Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oregon Rolls Again, Crushing USC In Week 9

Oregon headed into what was supposed to be a challenge in the Pac-10, and the Ducks rolled out of Los Angeles with a 21-point win over and over-rated USC team.

Oregon, plain and simple, is the best team in the country right now. I’m not saying they’ll win the national championship. But if it were played on October 30, I’d say they could beat anyone. The potent offense the Ducks possess puts opponents in a tough situation. Stop the run (OK, slow down the run, there’s no stopping them) and they’ll beat you with the pass. And vice versa.

LaMichael James is the only person not named Cam Newton in the Heisman Trophy discussion, and quarterback Darron Thomas continues to improve for the Ducks.

Oregon faces two more difficult road tests in the Pac-10, but if they continue to play like this, they will be in the BCS National Championship Game.

Stock up

Nebraska – A couple of weeks ago, this team suffered a devastating loss to Texas, one that could have derailed their season. But since that loss, the Huskers have rebounded nicely, including Saturday’s 31-17 win over previously unbeaten Missouri. Roy Helu, Jr. had a huge day for Nebraska, which is not totally out of the national championship race at this point.

Baylor – OK, three weeks ago, if I had told you that Baylor would go to Austin and beat Texas, you would have called me crazy. But that acutally happened on Saturday, and it wasn’t a fluke. The Bears, behind quarterback Robert Griffin, controlled the game against the Longhorns, and went home with a 30-22 win. Baylor leads the Big 12 South and controls its own destiny into the Big 12 Championship Game.

Iowa – The Hawkeyes proved that they are still in the mix for the Big Ten title on Saturday, thumping previously unbeaten Michigan State, 37-6. Iowa has lost only once in conference play, and still has a game against Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium (Nov. 20), where they could claim at least a portion of the conference title.

Tulsa – The Golden Hurricane did something that no one expected on Saturday, winning 28-27 at Notre Dame. Most experts figured that the Fighting Irish, facing an internal tragedy, would come out and play well in honor of their fallen videographer. Instead, quarterback Dayne Crist was injured, and Tulsa was able to take advantage. Coach Todd Graham, one of the nice guys in the game, deserves a win like this.

Syracuse – The Orange are 6-2 for the first time since 2001 after Saturday’s 31-7 thumping of Cincinnati. And Syracuse finds itself just a half game behind Pittsburgh in the Big East standings. Having already lost to the Panthers, Syracuse must win out and hope that Pitt falls at least once so that the Orange can claim a share of the Big East title.

Stock down

West Virginia – The Mountaineers make the stock down list for the second week in a row. It’s inexplicable that this team is not at the top of the Big East standings. The Big East is NOT a tough conference. There are no ranked teams in the conference. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are two of the best teams. And WVU can’t compete with Connecticut? That’s a problem.

Florida State – The Seminoles had a huge opportunity on Thursday night to basically claim the ACC’s Atlantic Division by beating N.C. State. Instead, Jimbo Fisher’s squad blew the lead late, and lost to the Wolfpack. Now, Florida State has a tenuous lead in the division, with division games remaining against Clemson and Maryland.

Michigan – The Wolverines opened the season with five straight wins, and appeared to be on the right path. Denard Robinson was the front-runner for the Heisman, and Rich Rodriguez appeared to have saved his job. Four weeks later, Michigan is 5-3, having suffered three straight losses, and a season of promise is turning into the same old Michigan (Rodriguez Era only). Michigan still faces Illinois, visits Purdue, hosts Wisconsin and visits Ohio State. They need to find one win to be bowl eligible. Rodriguez might need two wins (at least) to save his job.

Clemson – The Tigers should not have lost to Boston College on Saturday. They clearly have better talent (minus Montel Harris, of course), but Kyle Parker and his team simply should not have lost this game. Clemson is now 4-4 on the season, and they need to find two more wins to be bowl-eligible. Clemson hosts N.C. State, visits Florida State and Wake Forest, then hosts South Carolina. Could be tough sledding for Dabo Swinney’s team.

