Friday, December 13, 2002
Weekend wrap-up: High praise for Toledo
By Terry Bowden
Special to BCSfootball.com
Bowden's Weekly Chat Show
Every Saturday throughout the season, ABC studio analyst Terry Bowden will weigh in his assessment of the day's games, the highlights, the lowlights and the surprises.
Three Game Balls:
The first game ball has to go to the entire team and coaching staff at Toledo University. Here's a team that was picked to win the MAC, but were the Rockets picked to beat Penn State in State College, Pa.? No. Not only did Toledo beat them, but the Rockets beat them up. They beat up Penn State's offense, they beat up the Lions defense, they beat up their special teams, and if you had 22 game balls, everybody would get one.
Bob Davie: Here's a guy that is in the toughest pressure-cooker in America as the head coach of Notre Dame. Many people, including myself, have predicted that he will have a hard time surviving this year. So what does he do? He takes his team and beats a Top 25 opponent 24-10, and pumped some confidence into these Irish players. He still has to win at least two out of his first four to be on track and stay at Notre Dame, but after what we saw today, you'd have to say he has a chance.
Bret Engemann, quarterback, BYU: You have to take your hat off to this young man. He opened up the season against Florida State and got knocked around by the Seminoles defense. He then travels to Virginia and finds himself down 21-0 at halftime. From there, he goes out and has a night to remember: 34-of-41 for 416 yards and two touchdowns. A week ago, LaVell Edwards was quoted as saying, "We may have some problems on this team, but it's not going to be at quarterback." I know now what he meant by that. This young man, who is the brother-in-law of television host Larry King, is the next great quarterback at BYU.
Surprises of the day:
|Toledo quarterback Tavares Bolden leads a very good Rockets offense into Western Michigan.|
DeShaun Foster, tailback, UCLA: Foster took the Alabama defense, which was supposed to get the Crimson Tide to the FedEx Orange Bowl, and ran over them, around them and through them. With 42 carries for 187 yards, he looks like the real deal. I still say the Pac-10 is not going to have a national champion until its teams start playing better defense, but for the second week in a row, the West Coast offense has been better than the East Coast defense.
John Navarre, unknown redshirt freshman QB of Michigan: As you know, Drew Henson got hurt right before the season, and is expected to miss anywhere from three weeks to three months. Michigan, all of a sudden, went from my favorite to win the Big Ten to no better than second. Then I watched John Navarre play an obviously overmatched Bowling Green team. He only threw four touchdown passes, more than any quarterback has ever thrown for the Wolverines in their debut. Michigan went from no quarterback to two. And I would suggest to Henson that he rehabilitate that foot pretty fast, or else Navarre's numbers may get so big that Drew will have to stick to hitting a baseball.
West Virginia: West Virginia had a 4-7 season last season and Don Nehlen is getting criticized all over the state. What a way to come back and play. I thought West Virginia would win because the game was at home against Boston College, but to win 34-14 and win easily, had to be a thrill for veteran Coach Nehlen. One of these teams is going to get back into the bowl picture this year, and after today's performance, I think it's going to be West Virginia.
Michael Vick: Virginia Tech had an easy game against Akron, but Michael Vick, along with Drew Brees, is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. His chances of winning that award are not just about Virginia Tech, it's about personal stats, and he sure had those today. Not only did he throw for 186 yards and two touchdowns, he also ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns. I don't know if Michael Vick is going to win the Heisman (I picked Drew Brees), but if he can become the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000, then nobody's going to touch him.
Ohio State: Ohio State helped itself a lot by doing what a team like Ohio State is supposed to do -- beat a team you are supposed to beat and beat them easily. The reason this is important is because the Buckeyes went 6-6 last year by not beating teams that they were supposed to beat. Although its offense still needs to get better, you have to say Ohio State is back and challenging for the Big Ten championship.
The Pac-10: All we heard in the off-season was how bad the Pac-10 is, how bad its teams looked against non-conference opponents, how bad they looked in the bowl games, how weak the conference is. In the last seven days, USC has knocked off Penn State. Now the No. 3 team in the nation visits the Rose Bowl, and UCLA, who is not even ranked in the Top 25, beats 'Bama to send the Tide home, out of the National Championship picture. We've still got a lot of big games for the Pac-10 in the month of September alone, but after these two games, you would have to say that things are looking up on the West Coast.
Joe Paterno: Last week, the Penn State football team hurt itself by losing to Southern Cal. This week, the Nittany Lions hurt Joe Paterno because, at 73, he's supposed to be enjoying the twilight of his career: 10 or 11-win seasons, easy victories, enjoying time on the sidelines. Now he may be faced with the biggest, most difficult season in his long and storied career.
There needs to be two tongue-lashings this week. One needs to go to those players and the second needs to go to his coaches. At 73, you have to wonder if JoePa will make the drastic changes or decisions he will need to make to get this program on the right track. He might have to sit some players. He might have to chastise some assistant coaches. But if something is not done, Penn State may be looking at its second losing season in 62 years.
Virginia Tech's defense: I know it was an easy victory for Virginia Tech and I know Michael Vick looked like a million dollars, but the Hokies got to the National Championship last year by having the best scoring defense in America. I'm afraid that's not what I saw against Akron. The Akron Zips scored 23 points and totaled 408 yards of offense. And, my friends, that's more than Virginia Tech gave up in any game during the regular season last year. This wasn't Miami, but unless they get a lot stingier, Virginia Tech will be playing for second place in the Big East.
Terry Bowden is ABC's college football studio analyst and hosts a weekly audio chat on BCSfootball.com on Thursdays at 5 p.m. ET.