On College Football: Week 4

by John Furgele

Those who had USC running the table for an easy berth in the BCS Championship Game, please check your ego and your sanity at the door.  Just because a team (USC) looks great one week (their win over Ohio State), doesn’t mean it will carry over to the next week or game.  Not to play the Kevin Bacon game, but if Penn State demoilshed Oregon State and Oregon State beat USC, then how good is Penn State?  Let’s review the week that was.

1)  Is Time Up for Tommy?  The Clemson Tigers, fearful that head coach Tommy Bowden might leave Death Valley for Arkansas, signed him to a contract extension.  But, Bowden’s Tigers are once again failing to live up to expectations.  After getting throttled by Alabama in Week 1, the Tigers were upended by the now feisty Maryland Terrapins at home.  This happens every year at Clemson.  They are hyped up as ACC/BCS bowl contenders, lose a couple key games, but finish strong with a nice bowl win, setting the stage for the following year.  Expectations are unrealistic at Clemson, mainly because they had the magical year in 1981 when they won a national title.  At Clemson, they should take 8-4, and if they could go 9-3, they should sign in a heartbeat.  And, for the most part, that’s what Bowden has delivered in his tenure.  But, that’s not good enough for the IPTAY crowd, so Bowden better watch out.

2)  Nick Saban Knows What He’s Doing  Say what you want about Nick Saban, but the man is already ahead of schedule at Alabama and Saturday, he simply outclassed Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs.  Saban is right, uniform colors really don’t matter, and if you notice, the great programs never change colors, but that was an old fashioned whippin’ that Bama laid on Georgia.  Georgia is a good team, but all one has to do is look at their schedule to realize that getting to the SEC Championship Game let alone the BCS Championship Game is a tall, tall order.  Will Alabama lose some games?  WIll Georgia wim many more.  The answer is yes and the reason is because it is the SEC. 

3)  Oh, I forgot Houston Nutt Wasn’t Good Enough for Arkansas.  Like Clemson, the expectations at Arkansas are much too lofty for what Arkansas brings to the table.  In Fayetteville, an 8-4 regular season should be more than acceptable.  In 2006, Nutt led Arkansas to a 10-2 regular season record (10-4 after losing the SEC Championship Game and the Capital One Bowl), and last year, the Hogs were 8-4 in the regular season (8-5 overall after losing in the Cotton Bowl), but that wasn’t good enough for Arkansas, who brought in carpetbagger Bobby Petrino as head coach.  Nutt proved his worth by leading Mississippi to a 31-30 win at Florida.  And, by the way, Arkansas is terrible, losing 52-10 to Texas in a game that had former Southwest Conference commissioners spinning in their graves.  It should be very interesting on October 25, when Ole Miss visits Arkansas. 

4)  Not Everyone Should Run the Spread.  Every team thinks that the spread offense is the best way to recruit athletes and win foootball games.  But, not all teams should run it.  Auburn is one team that wants to run it but shouldn’t.  Their offense was so good in their 14-12 win over Tennessee that they’re going to be starting another quarterback in their next game.  As more teams run the spread, there should be just as many who scrap it.  When run right, it is fun to watch, but if every team runs a version of it, defenses will undoubtedly catch on.  There is still a place for other offenses, isn’ t there? 

Look at Navy.  Because they are one of the few teams that run the old triple option, they still can’t be stopped, and their 24-17 win over Wake Forest was a shocker and proved that.  Former coach Paul Johnson took the option with success to Georgia Tech, but Navy apparently hasn’t missed a beat.  Even though Rutgers is slumping, beating them and Wake Forest are two very good wins for the Middies.   As shocking as Navy’s win was, what about Duke’s?  The Blue Devils snapped a 25 game ACC losing streak by not only beating Virginia, but humiliating them 31-3.  When people thought Steve Spurrier was overrated, somebody always said, “yes, but he won at Duke.”  Is David Cutcliffe going to be next “he won at Duke guy?”  The Dukies are 3-1, and play at 3-1 Georgia Tech this Saturday.

5)  Easy on Oklahoma.  Now that USC and Georgia have lost, we will now see Oklahoma be superhyped, but let’s be careful.  The Sooners are 4-0, but have played nobody and won’t be challenged until they play Texas on October 11 and Kansas on October 18.  They should get by Baylor this weekend, and then the hype will begin as they prepare to play Texas.  Should the lose, everybody will be in shock.  Everybody but OCF.  Even if things go well for the Sooners, there is the problem at the end of the season—-BCS bowl games.

6)  Hope for Army.  They lost to a mediocre at best Texas A&M squad, but they did two things right.  One, they were competitive and close in a game for the first time this season.  Two, and most important, head coach Stan Brock finally got the Black Knights running the triple option, like they did in the Bob Sutton heydays.  For Army to be competitive, the option is the best offense for them.  It works at Navy, and works at Air Force.  Against the Aggies, they ran the ball 65 times for 280 yards and passed only four times for four yards.  Texas A&M, a Big 12 team could not stop them, so can the likes of Louisiana Tech and Rice stop it?  Army’s next two games are at Tulane and versus Eastern Michigan and those are winnable games for the Black Knights.  Just keep running the option, boys. 

Finally, our hearts are really pulling for the Indiana State Sycamores.  They have lost their last 15 games, including a 24-21 loss at the hands of Southeast Missouri State over the weekend.   Up next, a home game versus Illinois State.  To their credit, they played two 1-A opponents, but for some reason, Army was not one of them.  But, along with Army, we’ll be rooting for ISU to get in the win column sometime this season.

Until next week.

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