SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/19/2006 02:11:00 PM
Five Things We Learned This Weekend
John David Booty completed 13 of 19 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of USC's win over Cal.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
I think I’ve said more than enough about Ohio State-Michigan at this point, so this week’s segment will focus on everyone else.
1) That USC is officially the Florida State of the ‘00s. Remember when the ‘Noles won the ACC every single year from 1992-2000? The Trojans are in the midst of a similarly staggering run, clinching their fifth straight Pac-10 title Saturday night against Cal and keeping themselves in contention for what would be a third straight trip to the national title game, a feat also last accomplished by FSU (1998-2000). Saturday night’s game was the best USC has looked since Arkansas. The Trojans’ defense is finally playing at the level it was expected, John David Booty had a solid performance, but the most noteworthy development of all was the way USC got its running game going in the second half behind freshman C.J. Gable.
2) That West Virginia is the best team that won’t play for the national title. If Steve Slaton doesn’t fumble twice against Louisville, we probably wouldn’t be having this OSU-Michigan rematch conversation right now, and to be honest, I would have loved to have seen a Buckeyes-Mountaineers title game -- you would have been guaranteed to have about 1,200 yards of offense. Just as Troy Smith and Co. proved Saturday to be immune to even the stingiest of defenses, I feel the same way about Slaton and Pat White, especially after watching them hold another track-meet-on-grass Thursday night against Pittsburgh (White ran for 220 yards, Slaton 215). As entertaining as OSU-West Virginia would be, however, the Mountaineers don’t hold much water in the one-loss derby due to their non-conference schedule.
3) That Virginia Tech is on fire. This has been a pretty horrific year for me in the predictions department (see Michigan 17, Ohio State 14), and another one I got wrong was saying in our Midseason Crystal Ball that the Hokies would be the season’s second-half flop. It certainly appeared that way after Frank Beamer’s team got smoked by B.C. in a Thursday night game on Oct. 12, but Tech hasn’t lost since, and Saturday night in Winston-Salem they managed to do what no other team has done this season: Dominate Wake Forest. And they did it despite losing star RB Branden Ore to an ankle injury early in the game. If the Hokies beat rival Virginia next week, they’ll finish 10-2 and likely head to the Chick-fil-A Bowl -- not bad for a “rebuilding season.”
4) That N.C. State coach Chuck Amato is on extremely thin ice. AD Lee Fowler has continually voiced his support for the embattled seventh-year coach -- but Amato just made it that much harder to justify his retention. N.C. State fans don’t take well to losing to the hated Tar Heels, nevertheless 23-9 to a 1-9 UNC team playing for a lame-duck coach. The loss dropped the once-promising Wolfpack to 3-8, and dropped Amato’s post-Philip Rivers records to 15-19 overall and 8-16 in the ACC. Interestingly, even with the success under Rivers, Amato’s seven-year ACC record is now 25-31 -- one game worse than predecessor Mike O’Cain. That can’t be good.
5) That there was more than one heroic Ohio quarterback Saturday. Smith deserves all the accolades on the planet right now, but Cincinnati’s Nick Davila deserves a moment in the sun. Making his first career start in place of injured Dustin Grutza, Davila went 11-of-15 for 277 yards, threw an 83-yard touchdown and ran 1 yard for another in the Bearcats’ 30-11 upset of 9-0 Rutgers. The Bearcats might not be going to the national-title game like their neighbors up I-71, but for a program that has spent much of its history as a local afterthought and was still trying to justify its place in the Big East, beating a top-10 team at home on national TV to secure a bowl berth was probably every bit as gratifying.
Hey Stew - how's that blueberry Kool-Aid tasting? It is absolutely absurd to think that Michigan should play for the title. They had their shot and they lost. Hello Rose Bowl - maybe the third time is a charm. Florida and USC played MUCH more difficult schedules to get where they are and as such are much more deserving of a shot at the title, assuming of course they win out.
On another note, after USC escaped with it's narrow victory at Washington State, Pete Carroll said not to let anyone be fooled - the Pac 10 is a stout conference this year. By my count, 8 of the ten teams are currently bowl-eligible. Pac 10 teams don't pad their OOC schedules with patsies, so that's not too shabby considering all the grief they get from just about everywhere else.
If Brian Brohm doesn't throw an interception in the Rutgers game then were talking about Louisville in the national championship. Did you ever think that Louisville might have, you know maybe caused those fumbles in the WVU game. ANd another thing, why isn't anyone talking about the high scoring game between Ohio State and Michigan. I didn't hear any talk about them not playing any defense. Or is it that their Michigan and Ohio State. They have history of playing defense so will let it go.
