The world of college football has been rocked once again with scandal. No, not an Oregon defensive tackle meeting with and taking money from an agent before trying to give the money back. No, not yet another allegation about Escalades in Tuscaloosa. The fact is the Associated Press had the temerity, nay, the gall to move the University of Southern California ahead of football royalty Georgia and Ohio State. I’ll give you a minute to pick up your aunt who just swooned at the news.
Apparently, those red-state dandies in Georgia and library-masturbators in Columbus think it’s wrong they were snubbed for the top spot in the AP Poll this week. They’re absolutely sure their respective teams, as well as their universities, locations (!) and even ways of life are superior in every way to the Trojans and their fans. Therefore, USC is totally undeserving of their current ranking.
We, the fair-minded Indiana homers we are just had to dive headlong into this debate to make a larger point about the current state of college football.
To start, let’s be clear: Georgia and Ohio State scheduled cupcakes (Georgia Southern and Youngstown State, respectively) to start the season. USC scheduled a weak Virginia team, but who is at least in Division I and a member of a BCS conference. Georgia Southern went a respectable 7-4 in 2007, though they did lose to Oklahoma victims Chattanooga, who were 2-9. Georgia won the game handily, 45-21. Whom do they play next? Central Michigan, from the MAC.
Ohio State beat Youngstown State 43-0, though in a bit of karmic justice, their star running back got hurt. Youngstown State lost to such powerhouses as Illinois State and Southern Illinois in 2007. Oh, and they played Ohio State last season too. Guess who won? Ohio State’s next game is against MAC luminary Ohio this weekend.
USC played Virginia, at Virginia, and won 52-7. The Cavaliers were 9-4 last season including going 6-2 in the ACC. Their worst loss was to Wyoming to open the season. USC is playing the difficult “bye week” this week. In other news, “bye week” has just accepted an offer from Georgia to play the Bulldogs next season. Mark Richt says it’ll be a tough game.
Georgia, and SEC fans in general, rely on the notion that the SEC is so vastly superior to every other conference, that their non-conference schedules don’t really mean that much. An example from the land of the SEC miopian, the internet message board:
Let’s see…the ACC has proven to be one of the weakest conferences out there, with Virginia being one of the weaker teams in that conference. Chances are Georgia Southern, App State, and many more would beat Virginia.
To sum up the various arguments one more time: Georgia played a bad I-AA team and beat them, but not particularly soundly. Ohio State played a bad I-AA team and beat them soundly. USC played a BCS conference team not named Duke or Syracuse. On the road. After going all the way across the country. And they completely dominated them. How, exactly, is there a debate as to who should be number one, again?
I realize the Pac-10 is not the SEC in terms of conference strength. Later this season, USC will play Washington, Stanford, and some other crap teams. This isn’t a strength of schedule debate.
Maybe in a month or two, the strength of Georgia’s schedule will catch up to them and allow them to be number one in the BCS rankings. Then we can forget they scheduled a local I-AA team to beat up early in the season. After all, the SEC really is the toughest conference in the nation. I would only point out that Tennessee, an SEC team not named Vanderbilt, just lost to UCLA, one of the worst teams in the Pac-10.
But should we forget who teams schedule early? If, in three months, USC, Ohio State, and Georgia are all still undefeated, should OSU or Georgia be number one, they would effectively be rewarded for scheduling weak teams.
So we have a radical solution: statistics and victories from games against I-AA competition should not count at all. They can count towards teams’ records, but the statistics should remain separate. Hypothetical example: “Matthew Stafford threw for 3,000 yards in 2008, but only 2,500 was against Division I competition. ” That way he gets the stats, but we all recognize who the numbers were achieved against. No more inflated numbers and easy victories for the biggest, most powerful programs in their sport, just a game that happens and is basically a glorified scrimmage. There are plenty of Division I schools that suck, who the big boys could play.
Whatever you want to say about Division I-AA. Whatever you want to say about App State vs. Michigan, I-AA is a vastly weaker division and D-I teams schedule them just to have an easy win. Thus, we should only count the statistics achieved by players at the D-I level unless we want to let I-AA teams compete for bowl berths and a shot at the BCS National Championship. Or are we going to let D-I teams enter the I-AA playoffs?
Also, teams will be judged solely on their performance against teams in the same level of football as they are. We wouldn’t give an NFL team credit for beating a CFL team during the regular season, right? So why does anyone get credit for beating Chattanooga (like OU did) or Georgia Southern (like Georgia did)? These are major conference teams loaded with NFL-level talent playing teams barely big enough for the game to be considered safe. Those major conference teams’ fans should be embarrassed. I will now go watch my Indiana Hoosiers play I-AA victims Murray State on Saturday. And I’m not talking basketball. Good team, those Racers.
