No Sleep Till Football

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2011 Week 3 – Power 15

No fancy intros for this week’s Power-15. Let’s simply get to the meat!

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Oklahoma put up the most impressive win of the college season. Remember that LSU’s win over Oregon was at a neutral site while Oklahoma went into the heart of Tallahassee and took down the Seminoles. The most impressive part of the win was how Oklahoma did it. We’ve talked endlessly about how good a combination Landry Jones & Ryan Broyles is, but Oklahoma beat down Florida St. with their defense. DB Javon Harris had 2 picks while the Sooners played a very physical type of defense that actually sent FSU QB EJ Manuel out of the game! LB Tom Wort was all over the place while the Oklahoma D-Line was exceptional! Boomer Sooner forced 3 turnovers and sacked FSU 6 times while holding Florida St. to 27-yards rushing! Landry Jones was off thanks to a stout FSU defense, but the Sooners were able to run the ball well enough and Kenny Stills was fantastic catching 7 balls for 125 yards at a TD. Oklahoma had problems on the road last year. That doesn’t look like it’ll be a problem and remember that the defense is good. Really good!
#2 I had to move LSU up after now having watched them play both Oregon & Mississippi St. I pre-ranked Mississippi St. #6 in the nation. They’ve suffered back-to-back losses to Auburn & LSU, but I still think MSU is a quality team and give that LSU has wins over the Ducks & Dogs, how can they not be #2? What has impressed me about LSU is their defensive front-7 especially the defensive line. It’s NASTY. It’s FAST NASTY! Anthony Johnson, Sam Montgomery, and Kendrick Adams couldn’t have been more impressive than they were this past Thursday night. QB Jarrett Lee has been the best I’ve ever seen him. He’s managing games well & this is all LSU needs him to do. There is more than enough skill players for LSU to win. The only problem will come if Lee actually has to take a game over to win it. Can he do it? He may never have to. RB Spence Ware looked outstanding against a decent MSU defense. I can’t see how LSU merits a position lower than #2 given what they’ve done with the schedule. It doesn’t get easier for LSU. This week they go to Morgantown to play the Mountaineers.
#3 Very tough to knock Alabama down to #3 because I think they are the best team in college football. Alabama went crazy on North Texas beating them 41-0, especially Trent Richardson & Eddie Lacy. The Tide’s two tailbacks combined to rush for 328 yards & 5TD on only 20 carries! That’s 16.4 yards per carry! I don’t care if it is against North Texas, that’s a dominating performance. Lacy & Richardson are beasts, but here are the reasons Alabama falls to #3. The win over Penn St. looks just OK after Temple almost beat the Nittany Lions in Philly! At this point, Alabama’s schedule doesn’t match up well to Oklahoma’s or LSU’s. The other problem could be QB AJ McCarron. McCarron has done a good job so far, but he’s not faced stout competition just yet and you have to remember that Oklahoma has Landry Jones (a 3-year starter) and LSU has Jarrett Lee (a 5th year senior). I don’t know if it’s right to drop the Tide because of McCarron’s lack of experience, but they lit up North Texas and McCarron didn’t throw a single TD pass and it seems as if the Tide wanted to use this game to get the running game straightened out. Alabama has Arkansas next week and then a trip to Gainesville. They can get back to #1 if they win the next two.
#4 Stanford did what I expected, beating Arizona 37-10 in Tuscon. Andrew Luck threw for 325 yards with 2TD, but RB Stepfan Taylor was the real star rushing for 153 yards on 22 carries. I don’t think we can overstate how good Taylor can make the Stanford offense. Obviously every defensive coordinator in the country is going to focus on Luck & ways to stop him. On the other hand, you can drop 8 into coverage when Taylor is averaging 7.0ypc! It certainly opens up play action for Luck & the Stanford receivers. I don’t think we can make light of Stanford’s defense either. They’ve given up 9.0ppg in their first 3 which ranks 9th in the nation! Ben Gardner, Chase Thomas & Shayne Skov are playing out of their minds and getting into the backfield with regularity. Stanford leads teh nation in tackles for loss. You can easily argue that Stanford hasn’t played anyone having played San Jose St., Duke & Arizona, but they are being overlooked just a bit defensively and the defense can win them a national championship.
