After last week’s progressively unenthusiastic checkdown of the Top 25, this week we’re cutting it down to a courteous 10 in order to be able to give a bit more credence to the matchups as this
is the biggest college football watchin’ weekend competition-wise of the year. Also, just for brevity, we’re rolling with the schwag AP rankings to establish the order here until the Week 8 medical BCS version becomes available. We would offer you a baggie full of the hydroponic Coaches’ blend, but you know those jerks are just tucking the seeds up underneath it all anyway.
#1 Alabama -10.5 vs. # 18 Penn State. Saturday @ 7:00PM. ESPN.
When this game was first announced last year, the sports media was in an uproar of excitement of the renewal of a “classic” rivalry. Well, I paid no mind at the time, but after reading up a little bit about it, holy crap Penn State folks HATE Alabama. It all started in 1979 when Penn State was held on a goal line stand at the end of the game under curious circumstances. The Tide faithful claim it was legit; the Lions say the ref spotted the ball wrong. Regardless, Penn State lost the game AND the national championship. Penn State then dropped six of their next ten games against the Tide over the next ten seasons, including ANOTHER national title.. so yeah, you could say they’d love to pee in Alabama’s national title pool this Saturday.
Unfortunately, it’s not looking good.
On the plus side for Penn State, their gamble to start the first true freshman QB under Paterno’s reign – which extends 50+ years, mind you – paid off well last week, as Robert Bolden completed 20 passes for 239 yards and 2 TDs in a 44-14 win. Unfortunately for Penn State? It was against Youngstown State, home of everyone’s favorite excommunicated TCU defensive back, Sir Demarco Bledsoe. Penn State will also take solace in the fact that Heisman RB Mark Ingram may sit for the second game in a row this weekend. Unfortunately, Alabama also has Trent Richardson, as well as Greg McElroy and Julio Jones, which could pose some problems considering they let Youngstown State’s QB go 21/25 for 189 yards and 2 TDs/no picks last weekend. Believe it nor not, Youngtown State did not win a national title last season, so Penn State has not yet played a team returning an entire National Title defending offense.
I’d love to pick Penn State here and potentially push the Frogs into the top 3 at the end of the week, but it’s not happening.
#2 Ohio State -9 vs. # 12 Miami, FL. Saturday @ 2:40PM. ESPN.
In my personal favorite game of the weekend, the much hyped Terrelle Pryor goes against a lesser hyped but hyped nonetheless Jacory Harris in a serious grudge match for the Hurricanes. If you’ll recall, in the 2003 Title game, Miami held Ohio State on a goal line stand and won the game… until the referee tossed a shockingly late pass interference flag, setting up the Buckeyes with one last shot. They converted and then beat the Canes in overtime on a Maurice Clarett TD. It’s gotta hurt for that particular team, especially Larry Coker as he wastes away at UT-San Tone, but they really need to ask themselves: Do I really want to trade places with Maurice Clarett right now? Didn’t think so.
As for the present day version, this game will be intriguing for several reasons. One, Pryor and Harris are similar QBs – and no, not just because they’re both black – although I think Pryor probably has better pocket presence and isn’t as quick to cut and run as Harris. But, regardless, they can both beat you on the ground or through the air, and both have a nice stockpile of talent to throw to. It’s hard to make a judgment call based on the results of last week as both QBs looked strong against severely inferior competition, but if we’re going on numbers alone, Pryor holds the edge by a slim margin. But, Pryor was also pretty fortunate to look as good as he did last week because, despite his experience, he is absolutely fearless in a bad way when it comes to flinging the ball downfield and against a better defense, he will get eaten alive. I’m not sure Miami is going to be the one to do it, but he can’t have as much blind faith in his arm and his receivers as he did last week and expect to win.
Both teams have explosive receivers, and Ohio State has a stronger run game with Brandon Seine, but the main thing here is going to be who has the best protection, and that’s where Ohio State probably wins the game. Miami has an explosive defensive front – 8 sacks in the opener – but Ohio State has a big, veteran line that should be able to give Pryor enough time to hit DeVier Posey and his pals down the field a handful of times and keep this one out of reach. A fired up Horseshoe crowd will help lift the Buckeyes over the top, but Miami will keep it a little too close for comfort all game.
#3 Boise State – idle.
#5 Texas -29 vs. Wyoming. Saturday @ 6:00PM.
