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« Rivalry | Main | Week 12 weekend thoughts »
Tuesday
Nov152005

CFR week eleven Heisman rankings

Things are starting to get fairly tight between Reggie Bush and Vince Young.

N-Y-C 

  1. Reggie Bush, USC-There are some institutional reasons for believing so (Tailback-U, anyone?).  Bush had an average game against California, rushing for 82 yards.  California really had a nice gameplan to shadow him inside and out.  Still has two big games remaining against ranked foes Fresno State and UCLA to spruce up the Heisman resume.
  2. Vince Young, Texas-Another fine afternoon against roadkill Kansas.  Threw four touchdown passes and the Texas offense had 52 points at the half.  It's kind of annoying, however, when a quarterback can play "500" out there and not only complete his pass, but have it go for touchdown---twice!
  3. Matt Leinart, USC-Two rushing touchdowns sealed California's fate on an otherwise challenging afternoon where the Bears defense kept a lot of the Trojans' offensive weapons in check.
  4. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame-Smashed Navy, throwing another four touchdowns on 71% completions.  Fantastic season.

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Reader Comments (18)

No love for Drew Olson? Leading the country in pass efficiency, with 30 touchdowns to only 3 INTs?

As good as Maurice Drew has been, the case could easily be made that the entire cause for UCLA's success this season - as much or as little as you want to give them... - is more a direct result of Olson's play than MoDrew's. I think he deserves a trip to NYC just as much as Quinn does.

As overrated as UCLA has been and still is this season, I think the rediculous love shown to Notre Dame is just as bad... THE BEST GAME THEY PLAYED ALL YEAR WAS A LOSS! So what it was a close game against USC? The weak Stanford team from last season only lost to the Trojans by 3 as well. Trent Edwards played well in the loss, and the Cardinal were able to move the ball well for almost the whole game, and lost because their defense was unable to make one big stop at the end of the game (sound familiar?).

Notre Dame-USC is a frigging rivalry game which this season was played AT Notre Dame, before which they had an extra week to prepare. The lost to a BAD Michigan State team, and their best win is a Michigan team that probably will finish 7-4 and on the fringe of the top 25. Exactly where in there is the recipe for a top-10 team? Meanwhile, Brady Quinn feasts on defenses that, for the most part, are as bad as the ones people claim the Pac-10 has.

He played one brilliant game against Tennessee, true. But against USC's pass defense - which is the weakest point on that whole team - he went 19-35 for 264 yds a TD and an INT. That's okay, but certainly not great, and this is a defense that gave up three touchdowns to Richard Kovalcheck of Arizona, the starter who was so bad he was yanked in favor of a freshman (yeah, I know that frosh lit up UCLA... he also got nothing done against UW, go fig).

Quinn has certainly had a very good season, it's true. But I find it very hard to give him credit for beating up on a mostly-weak schedule (which is why ND is still ranked poorly in the computers... machines don't know about Touchdown Jesus) without noting that there are passers around the league who have done more. And I feel that Olson is one of them.

It could be argued that, with one game left to play, Olson is having the best statistical season in the history of the Pac-10 (other candidates being Matt Leinart's 2003 season and Rob Johnson's 1993 season). Last week, he went 23-38 for 232 yds and 2 TDs without an INT, and CBS Sportsline described that as a 'bad game.'

He's thrown for 3+ touchdowns in five of his ten games, and thrown for 5+ in three of them. The Pac-10 record for passing efficiency belongs to Keith Smith, at 174.2, just barely higher than Olson's 172.5... but Smith played on a rushing-dominant team. He only threw 165 times all season, with 13 TDs to 7 INTs (passing efficiency relies WAY too much on yards/attempt, which is why his score is so high).

If Olson avoids throwing more than 1 INT against USC's defense, he will finish with the lowest interception percentage in the history of the Pac-10. He will most likely finish in the top 5 in the Pac for TD passes in a season (he sits at 6th right now with 30, and 2nd through 5th are all increments of 1 more).

