Who's Hot & Not - The ACC's Woes
Maryland QB Chris Turner
Maryland QB Chris Turner
Posted Sep 6, 2009

From the ACC, the Big Ten, and NFL prospects, to the Big 12, Bama, and BYU, Richard Cirminello highlights Who's Hot and Who's Not after the opening weekend.

Who's Hot & Not - Week 1

Sept. 5 Games

Past Hot and Not: 2007 Hot & Not | 2008 Not & Not

By Richard Cirminiello

Who’s Hot …

10. Young Michigan Quarterbacks – At least for one afternoon, Michigan looked like Michigan again, largely due to the play of true freshmen Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. The rookies combined for three touchdown passes and 111 yards and a score on the ground. Oh, over in East Lansing, the two-quarterback system got off to a fast start as well, with sophomores Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol throwing five touchdowns without a pick.

9. Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen – Forget that Nevada plays in the WAC and has no pass defense. Clausen is throwing the ball like a pro and has the receivers, like Michael Floyd, Golden Tate, and TE Kyle Rudolph, to remain on fire throughout 2009. In his last two games, including December’s Hawaii Bowl, he’s thrown nine scoring strikes to just seven incompletions.

8. Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin – This was a different Volunteer team than the one coached by Phil Fulmer a year ago. Yeah, Western Kentucky was on the other sidelines, but a 657-83 margin in total yards is a referendum that something went very right in Knoxville. There was a new energy in the building, aided by the passing of Jonathan Crompton and true freshmen playmakers Bryce Brown, Marsalis Teague, Nu'Keese Richardson, and David Oku.

7. Mizzou – How do you move forward without all-time offensive Tigers Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and Chase Coffman? How about by whipping rival Illinois, 37-9, for a fifth straight time in this series? The reports of Mizzou’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, especially if sophomore QB Blaine Gabbert continues to mature and spread the ball out to receivers Danario Alexander, Jared Perry, and Wes Kemp.

6. The Big 12 – Even after No. 3 Oklahoma was upset by BYU? Yup. It was actually a banner weekend for the conference, which went 10-1 on Saturday, including three benchmark non-conference victories. Oklahoma State handled Georgia, Missouri slammed Illinois, and Baylor got a watershed win at Wake Forest. Heck, it’ll be lost in the wash, but even Texas A&M was sharp in a 41-6 rout of New Mexico.

5. Alabama – The second-half Tide played like a team that plans to contend for an SEC championship and more. With the right halftime adjustments, ‘Bama finally shook free from Virginia Tech in Atlanta for a 34-24 win that was more lopsided than it looked. The Tide outgained the Hokies 498-155, imposing its will with the running of Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch, and one of the nation’s nastiest defenses.

4. Cal – Is this the year Cal becomes a serious threat to USC’s Pac-10 supremacy? Could be. The Bears did everything right in their 52-13 demolition of Maryland, getting four touchdown passes from Kevin Riley, 244 yards on the ground, and a superb, six-sack effort from the defense. The Terps aren’t very good, but this was still the type of effort that could serve as a springboard for Cal.

3. Oklahoma State – Two years ago, Mike Gundy realized his Cowboys weren’t ready for a game against Georgia. Well, they certainly are today. Okie State took every punch from the more physical Dawgs and delighted the home crowd with a 24-10 signature victory. Considering how well the maligned D played and the troubles Oklahoma is having, the Pokes are moving north in the Big 12 pecking order.

2. Boise State – The Broncos didn’t just beat Oregon on Thursday night. They dominated the Ducks, holding them without a first down for the first 38 minutes of a 19-8 win. Someone has to start talking up defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who does more with less than just about any assistant in the country. Anything less than a second straight perfect regular season for Boise State is going to require a huge upset.

1. BYU – For a school that’s no stranger to big wins, knocking off Oklahoma goes down as one of the most profound in Cougar history. Not having to contend with Sam Bradford in the second half made life easier, but don’t forget that this game was deadlocked when he went out and it was a blitzing BYU defender, LB Coleby Clawson, who inflicted the pain. Boise State’s stay in the BCS buster pole position lasted about 48 hours. The Cougars, who played without star RB Harvey Unga, now control their own destiny in this race.

