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Posts Tagged ‘NCAA Football’

The Marquee game of the week was USC and Ohio State and it didn’t disappoint.  The game turned out to be much more of a defensive affair than anyone thought, but USC put together an outstanding drive at  the end of the game to pull the victory.  They did show, however, that they are mortal and certainly have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. However this will most certainly come.

Of particular note were two key upsets.  Houston went on the road to Stillwater and  toppled Oklahoma State soundly.  We had made a comment that it had been hard to tell if that OKST secondary had proved when the Cowboys beat Georgia last week.  Apparently it has not.  This certainly doesn’t bode well for them when they take on the likes of Texas and Texas Tech.

Michigan, coming off spirited win last week, showed both character and poise in their defeat of Notre Dame.  Despite what Lou Holtz was expounding on ESPN,  the Irish weren’t about to play for the National Championship, but now they’ll be out of the top 25 perhaps when the new polls are released.

Outside those little nuances, everything was mostly in line.

#1 Florida (2-0) defeated Troy (0-2) 56-6 at home.  Next week: Tennessee (1-1) at home.

No real surprise here. Florida managed to show up at their stadium and worse, so did Troy. The hosts took it easy in the first quarter, only leading 7-3, but then poured on 28 unanswered points and never looked back. Gators QB Tim Tebow threw four touchdowns and ran for another — the 45th rushing touchdown of his career, tying him for third in SEC history. Another day in the office.

#2 Texas (2-0) defeated Wyoming (1-1) 41-10 at home. Next week: Texas Tech (2-0) at home.

The was a bit of a surprise if you consider that the Longhorns led only 13-10 at halftime. But then, the Cowboys never scored another point. Colt McCoy got the offense in gear in the second half then finished 21/29 for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Shipley had another big week with 8 catches for 180 yards.  It’s pretty hard to see where Texas is going to lose a game this year.

#3 USC (2-0) defeated #12 Ohio State (1-1) 18-15 in Columbus. Next week: At Washington (1-1).

As mentioned above, this game was everything it was billed to be, except more defensively than anyone thought. USC drove 86 yards for  TD and got the two-point conversion with 1:05 remaining, then held OSU to gain the W.  A lot of kudos go to freshman QB Matt Barkley who merely went on the road to Columbus, fought through a shoulder injury and led the team in a come-from-behind win. The USC defense allowed only 88 total rushing yards to OSU.

#4 Alabama (2-0) defeated Florida International (0-1) 41-14 at home. Next week: North Texas (1-1) at home.

Not a lot to say here really.  FIU isn’t exactly the premier level football team, but Alabama struggled in the first quarter. They got on track behind QB Greg McElroy (18/24 for 241 yards and 1 TD) and RB Trent Richardson (15 carries/ 118 yards 2 TDs). The Tide Defense allowed ONE  yes UNO  yard rushing by FIU all night.

#5 Penn State (2-0) defeated Syracuse (0-2) 28-7 at home. Next week: Temple (1-0) at home.

Business as usual for the Nittany Lions, but somewhat unimpressive, even though they scored one TD in every quarter and held Syracuse to just 65 yards rushing and 200 overall. QB Daryll Clark paced a passing attack that was 20/31 for 240 yards and 3 TDs. However PSU again turned the ball over three times,  up one from last week. That’s a trend that they need to stop.

#6 Mississippi (1-0) was idle.  Next week: SE Louisiana (2-0) at home.

#7 Brigham Young (2-0) defeated  Tulane (0-2) 54-3 at the Superdome. Next week: Florida State (1-1) at home.

The Cougars ran and passed for 527 yards of offense while holding the Green Wave to 162 total yards. QB Max Hall was 24/32 for 309 yards, 2 TDs and 1 Interception. BYU took advantage of Tulane’s 3 fumbles and 1 interception to run away in the second half.

#8 California (2-0) defeated Eastern Washington (1-1) 59-7 at home. Next week: At Minnesota (2-0).

Division II teams don’t often match up well to their Div 1 opponents, and this was no exception. Cal used RB Jahvid Best (17 carries, 144 yards) to pace a 342 yard ground game. The Golden Bear defense limited the Eagles to just 14 yards rushing.

9 LSU (2-0) defeated Vanderbilt (1-1) 23-9 at home. Next week: Louisiana-Lafayette (2-0) at home.

The Tiger’s needed a late TD to put away a stubborn Vandy, but played outstanding defense holding them to 122 rushing and 88 passing yards on the game. The LSU offense was consistent, balanced and  had the ball 13 minutes more than the Commodores.

#10 Boise State (2-0) defeated Miami (OH) (0-2) 48-0 at home.  Next week: At Fresno State (1-1) (Friday night)

The Broncos never let the Red Hawks into the game running up 441 yards of total offense, paced by  QB Kellen Moore’s 16/26 for 207 yards and 4 TDs.  WR Austin Pettis was the leading receiver posting four catches for 115 yards and a TD.

#11 Oklahoma (1-1) defeated Idaho State (0-2) 64-0 in Norman.  Next week: Tulsa (2-0) at home.

After getting embarrassed on prime time TV by BYU and losing their starting QB, the Sooners reminded us that they have plenty of depth. The OU defense only allowed 6 first downs all night, while Oklahoma’s backup quarterback Landry Jones looked sharp in his debut, going 18-of-32 for 286 yards and three scores.  The telling statistic? Idaho had negative yardage on the ground and only 44 total yards of offense.

#12 Ohio State (1-1) lost to #3 USC (2-0) 18-15 at home. Next week: At Toledo (1-1).

For the Buckeyes, it was another big-game disappointment, maybe the toughest one yet. Ohio State has now lost six straight against top-five teams, including two national title games and last season’s 35-3 loss to USC in Los Angeles.

#13 Georgia Tech (2-0) defeated Clemson (1-1) 30-27 at home.  Next week: At #22 Miami (1-0) (Thursday).

Credit Clemson for a tough, hard fought game, which we should have remembered.  The last few games of this series have been very close and this one was no different. Yellow Jacket kicker Scott Blair threw a 34-yard TD pass in the first quarter, but his last-minute clinching field goal was what sealed the win for Tech. RB Anthony Allen rand for 127 yards on 5 carries, including an 82-yard TD in the first quarter.

