Ten Things Week Three
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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In a wild weekend that featured half of the ranked teams in the country travelling into hostile territory to prove themselves. Meanwhile, school officials all across the country are doing their best to lose us in the shell game that is conference expansion/realignment/clustermess. Thank goodness the season is here, and conference play is getting up and going to take us away from the drama that occurs the other six days a week. Speaking of which, here is the best (and worst) of the week that was in the sport we hold so dear…
1.Conference Alignment Should Really Go Away – The latest craze in football could turn out to be the most damaging to the sport, and I am including the recent scandals in that assessment. A mere few weeks ago, the SEC was to add Texas A&M. Then, as fans across the SEC pondered and pontificated who the inevitable 14th team would be, renewed interest between the PAC-12 and Oklahoma/Texas schools. Texas, though, has had difficulty in negotiations with other conferences due to the emergence of the Longhorn Network. The ACC doesn’t mind, it seems, and has expressed interest in talks with Texas. But then the ACC also went and acquired Pitt and Syracuse over the weekend and reportedly plan to add Rutgers and UConn to the mix. That could be the path to the magical 16 teams we hear about, or it could be in preparation for a couple teams leaving for the SEC. Speaking of the SEC, it was commissioner Mike Slive who said just last year that he could get to 16 teams with a few phone calls. And yet, the conference whose expansion started this new round of musical conferences has become surprisingly quiet on the expansion front. My desire is for any new expansion to occur just like the Pitt-Syracuse acquisition. Let it happen behind closed doors, and let the public know when something’s happened. I, personally, could not be more tired of the speculation and from here on out will not make another mention of the topic in this column until moves are more than just an elaborated version of “I Spy”.
2. Ohio State Takes Team to South beach, Leaves Talent Back Home – What else is there to say, really? The combined stat line of Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman was abysmal – 4 for 18 for 35 yards and an interception. To put that in perspective, when Miami blew out Florida A&M last year (48-0, by the way) the rattlers got nearly double that many passing yards (58) on seven fewer attempts. It’s easy to look at Miami as being a force in the ACC this year, but more likely this was a result of what happens when a team loses five key players to start a new season with a new head coach.
3. OU is Officially a Goliath – The Sooners solid 23-13 victory over Florida State on the road was as impressive as any we might see this year. Even with EJ Manuel completing 13 of 19 attempts, he was held to a mere 85 yards. Back-up Clint Trickett didn’t do too bad all things considered, seeing as how it was he who got the only touchdown of the night for the Seminoles. Make no mistake, though. This was a solid Florida State team who came to play. Their defense held Landry Jones to his lowest passing output (199 yards) in two seasons, and held a very potent offense to only 23 points. Oklahoma, meanwhile, responded to adversity on the road like no other team has. When Florida State tied the game at 13-all, Oklahoma marched right down the field for the go ahead touchdown in a beautiful 37 yard toss to Kenny Stills. It seems that Big Game Bob might be back, and the Seminoles may have to wait it out another year before they truly are.
4. Florida Beats Tennessee, Loses to Officials – The Florida Gators set a school record over the weekend – 15 penalties for 150 yards against the rival Tennessee Volunteers. Gators coach Will Muschamp became quite the spectacle as he berated ref after ref for everything from pass interference to unsportsmanlike conduct to defensive holding. It might have served him better to focus that energy on his defense, which let a 30-7 lead midway into the third quarter slip to a 33-23 win. Even without star receiver Justin Hunter, who went out with a torn ACL early in the game, Vol QB Tyler Bray managed 288 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. The running game should be improved as coaches put more emphasis on the pass and as the young offensive line continues to gel. The Gators, on the other hand, have some serious issues in the secondary if they are to contend with South Carolina for the East.
