... Who's Not (Oct. 18) OU line, UW D, & More
Oklahoma OT Trent Williams
Oklahoma's offensive line, Washington's pass defense, UCLA, & More. Richard Cirminiello spotlights who the fizzling players, coaches and programs are in the Week Seven Who's Not.
Who's Hot & Not
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... and Who's Hot? (Week
Okay, so no one expected a repeat of last year’s miracle 10-win season, but a 10-loss season wasn’t on the to-do list either. The Owls have made a strong case for being the worst of the nation’s 120 teams, losing all seven games by an average margin of 29 points. Last in Conference USA in both scoring offense and defense, it’s going to take a major upset just to break into the win column this fall.
The Commodores beat Rice a few weeks back. The way they’re playing, that might have been their final win of 2009. Vanderbilt has sunk like a brick into the SEC cellar, averaging a ghastly seven points in four league losses. Larry Smith just hasn’t been the answer for the sagging passing game, and a pretty good defense has started to pay the price. At 2-5, preseason hopes for bowl eligibility now look like a fairy tale.
Has progress really been made in Rick Neuheisel’s second season in Westwood? It hasn’t looked that way lately. After a 3-0 start, which included a road upset at Tennessee, the Bruins have gotten progressively worse in three straight losses to Pac-10 opponents. At least the defense was a pillar against Stanford and Oregon. Versus Cal on Saturday, however, UCLA allowed 289 yards rushing to Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen, and helped rejuvenate beleaguered QB Kevin Riley.
7. The NC State D
Do not be fooled by early season statistics, folks, especially when they’re being built on the backs of Murray State and Gardner-Webb. The Wolfpack has been badly exposed over the past month, allowing 12 touchdown passes over the last four games and Boston College RB Montel Harris to ring up a school-record 264 yards and five touchdowns on the ground over the weekend. Losers of three straight, State is now below .500 and in need of a tourniquet in order to become bowl eligible.
6. The Nebraska O-line (versus BCS teams)
Well-hidden in games with Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State, the curtain on the Huskers’ offensive line has been pulled back when the competition gets tougher. In Blacksburg, QB Zac Lee was hurried all day by Virginia Tech. At Missouri, Nebraska couldn’t spring Roy Helu until late in the game. And on Saturday, the wheels gave out on the unit. Texas Tech had five sacks, four by DE Brandon Sharpe, keeping Big Red out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter.
5. Illinois coach Ron Zook
You know the situation is getting ugly when it looks like the players have stopped giving it all they’ve got. That’s the case in Champaign, where Zook has gone from being a savior to a pariah in two short years. The 1-5 Illini’s 27-14 loss to Indiana coupled with Purdue’s upset of Ohio State means the Big Ten basement could be the next stop for Zook’s squad. Pegged in the offseason as the league’s most potent offense, Illinois is averaging just 16 points a game. That cannot be good for job security.
Let’s go ahead and agree to label this team streaky. After impressively opening with five straight wins, the Tigers have come back to Earth with back-to-back losses to Arkansas and Kentucky. Losing at home to the Wildcats, which came to the Plains all banged up, is a red flag that can’t be ignored. The defense couldn’t stop Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb on the ground, and the once-potent offense is suffering from a power outage. With games still left against LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama, it could be a rocky finish at Auburn.
3. The Notre Dame Pass Defense
A problem throughout the year, the Irish’s 117th-ranked pass defense reached a season low on Saturday. USC QB Matt Barkley needed just 19 completions to generate 380 yards and a pair of touchdowns. WR Damian Williams and TE Anthony McCoy were the two big playmakers, routinely streaking through the secondary and averaging almost 30 yards on their nine receptions.
2. The Washington Secondary
When Hail Mary’s work, there’s typically a jump ball involving a half-dozen leapers. On Saturday night, the Husky defensive backs took a different approach by completely ignoring Arizona State WR Chris McGaha, who streaked down the middle of the field untouched for the game-winning 50-yard score with a few ticks left. It was a breakdown of inconceivable proportions for a pass defense that showed why it’s among the most generous in the nation.
1. The Oklahoma O-line
Hey, Texas was terrific in Dallas, but the Sooners sure did their part in the 16-13 loss. The offense generated a rivalry-low -16 yards on the ground, failing to contain a Longhorn front seven featuring DT Lamarr Houston and DE Sergio Kindle. Oklahoma was routinely blown off the ball, giving no space for backs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown to take some heat off QB Landry Jones. At a program historically built around its linemen, it was an embarrassing performance by the Sooners.
... and Who's Hot? (Week 7)