Monday, October 29, 2007

Week 10 Preview: Thursday and Friday

7:30 PM

#24 Virginia Tech (6-2) @ Georgia Tech (5-3)
Two teams that are probably overrated. In the ACC shock? Guess which team has the statistically better defense! Hint: it's the one with the better offense too. PLUS I get to call the upset that continues the ACC's frustrating parity. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY
My Pick: Georgia Tech
Confidence (out of 5): 2

7:00 PM

Temple (3-5) @ Ohio (4-5)
Oh, who knows. Damn MAC. Ohio's probably more talented, and they have the better offense, which may be what matters in the defenseless realm of the MAC. Still, Temple's riding a three-game winning streak, so why not go with momentum?
My Pick: Temple
Confidence: 1

7:30 PM

Akron (3-5) @ Bowling Green (4-4)
Kind of a similar thing to the Temple/Ohio game, to an extent, except everything's in BGSU's favor. The Falcons have the better offense, and while they've been frustratingly shaky, Akron has a severe lack of momentum going. Although who knows what that means in the MAC.
My Pick: Bowling Green
Confidence: 1

8:00 PM

Nevada (4-4) @ New Mexico State (4-5)
New Mexico State was expected to be all-offense, no-defense, but has been more of no-defense, kinda-offense. Nevada's D isn't all that great or anything, but they probably have the edge on both sides of the ball.
My Pick: Nevada
Confidence: 2

The TFFE Top 25: After Week 9

Fuck the LIRR. Going back to the "NOTES!" version of the top 25 this week, just out of time-related necessity. (I'm essentially taking 5 AM from 7 PM out of my day for training this week, didn't get back here until 8 thanks to train delays, and have to sleep around 10 or 11ish because, again, I have to get up at 5 AM tomorrow.)

#1 Ohio State (9-0, #1 LW)
#2 LSU (7-1, #2)
#3 Oregon (7-1, #3)
#4 West Virginia (7-1, #4)
#5 Oklahoma (7-1, #7)
#6 Missouri (7-1, #8)
#7 Arizona State (8-0, #9)
#8 Michigan (7-2, #10)
#9 Florida (5-3, #5)
#10 USC (6-2, #6)
#11 South Carolina (6-3, #11)
#12 Wisconsin (7-2, #16)
#13 Penn State (6-3, #15)
#14 California (5-3, #17)
#15 South Florida (6-2, #13)
#16 Boston College (8-0, #18)
#17 Texas (7-2, #14)
#18 Alabama (6-2, #19)
#19 Georgia (6-2, #23)
#20 Kentucky (6-3, #12)
#21 Kansas (8-0, #21)
#22 Illinois (6-2, #20)
#23 Auburn (6-3, --)
#24 Virginia Tech (6-2, #22)
#25 Connecticut (7-1, --)

Oklahoma moves up mostly by attrition - the top 4 are the only real should-be national title contenders at the moment.

I hate to keep South Carolina at #11 after two losses in a row, but I still think they beat all the teams behind them, and the Vols loss was more bad luck than the continuation of a trend that started against Vandy.

Both BC and Kansas have proved they can beat decent teams and not much else - BC's just faced more decent teams.

Brandon Cox's improvements seem to be legitimate, so I'm giving Auburn some credit.

UConn at 25 may be a little bit of wishful thinking/bias, but at the very least they've played well week in, week out, unlike the inconsistent Tennessees and Clemsons of the world.

Week 9 Recap

Just some fair warning: one of the negatives of getting things out of the way last Sunday to work all week is that I didn't get to remind myself on Friday what my opinions were of each team. So apologies for any disconnect with what I thought I thought and what I actually thought going into this week's games. Does that make sense? Probably not. Ignore that.

#1 Ohio State 37, #15 Penn State 17
Yeah, pretty one-sided, as Ohio State's defense continued their dominance. Anthony Morelli was merely not very good rather than completely shitting the bed (outside of that awful pick six late). That passes for legitimate improvement from Morelli, even if he's still fallen way short of expectations for his career. If there's anything else to be taken out of this, it's that over half of PSU's 263 yards came on the ground, so that's something. Still, when 139 rushing yards is considered a relative chink in the armor, that's a sign of a pretty damn good run defense. Still, as Michigan showed last year, there's no guarantee of the run D holding up, so Wisconsin and Michigan should still be challenges, although they'll still probably kick the shit out of Illinois.

#3 Oregon 24, #6 USC 17
I guess it's a crowning of Oregon, although USC was the first team to relatively stop the Ducks, holding them to 339 yards. Still, it's hard to say it was a bad offensive day for the Ducks or anything - Jonathan Stewart ran for 102 and 2 scores, and while Dennis Dixon only had 157 passing yards, he completed 64% and added 76 yards and a TD on the ground. It was a relatively close game, though - USC outgained the Ducks, and if not for a Stanley Havili fumble, or to a lesser extent, QB Mark Sanchez's two picks, the USC "dynasty" could still have a chance of living on. I'll leave Oregon steady, as having their worst game of the year against this defense isn't anything to worry about, especially when you still have two great individual performances. As for USC, they'll get a slight nudge down - the potential for dominance seems to be gone, but they're still a very good team; just not an elite one.

#4 West Virginia 31, #24 Rutgers 3
Not QUITE this one-sided statistically, but Mike Teel was absolutely awful - 14/30, 128 yards, 2 picks. Ray Rice has a good day, going for 142 yards on the ground and keeping pace with Pat White's 156 and 1 TD on the ground. But, that could be construed as a bad thing since White is the QB and all, and Steve Slaton added 73 and 3 scores on the ground. Same old story with WVU - that defense is perfectly fine, even if they don't have that signature game you'd like, while that offense can go with anyone's. As for Rutgers, a slight nudge down just based on Teel's performance.
West Virginia: STOCK STEADY

#23 Georgia 42, #5 Florida 30
Pardon me while I throw my hands in the air out of frustration. Matthew Stafford's good day (11/18, 217, 3/1 TD/INT) wasn't all that surprising, since Florida's secondary has been suspect all year. And really, even though Knowshon Moreno's big game (188, 3 TD) surprised me, it probably shouldn't have - Georgia's obviously a good running team, and LSU had a lot of success on the ground against the Gators (even if other teams, not so much). I'm somewhat confused as to what this means - Florida, much like USC, dips from an elite team to one that's just very good, especially with that defense seeming more and more like an overall liability. As for Georgia, well, the Bulldogs finally showed some life, but who the hell knows what it means going forward. I'll bump them up for now, even if my confidence is somewhat lacking. Oh, and of course, all these teams beating each other shows the SEC's strength, as opposed to that weak Big Ten.
Georgia: STOCK UP

#8 Missouri 42, Iowa State 28
The Tigers didn't get much yardage rushing (but got 3 scores), but Chase Daniel had 76% accuracy, if only for 250 yards and a 1/1 ratio. Honestly, it was about an even game if not for two defensive TDs by Mizzou. Something named Alexander Robinson ran for 149 and a TD for Iowa State. So, yeah - Missouri's defense is back to being a work in progress, Texas Tech and Nebraska games be damned. Though, obviously, the offense seems capable of carrying it. Iowa State showed life, good for them. Of the six teams that are the worst of the BCS conferences, ISU may be the best.
Missouri: STOCK DOWN
Iowa State: STOCK UP

#9 Arizona State 31, #17 California 20
The Pac 10's a hell of a thing. Outside of Stanford, and, most of the time, Arizona and the Washington schools, the offenses are good enough and the defenses mediocre enough that pretty much either team can win at either time. And that's what happened here, as the yardage was just about even, and Cal returning a fumble for a TD deep in ASU territory was pretty much negated by Nate Longshore's picks. Arizona State's the team that's gotten the breaks in the conference so far - damned if I know if they'll continue doing so.
Arizona State: STOCK STEADY
California: STOCK STEADY

#10 Michigan 34, Minnesota 10
Just a flatout domination, and I find Michigan doing so on the ground kind of funny given Minnesota's typical struggles against the pass. Really, the most intresting thing here is if Michigan's amazing day on the ground (Brandon Minor - 157, TD; Carlos Brown - 132, 2 TD) will do anything to hurt Mike Hart's Heisman candidacy.
Minnesota: STOCK DOWN

Tennessee 27, #11 South Carolina 24 (OT)
Sigh, the SEC. SC dominated by the yardage, but turnovers doomed them. Both quarterbacks were decent, but the big game was had by the Gamecocks' Cory Boyd, who was, in fact, implemented more in the offense, and had 20 carries for 160 yards and a score. Tennessee remains a fine if second-tier SEC team - my opinion of the SEC past LSU is lowering somewhat, so I'm wondering what that means now. To that end, I'll bump down South Carolina a notch.
South Carolina: STOCK DOWN

Mississippi State 31, #12 Kentucky 14
I feel like the girlfriend of a drug addict or something. I DEFENDED YOU. I STUCK UP FOR YOU. I THOUGHT YOU HAD CHANGED. AND NOW YOU DO THIS? Kentucky didn't play all that awful, but the defense let Mississippi State keep pace. The Wildcats running game didn't do much of anything, but the biggest factor was Andre' Woodson having a pretty bad night, considering both his level of play and the competition: 24/42 (57%), 230 yards, 2/3 TD/INT. Three picks? Really? Mississippi State retains their #11 team in the SEC status, while Kentucky takes a huge hit. I mean come on. Just a bad effort in every aspect.
Mississippi State: STOCK STEADY
Kentucky: STOCK DOWN

Connecticut 22, #13 South Florida 15
Still bizarre. Matt Grothe remained a one-man show on offense, and while he was dangerous on the ground (146 yards on, really, 25 runs, TD), he was fairly disappointing as an actual quarterback (16/30, 189, 2 INT). UConn actually had a similar effort, only it took two men: Tyler Lorenzen's line (13/25, 194 1/1) was similar to Grothe passing, while Andre Dixon, who is quickly becoming the Huskies' star player, had 167 yards on the ground. Essentially, the game came down to UConn catching all the breaks, as LB Scott Lutrus got a pick six off of Grothe, the USF kicker shanked 2 field goals early, and a holding call nullified what would've been the tying score by the Bulls. I'll keep moving UConn up since, luck or not, they keep looking impressive, but honestly, they're amazingly lucky to have the record they do. Still, woo.
Connecticut: STOCK UP
South Florida: STOCK STEADY

#14 Texas 28, Nebraska 25
Horrible game for both teams. Nebraska choked like dogs, allowing Texas's Jamaal Charles to run for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the fourth quarter. Yes, really. As for Texas, the fact that it took THAT long is pretty horrifying for a supposedly good offense. Colt McCoy was horrible horrible horrible, completing a shade under 43% for 181 yards and a pick. Texas probably takes the bigger hit out of these, if only because Nebraska was already so bad they pretty much had nothing to lose.
Nebraska: STOCK DOWN

#16 Wisconsin 33, Indiana 3
PJ Hill got injured, but it didn't really matter, as a cadre of Badger backs combined for 279 yards and 4 TDs to put away IU. I'm gonna bump Wisconsin down a bit if only because the shine is somewhat off Tyler Donovan, who was only fine with a 12/21, 144 yard, INT line. Indiana's somewhat quietly been skidding in recent weeks, but they still should pick up elusive win #6 against Ball State.
Wisconsin: STOCK DOWN

