Saturday, October 01, 2005Afternoon Thoughts
Oh my god it's an Urban Disaster, an Urban Catastrophe or maybe just an Urban fraud. Now Alabama has proven that they are a legit top 10 team if they can hold this 31-3 left. As I said before and I will say again, FLORIDA CAN'T STOP THE RUN. They aren't a physical team, they aren't team with a lot of pride. They really aren't that good. And 'Bama is back baby, Mike Shula is doing good things in Tuscaloosa.
Much of what I expected. The Seminoles seem to be doing marginally better with their running game, but with the defense as strong as it is, that concern seems minor. Quarterback play continues to improve.
LiveBlogging at Noon
-- (MSU 0, Mich 0): Michigan has gone 96 yards in nine plays and the Wolverines have a first and goal.
-- (Mich 6, MSU 0): Henne goes up top to Avant and he's got it! That's a statement drive my friend.
-- (Mich 7, MSU 0): An ugly three and out for the Spartans and an uglier punt gives Michigan a first down around midfield.
-- (Mich 7, MSU 0) With Mike Hart returning I'm reminded of Chris Perry's 50-carry day in East Lansing two years ago. Will Michigan try to pound the ball again?
-- (VT 7, WVU 0) Meanwhile Virginia Tech is humming along in this hostile road game. Vick looks pretty comfortable so far. And he's on target again, hitting the tight end for the first down.
-- (VT 7, WVU 0) Vick shoots an incomplete into the end zone, it's third down. Teams are still struggling to defend Vick because of his subtle differences from Mike.
-- (VT 10, WVU 0) The Mountaineers will hold the Hokies to a mid-range field goal. Points will be difficult to come back to West Virginia needs to get on its bicycle.
-- (Mich 14, MSU 0) Yikes.
-- (Mich 14, MSU 0) Michigan holes a 150-32 advantage in total yards right now. Plenty of time in the game though.
-- (Mich 14, MSU 0) Big third-down conversion for the Spartans, they couldn't afford another three and out.
-- (Mich 14, MSU 0) The Wolverines front four is looking strong each week.
-- (Mich 14, MSU 0) Stanton is warming up now and Teague just got some space on the ground. And Jeremy Scott gives the Spartans a 1st and goal.
-- (Mich 14, MSU 6) Stanton runs around right end and finds paydirt!
-- (VT 10, WVU 0) West Virginia is in the red zone with a first down at the 15 at the start of the second quarter. And off tackle play goes nowhere.
-- (VT 10, WVU 0) Looks like one of the Mountaineers' quarterbacks is shaken up after a tough hit. Left shoulder, looks painful.
-- (VT 10, WVU 0) First and goal for the Mountaineers. This is a pretty strong drive, but they need a touchdown.
-- (VT 10, WVU 6) Third and goal from the 2. White on a great playfake hits the tight end for the touchdown!
*Michigan leads 21-7, while Virginia Tech is up 17-14*
-- (VT 17, WVU 14) The crowd is definitely back into things at Morgantown. The Mountaineers are being a little reckless, but they are hanging tough.
-- (VT 17, WVU 14) The Hokies go three and out. Ol momentum has switched in this game.
-- (VT 17, WVU 14) The punt is muffed and recovered by Virginia Tech. Damn, a tough break right there.
*Michigan just scored to take a 31-24 lead and VT is up 34-17, I just got to my office*
-- (Mich 31, MSU 24) Not sure if Hart scored there but that was a hell of an effort.
-- (VT 34, WVU 17) Just so you know, West Virginia's blunder on special teams at the end of the first half lost this game for them. It's always one play.
-- (Mich 31, MSU 24) Hart has around 180 yards. He make this offense so much better and makes Henne a much better quarterback.
-- (Mich 31, MSU 24) FUMBLE!!! SAMOAN RUNS DOWN THE SIDELINES!!! SAMOAN RUNS DOWN THE SIDELINES!!!! TOUCHDOWN!!!
-- (Mich 31, MSU 30) Uh-Oh looks like a review. Looks like his arm is moving forward...Tuck rule?
-- (Mich 31, MSU 31) Tuck rule my ass. Samoan scores! Samoan scores! I get excited with the defensive tackles score.
-- (Mich 31, MSU 31) BTW, I'm saying it. OSU-Michigan may be the best rivalry in the Big Ten but Michigan-MSU give us much better games.
-- (Mich 31, MSU 31) Big third down stop by Sparty..
-- (Mich 31, MSU 31) Hart BULLS for the first down and now Michigan can run this out.
