John Roberts College Football

Friday, October 28, 2005

Week Nine: Friday

Weekend Stars
Thoughts on who the stars of the weekend will be.

Game of the Week- Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville- If you love defense, then this is your game. The two teams will both struggle on offense and both will make plays with their defense. This is another battle between top SEC defenses, and no one should be surprised if it winds up 6-3 like last week's Tennessee-Alabama game. Georgia is looking to clinch the SEC East with a win, while the Gators will get back into the SEC East race if they can muster a win. Georgia is looking to stay alive in the national championship race, while the Gators are looking to earn back a measure of respect.

Upset Special- Michigan at Northwestern- The Wolverines are favored on the road against the team that may be playing the best football in the Big Ten right now. Chad Henne and the Michigan offense can put up a ton of points, however, Brett Basanez and Tyrell Sutton are both ready to roll. The Wildcats offense is superior to Michigan's. However, Michigan has the better defense. This could be the best game of the weekend as both teams could be able to score forty in this one. This should be a very high scoring, entertaining affair.

Team of the Week- Texas Longhorns- Oklahoma State still carries some name value, however that is about all that they carry at this point. The Cowboys are downright bad right now. The Longhorns are playing to prove that they deserve the number one ranking in the BCS. The Cowboys would love to end their national championship dreams, but after anticipating a landmine game for a month now, I'm finally convinced that this Texas team isn't going to fall into a landmine...yet.

Players of the Week-
1) Vince Young, Texas- The Oklahoma State defense has been anything but tough so far this year. The Longhorns quarterback ought to put up huge numbers on the Cowboy.
2) Matt Leinart, USC- Washington State's defense is pretty lousy. While the Cougars have a shot to outscore the Trojans, Leinart should be lighting up the Cougars defense all day long.
3) Paul Pinegar, Fresno State- The Bulldogs trip to Hawaii should be a tough one. However, scoring points should not be a problem. Pinegar should put up absolutely fabulous numbers on the islands againat Hawaii.
4) Reggie Bush, USC- Bush ought to spend the part of the day where Leinart isn't lighting up the Washington State defense doing it himself. He ought to explode for huge yards in all facets of the game.
5) Brodie Croyle, Alabama- If Croyle is playing enough of the game against Utah State, he ought to put up good numbers. The offense will be much better than they have been in recent weeks.

ONE LINERS
A quick preview of tonight's games.

Colorado State at New Mexico (8:00 ESPN2)- Justin Holland is a great quarterback for the Rams, while DonTrell Moore is a great running back for the Lobos. Colorado State still controls their Mountain West fate with only one conference loss and TCU still to come. They need to win this game to keep that.

THURSDAY IN REVIEW
A very quick recap of Thursday night's games.

Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 10- The Hokies dominated the game in all facets but the scoreboard until the closing minutes, when a late interception returned for a touchdown finally put the game out of reach. The Hokies dominated all the statistical categories. If Virginia Tech keeps on winning like that down the stretch, they may just deserve to jump into number two, even without a loss from Texas or USC.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Week Nine: 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. Ohio State at Minnesota (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) It's the best rush defense in the country, led by A.J. Hawk, against the best rush offense in the country, led by Laurence Maroney. Something has got to give. 2) Minnesota has two conference losses, while the Buckeyes have just one. A Gopher win puts them back into the Big Ten title chase. 3) Ted Ginn Jr. seems to be starting to play some football this year. He has scored touchdowns each of the last two weeks.

2. Oklahoma at Nebraska (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) So Oklahoma is not going to win the Big Twelve South and Nebraska probably will not win the Big Twelve North (although the Cornhuskers still have a shot at it). This is still one of the great rivalries in college football even if we don't get to see it every year. That makes it that much more important to watch when we do get it. 2) Rhett Bomar really seems to slowly be developing into a nice quarterback. Yes, he is young and makes freshman mistakes, but his development is happening, which makes his play against the very good Huskers defense a must-watch. 3) Nebraska wants to show the college football world that they are back. While Oklahoma is down, this still would be a signature win for Bill Callahan's crew.

