SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/04/2006 11:52:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part IV
Riley Skinner and the Demon Deacons are 8-1 for the first time since 1944.
James Lang/US PRESSWIRE
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming -- i.e. Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, USC -- to address a very important topic: Wake Forest, baby!
Ladies and gentlemen, Wake Forest is 8-1. Wake Forest beat Boston College on Saturday night to remain tied for first in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Wake Forest will be the highest ranked ACC team in my Power Rankings this week.
I feel like the Demon Deacons’ story hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention this year – perhaps because there’s an even bigger Cinderella story brewing in Piscataway, N.J. – but it’s pretty darn unbelievable. Wake Forest has been an ACC afterthought for how long? They were supposed to become an even bigger afterthought when the conference expanded to 12. Certainly the big three in their state –- UNC, N.C. State and Duke -- have been largely buried by it.
But the Demon Deacons have something on their side that those teams don’t: A tremendous coach. Jim Grobe has long been one of the most respected “under the radar” guys in the profession, but he’s not going to under the radar anymore if Wake ends up winning the ACC. The Deacs haven’t done that, by the way, since 1970 – and they went 6-5 that year.
If you saw Saturday night’s game, you saw a big-time defense that relentlessly pressured Eagles QB Matt Ryan, sacking him four times and picking him twice. You saw speedster Kevin Marion dash 81 yards for a touchdown. And you saw Wake win despite getting outgained 430-28 and possessing the ball for only 24:53.
Are the Deacons top-10 good? Not quite. No one in that conference is this year. But honestly, who cares? Wake is quietly becoming one of the best stories of the season.
· The budding “Colt McCoy for Heisman” push gained some serious momentum Saturday night. Against Oklahoma State, the torrid frosh went 23-of-29 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Those are Brady Quinn numbers. With so many of the other contenders dropping off seemingly by the week (see Steve Slaton), why shouldn’t McCoy be mentioned among the elite? Of course, there’s one pretty significant glitch: In a head-to-head matchup with the Heisman frontrunner, Troy Smith, McCoy got beat.
· Give Bob Stoops some props for a bold call to help seal Oklahoma’s 17-16 win at Texas A&M. Fourth and 1 at his own 29, 1:29 left, Stoops goes for it -- twice. On the other side, Dennis Franchione’s team somehow managed to get flagged for 12 men on the field -- coming off a timeout no less -- on the Sooners’ second try. That’s hard to do.
· Two weeks ago, I would have told you it was a no-brainer that Cal will beat USC on Nov. 18. Now, I’m not so sure. I think the Trojans’ offense found its identity in the second half of the Oregon State game last week (they poured it on hapless Stanford on Saturday), and while there’s not a darn thing wrong with the Bears’ offense, their defense has been strangely inconsistent. Saturday they gave up 516 yards in a 38-24 win over UCLA. Anything could happen at the Coliseum in two weeks.
· That said, Cal WR DeSean Jackson – who had his fourth career punt return for touchdown Saturday night – is really, really good.
· Last week I stated my belief that the Pac-10 is the deepest conference in the country (not the "best," not the “toughest,” but the deepest) because the top eight teams can all beat each other. Well … make that nine. Arizona (4-5) got a big win Saturday, going to Pullman and knocking off a Washington State team that had beaten Oregon and taken USC to the wire. Mike Stoops’ team seems to pull off one of these every year (remember the UCLA game last year?); can they finally string a couple together?
· Georgia Tech’s offense looked as crisp as it has in a long time Saturday night against N.C. State. Of course, that’s to be expected when Reggie Ball finds Calvin Johnson early and often. The stud receiver caught nine balls for 168 yards and two TDs, while Tashard Choice ran 34 times for 164 yards in the 31-23 win.
· Finally, it was nice to see Miami RB Tyrone Moss healthy and contributing for the first time in eons Saturday night against Virginia Tech. Despite Moss running for 109 yards on 13 carries and the ‘Canes defense holding Hokies star Branden Ore to 80 yards on 30 carries, Miami fell 17-10. Why? QB Kyle Wright: 12-of-26 for 77 yards and two picks. The ‘Canes (5-4) close at Maryland, at Virginia and against Boston College. Will they get bowl eligible? I think so, but it might be at 6-6.
Stewart -- I think that USC is finally getting their offense used to the personnel that they have right now That would be my criticism over their productivity over the first part of the season. Let's not forget that Pete Caroll is undefeated in November -- that is one of the few streaks left that we can hang onto...
Mandel says: "can [AZ] finally string a couple together?"
