Friday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. ET

College Football

Eric Prisbell and Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 5, 2007; 2:00 PM

Eric Prisbell and Marc Carig cover college sports for the Washington Post and were online Friday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions about the college football season.

A transcript of the chat follows.


Eric Prisbell: Welcome back, everyone. It's hard to imagine this week measuring up to last week but maybe it will: There are seven matchups between ranked teams. Kentucky already lost, as I predicted. This could be Shakeup Week in the Big Ten. And who really thought Maryland would win after Steffy got knocked out?

Don't hold back today. Ask anything you want, the crazier the better. I'm in that kind of mood. Fire away.


Marc Carig: Well it's quarterback controversy central in College Park, and I can already see several variations of the Million Dollar Question out there. Let's get started.


College Park, MD: So here's the million dollar question guys, Steffy or Turner?

I've been arguing with my friends about this, and I'm the only one siding with Fridge. I know Turner really ignited the offense last week, and has a better ability to get the ball down the field, but there's not way the O-line is going to give him the kind of time against Georgia Tech that he had against Rutgers. Steffy at least is athletic enough to get a few yards when the pocket collapses even though he looks to run it out against a blitz instead of hitting the hot receiver. Turner is really close to being a capable QB, but against this defense, I think it could be disastrous to allow him to make his first career start tomorrow.

What's your take?

Marc Carig: OK, here are some facts to consider:

1. Jordan Steffy spent half the week watching practice in lieu of actually practicing. And even though he worked a bit toward the end of the week, as of yesterday, doctors still hadn't cleared him for Saturday.

2. Ralph uses the word "questionable" to describe Steffy's status. But in my mind, the above adds up more to "doubtful".

3. And maybe that's not such a bad thing, mostly because the Terps have a bye week next week and does it really make much sense to throw Steffy out there if he's not 100 percent, therefore putting him at risk for a season-ending injury? THAT would be disastrous.

4. Jordan's forte isn't picking up the blitz. Georgia Tech will blitz 3 out of every 4 plays, at least. Meanwhile, Turner picked up blitzes so well against Rutgers that Schiano stopped calling them in the second half.

5. I think it's a pretty easy call: Turner, for lots of reasons.

Eric Prisbell: Both players could have trouble against the blitz. On one hand, I don't like players losing their job because of injury. But this is ACC Football. It's Division I football, in the words of Dan Hawkins. Turner has certainly earned a start.


Rutgers-Cincy: Does Rutgers bounce back this week, or does Cincy give the Scarlet Knights their second straight home loss?

Eric Prisbell: Not sure. The season finally started for Rutgers last week after a three-game preseason. And Rutgers looked like it was still in the preseason in some ways. The Knights could not stop the run at all. Maryland O-line dominated the game. Teel looked pretty good, but players need to hold onto the ball. Cincy has an excellent first-year coach in Brian Kelly and an offense that could give RU some problems, even in Piscataway at night. Rutgers is not a top 10 team, this will show if they are a top 25 team.

Marc Carig: This game comes at a bad time for Rutgers. Cincinnati is a very good football team. They have flown under the radar, but even toward the end of last season, you could see these guys were for real. They're 5-0, they play defense and they force turnovers. Oh yeah, they score 46 ppg. That helps too. The Bearcats hammered Oregon State earlier this season and their schedule hasn't exactly been murderer's row. Of course, you can say that about Rutgers also. Bottom line: Cincy is not the easiest game for a bounce back.


Laurel, Md.: I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I'm concerned about Steffy's practicing with the team if he is not cleared to play. I assume they're taking special precautions?

Marc Carig: Hey Laurel,

I too, am not a doctor, but even if I were, I wouldn't be able to tell what special precautions, if any, have been taken. The Fridge closed practice this week. Boo.

Eric Prisbell: At all levels, football coaches are limiting access more and more in college football. It is frustrating to some extent.


Philadelphia: Why is it that after Auburn's incredible win this past week against Florida (47-yard field goal in the last 3 seconds) that they still aren't being taken seriously as a contender for a top-10 spot this year? They were able to pull it off a few years back and made it to No. 3 when no one thought they could....