3. North Carolina at Miami, FL (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) While the Hurricanes have got to be dreaming about their match up with Virginia Tech, they better not overlook the Tar Heels. If Boston College upsets the Hokies on Thursday night, the winner of this game will be tied with VT in the loss column in the Coastal Division. 2) North Carolina upset Miami last year. They would love to do it again. 3) Kyle Wright and the Miami offense still seem to be plodding a bit. They better get it going against a North Carolina defense that held Wisconsin to 14 points and Virginia to five. (And before anyone asks, yes I remember that Louisville scored 69 on them.)

4. Texas Tech at Baylor (12:30 FSN)- 1) This game may be a better indicator of just how good Texas Tech is. Baylor is a lot better than people think, and the Red Raiders need to beat them to stay in line for a big bowl game. 2) Cody Hodges has been putting up arcade game like numbers, which is not surprising. Nothing beats watching the Texas Tech offense, and Baylor's defense has been pretty good so far, making this an interesting match-up. 3) Who would have guessed that Baylor would be playing a very meaningful game for their bowl hopes at this point in the season?

5. Wisconsin at Illinois (12:00 ESPN)- 1) The Badgers are right in the thick of the Big Ten race, lead by Brian Calhoun's running and John Stocco's throwing. 2) Penn State put a 63 up on the scoreboard against the Illini defense last weekend. Wisconsin's offense is even better than Penn State's. 3) Ron Zook knows how to get his teams up for one big game. There should be one upset somewhere along the way for the Illini this year. Is this it?

6. Indiana at Michigan State (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Blake Powers and the Indiana offense could have a very nice week against a very average Michigan State defense. 2) Drew Stanton and the Spartans offense are very good and Indiana's defense isn't that great. 3) The Spartans go into a tailspin at the end of every year, it seems like. They've lost two in a row. Can they pull out of it?

7. Southern Miss at North Carolina State (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) Can the Golden Eagles pull off one of their patented upsets against a struggling Wolfpack team? 2) At 2-4, NC State needs every win they can muster to qualify for a bowl game. With Middle Tennessee and Maryland ahead on the home slate, they could win three more games. Where the fourth one comes (at Boston College or at Florida State) is anyone's guess. However, they cannot lose one of their home games and be forced to win both of those games on the road, making this one important. 3) Toney Baker is a solid freshman running back for the Wolfpack.

8. Ole Miss at Auburn (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) The Tigers Brandon Cox needs to regain some confidence before the showdowns with Georgia and Alabama. They need him to play better if they are going to win those games. 2) The Rebels have been playing better lately. Three more wins gets them bowl eligible, which would be a huge step forward. With Arkansas, LSU, and Mississippi State ahead on the schedule, they will probably need one upset (and to be sure they beat Arkansas and Mississippi State) to get there. This would be a nice place to get that upset. 3) Mico McSwain is a very good running back, however he will be squaring off with a very good Auburn defense.

9. Wake Forest at Duke (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Hey, it is an in-state rivalry game! Nothing beats that on Tobacco Road. 2) Chris Barclay and Micah Andrews is one of the better running back duos in the country. 3) Ronnie Drummer has an incredible 14 carries and 248 yards in his previous three games for the Blue Devils. That comes out to 17.7 yards per carry. Now, why does he only have 14 carries? That's a good question.

10. Toledo at Central Michigan (1:00 FSN Regional)- 1) It's a very important game in the MAC West. The Rockets are undefeated in conference play at 4-0, but up just one game on Northern Illinois and Central Michigan, who are both 3-1 in conference play. 2) Bruce Gradkowski and Trinity Dawson will be looking to keep the Rockets offense exploding. 3) Kent Smith has been playing well as the Chippewas quarterback. He will need to keep the offensive momentum going if they are going to hang around with Toledo.

11. Cincinnati at Syracuse (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Is the loser of this game destined to finish last in the Big East? It is a possibility as Syracuse is 0-4 and Cincinnati is 1-2 in conference play. 2) Cincinnati has Dustin Grutza at quarterback, who has been coming along very slowly for the Bearcats. Syracuse defense isn't great, so Grutza has a chance to have a good game. 3) Damien Rhodes is one of the more underrated running backs in the country. The Orange should feed him the ball and try to wear down the Bearcats questionable defense.