#5 Boise St. simply can’t catch a break. Toledo on the road might have been a great game because the Rockets went into Columbus & almost beat Ohio St. 27-22. That Boise went into Toledo and beat the Rockets 40-15 seems impressive. However, Ohio St. didn’t keep up their end of the bargain because after almost losing to Toledo, they went to Miami-FL and got beat 24-6 to a team the week before got beat by Maryland. So the win over Toledo is certainly impressive especially because they beat them by 3+TD, but it’s not as good as it could have been because once again the schedule didn’t work out well. I don’t think we’ll see an upset of Boise like we did last season when Nevada beat the Broncos. Boise’s two toughest games remaining are home contests against Tulsa (next week) and TCU (later). No reason why this team doesn’t go 12-0. Now they need everyone else to lose at least one game, and even then I’m not sure that will be enough given the schedule Boise St. plays.
#6 Wisconsin went down to Chicago and hammered Northern Illinois 49-7! It looks bad, but keep in mind that Northern Illinois is a solid team and Wisconsin made them look horrible. QB Russell Wilson had his best game as a Badger throwing for 347 yards & 3TD and rushing for 37 more. Again Montee Ball & James White ran wild combining to rush for 182 yards on 28 carries with 3TD. I’ve moved up the Badgers to #6 because I can’t explain how impressed I am with Wilson. He’s completed 76% of his passes. He’s thrown for 791 yards & 8TD to only one interception. I wasn’t sure how the run heavy Wisconsin offense would adapt to Wilson’s particular skill set, but the former NC State QB is having a career year as a passer. Wisconsin is holding to form from previous seasons. They are 3-0 and look amazing, BUT their 3 opponents have been UNLV, Oregon St. & Northern Illinois. They’ve not played a true road game and their toughest opponent is seriously a MAC squad. In two weeks Nebraska comes to Madison. They win that game and Wisconsin starts to be considered a top-4 team if not top-3. The schedule has been weak, but Wilson has looked spectacular.
#7 I thought maybe Tulsa might have been able to keep up with Oklahoma St. for awhile, but it never happened. Oklahoma St. ran the score to 45-6 early in the 3rd quarter before putting in the local high school team and ended up winning 59-33. It’s pretty obvious Oklahoma St. isn’t going to stop anyone defensively. In their 3 games they’ve almost given up 30ppg which is downright awful. On the other hand, they’ve almost scored 60ppg in their 3 wins meaning it might not even matter what happens with Oklahoma St. when it comes to defense. I honestly don’t think it matters too much except after watching Oklahoma dismantle Florida St., I think the Sooners could have the defense to limit Oklahoma St.’s opportunities along with an offense that is capable itself of scoring 50ppg. I think the only defenses that can contain the Cowboys are Alabama, LSU, Stanford & Oklahoma. That could possibly mean OSU is a top-5 team. They’ve leaped Texas A&M I think.
#8 I know it’s Missouri St. and that the Bears are now 0-3, but Oregon really did put up Nintendo numbers in Eugene. LaMichael James ran for 204 yards & 3TD on only 12 carries! That’s RIDICULOUS! Darron Thomas passed for 206 yards & 3TD. Oregon QBs threw 5TD passes while having just 5 incomplete passes! We keep waiting for Andrew Luck to pull this feat off, but here we are with the Oregon QBs doing it before the Stanford QB. Oregon ran for 416 yards on 43 carries (9.7ypc) including 3TD. The game certainly got James back on track as he’s now on pace to rush for 1517 yards with 23TD. Oregon made a ton of mistakes when it lost to LSU, but one thing about the loss to LSU is that it’s going to look better & better as the year goes along. Sure LSU isn’t going to beat Alabama in my opinion, but if the Bayou Bengals go 11-1, everyone loses and the Ducks go 12-1 with a Pac 12 Championship game win, they are right back in the national title picture. Another solid for Oregon is that the LSU loss came in Week 1 which will look smaller & smaller as the weeks go by. Oregon gets USC at home, but travels to Stanford. Those games will be very interesting.
