Many things became a bit clearer on Saturday. One thing that's clear is that there'll be no clear choice for the National Title Game. Here are the lessons...
1. MIAMI SHOULD ROLL THROUGH THE ACC
NC State was a contender, but they were slightly exposed by Virginia Tech. Florida State also shouldn't be overlooked. But nobody can beat Miami on paper. On the field, however, Jacory Harris can make some ridiculously token throws, and awful decisions. He'll probably cost the Canes a game this season. But so long as it's not next week against FSU, the U will be fine.
2. TCU WILL GET SCREWED
Stop whining for Boise State, who get the lion's share of the attention for being the non-BCS underdog. TCU could be the team that gets screwed, partially because they play a more simplistic brand of football compared to Boise, and partially because they were ranked 6th in the preseason poll. TCU crushed Baylor, who've otherwise looked decent. They'll also play #25 Air Force and #10 Utah. If they win those games and run the table, they'll deserve a title shot as much as Boise, if not more.
3. THE BIG EAST STILL SUCKS
The SEC has 6 teams in the AP Top 25. The BigTen has 5. The Big XII 4, The Pac-10 and Mountain West each have 3, the WAC and ACC have 2. The Big East have none. West Virginia increased their vote totals and would be 26th, but they were idle. The Big East as a whole went 5-1 on Saturday, all against dreadful competition. Rutgers lost 17-14 at home to Tulane.
4. TEXAS IS SCREWED
The Big XII South remains in doubt, as the Sooners still have to travel to Columbia, College Station, Waco, and Stillwater. But Texas hasn't just lost twice, they've lost their most important conference game, and unlike Oklahoma, they have to play Nebraska.
5. ALABAMA IS CLEARLY THE #1 TEAM IN THE NATION
Tell that to 2 AP voters, and 1 Coaches' Poll voter. The Tide returned most of their offense this year, but only 1 defensive starter came back. Would they be able to play good defense in the SEC? We know now that the answer is "yes." Bama already has two huge conference wins under their belt, which is huge. They'll have to keep it up next week @ South Carolina and future meetings with LSU and Auburn. They also have some nice easy games mixed in there. Go Bama! Roll Tide!
6. OREGON IS PROBABLY THE #2 TEAM IN THE NATION
This is why there should be no preseason poll. In fact, there probably shouldn't be a poll until October. Ohio State is ranked #2 in both polls. Oregon is ranked #3. OSU has a quality win over Miami. Oregon has a quality win over Stanford. OSU barely beat Illinois on the road. Oregon has played two road games and won both fairly easily. I'll take Oregon over Ohio State. At the very least, they're on the same level.
7. IOWA HAS A BETTER SHOT TO WIN THE BIG TEN THAN YOU THINK
What do Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State all have in common? They all have to play in Iowa City. Iowa just throttled Penn State out there, and as the weather gets cold and windy, it becomes a very very tough place to play. The Big Ten will be a mess all year, and Iowa could very well emerge on top.
8. NOVEMBER 26TH IS 52 DAYS AWAY
Nevada destroyed UNLV 44-26, improving to 5-0. They're 5th in the country with 303.8 rushing yards per game. They're 4th with 44.6 points per game. And they're a decent 40th, allowing only 20.0 points per game. They host Boise State on November 26th, in Reno, NV.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Interceptions, blocked kicks, blocked punts, and tons of returns for touchdowns. Was Troy Brown playing? This was just a very strange football game. Strange, but enjoyably so. When was the last time the Patriots defense and special teams made so many big plays?
It was nice that the defense made Chad Henne look like Chad Henne. I don't think I'm alone when I say that I was worried the D would make him look like Marino, just like they made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Jim Kelly. At the same time, we shouldn't glorify the Patriots defense and special teams as being playmakers all on their own. The Dolphins contributed with their awful protection on special teams, and Chad Henne's very poor decision making.
But I'll take a divisional road win. And it was as close to a "must win" as you can get in Week 4. The Pats couldn't afford a second divisional loss. And if they hadn't won this road game, doubt may have festered in the Pats' locker room for two weeks.
What's kind of nice is that the Patriots didn't need Tom Brady, Randy Moss, or Wes Welker to have ridiculous games. BJG Ellis was arguably the best performer on the offense, with 76 yards in 16 carries (4.8 per carry), and a touchdown. Danny Woodhead had an eerily Kevin Faulk kind of performance with only 36 rushing yards, 11 receiving yards, but obviously much more than that. Because each of those yards were big. And that one reception he had was for a touchdown.
The offense didn't do much. They didn't have to. It really was all about the defense and special teams making big plays. But they made them by doing their job, and capitalizing on mistakes. That was very 2001-like. Ninkovich's interceptions came because he did his job in coverage, the ball found him, and he caught it. It's not complicated.
I didn't like Vince Wilfork being used as a defensive end. It gave the Dolphins license to run to the other side. And Wilfork was too distant from the point of attack to have any effect. I understand that the Pats are short of DEs. But that shortage shouldn't cause them to also be short of DTs. Wilfork in the middle at least forces the opposing running game further to the right or left. If Wilfork is on the end, half the field is open for a rushing attack.
Let's not get too high from this win. But it is nice, isn't it?
Pats have next weekend off, then host Baltimore on the 17th.
Oh yeah, Tom Brady's 100th (regular season) win as a starter. Fastest QB to 100 wins. Ever.