Afternoon

1. Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville (3:30 CBS)- 1) Georgia can clinch the SEC East with a win in this game. It would be their third SEC East title in four years. 2) Chris Leak and the Gators have struggled on offense. That means it is probably not the best time to be facing the stout Bulldogs defense. 3) Joe Tereshinki will be the starting quarterback for the Dawgs. Not a good place for him to be stepping in, against a great defense in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

2. Washington State at USC (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Admit it. Just because Washington State is 0-4 in the Pac Ten you think they have no shot. They might not, but they've been up by double digits in the fourth quarter each of the last three weeks. 2) The Cougars have really struggled on defense this year. Umm...Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White. 3) USC's defense hasn't been outstanding this year. With Jerome Harrison running the ball and Jason Hill catching the ball, the Cougars can make big plays on just about any team in the country.

3. Maryland at Florida State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Drew Weatherford and the Seminoles offense seems to be coming around, although they still need to get the ball in the hands of Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington more. Maryland's defense is still pretty sharp, lead by D'Qwell Jackson. This should be an interesting match-up. 2) Sam Hollenbach should be playing for the Terps on Saturday. He needs to play better than he did against Virginia Tech for them to have any chance. 3) The Terps upset the 'Noles last year. A win in this game would tie the Terps in the loss column with Florida State in conference play. If Virginia Tech also beats Boston College on Thursday night, they could find themselves in a tie for first by the end of the day.

4. Purdue at Penn State (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Purdue has been one of the biggest disappointments in college football. One more loss and they won't even be bowl eligible at the end of the year. One of these weeks, the Boilermakers are going to pull off an upset and show everyone why they were so highly regarded in the preseason. 2) The Nittany Lions control their own Big Ten destiny. If they win out, they are the Big Ten champs. Michael Robinson and the Penn State offense has to be licking their chops to go against this Purdue defense with this much on the line. 3) Brandon Kirsch is a solid quarterback, and he hasn't played too poorly this year. He'll have a tough task against the Penn State defense.

5. Clemson at Georgia Tech (3:30 ESPN)- 1) The Tigers and the Yellow Jackets both really want to get to a bowl game. With both teams sitting at four wins, winning this game would really help either teams chances. 2) Charlie Whiterhurst has been a very solid quarterback this year and has gotten from the running game and James Davis. Georgia Tech has got a great defense, though, making this an interesting match-up. 3) Reggie Ball is one of the most inconsistent players in the country. However, with playmakers like P.J. Daniels and Calvin Johnson on his team, he can't help but have a big game every now and then. Clemson's defense is not great, so this could be one of those big games.

6. Utah State at Alabama (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) Surely this week the Tide won't have to win on a last second field goal, right? 2) Tide coach Mike Shula might want to have the subs ready. After losing Brodie Croyle in a blowout last year against Western Carolina and Tyrone Prothro this year in a blowout against Florida, he came under some heat for having those guys in the game. If this one gets ugly, he should be advised to get those players out of the game quickly. Will he? 3) Leon Jackson III makes the Aggies offense go. He's the team's leading rusher and the team's quarterback. This will provide an interesting test to the Alabama defense before facing LSU and JaMarcus Russell, another guy who can both run and throw.

7. Iowa State at Texas A&M (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Don't look now, but Texas A&M is in control of their own destiny in the Big Twelve South. The Aggies struggled to get by Kansas State last weekend, but that could be just the win this team needs to get their momentum rolling. 2) Reggie McNeal is one of the top threats in the country. He can do it all and he can single-handedly light up the scoreboard if the other team isn't careful. Bret Meyer is similarly athletic for the Cyclones. 3) Iowa State got back to winning last week against Oklahoma State. They are probably out of the Big Twelve North race without a lot of help. However, if they were to win out and get to 5-3 in the conference, they would still have an outside shot of at least tying for the division title. That might have to do for this Iowa State team.

8. Air Force at BYU (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) Air Force is 3-5 and BYU is 3-4, meaning that the loser of this game is probably not going to a bowl game. The winner keeps those bowl hopes alive. 2) Shaun Carney leads a tough to defend Air Force offense against a good BYU defense. 3) John Beck is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country. He could put up big numbers against an average Air Force defense.

