Some Things We Learned- Week 4(CFB)(POLL)

1. Oklahoma wasn’t a National Championship contending team with QB Landry Jones.

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones looked like he would pick up right where former quarterback Sam Bradford left off. As a sophomore in 2010, Jones threw for 4,718 yards, 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also completed 65.6 percent of his passes that year. Oklahoma fans thought of the success he would have in his junior and senior years. Surely, he’ll keep getting better and maybe win a Heisman trophy or National Championship!

His junior year came and his numbers dropped sharply. He only had 29 touchdowns and his interceptions rose to 15. His yardage dropped to 4,463. The most important thing that happened during that season, however, was that his biggest weakness was exposed. He disappears against competition. Against Florida State, Baylor and Oklahoma State(three of the five ranked teams OU played in 2011), Jones had a combined one touchdown and five interceptions. He became a quarterback that dished out yards, but not points. He became a quarterback that made his team settle for field goals when the competition was scoring touchdowns.

One year later, his production has dropped even more. After three games, Jones has 772 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. That puts him on a pace to finish the season with 3,088 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. That’s a far cry from the expected National Championship run. His team has already lost to Kansas State, a team Oklahoma beat by 41 points last year, and is already seemingly eliminated from the national title race. There is certainly time to fix this season, but the fact that his stats are this average after playing UTEP and Florida A&M as two of his first three games is disconcerting.

2. Florida State’s path to the National Championship will be paved by its offense, not its defense.

Florida State allowed just a field goal in its first three games, which included ACC foe(and annual nuisance to FSU) Wake Forest. The FSU defense had the luxury of playing Savannah State, but holding Wake Forest to 126 yards was very impressive. This team appeared to live by its defense, just like it has for years, due to a lacking offense(although in former quarterback Christian Ponder’s case, it was due to injuries). FSU quarterback EJ Manuel has been a capable quarterback for his career at FSU, but his passing has always been suspect. Anytime Florida State faced a good team, Manuel’s passing seemed to disappear and he’d develop a tendency to hold the ball too long. Last year, Manuel was sacked 33 times, which averages out to roughly three sacks a game. That’s ridiculous.

At this point in the season, it is obvious that every prediction that could be made from the last paragraph is wrong. The vaunted FSU defense was shredded for 37 points by a team that mustered only 26 points against Auburn(1-3) and 41 points, roughly the same amount FSU allowed, against Furman(an FCS school). On the other hand, Manuel is passing on a Heisman level with 905 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. Manuel is also completing over 73 percent of his passes and his passer rating of 180.2 has him ranked eleventh in the country. FSU running back Chris Thompson is also averaging more yards(10.8) per carry than other running back ranked in the top-40. This is a potent offense that ranks second in the nation in points per game and would be scary for any defense to go against. Funny sidenote: Both Florida State and Oklahoma State(the first-ranked team in points per game) played against Savannah State, who is thought by many to be the worst team in the FCS and has won only four games in the last three years.

With a schedule that features one ranked team in its remaining eight games, Florida State is expected to finish the year undefeated. Its postseason hopes will be at the mercy of the other undefeated teams because FSU’s schedule will lose in almost any comparison to an undefeated SEC or Pac-12 team. With EJ Manuel’s newfound passing ability and an easy schedule, FSU could potentially make a run at both a National Championship and a Heisman trophy this year. Florida State’s defense may not be the smothering entity the country has been accustomed to, but the offense is fine with that.

3. LSU is not a top-five team.

The LSU Tigers squeaked by with a 12-10 win over Auburn, who was 1-2 and lost to Mississippi State by 18 points. Even worse, Auburn gave up 28 points to Louisiana Monroe, a team from the Sun Belt conference, and had to go to overtime to win. LSU is not even the third best team in the SEC, much less the entire conference. In all honesty, Mississippi State has a strong claim to be ranked higher than LSU, and that’s not even counting Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. The fact that LSU received a first place vote in both the AP and Coaches Poll shows what kind of imbeciles decide who the best teams in the country are. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself here and here. LSU is lucky to be in the top-10 and they certainly are not of the five best teams in the country as the season stands now. LSU will have plenty of chances to prove it deserves its ranking starting two weeks from now when it plays the eleventh-ranked Florida Gators.



Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!

