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Top Teams 2008

After Week Seven

  1. Alabama
  2. Penn State
  3. Texas
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Georgia
  8. LSU
  9. BYU
  10. Missouri
  11. Ohio State
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Texas Tech
  14. Utah
  15. Kansas
  16. USF
  17. North Carolina
  18. Miami
  19. Boise State
  20. Georgia Tech
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« Stewart Mandel on some of this week's themes | Main | Wild weekend »
Monday
Oct102005

Weekend wrap

I'll just go down the list of games, adding thoughts to the ones that are worth talking about.

  • Virginia Tech 41, Marshall 14

The Hokies were leading just 14-7 at half, before a lighting fast 20-point barrage in the third quarter put this one out of reach.  I love it when teams can take over in the third quarter of a game, and Tech's 200-to-1 yardage advantage in the period reflects that.  Starting back Cedric Humes broke his arm, but backup Brandon Ore ran for 146 yards, easing concerns about the running game.  The Hokies also scored their 4th defensive touchdown of the year.  Right now this is one team seriously taking care of business and meriting its high ranking (last five games: 45-0, 45-0, 51-7, 34-17, 41-14).

  • Florida State 41, Wake Forest 24

This one was closer than it looked, as Wake was within 20-17 early in the 4th quarter.  Florida State is hyping that four of their touchdowns came to freshmen (Drew Weatherford, Xavier Lee, Fred Rouse, Greg Carr).  The offense is starting to look like Mark Richt's late 90's pass-happy attack, as the Seminoles were just shy of a 400-yard passing day.  FSU's great rush defense looked exposed, though, as Wake (who I credit for having a very strong rushing attack) gained well over 200 yards on the ground.  One Seminole player living up to his hype is RS-FR receiver Greg Carr (3 rec, 129 yards, 43.0 average, 1 TD), who has caught 9 passes on the year, 5 of them going for touchdowns.  He's a taller player, bringing back memories of FSU's string of lanky jump ballers in the mid-to-late 90's.

  • Northwestern 51, Wisconsin 48

I said in my preview that precedent (Wisconsin 56, Bowling Green 42) would hold here.  Oops.  Northwestern and Bowling Green are two similar teams, running fancy but efficient offenses with little available talent other than the quarterback and back.  Well, it appears Northwestern is just a little better than Bowling Green, and a little familiarity with the Wisconsin offense certainly helped slow the Badgers down a little more than Bowling could.  The offensive numbers for this game were ridiculous.  Wisky's Brian Calhoun had 23 carries for 122 yards and... 11 catches for 128 yards.  Good luck getting out of bed this morning.  I also said in the preview teams were starting to figure out Wildcat back Tyrell Sutton.  Apparently Wisconsin didn't get the memo, as he had 29 carries for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns.  I wonder if Michigan or Ohio State will ever consider running the Northwestern offense---because if the Wildcats can do this to the Badgers, imagine what they could do with the amount of talent on their rosters?

  • Florida 35, Mississippi State 9

The Gators aren't really all that together right now.  They've found a new star in defender Reggie Nelson (all kinds of game-changing plays), but Chris Leak is banged up (they didn't let him attempt a single pass in practice) with a bad shoulder and the offense is having to scrap.  I think over time coach Meyer will find more complimentary personnel (think USC using 3rd string fullbacks in 2001 to direct their running game, then going out and recruiting LenDale White and Reggie Bush to fit their system), particularly in the running game.  I was discussing the gators with a friend and he asked how departed back Ciatrick Fason would have fit in with the current offense.  I said: "perfect".  Fason had a nice combination of size, elusiveness, and catching ability.  The current backs are either a bit light (Manson) or not explosive enough and not as gifted as receivers (Wynn).

  • Minnesota 23, Michigan 20

Argh!  So Michigan finally looked average with Mike Hart in the lineup.  I can't figure this team out, so I'm guessing its because the roster (and perhaps coaching staff) is filled with way too many headcases to really get their act together this year.  Their performances are beyond explanation at this point and I'm just hoping they continue to stumble along the path and do their best to get out of the way of contending teams who have a real shot at doing something with their seasons.

