Monday, October 08, 2012

Week 6: That changes things

Ahh, Florida State: Every Florida State season is exactly the same; writing things like "it's pretty hard to envision FSU losing before November" only feeds the inevitability beast. And inevitability is the only way to explain a 17-16 loss to an NC State team that had just given up 44 points and 651 yards (!!!) to Miami, which then went out and scored three points against Notre Dame. WTF, Florida State offense? The first half (17 points and about 250 yards) was fine; the second half was not fine at all seeing as how Florida State scored zero points and had 101 total yards (final play not included), almost all of them in the air because the running game ceased to exist. That's awful. Any offense that can be totally and completely shut down by NC State for 30-plus minutes is not a national-title-worthy offense. The defense was fine but got no help whatsoever in the second half. Actually, the defense almost won the game by itself but gave up three fourth-down conversions on the game-ending drive, including a fourth-and-10 NFL seam throw/catch and a spectacularly designed fourth-and-goal completion from the 2 with 21 seconds left that gave NC State the win. BTW, Mike Glennon will be playing for a paycheck next year; he's legit. Florida State apparently isn't.

Celebratory picture/GIF of the week: AAAHHHHHHH!!!

I have nothing to add.

Florida might be last year's LSU: I knew Florida's defense was good; I didn't realize it was good enough to totally dominate LSU's offense for the entirety of a game, nor did I realize that Florida's run game (by which I mean Mike Gillislee) was gonna be able to put up 146 yards and two touchdowns on what I considered to be the second-best defense in the country. Jeff Driskel had 61 passing yards and 56 rushing yards yet was by far the better of the two quarterback performances, although that was mostly because Zach Mettenberger was getting his face eaten on a regular basis; Florida had four sacks and I have no idea how many hurries. After the opening drive, LSU got past the Florida 49-yard line once, and that was on this play that was a foot from being a touchdown but instead must be recognized as the Inconvenient Fumble of the Week:

Yeesh. Anyway, LSU's only other points came on a field goal after a strip sack at the Florida 7-yard line at the end of the first half. In other words, fluky fumbles removed, LSU still finished with six points. Florida's defense FTW. Will Muschamp FTW. As for LSU, everything's still in play since two of the next three games are against South Carolina and Alabama (both at home). The defense is good enough to beat anybody; the offense is gonna need some work since, I mean, 42 rushing yards. I didn't think anybody could hold LSU to 42 rushing yards but have now seen it done and therefore must acknowledge that it's possible (anything's possible for Alabama).

South Carolina might be really good: How good? I dunno, man. Good. I honestly didn't think South Carolina had the offense to hang with Georgia; I was wrong, in part because South Carolina's defense was so hilariously dominant that "hang with" became "score seven points against" and in part because Marcus Lattimore is a man-child and Connor Shaw has quietly turned into a pretty good quarterback. As for the defense: Wow. WOW. Garbage-time touchdown notwithstanding, Georgia had one drive longer than 19 yards. Aaron Freakin' Murray finished 11 for 31 for 109 yards with no touchdowns and a pick. Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley went for 76 yards on 25 carries. It was 21-0 when Georgia ran its seventh play from scrimmage, although that's probably more indicative of the whoopin' South Carolina's offense put on Georgia's defense rather than the other way around. Lattimore and Shaw combined for all of South Carolina's 145 yards on the first two drives, both of which ended with perfectly thrown touchdown passes, and Shaw threw a total of three passes the rest of the night since (a) Marcus Lattimore lol and (b) it was evident at that point that Georgia wasn't gonna do a whole lot on offense. BTW, Shaw's a better runner than he gets credit for; the question is whether he'll be consistent enough with his arm against LSU/Florida/Clemson. Given what I've seen from the South Carolina defense and known quantity that is Lattimore, that's probably the only thing standing between South Carolina and a game against Bama for ALL OF THE MARBLES. As for Georgia: Yikes. That was unexpected and probably infuriating, and it's pretty hard to imagine the Florida game going much differently since South Carolina and Florida are basically the same team. The Capital One Bowl beckons (as always).

