Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Week 7: Surviving is a good thing at this point

Clemson goes back to being Clemson, then goes back to being this year's Clemson: The Maryland game had "typically inexplicable Clemson loss" written all over it about five minutes into the third quarter, when the Flagshirts led by 18 and had been scoring at will all game. We all knew it was gonna happen eventually ... but it didn't, mostly because Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins went crazy over the last 25 minutes as Clemson scored 39 (!) points. Boyd threw three TD passes in a 14-minute span to put Clemson ahead 42-38, and after Maryland went down and scored to go back on top with seven minutes left, Watkins took the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for the game-winning touchdown. He personally accounted for 345 yards and 18 points, which is pretty decent. So Clemson is now 7-0, and every win means there's one fewer chance for that inexplicable-yet-predictable loss. There are only two concerning-ish games left on the schedule: at Georgia Tech in two weeks (FWIW, Dabo Swinney is 1-2 against Paul Johnson) and at South Carolina in the regular-season finale. South Carolina's defense might force eleventy billion awful Tajh Boyd interceptions (more on that in a moment), but the offense ... uhh ... yeah. No Marcus Lattimore = start from scratch. I'd totally endorse getting excited if we weren't talking about Clemson, a program that's hard to take seriously after years of letdowns; get back to me after the Georgia Tech game.

Second-worst throw in the history of ever: In between the spectacular bombs to Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd enjoys throwing the most hideous picks that have ever been thrown. Here's a nonsensical "WTF" moment from the game against Florida State that's gonna be tough to top, although he gave it a run Saturday against Maryland:

Gack. That's Jacory Harris-esque.

Florida's strategic advantage on offense ceases to exist: The Auburn-Florida game was unwatchable since it was apparently the result of some sick and twisted experiment to see what happens in a football game with no competent quarterbacks. The passing numbers weren't actually that bad, but here's a stat that tell the story: The cumulative third-down conversion rate was 4 for 26. I would just write that off to good defenses, but Auburn has given up 34 or more points four times this season. In other words, Florida's offense is just awful right now, which isn't surprising since freshmen Jeff Driskell and Jacoby Brissett are freshmeny freshmen straight out of Freshmenville. Here are some more hilarious stats from Dr. Saturday:
In the 10½ quarters since starting quarterback John Brantley was knocked out of the game against Alabama, the Gators have scored one touchdown, kicked three field goals, committed six turnovers, converted seven third-down attempts, gone three-and-out (or worse) 17 times and punted 18 times. They've connected on four plays covering at least 20 yards. Three red zone opportunities have resulted in two field goals and a turnover on downs.
Paging John Brantley to Aisle Offense, stat. Florida's bye comes at a swell time, because the schedule doesn't ease up -- right after the off week is the Georgia game. Auburn, meanwhile, has survived a good chunk of its horrific schedule and is sitting at 5-2 despite still trying to find a QB of its own. The new answer: backup Clint Moseley, who was reasonably effective Saturday (4 for 7 for 90 yards) after coming in late to replace the disaster that was Barrett Trotter. There's no way Auburn's beating LSU or Alabama, but at this point, my preseason projection of 7-5 is probably the worst-case scenario.

Oregon doesn't need its starting backfield to shred people: Oregon's offense is just ridiculous -- it's the anti-Florida. Despite LaMichael James not playing at all and Darron Thomas spraining his knee at the very beginning of the second half, Oregon still racked up 536 yards, scored 41 points and won by two touchdowns against an Arizona State team that has (probably) the best defense in the Pac-12. Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas and backup QB Bryan Bennett combined for 309 rushing yards and averaged just under 10 yards a carry, which is ridiculous. ASU actually played pretty well for about the first 35 minutes and was in good shape after scoring to go ahead 24-21 early in the third quarter; four minutes later, Oregon led by 11 and the game was basically over. The only concern for Oregon at this point is whether Thomas will be back for the Stanford game on November 12 (James only has a dislocated elbow and should be back within the next week or two). Bennett actually makes the running game better but is clearly an inferior passer -- he was 2 for 5 against ASU -- and a big part of what makes Oregon so dangerous is the ability to go over the top when defenses start going bonkers trying to stop the run. Proof: Thomas is averaging 8.18 yards per attempt this year with 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Unfortunately, the only people who know how bad that sprain is aren't saying. My deductive powers tell me that since Thomas was walking around on the sideline during the fourth quarter and clearly wasn't immobilized or in excruciating pain, he'll probably be fine in a month.

