SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/15/2007 07:56:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part III
George O’Leary’s Central Florida squad gave Mack Brown and the Longhorns quite a scare.
LINCOLN, Neb. -- With kickoff here quickly approaching and Memorial Stadium’s famed Sea of Red rapidly reaching high tide, I’m going to have to be short and sweet with this last, pregame blog entry:
∙ I’ve always held George O’Leary in high regard as a coach dating to his Georgia Tech days -- he even made an appearance on last year’s Mailbag Top 10 coaches list. After watching his UCF team play Texas tooth and nail for three-plus quarters Saturday, and after watching (as much as I could stomach of it) Notre Dame’s performance against Michigan, it’s worth asking: Where would the Irish be right now if O’Leary had never fibbed on his resume?
∙ As I write this, Alabama is currently leading Arkansas 21-0, and while I generally avoid making in-game predictions in this thing -- at the risk of looking stupid -- I’m going to go out on a limb and guarantee we will not be reading the words “Razorbacks QB Casey Dick threw three touchdowns to lead a triumphant comeback ...” in tomorrow’s papers.
∙ Finally, it figures the one week I finally disregard the Karl Dorrell factor and bump UCLA up seven spots in the power rankings, they go and put up a vintage Dorrell-caliber letdown, getting destroyed on the road by an 0-2 Utah team. Technically, it has no bearing on the Bruins’ Rose Bowl hopes -- but I’m pretty sure it ain’t happening.
Check back for an Inside College Football column from the USC-Nebraska game late tonight.
Iowa suffered an upset defeat at the hands of rival Iowa State.
LINCOLN, Neb. -- If you had to predict right now the top five of the final Big Ten standings ... where would you even begin? Would Penn State be your favorite because they’ve cruised past three overmatched foes? Would Wisconsin still be at or near the top, or have their past two shaky performances scared you off? Does Ohio State’s impressive win at Washington on Saturday mean the Buckeyes are set to repeat? And is Michigan back in there? Or does clobbering Notre Dame now hold as much water as clobbering New Mexico State?
It’s a big, muddled mess in that league, but we have learned this much:
Iowa’s 6-7 disappointment last year may not have been an aberration. The Hawkeyes just lost again to rival Iowa State, which, though it’s become pretty customary, is particularly troubling considering the Cyclones had previously lost to Kent State and Northern Iowa. Congrats to new ISU coach Gene Chizik -- but has anyone else noticed Kirk Ferentz is treading .500 ever since receiving that $2.5 million contract?
The Buckeyes are definitely not suffering from Michigan-itis (though Washington QB Jake Locker is suffering from a massive case of Laurinaitis right about now). Their offense may not be as explosive as last year’s, but QB Todd Boeckman played error-free ball in his first big road start and let OSU’s dominating D take it from there.
Michigan QB Ryan Mallet is going to be a stud (even if he winds up back on the bench sometime soon).
Michigan State may be a contender, or may not. Purdue may be a contender, or may not. Illinois may be a contender, or may not. Minnesota ... pretty sure they’re not.
For what it’s worth, I’m told the Rose Bowl’s media director, Gina Chappin, chose to spend Saturday in ... Ann Arbor. That should serve as a tangible reminder to the previously maligned Wolverines they still have something significant to play for -- but so do about eight other Big Ten teams.
∙ My colleague Luke Winn is in Gainesville and will post a full dispatch from the Florida-Tennessee game later today. I’ll just say this much: Umm ... I think Tim Tebow can pass.
∙ Another colleague, Bill Trocchi, our resident stats guru, dug up this gem during Notre Dame’s latest whitewashing Saturday against the Wolverines. Since 2003, the Irish have now suffered 13 losses by 20 or more points – nearly double that of Vanderbilt (seven). I wonder if there’s also a way to track the Irish’s number of botched center snaps by season, and whether they’ve already set a record.
Demoted Irish QB Demetrius Jones apparently saw this latest debacle coming, bypassing the trip to Ann Arbor for a trip to DeKalb, Ill., home of Northern Illinois -- where he’s now suddenly enrolled.
∙ While QB Sam Bradford is stealing all the headlines so far at Oklahoma (and deservedly so), his classmate, RB DeMarco Murray, is another star in the making. The redshirt freshman, who scored five touchdowns in the Sooners’ opener against North Texas, broke off a 92-yard run Saturday against Utah State.