#14 Virginia Tech (1-1) defeated Marshall (1-1) 52-10 at home. Next week: #17 Nebraska (2-0) at home.

VT literally ran away with this one chalking up 444 yards of their 605 on the ground. For the first time in school history, two Hokies rushed for 160 or more yards as Ryan Williams (169 yards) and David Wilson (160 yards) led the Virginia Tech rushing attack. Tyrod Taylor, largely ineffective the week before against Alabama, had a much better night going 9/16 for 161 yards and 2 TDs.  But it was hardly needed.

#15 TCU (1-0) defeated Virginia (0-2) 30-14  at Charlottesville, NC.  Next week: Texas State (1-0) at home.

TCU scored 30 unanswered points, while letting their defense dominate. Virginia managed just seven first downs,  three of them coming in the final quarter, and two on long touchdown passes after the outcome had long been decided. The Cavaliers finished with just 177 yards of total offense, and 83 of those came on Jameel Sewell’s late TD passes.

#16 Utah (2-0) defeated San Jose State (0-2) 24-14 at San Jose. Next week: At Oregon.

The Spartans, who lost badly in their season opener to USC 56-3, played much better and gave the Utes all they could handle. This game was knotted at 7-7 going into the final quarter, but two TDs within 4 minutes sealed the outcome for Utah. The Utes offense was impeccably balanced (251 rushing, 248 passing) but repeatedly had trouble finishing drives until the 4th.

#17 Nebraska (2-0) defeated Arkansas State (1-1) 38-9 at home.  Next week:  At #14 Virginia Tech.

Nebraska jumped out to a 24-6 lead in the first half and never looked back. The Huskers’ D allowed Arkansas State just one field goal in the second half. QB Zac Lee went 27-of-35 by spreading out the offense to 11 receivers. He threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.

#18 Oklahoma State (1-1) lost to Houston (1-1) 45-35 at home. Next week: Rice at home.

After a brilliant first week performance that saw the Cowboy defense control Georgia’s running game, that same defense showed the same vulnerabilities it did in 2008. Despite a very decent 18/31 for 240 yards by Zac Robinson,  the defense allowed unranked Houston to pile up 512 yards of total offense, mostly in the air (366 yards). Baylor and Texas Tech could be licking their chops.

#19 Georgia (1-1) defeated South Carolina (1-1) 41-37 at home. Next week: At Arkansas.

LB Rennie Curran broke up Gamecock QB Stephen Garcia fourth-down pass from the 7-yard line with 22 seconds remaining, and the Bulldogs got away with the narrowest of victories. Georgia QB Joe Cox completed 70 percent of his passes for 201 yards and two scores. Oddly enough SC controlled the ball for nearly 10 more minutes and picked up 10 more first downs than the Dawgs.

#20 Cincinnati (2-0) defeated SE Missouri State (1-1) 70-3 at home. Next week:  At  #25 Oregon State (2-0)

What’s to say other than when Cincinnati was left off the preseason Top 25 polls, they might have been really upset.  The Bearcats have taken it out on their opponents, outscoring them 117-18 in two games. The offense racked up 578 yards of offense and the defense allowed 54 yards of rushing and 7 first downs. Ouch!

#21 North Carolina (2-0) defeated Connecticut (1-1) 12-10 at East Harford, CT. Next week: East Carolina (1-1)  at home.

Behind most of the game, the Tar Heels, Connecticut’s Dan Ryan was flagged for holding defensive end Robert Quinn in the end zone with 1:32 left in the game giving the No. 19 Tar Heels a safety and a 12-10 comeback win over the Huskies. The Huskies had led 10-0 going into the final quarter. North Carolina’s offense recorded 233 passing yards, compared to a mere 35 rushing yards.

#22 Miami (1-0) was idle.  Next week: #13 Georgia Tech (2-0) at home (Friday).

#23 Kansas (2-0) defeated UTEP (0-2) 34-7  at El Paso, TX.  Next week:  Duke (1-1) at home.

The Jayhawks accumulated 576 yards of offense, but what was surprising was that 255 of it was on the ground. QB Todd Reesing had his normal outstanding day going 25/41 for 260 yards and a TD, but RB Jake Sharp ran for 104 yards and scored three touchdowns. They also got two big punt returns from Daymond Patterson. UTEP managed only 4 yards rushing on the night.

#24 Michigan (2-0) defeated Notre Dame (1-1) 38-34 at home. Next week: Eastern Michigan (0-2) at home.

The Wolverines waited until the last possible second to put away the Irish. QB Tate Forcier’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Greg Mathews with 11 seconds left capped a game-winning drive that thwarted a 4th quarter comeback by Notre Dame.  Forcier was 23/33 for 240 yards and 2 TDs while RB Brandon Minor ran for 106 yards on 16 carries and a TD.

#25 Oregon State (2-0) defeated UNLV (1-1) 23-21 in Las Vegas. Next week: #20 Cincinnati (2-0) at home.

Beaver RB Jacquizz Rogers ran for 166 yards on 26 carries as Oregon State snuck by a pesky UNLV team. The Beaver offense generated almost 400 total yards, but the defense gave away 310.  Justin Kahut’s 33 yard FG with 0:07 on the clock completed the come back win.

Most impressive: USC, BYU, Cal, Cincinnati

Least impressive: Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, North Carolina.

Dropping out: Notre Dame, Missouri

On the Bubble: Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh

Top 25 Composition: SEC: 5, Big-12: 5; ACC: 4; Pac-10: 3; Big-10: 3; MWAC: 3; Big East: 1; WAC: 1.

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As we alluded earlier this week, the 12th week games showed many teams either resting or playing under-achievers.  While there were some lackadaisical performances,  there were few things to get excited about. As per usual, the bottom tier teams jostled around a bit, but overall, not much has changed.  But whoa boy wait till next week!

Here’s our top 25 for the12th week:

#1 Alabama (11-0). Defeated Mississippi State (3-8) 32-7. Next week: Idle. While Miss State had one the last two against an ailing Bama team, this outing was much different. The game started slow, and State was actually up 7-5 at one point. But this Tide team is much to good, everywhere, to keep the lid on for too long.  Alabama lingered around at 12-7 until Javier Arena returned a punt 80 yards to start the runaway. While the Tide offense took the night off for the most part, the defense  gets the game ball by holding Mississippi State to just nine first downs and 167 yards of total offense, and only 1.6 yards average per rush.

