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The Power 15 – Week 1

Week 1 was amazing. It started with a late USC/Hawaii game that proved worthy of staying up late for & ended with an incredible Virginia Tech/Boise St. game on Monday night. In between was a ton of excitement and great games that are too numerous to mention, but it’s safe to say that we have about a million story lines already in an embryonic 2010 college football season.

I’m not going to say anything about the top-15. You can read my comments for each squad. What I will do here early is explain some of the teams I left off.

I don’t have Virginia Tech in the top-15. They deserve to be there for the most part, but I couldn’t put them in the top-10 and when it got to the 12-15 range I felt my rankings got a bit muddled. The other thing for me is that I thought Virginia Tech, and specifically Tyrod Taylor, had a fantastic opportunity to made a pitch for playing in the BCS Title game should they run the table at 13-0. Instead they choked in my opinion. Those first quarter mistakes were atrocious on special teams & I felt Virginia Tech choked the game away late in the 4th. The Hokies could easily wind up 12-1 and left out because of Week 1.

No Arkansas or LSU from the SEC. LSU doesn’t deserve it basically. They probably should have lost to a North Carolina team that was missing half their starters. Arkansas makes a pretty significant case for themselves especially since I have both Auburn & Georgia in, but I like Auburn better and Georgia really impressed me.

Also no USC, Florida St., Michigan or Notre Dame. I didn’t have USC b/c the defense looked terrible against Hawaii no matter how magnificent the offense looked. It was very tough to leave FSU out after their dominating win over Samford, but ultimately they were right on that 16-18 spot bubble. Michigan, YES I SAID MICHIGAN, got some thought from me because I think UConn is a very good football team. With Michigan winning that one 30-10 they should have gotten everyone’s attention. I gave thought to ND simply because of Brian Kelly and his track record of success. There was opportunity to beat Purdue 37-12, but they needed to do that instead of the 23-12 win they posted. With that out of the way, here is the Week 1 Power 15.

