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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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Weekend review

Virginia Tech 28, Maryland 9

As expected, Virginia Tech got out of the gate slow and weathered Maryland's early advances.  Marcus Vick had an off night throwing the ball, but the Tech offense showed its resilience, getting just enough on the ground, particularly on third down.  Vick also had a few long runs to break Maryland's back.  There are fast defenses (Florida State), and then there are fast defenses who can dictate the flow of game to their opponent.  VT is definitely in the latter category.

Georgia 23, Arkansas 20

It didn't look like the Dawgs were in any danger of losing to Arkansas, but they certainly never gave the impression that they had complete control of this game.  Obviously, quarterback D.J. Shockley's injury had a lot to do with this.  I thought the play of backup quarterback Joe Tereshinski was admirable, but his coaches had to lighten the playbook while he was in there and cut short any chance of putting the game out of reach.  Arkansas' frosh backs (Darren McFadden, Felix Jones) are outstanding, and had the first real good rushing game of any UGA opponent this year, combining for over 200 yards on the day at over six yards a carry.  Georgia's backs had an average day, and show how vulnerable the offense is when the quarterback either goes down or has an off day.  Its also a reflection of their lack of gamebreaking skill.  I remember reading something in the preseason saying that Georgia had the depest backfield of anyone in college football.  That's great, but on any given play, there's only one guy carrying the ball, and they have a bunch of "guys" but nobody great to really deliver a string of dominating performances.

North Carolina 7, Virginia 5

Called it, but boy was it ugly.  This is typical of the worst that can happen when teams play not to lose.  I know UNC got the win, but they won't feel very good about themselves tomorrow, a week from now or a month from now.

Northwestern 49, Michigan State 14

There are several things to take from this game.  One, Michigan State has given up.  Their implosion last week marked the end of their season, and this game is some of the fallout from that performance.  From this point onward they will underachieve, miserably finishing out their season.  I hunch MSU's string of big games against Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State was a bit much for their players, something my Mom would call overstimulation.

The concept goes like this: sometimes when I'm out at an amusement park or the movies or a restaurant, young children will be acting up, throwing fits for whatever reason.  In theory, they've been exposed to a lot of exciting and pleasant things and the emotional swing is a bit hard to handle when they return to some normal activity.  It's not too dissimilar to when after a vacation people sometimes become lifeless zombies, fairly disinterested in their surroundings.  For MSU, this may have been the case, particularly because they may not be as emotionally prepared or conditioned for as many big games the way players at other more successful programs are.  The buildup and in-game excitement and stress may have been just too much for the Spartans, and their play afterwards will reflect their emotional "comedown" or letdown.

But let's not forget Northwestern's role here.  The Wildcats are putting together a nice season, and have had success picking off other midlevel Big Ten foes.  The offense has continually paved their path to success, and the defense comes around once in a while to pitch in a fine performance.  For all the preseason sky-is-falling talk about the Wildcats after several prominent injuries and the transfer of their best defender, its obviously not the talent propelling this team to its wins---its their offensive scheme.  Like we've said all along, scheme matters, there's simply no other explanation for certain teams' success given their severe lack of talent and depth relative to conquered foes.

Michigan 23, Iowa 20

Iowa had control of this game, then got rattled after a late Steve Breaston catch-and-run touchdown.  Michigan took advantage of the opportunity and pushed the game to overtime and won.  It's fun to play spoiler sometimes.  The better coach lost, but the game swing reflects his team's fragility.

Ohio State 41, Indiana 10

Up, down, up, down, way up...  The Buckeyes are crushing lesser foes right now.  Too bad they're fragile as glass.  At least the rest of the Big Ten has the same horrible illness, meaning they're still in the hunt.