#2 Texas Tech (10-0). Did not play.  Next week: At #4 Oklahoma (9-1).

#3 Florida (9-1). Defeated #24 South Carolina 56-6 at home. Next week: The Citadel (4-7) at home. We’re almost sure that Florida could easily be the #1 team in the nation, and will eventually get there after the SEC Championship game, where they will almost certainly beat Alabama by 3-4 touchdowns. But for now, we’re left with the memories of a total annihilation of Spurrier’s Gamecocks. For the most part this game was close until  South Carolina played stupid for about 3 minutes toward the end of the 1st quarter and found themselves down 21-0. Two interceptions and a dump kickoff lateral play did the trick. We’re disappointed with Spurrier. Florida’s Percy Harvin, who could jump into the Heisman race this week, rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Right now we can’t see anyone that can beat Florida.

#4 Oklahoma (9-1). Did not play. Next week: #2 Texas Tech (10-0) at home.

#5. Texas (9-1). Defeated Kansas (6-5) 35-7 at Kansas. Next week: Idle. Kansas has been such a let down this year after a phenomenal BCS year last year. The Longhorns were up 14 at half and blew the 3rd quarter open with 21 Texas QB Colt McCoy passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 78 yards and a score.Texas’ fate is not in their control. They sit at #3 in the BCS Standings behind Alabama and Tech and just ahead of Florida. Texas must have a few complicated things happen if they are to get to a title game.  Tech has to lose to Oklahoma, and then OU must lose to Oklahoma State the following week, while Texas would need to beat A&M and then go to to Big-12 Championship and beat Missouri. Anything less probably punches their ticket to the Fiesta Bowl against Utah.

#6 USC (9-1). Defeated Stanford (5-6) 45-23 at Stanford. Next week: Idle. Well Stanford did their best to buck all the trends.  They scored 23, against a defense that has been averaging 4, and they stuck with the Trojans, mixing up their defense just enough to keep the SC offense sputtering. They were down only 24-17 going into the 4th Quarter, but by this time, the Cardinal defense was shot and tired. As such, the balanced USC offense kicked into gear for 21 4Q points to run away. Stafon Johnsons, USC RB  rushed 14 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score late in the third quarter. Stanley Havili caught a 50-yard TD pass from Mark Sanchez to give USC a 38-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter putting an un reconcilable distance between the Trojans and Stanford.  USC is in a unique situation that could get them to a National Championship, while losing the Pac-10.  If Oregon State wins out, and USC does also… and Texas, Oklahoma and Tech all lose, USC could possibly garner some points to get to the title game (its doubtful that this could happen tho, on many levels).

#7. Utah (11-0). Defeated San Diego State (1-10) 63-14 in San Diego. Next week: #15 Brigham Young (10-1) at home. This one was never in doubt, as we expected. Utah QB Brian Johnson threw for 283 yards and five touchdowns. Utah’s season is on the line against BYU next week.  A win by the Utes will get them, in all likelihood, to the Fiesta Bowl. A loss could throw the MWAC into a three way tie between Utah, BYU, and TCU.  This would really be disastrous for the MWAC, as most likely Boise State would get the non-BCS autobid, and then Ball State would be in line for a possible invitation to a BCS. All MWAC teams would go to thei respective bowl games (BYU to the Las Vegas Bowl, Utah to the Poinsettia Bowl, and TCU to the Armed Forces Bowl.  Ugh.

#8 Penn State (10-1). Defeated Indiana (3-8) 34-7 at home. Next week: #16 Michigan State (9-2) at home. As we predicted, the Nittany Lions were eager to get back home and put on a nice performance to prove that the Iowa loss was an irregularity. QB Daryll Clark passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns, while the PSU defense held Indiana to only six first downs. PSU needs only to beat Michigan State at home next week to seal a bid to the Rose Bowl. A loss, sends Ohio State.

#9 Ohio State (9-2). Defeated Illinois (5-6) 30-20 at Illinois.  Next week: Michigan (3-8) at home. Both Tyrellle Pryor and Beanie Wells ran for more than 100 yards in carrying the Buckeyes to an easy victory. Illinois scored a late TD to make the score more respectable.  OSU will be rooting for Michigan State next week in hopes of going to the Rose Bowl, otherwise, its probably the Capital One Bowl.

#10 Boise State (10-0). Defeated Idaho (2-9) 45-10 at Idaho. Next week: At Nevada (6-4). No problems, as expected against Idaho for Boise State. RB Jeremy Avery ran for 156 yards on 11 carries and 2 TDs.  BSU has Nevada and Fresno State, then waits to see what BCS Bowl they go to (Orange or Sugar most likely),

#11 Oklahoma State (9-2). Defeated Colorado (5-6) 30-17 in Colorado. Next week: Idle. The Cowboys come off their drubbing by Texas Tech, with a solid win over the Buffaloes on the road. QB Zac Robinson threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards and another score. The win marked the first time the Cowboys have had 9 wins in a season since 2003.  Unless something very unusual happens, OSU is probably headed for the Alamo Bowl, perhaps against Michigan State.

#12 Missouri (9-2). Defeated Iowa State (2-2) 52-20 at Ames, IA.  Next week: Idle. QB Chase Daniels was 32-of-40 passing for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Daniel’s two touchdowns gave him 102 total TDs for his career (92 passing, 10 rushing), tying him with Brad Smith for the Tigers’ all-time record.  More importantly, the win locks the Big-12 North title for them. The Tigers end their season in two weeks against Kansas.  They’ll wait patiently to see who they’ll play for the Big-12 Championship.

#13 Georgia (9-2). Defeated Auburn (5-6) 17-13 at Auburn. Next week: Idle. The Bulldogs escaped a come back victory by Auburn by the skin of their teeth. Auburn QB Kodi Burns overthrew RB Ben Tate in the end zone with one second left to allow Georgia to escape. Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno torched the Tigers for 134 yards and caught a touchdown pass. The Bulldogs are going through the motions right now, ending their season in two weeks against Georgia Tech.  The ‘dogs are eying a possible Cotton Bowl bid.