  • Texas 45, Oklahoma 12

Like Virginia Tech, the Longhorns are taking care of what needs to be taken care of.  The Horns dismissed the Sooners with a few minutes left in the first half, and put in a few extra points in the second half for good measure.  For the most part Oklahoma contained Vince Young's running game, but it left their secondary open for the taking.  Thanks to years of atrophy, Texas' receivers are a pretty pedestrian group, but they're still good enough to get open when they're given the opportunity.  Freshman back Jamaal Charles continues to develop (good preseason pick, CFR), and went Adrian Peterson on Oklahoma with an 80-yard touchdown run that was a mirror image of Peterson's romp against Oklahoma State last year.

  • Navy 27, Air Force 24

I didn't watch this one, but it was worth mentioning.

  • Baylor 23, Iowa State 13

Way to go, Baylor!  Once in a while its nice to see a doormat pick up an unexpected win.

  • Miami 52, Duke 7

I'm still not sold on the Hurricanes.  Kyle Wright had a 3-TD outburst in the second quarter, giving way to backup Kirby Freeman (who is a pretty good player himself).  Tyrone Moss is not the solution at back.  Do the 'Canes have better options?  They better.

  • Georgia 27, Tennessee 14

This one wasn't as close as the score indicated.  In fact, the Bulldogs nearly pitched a shutout in front of the Neyland faithful.  To tell you the truth, I think Georgia's holding back quite a bit (perhaps they're buying into the SEC myth, too), because their offense is capable of dropping 40 with ease on defenses like Tennessee's.  I shudder to imagine how bad the Vols would have looked if Erik Ainge was still the starter.  Georgia now controls its destiny in the SEC, which of course means they're likely to flop somewhere in the next three weeks.

  • USC 42, Arizona 21

I'm not sure the Trojans have really come close to putting together a complete game this season, which should worry the rest of the CFB world.  Arizona took advantage of a USC special teams coverage breakdown, netting 14 of their 21 points with short fields.  LenDale White went nuts (180 yards, 4 touchdowns) and now USC fans are starting to talk him up as a Heisman candidate (3 candidates?  Ehhhh).  Reggie Bush tweaked his knee and looked pretty rusty out there, but still managed over 100 rushing yards on limited carries.  Don't look now, but USC now has the nation's #1 ranked rushing offense.

  • Texas Tech 34, Nebraska 31

So much for Nebraska's vaunted defense.  Tech actually scored with just a few seconds left to win this thing, so credit to the Huskers for hanging around and making this thing competitive.

  • Iowa 34, Purdue 17

Iowa is the better team, and Iowa won.  Both teams rang up a ton of yards here, but like the inefficient offenses they are, neither team came close to scoring the 40 or 50 points that usually come with so many yards.

  • Louisville 69, North Carolina 14

Are the Cardinals back?  I'm not sure.  The blowout was impressive, though, and makes me think the team has found its stride (two defensive touchdowns on top of the offensive outburst).  The South Florida debacle leaves no pretenses of being a contender, but Louisville is certainly back on CFR's radar as a top 10 candidate in the near future.  They need to keep this up, however.

  • Stanford 24, Washington State 21

What in the world?  I mentioned WSU's run game in the preview, so a gold star goes to the Cougars' Jerome Harrison for not making me look stupid as he ran for 218 yards on 29 carries (7.5 average) and a touchdown.  Defying rational explanation, Stanford's statue of a quarterback, Trent Edwards, ran for 77 yards on 12 carries (7.7 average).

  • Ball State 60, Western Michigan 57

I wouldn't have noticed if not for the "scoring by quarter" chart for this game extending beyond the page thanks to five overtimes.  Local hospitals usually do a good business reviving heart attack victims after games like these.

  • LSU 34, Vanderbilt 6

This game was 12-6 going into the 4th quarter.  Yep, LSU suuuuuuuuuuuuuure looks like a contender.  Just because a team has loads of skill talent doesn't mean it has any idea how to be an elite football team.  Ask Georgia the last few years.  Or Michigan.