Late Afternoon

1. Michigan at Northwestern (7:00 ESPN)- 1) The Northwestern offense is lead by Brett Basanez and Tyrell Sutton. Those two are both explosive and will look to lead the Wildcats against a good Michigan defense. 2) Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Kevin Grady, Steve Breaston, and Jason Avant are all players that have potential to put up big numbers offensively any week. With the way Northwestern's defense tends to play, that week could be this week. 3) Michigan only sits one game out of the Big Ten lead at 3-2 in conference play. Northwestern is a half game out at 3-1, and tied in the loss column. This game has huge ramifications on who wins the Big Ten.

2. UCLA at Stanford (6:30 FSN)- 1) This game suddenly looks like a real trap game for the Bruins. Stanford has won three straight, including last week's win over Arizona State. Now they are 4-2, and the Bruins perfect 7-0 record will be put to the test. It is also huge in the Pac Ten. Stanford is 3-1 in conference play, while the Bruins are 4-0. Both teams have USC remaining on their schedule. The winner could become the team most likely to win the Pac Ten if USC does not. 2) Maurice Drew and Drew Olson are both lighting it up. Both are receiving some mention in the Heisman Trophy voting. Stanford's defense is just OK, so those two could put up big numbers again. 3) With how many close games UCLA has been playing lately, the Cardinal have hope. Trent Edwards has been playing better and better at quarterback and he would love to lead his team to this home upset.

3. Fresno State at Hawaii (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Warriors always play well at home. They nearly beat Boise State there earlier this year. Now, they would love to take out the other big WAC team. 2) Paul Pinegar leads the explosive Fresno State offense that is getting ready for showdowns with Boise State and USC in November. If they don't win here, though, those games won't mean as much. 3) Colt Brennan has taken over admirably as the starting quarterback for the Warriors. He has been leading the offense very well. After averaging just 22.0 points per game during their 1-4 start, they have been averaging 45.0 points per game in their last two wins.

4. Texas at Oklahoma State (7:00 TBS)- 1) The Longhorns are #1 in the BCS this week. What will it take to stay ahead of USC another week? 2) Vince Young and the Longhorns offense can put up huge numbers. With a defense like the Cowboys have, that could be a very bad thing. The Cowboys have been giving up 42.8 points per game to Big Twelve opponents this year. 3) The Cowboys offense has also been stifled as of late, with Bobby Reid not able to get the offense moving. Still D'Juan Woods is a very explosive receiver that could have a huge game against almost any team. Plus, the Cowboys always seem to be able to get up for one of these games that they shouldn't win every year and make it close.

5. UTEP at Rice (6:00 i/PAX)- 1) The Miners are receiving votes in the Top 25. They have a big C-USA West showdown with Tulsa next week. Will they be looking past Rice? 2) Jordan Palmer and the Miners offense could really explode this week. 3) The Rice rushing attack can pose problems to defenses. At 0-6, the Owls would love to pose problems to someone.

6. Marshall at Tulane (7:00 CSTV)- 1) Bernard Morris and Ahmad Bradshaw need to show some explosiveness on offense or else the Thundering Herd's season could fall apart very quickly. Tulane's defense has been the cure for a lot of woes in the past. 2) Lester Ricard and the Tulane offense can score points in bunches. Marshall's defense has been pretty good so far this year, though. 3) At 2-2 in conference play, Marshall is not out of the C-USA East title race. Both teams need the win to help them get to six wins and a bowl game.

Evening

1. South Carolina at Tennessee (7:45 ESPN2)- 1) Phil Fulmer vs. Steve Spurrier. The rivalry continues... 2) The Vols and Gamecocks are battling it out for third in the SEC East. The winner still has an outside shot at second, particularly if Florida loses earlier in the day to Georgia. 3) When will the Vols offense get going? Rick Clausen and the Vols offense has sputtered badly. Blake Mitchell and the Gamecocks offense has been playing pretty well, but they haven't faced a defense as good as Tennessee's in a while.

2. North Texas at LSU (8:00 Gameplan)- 1) Due to Hurricane Katrina, this game was postponed from the first week, which means that LSU is playing North Texas this week and Appalachian State next week. Will the Tigers be fully focused or will they just be going through the motions? 2) North Texas still has back-to-back rushing champions, Patrick Cobbs and Jamarrio Thomas. They could explode any week. 3) JaMarcus Russell has been improving at quarterback for LSU.

