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18 Oct 2007

Seventh Day Adventure: Trojan Horse

by Russell Levine

I went into last week's picks feeling like it was going to be the Year of Infinite Pain all over again. I was sure Purdue would run up and down the field on my beloved Michigan. I said as much in print.

So what happened?

Michigan put together its most complete performance of the season, and, other than a stunning inability to recover a widely expected onside kick, completely wiped the field with the Boilermakers.

Instead of the Year of Infinite Pain, I ended up with my own flashbacks to 2005: the year of the Vinny-Russell Universe Altering Curse. That year, I couldn't pick a point spread to save my life. A 1-6-1 mark last week dropped me to an abysmal 22-32-2 for 2007.

What doesn't kill me only makes me stronger, so I'm back at it for another week. As usual, these picks are offered for entertainment purposes only, but if you're reading this, chances are you already know what.

What a strange college football season it has been. You know things are weird when South Florida-Rutgers is a bigger game than USC-Notre Dame and Miami-Florida State put together.

But don't tell that to this week's podcast guest, David Sweet, who obtained a degree from Southern Cal and who has written about the Irish for MSNBC.com, among others. David is a long-time online and sports business writer who also contributes to Street and Smith's NFL annual. He and I have known each other since we teamed to form two-thirds of the sports "department" at the launch of the Wall Street Journal online edition.

Here's a quick look at the games David and I will be discussing this week:

No. 2 South Florida (-3) at Rutgers, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The nation's newly anointed second-ranked team takes on last year's Cinderella in another important Big East game that falls in the ESPN Thursday night spotlight.

Is USF merely "this year's Rutgers," or are they something more? A win here puts the Bulls one step closer to possibly playing for the national title in New Orleans.

Rutgers's Ray Rice was the last man to break 100 yards against the USF defense, when he broke the 200-yard barrier in a tight win last season. He may need to have another big night against George Selvie and the South Florida defensive front, lest the game fall onto the suddenly shaky shoulders of Mike Teel.

No. 14 USC (-18) at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

What's wrong with USC? The Trojans have looked mortal or worse in three straight games, which included their stunning loss to Stanford two weeks ago. On the other side of the field, Notre Dame is coming off its best two-game stretch of the season.

Three weeks ago, the line on this game might have approached 40 points. Now it's down to 18. The last time these teams met in South Bend, USC escaped with an epic win and Charlie Weis picked up a 10-year contract extension.

Evan Sharpley gets the start for Notre Dame as Weis feels he can limit the dreadful mistakes that have plagued freshman Jimmy Clausen.

On paper, this is still a huge mismatch. Can Notre Dame find some of that 2005 magic and keep things close? Will they dare break out the green jerseys?

No. 15 Florida (-7) at No. 7 Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

At first glance it may appear that the line in this game pays a shocking lack of respect to Kentucky, which just knocked off the nation's top-ranked team in LSU a week ago.

Florida has had a week to rest since its battle with LSU, and that probably has a lot to do with the line being what it is. The Gators are rested, while the Wildcats have to be beat up after their triple-OT win.

With two losses in conference play already, the Gators absolutely must win this game if they hope to get back to the SEC championship game.

No. 24 Texas Tech (+3.5) at No. 16 Missouri, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Lovers of offense, make sure to tune into this one. These are two of the top-five teams in total offense, led by their outstanding quarterbacks.

Hawaii's Colt Brennan gets the headlines and Heisman hype for his ridiculous run-and-shoot numbers, but Texas Tech's Graham Harrell is putting up stats that dwarf Brennan's, and the Red Raiders are coming off a rout of Texas A&M.

Missouri and quarterback Chase Daniel played well at Oklahoma last week, but lost a second-half lead. The Tigers can't afford to fall two games behind Kansas in the Big 12 North.

Miami (+6) at Florida State, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Lovers of offense, make sure NOT to tune into this one. These are two of the worst offenses in America, led by dreadfully inconsistent quarterbacks.

The downfall of these two programs -- at least by their expectations -- has an awful lot to do with quarterback play the last several seasons.

First touchdown might win in this one, and you might get even money that it will be scored by the defense. It's hard to believe, but both of these programs are looking up at South Florida in the Sunshine State football pecking order.

No. 10 Oregon (-11.5) at Washington, 7 p.m. ET, FSN

Washington is battle-tested, but they haven't been winning too many of the battles. Oregon is rolling, but they lost two key players to season-ending injuries in a blowout win over Washington State last week.

With Cal and USC losing, Oregon has a great shot to win the Pac-10. But before they can think about the Trojans, the Ducks have to take care of business in Seattle.

Oregon may depend on Dennis Dixon even more than usual with big-play tailback Jeremiah Johnson out this week. The Ducks torched Washington State's overmatched defense a week ago, and the Huskies aren't that much better on that side of the ball.

No. 25 Michigan (-2.5) at Illinois, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Illinois has the type of offense that traditionally gives Michigan fits -- a spread with a mobile quarterback that can hurt you with the run. The Wolverines proved they can handle a spread when the QB is a statue like Purdue's Curtis Painter.

The problem for Illinois is that its mobile quarterback, Juice Williams, can't throw it a lick. He's been replaced by Eddie McGee in each of last three games, but Ron Zook has declared Williams his starter.

For Michigan, Mike Hart will most likely play despite an ankle injury, but just how effective he'll be remains to be seen. Chad Henne may have to carry the load for the Michigan offense. If the coaching staff puts the game plan on his shoulders and he has a good night, Michigan wins even if the defense gives up a few big plays. If not, it'll be loss number three for the Wolverines and all my fellow UM fans will be back to speculating who the next coach will be. (Actually, we'll be doing that no matter what.)

No. 17 Auburn (+11.5) at No. 4 LSU, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

LSU's loss to Kentucky last week dropped the Tigers to fourth in the BCS standings, putting them behind South Florida and Boston College for a spot in the championship game. But Les Miles can't let his team get caught up in worrying about what anyone else does, because there are still some potential SEC losses on the schedule -- including this game against Auburn.

I worry about Miles's ability to do that after the scene we saw at Tiger Stadium two weeks ago, when the LSU players were celebrating wildly on the sidelines after the final score of the USC-Stanford game was announced. Then again, maybe the players just got caught up in the crowd's frenzy.

LSU still might well be the best team in the country, but they have to be beat up after to back-to-back epic battles. Auburn had a tough fight of its own last week, squeaking out a 9-7 road win over Arkansas in which it held Arkansas's Darren McFadden to just 43 yards on 17 carries.

Auburn's Brandon Cox may actually be playing better than LSU's Matt Flynn coming in. He's shaken off a tough start to play one of his best stretches of football during Auburn's current four-game winning streak.