  • UCLA 47, California 40

If you watched this game, it's pretty obvious California is the better football team.  It's also pretty obvious they had no idea how to stop Maurice Drew, and no idea how to finish the Bruins off.  Credit to coach Dorrell, who is directing a very spirited team that believes in itself enough to where they can come back against a team that had beaten them senseless all game.  The Bears ran ALLLLLL over UCLA's defense, and had a field day passing the ball as well.  Problem was, they couldn't stop Maurice Drew on the ground or on special teams, allowing UCLA to hang close and eventually steal a win.  Their coach is still a boob, but I'm coming around on UCLA, they run a good offense, have some playmakers on D, and have faith they can win games they shouldn't.  Good stuff.  Their next mission is to not suffer a letdown this weekend at Washington State.

  • Penn State 17, Ohio State 10

Credit goes to the Nittany Lions for winning this one.  Their defense is a problem that most opponents cannot solve, and the offense is doing just enough to win the close ones.  That said, I'm far from sold on this team.  I think they're pretenders, and will be in with the rest of the Big Ten muck soon enough.  Teams with shaky quarterbacks never really reach their promise, and as such the same fate likely awaits PSU.  In the meantime, all they've done is win, and I recognize as much.  It's a good time for their frustrated fans, and it's good for college football.  This is a season Joe Paterno can be proud of and hopefully ice his amazing career with.

  • Oregon 31, Arizona State 17

Sigh.  ASU's amazing offense stalled against Oregon, particularly because their experiment of winning with a dynamic passing game and little to no effort at running the ball expired.  Oregon clearly figured that out, and forced Sam Keller to play conservatively in order to score.  Instead, he tried pushing the ball around the field and Oregon ate him up, forcing incompletions, and down-and-long situations all night.  It was a great performance by a shaky secondary, and a first-rate coaching job.  It looks like Oregon is starting to grasp its new offense.

So, to recap-

Cheers:

USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Northwestern, Navy, Baylor, Georgia, Louisville, UCLA

Jeers:

Texas Tech, Iowa, LSU

What the hell:

Florida, Michigan, Washington State, California, Penn State, Arizona State

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Reader Comments (13)

FSU had a commanding 3 score lead for 95% of the game. Wake scored 2 TDs to cut it to 3, and FSU then immediately responded with a TD to give itself breathing room.

For whatever reason, FSU's D always struggles against Wake. I believe they use a shotgun spread, though I am not fully sure.

They should roll over an average UVA squad.
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Kim
Cal was obviously NOT the better team...considering they DIDN'T WIN.

its always funny how you guys make these statements...if Team A was better than Team B then Team A would win...its a pretty simple equation.

If Cal's defense was better than UCLA's offense then Cal's defense wouldn't have let them score FORTY SEVEN POINTS!
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercsc
I've never been a believer in Louisville (weak schedules) but, what they did to NC was pretty scary!
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy1
It's my opinion that no matter how good an offensive team is, that sooner or later it goes in the tank a couple of times. It's those times that you better have a defense. Ask ASU.
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy1
csc,

Your logic is flawed. UCLA's win over Cal looks like an upset.

You have to leave room for off days, or certain teams matching up real well with an opponent.

Look at this year---Michigan beat Michigan State, but there's little doubt Michigan State is the better team. In the long run, a better team will beat the inferior, but CFB is a 12-week, short-term thing. Upsets happen. Better teams lose. Saying whoever won between two teams is ridiculously rigid and nonsensical.
October 10, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
Obviously I'm biased (see my handle), but I disagree with your reasoning given in the post. I feel the need to interject a couple of points, starting with what I think is an overlooked point here - the non-overturned call in the end zone at the beginning of the game.

I know that it's difficult to blame one particular call for the happenings of an entire game, and indeed the Cal run offense looked highly superior to UCLA's run D. But hear me out:

Replays made it look very much like Jackson, the Cal receiver, fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone trying to strech for extra yards (a conclusion the announcer's booth came to as well, though I know how much that actually means). Just pretend that call does go to the Bruins. Not only does it remove Cal's first score, it probably cancels out their second (which was a direct result of a fumble on the ensuing kickoff).

Cal was able to play smashmouth, ball-control offense in large part because they went up 2 TDs in the first 2 and a half minutes. UCLA held them scoreless to tie the game, then the defense buckled a bit, but not as much as one might think, though. "Bend, don't break" - I would say one of the biggest keys to that game were the field goals the Bears had to settle for late in the 1st half.

