John Roberts College Football

Friday, November 18, 2005

Week Twelve: Friday

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

Game of the Week- Fresno State at USC- While the game may or may not live up to the expectations, it is clearly the most intriguing game of the weekend. While Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State, and even Penn State-Michigan State carries more national interest, few games are more intriguing than this one. Can the traditional "giant killers" (Fresno State) beat another giant (USC)? Surely a WAC team isn't going to be the one to end USC's 32 game winning streak, right? This is the about as good as it gets in the world of David vs. Goliath, because David is capable of beating Goliath. This is not San Jose State against USC. Fresno State is good enough to keep it close. It is worth watching the late game. Yes, USC might win by six touchdowns. But if they did, they would deserve a lot of credit, because this Fresno State team is good.

Upset Special- Oklahoma at Texas Tech- The Red Raiders are favored in this game. The winner really helps themselves in the bowl pecking order coming out of the Big Twelve. Oklahoma (while not playing brilliantly) has played better lately, and Texas Tech has not beaten a really good team all year. Not that the Sooners have either. The fact that the Red Raiders have struggled so much against the Sooners in recent years only makes it seem more likely that the Oklahoma can pull off the upset. Yes, Oklahoma isn't as good as in recent years, but Texas Tech just lost to Oklahoma State. Can they possibly be ready to take on Oklahoma?

Team of the Week-Miami Hurricanes- Maybe Georgia Tech can focus after they got handed probation yesterday. Maybe the Yellow Jackets will be able to rally in Miami. Maybe Kyle Wright won't stay one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country. But it seems far more likely that the Hurricanes win rather easily against a pretty good Yellow Jackets team. The 'Canes are ready to take on the Yellow Jackets and should find their way to a win on their way towards the ACC Coastal title.

Players of the Week-
1) D.J. Shockley, Georgia- Shockley is going up against a Kentucky defense that has averaged giving up 46 points the last two weeks. Of course, they are 1-1 in those games. Still Shockley should have a big game as the Dawgs try to clinch the SEC East.
2) Kyle Wright, Miami- Wright has been playing better and better. The Yellow Jackets have a great defense, but they still could struggle to slow down the Wright train.
3) Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma- Peterson has been playing better and better as he has gotten healthier and healthier. Time for him to lick his chops as he goes up against the Texas Tech defense.
4) Michael Robinson, Penn State- Michigan State's defense has struggled all year long, and Robinson has been exposing struggling defenses all season. Robinson should explode, although this is the Penn State-Michigan State game, so anything could happen.
5) LenDale White, USC- Fresno State may be able to contend with Bush and his speed and playmaking. They may be able to slow down Leinart and his passing game. But they will have a hard time slowing down a bruising back like White. White has the capability to put up big numbers on Fresno, while Bush and Leinart do too. However, if I had to pick one, then I would pick White.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Week Twelve: 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 Michigan (1:00 ABC)- 1) This might just be the top rivalry in all of college football. 2) Jim Tressell has gone 3-1 in his four years against Michigan. Given that the reason John Cooper left was because he could never beat Michigan, this is a good sign for him. 3) If Michigan State beats Penn State later on in the day, the winner of this game will get a BCS bid. Ohio State still has a shot to get an at-large bid to the BCS, but the Wolverines must win and hope for a Penn State loss.

2. Oklahoma at Texas Tech (12:00 FSN)- 1) The winner of this game will finish second in the Big Twelve South and help themselves dramatically in the bowl pecking order. 2) Adrian Peterson is back and he's healthy, and the Texas Tech defense is anything but stellar. Throw in Rhett Bomar and his continued development and we might see Oklahoma lay some big points on Texas Tech. Of course, the Red Raiders know how to keep up on the scoreboard themselves with Cody Hodges. 3) Texas Tech needs to beat Oklahoma to prove that they are for real and not a team that beat up on a bunch of teams with bad records. Mike Leach has always struggled against Oklahoma, but this is not the same Sooners of years past. Can they rebound from their bad loss to Oklahoma State?

