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CFN Final Thoughts Before Week Eight
Posted Oct 21, 2011

Can anyone get to Andrew Luck? The key to the big games: Hit the QB

Final Thoughts 

Before The Week 8 Games

- Final Thoughts  2010 | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
- Week 6 | Week 7
- 2011 Fearless Predictions

- Final Thoughts, Week 8, Part 2

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- I’m ready to know.

- I’m ready to know if Wisconsin is for real, and if it beats Michigan State in East Lansing, I’ll believe it. If it’s a blowout, then I’ll be ready to put the Badgers in the national title mix.

- Michigan State’s supposedly tremendous pass defense was just okay in its one game against a good passing team – Notre Dame – while Wisconsin’s super-efficient passing attack hasn’t faced anyone who can stop it. One of the two will be exposed.

- I’ve written this before, but I'm still sort of impressed by the fun-fact when comparing the Badgers' apples to everyone else's oranges. Northern Illinois has scored 49, 42, 47, 41, 40, and 51 points this year. The one team it didn’t go ballistic on was Wisconsin, scoring just seven in Soldier Field.

- Wisconsin has run the ball 263 times on the year and the receivers have caught 99 passes. The punt returners have handled the ball ten times, and the kickoff returners have touched it 15. The Badgers have fumbled the ball once, and lost it in the win over Nebraska. Not just one lost fumble on the year, one fumble, period.

- William Gholston might have gotten a game suspension for his action-movie neck yank on Denard Robinson, and the Spartan D might have been ultra-cheap, but there’s something to be said for taking an elite quarterback out of his comfort zone.

- Michigan State, don't apologize. Apply the same treatment to Russell Wilson, because that's what aggressive, intimidating defenses are supposed to do. Don’t twist the guy’s neck, but he must go down and he must go down hard, even at the expense of a few personal foul penalties.

- And Washington, use the Michigan State playbook on Andrew Luck. Obviously, I don’t want to see the next John Elway take a cheap shot that could get him hurt, but it’s time to rattle the cage, buzz the tower … hit him after the whistle. No one is laying a finger on the future Indianapolis Colt, and at the risk of penalties and the national ire, the Huskies have to beat him up. Washington, Andrew Luck has your Pac-12 North title. Go and get it.

- I’m ready to know if Stanford can beat someone with a pulse.

- If you hooked up any and every defensive coordinator to a lie detector and asked him if he would like to see the opposing quarterback - even though he's an unpaid 21-year-old college student - get injured on the first drive and knocked out for the game, 100% would register yes.

- Missouri, it's time to set up an Occupy Brandon Weeden Camp.

- I’m ready to know. I’m ready to see if Oklahoma State can handle the pressure of the expectations now thrown on them. The national title is there for the taking, but first the Cowboys have to put away a better-than-it’s-looked Missouri team in Columbia, and I'm not sold they can. Watch out. Mizzou might have the defense to end the BCS Computers’ dream team.

- I’m ready to know. I’m ready if Notre Dame is as good as I think it is. I’m a true believer that that Irish are hanging around on the outside of being in the discussion of the top ten teams in the country, and it’ll take a convincing win over a rested USC to prove it. If Notre Dame is impressive, then the regular season finale against Stanford will be for a BCS slot.

- How much does the WAC suck? Fresno State vs. Nevada is probably for the conference title and it’s online at ESPN3.

- If Fresno loses, it won’t end up going to a bowl and it’s very, very possible that Nevada will be the only bowl eligible team from the gutted conference.

- It got lost in the shuffle of the one-completion win over Ohio State and the YouTube store shot against Northwestern, but Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown has been fantastic, making 17 tackles against the Buckeyes and 11 against the Wildcats.

- Illini defensive end Whitney Mercilus is the best pass rusher in America you’re not paying attention to.

- At what point do we start to admit that there’s a teeny, tiny chance that LSU and Alabama are slightly overrated because they’re blowing through an AWFUL conference?

- Yeah, I said it, awful. As in Big Ten - at least this year - awful once you get past the pretty boys up top. If 2011 Auburn is the fourth-best team in the conference behind Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas, then this is a bad, bad, league. Until the hot messes at quarterback throughout the conference get settled, the SEC has to be put behind the Big 12 tin the pecking order.

- I’ll be the one to say it. Yes, Boise State, without any question, would be 7-0 with Alabama’s schedule. I’m not sure about the Broncos against Oregon, but there’s absolutely no debate that they’d be at least 6-1 with LSU’s slate.

- No, Boise State wouldn’t beat Alabama or LSU on any given Saturday. 117 other college football teams wouldn't have a shot against the Tide or the Tigers, either.

- I know you hate Boise State; I hate the schedule, too. However, the offense hung up 349 passing yards and four scores, and ran for 393 yards and five touchdowns, in an absolute demolition of Colorado State on the road AND DROPPED IN THE RANKINGS.

- One scout told me with a straight face that all 11 LSU defensive starters – at least when they’re all on the field – will be drafted.

- “Violation of team rules” always means 1) pot, 2) the player is flunking underwater basketweaving, or 3) all of the above.

