Saturday in Review 9/25/10

Another wonderful Saturday here in college football land, complete with a major upset that no one called, the #1 team in the nation surviving a big road test, and the Big 10 proving nothing by playing no one. Let’s review, shall we?

#1 Alabama-24, #11 Arkansas-20

Well, first off, I take back what I said about Arkansas: they proved their mettle in this game. No, they didn’t pull off the upset, but they’re the first team to give Alabama a decent game this season. The Tide ran over San Jose State, clobbered Penn State, and smacked around Duke before being forced into a real fight at Arkansas. Alabama looked extremely flat in the first half, scoring just one touchdown and requiring the best efforts of their defense to hold off a hard charging Arkansas offense. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Alabama’s super evil coach, Nick Saban, worked his dark arts at halftime and somehow scooted his team across with a win. Every team requires some luck and/or a comeback to go undefeated in a season, and Alabama survived a very big scare today. A tough game like this, however, isn’t the ideal way to start your conference schedule, and Alabama has a murderous set of games in the coming weeks with a home stand against top 10 ranked Florida and a road trip to a better-than-average South Carolina team. Even though Alabama is better than Florida or South Carolina, Florida will be coming off of an easy win against Kentucky, and South Carolina gets a bye. So if there’s going to be an upset of Alabama, look for it in the coming weeks.

In Heisman news: Ryan Mallett looked good for the first three quarters, but he threw 2 interceptions in the 4th. Mark Ingram returned from his injury last week with a warmup against Duke, then showed that he’s still got it against a legitimate foe. If Ingram puts up these kind of numbers (157 yards, 2 TDs) against ‘Bama’s other opponents this season, then he should win the Heisman again, regardless of whether or not he missed the games against San Jose State and Penn State. Mind you, he does have Jake Locker to contend with. Heck, Locker didn’t throw any interceptions this week! (<-Cheap shot) Let’s move on to a game that’s barely even worthy of attention…

Eastern Michigan-20, #2 Ohio State-73

Part one in a series: A whole lot can be said about the ACC and Big East. Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this. The two conferences named above are mediocre at best. They have won practically no big nonconference games this season, and between the two of them they have one remaining undefeated team (NC State). But the ACC and Big East are at least willing to play ranked teams and road games during their nonconference schedules. The lone Big 10 team to beat a ranked opponent are these Ohio State Buckeyes, who defeated Miami in week 2 at home. The only other Big 10 teams to even play a ranked foe are Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota, who lost to Alabama, Arizona, and Southern Cal respectively. Missouri is currently ranked, and they beat Illinois, if you’d like to add them (Illinois) to the list. No matter how you slice it, the Big 10 is doing college football a major disservice with its garbage nonconference schedule. Out of sheer vindictive glee, I will now list the Big 10’s nonconference foes, in no particular order, courtesy of this article:

UConn, Notre Dame (3 times), UMass, Bowling Green, Eastern Illinois, Iowa State, Arizona, Ball State (2 times), Marshall, Miami (Florida), Ohio, Eastern Michigan (who haven’t won a game since November 2008), UNLV, San Jose State, Arizona State, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State, South Dakota, Southern Cal, Toledo, Northern Illinois (2 times), Youngstown State, Alabama, Kent State, Temple, Western Illinois, Western Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Northern Colorado, Missouri, Southern Illinois, Fresno State, Vanderbilt, Illinois State, Rice, Central Michigan, Towson, Western Kentucky, Akron, Arkansas State.

So you know what? If you’re a Big 10 fan, you have no right to mock the Big East or the ACC. (Except Virginia Tech. They’re my team, but they lost to James Madison, so they still deserve the mockery. Unless you’re a Michigan fan.) I hope the conference beats up on itself and winds up sending Minnesota to the Rose Bowl.