Notre Dame 49, BYU 23

The Irish are the most confident team in America right now.  Pretty impressive considering the heartbreaking loss to USC last weekend.  Brady Quinn threw six touchdowns, a new Notre Dame record...eclipsing his old mark of five.  Imagine if the Irish offense had a dynamic back instead of the handful of pluggers currently sitting back there?  Next year they'll average over 40 a game.

Wake Forest 27, N.C. State 19

The Pack's season is comical at this point.  They judiciously subbed ineffective quarterbacks this game, had interceptions returned for touchdowns and got sacked out of field goal range on a series.

Florida State 55, Duke 24

Beat up on the Dukies, but not before making things a little more confusing for themselves.  I think they hit something like 14 different receivers in this game, and frosh back Antone Smith finally showed some life, nevermind that they have wasted Lorenzo Booker's time.  Smith should be pretty good, though.  Hopefully they don't bother to recruit someone to share the backfield with him and cut short his potential, too.

Alabama 6, Tennessee 3

Someone had to win, right?

Texas 52, Texas Tech 17

Tech just ain't ready.  The 'Horns are absolutely cruising right now, and survived two early Vince Young interceptions.  Apparently their fans are loving the attention and want the country to kiss their Darrell Royal behind, judging by all the irate comments on here and anywhere else that challenge their supremacy as greatest thing to happen to football.  Thing is, they've already built a monument to themselves (take a look at the facilities), so why should anyone else have to worship at the altar of their Golden Calf, Bevo?

USC 51, Washington 24

Twelve plays, five touchdowns for USC.  Reggie Bush had a stunning punt return touchdown and Dwayne Jarrett's final of his three TD catches was of the one-handed, back of end zone, one foot in variety.  The defense is starting to come around, and despite losing victimized starting corner John Walker, they may have found gifted replacements in safety Josh Pinkard and freshman corner Kevin Thomas.  The recruiting benefits are showing up again, as frosh linebacker Brian Cushing finally recovered from injury, blocked a punt in his first significant playing time of the season.  Freshman Patrick Turner also had a touchdown grab.

Wisconsin 31, Purdue 20

Hangin' around...

Stanford 45, Arizona State 35

It wasn't really this close.  For an explanation of ASU's collapse, see Michigan State above.

Army 20, Akron 0

Another shutout for #1 Army.  Oh wait, this isn't the 1940's.  Props for the shutout, though.

Oklahoma 37, Baylor 30 (OT)

How the mighty have fallen.  All the small Texas schools are taking it out on the Sooners this year.

Penn State 63, Illinois 10

This was definitely a "get well" game.  When Penn State's putrid offense puts up 56 against you in one half, you have major problems.

UCLA 51, Oregon State 28

This was a game for about a quarter, then UCLA went nuts.  OSU's Mike Haas might just be the best pure receiver in the game.  Maurice Drew is playing like he badly wants a trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.  HP says the cutoff right now is at four, with Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Brady Quinn.  Got room for one more?  Not to be outdone, UCLA quarterback Drew Olsen also threw six touchdown passes (a UCLA record).

Oregon 28, Arizona 21

Much like UGA, the Oregon Ducks had their stellar starting quarterback knocked out of the game.  Unlike UGA, their less stellar backup was knocked out a series later!  You want to know the name of their third stringer?  Brady Leaf.  Yes, he's related to you-know-who.  Yikes.  The Ducks survived this scare, though.

LSU 20, Auburn 17 (OT)

Someone had to win, right?  One measure of the offensive acumen of a coaching staff is how well they utilize once in a decade (for the program) type athletes.  LSU has one in Skyler Green, a fairly good comparison to Reggie Bush, athletically.  So far, he's been a very good returnman in his career, and has a few notable touchdown catches as a receiver, but has done little else.  Injuries have something to do with that, but its also apparent their coaches are in no hurry to put him in a position to destroy opponents 15-20 times a game.  Wouldn't they rather the score be LSU 35, Auburn 17?  Put a guy like that in a position to do something more often, and they could easily have that kind of outcome.

