College Football Week Three: What We've Learned

Joe GSenior Writer ISeptember 13, 2008

You can read last week's edition here.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." Woody Hayes, legendary Ohio State University head football coach.

One look at that quote will tell you all you need to know about the theme for this week's column. Some notable beatdowns happened in the world of College Football this Saturday, and taught us quite a lot.


Kansas is still legitimately good

Before the beatdowns begin, I wanted to go to a team that can take some positives from a loss.

I know they lost to USF in heartbreaking fashion. Just another couple of feet on his last throw and Todd Reesing would be the hero that threw a game-winning touchdown instead of the goat that threw the interception that set up the winning score.

But those Jayhawks went into a hostile environment, played a helluva game and almost came home with a win. I've got to respect that.

They're out to prove that last year was no fluke and they can still contend with the best in the nation. Friday night showed that while Kansas might not returned to the BCS, they'll at least be in the mix for a Big 12 title and a good bowl.


USC is legit

So I guess we can stop calling USC's 52-7 thumping of Virginia a poor indicator of the Trojans' talent, right?

I sure hope so.

They took out their whooping sticks and finished off Ohio State 35-3, which should end any hopes OSU had of playing in the BCS title game for the third year in a row.

After giving up an opening field goal, Southern Cal went on a rampage, scoring 35 unanswered points. Their defense was all over the place for the entire game and QB Mark Sanchez was very efficient, completing 17 of 28 passes for four touchdowns.

OSU was held to only 71 yards on the ground, and the Trojans defense forced three turnovers. It seemed like even with Beanie Wells, OSU would have been hard pressed to score more than 10-14 points. The Trojans came out determined and were by far the better team.

The Buckeyes may have come up short in the last two seasons, but only two teams contest the BCS title in January. USC dismantled one of those two with the greatest of ease this weekend and has to be considered the favorite to win the National Title at this point.


Michigan is downright awful

Six turnovers.

Six freaking turnovers.

Go ahead and blame the weather. That's not what caused those turnovers.

You knew it was going to be bad for the Wolverines right from the opening kickoff, which their returner miffed and eventually brought back to their own nine. Four plays later, they fumbled and Notre Dame recovered, eventually scoring.

On the ensuing kickoff, Michigan miffed it again, giving Notre Dame possession at the Michigan 14-yard line. You all know the outcome at this point. Six big points for the Irish and a deeper hole for Michigan.

Most teams find it hard to recover from two turnovers, but six will absolutely kill you.

Falling behind immediately, as they did, forced Michigan to throw more than they would have liked, given the second-half conditions.

With two quarterbacks who hadn't put up a good performance between themselves in the opening two games of the season, this is not what Rich Rodriguez will have wanted.

One crucial fact about this sputtering Michigan offense: until today's game, no running back or receiver on the roster had accumulated 100 total yards of offense. It took until game number three for Sam McGuffie to break into triple digits on the season.

Not your typical Wolverines. Their remaining opponents must be salivating. Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State all have a great chance to deepen Michigan's misery.

That said...


Notre Dame looked much better, but still has questions

Without two absolute gifts in the opening minutes of the game, is Jimmy Clausen able to lead his team on long scoring drives?

Maybe once, but probably not twice.

Without Golden Tate's hands and speed, this game would have been a lot closer. He had four catches for 127 yards. The rest of the Irish had six catches for 20 yards.

Hmmm... Do you think Mark Dantonio is paying attention to that little detail in East Lansing?

Michigan also outgained the Irish, enjoyed more possession and fared slightly better on third and fourth down. The 35-17 score is a little deceptive, then.

Yes, the Irish absolutely deserved to win. They capitalized on buckets of Michigan mistakes, and you have to do that to win. They looked significantly better than they did last week against San Diego State, but this is obviously a down year for Michigan and ND was at home.

The Irish face their first real test next week, in a hostile environment up in East Lansing against a Spartan team who is 7-3 in their last 10 games against Notre Dame, including a 31-14 victory in South Bend last season.

If the Irish win, I'll eat my words. I'll call every friend I have at Notre Dame and personally apologize for making so much fun of Jimmy Clausen during games.

I just don't think I'll need to because of the next lesson...


Javon Ringer is officially a stud

I said last week that Michigan State's running attack would carry them into a good bowl game. We saw this week just how good that ground game can be.

In weather conditions more suited to ark-building than football playing, Michigan State beat last year's Sun Belt champs Florida Atlantic by a score of 17-0. Unimpressive on the surface, but let's look at Mr. Ringer's stats.

Against a team that was playing the run because of a sub-par passing attack and monsoon conditions, Ringer ran for 282 yards on 43 carries. That's 57 more yards than Florida Atlantic had total.

Tack on two touchdowns to that, and you've got the back who leads everybody in the nation (Tim Tebow included) in rushing scores with nine.

It's also a good time to mention that he has rushed for 498 yards in three games, which is nothing to sneeze at.

The only question here is, will Ringer tire himself out by the end of the season?

Last year, the goal line duties fell to the gigantic Jehuu Caulcrick, all 260 pounds of him. Ringer is 5 ft. 9 inches tall, and weighs just a shade over 200 pounds soaking wet. Can his body handle the punishment? I say, yes.

The Spartans needed Ringer today to control the game, that's why his total carries were so high. But in the last two games, freshman Andre Anderson has proved himself to be a more than capable backup.

He's actually smaller than Ringer, but runs like he's bigger. This two-pronged attack will help the Spartans continue to dominate games on the ground.


What to watch for next week

Can Notre Dame come into East Lansing and steal a win from underneath the noses of 80,000 screaming Spartan fans?

Georgia has their toughest test of the season so far against Arizona State. Will they prove that they deserved their lofty preseason ranking?

LSU and Auburn is the one game you don't want to miss next week. So naturally, don't miss it.

After destroying UCLA 59-0 this week, how many points will BYU hang on Wyoming? 75? 80? I want to find out.


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