9.29.2009

Yankee Stadium unveils new bowl game in 2010

According to Brian Bennett, blogger for ESPN.com, Yankee Stadium will announce a new bowl game which it will host beginning in 2010. It will be dubbed the Yankee Bowl, and it will slot teams from the Big East and Big 12, with the possibility of Notre Dame.

The bowl will get the fifth choice of eligible Big East teams, and the seventh choice among the Big 12. If the Big 12 does not have seven eligible teams, Notre Dame can fill their slot, and face off against a Big East opponent. Typically, the Fighting Irish have been a substitute for Big East teams in bowl games, rather than its opponent. 
Here is Bennett's story : http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=4517004

Week Four Power Rankings

1.     Florida

The Gators were firing on all cylinders at Kentucky until Tim Tebow went down with a concussion late in the third quarter. John Brantley replaced the injured star, and proceeded to lead the offense down the field for one touchdown in the final quarter. With Brantley in the lineup, the Gators are easily one of the best five teams in the country. With a healthy Tebow in the lineup, they are a near lock for an undefeated regular season.

2.     Alabama

Each week, the Crimson Tide inch closer to unseating the Gators as the top dog. Nick Saban’s team has looked increasingly impressive in every game this season, including a dominating performance over Arkansas on Saturday in a 31-7 win. Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett entered that game with hopes of a making a signature win in his early career. Instead, the vaunted Tide defense held Mallett to less than a 50 percent completion rate. This bunch looks like the team with the best shot at knocking off Florida down the road.

3.     Texas

The Longhorns thrashed Texas-El Paso in impressive fashion last week. It is clear that Colt McCoy is leading one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. However, they might be too dangerous; even dangerous to themselves. They just have not looked consistent enough yet this season to convince the nation they are a surefire national championship team. They are clearly talented enough to make that run, and it’s hard to see anyone betting against them, but they just need to be a bit more convincing in the coming weeks.

4.     Boise State

Believe it or not, these Broncos could buck all the way to Pasadena for the BCS title game. If teams ranked ahead of them keep falling by the wayside, the “Gonzaga of college football” should run the table in the regular season and make it nearly impossible for the voters to keep them out of the championship. They would deserve it, too. After strangling Oregon in the first week, that win looks much more impressive with the Duck’s beat down of California. The Broncos have a strong enough resume, and as long as they win the rest of their games in convincing fashion, they will make that championship dream a reality.

5.     Virginia Tech

Similar to Boise State, the Hokies are finding themselves soaring through the rankings after teams we thought to be superior get knocked off. Frank Beamer’s group is the perfect example of the adage “if you are going to lose, lose early.” The opening-season loss to Alabama seems like a distant memory now. Unlike two years ago, when Tech was embarrassed early in the season by LSU, the Hokies put up a good fight with the Tide this season.

In 2007, the Hokies ended up being jumped in the polls by the Tigers late in the season because nobody could argue the Hokies were the better team. This time around, Tech has the credentials to be in the thick of the championship hunt if they keep winning. The 31-7 domination of Miami on Saturday should serve as a springboard to a great run this season.

6.     Oklahoma

Landry Jones has stepped up in Sam Bradford’s absence to keep the Sooners’ reputation intact. After an idle week this past Saturday, the Sooners’ will travel to South Beach this week to play the Miami Hurricanes. After Virginia Tech exposed the Hurricanes last Saturday, it looks like the Sooners should be the better team this week, with or without Bradford. This will be the first big test for the Sooners since BYU, where Bradford went down. If Jones or Bradford leads them by Miami, and then Texas in two weeks, the early-season loss will be dead and gone (one dollar to T.I and J.T.).

7.     USC

If history tells us anything, the Trojans will recover from their annual early-season upset loss and run the table, ending up in the Rose Bowl again. California seemed to have taken hold of the role as Pac-10 favorite last week, until Oregon stomped them in Eugene. Until somebody knocks off Pete Carroll and the Trojans, they are the favorite in the conference.  

8.     Cincinnati

The absolutely, positively, most underrated coach in America is Chip Kelly. This guy not only wins wherever he goes, he wins a lot. At Grand Valley State, Kelly won multiple national championships, before turning Central Michigan into a MAC power. Now, he has won a Big East title with the Bearcats and is well on his way to another. Tony Pike is a great quarterback who will be a household name by season’s end. The Thursday night showdown with South Florida in two weeks looks like it could be the game of the year in the Big East.

9.     Ohio State

With Penn State’s loss to Iowa, the Buckeyes once again look like the best team in the Big Ten. Iowa was very impressive on Saturday, but the Buckeyes get the Hawkeyes at home in November. They still have to go into Happy Valley to face the Nittany Lions, but Iowa exposed Joe Paterno’s team in a way that makes the Nittany Lions look more vulnerable than anyone thought.

10. Houston

With the win over Texas Tech on Saturday, the Cougars sit atop the Big 12 South standings. Okay, not really, but no other team in the country holds a 2-0 record against the Big 12. Case Keenum is a legitimate big-time quarterback. Kevin Sumlin has taken the Cougars to the next level, and a BCS bowl is well within reach at this point. The only scary thing for Sumlin is that his team does not fall victim to the East Carolina Disease. In 2008, the Pirates beat both Virginia Tech and West Virginia, before falling later in the season to lesser opponents and ending up in the Liberty Bowl. Houston’s toughest opponents left on the docket are Southern Miss at home and Tulsa on the road in consecutive weeks. Kevin Sumlin needs to keep his team focused, or they will be just another one-month wonder.

11. TCU

12. Iowa

13. Michigan

14. LSU

15. Oregon

16. Oklahoma State

17. Penn State

18. Georgia

19. Nebraska

20. South Florida

21. South Carolina

22. Miami

23. California

24. Georgia Tech

25. Wisconsin

9.28.2009

Week Four Awards



As quickly as teams ascended through the rankings in the first month, many of them fell just as quickly on Saturday.

Four teams ranked in the AP top ten were upset, and in a few cases it was not very pretty.

As the new polls came out this week, they looked completely foreign in relation to previous weeks.

A crazy college football season just got a lot crazier. Let’s try and make sense of what we can, shall we?

The Red Cross’ award for biggest cause of mass heart attacks – Tim Tebow, Florida

The entire state of Florida held their breath Saturday evening, as their beloved legend in human form, Tebow, lay motionless on the turf.

The Gator quarterback suffered a concussion after vicious hit from Kentucky defensive end Taylor Wyndham threw Tebow’s head back into his own lineman’s leg, snapping it violently forward.

As he lay motionless on the grass for several heart-stopping minutes, Florida fans not only were scared for Tebow’s health, but for the fate of the Gators’ season.

Without their Heisman Trophy candidate leading the way, John Brantley would take over at quarterback. Despite Brantley’s flawless track record in high school, he does not have the experience to lead a team, even one this talented, to a national championship.

Thankfully, reports say Tebow will be back in two weeks, when the Gators hit the field next against the LSU Tigers. The idle week this Saturday could not have come at a better time for Urban Meyer and company. Several Gator players have not been at full strength the last few weeks due to flu-like symptoms.