Right now, no team one loss team has looked better than Michigan. (the key being, RIGHT NOW) Michigan has wins over 2 top 10 teams, USC and Florida have 1. Their 2nd best wins are against teams around 20th. Michigan and USC both have solid 3rd wins (Penn St (who has only lost to top 10 teams) and Nebraska. Florida has Georgia (yuck). Michigan not only has the more quality wins, but a very close loss on the road to the consensus #1 is much less damaging than one to a very mediocre team (by this point Florida should be well out of the conversation, but their loss should be a bigger hit than Michigan's anyways). If USC looks as impressive against ND as Michigan did, they should be considered to pass them, but until then, they don't have the same resume that Michigan does.
And the job of the BCS is to put the two best teams on the field come January 8th, not tell me whether or not I want to see a rematch. And for chris, if Michigan lost their shot with just one loss on saturday, how do usc and florida still have one?
Glad to see you eat your words about Virginia Tech. One of the most consistently successful programs this decade. Look up most wins since FSU/Virginia Tech BCS game. Bet the Hokies are in the top 5, if not top 3.
Also, Michigan/OSU II far from a sure thing. USC victories the next two weeks will likely overcome the razor thin edge Michigan has right now. Even the SEC champion may overtake the Wolverines, who can do nothing to improve their numbers.
Louisville did not cause those fumbles in the WVU game, Steve Slaton is having off-season surgery to correct the problem which caused the fumbles. WVU is definitely the best in the Big East but I am glad Louisville is a real national power. It helps the persona of the Big East, even though the Big East has proven last year, when WVU beat the "mighty" SEC's best, this year, and in the future that it is for real and to be reckoned with. I agree that Louisville is a good team but I just think WVU is better. The Big East should have two teams in BCS bowls, Loiusville and WVU.
Michigan had their shot and lost, period. What a fitting way to honor Bo Shembeckler by doing nothing other than losing a big game! How can you say that Arkansas is not the same team that lost to USC 50-14, but ND is the same team that lost 47-21 to Michigan in September? Michigan had 2 fluke scores in that game and ND is vastly improved offensively and defensively. WVU couldn't stop a top 10 team, bud. You are quite the hypocrite, it's hard to believe you have a job.
for arguments sake, lets say that osu and mich both entered the game saturday with one loss and the results were the same. osu 11-1 and mich 10-2. also say that florida and ark both were undefeated and playing in atlanta for an outright spot in the bcs championship game. suppose florida wins. i do not think it would be right for ark to be given a rematch and i am from ark and i love the hogs. the big ten conference does not have a championship game but saturday could be considered as such. mich is a great team but they have had their chance. osu needs to be playing another great team from another conference. the big ten is really the big 11 and what they need to do is recruit notre dame to their conference and they could have a set up like the sec, big 12, and the acc.
If "Ifs" and Buts" were hikes and huts, (enter team name here) would be playing for the MNC. C'mon Stew, quit downplaying UofL's win over WVU by saying WVU lost it b/c of fumbles. That's no different than saying if Washington had more time they might have had a chance to beat USC. Or, if Florida didn't block a FG and an extra point they would have lost to South Carolina. Or if UCLA played better "D" they would have beaten ND. I could go on and on with different scenarios. Face it, the UofL-WVU wasn't that close. The outcome would've been 17 points if WVU hadn't scored with about 2 minutes left. Whoops, I'm starting to sould like you.
No team should play a team twice...especially back- to-back for the title. Michigan had it's chance, it's over, it's time to start talking about another team. It's funny how the media said no rematch before the game...and now they are changing their minds. There shouldn't be an AP Poll, there shouldn't be a Coaches Poll...they should have a NCAA committee decide the top teams. There is too much bias involved in this crappy system and that was clear by Arkansas jumping from 6 to 5 over ND in the Coaches Poll this week. Notre Dame should have every chance to be in the title hunt, even though they lost to Michigan at home early in the season. Why? Because just like the excuse that everyone gives Arkansas for losing to USC...it was a long time ago. However, ND is different...the media and the coaches cannot forget about that game. They don't want to because they want to have every reason to keep ND out of the title game. Everyone harps on the strength of schedule...well...ND will have the 24th strongest schedule when the play SC, however, people will always use that as an excuse to keep ND down. Which is fine, we'll play Arkansas, or Florida, or whoever in a BCS bowl, and we'll win...and we'll still be put down for being in a bowl...because we'll be 12-1...and played a weak schedule, and we're catholic, and we don't have a conference, and we whine, and we wear green jerseys once in a while. Don't plan on seeing the Irish in a National Championship this year...or USC...or Florida and Arkansas. There will be a rematch, because SC will lose this weekend...and the SEC will shoot each other in the foot...just like the Big East...and it will just be ND. So the coaches, and the media, and the harris interactive whatever poll...will vote Michigan to play back-to-back games...and if they win...well does tOSU deserve another shot...how about best of 3. Freaking stupid system.