3. Idaho at New Mexico State (8:00 Gameplan)- 1) The two teams have combined to go 1-13 this season. A win here would obviously be huge to getting something positive this year. 2) Steve Wichman hasn't been bad for the Vandals at quarterback. Against New Mexico State's defense, that ought to be good enough for some points. 3) The offense for the Aggies hasn't gotten rolling yet under Hal Mumme. Will this be the week that it finally does?


Late Night

There are no late night television college football games this Saturday. This is one of the truly saddest sentences I have ever had to write.

One Liners

Very quick preview of Thursday night's game.

Boston College at Virginia Tech (7:45 ESPN)- This game is probably the best Thursday night game of the year. This is one of the better games in the ACC this year. Watch it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Week Nine: Wednesday

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

The best chance to upset UCLA before the USC game? Try Stanford. Yes, the same Stanford that lost to UC-Davis earlier this year in what has to be the most embarrassing loss that a team from a BCS conference has had this season. But the Cardinal are back. After their upset of Arizona State this past weekend, they are 4-2 and 3-1 in Pac Ten play. Suddenly, they look like a potentail bowl team. The Bruins better be careful when they visit there this weekend.

If you don't normally watch Thursday night football, then you are really missing out, particularly this week. In what is probably the best game of the whole weekend, Boston College heads to Virginia Tech in a game that has potential to be a preview of the ACC Championship Game. This is an old Big East rivalry, and it ought to be something truly great.

The three most important games in the Big Ten down the stretch are Wisconsin at Penn State on November 5, Northwestern at Ohio State on November 12, and Ohio State at Michigan on November 19. People might have guessed that Ohio State, Michigan, and even Penn State would be involved in the title chase down the stretch before the season. But few people expected Wisconsin and Northwestern to be playing meaningful games in November this year.

Texas toughest remaining game may be at Baylor on November 5. The Bears have played very well so far this year and are just really searching for that one signature win to hang their hat on this year.

That being said, look out for Texas A&M. The Aggies need to win at home against Iowa State, at Texas Tech, and at Oklahoma. Winning those games does not seem outlandish. If they do win those games, then their game against Texas on November 25 will be for the Big Twelve South title. In other words, there is still a better-than-you-think chance that we won't be watching Texas in the Big Twelve Championship Game. A two loss team ranked in the mid-teens and struggled early in the year playing host to a team ranked in the top two in the BCS standings that has beaten the home team several years in a row... If it all sounds familiar, it is because it is. Sounds a lot like Colorado-Nebraska back in 2001, and we all know how that one turned out.

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

North Carolina's visit to Miami has been moved to a noon start time because Hurricane Wilma damaged the Orange Bowl's lighting system. The Hurricanes are seeking to get revenge on the Tar Heels for their shocking home win a year ago.

Tennessee's running back Gerald Riggs has hurt his ankle and is done for the year and his career at Tennessee. Riggs was expected to be one of the best backs in Tennessee football history coming out of high school, but never quite lived up to those expectations. Arian Foster will step in for Riggs now.

Vince Young announced his intentions to return to school for his senior season this week. Will he stay or will he go? Well, it looks like he will stay. He probably has been told by NFL scouts that he still needs to improve his passing a little bit, but he has potential to be as good as Michael Vick is for the Atlanta Falcons.

Quotables

Fisher DeBerry, Air Force head coach: "It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well."

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State head coach: "We have Texas coming in Saturday, and I have voted them No. 1 in the polls the last four weeks. They are what I consider the best team in the country and do so many things well... Donovan Woods is a team player and our only healthy safety at this point, and he is a true team player. His 'motor' runs at a high speed, and we can't wait to get him through a complete spring training in 2006 on defense."

Walt Harris, Stanford head coach: "We've come off the clouds and settled back to earth. We gave ourselves 24 hours to enjoy the victory over Arizona State, and now it's time to get ready for the eighth-ranked UCLA football team that is undefeated and obviously very talented. We know it's going to be a real battle; they have some very fine football players and an excellent scheme that puts a lot of pressure on you."

Rant of the Week

Several good options yet again this week for the Rant of the Week. There were some great responses to last week's talk about weddings during football season. Here may be the best one:

To Chris Williams of Dallas, Texas….I’m getting married in April. Yes, I took a stand, but I’ll never let her hear me bragging about it!

