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Archive for September, 2008

As we always have said, well that’s why you play ’em!

Upsets this week were so abundant that we’ll hardly even know the top 25.  Just in the top ten, USC, Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin all lost, and all except Georgia to an unranked team!   Navy even got in the act by knocking off #18 Wake Forest. The last time Navy beat an ranked team was 1985.

Alot of teams in the Top 25 didn’t play, so its hard to know what the writers and coaches polls will do, but most assuredly, those idle teams will find themselves jumped by other teams that did play well. So all in all it was a topsy turvy weekend, that could put Oklahoma in the driver’s seat for good.

Last comment here.. We try NOT to look at the national polls before we do ours.  Occasionally it does happen that they come out before we can write and publish.  Today was one of those situations, and find yet again the typical East Coast bias from the AP Writers.  Who can explain them jumping Penn State 6 slots for beating Illinois?  Well we might buy this a little. But NO ONE can explain why magically BYU jumps OVER Texas Tech when both teams didn’t play this week.  What?? Did BYU sleep and enjoy the weekend better than Tech?  This, friends, is why no one trusts the AP writers, why the system is terrifically flawed, and why  we need to get them completely out of the equation when choosing lineups. OK off the soapbox and on to the REAL, RATIONAL Top 25.

#1 Oklahoma (5-0) defeated TCU (4-1) 35-10 at Norman, OK. Next week: At Baylor (2-2). It was a complete domination by OU who led 21-3 after the first quarter. Sam Bradford keeps up his candidacy for the Heisman with 411 yards passing, 4 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions  WR Manuel Johnson had 5 receptions for 206 yards. The Sooners are an offensive juggernaut that could be invincible.

#2 LSU (4-0) defeated Mississippi State (1-4) 34-24 at LSU. Next week: Bye. It wasn’t a particularly pretty victory by LSU, but by virtue of 3 of the top 5 teams dropping out, the Tigers move up. As much as we clearly believe that the Sooner offense is incomparable, we also believe that the LSU defense is just as dominant. LSU chose a conservative run-based offense that allowed Senior tailback Charles Scott to gain 141 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. The Tigers will get a week off before having to travel to the Swamp to play Florida.

#3 Missouri (4-0) did not play. Next week: At Nebraska (3-1). It won’t surprise us to see the pollsters push Alabama ahead of Missouri here. We’re still convinced that these Tigers are still deserving of #3.

#4 Alabama (5-0) defeated #12 Georgia (4-1) 41-30 at Georgia. Next week: Kentucky (4-0) at home. Alabama dominated the first half putting the game out of reach 31-0 at halftime.  Kudos to Mark Richt and his Dawgs tho for winning the second half of the game 30-10.  While this will be played up as a shocker, we’ll remind everyone that we weren’t that hot on Georgia to begin with, mainly because they historically perform exactly like they have…start high in the polls but lose focus in a pivotal game (last year it was Tennessee).  But at the same time, Alabama seems to be the real deal. Nick Saban was a winner everywhere he’s been and it seems that Bama is no different.

#5 Texas (4-0) defeated Arkansas (2-2) 52-10 in Austin. Next week: At Colorado (3-1). Let’s not read much into this lopsided victory. Arkansas was demolished last week by Alabama 49-14 also. so Texas still really hasn’t played any viable opponent.  That will all change next week, to an extent when they travel to Colorado to open Big-12 play.  Longhorn QB Colt McCoy threw for 3 TDs and ran for 2 more.

#6 Texas Tech (4-0) did not play. Next week: At Kansas State (3-1). The Red Raiders open Big-12 play net week. We’re almost sure the national pollsters won’t allow Tech to get this high, but the fact is that teams 6-15 could be shuffled in about any permutation and it could be justified.  Teams 1-5 are definitely way above. TTU must impress next week against KSU or they will risk dropping down with BYU having a blowout opportunity with Utah State. Tech has a major road ahead in staying this high.

#7 Penn State (5-0) defeated Illinois (2-2) 38-24 at home. Next week: At Purdue (2-2). The Nittany Lions did prove out the hype Saturday by putting Illinois (ranked in the national polls) in their place in their conference opener. PSU QB Daryll Clark threw for 181 yards and Evan Royster ran for 139 yards to spark a very balanced offensive attack. We don’t agree jumping PSU up so high considering they haven’t yet played a team higher than .500. But neither have alot of teams yet.

#8 Brigham Young (4-0) did not play. Next week: At Utah State (1-3). We absolutely don’t understand BYU jumping over TTU…except the writers and coaches have their usual bias.

#9 South Florida (5-0) defeated NC State (2-3) 41-10 at NC State. Next week: Pitt (3-1) at home (Thurs). The Bulls continue to be a bright spot in the Big East, conquering the Wolfpack in convincing fashion. QB Matt Grothe was 20/29 for 259 yards, and was one of three QBs that played for USF racking up over 500 yards of total offense on the road.

#10 USC (2-1) lost to Oregon State (2-2) 27-21 at Corvalis, OR. Next week: #24 Oregon (4-1) at home. There’s just not much you can say about USC in their loss to Oregon State.  The Trojans looked totally disinterested in the game, and lethargic.  They let a Freshman RB just dance around them all night (Jacquizz Rogers who had 186 yards and 2 TDs). The possible Rose Bowl bid could come to a quick end for USC next week if they can’t put it together against Oregon. We’re not willing to drop USC much lower because we know they are better than the teams below them.

#11 Ohio State (4-1) defeated Minnesota (4-1) 34-21 at home. Next week: At #13 Wisconsin (3-1). It seems that Beanie Well’s was the major spark that the Buckeyes needed.  I don’t think we’re quite ready to give them the nod for Big-10 power yet, but  they certainly looked like a different team with Wells contributing 106 yards on the ground. But it only gets harder for OSU from here.

#12 Georgia (4-1) lost to Alabama (5-0) 41-30 at home. Next week: Bye. The Dawgs coudn’t get anything going the first half offensively, and committed some very costly penalties that led the Bama 1st half romp  Its possible these guys could meet again in the SEC Championship.

#13 Wisconsin (3-1) lost to Michigan (2-2) 27-25 in Ann Arbor. Next week: #8 Ohio State at home.
Yes the Badgers lost, and yes they shouldn’t have.  A silly mental error by a flanker costs Wisconsin the game.  We were impressed that the Badgers never gave up and were able to EASILY go down the field at the end of the game.  This team will be in the hunt.

#14 Auburn (4-1) defeated Tennessee (1-3) 14-12 at home.  Next week: At #18 Vanderbilt (4-0). Auburn didn’t set the house on fire offensively, and certainly Tennessee didnt either In short, this game was all about defense, and Auburn was just a little better, getting a fumble recovery in the end zone that ends up being the winner. Auburn will have to find some offense soon, and probably before next week’s battle with the Commodores.

#15 Florida (3-1) lost to Ole Miss (3-2) 31-30 at home.  Next week: At Arkansas (2-2). Here’s another blunder that certainly cost the Gator dearly in terms of ranking.  Ole Miss shredded Florida for 325 yards and more importantly got 3 fumbles. Florida missed an extra point but managed to get the ball back, but Tebow was sacked  on a 4th and 1 to seal the game for the Rebels.  Its tough sleddin ahead for the Gators.

#16 Fresno State (3-1) defeated UCLA (1-3) 36-31 at UCLA. Next week: Hawaii (1-3) at home. The Bulldogs traded scores back and forth with UCLA but took over the game late in the 3rd quarter.  FSU QB Tom Brandstater was 21/30 for 236 yards and 3 TDs, while RB Ryan Matthews added 166 yards on the ground.

#17 Kansas (3-1) did not play. Next week: At Iowa State (2-2).

#18 Vanderbilt (4-0) did not play. Next week: #12 Auburn (4-1) at home. FYI. Peek at the SEC East and you’ll see an unlikely duo at the top… Vanderbilt and Kentucky!

#19 Utah (5-0) defeated Weber State (3-2) 37-21 at home. Next week: Oregon State at home. The Utes continue to present big offensive output numbers each week.  Against Weber State they had 450 yards of total offense, with the passing game leading the way. Brian Johnson was 18/22 194 yards and 2 TDs. However, the fly in the ointment for Utah- Pass Defense. Weber State QB  Cmeron Higgins was 24/38 for a whopping 303 yards and 3 TDs.  This does not bode well for Utah later on when BYU comes calling.

#20 Boise State (3-0) did not play. Next week: Louisiana Tech (2-1) Wednesday.

#21 Virginia Tech (4-1) defeated Nebraska (4-1) 35-30 at home. Next week: Western Kentucky (2-3) at home. Once Tyrod Taylor was finally installed at QB, the Hokies have definitely been a better team.  THe offense was very balanced and the defense was able to get a fumble and an interception.  Also of note here was that the Hokie defense held the Nebraska ground game to just 55 yards. It gave up 278 in the air tho.

#22 Connecticut (5-0) defeated Louisville (2-2) 26-21 at Louisville. Next week: At North Carolina (3-1). It’s always tough going into Papa John’s Stadium and playing Louisville, but UConn held off a late burst from the Cardnals and won to now lead the Big East along with South Florida. This could have turned out differently however, but the Huskies got 3 turnovers ( 2 INTs and a fumble).  The game ball goes Huskie RB Donald Brown who carried the ball  33 times for 190 yards.

