SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/13/2007 08:51:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part II
Ali Highsmith and the Tigers became the seventh top-10 team to lose this season.
Kentucky celebrated the start of basketball season with its annual Midnight Madness event in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Saturday night, the Wildcats’ football team provided an ultra-thrilling kickoff to another season: BCS Madness.
For the first time since the BCS’ 1998 inception, neither the preseason No. 1 nor No. 2 team will be undefeated when the season’s first standings are released Sunday night. It’s only fitting that this season of unprecedented chaos would reach all the way to the top of the poll.
A week after moving to No. 1 in the BCS pecking order (Coaches Poll and Harris Poll) with a dramatic comeback against Florida, we knew LSU’s trip to 5-1 Kentucky on Saturday carried "upset potential." As is usually the case with these things, the odds stacked further in the Wildcats’ favor once their eventual 43-37, triple-overtime victory commenced.
Tigers QB Matt Flynn (17-of-35, 134 yards) was noticeably off, misfiring on several open throws to receiver Brandon LaFell, who’s been carrying a heavy load ever since EarlyDoucet’s groin injury and himself dropped several catches. Doucet’s absence finally caught up with the Tigers on Saturday. So, too, did in-game injuries to cornerback Chevis Jackson (redshirt freshman Jai Eugene had to play much of the game) and fullback Jacob Hester (who limped off right when LSU could have used him most, prior to the final play of the game, a fourth-and-two, just like all those last week against Florida). And then there were the penalties -- lots and lots of costly penalties (12 for 102 yards), the type that open the door for a capable underdog like Kentucky.
A week after struggling mightily in a loss to South Carolina, Kentucky QB Andre Woodson played like a Heisman candidate, gradually chipping away at LSU’s previously impregnable defense until the dam finally broke in the second half and overtime. The Wildcats gained a modest (for a three-overtime game) 374 yards but converted an impressive 9-of-17 third downs -- all the more impressive considering they were playing without star RB Rafael Little. WR Steve Johnson, the star of Kentucky’s previous win against Arkansas, shined again, catching seven passes for 133 yards, including what turned out to be the game-winner in triple overtime.
You could see LSU’s frustration on defense come spilling out in the first overtime when DE Tyson Jackson appeared to take a slug at Woodson’s helmet after he’d gotten off a pass on first-and-15. This mental miscue resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty that instantly chopped off half the yardage Kentucky needed to reach the end zone. It was at that moment that I figured the Tigers were toast, though they managed to hang in there another two rounds.
Les Miles’ biggest job now is to make sure that frustration doesn’t follow the Tigers back to Baton Rouge. Because it’s pretty obvious by now that one loss is by no means going to be fatal to a team’s national-title chances this season. LSU may drop into the bottom half of the top 10, but that’s not a lot of ground to make up over the next six weeks.
The bigger question is whether the Tigers can avoid a second loss what with games remaining against Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas (not to mention a possible SEC title date). Interestingly, Doucet -- out since the second game of the season -- slipped back on to the field for the first time during that last overtime. His permanent return would be a significant boon for Flynn and the offense.
Meanwhile, in a national-title race that has suddenly become more congested than the Lincoln Tunnel (which I’ll be driving through Thursday night on my way to see one of the assorted contenders, South Florida, play at Rutgers), you can now add Kentucky to the mix. At 6-1, the Wildcats are now one of four SEC teams (the others LSU, South Carolina and even two-loss Florida) that could conceivably work their way up to No. 1 or 2 by December 2. Next week’s game against the Gators will likely serve as a de facto elimination game for both teams’ division, conference, and national title hopes.
Meanwhile, the likes of Cal, Ohio State, USF, Boston College, Oregon, Oklahoma, West Virginia, et., al., will undoubtedly perk up at the news of the LSU score. The Superdome is officially open to anyone who can manage to string together six or seven straight wins. The reality is, LSU still has as good a chance as any of them to pull it off.
• I wonder if Skip Bayless still thinks USC is a top-five team.
USC may have avoided a second straight disaster Saturday against 2-5 Arizona but this game was just as telling as its previous two in terms of just how far the Trojans’ offense has fallen (they managed just 276 total yards.) The Wildcats’ defensive front dominated the Trojans’ injury-depleted offensive line, shutting down USC’s running game and forcing Trojans QB Mark Sanchez (three sacks, two interceptions) to run for his life seemingly every other play. The Wildcats held a 13-10 lead for much of the second half.
Ultimately, a two-play sequence early in the fourth quarter -- freshman Joe McKnight’s 45-yard punt return and Sanchez’s impressive 25-yard touchdown strike to Fred Davis -- put the Trojans up for good, 17-13, and they tacked on a field goal in the final minute. Congrats on the win, but let’s not kid ourselves here. USC has been taken to the wire by three straight foes with losing records (2-3 Washington, 2-4 Stanford and 2-5 Arizona), losing to the Cardinal. How are they supposed to hang with the likes of 5-1 Oregon (Oct. 27), 5-0 Cal (Nov. 10) or 6-0 Arizona State (Nov. 22)?
• Penn State QB Anthony Morelli (16-of-28, 216 yards, one TD, no INTs) had his best game against legit competition since last year’s Outback Bowl in the Nittany Lions’ 38-7 blowout of about-to-be-unranked Wisconsin on Saturday. The Badgers’ porous secondary probably contributed to that, but don’t overlook the importance of Penn State’s much-improved running game. For the second straight week, tailbacks Rodney Kinlaw (23 carries, 115 yards) and Evan Royster (eight for 68) were far more productive than suspended starter Austin Scott was earlier in the season, which can only help open things up for Morelli.
• Oregon has a history recently of imploding after its first loss, so I was interested to see whether the Ducks would be either flat or rusty Saturday following their heartbreaking loss to Cal and their subsequent bye week. Not even close. Dennis Dixon (21-of-28, 284 yards, three TDs, no INTs) staked the Ducks to a 40-0 lead by halftime en route to a 53-7 beating of Washington State.
• I’ve resisted jumping on the "Matt Ryan for Heisman" bandwagon so far due to Boston College’s weak early slate of opposition, and Saturday’s performance against Notre Dame did little more to sway me. The QB finished 32-of-49 for 290 yards, two touchdowns and a pick against an Irish defense obviously committed to taking away the deep ball.
• Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, on the other hand, continues to climb the Heisman ladder with his highly efficient performances. He turned in another one in Saturday’s not-unexpected 35-7 rout of Texas A&M, finishing 30-of-37 for 417 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. On the other side, this was the first of what will likely be several more humbling defeats to complete Dennis Franchione’s inevitable swan song.