3. Kentucky at Georgia (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Georgia wins, they win the SEC East. Georgia loses, South Carolina wins the SEC East. Doesn't get much more important than that. 2) Rafael Little is the nation's leader in All-Purpose yards. Bet you didn't know that. Can he throw a scare into the Georgia defense and special teams? 3) Georgia has lost two in a row. Where is there confidence? Kentucky has won two out of three. Where is there confidence? There is reason to believe that Kentucky will be sky high and Georgia will not be. Georgia should win this game in a romp, but if Kentucky can get off to a good start, they have a chance to keep the good vibes going.

4. Minnesota at Iowa (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) The Floyd of Rosedale Trophy is about to be awarded. Don't you want to see that? 2) Iowa has been playing much better down the stretch. They always seem to catch a few breaks at home. They certainly would like Drew Tate and the offense to catch fire as they try to help their bowl destination be a little sunnier. 3) Laurence Maroney is one of the best running backs in the country. Coming back from the ankle injury, he hopes to have a monster effort against the Hawkeyes defense.

5. Virginia Tech at Virginia (12:00 ESPN)- 1) It is a very bitter rivalry and Virginia is holding out hope that they can still win the ACC Coastal. They must win out (Virginia Tech and Miami) and hope that Miami loses to Georgia Tech and that North Carolina beats Virginia Tech. It's a longshot. Virginia Tech wins the Coastal by winning out and hoping that someone beats Miami. 2) Marcus Vick and Marques Hagans are two of the more exciting quarterbacks in college football when they are playing well. 3) Where will Virginia Tech's head be after their twenty point loss to Miami just two weeks ago?

6. Boston College at Maryland (12:00 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Maryland needs one more win to become bowl eligible. Next week's game at North Carolina State will be anything but an easy place to get a sixth win. 2) Mathias Kiwanuka is one of the best defensive players in the country when he is healthy. He hasn't been healthy much this year. This is the last chance to see him play before a bowl game. 3) Sam Hollenbach has been a solid quarterback for the Terps this season. He has gotten the job done.

7. Vanderbilt at Tennessee (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) The Vols have to win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to become bowl eligible. Not exactly what the Vols had in mind when they started this season. 2) This is your last chance to see Jay Cutler in college. He has been a tremendous quarterback that has often gone overlooked at Vanderbilt. 3) The Vols haven't lost to the 'Dores since 1982. This may be one of Vanderbilt's best chances to end that streak.

8. Northwestern at Illinois (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) Illinois would love to get their first conference win. Northwestern needs a win to help them in the bowl pecking order of the Big Ten. 2) Tyrell Sutton and Brett Basanez are explosive on offense for the Wildcats. The Illini haven't been great on defense. 3) Pierre Thomas Jr. is a very good running back for the Illini.

9. Cincinnati at South Florida (12:00 Gameplan)- 1) The Bulls are three wins away from winning the Big East. Cincinnati must win out to be bowl eligible. 2) Dustin Grutza is the quarterback for the Bearcats. Can he spark the upset of the Bulls? He has been a little inconsistent this year, but he is a pretty good quarterback. 3) Andre Hall is one of the more exciting players in the country that nobody knows about. He leads the offense for the Bulls.

10. Arkansas State at Army (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) Could it be? The Black Knights are riding a three game winning streak and look to have won four in a row heading into their showdown with Navy. 2) Zac Dahman is an excellent quarterback for Bobby Ross' team. 3) The Indians need one more win to become bowl eligible, although they probably need to win the Sun Belt to get to a bowl game. This is one of the best running games in the country. Can the Black Knights slow them down?

11. Temple at Navy (1:30 CSTV)- 1) The Midshipmen need this win to become bowl eligible. If they do not win, they will need a win over Army to get to a bowl game. You never want to have to count on winning your rivalry game against a rising opponent to get to a bowl game. 2) Temple has been downright bad for most of this season. Of course their schedule has been brutal. Is this the week they put a scare into a far better foe? 3) Lamar Owens runs the offense very well for Navy. He does a very good job.

Afternoon

1. Alabama at Auburn (3:30 CBS)- 1) If LSU loses to either Ole Miss or Arkansas, the winner of this game wins the SEC West. 2) Come on. It's the Iron Bowl. You just have to watch this rivalry. 3) Brodie Croyle, Ken Darby and the Alabama offense is mostly inept. The defense is a brick wall. Auburn's Brandon Cox, Kenny Irons, and the Auburn offense has become far better as the season has progressed. The defense is not as tough. This is an interesting match-up of strength vs. strength and weakness vs. weakness. It is well worth watching.