#14 TCU (9-2). Did not play. Next week: Air Force (8-3) at home. TCU needs the win over AF and for Utah to lose, to have a choice in bowl games.

#15 Brigham Young (10-1). Defeated Air Force (8-3) 38-24 at Air Force Academy, Colorado. Next week: At #7 Utah. QB Max Hall was 28 of 37 for 354 yards and 2 TDs while RB Harvey Unga had another 88 yards and 2 TDs. BYU’s super bowl comes next week as they will attempt to derail Utah’s chance for a BCS bid.

#16 Michigan State (9-2) did not play. Next week: At Penn State (10-1). Unfortunately, the Spartans can’t really play for anything definitive next week when they travel to Happy Valley. One month ago, MSU lost badly to Ohio State 45-7 which hurt their chances for a possible Rose Bowl berth.  However, anything can happen MSU must win and hope for a Michigan upset of Ohio State to gain that berth now.

#17 Ball State (10-0). Defeated Miami (OH) (2-8) 31-16 at Oxford, OH. Next week: At Central Michigan (8-2). QB Nate Davis threw for 289 yards and a TD, while RB MiQuale Lewis had 216 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs.  The Cardinals end up the next two weeks against their closest foes in the MAC West, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

#18 LSU (7-3). Defeated Troy (6-4) 40-31 at home. Next week: Ole Miss (6-4) at home. As the 3rd Quarter wound down to 2:00 left , the Tigers gazed at the scoreboard in disbelief, down to Troy 31-3. But Jarrett Lee, the much maligned QB led a 30 point 4th quarter comeback, taking advantage of a muffed punt and 3 turnovers along the way.  Lee, who was benhed in the first half, eventually went 20/34 for 216 yards and a TD. It was the largest come from behind victory at home for the Tigers in the history of the program.

#19 Pittsburgh (7-2). Did not play. Next week: At #20 Cincinnati. Show down time in the Big East next week. A win against Cincy next week would be the first step on a tough road to get the Big East Crown. They would still need to beat West Virginia and Connecticut in the following weeks.

#20 Cincinnati (8-2). Defeated Louisville (5-5) 28-20 at Louisville. Next week: #19 Pittsburgh (7-2) at home. We are constantly amazed how a team riddled with injuries can continue to flourish. The Bearcats get their 3rd conference win in a row by gutting out a 4th quarter TD with six minutes remaining.  Junior QB Tony Pike went 19/33 for 250 yards and  2 TDs as part of a 400+ yard offensive night. The Bearcats put it all on the line next week when then play Pittsburgh. A win there and win the following week against Syracuse, would hand Cincy the Big East Crown.

#21 Oregon (7-3). Defeated Arizona (6-4) 55-45 at home. Next week: Idle. The score looks close, but Oregon had a 45-17 halftime lead and cruised in the second half, though Arizona QB Willie Tuitama did his best to bring the Wildcats back, throwing for 2 TDs on a 328 yard night.  Oregon allowed Arizona 527 yards of total offense, but also put up 507 of its own. Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli threw for a career-high 298 yards and accounted for five Oregon touchdowns,  rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for two more, all in the first half. The Oregon-Oregon State finale could be a big one, should USC trip up and lose to either Notre Dame or UCLA.  That would put Oregon, Oregon State and USC at two losses.  A win by Oregon in the last week, would send them to the Rose Bowl under those circumstances.

#22 Miami (7-3). Defeated Virginia Tech (6-4) 16-14 at home. Next week: At Georgia Tech (7-3) Thursday. Randy Shannon’s team got a hard fought victory at home over the weekend, and in doing so, racked up their 5th straight win, 3 of which over conference opponents. Miami did the trick defensively, holding VT’s rushing game to a total of 77 yards, forcing them into an uncomfortable passing game. VT used both Glennon and Tyrod Taylor and still managed only 173 yards total for the game, Miami finishes with Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, the former of which will decide the ACC Coastal Division Champion.

#23 Oregon State (7-3). Defeated Cal (6-4) 34-21 at home. Next week: At Arizona (6-3). Cinderella Oregon State, who beat #6 USC early in the season, continues to roll on to a possible Rose Bowl bid. However, they will need lots more effort the last two weeks to do so. Getting by California this past week was a major step however. The Beavers did it on the ground, as they usually do. RB Jacquizz Rodgers chewed up 145 yards on the ground and got 1 TD.  The trouble facing Oregon State in the next 2 weeks is a road game to Arizona, and then home to Oregon, both teams playing well. Arizona has an excellent run defense, but not a particularly great passing defense. Oregon, has an amazing passing offense.  Both bode ominous for Oregon State.

#24 Maryland (7-3). Defeated #25 North Carolina (7-3)  17-15 at home. Next week: Florida State (7-3) at home. With the current condition of the ACC Atlantic, next week’s game with FSU should decide the division rep to the ACC Championship game. Both Florida State and Maryland have not been able to puta string of victories together. The Terps. however, scratched out a victory over previously favored NC through the gutsy play of QB Chris Turner who threw for only 141 yards but engineered a 19-play, 73-yard drive that led to the go-ahead field goal. By doing so, Maryland set a school record with its sixth consecutive win over a ranked opponent.

#25 Boston College (7-3). Defeated Florida State (7-3) 27-17 at FSU. Next week: At Wake Forest (6-4). Boston College gets into the T25 by virtue of beating Florida State. Well for right now. The Eagles intercepted FSU QB Christian Ponder three times, the fifth time this season they’ve forced at least three INTs in a game. BC back Montel Harris chewed up 121 yards on the ground to spark the Eagles offensive attack. By winning out against Wake and Maryland, the Eagles could really throw the Atlantic Division of the ACC  into a mess. Then it depends on what Florida State does.

