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College Football Recap: Week 8

Now that we’re more than halfway done with the season (Boo!) and the BCS rankings have been out for a while (More boo!), we need to look at who’s overrated and who’s underrated. Many teams who are overrated at this point are undefeated or only have one loss, due to a weak schedule. Most teams that are underrated have played a tough schedule and have fallen to good teams or suffered a hard-luck loss or two while playing very well.

The bad thing about college football is that if a team suffers a loss or two to really good teams it’s hopes of a national championship or even a chance to play in the national championship game is completely shot.

Even with a soft non-conference schedule last year, we all can agree Wisconsin was very, very good. But after starting out 6-0 the Badgers lost back-to-back games on the road at Michigan State and at Ohio State on Hail Mary plays at the end of each game. Even though Wisconsin ended up winning the Big 10 championship it didn’t have any chance of playing for a national championship because, for one possible reason, other teams didn’t lose one or two games because they didn’t play challenging teams a respectable amount.

That’s the case we find ourselves with this week. Several top teams are ranked highly because of their recent history and because they were thought to be a good team before anyone even played a down this season. Other teams have played very well against tough competition and fallen short just barely, or in Oregon State’s case remained perfect but are still overshadowed by teams that haven’t done anything on the field to earn their high rank.


USC – The Trojans rank ninth in the BCS, but have been one of the more disappointing teams of the season even though they’ve only lost once. But like the team below them their lone loss was against the only ranked team they’ve played in a game where the Trojans were barely competitive. But it started even earlier than that, in Week 2 when the Trojans were out-gained by Syracuse and allowed Ryan Nassib to throw for 322 yards against them. Matt Barkley threw six touchdowns in the 42-29 win, but with 3:42 left in the third the Orange was a 2-point conversion away from making the score 21-18. The Trojans also looked very unimpressive against Cal and Washington, but hey as long as they put up 50 points on Colorado it’s OK they deserve to be ranked really high!

Georgia – The Bulldogs, 10th in the most recent BCS rankings, have had a disappointing season … unless you’re a poll voter, then you think they’ve been great. But in Georgia’s only game against a ranked team, South Carolina, the Dogs feel behind 21-0 in the first, were out-gained by almost 170 yards and ended up losing 35-7. A week before that beatdown, the Dogs almost lost at home to a poor Tennessee team, but the Vols volunteerily gave the ball over to Georgia on their last three possessions in what turned out to be a one-score decision. The offense can still score, but the defense, thought to be one of the best in the country in the preseason has been fairly brutal. The Dogs’ D has fallen to 49th in points allowed this year, down from 23rd last year. And it’s not like they’re playing a bunch of Big 12 offenses. Buffalo and Florida Atlantic, 106th and 119th, respectively, each scored more than their respective season averages against Georgia. Tennessee, averaging 34 points a game, put up 44 against Georgia. The six opponents Georgia has beaten have combined for….12 wins everyone!

Mississippi State – The award for most overrated team either goes to Georgia or Mississippi State. The (other) Bulldogs, who are 7-0, are now ranked 11th in the BCS after receiving one preseason vote in the AP poll following a season where they only beat Kentucky and Ole Miss in conference play. The Bulldogs have a great defense, ranking ninth in points allowed at 14.4. Wait, what’s that? They don’t? They don’t! The best offensive team they’ve faced is Tennessee, who’s 36th in scoring offense. The rest of their schedule goes like this: a 4-4 FCS team; 121st in scoring offense; 64th; 112th; 111th; and 58th. Over the next three weeks MSU plays Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, and in three weeks the Bulldogs will be 7-3 and unranked.


Oregon State – The Beavers, 7-0, are ranked seventh despite having an arguably better resume than Alabama, Oregon and LSU. The Beavers started their season beating then-No. 13 Wisconsin and then-No. 19 UCLA. Both those teams rank in the top 41 of scoring defense. OSU beat Arizona on the road, and has won back-to-back games at BYU, which ranks eighth in scoring defense, and against Utah, which ranks 46th. The Beavers won at BYU with a backup quarterback, and even though they only score 26 a game they’ve still managed to remain perfect against a tough schedule.

