Around the College Football Nation
After another great weekend of college football, things are starting to shape up as conference play gets set to kick off in earnest. Some teams fell, some survived, and some have thrived.
Some teams have an identity, while others are still trying to figure out who they are, and some teams are trying to be something they are not. Those pretenders tend to get exposed. Here are a couple of things I have learned throughout the season.
Denard Robinson Is the Most Electric Player In the Country
I have watched three Michigan games this season already, and I can tell you, without a doubt in my mind, that Robinson is the most fun player to watch, period! I am not a Michigan fan, Rich Rodriguez fan, or spread option fan, but I instantly became a Shoelace fan as I watched him shred the Connecticut Huskies to open the season.
Against Bowling Green, in about 7 minutes, Robinson racked up 129 rushing yards, 60 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Shoelace left the game following a 47-yard run where he landed awkwardly on his knee.
No worries. He could have went back into the game, but his back-ups, Freshman Devin Gardner and Sophomore Tate Forcier combined for 19/22 195 yards 2 touchdowns and no picks.
Michigan’s defense is not very good, but the Wolverines do have some playmakers at all levels. Nose Guard Mike Martin anchors the defensive line, linebacker Jonas Mouton is the leader on the defense, and safety Jordan Kovacs, who was a walk-on who earned a scholarship, is a gritty player who comes up with big plays all over the field despite being too slow and too small.
I can also tell you that Michigan is nowhere nearly as fun to watch without Denard Robinson. I was hoping the defense played worse so Coach Rodriguez would put Shoelace back into the game.
Russell Wilson Is A Playmaker
No one was talking about North Carolina State in the ACC, but after Virginia Tech’s 19-0 yawner over Boston College, the Wolf Pack are the only undefeated team in the ACC. This is largely because of Russell Wilson, who has tossed 11 touchdown passes though four games and only one pick.
While I was not watching Denard or the Chestnut Hill snoozer, I was watching the Wolf Pack thump Paul Johnson’s defenseless Yellow Jackets. I cannot take Georgia Tech seriously until they show me something on defense.
The Yellow Jackets are worse than Michigan on defense. Anyways, this was the second time I watched Wilson and the Wolf Pack this season and I am convinced they are an ACC Atlantic Division contender. Bonus, they do not have to play the Hurricanes this season.
The Miami Hurricanes Have A Dominating Defense
The ACC front-runner has to be the Hurricanes. After the arse whuppin’ the U put on the Pitt Panthers in Pittsburgh, the Hurricanes established themselves as the top team in the ACC. Miami really covers receivers well, and I will be surprised if too many teams complete a high percentage against Miami.
The defensive line gets a lot of pressure, and they get pressure without blitzing. These 2010 Canes are beginning to find that defensive swagger they played with in the 80’s, and because of this, I have Miami penciled in the Orange Bowl as ACC Champions.
The Cardinal Are For Real
A team taking its coaches personality is fairly common, but no team in the nation personifies their coach more than the Stanford Cardinal. The SEC teams pride themselves on playing a tough, hard-nosed brand of football, but there is no team in the SEC who will out-physical Stanford.
It starts with their coach, former Michigan Wolverine and NFL quarterback, Jim Harbaugh. He has transformed Stanford from PAC 10 cellar-dweller into the big bully of the West.
This started with an upset victory over USC in Harbaugh’s first season and continues to this day. Last Saturday, against Notre Dame, one of Stanford’s rivals, Harbaugh went for a two-point conversion following a fourth quarter touchdown with Stanford up 19.
Harbaugh went for it two late in the game last season in a victory over USC. Stanford’s biggest test of the season comes next week in Eugene, Oregon when Harbaugh leads his Cardinal against the Ducks of Oregon. I am taking Stanford in the upset.
The Cardinal will not be intimidated by the Autzen Stadium crowd, Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the country, Stanford’s defense are tough as nails, and Jim Harbaugh will have his team ready to play. I do not want to take anything away from Oregon, but Stanford will take the fight right to the Ducks.
The Texas Longhorns Have No Identity
A great writer for Bleacher Report (Doc Masters) has been saying all season that Texas has not recovered from the physical beating suffered at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide in last seasons national championship game. Coach Mack Brown must believe this to be true, because Texas has attempted to adapt a more physical style with emphasis on running the football this season.
Now a lot of this change was made necessary by the graduation of four year starter, Colt McCoy because McCoy’s replacement, Sophomore Garrett Gilbert does not have the right skill set to thrive in an offense designed for Vince Young.
The change has been slow to develop and finally caught up with the Longhorns against the UCLA Bruins. Texas has been able to hang its hat on the tough defense, but they were exposed.
The Longhorns were the nation’s number one run defense entering the game, but a part of that was who the Longhorns have played. Unlike the first three opponents, UCLA punched back. They ran the ball right down Texas’s throat all game long.
Texas found itself in a big hole, trialing 20-3 early in the third and reverted back to their spread tendencies. It would not matter as UCLA would cruise to a 34-12 victory in Austin by physically dominating the Longhorns on both sides of the ball.
Alabama Will Be Hard to Beat
After a ruthlessly efficient fourth quarter, Alabama came away with a 24-20 victory over the Razorbacks of Arkansas. After watching Heisman hopeful quarterback Ryan Mallett pick apart Alabama's defense for three quarters, the Alabama defense did what Alabama fans have come to expect from the Crimson Tide defense, they dominated.
Safety Robert Lester and cornerback Dre Kirkpactrick pick off a Mallett pass each as Alabama outscored Arkansas 10-0 in the final frame. In fact, after throwing the ball for 250 yards in the first half, Mallett was limited to 107 in the second.
Arkansas only managed three points in the second half. In order to beat Alabama, a team must be able to physically beat them.
Alabama's signature over the past two seasons have been beating the opponents into submission, and until a team can stand up physically, no team will beat them.
My Top 25
- Alabama 4-0 (1-0), SEC
- Ohio State 4-0 (0-0), Big Ten
- Stanford 4-0 (1-0) PAC 10
- Nebraska 4-0 (0-0) Big 12
- Oklahoma 4-0 (0-0) Big 12
- Florida 4-0 (1-0) SEC
- Oregon 4-0 (1-0) PAC 10
- Boise State 3-0 (0-0) WAC
- Texas Christian 4-0 (0-0) MWC
- Miami, Fl 2-1 (0-0) ACC
- Arizona 4-0 (1-0) PAC 10
- Louisiana State 4-0 (0-0) SEC
- Auburn 4-0 (2-0) SEC
- Iowa 3-1 (0-0) Big 10
- Utah 4-0 (2-0) MWC
- Arkansas 3-1 (0-1) SEC
- USC 4-0 (1-0) PAC
- Penn State 3-1 (0-0) Big 10
- South Carolina 3-1 (0-1) SEC
- Michigan 4-0 (0-0) Big 10
- Wisconsin 4-0 (0-0) Big 10
- Florida State 3-1 (1-0) ACC
- North Carolina State 4-0 (1-0) ACC
- Nevada 4-0 (0-0) WAC
- West Virginia 3-1 (0-0) Big East
BCS Bowl Predictions
BCS National Championship Game
Alabama (SEC Champion) over Ohio State (Big 10 Champion)
Stanford (PAC 10 Champion) over Boise State (at-large)
Oklahoma (Big 12 Champion) over Iowa (at-large)
Florida (at large) over West Virginia (Big East Champion)
Miami (ACC Champion) over Nebraska (at-large)