No, I didn’t analyze the game. Look at the friggin’ score. And prepare for more of this down in the Wisconsin review…

Oregon State-24, #3 Boise State-37

If you’re still here, you’ve been through a lot. Which is sad, because there’s so very much more to go. This game was played up on the blue turf in Boise, and the Broncos used a strong first half to keep Oregon State at bay. Continuing a theme from the novella about the Big 10 that I wrote above, why isn’t Boise State the #2 team in the country right now? What has Ohio State done in the 4 weeks that encompass the 2010 season that merits a #2 ranking other than being ranked #2 to start the year? The answer is: nothing. Boise State has beaten 2 ranked teams and slaughtered Wyoming. Ohio State has beaten a single ranked team and destroyed 3 vastly inferior foes. Boise State crossed the country to play their season opener, while Ohio State hasn’t left Columbus yet. And, yeah, Virginia Tech lost to a 1-AA foe the next week, weakening Boise’s strength of schedule, but at least they (the Hokies) have won 2 games since then. Ohio State’s nonconference foes have a combined 4 wins in the 4th week of the season.

I know this is a whole lot of conjecture, and now is as good a time as any to say that I don’t think either of these 2 teams is the second best in the country. Look at their opponents: Oregon State’s played 2 good teams and lost close games to both, Virginia Tech obviously had their disaster in week 2, and Miami hasn’t really played anyone aside from Ohio State, considering that The U’s best win is against a Pitt team that looks increasingly underwhelming. Inquisitive readers who are still awake despite all of this reading are now asking, “Well, Mr. Smartypants blogger, who is the 2nd best team in the country?” And my cop out answer is, “I don’t know.” That’s why the season is 12 games long, not 4. If I had to pick a team, I’d say Oregon or Nebraska. Mind you, my support is often the kiss of death. To that end…

UCLA-34, #4 Texas-12

Remember last week, when I said that Texas was going to demolish UCLA? Well, I owe the Bruins an apology. This doesn’t look like the same team that spent its first two weeks getting tossed around the field by Kansas State and Sanford. The Bruins beat Houston last week (still not much of an accomplishment since Houston can’t play defense) and then came out and beat Texas this week. I’m still not sure how to read UCLA, and I think that their upcoming games with Washington State and Cal should tell us much more about UCLA. Note that they do desperately need to improve their passing attack, which currently sits comfortably at 117th in the country, behind triple option teams like Air Force and Navy. So keep a wary eye on UCLA, and the Pac-10 in general, since the conference on the left coast actually looks good this season.

Then there’s Texas. Actually, then there’s the Big 12. The Big 12 has been largely shielded from criticism this season because of the mediocrity/awfulness (depending on the week) of the Big East and the ACC. But with Texas struggling against Rice, Oklahoma struggling with Utah State, Kansas losing to North Dakota State, and Nebraska struggling this week with South Dakota State, you kinda figured that this sort of thing was coming. Texas had 5 turnovers in this game, with 4 of those being fumbles. That’s not a good recipe to win, and neither is letting the other team have the ball for 11 minutes more than you have it. All 13 of UCLA’s first half points were off of turnovers, and it’s telling when that score would have been enough points to beat Texas for the entire game. About half of the Big 12 is done with their nonconference schedules, so we probably won’t see too many more nonconference upsets out of the Big 12, but keep this game (and the others listed above) in mind when bowl season rolls around.

#6 Oregon-42, Arizona State-31

Oregon’s offense was held to its lowest point total this season. Let that sink in for a second, 4 games into the season the lowest number of points this team has scored is 42. Now, I was going to put something on here about Oregon having a video game style offense, but since I’ve been beaten to that punch by every other college football writer on the planet, I’ll just make a note here. NOTE: Those 42 points are impressive, but take note that 2 of the touchdowns on Oregon’s side came from the defense. So, while Oregon can still score points with the best of them, they needed the defense’s help to do so. Oregon could well run the table in the Pac-10, but if they have to play a team with a good defense in the National Title game, things could get ugly for the Ducks. Should be one heck of a game between Oregon and Stanford next week…they might combine for 100+ points.

