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Cavalcade of Whimsy - 10 Cool Unknowns
Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno
Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno
Posted Oct 21, 2008

What are 10 under-the-radar teams and players you probably haven't noticed? Who'll end up winning each conference title? This and Georgia's schedule, Texas cheerleader outfits, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances

By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... Fire off your thoughts  
Past Whimsies
2006 Season | 2007 Season
Preseason Cavalcade | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
- Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … my brother, Terry Bowden, believes I deserve to be fired because I, of all people, knew what to expect when I started writing it. There is an expectation of success that must be met. I knew exactly what those expectations were and I knew they had not been met.

No, this isn't the college football version of socialism … In my world, nothing would be better than if everyone finished with one loss. There would be a million storylines, tons of debating, and lots of fun beefing going on. However, the fan side of me really likes the big games, so, for example, I was sort of glad that Oklahoma State beat Baylor to set up this week’s showdown with Texas, and I wasn’t upset that Penn State got by Michigan to make its battle at Ohio State that much bigger. With that said, I don’t think for a single solitary second that any BCS team is finishing unbeaten this year.

Forget the obvious ideas for a potential upset, like the Buckeyes over the Nittany Lions, LSU over Alabama, Oklahoma over both Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, and either Oklahoma State or Texas Tech over Texas, the upsets are going to come out of the blue when we least expect them. We know they’re coming, we can even be looking and aware, and we’ll still miss them. Who really saw Arkansas beating LSU last year or Pitt getting by West Virginia?

Here are the five remaining unbeaten BCS teams and where they’re going to lose, and the stunner they might lose.

- Texas - Might Lose: Oklahoma State, Possible Upset: Texas A&M, Will Lose: at Texas Tech
- Alabama - Might Lose: at Tennessee, Possible Upset: Mississippi State, Will Lose: at LSU
- Penn State - Might Lose: at Iowa, Possible Upset: Michigan State, Will Lose: at Ohio State
- Oklahoma State - Might Lose: at Texas Tech, Possible Upset: at Colorado, Will Lose: at Texas
- Texas Tech - Might Lose: at Kansas, Possible Upset: Baylor, Will Lose: at Oklahoma

So with that in mind, I’ll take ‘em out and put them on the chopping block. Your conference champions will be …
ACC – Georgia Tech, Big East – Pitt, Big 12 – Oklahoma, Big Ten – Ohio State, C-USA – Tulsa, MAC – Ball State, Mountain West – TCU, Pac 10 – USC, SEC – Florida, Sun Belt – Troy, WAC – Boise State.

Now go on and do something productive with your day.

Hit squad, def squad, yeah we both get ill, so believe me when I tell you boy, you gots to chill”  The Rich Rodriguez era is seven games old and the guy is on the hot seat? He needs a vote of confidence? Seven games, people. Everyone knew the Wolverines weren’t going to win the national title right away, and everyone knew the program needed to be completely torn down to be built back up again. Outback Bowl, Schmoutback Bowl; Michigan needed to take a big step back to potentially take a giant leap forward. Fine, so the offense stinks and there’s no excuse to lose to Toledo, but the last thing Michigan needs to do is panic in a win-now-or-else mode. Give Rodriguez a full recruiting cycle or two, and then it’ll be time to call for his head.

However, the thought of Khrushchev in chaps might have just killed the buzz … During the Cuban missile crisis, with John and Robert Kennedy fearing there might have been a coup in the Russian government and unable to know exactly who they were dealing with, they had to resort to back channel communications to bargain with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. As the debatable legend/myth goes, ABC’s John Scali went through his K.G.B. contact, Aleksandr Feklisov, to convey the Kennedy plan to Moscow to covertly set the wheels in motion for what would ultimately be the deal that would calm the tension. It was the only way the message could be delivered without both sides looking weak, while the ploy allowed everyone to get what they wanted. On a completely unrelated topic, those Texas pom squad outfits, chaps and all, are, uh, intriguing. Oh yeah, and the holidays are coming up.