His intangibles are clearly evident as well - he's cool under pressure and has led his team to several 4th quarter comebacks. If you're down 10 in the 4th quarter, who would you rather have behind center, Quinn or Olson? Example: Michigan game, where Quinn vanished in the second half, forcing the ND defense to stiffen up and hold on for dear life - producing a turnover on downs to end the game.

Obviously, a large component of Olson's season depends on how well he plays against USC, but barring a massive meltdown he should finish at or near the top of several of the most important statistical categories, he's grown to be the leader of the Bruins, and his experience has been vital to the repeated Bruin comebacks. I think he's more deserving of a New York trip than Quinn, and DEFINITELY will be if he can somehow pull a miracle out of nowhere and beat the Trojans on Dec. 3rd (because if one player is going to beat USC, it's going to be Olson taking advantage of their weak pass defense).
November 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
Props on the effort, Underbruin.

As you know, my entry reflects current realities, not just who I necessarily think deserves or has earned a shot at NYC.

Drew's had a fine season, and he deserves a lot of recognition for that.

As an aside, regarding some of your Quinn and Notre Dame criticisms:

The Irish lost in overtime to a Michigan State team that was, at the time, VERY good. Their offense was scary good at the time. Notre Dame was just what, three games into the Charlie Weis experience?

You certainly remember USC's rocky start under Pete Carroll, right? They didn't get going until 1.5 seasons in. Notre Dame right now is basically at the same stage 10 games into Weis as USC was 18 or so games into Carroll. Some of their earlier foibles are easily pardoned here, because frankly right now they're not the same team that started the season, just the same as Michigan State is not the same team that started their season.

Brady Quinn's feasted on some bad defenses, but he's still playing excellent football. The guy's running a complex offense as good as anyone else this year, Drew Olson included.

It's not exactly fair, but the Notre Dame thing factors into his NYC likelihood. We'll see what happens with the USC game, but right now Drew Olson's in far worse shape nationally than Utah's Alex Smith last year. I bring that up because at this point I think the west coast already having a Heisman candidate QB in Matt Leinart inevitably forces any other candidates from the region to be viewed as accessories, and unless they do something like Smith did and elevate a no-name program to an undefeated season like that, he's just not going to have a shot at NYC.

The folks who are in the SID in Westwood could certainly use a lot of what you've told me on here.

As far as Drew's passer rating, I think he was 15th or so last week before surging to #1 this weekend. You're obviously capitalizing on a dramatic swing in his numbers this week. His overall season's performance prior to last weekend's game was not as eye-popping. I hunch his rating will drop a little after playing USC and stabilize at something more realistic.

He's had a great year, Saturday was certainly something to watch. I think the Award you guys can win is the Mackey with Mar Mar Lewis. That grab on Saturday was amazing where he took the ball from the defender in midair. That should have been burned on CD and overnighted to Mackey voters Sunday.
November 16, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
I would probably put Vince Young in front at this point in the season. He hasn't had a bad game all season, although Reggie Bush really doesn't have a bad game (Leinart/White have a good game). Plus all the winners this decade have come from the QB position.

I also tend to agree with Drew Olsen being mentioned among the top tier Heisman candidates. Although you can make a case for Brady Quinn, the numbers that Olsen is putting up are even more ridiculous than Leinart's stats. The only negative is the competition and the fact that UCLA has the ball a lot because their defense gives up points so quickly.

Overall, I think that you can make a case for any of the top guys to win the Heisman and be deserving. It's a shame that only one player can win it per season.
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMario Ceste
I can see where you might come from on each of your points, I just don't necessarily agree with them (though with the caveat of saying that those 4 are the ones you think 'will' go to NYC and not just 'deserve' to go I can completely back you on that - though I might think Olson's season is better than nation's voters probably won't agree). Exactly what criteria are used to claim that Michigan State was a 'very good' team at that point? Because the team certainly isn't one now...