South Dakota State-3 (sorry, don’t know the colors), #7 Nebraska-17

Nebraska survived a scare at home against a team that had no business being in the game with them. Judging from Coach Bo Pelini’s quote after the game (specifically, “[Y]ou have to have consistency. For us to show up like that at home, I’m embarrassed.”) I would not want to be on the Nebraska Cornhuskers when practice time comes around on Monday. Hats off to the Jackrabbits for sticking with the Cornhuskers in what might be the most unique matchup of mascots this whole season. Why no, this game wasn’t broadcast here in North Carolina, how did you guess?

Kentucky-14, #8 Florida-48

Well, Florida finally looked dominant in a game this season after starting out flat in their first 3. Which is good for the Gators, since they have to go to Alabama this coming week, in what should be a heck of a game. Do not mistake Trey Burton’s performance as anything more than an aberration right now, since he delivered this hammering to a team that is not, in fact, very good at all, and is outright mediocre on defense. Kentucky, meanwhile, had its first test this season–and they failed miserably. Don’t look for the Wildcats to do much against the SEC this season, though they do have the opportunity to finally break that 26 year losing streak to Tennessee.

PS: Here‘s a Chris Rainey legal proceedings update. Why? Because the readers of this blog need to know that “Time to Die” isn’t a good phrase to text to their girlfriend. Or anyone for that matter.

#9 Oklahoma-31, Cincinnati-29

Another case of the Big 12 looking bad. Yes, Cincinnati is the 2 time defending Big East champions, but their lone win on the season is Indiana State. So Oklahoma, were they actually the 8th best team in the land, should have gone in, taken a relatively easy win, and gotten out. Instead, the Sooners should consider themselves lucky to have escaped from Cincinnati with a win, especially considering their lackluster performance in the 4th quarter. Texas and Oklahoma may have both been revealed as paper tigers this week, though it would be refreshing to see Texas beat Oklahoma next week and eliminate either of those two teams from the national title hunt. Come on, people, we need some new blood in the title game! The SEC has to be tired of just beating Big 12 teams…

Austin Peay-3, #10 Wisconsin-70

Part 2 in a series: …The saddest part of this entire affair is that the Big 10 is emerging from a time when they were considered as bad as the ACC or Big East. Remember the 2008 and 2007 bowl seasons? In 2008 the Big 10 went 1-6. They were the laughing stock of college football. The only team with a worse record in bowls than the Big 10 was the MAC. 2007 wasn’t much better, with the Big 10 going 3-5 and finishing worse than the MWC, SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, and Big East. And the theme of the Big 10 being worse than their rankings indicated all started back in 2006 with Ohio State getting crushed by Florida in the ’06 championship game. So the Big 10 has been looked down upon by most football fans and pundits for a few years. And then…

In 2009, the Big 10 had sort of a renaissance. Sure, they only went 4-3 in the postseason, but that was their first winning bowl record since 2002, and 2 of those wins came in the BCS! Every ranked Big 10 team won, and there were no blowouts of Big 10 teams. The conference looked like it was back on track, and this season looked like the year that the likes of Michigan and Ohio State and Iowa could return to national prominence. And then, in the first few weeks of the season, the Big 10 leadership gives us garbage like this. How does slaughtering pathetic nonconference foes prove anything? Congrats, you defeated an obscure school in Tennessee that is most famous for its chant of “Let’s go Peay! Let’s go Peay!” So, yes, congratulations, your team defeated no one. Just like every other major Big 10 school…

#21 West Virginia-14, #12 LSU-20

It’s looking like the Big East won this week’s award for worst conference. Sure, the ACC is nothing to write home about, but at least they’ll have a ranked team in next week’s poll. West Virginia, at least in my independent and mostly uneducated evaluation, is still the best team in the Big East. Of course, that’s like being voted “most beautiful” in a competition where the only other contestants are Buster Keaton and Rod Brind’Amour.

