Denard does it again, Virginia Tech torpedoes Boise; more Snaps
Denard Robinson is both a decent quarterback and the nation's best running back
Hokies' loss to James Madison may torpedo Boise's credibility, title-game hopes
Steve Spurrier should be feeling pretty good about his team's 2010 prospects
I'm still not sure what Michigan's 28-24 win over Notre Dame tells us about either team, other than that the two are fairly evenly matched. But here is what I do know: Denard Robinson is a difference-maker.
I know. I know. I said all this a year ago about Tate Forcier. (Here's the column; I'll save you the trouble of Googling.) But with Robinson, the numbers are pretty indisputable.
Saturday, he threw for 244 yards and a touchdown and ran for 258 yards and two touchdowns (RECAP | BOX). In the season's first two weeks, Robinson has thrown for 430 yards and two touchdowns and run for 455 yards and three touchdowns (eight-yard average). That makes him a combination of a decent quarterback and the nation's best running back.
In South Bend, Robinson proved he can come through in the clutch. He coolly marched Michigan down the field, converting with his feet on fourth-and-inches and with his arm on a third-and-five in the red zone. Robinson clinched the win with a two-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds remaining.
How long Robinson can keep this up remains to be seen. He has carried 57 times so far this season. That number will probably will drop for Michigan's next three games (UMass, Bowling Green, at Indiana), because he shouldn't have to carry the Wolverines. But the back end of Michigan's schedule is downright surly, and anyone who tries to run 30 times a game against Michigan State, Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin or Ohio State is either bionic or getting broken.
During these next three games, Robinson and the Wolverines will have a chance to find other playmakers. If that happens, Robinson could be even more dangerous when the Wolverines return to the varsity portion of their schedule.
On Saturday against Florida State, Oklahoma looked like the team guru Phil Steele picked as his national champ.
The Sooners shook off the defensive issues that plagued them against Utah State last week, limiting the Seminoles to one non-garbage time touchdown. Meanwhile, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones threw for 380 yards and looked like a man in command of his offense (RECAP | BOX).
Oklahoma still has to face Air Force and play at Cincinnati, but the Red River Rivalry will regain its usual national title implications if the Sooners keep playing like this.
On the other side, Florida State contributed mightily to a dismal day for the ACC, with Virginia Tech losing to an FCS team, Georgia Tech losing to a team (Kansas) that lost to an FCS team last week and Miami getting manhandled in Columbus. The way things are going for the conference today, Virginia players might want to see if there is a flight leaving LAX before they have to kick off at USC tonight.
If you read this space often, you know I believe Boise State has found the loophole in the BCS system that could allow a non-AQ team to play for the national title. Get ranked high to start the season. Beat one or two good teams. Play garbage the rest of the way. Hope everyone else loses.
There is only one potential catch. The team that uses that gambit is handcuffed to the one or two good teams it plays. And if those teams turn out to be mediocre or downright bad, then the BCS title game becomes much tougher to reach.
Which brings us to Saturday. Five days after the Broncos appeared to assert their legitimacy with a win against Virginia Tech in Landover, Md., the Hokies went out and lost, 21-16, to James Madison (RECAP | BOX).
By losing to an FCS team, the Hokies essentially destroyed Boise State's credibility. I still believe Boise State could beat any team except Alabama (which is why I have Boise State ranked No. 2), but anyone who was on the fence about the Broncos is now squarely in the camp that considers Boise State a fraud. For all the BCS-conference fans who believe Boise State shouldn't make the title game without playing a tougher schedule, Saturday's win is James Madison's best contribution to America since the school's namesake -- then Secretary of State -- helped broker the Louisiana Purchase.
Unless Virginia Tech rebounds and wins out, this loss will make it difficult to gauge where the Broncos should be ranked going forward. They play Oregon State on Sept. 25, and the Beavers are a potential contender for the Pac-10 title, but Oregon State already has lost to TCU. That doesn't bode well for Boise State.
So the Broncos will have to hope for 2007-style chaos in the upper reaches of the polls, and they'll have to throttle all their remaining opponents to earn style points. But even that may not be enough now.