The SDA Podcast

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The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home David Says Russell Says
South Florida -3 Rutgers Rutgers South Florida
Southern Cal -18 Notre Dame Southern Cal Notre Dame
Florida -7 Kentucky Florida Florida
Texas Tech +3.5 Missouri Texas Tech Texas Tech
Miami +6 Florida State Miami Miami
Oregon -11 Washington Washington Oregon*
Michigan -2.5 Illinois Michigan* Michigan
Auburn +11.5 LSU LSU Auburn
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Guest: Jerry 3-4-1 (0-1-0)    
Guests Composite     26-28-2 (0-6-1)
Russell 1-6-1 (0-1-0) 22-32-2 (3-3-1)

Posted by: Russell Levine on 18 Oct 2007

132 comments, Last at 22 Oct 2007, 9:06am by Pete


by joe football (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 5:10pm

Well, Sharpley probably has made fewer mistakes then Clausen. But Clausen's main problem has been an inability to complete passes for yards outside of a jumpball or two per game. If Clausen was throwing some bad picks but otherwise showed some ability to hurt a denfese, I don't think Sharpley would be sniffing the field

by strannix (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 5:36pm

My boss has been raving about Clausen's "poise" all year. He really thinks that I'm an idiot because I'm not buying the Clausen hype. Oh well.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 5:49pm

David's jinxing Russell. Guest Edelstein picks are 0-6-1, and David picked the Wolverines. Are you sure this guy likes you? I'd pick UM, too, but I don't trust me and I don't know that you should either.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 6:13pm

I cannot wait for the LSU v. Auburn game. I don't really have anything for either team, but that is always a great game and there are always interesting subplots. Any fan of football would be well-advised to tune into that one.

by jtp (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 6:29pm

What really jumps out at me this week is the line on the South Florida-Rutgers game. I mean, we have the supposed #2 team in the country playing a team that lost to Maryland and Louisville and the line is only 3 points! To me this really backs up what a lot of us have been saying: that the polls are completely messed up this year by all the top teams losing. There is no way that the #2 team in the country should only be favored by 3 against a two-loss team that hasn't beaten anybody this year. This is a large part of why I'd argue that South Florida shouldn't be talked about as a BCS title contender even if they win out. Put South Florida against whatever team comes out of the SEC or Pac-10 and what do you think the line would be? I bet the 1-loss Pac-10 or SEC team would be favored by at least a touchdown. In fact, I bet the second place team in the Pac-10 or SEC would be considered at least a toss-up against South Florida.

I should mention that I realize that Vegas can get games horribly wrong on occasion, but would anybody here pick South Florida over a team like LSU or Oregon? Yeah, they beat Auburn and West Virginia, but both of those teams played terribly in those games and South Florida still barely pulled the games out. I mean, Auburn sucked at the beginning of the year and they had 5 turnovers in that game compared to 0 turnovers for South Florida and South Florida still barely won in OT. Auburn lost all of their 3 fumbles in that game, something which FO stats teach us is mostly the result of bad luck. Yeah, South Florida is good at forcing turnovers, but there is no way they can maintain the kind of a turnover differential they got against Auburn (5 vs. 0) and without that differential they would've lost to a middle of the pack SEC team. West Virginia outgained South Florida by over 150 yards and lost their starting QB in their game against South Florida. Really, South Florida had two big plays that won the game, a 55 yard touchdown pass and an interception return for a TD. I just think they are overrated (a sentiment echoed by the line on this game) and that there aren't any real tests on their schedule at this point with the Big East having dropped way off this year.

by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 6:34pm

4: The last few years the subplots have been "will anyone score a touchdown" or "can either team make it to double digits by the 4th quarter". A game for fans of old-school defensive slugfests, to be sure. This year doesn't really look to be any different.

So, of course the way things have gone this year it'll be a 31-28, down to the last play barnburner.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 6:46pm

I REALLY shouldn't care about this, but it drives me crazy...why is Louisiana Tech in the WAC, and not the Sun Belt?

WAC Standings
Hawaii 4-0 7-0
Fresno State 3-0 4-2
Boise State 2-0 5-1
San Jose State 2-1 3-4
Louisiana Tech 1-2 2-4
New Mexico State 0-2 3-4
Nevada 0-2 2-4
Utah State 0-2 0-6
Idaho 0-3 1-6

Sun Belt Standings
Troy 3-0 4-2
Florida Atlantic 2-0 3-3
Arkansas State 1-1 3-3
Middle Tennessee 1-1 2-5
Louisiana-Monroe 1-2 1-5
North Texas 1-2 1-5
Louisiana-Lafayette 1-2 1-6
Florida International 0-2 0-6

I mean, would there be a more logical move in the history of...anything?

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 6:53pm

Re #5
Vegas is in the business of making money. Rutgers favored over USF is a good line like 3-5 Tennessee favored by 19 over Memphis was a good line (see link in name). Florida over Kentucky by 7 looks another sucker line-Florida has one decent win, that being the victory over Tennessee, and has lost to the other non-bad teams it's played, while Kentucky has 3 legitimate wins (LSU, Louisville, Arkansas).

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 7:12pm

#2... You'd be surprised what getting beaten into the ground on a regular basis can do to one's "poise". Besides, true freshmen QBs NEVER play well early on in their first seasons.

Sharpley probably should've been playing all along.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 7:14pm

I'm 6 - 1 against the spread this season, but nothing really jumps out at me this week. I hope I'm wrong, but I see Alabama as a winner giving up one point at home to Tennessee.

No matter what the spread, I like Virginia Tech against Bsoton Vollege next Thursday. BC will be favored, but VT will win outright by a tidy margin.

by bradluen (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 7:15pm

Florida -7 at Kentucky is about right. Kentucky won't blow out Florida, but Florida might blow out Kentucky.

USF -2.5 at Rutgers is reasonable. Yet South Florida should be at #2 this week based on what they've achieved so far; doesn't mean they should be #2 next week.

by bradluen (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 8:14pm

Another reason to watch Auburn @ LSU: it's for the one true championship - the Linear National Title!

2000-2002: Miami bt. everyone
2003 Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State bt. Miami
2003 season: Wisconsin bt. Ohio State, Purdue bt Wisconsin, Michigan bt. Purdue
2004 Rose Bowl: USC bt. Michigan
2006 Rose Bowl: Texas bt. USC
2006 season: Ohio State bt. Texas
2007 BCS game: Florida bt. Ohio State
2007 season: Auburn bt. Florida

by Joe F. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 8:47pm

For what it's worth, Notre Dame announced before the season that they'd be wearing green jerseys against USC. It's the 30th anniversary of the "original" green jersey game of '77, and the Irish are wearing jerseys that look like those.

by jtp (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 8:53pm

You're correct in that the lines are set to make money, but I think that kind of misses my point. I'm saying that the human polls have South Florida #2, but that the Vegas line suggests that the vast majority of the public (or at least most people who gamble on games) believes that South Florida is very overrated (not much better than a so-so Rutgers team). Many poll voters have already admitted to putting South Florida at #2 by default with all the losses by teams ahead of them, so I see the Vegas line as a better reflection of how talented people really believe South Florida is. Put another way, I believe that poll voters currently feel forced to put South Florida at #2 when the Vegas line is telling us that most people don't really believe they are the #2 team in the country. My argument is that South Florida shouldn't be put at #2 unless people truly believe they are the #2 team in the country. If the public (or just gamblers) truly believed South Florida was the #2 team, we'd be seeing lots of money being put on South Florida and the line would move as a result. So betting lines aren't based on how talented a team is, but they are based on how talented the team is perceived to be.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 9:04pm

14- IMO polls should be based on what a team has actually done on the field, not how we percieve they would perform in a hypothetical situation (ie betting lines).

South Florida is undefeated, and has wins over Auburn and West Virginia. They should NOT be #2.

They should be #1.

by jtp (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 9:31pm

But how they've performed on the field thus far is a lot of the basis for why they are barely favored in hypothetical situations like this game against unranked Rutgers. One of their two quality wins (barely beating Auburn) came about only because they won the turnover battle 5 to 0 and they recovered all 3 of Auburn's fumbles. You also have to consider strength of schedule. If LSU and South Florida traded schedules, do you think South Florida would be undefeated? Just looking at wins and losses is too simplistic when teams play such disparate schedules and there are no playoffs to allow teams to sort this out on the field. You have to consider hypotheticals, because otherwise there is little basis to compare teams that never play each other. (Note: I'm only using LSU as an example because they've played the most quality competition thus far, not because I think they are a lock for the title game)

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 10:01pm

If LSU and South Florida traded schedules, do you think South Florida would be undefeated? Just looking at wins and losses is too simplistic when teams play such disparate schedules

I do not disagree.

