Kevin’s Keen College Football Observations – Week 7

Kevin’s Keen College Football Observations – Week 7

(Philadelphia, Pa) — How about we start this week with the firing of Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden. A 72-45 overall record an 8 bowl appearances in 9 seasons is not that bad of a resume, but he was without something else that was very important to Tiger fans, a championship. Not necessarily a national championship, an ACC championship, or even a spot in the ACC Championship game may have sufficed. Even though Bowden had a ton of talent he was never able to put it all together. This season looked like it was going to be the year for Clemson with some of the best talent in the country returning, but they were hammered by Alabama in the opener and never fully recovered. I am a little surprised by the timing, but I also agree that sometimes it is best to make a clean break, and this was one of those times. Even if Clemson turns it around and wins out, they still may not even make the ACC Championship. Clemson fans may say that this is a year or two overdue, but they finally got what they want. Now we’ll see if there are other problems in the program or if the cancer is now gone.

Big Blue sinking to new lows – I think we all know that Michigan is going through a transitional year under first year head coach Rich Rodriguez. I think we all know that they were going to need some luck and good fortune just to make a bowl. It’s ok to have one of these years from time to time, but even in your worst season you can not lose to Toledo in The Big House. The Rockets are not exactly a MAC juggernaut. They were only 1-4 entering the game on Saturday with a home loss to Florida International on their resume. It is flat out painful to watch the Wolverine offense operate. Watching Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan running the spread is like having to watch a “Sex and the City” marathon. You cringe the entire time it’s on and can’t wait for the end. The loss ended a 24-game winning streak against current MAC foes, and makes you wonder if Michigan will even win 4 or 5 games, rather than get bowl eligible. They do have some good looking young talent, but if Rodriguez can’t find a quarterback to run his spread offense then his tenure in Ann Arbor may be shorter than all of us were expecting.

Gophers going bowling – Speaking of bowl eligible Big Ten teams, who would’ve guessed that after 7 games Minnesota would work itself into the bowl picture. The turnaround that Coach Tim Brewster has done with these Golden Gophers has been nothing short of a miracle. It was only one short year ago that Minnesota was 1-11 and had the worst defense in all of college football. Now they are making teams pay for overlooking them. One thing is for certain, Brewster is the Coach of the Year at this juncture.

Quote of the Week – On Tuesday’s Troy and Florida Atlantic telecast on ESPN, Lou Holtz shelled out this gem talking about the season QB Colt McCoy is having for Texas: “(Colt) McCoy is putting up the same numbers that Vince Young did the year he won the Heisman.” Hey Lou, Vince Young never won the Heisman. Just thought someone should let you in on that since no one else did during the broadcast.

What has happened to the Auburn Tigers? –  After they lost to Vanderbilt the first weekend in October they fired first year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. Did it help? I don’t think so. Auburn went on to lose to Arkansas (one of the worst BCS teams in the country in ’08) 28-24 at home. Who is going to get canned next? This is quickly looking like a dysfunctional team, and their bowl chances may get real cloudy. Road games against West Virginia, Ole Miss, and Alabama and a home date versus Georgia makes the 11/8 home game against Tennessee-Martin the only sure win. Could Tuberville be on the hot seat? If Auburn fails to make a bowl I would say it will be 50/50 he returns in 2009.

WSU Cougars having one tough season — Since we are mentioning tough seasons, how about what has gone on in Pullman, Washington? The once proud and underrated Washington St. program is now a punch line. The Cougars are allowing an astounding 51 points per game against FBS teams and are only scoring 10.5 a game. That is not a misprint. They are 0-6 versus FBS teams and are being outscored by an average of 40 a game! I’m not sure how it could be worse for first year coach Paul Wulff and the Cougar fans. Well, how about USC coming this week? Since they play Hawaii this season, Wazzou plays that extra game, so they have 13 regular season games. Could they go 0-12 against D-1 teams? Can they at least start to be more competitive? It speaks volumes when your team is losing to Baylor 45-17. Wulff is a Wazzou alum, but Pullman isn’t exactly a recruiting hotbed, so this rebuilding may take awhile.

Missouri has statistical anomaly run stopped – During Missouri’s loss to upstart Oklahoma St. on Saturday, a very remarkable run also came to an end. With 3:40 left in the first quarter Missouri endured their first 3 and out of the season. Just to repeat that, it was their first 3 and out of the first 5+ games. It took the Tigers over 50 drives (52 to be exact) before anyone could get them off the field in 3 plays at anytime. In the end it means absolutely nothing, but it is one of those stats that should be mentioned.

