Sunday, September 16, 2012

Week 3: Explanations needed plzkthx

USC ownage: So ... that happened. USC =/= Alabama. Matt Barkley just finished his career 0 for 4 against Stanford, which is Stanford. The lesson: Having ridonkulous skill-position guys all over the place doesn't matter much when the O-line is getting manhandled to the point that the quarterback can't do anything except get eaten; that's the difference right now between USC and the aforementioned SEC teams, which are now unquestionably the two best teams in the country (again). To be fair, the USC O-line wasn't entirely at fault; the coaches just never adjusted to Stanford sending guys unblocked through the A-gaps over and over and over and over and over (against USC's backup/freshman center, BTW, who was in because All-American Khaled Holmes had his ankle destroyed last week). That's how a team with first-round picks at quarterback and both outside receiver spots ends up getting shut out for an entire half and finishing with 14 points. I still don't think Stanford's particularly good -- needing that fourth-quarter field goal to beat San Jose State at home a couple weeks ago is still, um, concerning -- but gotta acknowledge a win over USC, even if it apparently happens every year (sometimes inexplicably). As for USC, everything is still possible pending two wins over Oregon. Obviously, LSU and Bama can't both go undefeated, and I dunno if there's gonna be a ton of interest in seeing The Rematch Part IV after whoever wins The Rematch Part III ends up as the only unbeaten (again, pending Oregon). Also, Barkley's probably still gonna win the Heisman and be the first pick in the draft and yadda yadda yadda; I think he'll be OK. I just don't know if he's gonna get enough help to do the thing he really wanted to do this year.

Virginia Tech nonsense: Wha??? I just watched Pitt rack up 537 yards and beat Virginia Tech by 18. Pitt. The same Pitt that got dominated two weeks ago by Youngstown State (srsly) and then got obliterated by Cincinnati last week. They had 27 points all season coming in. Virginia Tech was 17th in the country in total defense coming in. I don't even know, man. Pitt never should have been blown-out-by-an-FCS-team awful but apparently was before that, which I guess was closer to what everybody was expecting from a Paul Chryst-coached team with Ray Graham at running back. BTW, Graham had 94 yards and a couple touchdowns and was probably Pitt's second-best running back; true freshman Russell Shell (a relatively big-time recruit) had 157 yards and looked pretty dang good. Logan Thomas looked whatever is the opposite of pretty dang good: He finished 14 for 31 with a touchdown and three picks and really did nothing other than throw the ball to places it shouldn't have been thrown, which was problematic since the Va. Tech defense was about equally terrible. Whether all that stuff means Pitt has had a revelation and is now good or Virginia Tech just played the worst game ever remains to be seen. Again: I don't even know, man.

Related transitive nonsense: Youngstown State >>> Virginia Tech > Georgia Tech > Virginia. Youngstown State wins the ACC Coastal.

Yay Notre Dame? I'm undecided about whether Notre Dame's defense is legitimately good or Michigan's State offense is just awful; I'm leaning toward the latter based on two real games (Boise State being the other) of data for MSU, most of it bad. LeVeon Bell is a truck but has a mediocre O-line in front of him, and Andrew Maxwell just isn't good (yet). It probably isn't helping that MSU's receivers are noobs with zero meaningful experience and apparently can't get open against a secondary made of guys who are even more noob-y. Speaking of which, I do think Notre Dame will have some trouble against teams that can throw the ball even a little (USC and Oklahoma, to be specific), although the front seven will offset the secondary's mediocrity to some extent. The offense is gonna have to be a little better, which means the quarterback play is gonna have to be a little better (fortunate bomb to John Goodman notwithstanding). Everett Golson's numbers: 14 for 32 for 5.2 yards per attempt to go along with seven rushing yards. It'd be very interesting to know what Brian Kelly woulda done if Michigan State's offense weren't totally incompetent and Notre Dame had actually needed points in the fourth quarter. Regardless, ND is 3-0 and might actually be BCS-worthy given what's known (or isn't) about the rest of the allegedly good teams on the schedule. Commence "Return to Glory" columns.

Wisconsin confirmation: There's no question anymore: Wisconsin just isn't very good. Needing to rally from 11 down in the second half and then needing Utah State to miss a chip-shot field-goal attempt on the last play of the game would be pretty concerning in and of itself even without the pile of not-so-good evidence that had already accumulated via a similar five-point win over Northern Iowa and a loss to Oregon State, a team that went 3-9 last year. Some numbers: Wisconsin is 96th in rushing yards (!!!), 117th in passing yards, 116th in total offense and 115th in scoring offense. So I know why they aren't any good (from a numbers standpoint) but don't really know why. I mean, Wisconsin has been basically the same team for about the last 15 years; the offense went up a couple degrees of awesomeness with Paul Chryst calling plays and Russell Wilson at QB but shouldn't be completely and totally incompetent without those guys given that Montee Ball and about half the O-line are back. The Wisconsin gameplan doesn't require mind-blowingly brilliant playcalling. So I don't know. Another thing I don't know: How in the holy hell is this team ranked? Did anybody actually watch any of the aforementioned games? No? I see.

