SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/25/2006 04:08:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part I
Chris Hetland has suffered through a horrendous season as Florida's kicker.
Jason Parkhurst/US PRESSWIRE
LOS ANGELES -- Do you realize what’s hurting Florida the most in its attempt to procure BCS style points? Its kicker!
If you watched the Gators’ game against Florida State on Saturday, you’re aware that Florida absolutely dominated the ‘Noles in the first half, outgaining them 265 yards to 56. And yet, the Gators led just 14-0. Why? Because Chris Hetland missed two more easy field-goal attempts, pushing his season percentage to a ghastly 3-of-12 (with the three he’s made all coming from inside 30 yards). How bad must the backup kickers be that they keep trotting this guy out there? It’s painful.
The point is, perception is reality. A pollster who didn’t get to see the game and sees that 10-1 Florida beat 6-5 Florida 21-14 is inevitably going to downgrade the Gators. But what if it had been 20-0 at halftime instead of 14-0? Seems a little more dominant, doesn’t it? Maybe those two second-half FSU touchdowns don’t matter as much. Maybe you’re more willing to excuse a quiet second half for the Florida offense.
All three of the Gators’ touchdowns came on big plays -- a 66-yard Andre Caldwell catch-and-run, a 41-yard Percy Harvin run and a 25-yard Chris Leak touchdown pass to Dallas Baker after FSU tied it up. Beyond that, Florida’s offense was fairly unimpressive and in fact failed to convert a single point off three third-quarter Drew Weatherford interceptions.
I swear I’ll continue to keep an open mind about the Gators going into the SEC title game, but realistically … it’s not looking good for them.
∙ Speaking of Harvin, here’s hoping he's OK. He got hit awkwardly on a second-quarter crossing pattern and spent about 15 minutes on the turf before being carted off on a stretcher. His feet were moving and he gave the thumbs up sign to the crowd.
∙ Major, major props to South Florida for doing what no defense has been able to in a year-and-a-half: shut down West Virginia’s Steve Slaton and Pat White. A week after WVU's dynamic duo ran for 435 yards against Pittsburgh, USF held Slaton to 43 yards on 18 carries, White to 17 yards on 15 carries.
So much for the argument that West Virginia is the best team in the Big East. The Mountaineers may be the most exciting to watch, but Louisville not only beat them on the field but routed that same USF team last week. Basically, the Cardinals have a defense, West Virginia does not. Now the question becomes, can Rutgers exploit that defense next week? The Scarlet Knights, who routed Syracuse, are now back in the BCS race. If they win next week, they go. If not, and if Louisville wins out, the Cards go.
∙ What a huge win for Steve Spurrier. South Carolina was in danger of slipping to 6-6 in the Ball Coach’s second season, but by upsetting its 8-3 archrival 31-28, the Gamecocks gain some serious momentum. Very quietly, Spurrier has made his impact felt on a previously struggling offense. Against both Florida (on Nov. 11) and the Tigers, South Carolina racked up 400-plus yards (in this case 491) against a top-five defense, even doing so despite three Blake Mitchell interceptions.
The win should bolster South Carolina’s bowl standing. As for Clemson, they were ticketed for the Gator Bowl if they had won Saturday; now, it’s hard to say how far a team that lost three of its last four will fall.
∙ Poor Duke. Poor, poor Duke. The winless Blue Devils scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes to rally to a 45-44 deficit against North Carolina -- only to have the second extra point blocked. Duke finishes 0-12.
∙ Finally, for anyone who’s ever pined for a holiday trip to Hawaii … read Purdue coach Joe Tiller’s comments in the Indianapolis Star about his team’s game there tonight. You would think he’s being forced to spend 12 hours in Best Buy the day after Thanksgiving.
I honestly feel you don't know crap about college football and the SEC. How can you say that Arkansas was its best team in the SEC? They really really showed that this Friday didn't they? Losing TWICE!!! And USC? How well did they play against Oregon State? What about Notre Dame? They were defeated by Michigan at the beginning of the season. And don't even get me started on Michigan! Next to West Virginia and USC, they are the most overrated team. I don't understand how SI allows you to report college football, maybe you should do women's basketball instead.
After much posting I have made. Again, Florida has shown the lack of decisive win against Florida State. Even if USC loses to Norte Dame, Michigan should play the rematch.