Who’s Not …

10. Battered NFL Prospects – From an injury and suspension standpoint, it was a rough weekend for a bunch of top NFL prospects, who returned to school in 2009. The poster boy, of course, was Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, but he wasn’t alone. Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount jabbed his way to an abridged career in Eugene. Mackey Award favorites Jermaine Greshman of Oklahoma and Rob Gronkowski of Arizona never suited up. And Illinois WR Arrelious Benn and Clemson RB C.J. Spiller were lost early in their games. Throw in problems for Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung and Georgia's Trinton Sturdivant, and Ole Miss star DE Greg Hardy getting carried off the field less than five minutes into the season, and it was an ugly star for a lot of future millionaires.

9. The MAC – Didn’t this league used to be home to the occasional giant killer? Not only did the Mid-American Conference go 3-10 on opening weekend, but it lost games to Villanova, North Texas, and Army. Plus, Central Michigan and Western Michigan, which were supposed to put scares in Arizona and Michigan, respectively, did a horrid job of carrying the MAC banner.

8. Ohio State – The good news is that the Buckeyes escaped with a win over Navy. The bad news ... well, you can see where this is going. The Middies are plucky and tough to defend, but when you need a two-point stop to avoid overtime, it could be a sign of pending problems. Ohio State looked ordinary at the point of attack, which is not the way you want to head into the USC showdown.

7. Virginia Tech – Yeah, the Hokies were competitive versus Alabama and played better than some expected, but this goes down as a lost opportunity for a school that had visions of national contention. After just four quarters, it’s already back to playing for another ACC title, which was not the design for 2009. Tech is now 1-25 all-time against top 5 opponents.

6. Al Groh – Where do you reside if you’re already on the hot seat and get abused by William & Mary? Groh is about find out after losing to the Pride in an ugly, seven-turnover slopfest. What the heck were Cavaliers preparing for in the offseason. It’s time for a change in C’Ville. Message to Virginia: Go get former assistant Mike London, who won a national championship at Richmond in 2008 and upset an ACC team on Saturday.

5. Oklahoma – It’d be difficult for the nation’s third-ranked team to start off a season any worse. Not only did the Sooners lose a game to BYU, but they also lost QB Sam Bradford for an undetermined amount of time. Landry Jones looked lost behind center for most of the second half and the well-documented concerns up front are real. A Big 12 championship remains in play, but another BCS championship game appearance likely is not.

4. Illinois – Arguably the most hideous performance of the weekend, Illinois’ 37-9 clunker is going to start putting undue pressure on Ron Zook to get things right. The Illini were listless and tackled poorly, which is going to fall on the coaching staff. With Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State coming up in the next four games, the situation in Champaign could get ugly real fast.

3. The Big Ten – Grab the flag for piling on if you must, but the Big Ten did little to prop up its tattered image in Week 1. Let’s see. Ohio State darn near got stunned by Navy. Minnesota needed overtime to beat Syracuse. Illinois got embarrassed by Missouri. Purdue gave up a million yards to Toledo. Indiana had to break a sweat versus Eastern Kentucky. And Iowa had to block two last-second kicks to fend off Northern Iowa. While only one league member lost, peeling the Big Ten onion reveals a familiar odor.

2. The ACC – Brutal. Absolutely brutal. The ACC’s 4-6 weekend mark was comprised of just a single win over an FBS team, Middle Tennessee State. It was all downhill after Virginia Tech failed to carry the league banner in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. Wake Forest was upset at home by Baylor. Maryland got ambushed by Cal. NC State couldn’t stay with South Carolina, despite just a 7-3 loss. Oh, and Virginia and Duke lost to teams from the Colonial Athletic Association. Now more than ever, the ACC needs Miami or Florida State to awake from its slumber.

1. Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount – Not only did the Ducks lose badly in Boise, but they also lost one of their two big offensive weapons, who was unable to control his rage following the game. And not only did Blount’s sucker punch of Byron Hout and subsequent post-game temper tantrum cost him the rest of his eligibility at Oregon, but it’s also going to make his NFL journey quite a bit tougher.