SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/20/2007 08:06:00 PM
Saturday Observations, Part II
Heisman Trophy candidate Tim Tebow put on quite a show against Kentucky.
You’ve got to hand it to the SEC. For all the hype (including my decreeing this year’s edition to be "the toughest conference in history"), for all the smack talk, for all the bizarre letters it’s elicited from rival commissioners, the conference has already provided more than its share of excitement this season.
That said, there’s now no shortage of doubt as to whether any of the league’s teams this year are truly elite. And don’t even get me started on all those supposedly monstrous defenses.
For the second straight week, Kentucky hosted a basketball-game-on-turf Saturday, running up and down the field with Florida just like it did last week against LSU. Certainly no one who watched would have come away raving about either team’s defense (nor would anyone who watched LSU-Kentucky last week or Tennessee-Alabama earlier today), but you’d have to be pretty jaded not to come away admiring the performances of dueling Heisman candidates Tim Tebow and Andre Woodson.
Tebow, quite simply, delivered his most sensational all-around performance yet, throwing for 256 yards and four touchdowns while running for 78 yards and another score. No play was bigger than his 40-yard bomb to Percy Harvin on the Gators’ final possession. A gutsy call in what was still just a seven-point game in the final two minutes, it took Florida down to the Kentucky 2, where Tebow finished off the Wildcats with his feet.
It turned out Florida needed that touchdown, because Andre Woodson wound up throwing his fifth of the night on the game’s final play (thus the final, 45-37 margin). As impressive as Tebow was, Woodson was arguably even better, going a staggering 35-of-50 for 415 yards, five TDs and no interceptions. Though his team came up short, I would hope he’s not dropping off anyone’s Heisman ballots just yet.
Beyond the individual ramifications, Florida got a much-needed win if it hopes to make it back to Atlanta in December. With Tennessee’s loss Saturday, the Gators now control their own destiny in the East (as does South Carolina, which hosts Florida next month). Georgia can still have a say as well if it beats Florida next week. Kentucky and Tennessee aren’t necessarily out of it, either, though the scenarios are too complex for me to process right now.
• It’s hard to believe that at one point last Saturday, Cal was poised to ascend to No. 1 in the country. Two losses later -- one to an Oregon State team that previously lost 34-3 to Cincinnati, and another to a UCLA team that’s been shellacked by Utah and lost to Notre Dame -- the Bears have been exposed as outright pretenders. Even their seemingly “big” season-opening victory over Tennessee has lost its luster now that the Vols’ defense has been exposed as a sham. And they can’t blame this week's 30-21 loss on Nate Longshore’s absence -- he not only played but threw the fatal, game-sealing interception the Bruins returned for a touchdown.
Hmm. Suddenly I’m not feeling so good about that Oregon national title-game pick, either (especially now that the Ducks are down to about their fifth-string receiver). Meanwhile, the Bruins may be the nation’s biggest enigma. Despite suffering two of the ugliest non-conference losses of any team in the country, UCLA now sits alone in first place at 4-0 in the Pac-10, a half-game above idle Arizona State.
If nothing else, it should be obvious at this point that Patrick Cowan -- not the injured Ben Olson -- is the Bruins’ most effective quarterback. He’s only played in two games this season (Washington and Cal), and both have wound up impressive UCLA victories.
• It was kind of a strange game for Ohio State in its first outing since ascending to No. 1 in the polls. The Buckeyes cruised to a 17-0 first-half lead over Michigan State, then nearly choked it away on consecutive Todd Boeckman turnovers that the Spartans returned for touchdowns. (There very easily could have been a third when Chris Wells fumbled on the ensuing possession, but the Spartans whiffed on the recovery.)
The good news for the Buckeyes (8-0) is that they held on for the 24-17 win, and that the sophomore Wells had a career performance (31 carries, 221 yards). A sloppy performance like that next week at Penn State, however, would be difficult to overcome.
• Moving the Florida State-Miami game back to October didn’t necessarily erase much of the sloppiness that marked teams’ past three Labor Day showdowns (the teams combined for nine turnovers), but this year’s version was still far more exciting. In the end, the ‘Canes delivered first-year coach Randy Shannon a huge, comeback victory -- even after their hopes appeared snuffed by an FSU goal-line stand with 5:29 remaining.
Miami QB Kirby Freeman -- Kirby Freeman?! – completed consecutive impressive passes with less than two minutes remaining, the second one a go-ahead 13-yard touchdown to Dedrick Epps, then ‘Canes LB Colin McCarthy sealed it with a 28-yard fumble return off a Teraz McCray sack of Xavier Lee.
Neither team is close to returning to national prominence just yet, but in terms of program building, Shannon couldn’t have asked for a much bigger win than that. The ‘Canes (5-3) snapped a two-game ACC skid while assuring a second straight week of criticism for the rival ‘Noles (4-3).
• Why, I’ve been asked all seasons, do Texas Tech’s players get so little respect when it comes to things like the Heisman? Because of games like Saturday’s at Missouri. For all the gaudy numbers Mike Leach’s quarterbacks and receivers put up year after year, when it comes time to face actual, upper-echelon opponents, the numbers don’t do a whole heck of a lot of good.
Saturday against No. 16 Missouri, Raiders QB Graham Harrell got his 397 yards -- but he also threw four picks -- in a 41-10 Tigers whopping. Missouri QB Chase Daniel had 50 fewer pass attempts but came away with the “W,” a big one for the Tigers, who have presumably set their sights on a Big 12 title-game rematch with Oklahoma (not that it will be a cakewalk with Kansas State, Colorado and Kansas still to play).
