Even many relatively unrestrained fans know better than to put much stock in a single week of a college football season.
But what about two weeks? Hoo-boy, take it away Tom!
Yes, it’s “jump to conclusions” time around the sport. Time to assess some plausible knee-jerk reactions before September’s midpoint arrives.
Herm Edwards already has it going at Arizona State. Settle down a bit. The Sun Devils (2-0) deserve credit for out-Michigan Stating Michigan State in their 16-13 victory Saturday, a truly impressive feat against a program known for thriving in low-scoring games. And Arizona State’s run defense is off to a stellar start, which is always a welcome sign. At the same time, it’s merely two games. Let’s see how things go with trips to San Diego State and Washington up next.
Michigan State was overhyped. With the Arizona State loss (which included a squandered 13-3 lead in the fourth quarter) and a sluggish opener against Utah State, the inclination is to say this is probably true. The Spartans will still probably end up with eight or nine wins, though.
Dan Mullen is doomed at Florida. Come on, the man won consistently at Mississippi State, which was no easy task in a stretch when three schools in the SEC West (Alabama, Auburn and Louisiana State) played for national titles. There was nothing good coming from losing to Kentucky for the first time since 1986, but it was always going to take time to fix things in Gainesville.
Willie Taggart is doomed at Florida State. The Seminoles’ gift for getting in their own way at Samford wasn’t a great look. Also, in a sentence never uttered before, Florida State’s vulnerable defense is going to get a serious test at Syracuse on Saturday. But much like predecessor Jimbo Fisher, Taggart has to fix an offensive line that’s been erratic for a few years now. Solve that (and it probably won’t happen this year), and the Seminoles could be a top-10 team again pretty quickly.
Kevin Sumlin is doomed at Arizona. This might actually be true. At the very least, the Wildcats’ lifeless 0-2 start and the ineffectiveness of quarterback Khalil Tate haven’t done Sumlin any favors in his new job — especially with Edwards creating excitement elsewhere in the state.
Scott Frost’s honeymoon at Nebraska is over. Not in the slightest. After years of four-loss seasons with a scowling coach followed by a lack of traction in three seasons under one of the sport’s nicest people, Frost arrived in Lincoln with the benefit of (a) being a Nebraska alum and (b) leading Central Florida to an undefeated season just last year.
The Cornhuskers let one get away last weekend against Colorado, no question. But Nebraska wasn’t going to leap to the top of the Big Ten West this year. Besides, it could be worse. …
Purdue’s not taking another leap forward this season. If the Boilermakers keep turning over the ball, it definitely isn’t happening. They are minus-4 in that category (tied for 121st nationally) after losses to Northwestern (understandable) and Eastern Michigan (less so), and the back half of their season-opening four-game homestand (against Missouri and Boston College) isn’t forgiving. Other troubling early rankings: Just 109th in red zone offense and 119th in fewest penalty yards per game.
Texas is stuck in neutral. One quick look at the Longhorns’ numbers reveals they’re not exceptional at much — tied for 22nd in red zone defense, 29th in third-down conversion defense. They lost a winnable opener against Maryland, then plodded through a defeat of Tulsa. A final determination on Texas will come sooner than other teams; it will face Southern Cal, TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma over the next four weeks.
Kellen Mond is for real. Sure seems that way, doesn’t it? The Texas A&M sophomore threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 28-26 loss to Clemson. As a point of comparison, here’s the full list of quarterbacks before Mond who throw for 350 yards against Clemson since defensive coordinator Brent Venables arrived in 2012
|Mike Glennon||N.C. State, 2012||493, 5||L, 62-48||73rd overall (2013)|
|Jameis Winston||Florida St., 2013||444, 3||W, 51-14||1st overall (2015)|
|E.J. Manuel||Florida St., 2012||380, 2||W, 49-37||16th overall (2013)|
Those are three pretty good college quarterbacks. Throw in new Aggies Coach Jimbo Fisher’s history of developing quarterbacks, and things look good for Mond moving forward.
Chad Morris needs some time at Arkansas. Affirmative, but that seemed obvious even before the season, let alone before last week’s loss at Colorado State. Whether he needs time or not, a three-game stretch against Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama looms starting Sept. 22, and it probably won’t be fun for the Razorbacks.
The last undefeated team in the AAC might be … Cincinnati? That’s a stretch in a league with Central Florida, Houston and South Florida, but it’s not impossible given the Bearcats’ defense and their schedule. Cincinnati yielded 17 points at UCLA and then shut out Miami of Ohio, and its slate through the end of October — Alabama A&M, Ohio, at Connecticut, Tulane, at Temple and at SMU — steers clear of the top teams in the AAC.
Of course, an offense ranked 121st nationally in yardage needs work, but the vastly improved defense suggests the Bearcats will blow past their victory total from last year (four) by mid-October, if not sooner.
Five games to watch
No. 5 Oklahoma at Iowa State (Saturday, noon, ABC): The Sooners suffered their only regular season loss last season against Iowa State, their first in the series since 1990. The Cyclones haven’t won back-to-back games against Oklahoma since 1960-61. Oh, and the Sooners have looked exceptional the first two weeks of the season. Of course, no one saw Iowa State’s upset victory coming last year, either.
No. 17 Boise State at No. 24 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN): The visiting Broncos (2-0) have crushed Troy on the road and humiliated Connecticut, 62-7, on the famous blue turf. This week’s trip to Stillwater is arguably the biggest obstacle between Boise State and an undefeated regular season. It’s the first real test for the Cowboys (2-0) after they crushed Missouri State and South Alabama to open the year.
No. 12 LSU at No. 7 Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS): The home team has won five in a row and eight of the last nine in this tangle of Tigers in the SEC West. The last time they met on the Plains, an 18-13 Auburn victory preceded longtime coach Les Miles’s firing. For this year’s purposes, both teams recorded neutral-site victories in Week 1 (Auburn over Washington, LSU over Miami), and the winner this week should emerge as Alabama’s biggest divisional threat.
No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 15 TCU in Arlington, Tex. (Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC): The Buckeyes didn’t miss suspended Coach Urban Meyer against either Oregon State or Rutgers. Maybe that will change with this trip to JerryWorld to take on a Horned Frogs bunch that’s far more imposing. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has completed 42 of 53 passes for 546 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception over his first two career starts.
No. 10 Washington at Utah (Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPN): This isn’t an easy Pac-12 road opener for the Huskies, who fell to Auburn in Week 1 and then led FCS school North Dakota by 14 points with 20 minutes left before dominating the final third of the game last week. Utah (2-0), perennially a tough defensive team, could have some answers for Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and Co.