>Wednesday Lunch: Un-ACC-eptable week for the East

Posted: September 15, 2010 in ncaafb
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By Dylan Davis

Week 2 looked to be one of the best and most exciting weeks of the year for college football, but many of the marquee games were disappointments. With that being said, some of the less hyped games were scintillating and a few teams made 180-degree turns from a week ago. I’ll get more in depth below, so let’s dive right in.

 

Most Impressive Teams:

  1. Oklahoma Sooners – Many fans and experts were predicting their game against Florida State to be potentially one-sided with one of the defenses being exposed and its hyped quarterback not being able to keep up. Most people (including my colleague Will Robinson) expected this team to be Oklahoma, and Landry Jones to perform well below expectations. By halftime, it was obvious that Oklahoma had solved its defensive issues from a week ago and Jones silenced the critics (Will included) by putting up 380 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air with little running game to aid him. Some games have a misleading score line because of garbage time points or a few lucky touchdowns, but the Sooners 47-17 demolishing of the Seminoles couldn’t have had a better final score. The Sooners set themselves up for a run through the Big 12 and in the process proved last year’s 5 losses were an aberration.

  1. Oregon Ducks – For the second straight week the Ducks appear on this list, but this win may have been more impressive than their 72-0 beatdown of New Mexico. A night game on the road in an SEC stadium is always a tough game, and after having been talked down all week as a terrible team with no shot in this game, the Volunteers had to take all that criticism to heart. To top it all off, the Ducks were thrown off rhythm by a thunderstorm that delayed the start of the second quarter. With everything going against them, Oregon shrugged it all off and still dominated the second half and put the game away with ease. LaMichael James came off suspension to rush for 134 on only 16 carries and the Ducks offense gained over 200 yards through the air and on the ground. First week hero, and first team Name All-American, Kenjon (pronounced Ken-Yawn) Barner added a punt return touchdown and the Ducks jumped into the top 5 in most polls. I expect them to keep the domination up against 1AA Portland State and PAC 10 foe Arizona State to set up a huge game against Stanford on October 2.


  1. Ohio State Buckeyes – In what was supposed to be the marquee game of the weekend, OSU executed perfectly on offense and defense to smother a highly ranked Miami team. Although the special teams was a bit iffy to say the least, two return touchdowns by the ‘Caines and a missed field goal by ex-MLSer Devin Barclay, the Buckeyes showed they are one of the few legit national title contenders. Jacory Harris came into this game as a Heisman candidate for many and left with 4 more interceptions thrown. If OSU can clean up the special teams, expect to see a 12-0 Buckeyes team as one side of the national title, again.



Most Disappointing Teams:

  1. Virginia Tech Chokies – 5 days after losing a heartbreaker to highly ranked Boise State in what was essentially a home game, Tech traveled back to Lane Stadium for what seemed like a gimme against 1AA James Madison. Guess not. Once again, the supposedly great running back tandem failed to produce, as neither Darren Evans nor Ryan Williams gained 100 yards, and Tyrod Taylor finished with less than 125 passing yards. Really the only thing that needs to be said is that the Hokies are only the second ranked 1A team to lose to a 1AA opponent, and the first since this happened in 2007. Those were for Will in case he forgot about that game.

  1. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – I’ll get to the massive choke job the entire ACC pulled off on Saturday later, but Georgia Tech’s loss to lowly Kansas has to be mentioned here. A week ago, Kansas looked like one the worst teams in 1A after losing to North Dakota State at home while scoring a whopping 3 points. One week later they welcomed the 15th ranked Jackets to Lawrence and shocked the college football world with a 28-25 upset. But, this is really about Tech’s shortcomings, not a Kansas turnaround. The Jackets gave up 28 points to a team that totaled 3 to a 1AA school the week before, and that’s all there is to say.

  1. USC Trojans – Before we start let me say that USC’s defense really stepped up their game this week against Virginia. The Cavaliers were only able to muster 190 passing yards and 14 points. Of course, they did manage 150 rushing yards and out gained USC. This is mostly because the Trojans offense, which looked unstoppable on the road against Hawaii last week, bogged down at home and only managed 17 points and 329 yards. They were held to a single field goal in the second half and had 13 penalties for 150 yards. Just like Florida, this is a team lucky to be playing horrible competition right now; because once they get into the meat of their PAC 10 schedule they will most likely be exposed one way or another.


