I'm eschewing the previous format of these articles becauseI don't feel like it was working. If youmiss the previous format let me know and I'll consider going back, but Isuspect that there won't be much outrage. The landscape is starting to take shape on the 2008 collegefootball season. As expected, the SEC isthe most dominant conference in the country. Georgia, Florida, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn all look to be capable ofknocking off any team in the country on a good day. Of the remaining conferences, only the Big12, with Oklahoma and Missouri, looks to have more than one team capable ofcompeting for a national title. The Pac10 has USC, and they're probably the best team in the country, but besides theTrojans the best teams in the conference are probably Arizona St, Oregon, andCalifornia, all of which already have non conference losses on theirresumes. The Big 10 has a number of decent,but not great, teams in Ohio St, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Penn St. might be good enough to run thetable and sneak into the BCS championship but it's hard to tell right nowbecause they haven't played anyone of note. All in all, it will probably take a few more weeks for the dust to clearcompletely. In the meantime the biggestthreat the BCS power structure has ever seen is looming on the horizon and it'snot a team. It's an entire conference. The Mighty Mountain West:
BYU beatWashington and UCLA. UNLV beat Iowa St.and Arizona St. TCU beat Stanford. Utah beat Michigan. Granted, with the exception of Arizona St.none of those teams were supposed to have particularly successful years, butit's still quite an eye opener for non-BCS schools to be this dominant overtheir brethren from richer conferences. Currently Utah, BYU, and TCU have all played their ways into both the APand Coaches polls while making a strong case that the eventual winner of thisconference, probably BYU or Utah, deserves a spot in a BCS bowl, if not the BCStitle game if they happen to escape unscathed. In fact, you can make a strong case that the MWC is a strongerconference than the Big East, Pac 10, and ACC.
Currentlythe Big East has South Florida as their lone representative in eitherpoll. The ACC has two teams, Wake Forestand Clemson, while the Pac 10 has only USC in the AP poll and both USC andOregon in the coaches poll. You couldmake an argument, and it would be a strong one, that it's far too early to usethese polls as a realistic barometer into the strength of conferences, and toexpect them to compete on the same field with the likes of USC, Georgia, or LSUis probably wishful thinking. Still, itwould be interesting to place BYU or Utah in the Big East or ACC thisyear. I, for one, think they could endup winning either league. TCU playsOklahoma this week, I don't expect them to win, but if they can keep it fairlyclose, say within 10 points, it will go a long way towards solidifying theMountain West as a true power conference. Game of the year.......so far:
LSU atAuburn was billed as a clash of the titans and it didn't disappoint. Both defenses came out flying all over thefield, delivering big hit after big hit. Andrew Hatch, one of two LSU quarterbacks to play in the game, foundthat out first hand in the third quarter when an Auburn defender laid him outon a designed run, knocking him 2-3 feet sideways and into his own player. Hatch was visibly shaken and wobbled aroundbefore finally taking a seat on the field. He wouldn't return.
Auburnjumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead behind a 1 yd plunge from running back BenTate and a 24 yd interception return by Gabe McKenzie on an extremelyill-advised pass from Jarrett Lee. Thesecond half, however, would see Lee making much better decisions. The momentum,and the lead, would swing back and forthbetween both teams until LSU scored on an 18 yard pass from Lee to BrandonLaFell with 1:03 left on the clock to put the Tigers on top for good, 26-21.
The unsunghero of the game, and one who didn't contribute any actual points to thecontest, was LSU running back Charles Scott. He rushed for 132 yards on 21 carries, and repeatedly gashed Auburn'sdefense for long gains. IF LSU ends upback in the SEC title game the large back, at 5'11" and 233 lbs, will be one ofthe main reasons why. What I'm looking forward to this week:
Alabama at Georgia
You canhate Nick Saban all you want, there are a million different reasons and herarely does anything to make himself seem even remotely likable, but what youcan't do is claim the man doesn't produce results. This is an Alabama team that was supposed tobe, at best, a year away from serious contention in the SEC West, and allthey've done is demolish national title hopeful Clemson and go on the road atArkansas and seemingly shrug off the Razorbacks like they were a piece oflint.
Meanwhile,Georgia returns from a 27-10 victory at Arizona St. that was much more lopsidedthan the score would suggest. Theyalready had two Heisman contenders in Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, andnow AJ Green has burst onto the scene. If the freshman receiver is even half the player he appeared to beagainst the Sun Devils it will prevent teams from stacking against the run andmake the Bulldogs offense nearly impossible to defend against.
Both teamshave suffocating defenses, pretty much par for the course in the SEC this year,so the difference in this game is going to come down to whether or not theyoung Alabama team can play for four quarters in Athens, whether or not Georgiawas affected by their West Coast trip last week, and the play of Stafford andJohn Parker Wilson, the two best quarterbacks in the SEC that aren't namedTebow. Expect at least one touchdownscored by either defense, and the winner to be the team with fewer turnovers.
Georgia 23 Alabama 21
Illinois at Penn St
Both teamshave explosive offenses that can put up 40 points on just about anybody in thecountry on the right day. Unfortunatelyfor the Illini only one of them has shown they can play defense, and theyaren't the team from Champaign.
Penn St 45 Illinois 24Discuss