Monday, October 15, 2012

Week 7: Uhh West Virginia?

Srsly, WTF happened to West Virginia? I have no idea. I take back everything I said/wrote about Texas Tech's pass defense; holding Geno Smith to 275 yards (on 55 attempts) and one touchdown is doin' work. Crazy stats: Texas Tech (a) is seventh in the country in pass-efficiency defense after playing both Oklahoma and West Virginia and (b) didn't produce a turnover or a sack yet held West Virginia to seven non-garbage-time points. How? Mostly by not giving up anything deep and making Smith throw to a lot of reasonably-well-covered guys underneath. I mean, I don't know how that happened, but it definitely happened. And the result was West Virginia's worst loss since 2001 (!!!) since Texas Tech was scoring more or less at will. The latter occurrence wasn't particularly surprising since it'd already been established that West Virginia's defense is terrible, but it finally became relevant when Smith wasn't throwing a touchdown pass on literally every possession. So ... West Virginia. I have no idea. It's possible that Texas and Baylor are just totally incapable of stopping anybody, which would render the previous couple games a lot less meaningful than previously assumed. It's also possible that Texas Tech is pretty good since that three-touchdown loss to Oklahoma (Tech's only loss so far) looks a lot less bad than it did a week ago. I guess the question is whether there's another pass defense in the Big 12 (other than Oklahoma) capable of doing what Texas Tech just did; I'm not sure what the answer to that question is. I am sure that a team capable of losing to Texas Tech by five touchdowns without committing a turnover is capable of losing any/all of the next five games: Kansas State, at TCU, at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and at Iowa State (maybe). I'm trying to decide whether I'd be less surprised by 8-4 or 11-1 and am leaning toward the former.

GIF of the Week: Geno Smith had problems, man:

Worst day ever.

An enjoyable day at the fair for Oklahoma: TO THE WOODSHED. The story: Oklahoma outgained Texas 677-289, shut out Texas' first-team offense and didn't allow a first down until it was 36-2 (lol). It wasn't even as close as the score indicated. I know. Breaking news: Texas' defense is bad. I mean, yeah, Oklahoma State and West Virginia and Oklahoma all have elite-ish offenses; still, Texas has given up 44.5 points a game over the last month and is now 99th in total defense, 103rd in rushing defense, 89th in pass-efficiency defense and 94th in scoring defense. WTF, Manny Diaz? It's probably not a coincidence that Oklahoma has scored 55 and 63 points against Texas in the two years since Will Muschamp left to turn Florida into LSU East. Just sayin'. As for Oklahoma ... ummm ... wow? Landry Jones looked a lot like the Landry Jones of two years ago, probably in part due to Texas' craptacular defense but also in part due to having a pretty good group of receivers now  (Kenny Stills, Justin Brown and Jalen Saunders), and Blake Bell is physically incapable of not scoring when called upon inside the 10 (and has the best nickname ever). And the defense: great googly moogly. Mike Stoops FTW? Apparently. Texas' offense is still 10th in the country in scoring and 38th in yardage and just got totally destroyed in every possible way. David Ash went 13 for 29 for 113 yards with no touchdowns and two picks. The non-garbage-time running game totaled 33 yards on 19 carries. Etc. Oklahoma is legit; I can say that because Oklahoma is one Kansas State strip-sack touchdown from being undefeated right now with wins over three top-25 teams, the latter two by a combined 63 points. And given the schedule (Notre Dame in two weeks and West Virginia in four and Oklahoma State in five), a one-loss Oklahoma at the end of the year would have a resume that'd be comparable to/better than those of the one-loss SEC teams. That's obviously hypothetical and dependent on Oklahoma replicating The Best Game Ever a couple more times but seems a lot more plausible than it did a couple weeks ago.

Fullback-Related Entertainment of the Week: Trey Millard DO NOT TACKLE:


