Sunday, October 02, 2005

Week Five Thoughts

Virginia Tech took it to perhaps the best team in the Big East, West Virginia, winning 34-17 in Morgantown. The Hokies continue to look good and push Texas for the #2 spot in both polls.

Virginia lost a high scoring game to Maryland. Maryland isn't a very good team, probably 5-6 at best. Virginia had been undefeated and climbing the polls but now get slammed back to Earth. The stellar defense led by Ahmad Brooks and the running attack with Wali Lundy should be enough to get the Cavaliers to 6 or 7 wins but this team has been overrated since they entered the Top 25.

Clemson continues to lose close games, this time losing at Wake Forest 31-27. The Tigers have now lost three consecutive games to Miami, Boston College and Wake Forest by no more than six points. It's a shame that Charlie Whitehurst, who has really improved his accuracy, can't get this team a win. The Tigers could easily be 5-0 right now and in the same breath could be 0-5. The Tigers need to figure out how to win close games again, as they did against Texas A&M and Maryland, or it will be a long season. I really like this Clemson team and their much improved passing attack but they need to get it together or six wins will be a stretch and Tommy Bowden's job will be on the line again.

North Carolina defeated Utah. Just a score that caught my eyes on Saturday night. After the woodshed beating the Utes laid on the Tar Heels last season, it must have been sweet redemption for North Carolina. They are another ACC team that could be 6-5 or 7-4 at the end of the season.

Big East:
Pitt gets embarassed once again, losing at Rutgers 37-29. However, both teams showed how weak the league is as the Scarlet Knights blew what was a 27-0 lead at one point. The only positive thing I took away from this game was the play of Rutgers' FB Brian Leonard. Leonard is going to make a great NFL H-Back a la Frank Wycheck. Leonard can line up as tailback and run it up the middle or to the outside, catch passes as a tight end and block as a FB. He is a complete player and I expect to see him playing on Sundays very soon.

Figuring this league out is a mystery. The only team you can really ignore at this point is Cincinnati. Even pathetic Pitt still has a shot. Despite their hiccup against South Florida, Louisville is still the best team in the league. Michael Bush is a tremendous athlete and creates some mismatches against linebackers with his 250 pound frame. His speed is outstanding for such a big guy.

Connecticut looks like the sleeper in the Big East. The Huskies are currently 3-1 with wins over Buffalo, Liberty and Army and a loss to Georgia Tech. I'm curious to see how they play against a decent Big East team and with Syracuse next, that should be a good test. The running game is solid with Cornell Brockington and Terry Caulley and QB Matt Bonislauski improves with each passing game. I doubt he will ever be as good as Dan Orlovsky but he certainly seems to have agood command of the Connecticut offense.

Big Ten:
Michigan and Michigan State played another classic in East Lansing with Garrett Rivas hitting a FG in overtime to knock of the Spartans 34-31. Drew Stanton still looks like the best QB in the Big Ten, hiting some big pass plays against the Wolverine secondary. Michigan really saved their season with this win and deprived Michigan State of their dream season.

Penn State knocked off Minnesota 44-14. Even as a PSU fan, I never saw a woodshed beating coming. However, Penn State's defense did exactly what it needed to do, stop Laurence Maroney. The defense did exactly that, holding him to 50 yards, by far his lowest output of the season. Penn State's offense took advantage of Minnesota's commitment to preventing Penn State from stretching the field with the passing game and Tony Hunt and Michael Robinson both went over 100 yards rushing. The Nittany Lions look poised for Ohio State next week, the biggest game for Penn State in a long, long time.

Big 12:
Nebraska won an OT thriller over Iowa State 27-20. Huskers QB Zak Taylor looks like a much better fit for Bill Callahan's West Coast offense than Joe Dailey last season, as he went over 400 yards passing and had two TD passes. Cory Ross is one of the most underrated tailbacks in the nation. He is a strong runner between the tackles and can burn you from the outside as well. He is a real weapon for Nebraska.

Not much else of note in the Big 12 this week. Texas looked good against Missouri, Colorado hammered Oklahoma State 34-0 and Texas A&M needed OT to beat Baylor 16-13. As some remember, Baylor stunned the Aggies in OT last season in Waco.

Once again, it took Southern Cal an entire half to wake up but just like against Oregon, the Trojans had a big second half, putting up 35 points and taking out Arizona State 38-28. LenDale White and Reggie Bush combined for over 300 yards rushing. White really doesn't get much press standing in the shadow of Leinart and Bush but he is a terrific tailback in his own right. He can get the tough yards between the tackles but just like Bush, he is a burner. Despite the impressive second half, USC needs to get it together early on. If USC has a first half like they did against ASU versus Notre Dame or Cal, they may not recover. The Trojans can score and are never out of the game but both the Irish and Golden Bears have tremendous offenses in their own right.

Alabama had their "statement" game, hammering #5 Florida 31-3. The Crimson Tide have now become the sexy pick to win the SEC and certainly looked good against the highly touted Gators. The Tide defense was able to take away Florida's running game early on and pretty much made Leak throw the ball to beat them. With one of the best defenses in the country, Alabama was in control from early on. Brodie Croyle looked very poised in the pocket and made some rocket throws. Unfortunately, the Tide lost WR Tyrone Prothro with a broken leg. He really energized the offense and it will be interesting to se how Croyle adjusts without his go-to guy.

Vanderbilt's dream took a big hit last night as the Commodores had a field goal blocked as time expired and lost to Middle Tennessee State 17-15. It's not impossible for Vandy to reach a bowl game. They should beat Kentucky at home and South Carolina would be their best chance to get their sixth victory.

South Carolina has looked bad against Alabama and Auburn. The Gamecocks were whipped by the Tigers 48-7 last night and were beaten 37-14 by Bama two weeks ago. Steve Spurrier sure has his work cut out for him if this team is going to reach a bowl game. South Carolina has no problem scoring against the weak defense of Central Florida and Troy but can't seem to score against the top dogs in the SEC, notching only 15 against Georgia, 14 against Alabam and then 7 against Auburn. Blake Mitchell looks like he could be a good system QB for Spurrier but apparantly the team lacks quality wide receivers. Syvelle Newton, a converted QB, looked against UCF, as did Travis Lee, but it looks as though they are having trouble getting open or getting quality passes from Mitchell.


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