Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Top 10 Preview: Week 3.

I’m back. Surprise! After a lovely weekend in the Northern California wine country with the wife, a lot of well-fermented grapes and practically no football, it’s time to get back to reality and gear up for College Football Week 3, which I hope will be a lot more interesting than MONSTER WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Presented by ESPN. Let’s face it, what was supposed to be the biggest college football weekend of the season turned into kind of a dud after the favored teams took their supposedly well matched opponents out back and gave them good, well rounded floggings. To demonstrate, I’ll quickly review the results of last week’s games in addition to previewing the upcoming matchups because I’m a good man, and thorough.

#1 Alabama.

Last Week: Winned #18 Penn State 24-3.

In what was supposed to be a rekindling of an old rivalry, Penn State pretty much bent over and let Trent Richardson have his way with them as he ran up 210 yards and 3 TDs filling in for the injured Mark Ingram. Fun Fact! This series was actually supposed to begin in the mid-aughts but Alabama asked if they could move it back to this year so they could get back on their feet after the Dubose/Francione disaster years. Joe Pa probably doesn’t remember this, but he’d like a redo anyway.

This Week: at Duke +24. 2:30PM. ABC.

All across the ACC they’re looking forward to basketball season much earlier than they anticipated, and things aren’t going to get better this weekend when the two or three remaining Blue Devil football fans welcome in the #1 ranked Tide. As a bonus, Mark Ingram AND suspended D-lineman Marcell Dareus will be returning. So now they get to deal with a former Heisman winner, a current Heisman candidate in Trent Richardson, and the dude that crushed UT’s soul in the National Championship game. There will be blood, David Cutcliffe. At least your fans are all nerds who don’t understand football scoring anyway.

#2 Ohio State

Last Week: Winned #12 Miami (FL) 36-24.

So much for revenge. The final score might make you think that the Canes at least kept it respectable, but QB Jacory Harris will be quick to remind you that he didn’t really want to win anyway, thus the 4 INTs he finished with. Ouch. You better hide behind that Louis Vuitton scarf for a while and think about what you did. Harris and OSU QB Terrelle Pryor threw for 233 and 232 yards respectively and a TD each, but Pryor had a 0 beside his INT stat line and that was the difference. The 113 rushing yards helped as well. Seriously ACC, why do you have an automatic bid again?

This Week: vs. Ohio +30. 11:00AM. BTN.

Guess I’ll have to keep hoping about reversing that whole this weekend being more fun than next weekend thing based on these first two, because they are not going to be interesting. History will suggest that the last time these two schools matched up two years ago, the Bobcats actually held the edge heading into the fourth quarter before falling apart… but history is probably not repeating itself this year. Terrelle Pryor seems to be a man on a mission and although I suppose it’s possible he could get off to a slow start in what will be considered a letdown game, the Buckeyes are too good for this one to be close for very long. The Bobcats have never beaten a ranked team, nor Ohio State, and lost to Toledo last weekend… so those stats aren’t good for their chances, either.

# 3. Boise State.

Last week: Idle, but technically a loss because of the whole James Madison fiasco.

This Week: @ Wyoming +23.5. 7:00PM.

The Cowboys aren’t exactly making it easy on Dave Christensen in what is supposed to be his breakout season. After sneaking past Southern Utah in the season opener, the Cowboys had to travel to Austin last weekend to play Texas and, although they actually led 7-6 in the second quarter, they eventually came back down to earth and gave up 28 straight to lose 34-7. So, you’d think they might schedule a cupcake game to regroup and reheal after that one… but instead put the third ranked Broncos on the slate the following week. So, good luck with that, guys. The Cowboys will try and suggest that they always hold a home field edge over their opponents due to the altitude, and it’s true that their opponents occasionally get off to slow starts in Laramie, but due to the events in Blacksburg, VA this week, I’m afraid it’s going to be blitzkrieg, scorched earth tactics Saturday evening.

You have to feel for Boise – they’re third ranked and getting first place votes after week one, and now they’re likely going to fall victim to their WAC schedule. Of course, they were going to do that anyway, but they also expected to have a Top 10 or 15 ranked Hokies team to hang their hat on. Now they’re looking hard at staying in Boise during bowl season, and it’s all because Virginia Tech couldn’t hold off a school that most folks probably didn’t even realize existed. And Oregon State, the other big name on their schedule, has already dropped a game, and to top it off the Broncos didn’t even play this past weekend, which lost them credibility in the eyes of short minded voters. And now Nebraska is reporting that they offered the Broncos a home/home situation but the Broncos turned them down because they wanted a cool million to schedule it, thus clouding the whole “No one will play us!” story.

So what does all this have to do with their game against the Cowboys? Nothing really… except that they’re going to absolutely destroy them if they have the chance because absolute destruction is the only chance Boise has of staying ahead in the polls. Sorry, Dave.

#5 Oregon.

Last Week: Winned Tennessee 48-13.