First off, dropping a spot to 5th place behind two non-BCS teams? Mwahahahahahahahahahaha, eat shit, UT. Seriously, find a piece of human feces and ingest it. This pleases me immensely. Not enough to give Wyoming the edge, but enough to lean back in my chair, smile really wide, and think about how frustrated it must be to have watched that Rice game last weekend if your particular rooting interest was Orange. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the Longhorns will likely use that poor performance to their advantage and come out and roll. The fact that Wyoming snuck by something called Southern Utah by 8 points last week also kills most of the hope I may have had for an upset.
It’s funny though, because, on paper at least, Wyoming is probably better offensively. Wyoming QB Austyn Carta Samuels had a nice game last week, going 26/32 for 319 yards and 3 TDs vs 1 INT. Meanwhile, Goldenboy went 14/23 for 172 yards and no scores against Rice, which is the same thing you find in a dead chinaman’s ass, or so went a story I was once told. And neither team can run the ball either – don’t give me that Tre Newton crap - so that’s surely something to consider as well.
The spread says 29.0 and it’s rising, so apparently someone with far less UT hate than I possess sees things differently, but honestly, will either team even get to 29?
Well yes, UT will get it in gear and roll, but a guy’s gotta have big dreams, right?
#6 Nebraska -28.5 vs. Idaho. Saturday @ 11:30AM.
Should be an interesting clash of fanbases here as Nebraska is commonly cited as having the most knowledgable and accommodating fans in the country and Idaho, at least according to Boise State lore, is nasty and inebriated, which sounds like my kind of folks. Nebraska pasted Western Kentucky last week to open the season, but WKU has now lost 21 games in a row, so I’m not sure what kind of measuring stick that would qualify as. For their part, the Vandals played host to the Mighty Sioux of North Dakota and blanked them by 45 points, which beating a team from either of the Dakota’s shouldn’t qualify as ground breaking... unless you’re from the state of Kansas.
Vandals QB Nathan Enderle is also a Nebraska native, so expect him to want to come out and put on a good show for his friends and family. For what it’s worth, Enderle appears stronger than Nebraska freshman QB Taylor Martinez, but I don’t think it’s going to matter. I’m as far from sold on Nebraska as you can possibly be, but they should at least be able to get by an also-ran WAC team if they are anywhere close to the 6th ranked team in the country. I’m taking Idaho and the points though.
#7 Oregon +13.5 @ Tennessee. Saturday @ 6:00PM. ESPN2.
Can anyone say upset special? This is an absolutely PERFECT trap game for Oregon. Oregon comes into this game flying high after their 72 point decapitation of New Mexico – seriously, guys. Thanks for boosting the conference profile all these years. We’d rather have your aggy little brother – and I think Tennessee has more going for them than people think. Sure, it was only Tennessee-Martin, but I don’t think anyone thought the Vols would score 50 points all year, let alone in their opening game. And even Chris Simms’ little brother under center can’t foul up a run game that rolled up 332 yards last week.
For their part, Oregon looks to have found a more than adequate replacement for Jeremiah “Park Ranger” Masoli – Chip Kelly gives a shout out the Jacksonville, Florida and asks Masoli how his ass taste – in Darron Thomas, and even without LaMichael James the Ducks threw up 369 rush yards… but I don’t know. If Tennessee-Martin and New Mexico played, do you honestly think New Mexico could pull it out? That’s the worst team in college football at any level if you ask me. Euless High School scored 80 on the #1 HS team in the nation last weekend… they’d break 100 against the Lobos. Seriously, we all hate BYU, but can we blame them for getting the hell away from that stank? At least SMU has an excuse for their terrible performances for 25 years. I would rather watch a Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton sex tape than be a UNM fan right now. I’d rather go the rest of my life having to hear the soothing sounds of Nickelback being blasted in my ear 24 hours a day than attend a UNM game that didn’t feature TCU. I’d rather watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey followed by TO’s reality show every single night for the rest of my life than even see UNM come across myDirecTV guide. I’d rather feed a bird a KFC Double Down and then eat it after the bird regurgitated it back into my mouth than look at another UNM box score. I’d rather go see that Broadway play where the kid from Harry Potter is naked half the time. I’d rather sit in the audience for a taping of Oprah. I’d… well, you get the point.
Anyway, I think the Vols win it and then do something stupid like let Alabama block two game winning FG attempts in the closing seconds the following week.