Heading into this weekend, my record is 8-4 overall and 7-5 against the spread. I’m even tied for first in my pick ‘em league. Not too shabby a start, if I do say so myself. So on with the week two picks. As always, we’ll be updating all weekend with scores, lewd comments, and snarky reactions.
Coming next week: Man City vs. Chelsea brings about the Apocalypse. Or maybe just the debut of Booter’s Premier League Game of the Week.
Morning, all. As promised, I just work up and I’m not totally sure what’s going on yet, though that won’t really change throughout the day. I’m currently watching Michigan play Miami(Ohio) with the Ohio State massacre on the other ESPN network. Two big ten teams vs. two MAC teams. I’d like to make fun of that, but that’s a pretty appropriate level of competition for the Big Ten this season. Maybe we’ll see an upset or two. I’d also like to thank God I get the Big Ten Network now because I could be watching Northern Colorado at Purdue right now, if I so chose. Awesome. Enjoy this first round of games and remember, Herbstreit is with me on Georgia Tech today. Just so you know.
Georgia Tech (1-0) at Boston College (1-0) (-7)
I’m picking this game because it’s the first real test of Paul Johnson’s offense at the ACC level. Notice how I didn’t say “major conference level.” Johnson’s offense is the exact kind of system that kills any momentum a home crowd might have. And BC ain’t all that great to begin with, even if they are at home.
Pick: Georgia Tech
Update: Georgia Tech 19 BC 16. I don’t see why they couldn’t play this game in Tropical Storm/Hurricane weather. Kidding. Basically, Tech came out and did what they do. They ran the option, kept it close and made a few plays at the end that gave them the win. I’m keeping it general here because it’s not like this game was on television very many places and I’m sure as hell not going to be “that guy” with his computer out at the bar. Man, does the ACC suck. Georgia Tech won’t be able to blow anyone out this year since they’re re-tooling their personnel, but this is ridiculous. BC did lose a lot of seniors and leadership from last season’s team, so losses like this are to be expected, but they had a lead on a team that can’t really pass. Should have held onto this one. Not that I mind being right.
Against the Spread: 8-5
Southern Mississippi (1-0) at (9) Auburn (1-0) (-17.5)
Auburn looked like shit last week against an inferior opponent. Well, now they play a slightly less inferior opponent with a competent head coach in Larry Fedora. It’s nice to hear that Auburn finally settled on one of their mediocre quarterbacks heading into this game too. Now one of them can suck for the entire game. I feel like I’m selling a Southern Miss victory a little too much because there’s no way that’s happening. However…
Pick: Auburn wins but doesn’t cover the spread
Update: Auburn 27 USM 13. The recap reads like Auburn’s offense had the greatest day ever after last week’s fiasco. In reality, all they did was run the ball and throw short, conservative passes for the entire game. Hence, nice looking numbers for Chris Todd, but only 27 points against clearly inferior competition. There is no offense that an SEC coach can’t strangle the life out of. It’s also not like there’s a whole lot of talent on that side of the ball for Auburn currently.
Against the Spread: 9-5
(15) BYU (1-0) at Washington (0-1) (+9)
If BYU can make any plays at all on defense, this game is going to be a blowout. I have to admit, I’ve lost faith in Jake Locker. He’s still my hero, but only Tim Tebow has God-status now. Maybe the Huskies can bring me back from my apostasy, but after that fiasco last week against Oregon, I think I’ll be a Moonie before I’m a follower of Jake the Baptist again.
Pick: BYU. Dum dum dum dum dum.
Update: BYU 28 Washington 27. I seriously doubt the point of the “celebration rule” is to screw over teams that just made themselves an extra point away from tying a game in the last seconds. It was the right call by the officials because that’s the rule, but it’s a terrible f*cking rule. The guy just drove them down the field to tie the game, that’s going to get a college kid a little carried away. The real story of the game is how BYU didn’t play all that well but still beat a BCS team they should have beaten. It’s way too much to ask for a blowout on the road. They got the win, so the BCS-crashing dream is alive. Dum dum dum dum dum.
Record: 11-4, 9-6 AS
Central Michigan (1-0) at (2) Georgia (1-0) (-23.5)
This is the first game of the day I really care about. Don’t tell me you’re not intrigued by getting to see what Dan LeFevour can do against an SEC opponent. It’s also a blatant prep-game for when Georgia faces Tim Tebow later this season. I do enjoy that Georgia probably originally scheduled this game because they needed an easy game after playing that powerhouse program over at Georgia Southern in week one. Remember, SEC teams, if you don’t want anyone questioning your team’s credentials, don’t schedule embarrassingly, pathetically easy, out of conference teams. This is my road-dog-beating-the-spread special of the week.