Miami – OK, so it’s pick on the ACC week. But Randy Shannon’s Hurricanes are better than this. A Virginia team that had only beaten FCS members Richmond and VMI, as well as pathetic Eastern Michigan, should not beat a ranked opponent. But that’s what the Cavaliers did to the Hurricanes on Saturday. The ‘Canes need to regroup for their final four games, so they can get to the best bowl available to them.

Statistical Studs – Week 9

Roy Helu, Jr., Nebraska – Think about the 1980’s and 1990’s, and how many times Nebraska ran the ball. Roger Craig, Turner Gill, Eric Crouch, etc. On Saturday, Helu outdid them all, rushing for a school-record 307 yards as the Huskers beat Missouri. Helu had three touchdowns, and they covered 66, 73 and 53 yards.

Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M – Tannehill connected on 36-of-50 passes for 449 yards with four touchdowns as the Aggies beat Texas Tech, 45-27. The 449 yards is a school record for passing yards in a game at Texas A&M.

Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma – Staying in the Big 12, Broyles set an Oklahoma school record with 208 receiving yards, in a 43-10 win over Colorado. For the game, Broyles caught nine passes, including three touchdown passes (16, 81 and 64 yards).

LaMichael James, Oregon – James continues to stay in the Heisman Trophy race, as his team stays in contention for the national championship. In Saturday’s 53-32 thumping of USC, James carried 36 times for 239 yards and three touchdowns. This guy is the best running back in the nation, without question. The Heisman Trophy should come down to a race between James and Auburn’s Cam Newton.

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas – OK, so Mallett was only facing Vanderbilt, but he still had a huge game. Mallett passes for a school-record 409 yards and three touchdowns as the Razorbacks beat the Commodores 49-14 in Nashville. Mallett completed 27-of-44 passes and hit on three touchdowns in the game.

Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 10

No. 4 TCU at No. 6 Utah
No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 LSU
No. 13 Arizona at No. 10 Stanford
No. 17 Arkansas at No. 18 South Carolina
No. 22 Baylor at No. 19 Oklahoma State

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Auburn Shines In Week 8

Another weekend, and another huge showdown in the SEC. This time, it was Auburn remaining undefeated, knocking of previously unbeaten LSU 24-17.

Auburn’s Cam Newton put on a show yet again in this game. It’s amazing that a quarterback can pass for only 86 yards and still dominate a game. But when he rushes 28 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns, Newton accomplishes just that.

Auburn is now 8-0 and controls its own destiny to the SEC West, SEC and national titles. If the Tigers keep winning, they would win each of those titles. And who saw that coming at the beginning of the season? Of course, the Tigers close by visiting Alabama on Nov. 26 in the Iron Bowl.

Stock up

Missouri – Gary Pinkel’s team proved that it can play with the big boys by beating Oklahoma on Saturday night in Columbia. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert passed for 308 yards and a touchdown in the win, which was one of the biggest in school history.

Michigan State – The Spartans appeared to be dead in the water, headed for their first loss of the season, but a fourth quarter rally allowed Michigan State to stay unbeaten, as they won 35-27 at Northwestern. The Spartans still face tough tests at Iowa and at Penn State.

Wisconsin – One week after upsetting then-No. 1 Ohio State, the Badgers showed no signs of a letdown, scoring a late touchdown to beat Iowa 31-30. John Clay scored two touchdowns for Wisconsin, now one of the primary contenders in the Big Ten race.

Navy – Not too long ago, the thought of Navy beating Notre Dame was ludicrous. Now, the Midshipmen have proved that they have at least as good of a program as Notre Dame, if not better. Saturday’s 35-17 win over the Irish wasn’t a fluke, it was a domination. Navy rushed for 367 yards in the game, which means they controlled the line of scrimmage.

Baylor – The Bears find themselves ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in 15 years, and it’s well-deserved. On Saturday, Baylor beat Kansas State, 47-42, behind an outstanding effort from quarterback Robert Griffin, who passed for 404 yards and four touchdowns in the game.

