SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/21/2006 11:17:00 PM
Saturday Observations: Part III
C.J. Spiller (28) rushed for two 50 yard touchdowns in the Tigers runaway win.
Remember when Clemson didn’t have a running game? I’m sure you do, because it wasn’t that long ago -- and because it had been that way pretty much this entire decade.
These days, however, the Tigers don’t just have a running game – they have a ridiculous running game. Saturday night, stud tailbacks James Davis (21 carries, 216 yards, two TDs) and C.J. Spiller (16 carries, 116 yards, 1 TD and a 50-yard receiving TD) sliced through Georgia Tech’s seventh-ranked rushing defense like the Jackets were standing still. Between Davis and Spiller producing one highlight-reel run after another and the Tigers’ defense rendering All-America WR Calvin Johnson a complete non-factor, Clemson’s 31-7 victory was one of the most impressive team performances I’ve seen all season. (The Tigers should really think about wearing all purple more often).
Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball was said to be extremely banged up, which certainly contributed to the cause, but I’m not sure he would have fared much better even if he had been healthy. It seemed like Tigers defensive ends Gaines Adams and Phillip Merling were in his face, sacking him or batting down one of his passes every other play. Between their unrelenting pass-rush and the coverage of the secondary, Calvin Johnson – potential NFL No. 1 pick – finished with zero passes.
Clemson QB Will Proctor completed even fewer passes than Ball, but the Tigers barely needed him. Davis and Spiller produced enough highlight-reel runs to fill a season, including two 50-yard Spiller touchdowns and a 54-yard Davis dash. Keep in mind, Georgia Tech has some extremely fast defenders, but you never would have known it the way these two blew past them.
If you’re a Clemson fan, you’re obviously feeling pretty darn good tonight, and rightfully so -- but you’re probably kicking yourself over that early-season overtime loss at BC. Not that the Eagles weren’t a worthy adversary, but if the Tigers’ special teams hadn’t completely deserted them that night – including the fatal missed extra-point in overtime – we’d probably talking about this team in the national-title conversation right now.
· Rutgers employed much the same formula as Clemson in its important 20-10 win at Pittsburgh – some tremendous defense (holding Tyler Palko and the Panthers to 236 total yards) and a whole lot of RB Ray Rice (39 carries for a career-high 225 yards, including a nifty 63-yard run from his own 10 on the Scarlet Knight’s game-sealing touchdown drive). With Adrian Peterson out for the season, the title of 2006’s top running back is obviously up for grabs. Both Davis and Rice have to be near the top of the list.
· Washington State has seemingly been on the verge of a breakthrough win all season, and Saturday night the Cougars finally got it, knocking off Oregon 34-23. It got so bad for the Ducks (down 27-3 in the third quarter) that coach Mike Bellotti pulled QB Dennis Dixon for Brady Leaf, whose comeback attempt was too little, too late.
· Oklahoma’s offense struggled pretty badly in its first game post-A.D., netting just 271 yards in a 24-3 win over Colorado. Fortunately for the Sooners, the Buffs’ offense returned to its anemic ways of earlier this season, managing just 113 yards.
· I had a feeling Idaho might give Boise State a run for its money, and sure enough, Dennis Erickson’s team got as close as 28-26 with 7:05 remaining before the Broncos pulled away. Boise State RB Ian Johnson turned in another huge game (27 carries, 183 yards, four TDs).
· One more crazy ending for you on a Saturday overflowing with them. Texas A&M – which is developing a Houdini-like escape ability – scored a touchdown with three seconds left to take Oklahoma State to overtime, then blocked the Cowboys’ extra point at the end of the first overtime to win the game.
Your "Saturday's Observations" have become a total joke when there is not a single drop of ink on Ohio State - you know, the #1 team in the nation?
It's also interesting to note the oh-so-subtle negative prose in the OSU-IND game recap summary featured on SI. Troy Smith "had a lot of help for his Heisman campaign" because he threw it to 4 different receivers for TDs? I suppose had it been Colt McCoy or Brady Quinn it would've been hailed as astounding "field vision" and leadership?