What exactly was so impressive about Florida State winning consecutive ACC titles between 1992 and 2000? They were a football power in a basketball league. In fact, they had no counter balance to them as Michigan has Ohio State, Nebraska had Oklahoma then Colorado or USC had UCLA, then Washington. It took years for Virginia Tech to finally develop into a rival to them for the conference title. Except for the NC team in 97, every league runner up had at least 2 total losses for the year. Most years the runner up had three or more losses. Merely because the ACC called itself a power football conference did not make it one.
Also, thanks for the kind words about the Bearcats.
Traditionally Big-10 teams play each other, weak OOC conferences and get rolled at Bowl time (similar to the Pac-10, althought that might be changing). Would Michigan have one-loss if they played USC's or Florida's schedule in what are ranked the toughest conferences? We will never know, but Big Blue had their shot at OSU and lost. It would make a travesty of college football to give them another shot at the exclusion of the Pac-10 or SEC champion. What if the Big-10 is as weak as some year's past and its two best teams are largely untested? Let the Big-10 champ go against the most deserving team between the Pac-10 and SEC champs and only then will the BCS do its job.
Stewart, thanks for your comments about West Virginia. No, they're not as good as the Buckeyes or the Wolverines, but it's not their fault the teams on their schedule underperformed. The Big East may still have a ways to go, however West Virginia and Louisville are legit.
WV should get a BCS bowl bid at 11-1 and eventual #5 rank, don't you think?
I absolutely agree with your thought on USC being the FSU of the 00's. I think they have the potential to be better than FSU was in the 90's, but we'll have to wait and see. Besides his first season in 2001, Pete Carroll has taken his team to a BCS game every year (including this year) and won all but one of those games. Another factor to their success is winning the recruiting battle. They're keeping the best recruits in-state, but more importantly taking other top recruits from their respective states. It wasn't to long ago when the top recruits from SoCal were leaving the state so they can contend for a national championship. I wonder how Lorenzo Booker is feeling now?
hey stew- I've been a fan of USC since the mid 80's and I have to say it's been the best time to be a trojan fan. To be in a rebuilding year and have all this media attenion is great for recruiting. For all those people that hate SC, can you name a better dynasty in recent years?
Stewart, I have to disagree with your Rose Bowl Game matchup you posted today. Assuming USC defeats Notre Dame, but not enough to cause the Irish to tumble out of BCS qualification, this will give the Rose Bowl folks two replacement picks for the two conference champs they lose to the Tostitos title game. The Orange, Fiesta and Sugar will all get their first auto pick with their affiliated conference champions. The Rose Bowl folks will get Michigan with their first replacement pick, and then they'll have priority over the other bowls for their second pick. I'm sure they would much rather have a Michigan/Notre Dame rematch, simply because those are two huge national fan bases that would love to meet each other on a national bowl game stage. Having a storied program like Notre Dame, not to mention their fan base, is much more desirable if they can't host their traditional Big Ten/Pac-10 clash.
Stew, thanks for the posts concerning events outside of the OSU-Michigan battle. I'm hoping for a OSU-USC battle for the national championship its the best match up bar-none. On another note UofL posters needs a reality check, to host WVU and beat them by 10 and go out and lose to Rutgers who lost to Cincy. Come on!! You screwed the Big East again this after you laid an egg against VT. I don't want to see another lame post from a UofL fan until they win a big bowl and bring some respect to the conference. If you can talk big you better come big. WVU is going to destroy Rutgers on Dec. 2, and UofL is going to win their bowl game or your fans are banned from Morgantown next year. Get the job done or stay home.
Will everyone stop kissing USC's butt. Hello, the fact remains they lost to Oregon St - a team that's not even ranked. As a matter of fact, USC is the only team ranked in the top ten to have lost to a non-ranked team. Michigan is still the top team to play Ohio State - this time on a neutral field.