But you’d be ill-advised to do this if your significant other really does come in wearing the pom outfit … In a five minute span, you could be told you don’t have cancer, you passed all your finals, and your stocks all rebounded, and you still wouldn’t experience the pure and unadulterated joy and relief a major college football coach feels the split-second after his team scores a big touchdown that’ll likely win a game. In our daily lives, we should all incorporate the “go for one” sign, like Rick Neuheisel was able to flash after UCLA QB Kevin Craft scrambled to throw the late touchdown pass to beat Stanford.

You know what I’m talking about. You thrust your index figure in the air, quickly start pacing around, and yell confidently and coolly to no one in particular, “go for one,” like going for two was even an option.

Alright, bacon day. “One … one … go for one.”
Grandma’s taking the kids for the day? “One …”
Desperate Housewives is a repeat and you don’t need to watch it? “Kicking team … one.”

Try it. You’ll feel better.

Otherwise known as the Matthew/Moreno Farewell Tour … at LSU, the neutral site date against Florida, a trip to an improved Kentucky, a date at Auburn, Georgia Tech, and then, possibly, the SEC title game in a rematch against Alabama. If Georgia gets through its finishing
kick unscathed, how do you keep it out of the national title game no matter what the rest of the world does? That includes a one-loss USC, and maybe, an unbeaten Penn State.

Beatnik: “You’re in advertising?!… How do you sleep at night?”
Don Draper: “On a bed made of money.”
 … If you hooked up Oklahoma State uber-booster/oil man T. Boone Pickens up to a lie detector and asked him if he’d rather have a win over Texas this week or see America rid of its dependence on foreign oil by next year at this time, he’d say the latter, of course, but it would be even money on what the needle would show.

There are about 15 other teams out there that would like to make the trade, too … This might be the golden age of Big 12 quarterbacks with Chase Daniel, Todd Reesing, Zac Robinson, Graham Harrell, Josh Freeman, Joe Ganz, Robert Griffin, and all of a sudden, Jerrod Johnson at Texas A&M all giving the league a ridiculous array of talented playmakers to deal with on a weekly basis. Of course, there’s also Colt McCoy, who has the Heisman for the taking. And then there’s Sam Bradford, the Oklahoma star who could be the No. 1 pick in the draft if he chooses to leave early after this season (he’s a third-year sophomore). At the very least, he’s neck-and-neck with Georgia’s Matthew Stafford as the best pro quarterback prospect in college football.

How amazing is this year for Big 12 quarterbacks and how mediocre has the quarterback play been in the past? An argument could be made that Bradford is the best pro quarterback from a Big 12 school right now, including all NFL teams, and McCoy might be close behind. Freeman, Harrell, and Daniel, if he grows another two inches, might also be in the discussion.

Would the Tennessee Titans trade Vince Young for Bradford? Thanks, V.Y., but here’s a bus ticket and a peanut butter sandwich. Behind Young, the second best Big 12 quarterback currently playing in the NFL right now is, uhhhh, ummmm, Sage Rosenfels? Seneca Wallace? None of the top 34 NFL quarterbacks, at least statistically, are from the Big 12.

Although playing in the WAC might be the equivalent of playing intramurals, brother Dan Hawkins has gone 12-20 in his two-and-a-half years at Colorado, but he has his team in the hunt for a bowl game. Just getting by isn’t exactly what Buff fans had in mind after the weird but successful Gary Barnett era … what happened? Hawkins seems to be the perfect fit for Boulder, he’s sort of an out-of-the-box coach at an out-of-the-box school, and he has earned his stripes after years of success at Boise State. But his offense is dead last in the Big 12 by a long shot, the team has scored 14 points in each of the last three games, and the defense is fine, but nothing special. That means either Boise State really was pretty good and had better talent than everyone assumed, or Hawkins is about a year away from being on a Dennis Franchione-like hot seat.

But if the same thing happened to Mitch Albom or Mike Lupica, feel free to run a non-stop 24-hour loop ... I’d like to thank ESPN, ABC, and the family of networks for taking every possible opportunity early last Saturday to time and again show Oklahoma star receiver Manuel Johnson’s arm bending the wrong, twisted way without warning anyone of the gruesome, icky nature of the replay. Try to unring the bell of that image after watching the “highlight.”

