SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/27/2007 07:36:00 PM
Saturday Observations, Part II
Playing with a sore shoulder, Florida QB Tim Tebow came back down to Earth against Georgia.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- It turns out Tim Tebow is in fact human. And bye weeks do in fact provide an advantage -- at least in the Florida-Georgia rivalry.
The Dawgs finally turned the tables on their longtime tormentors Saturday, and it might not be a coincidence that, unlike the previous 14 years, when Florida came into the annual showdown off a bye week and won 13 of them, this time Georgia was the rested team. The Dawgs were hungrier (How about that full-team celebration after the first touchdown?), they were more physical (see Knosown Moreno’s 33 carries for 188 yards and three scores) and they looked better prepared.
Meanwhile, Florida didn't share the same fire, especially with its superhuman quarterback nursing a shoulder injury. With the Gators’ coaches apparently reluctant to run Tebow much at all (whereas he carried 20 times just last week) and Kestahn Moore sent to the bench after fumbling twice in the first half, the Gators’ offense was suddenly rendered very one-dimensional. If not for Percy Harvin’s speed bursts, this could very easily have been a blowout.
And that’s because Florida’s defense -- its lingering question mark all season -- flat-out stunk. They couldn’t stop Moreno, and Georgia QB Matthew Stafford was able to find open receivers time after time. As a result, not only are the 5-3 Gators’ hopes of returning to the national championship mix officially shot, they’re suddenly a longshot to even return to Atlanta. Meanwhile, the same Georgia team (7-2, 4-2 SEC) that looked woeful against Tennessee just three weeks ago is now deadlocked with South Carolina atop the SEC East. Florida? Kentucky? Not so much.
And then there are the Heisman implications. In light of Matt Ryan’s coming-out party the other night, Tebow and Andre Woodson sure picked the wrong week to lay an egg.
I no longer pretend to know how strong the SEC is or isn’t (other than Florida isn’t what it was cracked up to be), but it’s certainly tops in the country in one department: unpredictability.
• Meanwhile, I have to give a ton of props to my Atlanta friend and terminally delusional Georgia fan, Jonathan, who’d been predicting that result for months, swore by it even after the Dawgs’ early struggles and told me a few days ago not a single one of his Georgia friends agreed with him. Hopefully he’s not too inebriated by now to read this.
• SI.com’s Arash Markazi is in Eugene to chronicle the USC-Oregon game, so I’ll defer to him for analysis of that one, but the Trojans actually impressed more in defeat than they have in most of their victories this season. Holding the Ducks’ PlayStation offense to 335 yards is pretty phenomenal, and though QB Mark Sanchez will likely take flak for his interception at the end, under the circumstances, it’s pretty remarkable he was even in a position to possibly send the game to overtime.
The Trojans’ Rose Bowl hopes are likely shot, but their prospects for the rest of the season aren’t nearly as bleak as they seemed after Stanford and Arizona.
• In yet another development we never would have dreamed possible a couple of months ago, 7-1 UConn is suddenly the team to beat in the Big East. I’ll admit it, I hadn’t taken the Huskies particularly seriously to this point, but not only is Randy Edsall’s team alone in first following Saturday’s 22-15 win over USF (making the Bulls the second straight No. 2 team to not only lose, but lose again the following week, like Cal did), they’re playing absolutely lights out on defense.
The Huskies entered the game third in the country in scoring defense (12.7 points per game), sixth in total defense (272.3 yards per game). Last week, they held Brian Brohm to his lowest production of the season by far; this week, they did get burned on the ground by Bulls QB Matt Grothe (25 carries, 146 yards) but they picked him twice and, most importantly, allowed just one touchdown all day.
Remember when Connecticut and Kansas were basketball schools?
• Wow, Jamaal Charles -- where did that come from? With previously reeling Nebraska threatening to pull an absolute stunner in Austin, going up 17-3 early in the third quarter, Texas’ junior running back caught fire. Touchdown runs of 25, 86 and 40 yards gave the ‘Horns a 28-25 victory and gave Charles a 290-yard night.
Charles has flashed star potential since the start of his freshman year, but never anything like that.
• Finally, I know I’ve sworn off Clemson before -- many, many times -- but I do believe the Tigers will pose the biggest remaining threat to Boston College’s run at an undefeated season. Unlike most of the ACC’s offensively challenged teams, the Tigers do have James Davis and C.J. Spiller, both of whom broke 100 against Maryland on Saturday.