The muzzle award – Jacory Harris, Miami

Harris was the talk of the town; well, actually the whole darn country last week after a couple big games to start the season.

All of his success, along with Miami’s, led to hype of Miami returning as an elite program, and Harris as one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Harris was even quoted as saying “I refuse to lose,” and about how great and not intimidated this Miami team was.

After a 9-for-25 performance and two turnovers, Harris should probably quell his enthusiasm just a bit.

The Hokies embarrassed Harris and his cohorts, beating Miami in every facet of the game. It was clear that if teams can blitz the Hurricane quarterback and force him into hurried decisions, Miami is very beatable.

That being said, coach Randy Shannon’s team clearly has as much talent as anyone in the ACC, and can still win this conference before it’s all said and done.

Shannon’s bunch learned the following lesson the hard way: it takes more than two games to call yourself a big dog.

The "what the hell?" award – Cal

I’ll be honest, when I looked up at the video board in Lane Stadium Saturday evening, I did not believe the 42-3 Cal-Oregon score was correct.

How could an offense that took over a half to move the chains against Boise State (which, in turn, allowed over 300 rushing yards to Fresno State) drop six scores on the Bears? That was impossible.

Sure enough, the Ducks laid the beat down on Cal, and probably squandered Jahvid Best’s chance at a Heisman down the drain as well.

Best averaged a paltry 3.4 yards per carry, totaling only 55 yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Masoli and the Oregon offense pasted the Bears for 524 yards of total offense.

After the Boise State loss, Oregon and head coach Chip Kelly were left for dead. After all, the offense had looked atrocious in that game, and a post-game boxing tryout it seemed from running back LeGarrette Blount left him suspended for the year.

Cal was coming in on the highest of highs, beating Minnesota a week earlier thanks to five touchdowns from Best. After USC’ loss to Washington, the Bears were everybody’s pick to win the Pac-10.

Instead, Oregon repaired its reputation with the demolition of the sixth-ranked team in the country, and left college football experts scratching their heads with this topsy-turvy conference.

The award for blowing a chance at an easy national title run – Penn State

Hard to come up with a good name for this award, but this week can not be summarized without shedding light on the Nittany Lions’ blown opportunity at a national title.

Over the last few years, the Big Ten has lost a great deal of respect in terms of competing with the Big 12, SEC, and USC (you know who you are…Ohio State…). Therefore, it is virtually impossible for conference team to lose a game and still make a case to play for the national title in a give year.

Penn State had the perfect chance to make a trip to Pasadena January 8 a reality. They had one of the softest non-conference schedules in the country, had Iowa and Ohio State at home, and missed Wisconsin altogether.

Seems like a great set-up for a team with top-five talent. Unfortunately, Daryll Clark pulled…well…a Daryll Clark, in failing to live up to the occasion against the Hawkeyes for the second straight year.

After throwing a touchdown on his first play from scrimmage, Clark finished 12-of-32 for 198 yards with three interceptions. He looked erratic, inaccurate, and out of control much of the game. In other words, he looked everything but a senior leader of the Big Ten favorite.

The Iowa bandwagon just got about a billion times bigger, but I’m not quite buying it. The Hawkeyes are always a tough team, but seem to play to the level of their opponent far too often.

Kirk Ferentz is a great coach, but there is a reason he is not one of the hottest names in college football. The Hawkeyes have only played in one BCS bowl game during his tenure. They will find a way to lose a game or two down the road, and will be playing in the Outback or Capital One Bowl come season’s end.

The Don’t Judge a Book by the Last One in the Series’ Cover Award – Ole Miss

People were salivating over Houston Nutt’s squad entering 2009. In 2008, they beat Florida and Texas Tech, and Jevan Snead was slicing up defenses left and right.

After those marquee victories last season, expectations were sky high in Oxford. However, the Rebels looked average at best in their first two games against Memphis and Southeast Louisiana.

It was the perfect storm for the South Carolina Gamecocks, who hosted Ole Miss on Thursday night. Snead was held to a pitiful 33% completion percentage, and the Rebels scored only three points until midway through the third quarter.

The Gamecocks looked like the fourth-ranked team, while the Rebels looked unranked. Steve Spurrier’s defense flew all over the field, pressuring Snead all night and making numerous tackles in the backfield.

As the Rebels faded into the night, along with their high ranking, the Gamecocks entered the scene as a darkhorse in the SEC East. They already lost to Georgia two weeks ago, but if they run the table from here on out they would win the division and play for the conference championship.

That is of course an unlikely scenario, but if Spurrier’s bunch keep up their level of play, well…the ole’ ball coach has done crazier things.

 

9.26.2009

Virginia Tech 31, Miami 7 – what we learned



Miami swaggered in, then staggered out of Lane Stadium Saturday evening, taking a 31-7 beating at the hands of Virginia Tech with them.

Ryan Williams carried the ball 34 times in the torrential weather conditions, racking up 150 yards and two touchdowns.

It was the second straight time that a road favorite has come into Blacksburg and been blown out by the Hokies, dating back to Clemson in 2006.

We learned a lot from this game about both teams, but I’ll try to narrow it down to just five things:

Jacory Harris was overhyped

Harris was hearing murmurs of Heisman Trophy consideration this week, after two stellar performances against Florida State and Georgia Tech.

It looks like the hype was not quite well deserved, because Bud Foster dialed up blitz after blitz on the Hurricanes’ quarterback, forcing him into some bad throws and a key fumble.

You do have to take Harris’ struggles with a grain of salt, because Mother Nature made it much harder to throw the football. Even so, Harris looked rattled for the first time this season, rushing some throws and forcing some ill-advised passes later into the game.

The Hokies defense exposed Harris as the inexperienced quarterback that he is, and that Heisman hype was all for naught.

Bud Foster’s defense is finally up to speed

After giving up more big plays than anyone else in America the first three weeks of the season, Foster’s crew buckled down Saturday to hold Miami to 59 rushing yards.

Graig Cooper broke a couple of runs through the line of scrimmage, but nothing compared to what the Hokies had been allowing in the earlier games.

Dorian Porch led the group by playing a fantastic game, including a forced fumble and recovery in the first quarter that led to a touchdown.

The Hurricanes have a very talented array of skill players on offense, but the Hokies blew right through the ‘Canes and made it look easy.

The intensity was back, and that is where the Hokies get their M-O. With the defense back on track, and the offense showing signs of life, Tech is the clear favorite in the ACC.

Tyrod Taylor can still be a runner and stay healthy

Bryan Stinespring finally allowed his mobile quarterback to be mobile. In the first three games, it was obvious Tech was being very conservative with Taylor, emphasizing the importance of staying in the pocket and avoiding injury by running. Today, the coaches unleashed Taylor, and the added dimension of him to the offensive package gave them a much-needed spark.

Taylor did a great job of making nice gains while still getting out of bounds before he could be hit. As long as he is smart when he takes off from the pocket, the coaches should encourage him to use his best asset.

As crazy as the ACC is, the Hokies are its one sure thing

Georgia Tech looks awful against Miami, yet shuts down North Carolina a week later. Florida State crushes BYU, yet falls to South Florida the next time out.

