Nov 2

Ten Things from Week Nine

Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL  Tags: college football

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Distraction Saturday proved too much for some of the new players on the scene (Missouri, Michigan State), while the teams who kept their focus in tact have their national title hopes still alive.  Everyone must keep their wits about them, though, because this week could be no different.  As many places across the country will have elections this week, it seems appropriate that this is also about the time that teams start their campaigns for a place in the BCS.  Here’s Ten Things from the week that was and the week that will be…

1.     A New Number One…Again
It seems inevitable that this time next week will see a new team in the top spot.  Alabama and Ohio State lost in consecutive weeks as the AP number 1, while Oklahoma and Auburn spent the last two weeks at the top of the BCS standings.  As another week approaches, Oregon is the new incumbent. But will the Ducks be removed by the winner of the TCU-Utah game?
2.     Little Brothers Have Grown Up
Between TCU, Boise State, and Utah there is only two national championship – and both of those belong to TCU and were won before the US entered World War II.  Since the beginning of the 2008 season, however, these three teams have a combined record of 96-7 and each have been to a BCS bowl.  Let’s not forget that four of those combined losses were to each other, the most recent being Boise St over TCU in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.  They’ve won on the road, at home, in close games and domination.  As a result, all three sit in the top five of this week’s BCS standings with a realistic shot at a birth in the BCS National Championship.  For a group of have-nots, they look like they have a lot to play for.
3.     ACC – Anyone Can Crash
Six games involved ACC teams last week, and all but one (Maryland-Wake Forest) ended in an upset.  The league’s two highest ranked teams, Florida State and Miami, fell on the road.  Miami lost due to quarterbacks throwing to the wrong team (5 INT’s) and Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder forgot how to execute a play-action fake.  I wouldn’t normally consider North Carolina’s win over William and Mary an upset, but the Tarheels needed two fourth quarter touchdowns to win by four points against an FCS opponent – for homecoming.  It’s a very bad spot the conference is in at the moment, with their highest ranked team, Virginia Tech, being undefeated in league play and previously losing to FCS James Madison.
4.     Baylor and Syracuse Are Going Bowling
Who saw this coming at the beginning of the season?  And if you did, who saw the Bears reaching win number six by beating Texas in Austin?  Who saw the Orange getting it done on the road against two-time champ Cincy?  Thought so.  We are looking at two great years for programs that have been way down for way too long.  It’s good to see two programs like this finally getting somewhere.  That’s what college football is all about.
5.     Defense Wins Championships
Don’t tell that to Oregon and Auburn.  The Ducks boast the highest rank in total offense and scoring offense in the country, while the Tigers are a modest sixth and tenth, respectively.  On the flipside, the Ducks are 35th in total defense while the Tigers are 57th.  It doesn’t matter, though, because both programs are undefeated and the only thing stopping either one from their first BCS national title is, well, themselves.
6.     Jake Who?
Remember last year when Jake Locker was the most touted quarterback in the country and may even have been drafted over the number one pick, Sam Bradford?  After deciding to stay for his senior year, Locker ranks in the top 40 of only one major quarterback stat – touchdowns (36th nationally).  Throw in six INT’s and his team’s 3-5 record, I think it’s safe to say that his legacy has been severely tarnished.  He’s not even in the top half of his own conference, for crying out loud.  I would gladly take Darron Thomas, Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Nick Foles, and Ryan Katz over Locker at this point in the season.  It’s a shame that his lone accomplishment this season will be defeating a USC team that had nothing to play for.
7.     Potential Coach of the Year
Brady Hoke, currently of San Diego State, has quietly built his team to a 6-2 start.  To put that in perspective, the Aztecs have won more than four games only once since 2004.  Their conference record, 3-1, is their highest since that year as well.  His team has been valiant even in defeat, pushing Missouri and BYU to the brink and losing by a mere field goal to each.  We shouldn’t be too surprised, though, since this is the same coach who brought Ball State a 12-1 record and a MAC Championship two years ago.  It looks like he’s got his current team on the right track to success, but Utah and TCU still loom on the schedule.  Still, if the Aztecs finish 8-4 or better yet, find a way to upset the Frogs or Utes, you may as well give him the Coach of the Year award – depending on how Baylor and/or Syracuse finish, of course.
8.     Another Week, Another Tragic Incident
The previous weeks of freak accidents on the field just don’t seem to be enough.  Last week, while filming a Notre Dame practice session, school videographer Declan Sullivan climbed onto a 50 ft lift so as to get a view of the practice.  With winds near tropical storm levels, the lift was blown over and Sullivan was killed.  While some media outlets have placed blame for the various circumstances surrounding the incident, I have nothing but sympathy and my condolences for the Sullivan family.  It is truly a sad day when a life is so needlessly taken from us.
9.     Game of the Week Review
Well, the Ducks have passed their biggest test to date, coming from behind 32-29 early in the third quarter to score the last 24 points in what turned out to be a rout in LA.  Oregon now has a couple relatively easy weeks, hosting a spiraling Washington team and traveling to Cal before finishing the season with Arizona and Oregon State.
10.  Game of the Week Preview - TCU @ Utah
This game has the potential to be the best, and most important, game we’ve seen all season.  The winner has a chance to crack the top 2.  The loser must regroup and salvage a season of disappointment.  Last time this game was played in Salt Lake, the Utes needed a last second score to escape with the win.  This year the Horned Frogs – which have yet to win at Utah – are looking for a season/program-defining win.  This looks to be the most important game in the history of the Mountain West Conference, and don’t think the Utes wouldn’t like to leave a nice parting gift on their way out.  TCU takes control early and holds off the late surge to win 37-28.

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