Asmussen: Way to go, Terps!
Team of the Week
Before the season, H.U. thought Terps coach Randy Edsall was as toasted as one of those delicious Subway sandwiches. Even put him on a list of guys most likely be to be fired. Wrongo. After Saturday’s blowout win against West Virginia, Maryland is 4-0 and on the cusp of H.U.’s AP ballot. Big news. It will have a chance to prove its worthiness on Oct. 5 when it plays Florida State for the last time as a member of the ACC. Should be a whiz-banger.
Team of the Weak
Those concerns we had about the offense turned out to be very true. Mark Dantonio’s offense looked abysmal Saturday at Notre Dame. The Irish were ready to lose, but Michigan State couldn’t get out of its own way. The Spartans are great on defense but are destined for another minor bowl unless they can figure out a way to consistently move the ball. Call Tom Izzo, he must have some ideas. There’s got to be a Michigan State basketball player or two who could help out. Now starting at receiver: Gary Harris.
SCHOOL PREVIOUS RANK
1. Alabama 1
Nice of Nick Saban to play a game against former assistant Jim McElwain and Colorado State ... then take them to the woodshed. It was Saban’s way of reminding his pupil that he shouldn’t count on any on-field favors. Alabama will need to play even better Saturday if it wants to stay undefeated. Hugh Freeze brings his talented Mississippi team to Tuscaloosa. Don’t think for a second Freeze will be freaked out by the idea. He is friends with Sandra Bullock. Stars don’t intimidate him, even one as powerful as Saban.
2. Ohio State 2
Urban Meyer must have missed that day in school where they talked about sportsmanship. There was none of it shown in the first half against overwhelmed Florida A&M. The Buckeyes scored every way they could think of, capping a 55-point half with a touchdown just before the gun. How bad would the score have been had Braxton Miller played? Kenny Guiton did enough, setting a school record with six touchdown passes. Would have bet that record belonged to Art Schlichter (ask your parents or a bookie). Ohio State will need Miller for Saturday’s game against Wisconsin. Gary Andersen did a great job against Purdue. Of all the games on Ohio State’s schedule, this one looks the most dangerous. Michigan has serious flaws and Northwestern looks like it doesn’t quite believe. But the Badgers are as close to the Buckeyes talent-wise as any team on the schedule.
3. Oregon 3
After taking the weekend off, Phil Knight’s favorite team hosts Cal on Saturday. It doesn’t take an actuary from AFLAC (the insurance company favored by the Ducks) to know it will be another blowout. By H.U.’s count, there are three teams on the schedule that can scare Oregon. And Cal isn’t one of them. Later games against Washington, UCLA and Stanford will tell us if the Ducks are worthy of a national title berth.
4. Clemson 4
Yes, the Tigers own the big nonconference win against Georgia. Impressive. Too bad Clemson doesn’t play every game against the SEC. It is hard to get excited about a team that beats up on the ACC. A win against North Carolina State didn’t add much. If they want one of the two national spots, the Tigers will need to maul Florida State and Miami while not slipping against any of the other mediocre teams in the league. Like Wake Forest.
5. Stanford 5
The Cardinal dominated Arizona State. David Shaw and his smart guys don’t need Jim Harbaugh to win at a high level. Now, is there any job out there that will ever appeal to Shaw? If a school out of the league, like Texas, came after him, would he listen? There might be a ceiling in Palo Alto. If Shaw’s goals are national titles, it might be easier someplace else. Like Austin. First, he’s got to get his team ready for a tricky game at Washington State. Don’t forget, the Cougs own a win against Southern Cal. Not an upset. Beating Stanford would qualify.
6. Louisville 6
Did you see the nice story about quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and his devotion to his cancer-stricken mom? A nice lesson for all athletes: sports are great, but family comes first. Louisville didn’t need Bridgewater while riding roughshod over Florida International on Saturday. The Cardinals scored 72 points. Zoinks. After all that scoring, they will take this weekend off. Then, follow that with a game against Temple. Eventually, the Cardinals will play a real game. But it will be awhile.
7. LSU 7
Is there anything better than watching football in a downpour, especially when you are home? The Tigers beat the driving rain and improved Auburn. The weather didn’t quiet the fans any. H.U. thinks LSU is the toughest place to play in the country. Too bad other schools don’t follow LSU’s lead and have markers every 5 yards. It serves as a reminder to the offense that it isn’t moving very well against Les Miles’ defense. LSU faces another major test this week with a trip to Georgia. Win that one and the Tigers will start to be taken seriously in the national title conversations.
8. Oklahoma State 9
Must be nice for the Cowboys to go a couple of days without an exposé on the program. Mike Gundy’s team rested last weekend ahead of the upcoming trip to West Virginia. Watching the Mountaineers get handled by Maryland had to make Oklahoma State feel better about its chances. Now, if Gundy could only control the media. Not ... going ... to ... happen. Oklahoma State now wears a giant target and the digging is a long way from over.
