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» Scramble Over/Unders: the Norths

The league's northern divisions pose a number of meaty questions, such as: "Is the Bears' offense due for a repeat performance?" "Why do the Lions have such pronounced splits?" and "Has Johnny Manziel made the Cleveland brass even crazier?"

10 Oct 2011

One Foot Inbounds: Bedlam Air Assault

by Robert Weintraub

Barry Sanders. Billy Sims. Tatum Bell. Marcus Dupree. Thurman Thomas. Greg Pruitt. Joe Washington.

Close your eyes, gents. Sooner State football is defined these days by chucking it, early and often. Texas and Kansas found that out the hard way on Saturday. The Oklahoma schools combined for 125-45 routs over the Horns and Hawks. They also combined for 101 passing attempts, 861 yards in the air, and eight touchdowns. The Sooners passed at will against their inexperienced competition, with Landry Jones making UT’s secondary look hapless. Between Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills, and Texas product Jaz Reynolds, Jones has plenty of options to throw to.

As does Brandon Weeden, who is somehow two months older then Aaron Rodgers. Of course, playing against Turner Gill’s beleaguered defense helps pad the numbers. The Jayhawks were giving up 44 points per game before kickoff. OSU passed that in the second quarter. An interesting compare-and-contrast will come next weekend when the Cowboys take their turn to play Texas in Austin. There are several tests to come for both schools, but a Bedlam matchup on the first Saturday in December between a pair of 11-0 teams is a delicious proposition.

Speaking of unbeatens on a collision course, LSU and Alabama ran rampant once more. It was the Tigers turn to devour the Gators of Florida, who were down to their third-string quarterback, Jacoby Brissett. Needless to say, he didn’t lead the visitors to victory in Baton Rouge. LSU pummeled Florida 41-11. Tyrann Mathieu had a pick, of course, but it should barely count. The Lester rubbed it in with style, having scofflaw quarterback Jordan Jefferson throw a mop-up jump pass touchdown to remind Florida fans that Tim Tebow doesn’t live here anymore. That wasn’t even the worst Jefferson-inspired moment: That came when JJ hard-counted the Gators offsides on back-to-back snaps in the fourth quarter, forcing a purple-with-rage Will Muschamp to pull a couple of guys out of the game.

Meanwhile, 'Bama played Vanderbilt at home. ‘Nuff said. (OK, fine -- Alabama won 34-0)

Will we see a clash of unbeatens on November 12 in Champaign? Michigan looked feeble in falling ten points down at halftime to Northwestern, then roared back with 28 unanswered points to overwhelm a Wildcats team thinned by injury, 42-24. Illinois is 6-0 to the Wolverines’ 5-0, whipping Indiana 41-20. Ron Zook’s under-the-radar hiring of Paul Petrino (Bobby’s little brother) to run the offense is paying major dividends, as the Illini are now pumping out 35 points per game. Nathan Scheelhaase to A.J. Jenkins turning into a combo to be reckoned alongside Jones-Broyles and Weeden-Blackmon. The excellent Illini defensive effort back on September 17, in a gutty win over Arizona State, is looking better and better with every Sun Devils victory (they took out Utah 35-14 on Saturday to go to 5-1).

Of course, even should Illinois remain undefeated until the Michigan game, and beat the Wolverines, Wisconsin is next on the sked. Nothing wrong with the Capital One Bowl, fellas.

Next week, Illinois will have to get by Ohio State, who looked like Hawaii under June Jones against the disappointing Nebraska defense. Wasn’t Bo Pelini hired to restore the snarl to the Blackshirts? The Buckeyes’ offensive line were a million miles from where the unit was a week ago, when Michigan State blitzed them into a confused rabble. But when Braxton Miller went out with an ankle injury, and Joe "Sha-Na-Na" Bauserman came in with his tragicomic attempt at passing, that was it for Ohio State. They blew a 21-point lead and Nebraska won 34-27, im a victory that could easily have been by double-digits (had I not made them my lock, they surely would have).