Pick: Georgia wins but Central Michigan looks good in defeat and only loses by 21, or at least less than 23.5. (I’m so going to regret this pick.)
Update: Georgia 56 CMU 17. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have picked CMU like that if I remembered they were crap against major-conference teams pretty much every time they played them. I guess they put up a fight, but the Chippewas needed to show me a lot more. It’s a lose-lose for Georgia, though. Had CMU played close, the Bulldogs would have been deemed overrated for playing close with a MAC team. But since they blew them out, all they did was blow out a MAC team. So good for you, Georgia. You blew out a MAC team. Use THAT to whine about how you should be number one when USC plays Ohio State next weekend.
Record: 12-4, 9-7 AS
San Diego State (0-1) at Notre Dame (0-0) (-21.5)
The most exciting feature of this game is that the Golic family will be in the stands and on the sidelines for the Irish once again. We’ll also get to see if Jimmy Clausen can sober up enough to lead the Irish over the, shall we say, “vulnerable” Aztecs.
Let me take this moment to say how terrible it is to see the Aztecs in their current state. They were my first college football love, so to speak. The first games I ever attended were back in the dark ages of the old-school WAC. The days of Marshall Faulk, Darnay Scott, and Tim Gutierrez. The days of 56-56 ties. The days of hating the shit out of BYU every year. There used to be real tradition and pride in SDSU football, but now it’s just a hollow shell. From the “the Ambassador” mascot fiasco to a wishy-washy administration, this is a storied football program that deserves better treatment. Support your football team SDSU students and administrators! Free SDSU!
Pick: Notre Dame. Just wait until the Irish blow out one of the worst teams in Division I and then crow about being “back.”
Update: Notre Dame 21 SDSU 13. I inadvertently forgot there could be an even greater outcome to this game than Irish Fan forgetting who they destroyed at home. It was such a pleasure to watch a game this goddamn ugly and see Our Lady Fan begin to really believe they might lose to SDSU. You had to know the Aztecs were screwed when they missed the extra point on the go-ahead touchdown, though. There was no way that lead was holding up. So now, Our Lady Fan has to deal with the reality their team hasn’t really improved at all from last season and has a long way to go. Sure, they have recruited well, but they have no good receivers for Clausen to throw to, and their line couldn’t block a pee-wee team. Where’s the improvement, Charlie?
Record: 13-4, 9-8 AS
Ole Miss (1-0) at (20) Wake Forest (1-0) (-7.5)
I love me some Wake Forest. I semi-seriously predicted they’d make some noise in the ACC this season, but now that looks realistic, given how awful the conference looked in week one. Any Houston Nutt team scares the hell out of me on a week-to-week basis, but I think it’s still early enough for the Demon Deacons to get the win here. In about a month, I wouldn’t want any part of Mississippi.
Pick: Wake Forest
Update: Wake Forest 30 Ole Miss 28. Happy to see the best porn name in college football, Wake’s kicker Sam Swank, is still a clutch kicker too. I should have gone with my gut and recognized one of those Houston Nutt Specials. He’s the king of overachieving with mediocre talent. It’s when there are any expectations on his teams that he’s a terrible coach. At least Wake beat a team they should have, though it was at home and they had to hit a last-second field goal to do it. But on the other hand, screw them because I’m exactly at .500 against the spread again.
Record: 14-4, 9-9 AS
Cincinnati (1-0) at (4) Oklahoma (1-0) (-21.5)
Well, Cincy, you called down the thunder and now you’ve got it. The only way to become a respectable, nationally-ranked program is to play with, if not beat, teams like Oklahoma. You know you’ve arrived when the big boys don’t want to schedule you anymore. I’m still not sold on OU’s team this season, but Cincinnati just isn’t there yet.
Update: OU 52 Cincinnati 26. I thought for a second Cincinnati would stay closer than the spread in this game, but you can always trust Bob Stoops to keep his foot on the gas for the entire game.
Record: 15-4, 10-9 AS
Oregon State (0-1) at (19) Penn State (1-0) (-15.5)
At some point this season, I’m going to go into detail as to what, exactly, a “Mike Riley Game” is. Phillips and I have done quite a bit of informal research on this phenomenon over the years, since we had to deal with him as the head coach of our beloved Chargers as well. We know you, Mike Riley. Oh yes, we know you. Phillips still bears the scars of that 1-15 season.