The list goes on and on of ACC teams that suffer letdown games every so often. It seems like the team that always avoids those games is the Hokies. They hardly fall as the favored team, and when they are the underdog, they give their opponent one hell of a fight.

Because of this very reason, the Hokies have to be the favorite to win a third straight conference championship. The schedule gets much easier from here on out, so an 11-1 season seems very possible right now.

This game played out perfectly for Beamer and company, because it now gives his team great confidence heading into games against Duke and Boston College, both winnable games for sure.

“Beamerball” wins football games, period.

In three of the first four games this season, the Hokies have scored a touchdown thanks to its special teams.

This time, Tech blocked its first punt of the season, and then Matt Reidy scooped it up in the end zone for the score.

The Hokies thrive off of those plays, and use the momentum they create to bury teams in their own misery.

The Hokies have not looked like themselves the past few seasons, and this game marked the return of the style of play that marked the Hokie teams of the early-to-mid decade.

A power running game, stifling defense, and game-changing special teams plays brings back great memories for the Hokie faithful, and has to make them excited for what’s to come.

Virginia Tech - Miami Preview


Hereeeeeeeee comes Jacory Harris and the Miami Hurricanes... more like heeeeeereeeeee comes Harris and the rediscovered Miami swagger.


As the Hurricanes roll into Blacksburg for this evening's clash with Virginia Tech, all the hype in the world is comes in riding their coattails.

After beating Florida State on the road and thrashing Georgia Tech at home on a Thursday night, the prognosticators have labeled "the U" as "back", as in back to the forefront of national prominence after a five-year hiatus.

After opening as a slight favorite last Sunday, the Hokies are now a three-point underdog.

Here's a little history lesson: the last time Tech was not favored at home was 2006, when a top-ten Clemson Tigers team was destroyed by an unranked Hokies squad on a Thursday night, 24-7.

It's not often opponents walk into Blacksburg truly as the expected winner, which is exactly what Miami is today.

The 'Canes' number nine ranking is so high, it leaves people wondering just how good they really are.

They beat the Seminoles on Labor Day after Jarmon Fortson dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass on the final play. A wide-open touchdown pass in fact. If Fortson makes that catch, not a soul is talking about Miami as a resurgent program just yet.

They crushed the Yellow Jackets at home, though it is hard to judge whether they were a worthy opponent or not. Tech's offense looked enemic, as they made plenty of unforced errors, along with the fact that it looked as if teams have figured out how to stop the triple option offense. By the end of the season, Tech might be 6-6 and the win last week in Miami won't be as impressive as many people are giving it credit for now.

The Hokies battled through a miserable offensive performance last week only to have Tyrod Taylor save the day at the last possible moment. The junior quarterback led Tech's offense 89 yards in the final two minutes to beat Nebraska 16-15.

The Hokies' biggest problem to this point has be its offensive line. Despite having more combined starts than 115 of the FBS' 119 other programs, it looks like they are having problems communicating. That lack of cohesiveness has resulted in a slew of unblocked defensive lineman and linebackers gunning for Taylor with no resistance. Taylor has already been sacked 11 times in three games.

Miami's defense will be the fastest Tech has seen this season, and that number 11 might grow tremendously if his protection does not improve.
Miami's Harris has looked fine as a passer in the early goings of the season, averaging 328 passing yards per game with five touchdowns.

He dominated a Georgia Tech defense that gave up over 250 yards passing to Clemson's Kyle Parker, and looked shaky though the first two and a half quarters against the Seminoles before coming up big late in the game.

Harris is talented, for sure, and his array of pass-catchers rolls nine players deep. The talent is almost endless at the skill positions for Miami, so while there is not one marquee guy on the outside, defenses still have to respect all of them equally.

The Hokies must tackle much better than they have the first three weeks. Bud Foster's crew has allowed more plays of 20 or more yards than any other team in the country this season, and that is mainly attributed to bad tackling. Every opponent so far this year has had a player rush for over a 100 yards.

Miami has two sensational backs that can carry the load in Graig Cooper and Javarris James. They form one of the best 1-2 punches in America, and compliment each other very well.
The forecast today almost guarantees rain, which means it could turn into a battle of the running games, and it will also be hard to tackle slippery runners.

If Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring wants to win Saturday, he can not forget about Ryan Williams. The star Hokies' running back carried the ball only six times after halftime last week. He is clearly the biggest threat on the Tech offense, and has proven he can carry the load. He is suffering from a lingering ankle injury, but the coaches say he is ready to go full speed this week.

The Hokies have heard nothing all week other than how awful they played last week and how lucky they were to win, as well as how incredible and intimidating the Hurricanes are. Something tells me Frank Beamer will play off of that buzz and use it to motivate this football team into making a statement win at home.

The Hokies can not fall behind early in this game, but if they take a lead early or stay with the 'Canes in the first half, they will have every opportunity to win this game.

The rain will serve as a great equalizer in this one, creating even more of a defensive slugfest.
Predicting this one is harder than a organic chemistry exam, but I'm going to go with the Hokies by a score of 20-17. Hereeeee comes Saturday!

9.24.2009

Today’s stars and yesterday’s legends










A new series on fifth down looks at the best players playing college football this season and compares them to a similar player from the past.

First up….

Colt McCoy, Texas QB – Drew Brees, Purdue QB (2001)

The similarities between these two field generals are uncanny. Both players were all-stars at Texas high schools, where they both led their teams to the state championship game. Brees won the 5A title at Southlake High School, while McCoy led Jim Ned High School to the 2A title game before losing.

As a sophomore at Purdue, Brees was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year by the media. It was Brees’ first season as a starter, and his second year on campus. McCoy started for the Longhorns as a redshirt freshman, and set a then-NCAA record for touchdown passes by a freshman with 29.

In those respective seasons, both Texas and Purdue played in the Alamo Bowl, and both won.

As McCoy completed his junior season at Texas, he completed an astounding 77 percent of his passes and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting. If all goes according to planned, he will be in New York again for another chance at winning the award. Entering this season, McCoy’s career completion percentage was 70.2.

Brees was also a runner-up for the Heisman as a junior in 1999. In that season, he completed 61 percent of his passes for nearly 4,000 yards. Even though that is 16 percentage points behind McCoy, 70 percent is the new 60 with spread offenses calling for deadly accurate passers and tons of short completion-based routes.

Both players are criticized for being undersized – Brees stands a shade over six feet tall, McCoy is six feet, two inches – and not having howitzer-powered arm strength. Looking across the NFL, quarterbacks who are the most accurate have had far more success than the ones with big, strong arms.

Michael Vick, JaMarcus Russell, and David Carr all wowed scouts before they were drafted with their ability to launch the ball miles down the field, however none turned out to be great passers in the pros.

On the other side, quarterbacks who relay on their accuracy like Brees, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers are among the league’s elite. McCoy looks to be the next one to fit that bill.

This is one of the best quarterback classes in recent memory, with McCoy, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Jevan Snead all expected to be picked in the first round of next year’s draft. Of the four, McCoy looks like the one best equipped to run an NFL offense. If he turns out anything like his molded superstar Brees, he’ll live up to whatever paycheck he earns.