Arizona played USC tough, beat Oregon State, and then rocked UCLA -- there's zero reason why I couldn't apply the same reasoning to the Cats. After all, they'd played two good games previous, which is all anybody had to measure Michigan State by (and ooh, Kent State and Hawaii - scaaaaaary opponents, there)... I know the Bruins got destroyed while the Irish lost in a great OT game, but I believe my reasoning still stands - I think a lot of people are GIVING Michigan State the 'they were a great team at oine point' label simply because they beat Notre Dame and nobody in the MSM wants to admit Notre Dame might really not be all that great. The Irish have lost AT HOME twice this season - I don't think any other team in the top 10 or 15 has.

I've no problem saying Notre Dame is a good team - having a better season than the Bruins? Sure, fine. But it's absurd to have them as high as so many people do. I'm afraid I'm lumping you in here, because I can't agree with sticking them 3rd in ANY way. Explain why they're better than Ohio State, for example - both teams have been DESTROYING their opponents the last few weeks, but OSU's losses were to a top 2 Texas team at home in the last minute and a top 5 Penn State team on the road. The Irish lost to a top 2 USC team at home in the last minute and a ... well, we can say they were playing well at the time, but even so losing at home to Michigan State is ALWAYS going to be worse than losing AT Happy Valley. OSU's played tougher competition, its offense is clicking just as well, its defense is playing better, and it hasn't lost to a team that probably won't go to a bowl -- its two losses are to likely BCS teams.

Why exactly are the Irish better?
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
Oh, and Mario - "The only negative is the competition and the fact that UCLA has the ball a lot because their defense gives up points so quickly." That doesn't really apply as a criticism to Olson because the Bruin attack is very balanced and actually even a little run-heavy at times. He hasn't thrown very much (about the same number of times as Leinart, and I think Quinn) and he's extremely efficient when he does. It's true that if your team is a passing-only offense (Cody Hodges at Texas Tech) you lose a lot of points for putting up big stats, but Olson's doing it without throwing that many passes.
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
Oh, and lastly, as to props on the effort -

thank you, I appreciate that. But if you want to see the 'real' effort, go over to BruinsNation and check out the 'long' version of that post. I can get a bit wordy at times...
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
Underbruin,

The logic you're applying to Notre Dame's rankings is one I don't subscribe to. The point in my rankings is to answer the question "who is best?", put that team first, and follow that with the next best team followed by the next best and so on.

I don't use NCAA basketball tournament logic, weighing "quality wins", numbers of wins, etc.

If a team is 5-5 but playing some of the best football in the NCAA and I don't consider their recent play a fluke, I might just have them in my rankings. That's how this works.

Going back to Notre Dame/Michigan State---from what I observed of them, at that point in the season, Michigan State was a tremendous football team. Their offense was playing about as good as any offense at any point of this season anyhere outside of USC. They were running and passing with ease and Drew Stanton was just playing out of his mind. The defense was holding up reasonably well and to me I was not surprised they beat Notre Dame at that time. The Irish were just a few games into the Weis regime. They're a different team now after the coaches sorted out all the personnel and started to coach up their schemes and the kids played a few games.

Think back to my example about USC a few games in versus USC late 2002 and now. Think about you guys a few games into Dorrell versus the UCLA team you have now. The same thing's going on with Notre Dame, they're simply not the same team that played Michigan State. There's no doubt they'd crush Michigan State right now.

Regardless, they are a tremendous football team. Charlie Weis is probably the second best coach in CFB, in my eyes. They are playing sound defense, can clearly game plan (something few NCAA coaches really know how to do), have a lot of checks in their offense and defense so they're not just playing one way do or die, they're flexible. They look like a near-great team. That's just my view.
November 16, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
I think the fact that you still have Bush 1st in your Heisman rankings while every other published source (ESPN, Rocky Mountain, etc.) have moved Vince ahead of him underscores your continued bias against TX in favor of the Pac 10.

You comment on Vince's effort being against a mediocre opponent, but VY has had similar performances against every opponent on the schedule. Every QB in the country on occasion throws the ball up in hopes that his receivers are good enough to make a play. However, according to you, Vince's receivers are mediocre too. So, what gives? Once again, Texas is going against an opponent that is tough against the run. So, what do they do? They blast them through the air. A lot of receivers win one on one battles when a team chooses to stack the box.