I was concerned about a letdown for Oregon too after the heartbreaking loss to Cal., but we are back to our old selves, confident and most importantly, winning!! Go Ducks!! We now have as good a chance as anyone of going to a BCS game. I love CFB
Whatever, this is why CFB remains inherently inferior. Even when results on the field say otherwise, perception is still more important to the game. USC loses to a traditional conference doormat and everyone screams about how their season is done. LSU loses to a traditional conference doormat and the spin is already "they're still in it." Never mind that there are still more than a couple undefeated teams left in the country. But since those undefeated teams come from the likes of Central Florida, Hawaii, Cal, and Boston College no one cares. After all, this is CFB where writers, boosters, other coaches, and a computer determine post-season success!
Mike, go back to your NFL, where every team is interchangable, every coach is a conservative robot, every offense is the same, and everyone plays in sterile domes sponsored by banks. You clearly do not understand the first thing about the college game or why it is so massively superior to the so-called "professional" product.
If you can't get excited about the results from this season, then you truly are hopeless. Time for you to go away.
USF and Cal both have two good wins, but BC and Ohio St have yet to be tested. Hawaii and its schedule are a joke unless one is willing to argue that a hard fought victory over a winless Utah St team was the reason Hawaii had trouble with San Jose St. Or perhaps Hawaii was looking ahead to next week's thrilling match with New Mexico St. We are seeing a replay of last season when the three elite teams, LSU, Florida and USC struggled over the season facing tough competition. USF, Ohio St and BC could go undefeated given the weakness of their conferences and only USF can point to a good non-conference win (Auburn), but with the Big East in a mess one could non-conf win does not establish a team as elite. Just ask Ohio St whether its victory over Texas meant anything. Auburn may be as good as any of those three unbeaten teams, in which case LSU, Florida and USC and possibly Cal are likely still the cream of the crop.
Okay, now. Last week USF was 'punished' for 'struggling' with FAU. Wouldn't you say that, this week, Ohio State 'struggled' by not beating division II-A opponent Kent State by as large a margin as the Bulls beat UCF? As you noted, UCF is a respectable I-A team and, believe me, they gave the Texas Longhorns all they wanted. USF should leapfrog Boston College, as well, since BC posted one of the weakest showings against "Not De Same" of any ranked team this season. And maybe they should leapfrog Cal, as well. I mean, shouldn't the number 1 team in the country, even if they're from the PAC 10, be able to decide a contest against an unranked opponent before the fourth quarter? I've been a Pitt fan for more than 30 years, since sometime before the 1976 championship season. Last night I bought a "USF ALUMNI" tee-shirt. You know why? Because every Big East team that plays USF is GETTIN' SCHOOLED. USF is the new "Beast of the East." (Psst -- I don't know whom they'll be playing, but USF is headed for the BCS championship. Go BULLS!!!)
I'm as saddened as any LSU or SEC fan, for tha matter, as our last undefeated team has been knocked off now. But to compare LSU s loss to USC's loss, well, that's just crazytalk! LSU lost on the road to a top 15 team. USC lost at home to a 40-point underdog! Mandel had it right when he dropped USC to 20 in his poll. The ultimate sadness may come when two undefeated teams, or even a one-loss team or two, with creampuff schedules meet in the BCS championship, while the SEC and PAC-10 lose out because their teams knocked each other out. May be the lowest-rated title game of the BCS era.
If there was ever a year for a playoff, this is it. Hopefully after this year everyone will see the need for a playoff. There is no clearcut #1 or #2 team this year. How do you choose two teams out of the 10-12 teams that are now in contention? More teams will lose and it might get clearer, but it would be a great playoff this year.
Right now I'm getting excited that the Hokies are now back in the title mix. That game against BC will be huge.
Okay, Charles. If Kent State isn't a division II-A team, I won't bother to point out that they kinda play like one. But, then, they were no Appalachian State on the field today, either, were they? Now, I don't know whether USF is the best college football team in the state of Florida. But they're looking like the best UNDEFEATED college football team in the state of Florida. So there! (Then, too, there are the conference standings vs. the national rankings. Three unranked teams currently lead the Big 12 South, over both Oklahoma and Texas, which have previously been ranked in the top 10. Who's the best team if the traditional "big 2" can't make it to the Big 12 championship game?) btw, USF would beat USC handily and probably Cal, as well. As for USF vs. Florida? Why, Tebow would probably leave the field in a body bag.
Matthew: don't kid yourself. OSU will be #1 tomorrow by default, not because of anything they've shown on the field. They have a joke of a schedule, even worse than last year when they got shellacked by my Gators.
PittFanInFlorida, are you kidding? Since when does winning by 52 instead of 45 make any difference at all? Once the differenc in score gets to ~21 points or more does it really mean anything? I am sure the Buckeyes let up at the end of the game, there is no reason to run up the score once the game is in hand.
Mike, give me a break. USC lost to STANFORD, who is 2-4 with their only wins being USC and San Jose State. Kentucky is sooooo much better than Stanford, it's not even close. That is why LSU still has a shot, that and they have proven they deserve to be in the top 10 with their win over Florida. USC barely snucked out a win against Arizona, I'm afraid to see what happens when they play Cal or Orgeon this year.
Wow do we ever need a playoff now. Can't wait to read Mandells comments on how he plans on ranking teams now.
I mean after a #1 Ohio State (who has beat NO ONE) a #2 Boston College and #3 USF? Then what, #4OK and...move up South Carolina ahead of LSU who LSU beat? But wait South Carolina beat Kentucky. I know move Oregon up, past Cal? its a mess. we need a playoff.
It's really sad that the mediocrity that is Ohio State will rise to number 1 and have a shot a the NC without having beaten a single ranked team all year. Meanwhile, USF has beaten two top twenty teams including what is one of the front runners in the SEC and yet they get no respect.
USC has yet to play the good teams in their conference and they get knocked of by The Cardinal. And almost taken out by two other below 500 squads. LSU has played the strongest schedule and yes they lost to what is turning out to be a very good Kentucky squad.
What would be nice to see is a bunch of undefeated non - traditional schools at the top of the polss come BCS championship time. Then maybe Div 1 football will join every other sport with a playoff to determine a true champion.
-r u kidding "South Florida wil be #1 in tomorrow's BCS. The computers will counter the human bias."
Haha......right. You need to just hope they get left out of the championship game so they can pretend that they ever had a chance. Then again they'd need to win out and win the bowl game just to claim that.
The top three teams in the country are OSU, LSU, and Oklahoma with a couple other SEC teams and maybe Oregon and Cal on their heels.