And now, the punchline … Across the scroll at the bottom of the screen said “Oklahoma WR Manuel Johnson out (apparent arm injury).” That’s like Kellen Winslow Jr. being listed as out this week with an “undisclosed injury.”

Yes, the Kansas defense really did make a tackle … Not only am I pro-replay, I demand more with wider, sweeping powers given to the replay official. If the point is to get the call right, then the replay official should be able to buzz the tower when there’s a missed call that’ll potentially change the game. In the Kansas – Oklahoma game, the Sooners were driving when KU safety Patrick Resby made a great tackle. After being knocked down, he got up and grabbed the runner by the front of his jersey with one hand, and the back of the jersey, by the name, with the other hand, and spun him around to the ground. At live speed, it looked like there had to be a facemask of some sort, and it almost seemed like the official threw the flag because it seemed like something that violent deserved a flag. Then after convening, it was a 15-yard horse-collar penalty making it first and goal, Resby begged and pleaded his case, to no avail, and OU took advantage of the break with a DeMarco Murray touchdown run. Had the replay official been looking, and if it had been within his jurisdiction, he would’ve been able to see that the tackle really was fine and could've gotten the call right.

“Oh, we got both kinds. We got Country, and Western.” … Who is this Kenny Chesney and why is he becoming a constant presence in my college football world? Between him and the ongoing Big 'n' Rich fiasco that casts a weekly pall over the otherwise terrific GameDay broadcast, I’m begging for an extended hand to my side of the musical aisle. I’m not asking for Radiohead or Rage or anything, but this is college football, so I’ll accept anything played on XMU. Yes, that includes vegan chicks pining for their lost boyfriends or ambiguously confused gal pals. Unfortunately, when the network types try to appeal to the non-country fan, on comes the heaping helping of Bon Jovi.

The C.O.W. spectacle of warm fuzzies, balloon bouquets and hearty handshakes
Just after the halfway point, these are the 10 best things about the season so far that you probably haven’t noticed. 

10. UL Lafayette’s running game
There’s a serious challenger to the yearly grip Navy has on the rushing title. When the Ragin’ Cajun ground game is working, it’s a thing of beauty with a perfect spread mix of power, speed and precision. The ringleader, QB Michael Desormeaux, is out with a knee injury at the moment, but veteran RB Tyrell Fenroy continues to produce. ULL ripped up Kent State for 414 yards and five touchdowns, blew past UL Monroe for 556 yards and five scores, and gave Kansas State a push with 335 yards and four touchdowns. Fenroy has rushed for 4,241 career yards with 41 touchdowns and has run for 970 yards and 14 scores this year.
9. Minnesota & head coach Tim Brewster
Minnesota was so bad last year. In Brewster’s first season, the Gophers went 1-11 thanks to a defense that couldn’t tackle, setting new records in futility, and an offense that couldn’t give the ball away fast enough. This year, it looked like it might be more of the same as Northern Illinois came up with big play after big play in the season opener. Down by three with 38 seconds to go, and facing a 4th and one on the NIU three, Brewster set the tone for the rest of the season by choosing to go for it rather than settle for the field goal and overtime. Duane Bennett pounded the ball for two yards, ran it in for a touchdown on the following play, and Minnesota went on to win the game to spark a 6-1 start. The defense is forcing big plays and mistakes, while QB Adam Weber doesn’t turn it over. There’s still a long way to go, but Brewster has a reputation as a master recruiter. With a new stadium on the way, he could be on the verge of doing for Minnesota what Ron Zook did at Illinois.

