Review Of Week One: The Lessening Of Expectations

The Honorable JJ Reynolds, IICorrespondent IAugust 31, 2008

Nothing like an opening game flop to severely lower your season expectations. Yes that includes you - Clemson, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, and for a while there Arkansas. Need I mention the high-wire escape acts by Maryland and UNC at home to I-AA teams; it must have been ACC Demoralization Day (welcome to the club...).

As a whole, only one team either lived up to their "hype" or exceeding expectations in my opinion - and that was Alabama. USC demolished UVA, but look at what all they lost? Georgia and Ohio State rolled, but other suffered injuries that could de-rail their title runs, especially Ohio State, who showed similar signs to last year of being unable to capitalize in the red zone at times (5 field goals, 4 in the first half!?). Yes Illinois is a decent squad, but when 'Juice' Williams PASSES for 400+ yards on your defense... and they rack up more than 530 yards... against what was suppose to be a more seasoned defense... uh oh Missouri. They are in the Big XII conference - and will not go undefeated with a pass defense similar to a straining sieve. From Florida to the rest of the Top 25, most of the teams played an out-matched opponent and steamrolled them likewise.

As for teams will instantly lowered expectations, the list is mighty long:
*   Clemson - Really!?! Seriously!? No way!?! Are you kidding me!?! Another 8-4 season in the making. But as lousy as the ACC looks right now, they could still play for the league title, in front of 35,000 fans, and a BCS bid in which to continue the league's BCS winless streak at 9 years.

*   UNC - Against THAT I-AA squad, at home!?!? Rapid improvement is a requirement for bowl eligibility. They could go 7-5 or 8-4 and win the conference (just like Clemson) - especially since they host the Hokies.

*   Washington - With your expectations equalling bowl eligibility/ a bowl game - I didn't think there would be too much pressure. Not so fast. I think I've finally joined the chorus of "Ty, you really just can't coach man...". UW was listless in an Oregon beat down, again rapid improvement required for bowl eligibility (R.I.R.F.B.E., what a great new acronym).

*   Virginia Tech - Well, I know VT lost a lot, and ECU returned plenty. But sorry, these are just games you have to win to be a bona-fide power. Their offense was sluggish behind Glennon (insert, I TOLD YOU SO MOMENT here...) - and the way they lost the game (a blocked punt, their staple) is a crushing way to lose a game.

*   Maryland - I don't care about Delaware playing for the I-AA title last year. They're I-AA. You should not struggle, and boy did UM struggle, and squeeze by this team at home, by the skin of your teeth and a few blessings from the football gods. Could have been a dark-horse for their division of the ACC. Not so much, or could they?

*   Texas A&M - I don't know what to say. Losing to a Sun Belt team (not a good one either) in your mega home stadium stings. I don't care that Arkansas State nearly toppled Texas at home last year. This is Arkansas State, not Arkansas. If they can't muster offense against a Sun Belt team, then who can they against!? R.I.R.F.B.E.! And, I mean rapid.

*   Texas Tech - Oh, they rolled in their opening game, but I was more so looking at how the defense performed. I was not impressed, and the 24 points/ little over 300 yards to Eastern Washington (they are I-AA right?) by the end of the third left me uninspired. Michael Crabtree was also... average. TTU will win its customary 8-9, maybe 10 with an upset over Texas/ in a bowl game - but I would definitely hold off the Big XII South talk until their defense can shut someone down. Did you see Oklahoma against their I-AA opponent (-1 yards, 1 first down, on 20 plays - with a minute left in the half).

*   Mississippi State - I thought they could compete for another bowl game this year. Now, maybe not. The offense was so messy and disheveled even the stout and stingy defense couldn't recover the team from this one.

*   Pittsburgh - I literally, died of laughter when Pitt's score went final. Dave Dubya is the Tommy Bowden of the Big East, apparently. But oh do tell me, why did the Pitt coaches put so much emphasis on a messy Stull (Pitt QB) passing the ball? I don't care that LeSean McCoy had a few mistakes. He is the team's bread and butter. If the QB is flopping out on the field, you RUN THE BALL. The last lines in the AP's recap of the article - "McCoy didn’t seem to like the conservative play-calling, which came after Pitt punted from the Bowling Green 35 and 34 early in the game. “It would have been nice to get a touchdown but, you know, we follow the leader (Wannstedt),” McCoy said." Really?! Wannnstedt's play calling has oft come into question. That is proof why. They are in need of a rapid improvement in COACHING in order to receive a bowl bid. (R.I.I.C., I love it...).

*   West Virginia - I had them in the section below after watching the box score and 'Nova offenses continue to pad stats against them. However, they could be in the same situation Louisville was in 2007. WVU was out-gained 399-354. But a look at the box score - they were beat out in almost all statistical categories (including turnovers which led WVU to expand their lead) but one - average gain per play. I don't care that the score was 48-21. An I-AA team should not run 31 more plays than you at home, out gain you by 45 yards, or run up an outlandish 28 first downs (7 more than WVU). The writing is on the wall, just like I said about Louisville in 2007 after their lousy defensive starts. 

Then of course, there are some I was just uninspired by, but won't necessarily have lowered expectations: Auburn (out of sync offense, nice run game though), Arizona State (messy 2nd half performance), Ohio State (red zone offense, Wells injury), Missouri (secondary), Nebraska (secondary), Minnesota (whole team performance), South Carolina (woefully messy offense, defense looks great though), N. C. State (absolutely disheveled offense), Oregon State ( out-gained Stanford 490-301, and lost... mistake prone), Syracuse (still look a mess, goodbye Robinson), Michigan (25-10 at home to Utah going into the 4th...).

Man am I glad the college football season is underway. So far I'm 8-5 for the Week One picks (a special thanks to all the teams I picked who flopped) - I'll write the final review on that after Fresno State, Tennessee, and Louisville take their victories I prophesied (or so I hope...). Until the next time...