#23 Oklahoma State (4-0) defeated Troy (2-2) 55-24 at home. Next week: Texas A&M (2-2) at home. We welcome OK State this week into the top 25.  They’ve been flirting for a while, so they get their chance after some significant drop outs. The Cowboy racked up 612 yards of total offense against Troy, with QB Zac Robinson throwing for 254 yards and 3 TDs.  OSU also had two rushers, Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston that ran for more than 100 yards.  We’re absolutely positive that Oklahoma State will be a spoiler in the Big-12 this year.

#24 Oregon (4-1) defeated Washington State (1-4) 63-14 at WSU. Next week: At #14 USC (2-1). The Ducks put up over 500 yards of total offense, but if you look at the stats its an odd assortment. Sophomore QB Jeremiah Masoli, a backup backup QB (or something like that) threw for 161 yards and 2 TDs. But no fewer than 8 team members touched the ball to run, accounting for 346 yards. Next week should prove pivotal in the Pac 10, as they travel to USC.

#25 Michigan State (4-1) defeated Indiana (2-2) 42-29 at Indiana. Next week: Iowa (3-2) at home. We had to go looking for a suitable new entry, and looked at the likes of Maryland, Northwestern, Colorado and  perhaps Notre Dame. but we’re sold on the Spartans this week. We can’t remember the last time that MSU could put up total offensive numbers near 500 yards, but that’s what they did behind Senior QB Brian Hoyer who threw for 261 yards and 2 TDs. RB Javon Ringer was no slouch either, rushing a whopping 44 times for 198 yards.

Dropping out of the Top 25: Clemson, Wake Forest, TCU

On the Bubble: Colorado (3-1), Northwestern (5-0), Maryland (4-1), Wake Forest (4-1)

Most Impressive: Alabama, South Florida, Michigan State

Least Impressive: USC, Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin

Composition of the Top 25: Big-12 (6), SEC (6), Big-10 (4), Big East (2), Pac-10 (2), WAC (2), ACC (1)

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Wow! I just can’t believe we’re already in week 5.  Alot of things have come into focus, but like a rainy windshield being swashed by your wipers, things start getting clearer after this coming week when most everyone begins conference play.  So let’s see how things might go and also a few things to watch for:

#1 USC (2-0) at Oregon State (1-2). Coach Pete Carroll has a problem on his hands. He’s certainly looked ahead and has seen that his schedule won’t be BCS friendly to him…just not enough power teams in the Pac-10 to get him to the Title game. So, he’ll need some help along the way, and more than anything, his team can’t just win, it has to win big and dominate.  We think this shouldn’t be too hard against Oregon State tho. Both teams have had extended time off, as the Trojans have rested after their dismantling of Ohio State, and the Beavers come back after drubbing Hawaii 45-7 two weeks ago. USC probably won’t forget what happened the last time they visited Corvalis,OR in 2006, they lost 33-31. We dont think that will happen this time tho. This should be ovewhelmingly USC but hard to say how much, depending on when subs start coming in.  Trojans by 30.

#2 Oklahoma (3-0) at home v. #21 TCU (4-0). This is a simple case of TCU just having to play some phenomenal defense to have a chance.  TCU has a fine offense, but up and down the position chart, OU will be as good or better on offense. So it will be up to the TCU defensive line to work some magic to disrupt  OU’s line and create 2nd and long or get a few turnovers. OU on the other hand,has destroyed its opponents showing an offensive juggernaut that seems to be unstoppable. paired with a fast, swarming defense. TCU pulled the upset IN Norman a couple of years ago, so this might be closer than we think. If this is an OU blowout, look for OU to possibly go to #1 if USC doesnt pummel Oregon State.  OU by 14.

#3 Georgia (4-0) at home v. #9 Alabama (4-0). In week 2, USC pummeled a then #5 Ohio State into submission.  This week brings us another top ten showdown between the preseason #1 versus a somewhat surprising Alabama squad.  Georgia kind of waddled through its first three games, not really impressing.  So much so, that both national polls dropped their 1st place award. Week 4 however saw the Bulldogs impressively show against Arizona State on the road. The Dawgs are back home and look for them to dominate again.  We think that the Georgia defense would like to put pressure on John Parker Wilson and force a couple of turnovers, while Dawg QB Matt Stafford should be able to take advantage of a gappy secondary. Georgia by 13.

#4 LSU (3-0) at home v. Mississippi State (1-3). After their National TV winning performance against Auburn, the Tigers look to relax a bit against cellar-dweller Mississippi State. LSU has defeated MSU 8 straight times by an average margin of around 32 points. We’re thinking that average might go a little higher after this week.  Keep in mind that if history repeats itself, the SEC championship is in the future for LSU, and if thats the case, it means a return to the title game most likely. Bayou Bengals by 38.

#5 Missouri (4-0) does not play this week.

#6 Florida (3-0) at home v. Ole Miss (2-2). Florida finally began to show a  little life last week in soundly defeating Tennessee 30-6.  We still think they are overranked at #4 where the polls have them.  Ole Miss should at least be a bit of a test. Consider that Ole Miss is outperforming Florida in several key offensive stats: more yards per game average (402 to 338), more yards passing/game (223 to 174). and more rushing yards/game (180 to 164). However Florida has a top ten defense and playing at the Swamp, gives the Gators the edge here.  Florida by 13.

#7 Wisconsin (3-0) at Michigan (1-2). Wisconsin takes it on the chin this past week for not playing.  That’s right the pollsters jumped Alabama over the Badgers just cuz they didnt play.  Kinda sad.  They’ll make the trip to Michigan this week to face a Wolverine team that is retooling. History hasn’t been good to the Badgers going to the big house, as they are winless in 14 years. But then again, this isn’t your grandfather’s Wolverine team either.  Wisconsin has a very stingy defense and a relentless rushing game behind P. J. Hill. Unless Michigan can find some offense to keep the Badgers off the field, we’re afraid this one could get out of hand, because chances are Alabama gets its come uppance this week.  Wisconsin by 20.

#8 Texas (3-0) at home v. Arkansas (2-1). The Longhorns are maturing and whereas this storied matchup would have meant alot in past years, its a top tier Big-12 going against a lower tier SEC team this year. Arkansas isnt near as good as their 2-1 indicates and they showed that in spades last week in their 49-14 loss to Alabama.  This game is probably relatively close early, but by the 4th quarter we’re sure that Mac Brown will be looking at backups everywhere.   Longhorns by 27.

#9 Alabama (4-0) at Georgia (4-0). If you missed it, see #3 above.

#10 Texas Tech (4-0) does not play this week.

#11 Brigham Young (4-0) does not play this week.

#12 Auburn (3-1) at home v. Tennessee (1-2). It sure doesnt get easier for Philip Fulmer and his Vols. Last week, they got inside the Florida 10 yard line twice and turned the ball over, which could have made the difference in the game.  This week they travel to Auburn to play a similar defense and an offense that caught people’s eyes last week against LSU. This is an interesting game to try to piece together, because Auburn might not be as good as 3-1 and Tennessee is certainly not as bad as its 1-2 seems. Looks like it could boil down to special teams.  Tigers by 6.

#13 Penn State (4-0) at home v. #16 Illinois (2-1). Now the rubber meets the road for both of these teams. Illinois lost a heartbreaker to #5 Missouri in week one, but over came that in subsequent games. The Nittany Lions have simply scored more points in their opening four games than any other PSU team in its 122 year history. They have the nation’s 6th ranking offense (avg 539 yds/game), the 7th ranked defense (allowing an avg of 223 yds/game) and the top scoring differential (43 points). But Illinois QB Juice Williams has big play potential both as a runner and a passer, but struggles with control, throwing 7 TDs but also 5 INTs.  We think that the key would be for Juice to keep the Illini offense on the field in a ball control game, but we also think that wont happen.  Nittany Lions roll by 17.

#14 Ohio State (3-1) at home v. Minnesota (4-0). Just about any other year, the Gophers would be a small bump in the road against the Buckeye juggernaut. However, this year OSU has been anything but consisten and impressive. However, with Tyrelle Pryor now at the helm and Beanie Wells coming back, we’re thinking that these inconsistencies might change.  But the Gophers come into the game besting OSU on average on almost every aspect of the game. With the huge loss to USC in week two, OSU’s National title hopes are all but a vapor, so they’ll need to refocus toward securing a Rose Bowl bid by winning the Big-10.  With Penn State and Wisconsin eyeing that prize, a loss to Minnesota could dcrash those hopes too for OSU.  In a must game, we like Jim Tressel. Buckeyes by 10.

#15 South Florida (4-0) at North Carolina State (2-2). This could be quite the interesting matchup. The Wolfpack looks to upset a top 25 opponent two weeks in a row, on the heels of its 30-24 win over East Carolina last week. They did it with inspired play that included a relentless defense and an offense that moved the ball well.  South Florida on the otherhand, struggled against an inferior FIU team. Matt Grothe did what was necessary to win, but not much more. We think this one could go either way, but would like to think that the Bulls will revert to their old form.  South Florida by 7.

#16 Illinois (2-1) at #13 Penn State (4-0). See above.

