Monday, September 10, 2007
In Case You Missed It: Week 2
...For a few schools with designs on special seasons, defense was optional. First, in Ruston, Louisiana, the Hawaii Warriors gave up 410 yards and 44 points (38 in regulation) in their 45-44 win over Louisiana Tech. The Warriors have the schedule and the offense to compete for a BCS bid this season, but if this game is any indication, their defense has a long way to go. The Bulldogs averaged only 18.6 points per game last season and scored more than 30 points just three times (Nicholls State, Utah State, and North Texas). Kudos to first-year coach Derek Dooley (Vince's son) for going for the win in the first OT by attempting a two-point conversion. Next in Dallas, the SMU Mustangs, a team seeking its first bowl appearance since 1984, allowed 31 points and over 600 yards passing in their 45-31 win over North Texas. The Mean Green averaged only 12.8 points per game in 2006 and broke the 30-point barrier only once (Louisiana Tech). In fact, their ironically named quarterback, Daniel Meager, threw for only 517 yards last year. This performance also comes just one week after the Mustang defense allowed over 450 passing yards and 49 points to Texas Tech. Then, in Oxford, the Missouri Tigers, a team with a realistic shot at nabbing the Big 12 North, allowed 534 total yards and 25 points to Ole Miss in their 38-25 win. The Rebels averaged only 15.7 points per game last season and scored more than 25 points twice (Memphis and Northwestern State). Last week the Rebels managed only 1 offensive touchdown and 275 total yards against Memphis. The Tigers also gave up 34 points and 435 yards to Illinois. Finally, on Thursday night, at home no less, Louisville surrendered 42 points, 555 yards, and plenty of big plays to Middle Tennessee State. Those same Blue Raiders were held to 14 points and 217 yards last weekend to Florida. Florida Atlantic. Each of these teams must improve substantially if they fancy meeting their preseason expectations.
...What a bad weekend for the ACC. Two of the three marquee programs took it on the chin big time in road showdowns. Virginia Tech got blasted by LSU 48-7 and Miami was trounced by Oklahoma 51-13. While both those games were on the road, it would have been nice for the Hokies and Canes to at least have been competitive. Elsewhere, the league's third marquee program fell behind early to UAB and struggled to beat the Blazers 34-24 at home. Just as a point of reference, those same Blazers lost to Michigan State 55-18 one week ago. Further down the conference ladder, North Carolina fell to East Carolina, and the league's defending champ (Wake Forest) fell at home to Nebraska, despite playing well. More beating could be in store as well this weekend, as the Terps from Maryland host West Virginia on Thursday. The league's best chance for a marquee non-conference win will probably come Thanksgiving Weekend when Georgia Tech hosts Georgia and Florida State and Clemson travel to Florida and South Carolina respectively. It's likely all three teams will be underdogs on that weekend.
...As for what I said about Michigan last week, well here's an official retraction. Michigan is nowhere near one of the top 25 teams in the nation. Despite their 0-2 start, the Wolverines still have 6 home games left and will probably avoid the stigma of a losing season.
...Michigan's opponent this weekend happens to be Notre Dame. Charlie Weis doesn't look like such a genius without Brady Quinn does he? While Notre Dame will likely improve substantially over the course of the season, right now their offense is atrocious. They have scored 0 offensive touchdowns while allowing over 30 points to both Georgia Tech and Penn State.
...Speaking of Penn State, their quarterback, Anthony Morelli, must improve if Penn State is to become an elite team. Morelli completed 12 of 22 for 131 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception against a Notre Dame defense not known for shutting teams down. Any guy can win 8 games under center with that defense, but Penn State should have their goals set much higher this season. With their biggest road test (Michigan) suddenly looking not all that tough, the Nittany Lions have the schedule to get Joe Pa to New Orleans and the BCS Championship Game. After playing Buffalo this weekend, Big 10 play begins and the quarterback play must improve.