However, I insist #1 Ohio State be thrust into the discussion. Who has achieved more- tOSU or USF?

jtp...SEC football is king. You know it, I know it, someone will deny it, but...hey we know.

I ask...why is tOSU or any other school held to that standard?

You ask if USF played LSU's schedule, would they be undefeated. I ask why other schools- like Ohio State- are not held to that standard.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 10:25pm

Re #16
What you're not mentioned about that game is that South Florida missed FIVE field goals, including one from 21 yards, including 2 blocked field goals. Alvarado has missed 5 field goals all year, and all of them came that game. This is incredibly fluky, much more than South Florida recovering all 3 fumbles. USF should have won the game by more, yes, but they did still win despite having some incredible, non-repeated bad luck. I don't understand your obsession with the turnover result and ignorance (deliberate, I presume) of this stat.

I have no problem with the assertion that USF could well be undefeated with the schedule LSU has played thus far. For one thing, it looks like they have the defense LSU was supposed to have. For another, while SEC is incredibly deep, I don't think there's an elite team up to the level of LSU or Florida last year. So far, I think Kentucky probably has the best resume, though South Carolina did pull away from them in the 4th quarter of that game.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 10:28pm

Jeez, I fix my satellite dish after the windstorm today, and Alvarado repays me by missing the FG. Thanks a whole friggin' lot.

Thanks to ESPN for giving us a sideline interview with a baseball player about next week's Thursday night game during the freaking two minute drill.

by flounder (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:04pm

that may be the worst attempt at a tackle I've ever seen.

by flounder (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:05pm

Plus the angles all the other defenders took. Awful all around

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:24pm

And I seem to have really cursed Alvarado, as he misses his 7th field goal of the year, this one a block.

And #20-21 is right, that was some incredibly awful defending on Rutgers' TD to go up 20-17. The defending after the Alvarado blocked FG is not good either-Rice is running up the middle for good yardage.

by flounder (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:30pm

what a sweet throw on the fake! They had it covered, the throw was just to good.

by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:31pm

I can't believe that fake FG worked. That was a hell of a pass from the holder.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:33pm

Now that was a good call! Schiano gets some respect for that one.

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:35pm

I wish fans will never start the "Overrated" chant. It is stupid, I want my team to beat a great team, not some team everyone thought was playing over their press clippings.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 10/18/2007 - 11:53pm

I haven't been impressed at all by USF's defense. Ray Rice has killed them all night. It makes me think that WVU could have hurt USF more if RRod had used Slaton more.

by jtp (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:10am

Oops! I only got to see the overtime period of that game and so I didn't know about the missed field goals. I knew about the turnovers because of the highlight shows and looking at the recap in the local paper (which heavily emphasized the turnover margin). So I guess the fluke plays probably evened out in that game (although the box score says they only missed 4 field goals, not 5, one of which was a 45 yard attempt, which is no gimme for a college kicker).

by Harris (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:14am

Rutgers is on the ropes. Teel is killing them on 3rd down and USF has figured out Rice.

by jtp (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:26am

Rutgers really dodged a bullet there...

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:35am

That was the right call on the OPI against USF, but I bet at least 90 percent of officials would have let it go.

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:38am

But you can't let it go with Tony Soprano in the crowd.

Don't do the overrated chant, come on Rutger fans.

Thank god that's over, I thought USF was going to slip up to Louisville not Rutgers, but I did not think they were going to stay undefeated.

by jtp (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:40am

So much for South Florida. Now somebody just needs to take care of Boston College...

by jtp (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:43am

Rutgers really pulled out all the stops to win this one. A couple of good trick plays made a huge difference and helped them overcome the poor turnover margin (once again South Florida recovered all 3 of their opponents' fumbles to win the turnover battle 4-0).

by Jon (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:44am

MDS, I think it was a makeup call for the ticky tack hold a few plays before that.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:45am

Jeez, USF gets the ball at midfield with a minute and a half to go, down 3, and Grothe takes a terrible sack, loses 12 yards on first down. Then, on 2&22, he clocks the ball, wasting a terrible down. The third down pass is overthrown, and then 4th down he completes a pass for 32 yards, but the WR (justifiably) gets flagged for OPI, pushing off the DB. If he doesn't get the push, he's not open but it's a possible face-guarding call if the RU DB doesn't get his head around. Time to see what USF has in the playbook for 4&37.

Unsurprisingly, a big heave, and it's intercepted. Barring a Pisarcik, RU 30 USF 27 F.

So, what does this tell me about USF?
1. The offensive line didn't do a good job of protecting Grothe. RU was able to get pretty consistent pressure, particularly in the second half.
2. USF outside of Grothe was not able to run the ball consistently.
3. Grothe didn't make enough plays, and made some bad plays that helped cost his team the game, in part because of 1.
4. USF is a well-coached college team, but not particularly so. If USF wins a national championship under Leavitt, it will be because of the strength of the program, not because he outcoaches the other guy (unless it's somebody like Les Miles, whom I still have little respect for as a coach).
5. Rice ended up with 39 carries for 181. The USF defense made some good stops, especially later in the 4th to give the offense a chance, but had been gashed for long runs earlier in the game.
6. I'm sorry I cursed Alvarado-if USF hits their FGs, they win the game, notwithstanding everything else they did wrong.
7. This result still looks like an upset to me. If they played 100 times on a neutral field, I'd expect USF to win maybe 65 times. USF is in my eyes still a top 10 team.

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 12:49am

I guess I am going out on a limb: USF loses 2 more times this year. I am predicting losses to Louisville and Cincy.

by Fourth (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 1:25am

Schiano coached circles around Levitz, and not just on special teams. Rutgers was able to get consistant pressure because they consistantly brought more than 4 rushers, and USF was never able to adjust or respond to it. What else? Oh, the draw to Rice worked almost every time. The middle of the field was wide open on most 3rd down passes. Once again USF almost gets the game handed to them (shades of Auby and the 5-0 turnover margin) but the luck ran out this time. Back to the teens for USF. Hey, at least they're still way better than FSU or Miami.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 1:28am

I can't believe Rutgers has run Rice 73 times in five days... that's unconscionable! What happened to Kordell Young? I thought he looked like a promising change-of-pace guy.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 1:29am

also- I thought Flutie did a great job as the color man on this one. He even made Craig James raise his game.

by Antigonos (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 1:30am

kordell young is out for the year with a knee injury.

by PaulH (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 3:17am

So... all of you people who were touting that South Florida was a "great" team can finally end that argument.

At bottom, just because you are undefeated does not make you a "great" team. "Great" teams certainly don't struggle big-time against Florida Atlantic, and they certainly don't lose to teams like Rutgers.

At this point, LSU and Oklahoma have to feel pretty good. If they can win out, there's a great chance that one, if not both, end up in New Orleans.

I have a feeling that it won't be much longer before Arizona State and Boston College go the way of USF.

Ohio State, I think, might make it all the way, but they are number one by default. They haven't played anyone particularly good yet -- sorry Purdue -- but then again the Big Ten looks a little weak. That said, it's going to be much tougher down the stretch, and that's going to make it difficult for the Buckeyes to go undefeated. The final five games are Michigan State, at Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and at Michigan. I figure that at least three of those teams are better than anyone they've faced to date.