#17 Utah (4-0) at home v. Weber State (3-1). Weber State coach Ron McBride comes home to the campus where he coached for 13 years to face a sometimes sloppy, but always challenging Ute team. Utah’s RB tandem of Darryl Mack and Matt Asiata have been tearing up the running game for Utah, but Weber State has a progressive offense that is in the same mold of what was built at Utah several years ago. We think this could be closer than it seems but after a rough outing last week, we think the Utes bounce back. Utah by 14.

#18 Wake Forest (3-0) at home v. Navy (2-2). Wake showed very little signs of domination last week, but did play outstanding defense against Florida State forcing  5 interceptions. Navy runs the ball alot, and we think they won’t have alot of success against the Demon Deacon D.  Wake Forest by 20.

#19 Kansas (3-1) at Iowa State (2-2). There certainly doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the passing game at Kansas, as it continues to rack up big numbers each week. But, one can’t help noticing that there seems to be a little missing from Kansas so far this year. On paper, this matchup looks like a battle.  Kansas averages 481 yards of offense per game, 362 of that in the air.  But, ISU does it on the ground besting Kansas by and average of 40 yards per game.  They both average about the same amount of points though. Iowa State is usually the doormat of the Big-12 North, but perhaps not this year? We’ll see.  Kansas by 11.

#20 Clemson (3-1) at home v. Maryland (3-1). For those of you that had forgotten Clemson after week one, they are on the rise again.  The Tigers have outscored their opponents 126-26 in their last three games. However, this is the conference opener, for both teams, and the stats for each team in terms of yardage and scoring are almost identical. Clemson proved in week one that it certainly wasnt a top tier team in a trouncing by Alabama. The odd stat here is that Maryland has won two of the last 3 road games against Clemson. Hmmm. However, we like Clemson to continue its winning ways.  Tigers by 7.

#21 TCU (4-0) at #2 Oklahoma (3-0). See above on #2 Oklahoma.

#22. Vanderbilt (4-0) does not play this week.

#23 Boise State (3-0) does not play this week.

#24 Fresno State (2-1) at UCLA (1-2). Don’t look now, but aside from USC, the Bulldogs are the only other ranked team from California.  Pat Hill has this “go anywhere, play anyone” mentality and we absolutely think that’s the way to build a strong program and gain national attention.  FSU hasn’t ever won in the Rose Bowl though against UCLA, but the Bruins certainly have shown very little since their comeback victory over Tennessee in week one. Look for Fresno State to double up the defensive pressure on an inexperienced Bruin QB and offensive line.  Bulldogs by 10.

#25 Virginia Tech (3-1) at Nebraska (3-0). This is another “tell” game for both squads.  VT finds itself in our good graces after stringing together 3 straight wins following their embarassing loss to a now extinct East Carolina.  Nebraska was one of the other teams we considered for a spot in the top 5, running up 120 points versus giving up only 43 in its first three games. On paper this looks like a Cornhusker blow out, mostly due to the fact that VT just hasn’t really found its offensive self yet. But with Coach Beamer finally pulling the trigger and starting Tyrod Taylor at QB, we think that could change.  One thing seems certain, don’t look for Nebraska to put up 40 points against that tough defense of the Hokies.  We’re giving the Huskers the edge here, mostly because of the good passing game and the homefield advantage.  Nebraska by 4.

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While many top 25 teams had the week off, others were engaged in key matchups that not only resulted in major shifts, but also could tell the tale off post season matchups.

On the mind was of all football fans were the key SEC matchups this week. Two of them ended up being rather mundane affairs but one was a classic.  Florida handled Tennessee, or we should say, they took advantage of Tennessee’s fumblitis. Twice the Volunteers fumbled inside the 10 and the game was never the same. Statistically the Gators’ offense was rather poor, but their defense surely was up to the task.  Meanwhile over in Tempe, the Georgia Bulldogs had no problems with ASU and won handily.

The big game was our #4 LSU vs. our #12 Auburn (ranked #6 and #10 respectively in the national polls). We’re happy to say that when the polls come out next week, we’ll see Auburn about where we’ve always had them. We’ll also bet that LSU will be where we have them too.

Is it too early to really start visioning what’s going to happen down the road?  While we’re only 4 weeks into the season, it’s looking more and more like an Oklahoma – SEC winner National Championship. Because of the way the BCS system awards points, we see USC being penalized badly because of a very weak Pac-10 this year, and Oklahoma being rewarded because of a very strong Big-12. Assuming that OU can get by  TCU and Baylor, they’ll get a top 10 Texas on October 11. We can’t see any way that the Longhorns can keep up. Assuming also that Texas Tech can survive its front end schedule, OU will meet a perhaps # 6 or 7 Red Raider team on November 22.  Though this could be a shootout, OU prevails in Norman, and gets still another top 10 victory. Along the way there are some ranked teams in there too like Kansas, TCU and maybe Oklahoma State. Too many BCS points to not be #1. The only glitch for OU would be to get by Missouri yet again for a Big-12 Championship, and they would, which would add YET ANOTHER top ten win.

On the other side of the coin, the SEC is LOADED with great teams 4 of which are in the top 10 (it was 5 last week in the AP/USA-Today which had never been done by any conferance). Whoever manipulates through all those, has the best shot of being #2. The first of those was settled last night when LSU beat Auburn, the game that has decided the SEC West Champ for the last million years.  The SEC East will boil down to the winner of the November 1 Florida-Georgia game.  Again, whoever survives the SEC Championship is #2.

But the season is always full of surprises… so why don’t we go ahead and play all the games and see what happens?

Everything else in week four went according to plan with the usual couple of disappointments. Let’s review our new rankings:

#1 USC (3-0).  Did not play.  Next week: At Oregon State (1-2).

#2 Oklahoma (3-0). Did not play. Next week: At home against TCU (4-0).

#3. Georgia (4-0). Defeated #23 Arizona State (2-2) 27-10 in Tempe. Next week: # Alabama (4-0) at home. We must admit that we were pretty impressed with Georgia both offensively and defensively.  The Bulldogs racked up 461 yards of total offense and held an explosive ASU offense in check.  Matthew Stafford was 16/28 for 285 yards while Knowshon Moreno ran for 149 yards on 23 carries and 2 TDs.

#4. LSU (4-0). Defeated #12 Auburn (3-1) 26-21 at Auburn. Next week: Mississippi State(1-3) at home. The first really great game of the 2008 campaign came in the form of a tough, defensive battle at first and then a controlled offensive battle later. Backup LSU QB Jarrett Lee came in and went 11/22 for 182 yards and 2 TDs, while RB Charles Scott added 132 yards on 21 carries.  LSU had some tough times defensively, giving up 320 yards of offense (250 of that passing) to Auburn.  We were really impressed with LSU’s defense and grit tho.

#5 Missouri (4-0) defeated Buffalo (2-2) 42-21 at home. Next week: At Nebraska (3-0). It’s actually pretty hard for us to drop Missouri 2 spots from last week when they won by 21 points, but the fact is, it really should have been worse and both LSU  and Georgia DID impress. We’re not belittling Chase Daniels 36/43 for 439 yards and 2 TDs or the fact that the Tigers ran up 590 yards of offense, but its was against Buffalo, and well, it was a bit underachieving. Jeremy Maclin had 14 catches for 168 yards.

#6 Florida (3-0). Defeated Tennessee (1-2) 30-6 at Tennessee. Next week: Mississippi (2-2) at home. Florida certainly showed a bit more offense this week, but they just didn’t need much. Tennessee self-destructed by turning the ball over twice inside the 10 yard line. However, we still can’t be terrifically excited about a Florida offense that only put up 243 yards of total offense to Tennessee’s 258.  Overall, we think that the Gators still have alot to perfect.

#7 Wisconsin (3-0) did not play. Next week: At Michigan (1-2).

#8 Texas (4-0) defeated Rice (2-2) 52-10 at home. Next week: Arkansas (2-1) at home. We were at least impressed that the Longhorn defense was able to stop a pretty potent Rice offense.  Colt McCoy had Heisman kind of numbers going 19/23 for 329 yards and 4 TDs, while leading the Longhorns to 600 yards of total offense.

#9 Alabama (4-0) defeated Arkansas (2-1) 49-14 at Arkansas. Next week: At #3 Georgia (4-0). The Crimson Tide continues to impress, both offensively and defensively. Bama QB John Parker Wilson threw sparingly (6/14 for 74 yards) but he didn’t have to, as the Tide ground game accounted for 328 yards of the total 402 yards of offense.  RB Glen Coffee had almost 1/2 that running for 162 yards on 10 carries. Big time toughie coming up next week against the Bulldogs!

#10. Texas Tech (4-0) defeated UMass (2-2) 56-14 at home. Next week: Bye. The Red Raider offense performed up to its standard, generating 538 yards of total offense against  the #9 FCS team in the country. Graham Harrell went 27/34 for 322 yards and 4 YDs while  the Tech Rushing game saw Shannon Woods run for 108 yards on 10 carries and 3 TDs ( and added 3 catches for another 53).  It’s been 2 years since a TTU RB ran for 100 yards in a game (the 2006 Insight Bowl).  Key here also, was that the TTU defense got an interception and run back for a TD, while allowing only 92 yards rushing and just 166 passing. To all those blind, East-coast pollsters that keep saying “its the system”, don’t look now but 1) The TTU 1st string defense hasn’t allowed a TD in two consecutive games, 2) the TTU Offense is perfectly balanced with 12 TDs rushing and 12 passing through 4 games, and 3) Graham Harrell completed passes to 10 different receivers Saturday night.