Again, I state to you, SEC is a good conference overall but they lack the decisive team to win out their conference undefeated. I understand it is a tough conference but that is why they play the game on the field and expected to win. In my view, LSU is the best team in the SEC.. Not Florida nor Arkansas (My prediction with Arkansas failed with LSU).
As for the Big East, the same thing is happening there. Like the SEC, underdog teams are beating out the top ranked teams in the conference. It is happening in the Big 12 as well as the ACC. So there is no special consideration for the SEC.
Right now, it is going to be either USC or Michigan in my view...
Only in I-A football do teams have to win with style. Everyone knows for sure that Florida is not better than USC or Michigan, because they have not been winning by 3TDs every week. Let's make sure the Gators never get a chance to prove themselves, because they couldn't go on the road and win at Auburn, perhaps the easiest place to play in the SEC.
I disagree Stewart. I watched the Florida game and couldn't help but think "What is wrong with Urban Meyer?" When he spread the field and let Leak throw, good things usually occured. However when he went to his spread option/QB draws with Leak, it usually went nowhere and killed drives. I think Urban Meyer needs to shelve the QB draws/dives and leave the option for next year and let Leak throw the ball.
The only big run came with Percy Harvin from the direct snap and a pitch from Leak the play before. When FSU tied it up, Florida threw it 9 times on the 11 play drive. Not surprising they marched right down the field for 7.
I don't care how close the Ball St. vs Michigan game was or how Ohio State only beat Illinois by 7 or how high scoring the game between UM and OSU was last week, it doesn't change how weak and undeserving of a BCS spot the Big East is.
There is no way, no how, Michigan, Ohio State, or even Florida (OK... maybe Florida could) EVER lose at home to South Florida. What a joke that so many had Big East teams in the top 10 this season.
Mr. Mandel-- I only wish to call to your attention that your upset special for the week did not come to fruition. It seems that the Broncos of BSU not only defeated the wolfpack of UN, but absolutely humiliated them on the defensive side of the ball. Does Boise State finally earn a little respect nationwide? The teams they have defeated have proved themselves to be solid teams. Nevada defeated a Big 10 school, Hawa'ii is in the top 25, and Oregon State beat USC. What more do you want?
Can we please get off the SEC bandwagon now? Other than proving they are better than the horrible ACC did this weekend prove anything other than that the team with the best record has a pathetic kicker, mediocre quarterback and no running game? If USC can't win out let's just declare the OSU-Michigan game the de facto national championship game and go back to using the bowls as exhibition games.
Another year, another great CHOKE by Georgia Tech. Stewart, I told you to leave Coach Gailey on the worst five list but noooooo. He has hung his hat on the hapless Reggie Ball for four years. As a Tech Grad, I can tell you it has been four years of disbelief. One interesting note is that if the Chik-fil-A bowl picks UGA and Tech loses in the ACC Championship, they will probably end up at the Champs Sports Bowl.
Check Florida's schedule. 6 home games and 5 road games Title Legitimate Games 9/16 at (then #13) Tennessee W 21-20 9/30 Alabama W 28-13 10/07 (then #9) LSU W 23-10 10/14 at (then #11) Auburn L 27-17 11/11 S Carolina W 17-16
Most of the tough games they had to play were at home (with Tennesee and Auburn as exception).
Tenneesee (who I stated is overated), they won by 1 point (which Arkansas routed in my view)
Auburn, they lost LSU was a game LSU lost it themselves and not Florida made a statement and won.
I'm sick of all these SEC idiots. The Big 10 is by far the best conference in the country. Best 2 teams by a mile. Even the 3rd-best team (Wisconsin) would probably win the SEC (see their total smackdown of Auburn last year). Penn State would contend for SEC title; man, even Purdue and Minnesota would probably have winning records. Stewart, I think you should cover the SEC once a year, when you do the division I-AA stuff.
Auburn "perhaps the easiest place to play in the SEC?" You're either clueless or biased or both. As someone who played at every stadium in the SEC, Auburn was the loudest AND hardest to play in. LSU's Death Valley - PLEASE!! 2nd place is Neyland
JW- Auburn "perhaps the easiest place to play in the SEC? You're either clueless or biased or both. As someone who has played in all the major steadiums in the SEC, Auburn was the hardest place to play. LSU not even close. Neyland maybe.