Um, that would mean they beat Cal next week in Tucson. Not entirely unimaginable, but how nice would it be for Stoops (and USC) if the Wildcats were able to pull another rabbit outta their hats next week? Tuitama, Steptoe and Cason might just have the answer, and show why they played the Trojans so tough in late September. And I also find it interesting that everyone is overlooking the fact that this AZ team beat a tough BYU team in week one.
Colt McCoy for Heisman? Stewart - wake up! If you and the rest of the media would actually pay attention, you'd notice that Brady Quinn has better stats than McCoy, and, most importantly, better stats than the guy you, Gene Menez and everyone at ESPN have conceded the Heisman to, Troy Smith.
The ND homers are unbelieveable. North Carolina has ONE win this year, and before today never scored 20 points...ND's terrible defense gives up over 20 and ND homers want to move up on a "stirring performance". Brady Quinn as the front runner in the Heisman race because Troy's stats were bad today? See Brady's against Michigan. Oh and look at the passing attempts, Tressel put the shackles on Troy on 1st and 2nd downs the entire second half. Give troy 45 pass attempts and he will own the stats, but Tressels knows how to coach a balanced team to wins over quality opponents, not the schlock ND plays this year. It's a shame there aren't more armed forces teams for ND to play, if only their were 12 of them and then MAYBE ND goes undefeated...but not with that terrible defense. I love watching ND lose so here's hoping the ND homers get their wish and we watch the destruction of a terrible team in a bowl game they don't deserve.
I hate Texas, absolutely hate'em. But how goofy is it that McCoy is supposedly knocked off because he lost a "head-to-head" matchup with Smith? Weren't they playing different defenses? It's just like the supposed dominance Tom Brady has over Peyton Manning. I'd bet whatever you wanted me to bet that if Brady had been facing the Patriots' defenses and Manning the Colts', their records would be reversed.
So, is it possible that Texas' secondary finally came together for good? I know McCoy had an awesome game, but I'm more excited that we ARE actually able to stop the pass. Reid, 3rd in nation, ended with a rating of 62, and only 11 of 28. Meanwhile, OSU's Vince Young-sized Bowman, along with Woods, got held for half the yardage each is used to getting, with virtually no yards after catch.
Whoever said that Brady Quin has better stats than Colt McCoy needs to wake up and take a look at the stats. Colt McCoy has more TDs than Brady, better pass completion rate, better QB rating, has been sacked less than half the number of times Brady Quinn has been sacked (McCoy's 10 to Quinn's 21) AND has faced more top 25 teams than Brady Quinn. We all know that Brady has more passing yards than Colt but I am sure Colty boy would be right up there if he threw 10,000 times each game like Brady. So a little advice the next time you post--check the stats!
You know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see a conference "playoff" between the SEC and the ACC; you know, #1 vs #1, #2 vs #2, and so on. I don't much care who would "win"... I'd just like to see it. Forget the BCS - this would be way more fun.
"Give troy 45 pass attempts and he will own the stats, but Tressels knows how to coach a balanced team to wins over quality opponents, not the schlock ND plays this year."
Schlock ND plays this year? Admittedly ND's S.O.S. is not that of Florida (or any other SEC team for that matter), but to hear that statement come from an Ohio State fan is absolutely ludicrous. OSU has played one 'quality' opponent all year and will end up playing one more. Every week, their win over Iowa looks less impressive and this week they struggled the football powerhouse Illinois. OSU has been anointed by everyone as 'clearly the best team in college football' but they haven't played anyone since their trip to Austin. Sadly, they will probably also beat Michigan (who is also grossly overrated) and that win just add fuel to the fire. I would love to see OSU play Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia in consecutive weeks and see how they fare. I can assure you, they wouldn't be undefeated.
Deja Vue? Horns looking forward to another showdown with the Buckeyes. Huskers looking forward to a possible title game with the Horns in K.C. Let's replay 1996...Huskers ready for a national title game, but the Horns ruin it. Hmmmmm... (nothing but respect, Texas, but the past has taught this Husker to expect the unexpected.)
Although the most electrifying play that game was the DeSean run-back (and knockout block from DeCoud), but don't look past Nate Longshore's performance: Extremely accurate and poised the entire game (save one sack/fumble) against a talented UCLA defensive front.
Colt McCoy is doing an amazing job post Vince Young. Consideration for the Heisman would be a huge compliment to a humble player. He isn't going to win the trophy but he certainly is playing at the caliber of those others being considered.
To the person that said Brady Quinn has better stats than Colt McCoy... that's only true if you throw out the fact that McCoy has a higher completion percentage, higher yards per attempt, more TDs, and twice as few sacks.
Oh yeah, the same can also be said about Troy Smith vs. Brady Quinn (except for TDs). If you and the rest of the the uninformed ND fan base would actually pay attention, you'd notice that.