#11 Brigham Young (4-0) defeated Wyoming (2-2) 44-0 at home. Next week: Bye. The Cougars ran away and hid from Wyoming 27-0 at halftime and cruised the rest of the way. Max Hall had a moderately good day going 16/27 for 189 yards and 3 TDs.  The defense got the shut out despite giving up 273 yards of offense.

#12 Auburn (3-1) lost to LSU (4-0) 26-21 at home. Next week:  Tennessee (1-2) at home. Auburn played a spirited game against LSU, and if not for a sack late in the game might have mounted a come back. We were certainly impressed with a more lively offense than generated 320 yards against a very fast and stingy LSU defense, but thought Chris Todd showed a little immaturity in his play that led to two costly interceptions.

#13 Penn State (4-0) defeated Temple (1-3) 45-3 at home. Next week: #16 Illinois (1-2)  at home. The Nittany Lions consistently have improved week to week on both sides of the ball. This week, they put up 546 yards of offense, 243 yards of passing and 303 rushing.  This week however wasn’t the Evan Royster show (though he still had 73 yards on 9 carries). The star was Stephfon Green who ran for 132 yards and a TD. They begin Big-10 conference play next week, so we’ll see where this goes.

#14 Ohio State (3-1) defeated Troy (2-1) 28-10 at home. Next week: Minnesota (4-0) at home. The Buckeyes certain have become this year’s enigma. Preseason evaluations really seemed to indicate that this was the year for OSU, and that they could get back to the title game and win.  But USC put an end to that dream handing them their worst defeat in 14 years. They rebounded however against Troy, with Terelle Pryor getting the nod at QB. He was a respectable 10/16 for 139 yards and 4 TDs.  OSU is still to be reckoned with in the Big-10 for sure, but there’s strong competition here this year with four undefeated teams sitting over the Buckeyes right now.  They’ll get one of those, Minnesota, next week when they begin conference play.

#15 South Florida (4-0) defeated Florida International (0-3) 17-9 at FIU. Next week: At North Carolina State (2-2). The score doesn’t really reflect the win by the Bulls here.  This is a heated rivalry in Florida and USF controlled the game and was up 17-0 in the fourth quarter before FIU managed to get a safety and a very late TD. Matt Grothe was 14/22 for 136 and added another 48 yards rushing. We were impressed with no fewer than 7 rushers in the game for the Bulls.

#16 Illinois (2-1) did not play. Next week: At #11 Penn State (4-0). We’re hoping that the Illini has been practicing really hard, because they have their work cut out for them next weekend.

#17 Utah (4-0) defeated Air Force (3-1) 30-23 at the Air Force Academy. Next week: Weber State (3-1) at home. Whew this was a barn burner as we had predicted. Air Force mounted a terrific game plan, and stifled the Utes scoring machine most of the game, until a late score with 58 seconds left, pushed them to the victory.  Utah had 440 yards of offense but turned the ball over 3 times (2 fumbles and 1 interception). They’ll need to cut that out to move up.

#18 Wake Forest (3-0) defeated Florida State (2-1) 12-3. Next week: Navy (2-2) at home. We’re always a little miffed when all you get is field goals in a game. But yanno, when you turn the ball over 7 times like the Seminoles did, you kinda have to figure you’re gonna come up a bit short.  FSU tossed 5 interceptions between two QBs.  We’re going to consider WF having a bye this week and hope they show up a little better against a pretty good Navy team next week.

#19 Kansas (3-1) defeated Sam Houston State (1-1) 38-14 at home. Next week: At Iowa State (2-2). Suffice it to say, we expected a more lopsided victory, and it wasn’t because they had “mercy” on the Bearkats. SHSU is in the lowly Southland Conference, and come on, Jayhawks, you’re in the Big-12 and were Orange Bowl Champions last year! Nevertheless, a win is a win, and we will applaud Todd Reesing’s 23/38 for 356 and 2 TD night. But… hmmm… there must be more here.

#20 Clemson (3-1) defeated South Carolina State (2-2) 54-0 at home. Next week: Maryland (3-1) at home. After an opening week embarrassment to now #9 Alabama, the Tigers have put together a consistent string of victories around a very stingy defense.  What was a little more promising this week was the emergence of a good solid offense of 416 yards reasonably balanced between pass and run.  Clemson could still be the cream of a very weak (so far) ACC.

#21 TCU (4-0) defeated Southern Methodist (0-4) 48-7 at SMU. Next week: At Oklahoma (3-0). We welcome the Horned Frogs of TCU into the Top 25 this week, what with the attrition of several teams that dropped out. TCU has long been a consistent power in the Mountain West, and this year is no exeception. The Frogs racked up almost 500 yards of total offense against the hapless Mustangs and got 3 turnovers from their defense. TCU looks to pull the upset next week over OU, like they did a few years ago.  Couldbe very interesting if that happens!

#22 Vanderbilt (4-0) defeated Mississippi (2-2) 23-17 at Miss. Next week: #13 Auburn (3-1) at home. The last time Vanderbilt was ranked in the top 25 was in 1984 (yes 24 years ago) when they started 4-0. The Commodores are off to a great start with solid wins over (then) #24 South Carolina, Rice and now Mississippi. Vandy had it hard in this game however,  but forced 2 fumbles and 4 interceptions to spark the win. Auburn next week will be a huge test to see how far Vandy has come.

#23 Boise State (3-0) defeated #15 Oregon (3-1) 37-32 at Oregon. Next week: Louisiana Tech at home. The Broncos had a 37-13 lead going into the 4th quarter and had to hold off a late charge by the Ducks, but emerged on the plus side.  QB Kellen Moore threw for 386 yards and 3 TDs in his first road start.  Also impressive was the BSU defense who stole 3 interceptions from the Ducks.

#24 Fresno State (2-1) defeated Toledo (1-2) 55-54 at Toledo. Next Week: At UCLA (1-2). The Bulldogs keep showing up like a bad penny, but with one of the toughest schedules in America, they should. Pat Hill’s bunch is a good team with immense grit. They played top ten Wisconsin and made them fight for every inch and then have to turn around the next week and go on yet another cross country trip to play Toledo.  Fresno State was less than spectacular in the first half mounting only 98 yards of offense and trailed 21-17.  However, the second half was different, as Tom Brandstater got into gear and generated 327 in the second half.  They needed overtime in this thriller, but in the end they prevailed, and because of that we’ll let them hang around another week.

#25 Virginia Tech (3-1) defeated North Carolina (2-1) 20-17 at NC. Next Week: At Nebraska (3-0). This bottom spot has been changed now three times, and we like the Hokies here now.  With a new QB in Tyrod Taylor, the VT offense has gotten a boost to go along with an already very tough defense. Taylor was 11/21 for 125 yards and ran for 35 more.  He did throw a couple of picks, so he’ll need to work on that.  Typical Beamer ball dominated, as VT stole 4 turnovers from the Tar Heels to cement  the come from behind victory.

Dropped from the Top 25: Oregon, East Carolina, West Virginia,  Florida State,  Arizona State

On the Bubble: Oklahoma State, Nebraska, UConn, Oregon, Kentucky

Most Impressive: Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Texas Tech

Least Impressive: East Carolina, South Florida,  Ohio State

Break down of Top 25: SEC (7), Big-12 (6), Big-10 (4), Mountain West (4), ACC (2) ,PAC-10 (1), WAC (1)

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Week 4 Predictions:

Well folks, we’re having to get an early start this week on the predictions as there’s actually a Wednesday and Thursday game this week.  The Wednesday game should be a fine matchup between what we might call shadow teams.  Kansas State (2-0) has overpowered their opponents 119-16 in their first two games. Junior QB Josh Freeman has completed 75% of his passes for around 500 yards, 5 touchdowns and a QB rating of 209.3, To put that in perspective, USC’s QB Mark Sanchez has a rating of 166.57 and OU QB Sam Bradford’s is 214.43, so Freeman is in good company.  The Wildcats will travel to Louisville to play a Cardinal team that is definitely underachieving at 1-1.  The Cards got blown away the first week against state rival Kentucky 27-2, but managed a strong offensive showing the next week against Tennessee Tech 51-10. Senior QB Hunter Cantwell can’t be compared to his predecessor Brian Brohm, but still has a 99+ passing rating.  But only 2 TDs in the air?  Something aint right. However, in the 27-2 loss to KY, two TDs were given up by fumbles run in for TDs, and the Cardinal defense gave up only 147 yards passing and a measley 63 running. So it should be a good game.

Anyway, now for the Top 25.

#1 USC (3-0) Does not play.

#2 Oklahoma (3-0) Does not play.

#3 Missouri (3-0) v. Buffalo (2-1) at home. While Buffalo is enjoying a good early season, it’s really hard to imagine that they can go on the road and beat a top 5 team. The Tiger defense had a good week last week, and I’m sure they’d like another. We dont see much of anything that would hint at slowing down Missou in this game.  Tigers by 39.

#4 LSU (2-0)  at #12 Auburn (3-0). Certainly the highlight game of the week, both for national rankings merit, but also for the “heads up” in the SEC West. We’re less and less impressed with Auburn’s offense, though their defense seems quite up to the task.  On the LSU side, we are very comfortable with the Tiger Defense…fast, hard hitting, but not as comfortable with the offense yet. This one should be good, very good, especially since it is being played in Alabama. We’re taking the Bayou Bengals by 8.

