Week 8 (10/21) CFB Picks and Discussion

RJ Esq

Prick Since 1974
2006-07 CFB YTD
46-27-2 +37.14 Units

Good week last week going 7-3-1.

Texas -5.5 (-110)
Wisky -6 (-110)
ND -14 (-110)
WVU -21 (-120)
Miami -17 (-104)
Last edited:

JK..nice week again RJ. Thats 7-0 for you on winning weeks. Not many can say that. I trust it will continue this week.
Nebraska Offense by the numbers
By aorist9 Section: Football
Posted on Mon Oct 16, 2006 at 03:42:47 PM EST

Rushing: A friend of mine from Nebraska pointed out to me this weekend that Nebraska leads the Big XII in Rushing. In fact they are 11th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 207.71 ypg and 4.85 ypc. Texas has the best rush defense in the Big XII and 2nd in the nation giving up 47.7 ypg and only 1.9 ypc.

Look for either the Nebraska rushing offense or the Texas run defense to be exposed. I'm not going to hint either way, but I think you know which is more likely.

Passing: Nebraska is 28th in the nation in passing offense (4th in the Big XII behind Tech, Baylor, and Mizzou), averaging 240.7 ypg and 14.67 yards/catch. Texas' passing defense is ranked 77th after a lackluster performance against enemy of the nation Shawn Bell and Baylor. We give up 210.29 ypg and 11.68 yards/catch.

Our pass defense is going to have to stiffen up this weekend, and we have every indication that it will with the return of Marcus Griffin and Tarrell Brown from injury.

Expect a more interesting and in depth look at Nebraska from the big dogs sometime this week and a look at Nebraska's defensive numbers tomorrow.
Weekend Review from EDSBS.com


The quick shots on the weekend as delivered to you by our wobbly barkeep:

–Impending mancrush alert: we love Jorvorskie Lane, and can’t tell him. Mainly because we’re over here behind the bushes being too damn scared to look directly at him. Craig “Ironhead” Heyward vibes radiate off the 5′11″, 265 pound on a day when he hasn’t eaten his weight in shrimp cocktail running back. He displayed enough raw manhood to clear the fog of skullduggery surrounding smarmy fading genius Franchione, running brutal yards against Missouri for 28 carries, 127 yards, and one thundering touchdown. Guard the buffets of College Station, and Lane can already begin shopping for real estate in Pittsburgh, where Bill Cowher is already jonesing for someone to satisfy his fat running back fetish.


Lane: only threatened by injury and Chinese impotence cures.

–Terry Hoeppner continues to say “tumor, schtumor” by coaching through brain surgery and making Indiana the must-watch ticker shocker of your early Saturday college football viewing. Indiana all but cements poll darling Iowa’s exit from the top 25 by defeating them 31-28 and then celebrating like they haven’t been there before. This is totally acceptable because they haven’t, and can by rule ham it up as they please after kicking Iowa’s corn-fed ass.

Players weren’t just in the first row in the post-game celebration–they were whole sections up into the stands, swimming in a sea of back-patting red sweatshirts. Hoeppner seemed beyond joy. Next time you think about calling into work sick, ask yourself: do I have a tumor? If the answer is no, then go, because that’s what Terry Hoeppner would do. If the answer is yes, get it removed and show up to work a week later at the latest with the staples still in your head, because that’s what Terry Hoeppner would do.


“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

–Myles couldn’t address questions surrounding an ongoing investigation, http://www.cappingthegame.com/forum/but Josh at the Double-A Zone did get him to at least discuss the procedures that will be followed in the Reggie Bush inquiry.

–We didn’t see the Michigan–Penn State game, but Brian did, and what he saw was not pretty for Penn State:

Michigan has still not been threatened this year. No opponent has moved the ball except when fortunate or permitted to. Its dominance is unquestioned by the foes it leaves battered in its wake. Sometimes — and I know this is hard to believe — seven points is a very large lead indeed.

Black Shoe Diaries concurs:
The Michigan defense is friggin’ good. Clearly the best we’ve seen all year. It’s easy to see how they put the BEAT DOWN on Notre Dame. If I were a Buckeye, I would be worried.

–Our viewing of the Vanderbilt/Georgia game was efficient viewing. It consisted of this:

1. Sit down, enjoy 5 dollar double tall vodka tonic. (Viva Auburn drink prices!)
2. Watch Vanderbilt kick winning field goal.
3. Verify that drink was not spiked with hallucinogen, and then ask if drink number two could be.

Losing to Vanderbilt can derange even the most even-keeled of fans, but Georgia fans may take solace in that they were simply the victim of a trend: Vanderbilt is no longer the designated purple-nurple-taker of the SEC, having taken Florida to the wire last year in Gainesville, beating Tennessee in Knoxville in ‘06, and nearly beating a misfiring Alabama team this year. (Is typing “misfiring Alabama team” redundant with Shula as coach? We think so.) Georgia just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when Vandy crossed the border from being “a respectable scrapper” to “a respectable mid-size sedan” team.


Bobby Johnson has found his special purpose: coaching Vandy to respectability.

The kiddie table now hosts the entire state of Mississippi and sometimes Kentucky, but nevertheless Georgia fans are resorting to desperate measures. Kyle’s quoting Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; Kanu’s referencing The Jerk. Paul’s just plain resigned. We advise all of them to review game tape of their October 28th opponent to cheer up, since their defense is apparently baffled by passes into the flats and their qb cannot make effective passes if “there’s people running at me and yelling and stuff.”

Richt, though, denies rebuilding. We’re also totally not addicted to Project Runway. Not. At. All.
Weekend Review Part II from EDSBS.com


–UVA AD Craig Littlepage says Al Groh’s still his man. Who’s got Al Groh fever? You will, with a diagnosis of at least 12 more months of infection, Cavalier fans.

The upside: increasing losses to teams like Western Michigan and Eastern Carolina help bloggers disingenuously defend scheduling (Instert Direction and Major State here) University in the twelth game since “parity’s becoming more and more common–just look at UVA!”


Al Groh fever: viral, bacterial, or contractual?

–Kudos and huzzahs to Glen Mason, who has dispensed with the needless run up to 6-0 before crashing to 7-5 to end the season as the Gophers have always done. He appears to have cunningly reversed the Glen Mason Pattern this year by dispensing with the illusory winning and going straight for the crushing losses up front. Cue bitter articles about Mason not getting Ohio State job in two weeks for impending matchup with Buckeyes.

–Dirk Koetter, who we remind you has a name fit for a merciless but philosophical U-Boat captain, may begin the vigorous circulation of his resume to peers for review. Dirk, do not use the Microsoft Word Templates–it will make you look cheap and unimaginative.

The Sun Devils became the third team to shoulder the burden of being this week’s team to almost beat USC, thus raising hopes for nearly four quarters among BCS-bashing anarchists that the Trojans would rack up a midseason loss. Koetter, rarely the cautious type, punted with 100 or so seconds to go, a fact that has The House of Heat posting pictures of horse buttocks.


Sparky: fired up to be this week’s USC also-ran.

–Adrian Peterson breaks his collarbone in first game watched by father in person. To paraphrase an old Russian joke: “There is a God, Adrian, but sometimes he does not like you very much.” To do list: dry tears with hundreds from NFL signing bonus, drown sorrows in jiggling flesh of good, giving, and game groupies.

–New Mexico State versus Boise: 1004 yards of offense. WACtion at its finest. Forget the modernization of the league or the continuing professionalization of its coaching staffs; we propose that legislation protect the WAC as a safe refuge for points and WACky defenses. Protective legislation would be the forced extradition of defensive coordinators to other conferences after three games of sub-fifty point totals.

Hal Mumme needs a safe place. Congress, give it to him, or risk losing college football’s most brazen combover.


Needs federal protection.
–Louisville struggled against Cincinnati despite Brian Brohm’s honors student 320 yard day, 24-17.http://www.cappingthegame.com/forum/ Card Nation had to change shorts in the middle of the game, and will likely have to again after this week’s BCS rankings had undefeated Louisville at #7.

West Virginia cruelly allowed Syracuse to glimpse the sweet, round behind of hope before letting Pat White run wind sprints through the Orange defense. If people could be reincarnated as football teams with karma playing a key role in team assignment, Robinson’s Syracuse teams would be Idi Amin living out his just desserts in communal, gridiron form. (Instead of eating others, he’s being devoured whole by other teams.) While Johnny is awfully measured for someone who should be burning couches left and right, Matt’s got the phrase that pays for Syracuse in an article on basketball:

First Basketball Article=Less Crying.
–Bruins Nation…well, we’ve all been there. Where? Where they are. Nice spot. Great central heating. Ample company, including a corner suite for some guy named [NAME REDACTED]. You know, coaching hell.


No amount of whammy-bringing will free Bruins fans from this particular gift shop.

–That corner suite in coaching hell? No signs of a new tenant yet, especially with the generous down payment [NAME REDACTED] placed on it this weekend. Illinois, official team of Deadspin’s Will Leitch, lost to Ohio.
They’re getting better and better! If there is a silver lining for Florida fans in losing to Auburn this weekend, it’s that [NAME REDACTED] did not, in fact, invent the second half collapse. It can even happen to perfectly competent and detail-oriented coaches like Urban Meyer. Though in all fairness, if anyone could take out a patent on it, it could be [NAME REDACTED.] The ugly truth:

Illinois, which outgained Ohio 397-238, had its chances. But the stat that mattered more was Illinois’ four lost fumbles. The Bobcats had none.

Beyond that, Illinois virtually handed Ohio two second-quarter touchdowns. A coverage gaffe allowed a 58-yard pass to set up the Bobcats’ first score. A blocked punt led to their second and left coach Ron Zook frustrated.

‘’The thing that upsets me is in the first half, it shouldn’t have been that way,'’ Zook said. ‘’We have to come out and play every game like it’s the Super Bowl. That’s what we talk about, that’s what we coach. We’re not getting it done. I’m not getting it done.'’

…but that’s all correctable, of course.

–Finally, Warren puts out a fine piece on the perils and pleasure of coaching Little League football. A warning to the innocents who stick their head in the guillotine willingly:

“At first I thought it was just going to be throwing the ball around a little bit,” he said. “Then all of a sudden it’s Tuesday night at midnight and I’m watching game tape of 9-year-olds.”

Readers of this blog: nod at the sad image of self-recognition you must be having reading this. The first step is accepting that you have no power over it. The second step is…catching up on those archived games on Gameplan, right? We lost the little book they gave us at the support group…it’s somewhere under these Phil Steel Guides…
Quick Outs


By Richard Cirminiello
Posted Oct 15, 2006

Summa Cum Laude – Vanderbilt – The Dores hung with Georgia between the hedges for four quarters, getting a 33-yard Bryant Hahnfeldt field goal with two seconds left to complete an improbable upset. The win was Vandy’s first over the Bulldogs since 1994, breaking a 53-game losing streak to ranked teams—all in a post-Jay Cutler era.

2. Texas QB Colt McCoy – In case you haven’t noticed, the freshman now has 18 touchdown passes to just three interceptions after throwing a school-record six scoring strikes in the Horns’ 63-31 shellacking of Baylor.