#9 I can’t hammer Florida St. too hard losing to Oklahoma 23-13 at home. Let’s not forget that a lot of people thought the Sooners might be a team that can score 50ppg and Florida St. held them to just 23 with both Landry Jones & Ryan Broyles having bad to terrible games. Florida St. also did a great job at stopping the Oklahoma running game holding the Sooners to 2.8ypc! Outside of Oklahoma & Oklahoma St., there might not be anymore explosive and offense that FSU just stopped cold. The ‘Noles won’t face a stiffer challenge all season long although they do go on the road to Clemson & Florida, but really, if FSU plays the way they did against Oklahoma St., they should have no problems winning out to go 11-1 with a real shot at getting to 12-1. Will it be enough to get back to the championship game? I don’t know, but the ACC schedule is pretty much a joke and FSU plays virtually nobody in-conference on the road. I would like to see Florida St. get tougher because at times it looked like Oklahoma was hurting them pretty good, but if you believe Oklahoma is the #1 team in the nation, FSU took them to the wire so how far can they be down?.
#10 Texas A&M did what they should have done beating Idaho 37-7 in College Station, but I had to drop them because of how exactly they beat the Vandals. The first reason is that A&M didn’t force any Idaho turnovers. For the games the Aggies were -2 in TO Margin with Idaho taking pretty good care of the ball. RB Cyrus Gray wasn’t exactly impressive either. Sure he ran for 101 yards, but it took him 29 carries to get it done. I also thought Ryan Tannehill would have a better game, but he was 26/39 for 337 yards, 2TD & 1INT. Very good numbers, but you had the feeling that A&M should have had a much more impressive victory here especially at home. To be fair, A&M didn’t have to work extremely hard. They were up 27-0 at halftime and 37-0 a little after midway in the 3rd quarter. The Aggies did put it down on defense. They completely shut down Idaho’s rushing offense holding them to 56 yards rushing. Things get really interesting this week as the Aggies play Oklahoma St. It’s a great test for both squads and will add a layer of separation to the Big 12.
#11 I thought South Carolina would have some trouble with Navy, but I was pretty surprised they were down 21-17 after 3 quarters. Marcus Lattimore was an absolute BEAST against the Navy defense. The true sophomore ran for 246 yards & 3TD on 37 carries (6.6ypc). Lattimore also caught 4 passes for 25 yards. If SC can get to the SEC Championship game, Lattimore is on pace for 2,492 yards rushing with 33TD! I know there is talk about Andrew Luck, Denard Robinson, & Kellen Moore, but how is Lattimore not the Heisman favorite at this point? Over 2,000 yards & 30TD? How many RBs from BCS school have LOST the Heisman with those numbers? I might actually be sandbagging South Carolina. They had ample opportunity to lost to both Georgia & Navy, but here they are at 3-0. South Carolina now gets 3 home games against Vanderbilt, Kentucky & Auburn which should be a 6-0 start and potentially a top-5 place in the polls. The next 3 games really need to see the Gamecocks tighten things up defensively and for Stephen Garcia to get into an incredible rhythm for the 2nd half of the season which gets tougher. .
#12 Arkansas keeps on winning with Troy being the latest victim, losing to the Razorbacks 38-28. The boxscore looks a little suspect, but Arkansas was up 24-0 and up 31-7 midway through the 3rd quarter. Arkansas essentially turned Troy into a passing team, and the Trojans weren’t that awful. QB Tyler Wilson was OK, but he did keep the usual SEC QB status quo of managing games and allowing your rush offense & defense to get the job done. I’m really impressed with Ronnie Wingo. He rushed for 109 yards & 2TD against Troy. Wingo has done a great job so far this season replacing the injured Knile Davis. I also think the 6-2/240lbs freshman RB Kody Walker is going to keep getting better. The only thing I don’t particularly like is that Troy threw the ball well against Arkansas’s defense and that Troy’s previous loss to Clemson was more lopsided. Would have been nice to see Arkansas put up 50 on a Sun Belt school!
