10 Questions, Week 4

Don't get carried away about USC

College Football Preview: Week 4

> The Red Zone  |  Tape It Up  |  Strike The Pose  |  Breaking The Code
> Amsinger: Picks  |  Sorenson: 10 Questions  |  Braff: Tebow Up, McCoy Down
> Hart: Behind Closed Doors  |  Curtis: Crystal Ball Blitz  |  Alberts: Blackshirt Blues  |  Worst BCS Conf.
> Williams: Michigan Barely Has A Chance  |  B.J.: An Open Letter To Karl Dorrell
> Caparell: Honest Steve Spurrier  |  Blackburn: Alridge About The Bling  |  Crystal Ball: Predictions

Sept. 17, 2007

By Eric Sorenson

Special to CSTV.com



Eric Sorenson is a regular contributor to CSTV.com, covering football, basketball & baseball. E-mail here!

It was a strange weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska. So much hype. So much build-up. So much hope. So much importance. And so much of a letdown in the end to those twinkle-in-the-eye Husker fans.


I have to say though, USC looked much better in person at last year's opener in Fayetteville than it did here in Big Redland. That win over Arkansas was a no-doubter from the word go and the Trojan defense was swarming with what seemed like 13 players on the field. Here, it was more a case of bad breaks and self-destruction that slowed down the Husker offense. Okay, so the running lanes for USC were about two axe handles wide, sure. So the Trojans didn't have to show all their cards.




Still, scoring 49 points is scoring 49 points.


With this game fresh in my mind, here is how my Top Five would look at this point:


1- Florida

2- LSU

3- USC

4- Oklahoma

5- Oregon


The Gators are back. There's no doubt now. That death-metal destruction in the Swamp of what I thought was a pretty damn good Tennessee team tells me a lot. Urban Meyer is one bad man.


LSU edges out USC, but I'd still like to see the Tigers play a tough road game and play a team with a pulse (Mississippi State's stunning win in Auburn notwithstanding) before I christen them NFL-ready.


Oklahoma looks like a wrecking ball, but with Miami laboring past the doormat that is Florida International, that win over the Canes looks less chest-pound worthy.


And is there a more exciting offense than Oregon on the national landscape? Yeah I hear ya, West Virginia, but I still think the Ducks are wicked fun. Dennis Dixon continues his Vince Young-esque season, guiding them to a 52-21 demolition against a good Fresno State team.


Here's this week's vital 10:


Question 1: So why is the rest of the media over-gushing USC's win over Nebraska?


Some of my USC friends got on my case for being too harsh on the Trojans in my post-game summary I wrote on Saturday night, but I simply meant to say it was a good win, not a great win.


The three guys immediately to my right in the Memorial Stadium press box Saturday night were Yahoo's Gary Ahearn, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com and ESPN's Ivan Maisel, and they join The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart in seemingly intimating that this Trojan team is well-deserving of its No. 1 spot. Not me. At least not yet.


Look, there were many red flags that come to mind after this win:


- Suppose Nebraska recovers those two fumbles on returns early in the game? (And what was Desmond Reed doing even touching a punt inside his own five?)


- Suppose a number of defenses in the Pac-10 aren't going to let USC run roughshod through them like that?

(Keep in mind Nebraska's front four is VERY young and inexperienced)


- Suppose those strapping USC receivers keep dropping passes?

(Add to it that Booty didn't have to make many good throws. Nor did he make many.)


- Suppose SC's typically undisciplined play continues for a third straight year?

(Ten penalties and many poor decisions are a concern.)


- And compared to that great performance in last year's Arkansas game, last night's Trojan D wasn't as much on lock-down mode. What will Cal and Oregon do against these guys if punchless Nebraska could move the ball so effectively at times?


USC is potentially a great team, don't get me wrong. But to me they also showed a lot of cracks in the Tommy Trojans' body armor. And don't worry, I'll also be the first to say when they play to a No. 1 standard


Question 2: Considering this weekend, what were the most questionable coaching moves of 2004 and 2005?


Try these on for size:


-  Ty Willingham run off by Notre Dame. Charlie Weis hired.


- Paul Pasqualoni run off by Syracuse. Greg Robinson hired.


- David Cutcliffe run off by Ole Miss. Ed Orgeron hired.


- Walt Harris run off by Pittsburgh. Dave Wannstedt hired.

(*Harris was the 2004 Big East Coach of the Year.)


- Frank Solich run off by Nebraska. Bill Callahan hired.

(*Keep in mind Solich had Bo Pelini as his D-coordinator. Look what he's done at LSU now.)


Question 3: What wins in the first two weeks look not-so-impressive now?


Many, but these in particular:


- Georgia over Oklahoma State.

OSU's utter white flag vs. Troy on Friday night assured us of this. Plus Georgia went and lost to South Carolina anyway.


- Georgia Tech over Notre Dame

Ooh! So you beat the Domers. Wow. That win is tantamount to beating an eight-man high school team right about now. And like their Bulldog rivals, the Jackets have since lost.


- LSU over Virginia Tech.

Tech was tied with Ohio at halftime 7-7. That's not just a MAC team, that's a middle-of-the-road MAC team. LSU, you still have something to prove.


- Washington over Syracuse.

The 'Cuse is just plain horrible. Hell, even Jimmy Clausen could look good against that D.


- Wisconsin over UNLV.

While the big bad Badgers scraped by the Rebs, Colt Brennan and the Warriors blitzed them by 35.


Question 4: Who would be my All-American quarterback right now?


Easy. André Woodson of Kentucky.