The FACTS are, UF has played the 5th toughest schedule in the country, not including the SEC championship game. If they win that game, it will be the toughest schedule of any of the top 5.
People are seriously knocking Arkansas and the SEC because they lost to LSU. LSU, folks. This is a team that will have more nfl players in the next two drafts than ANY other team in the country. This is a team that could beat ANY given team on any given sunday, including the media's beloved OSU, USC and ND.
Dont get me started on ND. They shouldnt even be mentioned in the same breath as these other teams. Who have they beaten to deserve praise, Ga tech, the same on that lost to an unranked so called mediocre SEC team (sarcasm). FACTS are, ND doesnt have a serious quality win to its credit and is only in the picture because of dollars.
Shame on the NCAA for claiming to be all about amateur athletics and sport and then selling the bcs to the highest ratings. And shame on your competition network for shamelessly shilling for the teams that play on ABC every week.
I couldn't read this any longer without gagging. Are you kidding me? STYLE POINTS?!?! Since when is football about style (points)? It's a man's game, if you want style points, watch the style network. I can't believe a bunch of girly men like yourselves decides who plays fpr "national championship" of college football. This is the main reason why I abandoned the college game. Lack of a decisive win? Florida beat Tennessee, a top 10 team as of Saturday night and will play Arkansas. IT'S NOT ABOUT HOW PRETTY YOU WIN, IT'S IF YOU WIN. The college game will remain a joke until a playoff is implemented. End of story.
The sheer idiocy of some people prediciting domination of teams that have never met. Idiots like Herbstreet saying OSU and Michigan would go undeafeated in the SEC. Making statements that cant be disproved because the two bigges opponents of a playoff system are THE BIG 10 and THE PAC 10..the same two conferences without the stomach to schedule a conference game.
That same genius Herbstreet claimed that WVU would beat LSU on a neutral field. I wonder if hes eating his words after they just got beat at home by USF? I doubt it, hes got to shill to get paid.
Who wants to travel 13 hours to play a game after you've accepted a bowl bid, in a game that essentially means nothing, at a place notorious for home cooking, risk potential injury, and have your athletic dept lose money on the trip? Not Me. Not Joe.
Jake, you are a moron. I grew up in Big 10 country. I've been to more Michigan, MSU and Penn State games (against everyone in the Big 10) than you've had warm meals. When I moved south 15 years ago, I said the same things you did...until I actually attended SEC games. Faster, better defenses and there is not a single Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, etc., etc. in the conference. Mississipi State and Vandy show up every week against every opponent. We'll see how it goes when the Big 10 plays the SEC in the bowls. Wisconsin gets the beatdown by the fourth or fifth best team in the SEC. I guarantee it. I love Michigan (my second favorite team in the country), but they'd get spanked by Florida. There are three quality teams in the Big 10 - There are 6 or 7 in the same league in the SEC. I'm not whining...the BCS is a joke and the chips will fall. It just gets us closer to total disgust with a system that should be junked. You know you're in trouble when they start talking "style points" and teams are playing their starters deep into the second half against vastly inferior opponents (see ND against UNC and the service academies, USC against Stanford and Oregon, OSU against Cincinnati, Bowling Green & Indiana and Michigan against Central Michigan and Indiana). I don't believe you should get a chance to play in the National Championship if you don't win your conference, PERIOD (no asterisks, no buts). Neither Michigan nor the mighty OSU (who is the best team in the country this year) gets through the SEC unscathed. And a game with 1,000 yards of total offense certainly doesn't earn you accolades in the SEC - maybe you should look for respect from the WAC, another place they don't play defense.
ND seemed to be completely unprepared, outcoached and outmanned for this game...when is Weis going to start to be held accountable? Golden boy Brady won't be around next year, and they're losing a lot of seniors. I see bad times ahead for ND.
Are you kidding me? Michigan is your second favorite team and you think Florida would spank them? Florida couldn't spank the Ohio Bobcats! I agree that the SEC is a better overall conference than the Big 10, but how can you possibly think that anyone is better than OSU, UM, and USC? If you add Florida in the mix, they are clearly the 4th best, and they would most certainly not SPANK any one of those 3 teams. OSU and UM are the 2 best teams and they would both have an excellent shot at winning out in the SEC. OSU would have destroyed the Gamecocks, by the way. Florida hasn't looked impressive in about 3/4 of its games. Give me a break, dude!