I’m also wondering if Penn State’s program is turning into Florida State circa 2001 or if JoePa is actually running a pretty tight ship. Sure, half his team has been in the police blotter at some point lately, but at least they’re getting caught, suspended, or even dismissed, right? He’s recruiting the athletes, they just can’t seem to make it onto the field simultaneously.
Pick: Penn State
Update: Penn State 45 Oregon State 14. It’s one of the Mike Riley Rules that his teams are crap on the road unless they’re playing the biggest game of the season. This was definitely not their biggest game of the season. Instead, they were just out-of-conference cannon fodder for the Nittany Lions. Thanks to Phillips for this tidbit: anyone else find it weird a team named the Beavers were visitors in Beaver Stadium? Freaking Penn State and their crazy stadium and team names.
Record: 16-4, 11-9 AS
(8) West Virginia (1-0) at East Carolina (1-0) (+7.5)
No way. Not happening two weeks in a row. This is a classic letdown game. And why are so many major-conference teams going to ECU? Aren’t they supposed to buy their way out of the home and home with the crappy team? Ah, that’s the rub. ECU is no longer the crappy team on your alma mater’s schedule. “Consistent mediocrity” is the Holtz family credo, and Skip Holtz is nearly there with the Pirates.
Pick: West Virginia
Update: ECU 24 WVU 3. Man was that a pathetic effort from the Couch Burners Mountaineers. There really isn’t anything special about East Carolina’s, they just play solid football and don’t make mistakes. It’s amazing to realize how hard that is for some major teams to beat. They’re like a crappier Ohio State if Ohio State played clean, solid football. Okay, maybe that wasn’t a great analogy. Point is, one bad day and ECU is going down this season. I’m more mad at West Virginia, though. Way to take something that worked really freaking well last season and screw it up. Yeah, Pat White should pass more since he was so average at running. The guy’s like a statue back there. He’ll never contribute anything on the ground.
Record: 16-5, 11-10 AS
Murray State (1-0) at Indiana (1-0) (No Line)
I have no idea why IU scheduled Murray State. They’re a low-level team, even in I-AA circles, having just moved up. I do know Ball State had better not lose tonight and screw up what little strength of schedule the Hoosiers have. No line on this game, as it should be. Really, I was just too lazy to search more than four sites for it. If the line isn’t on Yahoo! or USA Today, it’s not a game you should gamble on. Unless you’ve got inside information. You don’t have inside information, do you? I need this one, man. I need it.
Update: Indiana 45 Murray State 3. Yay! We blew out a 1-AA team! Yay! My thoughts on Marcus Thigpen still stand, regardless of his good game. But I’m really hoping this game will help him become the productive running back we need going forward. He’s a good player, so I hope things work out when we get back to playing good teams. Big game against Ball State in a couple of weeks.
Record: 17-5, 12-10 AS
(17) South Florida (1-0) at Central Florida (1-0) (+14)
The Battle Of The Other, Other, Other, Other Florida football programs. Can Matt Grothe pass yet? Last year they had momentum and a hint of destiny on their side, but this year, I’m not so impressed with USF. This feels like a close one.
Pick: USF wins and covers. So, I guess not that close.
Update: USF 31 UCF 24 (OT). The announcers tried to play up the “this is their last game against each other, so UCF really wants to win” angle once this thing was close at the end. It’s total crap, but they tried to play it up. I really should have remembered South Florida has no weapons on offense except Matt Grothe and even he can’t do everything by himself. He and Jake Locker should open a support group for athletic, white quarterbacks who are dual-threat quarterbacks, but who are sub-60% passers and who don’t get enough credit for their running ability. They’re the the anti-Tebows.
Record: 18-5, 12-11 AS
“Tha U” (1-0) at (5) Florida (1-0) (-22.5)
I thought this rivalry used to have an official title, but whatever. Unlike the Oklahoma game last season, this game really feels like the Hurricanes can beat the spread. I seriously doubt they’ll win, but I bet they play UF close. Sorry, Orson. I can’t wait until both offenses can’t move the ball at all and the announcers are attributing it to “great defense” on both sides of the ball. But my rule still applies, when Jesus H. Tebow is involved, the Gators have a 50% chance of winning.
Pick: Florida wins and Tha U beats the spread.
Update: Florida 26 Miami 3. Okay so Tha U didn’t beat the spread. I’ll survive. I really thought they’d be able to run the ball better than they did against Florida’s defense. Looks like they’re still at least a few games away from being dangerous again. On Florida’s side, Tebow throwing more and running less is probably good for their offense in the long run (a dead savior isn’t something one generally wants), but they still don’t have an effective running back to use in their offense. Guys just haven’t distinguished themselves yet. And that’s putting a positive spin on it.
Record after week 2: 19-5, 12-12 AS