Sure, Louisville has no D to speak of, but any QB who can find a way to get a guy open beyond the defense in the last minute of a game for a 57-yard bomb is a genius to me. And what great touch too. Yikes. You also have to like the fact that he hasn't thrown a pick in 257 passes, just 14 shy of the NCAA record held by Fresno State's Trent Dilfer. (Hmmm. Did I just jinx him? Well don't worry, I don't believe in jinxes, so it's okay.)


Also, this 40-34 win over the No. 9 Cards was Kentucky's first win over a Top 10 team since 1977's Art Still-led unit beat No. 4 Penn State. Rich Brooks may finally be turning a corner in the Blue Grass. Maybe there's something to be said for having patience in a head coach.


Question 5: Why am I starting to have this sinking feeling already this season?


I'm thinking we may end up with a Florida-Ohio State rematch in New Orleans.


Here's why:


- The Big Ten is sick-kitten weak, as everyone knows. So OSU going unscathed would be no surprise at all.


- USC is probably going to lose in the Pac-10 somewhere. At Cal? At Oregon? At ASU? And it will happen late enough in the season to drop them out.


- Oklahoma has a young team led by a freshman quarterback, so they're bound to have a flat game or two somewhere down the line.


- Like last year, everyone in the Big East will beat each other up eventually.


- Hawai'i may go unbeaten, but will the pollsters really put them up above any of the one-loss BCS behemoths?


- The winner of the SEC championship rematch between Florida and LSU will probably still have only one loss. I'm picking the Gators to exact revenge in Atlanta. So VOILA'... there's your rematch.




Question 6: Who just earned a spot on the hot seat?


Say "climb aboard" to these guys:


- Karl Dorrell, UCLA.

That win over USC last year bought him exactly three games of peace-of-mind. Then came Saturday's complete abomination at Utah.


- Charlie Weis, Notre Dame.

Again, some assistants just aren't cut out for a head coaching gig. It's a humbling profession.


- Tommy Tuberville, Auburn.

A quarterback getting regressively worse (Brandon Cox) in his career is a true sign of things going the wrong way.


- Bill Callahan, Nebraska.

As I mentioned in my Run-and-Shoot write-up of the game, Husker fans have to be wondering what the big difference is between him and the Solich era.


- Phil Fulmer, Tennessee.

That can't-beat-Florida bugaboo raises its ugly head again. But do we fire a guy just for that?


- Kirk Ferentz, Iowa.

Iowans love this guy, but losing to Iowa State is bad. Losing to an ISU team that has already lost to UNI and Kent State is horror-flick bad.


Question 7: Who is the best in-conference team in America?


Boston College.


In fact, I could've asked the question, what team isn't being talked enough out there in the college football landscape? These guys are Elvis-like so far, takin' care of business in a flash, man.


Matt Ryan is easily my second team All-American quarterback on the young season. He's been tremendously solid so far, throwing for a pair of 400+ yard games. And BC ran a pretty good ACC gauntlet to rush out to its 3-0 start, beating defending champ Wake Forest (38-28), ex-coach Tom O'Brien at North Carolina State (37-17) and now Georgia Tech in Atlanta (24-10). And what about the defense? They clamped down on Tashard Choice to the tune of just 31 yards in 15 carries, breaking his string of nine straight 100-yard games.


It only gets easier for the Eagles too, with all remaining games more than winnable (they'll be favored in each, I'd imagine), including four straight non-conference gimmies on deck. These guys deserve a Top 10 spot because they can play some ball.


Question 8: Are you like me, do you feel that big momentum shift in the state of Alabama?


Undoubtedly, yes.


Funny what a big-name hire will do for a program. Nick Saban is making houndstooth hats smile all over the Yellowhammer State now. Saturday's "upset" of No. 16 Arkansas was scintillating to the last eight ticks, but should've been a lot worse if not for a few picks from John Parker Wilson. Still, that headline-grabbing win coupled with the War Eagle yell getting Auburned by - pause to church giggle - Mississippi State, has the Tide definitely rising while the Tigers are dropping.


Tell me how Auburn can be so awful? Behind Notre Dame's complete tank job, that's one of the most shocking developments in this early season.


Question 9: What team out there is everyone cheering for now?


Florida International.


With Duke's improbable goal-line stand leading to a 20-14 win at Northwestern Saturday (proving it could be the best brainiac team in the country), the Panthers now take over the nation's longest losing streak at 15 games.


FIU has a number of tough games on the schedule, including unwinnable matchups with Kansas, Troy and Arkansas. But if you're looking for a win, check back in November when FIU closes with UL-Lafayette, Florida Atlantic and North Texas, all at home.


On Saturday, the Golden Panthers didn't look too shabby, holding Miami in check before losing 23-9 in the Orange Bowl. And no, there weren't any on-field altercations or melee's between these two this time. Although some fights did break out in the stands and fans were ejected.


Question 10:  Who has truly lived up to the hype so far this year?


Chadron State running back Danny Woodhead.

Last year's Harlon Hill Trophy-winning running back has been as advertised in his trophy-defending season for the D-II Eagles.


He opened the season with a 290-yard game against Washburn and hasn't slowed down since. Through three games he's got 541 yards rushing in all, with eight touchdowns and 10 receptions for an additional 250 yards. Unfortunately, Chadron didn't have a game this weekend, otherwise I might've ventured to the Western part of Nebraska to check him out.


And yes, the Harlon Hill Trophy is the Division II equivalent to the Heisman.


And now, the 11th Question


How many years do you think it will it be before the members of the national media will be back to cover a big game in Lincoln?