Stock down

West Virginia – This team is tough to figure out. Saturday’s 19-14 loss to Syracuse continues to add to the mystery. The Mountaineers scored 14 points in the first quarter, then failed to score for the rest of the game. Quarterback Geno Smith threw three interceptions, which did not help the cause.

Texas – Can someone explain this team to me? They lose at home to a weak UCLA team, they go on the road and beat a decent Nebraska team, then they lose at home to Iowa State. Mack Brown will likely have a few more gray hairs trying to figure out the 2010 Longhorns.

Tennessee – Granted, they lost to a very good Alabama team, but the Vols are now 2-5 on the season, and that won’t sit well with fans in the land of Rocky Top. Derek Dooley must rally the Volunteers, as they visit South Carolina this weekend.

North Carolina – It’s been a tough season for the Tar Heels, with all of the suspensions, questions from the NCAA and more. But Saturday’s 33-10 loss at Miami should not have happened. Even missing some star players, the Hurricanes are not that much better than the Tar Heels.

Air Force – Just a couple of weeks ago, the Falcons were ranked and heading into a game at San Diego State. Now, they’ve lost two in a row, including Saturday’s 38-7 loss at TCU. And things don’t get easier for Air Force, as they visit Utah on Saturday.

Statistical Studs – Week 8

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska – The Freshman quarterback bounced back from a lousy effort in last week’s loss to Texas by passing for 323 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 112 yards on 19 carries as the Cornhuskers beat Oklahoma State.

Julio Jones, Alabama – All Jones did was set a school record with 221 receiving yards as the Tide rolled past rival Tennessee. Jones caught 12 passes for the 221 yards and amazingly did not score a touchdown.

Juan Nunez, Western Michigan – Nunez caught only six passes, but he covered 192 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Broncos thumped Akron, 56-10.

Jordan Wynn, Utah – Wynn played barely more than a half of football on Saturday, but he had huge numbers in spite of that. Wynn was 23-of-29 passing for 321 yards and three touchdowns as the Utes crushed Colorado State, 59-6.

Alexander Teich, Navy – Teich had a huge game on Saturday, rushing 26 times for 210 yards as Navy beat Notre Dame, 35-17.

Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 9

No. 1 Oregon at No. 24 USC
No. 7 Missouri at No. 14 Nebraska
No. 5 Michigan State at No. 18 Iowa
No. 8 Utah at Air Force
No. 25 Baylor at Texas

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No. 1 Goes Down Again In Week 7

For the second straight week, the top team in the land was upset by a conference opponent, shaking up the college football landscape.

This week’s victim was Ohio State, which was dominated in the first half before mounting a valiant comeback against Wisconsin, only to lose 31-17. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was average, at best, and he didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates.

Wisconsin’s mammoth offensive line was able to dominate the Ohio State defensive front, allowing the Badgers to run the ball 43 times for 184 yards, controlling the clock in the process.

Ohio State’s dream of an unbeaten season is done, and their hopes of making it to the BCS Championship Game took a major hit in this loss. However, if teams ranked above them continue to lose (three top ten teams lost on Saturday), perhaps the Buckeyes can climb back into the national championship hunt.

Stock up

Auburn – The Tigers got a big win on Saturday, beating Arkansas 65-43 on the Plains. Cam Newton was amazing again for Auburn, now 7-0 on the season. The Tigers are looking to return to the glory days of Bo Jackson and Pat Dye, and Gene Chizik has done a great job of restoring the prominence of the program. If Auburn can beat LSU this weekend, national championship and Heisman Trophy talk will get very serious.

Boise State – Sure, Boise State crushed San Jose State 48-0 on Saturday night. That’s not news. What IS news is that Boise State keeps winning, while many teams around them in the polls continue to lose. This can only help Boise State’s position as the Broncos hope to make the BCS Championship Game. The BCS standings show Boise State ranked third, but any slip-up by Oklahoma or Oregon, and they could be right there.

