Honest question: is 35-3 a bad enough beating for Ohio State that we can no longer consider them candidates for the BCS championship game? After watching USC’s offensive pick apart the secondary and the Trojans’ front seven on defense get after Todd Boeckman early and often, it seems that Jim Tressel’s ethic and mentality in Columbus may need just as much of a change as Lloyd Carr’s did in Michigan. That wound up with Carr leaving and Rich Rodriguez replacing him, but I am not suggesting such a drastic step. What it may require is Tressel stretching out his recruiting area — because he can get every athlete in the Midwest and many in the Atlantic part of Big 10 territory that he likes, but he isn’t attracting players that can be difference makers in out-of-conference games. I don’t think Beanie Wells would have made a lick of difference, either, and you know what? I don’t like the Buckeyes much when they have to play Penn State are their spread offense later this year, either.
They may not be able to get by Wisconsin, who grind out wins. For every play that Fresno State made against the Badgers in the San Joaquin Valley, the Badgers had answers and their defense was able to keep Tom Brandstater in check.
The dirty little secret about USC? They have the easiest path to the MNC game because the Pac-10, usually good for 2nd in conference strength behind the SEC these days, is in a down cycle. USC was one of only two Pac-10 teams that won an out-of-conference game convincingly, and I would rather not count Oregon State-Hawai’i as any sort of meaningful OOC game. Oregon lost another QB and snuck by Purdue in OT, to be fair.
But Cal flew cross-country to get destroyed by Maryland, who lost to Middle Tennessee State last week. Arizona State lost in overtime to UNLV, and the Sun Devils were expected to finish 2nd in the conference. Wazzu got throttled by Baylor, TCU waxed the floor with Stanford, and Washington was the latest victim of Bob Stoops and the Sooners. Also — Arizona’s Mike Stoops underachieved again, as his squad lost to New Mexico. New Mexico.
And, lest we forget — there is the matter of UCLA getting Tabernacled by Brigham Young, 59-0. We all have the understanding that the Bruins’ football program is in such disrepair that it would take a miracle for Rick Neuheisel to reach .500 in his first year, but giving up 7 TD passes to BYU QB Max Hall and allowing their running back tandem to use the defense’s backs as “WELCOME” mats is something much more than embarrassing. Not that Max Hall isn’t good — that team is loaded, but at least some measure of resistance would have been nice. That said, the football gods may be friendly with Joseph Smith or Young — UCLA couldn’t even get an FG from the usually reliable Kai Forbath through the uprights.
Missouri looked like its reliably quick and ruthless self, destroying Nevada so handily that Chase Daniel sat out the second half.
The 2nd Annual Toilet Bowl was held between Michigan and Notre Dame, and it was as entertaining for the miscues as could be expected. The Irish won handily behind several TD passes from the dirty greaser wanna-be Jimmy Clausen, but do not let this fool anyone that the Irish are anything resembling a good team. People were more interested in Charlie Weis blowing out his ACL and MCL when one of his players crashed into him than recalling the Irish’s performance.
The fits and starts of establishing a brand new offensive option are still there in Georgia Tech, which is part of why the Yellow Jackets lost to Virginia Tech, which has nothing in the way of offensive playmakers outside of quarterback Tyrod Taylor. That said, GT head coach Paul Johnson has the basics going there; as the players become more familiar with their roles and such, this will be a dangerous offense.
Georgia concerns me greatly, getting more or less held in check by South Carolina in ways no team should be able to hold a team with that much offensive talent. There are plenty of games to win ugly, but this isn’t one of them. Matthew Stafford had cramping issues in the second half and had been mostly inaccurate all day, and the play-calling away from Knowshon Moreno was frustrating. (I believe you ride a workhorse if it’s working for you.) But at least they are in a better space than Steve Spurrier is in South Carolina, yanking quarterbacks left and right. The Head Ball Coach would suit up himself if he had any eligibility left.
If East Carolina struggles like they did against Tulane on their way to eking out a win, does it make them overrated?
And the laugher of the weekend: Auburn-Mississippi State. It takes some serious offensive deficiencies on both sides for a game to end in a 3-2 win for the Tigers. Observe the box score stats here. Sylvester Croom is not known for having any sort of offense in his tenure as coach in Starkville, but Tommy Tuberville canned another offensive coordinator and brought in Tony Franklin to helm a new spread offense. The score would have fooled anyone into thinking that Brandon Cox had never left and was still helming the Tiger offense.
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