#18 Boston College 14, #22 Virginia Tech 10
This was the game that made Matt Ryan. The way he willed his team to recover that crucial onside kick late. The leadership he displayed in throwing 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. And, of course, that Heismanesque 48% completion percentage. I thought Tech's defense was overrated, but maybe not - as overrated as Ryan is, he's not THIS bad, and they did hold the Eagles to only 32 yards on the ground. But back to the Ryan for Heisman thing - really? Not overwhelmingly great stats against an extremely suspect schedule? Though, honestly, I'm not even sure who the other contenders are anymore. Tebow and Woodson's teams both lost their third game this week (and Woodson looked bad in his), and my other top-tier player, based on performance, is Mike Hart. And if missing time with injury seems to have derailed Pat White's Heisman hopes, I imagine the same is true of Hart. McFadden's team has nothing past him and his backup - maybe the two Oregon guys? Hype seems to have picked up on them, but I imagine they'd split votes. Jeez. Anyway, BC remains a fringe top-15 team with a weak schedule, Virginia Tech confirmed people's beliefs about them - of course, the coaches and AP seem to think that's worth about 10 more spots in the polls than I do.
Boston College: STOCK STEADY
Virginia Tech: STOCK STEADY

#20 Illinois 28, Ball State 17
Illinois by numbers. The running game carried the day, with Rashard Mendenhall going for 189 and 2 TD, and Juice Williams adding 99 and 2 scores on the ground. And Williams remains awful as a throwing QB, going only 7 of 15 for 145 and 2 picks. I'm moving Illinois down a bit, since Williams's performance is forgiveable against a Big Ten D (well, not Minnesota), but Ball State?
Illinois: STOCK DOWN

#21 Kansas 19, Texas A&M 11
Probably Kansas's biggest win to date? Decisive, but not one sided. Surprisingly, KU shut down the Aggies running game, leaving Stephen McGee to throw it, and he did a fair job (24/44, 244, TD), if obviously not enough to win it. Jayhawks back Brandon McAnderson was the obvious star here, with 183 and 2 touchdowns. QB Todd Reesing was a perfectly fine caretaker, going 21/33 for 180 yards. I'll give Kansas a minor nudge up for the run D, and again, this being their most impressive win thus far. Still, they don't seem to be a national title-caliber team or anything.
Kansas: STOCK UP

NC State 29, #25 Virginia 24
Called it. UVA QB Jameel Sewell wasn't THAT bad, going for 260 and a 2/2 ratio on 56% passing, but he needed a running game to complement that. And boy did he not have one, even if the Cavs' 96 yards rushing still beat NCSU's 86. NCSU QB Dan Evans was, obviously in light of those stats, their best offensive player, completing 56.5% for 347 and a 3/1 ratio. NC State's getting back in the swing of things, and Virginia's luck may be evening out. The ACC is just a wonderful glut.

Buffalo 26, Akron 10
Buffalo didn't deserve to win this one, but the score still makes me smile. GO BULLS.

Arizona 48, Washington 41
I believe Arizona QB Willie Tuitama's line suggests the new offense has finally taken: 38/51, 510 yards, 4/1 TD/INT. Meanwhile, oof is Washington falling back to earth HARD.
Arizona: STOCK UP
Washington: STOCK DOWN

Arkansas 58, Florida International 10
Ignore Darren McFadden's 4 touchdowns, don't those 88 yards on 3.2 yards per carry against, yes, Florida International just SCREAM Heisman?
Arkansas: STOCK DOWN
Florida International: STOCK NEUTRAL

Colorado 31, Texas Tech 26
Well, now Mizzou's defensive performance against Tech looks very unimpressive. Graham Harrell throwing 4 picks was the obvious difference here. Tech's sliding, Colorado's just perfectly coasting along in "acceptable BCS team" territory.
Texas Tech: STOCK DOWN

Eastern Michigan 19, Western Michigan 2
I think Western Michigan's fairly easily the most disappointing team in the nation. Just wanted to say that.
Eastern Michigan: STOCK STEADY
Western Michigan: STOCK DOWN

Houston 34, UTEP 31
Just wanted to mention Houston, who's having a great year statistically but not as much scorewise. This week's hero: RB Anthony Alridge, who had 204 yards on 27 carries.
Houston: STOCK UP

Iowa 34, Michigan State 27 (2 OT)
Pointing out that Michigan State had a loss in October that was fairly inexplicable statistically. They're doing it again, and I am knocking them down based on nothing but track record. PUCKER PUCKER PUCKER
Michigan State: STOCK DOWN

Louisville 24, Pittsburgh 17
Pitt RB LaRod Stephens-Howling had only 2 yards on 3 carries, so maybe they're not a new team with him back, as I had thought.
Louisville: STOCK STEADY
Pittsburgh: STOCK DOWN

Memphis 28, Tulane 27
Another crazy line from Tulane RB Matt Forte: 44 carries, 278 yards, 2 TD. These remain two mediocre teams that can steal quite a few wins.

Toledo 70, Northern Illinois 21
FIU's pretty easily the worst team in I-A, but Northern Illinois is making a strong case for #2. Why, yes, a struggling Toledo team did gain 812 yards in this game.
Northern Illinois: STOCK DOWN

Washington State 27, UCLA 7
Always close on a big laugh.
Washington State: STOCK STEADY

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Um. Holy shit.

UConn really beat South Florida. Also, I would just like to say that I love Deadspin very very much, and hi to everyone who's come over from there. My traffic October 1-26th: 58 hits. So far today, I've had 340. Wow. Things are kind of bare bones for the moment as I start my first job out of college, but there's previews, top 25s and recaps for pretty much every week both this season and last. Plus, check out my statistical study on overrated/underrated teams from last December, I intend on doing another one for this year. It's a very busy weekend for my pre-training stuff for said job, so my week 9 (God, it's week 9 already) recap may not be up until Monday or so. Then again, it could be up as soon as later tonight or early Sunday if I feel like getting it out of the way. Wow, what a banner day. BRING IT RUTGERS

Monday, October 22, 2007

Week 9 Preview

I'm in the pre-training phase for my first job out of college, and have a whole lot of reading/assorted work to do, so I'm getting this all out of the way so I can be productive during the week. Pray nobody gets injured so my thoughts remain relevant.

7:30 PM

#18 Boston College (7-0) @ #22 Virginia Tech (6-1)
Well. BC isn't really all that great, but then again, VT hasn't showed much of anything either except against the Dukes of the world. Still, I mean, come on. It's an undefeated team. On a Thursday. On the road. In a game that could very well be an upset. In 2007. Duh.
My Pick: Virginia Tech
Confidence (out of 5): 2

9:00 PM

Air Force (6-2) @ New Mexico (5-2)
UNM seems to be the favorite in the Mountain West at the moment, and Air Force has gotten a bit lucky in a few of their conference wins. I expect things to even out somewhat here, even if the craziness continuing wouldn't surprise me.
My Pick: New Mexico
Confidence: 1

9:00 PM

Boise State (6-1) @ Fresno State (5-2)
A bit of a close one. Boise seems to easily be the best team in the WAC, but it doesn't seem like a huge difference or them being a tier above. Still, while Fresno is much closer to their pre-2006 level than their implosion last year, they haven't really broken out from the WAC pack. An upset's possible, but Boise's the class of the conference until proven otherwise.
My Pick: Boise State
Confidence: 3

12:00 PM

#4 West Virginia (6-1) @ #24 Rutgers (5-2)
West Virginia's done a pretty good job shutting down the run, though Ray Rice is admittedly the best back they've faced yet. Still, Rutgers needs to be at the top of their game to have a chance against the Mountaineers, and Mike Teel's spottiness doesn't have me completely convinced yet. The Mountaineers should be able to put up points here, though if fumbilitis strikes the team like it did versus USF, Rutgers can obviously win.
My Pick: West Virginia
Confidence: 2

Indiana (5-3) @ #16 Wisconsin (6-2)
An intriguing one. Indiana isn't especially known for its running game, but if Wisconsin's run defense holds to its poor form, the Hoosiers backs plus their great QB, Kellen Lewis, may be too much for the Badgers to handle. Still, the same can be said the other way around - Wisconsin has a very good QB in Tyler Donovan, and running back P.J. Hill's probably the best player on either team. This could, and frankly probably should, be an exceedingly close game, but I'll give the nod to the proven home team.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Confidence: 1

Ball State (5-3) @ #20 Illinois (5-3)
Ball State's been good in spots, but come on now. The Cardinals offense may be able to do something, but I don't see them stopping Illinois from running it often and running it for many scores.
My Pick: Illinois
Confidence: 4

Colorado (4-4) @ Texas Tech (6-2)
Colorado stopped the Oklahoma offense, so I guess anything's possible. Plus Cody Hawkins is a bit of a gunslinger, so the Buffaloes actually have a chance if this goes into a shootout. Still, Texas Tech's been mostly on point this year, and I see no reason to pick against them.
My Pick: Texas Tech
Confidence: 2

Michigan State (5-3) @ Iowa (3-5)
Iowa turned back into a pumpkin against Purdue, but the Hawkeyes remain a looming threat. They shut down Illinois's run game and forced them to rely on a QB that can't win a game by his lonesome. The same thing could well happen here. That said, Brian Hoyer's probably better than either of the Illinois quarterbacks, and Iowa's offense was bad enough themselves that they only won thanks to a horrible game-ending interception. The Hawkeyes can win, but if they also can lose if their gameplan works, I'm not picking them.
My Pick: Michigan State
Confidence: 1

Pittsburgh (3-4) @ Louisville (4-4)
It says something about how far Louisville's fallen when this game has intrigue. It says something more when I find myself picking Pittsburgh. I'm not sure the Pitt defense can completely stop Louisville, but the Panthers looked like a new team against Cincinnati with LaRod Stephens-Howling back. It almost reminds me of a team they played close and a team I just discussed, Michigan State, in that their two star running backs can carry the load while complementing a QB that, while solid, isn't a game-changer. Of course, since Pitt QB Pat Bostick is a freshman, that may also have to be changed to "isn't a game changer YET." Plus, really, you don't have to be a game-changer against Louisville's D, sometimes they'll just let you have some yards after catch. So, yes, I'm picking Pitt to pull off the somewhat shocking upset. Although, of course, watch Louisville go nuts and win 49-10.
My Pick: Pittsburgh
Confidence: 1

North Carolina (2-5) @ Wake Forest (5-2)
Wake's a fine team, which, in the ACC, will give you a 5-2 record. UNC's surprisingly good, much better than their record - they could've very well beaten South Carolina and Virginia Tech. While I'm not in love with Heels QB TJ Yates's 10/10 TD/INT ratio, parity tends to reign in the ACC and UNC is probably at Wake's level.
My Pick: North Carolina
Confidence: 1

Northwestern (5-3) @ Purdue (6-2)
Oh mama, this could be a fun shootout. This SHOULD be a fun shootout. Purdue has the more talented horses so I'll give them the edge at home, but Northwestern could win this very easily.
My Pick: Purdue
Confidence: 1

12:30 PM

Mississippi State (4-4) @ #12 Kentucky (6-2)
It'd take the conflation of MSU being at the top of their game and Kentucky playing the worst they have all year in order for the Bulldogs to win this. I mean, it could happen, but Kentucky on a bad night by their standards this year (if they've even had one?) should put enough points to win this.
My Pick: Kentucky
Confidence: 4

1:00 PM

Akron (3-4) @ Buffalo (3-5)
Buffalo played well against Syracuse, even if they lost. Akron hasn't been all that impressive, and I am nothing if not irrationally on the Buffalo bandwagon at the moment. Even if they were UConn's rivalry game in NCAA Football for some reason for quite a few years.
My Pick: Buffalo
Confidence: 1

Central Michigan (4-4) @ Kent State (3-5)
CMU looked to have gotten its act together, and I realize Clemson is a cut about the MAC, but wow, that was a whoopin'. Kent State's been somewhat unlucky in close games, so I'll call for things to even out here at home.
My Pick: Kent State
Confidence: 1