∙ Finally ... will Temple ever catch a break? The Owls appeared to go ahead of Connecticut with 40 seconds left Saturday when Bruce Francis caught a deflected pass at the back of the end zone. The official on the field, however -- from Temple’s new conference, the MAC -- ruled Francis out of bounds, and the replay official (from the Big East) said there wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn the call. Temple falls to 0-3. ... again.
LINCOLN, Neb. -- In lieu of an incredibly uneventful slate of early games playing on the TVs here at Brewsky’s Food and Spirits (which for some reason is showing the Wisconsin-Citadel game on its biggest TV), I think I’m going to start off Saturday’s observations with a lingering thought from Friday night.
All the writers in town for tonight’s USC-Nebraska game are staying in Omaha, about an hour away, and on the recommendation of Omaha World Herald czar Tom Shatel, we dined at Jam’s, a wonderful restaurant unexpectedly tucked away in an industrial strip mall. The Oklahoma State-Troy game was playing on a TV at the bar, and every time I looked up, Troy had scored again.
Larry Blakeney’s Trojans have emerged as the first credible program to come out of the seven-year-old Sun Belt Conference, knocking off Missouri in 2004 and hanging with the likes of Arkansas, but this was their most eye-opening outing to date. Heralded QB Omar Haugabook, whom Florida coach Urban Meyer heaped praise upon following their game last week, torched the Cowboys for 371 yards on 33-of-48 passing in a 41-23 rout. Congratulations to Troy, but I want to focus for a second on Oklahoma State, specifically, how the Cowboys relate to a topic I’ve written quite a bit about lately -- the inherent flaws of preseason and early-season rankings.
As you may recall, Oklahoma State, which finished last season 7-6 following an Independence Bowl win over Alabama, was a trendy “sleeper” team coming into the season, with some even suggesting they might upset Georgia in their season opener in Athens. So when the Bulldogs spanked the Cowboys 35-14, I, like a lot of other pollsters, viewed it as an impressive showing by Georgia and moved up the Dawgs accordingly.
Fast forward to last week. South Carolina goes into Athens and knocks off that same Georgia team, albeit in ugly fashion. Obviously, this was then viewed as a huge win for the Gamecocks, which I moved from unranked up to 18th. In last week’s Power Rankings, I wrote that South Carolina’s win showed that the already touted SEC may be even deeper than imaginable.
Some of you non-SEC fans objected, suggesting I should have taken away a slightly different message: That maybe the esteemed conference isn’t as good as everyone says it is if Georgia is supposedly one of the top teams. My defense to that, at the time, would have been, “Maybe, but I doubt it, considering Georgia clobbered a respectable Big 12 team just the week before.”
Then Oklahoma State goes out and gets shellacked by Troy -- and the whole theory comes crumbling down. Maybe Georgia isn’t that great after all. (That same Troy team that waxed Oklahoma State itself got crushed by Florida and Arkansas). Maybe South Carolina isn’t that much better. Or maybe the Cowboys just had a bad night and it’s not reflective of anything.
Do you see now why trying to rank these teams based off one or two games is about as scientific as throwing darts?
∙ Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville made a point this week of vigorously defending embattled Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom, who, he insisted, should not be on the hot seat. Perhaps now we know why. Croom’s Bulldogs stunned Tuberville’s Tigers 19-14 on Saturday, a much-needed victory for Croom over a respected SEC foe. At this rate, however, offensively inept Auburn might not be respected much longer -- they fell to 1-2 with the loss and came within a last-minute touchdown against Kansas State of being 0-3.
I had a feeling Tuberville’s recent joyride was on its last legs with Nick Saban’s arrival at Tuscaloosa -- I just didn’t think it would happen this soon.
∙ Pittsburgh fell short at Michigan State on Saturday but unleashed its star running back of the future. Much-touted freshman LeSean McCoy, a former Miami commit who spent a year at prep school, rushed 25 times for 173 yards -- including a brilliant 64-yard scamper -- in the Panthers’ 17-13 loss to the Spartans. Amidst the Big Ten’s other woes (see below), it’s worth noting that Michigan State is off to a 3-0 start under new coach Mark Dantonio.
∙ Do you think Minnesota fans are starting to miss Glen Mason? The guy may have lost his share of heartbreakers to Northwestern and Iowa -- but at least he never lost to Florida Atlantic.