#13 I thought going into the game Washington HC Steve Sarkisian would have a solid game plan to beat Nebraska, and he did. Washington was able to score 38 points, and it even did a fairly good job of holding Taylor Martinez in check by holding the sophomore to 83 yards & 1TD on 17 carries. Unfortunately, the defense as a whole didn’t show up as Nebraska put up 51 in the 51-38 victory. Rex Burkhead had an incredible game for the Huskers rushing for 120 yards & 2TD on 22 carries. The one problem Washington had was being -2 in TO margin. They lost by 13 so maybe that was the difference? Martinez completed less than 50% of his passes, but didn’t throw a pick. So what does this tell us about Nebraska? Well, they are a bit vulnerable on defense. Nebraska’s going to face tougher offenses than Washington. How will they fare? We also know that this offense might be unstoppable. It’ll be really interesting to see how Nebraska does against some smash mouth Big 10 defenses. At some point you’d have to figure Nebraska will call upon Martinez to win one with his arm. Going to Madison in 2 weeks should be downright AMAZING!
#14 Florida breaks into the Power-15 with a 33-23 win over Tennessee this past week. You have to be really impressed with the Gators defense. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray & RB Tauren Poole came into the game absolutely on fire, but Florida did a great job at taking them out of the game. Bray completed just 54% of his passes and threw 2 interceptions. Tauren Poole was completely taken out of the game rushing for only 18 yards! In fact, Florida’s rush defense held the Volunteers to -9 yards rushing! GOOD GRIEF. One thing Urban Meyer did was leave the team with an incredible amount of talent, especially on the defensive side of the football where Will Muschamp has to be pleased. QB Jeff Brantley is Jeff Brantley, but Jeff Demps & Chris Rainey are running wild. The Gators are lucky to have Charlie Weis as OC as a calming influence on Brantley. They look good, but the schedule is tough.
#15 Michigan essentially ran over Eastern Michigan in their 31-7 win over the Eagles. Robinson himself rushed for 198 yards on 26 carries. Shoelaces wasn’t the only 100 yards rusher for Michigan however because Vincent Smith ran for 118 yards on only 9 carries! Robinson wasn’t great through the air although he didn’t necessarily have to be. The biggest boost Michigan probably got was probably Notre Dame finally catching fire and beating the 15th ranked Michigan St. Spartans 31-13! If Michigan beat the Irish and the Irish beat the #15 team, then Michigan looks good by comparison. Granted, Notre Dame gift wrapped the win for Michigan, but I’m a HUGE believer in Brady Hoke and Michigan has created a momentum all of their own. Keep in mind that Michigan avoids both Penn St. & Wisconsin while they get Nebraska & Ohio St. at home. It sounds nuts, but Michigan has an EXCELLENT shot at going 11-1 assuming they lose to Nebraska. Hoke is amazing and who knows what could happen.



DROPPING OUT

#14 Ohio St. Buckeyes: I knew it was only a matter of time before Ohio St. lost a game that would drop them out of the Power-15. I thought it might have been last week when Toledo came this close to beating the Buckeyes, but “THE U” got the job done, beating Ohio St. 24-6 in Miami this past Saturday. The same Miami-FL team that lost to Maryland 2 weeks prior. I think the season now becomes one in which we all wonder how low Ohio St. can go. I think there are 6 more losses on the schedule that could send Ohio St. to a 5-7 record. If that does indeed happen then Luke Fickell won’t the HC next season which means the speculation will go nuts. It certainly seems the Urban Meyer talk will heat up to star levels of temperature! This is still a talented team. One of the most talented in the nation and they need to hold it together. Losing to Miami-FL on the road won’t look so awful by season’s end.

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September 18, 2011 - Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Boise St., Florida, Florida St., LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas AM, Wisconsin

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