2. Penn State at Michigan State (4:00 ESPN)- 1) If Penn State wins, they win the Big Ten and earn the first bid to the BCS. Michigan State must win to get to a bowl game. 2) Michael Robinson might be worthy of some Heisman consideration. He has really been playing well lately. 3) The Spartans have gone 1-5 since their 4-0 start. Is this the day that Drew Stanton rediscovers how good he was at the beginning of the year?

3. Syracuse at Notre Dame (2:30 NBC)- 1) If the Irish win out, they are likely going to the Fiesta Bowl. It all has to begin here. 2) Brady Quinn is still hoping to make a late push at the Heisman Trophy. 3) While Syracuse is suffering through a brutal 1-8 season, Damien Rhodes continues to be a very good running back. Against an average Notre Dame defense, the Orange best chance is to hope that Rhodes has a monster game.

4. Utah at BYU (3:00 Gameplan)- 1) This is one of the most underrated rivalries in the business. This is one great rivalry. 2) Utah needs a win to become bowl eligible. BYU needs a win to lock up second in the Mountain West. 3) John Beck has put up big numbers for the Cougars this year. He is a very good quarterback.

5. Washington State at Washington (3:15 FSN)- 1) The Apple Cup tends to be one of the more exciting games of the year each and every year. 2) Jerome Harrison is the Pac Ten's leading rusher and has been doing an excellent job for the Cougars this year. 3) Washington won for the first time in Pac Ten play last week. Washington State still hasn't won a Pac Ten game. The Cougars have been close in every game (except USC) but haven't been able to pull it off yet. Can they finally win one?

6. Nevada at Utah State (3:05 Gameplan)- 1) A win in this game would put Nevada in a position to be able to beat Fresno State and tie for the WAC title. They also need a win to help themselves in bowl positioning. 2) B.J. Mitchell has already run for over 1000 yards this season through nine games. 3) Leon Jackson III does it all for the Aggies. He is the team's quarterback and the team's leading rusher.

7. Idaho at Boise State (3:05 Gameplan)- 1) Boise State needs a win to keep their slim WAC title hopes alive. They also need to win put themselves in a better position for a bowl bid. 2) Jared Zabransky and the Broncos offense looks to get back on track after not scoring in the final 59 minutes against Fresno State last week. 3) Steven Wichman is a pretty good quarterback for the Vandals.
Late Afternoon

1.Clemson at South Carolina (7:00 Gameplan/ESPN2)- 1) The Tigers and the Gamecocks both won in huge upsets over Florida teams last week. Now, they both look to validate that win with a win in this game. 2) Clemson has owned South Carolina in recent years, including last year's romp that ended in a fight that wound up keeping both teams out of bowl games. 3) Blake Mitchell has played well this year, and last week was a crowning moment for him. For Clemson, Charlie Whitehurst played a great game last week. It is a very interesting quarterback match-up.

2. Oregon State at Oregon (6:45 FSN)- 1) It is an absolutely critical Civil War. Oregon State needs a win to be bowl eligible. Oregon needs a win to keep alive their hopes for a BCS at-large berth. 2) How long can Oregon keep on surviving? The last two weeks without Kellen Clemens and with Dennis Dixon and Grady Leaf have been two thrilling games that came down to the very end. 3) This is your last chance to see Mike Haas at Oregon State. He may be the best receiver in the country.

3. California at Stanford (7:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) It's the Big Game. Cal is looking to improve their bowl stock, while Stanford is looking to get bowl eligible. (If only they could take back that loss to UC-Davis.) 2) Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are excellent running backs capable of putting up big numbers on the Cardinal defense. 3) Trent Edwards is a very good quarterback and will be looking to expose the Bears secondary.

4. UAB at UTEP (6:00 i/PAX)- 1) Darrell Hackney is a very talented quarterback for the Blazers. They must win their next two games to be bowl eligible. 2) Jordan Palmer is a very good quarterback for the Miners. They must win one of their next two games to win the CUSA West. 3) UTEP is clinging to their national ranking and their 8-1 record. Every win helps keep them ranked.