Clemson hosts Boston College on Nov. 17. We’ll know this is officially the season from another dimension if that game winds up holding more implications than the Ohio State-Michigan tilt being played that same day.
I think the Ducks injuries played a HUGE part in the game being as close as it was. Down the stretch the loss of Jeremiah Johnson was felt in the play calling options the loss of two very good receivers forced dixon to go to Jason Williams who straight up DROPPED a game killer.
I think it's fair to say the Ducks are looking like a top tier, championship contender. As a life long fan, I think it's about time!
Uhhh, Stewart, I love your blog, and I'm not going to blame you for not watching the Duck game since you're at State College, but before you crow about the Trojan's D, perhaps you should read an AP story about the game. Trojans did NOT force the Ducks to overtime, the game was basically over early in the fourth quarter before USC rallied and failed to tie. Also, it wasn't USC's D so much as two turnovers by Oregon in the first half that stopped the Ducks from scoring more than they did. Both the turnovers were on special teams ... I just don't know how you can credit special team turnovers to USC's D.
Stewart, you might as well write something about Oregon-USC, because Markazi certainly won't. He'll just tell us about some party/club he went to and name-drop some B-list celebrities/athletes who were there in a lame attempt to convince us that they are his close friends.
OSU is handling Pn St, and there are no challenges left for BC, although there is some solid competition ahead. USC gets beat again as does Fla. What an interesting season. It looks like OSU, BC, LSU, OK & Oreg will have to sort it out. But I rank them LSU, OK, Oreg, OSU & BC, although I'm guessing an undefeated BC & OSU would play in the NC. Thoughts anyone?
Anyone sick of the name Tebow and Meyer? Anyone care to look back to the results of the Georgia. vs. Florida series prior to 1990? This series has certainly been lopsided recently, but the only reasoning I have read as to why Georgia won today is that Tebow is playing hurt. Do you think maybe Georgia just got sick of losing to Florida? Let the Florida players and fans whine all they want, but they were outplayed, and as a result, they were outscored. It's called LOSING! Move on and deal with it.
for mitch haygood - The Florida ride had to end sometime. But it was a ride like no other university has had. OSU has a chance to play in its third consecutive football/basketball championship and it will be interesting to see if they can do it. Dump on Fla if you want, but I will toast them and say to others that the Gator pride shines bright. For Netizen - Of course I would like to see OSU/LSU and I don't share your faith in Clemson. But OK may slip through.
As a gators fan, I must hand it to Georgia for the way they played. I of course always knew our offense was the only thing keeping us in the mix and that our defense did nothing to help. Hopefully these tests will help our defense grow and learn for the next few years. Go gators.
Please explain to me why Dennis Dixon is putting up the same numbers as Tim Tebow, his team is winning more, but his name is not coming up when people are talking about the Heisman. Matt Ryan plays lousy for three and 7/8 quarters and everyone's saying how he "solidified" his Heisman candidacy with the last two minutes of the game. Please. Oregon's win against Michigan is looking better and better,the USC game was not as close as the final score, Oregon has the most prolific offense in the nation and they are in the thick of the national title hunt! It's time to give Dennis Dixon some Heisman love!
I think it's time for the "experts" to stop drinking the USC, Florida, South Florida, and Kentucky Kool-Aid. USC and Florida are solely ranked becuase of their name but they are mediocre at best this year.
Charles, you ranked the teams LSU, OK, Oregon, Ohio State, and BC. Here's my take as an OSU fan: It's pretty much a toss-up between Ohio State and LSU for 1&2. Les Miles is an aggressive play-caller, and LSU's Defense is tough. However, OSU's offense is on par with last year's, while it's defense is MUCH improved. I think the jury's still out on the Sooners, and you've gotta give BC some love for still being undefeated, no matter how they do it. Oregon would be last because they turn the ball over WAY too much, which also why they are not undefeated - 3 turnovers in the final 3 possessions against Cal.
Well give it to Georgia they played a great game. Florida is pretty much out of the SEC hunt (although by the numbers still in it if they win their next two and Tenn. loses one more and Georgia loses their next two) in other words out of it barring a miracle. Florida simply does not have enough D this year to hang with the big boys. Tebow and the offense have done everything to give themselves a chance to win every game but the D has been terrible and it finally caught up with then the last couple of weeks.