9. Florida State 9
All praise to Jimbo Fisher for having a heart against Bethune-Cookman. The Seminoles could have hit 100 but instead settled for a 54-6 victory. Perfect. The FCS school got a nice payday and Florida State got a lot of rest for its top players. The Seminoles should have just as easy of a time Saturday against Boston College. Doug Flutie isn’t able to brag about his alma mater much these days.
10. Georgia 10
H.U. didn’t follow up on a threat to drop the Bulldogs from the Top 10 if they didn’t beat North Texas by 40. But Georgia is officially on notice. It might be moot after Saturday’s game against LSU. H.U. suspects that LSU is the better team. We’ll see. Lose this one and the thoughts will have to turn to the Gator Bowl.
SCHOOL PREVIOUS RANK
125. Georgia State 125
The Panthers went to overtime against Jacksonville State on Saturday. It was by far the most winnable game left on the schedule. There is a really good chance that the Panthers hold down the prestigious 125th spot into next season. The good news? Georgia State can’t lose this weekend (bye)! But that’s only temporary as the Panthers visit Tuscaloosa on Oct. 5. H.U.’s advice: be happy with small victories. Celebrate the first first down like you just won the national title. That will drive Nick Saban nuts.
124. New Mexico State 124
As expected, the trip to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA did not go well for the Aggies (59-13). Three games in the first four weeks against BCS conference schools was not the key to success. Doug Martin’s team gets away from the big guys and takes on a team its own size Saturday. Maybe Martin should call Eastern Illinois coach Dino Babers for advice. The Panthers beat San Diego State earlier in the season.
123. Idaho 122
All the positive feelings after the close loss to Northern Illinois are lonnnngggg gone. Washington State made sure of that, whitewashing the Vandals 42-0. Ryan Leaf did not play. Nor did Jack Thompson. Nor Drew Bledsoe. The Idaho offense is dreadful and the defense is even worse. The Vans might have a chance Saturday against winless Temple, but the following week they play Fresno State. Derek Carr is already warming up.
122. Florida International 121
A running clock. No coach ever wants to see it. But it happened to Ron Turner’s team during a 72-0 loss to Louisville. There was a misunderstanding between Turner and the official, who allowed the clock to run when he should have stopped it. There won’t be another loss this week. The Golden Panthers have Saturday off. Maybe they can find some help before the Oct. 5 at Southern Miss.
121. South Florida —
Willie Taggart had a nice life at Western Kentucky. Then, he made a mistake repeated by so many others: he answered his phone. It was South Florida and the school thought Taggart was the guy to fix the program. But it is never that easy. Instead of enjoying another big season with the Hilltoppers, Taggart is piling up losses in Tampa. Loss No. 4 comes Saturday against rested Miami.
LEAGUE PREVIOUS RANK
1. SEC 1
2. Big 12 3
3. Pac-12 2
4. Big Ten 10
5. ACC 4
6. American 5
7. Mountain West 6
8. Conference USA 8
9. MAC 7
10. Sun Belt 9
1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. The Aggies needed their superstar for barely a half against the SMUrfs. Manziel piled up 244 passing yards and ran for another 102. We will see what Bret Bielema and Arkansas can do against the reigning winner. Feels like another 500-yard day.
2. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. He stays near the top as long as his team keeps winning. And that appears likely.
3. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor. Never heard of the running back? Louisiana-Monroe sure has after he averaged 15.6 per carry in Saturday’s game. For the season, Seastrunk is gaining more than a first down on every carry. He earns bonus Heisman points for having the coolest name in college football. Kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
Yes, that was former Illini Chandler Whitmer throwing two touchdown passes for UConn on Saturday against Michigan. Sadly, the Huskies couldn’t pull off the upset, but it was closer than most expected. And Whitmer played a big part of it. Stuck behind Nathan Scheelhaase at Illinois, Whitmer left after one season. He found a good junior college fit before landing at UConn. A Georgian who finished his high school career in the Chicago area, Whitmer simply was a victim of timing at Illinois. He is a good guy with an even better family. His parents, Tricia and Mike, spent a lot of time with the Illinois program.
Name the score
The routs piled up during the weekend, leading one of the college football talking heads to scream “Enough.” And he had a plan that might cut into the problem, one fully endorsed by H.U. The lower-division teams are desperate for the revenue they earn when they play a BCS team. But the scores are sickening. In an effort to keep the games going in spirit, why not allow spring games to be played between the BCS schools and the rest. Split the gate 50-50. It would allow Illinois to have games with Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois and Western Illinois and Illinois State. It would help the teams prepare for the season, but the games wouldn’t go on the upcoming record. Basketball teams are allowed to play exhibitions, why not football?
The first year in the SEC didn’t go too well for Missouri. But Gary Pinkel’s team appears to be on the right track. Saturday’s win against Indiana kept the Tigers undefeated. While far from fixed, the Missouri program is closer to the one the SEC thought it was adding. The rest of the schedule after this week’s game against Arkansas State is brutal, but a bowl bid seems possible. For Missouri, that’s progress. Now, just don’t ask about Frank Haith’s basketball team.