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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How My Top 25 Fared This Weekend, Plus Another Ron Zook Rant

Sorry I've waited until Tuesday to react to this weekend's events (my breakdown of the Bears roster plus mild moping over Kevin Jones' injury to come later today), I was, however, turning 21 years of age and celebrating all that that entails, so f*&k you, you don't own me, and I'm not sorry at all.

Anywho, how my top 25 fared this weekend-

#1 Florida 62, Charleston Southern 3. That was to be expected.

#2 Texas 59, Louisiana Monroe 20. Mildly concerned about allowing 20 points? Not really.

#3 Oklahoma 13, BYU 14. This one's a shocker in many ways. The saddest thing about this game is what may have happened to the future of Sam Bradford. He's elected Not to have surgery on his injured shoulder, and he's currently expected to be out for 2-4 weeks. If he's off his game when he returns, not only will Oklahoma's season be dead in the water, his nearly sure-fire status as the #1 pick in the draft will be kaput. For his sake I hope he comes back strong. Great showing by the BYU defense, though, even without Bradford.

#4 USC 56, San Jose State 3. Well that's nice. They reload with a true freshman quarterback and come out looking like the same leviathan of doom as always. Obviously the game against Ohio State this week will be the true indicator of whether or not this team will be successful, but I have no problem going out on that limb and saying that Ohio State's getting its ass kicked.

#5 Ole Miss 45, Memphis 14. Well, for at least one week my confidence in them (the AP had them at #8) is rewarded.

#6 Ohio State 31, Navy 27. I'm really not going to act shocked that Navy played them so well, or act like anyone should be concerned for Ohio State. Navy's a well coached, hard fighting ball club that runs a difficult triple option offense that few know how to defend well. They'll be alright. They're still getting their asses kicked on Saturday, but they should run the table after that.

#7 Virginia Tech 24, #8 Alabama 34. Shit. I said in my preview that Alabama had too many questions on offense for me to rank them at #5 like the AP did. And I predicted that VT would knock them off. Fail one for me. Alabama looks dangerous if they can score as consistently as they did against a typically stout Frank Beamer defense.

#9 Penn State 31, Akron 7. I have tickets to the Illinois-Penn State game on October 3rd. I was optimistic that Illinois could take them in Champaign. That optimism is dying. Fast.

#10 Oklahoma State 24, #13 Georgia 10. I wasn't quite expecting the low score in this game, but I'm more than confident Zac Robinson will straighten the kinks out of his game on offense, and I'm impressed (but not too impressed with Georgia's offense being a work in progress) with the Cowboys' defense. I'm sure they were all salivating as their potential for making a BCS bowl shot straight up as Sam Bradford was crumpled to the turf.

#11 Oregon 8, #12 Boise State 19. There are meltdowns, and then there are the Britney Spears shaving herself bald style meltdowns similar to what Oregon experienced on opening night. Their biggest concern going into the season was how well their new offensive line would play, and the pants shitting was epic. They couldn't block a damn thing all night, and Boise State made them look like they were moving in slow motion. They lost their star tailback for the season after he lost his cool and cold cocked a Boise State player after the game. They're screwed. Boise State's defense looked pretty solid, though. So they'll be rising.

#14 Cal 52, Maryland 14. Wow. I did not expect Cal to issue a thumping of this magnitude on opening night. The battle for the Pac 10 just got very interesting, even with Oregon looking completely inept.

#15 Georgia Tech 37, Jacksonville State 17. 'Cuz I'm a rambling man from Georgia and A HELL OF AN ENGINEER!

#16 Nebraska 49, Florida Atlantic 3. My biggest reach of the Top 25 (AP- #24), so far they look as good as I expected. I see big things for Pelini's crew in year two. (Big things= soft Big 12 North schedule+ass raping at the hands of Texas in Big 12 title game).

#17 LSU 31, Washington 23. I understand Washington has a new staff and a healthy Jake Locker back to make them a much improved team from last year's winles squad, but LSU should have looked better. We'll see.

#18 Cincinnati 47, Rutgers 15. My Big East favorite comes out looking strong. Rutgers is still struggling in the post-Ray Rice era.

#19 North Carolina 40, Citadel 6. Not really much to say here.

#20 NC State 3, South Carolina 7. Uggh. Dana Bible (NC State's Offensive Coordinator) really sucks at his job. They're gone.