Play of the week: There's a jock strap at the 14-yard line courtesy of Trent Richardson:

Now that you're down laughing, go back to the very beginning of the play and notice what happens to the same guy (No. 21 for Ole Miss). Wow.

Player of the week: Ryan Tannehill, who outdominated RGIII in Texas A&M's surprisingly easy 55-28 win over Baylor. Numbers: 25 of 27 for 415 yards and six touchdowns (!!!), which equals a passer rating of 215.30. You know what's really ridiculous about that? Griffin has a passer rating for the season of 205.71; against A&M, he was 28 of 40 for 430 yards and (only) three touchdowns. It's lame that his Heisman hopes probably ended with that loss.

Wisconsin only wins by 52 this time: Wisconsin beat Indiana 83-20 last November, which seems just as ridiculous now as it did at the time. Saturday's game was slightly closer: Wisconsin 59, Indiana 7. I think the obvious takeaway is that Wisconsin isn't as good as last year and therefore should plummet in the polls. On a related note, while Russell Wilson is getting all the Heisman hype, Montee Ball has scored 17 touchdowns (lol) in six games. He's averaging 17 points per game! In case you're wondering, that puts him slightly behind Minnesota but ahead of Louisville (16.33), Kentucky (13.0) and eight other teams.

Ron Zook doesn't understand how these point things work: There are no words to accurately describe how terrible of a gameday coach Ron Zook is. Last week's roundup somehow neglected to mention his hilarious "we were down five, right?" explanation of going for two against Indiana with a seven-point lead, which ... I mean ... WHAT???
“We were down five, right? Up five, I mean. ...

"It was 20-13? Up seven?

“Maybe I didn’t know what the score was. That’s happened to me before. It’s usually when we’re behind. (This will) give you something to pound us about.”
Amazing. What was even more amazing was the final series of the Illinois-Ohio State game Saturday. Background: Illinois trailed by 10 and had a fourth-and-3 at the OSU 17-yard line with about 1:3o left. Again, the deficit was 10 points -- that's two scores, Ron. So the obvious thing to do is kick the field goal, get within a touchdown and hope for the best on an onside kick. WWZD (what would Zook do): Go for it for no particular reason and lose by 10. It should also be noted that Illinois punted on a fourth-and-4 from the OSU 32 (the 32!) in the second quarter while losing by a field goal and had two unused timeouts at the time of its end-of-game turnover. Using those to figure out the score -- or save some time when Ohio State had the ball on its previous possession -- would have been intelligent, yes? Great line from Brian Cook's This Week in Schadenfreude: "This man is richer than you will ever be." Did I mention that Illinois lost to a non-triple-option team that didn't complete a pass until late in the fourth quarter and finished with 228 total yards? Solid.

The undefeateds are dwindling: With Michigan (AARGHGH), Illinois and Georgia Tech all goin' down, here's the complete list of unbeatens: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State, Wisconsin, Clemson, Stanford, Kansas State and Houston. All but the last two are good enough to run the table, but what's interesting is that everybody outside of the top four has almost no shot at the BCS title game barring a couple monumental upsets in the next month. There's gonna be a de facto four-team playoff featuring LSU-Bama and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, and if the winners of those two games are still unbeaten, they aren't getting jumped by anybody behind them in the polls. IMO, the only hope for for the teams lower than No. 4 is that Oklahoma or Okie State lays an egg against Texas A&M and then beats the other on December 3 (Kansas State technically controls its own destiny, but let's be realistic). Odds of that happening: slim.

Ryan Broyles is the man: Ryan Broyles broke the NCAA's all-time receptions record Saturday in style, getting his 317th career catch on a 57-yarder for a touchdown and then finishing with a school-record 217 receiving yards (whoa) in OU's obliteration of Kansas. Congrats -- that's a ton of catches.

Football and farmin' -- that's what Iowa does: The picture says it all:

I have nothing to add here other than the observation that "AMERICA NEEDS FARMERS" is a slogan that's probably never shown up at a football game outside the states of Iowa and Nebraska.

Post-Week 7 top 10: The unbeaten teams are making this part pretty easy. As for spots 7-10, I still think Oregon is the best team in the Pac-12 and significantly better than Clemson and Arkansas (when healthy, anyway).

1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma
4. Wisconsin
5. Boise State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Oregon
8. Stanford
9. Clemson
10. Arkansas


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