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22 Sep 2011

SDA: Afternoon Delight

by Brian Fremeau and Robert Weintraub

Finally, a weekend with more than one marquee game to capture our attention. Maybe only a handful of the ten games we profile this week will resonate in the national championship race, but that sure beats dozens of FCS blowouts. Best of all, the big ones are on Saturday (especially at 3:30 EST) -– it feels like the first big time college football weekend of the year has arrived.

Alabama and Arkansas both have their minds set on claiming the SEC West championship. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M clash in a top-10 battle for the right to be the primary challenger to Oklahoma’s BCS championship hopes. Meanwhile, LSU’s scary good defense gets to prove itself against another potentially elite offense in Morgantown. Florida State and Clemson square off in a game that might ultimately decide the ACC Atlantic race. This isn't just about the conference drama though; that can take a backseat for at least a few hours. There's big time football to be played.

Previews

N.C. State (+7.5) at Cincinnati (Thursday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When N.C. State
Has the Ball ...
When Cincinnati
Has the Ball ...
Category N.C. St.
(2-1)
Cincy
(2-1)
N.C. St.
Off
Cincy
Def
N.C. St.
Def
Cincy
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 40 44
2011 FEI Rk 23 32
2011 S&P+ Rk 74 65 80 115 82 23
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 79 73 49 3
2011 Passing S&P Rk 42 105 61 24
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 84 96 47 7
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
58.1% Run
(72nd)
69.3% Run
(22nd)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 19 31 58 7
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
19.6% Run
(112th)
29.8% Run
(72nd)

North Carolina State had a chance to show that it made the right choice in allowing Russell Wilson to leave school and star in Madison. Instead, they lost to Wake Forest. To be fair, it was hardly QB Mike Glennon's fault -- he threw for three scores and over 300 yards -- but the Wolfpack defense is both atrocious and injury-riddled, a poor combination when going on the road for the Thursday night ESPN "let's cancel classes and show the nation how cool/inebriated our campus is!" game. Cincy is poised to take advantage. Zach Collaros and company moved the ball fairly well in their only real test on the slate so far at Tennessee. The Bearcats' defense isn't much better than NC State's, however, as Taylor Bray showed in that Vols game. One bet seems certain to pay off -- the over.

San Diego State (+10.5) at No. 22 Michigan (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)

OVERALL When San Diego St.
Has the Ball ...
When Michigan
Has the Ball ...
Category SDSU
(3-0)
Michigan
(3-0)
SDSU
Off
Michigan
Def
SDSU
Def
Michigan
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 77 16
2011 FEI Rk 87 19
2011 S&P+ Rk 56 12 49 54 57 1
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 20 67 68 12
2011 Passing S&P Rk 40 96 45 27
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 11 64 54 33
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
67.6% Run
(28th)
72.6% Run
(13th)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 85 105 49 6
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
19.6% Run
(112th)
29.8% Run
(72nd)

Is Michigan’s offense as strong as it was last season? Denard Robinson isn’t exactly the same threat when he’s under center, but the Wolverines have let him loose on a few occasions and Michigan can be effective through the air even when Denard isn’t deliberately underthrowing receivers, as Kirk Herbstreit might have us believe. Michigan doesn’t have to be as strong offensively as long as the defense continues to play well, especially when they aren’t facing offensive powerhouses. San Diego State might not be that, but senior quarterback Ryan Lindley will sling it and his favorite wide receiver, Colin Lockett, is averaging better than 21 yards per reception. They’ve been effective on standard downs (11th nationally) as well, with running back Ronnie Hillman leading the nation in rushing touchdowns (8) and ranking second in yards per game (165). Former Aztecs head coach Brady Hoke is in charge in Ann Arbor, a familiarity that might bring advantages to both sidelines. Michigan has been consistently strong in the early part of the year and will probably keep riding the wave, but this could be close throughout.

Notre Dame (-6.5) at Pittsburgh (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC)

OVERALL When Notre Dame
Has the Ball ...
When Pittsburgh
Has the Ball ...
Category Irish
(1-2)
Pitt
(2-1)
Irish
Off
Pitt
Def
Irish
Def
Pitt
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 11 31
2011 FEI Rk 26 21
2011 S&P+ Rk 5 42 21 46 4 46
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 68 55 9 42
2011 Passing S&P Rk 37 66 77 67
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 45 85 32 57
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
49.0% Run
(101st)
58.4% Run
(68th)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 44 56 80 61
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
31.1% Run
(64th)
25.8% Run
(96th)

Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have at least one thing in common heading into the game -– they both have experienced the wrong end of a fourth quarter rally that erased a 17-point lead, made possible by costly turnovers. The Irish lead the nation in turnovers (13) and they have yet to play a game with a positive turnover margin. Good thing for the opponents, too, because Notre Dame has been terrific on offense aside from those drive-ending miscues. It's defense had a colossal letdown against Michigan, but looks every bit as dominant as we projected for 11 of the 12 quarters they've played thus far. If they get Pitt into passing situations, they’ll unload an athletic and aggressive front seven. The Panthers have allowed 12 sacks this year, second most in the nation, and the Irish will be in Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri’s face all day. The Pittsburgh secondary was picked apart to the tune of 399 yards by Iowa last weekend, and they’ll be hard pressed to contain superstar wide receiver Michael Floyd, but sophomore Irish quarterback Tommy Rees is good for a few bad decisions a game. Turnovers may be all that matters at the end of this game.

No. 11 Florida State (+2) at No. 22 Clemson (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Florida St.
Has the Ball ...
When Clemson
Has the Ball ...
Category Fla. St.
(2-1)
Clemson
(3-0)
Fla. St.
Off
Clemson
Def
Fla. St.
Def
Clemson
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 6 18
2011 FEI Rk 4 10
2011 S&P+ Rk 16 35 11 33 12 55
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 90 77 10 60
2011 Passing S&P Rk 53 75 16 17
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 83 72 11 41
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
51.5% Run
(97th)
62.7% Run
(47th)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 12 68 11 15
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
19.4% Run
(113th)
31.0% Run
(66th)

Florida State won something of a moral victory in slugging it out with Oklahoma Saturday night in primetime. Now they have to build on that performance and not come out flat in Death Valley, where Clemson is putting together a darn good offense of its own. Super frosh Sammy Watkins was insane against Auburn a week ago, and his emergence gives Clemson a "triplets" feel with quarterback Tahj Boyd and runner Andre Ellington. The Sooners have as high-flying an attack as there is in the country though, and it was run down by the Seminole defense. On the other hand, its hard to imagine the FSU defense being anywhere near as jacked up as it was for that game, and if they ease off the throttle even a little, Clemson could take advantage. Much also depends on whether Seminoles quarterback E.J. Manuel is recovered enough from his shoulder injury to play. Backup Clint Trickett didn't exactly make fans forget about Manuel when pressed into action, though Clemson will offer a less hostile reception than the Sooners did -- it's defense is giving up 419 yards per game. You fans in Tallahassee who thought the weekly guessing game about whether or not the damaged passer was ready to play ended when Christian Ponder graduated -- think again.

No. 7 Oklahoma State (+4.5) at No. 8 Texas A&M (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)

OVERALL When Oklahoma St.
Has the Ball ...
When Texas A&M
Has the Ball ...
Category OSU
(3-0)
A&M
(2-0)
OSU
Off
A&M
Def
OSU
Def
A&M
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 12 13
2011 FEI Rk 17 30
2011 S&P+ Rk 10 4 7 8 19 12
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 4 63 23 2
2011 Passing S&P Rk 32 6 34 11
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 15 23 91 12
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
52.7% Run
(90th)
61.5% Run
(55th)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 20 17 6 14
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
24.1% Run
(10th)
27.0% Run
(87th)

The Cowboys and Aggies are both ranked in the top-10 in the national polls, but our numbers are slightly more skeptical. That said, the offenses are capable of ringing up pinball machine points, though they achieve said points in very different ways. Texas A&M’s rushing attack is lethal, and they’ll try to feed the ball to senior running back Cyrus Gray as often as possible. Gray has at least 20 attempts in each of the Aggies last seven games and he’s topped the century mark on the ground in all of them. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill caught fire around this same time last season for the Aggies and faces a Cowboys defense that ranks a paltry 91st on standard downs. On offense, Oklahoma State is as explosive as anyone in the country: they have 47 plays of 10 or more yards, the most in the nation. Quarterback Brandon Weeden is averaging 384 yards through the air and he’s distributing the ball around –- five of his receiving targets have racked up at least 75 yards in at least one game and six players have touchdown receptions on the year. The difference in the game may come down to the pace of play. Oklahoma State operates quickly, while A&M limits game possessions with a more effective ground game.