#8 Florida -16.5 vs. South Florida. Saturday @ 11:21 AM. SEC Network.
Whew. If it weren’t for all the national titles and winning seasons under Urb and Spurrier, file being a Florida fan in the above paragraph as well because it could be a major down year for the Gators, especially in the SEC. If we were doing WESCON this week – and we will again, just not today – this would be at WESCON 6, which I don’t think even exists. Read last week’s Top 25 roundup for all the gory details, but needless to say Florida’s offense does not seem to be clicking right now, and unless they had some serious practice sessions this week, this one could be just as ugly. Eight fumbles, bad snaps, and 26 yards of total offense through three quarters tells a little bit of the tale, but John Brantley is definitely not wandering around with the chestmeat on his arm that Tebow had in droves after that one.
Although they only beat Stony Brook, South Florida looked strong last week in their first game under Skip Holtz, a 59-14 win. At least their center was able to deliver the football to the quarterback to get plays started. Both teams put up nice defensive performances with 4 INTs a piece against their inferior opponents – Miami, Ohio for Florida – and, at least in Florida’s case, that was the main difference between 1-0 and 0-1.
South Florida has been trying to break through the three-floored glass ceiling of football in the state of Florida, flying up the rankings in 2007 before a mid season conference slide forced them to the Sun Bowl, and actually defeating Florida State last year in Tallahassee. Former Coach Jim Leavitt wore out his welcome by putting his players in choke holds before being able to finish their rise, but can Skip Holtz accomplish it this year with his leftovers? Probably not – SURELY the Gators will have gotten it together this week, right? – but I think this one is a lot more competitive than a 3 possession spread.
#9 Iowa -13.5 vs. Iowa State. Saturday @2:30PM. ABC.
In a game that has been anything but competitive the past few years, Iowa State travels to Kinnick Stadium to take on their overhyped in-state rivals, the Hawkeyes. Here’s a stat for you: Iowa State didn’t score a TD against Iowa last season. Or the season before that. And 2 seasons before that. Yes, the Cyclones have not an offensive TD against Iowa since 2006. Shockingly enough, the Cyclones actually won one of those games… but don’t expect lightning to strike twice. Iowa has one of the most touted defenses in the country this year, and they proved it last weekend while holding the Eastern Illinois Tony Romos to six first downs and 157 yards in the 37-7 win. Iowa State, meanwhile, struggled to pull out a 17 point win against Northern Illinois showing that, while Iowa may not have much going for it otherwise, they at least own two of the four corners of their neighboring state. I’d give you the statistical rundown, but you don’t really need to hear it. Iowa should win this one comfortably.
#10 Oklahoma -9.5 vs. #17 Florida State.
This game looked a whole lot more high stakes before OU almost lost to Utah State and Florida State had 15,000 empty seats in their home opener. In other words, expectations for both teams will be low this week, which will at least soften the blow for the loser. Both teams looked pretty solid on offense last week, especially OU RB DeMarco “how does this guy STILL have eligibility??” Murray who had 208 yards and 2 scores, but then again, they were playing USU and Samford, which apparently is more than just a television show.
This is actually a pretty tough game to predict. On the one hand, OU clearly has some defensive issues, and Florida State is currently your 5th place team in total points scored in the country, a flawed statistic if I’ve ever seen one. OU has a young secondary and FSU QB Christian Ponder threw 4 TDs last weekend. Also, in a bit of a twist, the OU defense is coached by none other than Mark Stoops, aka Bob Stoops’ younger brother, so he probably has at least a working knowledge of his brother’s tendencies.
I honestly thought OU was going to be a team to seriously watch out for this year, and while it isn’t fair to gauge a team after their first game – the 2005 versions of ourselves understand how that works – it’s still kind of fair when that team is Utah State, who is PITIFUL. Bob Stoops doesn’t lose many games at home – only once when not playing the Frogs – but I think he gets his commupance here. I’ll take the Noles.
This is going to sound kind of blasphemous because I realize that having gameday is always better than not having gameday, but if there were any time that it’d be good not to have a late afternoon game against a D-1AA opponent, this would be it because there is some SERIOUSLY good football to be watched. Still, with all the technology you youngsters have at your disposal, I’m sure you’ll at least be able to see what happens in the early games while overindulging in the parking lots. Me? I’ll be in the middle of the California wine country with no TV reception and likely limited cell phone service, but don’t cry for me. Ok, well, maybe just a little.