#5 Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1). Had the Vols not laid a big fat egg on National TV against UCLA, we would have been much more excited about this one.  As it is, it could still be intriguing. Tennesse has a good, solid defense, despite getting torched by UCLA in the second half.  We’re not sure that they have an offense that’s consistent. Similarly, Florida hasnt dominated offensively as they did last year, due in part, that Urban Meyer has tried to limit QB Tim Tebow’s running so that he reduces his hits (he had over 200 last year).  This new approach sees Tebow more as a drop back passer, rather than a dual threat. This game might be a bit closer than we think, but we’ll see.  Florida by 10.

#6 Georgia (3-0) at #23 Arizona State (2-1). Goodness gracious its a shame about ASU.  We really thought that they’d be in the running, but alas, getting beat by an unranked team will really make you crazy. Georgia has a good defense so we think that they can cover the ASU receivers. Rudy Carpenter will have alot to prove this weekend so its not going to be easy for Georgia.  We think that Stafford finally comes alive and leads the Bulldogs back to consideration.  Georgia by 13.

#7 Wisconsin (3-0) does not play.  A well deserved week off for the Badgers who seem to be right in the thick of it in the Big-10.

#8 Texas (3-0) at home v. Rice (2-1). We are kinda looking forward to this game, since UT hasnt played anyone yet.  This is a decent match up, though.  Rice brings in a really good passing offense that can certainly tie teams in knots.  If UT comes away with a blowout that would legitimize their standing at least until they play OU.  However, we’re not convinced that Rice might come out with a totally new game plan. Texas can score and score often, but we want to see whether the UT defense can stifle the Rice offense. We think so.   Longhorns by 21.

#9. Alabama (3-0) at Arkansas (2-0). The Crimson Tide seems to be hitting on all cylinders in their last game against Western Kentucky. Arkansas is rebuilding a bit after losing a pair of NFL drafts in Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.  Add to that a new coach, and you got possible trouble. But they are 2-0 so maybe things dont look so bad.  We think tho that the Razorbacks will have their hands full.  Tide by 14.

#10 Texas Tech (3-0) at home against UMass (2-1).  Its parent weekend at Lubbock, and what better way to get everybody in a good mood than to schedule a Div I-A team?   Harrell and Crabtree had better have a field day, even more than they have, and the Tech defense needs to get a shut out or close to it.  Red Raiders by 35.

#11 Ohio State (2-1) at home against Troy (2-1).  We could maybe get excited and say this is a must win for OSU, which it probably is, but a Sun Belt opponent is borderline quality anyway. Our guess is that Beanie Wells sits out another week, and OSU gets back on track offensively. Buckeyes by 28.

#12 Auburn (3-0) at #4 LSU (2-0). See comments above.

#13 Penn State (3-0) at home against Temple (1-2).  We like what we see so far in the Nittany Lions.  If their offense keeps on being productive, we’re wondering who can stop them in the Big 10.  Temple just won’t be able to handle all the weapons.  PSU by 27.

#14 Brigham Young at home against Wyoming (2-1).  BYU certainly has the talent and the offensive game to wrap anyone in knots. We think that Wyoming will constantly behind the ball and thus in the score.  BYU by 38.

#15 Oregon (3-0) at home against Boise State (2-0).  This could be rather interesting. The Ducks have showed signs that they could be a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10, while Boise State continues their typical willing ways.  We think this could be a barn burner and all flights may be grounded due to all the air activity in this game!  Ducks by 6.

#16 South Florida (3-0) At Florida International (0-2).  Maybe some day FIU might be able to play a complete game. They need lots of help against a major offensive game generator in Matt Grothe at So Florida. The Bulls also have the defense to back it up.  South Florida by 31.

#17 Illinois (2-1) Does not play.  The Illini will be resting up and planning for their 9/27 against Penn State.

#18 East Carolina (3-0) at N.C. State (1-2). The Pirates face a bit more than token competition on Saturday taking on the Wolfpack. Last week they escaped with a 28-24 victory despite 4 turnovers. Also troubling is the fact that starting linebacker Quentin Cotton is now out for the season with a knee injury, while starting left tackle Stanley Bryant is out indefinitely with a similar injury.  We think that there is still enough to make the grade over NC State tho.  Pirates by 18.

#19 Utah (3-0) at Air Force (3-0). People need to start paying more attention to the Mountain West conference. This last week saw four MWAC teams defeat Pac-10 opponents (BYU over UCLA, UNLV over Arizona State, TCU over Stanford, and New Mexico over Arizona). Both Utah and BYU are in the Top 25 with TCU knocking on the door.  But being all characteristically stealthy are the Falcons from Air Force who are 3-0 and executing near flawlessly with a prolific running game.  Utah running back Matt Asiata scored 3 TDs last week while the UTE defense only allowed 116 yards of total offense. The key is balance we think, and Air Force has little of it. Last week QB Shea Smith threw 7 passes in the game and completed NONE. On the season (3 games) he’s 11/23 for 90 yards.  This imbalance we think will be the Falcolns’ undoing this week.  Utes by 18.

#20 West Virginia (1-1) at Colorado (2-0). How bad were the Mountaineers against East Carolina? They were held to 3 points which was the first time since October 5, 2001 that WV was held without a touchdown. QB Pat White and RB Noel Devine both ran for 90 yards, but couldn’t execute on offense. Colorado could be a tougher test against the run as they’ve allowed only an average of 59 yards on the ground in their first two games.  The Mountaineers have their work cut out, and its going to be bye-bye top 25 if they lose.  We like West Virginia in a close game.  Mountaineers by 4.

#21 Wake Forest (2-0) at #24 Florida State (2-0). This early ACC matchup should prove telling for both teams.  You’d think, as in the past, it would -be the Demon Deacon defense versus a flashy Seminole offense. But not so fast. Wake Forest does tout a massive turnover margin, having 8 turnovers through 2 games, both against BCS conference teams. Florida State is still without 6 players that are suspended through next week as a result of a cheating scandal in 2007. However this time, the Seminole DEFENSE comes into this game being #1 overall in the country in allowing only 170 yards/game. Florida State by 10.

#22  Kansas (2-1) at home against Sam Houston State (1-0). We doubt that there needs to be too much discussion here. The Jayhawks are still reeling from a last minute loss to South Florida that dropped them rather drastically. Look for no mercy against the Bearkats.  Jayhawks by 35.

#23 Arizona State (2-1) at home against #6 Georgia.  See above.

#24 Florida State (2-0) at home against #21 Wake Forest.  See above.

#25 Clemson (2-1) at home against South Carolina State. The Tigers really need a good, solid blowout here to begin their climb back. We have been less than impressed. For a team that really had alot of promise (remember 2 weeks ago everyone had them as a top 10 team), they’ve been pretty much a dud.  Given that they are so tenuous, if they dont impress this week, they may be in jeopardy of falling out with other teams on the bubble performing at a higher level.  Clemson by 21 (but needs to be 40).

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Understandably we expect the first couple of weeks of the season to be a testing period. Most teams have to tune up against token opponents to be ready to start showing their true personality and potential beginning in weeks 3 or 4. Week 3 indeed showed the true potential of some teams, and warning signs for others.

One of the things we are beginning to see is some definite stratifying of teams. After this week we see perhaps 3 top teams that seem to have a free pass to the post season, USC, Oklahoma and Missouri, followed by a tier of very good teams such as Florida, LSU, Georgia, Wisconsin. Then there seems to be quite a fall over to a another tier of a few teams, and then the stragglers toward the bottom. Our thinking is that as teams begin conference play in earnest this week or next, this stratification will probably become more definitive, barring another 2007 where there was a significant upset or 4 every week.

We also are beginning to deduce that conference play is going to be brutal this year. The Big-10, recently decided on the last game of their season between Ohio State and Michigan, seems to be somewhat wide open with OSU, Wisconsin, Penn State, Illinois and Purdue all in the hunt. The Big East seems a bit wider open with the apparent weaknesses in Rutgers and West Virginia. With top 25 teams Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, and Texas Tech, the Big-12 could be up for grabs (not to mention how Oklahoma State could be a spoiler). While USC seems invinceable, Oregon and Arizona State might have something to say (not to mention the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde-like UCLA). The SEC has power written all over it (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, LSU) while the ACC seems similar, though much weaker.

As for Week 3 results, some key losses, and poor performances, move alot of teams up that we might not have fathomed in weeks 1 and 2. With losses by Ohio State, Kansas and Arizona State (#5, #11 and #12 respectively), and a poor performance by Auburn, we see Alabama and Texas Tech moving up this week, despite expected performances. So here’s the top 25:

#1 USC (2-0) defeated #5 Ohio State (2-1) 35-3 at home. Next week: Bye. We hate to say we saw this coming, but we did. However we didn’t expect such a dominant performance by SC and such a disappointing performance by the OSU defense. And please don’t talk to us about OSU not having Beanie Wells. IF one player was responsible for a 32 point thumping, then we’re pretty sure that said team shouldn’t be in the top 10 to begin with. If USC can manage not to have a mental slip up, they would be favored to be one of the title participants in Miami.