So much for my upset call. Tennessee actually led this game 13-3 and it was tied at the half. Then the Vols defense rolled a few J’s and decided to hang out in the locker room during the second half as the Ducks scored 35 unanswered, 45 overall, to roll to the win. Pretty much all you need to know about this one happens in this video.

This Week: vs. Portland State. No line. 5:15PM.

New ground rule: If it doesn’t have a line, I’m not previewing. So there.

#6 Texas.

Last Week: Winned Wyoming 34-7.

Pretty well covered what happened in this one earlier, but Garrett Gilbert grew up a little bit after a shaky start, piling up 222 yards and TD. Still, it was Wyoming, so let’s not hand him the trophy just yet.

This Week: @ Texas Tech +3.5. 7:00PM. ABC.

Major, major post-game treat alert here as the Horns return to the scene of the crime, otherwise known as the time that Blake Gideon may as well have been wearing the other teams’s jersey because he blew it so hard. And Michael Trabtree played a role as well. Regardless, Lubbock is going to be going absolutely NANNERS for this one, although it won’t be like two years ago. Let’s face it, this game will not be anywhere near as explosive as the networks hope it to be. Tech is still breaking in a new regime and I’m not sure they even like their QB, Gilbert is still getting his footing, and Texas will be using its third starting running back in as many weeks. Lots of variables at play here. Plus, Texas struggles against Tech in Lubbock, going 9-9 in all games played between the two on the plains. Besides that, Tech has hands down the worst fans in the entire country. Seriously, there are eastern European soccer teams where the fans have to be separated by barbed wire and still manage to kill one another who have better manners. Do you think Garrett Gilbert has what it takes to stand up to those assholes? He’s been a goldenboy all his life – His high school teams never lost, he played in the NCAA Title game as a freshman and brought him team to within three points of the lead and thusfar has underperformed but in front of the home fans. The first time he makes a poor play, he’s going to know about it. Those west Texas imbreds are going to have a FIELD day with the guy. He’s the biggest variable in this whole thing.

But while Texas hasn’t exactly played stellar competition, Tech hasn’t proven themselves either, letting SMU sneak back in and almost force that game into OT despite a 3 TD lead, and then they played New Mexico, which needs no explanation. And while Taylor Potts has put up the numbers the Raiders always expected him to – 652 yards, 7TDs/0 INTS – the Red Raiders have pretty much abandoned the ground game that Tuberville was supposed to be so fond of, and the last time Tommy T experimented with the spread offense, he was fired from Auburn. Texas has a pretty decent secondary; if they are able to contain Potts, will Baron Batch be ready to carry the load? Texas also has a very good rush defense, so the odds are against him being able to roll up some major yards given he only has 25 attempts on the year.

The stats really favor Texas. For their part, Tech has a terrible passing defense – surprise! – and only a mediocre run D. Therefore, Garrett Glbert will have opportunities to take his shots and Texas, though they won’t run anyone to death all year, should be able to move the ball on the ground if need be.

My personal gut feeling? I think this one will be close. I doubt the Horns are able to shut down Potts for a considerable amount of time, and I think Tech will pack the box and make Gilbert have a transcendent game to beat them – and I’m not sure that he does. Still, this game just has the feeling of a typical bullshit Mack Brown win – play from behind, let Tech jump out to a few quick scores, then turn the tables after halftime. I don’t think it’s as high scoring as two years ago, but Texas has the superior defense and will win it in the end.

#7 Oklahoma.

Last Week: Winned #17 Florida State 47-17.

I’m not sure how to check up on such things, but if anyone has access to Vegas betting records, I have a feeling the bookies won a TON of money on this one. The Sooners were barely a TD favorite and after the opening weeks of the two teams, the smart money was on the points. Not so. OU absolutely scalped Florida State and sent them on a trail of tears back to Tallahassee, with QB Landry Jones going30/40!!! For 380 yards and 4 TDs, while Heisman Candidate FSU QB Christian Ponder was 11/28 for 113 yards with no TDs and 2 INTs. The Sooners also doubled up the Seminoles 28-14 on first downs to rub it in some more.

This Week: vs. Air Force +17. 2:30PM.

A SNEEEEEEEEEEEEAKY good game here with both teams riding high after big wins, although I’m not so sure the Falcons aren’t even more juiced up after finally knocking the BYU monkey off their backs. And I couldn’t be happier for them. I just wish the Academy would treat Provo like they’ve been treating Afghanistan and bomb it off the map. Only 4 more gamedays until that hate fest. I am SO ready.

As for this game though, the line actually moved 1.5 points in favor of the Falcons after the first day, which says a lot about how folks viewed their victory. But, OU looked TOUGH last week against Florida State, and they’re nothing like the team that looked flat against Utah State, and certainly nothing like the team that lost to the Cougars last year. Then again, as we’re well aware, stopping the Air Force offense poses some unique challenges of its own and they’re fully capable of sneaking up on anyone. Obviously the numbers are going to be skewed, but Air Force currently leads the country in rushing yards with 423 per game, and they’re bound to bust one through the line eventually you’d have to think. But, as it always is when you run the option, if the ground game isn’t there, it’s probably game over because the odds of changing it up and going to the air rarely works out. This is unfortunate for the Falcons because the Sooner secondary is young and at the bottom of the barrel statistically – mostly due to a horrific showing against USU; a game that they atoned for last week – but pretty stout up front.

