Hawkeyes resemble "Luckeyes," more mail (cont.)
Is Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh still a Heisman candidate? How could he not be? Despite two straight losses in, the man is utterly dominant.
He absolutely, positively should be -- but the Huskers' horrific offense isn't exactly aiding what was already a long-shot bid to become the first defensive tackle to win a Heisman. Presumably, you saw that Nebraska suffered a humiliating, eight-turnover performance in a 9-7 home loss last week to Iowa State in which the most memorable image came after the game. What you wouldn't know unless you watched the game live or took the time to examine the box score was that Suh recorded eight tackles, a sack, three quarterback hurries and, much like Alabama's Terrence Cody, two blocked kicks.
These are absurd statistics for an interior linemen, but Suh's been doing the same thing all year. He leads his team in tackles (44), tackles for loss (10), sacks (four), quarterback hurries (12) and pass breakups (seven). By point of comparison, Cody, no slouch himself, has recorded 17 tackles, five tackles for loss, no sacks, one quarterback hurry and two pass breakups. That's not an indictment of Cody; most defensive tackles do their best work anonymously. But it shows just how ridiculously dominant a player Suh has been.
But obviously, it's going to be much harder for him to gain traction now that Nebraska has three losses and is completely off the national radar. The same is true of another eye-opening standout from a three loss team ...
Hey Stewart, after watching C.J. Spiller's amazing performance against Miami on Saturday, I was wondering how his stats compared to those of Desmond Howard (1991 winner) and Reggie Bush's (2005) seven games into their Heisman seasons?
Good question. Spiller, who amassed a school-record 310 all-purpose yards against the 'Canes on Saturday, currently averages a national-best 207.9 all-purpose yards per game. He's returned there kickoffs for touchdowns as well as a punt, and, perhaps most impressively of all, he's scored at least one touchdown of 60-plus yards in every game he's played this season.
I did some digging for you, Kevin. Believe it or not, Bush's production through seven games in '05 was nearly identical -- 203.1 per game. Howard's was a more modest 159.9, though he'd already racked up 14 receiving touchdowns. Both played their most memorable games toward the end of the season -- Bush's monstrous night against Fresno State (294 rushing yards, 135 kickoff yards, 68 receiving yards) and Howard's career-defining 93-yard punt return against Ohio State. For Spiller to have a chance, he'd probably need to produce a few more Miami-type games, and the Tigers would need to win the ACC championship game with at least one huge Spiller play.
I know you hate people whining about bad calls, but if Terrence Cody doesn't get flagged for excessive celebration at the end of the 'Bama-Vols game, shouldn't the SEC retroactively award UGA the game I won against LSU? I mean, fair is fair.
Hey A.J. Thanks for writing in. Glad to see you're a Mailbag reader. Naming you to our Midseason All-America Team last week didn't happen to prompt this e-mail, did it?
I regret to inform you, however, that the difference between your admittedly unwarranted flag and the non-call on Cody for removing his helmet is that there was no time left on the clock after the end of the play, therefore there was no "next play" onto which to tack a penalty. I can understand your confusion, however. Lane Kiffin didn't seem to know or care about this technicality during his now-standard postgame gripe-fest. Maybe you read his comments. Some advice: don't. Quite frankly, I'm not sure at this point whether he knows any football rules.
I know I'm a homer, but stuff like this really has me scratching my head about the rankings. Oregon's one loss came in the first game of the year on the road against a top 10 team. USC's one loss also came on the road, but against an unranked Washington team that the Ducks obliterated, albeit missing their starting quarterback. Heck, even LSU has a gripe here, having only lost to Florida but joining Oregon on the outside looking in at all the undefeated teams. But there's USC and its blemish record ranked No. 4. What gives?
As you can imagine, I get a gazillion e-mails just like this every week, but for some reason this one caught my attention. As a detached observer of the polls, you'd be hard-pressed to find fault with Brian's logic as to why the Ducks should be rated higher than the Trojans. Even Pete Carroll agrees. But here's the problem with a question like this: It fails to acknowledge that most pollsters do not start with a blank piece of paper each week and rank 25 teams. Most pollsters use their previous week's ballot as a launching point for the next one. Sometimes, there's no particular stat or argument that explains why one team is ranked above another. More likely, it's a matter of chronology.
So in this case, to understand why USC is currently ranked fourth and Oregon 10th in the AP poll, our best bet is to simply retrace the voters' steps.
Preseason: USC enters the year ranked fourth, Oregon 16th.
Sept. 3: The Ducks lose on opening night at No. 14 Boise State and the whole country sees a display of offensive ineptitude. Between that and the LeGarrette Blount incident, Oregon makes the worst possible first impression. The Ducks fall out of the poll the next week.
Sept. 19: A week after winning at Ohio State, the Trojans lose at Washington, itself one week removed from a 15-game losing streak. The voters respond by dropping USC nine spots, from third to 12th, which, while harsh, is still less than they dropped Oregon for losing to a top 15 team.
Sept. 24-26: Four teams ahead of USC -- No. 4 Ole Miss, No. 5 Penn State, No. 6 Cal and No. 9 Miami -- all lose on the same weekend, allowing the Trojans to immediately jump back up to No. 7 (they also pass idle Oklahoma). Oregon, on the strength of an unexpected 42-3 rout of Cal, jumps back into the poll at No. 16.
Oct. 3: USC also clobbers Cal but stays in the same spot. The Ducks move up another three spots (bypassing Penn State and Oklahoma State) after clobbering Washington State.
Oct. 10: No. 4 LSU is the only top 15 team to lose this weekend (to No. 1 Florida). USC passes the Tigers, moving up one spot to No. 6. Oregon stays at No. 13.
Oct. 17: No. 4 Virginia Tech and No. 7 Ohio State lose. USC beats Notre Dame and moves up two spots to No. 4, leapfrogging Boise State. Idle Oregon moves up a spot to No. 12.
Oct. 24: No. 4 USC beats Oregon State and holds down its same spot. Oregon crushes Washington for its sixth straight win and moves up two spots to No. 10.
So there you have it. The short answer: USC started much higher than Oregon, both took big tumbles following their losses and both have since climbed back up. This weekend they'll play each other and render this entire topic moot.
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