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Thursday
Oct202005

Weekend thoughts

I may not get to a review of last weekend's games.  If so, my apologies in advance.

As usual, I'm just skimming down the schedule and adding thoughts when I feel like adding them.  Not a lot of homework here, just on the spot reactions...

What happened to Maryland these last two years?  They were fairly innovative, but perhaps held on too long to their basic offensive formula.  Sounds a lot like NC State's problems.  Not having gifted quarterbacks to run The Fridge's offense hurts, too.  VaTech should claw with them for a while before winning in the third quarter like usual.

Northwestern at Michigan State provides an opportunity to wath two "Little Six" type offenses go at it in the Big Ten.  I like both teams, as they defy college football convention and are willing to take a lot of risk with their schemes and in-game decision making.  Michigan State's just better, but who knows how they'll respond to last weekend's collapse against Ohio State and the realization that their season doesn't matter much at this point.  For their part, Northwestern goes into each game thinking its the underdog, and unloads the entire offense in the first half, trying to scare opponents into submission (see Penn State and Purdue games).  Problem is, they run out of gas too soon and opponents eventually figure out they can still narrowly win, as almost happened with Purdue and did happen with Penn State.  Michigan State should win this one, though.

One game outcome that would make very little sense is North Carolina over Virginia.  For whatever reason, middling big conference teams really love to take down their conference brethren who are ranked in that #18-#25 range.  UVA may be feeling a little too good after the takedown of FSU and cough this one up.  Why not?

Syracuse and Pittsburgh... ugly.  Find the quickest path to intoxication if you're forced into watching this one.  Next.

The Louisville haters would love to see them lose to Cincinnati, buffering the Big Conference superiority argument.  After another odd defeat, L'Ville's players may not care much anymore.  Michael Bush is probably playing for the NFL at this point.  I'd still take Louisville here, though.

In a battle of disappointments, we have Michigan at Iowa.  Like Michigan/Minnesota, this one's been fairly interesting in recent years.  MGoBlog's got a laundry list of Michigan injuries not including the suck bug that's invaded Chad Henne's head.  Are the Wolverines too wounded?  Was there a worse game-winning drive than last week's almost accidental touchdown against Penn State?  I have no idea what to think of these teams at this point since they both love giving games away.  I'll take the better coach, here, and go with Iowa.

Which Georgia team shows up this weekend?  The motivated one that will beat Arkansas 42-7, or the dance through the flower patches lackadaisical one that is ok with winning 31-21?  Now's a good time for D.J. Shockley to have a talked-about performance to get his name back in the Heisman race (there's one spot left for New York City!).  UGA wins.

Kentucky at Mississippi.  Yep, the SEC is a great league.  Just superb.

The Catholics versus the Mormons.  Or something like that.  Notre Dame needs to not have a letdown game this week against BYU.  The Cougars have played the Irish tough in recent years, but Charlie Weis looks like the real deal and should have his team prepared.  This might be a close one, though.  I wonder if now that the USC game is over, the Notre Dame folks have decided to mow the lawn?

In a game of interest if only because both teams are trying to break the mold a little, Rutgers takes on Connecticut in what could be a pretty fun game.  What are the odds ESPN's Bruce Feldman has this one turned on at whatever pres box he's at this weekend?

Quick---name one NCAA team that has had five road games in its first seven?  Can you believe than answer is USC?  Maybe, just maybe an unbelievably tough road slate is taking its toll on the Trojans?  I hunch this game against Washington is one of those back to basics, survival type games for USC that may take a while to seal a victory.  But the Trojans remain an obvious choice.

Can Texas Tech beat Texas?  Yes.  Will they?  I highly doubt it.  They do own one win over the Longhorns in the last five years, but also own several blowout losses.  Last year Texas ran all over the Red Raiders, and this year they may just pass all over them.  That said, Tech's kind of a funky outfit, and they have the most offensive talent under coach Leach since he arrived, so an upset, although not likely, isn't impossible.  They need to have some kind of strategy, much like the Cal game last year.  But there simply isn't enough prep time in a week to meet the task.  I go with the 'Horns here.

One game I don't want to be near is Tennessee at Alabama.  There's a lot of bad blood between fans here, mostly because 'Bama fans view Vols coach Fullmer as a turncoat and antiChrist.  There's a big recruiting and defamation and all kinds of other legal brouhaha stuff I don't want to get into.  To say the least, there are a lot of external forces at work in this game.  This is Alabama's first test since crushing Florida.  Tennessee knows their season is over, and they spend the next eight weeks playing spoilers.  Can they do it?  The road setting, plus this being a night game, plus everything else, could make things really hard for them.  That said, I think Bama's going to have to force this game into a mudfest for them to have a chance.  I'm hesitantly going with 'Bama, though.  Apparently Tennessee's back to its QB rotation again.  Ugh.

Oregon State took down Cal last weekend.  Now they're on the road against UCLA.  Can they pull off two upsets in a row?  I say no.  UCLA's just a little too good for the Beavers, especially at home, setting of their magical comeback against Cal.

Fresh off their somewhat predictable loss against Virginia, FSU gets to take out their big bully frustrations on Duke.  They know not what they do.

What to do, what to do, with North Carolina State at Wake Forest.  Both teams have bad records, but one team (Wake) is actually playing decent football.  Thing is, NC State needs a win, badly.  Its fan mutiny out there, and things like that tend to inspire at least one awkward big huge win somewhere in a season.  This game seems like a good place for that to happen.  Going against common sense, I say Wolfpack, here.

Vanderbilt at South Carolina... yep, the SEC is grrrrrrrrreat.  Funny how these games get swept under the rug.