Texas A&M – The Aggies, ranked 20th and 5-2, haven’t played a great schedule and have two losses, but in those two losses – against Florida and LSU, mind you – they’ve scored 10 more combined points than what those two teams give up combined on average. In both games A&M dominated for extended periods of time, as well. If one ball had bounced a different way in either one of those games the Aggies would have one of the best wins of the season and be 6-1. The Aggies have a good win – at Louisiana Tech – beat Ole Miss on the road, and destroyed Arkansas as badly as Alabama did. The only difference is Alabama has played a crappy schedule while A&M has played two of the best defenses in the country.


We’re Going Polling: Week 8

  1. Notre Dame – If polls were actually ordered by actual results – you know, the only things that matter – instead of preseason hype, bias and unintelligent voters, then Notre Dame would be the unanimous No. 1. Four/five quality wins led by an “SEC-level defense.”
  2. Kansas State – Same thing with K-State. Three great road wins over Oklahoma, Iowa State and West Virginia.
  3. Florida – Florida’s actually deserving of its hype. Three quality road wins AND dominating wins against LSU and South Carolina.
  4. Oregon State – Ditto here. More quality wins than Oregon, but since the Ducks are flashier and were projected to be good they still stay above Oregon State besides playing a lesser schedule.
  5. LSU – Rebounded well after the Florida loss with wins over South Carolina and at TAMU. After a rough first quarter, the Tigers rebounded to shut down the Aggies’ offense, holding Johnny Manziel to only 27 rushing yards.
  6. Oregon – After a candyland opening three weeks, the Ducks have started racking up some low-quailty wins lately.
  7. Alabama – Yes, they’ve looked very good, but who have they beat? Their best win is still over a 5-2 Big 10 team that no one would call very good.
  8. Oklahoma – After the top seven the quality of teams begins to fall dramatically. Oklahoma failed its only big test so far this year, and it’s not like Texas is that good of a win anymore.
  9. USC – Same thing with USC. Put up those stats you had last weekend against Oregon and then we’ll talk.
  10. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders have been one of the most surprising teams this year and actually deserve their high ranking.
  11. Florida State – From here on down there’s really no point to even rank anymore.
  12. Ohio State – 8-0 but no good wins and have struggled mightily lately.
  13. Stanford – Underwhelming, but the USC win is still good.
  14. Rutgers – The Knights don’t have that good of a resume, but they’ve got a stellar D (11.3 points allowed) and a real good shot at going undefeated.
  15. Ohio – Not really sure they’re the 15th best team in the county, but they beat Penn State, who’s played very well recently.
  16. Penn State
  17. Mississippi State – The Bulldogs DO NOT deserve to be ranked as high as they are. Their three conference wins are against the three worst teams in the SEC, and their best out of conference win is against…Middle Tennessee????? They’ll get smoked by Alabama this weekend and everyone will be like “Whoa Alabama how good are they? They just beat a great team!” when they really didn’t.
  18. South Carolina – They don’t deserve to be ranked this high either, because when you no-show your two biggest games you don’t get rewarded. But there’s no one else to put above them.
  19. Boise State – They’ve still got a pretty good defense?
  20. Northwestern – Lost two in a row, but both are “good” losses. They still have a couple quality wins, too.
  21. Louisiana Tech – Won 70-28 last week with 839 (!!!) yards of offense.
  22. Arizona
  23. Louisville
  24. Toledo
  25. Michigan

We’re Going Polling: Week 7

  1. Notre Dame
  2. Kansas State
  3. Florida
  4. Oregon State
  5. LSU
  6. Alabama
  7. South Carolina
  8. Oregon
  9. Oklahoma
  10. USC
  11. Ohio State
  12. Texas Tech
  13. West Virginia
  14. Texas A&M
  15. Arizona State
  16. Florida State
  17. Stanford
  18. Rutgers
  19. Boise State
  20. Iowa State
  21. Mississippi State
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Louisville
  24. Louisiana Tech
  25. Ohio

College Football Midseason Breakdown

Most teams have played six of their 12 regular-season games after the second weekend in October. As always there have been, team-wise, several pleasant surprises and abrupt disappointments, as well as exciting player performances and games. The race to play in the fraud that is the BCS championship game has already been narrowed down to only a handful of teams, even fewer than what it was at the beginning of the season. (The New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are thankful that their respective sports leagues aren’t as stupid as the people who run college football and the BCS.)

