by Todd Helmick
October 2, 2007
South Florida is the only team to hold WVU under 27
points in their last 21 games. And they have done it
twice. The USF defensive line was more physical and
outmanned the WVU front line Friday night. You have
to credit the Bulls defense, Coach Leavitt and Defensive
Coordinator Wally Burnham. They are not fearful of attacking
this spread-option offense that so much dominates college
football these days.
GOOD IS THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE?
Thus far, Cincinnati has lived up to their first national
ranking in 31 years. The 5-0 start is the best for a
Connecticut team since 1995 when the Huskies went 6-0
as a Division I-AA school. Before anyone gets too excited,
much like the paths of Rutgers and West Virginia, neither
the Bearcats nor the Huskies have played anyone remotely
resembling a ranked opponent. How good is the Big East?
It's hard to tell when all they do is play each other
given the weak nature of the non-conference schedules.
But from top to bottom this is a very competitive conference,
as South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt reiterated after
his team upset then No. 5 WVU on Friday night, "It's
a good win for us but I don't want to get ahead of myself.
I really don't," said Leavitt. "In this conference,
anybody can beat anybody."
Which Hurricane team is this? The one that gave up 51
points to Oklahoma in a crushing defeat, the one that
looked as if they had turned the corner on national
television while manhandling Texas A&M or the one
that had to have QB Kyle Wright return from an injury
to throw a game-clinching TD pass with just over two
minutes left while escaping an upset bid by Duke. The
Blue Devils racked up 302 yards of offense in the Orange
The Badgers get a defensive struggle on the road at
UNLV earlier this past month. They get into a “closer
than the score appears” offensive battle with
The Citadel. They go back to a defensive struggle in
a 17-13 home win over Iowa. Now they light up the scoreboard
in another offensive showdown with Michigan State, who
is not an offensive juggernaut, as both teams combined
for 1025 yards of offense. Wisconsin extended the nation's
longest winning streak to 14 and now second year coach
Bret Bielema is off to a 17-1 career start. The contests
have not been pretty, but the results sure have.
WEIS’ DAM LEAKING
The Irish fell behind 23-0 at the half this week against
Purdue, and Weis let his players know he's tired of
playing catch-up. Each week now seems to be an adventure
in terms of what part of this Irish team will fail to
hold water. Notre Dame has issues everywhere. No one
unit on this dam can be patched while the others continue
to spring leaks.
IS THE PROBLEM IN HAPPY VALLEY?
The Nittany Lions once talked about winning the Big
Ten title but now talk about just winning a conference
game. The whole key to Penn State, as pegged this preseason,
is going to be the play of senior QB Anthony Morelli.
He had three key interceptions in the loss to Illinois
and has not been able to get his playmaking receivers
the ball. Even more important, the Penn State defense
that looked so good against over matched opponents in
the first three games has now given up a combined 382
rushing yards in the past two. That formula will not
work in the Big Ten.
FUN-N-GUN AT IT AGAIN
Musical QBs has always been the theme for the ole ball
coach Steve Spurrier when one is not performing up to
his lofty standards. Freshman QB Chris Smelley replaced
senior starter Blake Mitchell this past week versus
Mississippi State and threw for 279 yards. "Yeah,
it was fun," Spurrier said. "It's a lot more
fun seeing the ball in the air." If the Gamecocks
can continue to place a priority on throwing the football,
as opposed to just relying on the ground game and defense,
they can win the SEC East.
CONTINUES TO IMPRESS HEISMAN VOTERS
Speaking of SEC East favorites, the Gamecock's next
opponent this coming Thursday, Kentucky is the highest
ranked team in this East Division. QB Andre' Woodson
finally had his 325 consecutive passes without an interception
streak broken Saturday. However, he threw a career high
five TDs and was 26 of 33 for a season-high 301 yards
in just over three quarters against Florida Atlantic.
After being down 24-7, Colorado regrouped and out gained
the Sooners 219 yards to 56 in the second half in a
shocking upset. After going 2-10 in his 2006 opening
season, this was obviously the map-making win Coach
Hawkins needed to get this Boulder program back on track.