Here's an under-the-rader team for you: Oregon.  Are they 6-1 good?  Hard to tell, but they dominated Arizona State two weekends ago, and had USC on the ropes not too long ago.  I think first year offenses tend to be quite inconsistent, so this may be a game (against Arizona) where the Ducks struggle, especially now that they're feeling good about themselves and may lose focus.  They should, however, still manage to win.

Baylor beats Oklahoma?  Say it ain't so.  I doubt it, but wouldn't that be something?

And finally, what to make of Auburn at LSU?  Auburn hasn't had a good test in weeks and LSU is a poseur.  The fun part may be watching the sidelines and the two odd coaches at work.  Conventional wisdom says go with resurgent LSU.  Deciding between who is less of a bumbling coach says go with Auburn.  I say the Tigers win here.  Auburn Tigers, that is.

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    NFL is actually a single of the biggest sports in America. It has a big following.

Reader Comments (7)

I'm wondering what games Iowa has given away. I've seen two where they got the beatdown, but I'm confused as to your comment. I'm still waiting to see if that "disappointment" in Iowa City is going to get a piece of the Big10 title again.

If a 3:30 start is a night game to you (UT/Bama), I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you probably don't stay awake for the actual night games. True? In a few weeks, it will be mostly a night game, but now?
October 20, 2005 | Unregistered Commentervolpundit
Supposed top 10 teams suffering beatdowns=disappointment, regardless of whether they can win the B10.

I call it a night game because the significant portion of the game will be played under the lights. Got it?

I'm awake from dawn till past midnight watching a boatload of CFB on game days... how about you?
October 20, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
So the SEC has some bad matchups this week, it shows how shitty the conference is, is that your point?

Well, as I see it, Vandy/S Carolina are the 7th and 8th best teams in the SEC--roughly equivalent to the 6th and 7th best teams in the Pac 10, i.e., Oregon State (the team that lost to what appears to be a not-so-great Louisville team by somewhere around 1 million points) and Stanford (which couldn't seem to handle a mighty provisional 1-AA opponent from up the road--although they do seem to be doing just fine against Pac 10 opponents).

By the same token, Kentucky/Ole Miss is the roughly the equivalent of Wash St/Washington. I sure hope that game's on Gameplan, it'll show the power of the mighty Pac 10 to the rest of the nation.

What I am wondering, CFR, is when you'll figure it out? The SEC is not your enemy in the Pac 10's fight for respect--the Big 12 is.

The Big 12 has been overrated from day one, when it was going to dominate college football in 1996 from the time it was formed.

The arguments you have made so often regarding amassing wins against weak conference opponents, which you contend happens in the SEC, happens much more often in the Big 12 (Texas, every year). Before that, it was damn near invented in the Big 8--where Oklahoma and Nebraska were (seemingly) always both ranked in the Top 5 (and 6-0 in the conference) all the time when they played, only to be dominated in their bowl game by some Florida team (or Washington team, as the case may be).

In any event, it detracts from your obvious knowledge of the game when you so clearly have an agenda against one conference. The ACC and the Big 10 are the only conferences that have any sort of strength in depth this season, so matchups between second division teams in the Big 12, Pac 10, and SEC are going to be between relatively mediocre teams--end of story. For you to single out the SEC is a bit disingenuous.
October 20, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSolon
Solon,

Couple things. First off, it's tongue-in-cheek.

I don't think the Pac-10 is "great", and certainly not this year. I do think its the most competitive top to bottom most years, but I get on the SEC because it's the only self-avowed "greatest conference" by its fans and media backers. They catch a lot of breaks other conferences never have a chance to get (LSU #6?!?!) and to that end, I'll take a few shots.

You gotta give me a few digs here and there ;o).

You're right, the B12 is one of the road blocks to the Pac-10's getting respect. Having Stanford on the lagwagon doesn't help either.
October 20, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
Sorry if I came across too harshly, CFR.

I think it's actually interesting to consider--you're absolutely right, the SEC is the conference that gets all the hype, but I suspect that if you actually broke it down, the Big 12 is the most 'overrated' conference, assuming there could be some sort of objective criteria by which you could measure such things.

For example, it's anecdotal, but it seems that Washington fell really far in the polls when they lost after being highly ranked in 1982 and 1984, even though it was late in the season. I'd guess that teams from other conferences don't fall as far when in similar situations.

The question is (assuming there's something to it), is it a Pac-10 thing, or a non-traditional power thing (i.e., did FSU (1991) and Oklahoma (1987) fall less, and, e.g., did Virginia (1990) fall just as far?)

I'm going to try to come up with something in the off-season and try to see if there's anything to it.
October 20, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSolon
I'd love to see the results of that.

You have a home here for any research etc. you care to publish. Of course you've also got the ins with EDSBS and I presume HP. I have to say, for a non-blogger, you're pretty powerful ;o).

Anyway, you didn't come across harsh, I know where you're coming from and you're plenty respectful here, so I don't get all bunched up when you criticize. Others I may be a little more impatient with.
October 20, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
Hey CFR, just curious here: how many LSU games have you watched, what do you think of our defense, and why don't you think that matters?

And since your opinion of teams is based on quality of teams rather than wins and losses (hence 3-loss ASU and 2-loss Louisville in your "other teams to consider" list over 1-loss LSU), what do you make of UCLA's presence at all, anywhere? They played like garbage against an awful Washington team (I was there), especially on offense, and nearly blew it vs a very poor Wazzu team two weeks later. Why do LSU's performances versus DECENT teams matter so much more? UCLA's 4 and 3-point wins over UW and WSU is worth more to you than LSU's 4-point win and 3-point loss?

Clearly, LSU has plenty of work to do before they can be called legit, but frankly aside from the top four teams in the country, there aren't any teams who don't have things to sort out.
October 22, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRohan

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