UTEP 31, Marshall 3

It's Wazzou South, in El Paso.

California 42, Washington State 38

A fine back-and-forth performance that forced me to stay up way late to claim witness.  Both teams were fairly opportunistic, particularly Cal.  The Bears returned an interception for a touchdown, had a nifty no-room touchdown pass to their fullback, and a late long pass touchdown on a busted coverage.  Three backs ran for over 100 yards, and a Cal freshman receiver I haven't even heard of had a huge touchdown and over 100 receiving yards. 


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Reader Comments (27)

i can't wait for your rankings to come out...
October 24, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercw
Scaling back the UGA playbook must have meant that Richt threw out page 1 of 2.
October 24, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Kim
Stephen, aren't you an FSU guy?

I don't think much of Richt's playcalling, to be honest (although I think he runs a good program), but I'd think FSU people would be jumping up and down proclaiming his greatness given what's happened to the FSU offense since he left.

If you aren't an FSU fan, ignore the comment.
October 24, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSolon

You consistently ignore or can't understand what I tell you. I can't help you if you can't help yourself. Disagree, fine (Solon does it all the time, no problems there), but I'm not going to deal with you if you're just going to play community blockhead on here.
October 24, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
About Georgia's RB depth: The preseason magazines raved about it for one reason: injuries. 2002's leading back (Lumpkin) was out all last year because of an ACL tear. 2003's opening day starter Danny Ware battled injuries all year. Preseason, they're all healthy. Thankfully, there haven't been any injuries to deplete the running back corps this year, but I'm still glad there's depth there. Trust me, injuries hurt (Shockley, 2 starting DTs, 2 starting LBs). Also, the two DTs and the starting MLB who were out pretty much ensured Arkansas (who led the SEC in rushing before this game) would have a good game on the ground. Luckily, 2 of the 3 are back for Florida.
October 24, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLD

Good points on GA's defensive injuries.

Similar issues are affecting USC's defense, and they also are not getting credit for holding the line while they work out issues with new starters and injuries.

The RB depth is obviously very good with UGA. I like Ware the best of the bunch. I've never seen much in Lumpkin, try as I may. Ware's not a star or anything but I give him credit for playing well in important games this year and just being a consistent back. His Tennessee performance was outstanding.
October 24, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
I think you're really talking about Thomas Brown in the UT game. 20 carries for 94 yards, especially on the last drive.

Of the UGA tailbacks, Thomas Brown is the quickest, most explosive, and can cut the best. Ware is a little more punishing because of his size, but he hasn't really broken any tackles this year. Kregg Lumpkin two years ago had the strength to break tackles, the speed to run away from tacklers, and quickness to boot. I don't think he's completely recovered from the injury. Maybe next year.
October 24, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLD
Oh yeah, Brown, oops. Thanks.
October 24, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
solon...you'll find that most FSU fans didn't like Richt's offense while he was here. But in all honesty I think tbe real problem was the OL coaching...we'll find out in a season or two if that's the case
October 24, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercsc
so how do some of you think the UF-UGA game turns out this week? Will a new QB be just way to much for UGA to have to overcome?
October 24, 2005 | Registered CommenterTrojanAnteater
Right now, I don't see a way Georgia can win. DJ changes the entire game because of the way the defense has to stay back in coverage to prevent bootleg runs. But perhaps more importantly are the injuries to the defensive front 7. Golston and Anderson were dominant in the middle and really took pressure off the middle linebacker. Then they both went down and Taylor (the MLB) did too. This past week we were without all three of them. Taylor and Anderson should be back for Florida, but one more concussion and Anderson might be out for the year. Add some other injured players (but they'll still play) like Milner (TE) and Miller (OLB) and you end up with a banged up team going up against a Florida team that's had 2 weeks to rest and heal. I think the early line is about right.
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLD
i hear and understand perfectly everything you say (type), and i've made it perfectly clear that -- yes -- i do disagree with you. my posts point out my perceived oversights in your opinion and coverage and suggest other ways of looking at the issue of evaluating top-tier teams.

