Sunday, September 27, 2009

College Football Week 4

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What did we learn this past weekend about the doings in college football? We found out that light scheduling is a good preparation for tougher contests, that a star quarterback proved that he was human and the Heisman Trophy race became a little more interesting as some candidates compiled great numbers while others were brought down to earth.

1) My best friend and former Editor of the Deerfield Beach Observer Ric Green called me at 2:53 PM on Saturday when the No. 23 Michigan Wolverines were trailing 26-21 to Indiana University (IU) and said he hopes U-M fans are patient with this young and upcoming team. By the end of our 6:31 phone call, Wolverines freshman quarterback Tate Forcier scored a seven-yard touchdown run and U-M converted the two point attempt to take a 29-26 lead. With 2:29 left in the fourth quarter, Forcier hit Martavious Odoms for a 26-yard touchdown pass to win it for the Wolverines (4-0, 1-0). The 36-33 triumph enabled Michigan to extend its winning streak to 16 games over the Hoosiers and IU hasn't won at Michigan Stadium since 1967.

2) It looks like my Alma-mater the University of South Florida Bulls know more about pre-conference scheduling than any of us. USF's first three wins came against Wofford 40-7, Western Kentucky 35-13 and Charleston Southern 59-0. Against Charleston Southern, USF lost senior starting quarterback Matt Grothe to a season-ending injury and started Tallahassee native B.J Daniels to take on his hometown Seminoles. The redshirt freshman threw for 212 yards, two touchdowns and rushed for 126 yards to lead the Bulls to a 17-7 upset win over No. 18 FSU. Daniels chose to go to USF because he was permitted to play football and basketball. I'm sure Bulls Basketball Coach Stan Heath is glad to have him and FSU Coach Bobby Bowden is not happy he didn't keep the local kid in town. Nonetheless, at the press conference, September 26, 2009 seemed like an April Fools Day joke for Bowden as he realized that the Bulls were better then he thought and his team underestimated the Tampa based school due to scheduling weaker opponents. Even a 79-year old coach can learn and this lesson for Bulls Coach Jim Leavitt's squad enabled USF to defeat a state's big three school for the first time, referring to Florida, Florida State and Miami. Leavitt looks like a genius because he permitted a youngster an opportunity to become a two-sport star, a great recruiting strategy and used the first three games as his pre-season. USF is 10-1 all time against teams from the state of Florida and has won four straight against the ACC.

3) If the No. 25 Nebraska Cornhuskers don't win the Big 12 championship, they could classify themselves as winners of the Sun Belt Conference. Nebraska has defeated Florida Atlantic University (FAU) 49-3, Arkansas State 38-9 and on Saturday crushed the University of Louisiana-Lafayette 55-0.

4) The No.2 Texas Longhorns accomplished two things in Saturday's 64-7 pounding of the University of Texas-El Paso in Austin. They won style points in their bid to get to a BCS Championship game and senior quarterback Colt McCoy enhanced his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy. McCoy threw all three of his touchdown passes in the first half giving the Longhorns a 47-7 lead. He completed 28-35 and finished with 286 yards leading his team to an easy win.

5) How do you gain respect? If you're the Houston Cougars, just defeat teams from the Big 12 Conference. On September 12, the Cougars, who play in Conference USA, defeated the No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys 45-35 on the road. Saturday, it was Texas Tech's turn to taste defeat as the No. 17 Cougars (3-0) won a 29-28 decision. Thus far, Houston junior quarterback Case Keenum has eight touchdowns, 1,155 yards and has a passer rating of 158.52. Against Texas Tech, he threw for 453 yards and had two touchdowns including the game winning score, which was a four-yard run with 49 seconds left in the contest. In this game, Houston was playing as a ranked team for the first time in 18 years.

6)Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow proved he was human when he was knocked out of the team's 41-7 victory in Lexington over the Kentucky Wildcats. Tebow, who took a hard hit in the Gators victory over Tennessee on Saturday Sept 19, sustained a concussion with his team leading 31-7 in the third quarter and driving deep in Kentucky territory when Wildcats defensive end Taylor Wyndham came unblocked off the right end and sacked him. As Tebow fell backward, his helmet struck teammate Marcus Gilbert's leg, violently bending his neck forward. Tebow did lay motionless on the field at Commonwealth Stadium before he eventually went to the University Medical Center to stay over night for observation. Many people will wonder why Gators Coach Urban Meyer left him in the game with the contest no longer in doubt. To Meyer's defense, Tebow is so competitive that it would have been tough to take him out of the ball game unless he was injured. But Tebow and the No.1 Gators will have a week off then travel to LSU for an October 10th game against the Tigers. I have a feeling Tebow will be back under center.

7) FAU is off to another slow start at 0-3 but the major reason for this is because of losses to Nebraska and South Carolina. Being a young football program, the Owls need all the money they can get to build the athletic department. The 49-3 loss to Nebraska paid $650,000 while South Carolina wrote a check for $800,000 for a 38-16 win. FAU plays the 100th game in school history on Saturday against the Wyoming Cowboys at 4 PM at Lockhart Stadium.

8) Just when it was time to put California tailback Jahvid Best into the Heisman Trophy discussion after scoring five touchdowns on the road on September 19, in a 35-21 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, fives were in Best's final numbers again. But this time the Golden Bears held Best to 55 yards as No.6 California took a 42-3 beating to the Oregon Ducks (3-1) in the Pacific Northwest. The week before, Oregon snapped No. 18 Utah's 16-game winning streak by winning 31-24 at home. It's been a good couple of weeks for the Ducks as they're well on there way towards competing for a Pac 10 championship. This was Cal's most lopsided loss under Coach Jeff Tedford--Oregon's former offensive coordinator--and worst since 55-14 to USC in 2001.

9) If the Mountain West Conference is looking for a BCS Bowl bid, they're going to need the TCU Horned Frogs to be their representative. With Utah losing at Oregon and BYU falling to Florida State, No.14 TCU needed a big win and got it by going into Clemson's Death Valley for the first time since 1965 and defeating the Tigers 14-10. Junior Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns to keep the Horned Frogs perfect at 3-0. TCU's defense held Clemson to 117 total yards in the second half and stopped the Tigers twice on two fourth quarter drives inside the TCU 20-yard line. TCU won for the seventh time in its last 10 road games against BCS Conference opponents, including two this season against Clemson and Virginia.

10) I doubt the late Grambling State Coach Eddie Robinson would have scheduled this game but he could have used quarterback Doug Williams in the Tigers Saturday match up at Oklahoma State. Grambling State faced a Big 12 school for the first time and the Cowboys ripped them 56-6. Oklahoma State has not lost to a non-FBS opponent since losing to West Texas A&M in 1980. It was the most lopsided win for Oklahoma State since a 59-7 victory over SMU in 2004, the year before Mike Gundy took over as coach.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com




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