Oh, great, didn't know Cal had already lost! Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to the Lord of Sports that Michigan beats Ohio State, Rutgers or Louisville beats USF, and VaTech beats Boston College. I then thank the Lord of Sports for March Madness, the .NFL playoff system, and all the other major sports where the team who wins the last game of the year is truly the champion of that sport.
OSU might indeed be #1 tomorrow, but speaking as an OSU fan there's lots of time left for everybody to show what they've got.
As for what you call a "joke" schedule last year, please remember they played and beat 2 teams that were ranked #2 at the time, and while you might say they didn't prove to be that good, that same ranking system is what most SEC fans use to argue the worth of their conference. AND OSU beat two teams that beat the #2 and #3 SEC teams in their bowl. So while yeah, OSU's schedule this year doesn't seem to be as tough, I don't think that even remotely applies to last year's schedule.
By the way, speaking as an OSU fan, I'd like a playoff as much as anybody. If a team is good and able to find ways to win, they'll make it happen, and if they can't they won't. And except for bitching about bad ref calls, it's tough to argue with the end result. I think anybody worth their salt wants to earn the win.
Wow...the SEC idiots are out in full force tonight. I know that there's a couple of intelligent SEC fans, so with all due respect to them...the rest of you need to get off your high horses.
The SEC's out of conference this year is a joke. They have only played one legitimate OOC opponent and won (VT). Auburn lost to USF, Tenn got housed by Cal..blah blah blah...but the SEC is the greatest, right?
Whether you think that OSU, or BC, or USF "backdoored" their way into "your" number one ranking doesn't matter. If LSU punches it in with FOUR tries to do it from the freakin' one yard line, we aren't having this debate. They looked vulnerable last week against UF, and this week it finally caught up to them.
Life does NOT begin and end with the SEC - they are admittedly a very good conference, but this crap about "my dad can beat up your dad" is ignorant at best.
If OSU finishes undefeated, they deserve a shot (as does anyone else who finishes undefeated in 1-A football) - so get off 'em. You think that intra-conference games aren't as hard found in the Big Ten or Big East as they are in the SEC? Isn't is possible (as much as you SEC idiots don't want to admit this) that the Michigan game is an aberration because their defensive coordinator can't defend the spread? Or did you forget that the Big Ten went 2-1 against the self proclaimed "best conference in college football" in bowl games? OSU sucked - they had a 51 day layoff. Get over it.
USF did beat WV, but WV has played a Hawaii-type schedule and done nothing to justify its high preseason ranking. The USF/Auburn/Fla games could easily have gone in the other direction and prove nothing. Miss St handled Auburn easier than USF did. Fla played LSU even at LSU, and LSU did not have much left for Kentucky. This week's Kentucky/Fla game will help clarify whether Fla still belongs in the top three. There is still much to be sorted out, but thoughts that Ohio St, USF and BC are elite teams is silliness.
Ohio State could actually wind up undefeated without a single opponent finishing in the Top 25. Hawaii may do the same, just win Baby! You should at least have to beat Somebody to have a shot at the Trophy.
OK, OK, let's make peace! I agree if OhioState runs the table, by all means they deserve to play in the BCS game. We can't extrapolate a couple of out-of-conference wins to say much about who's the best conference. If a team wins 12 or 13 games without a loss against any 1-A schedule, that's a great accomplishment. This far pre-dates the BCS. I can recall a 77-0 thrashing of Rice by LSU back in the late 70's when I was a kid, so scheduling easy wins is not something new. This is all in fun, but the serious matter is still the lack of a playoff system.
For the record, Kent State is a D-1 school. They are in the Mid-American Conference. And to say that Ohio State struggled in its 48 - 3 win is simply ridiculous.
I'm thrilled USF is doing well, and having spent a number of years in Tampa I'm all for a good dose of Bull chest thumping. But let's be clear: they got penalized last week because they damn near choked against Central Florida...a team they should have pummelled.
South Florida pummeled Central Florida THIS week. They struggled against Florida Atlantic last week.
I apologize to the few sane Ohio State fans but the rest of you are THE most obnoxious fans in college football! (I used to think it was Gator fans) Why do you have to hate on other teams? Stop talking smack (especially when you make mistakes in your comments) about other teams and enjoy OSU's success so far this year especially when their "real" schedule is going to start soon when they will be playing the tough part of their schedule.
College Gameday is giving no love to South Florida but that is expected; at least Kirk had South Florida #5. It is obvious it will just take time for respect to come.
Texas and Michigan were ranked #2 when OSU played (and beat) them--what more can you ask? If you want to invalidate those #2 rankings, fine...but you then need to hold off on using any current 'in-season' rankings to talk about conference superiority, strength of schedule, etc. if you're going to be consistent.
Additionally, Iowa was ranked, and Wisconsin and Penn State beat their SEC opponents in their bowl games. My point is that OSU played and beat a number of good teams last year. In any case, that was last year. I'd prefer to look to this year, and while it may seem odd to you, I like this year's OSU team even better than last year...they are intense on defense, have a well-balanced offense, and are mentally tough. I'll be proud of them no matter what happens, but I think they'll do pretty well.
I am sooo tired of the OSU stuff already. Yes they probably be #1 in the polls. But as my OSU friends have pointed out with WVU, I now turn on them. Who has OSU played? Are they even going to end up facing a top 15 rank team this year? The LSU/UK game was good and shows that polls don't mean nothing.
To SoFl: Hopefully I'm not one of those OSU fans you're talking about, but at least to me, it seems like MOST OSU fans aren't beating their chests too much. I'd ask you to go back and objectively look at the comments...while one or two folks might be overzealous, seems like most are reasonable...with way more "OSU hatred" coming OUR way that doesn't seem warranted based on the comments.
Still plenty of season left for everybody to win or lose...if there was EVER a season that could be called the "What the Hell??" season this is it! We'll see how it goes. But good luck to all of you and your teams, with the hope of good sportsmanship...something that can easily be lost in all this.
And to JayDrew: Yeah, we're 7-point favorites to the Mall Security guys, but only because one their guys is out with an injury! :)
Don't know if you're a WVU fan or not, but seems like it based on your comment. Agree with you that rankings are meaningless and we need a tournament...geez louise even the top 8 teams doing it would be incredible and stop a ton of bitching.
That aside, wouldn't a WVU/OSU game be a great one to have as a traditional one for the season (like Purdue/Notre Dame)...not exactly an in-state rivalry but close enough and it would be a blast...and maybe a neat new traditional game to have. Just a thought.
To Larry, Sorry, I didn't mean directly here about those type of fans. I am on the WV/Ohio border and we tend to have some very outspoken OSU fans that don't give and inch to WVU but are horribly offended if any critism hits OSU.