Dropped Out: Florida State, Tulsa, South Carolina

On the Bubble: North Carolina (7-3), Florida State (7-3), Northwestern (8-3)

Most Impressive Teams: Florida, Miami

Least Impressive Teams: Florida State, North Carolina

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), SEC (4), Big-10 (3), Pac-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Big-East (2), MAC (1), WAC (1)

BCS Bowl Projections This Week:

National Title: Florida vs. Texas Tech

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC

Fiesta Bowl:  Utah vs. Texas

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State

Orange Bowl: Pittsburgh  vs.  Maryland

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Week 9 will be our first make or break week of the season. While we’ve had some key games already, this week tends to be a conglomeration of alot of pivotal games that quite literally could shape the rest of the season for all of CFB, as well as some teams.

So, lets get after it:

#1 Texas (7-0) hosting #9 Oklahoma State (7-0). After OKST “upset” Missouri, they turned alot of heads. We had pegged the Cowboys to be spoilers at least in the B12 this year, and they’ve certainly done that.  Now they’ll try to be even more  It’s safe to say that if OKST can beat Texas, that throws the whole B12-South into a mess. However, we don’t see this happening.  Why?  Well, all the things that went wrong for Missouri, just arent apt to happen at Texas. Colt McCoy isnt likely to be throwing 3 interceptions, and the Texas defensive line is apt to play a bit more havoc than Missouri’s did.  However, it might now be a runaway for once, and how Texas handles this aspect, could be interesting.  Texas does have a very vulnerable secondary that can be exploited.  The question is whether Zac Robinson will have time to throw.  OKST also relies on its running game to complement the pass, and Texas has good strong tackles to stop that. We look for a tight game, but in Austin, it’s nearly impossible to win in a close conference game.  Texas by 8.

#2 Alabama (7-0) at Tennessee (3-4). On paper this doesn’t look like much of a test for the Tide.  Nick Saban’s bunch has a habit of buckling down and winning, even if its not all that compelling. One thing we just hate though, is that Alabama is making a habit of playing down to the level of competition.  We’d like to think that Tennessee has a complete game in them somewhere, but they just haven’t proved it yet.  When the defense plays over its head, the offense just misfires and vice versa. So, we can’t really see much of a scenario of the Vols being competitive here, unless Tennessee plays the game of their life, and Bama is looking two weeks ahead to LSU…doubtful.  Alabama by 17.

#3 Oklahoma (6-1) at Kansas State (4-3). The Sooners have some issues to get by to get where they need to be.  The least of which is their special teams performance of late allowing WAY to many yards. The second, is the replacement of their LB Ryan Reynolds who fell victim to an season-ending knee injury. Thirdly, the team needs to get back to running the ball effectively, which they have failed to do in their last two outings. Lastly, they need to shore up what seems to be a very porous pass defense. Despite these things, OU has the talent and speed to contend. but they have to rely on two Texas losses between now and the end of the season…not likely. K-State has the capability to put up big numbers in the passing game with Freshman sensation Josh Freeman, but at the same time their defense gives up more than the offense scores. This isnt a real good situation, and should lead to an easy day for Bob Stoops’ crew.  Oklahoma by 24.

#4 Penn State (8-0) at Ohio State (7-1). Perhaps the game of the year with regard to bowl implications so far.  Penn State has been playing at a fairly high level all season, and performed up to expectations, if not exceeding them. However, this week’s game is without a doubt their toughest test. Ohio State has steadily improved each week since their thrashing by USC early on. Tyrelle Pryor has taken over the offense there and with a healthy Beanie Wells at RB, forged a very productive offense. However, at times they have been erractic…having to come from behind at the last minute to beat an underachieving Wisconsin, and only putting up 16 against a less than impressive Purdue. But then hanging 45 on a pretty good Michigan State team. The Nittany Lions lead with QB Daryll Clark who passes and runs effectively, and then pile on with RB Evan Royster.  They have a very balanced offense, and a really stubborn defense.  Its hard for us to pick one here, but with OSU #9 and PSU #2, we’re VERY comfortable to put this one on Upset Watch, tho we’re not sure that qualifies for the term.  Whoever wins this probably wins the Big-10 and at LEAST a trip to Rose Bowl. For Penn State, a victory could help them run the table to a possible title match. So what decides it?  Perhaps tradition? The Nittany Lions are looking to snap a 10-game road losing streak against ranked opponents and beat OSU in Columbus for the first time since 1978. The Buckeyes have won 12 of their last 13 conference home games against ranked opponents. With that on their side, we are edging toward the Buckeyes. Ohio State by 3.

#5 USC (4-1) at Arizona (5-2). The Trojans seem to have found their level against after their disastrous defeat at Oregon State. This is a top notch defensive team, but prone to allowing big runners to dominate them. The Trojans have outscored their opponents 141-10 since falling to Oregon State, while the Wildcats are riding high after taking out Cal last week. USC has won six straight over Arizona also.  We think this probably would be a rout if played in the Colliseum, but in Arizona, it might be another story. Against Cal. the Wildcat defense allowed 315 yards passing with simlar numbers in other games this year.  One thing that Arizona will try to do, is make USC one dimensional by stopping their running game, which they HAVE done well this year.  This game might be closer than everyone thinks, but we still like USC.  Trojans by 10.

#6 Texas Tech (7-0) at #20 Kansas (5-2). Heres maybe the biggest trap game for TTU this year. Next week they host Texas in what will probably decide the Big-12 South, so it might be easy to look past a #20 team. However, TTU has lots of problems that could come home to roost this week.  First, the defense has been allowing way to much yardage. They were much better last week against A&M, but turned the ball over twice and gave the Aggies 10 points. Secondly, the Tech defense must find a way to rush Todd Reesing or this game degenerates into an air show. What may decide the game is the kicking.  The Raiders have perhaps the worst T25 kicker, and maybe the worst in the country. Just this week Coach Leach actually pulled the winner of a kicking contest in for a tryout and decided to start HIM instead of his two scholarship players. Kansas has a very potent offense and an improving defense.  This one for SURE goes on Upset Watch, and we actually lean towards that upset. But, we’re hoping that the Raiders will prevail to set up the showdown with Texas.  Texas Tech by 7.

#7 Florida (5-1) hosting Kentucky (5-2). As much as we’d like to think this could be interesting, it probably wont. The Gators aim to continue their dominance of Kentucky and its at home in the Swamp. Florida, who comes off a bye week, has won 21 straight against the Wildcats. Kentucky, which is 3-24 in this series when the Gators are ranked, has not defeated a top-10 opponent on the road since beating No. 4 Penn State 24-20 in 1977. That kind of record bodes no good.  Gators by 18.