3. Oklahoma State’s Bobby Reid and Adarius Bowman – The Cowboy pitch and catch combo rewrote the school record book Saturday afternoon at the expense of the befuddled Kansas defense. Reid threw five touchdown passes, ran for another score and smashed head coach Mike Gundy’s school mark with 457 total yards. Bowman caught 13 passes for an OSU-best 300 yards and four touchdowns.

4. Indiana – The Hoosiers got a signature win over Iowa to move over .500 and within two wins of a bowl game for the first time since 1993.

5. Auburn DE Quentin Groves – Groves played possessed in the second half of Auburn’s win over Florida, collecting three sacks and a huge forced fumble in the fourth quarter.

Summa Cum Lousy – Georgia – For the second straight week, the Dawg D couldn’t make key stops late, allowing Vandy to drive for the winning field goal in an embarrassing 24-22 loss that could wind up keeping Georgia out of a January bowl game for the first time in five years.

2. Fresno State – Losing to Utah State a week ago confirmed it was going to be a down year in the Valley, but there’s absolutely no excuse for allowing 68 points at home to Hawaii in Saturday’s 31-point loss.

3. Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell – Harrell threw three interceptions and was pulled for the second straight week in the Red Raiders’ 30-6 loss to previously winless Colorado.

4. Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe – Wolfe Heisman campaign took a sharp detour after he ran for just 25 yards on 18 carries.

5. Stanford – In this hideous season for Walt Harris and the program, the Cardinal continue to discover new depths of ineptitude. Against struggling Arizona Saturday, Stanford managed just four first downs and 92 total yards, the lowest total in school history.

Offensive Coordinator of the Week – Paul Chryst, Wisconsin – Chryst’s offense attacked Minnesota’s defense on the ground and through the air, leaving the Gophers without any answers. The Badgers got four touchdown passes from John Stocco and two touchdown runs from P.J. Hill for an offense that leads the Big Ten in scoring.

Defensive Coordinator of the Week – Ron Collins – In a bad season for the Buffs, Collins has done a real nice job with the defense all year —none better than on Saturday, when the D had five takeaways and held Texas Tech to just six points and 292 total yards in the program’s first win of 2006.

Since 2000, three teams—2000 Oklahoma, 2002 Ohio State and 2003 LSU—have won national championships the year after losing five games. Michigan, settling in at No. 3 in the debut of the BCS standings, lost five games a year ago. Hmmm.

You watch Auburn beat Florida 27-17 at Jordan-Hare Saturday night in a classic SEC war. You recognize how doggone tough it is to navigate the conference without losing a game and how that annual cannibalization usually prohibits the 12 members from winning a national championship. And then you scratch your head how a 13-0 Auburn team didn’t even get a chance to play for that elusive title two years ago.

For all those who snickered at the notion Dave Wannstedt would bring the glory back to Pittsburgh, look at Wanny now. After slogging through his first season at his alma mater, the Panthers are 6-1, dominating lesser opponents with a balanced offense and strong play in the trenches, a Wannstedt trademark. With a win over Rutgers this week, Pitt might be ready to challenge West Virginia and Louisville, schools that’ll visit Heinz Field, for the Big East crown. Another strong recruiting class is leaving little doubt that bringing Wannstedt back from the NFL was a very shrewd move that’s already paying dividends.

Is Virginia Tech becoming the ACC’s version of Tennessee circa 2005, a program that lacks chemistry and discipline, while becoming more of a launching pad to the NFL than a cohesive unit? No one questions the talent in Blacksburg, but in Thursday’s ugly loss to Boston College, the Hokies fell apart at the seams for the second straight game, looking nothing like the blue-collar, fundamentally sound program that Frank Beamer began building from the ground up almost two decades ago. The coach may need to attract his version of the Vols’ David Cutcliffe to help restore the order. Maybe former Tech offensive coordinator Ricky Bustle can be lured away from Louisiana-Lafayette.

On a day when the offense was ordinary, Cal’s defense stepped up to hold Washington State to just three points, the sign of a program that’s ready to win more than a Holiday Bowl. The win was the Bears’ first in Pullman since 1979, another good omen that this season is beginning to evolve into something special.

A one-loss team is going to play the Ohio State-Michigan winner for the national championship. Think about it. There are only seven unbeatens left, six after the Buckeyes and Wolverines play. Boise State doesn’t count for this discussion, so that’s five. Three teams are from the Big East, two of which have to lose, making three. A maximum of three unbeatens vying for Glendale with half a season to go and USC getting taken to the wire every weekend. The odds are against there being two perfect teams facing off on Jan. 8, good news for Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Cal, Notre Dame and Auburn.

The Indiana administration didn’t need Saturday’s upset of Iowa to realize Terry Hoeppner is the right man to guide the Hoosiers to higher ground. Of course, it didn’t hurt. With young players, such as freshman QB Kellen Lewis, gaining confidence weekly, and Hoeppner playing the role of eternal optimist, IU is ready to become more than just an appetizer for the basketball season.

The upside to USC’s third consecutive win of seven points or less? The young Trojans are learning how to win the close games, something that’ll serve them well during the November stretch that’ll include games with Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. RB Chauncey Washington who’s endured years of injuries and poor grades to get here, grinded out 108 yards and the game-winning score on 22 carries.

South Florida’s blowout of North Carolina in Chapel Hill is Example No. 30 this fall alone that the Big East is on very solid footing. The conference has earned so much goodwill in 2006, now might be a good time to begin recruiting for a couple more football members, say, Maryland out of the ACC or East Carolina and UCF out of Conference USA.

Assuming that Adrian Peterson’s college career ended with Saturday’s broken collarbone, now is a good time to reflect on one of the all-time great college backs. Peterson’s true freshman season was a thing of beauty, a once-in-a-generation performance from a truly unique prodigy. That blend of power and speed wrapped in a boyish grin represented all that was good about college football in 2004. However, doesn’t it seem as if everything since then has been a major detour from expectations? Peterson never did win a Heisman, hoist a National Championship trophy or even cop a rushing title. Let the records show that unlike a Maurice Clarett, who frittered away his own future, it wasn’t Peterson’s fault. The support, either from the quarterback or the offensive line was never there like it was in 2004, forcing him to carry the burden of the offense and often multiple tacklers on his back. Peterson’s final play of 2006 was a dashing 53-yard bolt for the end zone, a fitting and lasting impression just in case that was his final carry in a Sooner uniform.

Rutgers continues to author one of the most amazing stories of 2006. In their toughest test of the year, the Knights went into Annapolis and ransacked Navy 34-0 on homecoming. The Middies were held 150 yards below their rushing average, and Rutgers QB Mike Teel finally made a contribution, throwing for a career-high three touchdown passes. This week’s trip to 6-1 Pittsburgh is going to make a heck of a Big East undercard to the Nov. 2 meeting between West Virginia and Louisville.

Can this year’s Heisman race be more anti-climatic? On the same day that front-runner Troy Smith stays the course in a 38-7 Ohio State victory, Adrian Peterson breaks his collarbone, Garrett Wolfe rushes for 25 yards and Chris Leak implodes in Florida’s first loss. It’s not yet Halloween, and the artist’s rendition of Smith has already begun being painted.

After getting thumped by P.J. Hill and Wisconsin, 2-5 Minnesota has now lost three trophies, Paul Bunyan’s Axe to the Badgers, the Little Brown Jug to Michigan and the Governor’s Victory Bell to Penn State. Barring an upset of Iowa on Nov. 18 Floyd of Rosedale, too, will be spending the next year someplace other than Minneapolis.

No doubt both teams were culpable in the brawl between Miami and Florida International that took place Saturday night, however, it not the kind of thing Larry Coker could afford at this stage of his already tenuous employment situation with the Canes.

As long as Arkansas is winning, don’t be surprised if you start hearing the name Darren McFadden mentioned in Heisman discussions. McFadden’s a little late to the party, but now leads the SEC in rushing on a team that controls its own destiny in the league’s West division.

Congratulations to Dan Hawkins for getting his first win in Boulder, a 30-6 throttling of Texas Tech. Long-term, Hawk will be just fine once he gets his kind of players at Colorado. Year two often makes a huge difference for many coaches. Just look at how much better Bronco Mendenhall (BYU), Skip Holtz (East Carolina), Urban Meyer (Florida), Terry Hoeppner (Indiana), Hal Mumme (New Mexico State), Dick Tomey (San Jose State), Tyrone Willingham (Washington), Dave Wannstedt (Pittsburgh) and Greg Robinson (Syracuse) are doing with a season under their belts.

Cincinnati may only be 3-4 this season, however, Mark Dantonio has done a terrific job against one of the country’s tougher schedules. The Bearcats nearly knocked Louisville from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday, falling 23-17. Cincy has now made Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and the Cardinals sweat before faltering in the second half, lessons the young program will benefit from in 2007.

Guess who’s 6-1 and about to enter the Top 25. Texas A&M. Against unbeaten Missouri, the Aggies got big days from QB Stephen McGee and RB Jovorskie Lane and big plays from the defense when it had to, handing Dennis Franchione the most poignant win of his A&M career.

Has anyone taken notice what a couple of old war horses, Idaho’s Dennis Erickson and San Jose State’s Dick Tomey, are doing in the WAC? The Vandals and Spartans are 8-4 combined and are two of the last three programs, along with Boise State, that are unbeaten in conference play. The season-ending game between the two upstarts could decide a bowl berth, if both aren’t already eligible at that point.

Yeah, he plays for Rice, however, it’s time for WR Jarrett Dillard to start getting some serious All-American recognition. Playing for the first time in the Owls’ new offense, the sophomore has 53 catches for 683 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite getting little cooperation from the quarterback in the early part of the season. On Saturday, Dillard had nine catches for 111 yards and three touchdowns, the last coming with 3.5 seconds to go to beat UAB 34-33.

If it came to fruition, the Steve Mariucci to Michigan State rumor would be great news for a Spartan program that’s in dire need of an infusion of positives news. The Spartans have been out scored 111-43 since taking a 37-21 lead over Notre Dame into the fourth quarter three weeks ago, likely sealing the fate of current head man, John L. Smith.

UNLV’s Shane Steichen came off the bench in the second quarter to throw five touchdown passes against New Mexico. It wasn’t enough, however, as the Rebels lost in overtime to New Mexico 39-36.

It says an awful lot about Jim Grobe and Wake Forest that the Deacons got off the mat to upset streaking NC State one week after collapsing in the fourth quarter to Clemson. Wake is now bowl eligible and very much in the hunt for an ACC title, along with about eight other teams.

Can former Marshall coach Bob Pruett be coaxed out of retirement? The 1-5 Herd, coming off a 31-21 loss to SMU, is 1-5 and on a collision course with its worst season in two decades.

Kent State is for real. The Golden Flashes, behind the running of Eugene Jarvis and the playmaking of QB Julian Edelman, crushed Toledo 40-14 for the school’s first five-game winning streak in 30 years. Kent, which hasn’t played a post-season game since 1972, is one win from bowl eligibility and one of just two MAC teams unbeaten in conference play.
Five Thoughts from CFN

Week Seven Thoughts

Your complaint isn’t with the BCS, it’s with the …

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]By Pete Fiutak
[/SIZE][/FONT]1. Human polls. At this time of year, everyone likes to whine about the BCS and its place in the sports universe. The BCS isn’t bad, it’s actually better than the old poll ‘n’ bowl system, but it’s not a playoff, so that’s why you don’t like it.