Mike..I believe you misunderstand. OSU fans in my area always yap about WVU not have been playing rank teams when there own currently high ranked team won't be either. Hypocrites is the term I believe for them. In regards to the LSU/UK game...thats makes two straight weeks that #1 ranked got beaten by a non-ten ranked team. Polls don't mean much to me in any sense. They should get rid of them and try something different. Who knows what but not polls.
phork - I think you are jumping the gun there a little bit. You picked the two teams who have not played anyone yet. They may be that good but we will have to wait and see. BC plays VT next and OSU plays Penn State in two weeks.
Why couldn't we simply convert the bowl games to playoffs? Additionally, they could add one more game at the end of the regular season like the SEC championship to really determine who can make the bowl/playoffs. In other words the top 8 teams at the end of the season could play one playoff game that would more clearly determine the top 4 teams for the bowls. Then those could play bowls as usual and the winner of those two game would play once again for the championship. This would only add one more game to the current SEC schedule and would finally settle the controversy and still keep the bowl fans happy.
Cal lost only because they were without their starting QB. The stand-in was a freshman. Had Longshore played, I doubt the result would have been the same.
I would have to say the most dominant team this year, despite their 1 loss, would have to be Oklahoma. Hey, I like LSU, but they have shown plenty of periods of struggling against inferior teams. Not nearly as bad as my team, USC, but it's still been there.
Regardless, it seems pretty obvious that the eventual NC matchup is still pretty much in the air, and as we've seen plenty of over the last few weeks, anything can happen.
the one thing you have to think about if you go to a playoff in Div-IA or whatever it is called is that these games today would not have been as exciting. There would not be as much talk going on. Right now every game is a playoff game which makes it exciting. I do think that polls should not stop until later in the season.
If you think my idea would be too tough on these kids, simply shorten the regular season schedule by one or even two games so that the last game(s) of the season could be a playoff pitting all the top ranked teams against each other. Then at least the bowls would really mean something.
Talk about getting no love. That's been the saga of Auburn football for a long time. Auburn's 1983, 1993, and 2004 teams don't have to say that they were second to anyone, but where's the media love? We have been cheated of three NCs in the last 25 years.
With the parity of the I-A division there is no way of naming a national champion and that title having meaning. The decision of who is number one is hardly ever consistent, let alone fair.
What I can tell you is this. You can count on Auburn having a better record than Florida but seeing Auburn ranked below Florida after beating them convincingly on the road.
When there is no consistency in the polls the BCS is meaningless. Once the title is meaningless nobody will care about it. We need a playoff so that the decisions about this can be made sith some consistency.
People, people... there are 5 (or for some 6) weeks left in the 2007 season, so any argument based on schedules is, at best, incomplete.
As the 2007 season has already shown, ANY team can beat any other team, so surviving without a loss REGARDLESS of the opponent is an accomplishment.
As of 10/13, NONE of the preseason AP Top 10 is without at least one loss, so a ranking is no indication of a team's quality or strength. The pollsters are guessing as much as anyone else which teams are the "best."
Bowl eligibility is a better measure because only 25 of 117 are ranked at any given time, but 64 will play in bowl games.
Ohio State's November schedule is filled with teams that will enter those games with bowl eligiblity -- Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan are all 5-2 -- so let's judge how good Ohio State is in December.
The problem with all the people wanting a playoff is this. As soon as you limit the playoffs to a certain number of teams, based on the same rankings that you currently complain about, it won't prove anything at all. People will argue that the NFL playoff system works, but the difference is this. They have all sorts of tiebreakers, and set rules that allow you to know for sure which teams are making the postseason, and which are not. In college football, you would not have that same degree of separation, mostly because you cannot know which are the 8 best teams in the country, or the 16 best teams in the country. People would still be crying that you left out (fill in name of beloved school) and let (fill in name of most-hated rival) into the playoffs? How could you justify that decision? Therefore, until somebody sets up a very concrete system, the current system will have to work.
I'm a bummed LSU fan, any week in SEC anything can happen as we in games like today were LSU loses to UK that is a very good team.This to me is the best NCAAF season in long time. I still like LSU in the big game.
If we don't have playoffs, they at least need to do something about making schedules much more fair. Does anyone think that if BC or Ohio State had to play LSU's or Florida's schedule they would still be undefeated? Like I said before, let the last one or two games of the regular season pit the top 20 or so best teams against each other which would act as a preliminary playoff. I am not suggesting you eliminate the big inter-conference games to accomplish this, keep those, just eliminate some of the gimme games earlier in the season.
Something many people forget to take into consideration is this. Schedules are made years in advance, and typically by the time the two teams meet, one or both of the teams aren't as good as they were when the schedule was made, making the schedule look worse. Granted, Kent State was never good, nor has UCF been accused of being the cream of the crop. But for example, OSU plays USC in a home and home series the next two years. Some schools that come from so-called "weaker" conferences are making up for it by scheduling legitimate opponents. I remember when OSU and Texas played their first game, the commentators were tripping all over themselves to heap praise upon both programs for taking such a huge risk by purposely scheduling a goliath. Very few programs do this still, and it would indeed make college football more interesting. However, so many little school want to take a shot at the bigger schools, and it makes it almost impossible for these types of games to be played every year. Also, almost all teams have to play at least 8 conference games, leaving only 4 games that they can decide for themselves. So before you start talking about teams with weak schedules, know something about those schedules!
I MUST point something out here to SEC fans and especially Gator fans. Yes the SEC is a good schedule and they have to play good teams but so do most other teams in the national title race. The one thin I always like to point out about Florida is that they do not play any non-conference games outside of the swamp. The only games they play on the road are the division games they have to play on the road.
And yes South Florida beat an SEC team on the road!
Can we not hear one more time how hard it is in the SEC! Yes it is a good conference but get over it! You do have teams called Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. Not powerhouses!
If we have learned anything in the last couple of years, its that any team and win on any day. Would ohio state lose more games if they were in the SEC, maybe, maybe not. If you play "easy" teams, then you better win big, and Ohio St. has pretty much done that, as has Kansas as well. South Fla has one some big games, and had close games against those "easy" teams too. And wasnt purdue undefeated until ohio st. last weekend? But I do think there should be a playoff, the regualr season would still be important, but we would actually care about the bowl games, if it meant your team could continue. There is only one 100% in CF, that we will all disagree on two final teams to play, that's impossible with over 100 teams and only 12-14 games.
To be honest, I don't know exactly what the top 5 teams are in the SEC. I think that at least 8 of them (Auburn, Alabama, LSU, USC, UK, UT, UGA, and as you can see from how close the conference games have been, Arkansas) are so even this year that I can't tell you who would win. And even the doormats cannot be taken for granted.
