Saturday in Review (9/11/10)

There are days in college football that you just wish you could forget. This day, for most of us in the ACC fanbelt, was one of those. It’s not often that every single ranked team from a single conference loses in the same day. It’s even less often that one of those teams happens to be your favorite team. And, for the first time in my life, my ranked favorite team lost at home to a team from Division 1-AA. So, with that in mind, prepare for something that has more in common with Ecclesiastes than with a football blog…

#14 Penn State-3, #1 Alabama-24

Well, it’s good to know that I was right about something. Ingram or no Ingram, Alabama certainly looks like the best team in the country. Once again, this is way too early in the season to draw in-depth conclusions, but ‘Bama has looked dominant in both of its games thus far, and they won’t be playing a proven football powerhouse until October 2, when Florida comes to town. Sure, they go to Arkansas in late September, but Arkansas seems to be criminally overrated at present, what with the pathetic non-conference schedule and all. Yeah, I’m filling this up with fluff, but did you watch this game? It was far more one-sided than the scoreboard indicated. (Oh, do note that the rankings here are from the coaches’ poll. Forgot to put that in the intro.)

#12 Miami-24, #2 Ohio State-36

Well, so much for that talk of “The U” being back on the national scene. Heck, some idiot on this very blog proclaimed that the ACC looked better than the SEC last Saturday. Oh, wait, that was me. Then this week happened. This week made the ACC look like an underachieving 1-AA conference. This week was so bad that this game, the one I’m not actually reviewing right now, was probably the best performance by an ACC team this week. Wait, 2nd best. North Carolina didn’t play.

Miami never really got taken out of this game, they just kept turning the ball over. 4 times, to be precise, all of them interceptions. Ohio State won the turnover battle and won the game. No surprise there, right? Right. Miami, having played this way, still have a realistic shot at winning the ACC, though at this point that’s going to be like winning the gold medal in the Olympic ribbon twirling championship.

Wyoming-7, #4 Texas-34

Congrats to Texas’ scheduling committee, who have successfully conjured the weakest nonconference schedule imaginable. The Longhorns are playing a slew of nobodies and UCLA. So, scratch that, a slew of nobodies. The last time Texas played a ranked nonconference foe in the regular season was in 2007, when they played TCU. Since then, they’ve boldly played no one outside of their relatively weak conference. Pardon my cynicism, but why isn’t Texas subject to the same “weak schedule” ridicule that Boise State and TCU are given year in and year out? Texas plays one big game, a neutral site matchup against Oklahoma, each year and then gets the fast track to the BCS. Yet they’re treated as a powerhouse because they were good many years ago and they still are good today, whereas teams that weren’t good (or extant) 50 years ago get left in the cold because geography doesn’t dictate that they play in the big, strong southern conferences. Sure, there’s a solution, but if you read this blog you already know what that is.

Tennessee Tech-7, #5 TCU-62

Doesn’t TCU take enough heat for playing in a non-AQ conference? I understand that now that they’re a threat, no big school wants to play them, but can’t they at least find a 1-A school to play? Anyone? I’m only harping on this because when the year comes to a close and there are, say, 3 undefeated teams left, then the BCS committee will make a point to highlight that at least Texas murdered other 1-A teams.

South Florida-14, #6 Florida-38

Florida’s not as good as they once were, but it helps that they played a team from the Big East, a conference which is almost as bad as the ACC. Still, this game should have given the Gator fans pause, because like Miami of Ohio, South Florida wasn’t put into the rear view until the 4th quarter, and it was really Florida’s defense that held them down, with the Gator offense putting up decent numbers against an inferior foe. It’ll be interesting to see how Florida does against their first SEC foe this coming week. Thanks to me marrying a Tennessean, I’ll be at that game, so look for some bonus coverage in next week’s overly-long mostly unread version of this thing. Plus, it will be in blinding orange-vision, an added bonus!

Idaho-17, #7 Nebraska-38

Nebraska returns a good defense; with Pelini at the helm that’s not a shocker. What is a shocker is their quarterback, Martinez, has run for 127 and 157 yards in weeks one and two of the season. Sure, that was against Western Kentucky and Idaho, but do you really think that teams in the Big 12 have defenses that are much better than those squads? Nebraska has something of an uphill climb, considering that they have Texas during the regular season, in addition to their road trip to Washington and the savior of football Jake Locker. Don’t be surprised, though, if the ‘Huskers grab the Big 12’s BCS bid this season, especially since they seem to have a good offense to complement that defense.

#8 Oregon-48, Tennessee-13

Well, this doesn’t bode overly well for when Florida visits the orange hole that is Neyland Stadium. Sure, Oregon’s no pushover, but their defense isn’t as good as Florida’s. Tennessee had trouble moving the ball early in the game, and an opportunity to score a large number of points and really take advantage of the home field was lost. Tennessee will have even more trouble moving the ball against Florida next week.