--Phil, I mean Bill, from Georgia (last name withheld incase my future wife ever finds her way to this site).

However, the Rant of the Week needs to be something more than that. So, after carefully considering all the options, the one that was chosen was written in response to something I said about Randy Sanders and how bad the Tennessee offense is last Tuesday.

Your comments about Randy Sanders, Offensive Coordinator at Tennessee made me think about someone (or two) much worse. Jim Bollman and Jim Tressel at Ohio State have had mediocre to poor offenses for the five years they have been there. This includes the National Championship in 2002. 2002 was because of a unique team and circumstances, but Tressel and Bollman have been living off of it for three years. Just look where they finished in the nation in total offense for these five years. Right now they are last in the Big Ten in total offense with a team that was predicted to play for the national championship. This is with a supposedly major football power that continually ranks in the top ten nationally in recruiting. Northwestern and Michigan State can't hold a candle to OSU in recruiting but right now are in the top four in the nation in total offense. These two coaches are magician too. They have made a Heisman candidate, one of the top group of receivers in the nation, five years of highly recruited running backs, the most highly recruited quarterback in Ohio (Zwick), and the entire offense disappear. Takes some kind of talent to do that. Five years of offensive offenses can't be blamed on the players or some special circumstance. Such consistency can only be blamed on the coaches. Ask why Northwestern and Michigan State have such good offenses. Why a quarterback, receiver or running back would come to OSU is beyond me. Only to buried in the boneyard of those who have gone before.

--Jerry Welbourn
Durango, Colorado

Now, the Buckeyes are 5-2 and still in the hunt for the Big Ten title. I bet the Vols wish they could say the same thing. There are some similarities between Ohio State, Michigan, and Tennessee. All three have great talent. All three seem to have conservative coaches that play a lot more close games than they should and in the end cost their team a game or two somewhere along the way. It has struck me through various e-mails throughout the year how easily those three teams names can be substituted in e-mails. Very interesting indeed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Week Nine: Tuesday

Under Pressure
Jim Tressel, Ohio State

It is not totally shocking that the Buckeyes can't seem to get the ball moving on offense in the vast majority of their games. After all, this is the Ohio State football that we have come to know under Tressel. However, there are starting to be some rumblings about Tressel and some frustration with him over the way he coaches games. In other words, the fans are becoming restless with close games and close to the vest, conservative offense. The Buckeyes showed signs of snapping out of it last week against Indiana, but the pressure gets cranked up a little bit this week at Minnesota. The Gophers are a good team and tough to beat at home. The Buckeye faithful really want to see a win over a top notch team. They've beaten Iowa and Michigan State for their two best wins of the year. This would qualify as another quality win, but their first quality road win.

Joe Tereshinki, Georgia

Yes, Tereshinki played well against Arkansas filling in for the injured D.J. Shockley. However, this week, things get amped up a little bit when he will be playing against Florida's tenacious defense. Florida's defense is good. There is no telling how long Shockley will be out, but Tereshinki needs to step up in a big way and help fill in for him. He is not as fast as Shockley and does not have the playmaking ability. However, he seems to be comfortable dropping back in the pocket to throw the ball. He'll need to do that if the Dawgs are going to beat Florida this Saturday afternoon.

College Gameday Site
Jacksonville, Florida

The Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators play their annual meeting in Jacksonville, Florida in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The crew will be going to see a match-up between the D.J. Shockley-less Bulldogs and the upset minded Gators. The Dawgs are highly ranked and in the race for the national title. This is a rivalry game, and there is a lot on the line. A Georgia win would clinch the SEC East for them, while a loss opens up the door for Florida just a crack. Georgia needs to win to stay in the national title race, while the Gators would love to get some good national publicity for a change. This is a huge game, but it might be the second biggest game of the weekend, as the Thursday night game between Boston College and Virginia Tech is really big as well.

Thoughts on the rankings

Texas? Number one? Really? I did not expect to see Texas jump USC this year in any of the major rankings unless the Trojans lost a football game. Yet, here the Longhorns are this week, sitting alone atop the BCS rankings. The margin is incredibly slim, and it means little in the long run because the top two play for the national title. However, wouldn't it be at least a little interesting if Virginia Tech were able to catch USC in the rankings and the defending champion USC, who was ranked number one, would not be able to play for the national title?