When these teams play, you get a sample of one. The team that won the game may or may not be the better team. They were just better on that day.
Beyond that I don't have enough information to tell you how they should rank in the national title picture. What I can tell you about USF is that they are a damned good football team, and probably by far the best team in Florida right now. I saw the USF-Auburn game, and yes, USF would be a major contender in the SEC.
The most fair way of deciding who is the best is to take the scores and to use maximum likelihood estimation to estimate a performance rating, much as in the Sagarin poll, to see which probability didtributions of the teams' ratings would reproduce the results of that season. That would in fact eliminate the bias in the polls. If we rank ordered the mean values of those distributions, we would likely come up with the fairest rating system, but it is not without its problems. But then there is the question of statistically significant differences in rankings. In other words, there would be multiple teams that you could call national champions based on the whole body of work that the team has done over the season.
The objective of the polls should be to minimize inconsistent rankings. Teams who have won head to head should not be ranked below teams they have beaten, if at all possible. The ideal rating system would minimize these conflicts, but could not necessarily produce unique rankings.
But even that approach has its problems. When we get so fixated on the computer rankings that we run up scores to make ourselves look good to computers, we lose the human element of the game. It is not about being the best team in the stadium and winning with class. It is about embarrassing your opponent.
The BCS has not done great things for sportsmanship in college football. Maybe people just enjoy controversy, and maybe it does make the regular season more exciting, but it has lost a lot of what has made CFB great before the days of the BCS.
You think Georgia, the same team that was celebrating a "great victory" over VANDERBILT is one of the top teams in the SEC? I have to laugh at that. Well, I'm mostly laughing at Coach Richt's reaction to his players celebrating after the win! He looked awful mad about that.
Mark - it is nice to hear a sane SEC fan. I feel for you with the Auburn teams that did not get the respect. I love to watch SEC football but a lot of people just get tired of hearing about how good the conference is. Just like I am tired of some of these OSU fans and there bragging about how good they are when they have yet to play anyone. Maybe with teams like BC and USF being in the NC hunt people will strat talking about a better way b/c if the traditional powerhouses do not make the NC game people will be upset.
I'm a PhD student at VU and an Auburn Alum. I saw what Vandy did to Georgia at Georgia, and what Georgia did to Auburn at Auburn, and then saw Auburn prove that they were a legit top 10 team in the Cotton Bowl. You cannot take Vandy for granted. They are much better than their record shows and would destroy football teams from the Ivies, the schools VU is most like. They would rip most mid-majors.
But yes, I think that there will be some unpredictable games in the SEC, and yes, I would still continue to consider UGA as a very strong program in the SEC.
Mark Richt is a class act. He wouldn't allow any of his players to do what they did to anybody. All the more so with Vandy, because it is the academic flagship of the conference.
Mark, I must respectfully disagree. Richt didn't want them celebrating, not because he's a class act, not because Vandy is the academic flagship of the conference, but because they should have easily won the game. Had that been Florida or LSU that UGA had just beaten, Richt would have been jumping up and down right beside them. Don't tell me because he's a class act he wouldn't want his kids acting like that. He was embarassed because they were celebrating after surviving Vanderbilt. I do agree with you, the Commodores aren't as bad as a lot of people think they are, but they don't make January bowl games for a reason.
No, Vanderbilt doesn't make January games for two reasons.
First, we don't offer majors in underwater basketweaving, and we hold our football players to high academic standards to even be considered for admission.
Second, our schedule at VU does include 8 SEC teams that represent universities extremely different in nature from us. We aren't exactly your typical state school and we refuse to sell out for the sake of winning football games. Mark Richt knows this.
These guys from Georgia weren't just celebrating. I don't think Richt would have had any problem with just celebrating the last field goal being good. That's a part of football. They were jumping on the "V" at midfield. That's just outright rude when you're on the road. I know that this practice is standard in the ACC, but the SEC has a little more discipline in their programs than the Miamis and Florida States.
Those of you from a lot of the other conferences have coaches which are similar disciplinarians, but this is not always the case. You do know about all the suspensions Tuberville has given people for not following team rules or not making grades. What's the last time that Miami or FSU kept their guys in check like that?
I am not from florida, and thus don't care about miami or Florida State. Truthfully, I rejoice with each loss they add to their record because I think they're overrated, and have been for several years, dating back to the Canes championship loss to the Buckeyes. On a different note, many football players are smarter than you think, and don't choose to go to Vanderbilt simply because they're mediocre with no real desire to improve. My point is simply this, Vanderbilt is not a great team, and therefore Richt didn't feel that a respectable program should be celebrating a win over them. He stopped them because he was unhappy with their performance, not because of where they were celebrating. The fact that they were celebrating at midfield had absolutely nothing to do with it, and to think otherwise is foolhardy. The players line the sidelines in between the 20s, and thus midfield is the most logical place to run to after a huge win. Every time a teams fans storm the field, they congregate at the 50 yard line, not out of disrespect, but because that's just the place to be. Why would fans disrespect their own stadium? That's just stupid! Look, the fact is, Richt was embarrassed by his teams performance on the field, not about where they celebrated. And to excuse Vanderbilt for their poor play because of their academic standards is plain ignorant. Look at Northwestern! They're mediocre, although improving, and they have incredibly strict admission standards. Just ask Stewart Mandel about this school! Almost all conferences have a school or two like this, so don't think yours is the only one.
Man do I love the banter of zealous fans! The answer to everyones who's is bigger question is this: Win and you wont have a problem, lose and youll spend hours pining about how unfiar this wonderful game of college football is.
And Vanderbilt is competitive in virtually all other NCAA sports. We made it to the sweet 16 last year, and our baseball team was ranked #1 nationally most of the season. But the football team cannot admit enough athletes who can both play and survive academically.
The Northwestern situation is different. For a long time the Big 10 had the reputation of being the Big 2 and the Little 8/9 (which is largely a myth, but OSU and UM are the class of the league).
Please understand that I do not mean this in any derogatory way, but there was a reason why things really changed in the deep south with the Alabama-USC games in 1970 and 1971. It was the right thing to do to integrate football in the SEC. However, the shift in demographics of the football team did not align well with the admissions standards at Vanderbilt and Tulane, for obvious reasons. Tulane left the SEC when they saw the writing on the wall, but Vandy stayed because in all but football, Vandy could compete.
In the meanwhile, Northwestern was out of the Jim Crow spotlight. While there was more tolerance of integration in the North, Northwestern never had the painful incidents of seeing George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, and the demographics of the region were also significantly different from the deep south. There is much more overlap with the recruiting base of Northwestern and the other Big 10 schools than there is with Vanderbilt and the other SEC schools. All of the Big 10 schools are top tier research institutions. Vandy is the only top-tier research institution in the SEC. To fail to understand the implications of history and regional differences is pure ignorance.