∙ Finally, it’s hard to believe, but it seems fairly obvious that Syracuse has actually managed to get worse under third-year coach Greg Robinson. Illinois and Syracuse were basically in the same place three years ago when Ron Zook took over the Illini and Robinson the Orange. Zook’s progress has been evident both on and off the field, while Robinson’s has been evident apparently only to him, and Saturday Illinois went to the Carrier Dome and spanked Syracuse 41-20.
For the sake of poor, former SI.com intern and Syracuse undergrad Mallory Rubin, let’s hope Robinson either has some miracle up his sleeve, or AD Daryl Gross has some miracle replacement waiting in the wings.
USC's defense held Idaho to 10 points, but how will it fair against Nebraska's high-powered offense?
Peter Read Miller/SI
It’s been more than eight months since the USC Trojans were unofficially tabbed as the team to beat in 2007, carrying the label of consensus preseason No. 1 team all the way through winter conditioning, spring practice, summer passing drills and fall practice.
Could they be in danger of losing that status as soon as this Sunday?
The notion of USC’s unquestioned superiority got thrown out the window last weekend -- and the Trojans didn’t even play a game. Ever since No. 2 LSU’s eye-opening 48-7 rout of then-No. 9 Virginia Tech and new No. 3 Oklahoma’s 51-13 beatdown of Miami, the debate has begun simmering. Did the media and coaches dub the wrong team No. 1? Last Sunday, 25 AP voters (up from five the previous week) and 11 coaches (up from four) switched their No. 1 vote to LSU, and the sentiment is only bound to grow stronger if the Trojans fail to wow voters in their first showcase game Saturday at No. 14 Nebraska.
Is it a fair method of comparison? Not really. LSU and Oklahoma both played their first big games at home while USC must travel to the Heartland, and, with the benefit of hindsight, it appears the Trojans will be facing the toughest opposition of the three. But nobody’s ever pretended the polls were anything more than a beauty contest, and in this year’s edition, the Tigers and Sooners both made stunning first impressions. Now the Trojans -- whose only game so far was an easy, uninspiring 38-10 victory over Idaho -- must go under the microscope.
It may be that simply beating the Huskers -- who themselves survived a scare last week, barely escaping 20-17 at defending ACC champion Wake Forest -- will be enough for USC to retain the top spot, but I doubt it. It would be one thing if this were Week 8 and we already had a substantial body of work with which to gauge the contestants. At this point, however, USC’s status as the top team is based solely on conjecture, based on how they finished last season and which key players returned. If, for whatever reason, the Trojans fail to live up to the voters’ lofty expectations of them, it’s well within the voters' right to drop them in favor of a team like LSU that’s actually proved itself on the field.
I’m not saying USC has to post its own 48-7 masterpiece to stay No. 1. That would be unrealistic and unreasonable. But I do think a particularly ugly win would swing the tide to LSU.
As a voter myself, here are three things I’ll be looking for from the Trojans if they want to retain my No. 1 vote:
1) A dominant defensive performance. The single biggest reason USC was viewed as the No. 1 team to begin with was the perceived strength of its defense, what with veteran standouts Lawrence Jackson, Sedrick Ellis, Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. Nebraska boasts a far more potent offense than Virginia Tech, so it’s not like I expect the Trojans to hold the Huskers to 149 yards like LSU did the Hokies. But if the Trojans’ defense is, in fact, on the same level as their 2003 and ’04 national title teams, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to neutralize Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky. And while they may give up some yards through the air to talented QB Sam Keller, they should make up for it by pressuring Keller into forcing turnovers (as is Pete Carroll’s forte).
The last time Keller faced the Trojans, as an Arizona State junior in 2005, he threw for 347 yards and staked his team to a 21-3 halftime lead, but he also threw four second-half interceptions as USC won going away. This Trojans defense is much better than that year’s, but Keller is also playing in a far more conservative offense than he did in Tempe.
2) The emergence of at least one go-to running back. Arguably the most impressive aspect of LSU’s victory last week was the fact that it trotted out an array of different tailbacks (Jacob Hester, Keiland Williams, Charles Scott), all of whom were dazzling. For all the hype about USC’s own ultra-deep tailback stable, the fact is none of them have yet to truly wow us. Senior Chauncey Washington and sophomore C.J. Gable currently top the depth chart, but both have been plagued by injuries. Meanwhile, sophomore Stafon Johnson received the most carries against Idaho (12) but averaged a modest 5.3-yard average. And freshman Joe McKnight, billed by many as the next Reggie Bush, gained just 26 yards on six carries against the Vandals.
