Monday, October 01, 2012

Week 5: That was mildly entertaining

LOL WWWHHEEEEE!!! I'm gonna start with the qualifiers: Baylor's defense is turribly turrible -- the pass defense was 109th in the country before Saturday after having played three steaming piles of mediocrity -- and West Virginia's defense is only marginally better. That said ... I mean ... wow. To the numbers! Geno Smith went 45 for 51 for 656 yards with eight touchdowns and no picks (that's eight touchdowns and six incompletions), and Stedman Bailey had a similarly ridiculous line with 302 receiving yards and five touchdowns (!!!), which made Terrance Williams' Big 12-record 314 receiving yards and two touchdowns look meh. I don't even know which aspect of the previous sentence is most ridiculous. West Virginia finished with 806 total yards; that's about 60 yards more than Tulane has this season in four games. Once West Virginia went ahead by 14 in the third quarter, the game was effectively over since there was zero chance Baylor was gonna be able to stop West Virginia from throwing for a first down whenever necessary. So ... West Virginia's pretty good, largely because of Geno Smith (I'm gonna write something separate about him and the Heisman tomorrow) and largely because of a Dana Holgorsen system that's getting guys hilariously open all over the place. The weaknesses are obvious, though: The interior running game is nonexistent and the defense is not good at all, which is gonna result in some more games like that one but against teams with better defenses. Here's West Virginia's upcoming schedule: at Texas, at Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU, at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma. Yeesh. There won't be any question about this team's legit-ness by the middle of November; there will either be absolute legit-ness or, like, something else. There will also be fires. So many fires.

Player of the Week: Hahahahahahaha. In the Not Geno Smith Category, winner winner chicken dinner to Miami (Ohio) quarterback Zac Dysert, who went ham against Akron, going 34 for 49 for 516 yards and six touchdowns to go along with 106 rushing yards, in the process becoming the first player in NCAA history to throw for 500 yards and run for 100 in the same game. Great googly moogly. Paging Denard Robinson to Aisle Insane Records.

SEC defense woo: Georgia and Tennessee played a game resembling the one above but with a semblance of defense and a bunch of inexplicable turnovers. When I say "a semblance of defense," what I mean is that Georgia didn't get lit up the way the score would imply; Tennessee had 30 first-half points, but 24 of those came on a pick six and three drives that started in Georgia territory, and Tennessee's 14 second-half points were largely negated by three Tyler Bray picks and a strip sack to end the game. So Georgia's defense isn't that bad; it's just average-ish. Tennessee's defense is pretty bad, though, and Georgia's offense is really good, hence 51 points. Aaron Murray is Aaron Murray yadda yadda, but man ... the Georgia running game. Wow. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall went for a combined 294 yards (!) and five touchdowns (!!!) on 34 carries, which averages out to 8.65 yards a pop and puts the two of them at a cumulative 992 yards and 14 touchdowns through four games. All that stuff about the massiveness of Isaiah Crowell's loss has turned out to be pretty much wrong. And between those dudes and a pretty good O-line and Aaron Murray, Georgia's paddlin' everybody offensively right now. Whether they can paddle South Carolina this week and/or Florida in three weeks is what really matters, though. Those two games are gonna largely determine the SEC East, and if Georgia gets through both of 'em, 12-0 would become a legitimate possibility since (for some reason) the schedule includes neither Bama nor LSU. As for Tennessee, Tyler Bray is amazing in so many ways. Some of those ways are good and some of them are bad; all of them are spectacular, especially the standard 12-step drop and the rocket launcher attached to his shoulder that will be deployed about 40 times a game, "destination unknown" and consequences disregarded entirely. He makes Tennessee worth watching despite the inevitability of 6-6.

Ohio! I was fanatically obligated to root for Ohio to beat Michigan State since every Big Ten loss for Michigan State incrementally increases Michigan's chances of winning the division and thus the conference. I didn't like it. Anyway, Ohio: The defense is pretty good and the offense is basically Braxton Miller doing creative things, which makes for a pretty good team that's still prone to bouts of offensive ineptitude (relying almost entirely on a sophomore quarterback tends to do that). In other words, Ohio is Michigan. They're probably the two best teams in the Big Ten, which would make the end of the year really interesting if Ohio were actually, like, eligible to do anything. As for Michigan State, the offense is still terrible and won't be getting any better now that two linemen are done for the year. Andrew Maxwell looked marginally better than in the previous two games against legitimate competition but still wasn't very good and got no help whatsoever from his crappy receivers. I'm honestly not sure why Michigan State doesn't just go all Wisconsin on people and give LeVeon Bell 40 carries a game; he's good enough to just truck people for about five yards a carry, thus generating yardage a lot more consistently than the passing game. Whatev. BTW, Michigan State's defense is really good (and stylistically comparable to Alabama's) but probably not good enough to make up for that offense, especially since any more Big Ten losses will probably result in de facto division elimination and there's an upcoming stretch featuring the following: Iowa, at Michigan, at Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern. None of those teams are great; all of them are good enough to beat Sparty, and a loss to either Michigan or Nebraska probably wouldn't be overcome-able.