So, you’re mad at the initial BCS rankings when they were released on Sunday because you don’t like where your team is ranked. Fine, but first, remember that the BCS takes a picture of the entire season and will change wildly. However, because the human polls carry so much weight, they’re the determining factor with the Coaches’ and Harris Poll each counting as 1/3. That’s why, it you’re mad at the BCS, be mad at the humans.

I firmly believe you have to rank teams based on how good they are right now unless there’s a clear-cut way to rank them based on what has actually happened on the field. USC is unbeaten and gave Arkansas its only loss. Arkansas gave Auburn its only loss. Auburn gave Florida its only loss, Florida gave Tennessee its only loss, and Tennessee gave Cal its only loss. Therefore, among those teams at the immediate moment, it should go USC, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Cal, right? Not according to the coaches who have it USC, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Cal, and Arkansas, who’s ranked 11 spots lower than the Tiger team it thumped in Jordan-Hare.

Even more puzzling and pathetic is the Harris Poll, which has the luxury of starting its poll in midseason and not have to deal with preconceived, preseason notions. It has Auburn ahead of Tennessee, who’s ahead of Florida, who’s ahead of Arkansas, who’s ranked ten spots lower than Auburn. This is an embarrassment to college football and gives no credibility whatsoever to the BCS rankings. Pollsters, if you’re going to vote, do your homework.

Miami and FIU offending players should be done for good

[FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]By Pete Fiutak
[/SIZE][/FONT]. Let’s see if the NCAA , Miami, and Florida International really care about college athletics. Oh sure, the NCAA is all too happy to declare a player ineligible for taking a few bucks, and now it has to show that it won’t tolerate violence by going to the video tape and declaring permanently ineligible the Miami and FIU players who were kicking, stomping, bashing with helmets and more in their ugly fight on Saturday night.

There’s no place for that anywhere, there’s no place for that in college football, and there’s absolutely no excuse for that to happen. If you’re going to represent your university, you can’t be out there stomping on players, like Miami All-America safety Brandon Meriweather was doing, and you can’t be whacking players with your helmet like Miami’s Anthony Reddick did, and you can’t be involved in a fight like that. Defending yourself is one thing, but the ugliness in the Orange Bowl was something different. The schools took a good first step by suspending 31 between the two, and now that should be the end of their careers. Playing college football is a privilege, not a street fight. Go. Bu-bye.

An unfortunate end, if it’s the end, to Adrian Peterson’s NCAA career

By Richard Cirminiello
. Assuming that Adrian Peterson’s college career ended with Saturday’s broken collarbone, now is a good time to reflect on one of the all-time great college backs. Peterson’s true freshman season was a thing of beauty, a once-in-a-generation performance from a truly unique prodigy. That blend of power and speed wrapped in a boyish grin represented all that was good about college football in 2004. However, doesn’t it seem as if everything since then has been a major detour from expectations? Peterson never did win a Heisman, hoist a National Championship trophy or even cop a rushing title. Let the records show that unlike a Maurice Clarett, who frittered away his own future, it wasn’t Peterson’s fault. The support, either from the quarterback or the offensive line, was never there like it was in 2004, forcing him to carry the burden of the offense and often multiple tacklers on his back. Peterson’s final play of 2006 was a dashing 53-yard bolt for the end zone, a fitting and lasting impression just in case that was his final carry in a Sooner uniform.

Rutgers will help determine the 2006 national champion

By [FONT=verdana, arial,
sans serif][SIZE=-1]Matthew Zemek[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=verdana, arial, sans serif][SIZE=-2]
[/SIZE][/FONT]No, that's not a misprint.
While it's true that Navy's starting quarterback, a quality runner named Brian Hampton, suffered a dislocated knee in the first half of Saturday's game in Annapolis, what's also undeniable is that Rutgers was thoroughly prepared against Paul Johnson's very slippery triple option attack.

Rutgers clearly possesses more than a little muscle and discipline on defense. The Scarlet Knights have become so good and so confident under Greg Schiano that they will thoroughly test both Louisville and West Virginia in a beefed-up Big East. After several weeks of quietly watching this team stay undefeated, the emphatic blasting of Navy suggests that Rutgers has the chops to knock off one of the Big East's big boys, thereby having a profound effect on the national title race... especially if the victim is the winner of the WVU-Louisville game. USC, Texas, Tennessee or Cal could send Greg Schiano--and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a Rutgers alum--a Christmas card before heading to Glendale on January 8.

The return of the Wolverines

[SIZE=-1]By [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]John Harris[/SIZE]
For the last few years, it had gotten very difficult to watch Michigan football without getting angry about, well, honestly, the way they threw their helmet on the field and thought they would win. Then, in 2005, the program hit rock bottom, well, rock bottom for Michigan, when the Wolverines finished 7-5, after losing to Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl. The Wolverines had the athletes and the players, but it seemed they couldn’t get away from the underachieving tag. But, one year later, this is a different team. What is shocking in a sense is that these are the same players that took the field last year. Leon Hall. LaMarr Woodley. Alan Branch. Chad Henne. Mike Hart. The offensive line. Steve Breaston. Same guys. Why the change? How does a team underachieve so immensely and then turn into the Maize and Blue Mean Machine? Everything about this team screams intimidation, especially on defense, yet the question is how. How can a team turn it around so quickly in one year? What’s the magic formula? Is there a magic formula? Other teams have loads of returning starters and never shed their skin as this team has done. It’s maddening in one sense and captivating in another. Newly assigned coordinators, Mike DeBord on offense and Ron English on defense, have breathed life into this team on both sides of the ball, but it’s more than that. There’s a nastiness inherent in this team this year, a killer instinct has emerged. Maybe it’s just Michigan’s time. Just like it was in 1997, one year after Michigan lost three out of four to finish the 1996 season. No matter how the second half of the season turns out for Michigan it’s nice to see the Wolverines no longer ‘expecting’ to win, but taking care of business as they should’ve been for quite some time.
CFN's Weekly Affirmations

Zemek's Weekly Affirmation - 2006


By Matt Zemek
Posted Oct 15, 2006

When dealing with a diverse array of topics, there's a greater chance that some opinions will meet with considerable disagreement. But even if you don't agree with the week seven wrap-up of the college football season, you can't say that deficient opinions are the result of paying insufficient attention to the college football world.

By Matthew Zemek

Call me anal or obsessive if you want, but this columnist spent the first 54 minutes of his workday on Saturday--after a bathroom break--counting to three.

Yes, from 9:06 to 10:00 a.m. Pacific time, football ceased being about analysis, and instead turned into track and field for one American male sitting in front of one keyboard and one TV in Seattle (don't worry--this became three TVs when the games got better later in the day). To prove the point that the end of the previous week's USC-Washington game was hardly a case of bad or--at the very least--irregular officiating, the Weekly Affirmation had a stopwatch in hand (well, symbolically, anyway). In less than an hour's time, a lot was learned about a few seconds... the few seconds that regularly tick away between the end of a first-down play and the re-starting of the game clock after the ball is made ready for play.

As this column said the previous week, it is not irregular for a few seconds to drain from the clock after the end of a first down-gaining play that stays in bounds. In just 54 minutes of watching just one monitor and wearing out just one remote control, all of these multi-second time lags were uncovered:

Instances of two-second time lags were as follows: Wisconsin first down vs. Minnesota at 9:19, first quarter (play ended at 9:21); Syracuse first down vs. West Virginia at 5:40, first quarter (play ended at 5:42); Iowa vs. Indiana, 3:51, 1st (3:53); West Virginia vs. Syracuse, 13:07, 2nd (13:09); N.C. State vs. Wake Forest, 10:49, 2nd (10:51).

But wait: it just gets better. The three-second time lags like the one that hurt Washington against USC (from five seconds to two)--and made aghast national commentators apoplectic with righteous indignation--were in evidence in the first 54 minutes of a columnist's Saturday in front of the tube:

Iowa vs. Indiana, 3:29, 1st (3:32); Georgia vs. Vanderbilt, 4:02, 1st (4:05); Georgia vs. Vanderbilt, 3:33, 1st (3:36).

Oh, but you still ain't seen nothin' yet. In the second quarter of the Wake-NC State game, a Wolfpack receiver was tackled at the Demon Deacon 1, after which the ball came out late. The ball was correctly ruled down, but in the attempt to make a ruling on that live-action sequence, the officials didn't immediately stop the clock. It took FIVE seconds--from 10:21 to 10:16--for the clock to be stopped. Where's the outrage there? Someone got robbed of five precious seconds.

And here's the topper, or as fellow sportswriter Oscar Madison once said, "the ever-lovin' lulu of all time": in the Vandy-Georgia game, a play that ended at the first-down marker--and gained first-down yardage after a measurement--was not followed by a clock stoppage until fourteen whole seconds ticked off the Sanford Stadium clock. It took from 11:28 to 11:14 of the second quarter for someone to put a halt to the proceedings in Athens.

Remember, everyone: all this info--the six 2-second time lags, the three 3-second lags, the single 5-second lag; and a 14-second measurement lag (that's 11 total incidents of loose clock management)--came from watching snippets of games on one monitor over 54 minutes. One can safely assume that if one watched a full day of football (13 hours of games in all time zones) on one monitor alone, that number would reach at least 120 if the viewer was a vigilant and appreciably experienced channel surfer. Give someone five monitors for 13 full hours, and that number likely reaches (at the very least) 200. Apply that figure to all the TV games that took place in all of Division I-A on one weekend (beyond anything five monitors can handle), and that number will go much, much higher. Then include every single non-TV game as well, and you have a gigantic number. An overall figure of 500 would be quite conservative

The contention that two- or three-second time lags are regular occurrences in college football after first-down plays is a contention that has been backed up with solid evidence. No one who was REALLY paying attention should have been the least bit outraged or shocked after the Washington-USC game, which--for the record--was preceded earlier in the season by a first-half flap involving Kentucky and Florida. The defense--or should I say the Weekly Affirmation Stopwatch--rests.

Elsewhere in the college football world, one can't talk about the past weekend without giving deserved recognition to historically downtrodden programs.

Vanderbilt and Indiana have toiled for many years in college football's shadows. They both have coaches who are great gentlemen in the college football world, the kinds of leaders you want to root for as a fan and play for as a scholar-athlete. Vandy's Bobby Johnson prohibits profanity from himself, his staff, and his players. In so doing, he teaches young men how to conduct themselves with honor and dignity in a ruthlessly emotional sport where testosterone can easily run wild. Terry Hoeppner, an Indiana native, has endured brain surgery this year to lead the program--and the kids--he loves. At two distinguished academic universities, Johnson and Hoeppner truly manage to make coaching nothing more than a sports-related extension of teaching. For that reason, they're great fits at schools that should be delighted to retain them for years... even if showcase results are slow in coming.

But about those results: they do seem to be emerging at both programs.