I have no doubt that Mark Richt wanted to win a lot bigger. However, everyone knows that Vandy has developed a reputation for playing close games (at least until depth really matters) and for being a dangerous team. We know that Vandy is in the process of becoming a lot like Wake Forest as we fully utilize our redshirts to gain as many fifth year seniors as possible.
You seem to be misinformed about the location of the Georgia Vanderbilt game. GEORGIA WAS ON THE ROAD! The GEORGIA players were jumping up and down on the VANDERBILT logo. Sure, the way that they won wasn't so great. But Richt was not about to have his team jump on the Vandy logo. That would have been classless.
And yes, many football players are very intelligent. But if you want to field a team talented enough to compete, you can't restrict yourself to Rhodes scholar material. You have to take on some academically at-risk athletes. Just ask SMU about it.
The strength of conferences are cyclical, some years some conferences are down while in other years other conferences are up. This year, clearly the SEC and the PAC 10 seem to be the class of the nation. I don't have a dog in this race, I'm a Big East fan and this is just my observation.
I do hope however, that everyone gives due credit to the Pac 10. I think Les Miles should be eating crow for his inference that the Pac 10 had such weak teams. The tendency of SEC fans is to see it this way: if a top SEC team gets upset by another SEC team it speaks to the "strength of the SEC" while if it happens in any other conference, the losing team is somehow over-rated (and the losing SEC team will bounce back while the team from the other conference is doomed). I think this year we can say there is a lot of depth in the Pac 10 and I would love to see some good SEC-Pac 10 match-up's in the bowl games. As a college football fan this, in my opinion, would be matching the best against the best...(sorry Buckeyes, you need some quality wins before I jump on your bandwagon. Keep winning out and you will be there!)
LSU fans believe the Tigers can overcome this loss and still be in the NC hunt, because we are loyal and support our team. As far as the rankings and "poll positions," well that's college football. It-is-what-it-is. I'm all for a playoff system. But until that happens ...........
sighhhhh I'm not misinformed about where the game was played, mark. I knew exactly where it was played, I was simply making the point that when a team wins at home, they come celebrate on the 50, so why shouldn't a team that is away?? There's no reason for it. I don't even know what you're talking about anymore. What does race and segregation have to do with anything that you were talking about previously? I didn't follow your "seamless" transition there, sorry.
(1) Abolish ALL conferences. (2) Teams would schedule eight games of the season in the spring, leaving an open date in mid-Oct and another open date in mid-Nov. (3) Third week of the season, they would be allowed to schedule to schedule an opponent for the Oct open date. (4) After game #7, they would be allowed to schedule their mid-Nov opponent. (5) After ten games completed, the top eight teams, as defined by computer rankings using parameters such as SOS, offensive/defensive rankings, etc., would be selected to play in the "big bowl" games. (5a) Opponents in the "big bowl" games would be drawn randomly, so that, for example, No. 1 may play No. 5, No. 3 may play No. 4, and so on. (6) The four winning teams would play again, again using a random draw as described in 5a. (7) The two remaining teams would play for the NC. (8) Teams ranked below 8 can play in the other bowls, with the understanding that they don't mean diddly re the NC. (9) NO POLLS UNTIL THREE WEEKS INTO THE SEASON (i.e., the first poll is calculated in time for the teams to select their opponent for the mid-Oct open date). (10) Bloggers are banned from complaining about the "glory days" of the has-been conference system.
hey pittfaninflorida... kent st is not div. 2 team...you're a joke, and usf is just as big a joke as you are.
That is why OSU fans are the most obnoxoius incollege football. OSU has not played anyone yet. Maybe you should pipe down until thy do. Are we still going to hear from you if you lose to Michigan or penn State.
And did you actually go to the school?
Sorry to burst your bubble but OSU would not roll over South Florida. Whether in the horseshoe or at Raymond James.
hey pittfaninflorida... kent st is not div. 2 team...you're a joke, and usf is just as big a joke as you are.
That is why OSU fans are the most obnoxoius incollege football. OSU has not played anyone yet. Maybe you should pipe down until thy do. Are we still going to hear from you if you lose to Michigan or penn State.
And did you actually go to the school?
Sorry to burst your bubble but OSU would not roll over South Florida. Whether in the horseshoe or at Raymond James.
OSU Fans should just chill out. OSU will be number 1 and they control their own fate. They have a few tests ahead (at Penn State, at Michigan). If they win out they will play for the title and if they don't they don't deserve to. Just let it unfold and let the teams with a loss worry about getting in the BCS championship. No doubt they will play a team like LSU or Oklahoma and it can be settled on the field at that point. I'm an OSU fan and even I admit they really haven't been tested though I think they have respectable tests ahead. They simply need to win out.
Rizwan, based on what evidence that you've seen will Ohio State lose an upcoming game? Here's Kent State's head coaches comments: "Nobody is going to score 30 points on this team...Anybody that beats them is going to have to win in a close, physical game that comes down to the wire. This team is as good as any I've seen." Purdue tight end Dustin Keller: "Each week, we'll usually find something weak in the opponent's defense and just keep attacking and attacking...They're a really strong defense across the board. There's no weakness there." Washington Offensive coordinator: "That was a fast look, and he's never seen anything like that," offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said of Locker. "They didn't do that at Ferndale [Wash., high school]." And finally, coach tress's comments on 2nd and 3rd string playing as early as the 2nd quarter: "We had an opportunity to get a lot of guys some playing time, which was a good thing," Tressel said. "But we know full well that what's really critical begins next Saturday." Watch an Ohio State game and tell me this defense isn't something special. Ohio State is doing what they need to do, by blowing out teams they are supposed to. Yes, this even includes the 20-2 win against Akron; This wasn't the most 'impressive' win, but you can't tell me a team that only had 71 yards of total offense and negative rushing yards gave us a scare, it wasn't even close.
I'm loving it. This may be the prelude to the BCS meltdown that we all need to finally get that monkey off our back once and for all. I'm not so sure I would agree that this years results are unprecidented. In fact if one were to examine theh history books I believe they would find that having two clear cut contenders for the championship at seasons end while not unprecidented, seriously defies the odds.
Sure USC has had a tough time, mainly due to the inordinate large number of injuries to the O line. Even the backups have been injured. Once the first string gets back, look out! Don't count the Trojans out.
If/when MSU knocks off #1 OSU next week that could put Boston College and USF as the numbers 1 &2 teams in the nation. Spots that they could finish the year at!!! Doesn't that scare the heck out of anyone?! What are we doing?!!!