All I can say is Ohio State made a statement and Oregon looks pretty tough right now. I say Ohio state #1, and BC, Oregon, OK, and LSU 2-5 in any order right now.
I am looking for Florida to get to 10 wins this season and I will be satisfied going into 08...Go Gators!!!
let them play on the field... if ever there was a season for all of you... masters of the fan world to close your traps now would be the time... come the end of next month all that will remain will be a cloud of dust that begins with a p and ends with an s... through in a little r and d to mix it up... the osu of another name will end two teams claim... and the one with the other will go down on the 10th... then another osu will emerge however two of them are within the same borders...the cajun will be a raggin after there woppin in ala and the eagles will be grounded as the turtle snaps them up... then the cat will put them back down where they belong... so in the end when the p and the s emerge from the smoke don't be so shocked as we do the hillbilly waltz to pasadena!!!! GO 'EERS Show it on the field... leave these has beens to debate how much to pay off the writers to vote there 4 loss teams into the top 10!!!!
OK all of this UConn bashing must be coming from those who haven't seen them play. The defense is very tough against both the pass and the run (though Grothe showed why Pat White will be a big problem for UConn) while the offense runs the ball very well and does just enough in the passing game while making very few mistakes.
They have only lost to UVA who did make it into the top 25 for a couple weeks though that appears to have ended.
They have now beaten USF, who beat Auburn AT Auburn earlier this year.
I think Stew's point was that UConn is a respectable football team this year, and has become a solid program in just 7 Div. 1-A seasons. Are they a football school? No, of course not. The basketball team is the draw there, but they are moving up in the football world. Some people predicted that they would only beat Syracuse in the Big East, and now they've beaten USF, Louisville and Pitt. He isn't saying they are the next coming of Notre Dame, he is just saying they are a good squad, better than he or anyone expected.
They are about to be ranked in both the AP and Coaches polls and will earn the title of "Quickest to be ranked after moving from 1-AA", as USF and Boise State both were ranked after 120 or so games, and UConn has played 89 as a 1-A school. They were already ranked 23rd in the BCS. Considering the youth of the program, I;d say the Huskies are doing well for themselves.
And please stop the Big East bashing, USF, UConn and Cinci have all played well as has WVU, Rutgers and Louisville haven't met expectations, and Pitt and Cuse are about what people thought they'd be.
Even with two top teams underachieving, the conference has a winning record against the ACC and is, I believe, 1-1 against the SEC this season (Louisville lost to UK, USF beat Auburn)
Are they the best conference? No. But they aint that bad, their 5-0 bowl record last year speaks to that. Oh and the Bg East champ did beat the SEC champ in 2005. Georgia fans will remember that.
P.S. Funny how you guys are calling Stewart a Big East homer in one comment and then the next guy asks if he is an SEC homer. Does Stew saying something about any team outside of your favorite conference make him a homer? If you think so you're about as bright as Homer. (please note the capital "H") mmmmm....angry message boarders. D'oh!
eric actually Marshall would be the "Quickest to be ranked after moving from 1-AA"... although they have fallen far from grace as of late (although USF did bring together a program faster from inception). they did it in under five (1 or 2 years not so sure on time) and if my recollection is correct beat an SEC team 3 years running in Detroit. had several others on the ropes back in the day during the regular season games before they pulled the big guys pulled those games which i would imagine effected their recruiting
yep how soon they forget about the BIG EAST record out of conference against BCS and Bowls-- it has a name selective amnesia
It's time for you to admit you're wrong about the Buckeyes, Stewart. The entire team (starters and backups) has been motivated and intense all year precisely because of what happened with Florida. It's fun to read your logic for picking against them. They keep winning, yet your rationale never changes. Cognitive dissonance must be fun!
The Bucks have no speed on offense? His name is Ray Small. Get used to it. I'm pretty sure you've heard the rumors that Ohio State can run on everyone.
Precisely what part of Ohio State is remotely weak, Stewart? Defense?
Go ahead, pick someone else as the favorite in the national title game -- Ohio State will blow out the national title game just like Penn State.