5. New Mexico State at San Jose State (6:00 Gameplan)- 1) The loser of this game will finish last in the WAC. New Mexico State has zero wins on the season, while San Jose State has one. That means that the two teams are a combined 1-18 on the season. 2) Hal Mumme's offense has produced their three highest point outputs of the season in their last four games. Maybe the offense is starting to come around a bit. 3) Adam Tafralis has been slowly improving, bit by bit. The Spartans quarterback isn't too bad, but he would love to have a huge game against the Aggies defense.

Evening

1. Georgia Tech at Miami, FL (7:45 ESPN)- 1) Miami needs to win to keep on track to win the ACC Coastal. 2) Kyle Wright has really come of age lately. He has developed into a top notch quarterback in the ACC. 3) So which Georgia Tech shows up? The one that beat Auburn? Or the one who lost to North Carolina State?

2. LSU at Ole Miss (7:45 ESPN2)- 1) LSU needs to win to stay on track to win the SEC West. 2) Both LSU and Ole Miss have excellent defenses. Ole Miss has struggled to find any offense this year, while LSU has been inconsistent on offense. JaMarcus Russell is a good quarterback, but just not great...yet. 3) This is a great rivalry, even though Ole Miss' primary rival is Mississippi State. These two teams have played a lot of classics over the years.

3. Memphis at Southern Miss (8:30 CSTV)- 1) DeAngelo Williams is a very talented running back. This may be one of your last chances to see them. The Tigers need to win out to become bowl eligible. 2) Southern Miss needs one more win to become bowl eligible. If they win out and UCF loses a game, they win the CUSA East. 3) This will be Southern Miss' third game in twelve days. They played last Tuesday and last Sunday and now again this Saturday. Will fatigue start to set in?

4. Wyoming at San Diego State (8:00 Gameplan)- 1) Corey Bramlet has been a very good quarterback for the Cowboys. This is his final game. 2) Kevin O'Connell has really come around for the Aztecs as the season has progressed. After starting the year 0-3, the Aztecs have won 4 of their last seven games. They have two games remaining, so they can still finish at .500 for the year. 3) Five straight losses by the Cowboys have quieted the fans cry for more respect. They certainly would like to get back on a winning track and get to 5-6.

Late Night

1. Fresno State at USC (10:15 FSN)- 1) Watch those Trojans! With three more wins, they will become the first team ever to win three straight AP national titles. Of course, they would still need to win three straight BCS championships, which could come next year. 2) Does Fresno State have a chance to get to a BCS bowl game? If they can win out, they are still in the hunt to get into it. 3) Paul Pinegar, Wendell Mathis, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and LenDale White. This might be the most offensive talent that has been on the field in any game so far this season. Sure, Oregon, Washington State, and Notre Dame all have some claim to that when they played USC. But this is a solid Fresno team.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Week Twelve: Wednesday

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

Every school should give a statement in support of the head coach. Look at what Nebraska and Kentucky did this past weekend, especially Kentucky. Nebraska did win against Kansas State, but it wasn't overly impressive. But Kentucky beat Vanderbilt, jumping out to a 31 point lead before winning by just five. Call me crazy, but I think the Wildcats will put a heck of a scare into either Georgia or Tennessee. They may come up short, but they will play it close.

Texas will be challenged in one of their next two games. No team goes through a season without a scare somewhere along the way. Sure, Ohio State nearly beat the Longhorns, but that was a long time ago. There is one more scare out there. Now, is it against Texas A&M and the explosive Reggie McNeal? Or is it in the Big Twelve Championship Game against Colorado, Iowa State, or Missouri? The 'Horns have already blown out Colorado and Missouri this year, so a game against Iowa State might be very interesting.

In the "getting challenged" department, throw in LSU. Either Arkansas or Ole Miss will try to throw the SEC West race back up in the air. One of them at least will play the Tigers very close and give the Alabama-Auburn winner some hope that they could actually win the SEC West. LSU is a good team, but not so good that they are above struggling against these two teams. Other teams have been struggling over the last month or so with them, so there is no reason to believe LSU will not.