• Is your offense getting you down? Have injuries been decimating your roster? What you need is a weekend getaway to South Bend (just beware the turbulence).
Amazing how much more seamlessly Mark Sanchez and the rest of the USC offense were able to operate against Notre Dame on Saturday than they were a week earlier against Arizona. And to think, it was two years ago this week that a far more explosive Trojans team needed every last second -- not to mention a little push at the end -- to survive the Irish.
• Finally, the ugliness at Nebraska just gets ... umm, uglier. Presumably in front of his new boss, Tom Osborne (or “that crusty old f---,” as the current coach reportedly called his distinguished predecessor), Bill Callahan’s clearly deflated team gave up 36 points and 459 yards to the same Texas A&M offense that put up seven on Texas Tech last week. I’m sure it will go into his file.
I know the BCS system makes us all act like Silverback Gorillas and thump our chests about conference superiority, but can we finally (pretty please with sugar on it?) stop with the SEC is sooooo great stuff?
I mean seriously, if OSU had lost to an unranked opponent, we would all be hearing about how much the Big Ten sucks. But because SC loses the same day as a shootout with KY-FLA, it gets swept under the SEC's "let's ignore that" magic rug.
At the end of the day, here's what I know so far (and it's not much) - there are a handful of teams who have handled their business and won all their games (or lost to an opponent who was ranked). Every other "top ten" team has tripped and fell along the way to patsies.
So, rather than crying about how great conferences are, or about how weak other conferences are, it seems that if a fan's team wins its games and focuses on the task at hand that they would more than likely end up in the NC game. (Are you listening Kansas and BC?)
So much for the talk that USF is the best team in the state of Florida. OSU's failure to dominate a Mich St team that has only a win at ND to its credit should present a clear picture that it falls far short of being a team worthy of playing in the championship. USC may be back on track. The top three teams still appear to be LSU/Fla/USC although OK may be a fourth member of the group.
Stewart, after reading the "Afterword" to your book (BOWLS, POLLS, AND TATTERED SOULS...) I came away feeling, "Well, at least college football has some entertainment value." For sheer entertainment value, I'd have to say that, 75-90 percent of the time, the Texas Tech Red Raiders are the most entertaining team in the NCAA. Oh, they don't always win. And, no, they don't play defense the way you'd expect a serious national title contender to play it... or, for that matter, even a Big 12 SOUTH contender. But, heck, if a college team can't be entertaining, what good are they, anyway? To be honest, I don't expect to ever see an actual top-level -- Who can keep track of what the biggest schools are calling themselves anymore? -- NCAA play-off in my lifetime. How could such even be contemplated without some drastic reorganization of existing conferences to achieve some additional measure of cross-conference and/or inter-regional 'parity.' I mean, what would be the point of a national championship play-off involving, say, the Big 10 champion (in most years, likely to come from a narrow pool of two or three perennial powers such as Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State) and the champion of the SEC or the Big East where one 'champion' might survive, but with two or three additional teams in the same conference that might appear to outrank or claim to be capable of outplaying the winner of the other conference? Much as we detest the subjectivity of polls, I think they offer a means of dealing with disparities among teams and conferences and (hopefully) of arranging post-season competition between teams selected from an otherwise chaotic field -- Hasn't this just been the year for it? -- and perceived to be potentially the best, regardless of conference affiliation [or not]. Again, we can only hope the resulting bowl games will be entertaining, especially if, in the absence of said play-off, the majority of bowl games remain, as you've sugggested, otherwise meaningless.
1) I'm getting really sick of sports writers attacking teams as "frauds," "pretenders" etc., because those teams have not lived up to expectations. It wasn't the teams that wrote all the pre-season hype. It isn't the teams that set their rankings week after week. If a team falters and fails to live up to the hype written about them, the frauds and pretenders are the sports writers who hyped them. Quit kicking these kids around just because a sports writer's ego has been bruised for having their overblown prognostications exposed as garbage.
2) News Flash - there is no single "elite" dominating team this year, and none is likely to emerge.
3) I don't know who the best team in the country is, but it's a good bet it isn't Ohio State. Sure, they may be as good as their record, but they also very easily may not be. Unfortunately, their schedule doesn't allow for any true test to determine their true quality this year. We saw how that scenario played out last year. It sucks that a team can get all the way to the NC game before we find out they didn't deserve to be there to begin with. I really hope that doesn't happen again this year.
4) Nice to see my Trojans getting back to form. For the first time in a while I feel like they now have a legitimate shot at running the table for the rest of their schedule. If they do, will they be forgiven by the sports writers for a single loss by one point? Don't hold your breath.
5) The AP writers have been over-reacting to everything all year. Michigan should never have been dropped so brutally after their loss to App State. And the Trojans, although clearly not playing well at the time, should not have been thrashed as they were for losing to Stanford by a single point. Neither of those games were the "greatest upset in CF history." And such hyper-reactionary hysterics are exactly why the writers can't get a grip on the season because they have lost all perspective to cheap hype.
Wow, another crazy day--like many of you I'm no longer surprised by the game scores. I will disagree with Charles though, in that if there's ANYTHING I know it's that there's NO clear picture of anything this year. And by the way, if OSU wins the rest of its games (including Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan) IMHO they'll deserve to be at the NC game. But there's still a lot of games to be played, so how about we just enjoy the games??