No. 14 Arkansas (+11.5) at No. 3 Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)

OVERALL When Arkansas
Has the Ball ...
When Alabama
Has the Ball ...
Category Arkansas
(3-0)
Alabama
(3-0)
Arkansas
Off
Alabama
Def
Arkansas
Def
Alabama
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 14 1
2011 FEI Rk 14 2
2011 S&P+ Rk 13 1 13 2 39 3
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 13 2 8 15
2011 Passing S&P Rk 14 1 54 31
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 10 1 41 9
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
52.1% Run
(94th)
57.3% Run
(76th)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 31 10 30 49
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
36.2% Run
(34th)
26.5% Run
(90th)

Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson's ears are still burning from the several in-game chewouts he received from coach Bobby Petrino during Arkansas's comfortable-if-not-convincing 38-24 win over Troy Saturday. Petrino's group raced out to a big lead but were outplayed in the second half, and obviously they will have to go the full sixty to find a way to beat Alabama, who were clubbing a different Sun Belt team, North Texas, at the same time. It didn't happen a year ago in Fayetteville, when Bama came back from being behind two touchdowns to beat the Razorbacks. With Ryan Mallett gone, Knile Davis injured, and the Tide defense giving up six points per game (and 2.5 yards per play), Petrino is going to have to reach deep down into his bag of plays to find ways to move the ball consistently. That will likely involve getting the ball to Joe Adams as much as possible. This is the first step up in weight for either team, so the decent stats Arkansas has put up in run defense don't help much, not with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy on the other side of the scrimmage line.

Vanderbilt (+16) at No. 12 South Carolina (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)

OVERALL When Vanderbilt
Has the Ball ...
When South Carolina
Has the Ball ...
Category Vandy
(3-0)
S. Caro.
(3-0)
Vandy
Off
S. Caro.
Def
Vandy
Def
S. Caro.
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 69 20
2011 FEI Rk 50 13
2011 S&P+ Rk 90 23 103 29 43 18
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 30 90 16 8
2011 Passing S&P Rk 114 93 11 91
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 93 90 9 43
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
64.0% Run
(41st)
69.2% Run
(23rd)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 70 99 22 30
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
32.4% Run
(57th)
35.2% Run
(38th)

Vanderbilt is a hot story after three unbeaten weeks, but after solid games against Elon, Connecticut, and Ole Miss, reality is about to burst through the Vandy defensive line and run over their defensive backs. Reality, thy name is Marcus Lattimore, who has been as good as any player in the nation in the early going. The Cocks' sophomore leads the nation in rushing and attempts, and with seven touchdowns, he trails only Trent Richardson and SDSU's Ronnie Hillman. He is also a large reason why Gamecock Nation is unbeaten and feeling pretty good, rather than saddled with a loss or two and loudly questioning the coaching staff, who have underperformed given the talent at hand. Vandy's strength thus far has been the pass defense, led by Trey Wilson. The Commodores lead the nation with ten interceptions, and given Stephen Garcia's general penchant to force balls into coverage, it behooves the Ole' Ballcoach to ride Lattimore as far as his legs can carry the team.

Missouri (+21) at No. 1 Oklahoma (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, FX)

OVERALL When Missouri
Has the Ball ...
When Oklahoma
Has the Ball ...
Category Mizzou
(2-1)
Oklahoma
(2-0)
Mizzou
Off
Oklahoma
Def
Mizzou
Def
Oklahoma
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 26 2
2011 FEI Rk 29 3
2011 S&P+ Rk 28 2 22 3 37 5
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 29 26 38 66
2011 Passing S&P Rk 59 5 83 44
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 46 14 59 34
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
65.5% Run
(34th)
61.1% Run
(58th)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 21 39 7 92
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
34.7% Run
(43rd)
17.5% Run
(116th)

The highlight of the 2010 season in Columbia, Missouri was the takedown of then-No. 1 Oklahoma on October 23rd. It appears to be payback time for the Sooners. Oklahoma has the nation’s top-ranked team once again, while Missouri isn’t quite the same offensively or defensively. They have been improving over the first few games of the year, but the Sooners present a test unlike any Missouri has seen thus far. Quarterback Landry Jones was not impossible to stop last weekend against Florida State, but the Sooners were comfortably in charge on two long drives, and Missouri doesn’t have quite as many playmakers defensively as the Seminoles. Jones will have plenty of time to pick out his targets, whether they are swinging out of the backfield or Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills have found an opening in a zone. Oklahoma’s defense can bring pressure and force costly turnovers, so Missouri will need to pose at least some kind of threat on the ground. Running back Henry Josey has 400 yards on the season, but only 137 of that came against FBS competition. Missouri’s sophomore quarterback James Franklin is the bigger threat –- his effectiveness out of the backfield will be the difference between a blowout and a game that remains competitive deep into the fourth quarter.