-- (Mich 31, MSU 31) Less than a minute remaining.
-- (Mich 31, MSU 31) Field Goal is..........NO GOOD!!! Strategy backfires.
We're heading to overtime. I'm heading to the St. Pete Times Forum. Good luck Sparty, Good luck Blue. May the best Michigan school win.
The Game: Finally a good Florida-Alabama game. Ever since the mid 90s it seems like these two teams just haven't been good at the same time. Alabama is over its sanctions and Florida finally has some sort of organization in its coaching ranks.
The Players: Chris Leak hasn't thrown an interception yet and Brodie Croyle is rarely healthy at this stage of the season so it's a treat.
The Numbers: Kenneth Darby leads the SEC in running. The Alabama offensive line holds a similar size advantage to that of what Tennessee held over Florida.
The Line: Been sitting at Florida - 3.5 all week.
The Forecast: I've flip-flopped on this game all week. At times I think Alabama is going to win, at times I think it's going to be a Gator blowout. Here's my thing, if Alabama can run, they will do it all game. If the Tennessee game is any indication, the Tide will be able to run and win.
The Pick: Alabama 21, Florida 17.
The Game: Well it went from a lightly-regarded matchup to a pretty interesting one thanks to USF's 45-14 victory over Louisville. Miami is coming off of a victory over Colorado that showcased a fine defense and sluggish offense.
The Players: For Miami it's about time they open things up for Kyle Wright so he's allowed to throw the football and get these talented receivers involved. USF has a star in Amarri Jackson, but their success is still with the legs of Andre Hall.
The Numbers: Both teams rank in the top 20 for total defense and scoring defense.
The Line: Sitting at -21, up from the opening line at -20.
The Forecast: I expect a good game for a half and possibly a Miami touchdown on defense or special teams really swaying the momentum. The Bulls aren't going to lie down and the Hurricanes aren't going to blow anyone out until the offense starts clicking.
The Pick: Miami 31, USF 10
The Game: The second part of a two-year agreement. Last season the Noles needed two touchdown runs from Leon Washington to eek out a 17-13 win at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse now enters with a new coach and a new scheme.
The Players: All eyes will be on the FSU running game, which has struglged to this point. Luckily quarterback Drew Weatherford has stepped up to the challenge and improved his passing weekly.
The Numbers: FSU going for their only second 4-0 start in the last five years.
The Line: Anywhere from FSU -21 to -21.5
The Forecast: I don't expect Syracuse to do too much on offense, but I do believe their defense will give FSU some troubles for at least the first half.
The Pick: Florida State 27, Syracuse 3.
Around the ACC/State
I think I'll liveblog the first half of the noon games, primarily Michigan-MSU and Virginia Tech-West Virginia.
I won't be back in for the rest of the the day because I'll be covering:
for my newspaper and I won't be back until very very late. Chances are I'll chime in after watching the Florida and FSU games at a bar, plus I'll TiVo USF-Miami.
Nonetheless, I'll do caps of the Florida, FSU and Miami games shortly.
Virginia Tech (4-0) at West Virginia (4-0): This has been the ultimate trap game and trap destination for the Hokies. I do believe they will win this week just because I don't think West Virginia is good enough to go 5-0. But it will be very close. Virginia Tech, 23-20.
Virginia (3-0) at Maryland (2-2): Tough match to handicapp because the home team has won the last four. Maryland is a team that's rebuilding and they are having problems in the fourth quarter. Virginia will struggle this month, but get a win here. Virginia, 27-24.
Navy (0-2) at Duke (1-3): I wanted the study the history of these two teams and this matchup, but I got busy. Navy, 35-21.
Ball State (0-3) at Boston College (3-1): Ouch man...Ouch. Boston College, 56-7
Utah (3-1) at North Carolina (1-2): The trick to the Tar Heels is staying a step ahead of their inconsistency. They won on the road last week, so naturally a loss at home follows. Utah, 24-17.
Clemson (2-2) at Wake Forest (1-3): The Deacons need to win now if they want any chance at a bowl. At a matter of fact both teams need this game. Wake Forest, 28-27.
UCF (1-2) at La-Lafayette (1-2): Well the Knights finally broke through, now if they can match that feat on the road we might have something. UCF, 22-19.
Florida Atlantic (0-4) at Louisville (2-1): Schnellenberger deserves better. Louisville, 65-14.
Florida A&M (2-2) at Florida International (0-3): If the Panthers can't win here, they need to forget about this season. FIU, 24-20.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005Blogpoll In Depth..
