SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/11/2006 03:30:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part I
Georgia finally gave its fans something to really cheer about.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- I told you last week to expect some of these one-loss teams to start falling. And I’d been harping for weeks that offensively challenged Auburn was overrated. Saturday, those two prophecies collided -- but never in a million years would I have predicted that.
Give Georgia coach Mark Richt tremendous credit for digging his team out of the depths of an absolutely nightmarish past month to produce a big-time win, one that will certainly help salvage what was shaping up to be a disastrous season. The Dawgs’ defense rose to the occasion and, most importantly, freshman QB Matthew Stafford finally had the breakthrough performance Dawgs fans have been waiting for.
But what happened to Auburn? This is twice now that the Tigers have laid an egg in front of their home crowd. It’s obvious that their offensive line is a real Achilles heel this year. Kenny Irons hasn’t been able to really get off, and Brandon Cox, under heavy pressure, threw four interceptions Saturday in an absolutely horrendous performance.
This was the first of what I expect to be several upcoming upsets with BCS ramifications. Not only does this one eliminate Auburn from the national-title picture, it also leaves the SEC with little chance of sending a second team to the BCS. The only possible one-loss team now is the conference champion. I suppose it’s possible the Orange or Sugar (if it loses the SEC champ to the title game) might consider a two-loss Tennessee or LSU team, but between the Ohio State-Michigan loser, Boise State and, most likely, Notre Dame, there might only be one at-large berth in play.
∙ Covering Michigan-Indiana to catch the Wolverines one last time before The Game, this is definitely not a typical college football Saturday for me. Two-and-a-half hours before kickoff, I pulled into a three-quarters empty parking lot. And there are more people in this press box talking about last night’s IU exhibition basketball game (there’s panic in the air – apparently the Hoosiers didn’t look so good) than today’s football game. And as I write this, it’s 15 minutes before kickoff and there are entire sections of Memorial Stadium that are empty (it’s also miserably cold).
∙ There are certainly a lot of fine candidates for national coach of the year this season – Rutgers’ Greg Schiano and Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe are right at the top of the list – but can we just take a moment and admire what Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema has accomplished this season? The 36-year-old, first-year head coach is about to lead the Badgers to an 11-win season, something his accomplished predecessor, Barry Alvarez, only did once. Yes, it’s come against an incredibly favorable schedule, but it’s still nothing short of remarkable.
∙ Good to see Steve Slaton put the Louisville fumble debacle behind him and get right back on track Saturday against Cincinnati. The sophomore ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries.
∙ They were chanting “Fire Mason” at the Metrodome just a couple weeks ago. Don’t look now, but if Minnesota can beat reeling Iowa in their home finale next week, the Gophers (5-6) -- 2-5 and struggling to hold off North Dakota State just a few weeks back -- will be bowl-eligible.
∙ Finally, Georgia Tech won 7-0 at 1-9 North Carolina, as Reggie Ball threw for 78 yards. And to think -- the ACC Coastal champion Jackets (8-2) are as close to a BCS berth as anyone right now.
This is the week of the SEC fall, too much hype in this over rated conference. Auburn went down, Florida off to a bad start, and we still havent seen what Tenn. can do to Arkansas. If one thing is for certain, the SEC is a demolition derby, and everybody is going to hit everybody atleast twice.
I understand I'm a little bias, but I just can't possibly believe that anyone in the SEC can beat OSU or Michigan right now. Texas is playing as good as anyone in the country at the moment (and a rematch with OSU would be significantly more interesting if it were to happen right now). Other than Texas, I think those two teams are just playing at an entirely different level than anyone else in the country.
Take this scenario into consideration: after auburn lost they're out of the chase. Louisville is out. Say Texas loses in some game before the Nat'l Champ. USC beats Cal, then loses to ND. ND wins out. Florida plays a two loss Arkansas in the sec champ, loses to arkansas. That leaves Notre Dame as the only one loss team, correct me if im wrong. How would Notre Dame be placed? Would the computers place Notre Dame in the Nat'l Champ game? If they are the only one loss team left (other than the OSU/Mich. loser), would Notre Dame get a shot at the Champ., will there be an OSU Mich rematch? Or will a Rutgers/Boise St. somehow get a shot? Man, they just need to trash the BCS and go with a playoff.
