So, what to make of last weekend?
I found it entirely compelling.
There was Notre Dame's drama against Michigan State, the struggles of nearly the entirety of the top ten in definitively putting away pesky foes and crazy individual feats like Garrett Wolfe's continued yardage assault and Sidney Rice's five touchdown catches. Georgia barely escaped Colorado and both Arkansas and Alabama did everything they could to bungle their matchup with missed field goals, extra points and interceptions galore.
Ivan Maisel did the math and determined that 22 of the top 25 teams won, and by an average of 25 points. Anecdotally it looked like many of the games were closer than that. USC won by 17 but it wasn't the greatest effort we'll see from them. Ohio State won by 22 points but led just 7-3 heading into the fourth quarter. Auburn led Buffalo just 10-0 at the half. Michigan led Wisconsin 17-10 heading into the fourth quarter. All of these were four quarter games.
The byproduct is a tightly packed top ten with little distinction beteween Ohio State, USC, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, LSU, Louisvillle, Texas and West Virginia. Eventually they'll sort themselves out (they always do), but it's interesting to note this moment almost a third the way through the season with things so knotted up.
---An interesting note from the SEC: Georgia's receivers have stone hands. No surprise, really. The same problem plagued Auburn receivers for many years---and then they switched to an offense that put at least some kind of emphasis on passing the ball. Just like that, the dropsies went away.
I've had this discussion before with several football people, and the explanation's pretty simple: legitimate passing offenses don't have this problem. Receivers need reps and need to know the ball's coming at them in practice and in games. With option offenses, with run-based offenses, with much of what's run in the SEC, drops are a common occurrence.
But if you look at schools like Texas Tech, like Florida, like California, who all have developed passing games, there is no such problem.
I'm not saying advanced pass offenses are the way to go---simply that there's a threshold of passing emphasis and aptitude where drops suddenly are no longer an issue. The latter schools have figured that out, the former have chosen a different path.
Now, to play nice for a moment, I'm tickled to see that three of the top five individual receiving yardage leaders in the NCAA are SEC receivers. Tennessee's Robert Meachem checks in at third with 420 yards, followed by Alabama's Keith Brown (410) and Florida's Dallas Baker Touchdown Maker (406).
---Notre Dame/Michigan State is the gift that keeps on giving. Michigan State coach John L. Smith, clearly one of the most tactful coaches in D-I *cough*, is kinda sorta you decide calling Notre Dame Charlie Weis a liar.
Weis claimed he was slapped on the sidelines during a scuffle between Notre Dame players, staff and Michigan State players. Smith offers up video evidence that no such slap happens.
Whatever the truth, who slaps people in football? What a completely bizarre week this has been.
---Finally, I leave you with this to debate: Washington and Missouri---are they legit or are they paper tigers?