So why did I do it? Simple. I believe Virginia Tech can beat USC and I don't think Texas can. Call it a hunch or whatever but I'll still take a team coached by Frank Beamer over one by Mack Brown.
1. Southern Cal (--): Spotted Oregon 13 and took 45. They will get Arizona State's best punch this week as well.
2. Virginia Tech (+3): I'm still in awe of the way they disposed of Georgia Tech. It was too easy.
3. Texas (--): Let's be honest, we STILL don't know if they can beat Oklahoma.
4. Georgia (--): Survived a trap game at Mississippi State. The real schedule is about to begin, I still think this is the team to be in the SEC East.
5. Florida St. (+2): Should be able to enjoy a pretty easy October if team chemistry can stay together but watch the quarterback situation.
6. Florida (+2): Alabama, LSU, Georgia, etc. Hell Vanderbilt isn't going to be a walk in the park for this team.
7. Miami, Fla (+2): Defense is great but they will have to find some identity on offense to beat Virginia Tech.
8. Michigan State (+5): I like their attitudes. I don't believe they are disrespecting opponents but they are sending a message. This is a John L. Smith bunch.
9. Ohio State (+2): They might not lose against this year which means Tressel will be beating himself up over the choice to go back to Justin Zwick in the Texas game.
10. Tennessee (+8): Now that the decision has finally been made to go to Rick Clausen the Volunteers are a threat in any game.
11. Louisiana State (-9): Let's hope the Tigers can overcome the "Les Mile disease" soon enough.
12. Alabama (--): Bama stays stationary because they haven't done anything to deserve a top 10 ranking.
13. Cal (+1): Is Jeff Tedford a quarterback guru or a running back guru? Maybe he's just a good coach.
14. Notre Dame (+1): Much better than anyone would've thought through four games. They should beat Purdue.
15. UCLA (+1): I hope the Bruin fans get over their hate for Karl Dorrell long enough to enjoy this uprising.
16. Arizona State (+3): They, not Oregon, are USC's crucial test in the Pac 10.
17. Minnesota (NR): It's my opinion that Laurence Maroney should be the first running back selected in next year's NFL draft.
18. Georgia Tech (-8): No shame in losing to the Hokies at Blacksburg, plenty of shame in the way they did it.
19. Vanderbilt (+1): Laugh if you want, they are 4-0 and unlike Penn State they didn't need half the MAC conference to get there.
20. Wisconsin (+6): They only have one dimension on offense, but it's a pretty good one.
21. West Virginia (+5): Believe me they can surprise Virginia Tech in Morgantown. They have done it before.
22. Boston College (+2): Backup quarterback in Death Valley? No problem for the Eagles.
23. Texas Tech (+3): The fact that the Raiders didn't use Indiana State to score triple digits makes me respect them a little more.
24. Texas Christian (+2): Every time I try to bump these guys out, they fight their way back in.
25. Iowa State (+1): A game at West Point is much tougher than people expect. The Cyclones are shaky at best.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005My Blogpoll Ballot (Week 5)
Entering: Minnesota, Wisconsin West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU and Iowa State
Leaving: Michigan, Purdue, Louisville, Texas A&M, Oregon and Clemson
Nothing much to brag about, some oddities include the Big three Florida teams ranked in a row.
Virginia Tech hopped Texas to take the #2 slot.
I couldn't make Alabama a top 10 team, not yet.
Vandy continues to make a slow climb.
6 SEC, 5 ACC, 4 Big 11, 4 Pac-10, 3 Big XII, 1 Big East, 1 Mountain West, 1 Independent.
Choke Jobs, Idaho, Transfers, etc.
However, I didn't forget my obligations.
Well the Tigers were infected by the "Les Mile disease" which is a little different than the "West Nile disease". Yes the "Les Mile disease" is one where a team suddenly forgets how to be creative on offense once they have a lead. The Tigers completely shut things down on offense in the second half for no apparent reason. Sure it was nice to have a 21-0 lead, but what's wrong with 28-0 or 35-0? Not a good start to Miles' coaching career in Baton Rouge.
Meanwhile Fulmer continues to juggle between the quarterback that produces and wins (Rick Clausen) and the quarterback he likes (Erik Ainge). The fact is Ainge hasn't been the same without Brent Schaffer pushing him and you wonder if losing his fellow competitor has taken a lot out of him. Nonetheless a huge win for the Volunteers because they were about to be regulated to an SEC afterthought.
