College Football Week Eight: What We've Learned
"It is better to give a lick than to receive one. If anybody got in my way, I tried to run right through them." (Bo Jackson)
Quite a few teams across the nation got "Bo Jacksoned" this week. We didn't have as many upsets as in previous weeks, but we had some good old-fashioned beatdowns.
Some were a beauty for me to behold (Penn State over Michigan) and some were quite painful (Ohio State over Michigan State). Before I dwell on that game for too long, let's dive into this week's column.
Texas' defense is not a weak point
In the days leading up to the Red River Shootout, analysts everywhere were claiming that Texas' defense would ultimately lose them the game.
The defense made it interesting, but did enough to let Colt McCoy and the Longhorns' potent offense finish off the Sooners.
I don't think too many people were sold on a defensive unit that gave up 35 points in a loss, but you have to credit them for going into lockdown mode in the second half.
The defense was a lot more convincing during Texas' 56-31 dismantling of Missouri. It may seem crazy to say that a defensive unit that gave up 31 points was "convincing," but Texas jumped out to a 35-3 lead against one of the most dangerous offenses in the country.
They held Mizzou to 30 yards on the ground and let the Tigers do their scoring damage only after the outcome was beyond doubt.
Texas still has a brutal stretch to finish their season, with games remaining against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas. Their overall performance should help make their fans confident of a Big 12 title.
The Big Ten title picture is a lot clearer
And then there were two.
Only Ohio State and Penn State remain undefeated in conference play after convincing wins this weekend.
Ohio State blew out No. 20 Michigan State and Penn State walloped Michigan. Whose win is better? Ohio State's, of course.
They beat a team on track for a good bowl, while Penn State beat a team that might not win again until 2009.
Regular readers of my column will know that I rarely miss an opportunity to point out Michigan's shortcomings, and this week will be no different.
After the PSU-UM game ended, I heard plenty of people saying that Penn State "struggled" with the Wolverines.
Really? You honestly expect me to believe that a team that walked away with a 46-17 win "struggled" to get it? 26-17 maybe, but not 46-17.
Penn State had a slow first 20 minutes before realizing hey, we're No. 3 in the country and they're not even the third-best team in their own state.
The Nittany Lions rode 231 yards rushing, a safety and a blocked punt to a dominating performance. Up until this point in the season, Michigan fans had been able to say that their defense was a bright spot. Not anymore.
Ohio State also picked up a much-needed win. The victory over Michigan State should change our perception of OSU as big-game choke artists instead of reinforcing the view of Michigan State as a team of late-season collapses. I cover this in more detail here.
This was a game OSU needed to win more than Michigan State. The Buckeyes were preseason favorites to win the Big Ten title and possibly make a third straight trip to the BCS Championship Game. Michigan State is still building towards that sort of success.
I still think the Spartans are a nine-win team, but their season is not going to be considered a failure because of this loss. If Ohio State had lost, a lot of Buckeye fans would have been very disappointed.
Next week's matchup between Penn State and Ohio State should be a great one. If Penn State wins, they stay in the national title picture. If Ohio State wins, they go a long way towards erasing the misconception that they can't perform in big games, plus they control their own destiny in the Big Ten.
Speaking of Ohio State...
Terrelle Pryor is the next big thing
Today was the first time I've had a chance to take a really good look at this kid, and I'm sold on him. He's like a rich man's Michael Vick: he'll do plenty of damage with his feet, but Vick was never a real threat with his arm.
Pryor isn't putting up flashy numbers with his arm yet, but he's made some good plays with it, including a 56-yard completion to Brian Hartline.
Mobile quarterbacks are hard enough for defenses to deal with. Pryor is an intelligent mobile quarterback which makes him a huge pain in the butt for teams to deal with.
He's smart enough to realize that he doesn't have to win games by himself and is content to hand off to Beanie Wells or make safe passes rather than trying to get all over the highlight reels.
It's pretty obvious why Pryor was the top recruit in the country this season. It's very rare for a freshman to have this kind of impact, and it's scary to think how good he can be a couple of years down the road.
Stories just missing the cut
Maybe it wasn't Tommy Bowden after all. Maryland: The most unpredictable team in all of College Football. Wisconsin might not win another game. Northwestern goes bowling.
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