Down on The Farm. USC was a presumptive BCS title contender. Matt Barkley was the presumptive Heisman trophy winner. After Stanford’s 21-14 win, we all learned the folly of being too presumptive. Since the Cardinal have won four-straight and five of the last six, it was hardly an upset. The Trojans are talented. They are also thin in many areas and far too much of a finesse team. Like Michigan, offseason star hype trumped sober analysis of USC’s issues along both lines.
The Trojan offensive line misses Matt Kalil. Stanford’s physical front manhandled them without mercy. They held USC under a yard per carry and sacked Matt Barkley twice on USC’s final drive. Lane Kiffin’s praised offense converted just 1/13 third downs. The Trojan defensive line got pounded by the Cardinal, conceding 5.5 yards per carry. If Stanford had an above-average quarterback, the exposé would have been more emphatic. Hats off to Team Lunchpails.
How good is Stanford? Still pretty damn good and far better than they we thought they were after an opening week near-debacle against San Jose State. This is a very good team, though we might advise some furious brake pumping. They played very well at home last night. They have yet to leave home. Stanford still must play at Washington, at Notre Dame, at Cal, at Oregon and at UCLA. Even if the Cardinal fall to the 8-9 win range, that will be a clear victory for David Shaw, selling the program’s endurance capacity to an expanded pool of recruits.
Statement made. One coach was going to be in trouble after this weekend. It will not be Will Muschamp. Tennessee looked superior at halftime, but as in the Texas A&M game, Muschamp and his staff made adjustments and rode the momentum swing from Trey Burton’s 80-yard touchdown run to a massive 37-20 win. Florida embarrassed a rival on national television, put up more than 500 yards of total offense and stymied one of the nation’s most explosive passing attacks. This was the oft-maligned Muschamp’s “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?” moment.
Florida has a rough road ahead, with LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State left on the itinerary. The flip side to that is they have already played 2/3 SEC road games with Georgia at a neutral site. The Gators will be heavily favored in the one remaining one, at Vanderbilt. Running the table may be premature, but Florida should be a factor in the SEC East.
Derek Dooley, on the other hand, is in trouble. He inherited a tough situation at Tennessee and, considering all evidence, has exacerbated it. He is now 4-14 in the SEC with Tennessee and 0-10 against ranked opponents. He’s not finished, but he now needs to pull off an upset over Georgia or South Carolina to save his job. Putting up slightly more of a fight than Arkansas did against Alabama would also be helpful.
Hope no one printed t-shirts. “The Woodshed” appears to have changed ownership. Notre Dame’s 20-3 dismantling of Michigan State will be lumped into a broader Big Ten Derp narrative – despite the conference going 8-2 against FBS this weekend – but, really, this is a narrow narrative about two teams. Notre Dame may not be back to vintage level, but they are improving. The Irish have recruited the defensive front to compete with good (non-Alabama/LSU level) teams. In Everett Golson they have a talented, not turnover prone quarterback who can get Brian Kelly’s offense rolling against top defenses. Notre Dame is off to its first 3-0 start since 2002, though don’t pencil them into a BCS trip just yet. The Irish still have to play Michigan and Stanford at home and travel to Oklahoma and USC.
As for Michigan State, the flaws were apparent beforehand. Defense wins championships, when supported by a competent offense. The Spartans have an underwhelming offensive line. Their wide receivers are, giving them credit, grossly inexperienced. Given those two factors the jury remains out on quarterback Andrew Maxwell. We love the athletic ram Le’Veon Bell. He’s not going to batter his way through stacked fronts to a Heisman at four-yards per clip. Michigan State is a good team. Not being able to score proficiently or come from behind will keep them from being a great one. Not that you need to be a great team to win the Big Ten this year…
About that Texas ceiling…. The Longhorns had one question entering this season. It has been answered. They have a quarterback. Sophomore David Ash had another monster game against Ole Miss, completing 19/23 for 326 yards and four touchdowns as Texas dropped 66 on Ole Miss. He has not thrown an interception this season. He ranks fifth nationally in passer rating. Is Texas a BCS caliber team? We’ll find out over the next month. After a bye week next week, Mack Brown’s team faces Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Oklahoma in successive weeks.
Sunseri Saturday: Dad Sal did not have a swell day, with the Vols giving up 336 yards on the ground to Florida, but both sons had standout performances. Tino completed 19/28 passes for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s redeeming upset of Virginia Tech. Little brother Vinnie had an interception in Alabama’s 52-0 effacing of Arkansas.
By Their Chinny Chin Chin: Louisville led North Carolina 36-7 at halftime and nearly blew it. UNC quarterback Bryn Renner threw three touchdown passes in the 4th quarter, but had his final fourth down pass fall incomplete in the end zone, allowing the Cardinals to escape with a 39-34 win.
Boulder in Shambles: It’s rare to term a 55-point loss flattering, but Colorado’s 69-14 defeat by Fresno State was just that. They should have lost by more. The Buffaloes’ defense gave up 55 points and 516 total yards in the first half. While the Bulldogs were playing, Colorado was conceding more than ten yards per pass and per carry. They are the worst AQ conference team. It’s not a stretch to discuss them as the worst team in FBS. We’re not sure how Jon Embree will try to frame this one, but this was not progress.
Awkward Reunion: Despite much of the team battling the flu, Connecticut held on to a 24-21 win over their former head coach Randy Edsall’s Maryland Terrapins. The stalwart and underrated Husky defense, holding the Terps to 4.5 yards per pass attempt and 2.4 yards per carry.
Heisman Form: Through two games West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has as many touchdown passes, nine, as incompletions.
Wisconsin Fans Are Classy…
The Stephen Orr Spurrier Quote of the Week: Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson sat out Arkansas’ 52-0 beat down by Alabama. He was not pleased with his teammates’ effort. “Do I feel that we, at times, gave up out there? Yeah, absolutely”
Duh. Erin Andrews informed the FOX audience that “no one at Stanford is going to class tomorrow” after their big night-game win against USC. This is true, since “tomorrow” was Sunday and Stanford’s fall quarter does not start until Sept. 24.
Highlight You Might Have Missed: Western Kentucky ran a trick play FTW over Kentucky on a two-point conversion in overtime. It worked. The Hilltoppers won 32-31. Great win for Willie Taggart. Another SEC scalp for the Sun Belt.
Picks: We had a solid weekend going 4-2 against the spread. We hit on Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, UConn and Utah. We missed on Houston and Miami (Ohio). We are now 11-7 ATS on the season, 9-3 over the past two weeks.
[Photos via Presswire, @cfbsection]