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Posts Tagged ‘UNLV’

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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