All I'm saying is, if that early-game call goes UCLA's way, which it certainly could have, the Bruins probably aren't stuck playing catchup all game, and Cal can't afford to run the ball 40+ times. I do take issue with your claim that Cal had a 'field day' passing the ball. 18/35 for 215 yds isn't a field day, it's more ball control. Most of Ayoob's completions came on short passes - he's had trouble all year throwing the long ball and it was no different on Saturday.

Granted, this is not only speculative, it's also rather wishful thinking (an accidental fumble out the endzone on what could have also been a Cal TD), but nevertheless it's a small factor that, if it had gone the other way, could have resulted in a much different game.

Keep in mind, as good as Cal's offense seemed to be playing, they went only 4-14 on 3rd down conversions, so the UCLA defense wasn't doing as bad a job as people think they did. I believe a large part of Cal's rushing success is derived from their early lead (which as I've mentioned hinged on a close official's decision) and from the fact that UCLA basically got 2 TDs on punt returns. As helpful as easy points are, your defense has to go right back on the field. Against a heavy rushing attack with no rest, fatigue becomes a huge factor.

As a last point, everybody points to the 545 - 395 offensive yardage difference. But add in special teams, and a different story is told:

Cal had 631 yards, UCLA ran off 674. And like it or not, special teams is a key facet of the game, and Cal couldn't do -anything- in their return game. When factored in, UCLA's success becomes less surprising.
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
how is my logic flawed? Was the scoreboard wrong?

Two undefeated teams met on the football field and one came out with the win...obviously the better team was UCLA...they won.
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercsc
So CSC, you think that Michigan is better than Michigan State? Those two teams "met on the football field and one came out with the win," but Michigan is NOT better than MSU.

Even if you would argue that Michigan IS better than MSU (as you would have to since Michigan beat MSU), how do you reconcile Michigan-ND-MSU?

Using your logic, MSU must be better than ND; Michigan must be better than MSU; and ND must be better than Michigan.

If ND must be better than Michigan, and Michigan must be better than MSU, then ob ND must also be better than MSU using your logic. BUT WAIT!! Your logic also says that MSU must be better than ND.

So in conclusion, by your logic, ND must be better than MSU, and MSU must be better than ND.

What a great approach to evaluating which team is best!

Obviously, your approach is overly simplistic, as exemplified by what happened between those three teams.
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGinn Fan
That's why I rely on observation, not just the results. There's room for upsets. The X team beat Y, they're better logic twists things up when you get, as Ginn Fan notes, the MSU-Mich-ND setup (and SO many more).

Let's say USC loses at some point this year to some lesser opponent. Is that opponent really better? No, but they got the best of USC for whatever reason. But it doesn't mean they are in fact a better football team.

The New England Patriots lose 3-5 games a year, but they're still the best in football. Same logic. The X is better than Y because X beat Y gets twistified and devours itself to the point where nobody has any idea what's going on.
October 10, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
hmm..csc, Cal beat USC in '03, so according to your logic Cal was a better football team than USC in '03. I'd very much like that. :p
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterCalBear03
So would I, as UCLA beat Cal in 2003, meaning the Bruins were a better team. But... USC beat the Bruins in 2003.

MORE PARADOXES! *brain explodes*

I don't agree with CSC's reasoning, but as I explained, I think his conclusion at least has some merit, if approached from other angles.
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
Of course! Jeers to Iowa for a 17-point conference win on the road! Makes perfect sense!

I, on the other hand, would give jeers to a team that scored a 17-point win when their two previous road efforts this season were a combined 54-9 deficit. They were playing Purdue, though, who has no defense. However, Iowa hadn't won in West Lafayette since 1991, so overall, Iowa gets cheers from me.

You looked at the stat sheet and the score and maybe the highlights and gave your assessment. Right?
October 11, 2005 | Unregistered Commentervolpundit
The jeers were because they should have scored 50. Its midly sarcastic, so don't get all worked up.

It was a commendable win, although their performances in West Lafayette in the last 14 years are neither here nor there (I don't see any 1991 etc. Iowa players still on this team).
October 11, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR

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