Luck of the something something: So ... Notre Dame. I'm just gonna get this out of the way since it's the thing everybody cares about because OMG CONTROVERSY EXPLOSION: I think Stepfan Taylor got to the goal line. Forward progress is irrelevant once it goes to review (that's not reviewable), as is any whistle, according to Mike Pereira. So all that matters is whether he got there; I think he did. I'm not sure he did before losing the ball or putting his elbow on the ground, though, so I don't know if I could've overturned the original call. It was close. Notre Dame got lucky. It happens. And Stanford still would've needed to kick an extra point in crappy weather just to tie it and force another overtime, which I'm sure they would've like the opportunity to do but hey life's not fair yadda yadda cliche cliche. But here's the thing: Notre Dame is only marginally better than Stanford by every measure, which is kinda hard to reconcile with a top-five ranking. The wins over Michigan and Stanford were both extremely fortunate and provided no real indication that Notre Dame is anything more than a team slightly better than Michigan and Stanford, two teams currently ranked 22nd and 23rd (although both are probably underranked based on the requisite overreaction to losses, even quality ones). Everett Golson went 12 for 24 for 5.9 yards an attempt and would've been largely responsible for a loss (despite Notre Dame's defense not allowing a touchdown) if Tommy Rees hadn't come in and thrown a couple hilariously clutch third-down passes on the last drive of regulation and the only drive in overtime. Upshot: Rees should be starting. I just don't see how Notre Dame can beat Oklahoma and/or USC without a passing game, which Golson provides little of except against incompetent defenses. That said, Notre Dame's defense is unquestionably legit; Stanford's offense is very meh but still got held to 272 total yards and got physically dominated on two series at the goal line with the game on the line. That's why this Notre Dame team is in fact better than all the Notre Dame teams that went 9-3 and then got lit up by Oregon State/LSU/whoever. The floor at this point is 10-2 and a BCS bowl, which wow. The ceiling is unfathomable if Rees starts the rest of the way, which he might seeing as how Golson has a (conveniently timed) concussion. Brian Kelly for Coach of the Year. Guy who scheduled Notre Dame-Oklahoma at the same time as Michigan-Nebraska for Jerk of the Year.

Gary Danielson has warm fuzzies: I will now Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V what I wrote last week about the SEC:
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.
The main point stands; the teams need some reordering. LSU outgained South Carolina 406-211 overall, outrushed South Carolina 258-34 (!) despite the existence of Marcus Freakin' Lattimore and allowed basically nothing until the final three minutes, when South Carolina got a tack-on touchdown after a fourth-and-17 conversion. In other words, LSU did what I expected LSU to do all season. Despite all that, South Carolina lost by two on the road against one of the five best teams in the country. The reasons: a de facto pick six that set up the first touchdown, general domination of the LSU passing game and a couple really good drives put together by Connor Shaw, who went 19 of 34 with two touchdowns and a pick (not counting the last desperation throw) despite getting his face eaten a lot. So my opinion of South Carolina has changed little. The defense but doesn't have the interior hugeness to stop a dominant running game but is borderline elite and the offense is balanced to the point that some level of effectiveness (albeit unexciting effectiveness) is pretty much a given. Translation: South Carolina's very good. The problem: Next week's game is at Florida. Come on, scheduling dudes. I will flip out next week when one of those teams drops to 12th despite losing by three to a top-five-ish team. As for LSU, the Florida loss won't really be relevant in two weeks, at which point there will be a win over A&M and something against Alabama that will determine whether LSU is really as good as I expected LSU to be or a 2012 version of 2010 Alabama. I'm expecting the latter. BTW, whichever team in the SEC East ends up 11-1 but not in the conference title game is probably better off (from a BCS standpoint) than the one that gets the courtesy of getting pwned by Bama and taking on an extra loss, with the caveat being that a win there would probably result in a national title, which would be swell.

Y U DO THAT? There were two games Saturday in which a team was losing by 10 in the final minutes, had the ball inside the other team's 25 and went for it on fourth-and-long. WTF? It is not possible to win without scoring twice, and the odds of making a field goal (even with a crappy kicker) from inside of 40 yards have to be better than the odds of getting it on fourth-and-long. One of those teams was South Carolina, which actually did get it and scored a touchdown on the next play but probably eliminated any chance of winning in the process by taking a timeout before the fourth-down play, then burning off another minute while scoring and therefore needing to recover an ultimately unsuccessful onside kick. It would've made infinitely more sense to kick the field goal as soon as reasonably possible and have two-plus minutes plus all three timeouts to potentially score a touchdown. Pitt was the other team, BTW; they didn't get the first down and lost by 10. Conclusion: All college coaches are Marty Mornhinweg.