Eric Prisbell: I read this question twice just to make sure I understood this correctly. Auburn has two losses. Auburn lost to Miss State. Auburn lost to Mississippi State. Auburn lost to Miss ... (you get the idea)

It's pretty hard to slip into the top 10 in early Oct. with two losses. Plus, Auburn almost lost to Kansas State. I did not rank Auburn in our preseason top 25, and feel good about that. That said, Auburn is capable of a big win here or there, and for that reason, OU's loss surprised me more than Florida's loss.

Marc Carig: Yeah, falling to Sly and the Boys is not exactly the way to punch a ticket into the top 10


Chestnut Hill, Mass.: I know Boston College is No. 7 in the poll, but realistically, do they have any shot of running the table? Is BC the ACC's best chance at a BCS berth?

Eric Prisbell: I was up in Chestnut Hill two weeks ago. Loved the scene up there.

Well, the winner of the ACC title games gets a BCS berth and heads to the orange bowl. BC is underexposed. Too bad. The Eagles are a good team in a conference that is down. The game I circle is the Thursday night game at Virginia Tech. Not many more difficult Thursday night games. Eagles also go to Clemson I think. I don't believe they can run the table. Yet.

Marc Carig: I think Matt Ryan is a great player who in a perfect world would get Heisman consideration. And from what I've seen from BC thus far has been very good,. But Maryland and Clemson on the road down the stretch, and a big game with VT. Don't know if they're going to run the table. But they probably wouldn't have to. The ACC is still winnable.


Rockville, Md.: Who'd win in a race, or fight, or any contest: Marc Carig or Heather Dinich?

Eric Prisbell: Heather wins in Karaoke

Marc wins in a sprint

Pat Stevens wins in duck-duck goose and any contest involving mock brackets on NCAA tourney, NIT tourney or illnesses.

I'm serious.

Marc Carig: I feel like we have to clarify this in a bit. If Dinich is on foot, she wins. She's a freakin marathoner and the last time I ran [from the press box to the media room after the Rutgers game] Maryland AD Debbie Yow was about ready to break out the heart paddles when I came stumbling into the room with my smoker's cough in full throat.

As for a fight, I wouldn't mess with her. One night, I walked out of the team hotel, and she was out on the street, kicking trash cans, smoking a cigarette, and snapping her fingers to music that only she could hear. Yeah, it was scary.

But it's funny you ask because Dinich and I recently had a discussion about which of us is the superior beer pong player. Stevens has agreed to referee, but every time I ask Dinich to set the date for our head-to-head encounter, she runs the other way. And the heck of I'm going to chase her down...


Waldorf, MD: Is the Big East now a top 3 conference with the sudden emergence of USF and Cincy? I think only the SEC and Pac 10 are better and more competitive right now.

Eric Prisbell: Good question. I am higher on the BE than most because I really like the top half of the league. You could make that argument. Not sure I'm ready to, however.

How do you look at Cuse over Louisville? Does it say more about Cuse or Louisville?

How do you look at Colorado over Oklahoma? Does it say more about Colorado or OU?

K-State, Missouri and Nebraska are decent. OU and Texas are still there. I'm tempted to go with the Big 12 at No. 3 over the Big East. The Rutgers loss didn't help. But it is close with Cincy rising.

Marc Carig: I'm with you about the Big East. South Florida and Cincy definitely put them over the top. I've never been a fan of the Big 12 because it seems like it's never as deep as it should be, especially because Colorado and Nebraska had fallen into the abyss in recent years. It's changed a bit now, but the BE has a better top five in my opinion.


North Texas: If you could pick your own football team, would you want Reggie Bush during his Heisman season or Darren McFadden now?

Eric Prisbell: Interesting question. McFadden is probably the best player in the country this year, but Bush in 05 was the best player in recent memory. When he showed up to play, it was like a guy stepped out of a video game. I covered 5 SC games that year and saw Bush jump over people, spin around them, stop on a dime, etc. Few things -- other than the pregame food spread -- get the press box riled up. Bush got the press box riled up with each move. Amazing.