Best Finish:
West Virginia vs. Marshall – This was the only game on Friday night, so those looking for an early start to the college football weekend were treated to an excellent finish. The Mountaineers and their instate rival Thundering Herd have met 10 times and every time has ended with the Big East Mountaineers victorious. It looked like that streak would end Friday night in Huntington as the Herd jumped to leads of 14-3 and 21-6. Then with just under 9 minutes remaining and the Herd driving for a touchdown to put away their rivals, Tron Martinez (another first team Name All-American) got his first touch of the game and promptly fumbled at the West Virginia 4-yard line (WILL’S NOTE: After this fumble, I texted Dylan to say things could happen for WVU. He responded with “Still gonna lose.” Just sayin’). Quarterback Geno Smith and running back Noel Devine finally got the WVU offense rolling and nine plays and 96 yards later Devine punched the ball in to cut the lead to 8. West Virginia got the ball back with 3:17 and the dynamic backfield duo once again chugged down the entire field, once again covering 96 yards, and finally pushed across the coal line with 12 seconds. A pass from Smith to Jock Sanders (another great name) converted for 2 points and overtime was upon us. West Virginia quickly moved for a first down but was stalled and had to settle for a 20-yard field goal. The Herd gained only 3 yards and had to set up for a 39-yard field goal from a kicker who had missed earlier in the game already. The kick sailed and was plenty far enough, but the accuracy was off by a few inches, just enough for West Virginia to escape with a decisive victory.
 

Best Game:
Michigan vs. Notre Dame – This game looked to take a backseat to Florida State/Oklahoma and Miami/Ohio State, which were during the same time slot, but by the second half of the games, this contest was the only competitive one left. Denard Robinson was an absolute beast in this game, which I’ll get to later, and the Notre Dame offense had a fair amount of success against the Wolverines defense. Both teams played at a very high level and it showed through the screen that these two teams don’t like each other very much. With 3:41 left and Notre Dame trailing 21-17, the Wolverines pinned the Irish at their own 9-yard line. On the very first play, Dayne Crist found a wide-open Kyle Rudolph and the tight end rumbled 91 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Of course, this left far too much time for Robinson and the Michigan offense. They breezed down the field and with 27 seconds, left the extraordinary quarterback punched it into the endzone from 2 yards out. The Irish rushed down the field and had a chance to win with a Hail Mary on the last play, but Crist threw out the back of the end zone and the Wolverines moved to 2-0 for the second consecutive year. Their next three games are against cupcakes so they should move to 5-0 before facing off with rival Michigan State on October 9 in Ann Arbor.
 

Best Players:

  1. Denard Robinson (QB Michigan) – Robinson once again turned in a ridiculous performance on the ground and, this week, improved his passing to account for over 500 yards of total offense in the thrilling victory over Notre Dame. Many people have said, and I agree, that Robinson is the best running back in the nation and he happens to have a nice arm too. With two cupcakes and Indiana in the next three weeks expect Robinson’s workload to decrease, but his production should stay fairly consistent if he stays healthy.


  1. Landry Jones (QB Oklahoma) – Jones looked decent against an overmatched Utah State defense in week 1 and no one was sure how he would respond in the first big game of the year for the Sooners against Florida State. He responded in a huge way, throwing for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns with almost no running game to back him up. If Jones continues his hot streak and Demarco Murray picks up the slack in the running game, watch out for the Sooners this year.


  1. Trent Richardson (HB Alabama) – Richardson has played Joe DiMaggio to Mark Ingram’s Wally Pipp to start the season and this week against Penn State was no different. The sophomore ran over and around a stout Nittany Lions defense for 190 total yards on only 26 touches. Richardson will probably lose a ton of touches with Ingram coming back, but he showed he’s also Heisman worthy once Ingram moves on.

  1. Marcus Lattimore (HB South Carolina) – The top running back recruit this year showed why in a dominating 37-carry, 182-yard performance against a strong Georgia defense. Lattimore is already drawing comparisons to Herschel Walker and Adrian Peterson and you can pencil him in for freshman All-American, if not more.




Heisman Watch:

  1. Denard Robinson (QB Michigan) – 430 yards and 2 TDs passing, 455 yards and 3 TDs rushing: The obvious choice has been an absolute beast so far this year and is leading the nation in yards per game on the ground. He also has a pretty good arm and looks the perfect man to run RichRod’s offense.


  1. Kendall Hunter (HB Oklahoma State) – 414 yards and 6 TDs: He slowed down a little this past week, but still has the bet stats of the running backs against decent competition. His quarterback looked awful, so don’t expect an amazing season with teams loading up the box every play and playing from behind a lot.


  1. Landry Jones (QB Oklahoma) – 597 yards and 6 TDs: I already touched on Jones great week, but he also boasts a 148.61 passer rating, which is top 10 for quarterbacks with at least 70 attempts this year.


  1. G.J. Kinne (QB Tulsa) – 755 yards and 7 TDs: Even though he plays for a smaller school, the senior has better stats and a better rating than Landry Jones has, but is below him based on competition. If he keeps putting up stats like this, he may jump into some other Heisman watches before too long.


