Tuesday, September 12

Week 2 Rankings - Another Perspective

Again, I'm going 22 deep this team. Just missing out are BC (got outplayed, even if they walked away with the W), Cal (can't get the Tennessee game out of my head), Clemson (see above, also take a look at their injuries when you get a chance), and UCLA (not shabby, but nothing to quite write home about at the moment). Here's the guys who made it.

1 - Ohio State
What's more to ask? Exposed - not just beat - a Texas team that was pretty highly regarded. Anthony Gonzalez looks to be better than most everyone thought, although the rushing game suffered (if nearly 100 yards can count as suffered). Proved that even with going up against a defense with one possible weak point, pounding that weak point into the ground is enough to effectively dominate the game. Had Texas kept pounding the ball, it might've been a different story, but for now, they beat what was the #2 team in country, so to the top they go.

2 - LSU
I'd like to issue an apology to LSU for not thinking they were a complete team - I was wrong. The defense has scored more points than they've given up so far this season (12-6), which is more than you can really ask for from a defense. In addition, the D has yet to give up over 200 yards in a game, including not allowing any RB to go over 55 yards so far. They've forced 5 interceptions, 4 fumbles, and has 6 sacks. Not to mention that their starting safeties were part of the '03 BCS championship team, so they've got leadership that has won before. Offensively, there's no kind of QB controversy, as JaMarcus Russell has done everything that's asked of him, averaging ~225 ypg passing, 5 TD/1 INT. They've got an incredibly deep rushing attack that has so far been "limited" to 411 yards rushing. Oh, and keep in mind that if Russell falters, they can either bring in the guy that whipped Miami last year or one of the best young QBs in the nation. I'd talk about the Arizona game, but really, those numbers up there pretty much sum up what happened: they made Arizona look like LA-Lafayette.

3 - Auburn
I was a little worried last week that Brandon Cox might not be maturing quite as fast as I thought. Uh, never mind. 249 yards passing, 67% completion percentage, 2 TDs against a strong Miss. State defense that limited the Spurrier attack to just under 200 yards passing (no mean feat). Irons was limited (probably because the defenes was keying on him), but Auburn did what any good team does in that situation: shut down one option and the other one will beat you. (See OSU/Texas, too.) Unlike LSU, the defense has allowed more points than they've scored. Clearly, this defense is horrendous - what kind of shoddy defense allows nearly 200 yards to Miss. St.? Seriously. (Note: preceding sentences may have been sarcasm.) Oh - don't look now, but John Vaughn hasn't missed a FG yet this season. Think that may play a role against LSU?

4 - Notre Dame
See, this is what everyone expected from ND. Functionally speaking, the game was really a 41-3 hammering on Penn St., who put up 14 in the 4th after the Irish were bringing guys in from the stands to play D. I'm not really sure what to talk about, as not only did most people see this game, but even a simple glance at the stats will tell you the amount of dominance that ND had. One thing that might be important to note is PSU did move the ball decently between the 20s, but that was about it, and even that's debatable. The only reasons they're not higher are: 1 - I want to see more of a rushing attack and 2 - I'm not quite sold on their defense, as I want to see them play a strong offensive team. PSU isn't, quite frankly. Too much youth.

5 - USC
Bye week - repeat what I said last week about them, as I didn't get a chance to watch any of their practices this week. Must be because they don't play anywhere near where I live and I don't have a press pass. Minor details.

6 - West Virginia
Ho hum - another week, another blowout against a clearly overmatched team, another 300+ yards on the ground. Not a lot through the air, but quite frankly, who cares? This game only had 2 TDs from beyond 15 yards out - both on Steve Slaton runs. The thing is, this offense should be beatable - shut down the rushing game and force Pat White to beat you with his arm. Of course, this is way easier in theory than in practice - I can only think of a few front 7s that have a shot of doing that.

7 - Florida
This is the Florida we expected, too. Hammered UCF to the tune of 42-0 (34-0 at the half); the defense held UCF to under 200 yards total, including less than 50 on the ground. Leak played very well, going 19/29 for over 300 yards and 4 TDs. There is some cause for concern, however: UF had 4 turnovers and 10 penalties for 71 yards. That can't happen this week if they want to be victorious in Knoxville.

8 - Virginia Tech
Blocked punt, fumble, INT return for a touchdown (4 picks total), all in one game. Did I really need to tell you that was the Hokies doing that? Sign of concern: Brandon Ore was responsible for over half the offense and the Hokies were outgained 268-224; of course, when you begin two drives at the UNC 1, that makes it hard to get a lot of yardage.

9 - Louisville
So much for my "they're dead after Michael Bush went down" theory. 318 yards rushing - even against Crackerjack U - is pretty impressive, although Miami's D is a little better than Temple's. Miami should be a tough matchup for them; if Louisville can walk away with a win, then that'll be a sign that the Big East has at least two high-quality teams this year. Injury warning: starting CB and KR Rod Council is out for the year.

10 - Michigan
Good comparison last week between Michigan and, oddly, Boston College. The major difference is that Michigan is much better than BC, as they pretty much ran with impunity all over Central Michigan this week. There's room for improvement, though; Henne needs to step up, as 113 passing yards won't cut it against Notre Dame this week. It's looking like Michigan will need all the points they can get.

