5 Thoughts ... Hokie, Hokie, Hi
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Does BYU really deserve to be in the national title discussion, and will it be a shock if it's playing in Miami on January 8th? That, and two of the better under-the-radar teams to come from this weekend, including Tyrod Taylor's Virginia Tech, in this week's 5 Thoughts.
5 Thoughts ... Sept. 29
| Week 4
Might Have Something To Say About This, Too.
After a breathtaking weekend of upsets and shockers, one
thing was proven among all else.
You can’t be in a non-BCS league and play for the
I know, I know, I’m the one yelling to anyone who’ll
listen that if everything is equal, this year, the
Mountain West champion probably deserves to be given
every consideration for the big games ahead of the Pac
10 champion, but there’s simply no comparison to the
week-in-week-out grind the big league teams have to go
through when the intensity of conference games gets
ramped up to 11. That was NOT the same Oregon State team
that showed up against Penn State.
If you want an eight-team playoff with the six BCS
league champions, the top non-BCS league team, and one
at-large spot given to the highest ranked team left on
the board, count me in. But if you’re telling me that a
team like BYU or Utah would be in the national title
chase if it were in any of the BCS leagues, I’m just not
Can BYU play with, or beat, anyone in America? In a
one-game shot, absolutely. There’s no question that BYU
or Utah or Boise State or Fresno State, on the right
day, could beat Oklahoma, Alabama or LSU. And of course
BYU could beat Ole Miss at home or Oregon State in
Corvallis. Could the Cougars go unscathed against
Tennessee at Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU, Kentucky, Georgia
(on a neutral site), at Vanderbilt, South Carolina and
at Florida State, and then maybe beat Alabama or
LSU (in other words, the tough games on Florida’s
schedule)? No way. And the same goes for any BCS team’s
schedule. If BYU needed to come up with a few huge plays
to get by a miserable Washington team, what would it
need to do to get by Michigan State in East Lansing, or
Oregon in Eugene, or South Florida in Tampa in the meat
and grind of a conference campaign?
It sounds like a simple (and yes, elitist) concept, but
it’s an important one we’ll have to deal with going
forward because BYU is currently seventh in the Coaches’
Poll. Already in a slot to earn a spot in a BCS game, if
the Cougars keep on winning, because pollsters are
loath to move teams who win down, the climb up the
charts will be swift.
Oklahoma and Texas play in two weeks, so one of those
two will likely fall below an unbeaten BYU. Missouri
plays Texas on October 18th, so one of those
two would drop. LSU and Alabama play on November 8th,
and Penn State has to go to Wisconsin and to Ohio State
before the end of October. Just by beating Utah State,
New Mexico, TCU, UNLV, Colorado State and San Diego
State, BYU would be almost certain to be one of just
two, at most, unbeaten teams currently ranked in the top
seven by mid-November with road games at Air Force and
Utah to go. I think that road trip to TCU is a beartrap,
but if that’s your one game to worry about before
November 15th, Merry Christmas.
By comparison, over that same stretch before
mid-November, Missouri has to play at Nebraska, Oklahoma
State, at Texas, Colorado, at Baylor, and Kansas State.
LSU, the nation’s No. 2 team, has to play at Florida, at
South Carolina, Georgia, Tulane, and Alabama. If you
really want to get unfair, No. 5 Texas has to play at
Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, at Texas
Tech, and Baylor, before going to Kansas on November 15th.
Could BYU beat each of those teams on those schedules?
Sure. Could BYU handle the cumulative effect of all
those games in a row? No way. Almost no one can.
Don't Be Surprised ...
we go again. Sure, there were plenty of surprises this
past weekend, but please tell me you weren’t shocked
that three of the top four and nine overall ranked
teams went down to defeat since last Thursday. If so,
where were you last fall? This is where we’re at in
college football, a time when no one is safe and parity
has swept through the country like a tropical storm. Get
used to it because it’s not changing. Not now, and not
in the near future.
We’re only five weeks into the season, yet the maximum
number of BCS unbeatens we can have is already down to
four. That figure is going to dwindle with time, and the
likelihood that there are no perfect teams in early
December is very strong. The biggest beneficiary? How
about BYU, the 410-pound Cougar in the room? Attrition
is going to take a bite out of the big boys over the
next two months. Oklahoma still must play Texas and
Texas Tech. Alabama hosts LSU on Nov. 8. Penn State must
go on the road to Wisconsin and Ohio State in October.
