Sep 15

Ten Things - Week Two

Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL  Tags:

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Ten Things, Week Two

 

     It’s been said that more can be accurately surmised about a team between the first and second week than any other time frame in a given year.  If that’s true this year, then it seems plenty we thought was true just a week ago might just have been the mirage after six months in the football-free desert of the offseason.  So there’s plenty of snap judgment and sure-to-be-accurate predictions peppered throughout this review in the week that was…

 

  1. An Unlikely Milestone – Kicking off Ten Things is a nod to the Kent State Golden Flashes and their kicker, April Goss.  In a sport long dominated by the X-chromosome, Goss became just the second female to score in a college football game (the first was Katie Hnida at New Mexico in 2003).  Kudos for April for bucking the trend, and kudos to coach Paul Haynes for subbing in the former soccer player.  The resulting celebration from her teammates will likely echo in her ears for the rest of her life.

 

  1. The B1G Ten Rises – A week after Ohio State demolished Virginia Tech and solidified itself as the solid #1 team, Michigan State exacted its own revenge against Oregon.  From the looks of things, the Big Ten might get two teams in the playoff field before (gasp!) the SEC.  Furthermore, the conference as a whole went nearly undefeated, with most teams winning by two touchdowns or more and a whopping four teams (Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Northwestern) winning in a shutout.  Just don’t mention the two newest members - Maryland and Rutgers.

 

  1. Big Game Bob Coming Back? – I know, we’ve heard this one before.  After a dominating Sugar Bowl performance against Alabama two seasons ago, Oklahoma followed that up with a humbling 8-5 season last year.  Saturday saw the Sooners trailing 17-0 at one of the most hostile stadiums in America in Knoxville.  After a scoreless third quarter, the Sooners rallied behind a reinvigorated defense and offensive execution (both touchdown drives were 13+ plays) to put the game into overtime, where they rode the momentum to the win. Sure Tennessee won’t prove to be the best team in the world (expect at least three more losses before the bowl game), but there was no quit in this team.  That could go a long way to regaining the conference crown, and with it a playoff berth.

 

  1. BYU’s Miracle, Part II – In the first week of the season, the Cougars lost quarterback Taysom Hill for the season (sadly for the senior, this is the third season-ending injury in his career).  In stepped Tanner Mangum to deliver a dramatic, last second Hail Mary (or should I say “Hail Joseph Smith?”) for the win over Nebraska.  This past week, the freshman QB hung in there with arguably the best team of the last decade not in a Power Five conference, Boise State.  Down 24-21 late and on a 4th-and-7 just outside of field goal range, Mangum delivered a bomb to the end zone which found a home in receiver Mitchell Juergens’ grasp.  Note to UCLA – don’t let up.  The Broncos led by ten points for most of the second half, yet somehow managed to lose by 11.

 

  1. Heisman Darkhorse: Matt Johnson – You probably haven’t heard of him, being that he’s the quarterback at Bowling Green.  But consider this: after lighting up Tennessee for 424 yards and a couple touchdowns in the loss, he went to Maryland and bombed 491 yards and six touchdowns in the win.  If he keeps this up, it might not matter that he’s not at a big-named school come time for the Heisman voting.

 

  1. Group of 5 Opens Up – It was a foregone conclusion that the New Year’s Six bowl berth would belong to Boise State until they let it go.  After losing to BYU 35-24 Saturday, well, the Broncos let it go.  And there are no shortage of contenders vying for the spot.  Houston improved to 2-0 with a win over Louisville. Temple followed up its upset of Penn State by beating conference foe (and preseason AAC favorite) Cincinnati. Western Kentucky, Toledo, and BYU are also potential candidates.

 

  1. Trending Up: #MACtion – What started as a trendy gimmick to generate excitement for early week games has grown into a national phenomenon that has extended to Saturday.  In addition to Bowling Green’s aforementioned upset of Maryland, Toledo had probably the upset of the weekend with their win at Arkansas, seemingly everyone’s darling darkhorse for the SEC crown.  This was the first time the Rockets have ever beaten an SEC team and a huge step forward for their 35-year old head coach Matt Campbell.  Their future is looking pretty bright.

 

  1. Trending Down: QB Injuries – Technically, the rash of injuries is up, but here’s hoping the Ten Things Effect will balance the scales.  Aside from BYU, injuries have overtaken the quarterbacks at Notre Dame (Malik Zaire), Utah (Travis Wilson), Virginia Tech (Michael Brewer), South Carolina (Connor Mitch), and Georgia Tech (Tim Byerly).  That’s an important position to have injured.  Many of them are for more than just a few weeks, and all of them will be huge blows to their respective teams.

 

  1. SEC Rundown – While there was considerable talk last week (even in this very space) about the SEC West, this week has pulled the curtain on the great and powerful Oz.  Auburn, a preseason favorite for the conference championship, needed overtime to sneak past Jacksonville State.  That’s not as bad as Arkansas, which lost to Toledo at home.  Mississippi State and LSU were wholly underwhelming, though that could be attributed to LSU working the kinks out.  After this week, we’ll be able to add Alabama or Ole Miss to the list of afterthoughts for the time being.  Meanwhile, the East is nothing to write home about.  Tennessee forgot that games are four quarters instead of three, and Missouri was down by a touchdown to Arkansas State at the half before pulling away.  Kentucky may have been the lone highlight for that side of the conference in its big win against South Carolina, its second straight against the Gamecocks.
  2. Three to See:

#14 Georgia Tech at #8 Notre Dame – Can DeShone Kizer help the Irish solidify a spot in the playoff conversation?  Will Georgia Tech finally take that step up into the conversation?  Anytime you can catch a game with two top-15 teams before prime time is must see tv. Notre Dame’s defense and home field advantage prove too much and the Yellow Jackets fall 31-20.

 #15 Ole Miss at #2 Alabama – The Tide look to avenge to the 2014 loss, which momentarily halted their playoff aspirations.  Ole Miss is looking to continue their offensive explosion (currently averaging 74.5 points per game).  Something’s gotta give here, and Alabama’s improved defense won’t be enough to compensate for shaky quarterback play.  So long as running backs Derrick Henry and Kenyon Drake stay healthy, the Tide will roll to a 41-27 victory.

 #19 BYU at #10 UCLA – If it hadn’t been for Mangum’s last minute heroics the past few weeks, this game might just slip under the radar.  Now, it stands as a quality win for whichever team comes out on top.  Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen has been playing well, but will likely be the second best quarterback on the field.  The Cougars manage a third straight upset win, but they won’t need a fourth quarter rally.  30-24, and UCLA just runs out of time.



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