Kentucky – The Wildcats ended a couple of streaks in Saturday’s 31-28 upset of South Carolina. Kentucky broke a ten-game losing streak to South Carolina, and also beat Steve Spurrier for the first time in 18 tries. Quarterback Mike Hartline was huge for the Wildcats, as was receiver Chris Matthews, but in the end, it was Randall Cobb making the big plays for a huge Kentucky victory. If the ‘Cats can beat Charleston Southern and Vanderbilt, they’ll be bowling again.

Virginia Tech – Remember the team that barely lost to Boise State in the season opener, then lost to James Madison the following week? That team has since run off five straight wins, and is rallying in time to become the team to beat in the ACC. The Hokies put up 52 points in Saturday’s spanking of Wake Forest. The schedule does get tougher, as Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami remain.

Eastern Michigan – Congratulations to coach Ron English and the Eagles, who snapped an 18-game losing streak on Saturday by beating Ball State 41-38. The Eagles fell behind 28-7, but ran off 28 unanswered points before eventually winning the game in overtime.

Stock down

Nebraska – What in the world happened to them on Saturday? This team had been outstanding all year, was facing an opponent that was reeling, and had home field advantage. All of those factors should equal a win, but they didn’t, as Texas beat Nebraska 20-13 in Lincoln. Freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez was largely ineffective, and the Nebraska offense never mustered much against the Longhorn defense. And now, the Cornhuskers visit No. 17 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Florida – A three-game losing streak? Losing to Mississippi State at home? Scoring seven (SEVEN!) points in a game? What in the world is going on in Gainesville? Maybe Urban Meyer should return to being fired up on the sidelines (take care of yourself Urban, no matter what). This Florida team is experiencing serious troubles. The good news is, they get this weekend off before facing arch rival Georgia on Oct. 30.

Nevada – Everything appeared to be set for a Nov. 26 showdown between unbeaten Boise State and unbeaten Nevada. Then, Hawaii entered the fray. The Wolf Pack made the long journey to paradise on Saturday night, and returned only with a 27-21 loss. Nevada has now fallen out of the polls, and most people will give them little chance of winning in Boise late in the season.

Air Force – The Falcons had emerged as a contender in the Mountain West, but Saturday’s 27-25 loss at San Diego State derailed that train. And things don’t get easier, as Air Force visits TCU this weekend before hosting Utah on Oct. 30. Air Force should be bowl eligible, but this loss certainly hurt their national standing.

Oregon State – Can someone explain this team to me? Please? Just when I think I have the Beavers figured out, they do something that I can’t explain. On Saturday night, they visited Washington, in a game they should have won, and they couldn’t get the job done. Granted, they were without James Rodgers, but beating this Washington team is something Oregon State should have accomplished. And, they still must face USC, Stanford and Oregon later in the season.

Statistical Studs – Week 7

Cam Newton, Auburn – The Auburn quarterback has turned himself into a Heisman Trophy contender. In the huge SEC West win over Arkansas, Newton rushed 25 times for 188 yards and three touchdowns, while hitting on 10-of-14 passes for 140 yards and another score.

Ross Jenkins, Louisiana Tech – Jenkins hit on 31-of-44 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-35 win over Idaho. Jenkins also rushed eight times for 34 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Josh Harris, Wake Forest – In a loss to Virginia Tech, Harris had a huge game. He carried 20 times for 241 yards, including an 87-yard scamper. Harris scored two touchdowns for the Demon Deacons in the game.

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State – If you haven’t heard of this player, you need to pay attention. On Saturday, he caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, as the Cowboys beat Texas Tech 34-17. Blackmon leads the nation with 955 receiving yards.

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State – Hillman rushed 24 times for 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Aztecs upset Air Force, 27-25.

Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 8

No. 6 LSU at No. 5 Auburn
No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 18 Missouri
No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 13 Iowa
No. 14 Nebraska at No. 17 Oklahoma State
Air Force at No. 4 TCU

Sunday, October 10, 2010

South Carolina Upsets Alabama In Week 6 Clash

So, Alabama is human after all. Despite being virtually handed the crystal football trophy by some experts, the Crimson Tide proved its mortality on Saturday, losing to South Carolina 35-21 in Columbia.