Call the Conference USA Championship Game the "Redemption Bowl." With Southern Miss' loss on Sunday, it really looks like the game will be between UCF and UTEP. UCF is coached by George O'Leary, the man who was fired from Notre Dame without coaching a game. UTEP is coached by Mike Price, the man who was fired from Alabama without coaching a game. There are still hurdles for both teams, especially UTEP, but the Miners can afford one more conference loss.

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

Bill Snyder, Kansas State's head coach, is retiring. He turned around a once dormant program, though he struggled to ever truly get the Wildcats to the next level, as they only won one conference championship. Still, Snyder built a program at Kansas State. Who knows if they will ever find their way back to the top of the ladder? But they have been there now. The program is in much better shape now than when he arrived.

Laurence Maroney, Minnesota's running back, has stated that he will definitely be playing against Iowa this weekend. The running back has an ankle injury that will keep him from being 100 percent. Still, he insists that he is going to play against the Hawkeyes.

The four finalists for the Lombardi Trophy are Elvis Dumervil, Rod Wright, A.J. Hawk, and Paul Posluszny. If I had a vote, I believe I would vote for Dumervil at this point, though that is subject to change in the coming weeks. Dumervil has been an absolutely dominant force so far this year for Louisville.

Quotables

John Wefald, Kansas State's president: "The truth is, Coach Snyder exceeded all expectations. Indeed, Coach Snyder and his staff made K-State into a national football power. There is no question in my mind that Coach Snyder orchestrated and engineered the single greatest turnaround in American Division I collegiate football history. Bill Snyder's legacy is secure here at Kansas State University. He will always be remembered as K-State's greatest football coach and arguably one of the nation's greatest football coaches over the past generation."

Rich Brooks, Kentucky's head coach: “We saw Auburn at home and now we get to go on the road and play that kind of team...I’d much rather be playing for a bowl than playing the spoiler but that’s what we will have to do for now."

Pete Carroll, USC head coach: "I think having the bye is advantageous but I think three weeks is more than you need to gain that advantage. We had a chance to schedule a worthy opponent that is going to fill the Coliseum up again, which is going to challenge us and make us that much better. Fresno has wanted this game for a long time, and a lot of people didn't want to play us, so it seemed like a good match up. So after all of the alternatives I think it has turned out to be a tremendous game. It is going to be exciting and challenging and all of that."

Pat Hill, Fresno State's head coach: "We just need to keep winning. Of course this would be a very big win for our program to go out and beat the number one team in the nation. If it was the last game of the year it would be more important. We still have two games left after this one. The big thing is that we have to be ready to play each week, just like USC has to be ready to play each week. The reason they are successful is because they take it one game at a time. Obviously a win would be big, and it would make the next two games even bigger."

Rant of the Week

I love reading the responses to the Rant of the Week each week. This week's could be very interesting, because it is touching on a subject that is near and dear to every college football fans heart...what is wrong with the BCS? Does the BCS work? Well, these subjects are tackled here.

The BCS sucks, but that is why we all talk about it. What would we have to complain about if the BCS worked? The BCS was created to steal the spotlight that was given every year in the press for the supporters of the "other" teams that thought they were the best. Come on, Florida State has lost twice and I'll bet you can't find a handful of Seminole fans who don't believe they are the number one team in the country. The BCS is not the answer to the problem. There is no correct answer. The human element will always be controversial. However, when you take 6 computers and enter the same information into them how do they get six different answers? Those 6 rankings are based on the biased parameters set into them by the "human" programmers. One computer, one set of parameters, no controversy. Is it just me?

--Chris Langnes
Venice, Florida

Of course, this was written before Florida State lost their third game. More than likely, FSU fans are not claiming to be number one right now. Still, this raises the question of if the BCS is a good thing because it keeps everyone talking about football. Also, it asks the question about if one computer program is how the BCS should determine their top two teams. If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know.

As always, keep those e-mails coming!

For those of you who do not know, my blog can be viewed daily on www.CollegeFootballNews.com. I began this blog to give myself more exposure by being on more than just CFN. I have been writing for CFN for the past four years and have only been doing this blog this year. I strongly encourage all of you to head on over to CFN. It's a very good source for college football information.