Related Punt Return of the Week: Ace Sanders is quite good at returning punts:


Gus Johnson probably needs a lozenge: Things that are better than Gus Johnson calling a game between two top-10-ish teams featuring 12 touchdowns and seven ties/lead changes: ummm ... uhhh ... I got nothin'. As for the game, it was pretty much exactly what I expected, which is to say a game very similar to the Baylor one but with slightly lower point totals since Texas actually has a semblance of a defense (but not enough of one to stop West Virginia from putting up 460 yards and 48 points). At this point, the possibility must be acknowledged that nobody on the schedule will be able to stop West Virginia from scoring basically at will. Kansas State? Probably not. Oklahoma? Maybe. What was interesting about Saturday's game was that Manny Diaz's insistence on getting pressure off the edge (which made some sense given Geno Smith's accuracy and general awesomeness) got him pwned by Dana Holgorsen, who just kept exploiting the vacated gaps over and over and over and over with a previously nonexistent zone running game. Andrew Buie finished with 207 yards (!) on 30 carries; his previous career high for yards in a game was 82. In summary, Dana Holgorsen is a genius. And he needed to be since Texas was basically matching West Virginia score for score; really, the difference in the game was Anthony Fera's missed 41-yard field-goal attempt with just over five minutes left. David Ash was good (22 for 29 for 269 yards and a touchdown), the running game was fine (just over four yards a carry with sacks excluded), etc. Texas is a good team; West Virginia's just a little better because of an offense that's better than any other offense in the country right now, Oregon included.

Obvious Tweet of the Week: No! Not in Morgantown!

Ahh, West Virginia.

Ohio State might go undefeated: Trust me: This is as disturbing to me as it is to you. It's not so much that Ohio State's an elite team but that there might not be a very good team on the entire schedule other than maybe/hopefully Michigan; it's pretty obvious now that Michigan State has no offense and Nebraska has no defense. I mean, yeah, Braxton Miller's good (especially in that offense), but Ohio State at one point scored seven touchdowns in a span of nine drives, and one of the non-touchdown drives was a 70-yarder that ended with a Miller fumble just inside the Nebraska 20. Nebraska's defense is not good; Bo Pelini has turned into Bill Callahan but with an awesome running game (putting up 38 points and 233 rushing yards at about 4.9 a carry against Ohio State deserves some recognition). That's probably what he was going for when he took over, right? RIGHT? Anyway, Taylor Martinez was as craptacular in the passing game as usual against legitimate defenses, going 15 for 25 but with three picks, one of which went the other way for a touchdown and one of which was near the Ohio State goal line when the game was still competitive-ish. His arm would be less relevant if the defense could stop anybody, but it can't; Nebraska is now 92nd in rushing defense and 73rd in scoring defense. Denard Robinson might go for 400 rushing yards in two weeks; LeVeon Bell might go for 300 the week after. As for Ohio State, tell me which of these games is actually losable: at Indiana, Purdue, at Penn State, Illinois, at Wisconsin. Come on, Michigan.

Speaking of which: This week's coaches' poll is the first one in the history of the coaches' poll to include zero Big Ten teams. Ohio State would be in it if eligible; Michigan probably should be in it. Still ... I mean ... yeesh. Wisconsin has done nothing to demonstrate any semblance of goodness, Penn State lol no, Northwestern is Northwestern and Michigan State confirmed its mediocrity by needing to come back from 17 down and score two touchdowns in the last eight minutes to beat Indiana, which is awful. The Big Ten!

Unsurprising Notre Dame domination: Miami might have been able to make things interesting if their receivers could catch; they can't, apparently, and that's bad when points are a necessity because of a TERRIBLE defense. Seriously: Miami's defense is terrible. Everett Golson (who isn't Vince Young yet) went 17 for 22 and averaged 8.5 yards an attempt, and Notre Dame's slightly-above-average running game went for 376 yards (!) at a ridiculouos 7.4 yards a carry. Hilarious stat: Notre Dame went from 97th to 71st in total offense via that obliteration. I'm not sure how much to read into that. I was actually more impressed by the defense, which had already established itself as really good up front but also did reasonably well (with the help of the aforementioned eleventy billion drops) against a Miamia passing game that had been averaging about 330 yards a game. I'm skeptical that the secondary's gonna hold up against Oklahoma and USC but have seen enough to think Notre Dame should beat Stanford and every other team that (a) is reliant primarily on the run game or (b) has a crappy defense, and the only teams left on the schedule that don't fit either of those two categories are USC and Oklahoma. Upshot: I think Notre Dame's going to a BCS game since 10-2 appears to be the realistic worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario? LOU HOLTZ INSANITY NOTRE DAME SOUTH CAROLINA AAAHHHHH. BTW, these ...

... no. Never again.