Oregon, meanwhile, has an absurdly good offense, featuring a relatively balanced attack and a misdemeanor or 5. With Southern Cal a non-contender, right now it’s difficult to see anyone but Oregon winning the Pac-10. It’s also stupidly early to be making declarations about that sort of thing, so let’s just move right along…

Iowa State-7, #9 Iowa-35

The Battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy is one of the more one-sided rivalries in modern college football. Iowa has won 6 of the last 8, and 21 of the last 28 meetings. The Hawkeyes haven’t lost in Iowa City since 2002, and Iowa’s looked one heck of a lot more dominant to start this season than they did last year. Since they’re coming off of a very good season in which they won a BCS bowl, Iowa’s got a very real chance to make some noise at the end of the season. They have a fairly challenging trip to Arizona coming up this week, which will tell us much more about Iowa than their slaughter of two overmatched teams will. As you can tell, this game wasn’t televised in our area. Moving on…

#18 Florida State-17, #10 Oklahoma-47

Another ACC team goes down, and this one goes down hard. Oklahoma, a team that looked outright flat last week against the Utah State Aggies, came out and slaughtered the Seminoles. (“Slaughter” is apparently the word of the week.) Florida State proved that they can be very good bullies, in the sense that they can beat up 1-AA Samford, and get beaten up when a bigger, badder kid comes to play. In this scenario, the Sooners beat up the Seminoles and took their lunch money. There’s just about nothing positive you can say about this performance from Florida State: they turned the ball over frequently, the Heisman talk surrounding Christian Ponder didn’t die–it was murdered, and Florida State’s defense looked beyond lost in their attempts to stop Oklahoma. Landry Jones was throwing balls over and around Florida State the whole game, and I’m beginning to think that the Heisman trophy that went to Sam Bradford back in 2008 should have gone to the Oklahoma offensive line coach. No one that I know of has claimed that Landry Jones is anywhere near as good as Bradford, yet he just had an extremely good game against a team that theoretically has a decent defense. This bodes well for Oklahoma, since they play in the Big 12.

Speaking of defense, the way Oklahoma’s defense played almost made me recant my mockery of Big 12 defenses. Almost. Then I looked again and saw that every single ranked ACC team lost on this particular horrible Saturday, so shutting down Florida State was something of an unimpressive feat. Oklahoma’s still got some tough games coming up, with a potential trap against Air Force, followed by a game against underwhelming Cincinnati, followed by the de facto Big 12 South championship game against Texas. It’s going to be a somewhat rough month for the Sooners, so we’ll see where they are in a few weeks. As for Florida State, with the state of the ACC, they could easily wind up going to the Orange Bowl. Take that for what it’s worth.

San Jose State-14, #11 Wisconsin-27

Never let it be said that San Jose State isn’t willing to play a tough schedule. Consecutive games against the #1 and #11 teams in the nation, respectively do not lend themselves to having a good season opening. To be fair, the Spartans didn’t get slaughtered in this one, though they were down 20-0 when they cracked the scoreboard very late in the 3rd quarter. Wisconsin, however, doesn’t look like the 11th best team in the country with back to back close-ish wins over UNLV and San Jose State. The Badgers will play their toughest nonconference foe next week when the Arizona State Sun Devils roll into Madison. There isn’t a ranked team on Wisconsin’s schedule until the October 16 matchup with Ohio State, and you have to wonder if this rather mundane first half of the season will help or hurt the Badgers, considering that they play the better half of the Big 10 during the last half of the season.

Oh, and on the off chance that one of the 8 people who cares about San Jose State football reads this, the Spartans have a cupcake next week. If there’s any team in the country that does deserve one, it’s the Spartans. Though they shouldn’t get too cocky because…

James Madison-21, #13 Virginia Tech-16

I want to blame this on something. Weather, tiredness, conspiracy theory, anything. I also want to fill this space with a slew of curse words that would get me kicked out of any civilized place on the planet. But that’s not how we roll on this blog, so I’ll just tell the truth:

Virginia Tech has committed some of the most egregious sins a college football team can commit. They overlooked their opponent this week, assuming that James Madison would go in with their heads hung and provide Virginia Tech with an easy win and a foot massage. The Hokies assumed that everyone had seen them hang with the Broncos of Boise State on Monday night, and that would be enough. It wasn’t. But good teams often overlook their opponents, and had this been the case here, I might be willing to forgive this loss.

The second football sin that Tech committed is just about unforgivable: They believed their own hype. Virginia Tech was touted by many preseason polls as having the best backfield in the country, with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans providing a one-two punch that the Hokies would ride right up to an ACC Championship. Instead, Virginia Tech has the 42nd best rushing offense in the country after two weeks behind a mistake prone offensive line, and the whole team seems to have come down with a case of the fumbles. The defense, which defined Virginia Tech football for the last 20 years or so, has allowed a high number of points and doesn’t have many takeaways.

Even so, at this juncture, 2 good things can come out of this. 1) Virginia Tech has a horrible season, finishes 2-10 or so and offensive coordinator Bryan “I have never fielded an offense better than 38th in the nation” Stinespring gets fired. That’s good for Virginia Tech, since it’s been the not-so-secret dream of everyone in Blacksburg since roughly 2002, when he and his 4-and-a-half play offense took over.