LSU looked underwhelming again, and it’s really hard to imagine them beating Florida, Auburn, Alabama, or Arkansas. At least they have ‘Bama at home, the other 3 they have to play on the road, so I hope that the Tigers enjoyed this little unbeaten streak. It will likely end on October 9 in Gainesville…

San Jose State-3, #13 Utah-56

Am I the only one who thinks that San Jose State’s football team should burn their scheduling committee in effigy? They’ve had to play 3 ranked teams in 4 weeks, which is something that even AQ conference teams have trouble doing. The Spartans lone win has come against their cupcake Southern Utah, a team they narrowly defeated 16-11 last week. Mind you, whoever did the Spartans’ schedule also had some bizarre form of schizophrenia, considering that they scheduled 5 nonconference games: 3 are against Top 25 teams, and 2 are against 1-AA (I still don’t use the terms FBS or FCS) teams. Who scheduled this? And why? Don’t look for San Jose State’s record to improve too much, since they still have to play strong conference foes Nevada and Boise State. Congrats to Utah, a team which still exists in a boring state. Don’t look for them to suffer much adversity until (as stated last week) they have back to back tough contests with Air Force and TCU.

#15 South Carolina-27, #14 Auburn-35

First off, I direct you to quickly click here, provided you read this before October starts. That’s our predictions page on College Football Cafeteria. Notice who the only one to pick this one was. (Sorry, just had to brag. I’m rarely the only one who’s right about something. Less so, now that I’m married.)

Also notice that, according to the coaches poll, this wasn’t technically an upset. South Carolina still struggles with beating ranked teams, and their one win over a ranked squad came against Georgia, a team that looks less and less intimidating as the weeks roll by and the Bulldogs stay winless in the SEC. As is usually the case with SEC teams, I just can’t see either of these two making many waves in a conference that contains Alabama and Florida. Auburn’s got the inside track to make waves in the conference, however, as they face no road challenges until a season ending matchup with rival Alabama. But I said that last week. So let’s quickly finish this nearly 3,000 word document up…

California-9, #16 Arizona-10

Well, this one was nearly an upset. Cal never could mount a competent offense (kinda like last week), and Arizona suffered a letdown after its big win against Iowa last week, but they squeaked by with a very late score. Cal could very easily turn into a Pac-10 punching bag this season, since they’re struggling to mount an offense in a high-powered offensive conference. while it’s hard to see Arizona beating Oregon. The Wildcats don’t play any ranked teams until late in the season, when their schedule’s difficulty curve takes a hard left turn at Crazyville. After playing 1 ranked team in the first 8 games of the year, they then have 3 straight ranked teams to close the year. So don’t look for much of interest (barring an upset) coming out of Arizona until November.

#17 Stanford-37, Notre Dame-14

So, anyone want to tell me that Notre Dame is back? Anyone other than Lou Holtz? Seriously, how is it that Charlie Weis had top 25 recruiting classes every year and yet Notre Dame seems incapable of finishing in the top 25? Or even cracking the top 25. Stanford seems to have no trouble scoring, and everyone’s making a big deal over Owen Marecic and his scoring a touchdown on defense and on offense. I’d make a bigger deal over the fact that Stanford looks like they could be a force in the Pac-10. Stanford could, however, be a paper tiger, since they have yet to play a ranked team. Guess the game with Oregon will prove it one way or t’ other. (<-Southern slang.)

