Cavalcade of Whimsy
Part 2, Sept. 17, 2013
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Sept. 17 - Trying To Help The NCAA
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Don't be shocked if …
10. … the Alabama backlash and questioning begins.
There's one part to the Texas A&M game equation that no one seems interested in exploring. Maybe, just maybe, Alabama really isn't all that great. The offense couldn't play against Virginia Tech, and the defense didn't show up against the Aggies, and while the other side of the ball in the respective games was phenomenal, there might be a vulnerability there against a physical defensive front, or a team able to exploit the mediocre corners. Very soon, the narrative is going to shift to the remaining part of the squishy soft Crimson Tide schedule – the LSU game isn't until November 9th. Two of the three remaining road games are against the SEC's two worst teams – Kentucky and Mississippi State – and missing Florida, Georgia and South Carolina is a huge break. Arkansas is decent, and closing out at Auburn is always interesting, but with layups against Georgia State and Chattanooga sprinkled in, the focus might not be there, even for a Nick Saban team. However, there could be a dangerous, dangerous landmine to sidestep in a few weeks against …
9. … Ole Miss quickly becomes the new hot team.
The phenomenal recruiting class is already starting to pay off, blending in perfectly with the veterans to give the Rebels a dangerous mix of athleticism, speed and talent. While they're hardly through the storm, just getting by road games at Vanderbilt and Texas –even if the Longhorns can't play dead right now – has already made this a successful start considering the brutally unfair schedule over the first half of the season. This could be the proverbial team that's too young to know any better, getting two weeks off to prepare for a trip to Alabama, followed up by an away game at Auburn. After that, the team doesn't leave Mississippi for the rest of the regular season, and while the next two home games are against Texas A&M and LSU, again, the pieces are there to hang with either of them.
8. … this becomes the most interesting offseason for top head coaching jobs in a long, long time.
If Kevin Sumlin and Brian Kelly are off to the NFL, and if the trend continues to go down for some high-profile head coaches on hot seats, there's a very, very solid chance that the big story this offseason could be the talent draw for the openings at Texas A&M, Notre Dame, USC, Texas and Nebraska. Don't count out the possibility of UCLA being open if Jim Mora Jr. parlays a huge year into a move back to the NFL, and Stanford's David Shaw is on everyone's hot list. Pat Fitzgerald, your price has gone way, way up.
7. … Georgia State ends the season doing something truly special.
There are several contenders out there, but the Georgia State football program that's just finding its footing in the world could end up being in the discussion for putting up the worst season of any FBS team in the BCS era. The Panthers are building from the ground up, and it's a rocky ride with losses to FCSers Samford and Chattanooga by double digits, and with a 41-7 blasting from West Virginia last week. Up next is Jacksonville State, a nine-point favorite, followed up by Alabama. When all is said and done, it'll take something special for GSU to come within ten points in any game, and it'll have three FCS home losses on its record unless it pulls off the win this week.
6. … Utah State's Chuckie Keeton becomes a bit of an "it" pro prospect.
Outside of Mr. Manziel and Mr. Mariota, no quarterback in America is playing better than Keeton, and that includes his own Mountain West Conference where San Jose State's David Fales, Fresno State's Derek Carr, and Wyoming's Brett Smith are just a few of the tremendous gunslingers putting up big seasons – Keeton leads the league in total offense. In his third year as the starter, he has it all figured out throwing five touchdown passes in three quarters of work in the win over Air Force, and following it up with five more touchdown passes in a half against Weber State. That means the junior has pitched ten touchdown throws in the last five quarters. During this stretch, he has completed 79% of his throws while also running for 102 yards on just 12 carries. He's only 6-2 and 200 pounds, he has to bulk up and put on at least 15 pounds of good muscle, but you can't teach accuracy and efficiency, and he's got both.
5. … Indiana comes up with a split in its Big Ten road games.
Bowling Green has the best defense in the MAC, and Indiana just ripped through it like it was tissue paper. A week after stumbling against Navy in a 41-35 loss, the Hoosier defense dominated the Falcons, failing to allow an offensive touchdown. Don't put IU in Pasadena quite yet, but Kevin Wilson's offense is humming on all cylinders, and now it's time to go big game hunting with Missouri and Penn State coming to Bloomington over the next two games. However, the top battles are going to be on the road with trips to Michigan State (no offense), Michigan (suspect pass defense), Wisconsin (three words: back shoulder fade) and Ohio State (see 2012 game). The 2013 Hoosiers are built perfectly to screw up the seasons of at least two of those four teams.
4. … it's December 7th and Oklahoma is 11-0 going into Stillwater.
Sort of quietly, this might be the type of Oklahoma team that weaves its way through the schedule and all of sudden still has a zero in the loss column in mid-November. ULM just whacked Wake Forest, and it didn't score in its loss to the Sooners. West Virginia and Tulsa didn't do a thing against a defense allowing just 291 yards per game and 101 yards on the ground, but most importantly, the offense finally got its guy. Maybe the whole Trevor Knight thing was a ploy, but Blake Bell looked the part against Tulsa, and he might be the type of bomber who can make the fantastic array of deep receivers blow up. The tests are coming with Notre Dame, TCU and Texas up next, but the Sooner defense should be able to take care of all three.