Delaware @ Navy (4-3)
Delaware's typically a pretty good I-AA, so they're probably good enough to do well against the suspect Navy D. But, hey, if I didn't pick North Dakota State vs. Minnesota, I'm not picking Delaware.
My Pick: Navy
Confidence: 2

2:00 PM

Iowa State (1-7) @ #8 Missouri (6-1)
Iowa State's been somewhat unlucky on the year, but come on now. If Missouri shut down the Texas Tech offense, this'll be ugly early and often.
My Pick: Missouri
Confidence: 4

Florida International (0-7) @ Arkansas (4-3)
FIU's the worst team in I-A, fairly easily. Way to schedule tough, Arkansas.
My Pick: Arkansas
Confidence: 5

Miami of Ohio (4-4) @ Vanderbilt (4-3)
Miami's a dangerous MAC team, but I'm on the Vandy bandwagon after their win over South Carolina, where they finally played up to my preseason expectation. I'm on the VANDwagon, ha ha ha. God that was horrible.
My Pick: Vanderbilt
Confidence: 3

UNLV (2-6) @ Wyoming (4-3)
The Mountain West is so filled with parity, who knows. Two teams that probably deserved to win last week, but I'd say Wyoming's closer to the top of the conference while UNLV's near the bottom. And the Cowboys are at home, so there.
My Pick: Wyoming
Confidence: 2

3:00 PM

#6 USC (6-1) @ #3 Oregon (6-1)
Oh boy, this one'll be fun. While USC's obviously a top-flight team, they really haven't had much of a schedule thus far, with the best team they've beaten being...god, Nebraska. Thus, while the stats say USC has the better defense by far, it's hard to tell how good the unit is when they've been playing Evan Sharpley. Then again, the inverse is somewhat true, as Oregon hasn't faced much of a defense all year, outside of Michigan who, well, you know, spread offense. Oh, what the hell, I'll go with the Ducks - their offense has been nuts week in week out, while USC's had the lapse against Arizona.
My Pick: Oregon
Confidence: 1

Arizona (2-6) @ Washington (2-5)
Hard one to pick. Arizona's had a bit of hard luck, and that new offense seems to be taking somewhat. But Washington's also a fine enough team to win games like this, even if the shine's somewhat off from their big 2-0 start. UA's luck could even out here, or Jake Locker's mini-Tebow impression could lead the Huskies to a win. I'll go with the former based mostly on gut feeling.
My Pick: Arizona
Confidence: 1

Memphis (3-4) @ Tulane (2-5)
It's a Tulane game, so I have to say, MAN. MATT FORTE'S REALLY GOOD. Memphis has been decent but unimpressive, so I'll actually call for Forte to lead the way to a minor upset.
My Pick: Tulane
Confidence: 1

SMU (1-6) @ Tulsa (4-3)
SMU is bad! Tulsa will put up very many yards and have a victorious day!
My Pick: Tulsa
Confidence: 4

3:05 PM

Louisiana Tech (2-5) @ Utah State (0-7)
USU's probably gotta win a game sometime this year, but Louisiana Tech's been surprisingly competitive and should be better than that record.
My Pick: Louisiana Tech
Confidence: 2

3:30 PM

#5 Florida (5-2) @ #23 Georgia (5-2)
Well, Georgia's better than Auburn, so I suppose the Bulldogs have a shot. Still, they haven't been playing all that great lately, so I expect Florida to win this handily. If Georgia wasn't a running team, I'd give them more of a shot, but Florida's secondary is their weakness, and they've actually done a pretty good job controlling things on the ground.
My Pick: Florida
Confidence: 3

Minnesota (1-7) @ #10 Michigan (6-2)
Oh come on now.
My Pick: Michigan
Confidence: 5

#13 South Florida (6-1) @ Connecticut (6-1)
I am so close to doing it, but I won't. UConn neutralized Brian Brohm and all,, no, I can't. Not two weeks in a row. Even if USF hasn't really shown an ability to run it yet. Oh, oh, maybe I could...oh, no.
My Pick: South Florida
Confidence: 1

Nebraska (4-4) @ #14 Texas (6-2)
Whether this will be a step up from Texas's wins over Baylor and Iowa State remains inconclusive.
My Pick: Texas
Confidence: 4

Clemson (5-2) @ Maryland (4-3)
Picking Clemson games seems beyond rhyme or reason. On a good day, they can beat anyone in the conference. On a bad day, they can lose to pretty much anyone short of Duke. I'll say that the Tigers have turned the corner after smacking the crap out of Central Michigan, but really, who knows.
My Pick: Clemson
Confidence: 1

UAB (2-5) @ East Carolina (4-4)
Meh. UAB's more competitive than expected, but I wouldn't even call them mediocre within the conference. ECU's perfectly fine, nothing more, nothing less, and that should be enough against this team at home.
My Pick: East Carolina
Confidence: 2

Western Michigan (3-5) @ Eastern Michigan (2-6)
WMU's been horribly disappointing. Eastern Michigan's been horrible.
My Pick: Western Michigan
Confidence: 1

3:35 PM

Baylor (3-5) @ Kansas State (4-3)
Baylor's not wholly awful, but they're easily the worst team in the Big 12. KSU's not at the level where this is a guaranteed win just yet, but it's pretty close.
My Pick: Kansas State
Confidence: 4

4:00 PM

Louisiana-Monroe (2-5) @ Florida Atlantic (4-3)
ULM's been getting their act together after an awful start, but FAU's still one of the top Sun Belt teams until further notice.
My Pick: Florida Atlantic
Confidence: 2

4:05 PM

Idaho (1-7) @ Nevada (3-4)
Nevada might be the #3 team in the WAC. They've been smacking the crap out of some teams with the Pistol offense, and this should be no exception.
My Pick: Nevada
Confidence: 3

4:30 PM

#25 Virginia (7-1) @ NC State (2-5)
I know I ranked UVA and all, but this screams of an upset to even things out. UVA's not as good as that record, NC State's not as bad as theirs. If the Wolfpack cutting down on turnovers (yes, 2 counts) last week signals the start of a trend, this could actually get ugly.
My Pick: NC State
Confidence: 1

Rice (1-6) @ Marshall (0-7)
If Marshall doesn't get on the board here, they might as well give up. They're not THAT bad.
My Pick: Marshall
Confidence: 3

5:30 PM

Utah (5-3) @ Colorado State (1-6)
Meh. CSU didn't look all that impressive against UNLV in their first win of the year. Utah seems to have gotten their act together, so I'll go with the hot hand.
My Pick: Utah
Confidence: 3

6:00 PM

Mississippi (2-6) @ Auburn (5-3)
Brandon Cox has shown legitimate improvement. Unless he regresses horribly, this should be a definitive win at worst.
My Pick: Auburn
Confidence: 3

Ohio (3-5) @ Bowling Green (4-3)
BGSU's been playing beter of the two as of late. That means nothing given the MAC, but still.
My Pick: Bowling Green
Confidence: 1

6:30 PM

Stanford (3-4) @ Oregon State (4-3)
Stanford showed some legitimate improvement in beating Arizona, so they have a shot here. Still, Oregon State seems to be picking up steam as the season goes on.
My Pick: Oregon State
Confidence: 3

UCLA (5-2) @ Washington State (2-5)
I honestly have no rationale behind this pick except that it's UCLA, and this almost has to happen.
My Pick: Washington State
Confidence: 2

7:00 PM

#21 Kansas (7-0) @ Texas A&M (6-2)
A&M's a perfectly above average team that can beat a whole bunch of teams unless the matchup presents a problem, such as Texas Tech's wacky offense and Miami's stout run defense. Kansas really presents no such problem - they're just pretty good overall. And, hey, A&M is too, and they're at home and might be better.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Confidence: 2

Troy (5-2) @ Arkansas State (3-4)
Given Arkansas State's implosion last week, there's almost no way I can pick them.
My Pick: Troy
Confidence: 3

Middle Tennessee State (3-5) @ North Texas (1-6)
There's always the shot UNT puts up enough yardage to be a threat, but I'm not gonna pick it here. MTSU looks to be a perfectly fine Sun Belt team, which is more than the Mean Green is.
My Pick: Middle Tennessee State
Confidence: 2

Northern Illinois (1-7) @ Toledo (3-5)
NIU's awful. Awful bad. Awful awful.
My Pick: Toledo
Confidence: 3

7:45 PM

#11 South Carolina (6-2) @ Tennessee (4-3)
The Vols have a shot - SC's far from an unbeatable team, as Vandy obviously showed. Still, I can't help but think that Carolina will exploit that Tennessee secondary and bad. Plus, c'mon, it's Spurrier.
My Pick: South Carolina
Confidence: 2

8:00 PM

#1 Ohio State (8-0) @ #15 Penn State (6-2)
Oh no, this could get real ugly. OSU shuts down the run almost completely, which leaves the Nittany Lions to rely on...Anthony Morelli. He's improved, but, um, well, no.
My Pick: Ohio State
Confidence: 4

Duke (1-6) @ Florida State (4-3)
Duke has a shot. No way I'm pickin' em, but Duke has a shot.
My Pick: Florida State
Confidence: 3

9:05 PM

Houston (4-3) @ UTEP (4-3)
UTEP's fairly lucky to have that record. Houston's offensive firepower seems to be back at full speed, so that'll be trouble for the Miners.
My Pick: Houston
Confidence: 2

9:30 PM

Brigham Young (5-2) @ San Diego State (2-5)
BYU's good! SDSU, not so much.
My Pick: Brigham Young
Confidence: 3

10:00 PM

#17 California (5-2) @ #9 Arizona State (7-0)
Y'know, Arizona State's defense hasn't been half bad. That said, this'll be the best offense they've faced. Really, this is a pick em - it'll probably turn into a Pac 10tastic shootout that either team can win. Still, if one team lays the beat down, I'd lean towards it being Arizona State, as the Sun Devils have been a much better team at home in recent years.
My Pick: Arizona State
Confidence: 1

12:05 AM

New Mexico State (4-4) @ Hawaii (7-0)
The crap teams of the WAC have been taking their best shot and coming very close to knocking off Hawaii. I realize this is at Aloha Stadium and all, but New Mexico State is almost definitely the best of those crap teams.
My Pick: New Mexico State
Confidence: 1

8:00 PM

Central Florida (4-3) @ Southern Miss (4-3)
USM's run defense isn't especially great, so I expect UCF's Kevin Smith to continue his torrid pace. Then again, USM's a running team too, and UCF's run defense is about as mediocre as USM's. Oh, who knows, I'll just go with my first instinct.
My Pick: Central Florida
Confidence: 1

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The TFFE Top 25: After Week 8

#1 Ohio State (8-0, #1 week)
The one team that is not only taking care of business, but winning in a fashion befitting of a #1 team. That defense is excellent.

#2 LSU (7-1, #2)
Same old, same old. That defense is very good, and hey, so is the offense. No longer at juggernaut status, though.

#3 Oregon (6-1, #4)
Um, hello? Oregon's lack of national publicity amazes me. The defense is somewhat suspect, but that offense might just be the best in the nation. The balance makes it amazingly dangerous - QB Dennis Dixon can take over the game and win it, and that's if RB Jonathan Stewart doesn't do so himself.

#4 West Virginia (6-1, #5)
As I said, WVU's a boring team to write about at the moment - they always play pretty much as expected. They're a very good team! They like to run a lot, dontcha know.

#5 Florida (5-2, #6)
I was going back and forth between WVU and Florida, but decided to give the one-loss team the benefit of the doubt. Plus that secondary's still a concern, even if one that can be overcome.