There also are two articles that do not appear on here over there every week: the Thursday Night Throwdown (previewing Thursday night's game) and Storylines (talking about the biggest stories of the coming weekend). Thursday Night Throwdown appears on Thursday's, while Storylines appears on Monday or Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Week Twelve: Tuesday

Under Pressure
Tommy Bowden, Clemson

Tommy won the Bowden Bowl, but this week's game may be even more important to Bowden. This week he takes on South Carolina in a very heated rivalry game. This is the same South Carolina that is 7-3 and stunned Florida a week ago to stay alive in the race for the SEC East title. This is the same South Carolina that is coached by Steve Spurrier. This is the same South Carolina that has been plastered by Clemson the last three years. Bowden and the Clemson faithful do not want South Carolina to pass them. It's debatable whether or not they have already, but this week will show just how far South Carolina has come. For Bowden, it is critical to come up with a win over the Tigers archrival so that he can keep the fire off of him.

Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech has gone on slides late in the season several times in recent years. This year's team could go on a similar slide. Sitting at 8-1 with games against Virginia and North Carolina left, there is no such thing as a sure thing. The Hokies quarterback looked absolutely awful against Miami in their last game. Was it a one game thing? Or has the traditional late season slide begun. If Vick and the Hokies struggle in this game, many Virginia Tech fans will be very upset about another end of the season slide. This game is critical for Vick to continue on the upward progression that he has shown for most of the year.

College Gameday Site
East Lansing, Michigan

In an interesting turn of events, the gang decided to go to East Lansing this week for the Penn State-Michigan State game. There are three games between ranked teams, and yet they chose this one. That is because Penn State wraps up a BCS bid with a win. If they lose, then the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game gets the Big Ten's automatic bid. Michigan State (at 5-5) is gunning for a bowl game with a win. The Fresno State-USC game wasn't on the ESPN family of networks (it's on FSN) and it came on so late at night, that they did not want to go to that game. The Alabama-Auburn game is not on the ESPN family, and the winner needs LSU to lose to get to the BCS. There is a chance that an Alabama win would get them to the BCS as an at-large team, however it is clear that the one game that will have ramifications on who goes to the BCS is the Penn State-Michigan State game. It's a big game.

Thoughts on the Rankings

The odd computer quirk of the week is that Michigan, who has three losses including one to Notre Dame, is ranked ahead of the Irish, who have two losses, in the computer rankings. The Irish have moved up the rankings quite successfully, but there still seems to be a "computer bias" against the Irish.

The good news from the computers this week is that USC and Texas are number one and number two in all the computers now. Texas is ranked ahead of USC in all but one, but there is no longer any controversy coming from any of the computers on who should be playing for the national title. That is truly good news.

An e-mailer pointed out this fact to me last week. Every SEC team is ranked higher in the human polls than in the computer polls. Every Big Ten team is ranked higher in the computer polls than in the human polls. Does this mean that we are all underranking Big Ten teams and overranking SEC teams? Does it mean that computers don't have the good fortune of watching the games? Does it mean that things can be interpreted many different ways? It is, at the very least, food for thought.

Fresno State is getting hammered by the computers. They are ranked only by two computers, and then they are fifteen and eighteen. My bet is that they will move up in the computer rankings just for playing USC this Saturday night.
My Rankings

The rankings still are getting shaken up every single week. The fact that things are still changing so rapidly is proof of just how unstable these rankings are. More on the closeness of the ranked teams in a minute. But first, the rankings. Last week's ranking is in parentheses.

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

Dropped Out: Texas Tech 8-2 (16), Wisconsin 8-3 (20), Colorado 7-3 (22), Georgia Tech 6-3 (23)
Texas Tech's humbling loss to Oklahoma State knocks them badly. They now have lost to Texas and Oklahoma State, and their best win is over a 6-4 Nebraska team. It is very tough (other than their record) to find a reason to rank them. We'll know a lot more about them after they play Oklahoma this week. The Badgers dropped out after a loss to Iowa. This is really just a pretty good team. Colorado drops out after a loss to Iowa State. The Buffaloes still might be worthy of a Top 25 spot. We'll see how they do against Nebraska in two weeks. Georgia Tech lost to Virginia. It wasn't a bad loss. If they put on a good show against Miami this week, they may return.