What will it take for you to admit that Vince Young has been the most outstanding player in the country this year and the most valuable to his team. Without Bush, USC is still undefeated. Without Young, TX might be undefeated, but the games would have been a lot closer.
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEric
"Going back to Notre Dame/Michigan State---from what I observed of them, at that point in the season, Michigan State was a tremendous football team. Their offense was playing about as good as any offense at any point of this season anyhere outside of USC. They were running and passing with ease and Drew Stanton was just playing out of his mind."

Scoring defense rankings on the season:
Hawaii - 108th (34.9 ppg)
Kent State - 88th (29.6 ppg)
Illinois - 114th (39.7 ppg)

My grandmother could move the ball with ease against these guys. So what if MSU rolled up 60 points on ILLINOIS? It's not like they've been holding down anybody else either.

"SEC teams look like they have good defenses because they play against good offenses." The opposite has to be true to at least SOME degree, especially when you're playing teams that, averaged together, would rank 108th in scoring defense (right where Hawaii sits right now, conveniently enough). Even the staunchest SEC honk wouldn't claim Pac-10 defenses are anywhere near that bad on the whole - and yet because MSU runs up the score on these three they are an offensive juggernaut?
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUnderbruin
Eric,

See this:

http://www.collegefootballresource.com/blog/2005/11/16/purely-anecdotal.html

See this:

http://heismanpundit.com/?postid=734

BTW last year Rocky Mountain News' poll broke for Jason White in their final poll. He finished third.

I've studied the Heisman for a few years now. What it boils down to is a lot of voters sitting down with a ballot and three slots, and thinking to themselves, "I have the ballot of the most prestigious award in all of sports in my hands, how best to do this right?" It's a conservatively voted award, and that hurts Young.

I think its certainly a close race, but I don't sense that CLEAN break for Young OR Bush.

"What will it take for you to admit that Vince Young has been the most outstanding player in the country this year and the most valuable to his team"

That's NOT how Heisman voters think.

Is Vince really the most valuable to his team? What about Michael Robinson? Texas would still be 9-1 or 10-0 without Young this year. There are more "valuable" players out there.

As fans we can't get caught up in OUR views on something when it comes to an award. What matters is the voting behavior of that awards' voters. That's it.
November 16, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
CFR is annoyed that Vince Young threw a "500" touchdown to his 6'5'' wide receiver who was single-covered by a 5'11'' cornerback.

BRILLIANT!
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterChris
There was another similar play not to a 6'5" receiver, and several other similar plays this year. Those plays usually get broken up, regardless. But not against B12 DB's, apparently.

BRILLIANT!
November 16, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
Or against Big 10 DBs, apparently. Remember 278 yards against the Big 10's best defense?
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEric
Your sarcasm underscores your animosity toward any team outside your "Big 6" or whatever you call it. By the way, where does Florida fit into that Big 6 now?

By the way, I am not taking anything away from USC. They still deserve to be #1, but at this point, given their schedule (as much as UTs), we just don't know how good they are. I still don't think the Pac 10s defenses are that strong.
November 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEric
Animosity towards any team outside my Big Six? Riiiiight. Is that why I've said so many nice things about UGA this season, about Ohio State lately, etc. Those are teams that will never appear on that list.

Give Florida some time. USC would have been on the Big Six if I had started this year ago, and their offense wasn't capable of playing like it until 18 games into the Carroll era. Things take time.

As for USC, they're an obvious #1. Not all Pac-10 defenses are strong, but many are quite good. It's not their fault they have to go up against some of the country's best offenses week after week. Think about it this way, in sports its adapt or die. If the defenses were so bad the conference would perform horribly out of conference. Instead, almost the opposite is true. In reality, the sophistication of the offenses is such that although few of the Pac-10 defenses can stop each other, they have great experience against high octane offenses. They can't just put 11 big guys on the field, as exists in some conferences. Their linebackers aren't just run stoppers, but must be able to cover. Safeties don't just sit on the LOS, they have responsibilities on the TE (and the conference is loaded with TE's). All of this can only help a defense.

