Ten Things - Week Nine
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Ten things from the college football weekend gone by....
1. Bo Pelini - It usually starts getting cold this time of year out in corn country, but this fall it is still hot in Nebraska in late October. Why? Because Cornhusker Head Coach Bo Pelini has a seat so hot that it is starting to impact the crops! Yes, Pelini - who has had average teams for several seasons now - has the pitchforks pointed squarely at him in Lincoln, and angry Big Red fans are not going to settle anymore. In Nebraska, they think national title year-in and year-out.. Pelini hasn't had the Cornhuskers in that conversation during his tenure, and now, coming off of an ugly loss to Minnesota this past weekend, the rumor on the street is that Pelini has already been told of his inevitable dismissal.
2. Connor Shaw - Gamecok fan or not, you have to admire the performance by the Gamecocks' Connor Shaw this past Saturday at Mizzou. The injured QB (knee) came off of the bench with his team down 17-0 and promptly guided South Carolina to 17 points and into OT. Shaw threw for 201 yards and three TDs in just over 15 minutes of action. In the second OT, Missouri's Andrew Baggett missed a 24-yard FG allowing USC to escape Columbia, MO with a win. In all of my years of watching college football, I have seen few players with the grit and determination of Shaw.
3. Two Years Unbeaten and No Hardware? Can you imagine the frustration that would take place in your brain if your favorite team went undefeated in back-to-back seasons and never even got the chance to play for a crystal football? Well, if you are an Ohio State Buckeye fan, you may get to tell us what it feels like here in a couple of months. Last year, the Buckeyes went 12-0 but probation kept them from hanging any banners in the Horseshoe. In 2013, with probation over, they are 8-0 so far and are in prime position to be left out again. For the Buckeyes to have a shot, two of the three teams ahead of them must lose (Alabama, Oregon, Florida State) and even then they would need to convince voters.
4. 70-point Club - The 70-point Club has no members for week nine. There was a 63 (Ohio State vs Penn State), a 62 (Central Florida over UConn) and nine teams scored in the 50's, but 70 was not touched this past weekend...Didn't Baylor play a game??
5. Shutout Club - Just like the 70-point Club, the Shutout Club has no members for week nine, either. It is notable to point out, though, that the Oregon Ducks put a second half shutout on UCLA to pull away for a huge win.
6. Quiet BCS Busters - Fresno State and Northern Illinois are a combined 15-0, but they are not getting nearly the attention that Boise State or Utah (before their Pac-12 days) or TCU (before their Big 12 days) received in recent seasons. Fresno beat Boise State for what will be its one and only notable regular season win. NIU has beaten two Big Ten teams on the road, Iowa and Purdue, but has little else to hang its hat on. Look for these two teams to play in nice bowl games, but not the big one.
7. ACC Newbies - Pittsburgh and Syracuse haven't exactly come into the ACC and helped pick the conference flag up off of the ground. While the top of the league is performing better than in recent seasons with FSU, Miami and Clemson all in the national top 10, the rest of the league is still fighting for nationwide respect. The 'Cuse and Pitt have come in and blessed the league with a 1-3 combined out of conference record for the ACC in 2013. Pitt's loss Saturday was to lowly Navy. Good grief.
8. National Offensive Leaders - Despite leading his team to just 12 points against Stanford, Sean Mannion of Oregon State still leads college football in passing with 3,263 yards and 30 TDs. His favorite target, Brandin Cooks, remains the nation's leading receiver with 1,356 yards and 13 TDs (two more rushing). Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky leads the nation in rushing with 1,180 yards...Oregon (5,057 yards) and Baylor (5,029 yards) continue to battle it out for top overall offense. Baylor has the edge in points per game at 63.9 to 55.6.
9. National Defensive Leaders - Missouri's Michael Sam and Clemson's Vic Beasley are tied for the national lead in sacks with ten each. The national leader in interceptions is a five-way tie with five INTs per player. As far as total defense goes, Michigan State leads the way giving up just 214 yards per game. Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida and Alabama are just behind.
10. Three to See -
* Miami at Florida State - We aren't in the 90's anymore (for those residing in caves), but do not be surprised if ESPN shows enough replays of "wide right" this week to make you feel like you were back in the days of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Florida State and Miami play the first national impact game between each other since they opened the 2009 season on Labor Day with a thrilling contest (38-34, Miami). I expect Florida State to flex their muscles here, but when these two teams hook up, the 'Canes play differently than normal.
* Northwestern at Nebraska - As I mentioned above, in the back rooms of Nebraska's athletic offices, Mark "Bo" Pelini may already be a former head coach. This game will be interesting to watch just to see the vibe in Memorial Stadium. Nebraska fans like to win, so with Pelini on the ropes and the thought of new leadership beginning to emerge, one must wonder if a few boos are sprinkled amongst the crowd as Pelini's name is announced pregame.
* North Carolina at NC State - Which of these teams is worse? Is it possible that a second-year coach or even a first-year coach could be on the hot seat? Probably not. But know this: UNC and NCSU are both really bad despite the youth at the HC position. It will be interesting to see on Saturday if Larry Fedora can get a winning streak going. The rest of the schedule is all winnable, so if Fedora can get to 7-5 he may enter 2014 - his third season - with a little less heat. As of right now, his support in Chapel Hill is little to none so far with a 2-5 record (1-3 ACC). As for Dave Doeren, his first Wolfpack team is just terrible, going down 35-0 in the FIRST QUARTER to Florida State last week. NCSU is 0-4 in the ACC so far (3-4 overall).
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