But the Air Force defense, believe it or not, is actually pretty good against the pass and could keep Landry Jones from having a game like the one against FSU. Sadly though, they are not that great against the run and although Demarco Murray wasn’t as explosive last week as he was the one before, he’s still legit and wasn’t really needed last week, thus the small numbers.

I would really like to go with Air Force here, and I hate to completely neglect what happened against Utah State because they then beat an overrated Florida State team, but at home the Sooners will win this one. Regardless, if you like points, you’ll like this game.

#8 Nebraska.

Last Week: Winned Idaho 38-17.

Again, the score deceives the eye here – Nebraska picked off Idaho five times in this one and led 31-0 in the third quarter before the Vandals scored some garbage time points. Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez rolled up 157 yards on the ground and scored twice and became the first Huskers QB since Eric Crouch to make Tom Osborne feel as happy as a little girl.

This Week: @ Warshington +3.5. 2:30PM. ABC.

As much as I want Nebraska to lose because I just can’t buy into them, I want Jake Locker to lose more just so we can finally shut down that hype train once and for all. Hopefully after BYU was run over by Air Force, that loss looks even worse for the Huskies despite Locker creaming Syracuse this past weekend and his current season totals of 555 yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs. However, Nebraska has had at least 3 picks in each of their last 3 games, so Jake will have his work cut out of him. I’m actually kind of shocked that this game has such a small spread – guess that whole east coast exposure thing really is working out for the Huskies QB. These are two polar opposite teams offensively as Washington loves passing the ball and Nebraska hates it, and the opposite. For their part, Nebraska has a much better overall defense and, quite honestly, this game runs concurrent to ours and I won’t get to watch it anyway, so I’m tired of talking about. I think Nebraska will cruise.

#9 Iowa.
Last Week: Winned Iowa State 35-7.

Snoozer. Iowa State is garbage. Much worse for the Big 12 than Baylor. Why can’t we lobby those guys out?

This Week: @ #24 Arizona +2.5. 9:30PM. ESPN.

Another sneaky good game, this one as a nightcap to the Tech/UT post game extravaganza. But you’re all supposed to be listening to Whalers then anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter does it? Arizona has ridden QB Nick Foles to two wins to open the year against Toledo and… someone that doesn’t matter, but Iowa has been shockingly potent. We knew they’d have a good defense again, but the offense has been a nice surprise. Injuries have destroyed the Hawkeyes rushing attack the past couple of years, but this year thru 2 weeks they’ve averaged 227 yards a game. Captain American QB Ricky Stanzi has also looked sharp, completing over 70% of his passes and throwing 3 TDs.

This one looks like it will come down to the ground game though, and Iowa seems to have the edge. Arizona is not very good against the run and Iowa is very good against it. You can check the stats yourself. They’re real. Besides, Iowa doesn’t start losing games until they get their fan hopes just a little too high and need to temper the expectations.

#10 Florida.

Last Week: Winned South Florida 38-14.

I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that Florida is going to have a ROUGH time battling their SEC schedule this year. ROUGH. Like, if Jeff Demps gets hurt, they are SO screwed. The Gators were down 7-0 until less than a minute left in the second quarter, went into half time tied, then pulled away behind Demps in the second half. First half? 175 yards of offense. Second half? 460. With South Carolina improving, Georgia having AJ Green back by the time that game is played, and a trip to Tuscaloosa in store… that could be three groin punches right there for the Gators.

This Week @ Tennessee +17.5. 2:30PM. CBS.

A delightfully classic hatefest, except this year Tennessee actually has a chance. I don’t mean this as a compliment to the Vols – they aren’t going to be good – but more of a knock on the Gators who have been extremely underwhelming. The Vols get a boost as Chris Rainey, one of Florida’s leading playmakers, has been removed from the team indefinitely for allegedly stalking a young Florida lady. He sent her a text that said, “time to die.” Seriously? Guns N Roses? Please.

Really, I have no faith in either offense. John Brantley sucks. Florida’s O Line sucks. Chris Simms’ little brother sucks. Tennessee actually has a decent run game, but those stats are padded due to the Tennessee-Martin game. So I’m going defenses. And Florida actually has one. It’s the only reason they’ve won both of their games. Tennessee, however, does NOT have one at present – see LaMichael James run above. And Jeffrey Demps is at least in the same ballpark as James when it comes to… explosiveness? Is that the word? It’ll be close early, but Florida will blow it open after halftime.

So, a couple of seriously major games this weekend, but mostly just early season dudfests. The real game of the week is going down in sold out Amon G this weekend though, and I’ll have that preview up and running Friday.


Lyle Lanley said...

LaMichael James...should've been a Frog

Tanner said...

you assholes are goin down. im creepin up the rankings and im def goin 10-1 this week. I can feel it in my bones.