USC will likely continue to rotate multiple tailbacks until it settles on two or three that set themselves apart. The Trojans will suddenly become a whole lot scarier if at least one of them has a breakout performance against the Huskers.
3) John David Booty being John David Booty. The fifth-year senior entered the season as a purported Heisman candidate, and he may well become one, but he hasn’t had the chance to show it yet. The Trojans played it close to the vest against Idaho, with Booty passing for just 206 yards on 21-of-32 completions. Part of that was because Booty’s expected top receiver, junior Patrick Turner, was banged up and sat out the game. He’ll be back, as will sophomore Vidal Hazelton and redshirt freshman David Ausberry, all of whom are vying to fill the roles vacated by standouts Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.
No one expects a repeat of Booty’s epic 391-yard, four-touchdown Rose Bowl performance, but as the quarterback of the professed No. 1 team in the nation, one is certainly justified in anticipating some big plays in the passing game against a solid but hardly impenetrable Nebraska defense.
Polls are unquestionably subjective, and games can play out any number of ways, so it’s not like I can offer you a score ahead of time by which the Trojans would need to win to solidify themselves as No. 1. In such an ambiguous endeavor, one can’t help but apply the same criteria Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart famously applied in regards to pornography: “I’ll know it when I see it.”
Rutgers fans weren't too accommodating to visiting Navy last Saturday.
One of college football's biggest feel-good stories of the past two years took a sour twist last week. While Greg Schiano's Scarlet Knights continue to bring unprecedented glory to Rutgers -- which is currently ranked 13th in the country -- a small but tawdry section of fans have given the school a black eye.
On Tuesday, Newark Star Ledger columnist Mark Di Ionnowrote about his unpleasant experience attending last Friday night's Knights-Navy game, in which the Rutgers student section showered their opponent with a creative array of profanities. To Navy QB Reggie Campbell, as he limped off the field following a hard hit: "You got f---ed up! You got f---ed up!" To the Navy cheering section, as the game started to get out of hand in the second half: "F--- you, Navy. F--- you, Navy."
Obviously, the actual chants did not include the dashes.
"This is how you treat people who may die for this country?" Annapolis graduate and West Orange, N.J., native Bill Squires, a spectator on the sideline that night, told Di Ionno. "It was the most classless thing I've seen. … "At one point, I thought, 'We defend this country for people like this?' I wasn't embarrassed as a New Jerseyan. I was embarrassed as a human being."
As reflected by that quote, Di Ionno, a Rutgers grad and Navy veteran, seemed particularly perturbed that the students would say such things to members of a service academy -- young men who, when their football careers are over, will go on to serve their country. It's hard to disagree with that sentiment. To me, however, it doesn't particularly matter whether the Knights were facing Navy or Norfolk State (Rutgers' opponent this weekend) -- there's no place for that kind of behavior in college football, period.
Which is why the only thing more disturbing than the scene described in Di Ionno's column (which also included the general crowd booing Navy when it took the field) were the ensuing comments on Di Ionno's blog by a select group of knuckleheads defending the students' behavior (scroll to the bottom). Among their arguments: "It's just a football game" and the author was making too much of the issue; that the author was using 9/11 (the date the column was published) to "prop up his argument;" and, of course, the obligatory, "They're just a bunch of drunk college kids, what else would you expect?"
Umm … no.
I don't care that the students involved were a small minority of the overall crowd -- they still represented (embarrassingly) their school. The 9/11 reference is completely irrelevant (other than it makes the chants look that much more stupid). And I was a drunk college kid myself once; alcohol doesn't give you free license to act like a moron.
Rutgers' administrators know this. That's why, upon hearing about the unseemly chants, school president Richard L. McCormick wrote a letter of apology to Navy Vice Admiral Jeffrey L. Fowler, and athletic director Robert Mulchay penned an open letter to Rutgers students calling their behavior "undignified, disrespectful, and unacceptable."