For better or for worse, this national championship race is likely to get even crazier in the next week or two.

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 3:18am

Re 39: Bingo.

Ray, turn pro. You don't need to be doing that for books and tuition. Great performance by him though.

Agree OPI was the right call, I was pretty impressed with the officials all night long.

Once again, the Big East delivers with a great game when the spotlight is brightest. This one may have been bit a bit ragged, but no shortage on the entertainment value.

by bradluen (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 3:41am

On 18 occasions this season a RB has carried 34 or more times, and four of those are Rice. Even Mike Hart has only done it twice.

by Fourth (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 4:07am

Agreed about the good officiating...college and pro refs everywhere need to look to this crew to learn how to do a replay review, how to explain the call, and how to call offensive/defensive pass interference.

by aengus (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 5:12am

42: I'd agree with you, although I don't know how many people were really calling USF a "great" team prior to tonight. The argument was that they were deserving of the their #2 ranking based on their body of work, which I felt was valid reasoning. Also, I don't think this should drop them too far - down to the 9-13 range depending on what other ranked teams do this weekend sounds about right. Rutgers isn't great but they are a solid team and losing to them on the road by 3 is a pretty respectable loss. Also, USF is a pretty young team aren't they? Grothe and Selvie are both sophomores. Losing that CB duo is really going to hurt though. Schiano needs to get off the Herm Edwards crazy juice with Rice. Seriously, that dude is in danger of becoming the Dusty Baker of CFB head coaches.

by aengus (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 5:13am

my comment originally had paragraph breaks but for some reason they didn't show up.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 7:36am

So… all of you people who were touting that South Florida was a “great� team can finally end that argument.

Can you cite where ANYONE on these boards called USF a great team? I don't think it ever happened, even once.

USF's loss is great news for LSU, Oklahoma, etc.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 8:27am

48, Kevin11 - I agree. Nobody has argued that South Florida is a great team. We have argued, that based on results to date (win at Auburn, win over West Virginia) that they had the most qualifications to be #1. Looking at the computer polls, you can understand this, too because the W-L only computer polls primarily had USF #1 across the board, but the predictive or mixed rankings mostly have LSU #1.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 9:39am

Re 43 and 45:
Boooooo, the IRC was all over the bad officiating. That OPI was as ticky-tack as it gets, the celebration penalty, the illegal forward fumble (which if nothing else was way too close to call) - this game was not officiated well.

by oljb (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 10:44am

I agree. When WVU and USF meet next year, I hope that Rod goes to the power I. I think that reduces the advantage that USF's defense gives them over the spread offense. Case in point, last night's game.

OK USF, just lose one more time...

by Pete (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 10:47am

With the exception of the Florida-Kentucky and Auburn-LSU game I think the lines are about right. Auburn is a tough defense and LSU just came off a triple OT game. I think LSU will win, but I am not sure they will cover the spread. Auburn played much better than LSU against Florida, but I think that has to do more with Tuberville historically taking advantage of the Charllie Strong "Holy Grail" defense (line up 5-10 yards off the receivers and "Run Away! Run Away!"). Florida did eventually start to cover the receivers, although LSU was making catches even when decently covered. (NOTE: Freshman athletes probably will not be consistently great in coverage) Florida also did eventually have their Fullback, Tebow, run behind the right guard to shake things up (which did get some yardage). Against LSU Tebow was hitting passes at better spots (3rd and 8 against Auburn he hit receivers at 5-6 yards every time, against LSU Tebow would occasionally make a 9-10 yard pass attempt), although this might have been receivers running better routes.

Florida's defense may be getting its younger players enough experience to be able to do well in a year or two, but I doubt they are going to be able to slow Kentucky down. Unless Florida is prepared to spread out the ball (pass more to receivers such as Cooper, have their running backs more involved in the game) I do not think that the Gators can keep up with Kentucky's offense. Maybe Caldwell and Cooper will be healthy enough to contribute as much as they did in the first three games, which would then open up more opportunities for Harvin, the TE, the RB and the best Fullback-who-passses in the country, Tebow.

Rutgers had a couple trick plays that worked well, which was enough to win. This was an upset, in the strictest terms, but was not as severe (see the line) as you might normally expect from an unranked team playing against the #2 ranked team. Even with this loss I still wonder if USF is the best team in Florida this year.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 10:59am


Who was touting USF as a "great" team? Anytime I read anything or saw anything on ESPN, it was lengthy debates about how overrated they were.

I expect all the non-football factory schools to get the same treatment.

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 11:44am

Re: 51

OPI was a tight call, but I don't think he makes the catch, or at least it's a much tougher catch, without pushing off.

The celebration penalty in the end zone was a joke, but I thought they were right to call illegal forward pass on the blocked FG. In fact, I think they should have called it on the first attempt to bat the ball forward, not the second.

As far as how big an upset this was or wasn't, I think it points out that the gap between #1 and #30-35 is as small this year as it has been in recent memory.

Stanford beating USC? That's a stunner in any year. But would it absolutely shock people if Rutgers was good enough to beat Ohio State or LSU this year? Surprising, yes. Stunning, no.

by Fourth (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 2:42pm

Re: 50
The ball was obviously batted forward, and the receiver obviously pushed off, gaining an advantage. Just because we've been conditioned to accept "slight" pushoffs because 60% of college refs and 90% of pro refs wouldn't call it, doesn't make the call wrong. It makes it something the rules committee should address in the offseason so we have some more consistancy from crew to crew. As far as the letter and the intent of the rule though, the call was correct.

The celebration call was indeed stupid, who doesn't hold a finger in a hush gesture to a road crowd after a big td? I doubt it affected the outcome anyway. I said in my first post there were some bad calls in that game, but contrary to the implication of bias in your post not all of them went against USF.

by bradluen (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 3:12pm

I think PaulH (the rest of whose analysis I agree with) is referring to R.J.'s comment from last week's 7th Day thread: "You say there are no great teams this year and you might be right but I’m curious what evidence you have based on how they have played in games this year that South Florida isn’t great?" Which isn't exactly an unconditional claim to greatness.

Though there was hardly a groundswell, a few writers did associate USF with greatness, e.g. Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports: "A great team can come out of the Big East. South Florida looks to be that great team. Time will tell."

Anyone who remembers Oklahoma '03 should know to wait until the season's over before working out if a team's great or not.

by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 3:55pm

The blocked FG return for a TD looked a lot more sketchy in real time they it did on the replay. I was suprised they overturned it

by Owl Jolson (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 8:50pm

I have to agree in real time it did look like they were batting the ball around. But once I saw the replay from the endzone angle there was no doubt the ball was knocked out of his left hand as he is being wrapped up. What is so strange about the call was there were no flags and it looked so sketchy in real time. Then they stop play for 10 min and reveiw something that looked a lot like a fumble on replay. Then decide to throw a flag for an illeagle foward pass. So we end up with a judgement on a players intent, (which cannot be reveiwed)six points off the board(no gimme on the extra point in this game) and another USF penalty. That my freinds is called a momentum killer. Being up by two scores really changes how you play the game.

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 10:54pm

Speaking of bad calls, wow, did Louisville get jobbed against UConn on a punt.