Marc Carig: Reggie was my choice too. In college, he was so far above the rest, and it's not like was surrounded by slouches.


Columbia, S.C.: GAME.....COCKS......GAME.....COCKS!!!

So, I am happy about the South Carolina victory. What do you think about Tebow in LSU? I don't think they can continue to run him like they have -- those hits add up. Plus, LSU has the best defensive line and maybe front seven, in the country. I would not want to run a QB against that.

How would you rank the power in the SEC right now? 1. LSU, 2. Florida, 3. South Carolina???

Eric Prisbell: On the first part, I agree with you. It's not as if Tebow has to protect himself from James Carville. These LSU kids are beasts up front. If Tebow runs like he usually does, he will be bruised. Tebow is tough, but LSU's front seven is pretty tough. I like LSU by at least 10 points.

South Carolina might be the second-best team in the league because they get the Gators at home later in the year. I'm starting to fall for Spurrier's team this year.

Marc Carig: I think it's going to be a tight game. I've gotten the feeling all season that Florida has been a tad overlooked. And last week's loss aside, I think the Gators are better than they get credit for. They should scare LSU pretty good. I mean, I think we've all seen Urban figure out how to crack a defense before...


Rockville, Md.: We're getting Reality Weekend after Upset Saturday. One down, two to go. SC thoroughly exposed Kentucky. USF heads to Cincy -- good luck with that. But Boston College is actually in the worst shape. Its Swiss Cheese secondary goes up against a Bowling Green team that throws 50+ times a game, nearly beat a superior (to BC) Michigan State team and knocked off Minnesota. I'll take 38-30 BGSU for the trifecta.

Eric Prisbell: USF plays Fla. Atlantic this week, right? Unless I totally messed up everything for our Saturday page. Still, i think that will be a test for USF.

You've got a point, though.

USF and BC also have tough Thursday night road games against ranked teams this month. USF plays at Rutgers Oct. 18; BC plays at V-Tech. I don't know if USF or BC can finish in the top 10.

Marc Carig: A daring pick. That's what I like...


Seattle: What do you think about USC dropping? Was it warranted? Seems like a team that can overcome their own poor play, on the road against a formidable opponent, in cold , rainy conditions shouldn't drop.

Guess it doesn't really matter though, as long as you stay at No. 2.


Eric Prisbell: I did not like it. USC did not play a I-AA team Saturday. They played a pretty good Washington team in rainy Seattle. And LSU did not dominate Saturday against Tulane, at least early on. I thought USC deserved to keep the No. 1 tag.

That said, USC did almost everything it could to lose that game. And the schedule is very tough from here on out. Road games at Cal and Oregon and Arizona State. Injuries are also starting to mount for SC. If SC finishes undefeated, they will certainly have deserved it.

Marc Carig: As you hinted in the end of your comment: DOES THIS REALLY MATTER? No. 1/No. 2: All the same at this point.


Charlottesville, Va.: I'm ashamed to say this, but I like Flute in the Thursday night booth. He's very honest, quick to criticize, and brings some legitimacy to the booth that Herbstreet doesn't. I just hope he doesn't get all homerish during the BC/VT game.

Eric Prisbell: I like both Doug and Herbstreit. But nothing says big, fun, crazy game more than Musburger.

Marc Carig: Flutie is pretty good, seems natural. But yeah, if he goes all homer on us, my opinion would definitely change.


Georgetown: Schools like Boston College do not produce undefeated, Top-10 football teams. As Tom O'Brien said, the best you can do is 8 or 9 wins. Look at their schedule. At ND, at VT, vs. FSU, at Maryland, at Clemson, vs. Miami. They'll finish 8-4, wind up in the Boise bowl, and we'll wonder why we wasted our time talking about them.

Eric Prisbell: I tend to agree, but they are worth talking about now because BC is one of the bigger stories in early October.

Marc Carig:'Tis exactly what I said earlier... they have plenty of road blocks left.