8. Houston QB Case Keenum
David Johnson and Tulsa are starting to get more and more attention, and rightly so, with the nation’s leading offense, but it’s the Houston sophomore who leads the country in total offense. He had the unenviable task of taking over for Kevin Kolb last year and came up with a nice season, and now, with Art Briles off coaching at Baylor and star skill players Donnie Avery and Anthony Alridge off to the big league, Keenum got even better under first-year head man Kevin Sumlin. Keenum has yet to throw for fewer than 360 yards, and while he threw three picks in the loss to Colorado State, he has only thrown three interceptions in his 330 other pass attempts to go along with 23 touchdown passes. He’s also a decent runner with 164 yards and two touchdowns. Mark on your calendar the November 15th game against Tulsa, and expect 1,200 yards of total offense.
7. Oregon State and Mr. Rodgers (both of them)
If you haven’t noticed, the Pac 10 is having a bit of a down year, to be nice. While that might turn out to be a problem for USC when it comes time to the overall BCS formula, it could be a great thing for an Oregon State team that was left for dead after losing to Stanford to start the season, followed up by a 45-14 blasting from Penn State. The shocking 27-21 win over USC didn’t just turn the college football world on its ear, it put the Beavers in the drivers’ seat for the Rose Bowl. The toughest remaining road game is at Arizona, while Arizona State, Cal and Oregon have to come to Corvallis. All are winnable. The offense is led by freshman Jacquizz Rodgers, the Pac 10’s leading rusher, who showed his slippery talents in the win over the Trojans, while his brother, James, has been a tremendous all-around playmaker.

6. Iowa RB Shonn Greene
Michigan State’s Javon Ringer might lead the Big Ten in rushing, and Ohio State’s Beanie Wells, when healthy, is the nation’s best running back (or he’s at least neck-and-neck with Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno), but it’s the Iowa star who’s been the most consistent back this year. Third in the nation averaging 144 yards per game, the junior has rushed for 109 yards, 130, 120, 147, 159, 157, 115 and 217 with 10 touchdowns. He outdueled Ringer 157 yards to 91 in the Hawkeye loss, and he outran Pitt star LeSean McCoy 147 yards to 78 in another defeat. A secret over the first half of the year, he might be a college football household name after ripping up Wisconsin for 217 yards and four touchdowns highlighted by a breathtaking 52-yard dash.
Rice and QB Chase Clement and WR Jarett Dillard 
Dillard holds the NCAA career record for touchdown catches with 54, while Clement is quietly having one of the statistically-best careers in college football history. Dillard has caught gone over the 100-yard mark in each of the last five games and has caught seven or more passes, and scored a touchdown, in every game this year. Meanwhile, Clement is third in the nation in total offense and has cranked up his career totals to 7,858 passing yards with 77 touchdowns and 32 interceptions, and he has rushed for 1,393 yards and 18 scores.

4. Florida State’s defense
It shows how far Florida State has fallen on the national scale when it’s having a solid 5-1 season and barely gets a mention anywhere while being unable to sell out the stadium in Jacksonville for the Colorado game. For the first time in years the Noles have a living, breathing running game with Antone Smith leading the way for the nation’s 17th ranked attack, but it’s the defense that’s the star allowing 248 yards per game. The nation’s third best defense isn’t giving up anything through the air, while the pass rush has been steady and effective. Granted, the Noles haven’t exactly had to deal with Texas Tech and Tulsa, but the positive steps are being taken to make Florida State the ACC superpower it was before dipping over the last few seasons.
3. TCU’s defensive front
America would’ve gotten a glimpse of Jerry Hughes and the tremendous TCU defensive line against BYU, but no one seems to know what Versus is. TCU’s defense gave up 411 yards and four touchdowns to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, but it held the Sooner running game to 25 yards helped by three sacks and five tackles for loss. Along with the OU debacle, TCU beat Stanford 31-14 and hasn’t allowed more than seven points against anyone else. The defense is allowing 218.6 yards per game. USC is No. 2 allowing 220 yards per game, and Florida State is a distant third. The line has paved the way for 4.13 sacks per game, by far the best in the nation, and is making 8.6 tackles per game behind the line. Hughes has 11 sacks, showing off too much quickness even against NFL-caliber tackles, while Cody Moore and Matt Panfil have played as well as any linemen in America.
2. Ball State and RB MiQuale Lewis
Ball State is 7-0, and while the loss of unstoppable WR Dante Love to a neck/back injury was a major down point, everything else has been nearly perfect. The special teams have been excellent, the defense has gotten the job done, allowing seven points over the last two games, and Nate Davis has been every bit the steady, star quarterback the team was counting on. Even with all that, the real catalyst for the big year has been a 5-6, 184-pound junior who hasn’t had much luck staying healthy over the course of his career. Lewis leads the MAC in rushing with 914 yards and 13 touchdowns, with his low game a 94-yard effort in a blowout win over Northeastern. He can be a workhorse, a receiver, and a goal line runner when needed.  
1. Boise State