We need a play off (that starts at seasons end, not at the bowl season) before we become the biggest laughing stock since professional wrestling!
Without one, the National Championship will continue to remain a mythical title.
Since the majority of people think that unless their is an "old school" big name in the NC game then why don't we put Notre Dame in this years NC game. There seems to be a HUGE bias against newer teams even if they have good records and have beat good teams. I am guessing that no one thinks Kentucky is good enough to be in the NC game but they did beat LSU. I understand Hawaii since their schedule is a joke but South Florida has/will play a harder schedule than OSU. I say lets just let the fans decide who should play in the NC game then we can have the same four or five teams play evry year including America's team Notre Dame!
If you think ten one-loss teams at the end of the year will make the gods of college football change the system, you're crazy! The LSU/Oklahoma/USC and USC/Oklahoma/Auburn years, just as examples, should have been more than enough to change this screwed-up system. When a team wins the Super Bowl, or March Madness (college basketball), there is no hang-wringing or whining or cries of an unfair system. With the BCS, you can have no-loss and one-loss teams who don't even have a chance to prove they are the best. That turns the process into a talent show or a beauty pageant, and not a sports competition. The NCAA thinks that this system works in their favor, increasing fan interest. Despite me being a huge fan of LSU football, I am not a huge fan of college football in general. The only reason is the way the champion is decided leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Although my Tigers slipped into the 2003 game, there will always be the feeling the USC may have been the best team that year. The same the following year when an undefeated Auburn team received a pat-on-the-back and basically was told they need to do more than just go undefeated! If you think a playoff system lessens the other bowl games, well, gee, you realize right now that absolutely ZERO of the bowl games mean squat right now, except the BCS championship! There is no reason a four- or eight-team tournament can't be done. If you're number 5, or even better, number 9, well that's certainly less concerning than a Number 3 being left out. Just imagine: LSU beats Florida in the SEC championship game and is ranked #3. They then play #6 Cal and win on a late goal line stand. The next week, they upset #2 Oklahoma (which the previous week beat #7 Boston College by a late 74 yard touchdown run), scoring a touchdown on the last play. Meanwhile, #1 Ohio State shuts down #8 Hawaii and Heisman winner Colt Brennan, then edges #4 South Florida (who had just shut down #5 at-large USC)by a field goal. Finally, Ohio State's Laurenitis(sp) intercepts a Matt Flynn tipped pass in the end zone with 3 seconds left, preserving a 4 point lead and giving OSU the BCS championship. As much as I love pro football, it couldn't compare to a scenario like this!!!! Any BCS cronies reading this????
Doesn't anyone find it ironic that everyone is bashing Ohio State for not playing any ranked opponents and beating them all handily (Washington was #26), while all of the top teams in everyone else's book Cal, Oklahoma, Florida, Illinois (whom everyone had ahead of Ohio State for a short while), USC, Louisville, Michigan, and Texas are all losing to these "same" unranked teams? Yet, Ohio State should be ashamed for not losing, because only then would they justify their ranking.
I don't understand how you guys say that BC has such an easy schedule.. I believe that if they win all their games they deserve to play in the national championship. Let's take a look at their last 5 games:
@ Virginia Tech Florida State @ Maryland @ Clemson Miami
Those are 5 tests in themselves, all very lose-able games. Not many teams can make it through those 5 undefeated, and we'll see if BC does it. If they do, good luck in the national championship.
The beauty of sports is that once the new season kicks off-- especially college sports where rosters are flipped almost every year-- last season becomes irrelevant. You people who want to harp on Ohio State getting blown out in the BCS Pseudo Championship and use that to argue against them being ranked #1 need to get over it. That was LAST SEASON and they started this season ranked outside the top ten because of that loss. Anyways, only someone who hasn't played organized sports would discount not playing a meaningful game for almost two months. Contrary to the popular saying, practice doesn't make perfect in sports. Playing against "live" opponents does. Anyways, knock the Big Ten as much as you want but the bowl season is the best barometer of conference strength when conference champs play conference champs, runner-ups play runner-ups and so forth. So until that moment, any of you arguing about your conference's superiority (or another conference's weakness) might as well be discussing "nature vs. nurture".
Also, don't hold your breath waiting for a playoff. There's too much $$ at stake. For one, how would it be conducted? Also, what would become of the bowl games. Use them as playoff games and that eliminates all of the teams who didn't make the playoffs. If you don't use the bowl games, they become irrelevant because the best teams won't be participating. As great as a playoff sounds, it would screw second and third tier D-I schools who would be deprived of the bowl experience. Seeing how I hate human polls so much, I just say that they go back to the pre-BCS format where the Big Ten plays the Pac-10, Big XII and the SEC, etc...
The failure of the LSU coaches to put pressure on an opposing QB such as Kentucky's usually does not bode well for LSU.
Couple that with unimaginative offensive play calling when it mattered, and there was a sure formula for a loss. How many times can LSU rely on Hester (or any running back) up the middle in a cloud of dust before someone figures out how to stop that play in a critical situation.
I applaud a coach's loyalty to his key players; but, when a starting player is struggling (Bad throws, dropped passes, etc.) and there might be a better player choice for that moment standing on the sidelines, a coach needs to make those hard decisions and substitute some players.
When the LSU QB was substituted, everyone, including myself, knew he wqas going to run. Was there something wrong with his throwing arm. I recall he is a pretty good passer.
I attribute this LSU lost mostly to bad coaching of an extremely talented team.
Having said those things, Kentucky played great and deserved to win. Congrats! Kentucky
I think it is hilarious how everyone seems to be saying that some teams have played "nobodies"...say that to Appalachian State, say that to any other team that goes into a large stadium as an underdog and WINS...I do not think that anyone can call ANY team a nobody this season! One team loses one week and beats #1 the next...are they a "nobody"? but you can scream to your coach to have his head. Some people...jeesh!
Don't worry OSU haters, they're going to lose in 2 weeks. The Buckeyes will not go into Happy Valley and beat a Penn State team that's 19-1 in their last 20 at Beaver Stadium. Ohio State is the new Wisconsin. They're undefeated beacause they haven't played anybody.
This game showed that LSU has the talent to be a champion, but not yet the heart. When you have players going down on almost every play late in the game it is a sign of fatigue and lost confidence. Kentucky was hitting and LSU was hanging on the ropes. Great game! I think we'll hear more from both teams.
Mark me on this: USF will only be undefeated for 4 more days. Rutgers upsets them on Thursday night.. just watch! and also,, everyone keeps saying "oh no we might not have traditional powerhouses in the national championship! this is horrible!" just because some teams we usually don't think of as powerful doesn't mean we need to change things. this is about the kids playing for a national championship, not the fans anyway. Winning a national championship isn't about having good seasons in the past, it's about the season you're playing for.