Sarasota, Fla.: Not to play group psychologist, but do you think the continued blame that Irish fans direct toward Ty Willingham for the state of the program is in part because they're masking anxiety about Charlie Weis? The school bet the farm on Weis when it gave the guy a huge contract. Yes, he's bringing in the recruits, but that's less than half the battle, especially these days. His coaching for this season, up until a couple of weeks ago, was terrible.

Eric Prisbell: A lot of psychologist talk this week. I like it, and probably need one.

Lots of good points and I mostly agree. Ty will continue to take blame for years, it seems. I locked myself out of my house for the second time in one day and blamed Ty. Weis was billed as an offensive guru and this is one of the worst offensive teams in the country. Recruiting well is great, but player development counts for a lot as well. if Weis gets a pass this year, next year will be important for fans to see significant progress with players.

Marc Carig: Good call. This whole situation has been an exercise in misplaced anger, hasn't it? Of course, I'm a bit biased here. ND screwed Ty and they deserve what they're getting for committing when he was nowhere close to proving that he was worth keeping for 37 years, or however long that stupid contract is.


Arlington, Va.: Is there ANY hope for Penn State this Saturday? They collapse against Michigan, then they collapse against Illinois. Will the Nittany Lions finally get some redemption this weekend against Iowa?

Eric Prisbell: I think so because, in short, it is in Happy Valley and against Iowa, a big disappointment.

Marc Carig: Yeah, home game always helps, and it's not like Iowa is super scary right now.


Honolulu, Hawaii: So, with about half the season gone and a 5-0 record, Hawaii is ranked higher than it has ever been. Is this for real, with validity from a true national perspective? And, how about Colt Brennan?

Eric Prisbell: Thanks for the question, Honolulu.

Hawaii is a very good offensive team that has a great chance to go undefeated if it can beat UW and Boise. That said, the schedule is weak. I talked to June Jones about this before the season and he said he did his best to schedule a tough team or two but no one wanted to play. One team even paid Hawaii money to back out.

I really like Colt as a quarterback and stay up late Saturday night to keep up with his touchdown passes via Internet. That said, I was alarmed by the five interception game against Idaho. I would love to see Colt and those WR match up against a great defense, but that probably won't happen this year.

Marc Carig: Honestly, I'm not saying this because I went to Nevada: But Hawaii visits the Wolf Pack on Nov. 16. And if history holds true, the Warriors will lose. Hawaii never travels well, just the geographic reality of things. Colt Brennan is awesome and he's got some good receivers to work with. And I'm happy that they are getting some national attention. But it happens every year: Hawaii loses a game on the mainland that, on paper, it shouldn't.


College Football Announcers:"But nothing says big, fun, crazy game more than Musburger.."

You mean since Keith Jackson retired, of course. Still miss that man. Oh Nellie!!

Eric Prisbell: you're right about that. Keith was the best, no question.

Marc Carig: I said this a few weeks ago: I get goose bumps when Keith Jackson is talking on those GATORADE commercials!


Rockville, Md.: Does Maryland start a winning streak this weekend?

Eric Prisbell: i think so, but i was wrong last week.

Marc Carig: Totally possible, assuming that the Terps are healthy.


Washington, DC: Is the winner of OU-Texas still in the thick of the National Championship hunt, or are all of the Big 12 teams longshots at this point?

Eric Prisbell: The winner is still in the mix, but will need a lot of help. One of the problems is that there are no other really big games in the Big 12. I am not a true believer in Kansas. The USC-Cal winner and the SEC champ are favorites to reach New Orleans at this point. Wisconsin-OSU could shake things up as well.

Marc Carig: I would imagine they would still be in the hunt, just because I don't think we're going to see a bunch of unbeatens this year. We'll be picking from one-loss teams, so why wouldn't Texas or Oklahoma figure in?


Detroit: I know MSU blew it against Wisconsin with bad penalties and awful playcalling down the stretch, but I was impressed by the way they came back in the 4th quarter. I think Dantonio can have this team contending for the Big Ten title in a year or two. Thoughts?