I'm visiting in Provo so had to miss the OSU/MSU game...but got to go to today's BYU game instead. If you haven't been to LaVell Edwards Stadium when it's snowing, you gotta try it! A beautiful stadium, mountains just behind the stadium, and very friendly people!
I agree with many of your points, but completely disagree with your assessment that OSU didn't "deserve" to be in the NC game last year. They simply choked, and paid for it. Looking at what they did, who they played and beat, and who THOSE teams played and beat in bowl games doesn't even remotely suggest OSU was overrated. But I have a feeling you'll never be convinced of that. But I have to tell you, it seems to me that you're saying OSU was a fraud last year (something I COMPLETELY disagree with and think makes no logical sense whatsoever), which is something you're admonishing others for.
I'm sure no one was expecting UK-UF to be a low-scoring affair. It's no secret that UF's secondary is lacking compared to the power up front, so of course Woodson was able to move the ball easily (when he wasn't being sacked). The two teams just executed according to what they did best. If anything, the game went a long way to prove that a balanced attack is almost always better.
I always thought that an elite "team" has to boast at least one elite unit (offense, defense, or special teams) with the other two being good, if not excellent. I think UF is definitely an elite team, while this year's instalment of UK is very close.
To put it simply: put UK vs. OSU... I'll take UK at this point in time.
For those who say OSU struggled against Michigan State, you obviously didn't watch the game. The defense allowed only three points, late in the fourth quater. Two offensive mistakes led to easy touchdowns for MSU. Ohio State is undefeated, and has never "struggled" against anyone this entire year. I have seen both Florida and USC struggle more against lesser oppenents this year.
Charles? Did you watch the OSU/MSU game? If you had you would have noticed that OSU DID dominate the game until the turnovers, and then still the defense stood up to the task. I believe a win is a win no matter how you get it. If those are your three, then why didn't they win all their games? If I recall, I think wins count.
To the rest, yes you SEC and USC fans listen up also (since you all feel your elite). Why don't we let the rest of the season play out before making opinions about who's deserving and who isn't.
Also, why is it on your blogs you rarely hear Big 12 fans complaining? Is the SEC that arrogant?
OSU is plodding along as it did last year, solidly beating weak opponents and showing enough to beat better teams. Their starters spend half their time on the bench, as they did last year. OSU may have the potential talent to be elite, but without the competition to bring it out it will be another year like last year. That is what is sad. In the meantime talented teams in the PAC 10 and SEC thrash it out every other week. Is it any wonder that given a month to rest that Michigan & OSU were stomped on in the bowls?
interesting, people claiming Pac-10 is turning things around. Look at UCLA, they lost to Utah and Notre Dame and beat California. USC lost to Stanford who is pretty much in shamble. Hello, the Pac-10 is overrate too (as well as Big East, Sec, Big Ten. Heck, everything is overrated because everyone is losing to unranked teams!)
I have a opportunity to watch the Ohio State vs Michigan State game on TV. The announcer's note that Michigan State have the number 1 offense of the Big Ten. What happen now? They were held scoreless (on the offense side) until the fourth quarter when they kick a 3 point field goal. While the offense have some kink to work out, ladies and gentlemen, the Ohio State defense is the real deal!
I said with the victory over Notre Dame USC may be back on track. If they win out they belong in the championship. I have yet to read any writers argue that Ohio St has beaten anyone worthy of being called a quality opponent. Both Washington & Purdue have the talent to occasionally challenge a quality team, but neither fits in that category. Too many point to individual games. USF played close with an Auburn team that was also beaten by Miss St, and they beat a WV that had beaten nobody. Ohio St has a much poorer resume. Neither team belonged in the title game.
In no way would I ever say a team is a "fraud" for the very reasons I posted earlier. All I am saying is that last year, much like this year, OSU was never really tested during the season. I think several teams would have trounced them in last year's NC game just as Florida did. Now, of course, they did exactly what they were supposed to do - they won the games on their schedule. So if they were overrated in the polls, which I believe they were (and are), that was not their fault. They did their job. If the matchup in the NC game was not as good as it could or should have been for an NC game, that's the system's fault - not the team's.
But again, I also leave open the possibility that OSU may very well be as good as their undefeated record would suggest. We just really have no way to know until possibly yet another lackluster NC game.
Again, OSU beat Texas IN TEXAS last year. I'm not sure why you think that was a cupcake game; do you have some sort of animosity towards the Big 12?
Also, people need to understand that the Ginn Jr. injury was a killer for the OSU offense. Ginn's play gave the other guys opportunities (and made Troy Smith a Heisman QB). Without Ginn, the team's offense just fell apart.
That said, I think Florida still would've won. But it wouldn't have been a blow out.
"In the meantime talented teams in the PAC 10 and SEC thrash it out every other week."
Ummm...Charles, in case you haven't watched any of the current college football season, I don't think I'd be saying that there are many talented teams in the Pac-10 right about now. Stew's darkhorse NC team Oregon is in a huge dogfight, while Cal lost today to UCLA, and USC beat ND. (Which at this point is like beating a wheelchair team in tackle football...whoop-de-doo!)
The jury's still out on the SEC...let's not forget that KY got killed by the same SC team that just lost to Vandy.
It seems to me that the SEC is a two horse race between UF and LSU, and the rest of the teams are pretenders at this point. (With apologies to Auburn, who may make take LSU's spot with a win tonight.)
