Posted: Wednesday September 14, 2005 12:22PM; Updated: Wednesday September 14, 2005 6:53PM
Submit a question or an opinion to Stewart.
Given FSU's second-half showcase of offensive firepower against The Citadel (yes, I know, The Citadel), do you think the 'Noles have what it takes to get the wheels rolling against Boston College this weekend? --Neal Holland, Pensacola Beach, Fla.
Did you ever think you'd see the day that Florida State fans would use a performance against The Citadel as a gauge of anything? Ever since writing a critical (and, as anyone unaffiliated with either school would agree, deserved) column about the quality of play in the 'Noles-Miami game, I've been inundated with e-mails from FSU fans who are clearly suffering from a severe case of denial. All of the notes say something to the effect of, "Hey, moron, we were playing Miami's defense." (In fairness to Neal, his did not fall into this category.) Earth to the people of Tallahassee: Miami's defense is good, but the '05 'Canes are hardly the '85 Bears. They're hardly even the usual Miami defense. I didn't see any Sean Taylors or Jonathan Vilmas running around out there, did you?
The BC defense you'll be seeing this weekend may not be as fast, but it could be more physical. It will be a tough matchup that could go either way. FSU has the better athletes, but BC has more experience at key positions, including an extraordinary pass-rusher (Mathias Kiwanuka) who could give Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee fits. If the 'Noles win, it will be because their defense dominates the Eagles' offense and/or BC is unable to slow down FSU's running backs. If, however, LB Brian Toal and the Eagles are successful in forcing the 'Noles to beat them with the pass, it could be a long day for Bobby and Jeff Bowden.
A lot of talk has been made as to where the Saints will play this season due to the destruction to the Superdome. Since it seems as though no football will ever be played in the Superdome again, has there been any talk as to where the Sugar Bowl will be played this season and from now on? --Chris, Vokel, The Netherlands
There hasn't been much official discussion yet, mainly because the Sugar Bowl staff itself, like other New Orleans residents, has been displaced around the country (executive director Paul Hoolahan has relocated his family to Houston). Both Hoolahan and BCS officials would prefer to keep the game in Louisiana, which would make Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge the logical alternative, but that might not be feasible. The city is already bulging with upwards of 200,000 transplanted refugees; can it really handle another 80,000 out-of-town fans for a week? However, all parties are proceeding cautiously before making any official decisions. Jan. 2 is still a long ways away, and who's to say Baton Rouge won't be able to handle it by then? If not, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla., have all expressed interest in hosting the game.
As for the long-term implications, officials are waiting for the official damage assessment before dismissing the Superdome for good. As one BCS official told me, initial reports that the stadium would have to be torn down were "purely speculative b.s." The fact is, no one knows whether it's possible or, if it is, how long it will take to restore either the dome or the city of New Orleans' infrastructure. Therefore it's way too early to say what will be the Sugar Bowl's ultimate future.
Why is Arkansas' Houston Nutt not on the "hot seat?" It seems to me that all he has ever done is beat Texas twice and lose to Vandy at home on parents' weekend. --Andrew, Dallas
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wasn't it just the other day that Arkansas and Nebraska were waging a bidding war for his services? Man, do they turn on you in a hurry these days. Admittedly, the Razorbacks have been going through a bit of a rough stretch since last season. But in the six seasons before that (1998-'03), Arkansas had the best record in the SEC West. The Hogs went to six straight bowl games -- three of them on New Year's Day -- after reaching just two in the eight seasons before his arrival. So with all due respect, I'm willing to cut the guy a little slack for losing to Vandy. And hey, I'm sure you will too after the Commodores wind up going 9-2 this year.
Good call on Michigan being overrated. So who will be exposed next? I'll go with Tennessee or Louisville. --John, Arcadia, Calif.
Thanks for pointing out what may be the only thing about this season I've figured right so far. Both the Vols and Cardinals certainly looked vulnerable in their openers, but I'm not ready to rule out either yet, certainly not when Tennessee has a chance to redeem itself in a huge way this weekend.
Instead, continuing with the Big Ten-gets-humbled theme of last week, I'll go with Purdue. Now that Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa have lost, I've had several people ask me whether the Boilermakers are now the team to beat in the Big Ten. Just a hunch, but here's guessing that talk will end this weekend after Purdue gets upset in Tucson by much-improved Arizona.
USC, Texas and LSU all have solid teams that could go undefeated this year. If all three of these teams remain unbeaten, it appears LSU will be left out of the championship game because of the way the preseason voting started. Do you think USC and Texas deserve to play for the championship based on their schedules? --Jeremy Walker, Baton Rouge, La.
I know it's early, but I think Virginia Tech will be undefeated at the end of the season. They have their toughest games in Blacksburg. If three teams are undefeated, are the Hokies left out in the cold as far as the national championship is concerned? --Matthew, Alexandria, Va.
No, no, no. I can see where this is headed and I'm cutting it off at the pass. I know everyone's a little edgy after the whole USC-Oklahoma-Auburn situation last season, but I hereby decree, by the powers vested in me by the Mailbag authorities (me), that no fan should be allowed to pull out the "what if my team gets left out?" card until they've started at least 8-0. Everyone needs to just chill out, go find the nearest football coach available and let him give you a "take it one game at a time" speech.