First ... Kudos to the UCLA Bruins. I expected their talented offense, led by DeShaun Foster, to put in a great performance. What I didn't expect was the awesome show by the defense. The highs and lows the Bruins have experienced the last two years have produced a lot of desire; that desire was witnessed first hand by the Crimson Tide last Saturday.
And 10. It will be interesting to see how Alabama responds after all eyes were on them to win. All the expectation and hype, with 35,000 'Bama fans going out to UCLA for the game, everybody assuming they were going to win that game, and then coming back home and getting ready for a great year in the SEC -- they've certainly put the breaks on pretty hard. Rebounding from the loss to UCLA is really going to test the Tide's leadership and character. The coaching staff has to keep them focused. Even though they lost that game, they can still go out and do some great things this year. Any time a team gets a lot of hype and loses early, it can wreck it for the whole year. It'll be interesting to see how the Tide responds against a Vanderbilt team they should be able to control.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit's weekly First ... And 10 column takes you around college football with a look at one of the big topics of the week first followed by 10 quick observations to get you ready for the football weekend.
9. The Toledo Rockets not only beat Penn State, they dominated them. If you only heard the score (24-6), you may have thought Penn State had given them the game, or that the Rockets got a lot of breaks or turnovers. Not so. This game was physically dominated by Toledo -- in the trenches and on both sides of the ball. It's mind boggling to think Toledo could do that. It's third-and-4, and they're running toss sweeps; not doing anything tricky, just lining up and going right at the Lions. And they came out with a victory.
8. Penn State lost wide receiver Chafie Fields and quarterback Kevin Thompson, but they returned everybody else on offense. So, I cannot figure out what is going on with their offense. Tailback Larry Johnson made a horrible decision and complained to the press about the predictability and lack of imagination in the Lions offense. They're predictable because they don't have any weapons at wide receiver. They're a possession passing game, mixed with a pretty vanilla ground game. In the past, they've always had one or two receivers who kept you honest and enough power and talent at running back to keep you off balance. I still think their defense is solid and could play better. But the lack of a consistent passing game has made the Lions unable to get it going. JoPa said the comments made by Johnson only show that his kids care and want to win. For one of the players, not to mention a coach's son (Johnson's father is the Penn State defensive line coach), to question the offense is an uncomfortable situation. I'm sure everybody is frustrated; anytime you start 0-2 at a prestigious program like Penn State it has to be tough. But if you want to show you care, do it behind closed doors. You need to be mature enough to go to the coach and your teammates with your concerns. Keep it out of the press.
7. If you didn't know any better, you'd think Michael Vick was going to be elected in November. It's unbelievable how much hype there is surrounding this kid: Every magazine, every preseason show, every time someone has talked about college football in 2000, they've talked Michael Vick. And he's worth every minute of it. Vick possesses an uncanny ability to block out the distractions; to go out, have fun and play football. We didn't get to see it against Georgia Tech, but against Akron it was the same old Vick; he was running and throwing and his arm looked even stronger if that's possible. I know it was "only" Akron, but he's in a situation where he's expected to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 yards every game. That's a lot to live up to. You could tell after the first series he was back in his comfort zone. He ran for two TDs and threw for 102 yards and two TDs. There is a lot of football left to play, but I think he will continue to demonstrate not only the physical ability but a mental toughness. Vick is exceptionally talented on so many different levels, but his best attribute is the way he's able to handle pressure.
6. At the beginning of the year I picked Miami and Nebraska to go to the Orange Bowl, realizing that Miami's biggest challenge early would be this game against a talented Washington team. Miami's defense is going to challenge Marques Tuiasosopo because the Huskies don't have any legitimate threats at wide receiver. The 'Canes corners are going to try to lock down Washington's possession receivers, and then play a lot of people up tight to try to stop Tuiasosopo's ability to run and throw. Miami will be lightning quick on defense and the turf will work to the advantage of their offense. Santana Moss is going to make a lot of big plays, and look for Najeh Davenport and James Jackson in the backfield at the same time -- these guys compliment each other really well.
5. If they haven't been already, Miami will get noticed this weekend in Seattle. They opened up a few eyes against McNeese State, but this game will prove they are a legitimate contender. The big issue for Miami will be the play of quarterback Ken Dorsey. This is his first real test and it comes on the road where cadence will be an issue. Dorsey has more talent around him than anyone in the country, but he'll need to stay focused on the weapons available to him. He just needs to get the ball to those guys and avoid silly mistakes. How Dorsey plays will dictate if Miami gets out of Washington with a win. It doesn't get any easier for the 'Canes. Even if they beat the Huskies, they have the ultimate sandwich game coming up when they play at West Virginia the week after they go to Washington and a week before they go to Florida State. Scary.
4. Even though things didn't go perfectly for Notre Dame last week, it showed it's an improved team from a year ago. The Irish have the offensive skill to be able to challenge Nebraska. Arnaz Battle will have to throw the ball very well. If he can do that, they'll be able to get some drives going. Playing at home and being a big underdog is a huge psychological advantage for Bob Davie's squad. Don't be surprised if the Irish make things interesting. Nebraska's ability on offense to wear a team down is more than significant. The ball control, mixed with play-action passes thrown to Tracey Wistrom and Bobby Newcombe, along with running the option with Eric Crouch and Dan Alexander will eventually be too much for Notre Dame. But expect a very good effort from the Irish.
3. This is a big weekend for the Pac-10. The conference is off to a great start with wins by UCLA and USC. This week they have a chance to make a bold statement with Oregon at Wisconsin; Ohio State at Arizona; Colorado vs. USC at the Coliseum; and Miami at Washington. The conference has a good chance to win the USC game, but has its work cut out for it in the other three. How they perform in the Oregon, Arizona and Washington games will dictate whether we say the Pac-10 is back, or if the first couple of games were an aberration.
2. There has been a lot of complaining in different circles after two weeks of the college football season. Keep in mind, this is not the NFL. These kids have only had three weeks of two-a-days to get ready for these games. A lot of teams are going to look sloppy the first week. Give them a chance to go back to the film room and get ready for the next week. Teams always improve in the second and third games. Be careful not to judge an entire season on a first impression.
1. Upset Alert! Relax. I'm not saying these are done deals; but the potential for an upset does exist. Auburn at Ole Miss: The Tigers passing attack could shock the Rebels.
Wisconsin at Oregon: The diversity of the Ducks offense could keep the Badgers off balance. Georgia at South Carolina: A Gamecock defense that was 20th in the country a year ago could give the 'Dogs fits in Columbia.
Kirk Herbstreit is a football analyst on College Gameday and his First ... And 10 will run every Friday.
|The Tide must pick itself up off the turf this week after getting rolled by UCLA in their opener.|
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The College Game Day crew makes their picks.