Remember up top, when we talked about great backs from Oklahoma? Well, next door in Nebraska, the fullback tradition continues with Rex Burkhead. Tom Rathman, Cory Schlesinger, Joel and Jeff Mackovicka -- your legacy is being carried on.

Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech has been almost as bad as Bauserman, but he broke out in his sixth start, completing 23-of-25 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns, and the game-winning 19-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1, as Tech edged Miami 38-35. Five touchdowns were scored in the fourth quarter in this thriller. Thomas has a long way to go to catch up to, say, Clemson’s Tahj Boyd -- but, alas, the Tigers superb signal-caller injured his hip in their 36-14 win over Boston College. Boyd's availability is the crux of the ACC race, with Georgia Tech now 6-0 and Wake Forest (yes, Wake Forest!) 4-1 and feeling frisky after taking down Florida State 35-30.

By the way, Clemson and Georgia Tech meet October 29 in could well be ... wait for it ... a meeting of unbeaten teams.

As the chairman once sang, the best is yet to come...

TOEDRAGS

  • It is hard to overstate the choke job Florida A&M pulled on Saturday. I happened to be sideline for the Rattlers blowing a huge lead to an apparently overmatched group of Howard Bison and losing, 29-28, on a last-second field goal. On homecoming weekend! FAMU continues to search for a football team that their band can be proud of.
  • Ball State tried to pull a fast one, scheduling Temple for its homecoming game -- on Yom Kippur! Bernard Pierce, who is an honorary Jew in my book, ran for three scores, giving him 41 for his career, which breaks Bill Cosby’s school record (that may or may not be accurate). Temple atoned for the sins of last week’s 36-13 loss to Toledo with a 42-0 shutout.
  • Kiehl Frazier isn’t Cam Newton, but he’s got something cooking in Auburn’s spread. Watch him down the road. That said, the Arkansas native telegraphed an awful interception late in the third quarter that sunk Auburn’s upset chances in Fayetteville. With 19 straight completions and an important recovery of a teammate’s fumble, Tyler Wilson is already better than Ryan Mallett was at the helm of the Razorback offense -- discuss.
  • Also whipping up something at the stove: Connor Shaw, who finally broke through and nailed Stephan Garcia to the South Carolina bench with a four touchdown performance in a 54-3 blowout of Kentucky. Just what Steve Spurrier needed: a decent quarterback performance so his bile ducts could take an afternoon off for once.
  • The timeless question, "What is the inspirational power of manure?" was answered by Texas A&M Saturday. The Aggies’ team buses were smeared with poop and spray-painted with vulgarities by some overzealous Texas Tech boosters. Properly motivated, the Ags outslugged Tech 45-40, although the Red Raiders got a backdoor cover that you could see coming for miles and miles.
  • (Yes, my picks had a tough week.)
  • Also a tough weekend for the service academies. Air Force was blitzed early by Notre Dame and lost 59-33. Army blew a two-touchdown lead to previously winless Miami (Ohio). Navy was destroyed by Southern Miss 63-35, creating the first three-game losing streak the Middies have suffered under Ken Niumatalolo. Fortunately, the Coast Guard took care of business.
  • The WAC without Boise State is like Sublime without Bradley Nowell -- they shouldn’t even be allowed to perform under the name WAC. As the band is now Sublime With Rome, the conference should be WAC Minus Boise. The Broncos gave the WAC’s second-best remaining team, Fresno State, a 57-7 beating as a parting gift Friday night.
  • Georgia had a fourth-and-57 at one point late in it's important win over Tennessee. Herschel Walker would have converted it on a screen pass...
  • And in the day’s best game, Syracuse did it again with style. They inched over Tulane, generally an unstoppable force in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?), 37-34 on a field goal as time expired. Sure, the ‘Cuse blew a 17-point lead, but why quibble? A win is a win, and that makes four of them on the year for SU.

