College Football Overtime (cont.)
My reaction to the latest AP and Coaches' polls:
Overrated: Georgia Tech (AP and Coaches': No. 12)
It's hard to knock 6-0, but I'd like to see the Jackets beat a ranked team first before elevating them to the upper half of the rankings. Saturday they eked by 2-3 Maryland, with the Terps playing their backup quarterback most of the way.
Underrated: Kansas State (AP: No. 17; Coaches': No. 18)
Bill Snyder's defense is legit, folks. On the heels of their win over then 15th-ranked Baylor, the Wildcats (5-0) put the clamps on Missouri's high-powered offense in a 24-17 win Saturday and currently rank 15th in scoring defense.
Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games. Here's this week's edition:
Title game: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Sugar: LSU vs. Boise State
Orange: Clemson vs. West Virginia
No changes this week -- though you could flip a coin right now between Oregon and Stanford. The Ducks are doing what they always do. Since the opening loss to LSU, they've outscored their last four opponents 69-20, 56-7, 56-31 and 43-15, though they did lose LaMichael James to an elbow injury late in last Thursday's win over Cal at the tail end of James' third straight 200-yard rushing game. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks fare without him Saturday against No. 18 Arizona State. We'll probably get to see more of explosive freshman De'Anthony Thomas.
Meanwhile, Andrew Luck and Stanford just keep taking care of business, though they've still yet to play anyone of note. Luck was 26-of-33 for 370 yards, three touchdowns and a pick in Saturday's 48-7 rout of Colorado. Apparently Coaches' Poll voters were unimpressed: Idle Wisconsin passed the Cardinal for the No. 4 spot.
Remember a few weeks ago, when Mark Richt was almost certainly a goner at Georgia? We haven't heard a peep lately as the Dawgs (4-2) have moved into a tie for first place in the SEC East with a 3-1 league record. Saturday's 20-12 win at Tennessee gave the 11th-year coach his 100th career victory, though it did come with some unusual drama. A succession of three straight holding calls and a facemask penalty left Georgia with a second-and-56 from its own 33. On fourth-and-58, it punted.
That's nothing, however, compared to the odds Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is facing after the Vols (3-2, 1-2 SEC) lost quarterback Tyler Bray to a thumb injury that will likely sideline him for four weeks. Talk about bad timing. Over the next three weeks, Tennessee faces No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama and No. 15 South Carolina. "What do you do?" said Dooley. "Nobody's going to feel sorry for Tennessee." Actually, I kind of do.
Penn State has made it to 5-1 despite having one of the nation's worst passing offenses because its defense is making opposing passers perform even worse. In Saturday's 13-3 win over Iowa, Penn State intercepted previously sterling Hawkeyes quarterback James Vandenberg twice and sacked him on three straight plays late in the game. The Nittany Lions now boast the nation's fourth-ranked pass efficiency defense (89.81) and fourth-ranked total defense (250.8 yards per game).
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson is on fire. A week after throwing for a school-record 510 yards against Texas A&M, Wilson at one point completed 19 straight passes in the 10th-ranked Razorbacks' (5-1, 1-1 SEC) 38-14 win over Auburn (4-2, 2-1). It marked the third-longest streak in SEC history. Things didn't go so well Saturday for his Tigers counterparts, though. Auburn's Barrett Trotter completed just 6-of-19 passes for 81 yards, while freshman Kiehl Frazier threw two picks.
Michigan (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) finally went on the road Saturday, and at first looked like it was headed for another October meltdown. Northwestern was up 24-14 at halftime thanks to three Denard Robinson interceptions. Unlike recent Wolverines squads, however, this one is capable of adjusting. Brady Hoke's defense shut out the Wildcats in the second half while Robinson (450 total yards) calmed down to lead four touchdown drives for a 42-24 win. Now comes a biggie next week at Michigan State.
No. 8 Clemson (6-0) took care of business at Boston College, 36-14, but not without a scare. Quarterback Tajh Boyd went down with a hip injury in the third quarter and never returned. X-rays were negative and on Sunday Boyd pleased a whole lot of Tigers fans by tweeting he "... will be back for the [Maryland] game" next week. See, coaches of America: It's not always a bad thing to let your players use Twitter.
Remember when the Boise State-Fresno State rivalry was ... well, a rivalry? Now they're no longer in the same league, literally (at least until next year) or figuratively. No. 5 Boise (5-0) won last year's meeting 51-0 at home, and on Friday, rolled 57-7 at Fresno (2-4). "We certainly understand the history between the two teams," said Kellen Moore. "You have to come with a lot of energy and start fast." Actually, it seems like Boise just needs to enter the stadium.
Five years removed from Rutgers' one great moment in the sun (its 11-2 season in 2006), Greg Schiano's team is producing another sneaky good defense. The Scarlet Knights (4-1, 2-0 Big East) notched four interceptions and held Pittsburgh (3-3) to 271 total yards in a surprising 34-10 rout. "That was an old-fashioned Rutgers win," said Schiano, referring either to the school's famous 6-4 win over Princeton in 1869, or more likely to '06 -- the only other time it started 2-0 in the Big East.
Steve Spurrier's switch to sophomore Connor Shaw paid immediate dividends, with the quarterback throwing four touchdowns and South Carolina (5-1, 3-1 SEC) racking up 639 yards -- the highest in Spurrier's tenure -- in a 51-3 rout of Kentucky. It's always more fun when the Ball Coach is blowing people out, because it prompts him to say things like this: "Kentucky has a heck of a punter, I know that." The fun will presumably last until the first time Shaw throws an interception.
Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh, targeting a Big East football-only invite for his program, told the Denver Post he turned down overtures from the Big 12 because of the level of competition. "I can't do that to my kids, because they'll get beat up," he said. Fair enough, but does he plan to keep Notre Dame on the schedule? Because Tommy Rees and the Irish (4-2) hurt the Falcons pretty badly in a 59-33 rout Saturday, scoring their most points in 15 years.
No. 6 Oklahoma State (5-0) only needed the services of Brandon Weeden (24-of-28, 288 yards, five touchdowns) for one half to hang 70 on Kansas (2-3), which is allowing 49.4 points per game. Next up the Jayhawks face ... Oklahoma.
It seems increasingly likely Mike Stoops is down to his last days at Arizona. After falling 37-27 to previously winless Oregon State, the Wildcats (1-5) have lost nine straight games against FBS opponents dating to last season.
Your Case Keenum NCAA record book watch: The Houston quarterback moved into second place Saturday on both the career yardage (15,895) and touchdowns (124) lists. He's looking up at Timmy Chang and Graham Harrell, respectively.
Syracuse kicker Ross Krautman may have missed that extra point against Toledo, but he was true on a game-winning 21-yard field goal Saturday to beat Tulane.