Many times in an upset, there are fluke plays that allow the underdog team to pull out a victory. That was not the case in this game. South Carolina dominated the line of scrimmage in this game, outrushing Alabama 110-36 and sacking Tide quarterback Greg McElroy repeatedly.

Steve Spurrier got by far his biggest win as coach at South Carolina, and he now hopes that his Gamecocks can build on this win and compete for the SEC East title.

Meanwhile, Alabama coach Nick Saban must get his troops focused on cleaning up the mistakes that cost them this game. Alabama faces a tough schedule down the stretch, with games at LSU and against Auburn. Those two teams, along with Alabama and Arkansas, are all in the SEC West race.

Stock up

Michigan State – The Spartans went into the Big House on Saturday with their head coach in the press box, still recovering from a heart attack and a blot clot. Despite being on the road and facing adversity, the Spartans beat Michigan 34-17 to move to 6-0 on the season. Michigan State beat Michigan for the third straight time, the first time that has happened since the 60’s.

LSU – Les Miles has been called “The Hat” because of the way he wears his cap. But while many people are poking fun at Miles by calling him that, his hat just might be magic. Miles and his Tigers pulled out another huge victory on Saturday, beating Florida 33-29 in the Swamp. Included in the game-winning drive was a fake field goal, with the kicker running for the first down (after picking the ball up off the turf).

Florida State – The Seminoles were impressive again on Saturday, crushing Miami 45-17 on the road. Quarterback Christian Ponder continues to lead the offense, which appears to be getting better each week. Running backs Jermaine Thomas and Chris Thompson provide a tough duo for opponents to stop. The Seminoles are in the driver’s seat in the ACC Atlantic Division at this point in the season.

Purdue – The Boilermakers were on the verge of seeing the 2010 season go down the tubes after losing to Toledo two weeks ago. But Coach Danny Hope used last week’s open date to rally his troops, and whatever he did, it worked. Purdue went on the road and beat No. 25 Northwestern 20-17 in Evanston. Quarterback Rob Henry rushed for 132 yards for Purdue, which handed Northwestern its first loss of the season.

Syracuse – Guess who’s 4-1? Has anyone noticed the Orange? Granted, the schedule hasn’t been great so far. Syracuse has beaten Akron, Maine and Colgate. But Saturday’s Big East win at South Florida was impressive. We’ll find out if the Orange are for real over the next two games, when they host Pittsburgh then visit West Virginia.

Stock down

Arizona – The Wildcats were unbeaten, ranked in the nation’s Top Ten, and facing an unranked conference opponent at home. That doesn’t sound like a disaster scenario, but it was. Arizona trailed for nearly the entire game and lost, 29-27 to Oregon State in Tucson. Arizona now falls off the pace in the Pac-10 race, and faces a daunting schedule that includes trips to Stanford and Oregon.

Florida – Say what you will about Tim Tebow, but the guy was a winner. And that’s not a knock on John Brantley or any of the current Gators. But over the last four years, if the game was close at the end, you just knew Tebow and the Gators would pull it out. But in 2010, the Gators just don’t have the same finishing ability. Florida has now lost two in a row and finds itself looking up at South Carolina in the SEC East.

Penn State – It’s not just the fact that the Nittany Lions lost to Illinois on Saturday. They lost badly, falling 33-13 in Happy Valley. That’s two consecutive Big Ten losses of at least 20 points for Joe Pa’s team. At 3-3 this year, Penn State will need to rally to have a winning season. Penn State still has games against Michigan, at Ohio State and against Michigan State.

UCLA – This team went to Austin and thumped Texas? The same team that lost 35-7 at Cal on Saturday? I’m certainly confused by this team, and I would guess that Rick Neuheisel is as well. The good news for the Bruins is that they have this weekend off to regroup. The bad news is, when they play again, they visit Oregon in Eugene.