11 - Georgia
Tereshinski unintentionally brought some resolution to the QB situation - by getting injured. Matthew Stafford played about how you'd expect from a freshman QB with high hopes: some great decision-making and some head-scratchers. He's got some time to work it out, though. UAB will be a test, but Stafford gets UAB, Colorado, and Ole Miss before Tennessee comes to town. Oh, the rest of the team? About what you'd expect: 200 yards rushing, a shutout against South Carolina. Maybe that Spurrier offense isn't quite as potent as we thought it was initially - or maybe Georgia's D is that good. They'll need to be solid until Stafford learns the ropes.

12 - Nebraska
They're in the driver's seat in the Big 12. That may change this week, as they have yet to play a true quality opponent, but they've looked good against the teams they have played so far - basically, they've done exactly what was expected of them. Right now, that's pretty good. USC will be a better barometer of their true skill level, but this team could very easily go 10-2 or even 11-1.

13 - Texas
Good news: CB Tarrell Brown is reinstated. Bad news: almost everything else. Colt McCoy looked ...well, like a freshman, as he went 19/32 for only 154 yards. In addition, Texas accomplished a rare feat: their average yards/pass attempt was less than their yards/rush. Given the choice between relying on two solid running backs in Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young or freshman McCoy, which would you choose? If you said McCoy, you could be Greg Davis. Texas got burned in the passing game, but that should improve with the readdition of Brown.

14 - Florida St.
24-17 victory over Troy. I'll say that again: 24-17 victory over Troy. (Who?) Bingo. How the hell did this happen? This game should've been a blowout, and it certainly shouldn't have been 17-10 Troy at Tallahassee in the 4th quarter. Why was it? 83 yards rushing (3 ypc), 43 pass attempts, 7 fumbles. You're telling me that Jeff Bowden couldn't figure out a scheme that'd be more effective against Troy? When he watches game video, what game is he watching, anyway? Wheel of Fortune? Other bad news: Paul Griffin, Emmanuel Dunbar, and Letroy Guion - all DTs - are out for the year.

15 - Tennessee
In retrospect, the 31-30 victory over Air Force makes perfect sense. Tennessee's young linebackers and defensive line could be easily confused by something as complex as the triple option, making Air Force's 250+ yards on the ground understandable. Chalk it up to gimmicks. What's more damaging is losing DT Justin Harrell and CB Inky Johnson for the season. Tennessee has the secondary depth to semi-adequately replace Johnson, but will struggle without Harrell. Florida comes calling this week - uh-oh.

16 - Oklahoma
Still supposedly have a fantastic defense. I'm waiting to see it. Finally showed up for their first half of the season in a 37-20 win over Washington. Paul Thompson did throw for 272 yards, but it seems a little ...counter-productive, I guess, when you have an (allegedly) fantastic defense and one of the best RBs in the country. Thompson should really be doing a Brandon Cox impersonation, but yet he's throwing 30+ times a game. Of course, most of those yards came in the first half, and AP ran in the second half. Having the ball more would probably cut down on the number of yards allowed. Oregon will be a serious test for them.

17 - Miami
Played Nowheresville U - and of course hammered the daylights out of them. Pretty much what you expected, and unlike last week where we had to read into teams playing 1-AA teams, we don't have to now, as we can just say crazy things like "the Troy offense is better than the Miami offense". Kyle Wright has to grow up, otherwise even a good (but not great) defense will eat him alive. Possibly not coincedentally, Louisville has a pretty good defense. Guess who Miami plays?

18 - Oregon
Quality win over Fresno St. Jonathon Stewart will be back at RB this game, which gives Oregon plenty of offensive weapons. They'll need them, as Dwayne Wright and the Fresno St. line pretty much wore down the Oregon D. Think Adrian Peterson and the Oklahoma offensive line hasn't noticed this? (Think Stoops has noticed this? I'm not sure.) One hidden yardage stat to keep an eye on: Oregon already has 16 penalties for 185 yards. If they give up another 50-plus yards to Oklahoma, that might be the difference. Sloppy play will not get them another quality win.

19 - Texas Tech
Got a nailbiter 38-35 OT win over a better-than-you-think UTEP. Offense was what you'd expect, but the defense was lacking. Of course, UTEP has a pretty high-powered offense. TCU will be an incredibly tough matchup for the Red Raiders: figure that TCU will try and control the game on the ground with Aaron Brown and go from there. Texas Tech has the firepower to win, though, even on the road.

20 - Iowa
Got a gutsy, gutsy performance from their defense against Syracuse (you've heard of this by now, surely: 7 stands on their own 1-yard line to win the game). Of course, the question - to me - is why they were in that position in the first place. Both offenses struggled in that game. Undoubtedly, Iowa's offense should return with Drew Tate coming back to play against Iowa State, which is always a tough game for both teams.

21 - Boise State
Followed up a 45-0 drubbing of Sacramento St. with a 42-14 statement win over Oregon St. Sure, (this) OSU's not the best in the nation, but 42-14 is impressive no matter how you slice it. After Oregon State jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the Broncos scored the next 42 - and again, we've got a team with over 300 yards on the ground my top 25. I'm starting to sense a trend.