OFI TOP 25

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Boise State
4. Wisconsin
5. Oklahoma
6. Oklahoma State
7. Stanford
8. Oregon
9. Clemson
10. Michigan
11. Georgia Tech
12. Arkansas
13. West Virginia
14. Illinois
15. South Carolina
16. Kansas State
17. Virginia Tech
18. Baylor
19. Texas
20. Arizona State
21. Houston
22. Washington
23. Wake Forest
24. Nebraska
25. Texas A&M

LOWSMAN TROPHY WATCH


1. Everybody, Defense, Oklahoma.
Dominant afternoon at the Fair for the Sooners defense -- three defensive scores, five turnovers, eight sacks, and preventing Texas from gaining yards on 35-of-81 plays, an amazing 43.2 percent. I wouldn’t want to single anyone out: that is how great the whole unit was.

2. Chandler Catanzaro, K, Clemson. We name-checked CC for his failure from last year’s Auburn game a couple weeks back, so it is only fair that we point out his career day against BC. Catanzaro hit all five of his field goal attempts, as the Tigers needed special teams help with Tahj Boyd injured.

3. Justin Chandler, DT, Rutgers. Big day for the Scarlet Knights as they hammered Pittsburgh, 34-10. Chandler led a ferocious pass rush that had six sacks and six hurries -- he had two and three, respectively -- along with eight total tackles and four tackles for loss.

4. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois. We talked about the Illini offense, but the defense also helped whack Indiana behind the Big Ten’s sack leader, who notched three more to his total and added two forced fumbles for good measure.

5. Tramain Thomas, S, and Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas. The All-SEC end returned from missing three games to injury to provide inspiration and force off the edge, while Thomas had two picks and helped shut down Auburn’s passing game.

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 10 Oct 2011

11 comments, Last at 27 Mar 2013, 6:00am by pawello

Comments

1
by stephenbawesome :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 2:00pm

Justin Francis, from Rutgers. Not Chandler.

2
by NotAredskinFanButWow (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 3:48pm

I thought Temple U. was named after a Baptist church?

10
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 3:30pm

You are correct, per Wiki:

"Temple University was founded in 1884 by Dr. Russell Conwell, a Yale-educated Boston lawyer, orator, and ordained Baptist minister, who had served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Conwell came to Pennsylvania in 1882 to lead the Grace Baptist Church while he began tutoring working class citizens late at night to accommodate their work schedules. These students, later dubbed "night owls," were taught in the basement of Conwell's Baptist Temple, hence where the university receives its name."

3
by Bronco Nut (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 5:38pm

No mention of Adrian Peterson when talking about great Oklahoma running backs? He did play for OU, right?

7
by Alexander :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:48am

I also noticed this obvious and questionable omission (although to be fair he was injured for a while at OK).

4
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 7:14pm

The Nebraska-Ohio State game provided an excellent example on both sides of the importance of sticking with what you can do well. Nebraska stuck with what Martinez does well and manufactured their comeback using primarily the run. In contrast, Ohio State completely lost sight of what they could do well when Miller went out injured. They were still able to run the ball effectively yet they lost their mind and had Bauserman try a bunch of low-percentage pass plays he clearly wasn't capable of doing. Really poor play calling--up until their last possession they were never behind and had plenty of time, yet they were playing like Nebraska already had the lead and they only had a few plays to get down the field.

There was a series late with Bauserman when they were either tied or still up a TD (can't recall) that went like this: Running back run for 11 yard gain; running back run for 4 yards; bomb up the sidelines for an interception. I don't recall them trying any screens or very many short patterns to give him easy completions. Everything seemed to be long patterns down the field.

5
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 7:25pm

Curious if anybody reading this is familiar with Turner Gill's time at Buffalo? He seemed to work wonders there and I was convinced he was destined for big things. But his start at KU has been a complete disaster. They don't just lose--they frequently don't seem to be trying.

6
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 11:36pm

His starting RB in Buffalo was James Starks of the Packers.

8
by Alexander :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 1:59am

James Starks is a decent NFL running back, he is hardly a transformative guy for a college team though.

9
by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 12:12pm

Despite his shocking lack of pigment, Rex Burkhead is not, in fact, a fullback. He's a halfback

11
by pawello (not verified) :: Wed, 03/27/2013 - 6:00am

These students, later dubbed "night owls," were taught in the basement of Conwell's Baptist Temple, hence where the university receives its name." e-papierosy