10 Questions, Week 10: Month Two Is In The Books

As of today, Arizona State is for real and Matt Ryan is a Heisman Contender

Oct. 29, 2007

By Eric Sorenson

Special to CSTV.com



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

With this weekend now done, month No. 2 of the college football season is in the books. Everything worked out just as we thought so far, right? (Yeah right.). October ruled! What a fun month of pigskin this has been. Let's hope that November can only get better. And be sure to soak up as much of it as we can because pretty soon December will be here to ruin everything with its long delays and crappy bowl games.




I had the privilege of making the trip over to see California-Arizona State game this weekend. What a great atmosphere that was. My hope was to give some pub to a team that not of lot of people out there in college pigskinland knew much about. OR, to expose the Devils as the fraud they were, depending on how the game turned out.


For the longest time, it looked like I was going to put ASU on the Fraud List as Cal had its way the entire first half. But the Devils impressively turned everything around after halftime. My log of events is over in the Run And Shoot if you want to check it out.


So while wondering if some Satanic group is going to come out and protest Arizona State's nickname as being a hostile and demeaning characterization, here are 10 questions for this week:


Question 1: I'm sure you've all seen the Mississippi Miracle by now, right? Well other than the obvious fact that Trinity (Tex.)  had 15 laterals compared to Cal's mere five in their miracle kickoff return against Stanford in '82, what made the Trinity lateral-fest better than the Cal lateral-fest?


The fact that no Trinity player's knee ever hit the ground like the guy on Cal's play did.


I hate to be a stick in the mud on this one, but if the Cal-Stanford game were played today, the replay official (as long as it's not the same sap that was at the controls during the Oklahoma-Oregon game) would've reversed that play faster than you can change the channel on a Sarah Jessica Parker movie. The second ball-carrier was gang-tackled with his knee clearly hitting the ground before he pitched the ball. I've always maintained that I agree with the Stanford band, that play was indeed over at that point.


But that Trinity play against Millsaps was - obviously - freakin' amazing. Fifteen laterals! My gawd. But did you also notice how some of the Millsaps players just gave up and started walking near the end of the play? What were they thinking - there was a time limit on the play?


C'mon guys, heed the words of Jim Valvano - don't give up, don't EVER give up.


Question 2: What are the reasons I feel that Arizona State is for real?


1. There isn't a better second-half team in the country. The Devil D held Nate Longshore to 63 yards after the break, picking him off twice. Yikes.


2. Rudy Carpenter is starting to play like his freshman year, when he led the country in passing efficiency. After an early funk vs. Cal, he was amazing, going 7-for-9 for 142 yards and two TDs in the game-changing third quarter.


3. Even without leading rusher Ryan Torain, ASU still has an effective running game with Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance.


4. That defense is athletic, disciplined and swarming. Not blazing fast, but everything else is nails.


5. Dennis Erickson can freakin' coach! Check his track record - ASU should come as no big surprise to anyone.


Question 3: While we're on the subject of Arizona State, what five things about my trip to Tempe deserve to be pointed out?


1. Sun Devil Stadium is way freakin' better than that big metallic bread box out in Glendale that the BCS title game was played in. This stadium has personality.


2. The ASU campus had many, many escape routes after the game. Probably the best traffic flow of any college campus I've been on. No hour-long waits just to exit a parking lot (LSU).


3. My Scandinavian blood had a hard time getting used to mid-90 temperatures in late October. In a word, nasty.


4. Is there a better nickname than "Sun Devils?" Excuse the pun, but hell, no. It's the heavy metal name in college athletics.


5. Although I always considered Arizona State to have some of the best-looking co-eds in the country, the SixShooter Sports Bar that I went to on Saturday afternoon to watch some games had some of the worst-looking servers wearing skimpy referee unis. C'mon, people.


Question 4: How do you know Boston College's Matt Ryan is a legit Heisman contender?


Because there should be a rule that if you vomit during a game and you still lead your team to victory, it doubles your "hero" stature.


Actually, Ryan should've "driven the Buick" over how he played for 57 minutes of that Virginia Tech game, because he was sick lookin'. And I don't mean the good kind of "sick" that people use to describe things nowadays, either. Admit it, you were saying the same thing I was all game long, "He looked like crap on that play. He looked like crap on that play, too. He looked like crap once again. Gah!"


But those last two minutes man, Hoh-lee-bleacher-creature! What a great comeback. I've never seen a team go from struggling so badly to going through a tired defense like milk in that quick of a manner. Ryan and Boston College were men-among-boys at the end. And I kind of hate the phrase "That was his Heisman moment," but that was his Heisman moment. (Great. Now I hate myself for typing that.)


Question 5: Wait a minute. Wait a minute... If No. 2 beats Virginia Tech by four points and No. 3 beats Virginia Tech by 41 points, isn't No. 3 better than No. 2?


Think about it, people.


What must No. 3 LSU be thinking right about now?


