Wednesday, September 7, 2011

College Football Rewind - Week 1

The 2011 Opening Weekend in College Football is now history.  While there were few surprises, it did not take long for some interesting developments to occur.  It also did not take long for my predictions to take a hit, mainly due to an unwarranted change in my opinion on the Oregon/LSU game (more on this later).  Here is a conference-by-conference look at the week that was in "Amatuer" Football.

ACC (8-4 for the week, 7-3 non-conference, 0-2 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Georgia Tech.  The offense racked up 662 yards of total offense, including 365 through the air.  It was only Western Carolina, but if the offense plays like this, Georgia Tech will be a bowl-eligible team in 2011.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Duke.  I thought Duke might have enough offensive firepower to improve this year.  A loss to Richmond says otherwise.

Unpleasant Surpirse II:  Maryland's uniforms.  If you haven't seen them you need to.  In a you have to see them they are so awful sort of way.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Florida State, Virginia Tech and Maryland all looked strong.  Notre Dame's loss moves Virginia Tech on the cusp of a BCS berth.  Georgia Tech or Virginia could grab another bowl spot for the ACC, but a rugged conference schedule awaits for each.

My record:  10-1 (missed Richmond over Duke)
This Week:  Florida State over Charleston Southern, Virginia Tech over East Carolina, Clemson over Wofford, North Carolina State over Wake Forest, Georgia Tech over Middle Tennessee, North Carolina over Rutgers, Virginia over Indiana, Stanford over Duke, Central Florida over Boston College (Maryland and Miami are idle)

Big East (8-0 for the week, 8-0 non-conference, 1-0 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  South Florida.  Going to South Bend and returning victorious is a major accomplishment for this program.  It is also a victory that can provide enough confidence to win a Big East title. 

Unpleasant Surprise:  Syracuse.  A win is a win, or at least that is what the Orange should be telling themselves.  A home overtime win over an ACC cellar-dwellar is hardly a quality win.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  More impressive play could lead South Florida to leadfrog Pittsburgh or even West Virginia.  Syracuse is now treading on thin ice and Cincinnati looks better than advertised, although I want to see them play someone other than Austin Peay before I rush to judgement.
My Record:  7-1 (missed South Florida over Notre Dame)
This Week:  West Virginia over Norfolk State, Pittsburgh over Maine, South Florida over Ball State, Syracuse over Rhode Island, Connecticut over Vanderbilt, Louisville over Florida International, Tennessee over Cincinnati, North Carolina over Rutgers

Big 12 (10-0 for the week, 10-0 non-conference, 0-0 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Baylor.  The Baylor offense put up 50 points on a TCU defense that usually gives up 50 over 5 games.  The Bears almost blew it in the end, but this was a huge victory for a team many thought would be home for the bowl season.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Iowa State.  The Cyclones squeaked out a 20-19 win over in-state foe Northern Iowa.  That is correct, I did say Northern.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Oklahoma State will have to be better on defense and turn the ball over less to reach my predicted heights.  Baylor was impressive, but remains behind Texas in my Big 12 pecking order.

My Record:  9-1 (missed Baylor over TCU)
This Week:  Oklahoma State over Arizona, Missouri over Arizona State (sticking with this despite Missouri injuries), Iowa over Iowa State, Texas over BYU, Northern Illinois over Kansas

Big Ten (10-2 for the week, 10-2 non-conference, 1-1 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Michigan.  More specifically, the Michigan defense.  If the Wolverines are to return to prominence, the defense will need to continue what it started in 2011.  The pass rush looked great, which can make up for holes elsewhere.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Indiana.  The Kevin Wilson era got off to a rocky start.  Losing to a middle-of-the-road MAC Team in Ball State is not a good omen for Big Ten competition.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Wisconsin looked solid, as did contenders Nebraska and Ohio State.  This is a deep league and will be won by the team who does not trip up against the perceived middle teams in the conference.

My Record:  11-1 (missed Ball State over Indiana)
This Week:  Iowa over Iowa State, Michigan State over Florida Atlantic, Ohio State over Toledo, Wisconsin over Oregon State, Illinois over South Dakota State, Northwestern over Eastern Illinois, Minnesota over New Mexico State, Alabama over Penn State, Purdue over Rice, Virginia over Indiana, Nebraska over Fresno State, Notre Dame over Michigan

PAC-12 (8-4 for the week, 8-4 non-conference, 1-1 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Washington State.  Anytime the Cougars put up 64 points, regardless of the competition, it's a surprise.  In a down week for the conference, Washington State was one of the few bright spots.

Unpleasant Surprise:  The Conference.  Oregon State would be an easy target, but the entire conference struggled in the first week.  In addition to the 4 losses, USC had to hang on for dear life against Minnesota and Washington was fortunate to beat FCS member Eastern Washington.  Once again, the SEC's best made the PAC-12's best look inferior.  This is no East Coast Bias.  This is all fact.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  I will stick with Oregon over Stanford for the conference crown at this point, but the blueprint for beating the Ducks may be out there now.