Unlike the NFL, there are many styles of play that exist in CFB, and the more styles of play a defense can be prepared for, the better. Pac-10 defenses have been quite flexible of late thanks to playing against these offenses, and I think the payoff is a nice conference record in OOS games and BCS games.

Need further proof?

Look at how the Big Twelve defenses have done against the nation's #1 scoring offense, and how the Pac-10 defenses have done against the nation's #2 scoring offense (an offense that is superior schematically and talent-wise to the #1 scoring offense):

Pac-10 defenses vs. USC points allowed:
35 (California)
38 (Arizona State)
42 (Arizona)
45 (Oregon)
51 (Washington)
51 (Stanford)
55 (Washington State)
Big Twelve defenses vs. Texas points allowed:
42 (Colorado)
45 (Oklahoma)
47 (Oklahoma State)
51 (Rice)
51 (Missouri)
52 (Texas Tech)
62 (Baylor)
66 (Kansas)

So for those keeping score at home, we find the following-

Pac-10 scoring defense against USC: 45.3 PPG
Big Twelve scoring defense against Texas: 52 PPG

Big Twelve defenses are a touchdown's worse against an offense not as good as USC's.

At the minimum, Pac-10 defenses have shown they can make USC work for their points and can adjust to what they're seeing in games (35 points against Cal, 38 ASU, "struggle" against Arizona). Meanwhile, Big Twelve defenses have done nothing except roll over besides a one dimensional Texas attack.

November 16, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
Which dimension are you referring to in the last sentence? You must be referring to the passing game since DBs don't cover in the Big 12. Oh, wait, Texas is a "running team." I know what USC did to OU last year, and I admit I am a little concerned about how the Texas defense will match up against the USC offense, but let's at least wait and see.

Also, let's look at the offensive output against the only decent team they played outside the conference. They had their third lowest yardage output and the fewest points against a Notre Dame team with a strong offense (no doubt), but a very mediocre defense (#79 nationally in total defense).
November 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEric
Notre Dame held the ball against USC for nearly 40 minutes. Not many teams are going to reach 50 points in 20 minutes of work :o).

Look, your point was that you were unsure about the Pac-10 defenses being "that strong".

I setup the comparison between how Big Twelve defenses performed against an elite offense, and how Pac-10 defenses performed against an even better offense.

The results speak for themselves. If Pac-10 defenses are horrible, that must mean the Big Twelve defenses are nonexistent, right?

You were saying based on USC's schedule we couldn't tell how good they are. If that's true, it's even MORE difficult to see how good Texas is.

In reality, I think it's pretty clear how good these teams are. USC is CFB's greatest force. Vulnerable yes, but they've mostly dominated this year and when challenged, have responded. They feature a breathtaking offense and a defense headed by the best DC in the game.

Texas also has a breathtaking offense, although much less profound scheme-wise but buffered by an insane running talent at quarterback. Its defense has held up quite well this year and is headed by a fine DC.
November 17, 2005 | Registered CommenterCFR
You supported your arguement regarding the defensive units from both conferences. That is one reason I hate all the defensive rankings out there. It's kind of like the chicken and egg theory. Are the defenses all bad in the Pac10 because the offenses are so good? Also, is one of the reasons the defenses in the PAC10 look bad on paper (national rankings wise) the fact that they have to play USC and some of the other powerful offenses in the PAC10? I also agree, as a rule, that the offenses in the Big 12 are weaker top to bottom than the offenses in the Pac 10. I think Texas and Tech's offenses stand out while every one else is very average.

All that being said, I think the Texas D will be the best Defense USC will see all year. On the flip side, USC will be the best offense the Texas D will see all year. I don't know if you can say that going the other way, however. I would argue that Ohio State's D is better than the USC D.
November 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEric

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