The Broncos took Saturday off after beating Virginia Tech. Maybe the Hokies should have done the same. By failing to prepare for the Dukes, Virginia Tech may have torpedoed Boise State's national title hopes.
My God. A freshman.
OK, it's still more than a stretch to compare South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore to Herschel Walker, but Lattimore annihilated Walker's alma mater in his first SEC game.
Lattimore, from Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., ran for 182 yards on 37 carries and scored two touchdowns in the Gamecocks' 17-6 win against Georgia (RECAP | BOX). That win, combined with the ongoing offensive shakiness in Gainesville, should make South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier feel pretty good about his team's prospects this season.
Would Georgia have played better had receiver A.J. Green not been suspended? Maybe, but Green couldn't have helped the Bulldogs tackle Lattimore, who showed a Mark Ingram-esque knack for gaining yards after contact. Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia didn't light up the Bulldogs, but he didn't have to. All he had to do was hand off to Lattimore, who enjoyed some excellent blocking by South Carolina's line.
Spurrier has yet to capture at South Carolina the offensive magic he harnessed at Florida, but perhaps there is a legitimate explanation. Spurrier's best Florida offenses all featured an above average-to-dominant between-the-tackles back, be it Errict Rhett, Fred Taylor, Terry Jackson or Earnest Graham. He hasn't had a back like that in Columbia. Now Spurrier has that in Lattimore, who will keep defenses honest and open up the Fun 'n' Gun for more downfield shots off play action.
It's still early, and South Carolina still must prove it can avoid its annual late-season swoon, but the Gamecocks look as promising as they have since Spurrier arrived in 2005.
The final score didn't show it, but Florida still has plenty of reasons to worry after its 38-14 win against South Florida (RECAP | BOX). The Gators have an athletic, opportunistic defense, and the success of that group is masking serious issues on offense.
Check the play-by-play from Saturday. Florida scored its first touchdown after safety Ahmad Black intercepted a B.J. Daniels pass and returned it to the USF 29-yard line. Florida's third touchdown came after cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Daniels and returned the ball to the USF 35. Defensive end Justin Trattou scored touchdown No. 4 with a 35-yard interception return. Touchdown No. 5 came after a Jenkins interception gave the Gators the ball on their own 43.
So that's one touchdown -- a 62-yard Jeff Demps run -- that came without a quick momentum change and great field position. The Gators will have to be better to win games consistently in the SEC, because most conference foes won't be dumb enough to keep throwing the ball to Florida defenders.
Show of hands, Kansas fans. How many of you expected to be 1-1 after two games? OK, that's pretty much everybody.
But you probably didn't think the loss would come to North Dakota State and the win would come against defending ACC champ Georgia Tech, did you? As alarming as last week's loss was, Saturday's 28-25 win should give the Jayhawks hope for the Turner Gill era (RECAP | BOX).
The most important move seems to be Gill's decision to replace the unfortunately named (for a quarterback) Kale Pick with freshman Jordan Webb. Webb was efficient Saturday, completing 18 of 29 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
So after a tumultuous week that saw the sudden resignation of embattled athletic director Lew Perkins, Kansas had a reason to celebrate.
It may take a few more weeks for officials to pull the trigger, but Coach Tim Brewster has to go at Minnesota. If you go oh-for-the-Dakotas, you have no business being a head coach in the Big Ten.
In retrospect, we should have known there was a problem last week when Minnesota's official Twitter feed trumpeted the Gophers' return home to celebrate a "big win" at Middle Tennessee State. When you barely escape a Sun Belt team playing without its suspended star quarterback and you call it a "big win," it's time to re-evaluate your gridiron priorities. That probably will happen sooner than later at Minnesota.
Hopefully, Wisconsin receiver David Gilreath is OK. Gilreath was taken off the field in an ambulance during Saturday's third quarter after getting sandwiched by two San Jose State tacklers on a punt return. Replays showed that Gilreath took a vicious shot to the head. He was motionless on the field for a while after the hit, and ESPN reported at about 3 p.m. that Gilreath has been diagnosed with a concussion (RECAP | BOX).