by Todd Helmick
NationalChamps.net

October 11, 2007

PRESEASON POLL MORE ACCURATE THAN MID-SEASON POLL
All the talk about waiting until the mid-season point to release a Top 25 college football poll is absolutely absurd. Well now is the mid-season point and the AP Poll has Cal, Boston College and South Florida in the Top 5. With all due respect to these teams, they are not Top 5 caliber. Maybe the Golden Bears can make a case with their potent offense, but the toughest opponent Boston College has faced may have come from nearby Division I-AA UMass. South Florida has been impressive, but anointing them as a Top 5 team at this point is a huge stretch. The preseason polls take the entire season into account granted without any games having been played. The current poll only looks at what has occurred the first six weeks where some teams have yet to be tested on a semi-regular basis. The preseason polls are more accurate than the one that came out this mid-season Sunday. Only time will tell such truths.

BUTCH DAVIS STILL TEACHING MIAMI LESSONS
Miami has taken steps back each week since their national spotlight beating of Texas A&M. The Hurricanes struggled against Duke in a home win two weeks ago and this past Saturday looked like the ugly teams that got former Coach Larry Coker fired. Senior QB Kyle Wright is returning to his interception prone form and the defense is starting to yield as well. Carolina finished with a season-high 183 yards rushing and freshman QB T.J. Yates threw for 218 yards in beating the Canes. Old Miami boss Butch Davis out coached current boss Randy Shannon big time.

EXPECTATIONS KILLING A PROGRAM
After South Florida beat West Virginia two weeks ago many WVU fans emailed me to find out just what was wrong with the Mountaineers and head coach Rich Rodriguez. The only reply...never belittle Rodriguez. He is an offensive genius and has taken WVU from being a once every five-year team to an expectation that could never have been imagined in Morgantown. Being in the Top 10 is no longer the prelude for celebration. Expectations aren't all they are cracked up to be as WVU fans are now finding out. Winning every game is so difficult.

THE EYES OF KANSAS
The Kansas victory over in-state rival Kansas State was the first Jayhawks win in Manhattan since 1989. While Kansas head coach Mark Mangino wants the nation to take notice, the fact is the jury is still out. Yes, the non-conference September schedule was that bad as the list of opponents currently have an overall record of 7-16. Sorry Coach, you asked for this schedule, now take the heat. The Jayhawks also will not face Texas or Oklahoma from the South Division this season. But the nation is going to watch much more closely.

MENDENHALL FOR HEISMAN
If Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill is getting consideration for the Heisman so should Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall. The Illini defense held Hill to just 83 yards while Mendenhall managed 160 yards on the day. He continues to produce each and every week. No other RB in the Big Ten has shown as much consistency outside of Michigan's Mike Hart.

SPARTAN SHUFFLE
The Michigan State defense has become lost in the Big Ten shuffle the past two weeks. Opponents Wisconsin and Northwestern have put up 85 total points and 1072 total yards on the Spartans.

NOT THE SAME AUBURN TEAM
Tommy Tuberville can coach. This same Auburn team that got beat at home by South Florida and Mississippi State while displaying some poor offensive football has now gone into The Swamp and beaten the Gators before taking Vanderbilt to the woodshed this past week. This is not the same Auburn team that took the field on opening weekend.

GOING TO WAR AGAINST WYOMING
Wyoming beat TCU this week and now has the best overall record in the Mountain West. It was the 300th football game played in War Memorial Stadium. Wyoming's record in the stadium is 203-90-7. If you are going to schedule the Cowboys, make sure to get a 2-for-1 home deal.

TEXAS STATE CIRCUS
Watching the Red River Rivalry this weekend showed one thing is for certain, the Texas and Oklahoma defenses have pass coverage issues. Each team's receivers were open by more than 15 yards with every pass attempt. After a slow first quarter, this game looked more like an aerial circus than the Texas State Fair. The Longhorn’s concern going into the season was filling holes in the secondary. The concern has been validated. Oklahoma has no excuse for their talented but lagging secondary the past two weeks, which includes the Colorado upset.

SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE IN THE SEC EAST
Vanderbilt has been a big disappointment thus far. Yes, this is still Vanderbilt, but they honestly had the highest expectations since 1982, the last time the Commodores had a winning season. Most knew Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt could not all rise up and push for the East crown. Someone had to falter.

CLEMSON DEJA VUE SPECIAL TEAMS
Last week this article pointed out the special teams problems with Clemson as they missed four field goals, had a punt blocked for a TD and gave up a fumble on a kickoff return against Georgia Tech. This week against Virginia Tech, the Tigers gave up an interception return, a punt return and a kickoff return, all for touchdowns. Of note...the three return TDs Saturday gave Virginia Tech 63 non-offensive touchdowns since 1999 -- the most in college football in that span. The touted Clemson RB duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller had a combined 12 yards on 12 carries against the Hokies and struggled for the second straight week. When QB Cullen Harper throws 38 passes and the RBs have 12 carries, throw in the towel...

MAKING MATTERS WORSE
According to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach (link):
When Clemson coach Tommy Bowden was asked about his team's poor special teams play last week, he asked a reporter for evidence the Tigers weren't, well, special in the kicking game. Bowden told reporters that in his first seven seasons, Clemson didn't have a punt or field goal blocked and didn't allow a kickoff return for a touchdown. Bowden was wrong, according to The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C. In fact, the Tigers had 12 punts blocked, five field goals blocked and three of their kickoffs returned for touchdowns during that span, the paper reported.

USC COULD BEAT THE BUFFALO BILLS
In the past two weeks USC has committed 24 penalties and eight turnovers. The Trojans may not be out of the national title race after losing to Stanford, but senior QB John David Booty is out of the Heisman race. Even at this level, winning games with those type of negative numbers is too much to overcome, unless your name is Dick Jauron and you coach the Buffalo Bills, who got beat by the Dallas Cowboys Monday night despite getting six turnovers. Hey Coach Jaruon, there are seven seconds left and Dallas has no time outs. They need 5-10 more yards to get into field goal range for a win. THEY ARE GOING TO RUN A SHORT DOWN AND OUT! Yep, that's what they did. The field goal was also good.

THE IRISH WIN SO THE SCOREBOARD SAYS
UCLA must have been drinking the same Los Angeles water as their cross-town rival USC. The Bruins’ seven turnovers got them beat by a Notre Dame team who rushed for 46 yards and passed for 94.

GUTS AND GLORY AWARD
If there was a “Guts and Glory” Award, LSU head coach Les Miles gets the honor this week for those crucial fourth and short goal line calls that beat the Gators. RB Jacob Hester did the same thing Florida QB Tim Tebow has been doing to opponents all season…moving the chains.

CLOUDY BIG TEN SKY
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense and showed as much by giving Purdue a dose of reality in terms of what it's like to play a real defense by holding them to seven points and 4 yards rushing on 17 attempts. The Buckeyes will close out the season with Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. November football under a cloudy sky in the Big Ten, oh baby!

FAROUT FIELD SIGNATURES
Missouri needed a signature win in front of a signature crowd. They sure got one over North Division counterpart Nebraska at Faurot Field Saturday night. The fans came dressed in yellow for the so-called "Gold Rush" game, Missouri's first sellout since the Nebraska game in 2003. The Cornhuskers were “gold rushed” 606-297 in total offense differentials. This crowd was loud and crazy. If the Tigers played every game in Columbia under this circumstance, they would likely run the table.