COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP- Week 4

 All of the big boys stayed afloat in their title quests over the weekend against their much weaker opponents, while middle tier teams tried to separate themselves in early conference play, especially in the Big Ten and the SEC. At this point, I don’t really know what to make of the Big Ten. I still have Wisconsin ranked the highest, although they’ve managed to fall one slot each week as a result of  their generally uninspiring play. A win’s a win I suppose, but we’ll be watching more closely when the competition gets tougher, and if the Badgers don’t step it up a notch, they’re going to have a lot of trouble with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State and even Michigan and Purdue.

Speaking of the Wolverines, Lloyd Carr may have saved his job Saturday by rallying his troops on the defensive side of the ball and knocking off Penn State in a low-scoring struggle, a team many had put on a pedestal as the new favorite to win the conference. What are we to make of Michigan? Where was this defense when Oregon came to town? I’m not ready to say that Michigan is “back”, but we can certainly agree that if the defense is able to pull together that they’re talented enough on offense to knock off anybody on their best day. Time will tell, so I’m waiting another week or two before throwing them back into my Top 25. On the flip side, Ohio State is quietly playing some astonishingly good football and should be right in the mix again this year. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I have to admit I didn’t expect to see this kind of offensive production out of a brand new Buckeye offense. And don’t forget about Purdue either. They’re capable of throwing 40-plus points on anybody, although giving up 31 at Minnesota doesn’t bode well for future defensive endeavors.

In the SEC, we got to see three top 25 matchups. First, LSU got a stiffer test than they’ve been accustomed to against a pesky South Carolina squad who got on the board first. In the end, LSU’s offense was still too much, complete with about the sickest fake field goal I have ever seen. Kentucky continued its offensive barrage against a struggling Arkansas defense. Darren McFadden continues to put up big numbers, but he’s gonna have to get his team to win some games if he wants to win the Heisman. That’s not the way it should be, but that’s the way it is, just ask Anthony Thompson and Antwaan Randle El (shameless Hoosier plug, forgive me). Speaking of the Heisman, Wildcat quarterback Andre Woodson can do no wrong, and broke the NCAA record for consecutive passes without an interception Saturday. Meanwhile, in the most exciting game of the day, Georgia went into Alabama and earned a hard fought victory in overtime. This game could have gone either way, but you have to give a ton of credit to the Bulldogs, who needed this victory badly.

The shock of the week award went to Louisville. The Cardinals haven’t looked stellar defensively at any point this season, but I don’t think anyone saw this one coming, especially at home. Syracuse didn’t have any business even being in that game, let alone winning it. With the likes of South Florida and Cincinnati strengthening an already tough Big East, Louisville needs to get its act together on defense in a hurry or it’s gonna be a long season. Less shockingly but probably more importantly, Notre Dame is 0-4 for the first time in 119 years. None of the next four look winnable either. Yikes!

Lastly, I need to comment on Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s postgame press conference. I tend to enjoy any type of press conference rant (see Jim Mora, Dennis Green, countless Bobby Knight classics). However, this one was unique in that the Cowboys had just battled to a huge 49-45 victory over undefeated Texas Tech, an outcome that on any normal occasion would have had the head coach all smiles. This time, Gundy didn’t even address the game, and decided instead to attack a female reporter who had run an article that seemed to cast quarterback Bobby Reid in a negative, almost personal manner. I give Gundy credit for coming to the defense of his player, but can’t agree that college athletes should be immune to criticism. I haven’t read the article so I can’t weigh in as far as that matter is concerned. I suppose one could draw the line if a player’s character is attacked without reason, but it sounds to me as though the reporter had her facts straight and was mostly commenting on Reid’s play, which, certainly in games against Georgia and lowly Troy, was lacking to some extent.

GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK

#5 West Virginia at #24 South Florida, 7:00 PM CST, Friday, ESPN: A rare Friday night Big East battle should be a nice way to kick off the weekend. South Florida has looked very strong early while West Virginia has struggled defensively. After losing this one at home last year, you can bet that the Mountaineers won’t be looking past South Florida again, and will be prepared for a battle.

Michigan State at #9 Wisconsin, 2:30 PM CST, ABC: I’m still shocked that Michigan State has started so strongly. Wisconsin will have another chance to prove that they’re among the contenders for the Big Ten title. In a matchup of two teams that appear to be vastly overrated, at least something’s gotta give.

#20 Clemson at Georgia Tech, 2:30 PM CST, ESPN: Clemson has been among one of the biggest surprises early this season, while Georgia Tech has been a disappointment. The Yellow Jackets get a chance for redemption at home, but will have to stop the two-headed monster of James Davis and C.J. Spiller in the Clemson backfield.

#8 California at #14 Oregon, 2:30 PM CST, ABC: This appears to be the marquee game of the day, with the winner poised to become the main challenger to the mighty USC Trojans. Oregon’s high-powered offense is still riding the claim to fame it earned in the Big House, while Cal hasn’t been any slouch scoring points either. Who will step up and make some plays on defense? I’ll be playing the Bears on the road and getting some points to do so, but the over might be a better bet.

#22 Alabama vs. Florida State in Jacksonville, 4:00 PM CST, CBS: This neutral field matchup of traditional powerhouses is especially intriguing since both are rebuilding. With one loss each, the winner will take a huge step forward and the other will have a bit of a hole to dig itself out of. Alabama has scored impressively this season while Florida State has had its struggles, although the Seminoles have played much better defense. Props to both schools for scheduling this game.

Auburn at #3 Florida, 7:00 PM CST, ESPN: I actually don’t see this as much of a game as Auburn appears to be in for a rough season. Nevertheless, it’s SEC nighttime college football, and therefore should be plenty entertaining. Think the Gators are still upset that last year’s controversial loss nearly cost them the national title game berth that they clearly deserved? This time, in the Swamp, Auburn could feel punishing blows from the Gator offense.

TOP 25 OF THE MATTY

  1. LSU (4-0)
  2. USC (3-0)
  3. Florida (4-0)
  4. Texas (4-0)
  5. West Virginia (4-0)
  6. Oklahoma (4-0)
  7. Rutgers (3-0)
  8. California (4-0)
  9. Wisconsin (4-0)
  10. Ohio State (4-0)
  11. Virginia Tech (3-1)
  12. Boston College (4-0)
  13. Hawaii (4-0)
  14. Oregon (4-0)
  15. Nebraska (3-1)
  16. Penn State (3-1)
  17. Kentucky (4-0)
  18. South Carolina (3-1)
  19. Georgia (3-1)
  20. Clemson (4-0)
  21. Missouri (4-0)
  22. Alabama (3-1)
  23. Tennessee (2-2)
  24. South Florida (3-0)
  25. Arizona State (4-0)

HEISMAN WATCH

This race has become way too close to call as a lot of players are carrying their teams to victory while others are putting up huge numbers in defeat, and all in all no one is separating themselves as an early Heisman favorite. Narrowing it down to twelve wasn’t even an easy task, but here are my frontrunners…we’ll call it a 12-way dead heat for now.

  • Darren McFadden, Arkansas
  • Ray Rice, Rutgers
  • Mike Hart, Michigan
  • Steve Slaton, West Virginia
  • Percy Harvin, Florida
  • Andre Woodson, Kentucky
  • Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
  • Tim Tebow, Florida
  • John David Booty, USC
  • Matt Ryan, Boston College
  • Colt Brennan, Hawaii
  • Brian Brohm, Louisville
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