The Big 12 North may not be as bad as once thought.
With Colorado and Kansas State getting big wins over
South Division big boys Oklahoma and Texas, there is
new hope. Outside of a struggling Iowa State, the rest
of the North finally seems to be on course with the
parity that exists through out college football.
MARYLAND FINALLY FOUND A QB?
Three QBs were fighting for starting duties this past
spring (Jordan Steffy, Josh Portis and Chris Turner).
After attending the spring Red & White Game, NationalChamps.net
noted for several newspapers that Turner looked like
the best passer of the bunch. In beating Rutgers on
Saturday, Turner proved as much while filling in for
an injured Steffy. He gave Maryland an avenue of which
they had not traveled...a legitimate threat to finally
attack down field. Also, bruising Terp RB Keon Lattimore
is the true essence of a ball carrier that looks like
he is running down hill. He over staged Heisman Candidate
Ray Rice who was held to 97 yards rushing, including
38 yards on his last 15 attempts. Maryland made Rutgers
look like an average ball club.
Tight wins versus Arkansas State and UCF left a big
question mark as to how good this Longhorn team actually
could be. The answer may have come this past weekend
in Austin as Kansas State harassed QB Colt McCoy into
his worst game with a relentless pass rush and four
interceptions. The big difference however, outside of
McCoy being overrated, Kansas State scored three touchdowns
on special teams and an interception.
OFFICIALS GET IT RIGHT, SO THE RULE SAYS
The best news of the weekend came from the Oregon replay
booth given last year's Oklahoma replay debacle. With
22 seconds to go, Oregon's Dennis Dixon hit receiver
Cameron Colvin, who fumbled trying to reach the ball
into the end zone. The loose ball went through the end
zone and was ruled a touchback and possession for Cal.
The play was reviewed, the call stood and time ran out.
This rule needs changed. If nobody gains control of
the fumble before it goes out of bounds, the ball should
go back to the spot of the fumble. This is just my opinion,
LOSES TO DUKE AND GEORGIA TECH
Clemson kicker Mark Buchholz missed four field goals,
Georgia Tech blocked a punt to set up its only touchdown
and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return, leading
to a field goal that finished off a 13-3 upset of the
No. 13 Tigers. The big news of note in this game was
that place kicker Buchholz played in a soccer game the
previous night, having assisted on both Clemson goals
in a 4-2 loss to Duke before making the two hour drive
to Atlanta for the football game. What can coach Tommy
Bowden do? Will Buchholz choose soccer if forced to
The Alabama vs. Florida State game was played at the
neutral confines of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
The 85,412 fans at Saturday's game were the most to
see a game in Jacksonville, exceeding attendance at
the 2004 Super Bowl game or any of the annual Georgia-Florida
rivalry games. Backup QB Xavier Lee looked poised after
replacing Drew Weatherford in the second quarter and
even more important gave FSU something they are in desperate
need of, another dimension for their struggling running
game. "He gave them a spark," Alabama coach
Nick Saban said. "His ability to run made us play
USC committed 16 penalties for 161 yards in beating
Washington. 16 PENALTIES! No one is blaming the referees
calling this game...ahem. But this was ridiculous. The
Trojans also committed three turnovers. Senior QB John
David Booty looked anything but a Heisman Trophy contender
going 20 of 37 passing with two interceptions. This
USC team is about running the football and playing defense,
a far cry from the dynasty building teams of the past
THE TITLE IN GAINESVILLE
Auburn snapped an 11-game winning streak for the defending
national champions, who lost to Auburn last year, and
gave the Gators their first home loss under coach Urban
Meyer. The Tigers demonstrated that you have to play
defense to win in the SEC while keeping a lid on all
of the Florida big play offensive capabilities. The
unimaginable part of this equation is how Auburn was
able to rediscover some offensive success...in The Swamp.
Then again, the results may not be so surprising considering
how many defensive players the Gators had to replace
from a year ago. If defense wins championships, Florida
isn't quite there yet.