Nice defense: Ohio State scored 52 points against Indiana and needed all of them since Indiana finished with 49 points and 481 total yards. To be fair, the game wasn't really as close as the score implied: Ohio State led by 10-17 for pretty much all of the second half until Indiana scored with a couple minutes left, recovered the onside kick, scored again with about 30 seconds left, got the two-point conversion and briefly made every trucker in the Midwest very nervous with a close-but-not-close-enough onside kick. Alas. Anyway, what matters is that Ohio State is now giving up just under 25 points and exactly 400 yards a game yet is probably going to be 11-0 going into the Michigan game with no better wins than the ones against Nebraska and ... uhh ... Cal? Michigan State? Yeesh. That's a Boise State schedule but with a bunch of three-/seven-point wins instead of a bunch of 38-point wins. I don't know where a hypothetical 12-0 Ohio State would be ranked but don't really have to worry about it since lol NCAA'd (that "lol" is all the gratification I get since the net result of CheatyPants McSweatervest being a cheatypants was Ohio State getting a better coach). Come on, Michigan. BTW, put me down for $20 on Braxton Miller to win the 2014 Heisman.

Big Ten woo and no that's not a real woo: Iowa and Michigan State played maybe the ugliest game in the history of ugliness Saturday. The quarterbacks went a combined 31 for 67 (guh) for 4.7 yards an attempt (that's bad). The running backs went for a combined 3.7 yards a carry. There were 12 penalties. The only redeeming quality was the evenness of the overall distribution of ugly: It was blah against blah. I'd like to say something nice about the defenses but was too busy watching the offenses be awful to notice any of the good stuff. The announcers at one point referred to de facto starting running back Marc Weisman, a walk-on fullback who's getting carries only because AIRBHG is a vengeful bastard, as "Iowa's best player." No joke. And Iowa won! On the road! The Iowa that lost to Central Michigan (which just lost to Navy by 10)! Woo Big Ten! Speaking of which, Iowa is now 2-0 in conference play, gets Penn State and Purdue at home and doesn't play Ohio State or Wisconsin (for some reason). Splitting the Michigan and Nebraska games might actually be sufficient to win the division, which please God no. Just no. As for Sparty, the offense has gone from really bad to really terrible since superhuman tight end Dion Sims went out a couple weeks ago with an ankle injury. The passing game is nonexistent; the running game seems like it should be decent with LeVeon Bell but generates 3.5 yards a carry regardless of all other factors because the O-line is just sort of there and doesn't really create anything. Considering that the next four games on the schedule are at Michigan, at Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northwestern (all teams that seem capable of scoring 20 points), Michigan State could legitimately be 5-6 by the middle of November and playing Minnesota for bowl eligibility in The Game of the Century (or something).



Never gets old. Never.

Totally unrelated Big Ten note-type thing: Jerry Kill had a seizure (another seizure) after Minnesota lost to Northwestern and was briefly hospitalized for testing and generally having a seizure and whatnot. Jerry Kill don't care:
"He was evaluated (Saturday) and this morning, and all tests confirm that he remains in excellent health," team physician Dr. Pat Smith said in a statement Sunday. "His only concern is his team and staff, and he is excited to resume his normal coaching duties as Minnesota prepares for Wisconsin this week. He plans to be back in the office tomorrow."
Srsly? The guy has had two seizures during/after games in the past two years along with an unspecified number of "additional" seizures; isn't there a point at which being alive is preferable to being the coach at Minnesota? He's having seizures! Maybe he'd have the seizures regardless and therefore sees no benefit to not coaching? I dunno. Regardless, the guy deserves some credit for dragging Minnesota back toward respectability; beating Illinois (probable) and Purdue (possible) would give Minnesota six wins and a spot in a crappy bowl game, which would represent one small step toward replicating the Glen Mason era and one giant leap toward mediocrity.

Is Gene Chizik still employed? Auburn lost to Ole Miss by three touchdowns Saturday. Auburn is terrible. Auburn scored 20 points in that game and hasn't scored more than 20 points against any major-conference team other than Ole Miss since a two-touchdown loss to Clemson last September. Auburn is terrible. Auburn is now 1-5 overall (the one win was against Louisiana-Monroe in overtime) and, barring a win over Vanderbilt next week, will go winless in the SEC. Yeah: Auburn is terrible. This is the same program that won the national title 19 games ago and has had nothing but top-10 recruiting classes since Gene Chizik took over. How does that happen? Gus Malzahn was very good (at least last year's team could score points against bad teams); hiring Scot Loeffler to replace him and coach a bunch of spread guys probably wasn't so good. Brian Van Gorder has been OK as D-coordinator this year but is in a pretty tough spot since the offense never gets a first down. It's probably worth noting that Chizik has a 22-34 career record in seasons not starring Cam Newton. Terrible. What's the record for fewest games coached after a national title before being fired for performance reasons? Even Larry Coker made it four freakin' years.

Not Quite a Tackle of the Week: Jeff Scott got tackled but didn't really and then ran a long way:

Auburn would be complaining if not for that Michael Dyer run that was slightly more meaningful.

