We are a month into the college football season and it already looks like a two-team race. No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Oklahoma may be inching closer to a national title game matchup, but there are a whole slew of other teams looking to take their spots.
Boise State’s Kellen Moore is on fire to start his senior season and is probably the Heisman Trophy winner.
And San Diego State had a rough loss at Michigan, but if they can get it together, the Aztecs can make noise in the Mountain West starting with hosting TCU on Oct. 8.
Here are my answers to this week’s knotmove.com College Football Round Table as we look at the month we just finished and look ahead to the final two-thirds of the season.
With four weeks in the books let’s do a quick progress report. Who has been most impressive to you and most disappointing to you so far this season (either individually or as a team)? Any big surprises?
Let’s start this by saying there will be a San Diego theme to all of this.
Most impressive: Michigan.
This might sting San Diego State followers, but the Aztecs lost a great coach. Brady Hoke has Michigan 4-0 for the third consecutive year. What makes the difference between the Hoke-coached Wolverines and the ones led by Rich Rodriguez is that this Michigan can score AND play defense. Through their first four games, the Wolverines have allowed just 51 points. Last year, Michigan allowed 92 points in its 4-0 start, including 37 to FCS team UMass. In 2009, the Wolverines allowed 91 points in their perfect September.
Hoke has Michigan perfect again, but the defense has showed up. With this kind of effort being exerted by the Wolverines on defense, and with the dynamo at quarterback known as Denard Robinson, Michigan can be a contender in the Big Ten.
Most disappointing: Jordan Wynn, quarterback, Utah
Utah has not looked good in its first year as a Pac-12 member (and that includes its 54-10 thrashing of BYU in the Holy War). Even more disappointing is Wynn’s performance. In his two real games of the year (versus USC and BYU), Wynn has completed just 51.3 percent of his passes, a far cry from the 62.2 percent he averaged last year (I don’t include his numbers from the season-opener against Montana State, but maybe I should; his completion percentage rises to 54.5 percent; still not good).
Wynn—who led Oceanside High to two CIF-San Diego Section championships—has just five touchdown passes in his first three games this year. The Utes still have a chance of winning the Pac-12 South (after Arizona State toppled USC), but Wynn will have to play better if Utah will make any run.
Biggest surprise: Keith Price, quarterback, Washington
We’ll stay in the Pac-12 and go to last year’s Holiday Bowl winners (San Diego connection stays in tact).
Jake Locker meant everything to the Huskies. He was the heart, the soul and the inspiration for what was a very mediocre Washington team. With Locker now in the NFL, we’d expect to see the Huskies lost without any sense of direction in the heavily wooded Pacific Northwest.
Wrong. And that’s because the new starting quarterback, sophomore Keith Price, is currently having the best start to any season that any Washington quarterback has ever had. Price has already thrown 14 touchdown passes this year—halfway to the school record set by Cody Pickett in 2002. Even better is that Price is completing 67.0 percent of his passes. That’s a full 12 points higher than what Locker did his senior year in Seattle. The Huskies will be a force in the Pac-12 North if Price continues to play at this level.
Game of the Week
Nebraska heads to Madison, Wisconsin for their first Big Ten game in program history. For the Badgers it has been “All Russell Wilson Everything” but the Badgers have played solid defense, holding opponents to 34 points over four games. The Huskers have had their ups and downs but remain a perfect 4-0 heading in to a new era for the program. What will be some of the keys to this game, and share your prediction.
While Russell Wilson has shown why he has been the biggest free agent acquisition in football this year (NFL or college), Wisconsin still knows how to run the football. Montee Ball and James White are still in the Badgers backfield and together average 165.75 yards per game. Together, they average the most yards per game in the Big Ten.
Nebraska’s run defense, on the other hand, hasn’t been up to previous Huskers defenses. Nebraska is ninth in the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed per game, giving up 133.2 yards in its first four games. That includes 190 yards given up against Fresno State, 146 yards allowed against Washington and 137 yards allowed against Wyoming.
Both team like to run the ball. Both teams have relatively experienced quarterbacks. It will be a low-scoring and quick game Saturday night in Madison.
But if Nebraska couldn’t stop Fresno State or Wyoming from running the ball, then how are the Huskers going to stop Ball and White?
Wisconsin wins and declares its candidacy for the BCS title game.
Texas A&M let a game slip away from them last weekend against Oklahoma State, and Arkansas never was able to keep up with Alabama. With both sides looking to rebound this week in a non-conference tilt (for now), who has a better chance to pick up a win this weekend in Cowboys Stadium?
When Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson looks at the film of Texas A&M’s loss to Oklahoma State, his mouth is going to water. The Aggies allowed Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden to complete 78.3 percent of his passes and throw over 400 yards.
And though Alabama’s defense stifled the Razorbacks’ offense last week, Wilson still completed 62 percent of his passes. The difference? The Tide was able to close out on the short, quick passes that allow Wilson’s skill players to make plays with.
I don’t see Texas A&M’s secondary being as quick or on the ball as Alabama’s. Look for Wilson to have a big day and unofficially welcome the Aggies to the purgatory known as “middle-of-the-road” SEC team.
Razorbacks should win behind Wilson’s passing attack.
After week one we took a look at the Oregon Ducks and what the loss to LSU meant for them going forward. The general opinion was that they are certainly still a team to be reckoned with. Since that season opening loss the Ducks have torn apart their opponents with a combined score of 181-58. As the Ducks enter the second week of Pac 12 play, let’s revisit the question. Can the Ducks make a BCS championship run?
Like I said after Oregon’s opening-week loss to LSU, yes, the Ducks can still make a repeat run at the BCS title game. And they’re doing it in the manner that will get them there—by having no regard for their opponents and blowing each and everyone of them out.
Oregon has a lot to prove and still has matchups with USC, Arizona State and Stanford. If the Ducks can do to those teams what they have done since losing to LSU (which includes blowing out the Cardinal in Palo Alto and winning the Pac-12 title game) then they should have a real good case to be competing for the BCS title for a second consecutive year.
Other than games we mentioned already, what is one game you think should be watched closely this weekend, and why?
There’s 3-0 Texas versus 3-0 Iowa State in their Big 12 opener, Alabama travels to Florida, and undefeated Clemson goes to Virginia Tech.
But the game fans should keep an eye on is Air Force at Navy. Both teams are 2-1. Both are good enough to get into bowl games (Air Force has a dark horse’s shot at the Mountain West title). Both have been rumored to join the flailing Big East, and would good reason. Both play a brand of football that hearkens back to the golden age of the service academies, and both execute that brand very well.
And here’s the real reason to watch: the winner of the Air Force-Navy game has won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy (given to the winner of the annual Air Force-Army-Navy round robin) since 1997. So, sure Army-Navy will always be the rivalry with the pageantry and tradition, but in reality, people should be watching Air Force-Navy instead.
Chances are, the winner of this year’s matchup will also take the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy home.
My knotmove.com Top 10 Ballot
3) Boise State
7) Oklahoma State
10) South Carolina
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