We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s hurry up to the line of scrimmage for Four Downs:
1) Oklahoma’s M*A*S*H Unit
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Bob Stoops. It has not been a kind birthday week for him with the news that tight end Jermaine Gresham has to have season ending surgery on his right knee.
Oh, and there’s also that little thing about losing a Heisman winning quarterback Sam Bradford for two to four weeks with a sprained shoulder.
And that's all before we even mention the Sooners' loss to BYU—wasn't it shocking to see how harshly the Sooners were penalized for that loss in the polls?
2) The ACC versus the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)
Thank goodness for Florida State and Miami playing a turn-back-the-clock game on Monday night.
That helped to deflect some attention from a bad week for the ACC in non-conference play this week.
Of course, the biggest losers of the weekend were Duke and Virginia—the two schools that did not go to bowls from the league last season.
Duke outgained the Richmond Spiders, defending Division 1 FCS champions, 369 total yards to 282 yards, but the Blue Devils fell behind by a score of 24-9 before falling short, 24-16.
Virginia, meanwhile, looked absolutely putrid against Richmond’s rival, William and Mary. The Tribe forced the Cavaliers to commit seven turnovers on the way to a 26-14 victory. Oh, and the Tribe shut the Cavaliers out in the second half.
While the league is mostly balanced from 1-10, Virginia and Duke still have a long road to hoe.
3) Mountain West Conference chooses their next victim
After scoring resounding victories over the Pac-10 last season, it looks like the Mountain West has found their next victim—the Big 12 conference.
Okay, that’s a bit of a reach, given that New Mexico was torched by Texas A&M, a team that is expected to finish in last place in the South Division of the Big 12.
But BYU did notch a huge win over Oklahoma, which puts the Cougars in the driver’s seat for the chance to be a BCS buster.
The more puzzling loss for the Big 12, though, was Colorado going down against rival Colorado State 23-17.
This is the year of “10 wins and no excuses” as head coach Dan Hawkins put it this offseason.
The Hawk Love has definitely ebbed in Boulder. At this point, he's closer to the hot seat than anyone's hearts. The locals are restless, wondering why highly touted running back Darrell Scott is not getting more touches. (Scott is wondering that himself.)
Also, fans have to be wondering about the issue of nepotism; especially since quarterback Cody Hawkins (Dan’s son) was not removed for Tyler Hansen—especially after Hawkins struggled in the first half of the game. Hawkins went 7-14 for 46 yards, and Colorado trailed at the half 20-3.
So it’s not like the Mountain West is pounding on the Big 12. They earned two close victories (and one very ugly loss). But if Wyoming could pull an upset this week, and New Mexico figures it out in time for the Texas Tech game later this month, the case for the Mountain West as a formidable Big 12 rival could get stronger.
4) Did Boise State do the right thing?
I feel like enough words have been written about the punch heard ‘round the world last Thursday. Most of the attention has rightly been focused on Mr. LeGarrette Blount.
But in my head, I’ve gone back and forth about what I would have done if defensive end Byron Hout was my player. Hout, if you don’t recall, was the Boise State player that slapped Blount on the shoulder pads, said something to his face, and then was on the receiving end of the punch.
Hout has been "disciplined internally" (one of my favorite bits of coachspeak), according to reports.
Blount was suspended for the rest of the season, which is a gigantic leap backward for his career.
Personally, I would have probably suspended Hout for one game.
I know, I know: He was on the receiving end of a wholly unnecessary punch.
But here’s the deal, from my perspective: Hout doesn’t get punched if he doesn’t talk trash and actually touch Blount. Hout is the one who instigated things by his actions. I highly doubt that he was saying “Good game, man. Good effort.” I haven’t been able to do a Zapruder-esque analysis of the film and read his lips; I’m just making an assumption based on his body language.
But Boise State coach Chris Petersen decided that internal punishment would be enough—whatever that means. I just don’t think it’s enough.
Last week, the Pigskin Pundit went 4-2 in his picks, whiffing on the Oregon/Boise State and BYU/Oklahoma games. This week’s Pick Six:
Texas 45, Wyoming 17
The Dave Christensen era got off to a good start with a 29-22 win over Weber State last week. The Cowboys will quickly step up in class against the Texas Longhorns, and will quickly get put away.
Look for the Colt McCoy/Jordan Shipley connection to be on fire again as Texas rolls on towards a date with Texas Tech next week.
Oklahoma State 37, Houston 24
Houston blasted Northwestern State last week, 55-7. Oklahoma State won a hard fought game against Georgia 24-10. Oklahoma State showed they had a bit of a defense last week, but we will see just how improved that defense is when it takes on Case Keenum and company.
I think that the defense of the Cowboys will make enough key plays to avoid the dreaded letdown against the Cougars.
BYU 27, Tulane 7
Speaking of Cougars and letdowns, BYU travels to New Orleans to take on the Green Wave. Will the Cougars get caught looking ahead to the visit from the Seminoles next week?
If Florida State had beaten Miami on Monday night, I would have said that there was a chance for an upset in this BYU-Tulane game. No need to look ahead to a team that's 0-1, right? Therefore, BYU will be focused on the task at hand and take care of the Green Wave. Look for Max Hall to have another solid game against a slowly rebuilding Tulane program.
TCU 30, Virginia 6
Well, the good news is that Virginia is facing a team coming off of a bye week, so they will have had a week’s head start in playing real games. The bad news is that they are facing a TCU team that hasn’t given up a touchdown in the last two games and is a candidate to win the Mountain West title.
The sorry state of the Cavaliers' offense against William and Mary makes me think that it will be another long day for Al Groh. He might want to start looking for a realtor.
Notre Dame 27, Michigan 24
Both of these teams looked good on offense. Both teams played stout defense against veteran quarterbacks. Both teams are searching for some measure of redemption on a national level.
I think Notre Dame’s passing game with Jimmy Clausen, Malcolm Floyd and Golden Tate will be the difference in what should be a close game.
USC 28, Ohio State 17
The Buckeyes have a true threat at quarterback with Terrelle Pryor (somewhat misguided eye black notwithstanding). But Matt Barkley showed a lot of moxie in his first game against San Jose State.
Navy’s triple option caused all kinds of headaches for the Buckeyes. That does not seem to bode well for Jim Tressell's group with USC and their stable of backs heading into Ohio Stadium.
For Ohio State to have a chance, they have to force Barkley to win the game. Pryor can keep OSU in the game for a while, but look for the Trojans to run, run and run some more on the way to victory.