The UConn return man sticks his hand in the air clearly signaling fair catch, and the gunner stops in front of him. The official nearest the play raises his hand as if he's going to spot the ball, only the return man takes off down the sidelines for a 74-yard score that is not reviewable. What a joke. That's as bad a call as I can recall seeing.

by oljb (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 11:01pm

This UConn-Louisville game is disproving my theory that any Cardinals game would necessarily be a shootout/crapshoot of a game, in that Louisville's notable ability to score is only equaled by the incredible incompetence of their defense. I wouldn't have expected 7-7 in the third.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 10/19/2007 - 11:26pm

Cosmic justice at work: UConn gets screwed on a punt that appears to hit a Louisville player and should be UConn ball inside the red zone (probably at the 1, else at like the 17), but the ball is awarded to Louisville. Should be a review, but there isn't. The Cards are able to convert that into 3 points.

That was about where I started watching the game, so I can't comment on what happened earlier, but judging by that drive, Louisville's offense has been reduced completely to short passes to secondary targets-I'm pretty sure neither Urrutia nor Douglas had a target that drive, and for the game, Urrutia has nothing and Douglas has 2 catches for 7 yards.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 9:17am

The fact that that missed call on the fumbled punt wasn't reviewed is almost worse than the fair catch call, which wasn't allowed to be reviewed.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 11:32am

am I missing something that all the "experts" seem to be seeing?

I've now watched several games of both Brohm and Andre Woodson (ostensibly 2 of the best QBs vis-a-vis the NFL draft) and I see two rag-arm dink & dunkers who have success solely because of the system they're playing in

so, I'll repeat--what am I missing?

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 1:47pm

I think you're being a little harsh on Brohm. His best WRs have been injured much of the year and I think his arm strength is more than adequate.

I've seen less of Woodson, but I think he has a stronger arm. Both seem to be able to read a defense and go through a progression, which already puts them ahead of many college QBs.

I think Matt Ryan might well be the best NFL prospect of this year's college QBs though.

Watching Penn State-Indiana on ESPN. Two observations: Is there a team in the country that drops off more on the road than PSU? And two, I think Andre Ware is becoming a pretty decent color guy.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 1:49pm

Is there a team in the country that drops off more on the road than PSU?

Hawaii, but that's a unique situation.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 2:32pm

64- PSU's woken up since the start. Morelli almost looks like a competent QB- a few more quality throws and I'll forget the dreadful INT he threw in the 1st quarter.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 2:40pm

Can anyone explain how Vandy is up 17-0 on South Carolina?

Iowa St. is up 7-0 on OU and just converted a 4th down in OU territory, giving the Cyclones the ball at the 21 yard line.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 2:43pm

Can anyone explain how Vandy is up 17-0 on South Carolina


by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 2:51pm

irc football chat at #fo on cognet.catch22.org

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 3:39pm

I just read the AP Recap of the UConn-Louisville game. Here's what they said about the controversial fair catch play:

UConn scored its first points on Larry Taylor's controversial 74-yard punt return. With the Huskies down 7-0 and 13 minutes left in the third quarter, Taylor settled under a 45-yard punt and appeared to call for a fair catch at the Connecticut 26. Replays showed Taylor putting up his right hand, and Louisville players stopped their pursuit as soon as he caught the ball. But Taylor sprinted left, then down the sideline and the referees didn't stop the play.

Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe called a timeout before the extra point in an effort to get the officials to take another look, but after a consultation, they said a fair-catch signal isn't reviewable.

The official definition of a fair-catch signal in the rule book calls for a player to raise his hand above his head and wave it back and forth more than once, something Taylor didn't do.

That's a lie of omission if I've ever seen one. You read that and you think, OK, the fair catch signal wasn't valid, so the runner is free to take off. But not so fas my friend.

Here's what the page in the rule book actually says:

"Valid Signal
ARTICLE 2. A valid signal is a signal given by a player of Team B who
has obviously signalled his intention by extending one hand only clearly
above his head and waving that hand from side to side of his body more
than once.

Invalid Signal
ARTICLE 3. An invalid signal is any signal by a player of Team B that does
not meet the requirements of a valid signal (Rule 6-5-3).

A valid or invalid fair catch signal deprives the receiving team of the
opportunity to advance the ball, and the ball is declared dead at the spot
of the catch or recovery or at the spot of the signal if the catch precedes
the signal (Rule 6-5-1-a Exception)."

That's just irresponsible journalism from the AP.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 4:22pm

Minnesota loses to NoDak State. I wonder if Minny's season would be this bad if Glen Mason were still there.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 4:55pm

With Tennessee and South Carolina losing today, the winner of Kentucky v Florida will likely play in the SEC Championship game.

by jtp (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 5:32pm

Earlier in the season there was some debate about the Big East being the 2nd best conference in America (for example, Russell called the Big East the 2nd best conference in a Confessions of a Football Junkie column). But with all the losses piling up, including Louisville's implosion, Rutgers loss to Maryland & Louisville, and Cincinatti falling Pittsburgh, the Big East isn't looking nearly as great at the top as it did before. It isn't even like the top teams are all beating up on each other, as Cincinatti, Louisville, and Rutgers have all lost to pretty mediocre competition.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 6:04pm

re 64: I heard Andre Ware on a game earlier in the year (maybe it was Pitt-Michigan State, I don't recall exactly), but I found his commentary to be pertinent to the game, cogent, and, in some cases, he told me things I wouldn't have noticed. I was impressed. I hope he gets promoted to some higher profile games; he's a definite upgrade over many of the other guys doing color commentary.

by bradluen (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 6:16pm

UConn fair catch YouTube link in my name. The back judge is in perfect position... and doesn't make the call.

Among other things: (i) pretty classless on UConn's part; (ii) how much more evidence do we need that the reviewable plays rules are broken?

by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 6:16pm

Just felt a need to let all the regular readers of SDA know that even though I'm on my honeymoon in Kaua'i, and even though it's 82 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, I'm sitting in my hotel room watching the Florida-Kentucky game...in other words, all is right in the world again.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 7:01pm

In the USC/Notre Dame game we had a case where an "illegal fair catch signal" was made, and the player took the ball and ran up the sideline.

The referees flagged it, and said the ball was dead at the location of the catch. That's what should have happened in UConn/Louisville.

Speaking of USC/Notre Dame, man, nothing works better as a salve for a team that has been on the ropes than playing Notre Dame. USC is up 24-0, and Notre Dame looks pitiful - in the green jerseys - at home.

Speaking of USC, that Sanchez looks pretty good in at QB right now, admittedly against Notre Dame.

by Weekly Journalist (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 7:48pm

Well, West Virginia is obliterating Mississippi State. Not exactly a powerhouse but always nice to see the Big East whup on the SEC.

by jtp (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 7:53pm

UCLA kicks a field goal to go up 2 on Cal with just over 3 minutes left in the game. If Cal loses today, I think Oregon has to be the favorite to win the Pac-10.

by jtp (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 7:56pm

And just as I say that, Cal returns the kickoff deep into UCLA territory.

by jtp (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 7:58pm

And UCLA with the 75 yard interception return for a TD! 30-21 UCLA!

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 9:01pm

Word is Mike Hart is not dressed for Michigan. This game is on Henne.

This is why I don't gamble: People who had Kentucky +7 had to be thrilled that no extra point was attempted after UK scored to make it 45-37 on the final play of the game.