The Big Ten blows: A depressing rundown of the Big Ten's allegedly good teams other than Michigan that I didn't mention in the previous two way-too-lengthy paragraphs: Ohio State (playing at home) needed an oops-I-forgot-about-that-guy touchdown in the final minutes to beat Cal, which is probably the seventh-best team in the Pac-12. And that's it. The Big Ten's highest ranked teams are Ohio State (16th in the AP poll) and Michigan (18th in the coaches' poll). Guh. The only good thing about that: The Rose Bowl is totally within driving distance.

Weirdest Ending of the Ever: OMG HOLY WAR INSANITY:

I'm totally for serious about the insanity. I'm also totally having 2005 Alamo Bowl-related seizures right now.

Get out da way: Alabama. Wow. It was 24-0 at the half and 38-0 about four minutes later, at which point I stopped paying attention because it was the least competitive game on TV. Tyler Wilson would not have made a difference; Bama averaged almost seven yards a play (!) and finished with almost 450 yards despite yanking its starters about midway through the third quarter. It was a paddlin'. It was a paddlin' of historic proportions seeing as how Arkansas hadn't been shut out at home since 1966 (whoa) and ended up with its lowest yardage total (139) in at least 10 years. BTW, that stuff I said about Arkansas maybe still belonging somewhere in the top 25: yeah no. Also, that stuff Brent Musberger said when Alabama was pooping on Michigan about how Bama wouldn't have a "real" test until Arkansas: yeah no. At least Michigan, like, scored points and was competitive-ish for a few drives.

Touchdown surprise! Florida haz offense? Uhhh ... I guess so. Going for 336 rushing yards, 555 total yards and a not-fluky 37 points against a pretty decent Tennessee defense qualifies as offense. Florida is averaging 232 rushing yards a game right now, with Mike Gillislee getting almost exactly half of that. Jeff Driskell basically just has to hand off a lot and not do anything disastrous with any of his 17 throws a game; he hasn't thrown more than 20 passes in any of Florida's three games, and none of those were run-out-the-clock-type blowouts. So Florida is basically Wisconsin. As for Tennessee, the passing game is pretty good, but whether that's gonna be sufficient to get this team more than about seven wins is debatable given an October schedule -- at Georgia, at Mississippi State, Alabama, at South Carolina -- that's utterly horrifying.

Sun Belt FTW: Louisiana-Monroe is basically the sixth-best team in the SEC. Srsly. The Arkansas win could've been written off to Arkansas being a tire fire but then was sorta confirmed by the Auburn game, which went to overtime and finished almost dead even in yardage. I'm guessing that says more about the middle of the SEC than it says about Louisiana-Monroe, a team that went 3-5 in the Sun Belt last year and is starting a redshirt freshman quarterback. The middle of the SEC = the middle of the Big Ten. BTW, Kiehl Frazier didn't get way better after Auburn stopped tipping its plays: He went 10 for 18 for 130 yards with a touchdown and a pick and ran for all of eight yards. Woo.

Related Play of the Week: This is Western Kentucky (trailing by one) going for two and the win against Kentucky:


Crazily amazingly cramazingly awful: Great googly moogly: Colorado might be the worst team that has ever existed. Fresno State (Fresno State!) led 35-0 after 12 minutes Saturday, led 55-7 a quarter later, had its starters out of the game by halftime and finished with a 665-278 advantage in total yards. Read that sentence again. Cramazing. And I can't even say I'm surprised seeing as how Colorado got outgained by 125 yards last week by Sacramento State. A mostly rhetorical question: How did this team win three games last year?

Way to finish, Louisville: Louisville led 36-7 at halftime Saturday. This is only worth noting because Louisville led 39-34 with about 30 seconds left when this happened:


Random trivia question: Name the only team in the country with three wins over BCS-conference teams.

Answer to random trivia question: Northwestern. I know. Those three wins: Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College.

Player of the Week/Hilarious Geno Smith Line of the Week: The usual: 34 for 39 for 411 yards and five touchdowns. And in the "playing against real teams" category: Florida State's Chris Thompson had nine carries for 197 yards (!!!) and two touchdowns against Wake Forest. That's, like, a lot of yards per carry.

Nice turnout pffffft: Miami's home opener drew a pretty an announced crowd of 39,345 and an actual crowd of about 714:


Check that guy's blood pressure, stat: Bo Pelini went to the hospital at halftime Saturday with what was reportedly the flu. Or possibly a heart attack.

Probably a heart attack.

Post-Week 3 top 10: So ... USC. Here's the thing about USC (and, to a lesser extent, Virginia Tech): There's enough noise in the data at this point that the "Team X has a win over Team Y and therefore must be better than Team Y" method of ballot construction isn't applicable without needing some help from M.C. Escher (it really isn't applicable ever). There's some useful info that can be gleaned from three weeks of performance-centric data/observations; there's a lot less that can be gleaned from any individual result. Translation: IMO, USC is still better than Stanford (and everybody else except the obvious teams at the top). There's just not a team outside the top three that I think would beat USC on a neutral field more times than not; that's it.

As always, keep in mind that this is a purely qualitative/performance-based top 10 and makes no effort to be (a) transitive or (b) predictive of actual rankings. I do what I want (whateva).

1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Oregon
4. USC
5. Florida State
6. West Virginia
7. Georgia
8. Oklahoma
9. Clemson
10. Stanford


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