#6 USC (6-1, #9)
Yeah, they seem back at full strength. Cue the Jaws theme.

#7 Oklahoma (7-1, #3)
Ehhhh. That Iowa State game makes them look that much shakier. The CU performance has gone from a one-time thing to showing that they can be vulnerable, which knocks them down a tier.

#8 Missouri (6-1, #8)
Another team being slept on, if nowhere near to the degree as Oregon's been. If the Texas Tech game is a sign that they have a defense, they're a darkhorse national title contender.

#9 Arizona State (7-0, #12)
They've looked good. They've been untested, though. An undefeated year may be out of the question, but they seem at the level where they can beat three of Cal, Oregon, USC and UCLA.

#10 Michigan (6-2, #15)
Hey, why not? Part attrition, part beating a fellow top-25 team without the most consistent star player in the nation.

#11 South Carolina (6-2, #11)
Ehhhh. The Vandy loss was nothing surprising, and they beat Kentucky, AND the top 25 has a soft underbelly this year, so the Gamecocks hold steady, even if it's at a weaker #11 than last week.

#12 Kentucky (6-2, #13)
Another attrition ranking. They're still in the upper-level team, no shame in losing to two teams legitimately better than you.

#13 South Florida (6-1, #7)
Yeah, they lost to Rutgers, but that seems to be them on a bad night rather than a true indicator of their playing level. Still a very good team, and one that has a lot of reasons to like them, unlike...

#14 Texas (6-2, #14)
Just going along, beating Baylor and Iowa State. They haven't played all that great, but they have all that talent. Really just begging for someone to knock them off.

#15 Penn State (6-2, #18)
Anthony Morelli's playing well, but I have no confidence in him keeping that up. That said, he's been playing well, so I'll keep them up here until he assuredly proves me right.

#16 Wisconsin (6-2, #19)
Still a really good team. That run defense is still a question mark, but the overall level of play shows there's a lot to like.

#17 California (5-2, #10)
Still pretty much the best possible iteration of an archetype of a Pac 10 team - a bad defense makes every game a shootout, but that offense is good enough to make up for it 95% of the time. The OSU loss can be chalked up to Kevin Riley, but as for this week, well, that was part of the 5%.

#18 Boston College (7-0, #16)
Matt Ryan: Heisman frontrunner? Really? Oh, I forgot how great he was against ARMY.

#19 Alabama (6-2, --)
Huzzah, the offense showed signs of life. They almost definitely won't keep up the pace they did against Tennessee, but again, they showed signs of life, which means they're deserving of this ranking now.

#20 Illinois (5-3, #17)
Still a perfectly fine second-tier team. If their opponent has a good run defense, they'll likely be beaten. If not, watch out.

#21 Kansas (7-0, #25)
They're good! Not great, but very good.

#22 Virginia Tech (6-1, #21)
The second-best team in the ACC. I'm shocked it's worth a ranking this high.

#23 Georgia (5-2, #24)
Perfectly Fine Two Loss SEC Team.

#24 Rutgers (5-2, --)
That Ray Rice fellow is very good. Mike Teel's spotty, but the Knights are an all-around above-average team.

#25 Virginia (7-1, --)
They actually kicked the crap out of Maryland despite the final score. If they keep playing like that, they'll deserve that record.

Week 8 Recap

#1 Ohio State 24, Michigan State 17
Dominating. For all the whining about Ohio State having an easy schedule (apparently teams beating each other is only allowed in the SEC), people seem to be ignoring that the Buckeyes are playing at the level a #1 team should. The OSU defense seems to be more or less at LSU levels, as they held a pretty good Michigan State offense to a paltry 185 yards. They were especially dominant against the Spartans' running game, as Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick combined for only 58 yards on 22 carries. And, oh yeah, that offense isn't half bad - Todd Boeckman went 15/23 for 193 and a 2/1 ratio, and Chris Wells ran for an insane 221 yards. The score means pretty much nothing here - MSU was able to return both of Ohio State's turnovers for touchdowns, and that's a fairly rare occurence. The Buckeyes are the only undefeated team that's played like one.
Ohio State: STOCK UP
Michigan State: STOCK NEUTRAL

#2 LSU 30, Auburn 24
Same story here to a lesser extent - the close score masks how much better the winning team played. Still, unlike Michigan State, Auburn was actually able to do something on offense, gaining almost 300 yards. The real noteworthy thing is that Auburn QB Brandon Cox actually seems to be a real quarterback now, as he had an excellent night - 18/28 (64.3%), 199 yards, 2 TD. Even if I don't think the Tigers...well, the Auburn Tigers, are overwhelmingly great, I'll bump them up a notch. LSU obviously no longer feels like the juggernaut they seemed to be at the beginning of the year, but they're still good enough to be favored against pretty much anyone.
Auburn: STOCK UP

#3 Oklahoma 17, Iowa State 7
Ew. Sam Bradford wasn't horrible, but was nowhere near as great as he's been, completing 57% for 183 and a pick. On the plus side for OU, DeMarco Murray was the most productive of the three primary backs, getting 6.6 yards per each of his 9 carries. Still, the offense as a whole was no great shakes, but on the plus side, the defense picked up the slack, even if part of that was just playing Iowa State. Bumping OU down a notch here - the CU game looked like a one-time thing, but this seems to proof OU can have off weeks.
Oklahoma: STOCK DOWN

#4 Oregon 55, Washington 34
Dennis Dixon didn't have the greatest game, but was solid - he completed 63% for 196 and a 1/1 ratio, and had 99 and a score on the ground. Then again, he didn't really have to do much - backup RB Andre Crenshaw had 113 and 2 touchdowns and, oh yeah, starter Jonathan Stewart had 251 yards and 2 scores of his own. As for U-Dub, Jake Locker isn't quite ready; while he had 257 and a 4/1 ratio, and ran for 78 yards, he completed less than 40% of his passes, which isn't too promising going forward. Still, if he progresses by the end of the year and during the offseason, he could wind up being Tim Tebow in '08. But, it's 2007, and probably another long year for the Huskies. As for Oregon, Dixon not getting any Heisman publicity is pretty amazing - he's way better than Matt fricking Ryan. I have some concerns about the Ducks D, but it's hard to complain when they're having huge days on offense, one way or the other.
Washington: STOCK DOWN

#5 West Virginia 38, Mississippi State 13
Just what you'd expect, more or less. Pat White was efficient both by air and ground, WVU pretty much did as they pleased, Mississippi State wasn't awful, but really didn't do much. I like WVU as a team, but they've been kind of boring to write about for most of the year, outside of the USF game - things go pretty much as expected.
West Virginia: STOCK NEUTRAL
Mississippi State: STOCK NEUTRAL

#6 Florida 45, #13 Kentucky 37
Only the two quarterbacks really mattered here. Tim Tebow went 18/26 for 256 and 4 TD, and added 78 and a score on the ground. Andre Woodson went 35/50 for 415 and 5 touchdowns. Yep. Really no surprises here - Kentucky's always been more of an all-offense, not so much-defense team, though this year they're legitimately good. Florida can also score with anyone, but that secondary remains a concern - they haven't improved quite as much as you'd like to see, though admittedly, Woodson's a top-tier QB.

Rutgers 30, #7 South Florida 27
This was almost completely thanks to Ray Rice, who had 181 yards on 39 carries. He overcame a horrible night by RU QB Mike Teel, who only completed 38% for 179 yards, but did manage 2 TDs out of that. As for USF, things were kind of flat; QB Matt Grothe was a one man show, leading the team on the ground with 58 yards and a score, but only completed 50% of his passes en route to 247 and a 1/1 ratio. Those are fine passing numbers, but without a consistent running game, it's thoroughly beatable, as it was here. Really, the difference was USF's surprising inability to contain Rice - the Bulls run D played well against Steve Slaton and UCF's Kevin Smith. If the USF D plays half as well as they did in those games, USF wins this one fairly handily. Rutgers are what they are - an above-average team, though Teel's performance shows they have flaws. I'll knock USF down a notch, mostly since if that defense isn't as consistently good as they'd previously appeared, they fall quite a bit back to the middle of the Big East pack.
South Florida: STOCK DOWN

#8 Missouri 41, #20 Texas Tech 10
Well, I expected half of that score. Chase Daniel had a good night, completing 74%, even if it was only 13/19 for 210 and a 1/1 ratio. But really, he didn't need to put on a show, as a gaggle of Missouri backs outrushed Texas Tech 212 to negative 9. Yep. As for Tech, Graham Harrell had nice peripherals as usual - 44/69 (63.8%), 397 yards - but only had one touchdown and got picked off 4 times. TTU gets knocked down a notch since that offense has now proven to be stoppable, and I'm getting more and more bullish on Mizzou - if the Tigers actually have a quasi-credible defense to go with that offense, hoo boy.
Missouri: STOCK UP
Texas Tech: STOCK DOWN

#9 USC 38, Notre Dame 0
Well then. The game USC should've had against Arizona - Mark Sanchez went 21-of-38 for 235 and 4 TD, and that really sums it up. USC seems to be back, if they ever even left. Notre Dame remains bad.

UCLA 30, #10 California 21
Cal wasn't all too bad - Nate Longshore had 3 picks, but he had 232 yards and 3 touchdowns on 65% passing. Justin Forsett was somewhat shut down though, getting only 76 yards on 25 carries. UCLA looked good - Khalil Bell ran for 142 yards, and Pat Cowan completed two thirds of his passes for 161 and a TD. Still, given UCLA's perpetual Jekyll and Hyde act, this means little going forward.

Vanderbilt 17, #11 South Carolina 6
Not overly surprising - SC's been skating on thin ice as of late, and Vandy was due to play like was expected in the preseason. A pretty even game statistically, with Gamecocks QB Chris Smelley's 2 picks being the difference. Nobody played too great, nobody played too awfully. SC remains an above-average team in the SEC, but I'll move Vandy a notch up for showing something, if more on defense than offense.
Vanderbilt: STOCK UP
South Carolina: STOCK NEUTRAL

#14 Texas 31, Baylor 10
I was expecting a dominant win that wouldn't mean much, much like UT's beating of Iowa State last week; this game wound up being much more of a mixed bag. Colt McCoy sums up said mixed bag - he completed 74% for 293 yards, but only a 1/2 ratio. Yawn. Texas isn't confidence-inspiring at all, but they're talented.

#15 Michigan 27, #17 Illinois 17
Michigan more or less shut down the run, holding the Illini to only 137 yards on the ground, so that was pretty much that. Chad Henne was in and out due to injury, and he looked fairly good when he was in - 70% passing for 201 and a 2/1 ratio. Mike Hart was out, but Carlos Brown led those who picked up the slack with 113 yards. The game in and of itself doesn't mean much, but that the Wolverines could win a game against Hart, especially facing one of their bigger tests of the year, bodes extremely well.

#18 Penn State 36, Indiana 21
ANTHONY MORELLI PLAYED LIKE AN ACTUAL QUARTERBACK! 22/32, 195 yards, 2/1 ratio. Kellen Lewis played pretty dang well for Indiana too, going 30/48 for 318 and 3 TD. Really, the difference was Penn State's ability to stop the run - IU only gained 68 yards on the ground, while the Nittany Lions running backs got theirs. Indiana's still a perfectly fine team, while Penn State's somewhat of a puzzle. Morelli hasn't looked too bad lately, but I'm still nowhere near being relieved.