Now that is a back-door cover.

by Alex (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 9:09pm

You know how some teams, when they're facing a team with a great offense, will run the ball a lot, to "keep that high powered offense off the field"? I think Tressel just used that strategy late in the game against MSU, except he was running a lot to keep his own offense off the field. And I don't even think it was a bad idea. Two turnovers returned for TDs? Ridiculous.

by jtp (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 9:15pm

Michigan's coverage on that touchdown pass was terrible.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 9:55pm

It was completely the right decision by Tressel. Three consecutive drives, starting with a 24-0 lead and absolutely no threat from the MSU offense: INT for a touchdown, fumble for a touchdown, fumble and a mad scramble at the 13 that they were lucky to recover. Honestly, they would've won about 24-3 if they'd just knelt three times and punted from the late 3rd quarter on.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 10:10pm

I like the formation Michigan just used, putting two RBs in the backfield, same side of the shotgun QB. Both stayed in to block, picked up blitzers, and Henne was able to find Manningham running free. You don't often see max protect so blatantly telegraphed, but it could easily turn into a screen or something if Illinois gets over-agressive.

by TomC (not verified) :: Sat, 10/20/2007 - 11:32pm

Michigan's tackles are holding a lot on running plays. They're fairly subtle little hooks to contain the DE's and let Brown get the corner, but they're key.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 12:00am

Wow, what a huuuuuuge error by the Illinois return man. Muffed a fair catch at about the 15 in the fourth quarter of a tie game, Michigan recovers. *&%#(&*$@!!!

And of course Cleveland is also in the process of screwing everything up in the most ridiculous way possible.

by Bill (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 12:06am

Wow. Oregon with 467 rushing yards and *43 first downs*.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 12:21am

Awesome catch by a wide-open LSU receiver. And by catch, I mean bobbling it, and tossing it over his head to the nearest defender (who ran like crazy to get within ten yards). Just amazing.

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 12:33am

Gritty effort by Michigan tonight. If I had to guess, they shot up Henne's shoulder (a closeup of him late in the game seemed to show a bandaid on his upper right arm) and held him out of the 3rd quarter so he wouldn't have to throw into the wind.

I know he's had an up and down year, but he made some really nice throws tonight and was obviously playing in pain. I still think he's going to be a decent-to-better NFL QB and a first-day pick.

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 12:45am

Earlier in the LSU-Auburn game, Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge were lauding Glenn Dorsey's decision to pass up NFL millions and return to school and I believe it was Patrick who said something like "it's a shame more guys don't do it." I thought to myself at the time, nice story, but it'll be a real shame if he blows out a knee and I wonder what they'd say then.

Watching Dorsey get helped off after absorbing a vicious cheap shot chop block to the knee, Patrick and Blackledge didn't mention that decision to come back to school.

I hope Dorsey's all right. I would never fault a guy who genuinely just likes being in college and wants to enjoy his senior year. Lord knows I'm happy that Jake Long is still a Wolverine. But guys in that position -- top be top-10 picks, should always take the money. Football's just too dangerous not to get paid when you can.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:03am

Agreed on Dorsey. I think Tressel has the right idea on this one - if a certain number of scouts/GMs assure him that one of his players will go in the top 15, he pretty much orders them not to come back. Why would you ever risk it, especially for any type of lineman where a cheap shot or perfectly innocent play (like a guy beside you getting knocked over and rolling into the side of your knee) can knock you back four rounds, if not end your career outright?

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:07am

Tressel orders them to go pro before the NCAA cops get too close.

by aengus (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:07am

92: I couldn't agree more, and that kind of pompous blather drives me nuts. It's even worse in college basketball. Seriously, how is it in any way morally superior to return for another year of college? The suggested greedy vs. selfless image is an entirely false dichotomy anyways. The worst part is that oftentimes most of the people clamoring for athletes to return have a direct financial stake in them doing so and yet they make it sound like the ATHLETES are the ones who should be ashamed. What right do Patrick and Blackledge, or anyone, have to belittle a college athlete for choosing financial security for himself and his family?

I mean, cripes, look at Greg Oden - if he'd listened to moralizing sportscasters he'd trying to recover from microfracture surgery on his own dime with an entirely uncertain future. I hope Dorsey turns out to be fine.

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:08am

(Trogdor that one was for you. I have actually missed your OSU commentary and occasional Michigan digs this year).

by Bill (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:11am

So, coming into this week, South Florida was #2. Going by on the field results...

South Florida lost to Rutgers who lost to Maryland who lost to Wake Forest who lost to Nebraska who lost to USC who lost to Stanford who lost to UCLA who lost to Notre Dame who lost to Michigan who lost to Appalachian State who lost to Georgia Southern who lost to Chattanooga who lost to Carson-Newman who lost to Catawba.

Ergo, the Division II Indians should be #2! Hey, they're undefeated.

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:18am

Bill, you're overlooking the fact that clearly Catawba could not go through the SEC unbeaten.

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:22am

and Brandon Cox leads Auburn to the go-ahead score. I can't believe how well he's playing after how he started the season.

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:26am

and Auburn follows that touchdown by squib kicking to the LSU 40 while up by one point with 3+ minutes left. ARGH.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:27am

click my name to listen

by Kunk (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:31am

Can someone explain to me the rules of replay review? Can someone explain it to the coaches involved in these plays? I mean, there's a coaches challenge in some conferences, right?

I've watched several games today with plays that I think would have warranted challenges. Most recently, that spot on 3rd down in the LSU game - Tuberville strolls the sideline like nothing happened. Sometimes the officials decide it's worth challenging. Sometimes, coaches initiate the challenge. Does anyone know the rules??

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:32am

touchdown LSU to end the game. talk about guts

by Kunk (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:33am

Forget it. It doesn't matter. That ending was ridiculous. Les Miles is a Grade-A moron, but, hey it worked.

by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:33am

Can we give the John L Smith award to LSU right now for the clock management there? They totally got lucky on the catch, but if that is knocked up into the air, then they lose the game. The squib kick was stupid to me, but that last play there was just SO lucky to get bailed out.

by CA (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:35am

They play some good football in the SEC, but they sure don't play smart football, at least judging by the Auburn-LSU game. My goodness, that's some of the worst decision-making late in a game by both coaches that I've ever seen.

by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:36am

Watching the Les Miles interview now, he had no idea how much time was left on the clock there. he thought there was still 16 seconds left instead of 1. Please give him the trophy, since they probably could have lost on the clock just running out at the end and he'd have no idea.

by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:37am

I hope Dorsey’s all right. I would never fault a guy who genuinely just likes being in college and wants to enjoy his senior year. Lord knows I’m happy that Jake Long is still a Wolverine. But guys in that position — top be top-10 picks, should always take the money. Football’s just too dangerous not to get paid when you can.

I'm not so sure about that. If a guy really wants to go pro, sure. But if you want to stay and play another year...you're only a college senior once in your life. And college is a pretty awesome time.

And while there are several million reasons to go to the NFL instead of risking a career ending injury, would it really be that much of a tragedy if he became an accountant, or an engineer, or a...*looks up Glenn Dorsey's major*...a psychologist? I mean, it's not like he'd lack training for a job outside of football. He is presumably getting an education while he's in college, after all.

What it really boils down to is how much of a difference in quality of life there is between making $70,000/year as a psychologist vs. making $7,000,000/year as a DT. I'd guess that someone in either position would do just fine. It's not like he won't be able to pay the bills if he can't play football.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:39am

Yeah, I know I'm missed. But picking on Michigan this year is just the penultimate in low-hanging fruit (everyone in Ann Arbor can be thankful for the immense black hole of suck that is South Bend). I've even defended them a little bit, almost taking the time to point out that losing to Appa... Appa.. sorry, I'll try to get through it without laughing. Losing to Appalachian State is not even as bad as losing to Stanford (at least according to Vegas). So really, I don't know what's wrong with me - it was almost like I was feeling some pity there. Or maybe I wanted to make sure Carr sticks around for a few more years (oh please oh please oh please).