 

9.23.2009

Week Three Power Rankings

1.     Florida

It was not the 50-point shellacking all the talking heads were predicting, but the Gators took care of business against SEC rival Tennessee, 23-13. Urban Meyer’s offense does not look quite as explosive as it did a year ago, but they still have more talent across the board than any other team in the country. Tim Tebow needs to make good decisions every week throwing the football, and Florida will end up right where they want to be: in Pasadena playing for the BCS title.

2.     Alabama

The Crimson Tide make the leap in the rankings this week for a few reasons. First of all, Texas did not dominate an unranked Texas Tech team the way the second-best team should. Also, Greg McElroy has had a few weeks to develop within the offense, and it looks like he has all the weapons around him he needs to compete with Florida. Roy Upchurch, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, and company is as good of a group as any. As other top-ranked teams seem to be failing to step up as big-time players in the national race, Alabama is looking more like the cream of the crop every week.

3.     Texas

Like Florida, Texas looked anything but invincible Saturday night against Texas Tech. Colt McCoy did not perform like I had expected him to in his first big game of the season. The Heisman runner-up in 2008 threw one touchdown against two interceptions. He will have to be more accurate the rest of the way for the Longhorns to claim the Big 12 title. The Longhorns defense shut down the high-octane Red Raiders offense for the first half, before allowing them to get back into the game late. Solid performances are always good, but if Texas wants to win a second national title in four years, they will need to be spectacular.

4.     Penn State

Business as usual again for Joe Paterno and his boys. The Nittany Lions easily disposed of Temple, and keep moving towards a memorable run through the Big Ten. While other teams fall by the wayside, Penn State should quietly move up through the rankings until they falter.

5.     Cal

News flash: Jahvid Best is disgustingly good. The darkhorse Heisman candidate blasted Minnesota for five touchdowns in the Bears 35-21 road victory. Quarterback Kevin Riley is also a capable quarterback, and Best’s backup Shane Vereen has been touted as Best’s equal in terms of pure talent. Most of the attention has fallen on Best so far this season, but if the Bears keep racking up wins, the name on the front of the Bears’ jerseys will be just as notable.

6.     LSU

The Tigers once again looked solid against an inferior opponent, beating Louisiana-Lafayette 31-3. The Tigers much-hyped running back Charles Scott still is failing to live up to his reputation. Despite leading the team in rushing, he only mustered 63 yards and did not find the end zone. Right now LSU is winning, just like you are supposed to do, but they will have to become a little more explosive when the rest of the SEC comes calling.

7.     Boise State

The Broncos torched Fresno State for 51 points on Friday night. That’s the good news. The bad news: Bulldogs running back Ryan Matthews broke the Broncos’ tacklers all night long, running for 234 yards.

Matthews is one of the best runners Boise State will face all season, but nevertheless, no BCS-worthy team would allow so many yards on the ground. If Chris Peterson can patch up his defense, the Broncos could be making a strong case for a spot in the BCS title game come season’s end.

On a sour note, running back D.J. Harper will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. In his absence, the Broncos will look to Jeremy Avery to shoulder the load. Avery ran for 186 yards on 11 carries Friday night. If he can keep that up, Harper might become a distant memory in Boise.

8.     USC

I am keeping the Trojans ranked so high for a few reasons. For one, Aaron Corp showed us on Saturday why he lost the starting quarterback job to a true freshman. Second, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, and defensive coordinator Nick Holt know the Trojan’s playbook inside and out. There was no better coaching staff in America to prepare for Pete Carroll and company. Third, Washington is not as bad as people thought they were. Jake Locker, the Huskies’ quarterback, is back from injury and looks very good.

When USC has Matt Barkley and Taylor Mays back this week, it will be back to normal for the Trojans, and they will be a handful for each opponent.

9.     Oklahoma

Wasn’t it a few weeks ago when people left the Sooners up for dead? Landry Jones struggled against BYU in the upset loss. Star tight end Jermaine Gresham was lost for the season due to injury. The Prodigal Son of Norman, Sam Bradford, was out at least a month. After a 45-0 disposing of a good Tulsa team, where Jones threw for six touchdowns, people will begin to creep back on the Sooners’ bandwagon.

Bob Stoops gets a week off to prepare for Miami, which all of a sudden looks like it could be a top-10 showdown in south Florida. Bradford’s return is questionable for that game. If he is still out when October 3 rolls around, Sooner fans can feel a little safer than they first thought.

10. Miami

As high as they are ranked here, I still don’t believe “The U” is “back”. They are very good, leaps and bounds better than in recent years, but I hesitate to make them the class of the ACC just yet. Jacory Harris is a legitimate superstar-in-waiting, and Graig Cooper might be the best running back in the conference. But they beat an overrated Georgia Tech team at home and were one dropped touchdown pass away from losing to Florida State. If they can go into Lane Stadium this week and beat the Hokies, I’ll be ready to proclaim them a national threat.

11. Virginia Tech

12. Michigan

13. Ohio State

14. TCU

15. Nebraska

16. Oklahoma State

17. Cincinnati

18. Florida State

19. Georgia

20. Oregon

21. North Carolina

22. Washington

23. Notre Dame

24. Missouri

25. Texas Tech

 

9.21.2009

Week Three Awards


Now that’s what I call a weekend of college football. Colossal upsets, last-second miracles, and rivalry showdowns stamped the third week of the season. There is quite a lot to talk about this week, but I will do my best to get to everything that matters most.


For all of America who wishes to just take a stab at the their boss-award: Steve Sarkisian, Washington head coach

It’s hard to find anyone who can say they saw this coming, but in hindsight, the Washington Huskies’ upset of USC could have been easily predicted. It was set up perfectly.

First, the golden child of Los Angeles, Matt Barkley, would miss the game due to injury, leaving the Trojans with the untested Aaron Corp at quarterback. Second, Washington had Jake Locker, who missed most of last season at quarterback due to injury. Had Locker played the entire season, the Huskies would not have gone winless. Steve Sarkisian, the former offensive coordinator for USC, was the Huskies head coach. When he came to Seattle, he brought the old Trojan defensive coordinator Nick Holt with him.

Between Sarkisian and Holt, the Trojans were not going to fool the Huskies at any point on Saturday. Washington took advantage of its knowledge of the Trojans schemes, and made Corp look like a walk-on benchwarmer. This will be the game to spring Washington towards a bowl in 2009, as well as recruiting blue-chip athletes to Sarkisian’s program.

Class of the non-BCS conference teams: Boise State

Go ahead; plug the Broncos into the Fiesta Bowl. Besides a trip to Tulsa, which was smacked by Oklahoma on Saturday, Boise State will be smooth sailing through the regular season, which it should finish 13-0. Kellen Moore is one of the best quarterbacks nobody has heard of. Through three games this season, Moore has 685 yards passing, eight touchdowns and just one interception. Granted, the WAC is notorious for wide-open offenses and porous defenses. That does not apply to Boise State, which could score in bunches on anyone in the country. Chris Peterson is the next Urban Meyer: an innovative offensive mind and a damn good football coach. He’ll get his chance to lead an upper-echelon program soon.