#21 Utah 35, Utah State 17. Solid effort for the Utes.

#22 Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 16. I was listening to this game on the radio in Des Moines, trying to will UNI to victory. They came damn close, having their 40 yard GW field goal attempt blocked....twice. For Iowa, this is extremely concerning. They've already lost their starting runningback for the year and failed to run the ball effectively, and they struggled defensively when UNI spread it out. I've had a hunch for a while that they could have trouble in Aimes against an Iowa State team with a new spread offense and the very mobile Austin Arnaud at quarterback, and it's only getting stronger.

#23 Notre Dame 35, Nevada 0. The 35 points on offense aren't surprising, and maybe even a little low against a weak WAC defense, but the shut out is really surprising against a Nevada offense lead by returning quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I hate to say it, but ND could be making a BCS run this year. (They'll still get their asses handed to them when they get there).

#24 Oregon State 34, Portland State 7. Fair enough.

#25 Illinois 9, Missouri 37. Fuck. FUCK. My homer pick for #25 was supposed to be grounded in some optimism, with so many returning starters on offense, a new offensive coordinator, and adding a second target for Juice in Florida transfer Jarred Fayson, things were looking good for the Illini. Beat Missouri and Illinois State, tread water against Ohio State and Penn State and start 2-2 at worst, then hit a softer conference schedule. Instead this team came out and just shat the bed against Mizzou. They lost their top two runningbacks (one before the game), and arguably the nation's best receiver in the first quarter. They were sloppy and shot themselves in the foot over and over again (Juice's interception which went straight through his receivers hands was typical).

This team, once again, wins and loses solely on talent alone, as the mistakes are always plentiful. I wish I could act like it was just first game jitters and that Zook will clamp down on those mistakes, but he's shown no inclination in any of the previous four seasons to do that. I won't deny his incredible talent for recruiting, and I don't blame him one bit for his 4-19 start at Illinois after how utterly barren Ron Turner left the program, but the only thing that kept Illinois from a bowl game last year was itself. Hell, lost in the euphoria of 2007's Rose Bowl run was the fact that penalties, turnovers, and other easily avoided mental mistakes cost that team wins against Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri.

Ignoring Penn State and Ohio State, this team has four games left that it Should win (Illinois State, at Indiana, at Purdue, Michigan). It has at least five others where they should at least go 2-3 (Michigan State, at Minnesota, Northwestern, at Cincinnati, Fresno State). Even if they lose both to OSU and PSU (and they probably will), that should make them 6-6 and bowl eligible. If that doesn't happen, Zook's ass had better at least be on the hot seat. They can't make the mistake of hanging onto a coach for too long based on one lucky BCS run, like they did with Turner.

My new Top 25-
#1 (-) Florida
#2 (-) Texas
#3 (+1)USC
#4 (+1) Ole Miss
#5 (+3) Alabama
#6 (-) Ohio State
#7 (+2) Penn State
#8 (+2) Oklahoma State
#9 (+5) Cal
#10 (+2) Boise State
#11 (+4) Georgia Tech
#12 (-5) Virginia Tech
#13 (-10) Oklahoma
#14 (+2) Nebraska
#15 (+2) LSU
#16 (+2) Cincinnati
#17 (+2) North Carolina
#18 (+5) Notre Dame
#19 (+2) Utah
#20 (+4) Oregon State
#21 (-8) Georgia
#22 (NR) BYU
#23 (NR) Miami
#24 (NR) Michigan State
#25 (NR) Missouri

Dropped out- Oregon (11), NC State (20), Iowa (22), Illinois (25)

Some Notes- Yes, Oklahoma is ranked over BYU even though BYU beat them. They'll be better with a week to prepare for not having Sam Bradford, and when he comes back they'll be a threat in the Big 12 again, although their national title hopes are probably shot. Iowa won, but their poor showing drops them out (as well as the fact that they will lose to Iowa State. I HAVE SPOKEN). Illinois falls out because they suck. BYU and Miami get in for impressive showings against what were AP ranked teams. Michigan State gets in because they probably should have been there already. Missouri gets in because their defense looks improved and Blaine Gabbert actually looks like he may be an improvement over Chase Daniel with his stronger arm.

Bears update to come later today. I swear.

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