As for OSU, well, the times I've watched them I've hardly been in front of a computer, and I've hardly felt the need to write a wrap-up hours after the fact for a blowout of Purdue or Washington or whoever. And frankly, looking at their schedule, I haven't felt the need to watch all of their games. We're looking at houses now, and Saturday is the only day we can set up appointments, so my availability is determined by whether the OSU game is important enough to be a priority. Oh, I can't go today, OSU is playing... Kent... hey, there's a nice 3 bedroom ranch we might want to check out. As good as they've been about scheduling a great NC game every year, gambling on Washington this year, and having them suck, basically means they can go through the year without a real quality win. Oh joy. Of course, it looks like everyone else will have at least one loss, maybe even two, so they probably get into the championship game by default this year. Somehow I'm just having a hard time getting excited about "by default".

So my OSU analysis so far. Defense is solid and unspectacular again. Gholston is a playmaker, Son of Animal still isn't great but the ball seems to find him a lot, the tackles still can't handle any kind of speed rusher (see MSU today), Beanie fumbles too much and gets less push from such a powerful build than anyone since - well, I can't remember - and the QB play is nothing special and sometimes scary. On the other hand, they weren't particularly spectacular-looking in 2002, but then again at least they had a buttload of quality wins and real challenges that year. I really don't even know what to expect, and they're 2/3 of the way through the season. They could lay an egg in one of the last four, or get to the title game unbeaten and untested, and we'll know absolutely nothing about them. I've never been so apathetic about a #1-ranked team before.

In other news, can someone please hold a 4th quarter lead over LSU? Please? Could there have been better coverage on that play? How did the ball not hit the defender there? Unbelievable. Is a single break ever going against LSU this year?

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:40am

Earlier in the LSU-Auburn game, Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge were lauding Glenn Dorsey’s decision to pass up NFL millions and return to school and I believe it was Patrick who said something like “it’s a shame more guys don’t do it.�

I genuinely like Patrick and Blackledge, but what hypocrisy. What a shame they took high-paying ESPN jobs as opposed to broadcasting the radio games of their high scool alma maters.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:42am

I vote for getting the millions, then going back to school to become a psychologist later.

by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:42am

After thinking about this for a minute, I don't understand either of the coaches here at the end.

First, the squib kick. Didn't the JLS Trophy go out last week for Cal doing this to Oregon State? Next, Auburn is up 1 with :55 seconds left when they stop LSU on 1st down at the 25 or so. Instead of calling a timeout (they had 2 left), trying to save around 40 seconds for themselves after the kick, they let the clock run. Why would you do this? If they miss the kick, you win no matter what. If they miss the kick, you can either lose instantly, or have around 40 seconds to try to drive and kick yourself to the victory.

Les Miles, well, he just totally lost track of time on the clock and almost cost his team the game just because of that. If they want to snap the ball 10 seconds earlier, I have no issue with the play call. However, after his interview, it seems he had no idea what was going on with the clock, and deserved to lose the game.

I think since we all watched this disaster, we give them both the trophy.

by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:48am

I vote for getting the millions, then going back to school to become a psychologist later.

My point wasn't that they're mutually exclusive. I was just pointing out that he'd still be ok, financially anyway, even if he had a career ending injury in his senior year of college. It's not like he was risking his financial future in coming back for another year of college.

by Eric J (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 2:08am

Re: Auburn clock management - Stoops did the same thing at the end of the OU-Colorado game; Colorado ran a third down play that ended with about 25 seconds left, OU had a timeout and never called it. If you call the timeout and he misses, take a knee and go to OT if you want (tie game at the time). If he makes it, at least give yourself a kick return and a couple of long throws... you're only making $3 million a year, is it that hard to figure out situations like this?

by Kunk (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 2:11am

No one is answering my replay review question, so I'm changing it up.

Can someone please explain to me what Oregon is trying to do with their uniforms? Do they get that much revenue from jersey sales that they feel the need to change it up every other week? Or is the AD's grandmother a seamstress with too much time on her hands?

Also, I may be a little punch-drunk from too much football, but this Buccigross/Van Pelt SportsCenter has been extremely enjoyable. Non-stop zingers. Reminds me of the old days...

by Alex (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 2:15am

I agree completely with your analysis of the team this year. I have found it really strange/annoying that, while my favorite team is ranked #1, I know that in all likelihood it's not even one of the best 5 teams. But, yeah, it does kind of look like the 2002 team, so you never know. And hey, at least we've got good receivers, and Boeckman is great at play action. That's always exciting to watch. If he could just throw exclusively to people wearing the same color uniform, we'd be set.

Beanie fumbles too much and gets less push from such a powerful build than anyone since - well, I can’t remember

Seriously. He's Barry Sanders trapped in Larry Johnson's body. Did you see that ridiculous run where he looked like he was going down for a loss, backpedaled away from two MSU defenders, and then ran to other side of the field for 30+ yards? Not exactly power running. He's a boom and bust RB. He just looks like a "get you 4 yards every time" RB.

by R.J. (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 4:34am

Russell, it's obvious from your phrasing that you don't gamble. The result in Fla/Kent was not a "back-door cover". It would have been an unreal back-door cover had Kentucky's meaningless touchdown on the last play bailed out the square money for the push. The sharp money was on Florida (with the extra week to prepare Urban Meyer was going to have the Gator offense playing its best game of the year) and there wasn't much doubt throughout the game that that was the right side to be on.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 7:43am


If you saw the Kentucky game, you know there were a season's worth of funny bounces against LSU in that game alone...

What I find funny about this whole "Miles risked the game" argument is that it doesn't hold up to scrutiny at all. If you look at the replay, the ball is caught at 3 seconds -- two more ticks go off the clock aftter he CAUGHT it. If the ball is knocked to the ground -- by far the most likely alternative, given the positions of the players -- there would still be enough time to get a snap off for a field goal -- and a snap is all youneed to get the play in. Nope, this JSL goes to Tuberville for that silly squib kick that gave LSU the ball at their own 42 for the last drive.

by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 9:23am

#115: Phil Knight, the head of Nike, is an Oregon grad, so Nike works with the football team to have a different outfit for every single game. The players help to design them as well. As an Oregon State (and not an Oregon) fan, I believe they look very stupid, and many Oregon fans believe they look stupid as well. Very, very stupid.

#118: Why Miles is so stupid is two-fold: From his quotes after the game, it's apparent that he thought there was a lot more time left on the clock than there really was, and had the ball been tipped up into the air, batted around, or anything else, with how long the officials let the clock run, there was no guarantee there would have been :01 left on the clock to attempt a field goal.

Oh, and can someone else explain why Auburn didn't challenge the location of the spot when Auburn was given the 1st down on that drive? Why not risk a timeout to force a 4th and 1? Worst case your defense, that is getting killed, can catch it's breath. For two great teams, the quality of coaching left so much to be desired.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 12:13pm

My Meaningless Top 25:

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Boston College
4. Arizona State
5. Oregon
6. Florida
7. South Florida
8. West Virginia
9. Kansas
10. Oklahoma
11. Virginia Tech
12. Missouri
13. Southern Cal
14. Michigan
15. Kentucky
16. Auburn
17. Penn State
18. Virginia
19. Georgia
20. Texas
21. UCLA
22. South Carolina
23. California
24. Purdue
25. Texas Tech

Predicting the National Championship Game: Ohio State, BC, Arizona State, Oregon, Florida, and Kansas all lose at least one game. LSU, West Virginia, and South Florida all win out. Despite having beaten West Virginia and having identical records, South Florida will be on the outside looking in, stuck a non-BCS bowl.

by oljb (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:02pm

In your championship scenario, if South Florida and WV both win out, USF actually will get the Big East Championship on the head-to-head tiebreaker against West Virginia. And thus, will also get the automatic BCS bid. However, it seems likely that if West Virginia wins out (but loses the Big East to USF) it will get an at-large BCS spot, considering its current BCS ranking (which I think will be higher than what you ascribe to it in your list) and the willingness of its fan base to travel.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:09pm

121- I could be wrong, but I thought the Big East used the BCS rankings for it's tiebreaker.