#19 Wisconsin 44, Northern Illinois 3
Wisconsin's had a suspect run defense - NIU was held to negative 13 on the ground and 99 overall. This means nothing for Wisconsin, since NIU's a strong contender for one of the worst five teams in the nation.
Northern Illinois: STOCK DOWN

Alabama 41, #22 Tennessee 17
That margin's way more surprising than the result. Erik Ainge wasn't too bad: 22/35, 243 yards, 1/1 ratio. The big shock was that Bama didn't score so much through the running game (though Terry Grant had 104 and a score), but that John Parker Wilson completed 70% of his passes for 363 and 3 TD. Even though Tennessee's secondary is quite suspect, I'll bump Alabama up if only for its offense showing signs of life. Tennessee's a decent SEC team - nothing more, nothing less, more or less.
Alabama: STOCK UP

Pittsburgh 24, #23 Cincinnati 17
Really. But the score about reflects the game, as Pitt played slightly better. Also helping the Panthers cause was some turnover karma affecting the Bearcats - Cincy gave up 2 fumbles after benefiting from much the same from opposing offenses. Pitt seems to be a much-improved team with original starting RB LaRod Stephens-Howling back. Him and LaSean McCoy combined for 237 yards on 38 carries, enough to make up for any mistakes freshman QB Pat Bostick might've made. And Bostick's improving as well - he only had 167 yards and a 1/1 ratio, but was fairly accurate, completing 62% of his attempts. Cincy falls back to the Big East pack, and there's reasons for optimism in Pittsburgh, although who knows if a Dave Wannstedt-led team will fulfill them.
Pittsburgh: STOCK UP
Cincinnati: STOCK DOWN

#25 Kansas 19, Colorado 14
Meh. An even game, and one CU easily could've won had they done more on the ground. KU QB Todd Reesing was fine, completing 69% for 153 and a TD, and led the team in rushing with 84 yards, more than Colorado's entire ground output. Cody Hawkins wasn't half-bad for the Buffaloes - he completed 61.4% of his passes for 287 yards, but only had a 2/2 ratio. It doesn't look like Kansas should be a title contender, but they're a perfectly above-average team, probably behind only Missouri in the Big 12 North. Colorado's uninspiringly decent.

Arkansas 44, Mississippi 8
Hoo boy. Ole Miss's offense, which hadn't looked half bad, absolutely imploded this week, with QB Seth Adams having an awful 9/21, 79 yard, 4 INT line. Arkansas looked good - the running backs dominated as expected, and Casey Dick actually completed 65% of his passes for a 3/1 ratio, if only 96 yards. A good performance by the Razorbacks, but it's unclear what this really means - probably nothing regarding Arkansas's ability to beat better SEC teams, which is probably pretty low.
Mississippi: STOCK DOWN

Middle Tennessee State 24, Arkansas State 7
Noteworthy for Arkansas State's complete implosion, as an offense that looked pretty good against Tennessee and Texas among other teams had only 138 total yards. Huh.
Middle Tennessee State: STOCK NEUTRAL
Arkansas State: STOCK DOWN

Boise State 45, Louisiana Tech 31
A pretty even game, and I'm not sure what conclusion to reach. Much like the Nevada game, this has done a lot to suggest Boise's closer to the rest of the WAC rather than being the dominant #1 team. Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech's been surprisingly competitive this year. Good for them.
Louisiana Tech: STOCK UP

Clemson 70, Central Michigan 14
!!!! Just felt the need to point out that score. Oh, if only it meant absolutely anything going forward.
Central Michigan: STOCK NEUTRAL

Colorado State 48, UNLV 23
HALLELUJAH! CSU won this one mostly due to 5 turnovers, as giving up 559 yards didn't help the Rams cause. Still, COLORADO STATE HAS WON A GAME! HURRAH!
Colorado State: STOCK NEUTRAL

Connecticut 21, Louisville 17
Wow. Probably the biggest win in UConn history, and short of a blowout, this is the most impressive way the Huskies could've won. The defense shut down the Louisville offense as much as you can - Brian Brohm was accurate (70.7%) and had a decent 228 yards, but the Huskies D got 2 picks while giving up only 1 touchdown through the air. And perhaps more importantly for a team in a running back's conference, UConn held a pretty good Louisville running game to only 93 yards. While UConn's offense mostly held pace with Louisville's, they didn't look overly impressive - the opening drive was marred by mistakes, and things just kind of stalled out in places. Still, backup RB Andre Dixon, now the primary back with Donald Brown's injuries, looks like a star in making, as he had 115 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. QB Tyler Lorenzen was passable - he was 9/18 for 130 and a TD, and added 56 yards on the ground. Still, it's encouraging that the Huskies were able to win a game against an offense like this while their own offense wasn't running on all cylinders. If the defense plays like this going forward, especially against the run, UConn suddenly looks like a team that could go 6-1 in the conference (West Virginia's the only offense I'm not sure they can contain), and yes, with some breaks, even get the automatic BCS bid. And, frankly, getting USF and Rutgers at home for their next two games helps towards that end. Of course, even if the defense keeps things up, the offense will likely have to be consistently better in order to win every game needed for that scenario. So, yeah - I bump UConn up since they now look like a legitimate contender, and I'll take Louisville down a notch. That offense is still very good, but they no longer seem that elite.
Connecticut: STOCK UP
Louisville: STOCK DOWN

Miami 37, Florida State 29
Yawwwwn. FSU RB Antone Smith (22 car, 114 yards) was the only player on offense worth talking about. Otherwise, this was an exercise in field goals and defensive touchdowns. Two boring teams that still have no consistent offense but can win on talent. YAWWWWWWWWN.
Florida State: STOCK NEUTRAL

North Dakota State 27, Minnesota 21
The result? Wholly unsurprising. But check out NDSU running back Tyler Roehl's line: 22 carries, 263 yards, 1 TD.
Minnesota: STOCK DOWN

Texas A&M 36, Nebraska 14
NEBRASKA'S DEFENSE IS VERY BAD. Thought you should know. And laugh at them.

Tulane 41, SMU 38 (OT)
Thought I should mention the line of Tulane RB Matt Forte, who is a beast: 38 carries, 342 yards, 4 TD. Tulane's been surprisingly competitive; SMU's been surprisingly inept.
Tulane: STOCK UP

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Week 8 Preview: Saturday and Sunday

With the UConn game already previewed, I had to put this sentence from's Big East rundown here, since I can think of nothing that sums up UConn football more than this sentence:

Police urged Connecticut fans to allow more time for their commute to Rentschler Field for Friday's game against Louisville, not because of the crowd anticipated for the game but because of the opening of a massive outdoor sporting goods store nearby.


12:00 PM

#18 Penn State (5-2) @ Indiana (5-2)
This would've been much more of a toss-up had PSU not looked so impressive in beating Wisconsin last week, and had Indiana not imploded against Michigan State. As with pretty much any Nittany Lions opponent, Indiana has a chance here if Anthony Morelli implodes like he has many times during the year. Still, even though IU QB Kellen Lewis seems to be one of the fastest-improving players in the conference, if he couldn't handle Michigan State's D, I doubt the Hoosiers will do much against that stout Penn State unit.
My Pick: Penn State
Confidence (out of 5): 2

Northern Illinois (1-6) @ #19 Wisconsin (5-2)
I don't really get why people are so down on the Badgers recently - the run defense is a liability, but there's still a lot to like. I guess NIU could possibly run enough times and well enough to somehow win it, but it's been a horrible season and the Huskies haven't shown enough offense to beat most other MAC teams, let alone a team like Wisconsin.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Confidence: 4

#23 Cincinnati (6-1) @ Pittsburgh (2-4)
Cincy's a beatable team, and Pitt has some upside, but since Dave Wannstedt's Achilles injury didn't take him out for the game, I just can't pick the Panthers.
My Pick: Cincinnati
Confidence: 3

Army (3-4) @ Georgia Tech (4-3)
Tech seems like one of the better teams in the ACC, for whatever that's worth. Well, it's definitely worth being able to beat Army easy at home.
My Pick: Georgia Tech
Confidence: 5

Central Michigan (4-3) @ Clemson (4-2)
CMU seems to have gotten their act together, so they could actually pose a threat if the Bad Clemson shows up, as it's tended to lately. However, the Tigers will be facing a MAC defense, so figure on either QB Cullen Harper or the RB duo of Davis and Spiller to have a huge day and let Clemson win comfortably.
My Pick: Clemson
Confidence: 2

Iowa (3-4) @ Purdue (5-2)
Iowa kind of showed signs of life, being able to stop the run enough against Illinois to win; but then again, the Illini are a run-dependent team and Juice Williams was actually accurate if not overly productive. Purdue's still relatively unproven, but they've shown a pretty good passing game if nothing else; even if they only put up twentysomething points, I don't think Iowa's offense will be able to follow suit.
My Pick: Purdue
Confidence: 3

Miami of Ohio (4-3) @ Temple (2-5)
Miami of Ohio completely smacked the crap out of Bowling Green in an unexpected manner, while Temple has a good day beating a sliding Akron team. Given the MAC's unpredictable nature, and that the RedHawks look like a MAC contender...
My Pick: Temple
Confidence: 1

North Dakota State @ Minnesota (1-6)
NDSU's the #1 team in I-AA at the moment, and absolutely beat the hell out of Central Michigan earlier this year. Looking at their stats shows a passing offense that is accurate if not amazingly productive, so the Bison are fully capable of exploiting that Minnesota D. I typically don't pick I-AA teams to win, so I'll assume the Gophers will somehow pull it out, but if there ever was a game that screamed out to me that it'd happen, this would be the one.
My Pick: Minnesota
Confidence: 1

12:30 PM

#3 Oklahoma (6-1) @ Iowa State (1-6)
And now playing Seneca Wallace, Bret Meyer! This'll be a smashing.
My Pick: Oklahoma
Confidence: 5

Vanderbilt (3-3) @ #11 South Carolina (6-1)
SC's a very good team, but seems like a prime upset candidate - good not great, just kind of chugging along not all that impressively. However, Vandy hasn't really lived up to expectations - if they play up to their talent, they could pull off the win, but they haven't really shown that thus far this season. And since they haven't, I won't pick them.
My Pick: South Carolina
Confidence: 3

#14 Texas (5-2) @ Baylor (3-4)
Much like Iowa State was, this should be an impressive win for Texas that means absolutely nothing. Well, bowl eligibility, but that's it.
My Pick: Texas
Confidence: 5

#22 Tennessee (4-2) @ Alabama (5-2)
Alabama's probably the more talented team, but the Crimson Tide have been amazingly unimpressive starting with the Florida State loss. They've shown pretty much nothing against Houston and Ole Miss, but again, there's the talent there where they could rebound with a shitkicking at any moment. That said, I'll give the Vols the edge here - if Alabama had been consistently shutting down the pass, I'd give it to the Tide, but Erik Ainge is fully capable of putting this one out of reach, especially if the Bama running game disappoints. But really, this could go either way.
My Pick: Tennessee
Confidence: 1

1:00 PM

Wake Forest (4-2) @ Navy (4-2)
Wake's a perfectly average team, which will make some noise in the perfectly average ACC. Navy's Navy - they'll run for a lot of yards and points, and this year the defense is suspect enough to let any team in it. I'll say that Navy pulls it off based on absolutely no evidence except my gut, which is also hungry.
My Pick: Navy
Confidence: 1

2:00 PM

Wyoming (4-2) @ Air Force (5-2)
The Alphabetical Bookend Bowl. The MWC's quite paritytastic this year, and Wyoming looked like the favorite in the conference before being brought back to earth last week against New Mexico. So, who knows. AFA's 3-1 in Mountain West play, so they've looked good, but Wyoming's win over Virginia is the best either team has on their resume. I've been higher on Wyoming throughout the year so I'll give the edge to the Cowboys, but really, this is a pick 'em.
My Pick: Wyoming
Confidence: 1