But here’s an as-thorough-as-possible recap of the first seven games of the 2012 college football season, complete with best games, top players, top surprises and disappointments and my first Heisman ballot.

Geno Smith, with 25 touchdown passes and zero interceptions, should be the Heisman front-runner. (Brad Davis Icon/SMI)

Top teams

  • Alabama – The Tide has rolled over every opponent it’s faced so far. Alabama leads the country in the four main defensive categories (Total D, rush D, pass D and scoring D), while also performing well on offense (17th in scoring, 26th in rushing). The Tide, No. 1 in the BCS rankings, has the inside track to the national title game. But let’s stop acting like the SEC is the best conference in college football. Yes, it’s got three or four of the best teams, but outside of that it’s not any better than the Big East (maybe a slight exaggeration). Alabama only has one win over a ranked team, Michigan, which doesn’t have any quality wins. Its only two other wins that could’ve been considered quality coming into the season – on the road at Arkansas and Missouri – have been rendered moot by both those teams’ ineffectiveness this year. Alabama has three games against ranked teams left, home dates with Mississippi St. and Texas A&M and a trip to Baton Rouge. While Mississippi St. hasn’t beaten anyone yet, its defense is in the top half of the SEC in most categories and LSU has about 12 future NFL players on its defense. What those teams lack in offense, Texas A&M will present a stiff test to the Alabama D. Yes, the Tide has looked good, but, once again, it hasn’t beaten anyone yet. But I guess that doesn’t matter when you’re in the Ess E See.
  • Oregon – You can say the same thing about Oregon as I did about Alabama – Yes the Ducks have been impressive, but their lack of high-quality wins is hysterical. They beat Arizona and Washington, both of whom were ranked at the time but aren’t now. They’ve also only played one game away from Eugene, against Washington St. in Seattle at the Seahawks’ stadium. Oregon ranks second in points and fourth in rushing yards. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has been as good as any of the three QBs that came before him, which is saying something. Oregon faces its toughest test of the season this Thursday as it visits 5-1 Arizona St. Then the Ducks play at USC Nov. 3 and finish the season with games against Stanford and Oregon St. I know I’m jinxing them right now, but with how pedestrian USC and Stanford have looked lately the Ducks should be able to win both those games. And their Civil War game against OSU will actually be entertaining for the first time in a couple years.
  • Kansas St. – The Wildcats, currently fourth in the BCS, present an interesting case. What if Oregon loses only once and Florida loses only once, in the SEC Championship Game, while K-State goes undefeated? The Wildcats would have more quality wins than either of those two teams, but they play in what’s regarded as a lesser conference. (Can we please do away with preconceived notions about conferences in a particular season?) We all know what would happen if the Wildcats were in the SEC, don’t we? But we should root for this situation just for the chaos it would create. And it’d be another reminder of how stupid the BCS is.

Surprise teams

  • Florida – The Gators came into the season ranked 23rd, even though they didn’t deserve to be ranked. Their entire offense was a question mark, especially at quarterback. But after squeaking by Bowling Green in the opener they won twice on the road, at Texas A&M and Tennessee, and held LSU to six points in a 14-6 win. They currently sit at No. 2 in the BCS rankings, but will have to most likely win out to play in the championship game. Jeff Driskel’s rise to somewhat-good quarterback has been a pleasant surprise for Florida. Driskel doesn’t do too much through the air (fewer than 100 yards passing each of the last two games), but he limits the mistakes (only one interception) and has been a threat on the ground (326 yards and four TDs).
  • Notre Dame – The annual Notre Dame hype machine actually delivered this season. The Golden Domers are fifth in the BCS and have wins over Michigan, Stanford, Miami and Michigan St. The key to the Irish’s 6-0 start is its monstrous defense. Notre Dame ranks second in scoring defense and first in touchdowns allowed. The defense also hasn’t given up a touchdown in four games and hasn’t allowed a single rushing touchdown on the season. The offense needs to grow up, as it’s only 69th in scoring and 65th in yards per play. But with the defense Notre Dame has, the offense only needs to be mediocre like LSU’s last year, to give the Irish a shot at a championship.
  • Oregon St. – The Beavers have probably been the biggest surprise of the year. The Beavers didn’t receive even a single vote in either poll in the preseason, which was deserved because they only had eight wins the last two seasons, including only three last year. But now they’re 5-0 and eighth in the BCS after beating Wisconsin and holding Montee Ball to only 61 rush yards and winning at UCLA, Arizona and BYU. The BYU win was led by backup quarterback Cody Vaz, who was filling in for injured starter Sean Mannion. All Vaz did was throw for three touchdowns, 332 yards and 10.3 yards per attempt in a 42-24 win against the No. 7 defense in the country.


