It was a monster weekend in college football. And although the quality of the big games didn't live up to expectations, we did learn quite a bit. And we're already starting to see the makings of another BCS controversy. Here are the lessons:
1. THE BIG EAST SUCKS
The Big Least had a good slate of games to rebound from Week 1's disappointments. UConn destroyed Texas Southern 62-3. Cincinnati took care of Indiana State. Pitt handled UNH. But Rutgers needed some late drama to hold off Florida International. Southern Florida was no match for Florida Florida. Syracuse was welcomed back to reality with a loss. And West Virginia very nearly lost to Marshall for the first time ever. I guess the Big East isn't that bad, there just aren't any teams worthy of a BCS Bowl bid. But they'll still get one in there.
2. THE ACC ALSO SUCKS
It's a bad day for your Conference when BC beating Kent State was the biggest victory of the day. You can understand Florida State and Miami losing tough road games, but FSU was throttled, and Miami's 4 picks were embarrassing. Virginia actually fought a good fight against USC. And NC State beat UCF on the road. But then comes the shame. Shame, shame, nothing but shame. #15 Georgia Tech loses to Kansas. And #13 Virginia Tech falls to James Madison.
3. THE ACC WILL BE FUN TO WATCH
You shouldn't care about Duke playing Wake Forest, unless it's basketball. But these teams played a 54-48 slugfest that saw 987 combined yards of offense. Despite the high score, Wake Forest led this game from the middle of the 2nd, and didn't surrender that lead. The ACC is wide open, as the top teams don't seem to be very good. I still like Miami to take it.
4. DENARD ROBINSON HAS HEISMAN POTENTIAL
Michigan's QB threw for 244 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 258 yards and 2 touchdowns. He not only has the numbers, he has many things to help his campaign. He had this game on a national stage. He plays in a BCS conference, in a nationally followed program. He's a QB who runs, and the Heisman Committee love that. He'll have games against bad teams to pad his stats, and games against good teams to garner attention. If Michigan contends for a Big Ten title, that will be the Perfect Storm for Mr. Robinson.
5. YOU CAN'T JUDGE ANYTHING FROM THE SCORE OF CUPCAKE GAMES
Oklahoma struggled against Utah State. For that reason, people were questioning their quality. But they won that game. That's nothing to be impressed with. Then again, I don't think Oregon's 72-0 shellacking of New Mexico was that big of a deal. If the Patriots beat BC 84-0, would we think the Pats were favorites to win the Super Bowl? If they beat BC 24-10, would we think they'd go 0-16 against NFL competition?
6. OREGON REALLY IS GOOD, THOUGH
The game was tied 13-13 at halftime. But Oregon showed good character, dominating the 2nd half in a hostile environment and on a big stage. Having LaMichael James back helped a bit. He ran for 134 yards and a score, which was a 72 yarder by the by.
7. USC IS OVERRATED
The Trojans barely beat Hawaii. They barely beat a dreadful Virginia team at home. They have Minnesota (who lost to North Dakota) next, then Washington State. So they'll be 4-0. But they'll get exposed. Thankfully, their being overrated doesn't affect the BCS much.
8. BOISE STATE WILL NOT BE IN THE TITLE GAME
It was such a moronic question last week. "If Boise State goes undefeated, will they be in the Championship game?" The answer would depend on so many things. And while their victory over Virginia Tech seemed impressive a week ago, it's not looking too big now, is it? Meanwhile, teams like Alabama will be racking up big wins late in the season, which will be fresh in the voter's minds. Ohio State looks poised to make a run. There are three powerhouses in the Big XII. Oregon will contend. And don't forget whoever emerges from the SEC. Oh, and TCU might also run the table, in the more legitimate Mountain West.
Monday, September 13, 2010
It's September. Early September at that. It's important to state that before going into the Patriots' 38-24 victory over the Bengals. A victory which was more dominating than that score suggests.
Not only did Brady and Welker combine for 2 touchdowns, not only did the tight ends excel, not only did Fred Taylor run all over the Bengals' second level, not only did the offensive line protect Brady, not only did Kevin Faulk have a big game catching and running, not only did Zoltan Mesko only punt once, but the defense also performed very well.
Devin McCourty made some excellent plays in pass defense. Gary Guyton had the interception, and as the CBS commentators noted, the Patriots' LBs didn't intercept a single pass last season. There was the forced fumble, and consistent pressure on Palmer that rushed throws and clogged his passing lanes.
Then there was the kickoff return for a touchdown. That and Guyton's INT touchdown were vintage 03-04 Patriots kind of plays. With an offense loaded with weapons, getting a pair of touchdowns from defense and special teams is a very nice bonus.
Those two returns won the game for the Patriots. They probably would have won without them, but they came at a time when the Bengals were already desperate. But 17-0 isn't a large deficit. 31-3 is. 31-3 gets opponents to start thinking about Week 2.
All this being said, there needs to be some attention paid to the negatives from this game. Maybe "negatives" is too harsh a term. The not-so-positives. Those big returns put the Bengals away by the start of the 3rd quarter. The Patriots' offense could have expedited that.
They blew a Red Zone opportunity and settled for a 32 yard field goal in the 1st quarter. Gostkowski missed a 47 yarder, as well. And the Pats' offense was unable to get him closer than 56 yards for an attempt at the end of the 2nd.
The defense made some big plays, but also allowed some big drives. They confused the Bengals in the 1st half, but Cincinnati learned and adapted. This athletic but inexperienced defense is going to allow some long, frustrating drives. It's up to the offense to make sure the game doesn't depend on them too much.
But it was a good win against a solid team, and this is the best I've felt about a Patriots' Week 1 performance since 2007. There's a slightly important game next Sunday against the Jets. 4:15 kickoff from the Meadowlands.