  1. Trent Richardson (HB Alabama) – 312 total yards and 3 TDs rushing: The stats look pretty good until you realize he only played one-half against San Jose State and went Beast Mode against Penn State, and then the stats look great. Splitting time with Ingram should drive him off the list soon, but he deserves props now.


Last Weeks Game-breakers/Wild Prediction:
Noel Devine and Cameron Newton both had decent games in leading their teams to 3-point wins. Although they played great when it mattered most, their stats were not eye-popping. Case Keenum looked terrific in throwing for over 250-yards in the first half, but after making a tackle on an interception return, he missed almost the entire second half with a concussion. Demarco Murray did score a touchdown, but he did almost nothing against Florida State.
 
I completely botched my South Florida vs. Florida pick, but after seeing Florida play and then the Steelers on Sunday, I realized that they are very similar teams. Both didn’t look very impressive in their opening (or in Florida’s case, first two) games. Both of their defenses were stifling and kept their inept offenses in the game. Both had first time starters at quarterback who struggled most of the time but didn’t make any decisive mistakes. Both also struggled on the ground until a long touchdown run put the game away. The difference between the teams is that the Steelers get Big Ben back in a few weeks and their schedule won’t get all that much tougher as the season progresses. The Gators, on the other hand, are stuck with John Brantley this year and the schedule only gets tougher each week. Yes, this may have been a desperate attempt to distract you from the fact that my pick was horribly wrong, but it made sense too, so I’ll go with it.
 

Extra Thoughts:
The ACC came into this week with a chance to show it was one of the top conferences in the league and to establish a number of its teams as national title contenders. Of course, since it’s the ACC, every one of the teams in a major game lost in a major way and two of the teams suffered major upsets. At the start of the year, it looked like Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech could all challenge for the league title and possibly the national title. Now all of them have at least 1 loss and none is ranked except for Miami at number 17. This looks like another disastrous year for the ACC unless a few top teams can turn it around and possibly run the table. Don’t bet on it.
 
The other conference in the East, the Big East, had a horrific first week and did absolutely nothing to re-establish itself among the elites. West Virginia was the only ranked team to play and they almost lost a shocker to Marshall. This may be a good time to get excited about basketball for fans of these two leagues.
 


Week 3 Preview
While the games may not have the name teams that played this past weekend, the games should be exciting nonetheless. More teams kick off conference play and last week showed us that a great game could spring up anywhere. I expect at least one more earth shaking upset.
 

Games to Watch:

  1. Baylor vs. TCU – Both of these teams showcase great defenses and great quarterbacks. Both Andy Dalton and Robert Griffin can beat the defense in multiple ways and I expect Griffin to keep the Bears in the game with his legs as well as his arm. If TCU can pull this one out, they could run the table until meeting Utah at the end of the year. Pick: TCU-24 Baylor-17


  1. Nebraska vs. Washington – Another game that features two multi-threat QB’s. Jake Locker looked a lot more productive in last weeks win and I expect him to bring some match-up problems to the stout Nebraska defense. Look for Washington to pull out the upset with a raucous home crowd backing them. Pick: Washington-27 Nebraska-24


  1. Arizona vs. Iowa – This is probably the best game of the day, it’s the only game between two ranked teams, and it kicks off at 11 pm Eastern. While most of the country sleeps, the defensive minded Hawkeyes will travel to do battle with the balanced and underrated Wildcats. I expect Iowa’s resurgent running game to be the difference in what should be an extremely well played and well-coached game between two teams from power conferences. Pick: Iowa-17 Arizona-13



Game-breakers:

  1. Brandon Saine (HB Ohio State) – Expect Jim Tressel to keep Terrelle Pryor under wraps against an overmatched Ohio team. This is a perfect opportunity for Saine to run wild.


  1. Roddy Jones (HB Georgia Tech) – I think Tech probably played the worst game it will all season and I expect the Yellow Jackets to be back with a vengeance against a North Carolina defensive unit that looked terrible against LSU and should still be missing most of its starters.


  1. Bryant Moniz (QB Hawaii) – Colorado looked terrible against a Cal offense that should be good, but not great this year. Moniz shredded USC’s defense in the opener and Hawaii’s terrible defense should make this a shootout with plenty of chances for Moniz to put up stats



Wild Prediction:
Oklahoma is coming off an exhilarating win against Florida State and should be picked to blow out Air Force. They play at Cincinnati the next week so this looks like a perfect trap game for the Sooners. Air Force plays stifling defense and the option attack they employ is one of the toughest in the nation to defend with only a week of practice. My bold prediction for this week is that the Falcons will stun the storied Oklahoma Sooners in Norman and pull the upset.
 
 
That’s all the time we have this week. Check back in next week for a recap of week 3, a look forward to week 4 and the top 10 programs of the past decade. Have a great weekend.

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