Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Week 7 Under Review

I have just returned from a road trip to Los Angeles, where I attended the UCLA-California game at the Rose Bowl Saturday night. I'll get into it a little bit more later in this post, but I had some insights to this game that I wanted to share after leaving the Rose Bowl.
First of all, I felt that California did very little to lose the game to UCLA, even as the final score was 37-10 in favor of the Bruins. Cal's main issue was execution of their screen pass games, and their conservative passing game calling, where it was bubble screen after bubble screen.
Let's not be fooling ourselves here, Sonny Dykes has little to work with, as recruiting really slowed down the last few years in Berkeley. Dykes is building from the ground up, and at least he has his QB. Now he needs to find other athletes to surround Goff at QB, and the Bears will climb. I liked what I saw in the Bears, and I can see where there is still so much work to be done. I believe in what Sonny Dykes can do, but the Bears a  couple of years away.
As far as what I saw in UCLA live (I watch them every week on film), the Bruins were obviously holding back offensively after rolling out to an early 17-0 lead. The Bruins closed up the play calling, and it became obvious that they started to turn their attention to the next two weeks with Stanford and Oregon both coming up on the road in consecutive weeks. There were two separate 4th down plays where the Bruins easily could have gone for it and didn't, once settling for a Fairbairn FG, and once settling for a punt on 4th and 1. It was frustrating for a fan base that packed the Rose Bowl (84,000+ in attendance) as the collective wanted to see the Bruin machine in full swing.
One other observation...UCLA's defense is as good as it has ever been. They sniffed out the screen plays that were a prevalent part of what Cal does on offense, and did pick up a late goal line stand when Cal was rolling down the field in the 4th quarter.
Cassius Marsh was ejected in the first half for UCLA for tossing a punch at an ill timed moment. Anthony Barr was on fire for UCLA, in on an amazing amount of plays, and his presence was always there in the pass rush. One note on Barr...he was not on the field during the 4th and goal during the goal line stand I spoke of, as his helmet had come off the play before. I hate the rule, but what I hate even more is the need to announce it to the crowd every time it happens.
One final observation from Pasadena...The Rose Bowl is out of control as far as the constant need to create noise in the stadium. All of the electronics feel out of place, and there is constantly something going on, giving me a massive headache at times. From the constant presentations on the giant video board (which seems tacky in this grand old place) to the junior Bruin cheerleaders (my least favorite aspect of the night) dancing to the insanely inappropriate "Any way you want it, that's the way you get it", UCLA and the Rose Bowl folks need to de-amp the stadium experience just a bit (well, a lot actually). And a nightclub in the Rose Bowl? Really? It's too much for a college stadium environment. How about letting the game become the center piece? And by the way, the average fan is more than four feet tall...leg room anyone? When your knees are in your chest for the entirety of the game, you almost pray for people to leave so that you can stretch out your legs to the row below you. That being said, the Bruins won, so it was a great night. Sorry Cal fans.

Now let's take a peak at the rest of the week that was...


Winners: Louisville, Cincinnati, Houston
The biggest winner of the week in the AAC was Houston, who managed to roll onto a 5-0 record for the year. Houston is my surprise team in the AAC, and in the nation so far. Louisville struggled to beat Rutgers, and I knew that a 19 point spread was too much. Teddy Bridgewater was ok, but not great in the win, and his Heisman dreams may be fading a touch. Cincinnati got a solid win, but they need to continue on the path that they set forward on in this game.

Losers: Rutgers, UConn, USF, Memphis, Temple
Rutgers never really felt like they could beat Louisville, but they did cover the spread like I knew they would. UConn played their first game since Pasqualoni's firing, and it was much the same as before, with a whopping 10 points on the board. Memphis and Temple continue to struggle weekly, but USF was a winner, and I still placed them here, as they were lucky to leave the UConn game with a win, scoring a miserable 13 points in the win.


