Virginia Tech-Miami game could have big implications
Posted: Tuesday November 1, 2005 10:26AM; Updated: Tuesday November 1, 2005 12:46PM
Freshman George Bell carried 13 times for 52 yards in Virginia Tech's win over BC.
It was around this time last season that the call began for pollsters to move Auburn ahead of Oklahoma as the No. 2 team. Is a Texas-Virginia Tech controversy on the horizon?
As you may recall, the Sooners endured consecutive close calls against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in late October and early November, two shootouts that first exposed OU's shaky defense (the tapes of which USC clearly spent some time studying before the Orange Bowl). The Tigers, having shown no such weaknesses to that point, were dominating one SEC foe after another. These Power Rankings eventually moved Auburn all the way to No. 1.
Hokies fans aren't exactly raising hell yet, but if their team handles Miami this weekend -- and particularly if Tech does it in convincing fashion -- you can expect them to begin campaigning even more vociferously than Auburn fans did last year. And they'll certainly have a valid argument. Virginia Tech hasn't been remotely tested since its opener at N.C. State. No one who watched the Hokies' 30-10 rout of Boston College last Thursday could have come away unimpressed. Tech's defense was absolutely dominant, holding the Eagles to 183 total yards, while QB Marcus Vick (22-of-28 passing, 280 yards) played his best game yet.
There's only one problem: Texas hasn't had its Oklahoma moment yet. One bad half last weekend is hardly a reason to drop a team that won by 19 and has crushed all its other conference opponents, including Texas Tech (which is at about the same level as BC). Plus, Texas has the ultimate trump card: It went on the road in September and beat top-10 Ohio State.
My impression is that the Longhorns and Hokies are pretty darn similar. Tech seems to have a slightly more dominant defense, while Vick, as good as he is, isn't yet at Vince Young's level. The teams' offensive skill players pretty much cancel each other out.
It's going to be an awfully tough call if both keep winning, but Tech has a golden opportunity to make a statement this weekend.
Uh oh, the Trojans have a defense after all. Washington State came into last weekend's game putting up huge offensive numbers in a string of close Pac-10 losses, but the Cougars, after two long Jerome Harrison runs in the first quarter, never got anything going the rest of the way. Next game: Saturday vs. Stanford.
Amid all of the Longhorns' other offensive weapons, it's easy to forget they still have one of the nation's top pass-catching tight ends, David Thomas. Lost in the shuffle much of the season, Thomas was Vince Young's favorite target last Saturday, catching six passes for 104 yards and a score. Next game: Saturday at Baylor
The Hokies have so many great defensive players -- DE Darryl Tapp, CB Jimmy Williams, LB Xavier Adibi -- but the one to keep an eye on against Miami is LB Vince Hall. Tech's leading tackler and top run-stopper will likely play a key role if the Hokies are able to slow down 'Canes RB Tyrone Moss. Next game: Saturday vs. Miami.
Offensive coordinator Tom Cable blamed the Bruins' lackluster start against Stanford -- make that, lackluster three-and-a-half quarters -- on an injury-riddled offensive line that was missing senior center Mike McCloskey. "I would say we were really, really bad up front," Cable told the L.A. Times. Next game: Saturday at Arizona.
The Crimson Tide used their "bye week" against Utah State to fine-tune their passing game, and it's apparent D.J. Hall (11 catches, 157 yards, one TD) is Brodie Croyle's new big-play receiver. Remember, Hall caught the 43-yard pass on 'Bama's game-winning drive against Tennessee. Next game: Saturday at Mississippi State.
The Nittany Lions' three-spot jump this week has very little to do with their 33-15 win over struggling Purdue. It's a reflection of my opinion that Penn State is the best one-loss team in the country -- one that happened to lose more recently than LSU -- and I made the appropriate adjustment. Next game: Saturday vs. Wisconsin.
While the Tigers' defense has improved by leaps and bounds over the course of the season, LSU fans have to be wondering even more now than they did at the time -- how the heck did they lose that Tennessee game? The Vols' offense hasn't moved the ball against anyone decent since. Next game: Saturday vs. Appalachian State.
In retrospect, I was a little too harsh on the 'Canes in the Weekend Rewind. Kyle Wright's poor first half against North Carolina probably had a little something to do with playing his first game in a month against someone besides Duke or Temple. Plus, Miami's defense was scary in the second half. Next game: Saturday at Virginia Tech.
It's official: Charlie Weis is the most celebrated, highest-paid 5-2 head coach in the history of football. While Weis' new 10-year contract was largely a p.r. move to deter NFL rumors, Tyrone Willingham, who actually started 8-0 in South Bend, has to be scratching his head yet again. Next game: Saturday vs. Tennessee.
Last Saturday's 45-31 win over Minnesota marked the Buckeyes' most impressive offensive performance since last year's Michigan game. RB Antonio Pittman carried 23 times for 186 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown, and QB Troy Smith threw touchdowns of 41, 30 and 27 yards. Next game: Saturday vs. Illinois.