To the poster that thinks U of Spoiled Children belong in the NC and have more quality wins than OSU, you are smoking crack. Spoiled's lone 'quality' win was against Nebraska and yea, whoops, we all know about them now...at least OSU has beaten everyone they should beat thus far. They may lose one, but as of now, let them prove their status.
As a Husker alum, I couldn't be happier with a third straight pummeling. The pain that is the current "coach" will only end quickly if he fails utterly, now. The guy was a disaster waiting to happen. He was the third choice for the job. He proved he could take a champion and turn them in to instant losers inheriting a Super Bowl team and converting them to 4 - 12) the next year.
Although I ache for the current players, at least they are helping to make sure that Husker Nation will have complete unanimity in ending the Callihan Failure.
I actually thought the Pac-10 was looking good this year, but come on: Arizona State has 1 win against a team with a winning record (Oregon State at 4-3) and UCLA got creamed by a Utah team that got shut out by UNLV the following week, and lost to Notre Dame.
I hate to do conference rankings, but they'd look something like SEC > Big 12 > ACC > Big Ten > Big East > Pac 10
I'm not arguing at the moment that the Trojans deserve a trip to the NC Game. I was only pointing out that with today's game, they seem to have recovered some of the intensity and cohesiveness they have been lacking for several weeks. I hope that continues, and that they are able to run the table with the rest of their schedule. But I'm certainly not making any guarantees that will happen. And I don;t even know that doing that would earn them a spot in the NC game anyway, what with the fall of Cal, etc. I don't know that a win over Oregon would be enough since USC has been dropped so low in the polls.
Again, my comments about OSU are only that they remain a largely untested team. Ideally, I'd like to see them beat a top team to show they are for real before going into an NC game. (I know, though, what about anything this season has been ideal?) That isn't going to happen, so I naturally fear the possibility of another boring blowout NC game. Hey, OSU may well be all that. I'm just not convinced, that's all. But I'm definitely not making any comparisons between OSU and the Trojans right now.
Let me get it right for everyone...I am a confessed Homer of the Gators and the SEC...that said I agree there are no elite teams yet this season. OSU still has 4 games and 3 could go either way, and FlA has 2 losses so I am not going to pretend they are national title contenders. But I would give them a great chance against any team on any day and from such a young team you could not ask for much more.
Just remember that FLA lost by 3 to Auburn and 4 to LSU...That is right 7 points from being #1!!! Only 4 or 5 players will be lost to graduation next year so watch out baby here come the Gators!!!
I agree the OSU is untested this year (Washington looked better at the beginning of the season, but like the rest of the Pac-10, has so far proved to be not up to snuff), my main contention is the idea they weren't tested last season, as you keep claiming.
GatorBait, I don't think there is a team in the ncaa that would like to play the gators right now. That is definitely a team that could beat anyone, unfortunately, they just don't finish games they should win. I'd hate to admit it, but I think they'll get crowned again next year. I just hope my dores knock them off in the swamp :)
I agree that USC, or anyone else for that matter, has not earned a trip to the NC game. I believe if USC wins out they will be one or two. If LSU or OK wins out that team should get the invite over an unbeaten Ohio St or BC. Both the SEC and the Big 12 are sufficiently better to suggest a one loss team should get the invite over an unbeaten Big Ten team. Too many point to one game, but Ohio St won't have much of a 'body of work' resume if they win out. The Big Ten has measured itself against Notre Dame too long. No one played a tougher schedule than USC or Fla last year and given rest they clobbered two schools that claimed to be elite but had not played challenging schedules. How quickly those lessons have been forgotten.
LSU is in trouble at Auburn; believe this, if LSU loses, you can bet the farm that no SEC team gets into the title game. Crazy parity, full of great times? Or crazy mediocrity, with no great teams? In the end, it won't matter, because they won't have their crack at New Orleans.
OSU did beat a Texas team that did not have its usual excellent season. I am sure that OSU would like to pretend that replacing Texas with Washington enhanced its strength of schedule, but an undefeated OSU will have an even weaker resume this year than last. I can understand why OSU fans would emphasize that no losses equal being the best team, and that if BC goes undefeated OSU will prefer to play it (or Hawaii)than USC or an SEC team. Only masochists would want to face that level of embarrassment two years in a row. Who else would point to the Penn St game (or Michigan) as a challenge to an elite team? Who else would try to claim that surviving Mich St was a great victory?
Mandel, Thank you for acknowledging the SEC for the competiveness that they have. Also thanks for recongizing Woodson for his acomplishments in the FL game even though Ky did not win. Tebow had a great game but Woodson's numbers were better.
Charles, you do realize that teams set their schedules years in advance, right? And that the OSU-UT was a simple home-and-home, just like the ones with Miami and USC that OSU has set up for the next few seasons? Please tell you know how this works.
Your quote, "The Buckeyes cruised to a 17-0 first-half lead over Michigan State, then nearly choked it away on consecutive Todd Boeckman turnovers that the Spartans returned for touchdowns". If holding a team to no possesions where they could take the lead is "nearly choking", then sign me up.