The Dennis Green Award-not as good as we thought they were: Florida

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all over the Gators as the best team in the country and the favorite to win the national title. However, I can’t help but think that the Gators miss Percy Harvin more than we figured they would. Jeffery Demps had flu-like symptoms, so it was understandable that his impact was diminished against Tennessee on Saturday. Still, Tim Tebow made some ill-advised passes throughout the game, and the Gators failed to live up to its billing as a 29-point favorite. They will still be the better team each time they hit the field this year, but they don’t look to be as dominant as the hype built them up to be.

Player of the Week: Jahvid Best, running back from Cal

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is your early Heisman Trophy favorite. Best torched Minnesota’s defense for all five of his team’s touchdowns. Best is averaging 133 yards rushing per game, and has already found the end zone eight times. He is on pace for 1,596 yards and 32 touchdowns this season. If he keeps destroying defenses like he has in the first few weeks, it’s hard to imagine anyone having a better season than he in 2009.

One-year wonder award: Georgia Tech and the triple option

The honeymoon is over in Atlanta, and it’s back to reality for Paul Johnson. After a 2008 season that saw the Yellow Jackets tear apart the ACC with the most dominant running game in the country, it looks like defensive coordinators have figured out how to stop the triple option. For instance, when LSU had a month to prepare for it in last year’s Chick-fil-A bowl, they smothered it. After an entire off-season for teams to devise schemes to shut down the Jackets, it looks like they have found the blueprint. Against Clemson, Tech broke open one long run early in the game, but failed to produce the rest of the way, and allowed Clemson to make a monumental comeback in the second half. The following week against Miami, it looked like Johnson’s bunch had never practiced the offense. The Hurricanes blew up many of Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer’s runs in the backfield. Georgia Tech received a lot of attention in the pre-season as a favorite in the ACC. Now, it just looks like Nesbitt’s lack of a consistent arm and Dwyer’s moderate impact on the season so far has Tech in the middle of the pack.

Game of the Week: Nebraska-Virginia Tech

With one 81-yard Danny Coale catch and run, Virginia Tech saved their season. Nebraska’s defense dominated the Hokies’ offense for 58 minutes. Tyrod Taylor left the field more than a few times after a three-and-out, showered by boos from the Lane Stadium crowd. It was never pretty for Hokie fans, but their defense was able to hold the Huskers out of the end zone all night; Bo Pelini’s squad had to settle for five field goals in the loss.

After Coale’s miraculous catch that took the ball to the three-yard line, Taylor scrambled on third-and-goal to find Dyrell Roberts in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Thanks to Roberts, the Hokies avoided their first 1-2 start in 14 years. Nebraska narrowly missed a golden opportunity for a marquee nonconference road win, while Tech salvaged their slim hopes of a national championship. 

9.20.2009

Virginia Tech – Nebraska wrap up- what we learned

If you didn’t believe Lee Corso’s proclamation in 2000: “I don’t know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them,” you should now.

In a game fans are dubbing “The Lane Stadium Miracle,” the Virginia Tech football team stole a win in Saturday’s showdown with Nebraska.

Danny Coale’s 81-yard reception to the 3-yard line in the final minute of the game set up Dyrell Roberts 11-yard touchdown grab to give the Hokies a 16-15 win.

It was the longest passing play in seven years for the Tech program, and it could not have come at a more opportune moment.

Tyrod Taylor and the Tech offense spent much of the game being showered with boos, with ineptitude reminiscent of its most recent predecessors.

Next for the Hokies is Miami, which means coach Frank Beamer must rally his troops together and re-focus them for another big game.

There was a lot to learn from this game, but here are the five biggest tidbits to take from Saturday night.

Tech’s O-Line is still not on the same page

What started against Alabama continued against Nebraska: the big boys up front seemed to lack communication on several plays Saturday.

Taylor was in trouble much of the game, because Nebraska was able to get plenty of pressure with its front four and drop its other seven men into coverage. Ndamukong Suh, the star Huskers defensive tackle came unblocked on a couple plays, and disrupted Taylor’s rhythm all game long.

Tech’s offensive line is experienced and talented enough to open big holes in the running game and protect Taylor to throw. When they have been on the same page, Taylor has had enough time to find someone. But when someone comes untouched through the line, it is inexcusable.

Ryan Williams is the second coming of Kevin Jones

With every carry this season, Williams looks more like the former first round draft pick Jones. With the redshirt freshman’s burst at the line of scrimmage and uncanny vision, Williams will be one of the best running backs in the country for the next three or four years. He is leading the ACC in rushing yards per game, and tallied his second consecutive 100-yard performance against the “blackshirt” defense. His skill set is nearly identical to Jones’, and just like Jones, Williams is making a huge impact early in his career.

Nebraska is almost “back”

Bo Pelini’s rebuilding project in Lincoln is headed in the right direction. Last year, the Huskers only losses came to the Hokies, Texas Tech, Missouri and Oklahoma. All of those teams were ranked in the top 15 nationally at season’s end. A win in Blacksburg would have been a huge stamp on the program for Pelini. The Huskers are good, very good. Roy Helu, Jr. looks like an outstanding running back, and Zac Lee will only get better after his first collegiate start on the road. Suh and the defense looked outstanding Saturday, especially the defensive line. The Huskers should be the clear-cut favorite in the Big 12 North, and another conference champion from the south division is not a given.

Miami should be favored next week in Blacksburg

The Hurricanes have looked flawless in its first two games in 2009. Jacory Harris is conducting an offense that is clicking on every cylinder, and will be the most potent Tech has seen so far. Harris will be the best quarterback to face the Hokies so far, and his receiving corps is more talented than any other Bud Foster’s group has faced. The Hurricanes also boast an athletic defense along the same lines of Nebraksa’s. Right now, Miami looks to be the better football team. But I still have a hard time picking against coach Beamer in Lane. Who knows…

Virginia Tech has the best red-zone defense in America

In 2008, the number of times Tech’s opponents started possessions in Hokie territory was countless. For all of those short fields, the number of times Tech held their opponent out of the end zone was also countless. That was the case again Saturday, as Nebraska would drive the ball down to within scoring distance six times, yet only had five field goals to show for it. This is how Virginia Tech wins so many games: they find ways to score just enough points while their defense comes to the rescue time and time again. Every time it looks like the Hokies are left for dead, Foster’s squad steps up again.

             

Hokies 12th, Miami 13th in this week's coaches' poll

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/usatpoll.htm


USC dropped to tenth while Washington entered the USA Today poll at 24th after the Huskies' upset of the Trojans. BYU fell to 20th, while Florida State, who destroyed the Cougars Saturday night, is 25th. Not sure how that works, but that's the way it is.

Virginia Tech once again assumes the title of highest ranked ACC team at 12th, with Miami on its heels at 13th. Do I hear "College Gameday" on its way? Wouldn't be surprised to hear that announcement shortly.

9.17.2009

Georgia Tech-Miami wrap-up and grades

Miami looked equally impressive in their second game of the season as in the first, defeating Georgia Tech 33-17.

This game showed a lot about both of these teams. Here are my grades from my keys to the game.

Georgia Tech

Air Control for Nesbitt – D+

While it wasn’t the debacle he endured last week, Nesbitt only completed six of his 15 passes against the Hurricanes for 133 yards. He managed to keep the ball out of Miami’s hands by not throwing a single interception. The Yellow Jackets struggles on the ground forced Nesbitt’s arm to try and save them, and not surprisingly, he came up short.