your posts (on the usc/texas/vt/uga tip) always seem to boil down to "i think this" without much of any backup other than a personal feeling.

of course you're entitled to that feeling, as am i. but your opinions just seem to be more about making gregarious value statements and "debunking" the conventional wisdom more than anything else. i (along with just about the entire CFB world) disagree with you on the texas question and seem to be able to back it up with a reasoned argument.

where's yours?

about the only thing that will suffice is a nice, reasoned post on why team x is better than team y, not (to paraphrase you) "yes, texas is playing great football right now, and yes VT is having problems, but my gut right now tells me VT is better". that's crap.

PS: i think it's telling that the one week you go off on texas and their ranking in two major posts is the same week that the BCS puts texas 1st, the same week that they gain big in EVERY major poll (human and computer), and the same week your own rankings are a bit tardy...
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercw
What is the early line? I know UGA is banged up (No Shockley will definitely hurt), but Meyer's squad has looked pretty bad as of late. Do you think the week off will make that much of a difference? Looks to me like it might end up being a defensive struggle, and I like UGA's D better than Florida's. Plus, if recent history is any indication, UF will turn it over a couple times.
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGinn Fan
My rankings tardy? They usually come out on Wednesday, but I run the show and do 'em when I choose to do them.

Your logic is that Texas is best because others say they are, or because they're winning more comfortably than other contenders. But there's nothing behind that, its something you perceive from watching. I perceive some other pertinent things from watching. Is calling Texas a running team a hunch? NO. Is saying VT has a better defense a hunch? NO. I watch the teams, I take a look at what they are doing, not just stare at their stats.

I'm not going to offer a treatise on each team, its a waste of time, so a lot of the work I do is left out, I simply offer brief comment on the things that cross my mind as I'm doing the rankings or other thoughts.

You think its telling that the BCS and human polls are bumping Texas exactly when I'm displaying some doubt? I'm humored by it. I don't place my faith in those measures, but you obviously do.
October 25, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
UGA in theory should be fine. Right now Right is the better coach and Florida's a mess. UGA has been THE consistent winner in the SEC since Richt got there. This is just one of those games they shouldn't lose, at early glance. Florida really can't run all that well and Leak's been crappy passing the ball.

If UGA were smart they DON'T play SEC ball and keep it close, instead jump to a lead on Florida, play aggressive D and watch the Gators wilt.
October 25, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
wow resource,
I must say that I totally agree, and thats not something I would have ever expected before the Boise game.
Your right though, Georgia's D is better and UFag doesn't seem to recover after being punched in the face. Hitting Leak early and putting up 14 could turn a close game into a blow out, on the other hand we can't get to crazy with a new QB, I hope to see a mix. Play close to the vest in less than optimal situations, (deep in your own field), allow the defense to create a mistake, and really go for broke when the opportunity presents itself. If Georgia doesn't take advantage early I can easly see UFag slowly pulling away in the fourth Quarter.
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNavy Dawg
Early line I saw was UF -5.5.
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLD
Thanks LD. I think that line is shocking with how bad Florida has looked. My money would definitely be on Georgia, rivalry game or not, Shockley or not. But obviously, the smart money thinks otherwise.

Anybody else surprised by the line?
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGinn Fan
Actually, with Shockley I think UF might have still been favored by a point or so. It's hard to explain how it all fits together, but if you look at all of their lines for the season you'll see that Florida is more highly regarded by the oddsmakers.

Keep in mind that in Zook's first year (2002, when the Dawgs went 13-1 and UF went 8-5), UGA was only favored by 1 1/2 pts.
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSolon
I just re-checked the lines and now it's down to 5 on one service, 4 on two others. I would've thought it'd move the other way with the injury reports.
October 25, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLD

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