College Football Wordplay: From A to Z ("September Surprises")

Eric ThomasonCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners on the sidelines after suffering an injury against the Brigham Young Cougars at Cowboys Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

And once again

The month of September has provided surprises, disappointments, huge upsets and injuries to two Heisman trophy winners. Just when you thought you had a grasp of this year’s college football season, the opening week of conference play reminds us all that anything can and will happen.

With a quarter of the season gone, it’s time to re-evaluate what we've learned so far and try to piece together what we can expect to see unfold in the coming weeks.

Big Ten

Despite being much improved from top-to-bottom, with Iowa taking out Penn State for the second straight year, and Ohio State losing to the Southern Cal in week two, the conference looks to be sitting on the outside looking-in of the national championship picture.

Championship anyone?

For the first time in about 10 years, no team has established themselves as the clear-cut favorite to win the championship. Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss all fell out of the Top-five, Florida “struggled” against Tennessee and has looked vulnerable in the run game, and except for last week against UTEP the Longhorns have failed to put together two good halves in one game.

Surprisingly, Alabama has played the most impressive football in September. So, are the Tide emerging as the team to beat? What about Boise State and Virginia Tech?  

October should help sort this mess out. (See letter "L")

Dodging Bullets:

Sometimes September is all about surviving.

LSU got a gutsy goal line stand on the road against Mississippi State, while Nebraska let an opportunity to finally beat a Top 20 team slip through their fingers.

Jevan Snead couldn’t get Ole Miss’ offense going in time against South Carolina, and Oklahoma State couldn’t put away a pesky Houston squad.

Good teams find a way to put teams away and win close games, while others let victory and Championship aspirations slip away.


Big Ten officials miss calls every year. Last week they botched a call late in the fourth quarter of the Indiana-Michigan game, giving the ball to the Wolverines during a simultaneous catch situation.

You can’t help but wonder if the conference was chasing money, trying to get the Wolverines into the Top 25.


This Saturday is filled with teams getting tested for the first time.  For Texas A&M, you can only creampuff a schedule for so long. Are Auburn a contender for the SEC West? Can Wisconsin and Michigan win on the road against a conference rival to stay perfect on the season?

This week should go long ways in gauging which teams are legitimate contenders in their respective conferences.

Got mail?

Dear Joe Pa,

     Since the whiteout doesn’t seem to be working, should we maybe try a blueout sometime soon?


Penn State Student Council

Heisman Race

Three players hopes took a huge hit this past weekend: Cal’s Jahvid Best got blasted by Oregon, Jacory Harris was humbled by Virginia Tech, and Tim Tebow got a little taste of what it’s like to be Sam Bradford.

Granted, all three will still have opportunities to get back into the Heisman picture, but at this point it looks like the trophy is Colt McCoy’s to lose.

Impact Freshmen

Newbie’s putting up big numbers this season:

Former Duke point guard, Greg Paulus, has brought some much-needed excitement back to a struggling Syracuse football program. The QB has ‘Cuse fans believing they could go bowling this winter.

Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis has picked up right where LeSean McCoy left off. The freshman is fourth in the nation in rushing, with 493 yards and has already found the end zone seven times this season.

Ryan Williams has been opportunistic at Virginia Tech, filling in for injured starter Darren Evans. Williams is averaging 123 ypg and has been a huge factor in Hokies success this season.

Jumping to Conclusions (Predictions for next week)

Upset Special:  Washington 31   Notre Dame 27

Could be in trouble:  Purdue 28   Northwestern 27

Closer than you think:  Alabama 24   Kentucky 17

No way Jose:             Ole Miss  27   Vanderbilt  10

Killer Bets

Four game parlay of the week:

Ole Miss -9 ½

Washington +12 ½

Oklahoma -7

Arkansas -1

Looking Ahead

Best matchups in October:

Saturday Oct. 10

Florida vs. LSU

Alabama vs. Ole Miss

Michigan vs. Iowa

Saturday Oct. 17

Oklahoma vs. Texas

USC vs. Notre Dame

Saturday Oct. 30

Georgia vs. Florida

Texas vs. Oklahoma State

USC vs. Oregon

Mid-major Mayhem

Boise State, TCU and Houston all remain in the BCS picture. The Cougars have already taken down two Big 12 south squads in Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

TCU went to Clemson and got a win last week and the Horn Frogs still have games against Mississippi State and BYU left on the schedule to impress pollsters.