Win the turnover battle – C

Neither of the teams turned the ball over Thursday night, which is surprising considering the athletic ability of both defenses. Josh Nesbitt had an interception nullified by a roughing the passer penalty. Tech running back Roddy Jones also coughed up the football, but it was called back after instant replay review showed he was down before losing the ball.

Net Punting/Kicking- D+

Jackets punter Chandler Anderson booted the ball well, averaging 45.7 yards on three punts, but Miami still managed to drive down Tech’s throats with ease. Miami punter Matt Bosher only punted once in the entire game. The Hurricanes proved that opposing teams are going to have to pin them deep in their own territory to contain quarterback Jacory Harris and company.

Miami

Keep up Harris’ air raid – A+

Do I hear a improvised Heisman Trophy campaign heating up? After ripping apart Florida State in the season opener for 386 yards, Harris completed 80 percent of his passes Thursday night, throwing for 270 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. It looks like new offensive coordinator and play caller Mark Whipple and Harris are a match made in heaven. Miami’s young group of athletic receivers is also very talented, which is making Harris look like an emerging superstar.

Don’t get beat early – A+

After giving up an early field goal, the first half was a one-sided affair in favor of the Hurricanes. Harris threw two touchdowns, and Bosher added a field goal to take a 17-3 halftime lead. This set up the rest of the game perfectly for Miami, because Tech looked pressured to score and did not seem to be executing their offense comfortably. Like I said prior to the game, the triple option is not exactly the best offense for an epic rally, and that was the case again Thursday.

Jimmys and Joes, not x’s and o’s – A

I was concerned Miami might try to do too much schematically against Paul Johnson, but instead coach Whipple and Randy Shannon called one hell of a game. Harris looked comfortable on virtually every throw, and his intended receivers were almost always very open. Coming into the game, it was not clear whether Miami’s talent on paper was that much better than Georgia Tech’s, but it was yet to be seen if they could translate that talent into production on the field. They look dangerous again for sure, and they dominated the Jackets.

Final Analysis

Miami looks to be regaining the swagger that was the calling card of its program for over a decade. The talent is there, although very young, but they are far exceeding expectations early on in 2009. The biggest test so far will be in the next two weeks, when the Hurricanes travel to Blacksburg to face the Virginia Tech Hokies, then return home to take on the Oklahoma Sooners, who should have their Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford back from injury.  

Ivan Maisel Q & A


This afternoon I spoke to ESPN College Football Senior Writer Ivan Maisel on the phone on his way to the Georgia Tech-Miami game. He agreed to be interviewed for an assignment of mine for one of my classes. I was honored to speak with him, and was very excited to hear what he had to say about his career as a sports journalist.

Here is the transcript to our conversation.

1.     When did you know you wanted to be a sports writer?

Probably once I tried it in college. I had a high school English teacher as a senior who gave me confidence, and when I got to college I worked for the school paper, The Stanford Daily. I really liked it and just kept going.

2.     How did working for each media outlet help you become the writer you are today?

Six months out of school, I got a job as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, but most of what I did was fact check. My job was to check other writer’s work, and it taught me the importance of writing accurately. It also taught me some tricks about how to be accurate, most of which have been antiquated because of Google (chuckles). I got to work with some extremely talented mentors.

In 1987, I started covering college football nationally for the Dallas Morning News, which in those days was recognized as having one of the best sports sections in the country. Dallas was and is the college football capital. It was a beat that I loved. I have loved it ever since.

3.     What is your favorite stadium to visit?

I hate to pick just one, I can never decide. I can give you a list of six that I would feel a lot more comfortable with, and I just picked Georgia on last week’s ESPN College football podcast because it was first on the list. My stock answer is to just give me a sold-out stadium, 30 seconds before kickoff when everyone is standing up convinced their team is going to win. That electricity is why I do this all year.

4.     Growing up, did you have a favorite school you rooted for?

I grew up an Alabama fan, because my parents and brother went there. That was a great introduction to the sport. If Alabama went 9-2 you were just devastated.

5.     What has the experience working for ESPN been like?

It has been very good. I talked a little while ago about Dallas. The philosophy at the Dallas Morning News was “Do whatever you have to do to be the best.” And that philosophy no longer exists in newspapers, with the possible exception of the New York Times. With ESPN, it is very much that philosophy. We will do whatever we have to do to cover the sport. We all go crazy but we will cover the sport. I am very rarely told that I can’t cover something because of finances. In this day and age that is unheard of.

6.     Why did you decide to go to Stanford?

That was a blind squirrel finding an acorn. Someone suggested that I apply there, and that it was a good school. What popped into my head was “Hey, they are in the Pac 8 conference, I can watch that for four years.” The reason I didn’t go to the Ivy League was I didn’t want to watch Ivy League football for four years. I also never would live in New England… which I do now and have for fifteen years (laughs).

7.     Do you write your own podcast scripts?

I take that as a compliment that you think it is scripted, because it is not. We have a rough list of what we want to do, then the producer hits the record button and I call Beano and hold on for dear life. Gene Wojciechowski and I have covered college football together for more than 20 years, and we are good friends, so doing the podcasts with him is just us decompressing in the hotel bar after the game.

8.     What are the biggest differences to you between writing columns, writing for podcasts, and broadcasting on television?

Columns are the most work and the most fun. I enjoy that the most. I enjoy the podcast because it is a chance to talk with friends about college football. Once I got over the ego thing about television, I realized it is not what I like to do the most. Once I got past the fact that I wanted the recognition of being on TV, I realized it would take a lot of work for me to be good at it. I already enjoyed writing columns more. If they want me to do TV I will, but it is not what I prefer.  You have to enjoy what you do. TV is okay, but its simply not what I love to do.

9.     Who are some of the most influential people you have met in your life?

My mother was an English teacher when I was growing up and still corrects my grammar. A person at Sports Illustrated that mentored me, Steve Wulf, who now works for ESPN the Magazine, is a close friend. Dave Smith who hired me at the Dallas Morning News, was influential also. Smith is a legend among sports journalists, because he demanded more from people than they could possibly give. He put out the best product that was out there.  Dan Jenkins, who is a legendary sports writer, now writes for Golf Digest now. He just covered his 200th major this summer; his daughter is Sally went to college with me. Dan gave me the best advice I ever got, which was in college about sports writing: “Learn as much as you can about as many different subjects as you can, because you’ll never know what you need. The way to learn to write is to write.” For me was great advice, because I took a lot of different subjects in school

10. Was there a game, or an interview, or just a time in general where you realized you were living a dream?

 

The first big story I ever did was covering Georgia Tech upset Clemson in 1984 for SI. Bill Curry was the Tech coach at the time. He was so accommodating and so intelligent and such a pleasure to interview. That experience kind of put a bug in my ear. I find that college football coaches, if you find the right one, really strike a chord in you with their ability to lead and motivate. You listen to them talk enough and you are ready to do your best at what you do. Coach Frank Beamer and Bobby Bowden have that. I still relish every chance to talk to Bowden and Joe Paterno. Being around that quality was great. Businessmen across the country pay thousands of dollars to listen to them talk for an hour, while I get paid to do it.