The top one loss team is Miami, with LSU and Penn State not too far behind. The top six teams are all unbeaten, but the race for the top once beaten spot belongs currently to the Hurricanes. The Tigers are right behind them. Penn State is not too far back, either. If all the teams start losing, these are teams to pay attention to.

OK, so how about the computer rankings that have Texas #1, Alabama #2, Georgia #3, Virginia Tech #4, and USC #5? Ummm... If you like that one, you'll love the one where Texas is #1, Alabame #2, Virginia Tech #3, USC #4, and Georgia #5. Or how about the one that has Wisconsin and LSU ranked ahead of UCLA and Alabama?

As someone reminded me last week in an e-mail, these things tend to work themselves out. There is no reason to panic at all. We all look at the worst possible scenarios at this time of year and worry. However, things will make a lot more sense come the first Sunday in December.
My Rankings

With what seems like an endless list of teams that only kind of deserve to be ranked, this week is a tough week to rank teams. The last fifteen are basically reserved for all the Big Ten teams you can find, as a remarkable six teams are ranked in those fifteen spots. The number in parentheses is the team's ranking last week.

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

Dropped Out: Michigan State 4-3 (18), Virginia 4-3 (19), Tennessee 3-3 (20), Oregon State 4-3 (21).
All four lost. Michigan State's loss was by an embarassing margin. Virginia's was to an average team. Oregon State's was by a lot of points, except for that they won statistically. Tennessee's was a very close game and was their third loss to a team ranked in my top sixteen. However, the Vols just have looked so anemic on offense, they just do not deserve to be ranked right now.

Biggest drop by a team still in the rankings: 4- Texas Tech. The Red Raiders may not be all that bad. After all, Texas has been pounding everybody in their path so far this year. Texas Tech could bounce back and go 10-1, but they probably will not be in the running for an at large BCS bid based on the somewhat weak Big Twelve.

Smallest drop by a team that lost: 1-Auburn. The Tigers went into LSU and played valiantly and lost by a field goal in overtime. If normally reliable John Vaughn had just been able to make a kick, then Auburn probably wins in regulation and they are sitting in the Top Ten. They do not deserve to drop much.

Biggest drop by a team that won: 2- Miami. Admittedly, the Hurricanes did not win last weekend, but rather did not play due to Hurricane Wilma. However, they have not been overly impressive, and they did lose to Florida State. So it makes sense for them to be behind the Seminoles. Plus, LSU just beat a very highly ranked Auburn team. These three are all very close.

Biggest jump by a team that was in my rankings last week: 2- Florida State, Boston College, Oregon, West Virginia, California, TCU, and Fresno State. Of course, Northwestern and Wisconsin jumping into the rankings so high are more impressive than these jumps.

The USC-Texas debate. So it has become increasingly clear that these are the two top teams in the country. The Trojans and the Longhorns at the present time are clearly the #1 and the #2 teams. Virginia Tech is clearly the #3 team. Georgia, Alabama, and UCLA could all be rotated around any sort of way for the #4-6 teams. USC holds onto number one for one more week. I've been thinking for a while about moving Texas to number one, but it just seems like USC still has done a bit more. Texas win over Ohio State is a very impressive win, but possibly no more impressive than USC going into Notre Dame and winning. Texas win over Texas Tech is nice, but so was USC's at Oregon. Then what are you left with? Texas beating Oklahoma? Missouri? Colorado? USC beating Arizona State? Arkansas? Hawaii? It still seems like (as much as people are complaining about USC's schedule) that the schedules are roughly equal.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Week Nine: Monday

WEEKEND IN REVIEW

Game of the Week
Michigan 23, Iowa 20 (OT)

With the inconsistencies that the Wolverines have lived through this year, snapping the Hawkeyes home winning streak at 22 seemed inconceivable. Jerome Jackson ran the ball in from one yard out in the first overtime to give Michigan a 23-20 win. Iowa had tied up the game on the last play of regulation with a 32 yard field goal by Kyle Schlicher. They drove from their own 12 to set up that field goal in the final 2:12. The momentum seemed to be in Iowa's favor, and they were at home. Yet the Wolverines mustered their first back-to-back wins of the season. Suddenly, the Wolverines are right back in the Big Ten title race.