Ok, so you west coasters and other fans who don't pull for an SEC team, get over yourselves, ya'll suck. How many conferences can say they still have half their teams fighting for a chance to play in the conference championship? None. And yes South Cariolina sucks, they have an overated team, and Stew you helped them become this way, they also have a has been coach, Spurrier is done, his glory years are over, he will never take SC or anyother school to a championship game of any kind. Kentucky will never make it, the East will be decided next week in Jacksonville, either UGA or UF. No one else including SC can run their schedule like those two could. Again I will say you west coasters shut up, your teams suck and can't play football, you have cupcake schedules and no matter what the poles say you aren't number one, if we played your schedule we'd be number one in the nation too, but we choose to have a schedule that is competitve. So GET OVER YOURSELVES!
Charles said "The Big Ten has measured itself against Notre Dame too long."
Ummm...unless I'm missing something here, OSU doesn't play ND and certainly don't use them as a measuring stick. They are the ONLY Big Ten team to consistently step up to the plate and play big out of conference games.
Look, a 50+ day lay off and losing your best offensive threat in the first 10 seconds of the game doomed OSU last year. UF was the better team that day. BUT IT WAS LAST YEAR.
We are faced with the quandry of evaluating THIS YEAR'S teams, and thus far the "vaunted" SEC hasn't done much to show me why they are so superior to every other conference.
I mean, USF beat Auburn. USF lost to Rutgers, while Auburn is beating "unbeatable" LSU. KY got killed by the same SC team that just lost to Vanderbilt. You know what all that means? SQUADOOSH...nothing.
It means that all you "the SEC could play in the NFL and be competitive" idiots need to chill.
Name a team in the country that could have stopped the UK or UF offenses today? Neither team's defense looked world class, but who would have stopped them? OSU? Give me a break. USC? They can barely stop Arizona and Stanford. Oklahoma? They looked like worldbeaters today against Iowa State. Parity has come to college football this year, but the SEC is still week-in, week out the best conference by far. As for the Heisman, who is more important to a top team than Tebow is to Florida? While Woodson had great numbers today, he is NOT the MVP of college football. Hart's out. McFadden's out. Ryan and BC are a joke and will still lose 2.
It is silliness to use the statement that schedules are made years in advance as an excuse for not having a challenging schedule now. Current strength of schedule is an important factor in evaluating a team and if you play the OSU schedule you cannot be evaluated fully. Ohio St has a weaker schedule this year than last and look what happened last year. All I hear are excuses for OSU. They had a greater lay off period between games than Florida. Michigan and USC had the same time off and Michigan was clobbered. Florida lost its best defensive player during the season and OSU lost Ginn. If we ignore strength of schedule then we have Hawaii in the picture. BTW Hawaii claims they tried to play Michigan this year so their schedule should not be used against them. We need to admit that when OSU drops Texas in favor of Washington that the fans are the losers. We need to admit that when Michigan's claim to fame was beating Notre Dame last year that fans are the losers. When Wisconsin played no one of significance outside the Big Ten last year then fans lose. It's time strength of schedule became a dominant factor.
GeorgiaDog, are you REALLY going to criticize other conferences for so-called "cupcake" scheduling and not recognize the fact that the SEC practically INVENTED the concept? Was that actually a serious post?
Just for fun, let's check out some of those rough-tough non-cupcakes that the SEC scheduled this year (and by "this year" I mean "every year," because the SEC has been a national joke in this department in each of its 75 seasons):
Western Kentucky Troy (THREE times!!) Florida Atlantic (twice) Western Carolina (twice) Arkansas State Louisiana-Lafayette (twice) South Carolina State Eastern Kentucky Kent State Richmond Eastern Michigan Middle Tennessee Tulane (twice) Louisiana Tech (twice) New Mexico State Tennessee Tech (seriously -- Tennessee TECH?!?! Auburn should be absolutely ASHAMED about this) Louisiana-Monroe North Texas Tennessee-Chattanooga (see note above, but replace "Auburn" with "Arkansas") Florida International Northwestern State Gardner-Webb (even Mississippi State should be ashamed about this one)
As for Western teams "sucking," as you eloquently put it, I guess I'm confused: did Cal suck against Tennessee a month ago? Did USC suck in back-to-back wins over Arkansas by a combined score of 120-31? I mean, seriously, I'm not sure you have the slightest idea of what you're talking about ... have you even watched a game in the past three years?
Regrettably, your circular logic isn't going to prove your point. The Big Ten doesn't play anyone out of conference of consequence, therefore we can't evaluate the strength of the conference. However, the SEC will get housed in it's OOC games, yet the interconference games will prove the strength of the conference.
And, I love how SEC fans point to the OSU or UM games, but conveniently leave out the fact that their conference went 1-2 against the "weak" Big Ten last year.
Look, facts are facts. The layoff and loss of Ginn DID affect the game. At no point did I (or the other posters here) say that OSU would have won the game without those factors; but they do need to be considered.
And, the real issue here is that only LSU can claim an OOC victory of any significance on behalf of the SEC...so explain to me how your logic applies here?
bgault - The two so-called elite Big Ten teams were stepped on in last year's bowl games. Two Big Ten teams did beat two SEC teams in close contests that could have gone either way. Stanford edging out USC does not show Stanford is a better team and the statement someone made that losing to Stanford should automatically remove USC from the title picture is dumb. Similar statements that Michigan's loss to Ap St should rule them out are equally dumb. Analyses must go beyond a specific game. Auburn is probably a better team now than USF, Kentucky likely would not have beaten LSU had Florida not roughed up LSU the week before. Florida has lost two very close games to some very good teams. Ohio St has no victories of significance and will have played very few teams that were ranked at game time. In point of fact Florida may be a much superior team to OSU, just as they were last year. I do not always agree with the voters but the SEC has had six or seven ranked teams most of the season. For your argument to have substance you must ignore that fact.