       11. If you weren’t writing for college football, what would you be doing?

Working unhappily in my family’s business, making myself and my brother miserable.

 

12.  If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring sports journalists, what would it be?

Same advice I was given by Dave Smith. Read as much as you can about as many different things that you can. Find a passion in academics. I love American history and politics, which run together, especially if you are covering something nationally. The best way to learn how to write is to keep writing. The best writers have an inner ear, that when they write something well, there is a rhythm to it that resonates within themselves. It’s hard to describe.

My second advice would be to use adjectives like jalapenos: only occasionally.

 

Candid advice from a well-respected journalist. I would like to once again thank Mr. Maisel for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with me, and hopefully I will speak with him again in the future.

 

 

Top Ten college football games since 2000- #7

Stanford-USC, 2007

On this day, they might as well have found Jimmy Hoffa. That would have been more likely than the Stanford Cardinal stunning the mighty Trojans.

First-year coach John Harbaugh took the Cardinal into Los Angeles Coliseum on a mission. Most members of the Stanford clan just hoped to avoid complete embarrassment. Instead, the cellar dwellers of the Pac-10 knocked off the most dominant program in this decade.

Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard was making his first career collegiate start, while Trojan quarterback John David Booty was a darkhorse Heisman candidate.

The second-ranked Trojans struggled to light up the scoreboard in the first half, leading only 9-0 at halftime. After running back Chauncey Washington scored a touchdown midway through the second quarter, Stanford blocked the extra point attempt.

 Early on in the third quarter, Booty was intercepted by Austin Yancy, who returned the ball 31 yards for a touchdown, drawing the Cardinal within two points of the lead.

Most of the rest of the third quarter was played to a stalemate, and the hope for a miracle began to grow on the visiting sideline.

Booty went to work late in the third period, launching a 63-yard touchdown pass to Fred Davis. It looked like the heavy favorites had finally woken up and would pull away.

Not for long, though. Stanford marched back down the field, culminating with an Anthony Kimble touchdown run from one yard out.

The pressure fell on the Cardinal defense, which could not live up to the challenge. USC went 86 yards on nine plays to score another touchdown, going up 23-14 with 11 minutes remaining.

Stanford then mounted a long drive that came up just short of the end zone. Harbaugh played it safe, taking points and kicking a 26-yard field goal to pull within a touchdown of the lead with five minutes to play.

At this point, every other television channel broadcasting a game was cutting back to the studio, informing its viewers of the potential upset.

As news of this game began to sweep the nation, Stanford still trailed by a touchdown, and had to get the ball back from USC with less than five minutes to go.

Stanford did indeed get the ball back with a chance to drive for the win. As the clock wound down, Pritchard marched the Cardinal closer to the end zone, before being faced with a 4th-down and 20 on the 29-yard line, Richard Sherman reeled in an improbable reception from Pritchard just past the first-down line.

With 49 seconds to play, the miracle came to fruition. Pritchard tossed a pass into the corner of the end zone, intended for Mark Bradford, who leapt over USC defensive back Mozique McCurtis to grab the ball for the touchdown.

Before you could say “41-point underdog,” USC’s 35-game home winning streak had vanished into the night.

What America was left with was the biggest upset, according to the point spread, in the history of college football. After years of mediocrity, the win for Stanford helped put Harbaugh on the map as a coach and served as the springboard for his rebuilding process at the school.

9.16.2009

Miami-Georgia Tech Preview, keys to the game



After a thriller in Atlanta last Thursday night, the ACC is back for more. This time around, the show moves to Miami, where last week’s victors, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will visit the Hurricanes. 

This is a crucial battle in the conference’s Coastal Division. Last week, North Carolina did not look like a team ready to challenge for the division title, while Virginia Tech will obviously be in the thick of things.

That leaves this game to decide who will be the Hokies premier competition in the division. The loser will have to catch plenty of breaks and most likely run the table the rest of the way to assure themselves a spot in Tampa this December.

Here are the keys to the game for both sides.

Georgia Tech

Air Control for Nesbitt

Last week, Josh Nesbitt’s lack of accuracy through the air nearly cost his team the game. This week, the Yellow Jackets will need much more consistent play from their quarterback when they need to pass. Part of the blame also falls on the coaching staff, which called way too many passing plays in the second half against Clemson last week, resulting in a late Tigers comeback that nearly cost Georgia Tech the game. Miami will take advantage of any such opportunity just as Clemson did, and this time, Tech might not be so lucky.

Win the turnover battle

Yes I know, when is this not a key for both sides? Georgia Tech has to capitalize on turnovers by the Hurricanes, and they cannot give Miami’s offense a short field. Florida State came up big with a couple interceptions that put them in position to win in week one against Miami, but two turnovers themselves evened the battle for the game. If Tech can take the ball from the Hurricanes enough, and keep Randy Shannon’s defense on the field as much as possible, they just might sneak out of south Florida with a win.

Net Punting/Kicking

This is of the utmost importance for Paul Johnson’s crew. Miami showed against the Seminoles just how dangerous their offense can be. Jacory Harris looked perfectly comfortable tossing the ball around to his athletic wide-outs for 386 yards and two touchdowns. If Georgia Tech gives Miami shorter fields to work with, the Hurricanes will score in bunches. Keep an eye on Miami’s average starting field position. If it is better than their own 35-yard line over the course of the game, no doubt they win the game.

Miami

Keep up Harris’ air raid

Harris surprised a lot of people with his grit and potency against Florida State. When he was intercepted for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, he suffered a funny bone injury on the same play. He was on the field for the first play of the next possession, and proceeded to embark on a game-winning touchdown drive. Georgia Tech is not quite as fast on defense as Florida State, but they always have a good scheme. The Jackets performance was questionable at times against Clemson, but they undoubtedly heard all about how great Harris is now, and how people are ready for another 380-yard performance. Don’t count on it, but anything close to that stat line for Harris and Miami has to like their chances.

Don’t get beat early

Last week, the Yellow Jackets smacked Clemson in the mouth by scoring the game’s first 24 points. That won’t happen again, but the Hurricanes would be well served to take an early lead on Tech, and force them to play from behind. The triple option is not a come-from-behind offense, and if Nesbitt and company spot Harris’ offense 14 points or more, don’t count on a similar comeback story this Thursday night.

Jimmys and Joes, not X’s and O’s,

Last week, it was clear Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was outcoached in the first half, while Paul Johnson outcoached himself in the second half. Don’t count on that happening every week. Johnson brings a very prepared football team each week, and his teams never quit. Randy Shannon has been under lukewarm pressure as Miami’s coach coming into the season, which was alleviated to a degree with the FSU win. He needs to let his athletes dictate the game, and not try to out-scheme Johnson. Athletically, the Hurricanes are supreme, but Miami must prove it is the better executing team and the more disciplined team if it wants to move to 2-0 in the ACC.

Prediction

Georgia Tech looked like a million dollars in the first half last week, then nearly blew it all away before two late field goals saved them from embarrassment. Miami also looked like a top-notch squad in its win over Florida State, then the Seminoles barely beat Jacksonville State five days later, so its hard to tell just how good the ‘Canes win was.