#1 You have to give Boise St. credit. They traveled over 2,000 miles to play a top-10 team in Virginia Tech & still won 33-30 although Virginia Tech seemingly wore them down. There are certainly chinks in the armor here. Virginia Tech made a million mistakes to give Boise St. a 17-0 start. From quarters 2 through 4, the Hokies beat Boise 30-16. Even with the head start, Boise still needed a horrible late hit penalty on Virginia Tech plus the Hokies basically choking & making the worst play calling decisions in the history of football in the 4th quarter to eek out a 3-point win. To be fair, the only teams I think beat Boise St. on a neutral field without question right now is Ohio St. & Alabama, but if Boise goes 13-0 how can you deny them? They have to be #1. They’ve won 15 straight games!
#2 Had Marshall down 35-7 at halftime and then put on the brakes. I guess you can take competition into consideration here, but the Buckeyes played just about a perfect football game. Terrelle Pryor was almost perfect and he really didn’t even have to run at all which is a huge weapon in and of itself. As much publicity as Pryor gets, there really is no weakness on offense. I’m not sure anyone is stopping a rushing trio of Brandon Saine, Dan Herron & Jaamal Berry. The receivers are ridiculous with WR DeVier Posey, WR Dane Sanzenbacher & TE Jake Stoneburner. WR Duron Carter wasn’t even used. The defense is filthy. They’ll get tested this upcoming week against Miami-FL, but this might be the best team Tressel’s ever had in Columbus.
#3 This is probably too low. No Mark Ingram? Not a problem. No Marcel Dareus? Not a problem. San Jose St. sucks but did you see rFR RB Eddie Lacy? Kid rushed for 111 yards & 2TD on 13 carries. Demetrius Goode ran for 66 himself. Both outgained Trent Richardson who racked up 66 on 10 carries with 2TD. Bring Ingram back and you have 4 runners who could rush for over 100 yards anytime they want. QB Greg McElroy was 13 for 15. Julio Jones caught 5 balls for 93 yards with a circus one handed catch for a 29-yards TD score! The offense isn’t going to be stopped. If you want to nitpick, San Jose St. almost racked up 200 total yards on the defense, but it’s a Saban led defense. I bet Penn St. gets murdered this week.
#4 I know it was New Mexico but 72-0 is still 72-0! The interesting story around Eugene was that sophomore QB Darron Thomas was going to be the QB over senior Nate Costa & that RB LaMichael James was out of the lineup. It didn’t really matter. Kenjon Barker rushed for 147-yards & 4TD on 17 carries in the FIRST HALF! That was enough for Chip Kelly so he put in Remene Austin & he rushed for 110 yards on 21 carries. Defensively the Ducks created 5 turnovers & held the Lobos to 25 yards rushing on 32 carries! New Mexico only passed for 82 yards. Competition again is a factor here, but this game was absolutely perfect from a statistical point of view. Chip Kelly is an outstanding play caller offensively & this offense is practically perfect. Beating an FBS team 72-0 is absurd.
#5 Tough to knock the Frogs down a notch, but I thought Oregon & Alabama played so well that it was hard to keep them at #4. TCU had a very impressive 30-21 win over Oregon St. in the opening week. QB Andy Dalton was a little flat in the opener and he threw a couple of picks that allowed the Beavers to have momentum during parts of the game, but really just a workman-like game for TCU. Ed Wesley & Matthew Tucker combined for 208 yards rushing on 37 carries. TCU almost ran for 300 as a team and completely dominated time of possession. With Andy Dalton under center coming off an outstanding year, it’s easy to get caught up with thinking the Frogs are going to be pass happy but HC Gary Patterson is too smart for that. There was no let down defensively. None at all. Ryan Katz is the real deal at QB. I doubt Oregon St. is going to suffer much from losing Sean Canfield. TCU essentially shut down Katz & the Rodgers brothers. This team is outstanding.
#6 Really interesting game here for Nebraska. One thing that plagued the Huskers this offseason was whether their offense could elevate it’s game to get Nebraska on top of the Big XII. HC Bo Pelini picked rFR QB Taylor “T-Magic” Martinez as the starting QB over senior Zac Lee & T-Magic didn’t disappoint. Martinez passed for 136 yards & ran for 127 more en route to Nebraska beating Western Kentucky 49-10. Zac Lee did get in as did Cody Green & both played well, but Martinez is there to stay. The weird part of the game was Nebraska’s defense. WKU RB Bobby Rainey shredded Nebraska for 155 yards on 30 carries. WKU racked up 299 total yards & almost 200 yards rushing. Maybe the loss of Ndamukong Suh is going to be much much bigger than we thought even with Jared Crick at DT. The game at Washington looks very interesting all of a sudden.
#7 My only reservation with Iowa this season was their ability in recent times to “play down” to competition & struggling a little bit both at home & as “the hunted”. Remember last year they needed quasi back-to-back miracles to beat Northern Iowa 17-16 at home despite being 24-point favorites. There was none of that at Kinnick Stadium in 2010 as the Hawkeyes put the hammer down on Eastern Illinois 37-7. Iowa was up 28-7 at halftime before putting the scubs in. Ricky Stanzi (18/23, 229yards, 1TD) & Adam Robinson (109 yards & 3TD) were dominant while the defense was stifling allowing only 157 yards & 6 first downs. Brandon Wegher didn’t even play & Iowa really didn’t make use of their top two targets in Derrell Johnson-Koulianos & Marvin McNutt (3 combined receptions). Iowa St. played well so it’ll be interesting next week, but if this game is any indication, Iowa has a clear path to 12-0.
#8 I have the Canes higher than most but they deserve it. I got to watch Miami’s 45-0 beat down of Florida A&M. A couple of thoughts here. The first is that Terrelle Pryor isn’t going to play like FAM QB Martin Ukpai. The kid was simply over matched. However, this Miami team is now starting to show the speed & athleticism it did from 1999-2002 when it was arguably the best team in college football. Miami can easily make a case for being the best team in football for 3-years from 00-02 and probably should have won 3 national championships. The other thought is that most thought that Jacory Harris’s inconsistency was a problem for Miami last year, but Harris was 12/15 for 210 yards & 3TD against FAM. Granted, it’s FAM, but Miami’s best case record last year was 11-2. If Harris is better then Miami is poised to dominate this season. With a good year, only Ken Dorsey & Gino Torretta will have more passing yards than Harris. Those two have national championships.