Biggest drop by a team still in the rankings: 6- Florida State. It is possible that Florida State does not belong in the rankings at all. There is a chance that after this week's games, and the Seminoles are off this week, that they will drop even more. They still have that quality win over Miami, but it is getting more and more distant. They better put on a good show against Florida or else that ACC Championship Game could include an unranked team.

Smallest drop by a team that lost: 3- Alabama, Georgia, Florida. The three losers of the SEC battles last week dropped three spots each. Alabama didn't drop far because it was a close loss to a team ranked in the Top Five. Georgia didn't drop far because they were one play away from beating a very good Auburn team, and I felt like I might have punished them too much for losing to Florida when Shockley was out. Florida didn't drop far...and maybe they should have dropped further. Their small drop has more to do with trying to figure out who belongs ahead of them.

Bigget drop by a team that won: 3- Oregon. The Ducks dropped three spots because I think I had them overranked last week and they struggled by Washington State. I believe the Ducks would get beat by Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech. It would be very close, though.

Biggest jump by a team that was in my rankings last week: 4- Fresno State. The Bulldogs jumped because of their impressive win over Boise State. Keep this in mind. They beat Boise State, a team that came in with all the confidence in the world because they had beaten them four straight times, at home, without forcing a ton of turnovers in similar fashion to the way that Georgia beat Boise State. Boise even scored in the first minute of the game, putting a ton of pressure on Fresno right off the bat...and the Bulldogs responded. This is a much better team than they get credit for.

How close are these teams? There is a tightness at the top. USC and Texas are basically interchangeable. I could put them at co-#1, but decided against it at the last minute. The next four teams are all very close as well, with Miami's win over Virginia Tech and LSU's over Alabama providing the little bit of space that there is. Alabama is ahead of Virginia Tech because in their big game against one of these teams, they lost in overtime, while the Hokies were beat down. The next three teams (Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Oregon) are all very close as well. Notre Dame has not played a game where I was very impressed with them since the USC game. Their performance against USC was more impressive than Oregon's. Ohio State has lost to two Top Five teams and has been more impressive recently than Notre Dame, pushing them ahead of the Irish. The next five teams are all very close as well. The rest of the pack are all very very close. Minnesota is ahead of Michigan only because of the Gophers win over the Wolverines. This is a very tight bottom ten spots of the rankings.

Is Texas like Oklahoma? I hear from USC fans all the time about how Texas is just like Oklahoma from last year and they will beat the Longhorns just as badly in the Rose Bowl as they beat the Sooners last year. Now, maybe the Trojans will beat the Longhorns just as badly. However, the Sooners had looked very vulnerable against both Texas A&M and Oklahoma State by this point in the season. Where is the game where Texas has looked vulnerable like Oklahoma did? It doesn't exist. This Texas team has been blowing through teams this year. The only close game they have played was against Ohio State. That was very similar to USC's close call against the Irish. If anything USC has looked more like Oklahoma from last year, struggling against Arizona State. The Trojans have what is being called the best offense ever, just like Oklahoma was being called last year. That being said, I don't think that USC is like Oklahoma '04 and going to be exposed in the national championship game.

Maybe the Longhorns will struggle in the Big Twelve Championship Game or against Texas A&M. However, until they do, it isn't fair to be comparing Oklahoma '04 to Texas '05.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Week Twelve: Monday

Weekend in Review

Game of the Week
LSU 16, Alabama 13 (OT)

It wasn't always the prettiest game on the planet, but the game that was billed as the Game of the Week heading into the weekend certainly lived up to it. The Tide jumped out to a 10-0 halftime lead over LSU, and everything appeared to be heading Alabama's way. But in the second half, JaMarcus Russell started playing better and lead the Tigers back to tie it at ten. The Tide offense could do virtually nothing in the second half, and as time ticked down, Alabama was being forced closer and closer to their own endzone and LSU was getting closer and closer with each exchange of punts. Russell then found Dwayne Bowe from 11 yards out in the overtime to come up with the win. The defenses dominated the fourth quarter, but the game was entertaining, and highly intense. The Tigers now control their own destiny in the SEC West with game against Ole Miss and Arkansas remaning.