Winners: Virginia Tech, Duke, Syracuse
It was a weak showing for the ACC in week 7. Virginia Tech is still winning, but not really doing it in impressive manner, this week sliding by Pitt 19-9. Duke has now quietly won 4 games this season, and is starting to find themselves, and may have done so this week in a 35-7 win over a quality Navy club. Syracuse is putting it together at a good time, but now is the time to find their sprint speed at 3-3.

Losers: Pittsburgh, Clemson, Boston College, Maryland, Virginia, NC State, Georgia Tech
Pitt is a tram without a real identity right now, as some weeks they look like a quality football team, and then they fall apart like they did against Va. Tech this week. Clemson really needed a statement week, and instead, they let an average BC team hang around and scare them well into the second half. BC had the Tigers on the ropes, but like a team not ready for prime time, BC fell apart when it counted. Maryland struggled again, and the shine has seemingly worn off, only beating Virginia by one. That loss for UVA placed Mike London on my hot seat. NC State is struggling now after a hot start, and they may be sliding out of bowl contention. Georgia Tech has now lost two straight, and they are fading fast.

Big 10

Winners: Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Penn State
MSU is now quietly sitting at 5-1, and nobody outside of Big 10 country may be seeing them as a team to watch now. Scoring 42 against Indiana was the right place to do it, and they are now making their own opportunities. Nebraska was an easy pick to blast the spread this week, and easily did so in their 44-7 win over Purdue. Wisconsin is a team that needs a streak, and they may be setting it up now. I listened to the Penn State win on the freeway heading to Pasadena, and they certainly persevered against a Michigan club that kept on punching back. The 43-40 OT win for PSU may have made their season.

Losers: Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan
Indiana is a year away from doing some damage in the Big 10. They could still catch their breath and compete for a bowl game, but I believe they have to go 4-2 the rest of the way to catch it. Purdue is a mess, so no big surprise in their slide. Northwestern is doing what they do every year, heading into a mid season collapse. Michigan is just a mess right now, barely keeping their head above water most weeks, they completely dropped the ball, and several shots at winning against Penn State.

Big 12

Winners: TCU, Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor
TCU is missing something this season, but they got back to .500 football with the win over Kansas. Texas Tech got a slugfest from Iowa State, but ISU has been providing some fire this season for favorites. The Red Raiders are no 6-0 in Kingsbury's first go as head coach. Texas got the biggest win of the week in the conference, finally getting the Oklahoma monkey off of their backs, and they also saved Mack Brown in the process. Baylor scored about half of their average, but they are making the Big 12 a two horse race with Texas Tech this fall.

Losers: Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State
Kansas loses, Charlie Wies is making changes to the offensive staff, so everything is perfectly normal in Lawrence. Iowa State keeps getting into fist fights with teams that they shouldn't beat, but winning one of these games has to happen. Oklahoma has turned into a pretender after falling to Texas, and has fallen out of the national conversation for now. Kansas State is fading fast, like what was expected.

Conference USA

Winners: Tulane, Rice, North Texas, UAB, Tulsa
Tulane and Rice are huge surprises in conference play this season, and are both in play for the CUSA title after huge wins, with Tulane taking out ECU. North Texas is getting better and better, and got a huge road win at MTSU this week. UAB and Tulsa got much needed wins, but they are not in the race, so enjoy the experience now.

Losers: East Carolina, UTSA, Marshall, FAU, Middle Tennessee, FIU, UTEP
East Carolina totally fell apart at the wrong time, getting dumped by Tulane. The Pirates are still in the mix, but this loss should not have happened. Marshall got the win, but they struggled to get there against a weak FAU club. UTSA battled Rice, but fell short. The Runners are two years away I think. Middle Tennessee, FIU, and UTEP are just done.


Winners: Army, BYU
Army needed to beat Eastern Michigan this week, as wins are hard to come by. When you play a team as bad as EMU, and you fall, there is no hope. Army just may have hope now. BYU got cranking against a strong run game in Georgia Tech, and they won by 18, making people take notice this week.

Losers: Navy, Idaho
Navy is a confusing football team to me right now, falling by 4 TDs against Duke. It was a weird loss, and Navy may be in trouble. Idaho is just lucky to be in games, but they weren't this week.