Boise State opened the season with a win over Oregon and has arguably looked the best of the three.

For the first time since the inception of the Bowl Championship Series, we could be looking at two mid-major stealing BCS bids.

No your not…

The “U”we’re back baby

ESPN College Gamedayin Chestnut Hill for Florida State vs. Boston College this weekend?

ColoradoI know he’s the coaches son but…till starting Cody Hawkins?

Florida Stategetting much action in Vegas these days.


TCU, Michigan, LSU


Using this week’s AP Top 25 Poll, here is how an eight-team playoff would look like if the season were to end today:

Florida vs. Oklahoma

Texas vs. Southern Cal

Alabama vs. Virginia Tech

Louisiana State vs. Boise State


How important is scheduling tough non-conference opponents?

It’s huge.

Do you think playing against Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana got Ole Miss prepared to open the SEC conference on the road at South Carolina?

Are playing Akron, Syracuse and Temple helping Penn State now?

But still so many programs are scared to play a tough early schedule.

Oklahoma and Virginia Tech both scheduled tough foes early and lost, but are still in the hunt for a BCS title.

It’s a factearly season losses against quality opponents don’t hurt a team as much as losing a game to a team you shouldn’t.

Reader Response

Is your team not getting the hype they deserve?

Having trouble picking games?

Want to get into next weeks article?

Post a comment or question below or you can e-mail them to

Shout out

Best of wishes to USC tailback Stafon Johnson, who was the victim of a freak weightlifting accident. Johnson had to have a seven-hour emergency surgery after the bar slipped out of his hand while bench pressing and landed on his throata harsh reminder to all of us to take nothing for granted, as it can all be taken away in a heartbeat.

We wish you a healthy recovery and the best of luck in your pursuit to return to the football field.


Top Five

AlabamaThe Tide have added a passing game to go along with that stout defense, as Nick Saban’s team has looked the most impressive on the field so far this season.

TexasOnce again Colt McCoy only had one good half this week, but this time is was because he’s was only needed for one, as the Horn’s jumped up on UTEP 47-7 at halftime.

FloridaThings were looking fine in Lexington, until Tebow was knocked out in the third quarter. Luckily for the Gators, they have a bye week to get the Heisman winner healthy before heading to Death Valley.

OklahomaBradford and the Sooners enjoyed the week off and have to be feeling better, especially after what happened in Blacksburg.

Virginia TechBeamer ball was at it’s best on Saturday, as the Hokies hushed Hurricane fans and made a big statement to the conference in the process.


What to watch for next week:

Southern Cal vs. Californiawin Saturday night and it looks like two weeks after the annual Southern Cal conference road loss the conference is still the Trojans to win.

Oklahoma vs. MiamiWhat was looking to be a showdown a week ago, has now turned into a game “Big Game Bob” should win.

Michigan vs. Michigan StateThe Wolverines look to pull out another nail-biter to remain on course for a perfect season.

LSU vs. GeorgiaThe Bulldogs have been hot lately, but Les Miles will have the Tigers in the game late in the fourth quarter.

Video of the Week

Texas pulled Colt McCoy in the second half, so with Florida comfortably ahead of Kentucky should Tim Tebow have been in the game?

Listen to Mike and Mike debate


What we're sure of...

The Pac Ten conference will end up being the most competitive from top to bottom.

Besides Washington State, every team in the conference has a winning record.

Washington, UCLA, Stanford and Arizona have all improved this season, and Arizona State showed they would be tough to beat, taking Georgia down to the wire last week.

Come season’s end the conference could be looking at nine bowl eligible teams.


Guys that probably aren’t a household name, but will be in the NFL draft come April.

RB Ryan Mathews (Fresno State), LB Eric Norwood (South Carolina), RB Darius Marshall (Marshall), and Mike Williams (Syracuse).

Your projected BCS bowl match-ups

Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Ohio State

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Southern Cal

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Cincinnati

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Boise State

National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Texas

Zzzzzzz (Teams the country shouldn’t sleep on)

Nebraska, Iowa, South Carolina, West Virginia, UCLA, Oregon


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