The Harris Poll
Well it's already a joke (and let's be honest, who didn't expect this) and it's not due to what's at the top, but what's in the middle and the bottom.
Idaho (0-4) receives votes?!?! From who? Well the guys at the Harris Poll aren't telling and therein lies the problem. College football is already known as the most politically corrupt sport out there. Only in NCAA football do half the Division 1-A teams start the season with no chance of winning the national title regardless of their record and people that represent these conferences make up half the voting.
This is going to get bad, especially if there's another Boise State out there. You remember Boise State, 11-0 record, no BCS. Well what if all the non-BCS conferences decided to go the collusion route and ruin the polls by voting....Michigan #1. Yeah, 2-2 Michigan gets put over...Virginia Tech. It's very possible, for the first time those who represent the WAC, MAC, C-USA, Sun Belt, etc. have a say in what's going on and don't think that they won't gladly make an example.
FSU Stuff (Lee transferring rumors)
For some odd reason the people at Warchant did a story on Xavier Lee and his mentality. The quarterback situation is real sensitive at FSU because while Drew Weatherford is the starter and he's very capable and mature, but he's also very limited (think a younger, more accurate Brad Johnson) and if Lee transfers FSU is stuck with a mature, smart, limited QB for three more years. I mean I thought the world of Jason White, but when it came time to cash in he was useless.
So expect Lee to get time this weekend. Bowden wants it to happen and it will happen. The coaches are quick to say that three weeks ago Lee thought he needed rotator cuff surgery and he's finally at full health so what does that mean? I dunno.
Meanwhile Weatherford has proclaimed that the team is 100% behind him and they believe in him and he's not worried about anything else because he's the man. Oh boy.
Blogpoll is coming up.
Sunday, September 25, 2005Sunday Rewind...
Is USC unbeatable?
Obviously not, no one is unbeatable this season, but when you think you know the answers to Southern Cal, they change the questions. Their defense is in shambles thanks to two crucial injuries, but Pete Carroll is such a skilled coach on that side of the ball that he made some serious adjustments at halftime to close every hole that Oregon was attacking.
Offensively they are just that good. Way too many weapons for any team in the nation to handle. The team that beats USC will have to bring their 'A' game and the 'A' game of three other teams.
Is Virginia Tech the Best Team in the Country?
I'm going to rank them #2 in my blogpoll unless LSU absolutely destroys Tennessee on Monday night to the equivalent of what the Hokies did to Georgia Tech on Saturday. I understand that Reggie Ball wasn't healthy, but it didn't matter. The Hokies are almost unbeatable in big games at Blacksburg and this team is so well coached on defense and special teams that they can grind out the tough victories on the road.
They are probably the one team that I feel can match up with USC man for man on a neutral field and play them to a stand still.
Was Louisville Overrated?
Yes and no. I have a problem with writing off every team because they lost. Louisville has earned their national respect. They've beaten Florida State, they should've beaten Miami last year in the Orange Bowl. If they weren't good two athletic department execs from Auburn wouldn't have risked their jobs to steal Bobby Petrino away.
In the end they just got their asses kicked. Give credit to South Florida. That's a young program filled with some damn good athletes who were playing inspired ball at their home. Guys like Andre Hall, Amarri Jackson, etc. could've played anywhere in the country and chose to play close to home with Jim Leavitt's building program.
If nothing else it'll make next week's USF-Miami game more interesting. Miami will obviously beat USF, but the Hurricanes aren't going to walk through practice this week. As for Louisville, they are still a good team, they just had a terrible week.
Is Alabama Ready for Florida?
Not yet, but they are close. The running game is going to be huge for them but they need a strong game from Brodie Croyle. I expect the hype for this game would build slowly this week.
Is Florida Ready for Alabama?
Pretty much. I didn't agree with Meyer's decision to call off the dogs so early last week. This team still has a LOT of Zook in them, they need to be aggressive all day, every day. Offensively they are going to continue getting better.
What Happened to Iowa?
Good question. I'm not surprised the Hawkeyes dropped an early game, but two? And the margins of defeat are equally surprising. What's missing is the power running game. Iowa has made their mark under Kirk Ferentz with the strong running attack to set up the passing aspects of the West Coast offense. Right now there doesn't seem to be a threat to run so teams are keying in on Drew Tate and the passing game.
Is Penn State Really Good?
What about Minnesota?
Maybe. Lawrence Maroney is the real deal. A perfect NFL running back.
What Team(s) May be Undeservedly Ranked This Week?
Michigan, West Virginia
What Team(s) Deserve to be Ranked?
Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Boston College