Upset of the Week
Oklahoma State 24, Texas Tech 17

Did anyone in their right mind really see this one coming? The Red Raiders were 8-1 and were building a resume for a BCS at-large bowl bid, which they probably were not going to get anyway. Yes, the Cowboys played well against Texas a couple of weeks ago, but this defense has been like paper and the Red Raiders offense kills defenses like that. Not so. The Cowboys jumped out to a 17-0 lead before Texas Tech charged back to tie the game at 17. After a very intense fourth quarter of back and forth, Al Pena ran the ball in from a yard away to give the Cowboys the dramatic upset. Absolutely amazing. This may go down as the Upset of the Year so far.

Player of the Week
Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson

Whitehurst has been battling the injury bug, but there was no way he was going to miss his last chance to play Florida State. It was a game in which the Tigers had everything to play for (a bowl game) and Florida State had nothing to play for. The two teams played like it. Whitehurst sparked the Tigers completing 21 of 32 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. His numbers don't really tell the whole story, as Clemson truly dominated most of this game, and Whitehurst was the clear leader of the team. The 35-14 win may be the most important win for Clemson yet, as they are really becoming a serious rival of Florida State's. The 'Noles are in danger, if they lose to Florida in two weeks and/or in the ACC Championship Game, of not even being ranked heading into their bowl game. Given that they were in the Top Ten just last week, this is very disappointing.

Stat of the Week
42 and counting.

Ho hum. Another year, another Notre Dame win over Navy. That makes it 42 in a row, which is an incredible stat. No other rivalry has ever gone that long. With Fresno State ending their streak to Boise State, Texas beating Oklahoma, Florida State beating Miami, and even Kansas beating Nebraska, this seemed like the year for streaks to die. Even Boston and the White Sox have won the World Series in the last thirteen months. Yet, this streak never dies. It never goes away. It just keeps going and going and going and going....

Play of the Week
Steve Paris' 66 yard fumble return.

Iowa State was leading Colorado 16-13 with time running down in the third quarter. Steve Paris picked up the Lawrence Vickers fumble, which had been forced by Tim Dobbins, and ran it 66 yards for a touchdown. It was a huge play that turned the momentum of the game completely in Iowa State's favor. What is remarkable is that Colorado found a way to bounce back at all. But they did. At least until...

Turnover of the Week
Brent Curvey's 66 yard interception return.

Joel Klatt dropped back to throw a screen pass with under two minutes to play and his Buffaloes trailing Iowa State 23-16. He threw the ball, and Curvey stepped in front of it and returned the interception 66 yards for a touchdown. The interception sealed the game for Iowa State and the touchdown put the icing on the cake. As everybody knows by now, one of my favorite plays is watching the big defensive lineman rumble down the field for a touchdown. That's what happened on this play. It was a huge win for Iowa State, as they keep their hopes for a Big Twelve North title alive. A Nebraska upset of Colorado on the Friday after Thanksgiving will give the Big Twelve North title to Iowa State. A Colorado win in that game gives the Buffaloes the title.

Key First Half Moment of the Week
A.J. Hawk's touchdown.

A.J. Hawk and the Ohio State Buckeyes lead Northwestern 14-7 with the second quarter just getting underway. The Wildcats were punting, and the punt was blocked by the Buckeyes. A.J. Hawk, playing in his last game in Columbus, returned the blocked punt eight yards for a touchdown that put Ohio State up 21-7, and effectively put the game away. Northwestern never fully recovered from the jolt.

Moment of the Week
Devin Aromashodu's 62 yard catch.

It was fourth down and everything hung in the balance for the Auburn Tigers. They trailed Georgia 30-28. But on this fourth down play, Brandon Cox found Aromashodu and he scrambled down the sideline 62 yards. The ball got poked out from behind and rolled into the endzone, but the Tigers recovered it. Since a ball cannot be fumbled forward on a fourth down, the ball was spotted back at the three yard line, which meant that the Tigers got to run some clock and then kick the game winning field goal to win, 31-30. Why Georgia didn't let Auburn score and get their offense, which had been explosive all night, back onto the field is amazing. Coaches need to learn that sometimes late in games, that letting the other team score is the best strategy.