Here are some random thoughts on last weekend’s college football action:
– My favorite fan poster of the weekend was one I saw at Iowa behind the College Gameday set. The sign read: “I skipped my sister’s wedding to come to the Game of the Year! Sorry Jill.” That’s classic. But it was another sign in that same crowd that really peaked my interest. A kid in Florida Gators colors held one and it read: “Give Tebow The Heisman!”
Senior starter Chris Leak is, to some, a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Yet, he can’t even get respect from his own fans. What gives?
In a way, I understand how Gators fans can be torn. Freshman Tim Tebow had to bail Leak out in Tennessee on a critical fourth-and-one, and it wasn’t until Tebow made an appearance in the second half that the Gators got it going against Alabama. He’s feisty, he’s the spark off the bench, and he’s the most popular guy on the team – the backup QB. Also, Tebow is a freshman so he’s soaked that magic word: Potential. And that can be as intoxicating as jungle juice at a frat house.
But Leak is the one who makes the machine work in Florida. The Gators aren’t going to run the table in the SEC, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a fantastic season and possibly make a national title run. But after they lose to either LSU or Auburn – no chance they win both – the only thing that could derail their year is if Urban Meyer gets an itchy trigger finger with Leak.
– I still don’t think anyone is ready to embrace Ohio State as a classic, elite, juggernaut, unanimous national title shoo-in. The Buckeyes are like a Rachel McAdams – better looking than you think, and solid in everything they do. But college fans and writers are still seduced by teams like Florida or USC, which are like a Jessica Alba – incredibly hot, but not much substance when it comes to taking care of business.
Even Vegas oddsmakers appear to be seduced by the Alba ass, because they are still undervaluing Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been an ATM machine, posting 12 straight against the spread victories dating back to last year. That’s unheard of for a team with such national exposure.
The reason is partially their outstanding play, but partially soft lines. During that 12-game run the Buckeyes have faced only two spreads of more than 20 points. Comparatively, Texas saw seven spreads of more than 20 points last year during its 10-2 ATS season. The Longhorns saw only two single-digit lines – against Ohio State and Southern Cal.
– In the third quarter of its game at South Carolina the Auburn Tigers horded the ball like Iranian royalty hording their country’s oil fortune. The Tigers offense had possession for the entire – I mean ENTIRE – third quarter and put the squeeze on the Cocks en route to a 24-10 lead. My bet at Auburn (-13.5) was looking smooth.
But then at the most critical junction of that game the Tigers looked tentative. I was expecting to see the killer instinct of a national championship contender. Instead I saw hesitancy.
South Carolina’s first second-half possession didn’t take place until there was just 14:11 left in the game. If Auburn had attacked S. Carolina and forced a three-and-out it could’ve gotten ugly. Instead, their scheme was passive. They only rushed three defenders and fell back into a soft zone. Naturally, the Cocks got in a rhythm offensively and scored a touchdown. After Auburn got shut down, it was then back in the hands of USC and Auburn avoided overtime only because of dropped passes.
– Who is the best receiver in college football? And before you automatically say “Mario Manningham”, the Heisman candidate from Michigan, I have another name for you to consider: Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson.
Here are the numbers, and you decide:
Manningham – 21 catches, 452 yards, 21.5 average and 7 touchdowns.
Johnson – 25 catches, 426 yards, 17.0 average and 7 touchdowns.
Remember, Manningham has Steve Breaston (19 catches) on the other side, while Johnson has no one with more than 12 catches.
– What in good God’s name was going on with that Virginia-Duke line last week? The Cavaliers began as more than a touchdown favorite but the line kept trickling down to a close of just -4. I loved this game, but got scared off the line by the movement. Paranoia crept in during the dark of night, seizing my senses and overwhelming reason. The result: no play.
Yeah, so Virginia kicked the crap out of the Blue Devils 37-0. And the only thing I was surprised by was my own stupidity. What can you do? And I still, for the life of me, can’t figure out how Duke covered against Wake Forest in week two. I’m still bitter.
– Looking at the AP Polls, two things jump out at me. First, there’s no way Georgia should be No. 10. They’re juggling high school quarterbacks, and the regular “starter” Joe Tereshinski has about 15 seconds of actual experience. They’re receivers drop almost as many passes as the Falcons, and though the defense is first-rate they’ve still had to come from behind to beat Colorado and Ole Miss.
On the flip side, Clemson should be ranked higher than 15. Their one loss was in overtime at Boston College when their extra point was blocked. The Tigers are second in the nation in scoring and are the least shaky team in a very suspect ACC. I’ll be surprised if they don’t win the league title, and think after they railroad Wake Forest this week they’ll find their way into the Top 10.
– Here are some quick-hit thoughts for you:
TCU looked extremely flat for a team trying to extend the nation’s longest winning streak.
Boise State looked like a team on a mission against Utah, but it will be interesting to see if they can bring that intensity on the road for a second week in a row. The same thing goes for Oregon.
South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe will be a solid NFL quarterback someday. That kid makes all the throws, and has a lot of moxie for a freshman.
I agree that Northern Illinois running back Garrett Wolfe should be in the Heisman discussion but there’s no way he wins it.
Washington State showed a lot of heart last weekend, and if NT Sedrick Ellis and WR Dwayne Jarrett don’t play this weekend then Washington could hang around with USC.
Tebow’s late fumble against Alabama showed why it’s so important to bet a favorite that you like early in the week.
How is Illinois celebrating on anyone’s home field? And how hilarious was that John L. Williams meltdown. PLAYOFFS!?!?
– So, you think Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter is second-guessing the way he dealt with his preseason quarterback situation? Essentially it was a lose-lose-lose situation. Koettner’s Sun Devils are going down in flames. Rudy Carpenter is completing just 54 percent of his passes and has nine interceptions in his five games. Sam Keller is on his way to Nebraska, where he will have to sit out a year for transferring. What a mess.
– Here’s your weekly update on nonconference records by BCS schools:
ACC: 3-0 straight-up, 1-1 against the spread (20-10 SU, 7-17 ATS for the season)
Big East: 4-1 SU, 3-1 ATS (25-8 SU, 20-6 ATS)
Big 10: 0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS (28-9 SU, 17-14 ATS)
Big 12: 2-0 SU, 0-0 ATS (33-14 SU, 19-13 ATS)
Pac 10: 0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS (20-7 SU, 10-14 ATS)
SEC: 3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS (25-7 SU, 15-14 ATS)
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at [email protected].
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