Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Week Two

I actually attended a game in person this week (Mizzou-SEMO), so it was hard to keep up with all the day's action. I did watch more of the Ohio State game than I expected, but I'll get to that soon enough.

Ohio State
The Buckeyes suffered a scare on Sat
urday. A Frank Solich-led Ohio Bobcat team proved to be more game than originally thought. There are some perfectly good reasons for the letdown. First of all, Ohio State was looking ahead to the most anticipated game in a decade: their meeting with USC next weekend. Beanie Wells was not available. A back like Wells makes a difference, no matter who you're playing. Also, anyone outside of Ohio doesn't understand that OU is senior-laden, loaded with quality transfers, and plays with a chip on their shoulders because OSU never bothered to recruit any of them. Whatever. The Buckeyes won their 800th game all-time, only the fifth school to do so. Ohio State is 2-0. Bring on USC.

The good: Ray Small broke out of the Tre
ssel doghouse with a 69-yard punt return to put Ohio U. away for good. The three running backs (and Terrelle Pryor) performed well for the most part, putting together a Beanie-like 176 yards on the ground. Also, the defense, as usual, was stout. I knew they could keep OU from any scores if the offense could just get on track. Oh, they did actually win the game.

The bad: Todd Boeckman looked terrible. He will not get
away with throwing to Brian Robiskie in double coverage next week. The play-calling was vanilla for the most part. I don't know if the coaches didn't want to show any wrinkles for USC or what, but they need to figure something out. If they can't push around OU's defensive line, there's no way they stand a chance versus USC. The defense, despite forcing four turnovers and holding the Bobcat offense to one score and 250 total yards, they struggled once again with a quarterback who can run. What I've noticed is that the defensive line over pursues the QB. The line gets great penetration, but runs tight past the passer. The quarterback then has either a clear shot to throw down field or an alley to run. This problem will need to be corrected, but at least next week they play a quarterback with a bum knee.

Like I mentioned before, I actually saw this game in perso
n. It was a joke for the most part. FCS member Southeast Missouri State looked like a high school team out there. Mizzou had their way with them. We left at halftime when the score was 42-0.

The good: Missouri scored 52 points for the second straight week. Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin added to their Heisman numbers, but a game like this isn't where a Heisman is won and lost. The additional touchdowns certainly won't hurt. The defense held the Redhawks to three points after giving up 42 to Illinois last week.

The bad: Although the defense did improve tremendously from week one to two, the RedHawks did rack up 350 yards of offense between the 30 yard lines. The Tigers did play a team from the Football Championship Subdivision. So, there's really no barometer for how good this team may be. They'll beat up on a couple more subpar opponents before they hit the road for Lincoln, NE.

Big Ten
The schools from the Big Ten didn't really play anyone this week, but there were struggles all around. Whatever they do, they cannot allow themselves to be as bad as the ACC or Big East.

The good: Every team in the Big Ten won for once. Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa showed that they have improved greatly since last season.

The bad: The opponents for the Big Ten are a combined 5-16. Despite the inferior competition, there were a few scares. Besides Ohio States near-slip up, Michigan narrowly got past Miami (OH), Northwestern edged Duke, and Illinois gave up 21 to FCS Eastern Illinois.

Right now, Wisconsin looks to be playing the best in the conference. Illinois looks overrated. Ohio State needs to wake up before next week's showdown. Have I mentioned that they're playing USC?

Top 25

Once again, most games went as planned as there were no match-ups of ranked teams. Like last week, a couple of minor upsets occurred just to keep things interesting.

The good: There were some expected upsets while other teams received scares. East Carolina proved that it was for real by knocking off its second straight
ranked opponent. This time it was #8 West Virginia. (Say "goodbye" to the national championship, Mountaineers.) Vanderbilt exposed South Carolina earlier in the week to knock them from the rankings. Meanwhile, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida, Auburn, and Texas made quick work of quality non-conference opponents. Wake Forest kept their season alive with a thrilling two-point win over a very game Ole Miss team.

The bad: There were some close-calls that put a few of teams under suspicion (Ohio State, Alabama, Southern Florida), but these weren't as bad as the ridiculousness which occurred in Seattle. In a classic game of back-and-forth, Washington quarterback, Jake Locker, made a desperate attempt with the clock winding down to score the touchdown that would help his team tie #15 BYU. However, the refs deemed his throwing the ball in the air as excessive. This was simply a case of a kid letting off his exuberance in a very emotional game. There was no show-boating. Anyway, the penalty resulted in the possible gam
e-tieing extra point to be pushed 15 yards back, allowing for BYU to block the kick. The officials totally botched this one. Now, Ty Willingham is looking at a 0-2 start in what could be a crucial year in his tenure.

The Heisman
Since most of the games were not all that interesting, not much was done to win the Heisman. However, a couple of candidates did very little to help their campaigns. Beanie Wells sat out, but can move back up the list with a great performance next week at USC. Pat White might be out of the race with his team only scoring 3 points in their loss to East Carolina. We'll see. Chase Daniel did little to help or hurt his candidacy with decent numbers in a rout. Of course, Tim Tebow has to remain at the top of the list as long as he keeps winning. His numbers weren't great, but he won. As long as Florida remains undefeated, I don't see how Tebow can lose. Once the Gators lose their first, the race will be wide-open.

Overall Grade: C-

I love upsets and scares, but not when it involves my team. Ohio State played terribly and should have lost. Had they not pulled it out, it would have made next week's showdown in LA worthless. Most of the top schools played inferior competition, making for a ho-hum weekend of football. However, the East Carolina story keeps getting better.

Next Week
In case I haven't mentioned enough or the hype machine at ESPN hasn't included it in any of their promos, Ohio State travels to USC for the game of the year. USC looked dominant in their first game against Virginia. On the other hand, the Buckeyes have not looked ready whatsoever. Could it be a hangover from two straight national championship losses? Could USC be that much better than OSU? Everyone's calling for a Trojan blowout. We'll see. Either way, it's a class war.

Kansas at South Florida (Forget the high school football games. This game will prove which of these two schools are phonies.)
California at Maryland (Cal has scored 104 points in its first two games. Maryland has struggled mightily at 1-1. Look for Cal to go 3-0 before they win another and enter their October 4th meeting with Arizona State undefeated.)
Nevada at Missouri
Georgia at South Carolina (Here's the first test for the preseason #1 team. SC has some questions to answer on the offensive side of the ball.)
Arkansas at Texas (This looked like a great, old-school game before the season. Now, it looks like a Longhorn blowout.)
UCLA at BYU (Karma may catch up with BYU. Can UCLA continue the magic?)
Oregon at Purdue (If Purdue is for real, they have to pull this one out. Plus, the Big Ten needs a victory over a BCS opponent.)
Michigan at Notre Dame (Who's worse?)
Oklahoma at Washington (Ty Willingham has to win this game in order to save his job. However, I doubt it will happen.)
Wisconsin at Fresno State (Fresno State needs this upset to get over the hump. The Big Ten may need Wisconsin to win even more.)

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