USC – Speaking of Los Angeles teams, Lane Kiffin’s bunch lost again on Saturday, falling 37-35 at Stanford. No shame in losing to a ranked team on the road. But if you look at the Trojans’ schedule, those first four wins are certainly suspect. Beating Hawaii, Virginia, Minnesota and Washington State, teams that have combined beaten only four FBS teams, is not all that impressive. USC still must face Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State and Notre Dame, so they probably aren’t done losing this season.

Statistical Studs – Week 6

Cam Newton, Auburn – Newton had a huge game on Saturday night against Kentucky, rushing 28 times for 198 yards and four touchdowns, while hitting on 13-of-21 passing for 210 yards, as the Tigers held off the Wildcats 37-34.

Randall Cobb, Kentucky – Playing against Newton, Cobb was all over the field, as he usually is. Cobb rushed 11 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns, caught seven passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, and connected on his only pass for six yards and another TD. For good measure, Cobb returned three kickoffs for 86 yards. He was also the holder on field goals and extra points. And he sold popcorn while the Wildcats played defense (kidding, of course).

Ryan Katz, Oregon State – The Beavers’ signal caller had a huge game as Oregon State won at Arizona. Katz hit on 30-of-42 passes for 393 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for seven yards and another TD.

Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech – Allen rushed 25 times for 195 yards and three touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets downed Virginia, 33-21 in Atlanta.

Robert Woods, USC – In a losing effort, the freshman had a huge game for the Trojans. Woods caught a career-high 12 passes for a career-high 224 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in the game. The 224 yards surpassed his career total coming into the game.

Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 7

No. 1 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin
No. 12 Arkansas at No. 7 Auburn
Texas at No. 5 Nebraska
No. 20 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
No. 24 Oregon State at Washington

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 5 Review: Tide Rolls Past Gators In Tuscaloosa

I was visiting with a friend of mine last week, and this friend is an Alabama alum and a big Crimson Tide fan. He told me he was worried about Saturday’s game against Florida. I told him not to fear. In fact, I said, I thought the game could turn into a blowout.

But even I couldn’t have imagined what happened on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa as Nick Saban’s team put the smackdown on Florida, winning 31-6. The Tide dominated the first half, then cruised home in the second half for an easy win over the then-No. 7 Gators.

Alabama is a team that has been clicking on offense all season long. However, the Tide showed on Saturday that its young defense is getting better every week. And if that happens, we may be looking at back-to-back national championships for the Tide.

Florida continues to have struggles on offense. With Jeff Demps limited due to injury, and John Brantley proving to be ineffective, the Gators had virtually no offense after the first drive of the game (which ended with a Trey Burton jump pass being intercepted by Bama’s Nico Johnson).

Alabama must not let down its guard this weekend, when the Tide heads to Columbia to face the Old Ball Coach and his South Carolina Gamecocks.

Stock up

Oregon – The Ducks trailed Stanford 31-24 at the half on Saturday night, but stormed back in the second half, outscoring the Cardinal 28-0 and winning 52-31. To say that Oregon is a second half team would be an understatement. The Ducks have outscored their opponents 114-7 in the second half this season.

Northwestern – Guess who’s 5-0 and now nationally-ranked? It’s Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats, who beat Minnesota 29-28 in Minneapolis on Saturday. And the upcoming schedule sets up nicely for Northwestern, as the Wildcats do not have to play either Ohio State or Michigan this season.

LSU –Don’t credit me, but the joke on the internet Saturday night was about “Lucky” State University. Or maybe the “L” is for Les, as in Miles, who continually pulls games out of the fire. At any rate, the Tigers got a miracle win over Tennessee on Saturday, and are now 5-0 and heading to Gainesville to face the wounded Gators.

Florida State – Most of the nation stopped paying attention to the Seminoles after they were blasted by Oklahoma in Week 2. Since that loss, however, Jimbo Fisher’s squad has won three straight and is now 4-1 on the season. And in the ACC, they are right in the mix, along with nearly every other conference team.

Air Force – Over the past few seasons, there has been little doubt that Navy has been the best of the service academies, as far as football goes. This year, it’s Air Force. The Falcons beat the Midshipmen 14-6 on Saturday, and are now 4-1 on the season, with the only loss being a tough, hard-fought 27-24 loss at Oklahoma two weeks ago.

