Kevin’s Keen College Football Observations – Week 10

(Philadelphia, Pa) — I’ll start out this week with the history making effort of those Michigan Wolverines on Saturday. With their 48-42 loss at 3-6 Purdue, Michigan will have its first losing season in 41 years, and will not be in a bowl for the first time in 34. I think a lot of people thought that Michigan would take a step back in Rich Rodriguez’ first year, but not many thought it would be this bad. They have now lost 5 in a row and only have an anemic 16-6 win over Miami (OH), and a 27-25 win over Wisconsin (a game in which they were trailing 19-0 at the half) to build on for next year. That may not be enough. The negatives have far outweighed the positives, and the offense is really unbearable to watch. Rodriguez is a good coach so improvement is still expected, quickly, but 2008 will a season soon forgot for all Michigan fans out there.

Bulldogs overrated — I know I am crossing over sacrificial territory here, but after Florida completely destroyed Georgia on Saturday, is it safe to say that the Bulldogs are a bit overrated. I know it’s almost slanderous in 2008 to think that an “elite” team from the big, bad SEC could not be as good as we think, but here it looks the case. If you look a little deeper into their schedule, and who they have beaten and lost to, it’s pretty interesting. Georgia, the preseason #1, is 1-2 against currently ranked teams, and that lone win came against another suspect SEC team LSU. Some of those games that appeared difficult at the beginning of the year (South Carolina, Arizona St., and Tennessee) are not as appealing now because of the struggles for those teams. In their 2 losses this season they have been outscored 90-40, and if you minus the second half against ‘Bama, they have been slaughtered 80-10. That’s pretty pathetic for a team that is still somehow ranked in the top 15 in all polls. With Kentucky, Auburn, and Georgia Tech ahead, it is looks like the Bulldogs will still get to 10 wins. In my opinion it will be a soft 10 wins and not worthy of a BCS at-large pick.

The Rotten Apple State of College Football — Since we are now into November is it safe to say that the state of football in Washington State is dire. What has happened to Washington and Wazzou has been nothing short of shocking, and the manner in which they are losing is startling. I know programs will have a down cycle from time to time, but both at the same time? And how can they both be this bad? A 1-16 combined record, with the only win coming against FCS Portland St., illustrates just how bad things are. Even worse are the amounts in which they are losing. I’ll start with the Huskies because they are the lesser of the two evils. UW has been outscored in coach Tyrone Willingham’s 4th, and last, season 333-113. That is an average of 41-14 per game. They have only given up less than 33 in a once, and were really only competitive twice in ’08 against BYU and Stanford. Things have gotten worse since QB Jake Locker’s injury and the only way they get a win is against their in-state rivals Washington St. As bad as that sounds for the Huskies, things are even worse for first year coach Paul Wulff and his Cougars. Wazzou has been outscored 443-111 on the season (that’s a 49-12 average), and in Pac-10 contests the margin is a staggering 350-33 (average of 58-5!). I’m not kidding about these numbers; you are more than welcome to look them up. I’ve seen some bad little league, high school, college, and pro teams, but I have never seen a team get beat up like this inside its won conference. 58-5! Are you kidding me? As bad as Washington is there is still no way they will lose to this Huskies team. The 2008 Washington St. Cougars football team will easily go down as one of the worst in college football history.

Golden Domers Better than Last Year — I know Notre Dame has improved over last year’s debacle but exactly how much they have improved is debatable. I know a 5-3 record is on the positive side but the schedule of the Irish probably tells the tale of how good they really are. The combined record of the 5 teams that Notre Dame beat is 11-33, and when the record of 5-4 Stanford is taken out the total goes to 6-29 for the other 4. That’s a winning percentage of .171 for San Diego St., Michigan, Purdue, and Washington, and .250 if Stanford is added back in. That really is pretty scary. The combined record of the 3 teams they have lost to (Michigan St., North Carolina, and Pittsburgh) is 20-6, a winning percentage of .769. Anyone who knows anything about college football will also admit that none of those 3 teams are exactly high on the hierarchy of elite programs in 2008. Irish fans will probably be happy about going back to a bowl, but in true Charlie Weis fashion, the question is who have they beaten?