  • Arkansas – Easily the top fraudulent team of the season, the Hogs started out ranked 10th in the preseason. But they’ve been messier than a piglet in a barnyard during a rainstorm. They lost three straight at home, then lost their fourth in a row to Texas A&M, 58-10. They were outscored 110-10 in their first two conference games and are 90th in scoring D.
  • Auburn – Is there any question who’s to credit for Auburn’s 2010 title? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not Gene Chizik. The Tigers only have one win on the season, an overtime win at home against Louisiana-Monroe, which missed a field goal in overtime. The Tigers are 120th in total offense. There are only 124 teams in the FBS. They’re also 80th in total defense. But Ess E See!
  • Wisconsin – I debated putting USC here, but while it’s certainly been disappointing, at least the Trojans haven’t been completely awful despite a misleading record. The Badgers, on the other hand, have been absolutely terrible. Oh yeah they’re 25th in scoring defense, but they’ve only played one team in the top 40 scoring offenses, Nebraska, whose number is bloated due to playing three terrible teams. The Badgers rank 77th and 87th, respectively, in scoring offense and total offense, and Montee Ball has seen his yards per carry drop from 6.3 to 4.7.

Most exciting offensive players

  • Johnny Manziel – No list including the words “exciting” and “offense” can begin with someone other than Johnny Football, Texas A&M’s quarterback. Manziel set an SEC record for total offense with 577 yards against Louisiana Tech last Saturday night. He’s second in the country in total yards, with 2,356. He’s accounted for over 500 yards of offense in two games, an SEC record. Oh yeah, he’s just a redshirt freshman.
  • Geno Smith – Even a steaming dump of a game against Texas Tech can’t take Geno off this list. The senior has thrown 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His game against Baylor in which he threw eight touchdowns and 656 yards is the definition of exciting.
  • Collin Klein – The Kansas St. quarterback is a favorite of mine. He’s leading the unheralded Wildcats to what should be a BCS game through the air and on the ground. He doesn’t throw that much, but he’s completing almost 67 percent of his passes at 9.1 yards per attempt. And he’s rushed for at least 54 yards in every game this year, including back-to-back 100-yard games the last two weeks. His 10 rushing touchdowns rank him seventh in the nation.

Best games

  • Texas A&M 59 Louisiana Tech 57 – A&M blew 27-0 and 39-16 leads only to hold off two Tech two-point conversion attempts in the fourth quarter, both of which would’ve tied the game. We’ve already covered Manziel’s performance, but Tech’s Colby Cameron was just as impressive – 450 yards, five TDs, no INTs. Tech’s Quinton Patton caught 21 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns.
  • Louisiana-Monroe 34 Arkansas 31 (OT) – The beginning of the end for Arkansas was an epic meltdown, where the Razorbacks, ranked eighth at the time, blew a 28-7 third-quarter lead, allowing multiple fourth quarter and overtime fourth-down conversions, including the game-winning 16-yard touchdown run by ULM QB Barrett Browning.
  • North Carolina St. 17 Florida St. 16 – N.C. State held the Seminoles scoreless in the second half and overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to basically all but eliminate the Noles from the national title conversation. Mike Glennon’s 4th-and-goal touchdown pass from the 2 was the dagger.

