Monday, October 01, 2007
In Case You Missed It: Week 5
...Has the world gone mad? After the pollsters sifted through the carnage from the weekend's action on the gridiron, they saw fit to anoint the Kentucky Wildcats the #8 team in the country. That is a tad ridiculous. Sure Kentucky's 5-0 start is somewhat surprising, but let's examine how tough their schedule has actually been by looking at their second-order Division IA wins. Second-order wins are the victories by teams Kentucky has beaten. Those second-order wins are: Iowa State (1-4), Ohio (2-3), Middle Tennessee State (1-4) twice, NC State (1-4), Troy (3-2), North Texas (0-4) twice, and Minnesota (1-4). Kentucky's best second-order win is over Troy. To be fair, Troy is a solid team (they did knock off Oklahoma State), but when that is your marquee second-order win, you don't belong in the top 10. Kentucky is coasting on the reps of two of the teams they have beaten; Louisville and Arkansas. Last season, those two teams were two of the country's best, but this season that is not the case. Louisville has since dropped another game, this one at home against Syracuse, while Arkansas is 0-2 against the SEC, but 2-0 against the Sun Belt. Do you honestly believe that Kentucky is better than Florida, or Oklahoma, or Texas, or Oregon, or a litany of other squads? Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings have the Wildcats at 16. To me that is still a little too generous.
...Congratulations are in order for the South Florida Bulls. On Friday, they knocked off Big East favorite and top 10 team , West Virginia. That's a pretty impressive feat for a team that hadn't played a game when Nebraska and Florida dueled in the Orange Bowl in January of 1996. Still, the Bulls are not the best team in Florida (as some pundits have erroneously claimed), nor are they the best team in the Big East. That distinction belongs to the team that was vanquished Friday, the West Virginia Mountaineers. Before you run grab your pitchforks, consider this: The Bulls won 21-13 despite having homefield advantage, forcing 6 turnovers (including one that was directly returned for a touchdown), and knocking out West Virginia's starting quarterback, Pat White. Step back a moment, away from the emotion of the biggest win in school history, and see the Bulls for what they are. The Bulls were outgained by 163 yards, out first downed 21-13, and their star quarterback, Matt Grothe, completed only 11 of his 20 pass attempts. The Bulls are not a bad team. On the contrary, they are a very good team. However, they do not belong in any discussion of national championships. They will fall at least twice in Big East play, and the West Virginia Mountaineers will garner the league title.
...One of my preseason sleeper teams, the Cincinnati Bearcats, are rising high at 5-0. This week they open Big East play against Rutgers at Piscataway. How good are the Bearcats? We'll know a lot more after this weekend. Though they have been extremely dominant thus far (outscoring their first 5 opponents by almost 36 points per game), here are their second-order wins: Utah (2-3), Ball State (3-2), and Syracuse (1-4). That's it.
...Kansas State is using the same formula that got them to a bowl game last season--great special teams to compensate for a mediocre offense and defense. The Wildcats brought back both a punt and kickoff for scores against Texas (as well as an interception). Last season the Wildcats were 17th in punt return average and 1st in kickoff return average. This season they are 1st in punt return average and 26th in kickoff return average. This week's game against Kansas is probably the biggest game in the rivalry since 1995 (when both finished 10-2).
...Speaking of Kansas, they have outscored their first 4 opponents by 191 points. However, their second-order wins are against Toledo (1-4), Northern Illinois (1-4), and Iowa State (1-4).
...Continuing their recent history of breaking Clemson's heart, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets knocked off the Tigers 13-3 despite Taylor Bennett pulling his best Reggie Ball impression (7 of 15 for only 67 yards). Just so you don't forget here's how the 2004 game ended.