Troy didn't "look sharp"? If 65% passing efficiency for 4 TDs isn't considered sharp, then what is? Coming from behind at home in the last minute to beat an unranked team and their backup QB? Apparently it is, considering how prominently Notre Dame's photo is plastered on the front page of SI's College Football.
I think USC's three remaining home games just got better. Oregon gets routed by a Washington State team, Cal nearly loses to Washington minus their starting qb, and that overrated Notre Dame gets a great scare from ... UCLA!? At their own house? USC's run for the national title just got brighter.
Jeez, there's no doubt who the best team in the country is right now... OSU. Stewart doesn't need to comment on a game that they SHOULD have won. The interesting story is who should play the Buckeyes for the national championship. Considering they have to play (thus far) undefeated Michigan, what one-loss team (assuming USC loses, and they will) should OSU play for the national championship?
Re: 12:38 post Give it a rest. A pasting of Indiana at home is not worth that much coverage, especially not when the world's biggest choking dogs pull out a 35 point comeback, or when there are so many down-to-the-wire games, or when a team absolutely dominates another ranked opponent. All Ohio St. did today was make the heisman race even more boring.
Yeah, the season's pretty much over. There is little doubt in anyone's mind that Ohio St. is the best team in the country with everything we've seen. Just give them the trophy and let's move on to Basketball, I hear ESPN has an extra National Championship trophy left over from last season, just scrape off USC's name and put OSU on it.
Ohio St. has beaten nobody all season long and beaten them convincingly. Powerhouses like Cincinnati, North Illinois, Bowling Green, and then the dreck of the Big-10.
Buckeyes joke around about the 1-loss teams... I'm not sure that Ohio St. could beat ANYONE in the top 10 (except Texas). In fact, I sincerely doubt they're going to make it to the big dance since they don't play their first football game until November 18.
But before we award the trophy this season, let's see Ohio St. beat a team that doesn't stink.
To the moron that made the comment about usc's title hopes looking better...dont forget USC squeaked by the same teams, Washington St. and Washington back to back weeks, sheesh u people are crazy...look on the field...I know you have your teams and your teams are good in your eyes, but i am sorry WVU and Ohio State are by far the two best looking teams in the country, no matter how bad of teams they both have played...repeat both universities three times because that is who is going to be playing in Glendale in January
I am so sick and tired of ND getting praise for coming from behind and winning, much less to UCLA. What ranked team has Notre Dame beat all season? A 5-3 Penn State thats been struggling and Georgia Tech, which just got blasted by Clemson. Can't wait til 11/25 when USC gives ND another loss, and then ND will probably lose its bowl game as well. Sounds like 2005 all over again.
As for the Pac 10, I don't see USC losing at all. Sorry haters, do you really think USC will lose to Oregon (which got spanked by WSU), Cal (which went to overtime against a 2nd string qb??), and UCLA (let's make it 8 wins in a row). Btw, do I smell an upset in two weeks when UCLA beats CAl for the third time in 4 years? Yes I do.
Hey- why the hate for the Sooners?? Sure, ONLY 271 yards against a tough CU defense and terrible offensive conditions. The Sooners scored on at least half their possessions. And then they somehow stumble around on defense and CU somehow manages to get only 113 yards of offense, and you don't give any credit to Stoops' defensive adjustments?
It's not entirely fair to say that OU's offense was inept against Colorado (not that I'm saying we were brilliant either). But the conditions meant both teams had to keep it on the groud and 150 rushing yards against CU is nothing to laugh at: Alan Patrick was the first 100 yard rusher against CU in 20 games and OU is the first team to put up over 100 yards rushing on CU this season - for all their ineptitude they were the #9 rushing defense in the NCAA. I would say OU's offense was serviceable.