I don't think there is an SEC team that will have less than two losses. Even if Arkansas beats Tennessee tonight, the Razorbacks still have to play LSU. The Tigers are the most talented team in the SEC this year and their defense matches up very well against a freshman QB. Florida doesn't have the offensive line or a RB that can beat Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game. The Gator defense has too many injuries / suspensions to stop Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
Forget the BCS. The national championship game will be held on November 18 in Columbus, OH. There's no legitimate way the loser of that game should drop below #2 in the polls (but they will, no doubt).
The media will of course try to say that the BCS will be the championship game - but that's just marketing, there's too much money to be lost by admitting the truth.
Once again, the BCS system is shown to be a farce. Let's go back to the days of tie games and traditional bowl games, and forget about having to settle a manufactured "national championship." Enough of trying to turn a sport into a business.
Great, after getting exposed in WVA's only real game of the season he rebounds against Cincinnati? Was Eastern Washington busy this week? WVA attempted the classic, "let's play the weakest schedule we can find and hope to get by one tough game" scenario and failed. Well maybe they can cheer for Rutgers now
corpsengineer, you sure hit it on the head. The SEC IS a demolition derby. That's probably the most appropriate description for it I've ever read!! However, you're way off base. It is the toughest conference in the nation to win because there are so many teams that are within a hair of each other talent-wise. What other conference has THIS MUCH and THIS MANY huge, big games as the SEC? None. Big Ten has only a couple of decent teams this year. Same goes for Big 12.
Florida got lucky to escape today. Can't wait to see the press label it as a "gutsy performance" instead of a lucky win against a below average team. Auburn got exposed (again). Oh wait...that's right, that's just because the SEC is sooo good, that even their bad teams are better than top teams in other conferences...
right, whatever. The SEC is overrated, stop making excuses.
This week has proven that the SEC IS overrated. Except for a fingertip, the top two teams both go down. If the BCS title game is anyone other than Texas and the Michigan/OSU winner, the BCS falls on its face again. If Texas wins out against a decent K State and a pretty good team in A&M, no one else deserves it, except, ironically for the loser of the Michigan/OSU game. At this point, only Texas can say its one loss came against the #1 team when Colt McCoy was in his second game. I would love to see a rematch now that Colt has matured well beyond his years.
Call me crazy (many often do)but is it possible, that this year there are a number of REALLY good teams, but no truly outstanding teams. For the past 3-4 years there have been 2-4 teams that were undeniably outstanding followed by a handful (maybe 5) of really good teams. The past 2 weeks have made me think that there is a lot more equality in college football this year than in previous years. Ohio looks like a good pick for #1 at this time (probably closest to outstanding this year), but even they stumbled last week. In my opinion, this adds weight to the push for a playoff system in college football. The question would then become how do you select the teams (how many?) to go to the playoff... While his may be heresy to some, I am loving this season due to the rise of the underdogs (eg Rutgers) and the upset of highly touted teams (eg USC, Florida). What a season!!
Who wants to see a Texas-Ohio St. rematch? If Arkansas can get by Tennessee, LSU and Florida in the SEC title game and USC can get by Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame, and UCLA, then those 2 teams deserve a shot at the OSU-Michigan winner. If that scenario plays out, USC should play Ohio St. or Michigan considering USC pummeled Arkansas.
SEC overhyped? What about the Big East? I love the fact that Rutgers is sitting unbeaten, but after watching consecutive weeks of Big East play on Thursday nights, I don't think that those teams would match up that well with Ohio, Michigan or even LSU, Florida or Tennessee for a full 60 mnutes. At this time I think that the best title game is looking like an undefeated (Ohio/Michagan) and a 1-loss team (Florida, Texas, Michigan/Ohio or USC).