"FOR THE LAST TIME: OSU BEAT TEXAS IN TEXAS LAST SEASON."
So what? K-State beat Texas last season. And A&M beat Texas last season...IN TEXAS! Does that make either of them better? No! Texas was not as good last year as they were in '05, by far. So I'd quit using that to build up OSU. That's really not a good selling point. Texas was overrated from the beginning, just like they were REALLY overrated this season. They lost FOUR conference games in a row, and were still in the top 20!
I am personally not a big fan of polls where people have an inherent bias in picking one team versus another as "the best." The fact that the SEC has had teams ranked throughout the season really doesn't hold much water to me simply because of the very nature of the polls. A crybaby such as Urban Meyer can influence how "good" his team is by having a press conference and appealing to voters to "give him a shot at the national championship?"
Look, all games are about exploiting matchups, and very rarely does the "best" team win a championship...otherwise OSU would have won like four national championships in the mid-1990s from all the NFL talent they had.
The fact remains that you can't argue strength of conference by saying that an interconference game is a tough one; they're ALL tough ones, regardless of the conference. And, thus far, the SEC hasn't proven that they can hammer the other conferences through their intraconference games.
And, I'm sorry...I stick by my post. I don't care if USC wins out. They lost to a 40 point underdog - that alone should exclude them from EVER being in the NC hunt this year. Champions don't lose to 40 point underdogs.
ok. i think LSU wins in spite of les miles. The last pass play took way too long. And then with the only thing that can beat being a return TD, he goes for 1, instead of going for two to make it a 7 point lead.
Thank you for the acknowledgement of the SEC for the recognition that is so much deserved. The SEC is truly the toughest conference out there this year. Also, kudos on your Woodson comments. while Tebow did excellent as always Woodson's numbers came out better than his even though UK lost. Both teams are excellent teams and I supect that they will go far in the championship!
"I mean, USF beat Auburn. USF lost to Rutgers, while Auburn is beating "unbeatable" LSU"
That's a very weak argument. I hate Auburn, but you have to acknowledge that this is essentially a different team from that dog that took the field early in the season. Cox has remembered how to play. Lester is back. Tracing everything back to that first game is weak. South FL is a good team and deserve credit for their win against AU, but don't take it too far.
Buy a calendar. Make sure it says 2007 on the top.
As for this year, you do realize that OSU has only played one team with a winning Big-10 conference record, and only one non-conference opponent with a winning record (that oh-so-powerful Youngstown State whirling-butter-knife juggernaut) don't you? Post back when they beat someone of consequence, thanks.
LSU or no one, painful as that is to say as an Auburn fan. They are the best.
I have stayed awake an extra hour hoping that you would publish your observations part III. Since it appears I'll have to wait until later today, is there any way for you to let your readers know when you are done blogging for the night?
UM...you take my comment out of context. If you read the whole paragraph, you will see that what I said was, "We are faced with the quandry of evaluating THIS YEAR'S teams, and thus far the "vaunted" SEC hasn't done much to show me why they are so superior to every other conference.
I mean, USF beat Auburn. USF lost to Rutgers, while Auburn is beating "unbeatable" LSU. KY got killed by the same SC team that just lost to Vanderbilt. You know what all that means? SQUADOOSH...nothing."
The point I was making was that any team can lose at any time to any opponent. Too many times SEC fans hop on blogs like this and thump their chests with the whole, "My dad can kick your dad's ass" bit. It gets old. The SEC has great football - you won't get any argument out of me on that. But, to say that conference strength is drawn from beating up on other teams within the conference is ludicris.
Unfortunately, with the obvious biasnes of polls, we are left with this whole "common opponent" theory to gauge how one team did versus another team. And, the analogy that I was drawing is that too many times SEC fans will say that [insert hated conference] sucks, while their beloved SEC teams lose to those very programs.
Charles said... So much for the talk that USF is the best team in the state of Florida. OSU's failure to dominate a Mich St team that has only a win at ND to its credit should present a clear picture that it falls far short of being a team worthy of playing in the championship. USC may be back on track. The top three teams still appear to be LSU/Fla/USC although OK may be a fourth member of the group.
Charles, osu beating a msu team who "only" beat notre dame isn't good enough...but usc beats notre dame and they belong in your top three (a week after LOSING to stanford)? btw OSU did dominate this team they just gave away two easy scores directly off turnovers..check the stats to decide who 'dominated' this game, and check the records before you nominate a top three, b/c osu hasn't lost yet
"Posted: 1:40 AM by Pat Re: Wins over teams last year.
As for this year, you do realize that OSU has only played one team with a winning Big-10 conference record, and only one non-conference opponent with a winning record (that oh-so-powerful Youngstown State whirling-butter-knife juggernaut) don't you? Post back when they beat someone of consequence, thanks."
Unlike every other top 10 team, other than BC, OSU hasn't LOST to a team of no consequence, thanks. They beat the teams they're supposed to beat. No other team mentioned here has done that.
