By David J. Cohen
In the “preseason” of college football there was some interesting action for the second straight year. Here are the top ten things we’ve learned about the season so far:
Tommy Bowden, you’re fired – Once again, Clemson came into a game with big expectations. And once again, they fell flat on their face. The media appointed “best running back duo” help lead the Tigers to zero yards rushing. A second tier SEC team beat the Tigers down from start to finish. Now their national championship expectations are shot. This means Clemson will be fine until they play Wake Forest. Then expectations will rise and Bowden will coach his last meaningful game.
The ACC, now that’s a tough conference – The top two teams in the conference were both toppled. Virginia Tech redshirted their best player and have suffered the consequences. A talented East Carolina team went Beamer ball on Coach Beamer and took it to the house to upset the Hokies. Meanwhile, NC State got crushed by South Carolina 34-0 and Virginia got owned by USC 52-7. North Carolina squeaked by McNeese State by eight. The conference has to hang its hat on Maryland beating Delaware by seven. And Delaware lost its quarterback to the NFL. They better pray Miami and FSU have bounce back seasons. I like Wake Forest, but it doesn’t look good for the ACC if a basketball school wins a conference title for the second time in three years.
The Gators have a running game – The Gators rushed the ball very well against Hawaii. They rushed for 255 yards and four TDs, including ones by Brandon James, Chris Rainey, and Jeffrey Demps. When Harvin comes back he might also see some carries. Clearly the Gators are changing their philosophy, and a consistent running game will help their young defense tremendously. All that team speed gives the Gators perhaps the toughest offense to stop in the country.
Florida Atlantic should never call someone out – Their head coach said that Texas is a “well polished team, but soft.” They proceeded to get trounced 52-10. If you’re going to call a team out, make sure your own team has actually done something before you go running at the mouth.
Pat White the passer – Under Rich Rodriguez, Pat White never threw for more than a couple TDs. He threw five in the season opener. Sure it was against a FCS team, but again we have a change of philosophy, and for the better. West Virginia fell short the last couple of years because when it came to the tough game, they didn’t throw well enough because they didn’t have enough reps. The Big East is another weak conference and the Mountaineers wont have too much competition if they play at their peak.
Be careful what you wish for – There were three programs that noticeably called for the heads of their former head coaches: Michigan, Arkansas, and Texas A&M. The Wolverines lost to Utah 25-23 and were basically handicapped by Vegas as a pick em in the Big House. They are clearly in a transitional period. Bobby Petrino almost had to write another letter as his Razorbacks barely beat Western Illinois 28-24 at the end of the game. They gave up 157 rushing yards to Western Illinois’ Herb Donaldson. Texas A&M called for Dennis Franchione to get axed and now his replacement loses to Arkansas State. Sometimes you get what you ask for.
USC is officially back as a title contender – They destroyed Virginia and Mark Sanchez clearly looks like the next big time QB at USC. They have a calvary of running backs and their defense might be the best in the nation by the end of the season. They are in a conference that will give them a couple of challenges but as long as they don’t slip up against a team they have no business losing to (UCLA two years ago, Stanford last year) they should be playing in Miami at the end of the year. Especially with the pending injury to Beanie Wells.
Texas Tech is still Texas Tech – There was talk about them playing some defense this season. Throw that out the window. They are still the gun slinging team everyone expects, and both sides of that style of play were on display against Eastern Washington. The Red Raiders took a 20-0 lead after the first quarter but the defense wore down toward the middle of the game and Eastern Washington was down just eleven by the end of the third quarter. If the Red Raiders truly want to be Big 12 contenders, they will have to give their defense a break once in a while and wait for longer than three minutes before scoring and putting them back on the field. They scored 49 points. The longest they held the ball on a scoring drive was 3:26.
Missouri better hope Maclin is OK – They shredded the Illini defense but gave up 451 yards and five TDs to Juice Williams, who is not a great pocket passer. Everyone knows how potent their offense is, but if they want to be seriously considered to win their conference, they need to play better defense. Otherwise Sam Bradford will have a field day. And Oklahoma can play defense.
College football needs to remember who they are – The anti-celebration rule is absurd. The players who you are making your money off of are mostly 19-23 year olds. Let the kids have some fun. That’s what makes college different from the pros. The exuberance of the players and the fans makes college football stand out. Take that away and you’re just left with the BCS. Just cut the “C” already.
It looks like another thrilling season of college football is under way.