I am not an OSU fan, but with Fla & USC dropping out of the picture I think OSU should be #1 or #2 with LSU the other top team. Looking at common opponents and body of work BC has a weak case struggling against Va Tech & Notre Dame. I place Oreg & OK above BC. Like Fla last year LSU shows signs of fatigue against rigorous scheduling. Should they manage to go undefeated and OSU do the same they should play for the NC. And then I think the month of rest for LSU will mean deja vu all over again for whomever they play.
Ohio State plays in one of the weakest conferences in the country. Only the ACC is weaker. JUST LIKE LAST YEAR, put OSU up against a team like LSU in a bowl game and they will get hammered. Everyone expected for Florida to struggle this year. So many defensive players heading to the NFL. Next year they will blow everyone away.
well if I am wrong, CBS was wrong, though Im not following your comment I think, you mention USF from inception, and that's what I meant, from their inception as a 1-A team. CBs listed that Boise State and USF were the two fastest ever to make it to the AP after going 1-A
So Matt Ryan throws 2 touchdowns AND 2 INT's and all of the sudden that makes him the Heisman frontrunner? Tim Tebow plays through an injury and still throws for only about 50 yards less (not to mention no TD's) and all of the sudden is not up there in the Heisman Race? It's absurd to think that the award is based on who played the last game well. Why not change the description from "Most Outstanding Player" to "Most Recent Decent Comeback." Let's try and not forget that Ryan's team would never have been in the position needing his last minute comeback if he didn't throw those 2 interceptions. That's almost as many in ONE GAME as Tebow's had all year. Come on, don't tell me you (and the other voters) are this easy to forget who's been not only carrying their team (the Gators have no other real consistent rusher -or quarterback- than Tebow) but also posting arguably the best numbers we've seen in a few years (if not ever). Nobody's been as integral to their team as Tim Tebow.
USC has been derided as "Miami West" because of player transgressions in the past but they were similar in other aspects: success, talent, graduating players to the NFL, and swagger. The Trojans are on their way to a collapse similar to what that other "dynastic" powerhouse is enduring. Some forget a BCS controversy and a controversial flag in the end zone came is all that came between Miami and its own possible "three-peat". All the coaching attrition is finally catching up to Pete Carroll and USC. Success is not transferrable along with the title of "USC assistant coach". Just because a player has similar physical qualities doesn't mean he's next Palmer/Leinart/Bush/Tatupu/Polamalu. The players don't have the same fighting spirit as previous teams. It doesn't look like they play as a "team". They look like a bunch of overhyped all-stars looking to standout on a team of standouts.
*UConn is the Big East's version of the SEC's Kentucky-- very solid team this year that probably won't be as effective next year.
*Tebow should still be a top Heisman contender.
*No matter what team Stew say something about, he will be called a homer. By the way, can someone please tell me what a homer is? It sounds like a term that homosexuals would use alot. If you guys are homosexual, I don't want your backlash. It's your preference. I don't condone, nor condemn it.
*If folks think that the SEC is so mediocre, why keep up the comparisons and conversations about it. Everybody on here is praising his/her team or conference, yet you guys constantly cry about what the SEC bloggers are doing.
*I would love to see LSU/Ohio St.
*There is alot of talk about Kool-aid flavors. IMO, that falls in the same category as "homer".
*Finally, the SEC is not more superior... it's more entertaining. Some perceive that as superiority when it's not.
homer = "irrational fan of the 'hometown' team", although nowadays it's really just an insult meant to imply that the person in question is schill and is going to blatantly ignore any and all evidence that runs contrary to thier opinion, regardless of how silly they look doing it. And to all you folks calling the SEC overrated, please google the phrase "College Football Strength of Schedule rankings" and then count how many teams from each conference are in the top 50. kthxbye.
Thanks for the definition of "homer"...I was wondering that myself.
As to Heisman candidates, although I'm a Buckeye and Boilermaker fan, I certainly believe Tebow and Dixon should be the front runners. I guess I'm questioning why individual performances impact the overall ratings so much. So what if somebody has a good or bad game? If it's more an aberration, then chuck it away. How about this perspective...if right now, all the candidates were equally healthy, and you got to pick one for your all-star team, who would you pick? Hard for me to see not picking Tebow or Dixon. It pains me to say this (and BTW we'd LOVE another shot at you, Gators! :) ) but Tebow still would seem the front runner to me.