2) Virginia Tech recovers, wins the ACC, and goes to a BCS bowl after starting off 0-2 with a loss against a 1-AA team. How is that good, you ask? Well, it shows just how broken the system is and it might be the final straw that breaks the BCS camel’s back.

Finally (hey, don’t give me that look, you knew this was going to be long), the Hokie loss has put a lot of talk in the air about Boise State’s strength of schedule taking a hit. What people seem to not dare ask is this: How good is Boise State, really? They only beat Virginia Tech by 3, compared to James Madison’s 5 point win. I know it seems like a cheap shot, but think about it! The media is afraid to criticize Boise because they’re everyone’s darlings, but suddenly that Oregon State game looms one heck of a lot larger. I guess we’ll see on the 25th.

#15 Arkansas-31, UL Monroe-7

If you’re still with me after that ridiculous rant about Virginia Tech, then I shall reward you with lightning quick reviews for a bit…Well, less lightning quick and more “not a page and a half long…”

I would just like to compliment Arkansas for being an SEC team willing to play a Sun Belt team at the Sun Belt team’s stadium. Next season, I would like to thank Arkansas for being an SEC team willing to not schedule a Sun Belt team at all, though I don’t like the odds of that happening. Let’s move along…

#16 LSU-27, Vanderbilt-3

LSU might really not be that good, considering that Carolina’s B-team nearly beat them, and Vandy held them to 10 points in the first half. A win is a win, though, and LSU is 2-0, and they look to have a clear path right up until they play Florida in October.

#17 Georgia Tech-25, Kansas-28

Everyone’s making a fuss over Virginia Tech’s loss. Has anyone noticed that a team that lost 6-3 to North Dakota State beat the defending ACC champions? I would also like to point out (and yes, I know this is grasping at straws) that at least James Madison is a good 1-AA team, whereas North Dakota State is not. This game just completed the disaster for the conference on the coast, and Georgia Tech looked every bit as embarrassing as any of the other ranked ACC schools listed above.

#19 Georgia-6, #25 South Carolina-17

Well, South Carolina beat a ranked SEC team! I guess that’s the good news. The bad news is that both of these teams played relatively mundanely in this game, and it’s hard to see either of them making a serious run in a conference that’s weaker than it was last year, but is still the best conference in the country. Neither of these teams should beat Alabama, Florida, LSU, Arkansas, or Auburn, and that means that both look to finish smack in the middle of the SEC. In other words, not much has changed for Georgia or South Carolina…

UNLV-10, #20 Utah-38

Utah…still a boring state. (NOTE: No offense intended to my compatriots on here, it’s just that Utah games are almost never broadcast here.)

The Citadel-6, #23 Arizona-52

It never ceases to amaze me the number of good teams that the representatives of the Southern Conference (a 1-AA conference, obviously) play. This season, SoCon teams will play or have played the following: Florida, Arizona, Auburn, Florida State, and South Carolina.

I’m sure other 1-AA conferences have similar stories to tell, but as someone who lives across the street from a SoCon school, I just thought I’d point that out. It’s not like this game was close. Or televised. And even I am not pathetic enough to watch the tape delay on that one. Good luck in Iowa next week, Arizona. Moving hastily along to the last big one this week.

#24 BYU-14, Air Force-35

Air Force ran, quite literally, all over the BYU Cougars demonstrating, as Sloppy put it, the proper way to run a triple option offense. BYU came out swinging in the first quarter and then apparently became content with their lead and went home, forgetting to play in the remaining three quarters. Air Force has the potential to make some noise in the Mountain West Conference, provided that they can beat Utah and TCU. I vote that the MWC gets the ACC’s auto bid, and that the WAC gets the Big East’s. It’ll make for a more interesting postseason. And now…

Tales from the Bottom 95

First, congrats on making it this far down…Hats off to UVa for sticking with Southern Cal, a team that isn’t ranked in the coaches poll, and thus not on my list. To be fair, the Cavaliers’ performance probably says more about the state of USC football than it does about the Cavaliers…Hawaii edged Army by 3. Again, this probably says more about Southern Cal than it does about Army or Hawaii…I’m planning on writing a letter to Pete Carroll, by the way…Cincinnati bounced back from the loss to Fresno by beating–Indiana State. Never mind…Akron continued their long run of mediocrity by dropping a game to Gardner-Webb…It was apparently a bad week for 1-A teams looking for a cupcake, since Minnesota lost to South Dakota…Congrats to Clemson for crushing their terrifying foe–Presbyterian. On a horrible day for the ACC, you showed up to pummel your cupcake. Congrats?…Same to Maryland…Another 1-AA cupcake surprise: Liberty beat Ball State…In “how the mighty have fallen” news, the same Oklahoma State team that was #5 in the country last season in week 2 only beat their Sun Belt foe Troy by 3…Stanford smacked UCLA…

That’s all for this week. Next week will hopefully be less depressing.