There is no question that SEC is the toughest conference this year. Also it is very likely that SEC champion will be either Florida or LSU and those teams will probably ave at least 2 losses at the end of the regular season. SEC champion must play in National Championship game regardless of how many losses that team has. OSU can remain in the 1st position in the polls for the rest of the season. Does OSU deserve to be deemed as the best? That is arguable, one might say as long as they win and have reasonably good team why not. On the other hand like many other people say they haven't played a tough game. Personally as a gator fan I would love to have OSU as the opponent of Florida in the national title game. Regardless of whether Florida or LSU the champion of SEC will be this year's national campion. If OSU remains as number one until the NC game that would be much easier for the SEC champ to take the title. Would that be a fun game? Not for OSU fans that will be for sure, well may be until the game starts Buckeyes might feel some joy but that would be the most joy they will have. From a neutral stand point I would rather prefer to watch a good tough competition in the NC game and OSU will not be able to compete against SEC champ. So to have a competitive NC game either OSU should play against Hawaii, or title game teams should be chosen according to their performance/conference strength, not for their number of losses.
I am an SEC fan. I believe that LSU and Florida are SOME of the top teams in the nation. But there are some other good teams…no great teams…so what’s the landscape look like thus far:
LSU is a one-loss team who just beat Auburn by 6 in the last second of the game. But they also lost to Kentucky by 6 points which lost to Florida yesterday by 7 who lost to LSU by 4 and Auburn by 3 (in the last minute of the game. Chances are Florida and LSU will face each other in the SEC Title game. What happens if Florida best LSU in the rematch? Should LSU and Florida be eliminated from NC consideration? No, because they are probably in the top three to four teams in the nation and would beat OSU, USC or any other team at this point in the season.
OSU has a legit argument. They are undefeated, but the Buckeyes still have Michigan Wisconsin, Illinois and Penn State to play. While undefeated, they have still been unimpressive to date.
Southern Cal’s loss to Stanford, while embarrassing, only proves you must bring your game every week or you can loose to any other team on any given day. Should this eliminate them from NC consideration? No but it shows that they are living on name recognition. They have had too many close calls this year and they still have to play ASU, Cal and UCLA….
Oregon, Arizona State…time will tell as they play out the rest of their respective schedules.
Oklahoma? Stoop’s Sooners are very good one-loss team. But they still have to play their schedule and win the Big 12 Conference Championship. There is still a chance they can loose a game.
BC and VaTech? They play each other next week. We will see who emerges. But the question is, is a team from the ACC worthy of a shot in the title game. The ACC is perhaps the weakest major conference this year.
This has been the best college football season in many years. As for who deserves to be in the NC game nobody knows. The fans of the two teams selected (polls…see regional bias) will be elated. The fans from those who are not "selected" will be disappointed. And the argument will continue. The only true measure...and it was not mentioned in any of the postings today was that the only way an NC is earned and not given is to play it out on the field. WE DESPERATELY NEED TO HAVE A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFF!
BTW...OSU fans, loosing Ted Guinn in the first few seconds of last year’s NC game or having all those days off between the Michigan game and the NC game is hooey! A championship game is a championship game. If you don’t come to play you deserve to lose. Florida was the much better team last year and they would have beaten you 10 out of 10 times!
This years’ version of the Gators are a very young team, playing in a very tough conference, with a majority of its players being sophomores or freshman. They have lost too incredible close games by a total of 7 points to two very good teams! The future looks bright! They have had the top recruiting class the last two years. They have the best QB in the country! They have one of the smartest and most innovative Head Coaches in the country. While the Gators won't be in the NC game this year, ( even though they would have an excellent chance of beating any of the top five teams in the country) my guess is that they will be there the next two title games. Tebow is clearly the best college football player in the country this year and he should win the Heisman Trophy this year. No question! And, should he win the trophy this year, he will be the odds on favorite of winning (if he stays healthy and completes his eligibility) the Heisman the next two years! Especially if the Gators are in the NC title game. Teabow is the type of player who could win three consecutive Heismans. Can you imagine, one individual winning three consecutive Heismans in three years....if that happens, move over OSU’s Archie Griffin!
For Red & Netizen: There are stats and there are stats. Chris' stats about the losing records of most Ohio St competition carries much more weight than stats about the Mich St rushing attack. Otherwise you have to start pointing at Hawaii & Brennan's stats versus weaklings. The big stat in the Ohio St/Mich St game was the score. Ohio St may have run up and down the field but failed to capitalize. Mich St almost beat them and Mich St has no quality wins on its receord. For the most part the people who travel to and watch the games state that OSU is #1 by default, unlike last year when it was mistakenly thought that OSU was a dominant team. I think it is a sad state when the Big Ten as a conf has few if any quality non-conf wins this year. In truth the other conferences are only a little better and that is also sad. Can you deny that the general trend is to play weak non-conf teams to help insure that a few wins in-conf means a bowl bid? The fan is the loser when we reward a team like Hawaii #15 in the bowls while playing no one, and Ohio St has not done much better than Hawaii. It's humorous that one post wants me to climb the Appalachians because if non-conf schedules get much weaker I won't want to watch the games anyway. It's also funny in that I already live over 3000 feet higher than most points in the Appalachians. But I guess the theory is that a post is strengthened with insults, while I think the insults say more about the writer.
Charles, "Michigan State almost beat them (OSU)". If you had any credibility till this point (you didn't) it's all gone now. MSU had no chance of getting that game tied up (as in they never had the ball only being down by 1 score). They scored on two turnovers, one legit, one very flueky. Crap, OSU offense is so good, they scored 38 points, 24 for themselves and 14 for MSU :-)
OHIO STATE!That team got beat by Northwestern......