Vandy's win over Georgia is less surprising than Indiana's stunner over Iowa. This is so because of Georgia's marked inconsistency at quarterback, but also because Vanderbilt has consistently thrown a big-league effort at better-known SEC opponents. The Commodores lost at Alabama on a 47-yard field goal, and fumbled in Bama territory with a chance to take the lead in the second half of that game. Vandy twice had Arkansas on the ropes, but a dropped pick-six and a missed field goal turned a late win into an all-too-familiar loss against the current SEC West leader. What you saw on Saturday afternoon in Athens was no fluke; Vandy has hitters on defense and athletic playmakers on offense. The problem for the Commodores is that quarterback Chris Nickson is too slow and mechanical on a lot of plays. Though a fast quarterback, he hasn't yet learned to run when he has the chance, and in terms of the passing game, Nickson makes a lot of throws that are either too soft or tardy. With more cultivation and practice, Nickson could become a threat in ways Jay Cutler never was. This is not to say that Nickson will be better than Cutler, only that he'll provide a different dimension for Bobby Johnson. If he cleans up his game, Vandy becomes a middle-tier SEC team in 2007.

Indiana also discovered against Iowa that it has potential at the quarterback spot, while--like Vanderbilt--showing that today's upset win could lead to tomorrow's increased stature.

When the Hoosiers came from a mile back to beat Illinois the week before, hardly anyone noticed, and understandably so. But after ringing up 31 points on a Norm Parker-coached Hawkeye defense, it's apparent that Hoosier signal caller Kellen Lewis wasn't just a one-trick pony against a porous Illini squad. Lewis carved up Iowa's secondary with poise, noticeable consistency, and--this is the key for a youngster at a program trying to get off the deck--under pressure in the money quarter. Lewis' smoothest pass of the day was also his most significant: a flawless flip to James Hardy--who never broke stride as he strolled along the seam--for the winning score. Yes, like Nickson at Vanderbilt, Lewis has a ways to go: he fumbled on the next to last play of the game, but managed to gather in his mistake before it became a catastrophe. Fortunately, he--like Nickson--lived to tell about his adventures, and if Lewis can hone his skills while learning from teachable moments, he could become the quarterback who takes his program to heights rarely seen in the past two decades.

Beyond the issue of quarterbacks, though, the bigger lesson Vandy and Indiana give to all college football fans, players and coaches--especially those at beaten-down programs--is that victory is much more attainable than many people might think. With a few psychological epiphanies, a team can pass through a threshold and slay longstanding demons. Once this is done, a culture at a program can be transformed, and a winning identity can be birthed. The Vandys of the world stop being the Vandys of the world. They become Vanderbilt to last, and they get to say to their opponents, "Hoosier daddy?"

Why is victory more attainable than one might initially suspect at lowly college football programs? As this writer has been shouting from the rooftops for several years now, mental toughness--the realm of the psychological--is the cornerstone. Cultural change at a program, after all, is about mindset before anything else, not the physical or tangible elements of size, speed or strength. The line between being 4-8 and 7-5 is a fine one. It's not an easy point of distinction. Teams that lose the three extra games might have a little less quality depth, but the teams that win the three extra games in the middle tier of college football aren't exactly stacked with riches. The difference between being home for the holidays and actually making the Meineke Car Care Bowl--which the Vandys and Indianas of the world would kill for--is found between the ears and in the heart. The key lies in the ability to repeatedly perform the basic tasks of football not just in the first 57 minutes, when you smell the upset and are filled with positive emotional juices, but in the final three minutes, when you realize that, "Holy guacamole, we might actually score this upset (or choke)!" The legs get heavy with stress-induced fatigue, the brain spins sideways, the heart beats a lot faster. Performing in these moments of mental and physiological flux is what turns 4-8 into 7-5. Failing in these situations turns that GMAC Bowl bid into no December practices.

College football games, dear readers, are the most fragile and delicate sporting events known to humankind. They turn on dimes, and expectedly so, given that hormonal flows of 19-year-old male members of the human species are involved. The young people who muster up the will and focus to play through the surges and ebbs of emotion are the people who can take Vandy and Indiana from Loss Land to Winner World. It happened on Saturday, at least, and it might continue to happen in the future of the programs in Nashville and Bloomington. Other coaches of lowly programs can take heart: if they can achieve a psychic breakthrough, new horizons of success could soon follow.

The final stop on the week seven survey of the college football landscape concerns this business of conference superiority. The verdict? No conference is superior to another, including the SEC.

The Southeastern Conference has it all over the other conferences in terms of passion, noise, intensity, game atmosphere, and the other qualities that make college football sing. But for yet another season, it's impossible to give the SEC a clear nod in football quality over other leagues because the offenses just plain stink. Just ask yourself: who's the best quarterback in the SEC? Pick your person: it could be Chris Leak. It could be Erik Ainge. By the end of the year, it might be Syvelle Newton, though not likely. All three of those signal callers have their fair share of talents, but none of them could be called "great" or "elite" in any meaningful sense of those weighty terms. Ainge has desperately needed David Cutcliffe to find himself, and even then, No. 10 for the Big Orange couldn't make the money throws in the final stages of a one-point loss against Florida. Speaking of Florida, the Gators butter their bread with defense; Chris Leak commits at least one really bad turnover in every major game Florida plays. Newton could become something special under Steve Spurrier, but that's only if he can consistently display more of the form he revealed against Auburn a few weeks ago. Are SEC defenses particularly good? On balance, yes. But they aren't getting tested by elite quarterbacks these days. What in the name of Danny Wuerffel and Peyton Manning is going on in the South? They don't make big-time signal callers in Dixie anymore, and such a reality proves that the league was a lot better when Mr. Spurrier was still in Gainesville. The disappearance of elite quarterbacks in the SEC affirms how much the conference has regressed to Bear Bryant ball since the modernizing Visored One left his lofty perch in North Central Florida.

While the SEC is hardly great shakes, though, no other conference is filling in the void. In the Big East, Louisville barely skated by Cincy, and West Virginia is shaky on the road. Rutgers and Pitt are giving the conference some heft, but at an elite level, the league has a lot of questions to answer. As long as USC stumbles through Pac-10 play, West Coast ball can't merit a sparkling assessment. Iowa's struggles have made the Big Ten a thin two-team conference, and Oklahoma's uneven season has left the Big XII similarly bereft of quality depth. And then there's the ACC, which stands for the Acutely Compromised Conference when it comes to the full abilities of all its member teams. Even the Mountain West--the seventh-rated conference by most standards--has showcase teams who aren't showcasing much: TCU and Utah have had severe struggles on offense this year.

You might as well shelve any and all conference superiority claims for yet another season, because the verdict in 2006 is the same as it was in 2005: no league is better than the others. The mediocrity runs too deeply through all conferences for any one of them to merit special recognition or applause.
CFN's Monday Morning QB

Zemek's Monday Morning Quarterback 2006


By Matt Zemek
Posted Oct 15, 2006

With games either being decided by large margins or--if close--by mistakes, there's not much in the world of play calling to talk about this week. Given that reality, it's worth looking at the race to Glendale and the fight for a No. 2 ranking no team seems to covet.

By Matthew Zemek

It's been a strange season, and this past Saturday was as strange as they come. Every top team not named Ohio State struggled for at least a half, if not more. Injuries have a lot to do with this--see, "Cardinals, Louisville"; "Trojans, USC"; and "Wolverines, Michigan"--but it doesn't change the larger truth of the matter: there's a paucity of truly elite teams playing top-shelf football this season.

Louisville, the team with proven quality depth (given the competence of backup QB Hunter Cantwell), struggled to beat Cincinnati at home with Brian Brohm back under center. USC figured to actually have a low-stress day at the office against an Arizona State club that, in the first 20 minutes of Saturday's action at the L.A. Coliseum, flatlined and fumbled to the N-th degree; but even then, the Trojans couldn't finish off an inferior opponent. The battle with the Sun Devils became weirdly worrisome because John David Booty not only committed gobs of mistakes, but big, touchdown-producing mistakes that were unforced. With Dwayne Jarrett back in the lineup, Booty--who should have improved--actually regressed, and that has to worry Pete Carroll more than anything else. And as for Michigan, the Wolverines--while surviving Penn State, 17-10, the same score by which JoePa's team beat Ohio State in a major night game last season in Happy Valley--prevailed in State College only because Penn State's pop-gun offense still hasn't been able to progress at all. Michigan won by merely avoiding debilitating mistakes. Yes, it's a great win for Lloyd Carr's crew, but it's also proof that the Maize and Blue is anything but a clear and authoritative No. 2 on the eve of the release of the first BCS standings.

West Virginia still has issues with its defense and a passing game that was clearly out of sync (unsurprisingly) against Syracuse. Texas--while playing well now--still got thrashed by the mighty Buckeyes at home five weeks ago. Cal had a big-time win in Pullman against Washington State on Saturday, but it's not as though the Golden Bears' offense played well. A blocked punt accounted for seven of Cal's 21 points; a 14-point effort against Wazzu won't scare opponents about Cal's overall capabilities. The more you look, the more you realize that there's a big vacuum in the race for No. 2. No one, frankly, deserves the spot, or to spin it a different way, the vote should be split among everyone in immediate contention.

If you asked me who would win between Michigan and USC today (not a few weeks from now), I'd now have to say that Michigan would deserve the nod, only because the Maize and Blue is less mistake-prone at this point. In a few weeks--when (if?) the Trojans get healthier--the verdict could change, but SC is too spotty right now to deserve the No. 2 ranking. Michigan deserves the position by default at this point.

Beyond the current chase for the No. 2 spot in the BCS, the larger significance of the mediocrity displayed by all non-Ohio State teams is this: the Big East and its heavyweights deserve their place at the table. If college football gets its worst-case scenario in terms of a BCS controversy--namely, an unbeaten Big East champ competing with several one-loss teams for the second spot in Glendale opposite the Buckeyes--the verdict here is that the Big East champ deserves the nod.

Think about this, fans, and be reasonable (if you can try): if your (non-Big East) team keeps struggling and eventually loses as a result, should it matter that your conference is better than the Big East (not that it's a clear point this season to begin with)? If USC keeps living on the edge and eventually falls off, the Trojans won't deserve a date in Glendale as much as an unbeaten West Virginia or Louisville will. If you want to talk about "preserving the integrity of the regular season," the Big East champ will have to be accorded sufficient recognition for going unbeaten. If no team can make an authoritative statement (i.e., rack up overwhelming amounts of style points), the only remaining rationale for ranking a team must be its overall record. If no ballclub can compile an attractive and aesthetically pleasing 11-1 season, the only fair choice for the BCS would be to invite an ugly 12-0 team to Glendale. As Florida and Missouri found out on Saturday, avoiding every landmine during a college football season is an extremely difficult task. Those who do manage to escape defeat--if placed in one of the BCS conferences--deserve their day in the (Valley of the) Sun if there are no more than two (and only two) unbeaten teams when December 10 rolls around.