I would like to know how a Texas team who comes back from 21 down again TT is considered a great comeback, but ND vs Mich State was considered a bad win. Florida almost, and should have, lost to USC will be considered a good win, but ND pounding AF a just as good team will be considered ok because they gave up yards. I am sure Florida will move up and ND will barely move. The rankings are a bit of a joke.
look at the BCS, texas will only go up one spot in one of the human polls, with auburn and louisville losing, the gators are going to go up 2 spots in both human polls, which will give them QUITE a comfortable lead over texas...so unless UF loses, Texas will not go to the BCS NC game...Go Gators...
OSU & UMich look good, but their out-of-conference marquee wins are against two teams that were weak at the time (Texas/ND), imo. The Big Ten, unfortunately, is 2.5 (Wisc being the .5) teams, plus the 8.5 that make up the rest of the schedule. (Which hurts to say, as a Penn Stater)
The SEC is a much stronger conference - no smoke & mirrors, just solid defenses that make the games tougher to stomach (& win). The SEC Champ, assuming it has 1 loss, should be in the BCS championship. No way should OSU/UM get a rematch, as that is the same as a conference championship that others already play.
Bias aside, the truth is 18 to 22 year old men are going to make mistakes, and plays. I don't believe that the conferences are that different, we need a new playoff model, which will in turn change the way the game is played. Remember the ugly scores of the early BCS, and the lack of sportsmanship that went along with it. be carefull of what we ask for and who we ask.
For sure I see the BCS game passing on a two loss florida team. Especially if the scenario you described in your post occurs. A one loss Texas, Notre Dame or USC will undoubtedly be ahead of any two loss SEC team. Especially considering some of Florida's shaky wins to say the least. Beating an unranked team at home by one point because they cant kick an extra point doesnt exactly scream national title to me, even if they escape with only one loss, look out for FSU in the season finale. In fact, Texas should have lost to Nebraska as well, if the Huskers WR would have just fallen to the ground instead of fumbling, so I see them as being a bit overrated as well. It should be interesting as the next 3 weeks unfold.
i have to disagree with corpsengineer when he says that the sec is over-rated. how can a conference that will send probably 6 or 7 of their teams to bowls this year be over-rated? just because there are several (this year 4 or 5) top tier teams and it's just a (like you said) demolition derby with every team taking at least one game from each. that's not over-rated, that's a very strong conference. would any of them beat mich? very possible. would any of them beat osu? not so possible, not this year. i would take my sec teams against any conference any day and like my chances.
Stewart, question for you, after the Razorbacks lose to LSU and Flordia loses to FSU or the Razorbacks in the SEC title game, and Texas loses in the Big 12 championship game dont you think the other BCS opponent for the title game could come from the USC ND winner?..I mean ive been thinking this since week 3, the USC loss hurts my hopes but with all that happened today, and Flordia getting lucky could have been another to go down, experts still refuse to talk about ND as a contender, its not so far fetched, I mean texas has looked very beatable a few times this year, they should have lost to Nebraska already, and even so dont you think the winner of USC and ND has a better reason to get in?..USC sech is by far the toughest, and ND would then have beaten USC and only lost to michigan in week 3...where as texas hasnt beaten anyone in the top 20. I dont get why Texas gets all this hype, they lost the best college football player and start a freshman QB and clearly the Big 12 is so overrated this year with the emergance of a team like Missouri, like texas needed a huge comeback to get by tech, why all the love for the longhorns and so little for SC and ND..which by the way if my theory holds true, imagine that november, both BCS championship teams found near the last week of the season.
Okay, I understand that from an outsider's point of view the SEC appears inconsistent. However, I would like to mention that the talent in the SEC is deep and diversified. Any team in the SEC can rival one another. Also, the Georgia v. Auburn game, I would like to remind the SEC critics that Georgia has had a top 5 recruiting class for the last five years. The Pac-10, Big 12, and especially the ACC are all top heavy conferences.