-Marty F. Nemec

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Game of the Week- Week 4(CFB)(Poll)

#4 Florida State(3-0) vs. #10 Clemson (3-0)

Clemson comes into this game as an underdog, but the Tigers are no strangers to knocking off the Seminoles. Clemson has won six of the last nine games against FSU, including last year’s match-up, which derailed FSU’s hopes for an ACC championship. In that game, the 21st-ranked Clemson Tigers racked up 443 total yards(344 yards passing) against an FSU defense that was supposed to be on another level. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins torched FSU’s secondary with a 144-yard performance on only seven receptions. The Clemson defense, which didn’t show up for many other games, made FSU’s weak running game completely disappear(29 rushing yards). FSU was heavily favored in that game as they are now. This year’s Clemson squad, has taken a step back perhaps, but quarterback Tajh Boyd has averaged 249 passing yards per game, while completing 73.3% of his passes. Boyd added six touchdowns and only one interception to go along with them. Clemson running back Andre Ellington is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has four touchdowns and will complement a very potent passing attack. This offense will score when given opportunities.

This Florida State squad is better than last year’s, unfortunately for Clemson. Over the course of three games, FSU has only given up a field goal. FSU running back James Wilder Jr. is averaging 6.9 yards per carry with four touchdowns and Chris Thompson is averaging a sky-high 14.1 yards per carry with three touchdowns. This rushing tandem will be sure to make up for last year’s pathetic showing. Quarterback E.J. Manuel matched Boyd’s touchdowns and interceptions but had less passing yards. The quarterback comparison isn’t fair, though, because Clemson has played tougher competition than Florida State, so Boyd probably has the advantage. Florida State comes into this game with the first-ranked defense and the second-ranked offense in the country. The Seminoles are thinking of a National Championship and they want to show Clemson and the rest of the world why.

Marty’s pick

Clemson has won six of the nine most recent games against FSU, as stated earlier, but they have won only one game played in Tallahassee out of the last ten. Clemson will have to overcome very brutal odds if they want to upset the Seminoles in their own stadium. Also, Clemson’s defense has been playing under par, giving up 19 points to Auburn(who was taken to overtime against LA Monroe) and 24 points to Ball State. Florida State is going to find success in the running game early and they are going to throw it at Clemson consistently for the entire game. The running game will also give Manuel success from the playaction, which will find multiple wide-open receivers on deep throws.

Florida State already gave Wake Forest a through beat-down for having the audacity to beat them last year. Expect the Seminoles to extend the invitation to Clemson as well. FSU by double digits.

WINNER:



Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 2-1

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 3(CFB)(POLL)

1. USC wasn’t for real.

What gave it away? Being outgained in total yards 417-280 by Stanford? Maybe it was USC’s main running back Silas Redd averaging 1.3 yards on his way to 13 pathetic yards on 17 wasted carries? Wait. Could it be that USC lost to a Stanford team that was supposed to be hopeless without top draft pick Andrew Luck? Well, sign me up for “all of the above.” I admit it. I thought they would go all of the way because of their returning talent and easy schedule. I had them in my mock National Championship and I had USC quarterback Matt Barkley winning the Heisman. Now, after that loss and Barkley completing less than 50 percent of his passes for no touchdowns and two interceptions, it appears neither one of those things will happen. The Oregon Ducks are now the team to beat in the Pac-12 conference unless pesky Stanford takes them down too.

2. Notre Dame isn’t the Top-25’s doormat this year.

“Fighting” isn’t the correct adjective for describing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s performance against ranked teams in the last 10 years. Perhaps “Awful” is a better fit. However, after a dominating 20-3 win over the tenth-ranked Michigan State Spartans, no one can discredit ND anymore. With USC’s loss and Michigan State already down, Notre Dame is looking at a slight possibility of going to a BCS bowl this year. Although Michigan and USC both lost and look way less intimidating than before, they are good teams that will challenge Notre Dame. They are also joined by the sixth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the ninth-ranked Stanford Cardinal. With a schedule that ranks as the toughest schedule in college football according to FBSchedules, I’d say Notre Dame chose the wrong year to get good again.

