C.O.W., Part 2 - 10 Things You Need To Know
Virginia Tech CB Macho Harris
Virginia Tech CB Macho Harris
Posted Nov 18, 2008

What are the ten big things going on in the college football world that you're not paying attention to? From a Conference USA quarterback that might set the NCAA passing record to the conference that deserves more respect and notice, check out Part 2 of the Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy ... Part 2

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 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10
- Week 11

- Part One, Week 12

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The 10 best things happening in college football so far this year that you have had no interest in whatsoever.

10. The service academies
The average fan has no clue
great the disparity in talent level is between the service academies and the rest of the college football world. There are several players out there for Army, Air Force and Navy that have little business playing at an FCS level, much less against Notre Dame or BYU. The available talent pool to choose from is microscopic, yet these three programs keep on competing. Navy is going to yet another bowl game, Air Force is the fourth best team in the Mountain West, which is nothing to sneeze at this year, and Army’s transformation into a Navy-like running team has paid off averaging 258 yards per game while playing relatively well in several close losses. The Black Knights have gotten night-and-day better since an ugly start.

9. Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington
Alabama head man Nick Saban commented that Carrington could play for anybody. The 6-5, 280-pound junior defensive end might get his chance sooner than later to play against the elite of the elite as he has grown into a special pass rusher. He is second in the nation in sacks (behind TCU star Jerry Hughes) with 10.5, is third in tackles for loss with 16, and he has been consistent. He was erased by Alabama, but so were the rest of the Red Wolves.

8. Western Michigan QB Tim Hiller & WR Jamarko Simmons
Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour and Ball State’s Nate Davis get all the attention, but Hiller is having the best year of the three. He’s fourth in the nation in passing, throwing for 3,382 yards and 33 touchdowns with just six interceptions including a 301-yard, two touchdown day in the win over Illinois. Meanwhile Simmons, a huge target who might be a perfect No. 2 tight end or a big No. 3 wide receiver at the next level, has been on fire with 92 catches for 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns. He has made 49 grabs in his last five games.

7. Rice
Rice might be the most fun team no one in America has seen play. The Owls are in the thick of the Conference USA title hunt going 5-1 with the one loss coming to Tulsa (along with non-conference losses to Vanderbilt and Texas). The offense is averaging 40.8 points per game thanks to QB Chase Clement, who has bombed away for 3,116 yards and 32 touchdowns with just six interceptions while rushing for 510 yards and nine scores. WR Jarett Dillard has gone over the 1,000-yard mark this season with 17 touchdowns averaging 15.8 yards per catch. Give a look to the game against Houston in a few weeks for a fun shootout.

6. The Rutgers comeback
The Scarlet Knights were miserable. In mid-October, they were 1-5 with the lone win coming against Morgan State. However, three of the five losses came by seven points or fewer, there was fighting and bickering on the sidelines, and things appeared on the verge of imploding with the meat of the Big East season about to kick in. Four wins later, including a 54-34 destruction of Pitt and a 49-16 win over South Florida, and Rutgers is a win away from being bowl eligible with home games against Army and Louisville to close. Where has the turnaround come from? The running game has improved, the defense has been more aggressive, and most importantly, the turnovers have slowed. Over the first four games, Rutgers turned the ball over 11 times. There have been six turnovers over the last six games (although the interceptions have picked back up over the last two weeks).

5. Illinois LB Brit Miller
J Leman looked like a linebacker out of central casting for a hip football movie. He had long hair, a chiseled, pro wrestler-like physique, and he made tackle after tackle. And then there’s Brit Miller. The 6-1, 250-pound senior isn’t all that big, has some pudding around the middle, and he carved out a nice career playing second-fiddle to Leman with 151 tackles coming into the season. With Leman gone, Miller has turned into the star of the show making 124 tackles, six sacks, and 15.5 tackles for loss. He’s third in the nation in tackles and 14th in tackles for loss.

4. RB James Starks and Buffalo
Buffalo is 6-4 and can win the MAC East with a win over Bowling Green this weekend. The Bulls could be 8-4 if they win their last two games (Kent State follows the date with the Falcons). To put this into perspective, they won a total of seven games from 2002 to 2006 and haven’t come up with a winning season since moving up to the FBS level. Veteran QB Drew Willy has been one of the main reasons, but the star has been junior RB James Starks, who has rushed for 638 yards and 10 touchdowns in his last four MAC games.

3. BYU WR Austin Collie
It’s Collie, not Michael Crabtree or Dez Bryant or any of the other big names, who leads the nation in receiving yards with 1,315 on 85 catches with 15 touchdowns. Not only has he gone over the 100-yard mark in each of the last nine games, but he has only caught fewer than seven passes once in the run. He and tight end Dennis Pitta have combined for 161 grabs for 2,307 yards and 21 scores on the year.

2. Houston QB Case Keenum
Conference USA was Tulsa QB David Johnson’s show and everyone else was just taking up space, and then Keenum showed everyone last week who the real star of the league is. Second in the nation in total offense, Keenum has bombed away for 317 yards or more in every game this season with 35 touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

The sophomore now has 6,053 career passing yards with 49 touchdown passes and 19 scores, while running for 623 yards and 12 touchdowns. If Houston plays for the Conference USA title, it’ll have four more games this year. If Keenum stays healthy and the Cougars go bowling over the next three seasons, there’s a chance he’ll play 30 more games. He has to average 367 passing yards a game to break the NCAA record of 17,072 yards held by Hawaii’s Timmy Chang, who basically did it in six years. Sound crazy? Keenum is averaging 379 passing yards per game this season.

1. The ACC
It’s finally starting to come together. John Swofford’s raid on the Big East for all the good teams (other than West Virginia) is starting to pay off as the foundation has been set for the ACC to become the super-conference it was supposed to be a few years ago.

Some might call it mediocrity with everyone other than NC State and Duke still with an outside shot at winning the ACC title, but this is the year when everyone is rising up. Tom O’Brien’s Wolfpack and David Cutliffe’s Blue Devils are hardly pushovers, while the rest of the league is getting really good, and it’
s still really young.

You scoff? Just look at some of the non-conference wins of note this year. There might be some blowout losses, like USC’s blasting of Virginia, South Florida’s crushing of NC State and Florida’s win over Miami, but Boston College (Notre Dame), Duke (Vanderbilt, Navy), Florida State (Colorado), Georgia Tech (Mississippi State), Maryland (California), Miami (Texas A&M), North Carolina (Rutgers, Notre Dame, Connecticut), NC State (East Carolina), Virginia (East Carolina), Virginia Tech (Nebraska), Wake Forest (Baylor, Ole Miss), have put together the best non-conference résumé of any league in America.

The league is only getting better with phenomenal coaching everywhere but, at the moment, Clemson. There hasn’t been a week off for anyone this year, and things are only going to get tougher as stars Butch Davis, Paul Johnson, Tom O’Brien, Jeff Jagodzinski and Randy Shannon have a bit more time to work with their respective programs, Frank Beamer, Bobby Bowden and Ralph Friedgen each producing, and Jim Grobe still working wonders at Wake Forest.

Give it one more year, maybe two, and the league will really start to rock. The pieces are in place.

- Part One, Week 12