Even the Big 10 is top heavy. Which was a surprise, the Iowa dibacle was unforeseen. However, everyone forgets that Florida played four top twenty defenses in four weeks at the beginning of the season. Florida played a fifth ranked Tennessee, top twenty five Alabama, top ten LSU, and then were upset by tenth ranked Auburn Tigers.
Although the Gators do not put up 50 points a game, SEC critics need to get off their soap box. The SEC is the toughest conference in college football, and I do not care whether you agree with me or not!
How can you call the SEC overrated? If anything, the SEC is EXACTLY what it was predicted to be. A stacked conference full of top 25 teams. Would OSU and Michigan look so good if they played 4 teams that had been ranked in the top 11? A Georgia upset over Auburn can't be too surprising. When you have to play hard for every game in your conference you're bound to get tired. I'd like to see OSU and Michigan play an SEC schedule.
Let's not forget Nebraska getting into the BCS championship game against Miami despite not even being in it's conference championship game. There's a precedence that the championship game isn't the end all/be all in BCS/AP rankings.
Is there anything Brady Quinn can do to convince the media that he is an excellent Heisman candidate?
Because if there is I can't imagine him doing much more than he has in the past 5 games. 18 TD's 0 Int. I don't care if you are playing Johns Hopkins and Georgetown, that is impressive. He hasn't thrown an interception in about 200 attempts.
Can the Heisman be lost on a Saturday in SEPTEMBER??
How obvious was it that Steve Spurrier completely outcoached Urban Meyer? Urban Meyer had guys running 4.3 40 yard dashes all over the field. But Meyer went to trickery way too often, when he could have lined up and ran the football. He tried a half back pass on first and goal from the 10 down 3 points. Result? Intentional grounding penalty and a sure end to the drive.
Spurrier's offense was impressive despite being physically outmatched. Poor Spurrier can't catch a break against the SEC elite. He has close loses to: Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas, and now Florida.
Meyer is a decent coach with unbelieve talent to work with.
Spurrier is an unbelievable coach with decent talent to work with.
SEC Overrated? Who in the world have OSU and Michigan really played? Iowa is horrible, Wisconsin is fair, and the rest of the teams are pure garbage. And we dont even need to talk about the Big 12 and Pac 10. Michigan is so great and yet they struggled until late versus Vandy
If any SEC team played a BiG 10 schedule they would be whipped as butter. SEC, they may play ranked teams, but come on. We all know the rankings are a farce!!! It all depends where you are ranked at the beginning of the season, so teams not ranked, that are good, have no chance to move up, because they never drop anyone down. SEC sucks!
How did Slaton get exposed against Louisville? If 18 carries for 156 yds, incl. a 45 yd TD run is getting exposed, just give him the Heisman next year when he actually shows up. Check some of the SEC boys' schedules too and you will see planty of Eastern Washington clones. Why look, UF has powerhouse Western Carolina up next.
Saying this conf or that conf is better is a waste of time. Obviously, Mich & Ohio St. are strong. But last week Ball St, almost beat Mich in the big house. If they had, would that mean the MAC is better than the Big 10? Thats why we play the games! Just ask Georgia from last yrs Sugar Bowl.
If Rutgers can go undefeated, they deserve to play for the national championship! This is simple logic...There should be no sport in the world where a team wins every game of the season and is not the champion. That is just ridiculous...strength of schedule is not an issue because 1)You can only beat who you play and 2) Strength of schedule is not an exact science...Otherwise then I demand my NY Giants be automatically awarded a superbowl spot
The SEC is so overrated, a bunch of mediocre teams that beat up on oneanother and dont play any out of conference schedule. The big east, pac 10, big ten and probably the acc's top 3 could whoop up on the SECs top 3, what a joke conference.
The sec is overrateddddddd I would square off the top 3 in the big east, big ten, or the pac10 against the top 3 in the sec and I am more then certain the any of these teams would smoke any of those teams.