Odds are, these two teams will fall in with the rest of the conference as groups with potential, but terribly inconsistent effort week to week. Although Miami is not exactly a feared venue from visitors, playing at home should help the Hurricanes squeak by in this one.

Final Score: Miami 33, Georgia Tech 24.

 

 

Note to Buckeye faithful: In Tressel you should trust


After last week’s heartbreaking loss to the USC Trojans, the Ohio State fan base has cranked up the heat on the proverbial seat of head coach Jim Tressel.

Buckeye fans are complaining of six straight losses to top-ten ranked opponents, and an offense that has failed to match the level of teams like the Trojans, Florida and LSU.

Columbus’ Prodigal Son, sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor, failed to impress in the biggest game of his career to date in the loss. He did not play up to his capabilities for sure, but he does not have the help around him he deserves.

Tressel and Pryor are catching a lot of the blame for the offense’s struggles, despite the fact that the Buckeyes are replacing an All-American running back and their entire wide receiving corps. To be honest, it is remarkable Tressel’s bunch hung in with USC as long as they did.

All the complaining going on surrounding Tressel’s program is na├»ve and flat-out ridiculous. This is the coach that took over a storied program that had become an underachiever under John Cooper, and turned it into a perennial king of the Big Ten.

In his eight seasons at the helm, the man in the sweater vest has compiled an 84-20 record, has beaten Michigan seven times in eight tries, and has played for three national titles, winning one in 2003.

Under Tressel, the offense has always gotten the job done, while the defense has been the stamp of the program. A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Will Smith, Chris Gamble; the list of first-round NFL draft picks to play for Tressel goes on seemingly forever. The man can recruit, and the man can put together a whale of a defense.

Despite losing all three linebackers from last year’s team, the Buckeyes still look strong defensively. They did not give up a full-length scoring drive until the final minutes against USC, who has more athletes on their offensive two-deep than more than half of the Big Ten combined.

While the offenses are shifting to more of a spread attack, people have the misconception that Tressel is behind the times. In 2006, Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy while orchestrating the spread, handing off to Chris and Maurice Wells, as well as throwing to Brian Robiskie, Teddy Ginn, and Anthony Gonzalez.

When the talent is there, this offense can hang with anyone. This year’s edition of the Buckeyes just are not quite experienced enough to say they can do that. With no seniors on the two-deep at the skill positions, the Buckeyes are still a year or two away from being one of the nation’s elite again, and fans will just have to be patient, and calm down. 

9.15.2009

Week Two Power Rankings

My illustrious preseason predictions are already in shambles. I threw out Oklahoma State as a national championship participant. Ballsy? No, just plain old stupid. Thanks to Houston (...Houston?), I am now down to 50% of my predicted national title game.

The Cowboys and Buckeyes drop out of the top 10 this week. Other than that, no big movements...oh wait, do I hear a Wolverine?

1. Florida

Early on in their game against Troy, it looked like the Gators might be suffering from the classic look-ahead syndrome, as the hated Tennessee Volunteers awaited them the next week.

Then the second quarter came along. Tim Tebow and the Florida offense scored four touchdowns in the second period to lead 35-6 at the half, and ended up pulling away for a 56-6 win. With the piles of bulletin board material the Vols have given Florida throughout the off-season, the score could be just as ugly this week.

2. Texas

The Longhorns also got off to a sluggish start before disposing of Wyoming, 40-14. Colt McCoy threw for three touchdowns in the win. Coach Mack Brown’s bunch has yet to be truly tested. Hopefully for Texas, the first two weeks were enough of a tune-up for this week’s contest at home against Texas Tech. Revenge will weigh heavily on the Longhorns’ minds, after last year’s last-second loss to the Red Raiders. Tech is much weaker this year, and the Longhorns should take care of business in prime time.

3. USC

Matt Barkley’s coming-out party was not as quite as memorable as I thought it would be, but it was still very strong. Barkley managed the game well and kept the Trojans close the entire game against Ohio State, before leading the offense down the field for the game-winning score with a minute to play.

Barkley trumped his Buckeye counterpart, Terrelle Pryor by a landslide. Pryor should have looked like the more potent quarterback, having a year of starting experience under his belt and playing in front of the home crowd. Instead, Pryor went 2-for-8 in the fourth quarter, while Barkley helped win the game for his team.

Fifteen completions in 31 passes is hardly an overwhelming statistic, but that was Barkley’s stat line in the big win. He proved he won’t hinder this ultra-powerful offense this season, and the best is definitely yet to come from the blue-chip prospect.

4. Alabama

Nick Saban rested a few of his better players, including All-American Julio Jones, while the Tide cruised to a 40-14 win over Florida International. The Tide better enjoy wins like this while they last, because the SEC schedule gets into full gear in a few weeks, and that is when the rubber will hit the road.

5. Penn State

Week two of the Greg Paulus era did not end so well for Syracuse, as Penn State shut down the resurgent quarterback in a 28-7 win. Evan Royster ran for two touchdowns, and it was business as usual for the Nittany Lions, who should keep on cruising through the next month and a half until battles with Michigan and Ohio State.

6. Cal

Eastern Washington fell by the wayside, again falling victim to the electrifying Jahvid Best, who through two weeks has run for 281 yards and three touchdowns. The next three games for Cal are at Minnesota and Oregon, and then home against USC. If Best leads the Bears through that stretch unscathed, he will be nowhere but the top of the Heisman race.

7. LSU

The Tigers have looked solid, but not spectacular, through two games, after last Saturday’s 23-9 win over Vanderbilt. The offense has produced 647 yards so far this season, which will probably not be good enough when they face divisional foes Mississippi and Alabama. The Tigers look respectable, for sure, but they desperately need Charles Scott to live up to all the preseason hype he was getting as the feature running back. Scott has 101 yards in two games, while Keiland Williams has 176 yards and might be taking over the starting role for good in the backfield.

8. Boise State

This is quite possibly the most talented Broncos team ever. That is scary, because they have burned up their fair share of scoreboards over the year. A 48-0 shellacking of lowly Miami University showed the Broncos can take care of business no matter who the opponent.

If enough of the upper-echelon teams in the country lose either twice, or once late in the season, an unbeaten Broncos team should have every right to play for the national championship. They would make for a competitive opponent against anyone in America.

9. Ole Miss

The Rebels were off this week, and this week’s foe is Southeastern Louisiana. Uh…check back in a couple weeks for a diagnosis of this bunch.

10. Virginia Tech

Finally, there is a sign of offensive life in Blacksburg. Ryan Williams and David Wilson tore apart the Marshall defense in Lane Stadium Saturday. Williams held his own against Alabama in week one, but truly broke out as a game-breaker against the Herd. The true test of how good both Williams and Wilson are will come this week at home against Nebraska.

11. BYU

12. Ohio State

13. Oklahoma

14. Georgia Tech

15. TCU

16. Nebraska

17. Utah

18. Miami

19. Oklahoma State

20. Michigan

21. Georgia

22. Notre Dame

23. North Carolina

24. Missouri

25. Oregon

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