Arkansas (3-3) @ Mississippi (2-5)
I think Arkansas has reached the point where one has to ask "Is Darren McFadden enough?" I thought he would be to win games like this, but Ole Miss has been more competitive than expected, and Arkansas QB Casey Dick has shown absolutely no signs of allowing the Razorbacks to be competitive in a shootout. I'll give McFadden the benefit of the doubt in carrying Arkansas to a win here, despite his horrible performance last week; however, as far as the SEC goes, this one may be pretty much it.
My Pick: Arkansas
Confidence: 1

Ball State (4-3) @ Western Michigan (3-4)
WMU's been one of the more disappointing teams in the nation, even if the Broncos are showing faint signs of life. As for Ball State, their loss to Central Michigan looks better now that CMU seems to have gotten their act together, and that offense is quite good. Anything can happen with the MAC, but I'll give the edge to who appears to be the better team.
My Pick: Ball State
Confidence: 1

2:05 PM

Texas A&M (5-2) @ Nebraska (4-3)
TAMU's a running team, so Nebraska may not hemorrhage passing yardage like they have been, but they haven't shown much of an ability to stop the run either. I guess there's the possibility that Nebraska can win a shootout, but if OK State did what they did to the Huskers, I can't see the Aggies doing much worse.
My Pick: Texas A&M
Confidence: 2

3:00 PM

Memphis (2-4) @ Rice (1-5)
Rice showed signs of life against the Houston D, but that still brings them from "worst team in I-A" contender up to, like, somewhere in the top five. Memphis is disappointing, but at least they don't appear to be outright bad.
My Pick: Memphis
Confidence: 2

3:05 PM

Nevada (2-4) @ Utah State (0-6)
Nevada is way better than that record, as their high-powered offense and taking Boise to OT showed. Utah State is...not.
My Pick: Nevada
Confidence: 4

3:30 PM

Michigan State (5-2) @ #1 Ohio State (7-0)
The upset could quite well happen, especially if Michigan State plays as well as they did in their stomping of Indiana last week. The only big question mark is how MSU back Javon Ringer will do against the OSU run defense, which ranks a stout #2 in the nation behind BC. Of course, the thing is that Ringer is BY FAR the best back OSU's faced to date, behind...Jerod Void?, so there's a chicken/egg situation. Plus Michigan State's defense hasn't been all too wonderful, so even if the Buckeyes D can only slow, not stop Ringer, OSU should be able to put up enough points to win. But of course, this year, if an upset can happen, there's a very good chance it will.
My Pick: Ohio State
Confidence: 1

Mississippi State (4-3) @ #5 West Virginia (5-1)
I'm not exactly sure how Mississippi State got 4 wins. Well, weak schedule and luck, duh. But anyway, WVU should put up a whole bunch of points, and MSU ain't keepin' pace.
My Pick: West Virginia
Confidence: 4

#6 Florida (4-2) @ #13 Kentucky (6-1)
Much like LSU was a good matchup for Kentucky, I think Florida is quite a bad one for the Wildcats. Florida's probably a better team on both sides of the ball, and the most certain thing in this game is that Florida will score their fair share of points against a Kentucky D that, while better than expected, probably can't handle an offense like the Gators'. And even in a shootout, even though I think Woodson may be a better QB than Tebow (and even if so, barely), I would trust the Florida defense to come up with the difference-making INT or two than the other way around.
My Pick: Florida
Confidence: 3

#20 Texas Tech (6-1) @ #8 Missouri (5-1)
POINTS!!!! Missouri's the better overall team, but in a shootout like this should degenerate to, it doesn't really matter. Still, I'll give the Tigers the benefit of the doubt since they did THAT to Nebraska, who's essentially a worse Texas Tech, and probably not 35 points worth of deficit worse.
My Pick: Missouri
Confidence: 1

#9 USC (5-1) @ Notre Dame (1-6)
If this isn't a rebound win for USC that borders on an ugly blowout, then I just don't know anymore.
My Pick: USC
Confidence: 4

#10 California (5-1) @ UCLA (4-2)
UCLA's a hard team to pin down - they can look explosive at times, but they're just so...disappointingly UCLAish. Still, if Nate Longshore is back at full strength, Cal should win fairly easily in what could become a shootout. If Kevin Riley's in, I still give Cal the edge, but it could essentially go either way. So I'll split the difference. LOGIC.
My Pick: California
Confidence: 2

Arkansas State (3-3) @ Middle Tennessee State (2-5)
ASU has a somewhat inexplicable loss to ULM (given how the Warhawks have performed otherwise this year), but have looked better by far than MTSU most of the year. Still, they're two teams who have pretty good offenses, so this could turn into a shootout that goes either way. Hooray the Sun Belt.
My Pick: Arkansas State
Confidence: 1

Miami (4-3) @ Florida State (4-2)
Oh jeez. A team that's sometimes good, sometimes bad at a team that's consistently meh. Florida State just bores me - they'll probably win 7 to 9 games, but they don't really do it on the basis of anything in particular - they're just kind of overall good enough. If Miami's offense shows up, they can beat "good enough", if it doesn't, expect an absolutely exciting 10-3 Florida State win. I'll go with the consistent team at home, but god, yawn.
My Pick: Florida State
Confidence: 1

North Texas (1-5) @ Troy (4-2)
Well, UNT got a win, so all that yardage led to something. If Troy manages to lose this one, picking games in the Sun Belt is officially useless.
My Pick: Troy
Confidence: 4

4:00 PM

Bowling Green (3-3) @ Kent State (3-4)
Oh who the hell knows. Kent State seems like the better overall team, if not by much, though BGSU seems to have the best offense, and has the biggest win between the two in Minnesota. I'll give the home team the edge, why the hell not.
My Pick: Kent State
Confidence: 1

Buffalo (3-4) @ Syracuse (1-6)
Wow, I'm actually doing it. One of these teams is passable, one of these teams is bad. I'm actually giving it to the better playing team, which is
My Pick: Buffalo
Confidence: 1

Tulsa (4-2) @ Central Florida (3-3)
An intriguing one. Gus Malzahn's offense has taken, and Tulsa's starting to put up some crazy yardage and scoring numbers. However, UCF's Kevin Smith is probably the best player on the field, as he was the NCAA's rushing leader before being shut down by South Florida last week. Still, for all that, when I look at how offenses as a whole are doing, Tulsa seems to have a clear edge - this could go either way, but I see Kevin Smith getting his and Tulsa winning a 49-34 game or something like that.
My Pick: Tulsa
Confidence: 1

4:30 PM

NC State (1-5) @ East Carolina (4-3)
Ehhhh. NCSU's somewhat unlucky, and ECU's lucky, so this is kind of a crapshoot. Oh what the hell, I'll say NC State finally starts turning this around, because come on, they're not THAT bad and these things should eventually even out.
My Pick: NC State
Confidence: 1

5:00 PM

Florida Atlantic (3-3) @ Louisiana-Lafayette (1-6)
FAU's a team that can compete with pretty much anyone except the Kentuckys, Oklahoma States, Texas Techs of the world - the guys with the crazy high powered offenses. ULL is not one of those teams.
My Pick: Florida Atlantic
Confidence: 3

San Jose State (3-4) @ Fresno State (4-2)
Could be a neat little matchup - SJSU's had some big offensive days against the suspect defenses of the WAC. Unfortunately, Fresno seems like a legitimate team. SJSU has more of a chance than those two sentences suggest, but still - the Bulldogs should be the clear favorite.
My Pick: Fresno State
Confidence: 2

5:30 PM

#25 Kansas (6-0) @ Colorado (4-3)
Kansas didn't really prove they were overrated or underrated against Kansas State, so...who knows with the Jayhawks. I'll give their apparently high-powered offense the edge, even if this is probably the best defense KU has faced to date. Hooray question marks!
My Pick: Kansas
Confidence: 1

Eastern Washington @ Brigham Young (4-2)
Well, at least this is easy to pick. But I'm so disappointed in you, BYU.
My Pick: Brigham Young
Confidence: 5

7:00 PM

Stanford (2-4) @ Arizona (2-5)
This really could go either way, as both teams are prone to having very bad weeks. It's just that Arizona's other weeks are good, while Stanford's are more...mediocre.
My Pick: Arizona
Confidence: 2

Boise State (5-1) @ Louisiana Tech (2-4)
Louisiana Tech's very much more at the New Mexico State level than the Nevada level. This likely won't be pretty.
My Pick: Boise State
Confidence: 5

Florida International (0-6) @ Louisiana-Monroe (1-5)
ULM hasn't lived up to preseason expectations, but they still should be way better than FIU, who has lived up to expectations that they'd be the worst team in I-A with flying colors.
My Pick: Louisiana-Monroe
Confidence: 3

Houston (3-3) @ UAB (2-4)
UAB hasn't been quite as awful as expected, but I doubt they'll be able to handle Houston. The Cougars offense has days where they're as high-powered as ever, and if this is one, it could get ugly. And if could still get somewhat ugly.
My Pick: Houston
Confidence: 4

Ohio (3-4) @ Toledo (2-5)
Toledo's not all that bad - they're a perfectly average MAC team that could've used a break or two. While Ohio is...also a perfectly average MAC team. I'll give to the home team, because when in doubt, guess that the MAC will be as annoyingly parity-filled as possible.
My Pick: Toledo
Confidence: 1

7:05 PM

Kansas State (4-2) @ Oklahoma State (4-3)
OK State seems to be over their early-season doldrums, which actually makes this interesting. I view the KSU defense as not good enough to stop OK State from scoring a good amount of points and making this a shootout, and I don't think K-State has the horses to run (or pass) with the Cowboys.
My Pick: Oklahoma State
Confidence: 1

7:30 PM

#4 Oregon (5-1) @ Washington (2-4)
Washington's slowly sliding, and if the Huskies got beaten that easily by Arizona State, hoo boy. Though I have a weird gut feeling this'll be an upset, all rational thought says the Ducks will kick the shit out of U-Dub.
My Pick: Oregon
Confidence: 3

8:00 PM

#15 Michigan (5-2) @ #17 Illinois (5-2)
This could very well wind up being a Michigan blowout that doesn't accurately reflect Illinois's talent level. I say that because based on the Purdue game, Michigan's back to being insanely great against the run. And what does Illinois do? Uh oh.
My Pick: Michigan
Confidence: 3

Idaho (1-6) @ New Mexico State (3-4)
NMSU's been disappointing, as they've been part of the WAC second-class rather than having a breakthrough year. Still, there seems to be enough there where they should at least beat the Idahos of the conference. I hope. C'mon, the Aggies can pass.
My Pick: New Mexico State
Confidence: 2

Virginia (6-1) @ Maryland (4-2)
Virginia just kind of keeps scraping by fairly unimpressively, while Maryland's more or less deserved to win when they've done so. For a change. UMD's probably the better team, but the matchup is in UVA's favor - they should be able to neutralize the run, and I'm not quite sold on Chris Turner being a QB that cane take over a game just yet. Still, I could be proven wrong.
My Pick: Virginia
Confidence: 1

Tulane (1-5) @ SMU (1-5)
Tulane's been more competitive than expected, while SMU's...kind of depressed me in what I expected to be a breakout year. Both teams are still suspect enough where this could go either way, but Tulane RB Matt Forte's been great enough that he can carry the Green Wave to a win here.
My Pick: Tulane
Confidence: 1