3. … if the Huskies are back in the big spotlight.
Sorry, Kirk Herbstreit and the rest of America, but Northern Illinois might do that again. Remember, last year the Huskies got into the BCS despite a loss to Iowa. This year they beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, and while they needed a little while to wake up against a bad Idaho team last week, they have the talent to get by Purdue in two weeks and run through an awful, AWFUL, A-W-F-U-L schedule. Eastern Illinois this week, at Purdue (the only real shot), at Kent State (not the same Kent State as last year), Akron (Michigan was a fluke), at Central Michigan (got blown out by UNLV), Eastern Michigan (it's Eastern Michigan), at UMass (just above Georgia State as the worst FBS team), Ball State (good, here's one challenge), at Toledo (QB Terrence Owens just hurt his knee), and Western Michigan (hasn't played dead so far under new head coach P.J. Fleck). If you don't want the Huskies in your 2014 and final, get your Fresno State pom-poms out. The BCS would take the higher-ranked non-BCS team ranked in the top 12, or the top 16 if it's ahead of a BCS conference champion.
2. … if we see Johnny Repeat.
Johnny is right, the national title isn't quite off the table yet for Texas A&M. If Alabama rolls through the rest of its relatively easy schedule without a problem and explodes in the SEC championship on the way to a 13-0 record, and if Texas A&M is able get through a schedule that includes road games at Arkansas, at Ole Miss, at LSU and at Missouri, and if it wins out impressively to finish 11-1, theoretically, this might be the No. 2 team in the nation and it could easily play the 2011 Alabama rematch card. Or, the more likely scenario might be that LSU beats Alabama to get to 10-0 and likely No. 1 in the nation, and 9-1 Texas A&M wins two weeks later in Baton Rouge and moves ahead of the Tigers and the Tide in the rankings. The three-way divisional tie would end up coming down to BCS ranking, and Texas A&M would likely be the highest of the three – getting the last say with the win over LSU – and would be off to the SEC championship.
1. … it's over for Louisville
Make any semblance of a case for Louisville belonging in the BCS championship discussion, and remember, it's not about what you believe, it's about what you can prove. The Cardinals came up with a hard-fought win over in-state rival, Kentucky, winning 27-13 with the Wildcats getting a late touchdown that made the final score look a little better. Even so, if it's not Mississippi State or Tennessee, Kentucky is at least in the discussion of the worst teams in the SEC, and the Cardinals were just okay in the win. Yes, the defense didn't allow a third down conversion, and yes, everything was under control after the third quarter, but style matters. How is America supposed to care about Louisville when this might have been the team's toughest test? The rest of the schedule: FIU, at Temple (both just lost to FCS teams, by the way), Rutgers, UCF, at South Florida, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, at Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater might have NFL millions waiting for him, but the Heisman campaign effectively ended by going 16-of-28 for 250 yards and a score on the same day that Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota went nutso. It might not be fair, but this is a beauty contest, and the Cardinals have massive pimple now that can't be eliminated.
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- This is a dangerous time for Jadeveon Clowney. Yes, he's hurt, but he's always going to be hurt in the NFL. He needs to produce, injured foot or not. That's the deal when it comes to No. 1 overall draft picks.
- Can't Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill coach from a booth while under medical supervision? The 3-0 start is tempered by yet another frightening seizure, suffered during the middle of last week's win over Western Illinois.
- How much worse could Tennessee's week have gone? The Yahoo! report only magnified the brutal reality that the Vols might end up getting tagged by the NCAA without any of the fun on the field to show for it. Oh yeah, and Oregon's 59-14 win didn't exactly help the cause.
- Rutgers, if you're going to retire Eric LeGrand's number, you have to do something really, really big for Paul Robeson. There's weren't any jersey numbers when Robeson played in the late 1910s, but he deserves a grand gesture – and it's supposedly coming – for one of the greatest players in college football history and a true pioneer.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Wearing black jerseys … Underrated: Bo Pelini's profane tirade
2) Overrated: T.J. Yeldon's unsportsmanlike penalty … Underrated: T.J. Yeldon's fumble
3) Overrated: The Sports Illustrated stuff ... Underrated: The Yahoo! stuff
4) Overrated: Ohio State with Kenny Guiton ... Underrated: Ohio State with Braxton Miller
5) Overrated: Joel Stave's finish ... Underrated: Headline: "Michigan Staves Off Akron."
"I don't play golf, for money, against people." ... BOOOOOOOO. I'm on fire ATS with the Staff Picks at a 60+% clip, but these are the ones that truly matter. I'll be better. I have to be. I'm still chasing with another super-sized week …
1) Fresno State -3 over Boise State
2) Michigan -17.5 over Connecticut
3) Michigan State +7 over Notre Dame
4) ULM +28 over Baylor (Baylor SU)
5) Louisiana-Lafayette -7.5 over Akron
6) Missouri -3 over Indiana
7) Pitt -4 over Duke
- Record So Far: 10-6 SU, ATS 5-11
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … Arizona State wouldn't get up, and the officials let it run out before I could get a chance to finish.
Sept. 17 - Trying To Help The NCAA