No. 2 LSU (-5.5) at No. 16 West Virginia (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ABC)

OVERALL When LSU
Has the Ball ...
When West Virginia
Has the Ball ...
Category LSU
(3-0)
WVU
(3-0)
LSU
Off
WVU
Def
LSU
Def
WVU
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 3 17
2011 FEI Rk 1 8
2011 S&P+ Rk 6 32 29 18 1 64
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 69 39 4 91
2011 Passing S&P Rk 41 43 10 25
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 65 51 8 72
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
71.2% Run
(17th)
44.5% Run
(111th)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 43 26 18 11
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
39.6% Run
(25th)
28.8% Run
(77th)

This game is supposed to be yet another opportunity for LSU to prove their defensive mettle against an elite offense, but do the Mountaineers qualify? Dana Holgorsen’s reputation might be carrying the load on that particular game narrative. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith ranks sixth in the nation in passing yards per game (336, seven TDs, one INT) and the Mountaineers are averaging 42 points per game. But they haven’t maximized possessions as much as truly elite offenses are expected to do, and they haven’t been effective with long fields. West Virginia only has two touchdowns this season against FBS opponents on 13 possessions that started at or inside their own 30-yard line. That is not going to get it done against a menacing front seven from LSU, a team that forces a lot of long-field situations. The Tigers dismantled dynamic offenses from Mississippi State and Oregon already this year, and we’ve been banging the field position and special teams drum for LSU for quite some time. Mississippi State couldn’t take advantage, but they were able to keep LSU off the scoreboard by not allowing a short-field possession for LSU until late in the fourth quarter. If West Virginia can do the same, they’ll have a shot.

No. 23 USC (+2.5) at Arizona State (Saturday, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When USC
Has the Ball ...
When Arizona St.
Has the Ball ...
Category USC
(3-0)
ASU
(2-1)
USC
Off
ASU
Def
USC
Def
ASU
Off
2011 F/+ Rk 21 32
2011 FEI Rk 27 35
2011 S&P+ Rk 20 27 20 22 28 17
2011 Rushing S&P Rk 103 36 28 37
2011 Passing S&P Rk 23 66 49 39
2011 Std. Downs S&P Rk 49 44 61 23
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
49.1% Run
(100th)
55.0% Run
(83rd)
2011 Pass. Downs S&P Rk 38 83 44 52
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
33.9% Run
(49th)
23.4% Run
(107th)

Apparently, USC has instructed its scout team to mimic the Wildcat defense by hitting after the whistle and mouthing off, in an effort to prepare for facing Vontaze Burfict and company. Certainly, the Trojans know all about the wildman/linebacker's penchant for "enhanced tackling techniques," having been the beneficiary of a critical personal foul call against Burfict in last year's game that helped set up the winning score. The Devils seemed to be looking ahead to this immense home game last week, when they fizzled at Illinois. A total inability to block the Illini's defensive front didn't help. Burfict's group has been leaky as well, giving up well over 300 yards per game, as mounting injuries on that side of the ball have diminished the unit's effectiveness. Meanwhile, the Trojans, who looked good in defeating powerhouse Syracuse (biased!) on Saturday, will be out to reassure that if they were eligible, USC would be the team to beat in the Pac-12 South.

Storylines of the Week

Robert Weintraub: The Big 12 may already be in a death spiral by the time you read this. Or not. Or who gives a flop already? The league on the field, right now, this season, is pretty damn entertaining. Lost amid the Colorado and Nebraska defections was the fact that, with no conference title game in play, everyone would finally have to play everyone in the conference. You know, like it was in the olden timey days. So even though most of the power is in the old South Division, its nice to know that Missouri will be a test for everyone. Meanwhile, Texas is somewhat approaching it's off-field muscle with actual on-field results, thus ending the sport's biggest disconnect from the last year (why does anyone want that team?), the Oklahoma schools are powerhouses, Texas A&M and Tech are very good, and Baylor is about the most exciting team in the nation. Enough with the realignment bumfluffery for a few weeks: enjoy some dudes who can sling it.

Brian Fremeau: We’re almost into nearly-exclusive conference play, so its time to applaud the team that stepped up and played one of the most daunting non-conference schedules in recent memory. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane heads to the blue turf of Boise, Idaho on Saturday -– F/+ No. 4 Boise State, a program boasting a 69-2 record at home since 2000. Tulsa hosted the F/+ No. 12 team in the land, the Cowboys of Oklahoma State last Sat-- ... Sunday morning, actually, after weather delayed the kickoff until midnight. Back on September 3rd, they visited F/+ No. 2 Oklahoma, who are 72-2 under Bob Stoops in Norman. According to our preseason projections, it would be tougher for a team to go undefeated against Tulsa’s non-conference schedule than it would to go undefeated against 105 other team’s entire regular season schedule. The Golden Hurricane won’t get much credit for it, but here’s hoping that kind of competition is rewarded in the much more manageable conference season.