3. Florida State is on the fast track to the National Championship.

Florida State’s defense has only given up an average of one point per game and it has the second-ranked offense in the country scoring 58.7 points per game. FSU also has the easiest schedule out of any National Championship contender and plays only two ranked teams this year. There is also a high probability that Florida could end up unranked due to a grueling SEC schedule and that could leave FSU with only one ranked game(Clemson). I know FSU has played easy teams to compile such good stats, but it honestly doesn’t get too hard past this weekend. They play the tenth-ranked Clemson Tigers this weekend, then will have the rest of the season to prepare for the Gators in their final game. If FSU loses, it will be because it beat itself. The last two years showed FSU doesn’t handle being talked up by the media well. A loss is possible, but it would very surprising given their talent and schedule.



Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 1(CFB)

1. Alabama is still a national title contender.

Believe it or not, this team only had 10 returning starters from last year. Despite that, Alabama forced three turnovers and held Michigan’s high-powered offense to 269 yards. Michigan was playing without its starting RB, but the fact that Alabama held Michigan to 69 rushing yards is very impressive. On offense, Bama picked up where they left off. A.J. McCarron threw for 199 yards, two TDs and no INTS. Even though Trent Richardson left for the NFL over the summer, the running game is still clicking too. T.J. Yeldon ran for 111 yards on 11 carries and Jalston Fowler added 67 yards on eight carries. Alabama is definitely still in the mix for the National Championship.

2. Oklahoma’s offense isn’t what was advertised.

Oklahoma came into this season ranked in the top-5 and had a QB who was considered a Heisman contender. Everyone was expecting a blowout when Oklahoma went against UTEP, a small school few people have heard of. Did you know UTEP stood for the University of Texas El Paso? I will further prove my point by stating that the bettors in Vegas had Oklahoma winning by 30 points. Instead, Oklahoma found itself only up 10-7 at the start of the fourth quarter and had to score twice to put the game away 24-7. Last year, Oklahoma’s conference rivals couldn’t hold it under 30 points, especially not a Conference-USA team that went 5-7 last year. Oklahoma was only held to 24 points or lower twice in 2011 and it happened against teams ranked in the top-5 both times.

That being said, QB Landry Jones didn’t have a terrible game. He threw for 222 yards, two TDs and no INTs. Oklahoma RB Damien Williams ran for 104 yards on nine carries. The offense seemed to have trouble waking up and was actually efficient in the 4th quarter. Oklahoma will have a chance to redeem itself when it plays FCS foe Florida A&M this weekend.

3. Florida State’s schedule is the weakest of all of the contenders.

At the beginning of the year, FSU only had three ranked teams on its schedule, which wouldn’t have been so bad if any of them were ranked in the top-10. FSU needs Virginia Tech and Florida to play very well and maintain a high ranking until FSU plays them. Clemson looks very good and is already ranked twelfth in the nation. Clemson could be in the top-10 by the time it plays FSU, which is in three weeks. Unfortunately for FSU, it is the other two ranked teams that don’t look so good.

Florida is not expected to do well and it plays in the SEC, which is always a tough conference. Florida won’t play FSU until the last game of the season and it isn’t crazy to believe that Florida may not be ranked by then, especially with the inconsistency of the offense in its 27-14 victory over Bowling Green. Virginia Tech also leaves question marks, because it plays Clemson before FSU. Clemson is clearly better than Virginia Tech and that loss could leave VT unranked when they face FSU. This point is exemplified further by VT needing to go to overtime to beat an unranked Georgia Tech squad 20-17 in its first game. Florida State can control its own destiny if it wins out, though.

4. West Virginia and Oregon need to play better defense if they want a National Championship.

BCS bowls can be won with just offense, but it is very rare for a national title to be won without a good defense. Oregon and West Virginia are both teams respected annually for their amazing offenses but plagued by defenses that give up yards and points. West Virginia had the entire nation in awe after scoring 64 points against Marshall, but everyone seemed to miss the fact that Marshall scored 34 points and racked up 545 yards. If Marshall can do that to West Virginia, what could Alabama or USC do?

Oregon’s defense was equally as bad in letting Arkansas State, a Sun Belt conference school, score 34 points and gain 530 yards. People will try to point to the fact that Oregon was winning 50-10 at halftime and say they relaxed and put in their second-string defenders, but that doesn’t change anything. Oregon’s second string should be able to hold a weak team like Arkansas State to less points than that. Those players will be replacing the starters when they get tired or injured. Oregon should be deeper in defensive talent. West Virginia and Oregon will both have to get much better at defense to make a real run for the national title.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

-Marty F. Nemec