Eye Gouging of the Week: This is pretty much the norm for Michigan State:

I'd link to some comparable examples but wouldn't be done for hours.

Big Ten randomness: Wisconsin briefly entertained the idea of fielding an offense against Nebraska; the first four drives produced 20 points, albeit with a lot of help. The first drive consisted almost entirely of a 54-yard completion, the second drive started immediately after the first one (and at the Nebraska 20) because of a fumble and the third drive should have ended on a fourth-and-18 but was extended by an OMG AWFUL roughing-the-kicker penalty. From there, Nebraska pretty much dominated, although "dominated" is kind of a generous term for a team that's starting from a 14-0 (and then 20-3) hole. But yeah: Over the final 41 minutes, Wisconsin had 181 yards and 10 points and Nebraska had almost exactly 400 yards and 27 points. Montee Ball finished with his now-standard 32 carries for 90 yards, and Joel Stave was crappy enough after the first few drives that he got re-replaced by Danny O'Brien for the final drive, which might have worked out great if not for a fourth-and-1 play at midfield that got utterly destroyed in the backfield, effectually ending the game. I'm still undecided about whether Nebraska's really good; I basically see Nebraska as Michigan except with occasional bouts of fumble-pocalypse and less consistency on defense, which doesn't lend itself to predictability. I still think the Michigan/Michigan State/Nebraska survivor wins the Whatever Division and thus probably the Big Ten title since the Other Whatever Division is totally mediocre minus Ohio.

Texas haz quarterback? Apparently. David Ash pretty much obliterated Oklahoma State's (admittedly crappy) secondary, going 30 for 307 for 304 yards with three touchdowns and a pick a week after doing basically the same thing to Ole Miss. Texas also haz very generous touchdown calls and a defense that might not be quite as good as previously believed. Oklahoma State did to Texas' defense exactly what Texas did to Oklahoma State's defense despite starting a redshirt freshman backup at quarterback; Okie State finished with 576 yards (Joseph Randle had 199 of those on 25 carries) and 36 points, which would have been enough to win if the officials had been able to see that Texas running back Joe Bergeron didn't actually have the ball when he "scored" to put Texas ahead with 29 seconds left. The problem: There were roughly 21 people in the pile that Bergeron went into. His head ended up at the goal line, his body ended up a little short and the ball pretty obviously ended up somewhere else since it was clearly coming out before he got anywhere close to the endzone; it just wasn't clearly recovered by anybody other than the guy who came out of said pile with it, which made the touchdown call not reversible by rule. I bet Mike Gundy is A MAN WHO'S 40 since Oklahoma State is 2-2 despite having a negligible drop-off on offense this season. Anyway, Texas: They have a little bit of a running game this year between Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray (five-star running backs ahoy) and have Ash playing well enough to be a pretty interesting team if the defense is closer to what everybody expected than what everybody saw Saturday night. If not, West Virginia will score a bajillion points; if so, Texas will probably beat West Virginia and will then have the Oklahoma game at the Texas State Fair for a 6-0 start (and probably a 10-0 start given the schedule).

Clutch ACC Game-Winning Touchdown Pass of the Week: Stephen Morris threw for 566 yards against NC State, with 62 of it coming on this play with 19 seconds left:

Pre ... vent?

Related Quote of the Week: Al Golden is very specific:


Equally Clutch ACC Game-Winning Touchdown Pass of the Week: This is spectacularly named Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legeaux establishing that (a) Cincy might be the best team in the Big East and (b) Virginia Tech isn't Virginia Tech circa 2000:

BOOM MUNCHIE'D. What a freakin' throw.

ACC Awfulness of the Week: Georgia Tech lost to Middle Tennessee State by 21. At home. In a game in which Georgia Tech, a 27-point favorite, got outgained by a mediocre Sun Belt team 510-425 and outrushed (???) 264-238. Assumption: Georgia Tech will beat Clemson by 20 next week. Woo ACC!

Nice knowin' ya: Consider all Stanford-related concerns verified. Rushing for 65 yards (at 2.3 per carry) against a Washington defense that got absolutely trucked by LSU? Yikes. Scoring six offensive points and getting past the Washington 35 once? Yeesh. Stanford is now 92nd in rushing, 103rd in pass efficiency and 105th in total yards and has scored more than 21 points once (and that was against Duke). The offense: It's not good (that applies primarily to Josh Nunes and an O-line that isn't even close to what it was last year). The defense: It's very good. Summary: Stanford is the Pac-12 version of Michigan State. I'm putting the over/under for the Notre Dame game at 13 points.

