10 Things I Learned on Separation Sunday
10. Adrian Peterson is the Best Player in the Country. At this point the only player I can compare to "All Day" Peterson is Bo Jackson. Not the real Bo, mind you...I'm talking Super Tecmo Bowl Bo that could rocket around the corner and then demolish any defender foolish enough to block his path. Peterson was a one-man wrecking crew against Oregon as he single-handedly put the Sooners in control with 145 yards in the 4th quarter. The only men on the field who could stop AD were the guys in black and white, as two gawd-awful calls robbed Oklahoma of certain victory. The loss doesn't diminish Peterson's performance one iota, though. With Brady Quinn's struggles not only has Peterson grabbed the lead in the Heisman race, but a lot of NFL teams have to be penciling him in as the #1 prospect in the country.
9. When Did Quarterbacks Become Untouchable? I understand that when you've got 300-lb. DEs racing around the edge looking to inflict maximum pain there need to be measures to protect the QB, but it's gotten out of hand this year. In three weeks of football I've seen three ludicrous Roughing the Passer calls that have directly affected the outcome of major games. In each case the team that benefited from the call won the game:
Week 1 - Call against Georgia Tech on a clean third-down hit on Brady Quinn keeps a TD drive alive, allowing the Irish to seize momentum. Tech loses a lead it never regains.
Week 2 - Again against the Irish, Penn State is robbed of their biggest play by a bogus late hit call on Quinn. Sapped of all hope the Nittany Lions are blown out.
Week 3 - An non-descript shot on Chris Leak is called (as a make-up call) negating a pick-six that would have put Tennessee up big. Gators go ahead in the final minutes and hold on.
Look, these QBs are out there with big boys. If they don't want to get hit they should go play soccer or something. Enough already.
8. Ohio State is the New Miami. OSU has become a bottomless well of great defensive players much like the Hurricanes during the Russell Maryland, Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma, Sean Taylor run. UM still has plenty of badasses on D, but the offense has gone off the rails and the team no longer has the old swagger. Apparently it's moved to Colombus, Ohio where the Buckeyes have simply reloaded on D and have a wealth of lightning quick skill players - another Hurricane trademark - to rip the heart of their opposition. Add in an annoying catchphrase and former players receiving jail sentences and the resemblance becomes uncanny.
7. Welcome Back Big East. West Virginia and Louisville each made strong statements over the past week. WVU was expected to beat Maryland, but the ease with which the Mountaineers dismantled the Terps was astonishing. But that was only the appetizer for the Big East. Louisville served up the soup, the entree, and dessert agianst Miami in dismantling 'da U'. The most impressive part for me was the way Louisville didn't let up a bit after Brian Brohm left the game. Even with both of their Heisman candidate on the bench the Cardinals ran the 'Canes defense ragged. Despite Pitt getting put in their place the Big East can now boast two legitimate top 5 teams which no other league can claim, except possibly the SEC. Not bad for a conference that was considered too weak to have an automatic BCS bid.
6. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder. It cracks me up reading SEC fans talk about how amazing the Auburn/LSU game was two weeks after bashing the FSU/Miami game as a boring, sluggish, ugly game. Both were defensive battles with tons of skill and speed on defense. The only difference is that FSU and Miami both managed to find the end zone. I wan't argue that Auburn and LSU are better than the two Florida schools right now, but only an old-school SEC purist could enjoy Saturday's slug-fest in Auburn.
5. USC is the New Florida State. Once upon a time FSU...yes, that FSU...put up 60+ points as a matter of routine. The Seminoles annually sported a veteran QB throwing to dangerous WRs behind a massive wall of All-American offensive linemen. Sound familiar? USC has simply reloaded their killer offensive attack, and not just on the field but in the coaches' box as well. Where once there were Charlie Ward, Danny Kanell, and Chris Weinke now there's Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and John David Booty. Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett have inherited the mantle from Peter Warrick and Anquan Boldin. Add in a bunch of mean, lightning-fast defenders, a red-and-gold color scheme, and a mascot on a horse and you have the West Coast version of the 90's 'Noles.