#9 Can you believe that Texas actually got a first place vote in the AP poll this week? I’m not quite enamored with the Longhorns as most people are. They beat Rice 34-17 which is a solid win, but I think most everyone was expected so much more from Texas. QB Garrett Gilbert was just OK going 14 of 23 for 172 yards. The rushing attack was good racking up almost 200 yards but averaging only 4.3ypc. Rice has a ton coming back this year, but Texas’s defense even looked a bit lackluster. They allowed 14 first downs & the time of possession was split evenly. Oddly enough Rice QBs went 12 of 18 for 131 yards & 1TD. Giving up a 67% completion percentage is a big off if you ask me. Last year’s defense allowed only a 55% completion percentage. I’ll keep them in the top-10, but it’s iffy. They have to show better next week against Wyoming.
#10 Another interesting one. Wisconsin wound up beating UNLV 41-21, but the Badgers only led 17-14 at halftime. John Clay was a beast rushing for 123 yards & 2TD on 17 carries. Montee Ball did damage too rushing for 79 yards & 2TD on 16 carries. QB Scott Tolzien had a solid day going 15 of 20 for 197 yards. HC Bret Bielema stuck to the script and pounded the rock, but something seemed off. UNLV hung around far too long while Badgers defense didn’t look all that spectacular. I was hoping DE JJ Watt would be a MANSTER, but the defense was only solid. I might be nitpicking the Badgers a bit. This was a road opener and Madison is quite a ways from Las Vegas. However, I think Wisconsin has the capability to be a top-10 team. They needed to beat UNLV by more than 20.
#11 Whoa. Oklahoma beat Utah St. 31-24 meaning that in a “worst case” scenario, the Sooners start the year 0-1! There were points in this game where I thought Oklahoma would lose, but each time the Aggies got close, Oklahoma managed to pull away. RB DeMarco Murray (218 yards/2TD) & WR Ryan Broyles (142 yards/2TD) kept the offense afloat as QB Landry Jones was inconsistent. Even with Murray pounding the rock, Utah St. had the ball for almost half the game. Defensively is where the problems lie. The Sooners rush defense did a solid job, but the pass defense gave up almost 350 yards passing! Oklahoma had only one more TD than Utah St. They had only one more total yard. Oklahoma has to feel pretty lucky to get out of this one alive. If Utah St. avoids a couple of their interceptions & avoids allowing a few big plays to the Sooners offense, they might have shocked the world on Saturday. Oklahoma is going to have to play MUCH better next week if they want to beat Florida St.
#12 Miami-OH actually led this game 3-0 at the end of the 1st quarter. In Gainesville! A lot is going to be made between the C-QB exchange involving both Mike Pouncey & John Brantley. Sure it was bad but there were other odd things too. Miami-OH threw 4 interceptions, but if that doesn’t happen then things get a little dicey for the Gators. They had less first downs than the Redhawks while drawing even with them in total yards. To be fair, Miami-OH had a horrific time against Florida’s defense. If anything, Florida’s offense is WAY BEHIND Florida’s defense & maybe that problem will be solved once Brantley & Pouncey iron out their differences, but even still, Miami-OH did a decent job with their rush defense and you can be sure Florida will face stiffer competition in the SEC. Opening games are for ironing out the kinks when you play against an inferior opponent. Luckily for Florida & Oklahoma this is what happened. It’s too early to sell the Sooners or Gators, but after 1 week they not only don’t look like the best teams in their conference, they don’t even look like top-2 teams in their own divisions!
#13 It’s interesting to some degree how much publicity OC Gus Malzahn gets for running a spread offense, but what’s surprising is just how much he will run the ball. Saturday against Arkansas St. was a good example as Auburn ran the ball 49 times and passed just 16. You might wonder how Auburn got to #13 after they beat Red Wolves 52-26? Doesn’t the defense scare you a bit? No. For starters, Arkansas St. had to be in a shootout. They ran 84 plays to Auburn’s 65. Auburn scored 52 points on their plays. They simply scored too quickly! Secondly, Arkansas St. ran for 43 yards on 35 carries. Maybe Arkansas St. was able to pass the ball around, but they certainly weren’t running it. To me this seems like a product of Auburn domination rather than Arkansas St. actually having a chance. The other thing I wanted to mention is that Auburn QB Cam Newton went 9/14 for 186 yards & 3TD. Newton also rushed for 171 yards & 2TD on 15 carries. The big question coming in for Auburn’s offense was how well Newton would do as QB. Sure it’s Arkansas St, but he answered the questions in a big way.
#14 AJ Green didn’t even play and yet Georgia hammered Louisiana 55-7 in the opener. HC Mark Richt needs a big year & he might just get it. A couple of points here. We all wondered how rFR Aaron Murray would do as QB. He went 17 of 26 for 160 yards & 3TD. Sure he threw a pick, but he led Georgia to 55 points! We also wondered how the Georgia defense would considering it returned only 5 starters & had a new DC in Todd Grantham who switched the defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Georgia answered this too by allowing 7 points, 5 first downs, 128 total yards & a ridiculous 14 yards rushing! UGA also picked off 3 passes with one leading to the final score of the game which made it 55-7. All of this without RB Wishaun Ealey & AJ Green. I have the Dawgs higher than the polls do, but they looked outstanding in Week 1. We’ll see if they are for real or not when they travel to Columbia this week.
#15 It was the same story for HC Paul Johnson & the Yellow Jackets. They ran the ball constantly in their triple option attack en route to hammering SC State 41-10. Georgia Tech ran for 372 yards & 6TD on 56 attempts. QB Josh Nesbitt led all GT rushers with 130 yards on 16 carries. We all know that the GT rush offense is pretty much unstoppable, but there were some red flags here as well. GT didn’t really control the clock. They had split time with SC State. They also didn’t do a great job with their rush defense as the Bulldogs gained almost 200 yards which led to GT’s defense being out on the field more than you’d like. The other red flag to me is the complete absence of a passing game. Demaryius Thomas has gone on to the Denver Broncos, but Nesbitt at least needs to show the ability to pass. Tech threw only 8 passes completing just 2 of them. GT followed this pattern to an 11-3 season last year including an ACC Championship. They passed the ball 18% of the time last year. Against SC State that number dropped to 13%. I don’t think the formula works in 2010.

September 7, 2010 - Posted by | Alabama, Boise St., Iowa, Miami-FL, Nebraska, Ohio St, Oregon, Power 15, TCU, Texas

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