#2 Oklahoma (3-0) defeated Washington (0-3) 55-14 at Washington. Next week: Bye. Not really much to report here. OU was up 34-0 at halftime, and cruised with almost 600 yards of total offense, relatively balanced between the pass and run. We cant see anyone to challenge OU with the possible exception of Missouri in a theoretical Big-12 Championship.

#3 Missouri (3-0) defeated Nevada (1-2) 69-17 at home. Next week: Buffalo (2-1) at home. We were plenty pleased to see the Missou defense rise to the occasion this week after not showing much the first two weeks of the season. QB Chase Daniels had a big day going 23 of 28 for 415 yards and 4 TDs. Jeremy Maclin was the prime target, as he turned in a 6 reception/172 yard/3TD performance.

#4. LSU (2-0) defeated North Texas (0-3) 41-3 at home. Next week: At Auburn (3-0). LSU improved to 16-0 in non-conference games under Les Miles, and 32-0 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt conference. LSU continues to have a powerful running offense, but we are beginning to be concerned about the lack of a passing game for the Tigers. Eventhough this week the attack was balanced among the 415 yards, the somewhat anaemic passing game could be of particular importance as LSU begins conference play next week against Auburn.

#5 Florida (2-0). Did not play. Next week: At Tennessee (1-1). The Gators and Tigers are in a virtual tie in our minds, both certainly in the right place with regard to the top 10, and clearly at the top of what we consider to be our second tier teams. The Gators needs to show us, and everyone else, that they can really put a game together offensively, with some semblance to last year. We appreciate Coach Meyer’s concern that Tebow can’t get hit 200+ times, but its clear that their offense isn’t hitting on all cylinders yet.

#6 Georgia (3-0) defeated South Carolina (1-2) 14-7 at Columbia, SC. Next week: At Arizona State (2-1). While we are pretty comfortable with the Bulldog Defense, we continue to be disappointed at their offense. For a team that boasted two Heisman candidates on offense (Stafford and Moreno), they should have done much better against a pretty mediocre South Carolina defense, but didn’t. In fact, the SC offense outperformed them by almost 40 yards. However, we know this is a pretty tough rivalry too.  Two critical turnovers by the Gamecocks literally handed the victory to the Dogs. They’d better find some offense before next week against the Sun Devils.

#7 Wisconsin (3-0) defeated #25 Fresno State (1-2) 13-10 in Fresno. Next week: Bye. Wisconsin looks and feels each week like a Big Ten team of the 70s. This was a tough victory by the Badgers, on the road against an amazingly talented team that is MUCH better than the 1-2 record they sport. Both defenses were extremely good, despite giving up over 300 yards, but Fresno State fumbled the game away. The best that can be said is that Wisconsin does find a way to win, but its P.J. Hill driven. If he goes down for any time this year, like last year, the Badgers could be in big trouble.

#8 Texas (3-0) did not play due to Hurricane Ike. Next week: Rice (2-1) at home. Hard to really see what the Longhorns can do since they’ve played pretty much a powder puff schedule. This week’s opponent, Rice, however, who has a pretty potent offense, could give a decent test to the Longhorn defense. We might could extrapolate a little bit next week.

#9 Alabama (3-0) defeated Western Kentucky (1-2) 41-7 at home. Next week: At Arkansas (2-0). There certainly wasn’t anything wrong with Alabama this week, running up 557 yards of total offense and allowing only 158. Granted it was against Western Kentucky, but we expect good solid, expected performances by top 10 teams. Interestingly, three different Crimson Tide backs rushed for at least 50 yards, as Bama ran for 282 yards as a team.

#10 Texas Tech (3-0) defeated SMU (1-2) 43-7 at home. Next week: UMass (2-1) at home. QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree kept up with their conference rivals Daniels-Maclin by leading the Tech offense to 693 yards of total offense. Harrell was 31 of 48 for 418 yards and 5 TDs. Crabtree had 8 receptions for 164 yards and 3 TDs. Now here was the surprising stat: Tech had 180 yards on the ground, something that could cause some opponents grief later on this season. Kudos to the Tech defense playing a bend but not break defense against the spread offense of SMU.

#11 Ohio State (2-1) lost to #1 USC (2-0) 35-3 at USC. Next week: Troy (2-1) at home. Let’s put some things in perspective here. The Buckeyes were never in the game against USC on Saturday, true. OSU seems to have no running game without Beanie Wells, but that wouldn’t have made a difference against USC. However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Buckeyes could still be the best team in the Big-10, which we’ll see in a couple of weeks when they open against Minnesota. Now, look down below this #10 spot. Would you pick OSU as the underdog? Yeah we didn’t think so either.

#12 Auburn (3-0) defeated Mississippi State (1-2) 3-2 at Starkville, MS. Next week: At #4 LSU (2-0). This seems to be a recurring theme with Auburn…we’re disappointed. The Tigers generated 315 yards of offense against a pretty mediocre MSU, and only got 3 points to show for it. The good (or sad) news was that it was enough to win. Every week, Auburn seems to underwhelm, and at some point, we just have to drop them until they can do something. We’ll bet next week won’t be it against LSU.

#13 Penn State (3-0) defeated Syracuse (0-3) 55-13 at Syracuse. Next week: Temple (1-2) at home. We continue to be impressed with the Nittany Lion team that consistently plays at a high level. This week the offense generated 560 yards while allowing only 159. Is Penn State the best in the Big-10 at this point? Certainly they look more consistent, especially with Evan Royster performing at such a high level (he had 13 rushes for 101 yards). So we’re optimistic.

#14 BYU (3-0) defeated UCLA (1-1) 59-0 at home. Next week: Wyoming (2-1) at home. We were pretty upset last week that BYU barely edged out a win, but this week, they more than made up for it. The Cougars handed UCLA their worst defeat in 75 years. They led 42-0 a halftime, and cruised. BYU QB Max Hall was 27/35 for 271 yards and 7 TDs (yes seven).

#15 Oregon (3-0) defeated Purdue (1-1) 32-26 at Purdue. Next week: Boise State (2-0) at home. There was over 900 yards of total offense in this game, 500 of which belonged to Oregon, as they had to rally to win. RB LeGarrette Blount rushed for 120 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. This was an impressive performance on the road for the Ducks, and we were pretty impressed with Purdue also.

#16 South Florida (3-0) defeated Kansas (2-1) 37-34 at home. Next week:At Florida International (0-2). We expected a pretty offensive game, and we got it. Both teams combined for almost 900 yards, which was what we thought might happen with Reesing (Kansas) vs. Grothe (South Florida). Its hard to gauge the overall performance, but we were impressed that the Bulls came back this week with a solid performance. However, the defense sure could use some shoring up.

#17 Illinois (2-1) defeated Louisiana Lafayette (0-2) 20-17 at home. Next week: Bye. Illinois seems to be doing what it takes to win, but not much more. Juice Williams had a good day throwing for 147 yards going 13 of 25. Game ball honors should go to RB Daniel Dufrene who had 19 carries for 126 yards. The first conference test for the Illini will come next week against Penn State.

#18 East Carolina (3-0) defeated Tulane (0-2) 28-24 in New Orleans. Next week At N. C. State (1-2). We’re beginning to think we should give Tulane some respect. They kept Alabama in check last week, and this week they play ECU tough. After beating Virginia Tech week 1, and dominating West Virginia last week, ECU needed all 4 quarters to win though (the score was 21-21 after 3). ECU QB Patrick Pinkney went 22 or 32 for 260 yards and 2 TDs. While we like the Pirates, we think they are a bit overstated in the national polls at the 14-15 slot. We’d like to see a bit more domination on a weak schedule to move up.

#19 Utah (3-0) defeated Utah State (0-3) 58-10 At Utah St. Next week: At Air Force. The Utes keep on winning, albeit against rather meager competition. QB Brian Johnson was 22/31 for 204 yards and 2 TDs, while the Utah defense only allowed a total of 116 yards total offense.

#20West Virginia (1-1) did not play. Next week: At Colorado (2-0). The Mountaineers need a good game against the Buffaloes to regain some respect and momentum. Colorado has a stiff defense so, WV might find themselves behind the 8-ball again.

#21 Wake Forest (2-0) did not play. Next week: At Florida State (2-0). Early season test for the Demon Deacons coming up next week against a rejuvenated Seminole team. It might a battle at this point of the best the ACC has to offer.

#22 Kansas (2-1) lost to #16 South Florida (3-0) 37-34 in Florida. Next week: Sam Houston State (1-0) at home. The Jayhawks played good, but not good enough. Kansas QB Todd Reesing was 34/51 for 373 yards and 3 TDs. Normally this would be a stellar afternoon, but the Jayhawk defense allowed 458 offensive yards to the Bulls, and they just didnt have it down the stretch.

#23 Arizona State (2-1) lost to UNLV (2-1) 23-20 at home. Next week: Georgia at home. This might have been the shocker of the week. Sun Devil QB Rudy Carpenter had a decent week going 13/23 for 242 and 2 TDs, but the Runnin Rebels exploited the ASU defense for 343 total yards. The differentiator was a blocked FG at the end of the game that would have tied it up. We aren’t going to give up on ASU quite yet tho. The game next week will be a huge game for both teams.

#24 Florida State (2-0) defeated Chattanooga (1-2) 46-7 at home. Next week: #21 Wake Forest at home. The Seminoles might just be the best the ACC has to offer early in the season. FSU racked up 484 yards of offense split fairly evenly between the pass and run. The balanced attack is impressive for a traditionally pass-oriented team. Next week they’ll get a solid challenge in Wake Forest.