The postscript to this whole Big East/unbeaten team debate, though, is an important one: with Rutgers and Pitt both producing solid seasons, West Virginia and Louisville don't have cakewalk schedules after their Nov. 2 showdown. While the Scarlet Knights and Panthers don't represent a pair of opponents as tough as, say, Oregon and Cal (USC) or LSU and South Carolina (Tennessee), they merit enough respect that if West Virginia and Louisville can dismiss both of them, the winner of the Nov. 2 showdown--be it the Mountaineers or the Cardinals--should deserve first consideration in the race for Glendale if all other teams suffer a loss. If, at the end of the 2006 season, Ohio State and Boise State are the only other unbeaten teams besides the WVU-UL winner, the Big East's best should play the Buckeyes on January 8. Michigan and USC are still calling the shots as they chase Jim Tressel's team, but if they slip up, the Big East winner--as an undefeated team--would deserve to travel to suburban Phoenix for a special New Year's celebration.
B.A.R. said:

JK..nice week again RJ. Thats 7-0 for you on winning weeks. Not many can say that. I trust it will continue this week.

Hey, I got a great line. And Texas wins by more than a TD.

Keep on chugging, I guess. Even your Wolverines refused to fuck me.

Alright, let's make some more money this week.

Keep on kickin' ass.
that sucks..gl with your trial bro, and for what it's worth, I like the UT pick.
that sucks..gl with your trial bro, and for what it's worth, I like the UT pick.

Thanks, Hunt. Vegas is still a possibility. But I wouldn't put money on it. I would need to get the call from the Court tomorrow and start on Wednesday. That way I can wrap up by Thursday the following week.

If I don't get the call tomorrow, it won't happen. We'll have to do it again sometime.

Maybe get you out there when the weather is warm.
on TX as well, RJ. at a better hour, will give more thoughts...but the cornhuskers are over-matched, and being given too much credit for what they've done so far this year.
loved anything under a TD, for sure.
Blog Roundup from EDSBS.com--Don't Miss the Story About OutSports at Texas-OU


We’re trapped in a meeting this morning studying the management lessons of Mitch Albom’s latest book, Why Everything Is Going To Be Just Fine No Matter What: Lessons I Learned From Senile People. Therefore, enjoy Blogtoberfest until our return around noon EST.

–Isiah Stanback, the entire Washington Huskies offense, is done for the year and career at Washington. Angry fist, shaking at sky at U Dub Dish.

–The referee hates your team. It’s in the Bible.

–Tim Brando makes the mistake of attempting to defend ranking Cal above Tennessee, forgetting that the most attractive, credible lunacy is free-standing lunacy. If you’re going to build a masterpiece as demented as Brando’s ballot, attach no supports or justifications. That’s just letting the bastards win.


Tim Brando fails to heed the lessons of Frank Gehry: if you’re going to be crazy, be big crazy and don’t explain.

–Andy Staples supports the short-yardage qb solution for Florida.

–Your status as a lesbian confirmed: The Wiz brings us his ongoing reports on OutSports’ tour of campus tailgates, including the best quote of the year from a pair of lesbians at the Red River Shootout:

“I asked them what brought them to the game and if they enjoyed sports. They dramatically turned up their noses and said that they were not sports fans but since they live in Dallas they ‘always!’ go to the Texas-OU games because of the ‘hot chicks, big beers, and even bigger boobs.’ “

Huzzah, ladies. Huzzah.

–The House Rock Built has the goods on why Northwestern’s Kafka lost his starting job.
Calvacade of Whimsey from cfn.scout.com

Cavalcade of Whimsy - What if ... ?


By Pete Fiutak
Posted Oct 16, 2006

What if everyone had come back for their senior years? How would the college football season have looked so far if Vince, LenDale, Santonio, and Reggie were playing? The greatest players to never win the Heisman, more on the FIU-Miami fiasco, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I injured myself diving into the end zone and now I might be done for the season. Unlike Adrian Peterson, I won’t be a multimillionaire next year at this time.

Hopefully, someone will get injured doing one of those ridiculous looking jumping chest bump celebrations so they can go away … Peterson’s ill-fated dive into the end zone against Iowa State wasn’t unnecessary by any stretch, but it did show the potential dangers of doing some sort of flip or jump across the goal line. Those shouldn’t be flagged, but coaches should stomp all over players who do them.

Although, knowing Al Davis’s penchant for Heisman winners, this might be a big break for Peterson … Assuming Peterson is off to the land of mercenaries, he’ll rank among the greatest college players who never won the Heisman. Keeping this in the land of the real, and taking out offensive linemen, defensive players, and others who’d have a better chance of getting me to watch the NLCS than they would of winning the Heisman, the ten greatest Heisman-possible players to never win it (based on the college careers they had and not talent) since 1936 were: 1. Tommie Frazier, QB Nebraska, 2. Jim Brown, RB Syracuse, 3. Vince Young, QB Texas, 4. Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma, 5. Archie Manning, QB Ole Miss, 6. Peyton Manning, QB Tennessee, 7. Anthony Carter, WR Michigan, 8. Rocket Ismail, WR Notre Dame, 9. Leroy Keyes, RB Purdue, 10. Jim McMahon, QB BYU, (wanted to add one more) 11. Larry Fitzgerald, WR Pitt

I’m wearing one right now in protest of another lousy column … Yes, the paper bag on the head, as worn by some Michigan State fans during the loss to Ohio State, is always, always, always funny. Along with Gandhi’s hunger strike to stop the autocratic rule of a newly independent India, it’s the most sincere form of non-violent protest ever.

And he’d look even better in those retro uniforms worn in the LSU game … To all the pretentious weenies out there trying to make Cal’s amazing DeSean Jackson out to be the next Reggie Bush (knowing that no one outside of the Pacific Time Zone will actually watch him play), wait until Florida’s true freshman Percy Harvin is 100% healthy and becomes a regular part of the offense. Did you see him blow past the fast Auburn defense on that 35-yard run? Yeeeeesh.

Now, all that preening and gloating looks tame … There’s no possible way to put a positive spin on the brawl between Miami and FIU. Just because Miami players showed attitude in the stomping, helmet bashing fight, and followed it up by doing a creepy all-for-one hopping thing, that doesn’t mean it’s a return to Miami Football, and it doesn’t mean the Cane players have restored any luster from the old days. If you’re a fan of the program, you should be appalled by everything surrounding the fight, and you must demand this to be an unfortunate last straw for Larry Coker and a time for the entire program to do some house cleaning. That includes being happy about Lamar Thomas being removed from the Comcast Sports SouthEast television booth following his idiotic “you should get your behind kicked” when “you come into our house” comments and suggesting the two teams go continue the fight later in the tunnel.

Free at last, out here on my own. Now control this. That’s right, career moves. I do what’s right for me. And me wants to groove. Is that ok?” … Simple rule: If you have to say you have control of your team, you don’t.

Hmmmmm, the Atlantic Ocean or Lake Mendota in mid-November … Try this one out: Barry Alvarez to Miami. Being the Grand Poobah of the Wisconsin athletic department might be fun for Alvarez, but don’t be shocked if University of Miami president Donna Shalala, the former Chancellor at Wisconsin who made a big push to improve the athletics at the school in the late 1980s, tries to woo Clemenza down to Coral Gables.

So that's how it is in their family” … This gem from Colorado’s Dan Hawkins after the win over Texas Tech: “Victory and defeat, they’re brothers and sisters. They dance together.”

“We all came into this world naked, the rest of it is all drag.” … I need this one to go to the replay booth. There’s a new ad from the United States Postal Service promoting its international service that was played ad nauseum over the college football weekend. In it, the package is trying to say
Konichiwa before getting into a discussion with a Japanese-speaking lamp. Is the package voice-over done by RuPaul? At the end of the ad, if the package had a hand, it would’ve asked the lamp to talk to it.

There’s nothing wrong with being Rod Smith … Nothing against the kid, but I’m desperately hoping Auburn WR Rodgeriqus Smith never gets good, because I can’t come close to getting his name right. I’ve tried to force myself to learn how to spell it, like Roethlisberger, Samardzija, and Fiutak, but I have to look it up every time. On the flip side, here’s praying for SE Missouri State WR Oge Oge to become a superstar.

But I don't know how I lived my life without it ... Is there a term for being so impatient when watching a TiVoed game that you do everything possible to hurry it up so you can see what’s happening live?

And it's even worse when you're getting everything right … What’s more depressing and sad, the look on your wife’s face when you play along outloud with Stump the Schwab, or Temple going for two in the fourth quarter against Clemson when down 63-9? Discuss.

And woe to those who want to watch their “investment” … Admittedly, I’m the wrong one to beef about this since I have all the games and all the feeds coming in on a college football Saturday, but networks shouldn’t leave blowout games for more interesting ones. My biggest problem is when the NFL does this when I’m tracking my fantasy guys, but I imagine that if you’re a die-hard fan of a team, and you’re settled in to watch a game, you’d rather sit through the blowout than catch the end of Vanderbilt-Georgia.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Welcome back to roughly 15 years ago, before the days of players being able to leave early for the NFL and back to when you had teams revolve around superstars who had four years to jell. Better yet, what if all the draft eligible juniors of last year had decided to pull a Matt Leinart/Roy Williams/Ricky Williams/Ron Dayne and stick around for a final season? How would the college football world look this year? I’m a huge believer that it’s always in the best interest of draftable players to leave early, but as a college fan, I wish all the stars were back. With that in mind, and remembering one pro-caliber player can be the difference between being a contender and an also-ran, here’s how the 2006 season likely would’ve been different so far if everyone had returned.

10. Laurence Maroney would’ve made Minnesota a bit of a player in the Big Ten race
Minnesota is careening towards a losing season with a young team and a lousy defense. However, QB Bryan Cupito is a veteran and the passing game isn’t all that bad. All that's missing is a star back to make the good running game great. Laurence Maroney would’ve been a threat for 2,000 yards and likely would’ve gotten the Gophers by Purdue and Penn State while making the Michigan game, even against that great run D, far tighter. Maroney would’ve been the difference between a likely 5-7 season and a possible 8-4 campaign.

9. UCLA would’ve been more of a factor in the Pac 10 race
Maurice Jones-Drew was far better than he ever got credit for. He’s a surprising power back who’d challenge Miami’s Devin Hester and USC’s Reggie Bush for the honor of being the nation’s most electrifying player. He would’ve been enough of factor to get UCLA by Washington and stay in the hunt for the Pac 10 title.

8. Wisconsin running game would’ve been unstoppable
Wisconsin is 17th in the nation in rushing thanks to the thunder of P.J. Hill and his 144 yards per game. Now imagine what the attack would’ve been like if Brian Calhoun was back. It’s a bit of a stretch to think he’d have gotten the Badgers past Michigan, who they lost to 27-13, but it would've been closer considering Calhoun would've been a much-missed safety valve receiver for John Stocco. Wisconsin, as is, will probably go 10-2, but it likely would’ve finished 11-1 with Calhoun.

7. Tyler Palko would be putting up unreal numbers, and …
… Pitt would be considered just as much of a favorite for the Big East title as West Virginia and Louisville. Palko currently leads the nation in passing efficiency, even though his receiving corps is average. If Greg Lee was back as Palko’s deep threat, he would’ve opened up everything else for an offense that’s getting better by the week, and likely would’ve helped the Panthers keep up in what was a shootout loss to Michigan State.