Either way, I predict the final BCS ratings will be 1. LSU 2. West Virginia, and that will be the National Title game. If USF wins out and goes the the Orange Bowl as the Big East champion, that's a goood thing.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 1:32pm

I wonder if South Carolina will set some sort of record for the biggest fall after being ranked in the top 10 in the first BCS ranking

after starting out 6-1, they could easily (very easily, if you look at their schedule) end up 6-6

by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 2:45pm

#122: I believe you are right in how the Big East uses BCS Rankings for the tiebreak, which might wind up being important. Going back to the 2001 season. When Colorado beat Nebraska in the last regular season game, it put Colorado into the Big 12 title game over them, which they won. However, Nebraska was still #2 in the BCS so they still went to the BCS title game, despite not winning the Big 12. So, I believe you have to win your conference now to make the BCS Title Game, though I can not guarantee that, since didn't people want Michigan in it last year even after losing to Ohio State? So confusing sometimes.

#120: Why is Ohio State #1, but you have other undefeated teams behind LSU? According to the numbers, both Arizona State and Boston College have played a tougher schedule so far, and I they have a good chance of ending with a harder schedule (ASU has USC, Cal, and Oregon left, while BC has Virginia Tech at least once, maybe twice). It seems to me that Ohio State is just #1 out of default, since they started ranked higher due to being Ohio State, and no one has had much of a chance to see Boston College or Arizona State really (Kansas has the #117 strength of schedule according to Sagarin, and Hawaii is #171, so I'm ignoring them until they play a real team).

If I had to rank the teams, I'd wind up with LSU #1, Florida #2, then Oregon #3, just based on who I think would win if they played right now (if it's based on what they've done so far, I put South Florida up there for beating Auburn and West Virginia). It's been a very interesting year in college football for sure.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 3:02pm

124- Fair question. I just feel that undefeated OSU has been impressive enough to be ranked ahead of LSU, but LSU has so many good wins (and a triple OT loss on the road) that right now it merits being ranked ahead of the other unbeatens.

That could change if BC beats Virginia Tech on Thursday, and if Arizona State runs the table I'd rank them #1 ahead of everyone. I don't think either of those things will happen, but if they do...

Michigan was eligible to play on the National Championship Game as the #2 team in their conference, so I don't see why West Virginia would not be,

by oljb (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 3:09pm

Concerning Big East tiebreakers...

If there is a two-way tie in the standings, head-to-head is used as the tiebreaker. BCS standings are used as the tiebreaker in a three-way (or more) tie. Since Rutgers already lost to Cincinnati, I think it's impossible for there to be a three way tie with one-loss teams. So West Virginia, in order to win the Big East, will need USF to lose. However, I think West Virginia will now be higher in the BCS rankings than USF, despite USF winning, because West Virginia's loss to USF is better than USF's loss to Rutgers. So I very much hope that your prediction is right, Kevin. I'd love to have two Big East teams playing BCS bowls, especially if WVU is in the title game.

by bradluen (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 6:50pm

I seem to disagree with everyone on the relative order of the Pac-10 teams.

1. Arizona State - number one by default, no one really thinks they'll win out
2. Cal - won at Oregon, little more than two plays away from being #1 in the nation, probably still the class of the conference
3. Oregon - still no big conference win
4. UCLA - could beat anybody (e.g. Cal), could lose to anybody (e.g. Notre Dame)
5. USC - lost to freaking Stanford

by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 7:53pm

Alabama just scored again.

by Pete (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 8:49pm

I also hope Dorsey is OK. As a fan of the college game, I applaud the players who come back. Of course, as a human I can understand taking guaranteed money if they are relatively assured of Top 15 position. There were lots of players last year who did leave early and were drafted late or not drafted at all.

Staying for their senior years did not seem to hurt Duncan (NBA) or Peyton Manning (NFL) who probably would have drafted 1st the year before. However, I believe they both took out large amounts of injury insurance (like $10M for Peyton).

I was very impressed with Urban Meyer's offensive play calling on the last drive. He has gotten VERY predictable about running the first down or two and playing it very safe. Rather than trying to run out 4 minutes by running the ball on 1st & 2nd he went for first downs and touchdowns. These plays were not only potential surprises to me (and the commentators and maybe the Kentucky defense), but were also fairly well executed.

I still wonder about the Florida defense. They do not seem to be able to stop much. What is their record stopping 4th down plays? This is especially notable that they have allowed several 4th and long plays to succeed.

by Pete (not verified) :: Sun, 10/21/2007 - 9:39pm

Just because Vanderbilt (which tends to play teams much tougher than you would expect for their record... they and South Carolina almost beat the National Champ, Florida Gators last year... who peaked at the right time) beat South Carolina does not mean that the SEC is a bad devision. Would you say the NFL in most years (by comparison to the average College Team) have bad teams because occasionally they beat each other? The gap for the SEC here suggests that the SEC comparitively is that much stronger, somehow, after this past weekend! Of course, Florida won but managed to have 5 players taken out of the game with injuries and a few others (including the center of their offense, Tebow) banged up. I suspect that playing a decent or good team is likely to result in more strain and injury than playing a team like Miami of Ohio... although it could help to test the mettle of the players that much more.
According to Sagarin's unbiased conference rankings
1 SOUTHEASTERN (A) = 80.76 80.56 ( 1) 12
2 BIG EAST (A) = 79.21 78.60 ( 2) 8
3 PAC-10 (A) = 78.20 77.76 ( 3) 10
4 BIG 12 (A) = 78.18 77.42 ( 4) 12
5 ATLANTIC COAST (A) = 77.36 77.12 ( 5) 12
6 BIG TEN (A) = 75.37 75.40 ( 6) 11
7 MOUNTAIN WEST (A) = 69.08 68.71 ( 7) 9
8 I-A INDEPENDENTS (A) = 65.13 65.43 ( 8) 4
9 WESTERN ATHLETIC (A) = 62.50 62.64 ( 9) 9
10 MID-AMERICAN (A) = 61.02 60.98 ( 10) 13

Please also note that the average of any of the Top 5 conferences would be expected to win with an average (3 points) home field advantage. The Big Ten is not far behind the Top 5, although I do not remember any bowl games being anywhere near a home field advantage for them.

I advocate going to a Bowl + 1 as soon as possible. It would be simple to do with the normal bowls run and a week or two later having the championship game at a rotating (random?) site. If a team like Ohio State goes undefeated and then beats Oregon or USC then they probably are that much more deserving. I think the Bowl + 1 would pacify the Big Ten and PAC-10, while allowing something a little better than the present system.

by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 1:27am

I suspect that playing a decent or good team is likely to result in more strain and injury than playing a team like Miami of Ohio

Maybe, but honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if it had no effect. Just because you gain 10 yards before they tackle you, doesn't mean the tackle itself hurts any less.

by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 10/22/2007 - 9:06am

#131 Alex - E=mc^2. Some of the better teams in question have 260 lb players who run a 4.4 or 4.5. This is likely to inflict more damage than a 240 lb player running a 4.6... There may be more energy at the collision, which can cause more injuries.