The Mountaineers struggling – I know Rich Rodriguez is struggling in his new job at Michigan, but what is more surprising is how much trouble his old school, West Virginia, has had in 2008. Even though the Mountaineers are now 4-2, they have not even resembled the same team that played in Morgantown for the last 5 years. After they struggled with Syracuse on Saturday, at home, one really has to wonder what exactly will happen when they get deeper into conference play. Defeating Rutgers and Syracuse by a combined total of 18 points is a little scary considering that neither the Scarlet Knights nor the Orange has beaten an FBS team yet in 2008. West Virginia will now head into the heart of their schedule with games against Auburn, Cincinnati, and South Florida at home and road games versus UConn, Louisville, and Pitt. Going into the season WVU was the odds on favorite to walk away with another Big East championship and another BCS bowl. Now, with the way they are playing, they will be lucky to finish with 8 wins. I mentioned before that I thought Bill Stewart’s tenure at the school would be very short, and after these next 6 games I believe we will all get a better idea of his job security. One thing is for certain, they have looked unprepared and unmotivated all season, and those are 2 characteristics that can be blamed solely on the coaching staff.

FIU drawing some attention – I know Florida International isn’t exactly a program that everyone checks on to see if they won their game every weekend. In fact, before the season they were rightfully considered one the worst FBS programs in the country. Well after 6 games this season, the Panthers have already won more games than they did in 2006 and 2007 combined. FIU has won three straight games after losing 26 out of their last 27 leading up to that point. If the Coach of the Year were awarded right now there would be a lot of the media calling for the usual suspects. Paterno, Saban, Mack Brown, etc. come to mind right away. For my money, what Mario Cristobal has done here, and what Tim Brewster has accomplished at Minnesota, should absolutely warrant attention to put them in the conversation. There wasn’t many people that would have had these two teams winning 6 games combined entering 2008, but as of this moment, Minnesota is 6-1 and FIU is 3-3. It is feasible that both of these programs may make a bowl this year. If you expected that raise your hand…. that’s what I thought. Credit is due, and now it is given.

Notes from the Big Ten – There were two facts that were clearly on display during Saturday’s Penn St. /Wisconsin game. First, Penn St. is a really good football team, and second, Wisconsin was vastly overrated heading into ’08. JoePa really has his Lions running on all cylinders, and from the opening kickoff of the season. Penn St. is now #3 in the country and have outscored their opponents by an average of 45-11 a game so far in ’08. Whether it has been on offense, defense, or special teams, the Nittany Lions have dominated their competition in every game. Not only have they looked good from the opener, but they have looked better week after week. Everytime you think this team may have a let down, they go one for another 20 point win. They appear to be at the top of the list of national title contenders after half the season.  On the other end of the spectrum, it was even surprising to me how bad Wisconsin looked. The 48-7 drubbing they received on Saturday night was the worst home loss for the Badgers since 1989. In the last 3 weeks, they have gone from a Top 10 team to an unranked team, and lost three in a row. Even worse, all three were conference games. The teams’ band was even suspended for the game last week after continuous hazing incidents. That loss to Michigan looks even worse now after the Wolverines were upset at home by 1-4 Toledo on Saturday. With everything starting to pile up against the Badgers, this is the time when they have to come back together as a team to work itself out of this funk. I’m interested to see how they rebound after that loss to Penn St., as it will be a good barometer on Coach Bret Bielema’s hold on that program. A complete nosedive may create some heat under him.

Buckeyes looking lost on offense – It is no secret that Ohio St. has struggled offensively so far in ’08. Even though true freshman QB Terrelle Pryor has added a new dimension to the Buckeye offense, it still hasn’t resulted in much production, especially on the scoreboard. In last week’s 16-3 home win, the Buckeyes couldn’t even muster one offensive touchdown, as their lone score came off a blocked punt. I know RB Chris Wells has been hurt, but other star players like QB Todd Boeckman, WRs Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, and most of the offensive line have been very disappointing. Ultimately, I believe this will be the difference in deciding who will win the Big Ten. At the moment I see no possible way that the Ohio St. offense will be able to put up enough points against Penn St.’s defense to win the game. Against a fairly light schedule the Buckeyes have averaged only 24 points a game. Purdue isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut, and the Boilermakers held them to only 3 field goals. Penn St.’s defense is much better than that, and I believe that when the Lions travel to Columbus for the showdown with Ohio St. on October 25th, they will knock off the Buckeyes and have a clear path to the Big Ten title.      


Kevin Hornung is the College Football Editor for Taking It to the House and a chief scout for Great Blue North Draft Report.  To talk college football with Kevin drop him an email at


Author: lloydvance

Lloyd Vance is a NFL Writer, Analyst, Draft Expert, Researcher, and Historian. He serves as a Editor for "Taking It to the House and he covers the NFL on a daily basis. He is an Accredited Member of NFL Media and Philadelphia Eagles Media. Member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA), Pro Football Researchers Association (PFRA), and The Maxwell Football Club

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