A few thoughts on the day that was in college football.
5 Teams stepping up:
1. Florida – A huge game in The Swamp and they use it to make a statement against LSU. Their work isn’t done in the tough SEC with a trip to a humbled Auburn who will be needing to make a statement of their own. The other remaining games include Georgia and South Carolina in Gainsville and Florida State in Tallahasse. UGA and FSU aren’t looking like the challenges they might have been, but Meyer and the boys best not look past anyone either. Still, they are the team to beat in the SEC heading toward the conference championship game in Atlanta. If they win next week at Auburn, that position will be even more solidified.
2. Michigan – An in-state rivalry game against a lesser Michigan State team… Potential letdown? No way. The Big Blue scored early and often, taking control and never looking back.
3. California – Wow. Not that I was picking Oregon. I didn’t know who to go with. But I didn’t expect this kind of beating. Amid the talk that USC might not be the best team in the Pac-10, Cal is providing reason to keep that talk going. They’re getting some help from both Tennessee and Florida too. Since they lost to the Volunteers in the season opener, they’ve had the 1-loss tag on them. Then Tennessee loses a heart-breaker to UF 21-20 a couple weeks back. Looking at how good both UF and UT are this season, Cal’s loss doesn’t look as bad after all. And they should get credit for bouncing back.
4. Tennessee – Funny, if the half-time score had held, Georgia would be the team being heralded as stepping up. But it didn’t, and they aren’t. Not much hurts like having your defense who’s rated #1 as toughest to score against just eaten for lunch for 51 points, 37 of them in the second half!
5. Arkansas – Quite the turnaround after the whooping the Razorbacks took against USC. With a stunningly dominant performance on the road against Auburn, they are in the driver’s seat for the SEC West. Big tests ahead, including Tennessee and LSU, but they’ve got some time to get ready for them. Who thought they would join UF as the 2 teams unbeaten in SEC play?
Honorable Mention: Texas making it 2 in a row against OU, Iowa bouncing back well against Purdue, NC State upsetting FSU, and Clemson and Georgia Tech each coming from behind to keep their runs at the ACC alive. Plus, Baylor beating Colorado to go to 2-0 in the Big 12 for the first time ever–sure it’s against terrible K-State and Colorado teams, but this is Baylor people!
5 Teams slipping up:
1. Auburn – I don’t think we realized that Arkansas had the SEC’s best rushing game until it showed Auburn with 279 yards today. Tough loss doesn’t begin to describe this game. In the post-game press conference Tuberville said, in effect, this was not Auburn football–We don’t do these things. I’m inclined to agree with him in the big picture, and yet, you are what you do on the field. Today they were a team that does those things. With a very good Florida team coming calling next weekend, he better be right, and it better start next Saturday.
2. USC – I’m going to stay on the Trojans’ case. If they want to justify their #3 ranking and quash the Cal talk, they absolutely must put away teams like Washington State and Washington. Willingham has done a great job with the Huskies and they will continue to improve. But for them to be this close at USC with a chance to win at the end means that they’re improving and that USC is slipping. Fortunately for USC, they’ve got time to work things out in October before they face their toughest competition in November when they play Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame in successive weeks. Also fortunate for them, they play them all at home.
3. FSU – Maybe it’s just that we’re so used to the Florida trio of FSU, Miami, and Florida being maddingly successful that we’re not sure what to do when 2 of the 3 look like they do this year. For FSU, you don’t have a single impressive win yet–not with how Miami looks this season. What you do have is 2 ACC losses when you ought to be a favorite to win the conference.
4. LSU – Granted, The Swamp is one of the toughest places to visit in the land. That doesn’t change the fact that LSU really needed this game after losing a tight one to Auburn. Found a way to score early, then promptly forgot.
5. Oregon – Even though the umps handed the Ducks those second chances against the Sooners, you had to admire what they did with them from an offensive perspective, right? Got us thinking, “Yeah, it’s not a real win–but this team could be pretty good.” Until facing Cal. We had a feeling it would be a shootout and who knows whose standing at the end of it all, but there’s no good way to lose by 3 TDs.
Honorable mention: Georgia (probably tied for #5 actually) collapsing at home to give up the undefeated season, OU still feeling the sting of losing Rhett Bomar at the beginning of the season as they lose to Texas
Other notable folks:
1. West Virginia – Highly ranked but it will be tough to judge them until they face Louisville.
2. Notre Dame – Done with real competition until facing USC in November. Michigan loss is the lone blemish, but is a big one. Until they face the Trojans, we won’t really know.
3. Nebraska or Missouri – Leaders for the Big 12 North, Mizzou is undefeated; Nebraska has better tradition but a lingering question mark from the USC loss.