Friday, September 13, 2013

The Rematch We've All Been Waiting For- It's Your Week 3 College Football Talk With Chooch

Quick thought to start this week’s column- Thursday night NFL sucks. Let’s take a look back at Week 2.

Week 2 Review

More misery at the Big House: Devin Gardner becomes just the latest Michigan quarterback to be a major thorn in Notre Dame’s side. The Irish did a great job bottling up Michigan’s running backs, but could not prevent the elusive and surprisingly polished Gardner from leading the Wolverines to a 41-30 victory. Senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon also caused the Irish major headaches, adding over 150 yards in the air and 3 touchdowns. The Notre Dame defense did not look good, particularly compounded by a surprising decision not to double team Gallon when it became apparent that he was Michigan’s biggest offensive threat by far (outside Gardner).

What concerned me most about Notre Dame’s performance though was the offensive coaching. The Irish put up only 23 points and threw the ball over 50 times (compared to fewer than 20 rushes). I understand that ND was down most of the game, but the deficit was never more than 14 points. Up until the final few drives, there was no need to abandon a running game, especially when ND’s offensive line had some advantages against a smaller Michigan front. Head coach Brian Kelly has passing in his spread DNA, which can become maddening As he often panics and begins to throw the ball way too much at the slightest deficit. Notre Dame has lots of talent at running back and offensive line. It had better start using it, beginning with Purdue this weekend. You can win with Tommy Rees as a quarterback, but only if you put him in a position to succeed. Throwing 50 times is not that.

Georgia Stays Alive: The Bulldogs were popular preseason picks to win the SEC East. While the opening week loss to Clemson was disappointing, it had no impact on this goal. The fact remains that if Georgia wins out, it will most likely be in the national championship game. It took a big step towards that goal by beating South Carolina at home this past weekend 41-30.

Texas and USC in Big Trouble: As sad as I was Saturday night, at least I wasn’t a Texas or USC fan.  The Longhorns lost to BYU and were gashed for over 500 yards of rushing, which led to the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz this week. USC meanwhile didn’t even lose to a good team, falling to Washington State 10-7 at home. Even with the best wide receiver in the country (Marquise Lee), the Trojans couldn’t even muster 100 yards of passing offense. The hot seats are now scorching for Mack Brown and Lane Kiffin. I’d be surprised if either survived the season, although I could see Texas letting Mack retire, as he does have a national championship ring (thanks to Vince Young).

Week 3 Preview 

Game of the Week 

Alabama at Texas A & M: Really the only marquee matchup of the week, this is a big one. A really big one. A & M cost the Tide an undefeated season last year and won Johnny Manziel a Heisman in the process. Alabama has no doubt been waiting all year for the rematch. Expect a raucous atmosphere in College Station, but I don’t think it will be enough to slow down Bama and AJ McCarron, one of the most underrated quarterbacks out there. He doesn’t have the flash of Manziel (mainly cause he’s not always causing trouble), but he just gets shit done and wins games. He’s looking for his third ring as a starter.

Other Games to Watch For

Tennessee at Oregon: The Vols travel west to take on the Ducks in the first big test for new UT head coach Butch Jones. I like Tennessee’s future with Jones, but it’s too tall an order to ask them to knock off Oregon on the road.

Ohio State at Cal: The first of a few interesting Pac-12 versus Big Ten battles this weekend features the national title contending Buckeyes. Cal always has deceptive talent, but considering the difficulty they had slowing down Northwestern’s offense, it’s hard to see them doing much against Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller.

Wisconsin at Arizona State: The Sun Devils are a quiet contender in the Pac-12 under second year head coach Todd Graham. Look for them to give the visiting Badgers all they can handle. ASU defensive tackle Will Sutton should be playing on Sundays right now, so it will be fascinating to see him go up against an always physical Wisconsin offensive line.

UCLA at Nebraska: This is a tough noon start for the Bruins in Lincoln. This game should provide plenty of offensive fireworks with two fast-paced attacks. Bo Pelini could use a big win right now during his lagging
tenure with the Cornhuskers.

Notre Dame at Purdue: The Irish have a chance to bounce back from last week’s bitter defeat in a nationally televised primetime game at Purdue. The Boilermakers have struggled so far this season, getting blown out by Cincinnati and beating Indiana State at home last week by 6 points.

Heisman Watch

1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: I still think Bridgewater is in the Heisman driver’s seat, but I am starting to let doubt creep in that the Cardinals’ soft schedule won’t allow for any ‘Heisman Moment’ games.

2.Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: Still riding high after his huge game against Georgia in week 1. He’ll get a few more chances in big games this season (Florida State being the biggest in October).

3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State: As noted last week, with plenty of chances to put up video game numbers, expect Miller to stick around this list. Cal presents an interesting challenge this week though. Chance for a high profile game before conference play starts.

4. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan: Another Michigan quarterback I’m forced to add to this list after a game versus Notre Dame.

-Chooch (@MRCianciulli)

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