Upset of the Week
North Carolina 7, Virginia 5

Virginia's season apparently will be defined by their win over Florida State last week. They could only muster 199 total yards against the Tar Heels and just couldn't muster anything offensively. The Tar Heels now are on a bit of a roll, as they are back to .500 and are 2-1 in ACC play. Their first quarter touchdown was enough to give them the win. After losing 69-14 to Louisville just two weeks ago, the Tar Heels win over a ranked Virginia team is truly shocking.

Team of the Week
Northwestern Wildcats

Anytime you beat a team 49-14, you have played a good game. When you do it on the road, you've played a great game. When you are an unranked team and you do it to a ranked team, you have played one heck of a football game. The Wildcats have been lurking in the Big Ten title chase for weeks now, but really announced their arrival with their stunning win over Michigan State. The Wildcats feel behind 7-0 early, but rattled off 49 unanswered points. Brett Basanez absolutely lit up the Michigan State defense for 331 yards passing. Drew Stanton turned the ball over four times. The Wildcats are 5-2 and 3-1 in Big Ten play, with their lone loss coming in the final seconds against Penn State. This offense can put points on just about anyone. They are the real wild card in the Big Ten title race.

Player of the Week
Brad Smith, Missouri

Smith became the sixth quarterback ever to run for 200 and throw for 200 yards in a game. He turned up the heat after his Tigers blew a 21-3 first quarter lead and wound up tied with Nebraska at 24 at halftime. The 41-24 win really puts Missouri in a good position in the Big Twelve North race. They are in position to possibly be able to unseat Colorado as the division favorite. He was 21-36 for 234 passing yards and one touchdown throwing the ball, and he ran the ball 28 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns. This was the Brad Smith we've all been waiting all year to see.

Stat of the Week
Drew Olson's six touchdown passes.

Drew Olson did not light up the Oregon State defense for too many yards, but he set a UCLA record with his six touchdown passes in the Bruins 51-28 win over the Beavers. He threw for 262 yards and six touchdowns in the game. He only completed 16 passes, which makes his six touchdown passes all the more remarkable. The Bruins played their best game in a month in beating the Beavers, despite giving up 511 yards.

Play of the Week
Demetrius Eaton 86 yard fumble return.

Northwestern led Michigan State 14-7, with just under 11 minutes to play in the first half. Michigan State was driving. Drew Stanton fumbled the football, though, and defensive lineman Demetrius Eaton picked the ball up and rumbled 86 yards for the touchdown. That made the score 21-7, and really put Northwestern in the drivers seat for the rest of the game. Watching defensive linemen score touchdowns is always exciting.


Turnover of the Week
Cory Anderson fumbles through the endzone.

With Tennessee driving for what appeared to be at least a go ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter at Alabama, the one thing the Vols had to do was protect the football. Rick Clausen dumped off a pass to the fullback Cory Anderson, who was sprinting towards the endzone. Roman Harper hit Anderson right on the football and forced the ball loose. The ball rolled forward and bounded out the back of the endzone. That gave the ball to Alabama at their own 20 yard line and set up their game winning field goal drive in the Tide's 6-3 win.

Key First Half Moment of the Week
Cody Hodges interception late in the first half against Texas.

Hodges had driven the Red Raiders of Texas Tech down to the Texas 3 yard line, with his team trailing 24-10 late in the first half. He threw a pass that bounced off of Aaron Harris and fell into the arms of Tim Crowder for an interception. The Longhorns took over at their own 12 yard line, and promptly drove 88 yards on four plays, and went up 31-10 just before halftime. The fact that the Red Raiders could not cut the lead down to one score just before halftime was huge and really put Texas on a run where they were able to blow out Texas Tech, 52-17.

Moment of the Week
John Vaughn's field goal bounces off the upright.

In a truly remarkable football game late Saturday night, LSU handed Auburn a 20-17 loss. The overtime win was thrilling, and it was not over until John Vaughn had missed his fifth field goal of the day. The 39 yarder clanked off the left upright and bounded away, sealing the win for LSU. He also missed a 49 yarder at the end of regulation wide left that would have won the game. Vaughn (the hero of last year's 10-9 Auburn win) was the goat in this game.