Stock down

BYU – Things have gotten really bad for Bronco Mendenhall and the Cougars. Is it really possible that they might be the third-best team in their own state? After Friday’s 31-16 loss at Utah State, perhaps it is. Mendenhall has fired his defensive coordinator, and now hopes to stop a four-game losing skid against San Diego State on Saturday in Provo.

N.C. State – Last week, the Wolfpack had all of the momentum, were the only unbeaten ACC team, were nationally-ranked, and things looked good. Amazing how things can change in a week. N.C. State had a chance to make a statement on Saturday, and they did, but it wasn’t the one they wanted to make, as they lost 41-30 to Virginia Tech. There are now no unbeaten teams left in the ACC.

Florida – One week after blasting Kentucky (which has become an annual ritual), the Gators were outclassed by Alabama on Saturday night. They were clearly the less physical of the two teams, and they were unable to use their team speed to their advantage against a quick Alabama defense. The Gators hope they weren’t beaten up too badly, as they host LSU on Saturday.

Kansas – Can someone explain this team to me please? Bad loss, nice win, bad loss, nice win, bad loss. I guess their next opponent, Kansas State, had better be on the lookout for the good Kansas team to show up that week. Saturday’s 55-7 loss at Baylor provides just another example of the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this Jayhawk team.

Georgia – Mark Richt, your seat is officially hot. Georgia doesn’t do four-game losing streaks, but the 2010 Bulldogs are on one at the moment after Saturday’s 29-27 loss at Colorado. It wasn’t only the loss, but how they lost. The ‘Dogs were driving for a game-winning touchdown or field goal, when an untimely fumble handed the game to the Buffs.

Statistical Studs – Week 5

Denard Robinson, Michigan – He could make this list every week. On Saturday against Indiana, Robinson carried 19 times for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while hitting on 10-of-16 passing for 277 yards and three scores.

Ben Chappell, Indiana – Playing against Robinson, the Hoosier quarterback had a big day as well. Chappell was 45-of-64 through the air for 480 yards and three touchdowns. Chappell set school records for passing yards, completions and attempts in the game.

Robert Griffin, Baylor – The Bears quarterback was huge in Saturday’s 55-7 thumping of Kansas. Griffin was 26-of-36 passing for 380 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing eight times for 64 yards and another score.

Ray Graham, Pittsburgh – The Panthers tailback, subbing for Dion Lewis, made the most of his opportunity, rushing 29 times for 277 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Florida International.

LaMichael James, Oregon – The Ducks have the nation’s best offense, and James is a big reason why. In what was supposed to be a Pac-10 showdown on Saturday night, the lightning-quick James carried 31 times for 257 yards and three touchdowns in a huge Oregon win over Stanford. James can now be mentioned in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Games I’ll Be Watching in Week 6

No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 South Carolina
No. 12 LSU at No. 14 Florida
No. 17 Michigan State at No. 18 Michigan
No. 7 Nebraska at Kansas State
No. 23 Florida State at No. 13 Miami

Friday, October 1, 2010

College Football Weekend Preview: Gators Visit Tide in SEC Clash

Florida against Alabama. The SEC East against the SEC West. Two of the nation’s premier programs. The past two national champions. And they meet on Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

Both teams are 4-0 on the season, and this game could determine which of these teams stays in contention for the BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama survived at Arkansas last week, ultimately winning on a Mark Ingram touchdown with 3:18 remaining. Florida looked much better last weekend against Kentucky, as freshman Trey Burton set a school record with six touchdowns in a game.

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy has not lost as a starter since high school, and he hopes to keep that streak alive on Saturday. Handing the ball to Ingram or Trent Richardson have been effective options, as has passing to the outstanding wide receiver Julio Jones.

Florida quarterback John Brantley has been up-and-down for the Gators, but he is certainly surrounded by a plethora of weapons. Jeff Demps, Mike Gillislee and Emmanuel Moody have all contributed for the Gators, and Florida will need to spread the ball out to beat the Tide on Saturday.