Heisman ballot

  1. Geno Smith
  2. Johnny Manziel
  3. Braxton Miller
  4. Manti Te’o
  5. Stefphon Jefferson

We’re Going Polling: Week 6

  1. Notre Dame
  2. Kansas State
  3. Florida
  4. West Virginia
  5. South Carolina
  6. Oregon State
  7. Ohio State
  8. Oregon
  9. Alabama
  10. Louisiana Tech
  11. Arizona State
  12. LSU
  13. Texas
  14. Florida State
  15. Georgia
  16. Stanford
  17. USC
  18. Ohio
  19. Rutgers
  20. Penn State
  21. Northwestern
  22. Iowa State
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Boise State
  25. Duke



College Football Recap: Week 6 – conference races take shape

Four BCS conferences’ races received a major dose of energy this weekend as several top teams fell, other undefeated teams also received their first losses and several mid-tier national title contenders stepped up to the plate and hit grand slams.


I wrote earlier in the season how I thought Florida St. had finally turned a corner and wasn’t the FSU of the past few years where the ‘Noles would lose or let a bad team hang around for way too long. Well, they did both those things this past weekend against North Carolina St., and the Wolfpack’s 17-16 last-second win all but eliminates the Seminoles from the national championship discussion.

The Seminoles were held scoreless in the second half, while N.C. State scored all of its points, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns, after halftime. All FSU had to do was get a first down on its last possession, which started with 2:47 left in the fourth and ended 20 seconds later after three runs that gained a total of one yard. FSU’s subsequent punt was deservedly blocked by N.C. State, and the ‘Pack took over with 2:27 left at their own 43. The Wolfpack converted three fourth downs, including a 4th-and-10 and the game-winning touchdown on 4th-and-2.

Florida St. now needs three teams – Maryland, N.C. State and Clemson – to lose at least once more for the Noles to have a shot at an ACC championship.

Big 12

The de-facto Big 12 championship game could easily be played Oct. 20 in Morgantown, when 2-0 Kansas St. visits the 2-0 Mountaineers. Both teams are the only Big 12 teams undefeated in conference play or otherwise.

Geno Smith and the rest of the West Virginia squad proved their realness in a 48-45 win at Texas. Smith went 25-of-35 for 268 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. But the star of the night was sophomore RB Andrew Buie. Buie rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns against a Texas D-line with at least two future pros on it, while adding 66 more yards through the air. The victory should silence any critics West Virginia still had. The offense can put up points in bunches, and the defense isn’t as bad as the surface numbers suggest. The Mountaineers’ D ranks 83rd in yards per play – 23 spots ahead of the highly touted Texas D.

Outside the Oct. 20 game, both teams have four games remaining that you could label challenging, but they should be favored in each one of them. Even if the winner of that showdown would stumble later on, it’s still highly likely that the it’ll be the best team record-wise at the end of the season.

Big 10

There are currently two teams undefeated in Big 10 conference play – Iowa and Michigan. The top postseason-eligible team in the ironically named Leaders division? 1-1 Wisconsin, who hasn’t had one impressive performance to date. Ohio St. and Penn St., easily the two most impressive Big 10 teams so far, are both 2-0, but banned from competing in the postseason.

Northwestern’s upset bid to run the table fell short, as the Wildcats, after going up 28-17 near the end of the third quarter, gave up 22 unanswered fourth-quarter points at Penn St. to fall 29-28. Michigan St. barely beat Indiana 31-27, and Nebraska gave up 63 points in a humiliating loss to the Buckeyes. It’s not worth going over the other teams’ misery, but one thing’s for sure: Take whatever Pac 10 team plays in the Rose Bowl, assuming it’s matched up against a Big 10 team, and the points, and then laugh all the way to the ticket window to cash your ticket in.


Arguably the two best teams reside in the SEC East. It all depends on how you define “best.” While Alabama has no wins of note, 6-0 South Carolina bludgeoned Georgia Saturday 35-7, and owns two other quality wins, at home against MIssouri and at Vanderbilt. Florida, at 5-0, upset LSU at home, dominating the game in a way we haven’t seen a Florida team do so since Tim Tebow roamed campus. The Gators also have two quality road wins – Texas A&M and Tennessee.

The Gamecocks, owners of the fourth-best defense in the country, travel to LSU this weekend at the right time. The Tigers have been ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball, and are coming off their worst regular season performance in recent memory. The Gamecocks could lose to LSU, but as long as they would beat Florida a week later in The Swamp they’d be the favorite from the East to play in the SEC Championship Game.