The ultimate in offensive ineptitude: Auburn scored seven points against Arkansas and lost by 17. It's probably worth noting that Arkansas had been 116th in scoring defense and 113th in total defense coming in and held Auburn to 321 total yards and 40 rushing yards. I know. Kiehl Frazier got yanked after going his typical 9 of 14 for like 12 yards and a pick; Clint Moselely came in and did basically the same thing but at a higher volume (and with a touchdown pass). It was awful; I'm guessing the Paul Finebaum "WAR EAGLES" were a little less "WAR EAGLE"-y this morning. Some numbers: Auburn is 92nd in rushing yards, 103rd in passing yards, 113th in totaly yards, 117th in scoring, 95th in rushing defense, 79th in pass-efficiency defense and 75th in total defense. Unsurprisingly, that team is 1-4, and there are games yet to be played at Ole Miss, at Vanderbilt, against Texas A&M at home, against Georgia at home and at Alabama (wwwhheeeee!). BTW, Auburn is 4-6 in SEC play since Cam Newton bailed for a slightly larger paycheck. This is what happens when Bobby Lowder stops buying the best players.

Sooner boom: So Texas Tech apparently doesn't have the best pass defense in the country. Who knew? To be fair, Landry Jones finished with 259 yards (which isn't a ton) on a meh 6.5 yards an attempt; the difference in the game was the 10-minute stretch around halftime in which the possessions went like this: Oklahoma touchdown drive, Texas Tech pick, Oklahoma field goal, halftime, Texas Tech turnover on downs at midfield, Oklahoma touchdown drive, Texas Tech pick six. It went from 14-13 to 41-13 in a span of about 18 minutes of game time. Whether that means Oklahoma is Oklahoma again or Texas Tech just isn't that good remains to be seen; I think the Landry Jones OMG NO TOUCHDOWNS stuff has been overblown (Blake Bell has scored a ridiculous 13 touchdowns -- almost all of which would've been Jones' if Bell didn't exist -- in the last eight games) but still have some concerns about the offensive blah-ness that's shown up with some regularity since late last season. Blah-ness probably won't be sufficient against Texas or Notre Dame or Oklahoma State and definitely won't be sufficient against West Virginia; all those teams can be beaten by the good version of Oklahoma but are better than the version of Oklahoma that was averaging 21.5 points through two games against actual teams. Upshot: Anything from 7-5 to 10-2 is within the realm of plausibiliity (11-1 is possible but probably not plausible). I'm intrigued by the State Fair game and would like to subscribe to its newsletter.

Penn State isn't terrible: WUT? Penn State beat a pretty decent Northwestern team Saturday, kicked the crap out of Illinois last week, has won four straight overall and is a couple mind-blowingly awful kicks against Virginia from being 5-1. They aren't particularly great at anything but are getting enough from the passing game (Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson, specifically) and the defense (the front seven, specifically) to be respectable, and that might actually be good enough in this year's Big Ten to get to a bowl game (!) since the remainder of the schedule includes a few similarly mediocre teams and Indiana. So 6-6 is plausible; 4-8 is also plausible. Regardless, at least Penn State hasn't (yet) devolved into complete craptacularity.

Arizona can't stop anybody: BREAKING NEWS but not really. Arizona is basically the 2010 version of Michigan: really good offense, really bad defense. The difference: Jeff Casteel offers some hope for improvement and/or future success. I saw enough of Casteel over the previous five-plus years at West Virginia and enough of Arizona's defense over the past three-plus years to know that the problems are largely personnel-related. Casteel will be fine once he has some legitimate players, of which there aren't many right now (there are maybe three players on that defense who would start for Stanford). And the offense! It's pretty unfortunate for all involved that Matt Scott doesn't have, like, three more years of eligibility.

The ACC still makes no sense: Virginia Tech lost to North Carolina (giving up 48 points in the process) because it's the ACC. Boston College lost to Army because it's the ACC. Duke is 5-1 because it's the ACC. I have no other viable explanations for any of those things.

Nonsensical ACC Video of the Week: This is Virginia Tech wideout Dyrell Roberts finding a pair of industrial scissors on the field:

I have no idea.

Devastating Loss of the Week Ever: Concordia! Bethel! A little background: Bethel is trailing Concordia 14-7 but has the ball at the Concordia 24 for presumably the final play of regulation. Insanity ensues (start at the 2:24:15 mark):

Video streaming by Ustream

Guh. Kyle Whittingham was sitting at home and inexplicably shuddered as that pass was completed, BTW.

Post-Week 6 top 10: So ... yeah. Any differences between Florida, South Carolina and LSU are negligible; I'm ranking them in that order because I trust Florida's offense one unit of trust more than I trust South Carolina's offense and trust South Carolina's offense one unit of trust more than I trust LSU's. TRUST. I'm a little less enthused about USC this week (Utah meh) and a lot less enthused about Florida State (obvsly) but can't justifiably drop either team out of the top 10 given the alternatives. And I really have no idea whether Texas is better than Oklahoma and/or Georgia and/or Kansas State and/or Ohio State; as always, ignore everything at the bottom.

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


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