Eric Prisbell: I think so. He's a heck of a coach. Cincy lost a good one, but also got a good one. The Big Ten is in a bit of a transition. Illinois looking strong in the future. Indiana looks bowl-bound. MSU is on the rise. Wisconsin is in good hands. What happens at Michigan? Iowa not as good as most expect. Purdue has a strong offense and a junior quarterback in Painter.

Marc Carig: MSU has already looked a lot sharper than in the last few years of John L's reign. Spartans will reap the benefits for perhaps the best coaching hire in the country last offseason.


Raleigh, N.C.: So Florida will drop out of the top 10 this weekend after it loses to LSU. And Kentucky drops out of the top 10. Where will South Carolina end up come Monday? While I liked getting the win over the No. 8 team in the country last night, I don't think Kentucky deserves to be that high in the polls.

Eric Prisbell: South Carolina should be in the top 10 on Sunday. There should be room because Wisconsin has a great chance to go down.

Marc Carig: Definitely in the top 10. No. 5 Wisconsin vs. Illinois= trap game for the badgers.


South Bend, Ind.: So does Notre Dame beat the spread tomorrow?

Eric Prisbell: Not sure what the spread is, but I like UCLA by 14-17 points.

Marc Carig: this is for entertainment purposes only, right?


Tampa, Fla.: What do you think about Nick Saban's comments about South Florida? He does have a point about academic standards, but isn't he preaching from the wrong pulpit? Alabama isn't exactly Harvard, and I'm certain that a number of 'Tide student athletes find a way to slide through the admissions process.

Eric Prisbell: He tends to put his foot in his mouth a little too much, to be honest.

South Florida and Jim Leavitt has built the program from the ground up 11 years ago. Leavitt should be applauded. He and the Bulls are one of the best stories of the year in the sport. It would be great to see USF get a shot at a national title, but the system is not in their favor.

Marc Carig: Nothing makes me cringe more than college football coaches debating academic standards.


Cannoli, USA: What's the best meal you've ever eaten in a press box? The worst?

Eric Prisbell: I shy away from most of the food because I'm in getting-in-shape-mode, which is hard during the season.

That said, I can't really remember a really good one.

Want bad? Norfolk, Nebraska, where I was watching Rashard Carruth play for a story in 2004. The food was beyond bad. They had a contest at halftime where the winner would receive a free Whopper each day for a year. Fortunately, I lost.

NCAA tourney food is usually dreadful and puts 10 pounds on me in two weeks.

Marc Carig: Best: At Boston College last year. Legal Sea Foods and their Clam Chowder. It was awesome.

Worst: NCAA Tournament. Every site featured the same crappy buffet of lettuce sandwhiches and stale potato chips.


Arlington, Va.: Why oh why is the Red River Shootout not being broadcast nationwide? Instead we in the mid-Atlantic get to watch Florida State try to lose against N.C. State.

Eric Prisbell: Are you serious? I'd rather watch Rachel Ray reruns than those games in the afternoon time slot. That's when I'll hit the gym.

Marc Carig: I bet Rachel Ray runs for a buck-fifty and three scores. Thoughts?


Greenbelt, Md.: What's the over/under on the number of empty backfield sets that Fridge will call the rest of this season?

Marc Carig: We'd have a better chance of seeing the Terps line up in the Notre Dame Box.


Wappingers Falls, N.Y.: Will Notre Dame keep scoring at UCLA or will they return to their nonexistent offense?

Eric Prisbell: Depends on a few things.

Which UCLA team will show up? The Bruins are one of the harder teams to figure out nationally.

Sharpley generated some offense for ND last week. He is probably one of the few players on the team right now with some confidence. If he plays, i could see the Irish moving the ball some.

Bottom line, there is a big difference in speed in this game and i will go with the faster team that plays in an excellent conference.

Marc Carig: Even if UCLA in disarray shows up, Notre Dame would well to stay in the game. Bottom line, this is just the latest stop in Notre Dame slow train to 0-8.


Eric Prisbell: Ok, everyone, thanks for the questions. See everyone next week after another string of upsets.


Marc Carig: I think we got all the questions. Thanks for jumping on again, See you in a few weeks. And if anybody sees Dinich, tell her that my beer pong challenge stands. I'm waiting...


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