This game can be seen at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Other games to watch

No. 9 Stanford vs. No. 4 Oregon (8 p.m. ET, ABC) – A huge clash in the Pac-10 takes place on Saturday, as Stanford visits Oregon. Both teams are off to fast starts, and both have eyes for at least the Rose Bowl, if not the BCS National Championship Game. Quarterback Andrew Luck has been solid for Stanford, and he’ll need to be on his game in this one. Oregon is averaging 57.8 points per contest, and running back LaMichael James has been huge for the Ducks.

No. 21 Texas vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) – The latest edition of the Red River Rivalry takes place on Saturday in Dallas. While it would have been more special had Texas not lost to UCLA last week, this game is always hard-fought. Oklahoma is unbeaten, and quarterback Landry Jones leads a potent offense. Texas needs to get things together in time for Saturday’s game, and Mack Brown will make sure that happens.

No. 11 Wisconsin vs. No. 24 Michigan State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) – A pair of Big Ten unbeatens face off in East Lansing on Saturday. Wisconsin has survived a couple of challenges this season en route to a 4-0 start. Running back John Clay has been a stalwart for the Badgers thus far. Michigan State wasn’t expected to be in the national discussion, but a win in this game would make the Spartans serious Big Ten contenders.

No. 22 Penn State vs. No. 17 Iowa (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) – This game has turned into quite a rivalry, especially after the 2008 meeting when Iowa derailed Penn State’s run for the national title. This season, both have one loss to a ranked opponent, and both are trying to climb their way into the Big Ten race. Penn State freshman quarterback Rob Bolden has had his ups-and-downs, but running back Evan Royster has carried the load for the Nittany Lions. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi and running back Adam Robinson are the main offensive weapons for Iowa.

No. 16 Miami (Fla.) vs. Clemson (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2) – A pair of 2-1 ACC teams open conference play against each other on Saturday in Death Valley. Miami is the ranked of the two opponents, winning twice while only losing at second-ranked Ohio State. Clemson’s only loss was at nationally-ranked Auburn. Quarterback Jacory Harris needs to step up his game for the Hurricanes. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker leads the Tigers’ offensive attack.

Five for the Heisman

Denard Robinson, Michigan – Robinson played less than a quarter before leaving with a knee injury in Saturday’s big win over Bowling Green. However, the Wolverine signal caller was still able to rush for 129 yards and two touchdowns, while going 4-of-4 through the air for 60 yards. For the season, Robinson has rushed 79 times for 688 yards and six scores, while connecting on 57-of-80 passes for 731 yards and four TDs. Michigan visits Indiana on Saturday, and Robinson is expected to play.

Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State – Pryor had a big day in the Buckeyes’ 73-20 win over Eastern Michigan. He rushed seven times for 104 yards and a touchdown, and he connected on 20-of-26 passing for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Through four games, Pryor has rushed 43 times for 269 yards and three scores, while hitting on 71-of-107 through the air for 939 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ohio State visits Illinois on Saturday.

Kellen Moore, Boise State – Moore stepped in a big game once again for the Broncos on Saturday. In a 37-24 win over Oregon State, Moore was 19-of-27 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, Moore has hit on 62-of-95 passes for 873 yards and eight touchdowns. Boise State visits New Mexico State on Saturday.

Mark Ingram, Alabama – The defending Heisman winner is not going to let the trophy go without a fight. In a huge win at Arkansas, Ingram carried the ball 24 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. In two games since returning from knee surgery, Ingram has rushed 33 times for 308 yards and four scores. The Tide host Florida on Saturday.

Russell Wilson, N.C. State – Wilson joins the Heisman race for two reasons: one, his team is 4-0; and two, he continues to put up huge numbers. In Saturday’s 45-28 win at Georgia Tech, Wilson was 28-of-41 passing for 368 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 16 yards and a TD. For the 2010 campaign, Wilson is 85-of-142 through the air for 1,112 yards, with 11 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 84 yards and one score. N.C. State hosts Virginia Tech on Saturday.