and decided to try out and see what some of the other guys were doing. The biggest thing was to get home games after we expanded the stadium and playing in front of the home fans. This is one of our better teams we have had, and we're older on defense with some more experience that we have had. We have a pretty talented group of receivers who have been gaining experience rapidly. This could shape up as one of our best teams; it remains to be seen as we continue the season."

Jeff Tedford, California's head coach: "They played better than we did. Bad game plan- got to give our guys more of a chance to be successful and today it was obvious in the run game that they were more physical than we were and out coached in the run game."

Al Groh, Virginia's head coach: "What we talked about last week is that we didn't really care what anybody said about us, and we don't really care this week. We just know what we have to do this week to keep it going. What we care about is winning and losing and staying together as a team and trying to play the kind of sound, solid, tough, aggressive ball that we like to think is our trademark. The season was pretty early still last week at that stage. It's really still pretty early; we're only at the halfway mark. And, I think at that stage it's too early to get hyped up about if you've got a great team, and it's a little pre-mature to be running around like Chicken Little saying, 'The sky is falling.'"

Rant of the Week

Again, there were several great rants last week. But this one took the cake...wedding cake that is! It deals with an issue near and dear to every college football fan during this treacherous time of year.

Why oh why do people plan weddings during the college football season? I buy season tickets every year for my team and it never fails that two or three wedding invitations find my box. Newsflash- college football is way more important than your stupid wedding. Am I alone in this? STOP planning wedding dates in college football season, please for the love of god. Guys take a stand for all other guys out there that you are inviting to your wedding. And don't get all girly when I tell you I would rather watch college football. June weddings are really nice. Maybe try early spring. PLEASE.

Chris Williams
Dallas, Texas

Chris, I can relate. This Saturday, I have a wedding that I have to go to in the morning. Fortunately, due to modern technology and the early start time of the wedding, I won't miss too much of the action. I would like to say congratulations to Kate and Pat and I am very happy they will be getting married this Saturday, but couldn't you have waited until, I don't know, the second Saturday in December after college football was over? Of course, I'm only kidding...but Chris from Dallas might not be...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Week Eight: Tuesday

Under Pressure
Randy Sanders, Tennessee

It is not often that a coordinator gets put in this category (happened only once in the first seven weeks this year), but is Randy Sanders ever feeling the pressure. Phillip Fulmer seems to have a pass for the team's bad offensive efforts, so Sanders seems to be getting most of the heat coming out of Knoxville for the team's downright offensive performances on offense. A team with this much talent should not be struggling this much on offense. A strong performance against a rock solid Alabama defense might be enough to hold off the sharks for a little while longer. He better hope that the Vols execution gets much much better.

Brandon Cox, Auburn

The Tigers quarterback has been doing a good job, but he hasn't faced any really good defense since the Georgia Tech game. He'll be facing at least the most hostile atmosphere in his young career as a starting quarterback when he heads to Baton Rouge this Saturday night. It will be on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, and everyone knows how tough that atmosphere can be. Can he produce with all that will be on the line? The SEC West title will be up for grabs when these two square off. The winner will become the primary challenger to Alabama for the title.

College Gameday Site
Austin, Texas

The Gameday crew will be in Texas for the Longhorns toughest challenge to date, other than Ohio State. The Longhorns have responded valiantly the past several weeks when tested. This weeks game against Texas Tech ought to be interesting. The Red Raiders offense will pose a very serious challenge to the Longhorns stout defense. If the Red Raiders can begin to slow down Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns offense, then they might have a shot. This ought to be a very enjoyable shootout, and it makes sense that Gameday would be there for a match-up of unbeatens happening in late October.

Thoughts on the Rankings

It's BACK! And this time...well, I guess there's not as much controversy as there has been in the past. USC and Texas sit in the top two spots, which is where most of America has them. Virginia Tech is next in line, which is right where most of America has them.

The most surprising thing could be how highly ranked Texas Tech is. They are number seven in the rankings, which is higher than the Harris or USA Today rankings have them. They are painstakingly close to LSU for the number six spot. That Texas-Texas Tech game this weekend just got bigger, as a Red Raiders win could conceivably jump them all the way to number two or three.

Of course, Notre Dame being ranked number fifteen seems awfully low. But computers can't watch football games, and since margin of victory is not taken into account in any of the computers, those computers really have no idea that Notre Dame played USC so close. The computers have Notre Dame ranked #25.

The biggest beneficiaries of the computers appear to be Oregon and Wisconsin. They are ranked #13 and #14, respectively. Oregon is tied for ninth in the computer rankings, while Wisconsin is ranked number eight.

