Teams of the Week
That means you, Washington. And you, too, Northern Illinois. But definitely not UConn. The Dogs from Seattle scored the most impressive win of the weekend, stomping Boise State. Steve Sarkisian’s team is another BCS threat in the loaded Pac-12. Illinois fans will get a good look at Washington at Soldier Field. Does Dick Butkus have any eligibility left? A year ago, Northern Illinois lost a one-point game to open the season against Iowa, then didn’t lose again. Saturday, the Huskies got revenge, rallying behind quarterback Jordan Lynch. A second consecutive big bowl is doable. Seriously. As for UConn, which lost to Towson, at least basketball season is on the way.
Team of the Weak
All sorts of candidates in this category, but the Beavers gain the nod after an opening loss to Eastern Washington. No offense to the I-AA school, but Oregon State shouldn’t be losing to it. Mike Riley’s guys were talked about as a dark-horse challenger in the Pac-12. Not now. With their pride gouged, the Beavers will try to rebound against Hawaii. The guys at Southern Cal can tell them that a win against the Warriors is far from a lock. Lose on Saturday and it will be a long season in Corvallis.
SCHOOL PREVIOUS RANK
1. Ohio State 1
H.U. briefly thought about dropping the Buckeyes a spot. They weren’t exactly overwhelming in the opener against Buffalo. But we are going to give credit to the Bulls, who are being run on defense by former Illini coach Lou Tepper. He used to own Ohio State, and he must have maintained some of his tricks. After a week of getting yelled at in practice by Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes will play better Saturday against overmatched San Diego State. The Ohio State schedule looks softer now after Cal was handled by Northwestern. Hard to imagine Ohio State losing a game before November.
2. Alabama 2
The Crimson Tide looked like the two-time defending national champion while pounding Virginia Tech in the opener. Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas is going to have nightmares about Alabama’s defense. Nick Saban’s guys weren’t as great on offense, but special teams play was spectacular.
The Tide takes the week off to get ready for the hootenanny against Texas A&M the following Saturday.
3. South Carolina 3
Turns out Jadeveon Clowney isn’t Superman. He can’t tackle everybody just by staring at them. And he won’t finish with more sacks than Schnucks. (Quarterback bags doesn’t have the same ring to it.) What we didn’t know about Steve Spurrier’s team before the win against North Carolina is that the offense is pretty good, too. Keeping Connor Shaw healthy is a key to the team’s success. Saturday’s game against a disappointed Georgia team won’t be easy. They never are.
4. Clemson 8
Dabo Swinney’s guys take Georgia’s spot after the thrilling win against the Bulldogs at home. With that game out of the way, the Tigers have a clean route to the national title game, though there are plenty of potential roadblocks. The Clemson offense is set with the dynamic play of quarterback Tajh Boyd. Saturday’s game against South Carolina State will be time for the Tigers to name the score. Probably somewhere in the 60s.
5. Oregon 5
Hey, what do you know? A game against a real FBS team this week for the Ducks. After pounding Nicholls State, Oregon plays against Virginia. A breeze? Probably not. A reason for the Quackers to fret? Not this week. Maybe they can sweat against Tennessee.
6. Stanford 6
Sept. 14 is the time for Tiger Woods to support his old school. A game against Army is perfect for Woods, who can be patriotic and get a round in at Beth Page Black at the same time. Before that trip, however, the Cardinal will manhandle San Jose State. In a nice way.
7. Louisville 7
The Cardinals didn’t mess around with Ohio, smacking the Fighting Soliches during Sunday’s game. The future ACC powers should have a blast Saturday against Eastern Kentucky. Then, it is the game they wait all year for against Kentucky. Rick Pitino will be nearby. Laughing.
8. LSU 9
Les Miles got the last laugh against Gary Patterson. After the TCU coach poked fun at LSU-style discipline, the Tigers controlled the Horned Frogs in the opener. Saturday’s game against UAB will be less showy. Unless the Blazers foolishly rip on Miles and his clothing choices.
9. Florida 10
We have to guess the Gators were looking ahead while playing Toledo in the opener. How else to explain a lackluster performance against Toledo. Why were the Gators not focused? Because they visit Miami on Saturday. The series is always fun, unless you lose.
10. Texas A&M —
What mistake will Johnny Manziel make this week? He is putting together a how-to book on what not to do early in your college career. He should know better than to argue with officials. But he apparently doesn’t. Was he raised by wolves? Was he ever told about this word called “manners?” We are reminded once again that it is a short fall from the top if you don’t behave. Nobody is going to cut the guy any slack, least of all officials. So please, Johnny, be good.