#25 Clemson (2-1) defeated N.C. State (1-2) 27-9 at home. Next week: South Carolina State. The Tigers hang in here this week just edging out Fresno State for the last spot, mainly because we have an unwritten rule that we can’t drop a team out of the 25 when they win. Clemson still isnt impressing much, though. QB Cullen Harper is doing his part however, going 20/28 for 262 yards and 2 TDs. Don’t look now, but Harper has a 2008 QB rating of 142.29. Thats not bad considering the struggles that Clemson is going through.

Dropped out: Fresno State.

On the Bubble: Fresno State, TCU,  Oklahoma State, Boise State.

Most Impressive: USC, Missouri, Penn State.

Least Impressive: Auburn, Ohio State, Arizona State, Kansas

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Week Three’s games begin some interesting matchups that could have long term effects for some title hopefuls. There are three inter-Top25 battles that might at the very least give us a glimpse into the future, and at best could dictate who’s out early in the BCS title hunt. So without further ado, let’s how week three shapes up with the top 25.

#1 Oklahoma (2-0) at Washington (0-2). It’s pretty hard to think that the Huskies will be able to mount even a mild interference here. However, they have been known to rise up and give a good showing now and again. But we think that the Sooners would need to have an awfully flat week, and the Huskies would need to play the game of their life.  We’ll take the Sooners by 24.

#2. USC (1-0) home against #5 Ohio State (2-0).  The Buckeyes haven’t shown really well in two outings. Last week it was all they could do to get past lowly Ohio. It’s true that they were without their Heisman candidate Chris “Beanie” Wells, but it seemed to us there was something a bit more fundamentally off. With Wells back in the lineup this week, look for a good 20 carries from him unless USC just scores at will. USC will most certainly see a very fast defense, and a top notch linebacking corps. Look for both teams to make use of different looks and blitzes to keep the other’s quarterbacks off guard. Home field makes the difference: Trojans by 10.

#3 Georgia (2-0) at South Carolina (1-1). If Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks are going to make 2008 a breakthrough season, it needs to start this week against the Dawgs.   SC looked really good the first week but against Vanderbilt, just totally looked like another team. So, which team will show?  We think it really won’t matter in the end. Georgia should prevail on the road, and with plenty to spare.  Dawgs by 26.

#4 Florida (2-0). Bye. They’ll play the following Thursday against Tennessee.

#5 Ohio State (2-0) at #2 USC (1-0) – See above.

#6 LSU (1-0) home against North Texas (0-2). Oh my Lord who scheduled this masscre.  Folks this is a National Champion contender versus quite literally the 13th grade.  North Texas Coach Todd Dodge, former legendary 5A high school coach of National powerhouse Southlake, recruited all his players to come play for him in hopes of turning the NT program around.  There were alot of very idiotic people in Southlake that swore their football team could beat college teams.  Not LSU tho.  They may call this one  on some mercy rule, or on account of Hurricane Ike.  Tigers by 55, unless rain is so hard that no one can see.

#7. Missouri (2-0) home against Nevada (1-1). Missouri already is looking good, but defensively hasnt solidified, but then its still pre-season for them, Nevada is not to be taken lightly, however,  Both teams are consistenly in the top 5 in offense. The Wolfpack will be missing their starting RB Luke Lippincott who tore his ACL in the game against Texas Tech. Look for an easy Tiger win here, and perhaps look closely to see if the Missouri defense can put up a good effort.  Tigers by 24.

#8 Wisconsin (2-0) home against Fresno State (1-0). This should be a humdinger of a game. The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week after an impressive win against Rutgers. So another cross country trip for them to a much better team. Let’s dont write this one off too quickly. Fresno State stiffled a big O-line and traditionally good rushing game of Rutgers, and exploted their defense.  Wisconsin on the other hand has showed two teams..one that runs the ball all day long with P.J.Hill, and one that passes at will.  We’re a bit inclined to think that the versatility of Wisconsin’s offense could be trouble for Fresno State.  However, if the Badgers come in with anything but their “A” game watch out.  Wisconsin by 13.

#9. Auburn (2-0) at Mississippi State (1-1). Auburn keeps playing solid, ball-control offense with a very stingy defense, but hasn’t gone over the edge in overwhelming much lesser opponents. They should have another opportunity to overwhelm if they want to this week against Mississippi State. There’s not alot that can be done here, as long as Auburn shows up.  Tigers by 20.

#10 Texas (2-0) home against Arkansas (2-0). Due to a projected landfall for Hurricane Ike, this game has been moved to Sept 27, so the Longhorns get a week of rest.

#11 Kansas (2-0) at #19 South Florida (2-0) on Friday night. This should shape up to be the Kansas offense against the Bulls defense. Kansas QB Todd Reesing seems to be hitting on all cylinders, while the Jayhawk defense hasnt lost much.  South Florida stumbled a little last week but gutted it out in a tough interstate win against UCF.  I have alot of respect for tough games like that building some character. Matt Grothe will need to have a MUCH better outing to keep the Bulls in it.  Jayhawks by 14.

#12 Arizona State (2-0) at home against UNLV.(1-1). Its hard to see much of any scenario that doesn’t include a big night for ASU QB Rudy Carpenter. UNLV got thumped hard by Utah last week, and ASU is more diverse and powerful team.  Sun Devils by 22.

#13. Texas Tech (2-0) at home against SMU (0-2). While Tech hasnt quite gotten into their normal offensive groove, SMU is a bad team in transition, June Jones or not. Look for the Red Raiders to perhaps find the gear offensively, but really watch their defense to see if there is marked improvement. If not, TTU wont be long in the top 25.  Red Raiders by 27.

#14 Alabama (2–0) at home against Western Kentucky (1-1). In Alabama we have another split personality team. They practically destroyed Clemson the first week, but last week against a hapless Tulane team they struggled. The Hilltoppers can run the ball quite well, but traveling on the road to Alabam isnt going to help much. Tide by 26.

#15 Oregon (2-0) at Purdue (1-0). The Ducks looked downright invincible last week. Traveling cross country could be a little bit of a factor, but we see the Ducks prevailing here. Oregon by 18.

#16 Penn State (2-0) at Syracuse (0-2). The Nittany Lions have shown nothing but good solid footbal on both sides of the ball. Syracuse just won’t have anything to stop PSU.  Penn State by 24.

#17 East Carolina (2-0) at Tulane (0-1). The stories are still there. Could ECU be the BCS buster this year? Possibly. They should absolutely no problems with Tulane. However, Tulane played Alabama close last week. ECU has beaten #17 Virginia Tech and #8 West Virginia already.  They shouldn’t have much problem with the Green Wave. If they dispatch them convincingly, look for them to move up even more. Pirates by 21.

#18  Illinois (1-1) at home against Louisiana-Lafayette (0-1). Illinois is going to be working overtime to get themselves together agianst someone and so it might as well by La-Lafayette. Juice Williams should have a field day. Illinois by 17.

#19 South Florida (2-0) at Kansas (2-0) – See above.

#20 West Virginia (1-1) Bye. After than miserable showing against ECU, they need a week or 5 off.

#21 BYU (2-0) at home against UCLA (1-0). This is another one you’ll wish you could watch.  UCLA showed alot of poise and talent in upsetting Tennessee, while BYU needed a lousy “excessive celebration” to steal their victory last week.  We might be dreaming, but we think this could be a very good game and it wouldn’t surprise us if UCLA pulls the upset. If they do, the PAC-10 all of a sudden looks pretty strong.. Cougars by 6.

#22 Wake Forest (2-0)  at Florida State (1-0). We probably think that WF is a better team than 22, but they havent played like it quite yet.  Here’s their chance. FSU debuted quite nicely and looked tough on defense.  We think that the home field advantage could make the difference.  Wake by 3.

#23 Clemson (1-1) at home against North Carolina State (1-1). Tommy Bowden’s Clemson Tigers better start acting like their mascot namesake. One of the polls already dropped them.  We aren’t so cruel.  The Tigers should find a way back into the list with a big victory here.  Tigers by 21.

#24 Fresno State (1-0) at #8 Wisconsin (2-0). See above at #8.

#25 Utah (2-0) at Utah State (0-2). The Aggies got annihilated by Oregon last week, and the Utes should have just as much to share. Utes by 30.

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There was a partial redemption by the ACC this week, but topping the surprises was the East Carolina Pirates taking down yet again, for the second week in a row, a top 20 opponent, this time, a top 10. Skip Holtz’s Pirates dominated Patrick White and the West Virginia Mountaineers 24-3. At some point don’t we have to think MAYBE these arent upsets?

Adding to the confusion were some very questionable performances by several top 25 contenders. For instance, the Ohio State Buckeyes were behind going into the 4th quarter, and were being outplayed by a spirited Ohio University Bobcat team. But for a couple of very good special team plays, the Buckeyes might have been alot sadder this evening. The same story goes for the Bulls of USF, who needed overtime to beat UCF 31-24. Florida, who probably should have rolled over state rival Miami, struggled also, along with lackluster performances from Auburn, Texas Tech, BYU, and South Florida. South Carolina drops out of the top 25 this week after being beat by Vanderbilt for the second year in a row.