South Carolina has been as impressive as anyone in the country, ranking in the top 11 defensively in yards per play, yards per game and points allowed. Their quarterback has been extremely efficient to go along with a great running back, and Jadeveon Clowney is receiving warranted Heisman buzz. If SC could run the table it’d be very fun to watch it – and not Alabama – go up against the speed of Oregon or the precision of West Virginia.

We’re Going Polling: Week 5

  1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  2. Kansas St. Wildcats – We stay the same in the top two spots this week. Both teams had byes, but K-State still has arguably the best win of the season, as well as a thorough beat-down of Miami. Notre Dame’s beaten three good teams, as well as Navy. The Irish has only given up three touchdowns, tied for tops in the nation.
  3. Oregon St. Beavers – The Beavers aren’t necessarily flashy, even though they do rank fourth in passing yards. They don’t score too much, and they don’t have Alabama or Notre Dame’s defense. But what they do have is three high-quality wins, including two on the road, against BCS competition. All three teams they’ve beat have been ranked at some point this year.
  4. Florida Gators – It’s tough to win on the road in the SEC, but Florida’s done it twice in two hostile environments. The Gators started out slowly against UK, but ended up winning 38-0 and holding the Cats to 219 yards.
  5. Florida St. Seminoles – 2.5ish quality wins, including holding off a feisty USF team on the road last week.
  6. Georgia Bulldogs – Despite putting up impressive numbers the Dogs have been somewhat inconsistent on a quarter-to-quarter basis so far. But their offense is legit, and their defense should be only getting better.
  7. Texas Longhorns – I think I’m a little too high on Texas, but the Horns have won on the road the past two games against SEC and Big 12 teams.
  8. South Carolina – Trailed 17-7 at halftime against Kentucky, but ended up winning 38-17. The defense is monstrous – 12th in yards per game and sixth in points allowed – but they’ll need the offense to continue being efficient in their next three: versus Georgia, at LSU, at Florida.
  9. Ohio St. Buckeyes – They don’t have a great win, but they’ve beaten five FBS schools, including a MAC team, a Pac 12 team and Michigan St.
  10. Oregon Ducks – I feel like I have Oregon a bit too high, but it’s got back-to-back impressive wins.
  11. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs – Of course the Bulldogs aren’t ranked even though they’ve won three road games, two of which were against Illinois and Virginia. They’ve got the fifth best offense in the nation so far.
  12. Arizona St. Sun Devils – Another unranked team, even though it has three good wins and whose only loss (at Mizzou) is a “good” loss.
  13. LSU Tigers – That Washington demolition looks even better now that the Huskies beat Stanford. It hasn’t been pretty on offense this year, but when is it ever? The Tigers D is still one of the best in the country.
  14. West Virginia Mountaineers – Their defense isn’t as bad as it appears, and their offense is top-three in the country, in my opinion.
  15. Alabama Crimson Tide – I’m pretty sure Alabama could play FCS schools every week and they wouldn’t drop from the top spot in the official polls. Which is unfortunate, because once again the Tide isn’t playing anyone but getting away with is. Michigan’s lucky to be 2-2, and could easily be 1-3.
  16. Northwestern Wildcats – Four wins against BCS schools. We’ll see what they can do at Penn St. and at Minnesota in the next two weeks.
  17. Washington Huskies – Held Stanford to season-lows in yards and yards per play.
  18. Stanford Cardinal – Still have an impressive win over USC, and can’t fault them for losing on the road to a solid Washington team.
  19. Ohio Bobcats – That Penn St. win keeps looking better and better.
  20. UCLA Bruins – One impressive win, and only one loss, which qualified as a “good” loss.
  21. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – I don’t think anyone saw Rutgers being 4-0 to start out the season, especially after Greg Schiano’s departure.
  22. Clemson Tigers – A little over-ranked in the official polls, just due to being “Clemson.”
  23. USC Trojans – They’ve been mightily unimpressive so far this season.
  24. Michigan St. Spartans – Michigan St. – one quality win, two quality losses. Nebraska – No quality wins, almost lost to Wisconsin at home. Nebraska’s ranked even though it hasn’t played anyone besides UCLA.
  25. Boise St. Broncos – Almost blew it against New Mexico.