This is just a guess on my part, but the root of the problem is probably this. It's no secret Rutgers is relatively new to this whole big-time college football thing. My guess is a lot of these kids grew up going to nearby Eagles, Jets or Giants games, where booing and obscenity is par for the course. That's not cool in college football, however, where the participants are not multimillion-dollar professionals. As Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said Tuesday, "People pay a lot of money to go to those [NFL] games and [the players] are getting paid a lot of money, so that's their business. … There's no right to boo college kids. They want to boo me, they pay me a lot of money, they can boo me all they want. Don't boo the kids."
This is obviously an exciting and historic time for Rutgers' program and its university. The atmosphere I witnessed at last year's Louisville game was one of the most electric I've experienced anywhere. To the profane students described in Di Ionno's article -- don't go ruining that experience for others. Your school -- not to mention Navy -- deserves better.
1) That the state of Florida’s second-best program is the one in ... Tampa? When last week’s Power Rankings came out, I received an instant message from a Miami-loving friend that read: "Dude ... South Florida? Seriously?" I’ve been receiving similar e-mails from both ‘Canes and FSU fans since the day I first dubbed USF a Top 25 team nearly eight months ago. Their bewilderment is understandable. After all, Miami won the first of its five national titles back in 1983. FSU first became a top-five fixture a few years later. Meanwhile, USF’s program didn’t even exist until 1997. Of the three, however, only Jim Leavitt’s Bulls will be among the ranked this week after they walked into Jordan-Hare Stadium -- the same venue where national champion Florida suffered its only defeat last year – and came away with a 26-23 overtime victory (despite missing four field goals). It was USF’s third victory over a ranked foe in the past three years.
Top to bottom, the ‘Noles and ‘Canes still have the more talented rosters than the Bulls, but they’re still missing at least one key ingredient: a quality quarterback, which USF has in sophomore Matt Grothe. The two traditional powers obviously have some deeper problems than that, however. FSU -- as has become its custom in recent years -- fell behind 17-3 early before eventually beating UAB (3-9 last year) 34-24, while Miami suffered its most lopsided defeat (51-13 to Oklahoma) in nine years. At least the ‘Noles showed some progress offensively, piling up 520 yards on the Blazers. It’s going to be another long year for the ‘Canes’ offense, however, so long as Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman are the only options under center. Meanwhile, for all the hype out FSU’s showdown with Alabama in Jacksonville on Sept. 28, there’s suddenly a much bigger game taking place in the state the night before: West Virginia at USF.
2) That USC now has a tougher road to New Orleans than LSU. Seriously. Though Les Miles’ bizarre preseason rant about the Trojans’ schedule certainly made for good column fodder, the truth is, the preseason rankings bore out his argument. That might not be the case much longer thanks to some impressive early-season victories by USC’s opponents. The new AP poll had not yet been released at the time of this post, but if it mirrors the ballot I submitted Saturday night, USC now has five ranked opponents on its schedule -- No. 8 Cal (which beat Tennessee last week), No. 11 Nebraska (won at Wake Forest), No. 12 UCLA (staved off BYU), No. 17 Oregon (laid the smack down at Michigan) and No. 24 Washington (ended Boise State’s 14-game winning streak).
LSU, meanwhile, has four (No. 4 Florida, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 18 South Carolina and No. 23 Virginia Tech, which, admittedly, is only that low because the Tigers themselves whooped them). And while LSU has the benefit of playing all four of those foes in Baton Rouge (same with previously ranked Auburn), USC will be hitting the road to play all but UCLA. Autzen Stadium is a hostile enough environment without having to face Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart.
3) That the ACC is simply hideous. A year after going 6-16 against BCS-conference foes, the nation’s preeminent basketball-conference-masquerading-as-a-football-league is off to another impressive start: 1-4 against BCS-conference opponents (the one is actually Georgia Tech’s win over independent Notre Dame) and, even more embarrassing, 6-7 against Division I-A opponents, (including Virginia’s loss at Wyoming, NC State’s loss to UCF and UNC’s loss to East Carolina). Perhaps most humbling of all, the league’s two highest-profile Big East imports, Miami and Virginia Tech, lost to two top-10 opponents Saturday (Oklahoma and LSU) by a combined score of 99-20. Adding insult to injury: The Big East itself has started off 9-2 against its I-A opposition, including five wins against 2006 bowl teams.
Is Appalachian State available for membership, by any chance?