- I demand that the integrity and reputations of the colleges and universities matter above all else at all times, but if Tyrann Mathieu and Spencer Ware don’t play against Alabama, no matter what they’ve done, I’m going to break something tasteful.

- I don’t have one, but I’ll look later. Find me a BCS team in recent college football history that's 6-1, will almost certainly be at least 7-1, and has scored, 11, 14, 34, 16, 13, and 23 points in its six FBS games.

- I’m ready to know if Penn State stinks, or, because of its defense and the running of Silas Redd, is one of those teams that manages to play to the level of its competition, whether it’s Iowa, Eastern Michigan, or Alabama, who was held in relative check in the 27-11 win in Happy Valley.

- Penn State will be 10-1 going into the regular season finale against Wisconsin.

- If you were my close, personal friend and you were going off to Vegas to legally “invest” what little money you might have left, I’d suggest taking a look-see at - and forgive my chasing to try to salvage my record -  Illinois -4 over Purdue, Arkansas -16 over Ole Miss, North Carolina +10.5 over Clemson, Northern Illinois -14 over Buffalo, Virginia Tech -20.5 over Boston College, Army +11 over Vanderbilt, Washington State -3 over Oregon State, Alabama -29.5 over Tennessee, LSU -22 over Auburn, and my Five-Star, Master Lock Pick Of The Millennium For This Week, Wake Forest -3 over Duke.

- By the way, I went 10-20 against the spread with these picks over the first seven weeks. I'm SO sorry. I've heard from several "investors" that they've made a killing off of going the other way on these, and I apologize for going 2-2 last week.

Tennessee at Alabama, USC at Notre Dame, Texas Tech at Oklahoma, Wisconsin at Michigan State, SMU at Southern Miss, Washington at Stanford, AND the World Series. This is the Saturday night to tell the wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/all of the above to go pretty bra shopping or something. The remote is all yours. Take it and a bucket of chicken and enjoy the pure, unadulterated awesomeness of what should be a fantastic sports night.

By Richard Cirminiello 

Rutgers is using a true freshman quarterback, Gary Nova, for a third straight year. The last two, Tom Savage and Chas Dodd, are in Arizona and in the doghouse, respectively. Either coach Greg Schiano is doing a great job of recruiting of recruiting quarterbacks, or a horrible one of developing them once they get to Piscataway.

If South Florida can’t get its act together soon, like this week against visiting Cincinnati, it’ll have squandered a once-promising season that began with such high hopes in South Bend.

Go ahead and label Northern Illinois’ Chandler Harnish one of the most underrated quarterbacks in America. The dual-threat senior from Indiana has guided the Huskies to at least 40 points in all but the Sept. 17 game with Wisconsin.

How versatile is QB Collin Klein, one of the catalysts of Kansas State’s improbable 6-0 start? The Wildcats leading rusher and scorer started two games at wide receiver in 2009, a la Texas A&M hurler Ryan Tannehill. Oh, he also plays the piano, violin and mandolin in his spare time.

With Texas behind it and Baylor up next, Oklahoma State recognizes that it needs to take Mizzou very seriously in Columbia this week. With QB James Franklin and RB Henry Josey playing well, the Tigers are capable of hanging with the Cowboys in a track meet.

Well-traveled Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt could be unemployed again real soon. This week’s visit from surging Arkansas will only serve to hasten the process.

If Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas performs in the next five games the way he did in the last two, the Hokies will get a second crack at Clemson in the Dec. 3 ACC Championship Game.

What is going on with the Georgia Tech offense? Unstoppable in the first five games, it’s been ordinary ever since. It hasn’t helped that the production from the passing game has all but dried up.

Auburn QB Clint Moseley won’t have LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu to worry about in his first career start. Unfortunately, the versatile sophomore must still contend with linemen Sam Montgomery and Michael Brockers, LB Ryan Baker and CB Morris Claiborne.

Vinny Curry sounds like a Thai dish, but he’s actually one of the nation’s best defensive players that almost no one has seen play this fall. The Marshall D-end, with the nation’s-best 17 tackles for loss, has his sights fixed on Houston QB Case Keenum this Saturday.

It’s getting hard not be a little intrigued by one-loss Penn State. The Lions are 3-0 in Big Ten play, and Northwestern is 0-3, yet PSU is only favored by four points; that’s how bad the Penn State offense has been this fall.

The winner of the game between USC and Notre Dame in South Bend is going to be a big deal by Sunday morning. While both schools have been playing well of late, most observers have been withholding judgment until this game is played.

The unexpected rise of Washington this fall has been a gift to Stanford, which has been pining for an opponent who can help strengthen a tissue-soft schedule. You also get the feeling that Cardinal QB Andrew Luck has been itching for a more meaningful game after waltzing through the first six blowouts.

The Wisconsin offense vs. the Michigan State D is a can’t-miss matchup that few could have seen coming before the season began. Even without William Gholston, the Spartans front going up against the Badgers blockers is going to be an absolute treat for those who appreciate what occurs in the trenches.

- Final Thoughts, Week 8, Part 2