Porter Still Getting Penalty Flags in College — Did anyone see Colorado St. being penalized when Dolphins LB, and CSU alum, Joey Porter ran onto the field to give Rams RB Gartrell Johnson a chest bump after a touchdown in Saturday’s Rams loss to BYU? Porter loves to hear himself talk, and now I guess he feels the need to show everyone in the stadium, and on TV, exactly where he is and what he is doing. To me it just shows once again that Porter has absolutely zero class and is one player I will glad to see go when his playing days are over. I wonder if he ever took a moment and thought that maybe his time in the spotlight in Ft. Collins is over, and maybe he should have let Johnson enjoy the moment with his teammates. I wonder if he ever thought that this was not about him. Actually I know he didn’t think that. He should be completely embarrassed to draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, as a fan, against his alma mater, that could have seriously affected the game. I was glad to see the flag thrown but he should have then been ejected from the game. What would happen if a ‘regular’ fan ran out onto the field? He would have been thrown out immediately and possibly arrested. I should be used to seeing and hearing Porter make a complete idiot out of himself, but even he sunk to new lows with this one.

Crabtree Future NFL Stud — Does anyone really have a doubt about Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree becoming an absolute star at the next level? Unless he goes to the Lions or Raiders of course. Not only is he blessed with wonderful size for the position, he has many of the intangibles that you look for in a wide receiver. First off he loves contact. He looks for it, accepts it, and deals a lot out as well. Because of how much he likes contact I don’t think press and physical coverage will bother him at all in the NFL. He has great hands, balance, and he is just a freakish athlete. He is very tough to bring down for a lot of corners, but will still run right by linebackers and safeties with his electric speed. The only negative that I see out of Crabtree at the moment is that he has a habit, not a tendency but a habit, of holding the ball away from his body in traffic and in the middle of the field. As much as likes to run over the middle and steer through traffic he is going to have to make it a priority to tuck that ball away. A bad habit like that could kill a promising pro career.

New Big 12 Thrower to Watch — I know that Baylor doesn’t get a lot of pub in college sports but one player to start to take a notice is redshirt freshman QB Robert Griffin. Griffin looks like a very promising prospect that has a good arm and is a dynamic athlete. On Saturday an interception ended Griffin’s record streak of consecutive passes to start a career without a pick at 209. First year coach Art Briles has clearly brought a new attitude to the Bears program as they have far more competitive this season than in years past. Now he has a bona fide future star to recruit around, and in the talent rich state of Texas, it may not be long that Baylor is knocking the door to a bowl bid, even in the ultra competitive Big 12 South. Keep an eye on this your quarterback as he has all the tools to make the next level.

OSU receiver is living up to the hype — In my Big 12 conference preview I rated Oklahoma St.’s WR Dez Bryant as my breakout player. That is now clearly an underrated statement for what Bryant has done in 2008. Although he has only played in 8 of the Cowboys’ 9 games, he has now managed to post 60 receptions for 1,054 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He has also returned 2 punts for touchdowns and is turning into an unstoppable force for coach Mike Gundy and his surprising OSU team. He has at least 3 touchdowns in 4 games in ’08 and 3 games with 4 scores. He does have zero however against Missouri and Texas, the two best teams they have played this year, but because of how Missouri played Bryant on defense Oklahoma St. was able to find holes in other spots in their road win. He also has the look of a big time prospect, and we get to see him for another year and a half as he is only a sophomore.

Rare NFL Shout-out to Sports’ Most Dysfunctional Franchise — Finally I’m going to end on a tidbit from the NFL which I rarely do. Reports out of Oakland are saying that the Oakland Raiders are going to release CB DeAngelo Hall on Wednesday. If this happens I would say that is official that the Oakland Raiders will take the crown for most dysfunctional sports team away from the New York Knicks. Hall was acquired from the Falcons in the off-season for a 2nd round pick and subsequently signed to a 7 year, $70 million contract. After 8 games (which he was already paid $8 million) Hall registered 48 tackles and 3 INTs, but the 2-time Pro Bowler will be unemployed. It is no safe to say that the Raiders should just shut down operations for the season like a CFL team, try to make Al Davis go away, clean up everything in their organization and return in 2009. Of course the only problem is that Davis will never step down and it may take a few years to clean up all of this mess. I’m very happy to say that I am not a Raiders fan, never have been a Raiders fan, and as long as Al Davis is still associated with the team, will never be a Raiders fan. Just a complete and total embarrassment to the NFL.   

 

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 khornung9@verizon.net

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