Ohio State's recent and near future, home and home OOC matchups include: Texas, Southern Cal, Miami (FL), California, Virginia Tech, then Oklahoma. When Washington (whom we beat 33-14 on their turf)was scheduled, they were Pac Ten / Rose Bowl champs. You can only play who is on your schedule and the Buckeyes are making a great effort to schedule the best teams in the country. This year is... what it is, and we should all sit back and enjoy the Chaos. I'm not so sure they'll make it through 5, 5-2 teams to finish up. Who knows? Who are your teams playing OOC in the near future?
Thank you Accfan123. When somebodies team is on the top they don't want to change anything about the system, but as soon as they find themselves on the outside looking in it's "we need a playoff, or my team lost b/c bla, bla, bla."
FL fans claiming to be better than LSU. CHECK THE SCOREBOARD!!! oh, What about Auburn???
It will shake out in the end. And if it is USF, so be it. Who plays the best this year, not what you did last year in a bowl game or over the past ten years. If it all rides on reputation then we don't have to play the games and Kentucky never gets a chance to beat LSU.
BOTTOM LINE: WIN and the rest takes care of itself, and if it doesn't, call Urban Meyer and he can give you directions on how to wine and cheese your way in....Good thing the Gators backed that up!
The only team in my lifetime to buck the establishment and enter the elite tier from the mid-level is Miami, FL. The media seem very desperate for the next Miami to come along soon AND to come out of the Big East. Making it to that next level, and staying there, is a truly monumental task that requires, for USF at least, breaking through and skipping the decades of work and tradition it required the perennial powers to get to that point. South Florida is not the team to do this, and they will not be the team to do this for many years to come. I guarantee they'll surprise no one next year.
I do agree that until Ohio State's competition increases, they are questionable, just like any team at this point of the season and particularly one whose opponents have struggled. However, Ohio State should be recognized for easily handling easy competition and looking fabulous while doing it. On the other hand, USF has not exactly blown out Elon (D-1AA) and Florida Atlantic. I'm sorry, but it's impossible to imagine either of those teams giving OSU anything that even resembles a game, let alone putting up double digits. Where I come from, doing something right for over a hundred years does count for quite a bit. Doing something mediocre for a decade and pretty good for half a year doesn't amount to much. South Florida will soon be exposed, probably this Thursday in Jersey, and they'll be exposed again soon after. I'll be surprised if they finish the year in the top 25. The most we can hope from them is that they'll be this year's Utah or Boise St. or Northwestern, making a few brief waves, but soon to fall off the map.
SCbuckeye speaks the truth.... Can't control your conference quality year to year, can't predict opponents quality year to year, But here's to scheduling the "big dogs" when you can.. And not to many teams turn down an invite to play a two year home/away with the Buckeyes.
Wow this is great stuff. My beloved Buckeyes are No. 1 in the BCS again. Even before the BCS rankings were issued, the onslaught of weak conference & weak schedule arguments had begun. In reading the bloggs above (really nice work all of you), it shows how passionate and bias we ALL are. However, the one item that I didn’t see (sorry if I missed it) is the mention of pure economics and how it relates to college football. The in-state OOC games are great for Ohio and any other state that does this. Kent State received $650,000 just for making the 5 hour drive. Why not show some respect to your in-state schools who have all of those players that wanted to play for the big ‘state’ team and give them a chance to shine. But at the same time, you better schedule some strong OOC matches as well, as SCBuckeye points out. If done properly, it should balance out your OOC schedule.
At the end of the season, personal bias, past performance and economics drive the bus. The polls are made up of voters who are sports related professionals, alumni, coaches, etc who all have a bias in one way or another. They don’t have time to watch all the games, so they do look at past performance. That is the way we work as humans. Just look at how people pick mutual funds. And finally, the bowl organizers look at which team will fill the most seats and bring bigger ratings. Right or wrong, they’re scared of a match-up such as USF vs. Boston College. After all, once they’ve made their money, they could care less if the championship turns into a blow-out (yes it still hurts :-). I’ve watched USF and they are the most impressive BCS no.2 team that I’ve seen in a number of years that isn't a standard household name. Contender or pretender, time will tell for ALL of our teams.
If it wasn’t for all of this, what would all the sport networks talk about on the pre-game shows, what would we talk about for that matter? Nevertheless, some things will not change. All major conferences will rise and fall and rise again. All teams have those annoying fans. Let them rival in their teams winning ways, but remember to give them a good crack when their team is down. Ah, I love this sport.
What about the Vols? Is it possible for them to climb up into the championship race? If the win in thier upcoming games against Bama, South Carolina and Kentucky and win the SEC Championship, is it possible for them to be in the thick of things for the title?
The Kentucky loss was one of those really hard ones to swallow. You know, one of those "if" games. If keith Zinger catches the wide-open pass in the endzone, LSU goes up 31-14, the Tiger D goes into complete "meet-at-the-QB" mode and, like everyone else who is caught in those crosshairs, Woodson and co. would have ground to a halt (either through hurried incompletes or INTs).
If true frosh, Terrence Tolliver, takes a step back in the 2nd OT, his 14-yard catch is OK (instead of illegal proc) and LSU stands a good chance of winning with a TD instead of settling for a FG. If Tolliver, near the end of regulation, would just realize he's got the step on the DB and just catches Matt Flynn's perfectly-thrown long ball (rather than shoving the DB's shoulder pad and getting called for OFF INF), at worst, David gets to try a chip-shot FG instead of the 57-yarder that just missed wide.
IF, IF, IF ... I don't have a crystal ball, but any one of those plays was as critical and critically-timed as the unfortunate mistake by the Cal QB. But like some have said, we are talking about 18-20 year olds, and the pressure has to be immense. FB is a team game, yes, but I sincerely believe that if WR Early Doucet had been playing the last two weeks, BOTH the FL and KY games would not have been close. LSU's offense this year plays a possession style game, running the clock and eventually scoring points. Brandon LaFell has replaced Doucet in that role and has failed miserably -- dropping what 8 or 9 right in the numbers (and Flynn's lone INT at KY was as much LaFell's fault as the QB).
What many folks don't know is that a major reason LSU's D is/was so heralded and successful until KY is the Tiger's time-consuming offense. Neither Tebow nor Woodson can score without the ball. And two other things: the constant pounding by the OFF 1) withered opposing defenses by the 4th Q and 2) rested that tough Tiger D.
Oh well, there's lots of ball to play. After FL, I really thought this LSU team had a great chance to go undefeated. I think the loss of that possibility is attributable to one player's injury. Come back soon, Early ...