So, week three of the college football season is now in the books, and we learned two important things about who's got the best shot to win it all. One, USC is indeed the real deal. Tough to tell when you've only played one game, and it was against Idaho. Going into Lincoln and winning the way that they did should quiet some of the talk that the Trojans shouldn't be ranked number one right now. Secondly, you can add Florida's name to that of USC, LSU and Oklahoma at the top of that "contenders" list. It's not a shock that the Gators won at home over Tennessee. But 59-20? Not only is this a reminder that Florida will be heard from in regards to a national title, but this is a chilling blow to the Volunteers, who left Gainesville 1-2 and in search of answers. But the most important happening this Saturday:
The nation's longest losing streak now belongs to Florida International, who lost their 15th in a row at Miami in a game that was far more civil than last season's affair. Here are the ten things from Week 3 that caught my attention.
1. Notre Dame and Syracuse are two of the nation's worst teams.
Now, at least the Orange put some points on the board, getting blown out of the Carrier Dome 41-20 by Illinois. Notre Dame was terrible on offense, and not much better defensively in a 38-0 loss at formerly 0-2 Michigan. Both teams start young quarterbacks and don't have much in the way of playmakers at the skill positions, which could make for a very long year. At least players aren't leaving Greg Robinson's program, however. Demetrius Jones, Notre Dame's starting QB in the opener, became the second Irish quarterback (Zach Frazer transferred to UConn after spring ball) to leave the program. You really have to wonder what's being said to these guys when they're either demoted (Jones) or told that they aren't in the running for playing time because the options still on campus (Jimmy Clausen and Evan Sharpley) haven't performed much better.
2. As for the winners in those games, don't get too happy about the result.
Wins are great, we all love them, but we're going to learn a lot more about Michigan and Illinois next week than we did on Saturday. Illinois has a noon matinee with an undefeated Indiana team that's in need of their first serious challenge but in possession of a solid offense. And the Wolverines host Penn State, an undefeated bunch that just might be the best team in the Big Ten. The Illini and Wolverines weren't seriously challenged on Saturday, but they will be next weekend.
3. Boston College is the best team in the ACC.
Everyone knew about Matt Ryan, who could be right up their with Brian Brohm (Louisville) and Andre Woodson (Kentucky) when it comes to NFL Draft discussions in terms of the quarterback position come April. But did you see the BC defense having the ability to hold Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice to fewer than 40 yards rushing? Yes, Choice left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury, but he was going nowhere when he was healthy. The defense, which has plenty of talent at all three levels, could be equal to that of Virginia Tech if not better. The difference? Matt Ryan of course. With their upcoming schedule (Army, UMass, Bowling Green, Notre Dame) and an off week preceeding their trip to Blacksburg October 25th, BC could have themselves in a position to think bigger than just a simple BCS bid.
4. Louisville's defense cost the Cardinals a shot a the national title, and if things aren't fixed they can forget about the Big East crown as well.
Take nothing away from Kentucky, winners of last night's 40-34 instant classic (on ESPN Classic, ironically), but Louisville didn't offer much resistance to Andre Woodson, Rafael Little and the rest of the Wildcat offense. Luckily for the Cardinals, Syracuse is next on the schedule, which should offer an opportunity to get some things fixed before they dive completely into their conference schedule. Missed assignments and poor tackling cost the Cards last night; the goal now is to make sure they don't cost them their season.
5. UCLA may have been overrated.
It's one thing to lose at Utah, no shame in that. But 44-6? The Bruins put forth an embarassing "effort" that did nothing to justify their #11 ranking heading to Salt Lake City. Ben Olson threw three interceptions and was sacked five times, and five turnovers overall did nothing to help their defensive teammates. Next up for the Bruins is a young Washington team that was able to hang with Ohio State for almost three quarters before falling 27-7 in Seattle. Utah QB Tommy Grady couldn't run, but Husky QB Jake Locker can. This should make for an interesting Saturday night in Pasadena.
6. Brandon Cox may be seeing more of the bench in the coming weeks.
The senior Auburn QB threw picks on his first two passes (the first of which wasn't his fault) against Mississippi State, leaving Tommy Tuberville no choice but to put true freshman Kodi Burns in the game. Cox came in for the final drive, but his fourth and goal pass fell short, giving the Bulldogs a 19-14 win. Watching Cox in games against USF and MSU, he looks to be watching the pass rush at times instead of focusing downfield. This has led to off-balance throws that are either picked off or fall harmlessly to the ground. When a coach has to put in a true freshman, you can usually count on him getting a lot of snaps since you're pretty much unable to redshirt him at that point. Luckily for the Tigers, they get New Mexico State before the trip to Florida on the 29th, giving them a chance to work out some of the offensive issues.
7. One of the nation's best wide receiver tandems is in Albuquerque, NM.
Marcus Smith and Travis Brown have tormented opposing secondaries thus far, and Saturday night was no different as the Lobos won at Arizona 29-27. The duo combined for 21 catches, 285 yards and three touchdowns against a secondary that was widely thought of as one of the nation's best coming into the season. Next up for UNM is a home game against Sacramento State, followed by BYU coming to town. As we saw on Thursday in Colorado Springs, it's no given that the Cougars and TCU go unchallenged in the Mountain West this season.
8. Speaking of Colorado Springs, how 'bout Air Force?
Thursday night saw Troy Calhoun's squad knock off conference favorite TCU in overtime, 20-17. QB Shaun Carney threw for 193 yards, and the Falcons also managed 146 yards on the ground while limiting the Horned Frogs to 89 yards rushing. There were questions about how the tweaking of the Air Force offensive system would work, and if the first couple of weeks are any indication (3-0), Air Force could indeed qualify for a bowl this year. And maybe it's just me, but how often do you see some students who ran onto the field in celebration shake the hands of some of the defeated players?
9. Pittsburgh may struggle on offense due to their passing game, but that LeSean McCoy is something else.
The highly-touted true freshman ran for 172 yards on 25 carries and one score at Michigan State. But when you can only manage 85 yards passing, you're not going to win most games. The Spartans move to 3-0 with the 17-13 win, but if you're a Pitt fan you can't help but smile when you realize that McCoy is only a freshman. Speed, power, quick feet...McCoy's got it all. In addition to the lack of a passing game, minus three in the turnover category won't help you much either.
10. The voters got it right and put South Florida in the Top 25. They were just a week late in doing so.
For the first time in the brief history of the USF program, the Bulls are ranked in the Top 25, coming in at number 23. The win at Auburn got the program some much appreciated national notice, but it'll be interesting to see how the Bulls react to the ranking when they host North Carolina on Saturday. The Heels are one of the nation's youngest teams, but there is some talent on that team. And with West Virginia looming just six days later, this could be a dangerous trap game for USF.
Lastly, Temple was robbed yesterday. The wide receiver's foot did indeed touch down in bounds while he had possession of the football. When you're hot you're hot, and when you're not...you know the rest. Before I end this, here's my top five teams to this point in the season:
5. West Virginia
Thanks for reading. Feel free to send any comments or feedback, and I'll be sure to respond.