Other top 25 teams had little or no problems with their opponents, but there will be some shift based on some uninspired performances. So, here’s the new Top 25 based on the weekend’s results.

#1 Oklahoma (2-0). Defeated Cincinnati (1-1) 52-26 at home. Next week: At Washington. The Sooners scored their first touchdown less than 2 minutes into the game, and built a rather formidable lead, before the Bearcats fought back bravely. At least this was a top 10 team playing something other than an Our Lady of the Redeeming Albino College.  Sooners are looking very fast, and very good.

#2 USC (1-0) Bye this week, Next week: Ohio State at home. The Trojans should be nice and rested when they take on the Buckeyes. They get moved up because of a lackluster Florida performance.

#3 Georgia (2-0). Defeated Central Michigan (1-1) 56-17 at home. Next week: At South Carolina. We predicted dawgs by 40 so we were close. Not much else to report here, other than Georgia was hitting on all cylinders. Matthew Stafford was 18 of 28 for 213 yards and 2 TDs. Knowshon Moreno, a legit Heisman candidate, had a great day running for 168 yards on 18 carries and 3 TDs.

#4 Florida (2-0). Defeated Miami (1-1) 26-3 at home. We weren’t overly impressed with this victory by the Gators. Tebow was off the mark quite a bit, and didnt really take control until late in the game. We’re impressed with the progress of the Hurricanes though. Gators are legit for sure, they should be concerned that they did not give a consistent offensive performance. However, Georgia needs to be scared.

#5 Ohio State (2-0). Defeated Ohio University (0-2) 26-14 at home. OSU had plenty of problems with the Bobcats at home. Their running game missed Beanie Wells, but we’re not sure he would have made a difference. Boeckman only through for 110 yards. Statistically the game was very close. Ohio converted 9 of 17 third downs against the Buckeye defense. A late punt return for 69 yards by OSU was the key in the game. They can’t play this way next week at USC and expect to win.

#6 LSU (1-0). Game with Troy was postponed to November 15 due to damage from Hurricane Gustav. Next week: North Texas at home.

#7 Missouri (2-0). Defeated SE Missouri (1-1) 52-13 at home. Next week: Nevada at home. As would be expected, the Tigers jumped out to a 42-0 halftime lead, and then coasted home. No surprises here. Chase Daniels threw for 245 yards and 3 TDs. Jeremy Maclin did play but had only 2 receptions for 20 yards. Consider this a bye week, since a decent Texas High School football team could beat SE Missouri.

#8 Wisconsin (2-0). Defeated Marshall (1-1) 51-14 at home. Next week: #22 Fresno State at home. The Badgers looked very balanced and impressive this week, and what with the demise of West Virginia, they move up. This week, P.J. Hill had only 57 yards (but 2 TDs), but the story was QB Allan Evridge who was 17 of 26 for 308 yards and 1 TD. They’ll get a stiff challenge next week when Fresno State visits.

#9 Auburn (2-0). Defeated So. Mississippi (1-1) 27-13 at home. Next Week: At Mississippi State. We expected this to be close, and had predicted the Tigers by 10, so they did a little better. In our hearts we were hoping for more, however to cement a top 10 ranking, but hey its ok. Junior QB Chris Todd had a good day throwing for 248 yards and the running game generated another 132.

#10 Texas (2-0). Defeated UTEP (0-2) 42-13 in El Paso. Next week: Arkansas at home. The score wasn’t indicative of Texas’ play, as much as indicative of an undisciplined, poorly coached UTEP team. Texas pulled another of its “let’s stay close and get a couple or more cheap TD’s at the end of the game” stunt. Forget the stats here, its a predictive win.

#11 Kansas (2-0). Defeated La. Tech (1-1) 29-0 at home. Next week: At #18 South Florida. The Jayhawks keep demonstrating that their program is for real, this time showing some pretty good defense as well as a versatile offense that generated 538 total yards. Todd Reesing was 32/38 for 412 yards and 3 TDs which is good in anyone’s book. Definitely a solid performance. Jawhawks get tested next week to see where they really are.

#12 Arizona State (2-0). Defeated Stanford (1-1) 41-17 at home. Next week: UNLV at home. ASU put in a solid performance, and better than expected (we predicted by 18). QB Rudy Carpenter was 22 of 28 for 388 yards and a TD.

#13 Texas Tech (2-0). Defeated Nevada (1-1) 35-19 in Nevada. Next week: SMU at home. Another disappointing performance from the TTU offense that really never clicked causes us to slip TTU a spot. Graham Harrell was far from Heisman cailber turning in a poor 19 of 46 for 297 yards, far below what we’re used to from the high octane Red Raider offense. A bright spot, however, was Michael Crabtree’s 7 catches for 158 yards, including an 82-yard TD reception.

#14 Alabama (2-0). Defeated Tulane (0-2) 20-6 at home. Next week: Western Kentucky at home. A two touchdown victory over a hapless team doesn’t do much for us. After the great victory over Clemson last week, we expected a blow out and what we got was a very unimpressive performance, perhaps a let down. Tulane generated lots more offense (318 to 172) than Alabama did which makes us wonder a little about what Nick Saban’s group was thinking.

#15 Oregon (2-0). Defeated Utah State (0-2) 66-24 at home. Next week: At Purdue. With 688 total offensive yards, and seven different Ducks rushing for at least 25 yards, 408 total yards rushing we’d say that this was complete domination. Oregon played three at QB accounting for another 280 passing yards.

#16 Penn State (2-0). Defeated Oregon State (0-2) 45-14 at home. Next week: At Syracuse. The Nittany Lions hit on all cylinders this day amassing 454 yards of total offense, sparked by Evan Royster’s 141 rushing yards and 3 TD’s. PSU has some defense work to do, however, allowing the Aggies to have 342 yards.

#17 East Carolina (2-0). Defeated West Virginia (1-1) 24-3 at home. Next week: At Tulane. We have to hand it to the Pirate’s head coach Skip Holtz (yes son of Lou). He has worked magic with his team in little over a year. Their win over then #17 Virginia Tech might had been interpreted as a hard fought game with a lucky break at the end. But not this game against West Virginia. We know what the Mountaineers are capable of. We know what Patrick White can do. And ECU shut it all down with a very good defense and a a consistent, ball-control offense that frustrated the Mountaineers all day.  What’s more…take a look at the ECU schedule and find a game where they WONT be the favored team the rest of the year.  Is this our Cinderella BCS buster?  Could be!

#18 Illinois (1-1). Defeated Eastern Illinois (0-2) 47-21 at home. Next week: La-Lafayette at home. After an excellent performance in a losing cause against Missouri last week, the Fighting Illini came roaring back against their state rival. Juice Williams and company amassed 533 yards of total offense, 399 of which was on the ground. Williams himself was a one-man wrecking machine, throwing for 124 and rushing for 174. Illinois will make its presence known the remainder of the season and could be a spoiler in the Big 10.

#19 So Florida (2-0). Defeated Central Florida (1-1) 31-24 in overtime at UCF. Next week: #11 Kansas at home. Another example of a rather lackluster performance. UCF fought valliantly, and more. However, we can not over look the fact that the Bulls generated over 500 yards of total offense, 346 of which generated by Matt Grothe’s passing efforts. We’ll chalk this up to a very good interstate rivalry, but we’d sure like to see a more consistent performance.

#20 West Virginia (1-1). Lost to #25 East Carolina (2-0) 24-3 in Greenville, NC. Next week: Bye. We haven’t lost complete faith in the Mountaineers. But on this day, ECU QB Patrick Pinkney torched WV for 236 yards, but it was their defense that was relentness. The Mountaineers’ title hopes are pretty much gone, but fortunately conference and bowl hopes are not.

#21 BYU (2-0). Defeated Washington (0-2) 28-27 at Washington. Next week: UCLA at home. BYU totally deserves to be dropped, as they win this game on a lousy, sticking “Excessive celebration” call. Washington scored the near-tying touchdown with :02 left, but then they were penalized. This is the lousiest directive that has ever been handed down by the NCAA. In any case, BYU didn’t deserve the game.

#22 Wake Forest (2-0). Defeated Mississippi (1-1) 30-28 at home. Next week: At Florida State. This was a hard fought game, and the ACC team this time came out on top.  Mississippi took the lead late but WF managed to get a game winning FG with 0:03 left in the game.  Give the game ball to Sam Swank who was 3-3 in field goals, including the game winner. He is the nation’s leader.

#23 Clemson (1-1). Defeated The Citadel (1-1) 45-17 at home. Next week: North Carolina at home. The Tigers rebounded with a solid performance offensively, generating 525 total yards. But perhaps equally as disappointing was the fact that they gave up 427 total yards. Fortunately they got 3 turnovers to counterbalance. However, if these Tigers are to live up to their pre-season expectations, much is left to be done.

#24 Fresno State (1-0). Bye. Next week: At #8 Wisconsin.

#25 Utah (2-0). Defeated UNLV (1-1) 42-21 at home. Next week: At Utah State. This game was quite competitive, being tied 14 at halftime. Utah QB Brian Johnson struggled early, but ended the game 15/24 for 183 yards and two touchdowns.


Dropped from the Top 25: South Carolina.

Bubble Teams: South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Air Force, California.

Most Impressive: East Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn State, Oregon.

Least Impressive: South Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio State, BYU.

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