Yeah, Stewart, you must really hate Ohio State. I know you hate Texas, since last year you never mentioned Texas' 62-0 win over Baylor, and you must hate USC because two years ago you didn't headline their 83-2 win over Washington State. And remember back in 1947 when you didn't make a big deal about Oklahoma's 103-9 win over the Southwestern Poly Military Institute? You hate everybody, don't you? We've figured you out!
Just want to clarify something that keeps coming up regarding the BC/Clemson game earlier this season - Clemson didn't miss the extra point in OT, it was blocked. Time to give BC a little of credit for that. Had BC not missed a very makeable field goal in regulation, OT would have been a moot point. And their one loss came as a result of a Hail Mary and the two point differential was due to a missed (not blocked) XP.
How about a comment from a Clemson fan who's not bitter? Yeah the extra point was blocked, and maybe the reversed INT was legitimate, but if the blatant block in the back on the kickoff returned to start the 2nd half was a killer. Don't see how the ref missed it, it happened about 6 feet directly in front of him.
A lot of bitter people on this blog today. About the only fans that deserve to be bitter right now are South Carolina's. No, SC hasn't been screwed in any game this year; but if four of your remaining games were against top 10 teams (Fla, Tenn, Ark and Clem) you wouldn't be too happy either. Luckily we get some relief weekly from Screwy Stewy. He picks the Gamecocks to be upset TWO weeks in a row. Misses badly on both of those by the way. I must implore Stewy: would anyone consider the Gamecocks losing, regardles of opponent, an upset?
Call me bitter if you want, but the overturned INT in the Clemson-BC game was a horrendous call. I do not disagree that the call may have been the right one, but for the replay official to overturn a call requires indisputable visual evidence. No way was that present.
I do not know the block in the back you refer to, but we have had game-changing calls in our favor, too - see FSU game.
Add that to the Gator "fumble" and the OU blown call and I vote this is the worst year officiating I have ever seen.
As a Clemson fan, I have let the BC game go. It is true that we outplayed them...total yards, Clemson-443 and BC-238. BUT BC has the only stat that counts...That "W" next to their name. It was a learning experience. We were not going to play for a national championship this year anyway. No Clemson fan in his or her right mind could have thought so. I'm just happy to be where we are in the standings and looking forward to years of, hopefully, great recruits because of the success this year has brought to the program.
Not to be bitter but if anyone watched the BC/Clemson game, there was a clear block in the back during the return, kicking off the second half. That there gave momentum to BC. It was a game that should have been closed by the Tigers, but a loss is a loss.
Yes I saw that block in the back and I am still pissed about it. Had that ref made the call, the discussion would be on how the Tigers are taking a number for a contention spot in the N'atl championship.
Who is the idiot that said Ohio State has played no one and would lose to anyone in the Top Ten other than Texas? I'm not sure anyone in the Top Ten could come within two touchdowns of Ohio State this season. Their opponents look bad because Ohio State is just that good.
Coming from a rabid buckeye fan--most of us don't blame you for not writing about OSU v IU. And we aren't psychotic to the point of paranoia worrying about Troy's heisman campaign as to the exact wording of his performance--he threw 4 Tds and got props, but the bucks were playing the hoosiers. while IU is not as bad as in the past... it still doesn't evoke much excitement, we understand. However, i'm kind of amazed at the fact that someone can claim OSU hasn't beaten "anybody" when OSU beat Texas away and at night (24-7 at that) even if the Big Ten is really top heavy this year (iowa isn't exactly a pushover either).
Two things: 1)At season's end, OSU will have played exactly 2 teams that finish in the top 25 and will have lost to one of them. Not exactly an impressive body of work.
2)"Thunder and Lightning" wasnt Lendale and Reggie, it was Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber, so give credit where it is due. It's like calling Anthony Thomas in Chicago the A-Train while he was a relevant player for 18 months while Mike Alstott has been the A-Train for 6 years.
As for the Clemson running attack featuring the best backs in the country, I proudly submit Darren McFadden and Felix Jones (and Mike Smith and Peyton Hillis) of the Arkansas Razorbacks. I certainly wouldn't trade.