SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/14/2006 03:44:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part I
Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson passed for 190 yards and two touchdowns and ran for an additional 59 yards.
COLUMBUS, Ga. –- Yes, that dateline is correct. Due to a shortage of hotel rooms in the Opelika-Auburn metropolis, I am staying at a hotel about 30 miles from campus (this after making the 105-mile drive from Atlanta), where I have been watching the early games before heading to tonight’s Florida-Auburn showdown. I expected it to be a drab set of games; instead it’s shaping up to be Upset Saturday.
∙ Upset No. 1: What a huge, huge win for Indiana. Earlier this season, when the Hoosiers were losing to the likes of Southern Illinois and Connecticut, I figured IU was headed to an 0-8 Big Ten season. Clearly, this team has rallied around lovable coach Terry Hoeppner (who referred to his program as a “shooting rocket” in the postgame interview), and freshman QB Kellen Lewis looks like a star-in-the-making. As for Iowa … it’s not just Ohio State that exploited that secondary. The Hawkeyes are not progressing like they usually do.
∙ Upset No. 2: We can now safely confirm what we’d suspected for weeks now: Georgia isn’t very good this year. But give credit to Vanderbilt. After losing QB Jay Cutler, Vandy has become even tougher this year thanks to its much-improved defense and budding star QB Chris Nickson, who recovered from a costly interception to calmly lead his team on the game-winning scoring drive. The Commodores are 3-4, but their three SEC losses (Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss) have all come by a touchdown or less. Meanwhile, Nickson and fellow sophomore Earl Bennett are going to be wreaking havoc on SEC defenses for the next few years.
∙ Upset No. 3: I told you last week Wake Forest’s defense is legit. They were able to do what neither Boston College or Florida State could -- stop Wolfpack QB Daniel Evans. The D lifted the now 6-1 Demon Deacons to a huge ACC win. Undisputed MVP: Wake kicker Sam Swank, who hit three field goals of 50-plus yards today.
∙ Wisconsin is just steamrolling people lately. Watching bruiser P.J. Hill is a lot like watching Ron Dayne back in the day, QB John Stocco is playing the best football of his career and the defense is ranked in the top 10 nationally. If you really want to see something impressive, though, ignore the ball for a few plays and just focus on tackle Joe Thomas. The guy’s such a dominant pass-blocker it’s like watching guys run into a brick wall.
∙ With all the attention Steve Slaton gets at West Virginia, it’s easy to forget that QB Pat White is just as fast. White absolutely went off on Syracuse today, running 14 times for 235 yards, including touchdowns of 69, 40, 32 and 12 yards. Just for good measure, Slaton added 178 yards and two TDs.
∙ Ladies and gentlemen, No. 24 Rutgers has found itself a defense. The Scarlet Knights held the nation’s No. 1 rushing team, Navy, to 53 yards on the ground in the first half Saturday.
∙ USF 37, North Carolina 20. Can I get back my first-coach-to-be-fired prediction?
Okay, so IU beats Iowa and Vandy beats Georgia (we'll see what else happens). Hopefully this will settle down some of the "my conference can beat up your conference" talk. I'm a Big 10 fan, and I think it's as tough a conference as there is out there (and yes, as good as the SEC), but until bowl games come it's hard to tell conference toughness. I think it's safe to say that rankings aren't necessarily accurate, so basing any "toughness" on # of ratings in the Top 25 or whatever isn't necessarily accurate. I liked a comment from last week's blog...one of the great things about college football is the "Any Given Saturday" syndrome. Go Boilers! Go Bucks!
Stewart, do you think Peterson will come back to OU next year now that he's broken his collarbone, or does this mark the end of his Sooner career? I can kind of see it going either way. Would this injury drop his stock status? Obviously knee injuries can do that, but can you think back on a collarbone injury hurting someone's career? This Longhorn would like him to leave, even though Texas essentially stopped him this year.
How 'bout that Big East! After hearing nothing but how bad the league was for a couple of seasons, it looks like it is pretty solid from top to bottom. Are we going to hear any "Strip the ACC of its automatic BCS bid" talk after this year?
I've realized that Mr. Mandel is good writer, and he is quite entertaining. I enjoy his musings and the humor he brings to the plate. However, from a purely analytic perspective, he seems to miss the mark with many predictions. A 27-24 prediction in the OSU-MSU game? Of course, that would have been more exciting than what really happened, perhaps he is just an optimist.
you nasayer of the big east can shut up now...3 undefeated teams, 2 in the top 10, 1 other with one loss and another at 5-2. Come Monday they may have 4 teams in the top 25 (Pittsburgh). just keep winning baby.
WISCONSIN ROLLING?! Oooooh, they're impressive vs Ind, Pur and Minn. But three weeks ago today, their offense was DEVOURED by Michigan's great defense. Hill, Stocco and the entire OL were no match for the Wolves. How much so? From midway thru 2nd till late in 4th the Badgers went three-and-out on EIGHT STRAIGHT possessions!
UW rolling? Well yes. Mr. Snarky mentions their loss to Michigan. Wisconsin is a young team with a first year coach. Their one loss was to the #4 team in the country (Michigan) at Michigan's home stadium. Wisconsin played creditably and has since blown out 3 lesser Big Ten teams.
Wisconsin isn't going to win the Big Ten this year - Ohio State and Michigan are too strong. But after Iowa's loss to Indiana (who Wisconsin beat handily) the Badgers do look like the #3 team in the conference this year.
Why doesn't anyone give USF any credit? We should be 7-0 right now, have the best freshman QB in the nation- no debate about it, and have proven that without a doubt the Big East is better 1 through 6 than the ACC is 1 through 4.
Rutgers had a defense before this game, ranked as the eleventh best rush defense in the nation coming into this week. While the later portion of this game might have been mismatched going up against Navy's second and third string QB's, it's RU's QB that everyone is still looking for, but he might have made an appearnce today, with the exception of four poor passes (including one to the mascot).
Interesting that Wisconsin finally gets a mention, considering that they do not even make it into Mandel's Top 25.
As for the obnoxious comment re the Michigan game, at Michigan, with a young team, they were tied at halftime. All the wide receivers are first-time starters. It has taken them awhile to get into the flow of the game.
Wisky will get better as the season wears on. Considering how well they have played the Buckeyes, it is fortunate for them that they do not have the Badgers on their sked.
3rd place in the Big Ten this year looks realistic, but all this Big 2 and Little 9 talk is getting a bit nauseating. The Badgers are hardly incompetent and, the way they are playing at the moment, they would give either the Buckeyes or the Wolverines all they could handle if they had them late in this season, especially if the game was played at Camp Randall.