Louisiana Tech might be good: Louisiana Tech is 4-0, which could be written off to WAC-ness if not for a couple things. The first: Louisiana Tech has scored at least 44 points in all of its games. The second: The two most recent games were against Illinois and Virginia, and outside of two make-it-respectable Virginia touchdowns in the last six minutes, Louisiana Tech outscored those two teams by a combined 48 points. I know. It should not go without notice that Tony Franklin (remember Tony Franklin?!?) is the O-coordinator there and (a) has implemented a more balanced version of his usual Air Raid craziness and (b) has designated playcalling duties to the center. Yeah: the center. Just click here for something resembling an explanation. Anyway, given the craptacularity of the WAC, Louisiana Tech has a legitimate shot at going 11-1; the rescheduled game against Texas A&M is really the only thing standing in the way of a Hawaii/Houston-esque run at a BCS game.

Illinois might be pretty bad: The four-touchdown loss to Louisiana Tech looks slightly less pathetic than it did a week ago; that said, the four-touchdown home loss to Penn State looks awful. I mean, it's possible that Penn State is just mediocre rather than terrible, but a team that's still (even after a 35-7 win) 86th in rushing, 71st in pass efficiency, 83rd in total offense, 46th in rush defense, 53rd in pass-efficiency defense and 47th in total defense -- after a stretch of five totally winnable games against nobody better than Ohio (not Ohio State) -- should not be capable of totally dominating a Big Ten team that went to a bowl last year. The problem: everything. Illinois is bad at everything. Excluding the one FCS game a couple weeks ago, Illinois is averaging 3.3 yards a carry, has three touchdown passes and seven interceptions (!) and is giving up 35 points a game. No additional evidence needed.

Arkansas is worse: If Bobby Petrino had a calculable WAR value, it'd be ... ummm ... really high. I Holy hell Arkansas is terrible. Texas A&M put up 714 yards (with a redshirt freshman quarterback and basically no running game)!!! Johnny Manziel had 557 of those! A&M scored 41 points in a span of 32 minutes! Aaaaahhhhh!!! The Arkansas defense wasn't great last year but was about average, which was plenty good enough when paired with a legitimately elite passing game that finished in the top 25 in every statistical category of relevance. This year's defense is mind-blowingly awful (113th in pass efficiency, 116th in yardage, 113th in scoring, etc.) and is paired with an offense that's 55th in yardage and 92nd in scoring despite the existence of Tyler Wilson (for all but one game), an apparently healthy Knile Davis, Cobi Hamilton and three returning starters on the O-line. The points-per-game number is skewed by the shutout loss to Bama but is also helped a lot by the opener against Jacksonville State, a meh FCS team. Excise those two scoring totals and Arkansas would be ... wait for it .. 100th. Awful. BUT AIN'T NO STOPPIN' US NOW.

LSU whateva: LSU went through the motions for about a quarter and a half Saturday, at which point Towson broke off a big run to take a 9-7 lead and LSU decided to start trying. From that point on, LSU went the length of the field on six consecutive drives (the only non-scoring drive among those ended with a fumble at the Towson 6-yard line) and allowed four first downs. Knowing that the offense is blah enough to get shut down for about 20 minutes by an FCS team affects my opinion of the team as a whole only marginally; I'm not convinced those 20 minutes were any more indicative of LSU's quality than the following 20 minutes.

Totally Unnoticed Game of the Week: Kent State 45, Ball State 43. Kent State led 42-29 with seven minutes left before Ball State scored twice in a span of three plays from scrimmage, both on touchdown passes from Keith Wenning, who finished a respectable 32 of 43 for 445 yards with five touchdowns and no picks. Kent State then went three-and-out, got a stop, got the ball back at its own 6 with 2:14 left and proceeded to go 86 yards in 15 plays, with one of those a 15-yard completion on a fourth-and-10 near midfield and the last of those a 25-yard field goal to win a game that Kent State had led at every point before Ball State's last touchdown.Woo MAC!

Post-Week 5 top 10: There are basically four tiers at this point: (a) teams that are Alabama, (b) teams that aren't Alabama but are legitimately very good, (c) teams that are definitely good but have some obvious and potentially problematic deficiencies and (d) teams that are good but aren't really distinguishable from the various other good-ish teams. Result:

1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Oregon
4. Florida State
5. West Virginia
6. Georgia
7. USC
8.  South Carolina
9. Clemson
10. Notre Dame


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