All the while, BYU, now No. 8 in the AP poll, will climb
closer to one of the top two spots, creating a ferocious
national debate that’ll make the folks in Provo swear.
The Cougars still have a pair of brutal road games at
TCU and Utah, but they’re good enough to win both, and
the overall success of the Mountain West this season is
going to help with strength of schedule. In other words,
don’t be blown away if BYU earns a trip to the title
game in Miami. At the end of September, Duke,
Vanderbilt, and Northwestern are 12-1 combined. Nothing
should surprise you.
Oh Yeah, Virginia Tech.
While it’s sure to get lost in a weekend that saw USC, Florida, and
Georgia get upset, someone needs to point out that Frank Beamer is
quietly doing one of the best coaching jobs of his brilliant career.
Saddled with a staggering dearth of skill position talent, wholesale
changes on defense, and an opening day loss to East Carolina, he and
his staff have rallied the Hokies to wins over Georgia Tech, North
Carolina, and Nebraska. All of a sudden, the program that was having
dirt heaped on it less a month ago is the highest ranked ACC team
and the favorite to repeat as league champion. Beamer moved swiftly
after the first game, changing direction with sophomore QB Tyrod
Taylor, who was slated to redshirt in 2008. The decision has been
the difference in Tech’s turnaround, especially in Saturday’s
unexpected win in Lincoln. In the face of a roaring sea of red that
was looking for a coronation, Taylor helped lead the Hokies to 35
points, their biggest output of the season. With Western Kentucky
and a bye week up next, Virginia Tech will have come full circle in
time for a rugged four-game stretch that’ll define its postseason
Forget about blue-chip recruits and storied histories. College
football success has been and always will be about the men on the
sidelines and in the coaching booths. Frank Beamer has proven that
once again over the past four weeks.
Or Maybe Ole Miss And Oregon State Dominated
On The Lines.
4. Does anyone need any more evidence to understand why mental
toughness is the most important factor in all of college football?
Does anyone need any more explanation, after this weekend, in order to
understand why one week's seemingly discouraging performance against
Little Sisters of the Poor Valley State Poly Tech has very little, if
anything, to do with the following week's hugely-hyped contest against
the AP No. 5 team?
Does anyone require further proof, after this weekend, as to why one
week's awesome performance against Big Boy University can and will be
followed up by a clunker against a lowly loser or lucky lurker on the
college football scene?
Does anyone, after this weekend, now see why the terms "hangover game,"
"look-ahead game," "letdown," "ambush," "trap," "sandwich," and others
are rightly entrenched in this beautifully baffling sport's lexicon?
If you're only looking at pure talent and pure technique and pure
physical ability, you're only seeing half of this sport, maybe even
less. To ignore fluctuations in performance, which are caused by the
fragility of the human organism--especially among the ranks of
hyperactive, hormonally volatile 19- and 20-year-old males playing a
sport that requires them to act a little crazy--is to, flatly and
factually, ignore the 139-year history of college football.
If you've ever knocked the centrality of psychology--in college football
or, for that matter, any other sport--you don't have to knock it
And Gary Barnett Is Nowhere To Be
Lost in all the wackiness and excitement of the last weekend was
one of the best stories no one is noticing ... Northwestern.
unbeaten Wildcats aren't going to be in the hunt for the
national championship and will likely be out of the Big Ten
title chase soon, but that shouldn't undermine the turnaround
done by one of college football's youngest head coaches just a
few years removed from Randy Walker's tragic death.
Pat Fitzgerald has shown that he's learned quite a bit about
coaching now that he’s in his third year on the job. Now he's
getting the most out of his team.
When Northwestern has been competitive in recent years, they've
been good-to-great on offense and forgotten about defense. This
year’s team plays defense and provides just enough offense to
get the job done, holding Iowa scoreless in the second half to
come back from a 17-3 deficit late in the second quarter for the
22-17 win. The Wildcat defense recovered four fumbles and also
had an interception led by safety Brad Phillips, who forced a
Shonn Greene fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle
Corbin Bryant in the fourth quarter. The hit knocked Greene out
of the game. Wildcat middle linebacker Malcolm Arrington said
the Hawkeyes were a “much different team” after that.
are 5-0 for the first time since 1962. They may not stay that
way after Michigan State comes calling on Oct. 11, but they
won’t go faintly into the night. They are a hard-hitting and
punishing team that doesn’t care what anyone thinks. They just
want to hit, and they're just finding ways to win.