6. Florida State’s defense would probably have been in the top five
Florida State might not be Florida State at the moment, but that’s because the offense stinks. The defense, outside of a few big plays, has been solid all season long. Now imagine what the D would’ve done if Ernie Sims, one of the NFL’s bright young linebackers, and Antonio Cromartie, who missed all of last season rehabbing an injured knee, had been back. Would these two NFL first rounders have been able to come up with a big late stop in the Clemson and NC State losses? Probably.

5. The South Carolina secondary would’ve been among the best in recent history
South Carolina’s pass defense is 13th in the nation, partially because it hasn’t played anyone who can throw, but the secondary would’ve been positively amazing if speedy corner Johnathan Joseph and ball-hawking safety Ko Simpson were back joining All-America caliber corner Fred Bennett.

4. The NC State defensive line would’ve been among the best ever
Imagine how unbelievable NC State’s line would’ve been with Tank Tyler in the middle along with John McCargo and with Mario Williams and Manny Lawson terrorizing on the outside. Williams gets a bad rap for not being Reggie Bush, but he was a monster of a college pass rusher who’d be a threat for 25 sacks with all the attention needing to be paid to the tackles. Don’t forget about tackling machine Stephen Tulloch, who'd be back at linebacker.

3. Texas would’ve beaten Ohio State … probably
And would probably have been the number one team in the nation. It’s not like Colt McCoy was bad against Ohio State, but he wasn’t Vince Young. All the pieces were in place for Texas with the return of Young making the defending national champions something truly special. Don’t assume Texas would’ve been a slam dunk to win the rematch of the 2005 classic because …

2. Ohio State would’ve been even better
Picture the current Ohio State offense with Santonio Holmes back as the number one target, and improved Ted Ginn as the number two, and the tremendous Anthony Gonzales as an unstoppable number three. Troy Smith would be drooling at all his options. The defense, which regrouped in a big hurry, would’ve still had safety Donte Whitner and corner Ashton Youboty. As good as OSU might have been, it still likely would’ve been the preseason number three because …

1. USC would’ve been an offensive juggernaut and would’ve been a near lock to play the Ohio State/Texas winner for the national title
John David Booty hasn’t been all that bad in place of Matt Leinart, and USC has stayed unbeaten despite a slew of injuries and little explosion from the running game. Things would’ve been just a wee bit different if Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Fred Matua and Winston Justice were back on offense, while Darnell Bing would’ve made a huge difference on an already solid D.

Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be with you (or vice versa).
- Kudos to Kirk Herbstreit for his rant against Virginia Tech and its punkish demeanor and attitude in the loss to Boston College. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s refreshing to hear any announcer fire out their opinions and expressing their passion without it being forced and manufactured (Tony Kornheiser) or sounding like schtick (Dick Vitale).
- The nation’s most interesting player: UL Monroe’s Kevin Payne. The Warhawk defensive back, and former starting running back, is second in the Sun Belt in tackling, and leads the league in punting.
- It’s finally here. I guarantee you the Hawaii – New Mexico State battle will be the most fun game you’ll watch all year long. NMSU’s Chase Holbrook is No. 1 in the nation averaging 403 passing yards per game, while Hawaii’s Colt Brennan is No. 2 averaging 378.5 per game. I’m demanding 1,000 yards of passing offense and over 100 points.

My Heisman ballot this week would be … 1. Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma (for at least two more weeks), 2. Troy Smith, QB Ohio State, 3. Mike Hart, RB Michigan, 4. Erik Ainge, QB Tennessee, 5. Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world1) Overrated: Lou Piniella’s wallet ... Underrated: Steve Lyons
2) Overrated: The Money … Underrated: The Mob
3) Overrated: Texas Tech passing attack … Underrated: Baylor passing attack
4) Overrated: “This one time, at band camp …” ... Underrated: The University of Wisconsin marching band
5) Overrated: The 1,420-calorie, 107-fat gram “Monster Thickburger” from Hardee’s with two 1/3 pound slabs of Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayo on a buttered sesame seed bun ... Underrated: Bevo XIII

Sheer hubris run amok … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. Still dying going 1-1-1 last week and going 6-11-1 so far, here’s the official kiss of death for three teams … 1) Texas A&M +1.5 over Oklahoma State, 2) Texas Tech -2 over Iowa State, 3) Oregon -4 over Washington State

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … Tommy Tuberville yelled at me halfway through the column saying I was writing like I was scared. Obviously, the inspirational rant didn’t work.
GL this week RJ, nice thread as always good reading. My only loser last week was MD. They played horrific in the first half, yet still had the cover in hand at the end only to give up an incredulous 45 yard pass over the top on a blown coverage. Can't help comparing this weeks Wisc/Purd matchup to the Iowa/Purdue matchup. I would think Wisconsin should be able to dominate on the LOS in this one and their defense is better than Iowa's. Only difference is Purdue is at home in this one. I have this as a prospective play as well.
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Thanks, Timh.

Maryland was so bad just because they teased us in the end after coming back from 0-20.
From EDSBS.com


The numbers are ghastly enough. Michigan’s sitting at number one in total rushing defense, giving up a paltry 32.6 yards a game and bludgeoning opposing running backs and lines in the process. Stats aside, the anecdotal and visual evidence of their confirmed nastiness is accumulating.

First, the anecdotal:

Doctors haven’t cleared starter Anthony Morelli or backup Daryll Clark for full contact in practice after both quarterbacks sustained concussions when Penn State (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) lost last week to No. 2 Michigan.

And second, the visual. If Michigan wins the national title, this will be its enduring brand on the psyche of college footballdom:


The best college football photograph taken in recent history: flattened.
rj - What would I do without your blog fest? I swear, I spend every free minute on this site reading about and talking football. I might jump out of a window if you suddenly stopped.

By the way...just joined you on Texas -6.5. GL this week! :shake:
Here's a little scoop on MD's achilles heel so far defensively...

Terrapins' Raw Defense Is Learning on the Run

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006; Page E06

Years from now, last week's comeback victory at Virginia could be remembered as the day that the Maryland Terrapins turned things around. It could go down as a turning point for a program that was mired in mediocrity. At the very least, the 28-26 victory at Scott Stadium was a dramatic performance against a traditional rival. But if the Terrapins are truly bowl contenders this season, they know they must correct one of the biggest reasons that they fell behind 20-0 to the Cavaliers in the first place -- a porous run defense.

"We're not very good in run defense right now," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said. Through six games, the Terrapins stand at 4-2 despite allowing 171.3 yards per game, which ranks 101st in the nation. Maryland is one of just 10 teams to allow more than five yards (5.09) per carry.
And the Terps are the only team in that group to own a winning record. The combined record of the other nine teams to surrender more than five yards per carry is 12-51. Two of those teams -- Stanford and Temple -- are winless. Problems against the run proved to be a major factor in Maryland's two losses, first with Steve Slaton (195 yards) at West Virginia and then with Tashard Choice (138) at Georgia Tech. If not for the Terps' furious rally, it would have been a big part of a third loss, this time against a Virginia team that struggled to run the ball until the Terps came to town. Virginia entered last week's game averaging 77.2 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry. Against the Terrapins, the Cavaliers posted 181 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry. "Some of it is inexperience at linebacker," Friedgen said. The Maryland front seven features three players -- nose tackle Dre Moore and linebackers Wesley Jefferson and Erin Henderson -- starting for the first time this season. Meantime, a secondary that has had to perform in run support boasts two new starters in strong safety Marcus Wimbush and cornerback Isaiah Gardner. Friedgen said of Henderson: "Sometimes he's very good. Sometimes he isn't." Friedgen also put some heat on the defensive line. He said he expects the line to make one out of seven plays. "Some of them were one out of 10 on Saturday, one out of 11," Friedgen said. "That's not good enough." Jefferson said that some players have yet to master the system installed by first-year defensive coordinator Chris Cosh. "It's really a new system for us," said Jefferson, a middle linebacker. "Even for an experienced guy like me, it's still kind of different. A lot of the younger guys, they're not sure where to fit." That hint of doubt, he said, can translate into hesitance on the field. "Sometimes it takes a little bit to take it from practice to games," said three-year starting linebacker David Holloway. "When the bright lights are on and you've got new people in there, sometimes people are going to be out of their gaps." Defensive end Jeremy Navarre said the defense isn't far from becoming formidable against the run. Improvement, he said, is simply a matter of making more plays. "Everybody's got to step up a little bit. It's kind of a 'look at yourself' type thing," he said. "We just have to keep working. We've got to get off of blocks and separate. Once we do that we should start to see the rushing yards going down. We've just got to start playing our top game." Meantime, Cosh remains confident that the run defense will improve with the rest of the defense as a whole, as players begin to gain confidence in knowing where they fit in the scheme. "You can have 80 defenses and do them partially well, or do a few really well. You've got to build on that," Cosh said. "I'm happy with where we're at and what we're doing. They've got a picture at the end of the tunnel of what they want to be. And they're working toward that."

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Picks from EDSBS.com


Question: How can someone get upset about his picks going 9-2?
Answer: If he started his Saturday going 9-0.


Solon complaining about going 9-2… kind of like Rick Ocasek complaining about being unlucky in love.

Alas, the elusive perfect weekend was not to be, as the Gators did indeed implode, losing a game they arguably deserved to win, and Tulane had 5 turnovers (to none for UTEP) and failed to hit the spread by 1 point. Still, I rode my luck a little elsewhere; CMU needed a goal line stand to stay ahead of the number against Ball State, so I’d better stop complaining and try to get after it again.

On another note, I’d like to thank ESPN.com for being just as shitty as the rest of their enterprise. Suffice it to say that if you want accurate statistics, make sure to get them from another outlet. It’s not a whole lot of fun to have them list ( e.g.) Nate Longshore as having gone 13-24, 154, 0-1 in the ESPN.com boxscore, and then see in the recap–their very own recap, that is–that his stats are listed as 17-31, 176, 0-2. This is especially not exciting when you go back and check the statistics you’ve just spent the last 3 hours compiling, only to discover that this is not an isolated problem and you’ve pissed away much of your Sunday. Hey, ESPN–USAToday’s website–the online arm of the shittiest newspaper in the country–kicks your ass.


My good week last week leaves me at 40-28 for the season (59%). Let’s hope I can keep it going with this week’s slate.

Fair warning–I am on very little sleep this week. On the plus side, I have finished my deposition summaries and should be fully rested next week; I suppose we’ll see if it makes a difference.


Oh the irony of using to law to feed a gambling habit.