Picks

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home Rob F/+
N.C. State +7.5 Cincinnati N.C. State N.C. State
San Diego St. +10.5 Michigan SDSU Michigan*
Notre Dame -6.5 Pittsburgh Notre Dame* Pittsburgh
Florida St. +2 Clemson Florida St. Florida St.
Oklahoma St. +4.5 Texas A&M Oklahoma St. Oklahoma St.
Arkansas +11.5 Alabama Alabama Alabama
Vanderbilt +16 South Carolina Vanderbilt S. Carolina
Missouri +21 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
LSU -5.5 West Virginia LSU LSU
USC +2.5 Arizona State USC USC
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
Last Week
Season Total
F/+: 6-4 (1-0) 16-13-1 (2-1)
Rob: 5-5 (0-1) 15-14-1 (0-2-1)

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 22 Sep 2011

15 comments, Last at 25 Sep 2011, 4:53pm by Sid

Comments

1
by Gold_Star_for_R... :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 5:18pm

"Apparently, USC has instructed its scout team to mimic the Wildcat defense..."

It's 2011, and writers _still_ make this mistake?

10
by zlionsfan :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 8:25am

I think it's a college-sports issue ... you'll be attuned to mistakes involving your team or those closest to you, but I see it occasionally in pretty much every situation where there is an X and an X State.

That's not an excuse, mind you. Surely there's an intern somewhere who could review everything for obvious mistakes before having stuff posted ... I can understand someone saying Wildcats and thinking Sun Devils (or vice versa), but that doesn't mean we should know it happened that way. (We can watch Matt Millen for that kind of thing.)

12
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 8:43am

Could be worse. The *NCAA* thought Penn State made the 1979 Final Four.

2
by Karl with a K (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 5:48pm

Crazy that USC is the underdog at Arizona State. ASU is one of those teams who always seems to be on the verge, but always manages to flop. And even if they were looking ahead to the USC game, shouldn't they have been able to handle Illinois if they were any good?

3
by Capt.Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 6:08pm

when the wrong team seems favored....those las vegas guy have an uncanny ability

4
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 6:25pm

That reminds me of the old Dr. Z system, where if what he thought was more than 3-4 points off the Vegas line he would go the other way with it.

8
by Sid :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 8:25pm

very common among gamblers is to look for lines that look off and say "Vegas knows something" and bet the other way. Dr. Z didn't come up with that.

5
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 6:27pm

Also, Brian/Rob, I know you're coming up with a lot of material in a hurry, but you should probably take at least a few minutes to proofread. I counted six its/it's mistakes alone, and that kind of thing really kills the flow of the piece if it happens enough.

6
by Brian Fremeau :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 6:58pm
7
by Sid :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 8:24pm

"One bet seems certain to pay off -- the over."

Well, the line was 60.

9
by Tom Gower :: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 10:00pm

Too late for tonight's game. I'll take Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida State, Texas A&M, Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma, LSU, and Arizona State. The Sun Devil and the Aggies are the counter-consensus picks, and I'll take the traitors from College Station as my Edelstein lock.

14
by Tom Gower :: Sat, 09/24/2011 - 7:54pm

And last week I went 5-5 (1-0), 1-1 counter-consensus, with all Rob-F/+ consensus picks 3-2. Cumulative: 16-13-1 (1-2), 4-3 counter-consensus, with all consensus picks 9-7. Pity I came to the contest too late on Thursday to take the Bearcats.

11
by zlionsfan :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 8:31am

Re Denard: by "a few occasions", I think you mean "as soon as Borges realizes the I-formation running isn't working." Michigan ran something like 49 plays from the gun against Eastern last week and 32 the week before that against Notre Dame.

Current consensus seems to be that Borges will be content to run a hybrid I/gun offense as long as Denard is the QB: long-term, he'll want to get players to run his preferred offense, but if the talent is better in the gun (as Michigan has shown so far), then he'll keep running those spread plays. (Given that Robinson is once again struggling with throws into normal coverage, it seems wise to put him in an offense where he's more likely to see panicked safeties miles from where they should be.)

13
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/23/2011 - 8:45am

A hybrid gun?

So is he stealing Nevada's offense, or West Virginia's?

15
by Sid :: Sun, 09/25/2011 - 4:53pm

For anyone who's curious, NC State/Cincinnati stayed under the total.