I watched Ohio State and Michigan State's wide outs catch passes all day with no one within 10 feet of them. And run through holes i could drive a truck through. Then I watched UK-Florida and a wide out didn't catch a pass all day without some one within arms reach. That team got beat by Northwestern......
SI.com has an error in its college football SEC conference standings web page. It shows Tennessee as having 1 loss and leading the SEC East conference. They have lost 2 -Florida and Alabama. It also reflects erroneously in the standings on the Tenessee page in your website.
As I have said in the past let records of wins and losses say it for the rankings, not the votes of biased sports enthusiasts (Stew you ar enot included in that group as you do tend to try and evaluate your teams based on skill). Human beings all have two things in common -- opinions and a___holes. Neither one is any good for determining who the best team in the land is. Although some of the a____holes think their's is.
And for those that think I mean only a team's current win loss record, I do not. I mean all the records of all the teams they have played that year as well.
The SEC may have a lot teams that have knocked each other off, but the records of the SEC upper tier team's opponents have far more wins v losses. Oh and they are not against far inferior Div I or Div II teams either.
So middle of the road SEC teams lost to solid, well-coached out of conference teams (and two out of three were on the road.) What exactly is your point? Do ANY Big Ten teams have impressive victories? I can think of memorable Big Ten loses this season (Mich to App. St., NW to Duke, and that Minn. debacle this weekend.) On top of that I can think of no impressive out of conference wins for the "elite" Big 10 teams.
Posted: 12:59 PM by bd40pe You whats a bigger sham than tennessee's defense?
OHIO STATE!That team got beat by Northwestern...
What year do you think this is? The last time Northwestern beat Ohio State was 2004... the same year that they beat Kansas, Penn State and (top 25) Purdue...
I'll take OSU's #1 ranking and ride this pony as long as she'll hold out... As I've said before, I do believe that the best team in the country is LSU, and they strengthened that argument last night-- just keep Les Miles down there will ya? I like Lloyd Carr as head coach of that school up north. :)
86GOPGator said... BTW...OSU fans, loosing Ted Guinn in the first few seconds of last year’s NC game or having all those days off between the Michigan game and the NC game is hooey! A championship game is a championship game. If you don’t come to play you deserve to lose. Florida was the much better team last year and they would have beaten you 10 out of 10 times!
While I'll agree that a championship game is a championship game, the rest of that statement is utter nonsense. Ginn was not just dynamic on the field; he was the emotional spark plug for the team. If Tebow is injured at the beginning of a big game and is unable to play at all, do you really think losing him won't affect the entire team mentally? If you have nearly two months off and the only team that you play is yourself, do you really believe you'll be as prepared as a team that only had half that time off? Mind you, that doesn't explain what happened last year-- I'm still baffled. But if you think that last year's Florida would have beaten last year's Ohio State 10 out of 10 times, you're not nearly as lucid an SEC fan as I thought.
86GOPGator said... This years’ version of the Gators are a very young team... They have one of the smartest and most innovative Head Coaches in the country.
LOTS of teams are very young-- for example, Ohio State only has a dozen seniors on the roster (and only about half of them get any regular on-field time). And my faves aren't the only ones. So you may want to revise that national championship prediction... As for the coach, he absolutely is smart and innovative, and I will admit that he is one of the best at his job. And hopefully for you he's gotten more ethical and loyal since he's been at Florida; otherwise, he won't be around for that second NC of which you dream-- just ask folks at Utah and Bowling Green for details...
86GOPGator said... Tebow is clearly the best college football player in the country this year and he should win the Heisman Trophy this year... Can you imagine, one individual winning three consecutive Heismans in three years....if that happens, move over OSU’s Archie Griffin!
So far, other than Archie, no one has been able to manage two... and as one of my former teachers would say, "If 'if's and 'but's were candies and nuts, every day would be Christmas." Why don't you wait until he gets his first one (which looks unlikely this year because of the team's losses), then chase Archie? :)
Good post, but don't hold your breath waiting for some of these folks to understand your point about Ginn getting hurt, even with the good Tebow example (and by the way, Tebow gets hurt? stick a fork in it Florida, you're done). Ginn also added the deep ball dimension that Florida didn't have to deal with. The game WOULD have been different, and I think could have been 5-5 between the two. But that's the Coulda World...they didn't respond the way they needed to and they paid the price. Like you, I'm also baffled in that the game didn't seem Tressel-coached. I DO believe it won't happen again, though...Coach won't let that happen and the guys sure as heck won't either. That was LAST year; let all the yahoos bring it up over and over...all it does is help our guys get in that eye of the tiger frame of mind.
Hey bgault the big 10 does suck...Your best team OSU is unproven and not a great team plain and simple...They almost gave MSU the game...OSU is number 1 in all polls for now and you fans are still not happy...Is because your team doesn't get the respect that a one lose LSU or a two lose FLORIDA does...It's because you haven't earned it...Your conference is horrible let's face it horrible...Last year everybody basically gave you guys the NC and what happened a lose for the ages...And who handed you that lose a one lose SEC team...Now if you think you have a chance in hell to compete with them this year your eating paint chips...Maybe the reason for LSU giving up points is because most SEC teams have improved on the offensive side of the ball...And can finally compete with the all the speed on the defensive...Let's review a one lose SEC team can be compared to an undefeated team in any conference anyday...And back it up on the field...LONG LIVE THE SEC!!!!!