My Record:  10-2 (missed Sacramento State over Oregon State and LSU over Oregon)
This Week:  Oklahoma State over Arizona, Missouri over Arizona State, Wisconsin over Oregon State, California over Colorado, Stanford over Duke, Washington over Hawaii, Oregon over Nevada, Washington State over UNLV, USC over Utah, UCLA over San Jose State

SEC (10-2 for the week, 10-2 non-conference, 1-0 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  LSU.  I admit I was tricked.  Bamboozled.  The suspension of Jordan Jefferson should have made no difference.  He was the reason I already thought LSU would trip up twice in conference.  I knew that the LSU defense would dominate a new Oregon O-Line.  Yet I changed my stance on this game because of Jordan Jefferson.  Irregardless, LSU looked like a National Title contender for one game.  I still wonder whether there will be enough offense all season long.  We shall see....

Unpleasant Surprise:  Auburn.  I am one who thinks Auburn is in for a long season.  I did not think they would need Utah State to gift-wrap them a victory.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  I did hedge by keeping LSU in a BCS Bowl.  Kentucky was unimpressive and may not be a bowl team this year.

My Record:  11-1 (missed LSU over Oregon)
This Week:  Kentucky over Central Michigan, Alabama over Penn State, Tennessee over Cincinnati, Mississippi over Southern Illinois, Arkansas over New Mexico, Florida over UAB, Connecticut over Vanderbilt, LSU over Nortwestern State, Mississippi State over Auburn, South Carolina over Georgia

Conference USA (5-6 this week, 5-6 non-conference, 1-6 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Southern Mississippi.  Finding a way to win over a comparable WAC team was big.

Unpleasant Surprise:  SMU.  I did not expect the Mustangs to beat Texas A&M, but a 46-14 trouncing does not instill confidence in my pick for C-USA Champion.  I hope to find out that the Aggies are that good and that SMU just had a bad game.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Houston and Central Florida could overtake SMU with more performances like week 1.

My Record:  11-0
This Week:  Virginia Tech over East Carolina, Purdue over Rice, Southern Mississippi over Marshall, Tulsa over Tulane, Florida over UAB, Houston over North Texas, Arkansas State over Memphis, SMU over UTEP, Central Florida over Boston College

Mountain West (5-3 for the week, 4-2 non-conference, 1-2 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Boise State.  Once again Boise State took care of the ranked, tradition-rich BCS school.  They will now be favored from here on out.

Unpleasant Surprise:  TCU.  More specifically, the vaunted TCU defense.  Breaking in a new QB, you would think 48 points would be enough.  If the TCU defense struggles like this there will be games where the offense won't be able to pull this off.

Bowl Changes:  I am picking Air Force over TCU this week, so that would mean I have Air Force moving to the Las Vegas Bowl and TCU moving back to the Independence Bowl.

My Record:  6-1 (missed Baylor over TCU)
This Week:  San Diego State over Army, Colorado State over Northern Colorado, Washington State over UNLV, Wyoming over Texas State, Arkansas over New Mexico, Air Force over TCU

MAC (8-5 for the week, 8-5 non-conference, 1-5 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Ball State.  A victory over a Big Ten school is huge for a MAC Team.  Even better to be a team in-state that you recruit against.  Honorable mention to Bowling Green for an impressive road win.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Western Michigan.  I thought Western would give Michigan more troubles.  It is hard to say with the weather complications if this was a true representation.  The game really turned on one play, so the Broncos may be fine.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none. 

My Record:  11-2 (missed Bowling Green over Idaho and Ball State over Indiana)
This Week:  Kentucky over Central Michigan, Ohio State over Toledo, Eastern Michigan over Alabama State, Temple over Akron, Buffalo over Stony Brook, South Florida over Ball State, Bowling Green over Morgan State, Ohio over Gardener Webb, Northern Illinois over Kansas, Kent State over Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Michigan over Nicholls State

WAC (1-6 for the week, 1-6 non-conference, 1-3 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Hawaii.  The only WAC team to win this week.  Period.  Utah State was an execution away from this list.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Idaho.  Getting wacked at home by Bowling Green will do nothing for your bowl chances or the outlook for this conference.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  I had Louisiana Tech and Fresno State losing this week, so the league remains at 4 bids.

My Record:  6-1 (missed Bowling Green over Idaho)
This week:  Minnesota over New Mexico State, Washington over Hawaii, Oregon over Nevada, Idaho over North Dakota, Nebraska over Fresno State, Louisiana Tech over Central Arkansas, Utah State over Weber State, UCLA over San Jose State

Sun Belt (1-8 for the week, 0-7 non-conf, 0-7 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Florida International.  Again, the only Sun Belt team to win and it was over another Sun Belt team.  Kudos for taking on the BCS leagues, but thumbs down for losing them all (although Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky held their own).

Unpleasant Surprise:  Louisian-Monroe.  My sleeper team in the Sun Belt could not get on the scoreboard against Florida State.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.

My Record:  8-0
This Week:  Louisville over Florida International, Michigan State over Florida Atlantic, Navy over Western Kentucky, Houston over North Texas, Arkansas State over Memphis, Kent State over Louisiana Lafayette, Georgia Tech over Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Monroe over Grambling State

Independents (2-2 for the week, 1-1 BCS)

Pleasant Surprise:  Navy.  The Midshipmen were the most impressive Independent of the week.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Notre Dame.  I bought into the Notre Dame kool-aid.  They better get it together, because I do not even like that kool-aid.

Bowl Changes:  The more I look at, the Army vs Temple game might be for a bowl bid.  I will stick with Army for now.

My Record:  3-1
This Week:  San Diego State over Army, Navy over Western Kentucky, Texas over BYU, Notre Dame over Michigan

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