If winning in the WAC was so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it? All Boise State has done is win 10 or more games in seven of the last nine years, and after starting out 6-0, has hit the 100 win mark since 1999 with just 19 losses over that span. This year, the Broncos went into Autzen Stadium, arguably one of college football’s toughest places to play, and came up with a win. In the other five games, Boise hasn’t allowed more than seven points and hasn’t been threatened. The offense is averaging a solid 421 yards per game led by the nation’s seventh most efficient passing game, the defense is second in the nation in points allowed, and the return game has been special. Even with the résumé, the proven success, and the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma less than two years ago, the program still isn’t getting much in the way of respect. It’s time to celebrate the continued success and not do much questioning about whether or not this team actually belongs in the BCS when it goes unbeaten.

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.

- Unanswered points are points scored by one team that go unanswered. If it’s 17-17, and Team X wins 37-17, Team X scored 20 unanswered points. It it’s 17-17 and Team X scores 30 points, and if Team Y kicks a field goal in the final minutes, Team X went on a 30-point run.
- Penn State QB Daryll Clark needs to graduate. I have a brain cramp and I have to look up his name every time I write it. Is it two Rs or two Ls? Rice WR Jarett Dillard (on R, two Ts), needs to go, too.
- After a quick look, I’ve never been able to find a greater disparity in divisions than the MAC is experiencing this season. Considering Toledo beat Michigan and Eastern Michigan beat Bowling Green, from the East, a case could be made that the worst teams in the MAC West are better than the top teams from the East. Central Michigan, Ball State, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois would all win the East in a walk.
- Watch out for Pitt. On a five-game winning streak after the season opening gaffe against Bowling Green, the Panthers have a decent, but manageable schedule down the stretch. A good, sound team gets through Rutgers, at Notre Dame, Louisville, at Cincinnati, West Virginia and at Connecticut with one loss and gets to the BCS.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: SEC defenses ... Underrated: Big 12 offenses
2) Overrated: Howard Dean’s “yehhhaaaa” moment … Underrated: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney jumping up in the air and chest bumping his players
3) Overrated: James Davis’ reaction to the Tommy Bowden firing ... Underrated: My reaction four minutes ago when I realized the cupcake I was saving had been eaten
4) Overrated: Colt McCoy’s lock on the Heisman ... Underrated: Dennis Dixon’s lock on the Heisman last year at this time
5) Overrated:
USC lurking at 5 and Ohio State checking in at 9 when it comes to the BCS title game ... Underrated: A USC – Ohio State rematch in the Rose Bowl

“I hearby designate   Colt McCoy, Texas   as my First Choice to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy awarded to the most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2008. To the best of my knowledge he conforms to the rules governing this vote.”

My Second Choice Is:
 Sam Bradford, Oklahoma  
My Third Choice Is: Graham Harrell, Texas Tech

“You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools/But that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever” … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off.

(Heavy sigh)

I will win, I must win, I will win.

1-2 last week (again), 7-16-1 overall.

(Bigger, heavier sigh)

I press on by taking the three games I’m sure of  … 1) Alabama -6 over Tennessee, 2) Central Michigan -3.5 over Toledo, 3) Tulsa -21.5 over UCF

Last Week: 1) Wisconsin +3.5 over Iowa (LOSS), 2) Akron -3 over Eastern Michigan (WIN), 3) Cal over Arizona PICK (LOSS)

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I thought I was doing a good job and was in the clear, but I got blasted by SEC official Wilbur Hackett Jr.