Winners: Central Michigan, Buffalo, UMass, Northern Illinois
CMU got a huge win in conference play, beating an overwhelming favorite in Ohio. Buffalo is the outside candidate when looking for an upset winner of the conference, and trashed WMU 33-0. Northern Illinois' win over Akron (27-20) doesn't look great on paper, but Akron has been getting better, and gets up for big games. UMass got their first win of the year, but likely won't win any others, so there's that.

Losers: Eastern Michigan, Ohio, Western Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Akron, Bowling Green
EMU is just a wreck, and you can expect Ron English's walking papers any time now. Ohio has no excuses for dropping their game to CMU this week, and it may cost them severely at the end of the season. WMU and Miami remain winless this fall, and Akron continues to push, but also continues to fall short. BGSU is great in conference play, but outside of the league, not so much. Remember when Kent State pushed for a BCS bid last fall? It's a distant memory now.

Mountain West

Winners: San Diego State, San Jose State, Wyoming, Boise State, UNLV
Every team on this list this week got a major win that they needed, especially SDSU and SJSU, who are playing for their lives right now. That being said, the major win of the week goes to UNLV, who won their 4th in a row. The Rebels have not beaten an FBS team with a winning record during the streak, but this is a much different look than what we are used to.

Losers: Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State, Hawaii
The only team on this list that I never saw slumping was Utah State, but you now know exactly what Chuckie Keeton meant to this team, and with him out for the season, USU is now 3-4. Matt Wells has got to find a new focal point weapon for his offense, and find someone else to rally around if the season is to be saved. Everyone else on this list is just toast.


Winners: USC, Oregon, Utah, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon State
USC got the huge win of the week by just holding on to beat Arizona. Nobody needed a win as much, and even though it was ugly after the half, USC still got a huge lift to 4-2 with the 38-31 win, after blowing most of a 28-3 lead. Utah gets an even bigger nod, knocking off Stanford, who had been a title contender. The Utes now have a win to build the rest of their season on. Arizona State got the easy win over Colorado, but now needs to beat somebody worth something. The lone national contenders left? UCLA and Oregon, but Oregon has a huge edge. The Bruins could be a real threat in 2014, but I believe that 2015 will be the year when they hit stride.

Losers: Arizona, Washington, Stanford, Colorado, California, Washington
Washington proved to be a pretender by falling to Oregon in a game that was never close. Stanford really tripped up, but has to bounce back quickly with UCLA coming to town this week. Washington State is not ready for the big time yet, and had a massive collapse late in the game after playing neck and neck for almost three quarters. Cal and Colorado are a mess.


Winners: Missouri, South Carolina, Auburn, Alabama
Missouri gets the win of the week in the SEC, taking down Georgia on the road. The Tigers are alive and are now in the drivers seat in the SEC East. Yes, Missouri. South Carolina will be giving chase, and stayed alive with a huge blowout win over Arkansas. Auburn is feeling the changes under Gus Malzahn, but they are not ready to compete with Alabama yet instate. Alabama is still the target at the head of the SEC table, and blew Kentucky out of the building 48-7.

Losers: Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Ole Miss
UGA is now off of the table in the SEC East and nationally, and now you can expect the seat to heat up under Mark Richt, as the haters will begin to hate. Florida is just out of gas now, and has also fallen out of the SEC East race, and likely won't scrap back into it. Miss. State and the Aggies both won, but they certainly looked shaky in doing so. Ole Miss has completely embraced the pretender role in the SEC West.

Sun Belt

Winners: Troy, Arkansas State, UL-Monroe
Every one of these wins were out of desperation this week, with Troy and ULM needing wins to take heat off of their coaching staffs. Arkansas State pounded Idaho, and they should have.

Losers: Georgia State, Texas State
GSU is a mess and will not win a game this season. Texas State had an opportunity in the loss to ULM, but they lost their focus and fell apart at a bad time in the 21-14 loss.

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