Four computers vote USC number one, one votes for Texas, and one votes for Georgia. In the rankings where Georgia is number, USC is number two, Alabama is number three, Texas is number four, Penn State is number five, and Virginia Tech is number six. Maybe we can train this computer to watch football...

In general, I do not have problems with the computers being used. They do take bias out of the equation in terms of certain teams. They definitely are not perfect, but I basically think that they accomplish what they are supposed to. My one thought is that I think margin of victory should be factored in, at least up to a point. No, it doesn't matter if you win by 35 or 42 points. However, there is a difference between getting beat by USC by 46 the way Hawaii did and by three the way Notre Dame did. Yet, the computer does not distinguish between these two because they are both home losses to USC. That's my reason for wanting margin of victory included in the computer rankings, with a cap going on at 20 points.

My Rankings

This past weekend was maybe the most exciting weekend anyone has ever seen in college football. It seemed like every game came down to the very last minute. Everywhere you turned, great games were following great games. It was absolutely amazing. Currently, I have five very good teams that are not ranked. Arizona State, Colorado, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota all remain unranked this week. There is slowly getting to be too many teams that deserve to be ranked right now. Heck, up and down Michigan isn't even on the list. Without further ado, here is the new Top 25, with last week's rank in parentheses.

1. USC 6-0 (1)
2. Texas 6-0 (2)
3. Virginia Tech 6-0 (3)
4. Georgia 6-0 (5)
5. Alabama 6-0 (4)
6. UCLA 6-0 (8)
7. Miami, FL 5-1 (10)
8. LSU 6-1 (12)
9. Notre Dame 4-2 (9)
10. Florida State 5-1 (6)
11. Penn State 6-1 (7)
12. Ohio State 4-2 (13)
13. Texas Tech 6-0 (15)
14. Auburn 5-1 (16)
15. Boston College 6-1 (17)
16. Oregon 6-1 (20)
17. Florida 5-2 (11)
18. Michigan State 4-2 (14)
19. Virginia 4-2 (--)
20. Tennessee 3-2 (19)
21. Oregon State 4-2 (--)
22. West Virginia 6-1 (--)
23. California 5-2 (18)
24. TCU 6-1 (22)
25. Fresno State 4-1 (--)

Dropped Out: Colorado 4-2 (21), Minnesota 5-2 (23), Arizona State 3-3 (24), Louisville 4-2 (25).
The Buffaloes were absolutely humiliated by Texas. Minnesota was stunned in the final seconds by Wisconsin. Louisville still has not proven that they can perform on the road after their loss in Morgantown to West Virginia. Arizona State dropped out because they may not be even the most deserving three loss team (Michigan could be because they have more impressive wins, but Arizona State has played a very tough schedule).

Biggest drop by a team still in the rankings: 6- Florida. The Gators may have taken a 17-14 lead against LSU, but the Gators did not look good doing it. Truly, the Gators have looked so average in their last three games and their one good win (Tennessee) may or may not be a good win, that their ranking may be generous. The Gators have just been very unimpressive as of late.

Smallest drop by a team that lost: 0- Notre Dame. The Irish came so close against USC. How can you drop them for that performance? It is pretty tough. There are questions about the Irish (they are now 0-2 at home), but for this week, it is impossible to question them and their rank.

Biggest drop by a team that won: 2- TCU. Really, the Horned Frogs dropped two spots just because so many other teams performed so well that they had to jump up. Oregon State, Virginia, and West Virginia all had impressive wins over ranked teams, and those were the only teams that jumped them. When you beat Army, I guess you run the risk of falling in a situation like that.

Biggest jump by a team that was in my rankings last week: 4- Oregon. So this may be a bit of a big jump, but the fact is that Oregon has been playing better than Florida, Michigan State, Tennessee, and California in recent weeks. The Ducks deserve to be ahead of all those teams.

So, why is USC still #1? This is a good question. However, if you watched the Notre Dame-USC game, you'd realize that all those ghosts were out in full force. I've never watched a game at Notre Dame where it was so obvious that the Irish had everything going their way and they still lost. This just does not happen in South Bend. I will be watching very closely to see if Texas or Virginia Tech deserves to jump them in the coming weeks.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Week Eight: Monday

WEEKEND IN REVIEW

Game of the Week
USC 34, Notre Dame 31

It was one of the most hyped games of the year and it lived up to the hype. Matt Leinart pounded in from a yard away with just three seconds left to give the Trojans the three point lead. Notre Dame had taken the 31-28 lead on a great drive lead by Brady Quinn. The Trojans jumped out to a 14-7 lead, but trailed 21-14 at the half. But there was no dominating second half this time around. The Irish continued to play ball control and keep the Trojans off the field. The Trojans faced a fourth and nine with just a minute a half left that if they had not converted, they would have lost. There was a split second where it appeared that the Irish had won as the clock ran out, but the referees had clearly been waving their hands to stop the clock because the ball had been fumbled out of bounds. If Leinart had not fumbled out of bounds, the game would have been over. It was truly a great game on a weekend full of great games.