5. UTR Offensive Player of the Week : Seth Doege, QB Texas Tech – It doesn’t matter that the Red Raiders played a New Mexico team that has 2 wins in their last 30 games. Anytime a quarterback has more touchdowns (five) than incompletions (four), it’s going to turn heads. Add a stat line that includes 44 attempts and 401 yards, and well, you have the makings of the player of the week.
6. UTR Defensive Player of the Week: Field Goal Block Team, Wyoming – This week goes to not one player, but all eleven of the special teamers who helped ensure the victory over Bowling Green, 28-27. That makes Wyoming 3-0, and matches their win total from all of 2010. Well done, Cowboys.
7. Mother Nature Strikes Again – Once again, a major weather situation delayed a football game. This time it was the opening kickoff that was pushed back – more than three hours – in Oklahoma State’s visit to Tulsa. Once the game got moving, albeit at a quarter after midnight local time, Brandon Weeden and company took off and never looked back, winning 59-33. The game really wasn’t even that close; the lead was 45-6 before the Cowboys started to ease off the throttle. This helps set up a nice showdown in College Station this weekend to see who will challenge Oklahoma for the Big 12/10/9 crown.
8. Where Did Georgia Tech Come From? – Paul Johnson has been the focus of many a criticism in his coaching tenure for his triple option offense. This season, his Yellow Jackets are outdoing everyone, leading the nation in scoring offense, rushing offense, and total offense. Granted that’s against juggernauts Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee State and Kansas – and each of those teams has put up more than 20 points apiece. As the ACC schedule looms, surely a defense must be found if the Yellow Jackets are to regain the conference championship. A three game stretch next month that includes Maryland at home and road trips to Virginia and Miami should determine whether or not they have what it takes.
9. Tigers Trounce Tigers – I couldn’t let the column go by without recognizing the end of the nation’s longest winning streak at 17. Clemson hosted defending national champion Auburn it what turned out to be a beat down in Death Valley. Auburn’s defense was predictably porous, but the offense just couldn’t keep up even though Clemson allowed 435 total yards. Clemson made theirs count, though, notching an impressive (and much needed) win for Dabo Swinney’s group. This is a team that is hungry for an ACC title and has only played in the ACC championship once, in 2009. Look for their fate to be determined over the next couple weeks with Florida State coming to town and a trip to Blacksburg after that.
10. Must See Top Three – Eight games this week feature unbeaten teams, and there are three that are sure to help clarify the national picture as September begins to wind down:
1. Arkansas @ Alabama – The Tide has had a pretty easy slate thus far, but will most certainly face its greatest challenge to date when the Razorbacks come to T-Town. Alabama’s strength lies in its secondary, which will have to contain one of the most talented wide receiver stables in the country. Meanwhile, an Arkansas team that averages just 87 yards allowed rushing will have to find a way to impede Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. The winner plays LSU in what could be a national quarterfinal leading to the SEC championship. The loser still may have what it takes for a BCS birth. Bama wins close, 23-20
2. LSU @ West Virginia – In what could be their toughest nonconference battle of the season, Les Miles and company will have to rely on quarterback Jarret Lee to not turn the ball over and the defense to corral an offense that averages 435 yards a game. No easy task on the road. And you can bet the couches will be ablaze as the liquored up masses in Morgantown file out of the stadium after what they hope to be the biggest upset of the season. LSU takes this one 31-17
3. Oklahoma State @ Texas A&M – First, two numbers: 436 and 2,313. These two schools, whose campuses are 436 miles apart could very well find themselves being in conferences whose headquarters are 2,313 miles apart. That said, this is a huge game for both schools. Both have which have needed a statement win over a Top 10 program, and neither have been able to get it when they needed to. Sure, the Aggies beat Oklahoma last year, but that still didn’t get them to the Big 12 title game because they lost to Missouri and…Oklahoma State. Meanwhile the Cowboys are out to prove they are legit, and a win on the road against a highly ranked opponent (a la the Sooners) would bring them one step closer to the dream that has yet to be. The Aggies win a shootout, 48-38
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