4. Parity Rules in 2006. Every week we're receiving these bizarre reports of BCS schools getting beat, often at home, by lower-tier schools and even some I-AA teams. Stanford lost to San Jose State. Northwestern lost to New Hampshire. And Colorado...1990 co-National Champion COLORADO!...got handled by Montana State. And we haven't even gotten to the ACC yet (more on that in a minute). Scholarship limits and young, inventive coaches have seriously narrowed the gap between the haves and have-nots.
3. The ACC Sucks... Okay, coming into the season I figured that with the lack of big-time QBs and the loss of so much defensive talent to the NFL the ACC was bound to take a step back, but not even in my darkest nightmares could I have envisioned the train-wreck the league has become. In week 1 Duke was shut out at home by Div-1AA Richmond, while Boston College was tested by Central Michigan and Virginia got pounded by Pitt. In week 2 NC State was upset at home by Akron, while Florida State was tested by Troy and Virginia escaped in overtime against Wyoming. In week 3 Miami was blown-out by Louisville, while NC State was waxed by Southern Miss and Virginia dropped one to Western Michigan. Are you seeing a pattern here? The depth that was expected to be a strength of the league has dried up overnight, and suddenly there's not enough hot seats to go around (Fridge takes up two, which doesn't help). Expect massive carnage among ACC coaches in the off-season...if not sooner.
2. ...But Thank God for the Big XII. The conference began to show serious signs of decay last year with the Oklahoma teams scuffling and Texas A&M underperforming. But this past weekend provided a golden opportunity to regain some respect with four games against BCS foes and one against #20 TCU. The result? The Big XII went 0-5 in the five games, including Texas Tech getting demolished by TCU and Nebraska getting dominated at home against USC. Oklahoma can cry about the refs all they want, but if they play better defense or hit the field goal at the end they win anyway. I won't even mention Texas A&M's inexplicable near-loss to ARMY...except I did mention it because it's freakin' hilarious. And all of this followed Texas' near-shut out at the hands of Ohio State's young defense last week. Only surprising Missouri has surpassed expectations this season and they're far from a top team. This league is a mess and I honestly can't figure out why, but they've sunk to the bottom of the BCS packing order that now reads as follows:
1. SEC ... Two great teams and three good ones is more than enough for the top spot
2. Big 10(11) ... Michigan's big win validates the entire conference
3. Pac 10 ... A win is a win for Oregon, while USC is here to stay
4. Big East ... No depth, but the two good teams are REALLY good
5. ACC ... Bad QBs, bad coaches, and bad mojo are killing the league
6. Big XII ... What the hell is going on out there?
1. Jeff Bowden is the Devil. There's no way FSU should suck this bad. With an average offensive coordinator this team should score 30 points a game. Instead they have 0 points in the first half through three games, and have somehow managed to regress on offense to the same predictable, let's-burn-all-our-time-outs-in-the-first-five-minutes eyesore of 2002. The offense's performance so far has been so atrocious I actually yearn for the halcyon days of last season, when the 'Noles finished dead last in rushing in the ACC (which, I remind you, includes Duke) with a 94 yards/game average. I would kill distant relatives for 94 yards/game right now!
The back-to-back-to-back embarrassing outings have finally convinced me that no matter how many talented recruits we bring in, no matter how many teams the coaches visit for ideas, no matter WHAT, barring divine intervention FSU's offense will suffer as long as Jeff Bowden is ostensibly running the show. They look ragged, the execution is terrible, and the play-calling has been abysmal...again. To quote the great Homer Simpson, Jeff Bowden is the suckiest suck who ever sucked, and he's killing the program. And as long as the offense is inept the defense will continue to get hung out to dry, which has happened repeatedly to the warriors on the other side of the ball. The sad fact is that FSU is stuck until Bobby retires - I'm guessing after the 2007 season - because Jeff stays as long as Bobby does. I understand the situation now and I'll deal with it, but I DON'T LIKE IT.
Also, thanks to the inept showing of FSU's offense I got to watch Clemson score a last-second game-winning touchdown in Doak Campbell, only to change the channel in disgust just in time to see Florida score a fourth-quarter game-winning touchdown against Tennessee, which is roughly the football equivalent of getting a prostrate exam and then, right when the doctor's in up to his elbow, he kicks you in the nuts. So that sucked.
All in all a great day of football that went horribly, horribly wrong. On to the conference schedules!