Oh hai Boise State: Boise is 5-1 and has only two losable games left on the schedule, the first being a home game against San Diego State in three weeks and the second being the regular-season finale at Nevada. An 11-1 record and Fiesta Bowl berth beckon despite a complete lack of offense, basically nothing indicative of overall goodness and a schedule featuring nobody better than Michigan State, a team that beat Boise and might still go 6-6. Ehh.

Game of the Week: Texas A&M 59, Louisiana Tech 57. Texas A&M led 27-0 with six minutes left in the first half yet had to stop a two-point play with 38 seconds left to avoid overtime. The difference in the game: a blocked PAT run back for two points late in the first half. Louisiana Tech's offense: It's legit. Texas A&M had given up 74 points all season coming in (including 20 to Florida); Louisiana Tech finished with 615 total yards (but got outgained by 63 yards lol) and scored 57 points in a span of 35 minutes of game time to make the ending relevant. Colby Cameron went 44 for 58 for 450 yards with five touchdowns and no picks. Wideout Quinton Patton had 233 receiving yards and four touchdowns. That's crazy. Equally crazy: Texas A&M committed 19 penalties (!!!) for 168 yards. I know. Even crazier: Johnny Manziel had 395 passing yards (on only 41 attempts) and three touchdowns and ran for 181 yards and three more touchdowns. The ending in video form:

Ridiculous. I'll be pretty disappointed if Louisiana Tech ends up 11-1 and playing in the Independence Bowl; both of those seem likely given (a) the remaining schedule and (b) the remaining schedule, which includes zero games anybody will pay attention to, especially with Louisiana Tech not even currently ranked (despite comfortable road wins over both Illinois and Virginia argh).

Player of the Week: Johnny Manziel. The end.

How good is Kansas State? Get back to me in a month. The Oklahoma win looks pretty good now but has to be qualified with the acknowledgment that Oklahoma would've won by 10 if not for two fluky fumbles, one by Landry Jones that K-State recovered for a touchdown and one by Blake Bell at the K-State 1-yard line that cost Oklahoma a touchdown of its own. I'm not totally buying that a team that's played almost dead even with both North Texas and Iowa State in the last four weeks and is statistically pretty dang comparable to Michigan is legitimately deserving of a top-five ranking. NEED MOAR DATA; I'll get it via the next six games (at West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, Texas), of which Kansas State will probably be an underdog in two.

The ghost of Greg Schiano: Rutgers is gonna start 9-0. I'm serious: The next three games are against Temple (meh), Kent State and Army. The last three games are against Cincinnati, Pitt and Louisville; Cincy and Louisville are both undefeated right now, and it's plausible that the winner of their game next Friday will be undefeated come November. I don't think any of those teams is going unbeaten but have to acknowledge the possibility, although the existence of said possibility says a lot more about the Big East than it says about Rutgers/Cincinnati/Louisville, the three of which will have a combined zero wins over ranked teams other than themselves.

ACC nonsense: There's one team unbeaten in ACC play. Guess again. Not even close. It's Maryland, a team that's 2-0 in the ACC after losing to UConn (which in turn lost to Western Michigan) and beating William & Mary by one in the first month. Woo ACC! I hope for the Orange Bowl's sake that Florida State ends up winning the thing; the alternative is unfathomable. "YOU'RE LOOKING LIVE AT THE FEDEX ORANGE BOWL, WHERE NORTH CAROLINA AND RUTGERS ARE AAAHHHHH THIS NIGHTMARE MUST END NOW." BTW, Virginia Tech fell behind Duke 20-0 (!) in the first quarter Saturday before remembering that Duke (even 5-1 Duke) is Duke and going on a 41-0 run over the next 48 minutes. I still think Va. Tech ends up in the title game against Florida State but really have no idea since it's the ACC, where Maryland is unbeaten and Miami leads a division (I have no idea which one) despite being pretty bad.

Awfulness of the Week: Kentucky was losing to Arkansas 42-0 at halftime and 49-7 when the game was called with five minutes left in the third quarter (lightning and whatnot). No additional numbers needed. The chances that Kentucky wins an SEC game this year are the same as the chances that Joker Phillips still has a job as of January, which is to say that they're zero. High five?

High five!

Post-Week 7 top 10: I have no idea what to do with West Virginia (especially in relation to Notre Dame, a team with an awesome front seven, a crappy secondary and worse-than-crappy quarterback play); the bottom four teams could justifiably be rearranged in any order. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

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


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