#8 Ohio State (7-1) hosting #4 Penn State (8-0). See above analysis.  Buckeyes by 3.

#9 Oklahoma State (7-0) at #1 Texas (7-0). See above analysis.  Texas by 8.

#10 Georgia (6-1) at #11 LSU (5-1). Here’s another huge game for both teams.  Both unexpectedly lost earlier in the season, and both humiliated.  Georgia has bounced back from the Alabama game, but LSU looks to find some face after being humbled by Florida two weeks ago. LSU has struggled all season with a consistent offense while Georgia has gradually improved. The loser of this game has a really tough hill to climb but certainly not out of it. A loss for LSU would be more catatrophic seing that Alabama is undefeated. Playing in Baton Rouge may make a difference, but we think that Georgia has too good an offense, and LSU doesn’t.  Edge to the Dawgs. Georgia by 9.

#11 LSU (5-1) hosting Georgia (6-1). See above analysis.  Georgia by 9.

#12 TCU (7-1) hosting Wyoming (2-5). Quite simply this is very good Horned Frog team, both offensively against a really bad Wyoming teams that averages less than 10 pts a game.  After TCU destroyed BYU last week, we can’t imagine what they’ll do against Wyoming.  Frogs by 31.

#13 Utah (8-0) does not play.

#14 Boise State (6-0) at San Jose State (5-2). BSU still is the cream of the WAC and they should have very little trouble disposing of SJS even though the Spartans are enjoying a very successful year. The key here will be defense. Points could be hard to come by for SJSU as they rank 94th in the country in scoring, while the Broncos rank 2nd in scoring defense.  Ouch.  Boise State by 17.

#15 Tulsa (7-0) hosting Central Florida (2-4). Tulsa quietly is building quite a name for itself this year. The game promises to be a contrast in offenses as Tulsa is No. 1 in the country at 56.6 ppg and UCF is No. 108 at 17.7. Tulsa QB David Johnson has one of the best passing rating in the country at 212.82 (266.5 last week against UTEP!) and 31 TDs this year!  Though UCF won twice last year, we’re pretty sure that won’t happen this year.  Tulsa by 14.

#16 Missouri (5-2) hosting Colorado (4-2). Two humbling losses by Oklahoma State and Texas have pretty much put Missouri out of any title chases, but they are still the name of the game in the Big-12 North. A loss to Colorado would necessiate drastic actions, but Colorado is only one game out.  Playing at home, its hard to think that the Tigers cant’ outscore an underperforming, inconsistent offense in Colorado. We like Missouri to get back on track this week, perhaps in a big way.  Tigers by 24.

#17 South Florida (6-1) at Louisville (4-2). This is a big game in the Big East. The Bulls’ only loss came at the hand of Pittsburgh, but both have 1 loss. UConn, Louisville, and West Virginia are all two-loss teams so USF doesnt want a part of that group right now. Playing in Louisville could certainly make things harder also since Papa John’s isn’t very cozy to visiting teams. The Bulls lead the all-time series with the Cardinals 3-2, winning the most recent matchup 55-17 at home Nov. 17. Both of South Florida’s losses to Louisville, however, have come on the road. These are the Big-East’s two best offenses, but we think that So Florida has the better defense.  Bulls by 6.

#18 Brigham Young (6-1) hosting UNLV (3-4). After being humiliated by TCU, the Cougars have to be feeling a bit down and out.  Fact was, they had been underperforming for a couple of weeks, and you could almost see the fall coming. Even so, there wont be much resistance when the Rebs come to town.  Look for BYU QB Max Hall to have a big day.  Cougars by 24.

#19 Florida State (5-1) hosting #23 Virginia Tech (5-2). Another pretty pivotal game at this point of the season. The ACC is the weakest we’ve seen in years, and to say these two teams make up the best might be close to true, but its hard to tell.  To be truthful, these two teams could switch place in the rankings and it might be just as right. FSU’s lone loss was to a now unranked Wake Forest, which VT has loses against ECU (remember them?) and last week at Boston College. So its anyone’s guess.  Last season the Hokies blew out the Seminoles, ending Bobby Bowden’s 15-0 run against Virginia Tech. The Seminoles lead the all-time series with the Hokies 21-11-1. We like FSU’s chances this year, but are putting this game on Upset Watch.  Seminoles by 4.

#20 Kansas (5-2) hosting #6 Texas Tech. See above (#6) for our analysis. Texas Tech by 7.

#21 Pittsburgh (5-1) hosting Rutgers (2-5). Pitt looks to strengthen their Big East standing by hosting the Scarlet Knights, in what should be a rather easy test.  Rutgers, from the git-go this season, just hasn’t found the success as in previous years.  They sorely miss a good running game and the defense has been humbled in almost every game.  There’s not much more to say.  Pitt by 21.

#22 Georgia Tech (6-1) hosting Virginia (4-3). GT has had a rejuvenation over the past few weeks and quietly here they are a 1-loss team leading the ACC Coastal. Virignia has no problem getting up for games and if they can play as well as the last three weeks (one of which was a 31-0 shutout of Maryland) then the Yellow Jackets will have their hands full.  This game also goes on the Upset Watch list, with us edging toward GT.  Georgia Tech by 3.

#23 Virginia Tech (5-2) at # 19 Florida State (5-1). See analysis above. FSU by 4.

#24 Michigan State (6-2) at Michigan (2-5). We can’t figure out why both polls dropped MSU in favor of unproven teams. They did get dominated by OSU, but dropping them out seems a bit ridiculous. Now going to Ann Arbor, won’t be a walk in the park, but MSU has plenty enough talent to take care of the Wolverines, unless there is a total breakdown somewhere. Michigan has been vulnerable against the run all year and with Javon Ringer doing those honors, this could mean a long day for Michigan.  Spartans by 10.

#25 Ball State (7-0) hosting Eastern Michigan (2-6). The Cardinals are led by QB Nate Davis, the nation’s 9th-leading passer. Eastern Michigan is 0-3 versus Top 25 squads since 2002. We’ll take Ball State in a runaway.  Cardinals by 18.