SCHOOL PREVIOUS RANK
125. Georgia State 125
The Panthers kept a firm grasp as the bottom team in the country by losing to Samford. Might be a sign that the FBS wasn’t a good move for the Sun Belt newcomer. A year ago, the Panthers went 1-10 while playing in the Colonial. On Saturday, Georgia State welcomes Chattanooga, which looks for its biggest win since the basketball team knocked off Lon Kruger’s Illini in the NCAA tournament. Probably didn’t need to bring that up.
124. Kansas State —
H.U. was wrong. Way wrong. Should have never made fun of North Dakota State, which showed again it can play with the best, upsetting the Wildcats in Manhattan. What happened to K-State? Did the players spend too much time in Aggieville the night before the game? Doubt it. Did Bill Snyder not prepare his team? Highly doubt it. Kansas State got caught like others before it. Just ask Lloyd Carr about Appalachian State. Too soon, Wolverines? Kansas State should move out of the B-FIVE after Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Unless the players sneak off to Aggieville for some late-night refreshments.
123. Idaho 124
The Vandals made sure regular Bottom Five dweller North Texas was safe the first week, losing 40-6 to the Mean Green. Somewhere, Sujay Lama is smiling. Idaho faces another nasty game this week, playing Wyoming. The Cowboys figure to be riled up after the near miss against Nebraska. Idaho will find out again this year how difficult it is to make it as an FBS independent. But at least it can avoid all of those tedious conference meetings.
122. Florida International 122
Ron Turner’s first game back in college went a lot like his first season at Illinois. Maryland slammed the Golden Panthers in the opener, taking some of the pressure off Randy Edsall. Now, the heat applies to Turner. At least a little bit. FIU should be more competitive in the second game against Central Florida. Like Turner’s team, UCF is trying to turn the program in the right direction.
121. Central Michigan —
There was a time when the Chips produced top coaches and waited for bowl bids. Brian Kelly came from there. So did Butch Jones. But Saturday’s wipeout by Michigan shows that the program has fallen. Into the deep end of the ocean. All should be well against New Hampshire, unless the Chips pull a K-State.
1. SEC 1
2. ACC 5
3. Pac-12 3
4. Big 12 4
5. Big Ten 2
6. American 7
7. MAC 8
8. Mountain West 6
9. C-USA 9
10. Sun Belt 10
1. Braxton Miller, Ohio State. His numbers against Buffalo weren’t overwhelming. But the Heisman is a marathon, not a sprint. The key for the Ohio State quarterback is how he performs in the big games against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan. Keep winning games and he will stay at the top of the list.
2. Tajh Boyd, Clemson. A good sign for a player’s chances: getting mentioned in several parts of a college football column. A big night against Georgia makes him the top challenger to Miller. For now. He has many more chances to impress the picky voters.
3. Christion Jones, Alabama. Speedster became the first Alabama player since the 1940s to take two returns back for touchdowns in the same game. He added a third touchdown on a reception. Alabama needs a Heisman candidate, and it helps that it is somebody other than a quarterback. The school has just one Heisman winner in its history. Time for No. 2.
Congrats to UTSA, which escaped the Bottom Five with an opening win against New Mexico. The Roadrunners face a nasty schedule, including this week’s game against Oklahoma State. But a win, any win, means progress. Even if it comes against Bob Davie’s Lobos. Wonder if he is thinking about calling ESPN to ask for his broadcasting job back. Recruiting in loaded Texas, UTSA has a chance to build the program in a hurry. It won’t challenge Texas or A&M, but it will give the endless college football fans another team to consider.
H.U. has found a show that fans might want to check out: ESPN’s “College Football Daily.” Besides keeping you updated on the latest news, the show offers a pair of weekly interviews. One is with new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, the former leader at Wisconsin. Bielema is taking advantage of the appearances, reaching out to recruits with his likable personality. Fixing the Razorbacks mess won’t be easy. But using the media should speed things up. The second weekly interview is with Clemson’s Boyd. He comes off well: smart and funny. NFL GMs should tune in, too.
The new rules dealing with hits on defenseless players drew plenty of off-season interest. Is it working? Too early to tell. The players, coaches and especially the officials will have to make adjustments. Like with a pitcher throwing at a batter, it is difficult to read intent. Bottom line for the players: If you think it might be an improper hit, it probably is. They will have to go against their football instincts and think before they lower the boom.