Here are this week’s selections:


West Virginia (-22) v. CONNECTICUT

I am not as high on West Va as some others are but they are still an elite team this season. UConn, on the other hand, has double-digit losses to every team they have played that has a pulse. In terms of the types of offenses they run, these teams are similar; West Va’s passing game is not overly prolific, but it is efficient (125 ypg, 8.14 ypp, with a 5-4 ratio); UConn’s is not prolific, nor is it efficient (148 ypg, 5.21 ypp, with a 4-5 ratio). Each team has played one team that could throw; West Va held Syracuse to 9 of 22 for 146 yards, while UConn gave up 13 of 16 for 154 yards; clearly this results in an edge for West Va but the respective running games will decide this one, and that is where West Va has a large edge. West Va has averaged 299 ypg rushing this season, and are averaging 6.82 ypc. UConn’s run D is poor; aside from holding Wake (without their starting QB or RB) to 76 yards, they have been poor against teams that can run the ball. Navy–the team most correlative with West Va (of course, they don’t run the same offense, but they present some of the same problems)–rushed for 461 yards–and, 8.23 ypc–against the Huskies. In addition, South Florida–before legitimate rushing threat RB Ponton joined the team–rushed for over 200 yards against UConn. They also gave up 198 yards rushing to 1-AA Rhode Island. On the other side of the ball, UConn has rushed the ball well against bad rushing defenses–257 yds v. Indiana, 167 yds v. Navy–but they have struggled with better defenses, gaining only 87 ypg and 2.44 ypc against Wake and South Fla. Last week, against Army’s poor rush defense, outside of a 98 yard TD run in the 1st quarter UConn averaged 3.28 ypc. West Va is giving up 89 ypg and 2.82 ypc; while they have not played too many good rush offenses, they have still played a few that are more accomplished than UConn. Another potential benefit to West Va is that UConn will abandon the running game if they fall behind; an average of 16 passes in their wins, but an average of 36 passes in their losses. This will not work to West Virginia’s detriment, and I think they will get a comfortable win here.


Michigan State (-7.5) v. NORTHWESTERN
Michigan State’s season has gone south, but outside of the loss to Illinois, the others (ND, Mich, Ohio St) are understandable. I think they will get back on track this week against what is probably the worst team in the Big 10. Michigan State’s running game has disappeared with the injury to RB Ringer, but the going should be easier this week against a D that has given up 177 ypg in its games against non-MAC opponents. The key to this game for MSU, however, is QB Stanton; he will likely play despite his injury last week, and he should get back on track after going up against the solid defenses of Mich and OSU the last two weeks. NW is decidedly average against the pass, giving up 8.81 ypp against the teams they have played that could throw the ball–and that is using a fairly liberal interpretation, as included in that number are Penn State QB Morelli and 1-AA New Hampshire QB Santos. As for NW’s O, they cannot pass the ball in any capacity; 112 ypg, 5.05 ypp, with a 1-7 ratio. QB Brewer will get the start this week despite his poor play; a large reason for this is that his potential replacements are no better. MSU is vulnerable in the air but that will not be an issue this week. NW can run the ball, but this is not the prolific NW O of years past; 123 ypg in Big 10 play, with opponents that include arguably the worst D in the conference, Purdue. MSU was run over by Illinois and Michigan, but their run D seemed to get back on track last week against OSU, where the Buckeyes were held to 182 yards on 44 carries; outside of long runs by WRs Ginn and Gonzalez–athletes NW can’t match–they ran for 138 yards on 42 carries. This is a D that earlier shut down the ND and Pitt running games, and I think they will be able to hold the NW production down enough to get ahead of this number.
North Carolina State (+1.5) v. MARYLAND
Maryland’s D is so bad that, to be honest, I am amazed that they are giving points to any halfway decent opponent (Virginia, last week, does not qualify). Against BCS opponents, Maryland gave up well over 300 yards rushing to West Va, well over 200 yds rushing to GT, and gave up 171 yards against Virginia–a team that had been averaging 77 ypg. NC St RBs Brown and Baker are probably the second best set of RBs Maryland will have faced (they are probably right about as good as GT’s) and they should have a good day on Saturday. Maryland’s run D has been so bad that teams do not need to throw (witness WVU’s 9 pass attempts); but there is little doubt that NC State QB Evans will, amazingly, be the best QB Maryland has faced thus far this season (obviously, WVU QB White is a better all-around QB, but he presents little threat as a passer). Since Evans–who, for the record is listed as probable for the game (concussion)–became NC St’s starter, the NC St O has averaged 20 ppg and 335 ypg, and they have been playing defenses a lot better than Maryland’s. Maryland’s O is all right, but their production this season is a little deceptive. First of all, they averaged 22 ppg and 308 ypg against William and Mary, MTSU, and Fla Intl; this is not overly impressive. Against West Va, they did not do anything offensively until they were trailing 28-0; against GT they had a KO return for a TD and scored another on an 8-yd drive; and, against Virginia they had an Int return for a TD and scored another on a 3-yd drive. I do not think NC State has a great D, but since losing to Southern Miss they have given up 311 ypg to offenses that are at least as good as Maryland’s (whether Wake or FSU are better is questionable, but it’s certainly debatable and Md is not demonstrably better, at least). Md QB Hollenbach is a very average QB–5.90 ypp against BCS opponents, only one of which has a particularly strong D–and I do not look for him to have particularly good production here. Maryland will run the ball a little bit, but they will not be able to keep up with NC State’s O and I look for the ‘Pack to get the outright win in this spot.

Western Michigan (-4) v. BALL STATE
Both of these teams had strange games last week, a product of their games being played in 40-degree temperatures with 20 mph winds. Such conditions are not in the offing this week and this game should be true to form. Ball State has a strong passing game–not in evidence last week–but the WMU D has been strong, arguably the best in the MAC this season (along with Kent’s) and their performance against the N Illinois O last week is the rule rather than the exception. WMU has not gone up against the strongest passing games–little doubt, Ball’s will be the best they have faced (276 ypg before last week)–but the statistics the WMU pass D have amassed are too strong not to suggest quality; 173 ypg and 6.27 ypp, with an amazing 3-14 ratio. Add to this that Ball State has yet to play a particularly strong pass D and I think they will struggle to produce this week. WMU has struggled on O this season, but they will likely get well this week against a poor Ball State D; they are giving up 8.19 ypp this season with a 9-6 ratio against 1-A opponents (please note that these numbers include last week’s games in 20 mph winds, and do not include a 29-46, 451, 3-0 performance in a loss against 1-AA North Dakota State, which would push the numbers to 8.49 ypp with a 12-6 ratio). Ball St is no better against the run, giving up 172 ypg and 5.16 ypc; these numbers are skewed by Garrett Wolfe’s magnificent performance against them, but even without that game opponents are averaging 112 ypg and 4.18 ypc, despite not having faced a single opponent with anything other than a below-average running game. To make matters worse, Ball St is missing multiple players on the defensive side of the ball this week. WMU has not produced yards on O this season–291 ypg–but their D has set them up and they have scored a good bit of points–24 ppg–despite their low yardage production. Their best games have been their last two (363 ypg) and they should have their best game yet this week. The gap in defensive quality between these two teams is best illustrated by their respective performances against Northern Illinois; Ball St gave up 358 yards rushing and 252 yards passing, while WMU gave up 0 yards rushing and 171 yards passing. Admittedly, as mentioned earlier, WMU played NIU in windy conditions but there is little reason this should have hampered NIU’s ability to run the ball, and in any event WMU’s rather modest passing game was considerably more productive in the same conditions.

ARKANSAS (-21) v. Mississippi
Arkansas is a strange team, insofar as their development this season is exponential; one could make the argument that each game of theirs is better than their last. This stands to reason, seeing as how they are starting a true freshman QB and have a new OC. Assuming they continue this progression, they should have little trouble getting ahead of the number here; Ole Miss is not a good team, and after being walloped by Mizzou, Kentucky, and Wake, they were thoroughly handled by a Vandy team that lost its starting QB in the 2Q, and happened to win despite being giving up over 400 yards while themselves gaining less than 200. The only bright spots on their resume are close losses to Georgia and ‘Bama, but given the former’s recent play and the latter’s recent history of playing down to their competition I think these games do not augur significant improvement for the Rebels. Arkansas is sort of a paper tiger–any team that has decent WRs will tear them up (Tennessee? LSU? South Carolina?)–but there is little chance that Ole Miss QB Schaeffer and his receivers will be able to do the job; they have only garnered 124 ypg, 5.58 ypp, and a 5-8 ratio for the season. Ole Miss’ best offensive weapon is RB Green-Ellis, but Arkansas is all right against the run and should hold him in check. On the other side of the ball, the Arkansas running game is very strong, averaging 182 ypg and 5.23 ypc against BCS opponents, with all the games being against pretty good run defenses. Ole Miss is poor against the run, giving up over 200 yards to Mizzou, Wake, and Bama, and giving up averages of 162 ypg and 4.44 ypc against a fairly average slate of run offenses; to illustrate the point, their teams are averaging 113 ypg and 3.62 ypc against their other 1-A opponents this season. Ole Miss actually shut down the Arkansas running game last year, but this is a much weaker D and the Razorbacks will be looking to make amends. Arkansas QB Mustain is not a good QB yet, but when his team gets a lead they can focus on the running game, which helps his efficiency; given Ole Miss’ offensive limitations the chances that they will jump out to a lead in this game are small, and given that I expect Mustain to have a good game and for his team to easily get ahead of this number.

BAYLOR (-3.5) v. Kansas
Baylor is only 3-4 this season, but until last week they had been in all of their games, and last week’s final score was a little deceptive, with 2 defensive TDs for Texas and 2 TDs on drives of less than 30 yards after Baylor TOs. Baylor’s O is much improved this season; they have switched to a poor-man’s TCU, and the result has been good if not great; 274 ypg with a 9-7 ratio. Baylor has run up against some pretty good defenses this season–the only real dog they have played is Army–and their passing game should be able to produce this week; against BCS level opponents, Kansas is giving up 311 ypg and 8.57 ypp with a 9-3 ratio. Kansas has played two QB this season; while QB Meier brings a running threat that QB Barmann cannot match, I think Barmann is a much better passer. The truth is, neither is too accomplished; combined, they are averaging 237 ypg and 6.60 ypp with a 10-10 ratio despite having played only 1 particularly legitimate defense (Nebraska). Baylor is pretty good against the pass; opponents are only averaging 6.58 ypp, and even after last week’s 6-1 performance by Texas, their ratio for the season sits at 11-10. Kansas runs the ball better than they throw it, and they are averaging 149 ypg and 4.07 ypc with Meier as the starter–but those numbers have been accumulated against very pedestrian defenses and they will find the going tougher this week. Baylor’s run D had a poor game against Colorado–270 yards on 47 carries–but they have been good against the other good run offenses they have faced, holding TCU, Wash St and Texas to 106 ypg and 3.08 ypc. I rate all of those running games as markedly stronger than Kansas’; I think their performance against the Colorado running game was aberrational, and I expect the Baylor D to bounce back in a big way after their performance last week and have a strong game on Saturday.