(I swear... college football makes no stinkin' sense!)


Question 5B: On the other hand, the SEC... good conference? Or great conference?


I'm sticking with great conference, of course, but not a great team in that conference.


Look, if Mississippi State can do what and LSU couldn't and blow out Kentucky, and Georgia can lead the SEC East, then it's obvious that this is just a bunch of good teams butting heads week-in and week-out. There are no dominant teams in college football to begin with, so this is just another example of why.


Question 6: What was the most impressive performance of the weekend?


West Virginia.


I know, I know, I hear ya' Ohio State fans, nice win at Penn State and all, but let's give the Mountaineers some big props here. Not only did the blue and gold go into Rutgers and lay a serious 31-3 arse-kickin' on the Knights, but they did it with - surprise - a lock-down defense. Nope, this wasn't one of those typical 45-41 Big East sprees here, it was holding a good Scarlet Knights offense out of the end zone the entire 60 minutes - on their home field too!


So give Patrick White (300 total yards, no interceptions or fumbles) and Steve Slaton (124 yards, three TDs) all the pub you want, and they deserve it again, but that 'Neer defense was as good as I've seen them play in years. Now, I know that WVU is down the ladder a bit at No. 7 in the BCS. But with expected wins over Louisville, Cincinnati, UConn and Pitt remaining and the usual slips and dips that have taken place in top five teams this season, I'm making West Virginia my darkhorse candidate to play in New Orleans on January 7th.


Question 7: Why was this a Tom Petty weekend?


Because even the losers get lucky sometimes. (Groan. Sorry for that horrible pun, again.)


But look at the downtrodden that stepped up this weekend:



Beat Florida 42-30 after losing 15 of their last 17 meetings. In a season full of great freshman performances, Knowshon Moreno (33 carries, 188 yards, three TDs) may be the best of the bunch. Man, what a talent he is!



Beat USF 22-15. Yes, I realize the Huskies own two inept-refereeing wins this season, but this was their first legit W over a legit foe. In fact, this was UConn's first-ever win over a ranked team and first win over a team with a winning record this season.



Won 19-11 at Texas A&M. The Jayhawks are cruising. I know a win over the Aggies isn't the bees knees, but you're talking about a KU program that hasn't been 8-0 since 1909. Hell, that pre-dates Beano Cook... I'm pretty sure. Wow! The 'Hawks have Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Missouri left. Big 12 title game? Unless they REALLY blow it, they're in.


Mississippi State.

Won 31-17 at Kentucky. Coach Croom and company wonder, "What's all this noise about how tough it is to win in Lexington?" MSU may be the biggest Lazarus act this side of Michigan, coming back from ugly losses to Tennessee and West Virginia to win here. The Dogs are also just one win away from post-season play.



Won 26-10 over Akron. The woe-be-gone Bulls busted an eight-game losing streak to the Zips and are now 4-1 and in control of the MAC East Division. Coach Turner Gill may be prepping his resume for the Nebraska job here.


Question 8: Now that USC's reign is going to officially take the year off (Hey Oregon, nice W), what is the most amazing thing about the Pete Carroll era in South Central L.A. so far?


The fact that after 85 games since he took over as head coach, USC only lost one game by more than seven points.


This factoid was flashed up on the screen during the broadcast of the Oregon game and it blew me away. Sure, the Men of Troy are now an afterthought in the national title race, so go ahead and bag on them while you can. But this is still an amazing stat for a coach that never has his team out of contention - no matter who the opponent.


Question 9: What one thing should I have added to my Overrated Facets of College Football column?


Post-game press conferences, or maybe just ANY coach's press conference.


It's the same tired phrases and the same bothersome vernacular each and every time a coach gets behind a microphone. It is beyond rare that you actually get in the post-game presser and have a Mike Gundy freakout take place (Lord how I wish to experience one of those!). In fact, Brian Curtis did a good piece on that subject this week.


Question 10: Why can't I wait for Saturday to get here?


Two big reasons, Arizona State at Oregon and LSU at Alabama.


The Johnny-come-latelys of the Pac-10 both come off of great wins. Whoever keeps the more level head will stay in the national championship race. Though, the Ducks have the more favorable remaining slate with games against rising Arizona, trippy UCLA and the Civil War.


And I'll make this warning again to you, ASU: if you mess around and fall behind by double-digits this week, it's over.


And the soap-operatic SEC takes another ugly/exciting turn in Tuscaloosa this weekend as LSU fans can't wait to give Nick Satan, er... Saban, what he deserves. Then again, Bama fans are going to love it if ole Nick can beat his old team and prove they've got the best new hire in the country. Damn! Where's my ticket to Red Elephant country this week?


The 11th question: So let me get this straight, Georgia coach Mark Richt instructs his entire team to go out and celebrate a touchdown against Florida?


Isn't this the same dude who got all pissed at his team for "stomping" on the Vandy logo after the win in Nashville? Nice goin', hypocrite.