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Well, it just goes to show you that you have to play em all. The top 10 (and the top 25) turned itself on end this week with some very impressive performances as well as some important upsets. Lack of performance by others added to the mix.

In the marquee game, Texas and Oklahoma battled hard offensively, producing the most points scored in the series. Texas, however, pulled away late, being able to take advantage of a late Sam Bradford interception. As far as OU is concerned, their defense dropped off perceptibly after their MLB went out with a season-ending knee injury.  It’s hard to tell if the sub will be fine in the long run (likely) or if their defense is permanently reduced to merely above average.  We certainly never envisioned Texas putting up 45 on ‘em.  McCoy played probably the best game of his life at just the right time.  OU could find themselves in that odd position Kansas did last year; a one loss-top ten team but not even in the conference title game.

The Mizzou outcome surprised us, though we knew their defense scared no one.  We had expected the Tigers to win a 48-35 kind of game, kinda like Texas-OU turned out. But kudos to Coach Gundy and his QB Zac Robinson for exploting the Tiger defense where Illinois couldn’t in week one, and forcing Chase Daniel into a gunslinger mode, rather than the calm, cool Heisman candidate.

In another key matchup, Penn State did take care of business in Wisconsin, winning a critical road game over the Badgers to get to 7-0. Coach Paterno, even from the booth seems to still have it goin on!. Interesting to note that in his first 18 games, Coach Bielema was 17-1; since then he’s 7-7.  That has all the earmarks of not being able to sustain the recruiting level.  He’ll finish out this year, and probably be fine next year as well, but if he keeps coaching .500 ball after that, it’s gonna get uncomfortable in Madison.

Where did MissSt muster enough offense to score 17?  LSU got a wake up call.  While one of their DE’s stayed home with injury, the rest of the defense was there & held Tebow in check from a running standpoint.  But Fla finally got enough contributions from others to bust out offensively, limited the turnovers, and revealed the Bayou Bengal offense to be…well…merely above average.  That’s one trend you can’t tell about by getting to see them once or twice a year; their defense quite often gives them a short field, so you don’t know if the offense can regularly sustain long drives.  Turns out they can’t, at least against a really good defense.

Oh, and while they aren’t anyone’s idea of a Top 25 threat, note that Ol’ Miss upset a Top 25 team for the second consecutive week.  Houston Nutt continues to convert new disciples to the Rebel cause, while Razorback fans spend yet another week trying to remember what it was about him they didn’t like.

On a bit of a somber note, Cinderella-would-be Vanderbilt was unable to go 6-0 for the first time since 1928, as they lost to Mississippi State.

So, on to the new rankings. When so many things happen in one week, it causes all of us pollsters to give a thought about the state of things overall, and re-evaluate. We are sure that many of you will have a couple of eyebrows curl, but keep in mind that when so much happens in one week, and the BCS rankings iminent, its time for everyone to re-evaluate and re-rank according to where we are right now.

#1 Texas (6-0). Defeated #4 Oklahoma (5-1) 45-35 in Dallas. Next week: #11 Missouri at home. We’ll admit that the Longhorns are much better than we ever thought they’d be this year. We’ll also admit that we must begin to think of the combo of Colt McCoy, Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley, might be superior to anything that Missouri or Texas Tech or anyone else can put up. Credit also the Texas Defense in rising to the occasion when it had to. Too many losses in the top 5 make Texas’ ascension natural.

#2 Alabama (6-0). Did not play. Next week: Mississippi (3-3) at home. Well, with the implosion by Missouri, the Crimson Tide can stay here for another week, but we’re still skeptical.

#3 Penn State (7-0). Defeated Wisconsin (3-3) 48-7 in Wisconsin. Next week: Michigan (2-4) at home. for those of you (and you know who you are) that have been waiting for the Nittany Lions to play a tough team on the road, I wonder if this might qualify? While we don’t think that Wisconsin is anywhere near a top 25 team, they were ranked high earlier, and with P.J. Hill, always are a threat. In this game however, it was perhaps one of the most impressive performances overall by a top 10 team we’ve seen this year. Daryll Clark was 16/25 for 244 yards and a TD, and added two more rushing TDs.

#4 Oklahoma (5-1). Lost to Texas (6-0) 45-35 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Next week: #15 Kansas at home. Despite a 387-yard passing day by Sam Bradford, the Sooners can’t stop Texas. The OU Defense needs much improvement. This is still a very dominant team, and good enough to get to the title game despite the loss.

#5 Brigham Young (6-0). Defeated New Mexico (3-4) 21-3 at home. Next week: At #22 TCU (6-1). BYU was business-like in disposing of New Mexico, with QB Max Hall going 22/34 for 258 yards. Slightly underachieving by the Cougars, but there was never any doubt in the game.

#6 USC (4-1). Defeated Arizona State (2-4) 28-0 at home. Next week: At Washington State (1-5). In a game marred by 9 turnovers (5 by USC), the Trojans dominated and throttled the Sun Devils in every possible way. All in all it was a bit of a lackluster performance, but ASU has fallen so far, it was not only a poor game, it was a low energy game also. Sanchez, who was questionable for most of the week, was 13/26 for 179 yards but three interceptions. The Stars of the game were the USC defense who perhaps played the best game of their year.

#7 Florida (5-1). Defeated #12 LSU (4-1) 51-21 at home. Next week: Bye. The Gator offense finally erupted, and did so in a major way against an inept LSU Tiger team. The once defensive juggernaut of LSU had no answer to the vicious assault of a well balance offensive attack. Tebow pulled a modest 14/21 for 210 yards, while Freshman RB Jeffrey Demps ran for 129 yards and scored on a 42-yd run. With a rejuvenated offense, and Kentucky and Georgia still on the schedule, who would have thought that the Gators could still make a run at the SEC East and perhaps a title.