Wisconsin (-6) v. PURDUE
Purdue’s offense this season is, as always under Tiller, prolific; that said, they have not faced a D anywhere near as good as this one, and the one that is remotely in Wisconsin’s class–Iowa–held them to 17 points. QB Painter seems to have grasped the offense, and he is averaging 337 ypg, 7.78 ypp, and a 7-4 ratio against BCS opponents. Having played them the last three weeks, I have often praised the Wisconsin pass D, which has amazingly only given up more than 113 yards passing once this season, and has given up just 2 TDs passing in all their games, both passes from Henne to Manningham; for the season, they are giving up 4.55 ypp. There is little doubt that Purdue will blow up these stats, but I expect their normal level of production to be severely curtailed. Purdue does run the ball pretty well, but Wisconsin has done pretty well against the run–their worst games statistically coming in blowouts where the opponents got rushing yards after the game was no longer competitive, while holding Michigan to 101 yds and NW to 122 yds–and I doubt the Purdue running game will be a factor. On the other side of the ball, Purdue has a below-average D and they will likely struggle against a Wisconsin O that is getting better by the week. Wisconsin’s strength is the running game; freshman RB Hill is no joke, going over 100 yards in each game except v. Michigan, and averaging 181 ypg and 6.53 ypc against three other Big 10 opponents, all of which have run defenses as good as if not better than Purdue’s. Purdue has given up 190 ypg rushing and 4.54 ypc against BCS opponents, and have faced no RBs anywhere near the quality of Hill. In recent weeks, QB Stocco has stepped it up as well; in Big 10 play he is averaging 238 ypg and 9.63 ypp, with a 9-1 ratio–and those numbers include a below-average game against arguably the best D in the nation. Purdue has been torn up by the two legitimate QBs they have faced this season–Quinn and Tate have gone for 286 ypg and 9.36 ypp with a 4-0 ratio–and, perhaps more telling, the two MAC teams they have faced this season have gone for 335 ypg and 8.59 ypp with a 6-3 ratio. I think Wisconsin is the clear 3rd team in the Big 10 and I think they will handle Purdue with relative ease on both sides of the ball.

Oregon State (-2.5) v. ARIZONA
Oregon State was dominated by both Boise and Cal but ‘Zona is a different proposition. ‘Zona cannot run the ball; despite their 221 yd effort last week against Stanford, I still rate them as having the worst running game among the BCS schools; against USC, UCLA, and Washington, they rushed for a total of -36 yards. Oregon State has recovered nicely from getting steamrolled by Boise in the 2nd game of the year, and they have given up 90 ypg and 2.60 ypc in Pac 10 play; it is probably safe to say it will be back to normal for the Arizona running game this week. This is particularly problematic for their O, because they will likely be down to their 3rd string QB this week, Kris Heavner. Some might recall Heavner’s rather undistinguished 2003 and 2004 seasons, where he threw for 6.15 ypp with a 12-19 ratio. Outside of a strong performance by Cal QB (and likely Pac 10 1st team QB) Longshore, they have played rather well, giving up 6.82 ypp with a 2-5 ratio, despite playing against some good QBs; outside of Idaho’s QB, there is little doubt the other QBs are all considerably more accomplished than Heavner. Oregon State’s running game is average but their passing game is strong; QB Moore is getting good production (232 ypg and 7.63 ypp), and he should be able to exploit a ‘Zona D that is giving up 7.48 ypp this season and has only 3 interceptions; this should be enough given that I expect the Oregon State D to control this game.

Colorado (+13.5) v. OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma’s O has been strong this season, due to better-than most expected production from QB Thompson–but without RB Peterson, they will definitely suffer. For the season, Peterson had 935 yds and was averaging 5.6 ypc; all other running backs combined had 79 yds and were averaging 3.95 ypc. Colorado’s run D is pretty good, and even with Peterson OU would have had their hands full; BCS opponents are averaging 96 ypg and only 3.36 ypc against the Colorado D. The onus will be upon QB Thompson to produce; against BCS teams, OU is averaging 7.73 ypp with a 5-3 ratio. These are good numbers, but I think his performance will suffer without the running threat provided by Peterson, as teams will be able to focus on the pass. Colorado has given up a lot of yards to opposing passing attacks, but they have faced some pretty strong ones thus far (Col St, Zona St, Mizzou, Texas Tech), and they have played well considering the opposition; 6.92 ypp, with a 12-9 ratio. Given that they should able to make stopping Thompson their top priority, I do not expect them to be lit up via the air. On the other side of the ball, Colorado’s running game has gotten stronger as the season has gone on, and the last few weeks they have started to pile up some impressive numbers. In chronological order, they gained 133 yds v. Zona St, 173 yds v. Georgia, 189 yds v. Mizzou, 270 yds v. Baylor, and 228 yds v. Texas Tech; in these games, they are averaging a healthy 4.73 ypc. OU has a good D, but opposing teams have been able to run the ball on them; against BCS teams they have given up 149 ypg and 4.66 ypc. Colorado’s passing game is by no means strong, but for the most part HC Hawkins knows enough to focus on the run. Colorado has shown clear improvement from game-to-game this season, culminating in last week’s demolition of Texas Tech; I am not sure that they can beat Oklahoma but I think their D is good enough to keep it close and they could certainly come out on top in what should be a low-scoring contest.

CLEMSON (-7.5) v. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech appears to have had a good season thus far, but if you look more closely at what they have done their only victory of note was against Va Tech, and after what BC did to them last week this win looks considerably less impressive. GT’s O has played well, but against the 2 best defenses they have faced–the Virginia schools–they only managed 322 ypg, and there is little doubt that Clemson’s D, which has yet to give up 300 yds to any opponent this season (in regulation), and has not allowed anyone to do anything particularly well against them, has those beat. As long as they can keep WR Johnson under control they should easily keep the GT O in check. GT’s run D so far this season appears strong–80 ypg and 2.63 ypc against BCS opponents–but, in truth, they have not faced a decent RB; the best they have faced was ND’s Walker–in my opinion, a very average RB–and he went for 99 yds on 22 carries against them. Both Davis and Spiller–and, hell, for that matter, maybe even 3rd stringer Chancellor–are all superior to any RB GT has seen this season. GT’s pass D faces the same question, although to a lesser extent–outside of ND QB Quinn, and arguably VT QB Glennon–GT has faced no QBs of note. GT did all right against those QBs ( 6.43 ypp), but they went for an average of 293 ypg and it is likely that Proctor will be able to throw the ball with some success. I think Clemson is the best team in the ACC and they will do the job here.

Tulsa (- 13.5) v. MEMPHIS
Tulsa shat their pants against BYU early this season, but have otherwise followed up on last year’s surprising performance with another fine season. Their O has balance and even though they are down to their 3rd string RB Tennial they still present a formidable challenge for an opposing defense. Tennial has averaged over 100 ypg against solid ECU and Southern Miss defenses and will likely have more success against a poor Memphis D that is giving up 205 ypg rushing this season. Tulsa QB Smith is quality as well–221 ypg, 7.28 ypp, and a 7-4 ratio–and, he goes up against a Memphis D that is no more accomplished against the pass than it is against the run; 9.18 ypp with an 8-6 ratio. And, the truth is, since firing DC Joe Lee Dunn, Memphis has gotten worse on D; 34 ppg and 463 ypg, in 3 games, while only playing 1 good offense along the way. Add to this that Memphis is a little banged up on D, especially in the defensive secondary, and the odds are good that they will have another long day. Tulsa is vulnerable to the run, but they are not horrible; in any event, Memphis will not be able to exploit this weakness; they have not filled the void left by RB Williams, and they have only hit 100 yards twice this season, and are averaging 81 ypg and 3.33 ypc. Memphis can throw the ball some–208 ypg and 6.99 ypp–but the Tulsa pass D is solid and they will likely not match those numbers this week. Tulsa was exploited by the strong BYU passing attack, but have otherwise dominated opponents; 88 ypg and 3.98 ypp, with a 1-4 ratio. Certainly this has not been against the best passing attacks as they include North Texas and Navy among them, but against Memphis equivalents So Miss and ECU they have been even better, only giving up 3.26 ypp and no TDs. I think may be a matchup between the best and worst teams in ConfUSA and the gap between them is considerably larger than this line.

Other Games of Note:

Rutgers (+6.5) v. PITTSBURGH
There is a part of me that thinks both of these teams are paper tigers that are benefitting from playing in the Big East (yes, I know, the various computer rankings rate them higher than the ACC, and one ranks them the #1 conference, but still); if you look at their respective schedules, they have between them beaten one halfway decent team, South Florida–and that Rutgers win came only after S Fla missed a potential game-tying 2 point conversion. Rutgers has also beaten Navy–no doubt as impressive as the South Florida win–but, given that Navy QB Hampton left the game with the scores level in the 1st quarter, the win is less impressive than it appears at first blush. The deciding factor in this game for me is the Michigan State-Pitt game; while Michigan State is a quality team, they are by no means a powerhouse and they handled Pitt comprehensively on both O and D. Bottom line–Rutgers certainly hasn’t been tested, and they might be a good team, but Pitt has been tested and shown to be lacking. So, given that, and given that Rutgers should control the line of scrimmage and I am getting points, I will lean to Rutgers in this one.

NEBRASKA (+5.5) v. Texas
As alluded to earlier, Texas’ win over Baylor last week was not as definitive as the final score indicated. They are obviously a quality team but the gap between them and the rest of the Big 12 is considerably smaller than it was last season. One could argue that Oklahoma was better than Texas in the Red River Shootout but were done in by mistakes, and I would be among that number; and, given the results of the season thus far, one could certainly make the case that Nebraska is their primary challenger for Big 12 supremacy. If this Texas team has a weakness, it is their pass D; while their 7.38 ypp and 6-5 ratio against BCS teams is not poor, it is clear that their secondary is more vulnerable than it was last season. The Nebraska QBs have yet to have a truly inefficient game this season, and are averaging 8.68 ypp with a 6-0 ratio against BCS opponents. In addition, Nebraska has diversified the O the last couple of weeks, and their talented RBs have grown up and they now have a running threat to go with their good passing game, which will only help their efficiency. In my estimation, Texas has a slight edge on Nebraska in just about every category, but the gap is not large and I think this may be the week that the breaks go against them. Part of that will be down to the venue; Nebraska is the toughest stadium for opponents to play at in the Continental US, providing approximately a 7 point advantage for the ‘Huskers. I think the wise move here is to take the points with the home side.

Alabama (+11) v. TENNESSEE
I was wrong about Tennessee this season, probably more off on them than I was on any other team. Even so, I don’t really buy their running game, and ‘Bama’s pass D is strong–134 ypg and 6.45 ypp with a 6-8 ratio against BCS opponents–and I believe they will hold down QB Ainge’s production. Tennessee has a strong D, but ‘Bama QB Wilson is ridiculously consistent–between 206 and 253 yards in each of his 7 games this season–and he will have similar production here. I also think that despite their decent statistics, Tennessee is actually vulnerable against the run; Georgia’s performance against them was fairly good (26-147) and I would think that ‘Bama can at come close to those numbers. Tennessee is probably the better team on both sides of the ball, but 11 points is a lot to give to ‘Bama, particularly in what is such a hard-fought series. I suspect that the Vols will be more than happy with a 3 or 7 point win, and that is probably what they will get.

Miami -17 (-104)

I was looking at this game early and was willing to take it at -20 but wanted to figure out what happened with suspensions.

Now it's clear that Miami is under attack from everyone. The program is under attack and the players and coaches feel it.

So, what happens when you should be a 21 point favorite over a horrid Duke team and the whole world is against you. You break out and beat the fuckin' shit out of that shitty team and say, "Oh yeah, well fuck you" to the world.

Good value and totally agree with CKR on this one.
Lot of late games today so I may add a few more plays once I get back from the bar after 3 pm EST.

We'll see.

Good luck to everyone.