8:30 PM

New Mexico (4-2) @ San Diego State (2-4)
SDSU's one of the weak sisters of the league. Not that that means much with the MWC's parity, but since UNM beat Wyoming pretty handily, they should be able to take a team that, if nothing else, seems a good deal worse than Wyoming.
My Pick: New Mexico
Confidence: 2

9:00 PM

Auburn (5-2) @ #2 LSU (6-1)
Uh, yeah. Auburn's fine, but they're not all that great. Even if Brandon Cox has improved legitimately, I don't think this'll be a game where that'll be apparent at all.
My Pick: LSU
Confidence: 4

Colorado State (0-6) @ UNLV (2-5)
You can do it, Colorado State. Come on. They're not all that bad a team, they just keep losing fairly close. They gotta beat a I-A team, right, and this is their best chance. Come on.
My Pick: Colorado State
Confidence: 1

8:00 PM

Southern Miss (3-3) @ Marshall (0-6)
Kind of the same situation as CSU - Marshall should've gotten a win somewhere along the way. Still, Southern Miss is far from a UNLV - while the Golden Eagles have been quite a disappointment this year, they still have enough talent where they should win this one.
My Pick: Southern Miss
Confidence: 3

Monday, October 15, 2007

Week 8 Preview: Thursday and Friday

7:30 PM

#7 South Florida (6-0) @ Rutgers (4-2)
The UCF win established USF as legit national title contenders, yes, but they're far from a dominant favorite against teams like Rutgers, especially on the road. Still, this isn't too favorable a matchup for the Scarlet Knights - they're a team whose offensive catalyst is their running back, Ray Rice, and we saw with the UCF game, and frankly, the West Virginia game, how USF can slow down if not completely shut down an excellent back. On the plus side, RU QB Mike Teel is better than who UCF had at the position, but then again, UCF lost 64-12.
My Pick: South Florida
Confidence (out of 5): 2

8:00 PM

Utah (4-3) @ TCU (4-3)
Still somewhat shaky on the Utes - they've improved exponentially from their horrible start, but one chance to make a first impression, etc. etc. TCU's been pretty inconsistent, looking average sometimes, and...slightly above average other times. TCU's been slightly better, so I'll give them the slight nod based on preseason bias and homefield.
My Pick: TCU
Confidence: 1

7:00 PM

Northwestern (4-3) @ Eastern Michigan (2-5)
Oh come on now. When Northwestern was scuffling a few weeks ago, this might've had some intrigue, but Northwestern's been putting up MACtastic high offensive numbers against defenses much better than EMU's, an actual MAC one. Well, Eastern Michigan's may be better than Minnesota's, but still.
My Pick: Northwestern
Confidence: 4

8:00 PM

Louisville (4-3) @ Connecticut (5-1)
I'd like to give more analysis for my beloved Huskies, but it really comes down, like most Louisville games, to if the Cardinals defense shows up or not. Still, the UConn D also hasn't faced an offense nearly as good as UL's, so I'll give Louisville the edge since they could possibly win in a shootout too.
My Pick: Louisville
Confidence: 2

The TFFE Top 25: After Week 7

#1 Ohio State (7-0, #2 last week)
Perhaps a bit untested, yes, but they've been dominating their schedule like a #1-worthy team should. Pretty much the same story as LSU - that defense is frightening, and that offense'll made do 90% of the time.

#2 LSU (6-1, #1)
They're still really really good. As I said, Kentucky's the type of team that can give them trouble, but let's not forget their complete annihilations of Virginia Tech, South Carolina, and even a not half bad Mississippi State team.

#3 Oklahoma (6-1, #3)
By the end of the year, this team could be amazingly frightening. That defense is excellent, if not quite at the level of the two teams above, and that offense is young enough to get much better. If the Colorado loss was more bad luck than the complete abberation in performance that it was, the Sooners would have a chance for one of the top two spots.

#4 Oregon (5-1, #6)
Had one hell of a re-establishing win, smoking a Washington State team that isn't going anywhere, but it is way better than THAT. With the Cal game one fluke fumble away from being a tie, Oregon's easily the most impressive, and probably at the moment the only elite, team in the Pac 10, and the Michigan game looks even better now.

#5 West Virginia (5-1, #4)
Steve Slaton or Pat White did not die during their bye week.

#6 Florida (4-2, #5)
Tim Tebow either.

#7 South Florida (6-0, #11)
Damn. Re-established themselves after a suspect effort against FAU quite nicely; by smoking Central Florida, they've gone from a very good team that can beat other very good teams to a team that could beat anyone in the country when they're on.

#8 Missouri (5-1, #10)
I'm not bumping Missouri down for proving that they are, in fact, a top-ten team. They just happened to play a top-five one.

#9 USC (5-1, #7)
Lurking down here until they show something more. As much talent as anyone, but they just seem like they're coasting.

#10 California (5-1, #9)
They obviously deserved to take Oregon State to OT, so I can't fault them too much. Otherwise, same old, same old; that defense is amazingly suspect, but if Nate Longshore's at QB, him and the receiving corps are elite enough to win any shootout.

#11 South Carolina (6-1, #8)
They're good. Pretty good. Prettay...prettay good. A good enough team to win every game here on out, but they haven't been all that impressive lately - nothing much to get excited about.

#12 Arizona State (7-0, #16)
Another team that had a re-establishing win; the Sun Devils just curbstomped Washington. The schedule so far's been both fairly weak and mostly at home, so there's still questions. But they've been more impressive than, say...oh wait, BC isn't next. Disregard that.

#13 Kentucky (6-1, --)
Hey, they proved themselves. I don't think they're an elite team, but they're more like Cal - that offense is good enough to make sure they can hang with anyone, and that defense'll make do.

#14 Texas (5-2, #12)
They were another shaky team with a big win, but they're hut by having two losses rather than one. Plus it was against Iowa State. They could win every game from here on out, or they could wind up with 3 to 5 losses.

#15 Michigan (5-2, --)
They're back, and they're pretty easily the #2 team in the Big Ten at the moment. They're not quite elite as expected in the preseason, but they're more than capable of beating Ohio State, as long as Chad Henne keeps playing well. Week in, week out, Mike Hart's almost definitely the best player in the country.

#16 Boston College (7-0, #15)
Meh. They haven't done anything yet to disprove that they're simply an 8-4 team that happens to have a bunch of 6-6 and under teams on their schedule.

#17 Illinois (5-2, #13)
Still quite one-dimensional, but that's good enough. Once again, if Juice Williams improves, look out.

#18 Penn State (5-2, #23)
With an actual quarterback, they'd be top-ten, top-five worthy. Come on, can't they trade?

#19 Wisconsin (5-2, #14)
The run defense is slowly going from "weakness" to "detriment" to "Nebraska."

#20 Texas Tech (6-1, --)
This is one of the up years. Graham Harrell, both the first multi-year starter at TTU in a while and the first actual high-talent QB in Mike Leach's system, is putting up the type of insane year - 258/347 (74.4%), 3153 yards, 31/3 TD/INT - that was expected of Colt Brennan. As a junior!

#21 Virginia Tech (6-1, #17)
Well, they finally showed the form expected in the preseason. Against Duke.

#22 Tennessee (4-2, --)
Playing well at the moment. Playing the best of any of the teams in that glut in the center of the SEC. Which is good enough for top 25 at the moment. Yeeeeep.

#23 Cincinnati (6-1, #19)
Another decently above-average team there's not much to say about. The Louisville game could've gone either way, but outside of almost-definite wins against Pitt and Cuse, that can be said about any Big East game involving the Bearcats. They should be the favorites against Rutgers and UConn, though.

#24 Georgia (5-2, #20)
Playing quite uninspiring ball at the moment. The running game's up to the challenge, gotta see more from QB Stafford or the defense.

#25 Kansas (6-0, #25)
They're hanging from a precipice here after not looking all too great against Baylor. So very untested.

Week 7 Recap

Kentucky 43, #1 LSU 37 (3 OT)
Well then. First, I'll state the obvious in such a game like this: it was a pretty even matchup. Yes, really. Really, things kind of played out like I expected - if nothing else, Kentucky has a good enough offense to put up a decent amount of points, even against the LSU defense (which they did), and if the LSU offense has a bad night (which Matt Flynn did), they could easily scuffle enough for a Kentucky win. Which they did. But I'll refrain from tooting my own horn. Well, any moreso. The really odd thing here is that I figured a Kentucky win would also include an excellent performance by QB Andre' Woodson - in fact, he had a pretty mediocre night, completing only 55% for 250 yards and an unspectacular 3/2 TD/INT ratio. And it leads to somewhat of an odd thing with the Heisman race - being the star player for a team with a huge win like this would theoretically make him the frontrunner, but again, he didn't have that great of a game. However, Darren McFadden had even WORSE of a game, so...who knows. On the LSU side, they were able to run the ball fine, 4th downs in overtime notwithstanding, the problem was mostly the spotty play of Matt Flynn, who couldn't break a 50% completion percentage and only had 130 yards. As for my perceptions of the two teams, LSU remains fairly steady even though they take a slight drop down - they're still one of the elite teams in the country, but my confidence in Matt Flynn has weakened, and honestly, there's just a natural perception difference between "beatable" and "beaten." As for Kentucky, I probably would've nudged them into my top 25 even if they had two straight losses; playing South Carolina close helped a huge amount in me seeing them as a competitive team, and with this win, they've obviously cemented themselves as a team that deserves at 8-4ish season or so, if not better. THIS YEAR IS CRAZY.
Kentucky: STOCK UP

#2 Ohio State 48, Kent State 3
Not quite that one-sided, but nowhere near competitive. Todd Boeckman was quite efficient here, going for 81% for 184 yards and 2 TD, and this game was over early enough that something called Rob Schoenhoft was not only able to get off 9 attempts, but complete 7 of them. Some of the luster's gone off the win against Washington now, but the Buckeyes keep on keepin' on and seem as good as anyone, especially this year.

#3 Oklahoma 41, #10 Missouri 31
Pretty much a win/win, as both teams played up to their level and OU came out slightly ahead. Missouri wasn't able to do much on the ground without Tony Temple, but Chase Daniel pretty much proved his legitimacy by going 37-for-47 (78.7%) for 361 yards, even if he only had a 1/2 ratio. OU's struggles against Colorado seem like a thing of the past; Sam Bradford was outstanding again, going 24/34 for 266 and 2 TD, and running back Chris Brown said "Run It!" (I'm so fucking clever.) and did so for 67 yards and 3 TD. OU established themselves as fully recovered, while Missouri proved they are in fact a legitimate upper-tier team.

#6 Oregon 53, Washington State 7
Holy shit! Just flatout dominance - Dennis Dixon completed 75% en route to 287 and 3 TD, running back Jeremiah Johnson had 4 runs for 63 yards and 2 touchdowns, the defense held Wazzou's Alex Brink under 50%, just...dang. Oregon seems to remain the forgotten national title contender.
Washington State: STOCK DOWN

#7 USC 20, Arizona 13
Um. A pretty awful performance by the Trojans at a time when you think they'd have a fire lit underneath them, because unlike their recent close games, this one was as close as the score. Replacement USC QB Mark Sanchez wasn't that good or that bad - he completed 62%, but only had 130 yards and a 1/2 ratio. Arizona's Willie Tuitama was able to do well against the Trojans secondary, nearing a 70% completion percentage, but any chance at a Wildcats upset was hurt badly by their complete lack of a running back, as they only had 22 yards on the ground. I'm exceedingly close to knock the Trojans down a notch, but I'll refrain from doing so due to their track record. The dynasty ( national title) may be over sooner than expected.