4) That the clock has already struck 11:59 for Cinderella. In the course of one day, nearly every popular pick for this year’s BCS party-crasher -- TCU, Boise State, BYU and Southern Miss -- went down, and Hawaii came within a bizarre strategic decision by Louisiana Tech (which, playing on its own home field, went for two at the end of its first overtime and lost 45-44) of joining them. Meanwhile, next week brings huge challenges for some of the few remaining unbeaten "mid-majors" (Wyoming hosts Boise State, UCF hosts Texas, Air Force hosts TCU and Ohio visits Virginia Tech).
History says that a non-BCS team’s best bet of reaching one of the big bowls is to knock off a major-conference opponent and, if you’re going to lose, be sure it’s not to one of your own conference’s teams. The Warriors may be the last remaining hope (their showcase opportunity will come at the end of the season against Washington), though Saturday’s game confirmed once again that Hawaii isn’t nearly as intimidating when it plays on the Mainland. Its next game is at UNLV, which unexpectedly took Wisconsin to the wire Saturday night before falling 20-13.
Is Appalachian State eligible for consideration, by any chance?
5) That Oct. 6 can’t come soon enough. We already knew that day’s Florida-LSU matchup could potentially pit two undefeated, top-five opponents, which became a step closer to reality with the Tigers’ rout of Virginia Tech. The biggest remaining hurdle for either team will likely be the Gators’ date next week with Tennessee in what will be the first SEC start for QB Tim Tebow and a whole bunch of UF defenders. But following Oklahoma’s eye-opening performance against Miami and Texas’ runaway 34-13 win over a top-20 TCU foe Saturday, you’ve got to think that same day’s Red River Shootout in Dallas could have similar implications. Oklahoma jumped to No. 3 on my ballot, Texas to No. 6, and both teams will be heavily favored in all their remaining games until then (though the ‘Horns do need to tread carefully next week at UCF, which will be using the occasion to unveil its new on-campus stadium). I just hope CBS and ABC don’t end up showing the two games at the same exact time.
Update: Somehow, USF did NOT join the realm of the "ranked" this week, coming in 26th in the AP poll. Apparently, Texas A&M's triple-overtime home victory over Fresno State was more impressive.
Keiland Williams' 67-yard touchdown run essentially put the game away for the Tigers.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Ohio State-Texas, it was not.
The most anticipated non-conference game of 2007 turned out instead to be a colossal mismatch, with No. 2 LSU dominating No. 9 Virginia Tech in literally every aspect of a 48-7 victory here Saturday night. The game was over the moment Tigers tailback Keiland Williams took an option pitch, hurdled one of his downed offensive linemen, then dashed 67 yards for a touchdown that put LSU up 24-0 just over three minutes into the second quarter.
And the scary part is, Williams was not close to being the Tigers’ most impressive performer Saturday night. That would be either quarterback Matt Flynn, who, in his third career start, showed uncanny accuracy in picking apart a normally air-tight Hokies defense; receiver Brandon LeFell, previously overshadowed by teammate Early Doucet, who exploded for a seven-catch, 125-yard night; Jacob Hester, the workhorse battering ram who pounded his way to 81 yards; or the entire, as-advertised LSU defense, which held Virginia Tech to a measly 40 yards on 26 plays in the first half and 149 overall.
Suffice to say, LSU was the real deal, though really, it wasn’t a fair fight. The Hokies walked into one of college football’s most daunting atmospheres with a long-inconsistent quarterback, Sean Glennon, and an inexperienced, injury-riddled offensive line. That’s like walking into Mike the Tiger’s lair wearing a blindfold.
Virginia Tech did not manage to sustain a drive longer than six plays until midway through the third quarter, by which time the outcome was no longer in doubt and athletic freshman QB Tyrod Taylor had replaced the ineffective Glennon (a move Hokies fans are undoubtedly hoping will become permanent as soon as Sunday). Taylor endured his own struggles, too, due to the constant duress, but he at least demonstrated a spark by producing 58 of the Hokies’ 65 yards on their lone touchdown drive.
It’s too early to say whether LSU is the best team in the country (though we may have a better idea following USC’s trip to Nebraska), but this much is certain: It’s going to take an opponent with one heck of an offense and a plethora of speed on defense to keep up with the Tigers’. As of today, only one team on LSU’s schedule fits that description: Defending national champion Florida, which comes to this stadium in exactly four weeks.