Upset of the Week
West Virginia 46, Louisville 44 (3 OT)

This wasn't a huge upset, but the Cardinals were ahead 24-7 about halfway through the fourth quarter, when Terry Bowden said, "This was just the kind of game that Louisville needed to get back on the right track." Spoke too soon, Mr. Bowden. Steve Slaton lead the comeback on the ground, and the Mountaineers thrilled their fans with a dramatic win in triple overtime. The Mountaineers now have to be considered the favorites in the Big East, while the Cardinals, the preseason mortal lock to earn the conference's BCS bowl bid, are off to an 0-2 start in the conference. Not exactly what the Cardinals had in mind when they moved to the Big East in the offseason. Their road struggles continue.

Team of the Week
Texas Longhorns

That was one heck of an easy win for the Longhorns. The Colorado game was yet another game that was supposed to be a trap game for these Longhorns, and yet Texas disposed of the Buffaloes with ease, 42-17. The game was never in doubt. Texas simply rolled a very good Colorado team. With Texas Tech coming up this weekend, a battle of unbeatens ought to be very entertaining.

Player of the Week
Vince Young, Texas

Young had a Heisman Trophy-like performance against Colorado. He completed 25 of 29 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball ten times for 58 yards and three touchdowns. The Longhorns quarterback single handedly beat the Buffaloes. The Longhorns look more and more like a team on a mission to prove that they will not be deterred from the business trip that they are on. Young was absolutely spectacular.

Stat of the Week
643 passing yards

Cody Hodges of Texas Tech absolutely lit up the Kansas State defense. He completed 44 of 65 passes for 643 yards and five touchdowns. The total passing yards were the fourth highest in Division 1-A history. Of course, the Red Raiders were throwing the ball all day, but Kansas State kept on hanging around and hanging around. Hodges certainly had a magnificent game. If he didn't play for Texas Tech, he would be in the heart of the Heisman Trophy race right now.

Play of the Week
Wisconsin blocked a punt for a touchdown

The Badgers blocked a punt against Minnesota in the final thirty seconds and recovered it in the endzone to come up with a dramatic 38-34 win. Justin Kucek dropped the snap and tried to pick it up. When he got the punt away, Jonathan Cassilas was right there to block it and Ben Strickland recovered in the endzone. It was one of the most incredible plays in the 115 year history of the rivalry. It was truly a remarkable game.

Turnover of the Week
Tony Franklin intercepted Drew Weatherford

Franklin intercepted Weatherford's pass with 56 seconds left to seal Virginia's 26-21 win over Florida State. The Seminoles had been mounting a heck of a comeback just to get back into the game. They were within five, and many people must have felt like the Seminoles were bound to drive down the field for the winning score. However, Franklin picked off the pass and sealed the win and set off a wild celebration in Charlottesville.

Key First Half Moment of the Week
Ashton Youboty's blocked field goal return for a touchdown

The Ohio State Buckeyes had not played well in the first half at all. They trailed 17-7 and the Spartans were driving. Drew Stanton ran up to the line to spike the ball, but got called off the field for the field goal unit as time was ticking down to ten seconds left in the half. Finally, the field goal unit got set up, but they only had ten men on the field, which left a wide open left side to come in and block the John Goss kick. Nate Salley was the one who blocked it. Ashton Youboty picked it up and ran it in from 72 yards away. The score at the half was now just 17-14. The momentum carried over to the second half, and while the Spartans did not fold, the Buckeyes seemed to have the upper hand for the rest of the game.

Moment of the Week
How about that 45 minutes of the week?

As the 3:30 games came down on the end, all of them were heart stoppers. From around 7:00 Eastern to around 7:45 Eastern, great game after great game came to a close. Penn State lost on the last play to Michigan, 27-25. LSU held on against Florida, 21-17. Oregon State stunned California, 23-20. USC came back against Notre Dame, 34-31. West Virginia beat Louisville in triple overtime, 46-44. With all of these marquee games coming to an end, and all of them in dramatic fashion, it was hard to keep up. This weekend, above all others, was proof of why every college football fan should have ESPN Gameplan.