#8 Texas Tech (6-0). Defeated Nebraska (3-3) 37-31 in overtime at home. Next week: Texas A&M (2-4) at home. The Raiders move down, yes down, following what we thought was a pure lucky win, and a scary defense that merits their drop more. The pure magnitude of how Nebraska dominated the Tech defense was remarkable. The Raiders, giving up 471 yards of offense, had no defensive answers, except a gimme interception in overtime that sealed the win. Graham Harrell was 20/25 for 284 yards (we can’t remember the last time he threw for less than 300) and Michael Crabtree had 89 yards receiving and 2 TDs.  We think that Coach Leach needs to teach his high-power offense how to be a defensive weapon by staying on the field longer so that his D won’t be gassed at the end of the game. One thing is for sure, however, if Tech doesn’t find a defense, they’ll finish 4th in the Big-12 South and way out of the top 25. Oh by the way, get rid of Corona…easily the worst kicker in the country.

#9 Ohio State (6-1). Defeated Purdue (2-4) 16-3 at home. Next week: At #17 Michigan State (6-1). OSU had a hit and miss offense, but the defense was solid and special teams got a blocked punt returned for a touchdown to allow the Buckeyes

#10 Georgia (5-1). Defeated Tennessee (2-4) 26-14 at home. Next week: #23 Vanderbilt (5-1) at home. The Bulldogs generated over 450 yards of total offense, and though the Volunteers defense got 2 interceptions of Matt Stafford, the Georgia offense was too much. The Dawg defense held Tenn to 209 total yards.

#11 Missouri (5-1). Lost to #12 Oklahoma State (6-0) 28-23 at home. Next week: At #1 Texas. Watching this game was truly painful. We’ve been harping on the fact that in week 1 Illinois exposed a very vulnerable Missouri defense. Each week, Missouri has been scoring enough to win, but this was the first quality opponent since the Illini, and our doubts still aren’t allayed. Cowboy QB Zac Robinson used a variety of receivers to pick apart the Mizzou defense. Chase Daniels had a statistically significant night going 39/52 for 390 yards, but had three interceptions.

#12 Oklahoma State (6-0). Defeated #11Missouri (5-1) 28-23 in Columbus. Next week: Baylor (3-3) at home. We commented above on the game above, and we’ll see which team goes up in the next few weeks

#13 LSU (4-1). Lost to #8 Florida (5-1) 51-21. Next week: At South Carolina (5-2). See above under #8 Florida. Not a great night for LSU.

#14 Utah (7-0). Defeated Wyoming (2-5) 40-7 at Wyoming. Next week: Colorado State (3-3) at home. The Cowboys came into the game averaging 9 points per game, and they underachieved. Utah was perhaps one of the few top 25 teams to do exactly what was expected. Statistically it was a draw however, with the Cowboys actually out gaining the Utes in total offense. However, they gave up 2 fumbles and 3 interceptions that helped the runaway Ute train.

#15 Kansas (5-1). Defeated Colorado (3-3) 30-14 at home. Next week: At #4 Oklahoma (5-1). Todd Reesing again had to rally the Jayhawks from an early deficit. However, this one was much less (7 points). The KU QB was 27/34 for 256 yards, a TD and no interceptions. Jayhawk RB Jake Sharp had 119 yards on 31 carries and 3 TDs.

#16 Boise State (5-0). Defeated Southern Mississippi (2-4) 24-7 at So Miss. Next week: Hawaii at home (Friday). BSU QB Kellen Moore threw three touchdown passes leading the Broncos to an easy win, with a scoring flurry in the second quarter. There’s not alor more to say, except that Southern Mississippi fell to 1-8 all-time at home against ranked teams.

#17 Michigan State (6-1). Defeated Northwestern (5-1) 37-20 at Northwestern. Next week:#10 Ohio State (6-1). Despite 459 yards of total yards by the previously undefeated Northwestern Wildcats, MSU took advantage of 3 turnovers and a 124 yard performance by Javon Ringer (2 TDs) to pace the victory.

#18 Virginia Tech (5-1). Did not play. Next week: At Boston College (4-1).

#19 South Florida (5-1). Did not play. Next week: Syracuse (1-5) at home.

#20 North Carolina (5-1). Defeated Notre Dame (4-2) 29-24 at home. Next week: At Virginia (3-3). We can only say that this was an epic win for NC over a much improved Notre Dame team. The Tar Heels had to rally from a 17-9 halftime deficit, and then survive a last minute drive that came down to a recovered fumble to end the game. Quan Sturdivant had the momentum-changing 32-yard interception return to start the third quarter, only to be answered by a TD by the Irish. NC scored the winning TD at the beginning of the 4th quarter and their defense held on.

#21 Wake Forest (4-1). Defeated Clemson (3-3) 12-7 at home. Next week: At Maryland (4-2). There was a thought in putting the Demon Deacons into the top 25 last week, but we just couldn’t do that on a loss. The fact is that WF has played solidly every week and sports a mean, fast defense. QB Riley Skinner has had his ups and downs, but certainly his 4th quarter leadership and TD makes up for alot of ills. We’re still not seein a clear cut leader in the ACC, but at least defensively the Deacons have got to be at the top.

#22 TCU (6-1). Defeated Colorado State (3-3) 13-7 in Fort Collins. Next week: #5 Brigham Young (6-0) at home. In a less than inspiring performance, TCU found a way to put up 317 yards of total offense and only 13 points. Turnovers seemed to keep the game score low (2 for TCU and 3 for CSU).

#23 Vanderbilt (5-1). Lost to Mississippi State (2-4) 17-14 in Starkville, MS. Next Week: At #10 Georgia. As previously mentioned, the Commodores couldn’t snuff the 80 year old curse and go 6-0. This was a game where Vandy could only manage 107 yards of total offense, and MSU still only won by three. Two costly interceptions hurt scoring efforts.

#24 California (4-1). Did not play. Next week: At Arizona (4-2).

#25 Tulsa (6-0). Did not play. Next week: UTEP (3-3) at home. With the drop out of a couple of teams, its gotten down to looking for teams to fill the lower places, and Tulsa has it locked here.  We like the Golden Hurricanes a bit more than Pitt (4-1) and Ball State (7-0) right now, though that could change in a heartbeat.

Dropped from Top 25: Auburn, Wisconsin.

On the Bubble: Pitt (4-1), Ball State (7-0), Minnesota (6-1).

Most impressive: Texas, Florida, Oklahoma State

Least impressive: Texas Tech, LSU

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (6), SEC (5), Big-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Pac-10 (2), WAC (1), Big East (1), C-USA (1).

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