#8 South Carolina 21, North Carolina 15
An odd one. There's nothing really to complain about with South Carolina, but things just feel...underwhelming. The Gamecocks ran the ball well, QB Chris Smelley looked good (65.4%, 172 yards, 3/1 ratio), the defense held UNC's TJ Yates to 52% and a 1/2 ratio, but...ehhh. Part of it might be that the Tar Heels had a lot of yardage, but again, with Yates not being all that great, it's more a case of UNC having a large quantity of passes thrown rather than any sort of quality playing. I'll keep the Gamecocks steady, but they really don't feel like a title contender. I'll also bump UNC up finally, since they've been much more competitive than expected, even if they're still probably #11 in the ACC.
South Carolina: STOCK NEUTRAL
North Carolina: STOCK UP

Oregon State 31, #9 California 28
Well, I expected Cal would lose sometime, but...not in that matter. Cal obviously deserved to take it to overtime before replacement QB Kevin Riley's stupidity, and probably would've won this, possibly big, had them had Nate Longshore. Really not much to say about the Bears - they were the better team, but mistakes mostly attributable to Riley kept the Beaves in it. As for OSU, the Beavers looked much better here then they have at other times. Sean Canfield had a solid performance, and Yvenson Bernard's probably the most underrated back in the nation. Him or someone that's not coming to mind that's just as good, which would obviously make that person more underrated.
Oregon State: STOCK UP

#11 South Florida 64, Central Florida 12
Just a bit off in predicting the upset here. Just the game the Bulls needed - Matt Grothe was back in freshman form (that means he was better), putting up 212 and 2 scores on 54% passing, and leading the team in rushing as he often did, going for 100 and 2 more scores on the ground. The defense was also outstanding, holding TWO Central Florida QBs under 50%, and holding the nation's leading rusher, Kevin Smith, to only 55 yards. A thoroughly legitimizing win - the Bulls have gone from one of the best teams to simply not lose a game to a team that, if they get there, could concievably show up and win the national title game.
South Florida: STOCK UP
Central Florida: STOCK NEUTRAL

#12 Texas 56, Iowa State 3
Kind of like the USF win, but without really meaning anything. Colt McCoy returned to 2006 form, completing over 75% en route to 298 yards and 4 scores, but past that it was pretty much a run of the mill beatdown. This mostly served as a reminder/declaration that Texas hasn't completely imploded.

Iowa 10, #13 Illinois 6
Well, Iowa's alive. Hawkeyes QB Jake Christensen had a good game (68%, 182 yards, TD) and the running game was fine. Still, everyone seems to be injured every year, so they should really just fire their training staff already. Or if they're students then expel them or something. A weird game for Illinois - Juice Williams actually went 9 for 15, which is good for him, but didn't get too many yards either by air or land, and was replaced by Eddie McGee, who gave up the game-ending pick. Really, the key here was Rashard Mendenhall not doing much, as he only had 67 yards on 15 carries. Illinois is still in the thick of the Big Ten race - they've just gone from one of the favorites to a very good albeit one-dimensional team. And, again, Iowa's alive! So good for them.
Illinois: STOCK DOWN

#23 Penn State 38, #14 Wisconsin 7
Well, that margin is much more surprising than the result. Anthony Morelli had a completely decent day, completing 57% for 216 yards and a TD; yes, he amazingly had no turnovers. And Rodney Kinlaw once again proved himself a franchise back, rushing for 115 and a TD. Meanwhile, Wisconsin QB Tyler Donovan played, like, well, Anthony Morelli, having decent but unspectacular stats (16/29, 220 yards) and more interceptions than touchdowns (2 INT, 0 TD). PSU's capable of beating anyone in the Big Ten as long as Morelli plays decently, as this game shows - problem is, that's a big if. And as for Wisconsin, I'll knock them down a notch - this wasn't a disaster or anything, but this is the most vulnerable they've looked all year.
Wisconsin: STOCK DOWN

#15 Boston College 27, Notre Dame 14
Much more one-sided than the score. ND seems to have regressed back to early-season form, and BC's still horribly untested. BC played as well as it should've, God knows if that means anything; then again, that can probably be said about BC's entire schedule, both past and future.
Boston College: STOCK NEUTRAL
Notre Dame: STOCK DOWN

#16 Arizona State 44, Washington 20
A pretty one-sided win that ASU needed. Keegan Herring had the big day, going for 119 and a score on the ground, but Rudy Carpenter was good as well, completing 64.5% en route to 227 and a 2/1 ratio. The early potential of both Washington and QB Jake Locker seems like a distant memory, as Locker couldn't even break a 40% completion percentage.
Arizona State: STOCK UP
Washington: STOCK DOWN

#17 Virginia Tech 43, Duke 14
The VT passing game actually showed signs of life, as both QBs completed better than 70% of their passes; but oddly, the Hokies running game didn't crack 100 yards. The defense also completely shut down a Duke offense that hasn't been half bad lately. This was the first game where Virginia Tech really lived up to their preseason expectations, though it's hard to get excited when it's against Duke.
Virginia Tech: STOCK NEUTRAL

Texas Tech 35, #18 Texas A&M 7
Well, the bloom is off the rose for TAMU. The Aggies remained one-dimensional, and their running game is not as effective in a shootout as Texas Tech's one dimension of passing the hell out of the ball. Texas Tech is somewhat quietly having the great year expected of Hawaii.
Texas Tech: STOCK UP

Louisville 28, #19 Cincinnati 24
Live by the turnover, die by the turnover - Cincy's year evened out a bit as the Bearcats turned the ball over four times. Louisville's defense managed to hold them under 500 yards, and when that happens, the Cardinals have a chance. Also, Brian Brohm (28/38, 350, 3 TD) is very good.

#20 Georgia 20, Vanderbilt 17
Uninspiring performance by the Bulldogs, outside of RB Knowshon Moreno's 157-yard day. Matthew Stafford was mediocre (51.6%, 201, TD), and the defense allowed Vandy to pretty much hang with them. Vanderbilt may be a bit better than previously thought, while Georgia has gone from an exciting balanced team early to one that just makes me yawn.
Vanderbilt: STOCK UP

#21 Boise State 69, Nevada 67 (4 OT)
POINTS! Boise's still the best in the conference, but it seems a lot closer than after the Broncos' 58-0 whooping of New Mexico State. Still, running back Ian Johnson is an unbeatable beast, and while you'd never know it here, BSU might be the only WAC team with a semblance of a defense. Nevada established themselves here as an upper-level WAC team after some pretty mediocre showings thus far.
Nevada: STOCK UP

Michigan 48, #22 Purdue 21
Well, Michigan's back. Chad Henne looked like he was expected to in the preseason, completing 75% for 264 and 2 TD, and, shock, Mike Hart retained his mantle as most consistently great player in the nation by going for 102 yards and 2 TD despite having to leave early with an injury. The Michigan run defense was also in full effect, holding the Boilermakers to only 39 yards on the ground, and while Purdue QB Curtis Painter had some good peripherals, he's not quite good enough to beat this team on his own, especially when he throws 2 picks. If not for Ohio State, the Wolverines would probably the favorites to win the Big Ten. Wow.
Michigan: STOCK UP

Wake Forest 24, #24 Florida State 21
FSU QB Xavier Lee wasn't awful, wasn't that good (24/45, 283, 2/2 ratio), but the game could've been winnable for the Noles had the running game not absolutely shit the bed. And the defense didn't help matters, as while Wake's Riley Skinner only had a 2/2 ratio himself, he was mostly accurate (70.4%), while unheralded back Josh Adams had a huge day of his own (18 att, 140 yards, TD). Wake is a thoroughly decent ACC team, and if FSU is anything more than that themselves, it's not by much.
Florida State: STOCK DOWN

#25 Kansas 58, Baylor 10
Ehhhhh. If anything, this one was won by the KU defense, as Baylor got absolutely nothing going. And the Jayhawks running game looked good, as a gaggle of backs combined for 236 yards. Still, I'd like to have seen a better performance from QB Todd Reesing, who, while he had a 2/0 TD/INT ratio, wasn't able to crack 50% passing against what isn't that good a defense at all. I'd knock them down, but I'll keep them steady, as the Jayhawks seem fairly established as a pretty good team, but one that isn't really much of a threat to anyone.

Auburn 9, Arkansas 7
Wow, what a barnburner. Brandon Cox pretty much regressed, though he kept his completion percentage over 50% in throwing for 101 yards. And he was still better than Arkansas's Casey Dick, who had 111 and a 1/1 ratio on only 46%. Darren McFadden showed the inconsistency that prevented me from buying into the hype last year, going for only 43 yards on 17 carries. Neither of these teams are anything to get excited about. Yawn. See?
Arkansas: STOCK DOWN

Buffalo 43, Toledo 33
BUFFALO! Running back James Starks had 244 and 3 touchdowns. Wooooooo! I'm just so happy for them. Toledo's an absolute mess.
Buffalo: STOCK UP

Kansas State 47, Colorado 20
Pretty close, the main difference being CU QB Cody Hawkins having quite a bad night, completing only 46% and throwing 3 picks. Mostly served as a reminder that Colorado is a work in progress, though the Buffs should still find their way to a .500 or better record. Kansas State is a perfectly above-average team there's nothing to really say about. Ron Prince seems like a nice man.
Colorado: STOCK DOWN

Virginia 17, Connecticut 16
The dream is over. Although UConn is still in the Also Receiving Votes category. Virginia won the yardage battle, but UConn probably takes this if WR/last year's QB DJ Hernandez doesn't fumble within the Virginia 5 in the last minute of the half. Or UConn could've taken it had they not had a bad snap during their crucial final drive, which, combined with a 5-yard penalty on the next snap, resulted in a 2nd and 38. Still, either way, this was a mostly even contest and legitimized UConn as a pretty good team that could win a few games in the Big East. And since I don't think I've bumped Virginia up, and the Cavs have looked much better since the season-opening implosiong at Wyoming, I'll do that here.
Virginia: STOCK UP
Connecticut: STOCK UP

Georgia Tech 17, Miami 14
Judging by Miami QB Kyle Wright's awesome line of 8/17, 56 yards, 1 TD, rumors of Miami's offense showing improvement may have been horribly premature. Georgia Tech has Tashard Choice, and in the ACC, that's enough.
Georgia Tech: STOCK UP

Hawaii 42, San Jose State 35 (OT)
Oh come on, really now? This Hawaii team is nowhere as good as last year's; the defense is horrible and giving up 30+ to the absolute dregs of the WAC, and Colt Brennan's been weirdly inconsistent, giving up 4 picks this year. Hawaii's almost definitely losing to Boise or Washington, the intrigue's now to see if a New Mexico State can pick them off.

Houston 56, Rice 48
POINTS! Houston RB Anthony Alridge: 24 att, 205 yards, 4 TD. This scoring output may match Rice's for the next 4 games, at the very least.

Michigan State 52, Indiana 27
A fairly shocking beatdown, as the Spartans held a potent IU offense under 200 yards, and MSU QB Brian Hoyer completed a fairly insane 87% of his passes. Oh, and Javon Ringer also had 203 yards. Just a complete annihilation, and the type of game MSU desperately needed. Indiana still looks like a sleeper team, but there's now the extra concern about if they can rebound from such a soulcrushing stomping.
Michigan State: STOCK UP

Navy 48, Pittsburgh 45 (2 OT)
Dave Wannstedt is a tactical genius. And a giant detriment.
Pittsburgh: STOCK DOWN

Oklahoma State 45, Nebraska 14
I could laugh at Nebraska or just comment on how their good but disappoint offense is not nearly enough to carry that horrible defense, but I think the most telling thing is that I saw OK State had compiled 551 overall yards, and frankly, I expected more.
Oklahoma State: STOCK UP
Nebraska: STOCK DOWN