Ball State-0, #18 Iowa-45

Part three in a series: …And the real problem with the Big 10’s nonconference schedule is that no one made a big deal of it until this week. It’s like it just came out of the blue for all of us all of a sudden. But we’ve all known about this for quite some time, it’s just that none of us thought, “Gee, it’s unfair that the Big 10 plays no one in its nonconference schedule except for a few home games and one trip to Arizona. It seems that if any one team can make it through the conference undefeated, they’ll have the fast track to the national title game.” But no, here we are, 1/3rd of the way through the season and the Big 10 has 6 undefeated teams because 5 of those teams have played no one! Not one ranked team! So don’t let anyone tell you that the Big 10 is doing well, they just have the most favorable schedule known to man. There’s no reason to think that the Big 10 is anything more than a giant hoax at this point. And no, I didn’t review this one either…

Temple-13, #20 Penn State-22

Part four in a series:…I guess the Big 10 does this so more of its teams can get into bowl games, because Penn State would have lost this game if they were playing virtually any team in an AQ conference. Way to go, Big 10. Your strategy paid off…

Bowling Green-21, #22 Michigan-65

Part five, in letter form:

Dear Michigan,

Congrats, you look like you’ll be climbing into the top 20 this coming week. I guess that’s an accomplishment. I mean, it’s difficult to pull the wool over this many voters’ eyes on a consistent basis. You did it last season, and if history teaches us anything, it’s the repetition of patterns. “Sudden breakout”, rising into the top 20 under the high powered attack of their star breakout quarterback. Sound familiar? It should. Denard Robinson, like Tate Forcier, has looked awesome against inferior foes. The Big 10 has proven so little in the nonconference portion of the season, though, that this could be a wide open year. So enjoy whatever the future holds, Michigan. I myself hope you miss a bowl again, just to see history repeat itself and Rich Rodriguez kicked out. After all, I know the state of Michigan is down and out and needs some inspiration, and they can find a much more inspiring story in the form of your rivals, Michigan State. And, yes, I hope you choked a little when you read that, Wolverine fans…

Sincerely,
Bones

Northern Colorado-7, #23 Michigan State-45

…I guess I won’t rip Michigan State too much, but they’re just as guilty as any of the other Big 10 schools above of weak scheduling. Indeed, the only reason that they’re not getting attacked by the media (or me) as much as the rest of their conference is because of Coach Mark Dantonio’s heart attack. We’re all glad that Coach Dantonio is feeling better, but come on Michigan State! Play someone in your nonconference schedule! As I believe we’ve established in previous weeks, no, Notre Dame doesn’t count.

Miami (Ohio)-13, #24 Missouri-51

The lone Big 12 team that looked good this week was Missouri, a team I mocked last week as fairly mediocre. I guess I kind of take that back. I mean, they beat Miami of Ohio by 16 more points than Florida did. Take that for whatever the heck it’s worth. And now…

Tales from the Bottom 95

Virginia Tech is back to .500. I certainly didn’t think I’d be typing that in week 4…NC State took the dominant lead in the ACC, and they’ll be hosting Virginia Tech this week. If they beat the Hokies, there’s no reason to think that NC State won’t be Orange Bowl bound come January…Maryland struggled early with FIU, which isn’t a good sign for the Terrapins…Tennessee needed double OT to beat UAB. I guess they were tired after the Florida game. Or they’re just not that good…Army beat Duke to go to 3-1. Congrats to the Black Knights, who are halfway to a bowl!…Wake Forest apparently doesn’t have a defense, since Florida State shut them out while dropping 31 on the Deacs…Georgia’s only win is over Louisiana-Lafayette, which isn’t good for the health of Mark Richt’s career…Ole Miss pulled to 2-2 by beating Fresno State…Syracuse is 3-1. Unfortunately, they’re 1-1 against actual other 1-A teams…Northwestern is still undefeated, but the best team they’ve beaten is probably Central Michigan…Toledo knocked off Perdue, so take that Big 10!…Nevada’s still undefeated. Let’s hope they can make Boise’s otherwise mediocre conference schedule stronger and boost the Broncos upward…Marshall won by beating Ohio…Hawaii beat Charleston Southern, though I’m unsure who paid for the trip from South Carolina to Hawaii…

That’s all for this week. Congrats if you made it. I surely wouldn’t have…

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