Friday, October 4, 2013

USC Puts The Nail In The Kiffin- It's Your Week 6 College Football Talk With Chooch

Week 5 Review 

End of an era: The Lane Kiffin era at USC came to an inglorious end Saturday night in a blowout loss at Arizona State, which put up over 60 points on what was a pretty good USC defense. Lane received his pink slip on the tarmac at LAX. Kiffin’s awkward demeanor made it easier for AD Pat Haden to let him go, as there has been a series of off-the-field “incidents” during Lane’s time at SC, including the ball-deflation saga versus Oregon last year. Speaking of last year, the 7-6 record put up by the Trojans in a season where they started ranked #1 was truly the nail in Kiffin’s coffin. Lack of improvement this year made it easy to pull the trigger. The USC job is one of the best in the sport, as the program is rich in tradition, set in a fertile and attractive recruiting ground, and has a national brand.

Sooners overcome Irish: Oklahoma entered last week’s game versus Notre Dame 1-9 all-time against the Irish. This time, Bob Stoops’ squad came up big, forcing 3 Notre Dame turnovers en route to a 35-21 win in South Bend. While ND’s defense gave up a lot of yards, it only surrendered 28 points (actually 3 touchdowns, one 2 point conversion, and two field goals, not 4 touchdowns), as QB Tommy Rees threw a pick 6 on the first drive of the game. You can’t spot good teams points, and after another early pick led to a touchdown, ND gave OU 14 of them in game’s first few minutes. One bright spot for the Irish and area of concern for Oklahoma was the ND running game, which put up over 200 yards, including an 80 yard touchdown run by George Atkinson III (during which your humble blogger fell into the row full of middle-aged ladies in front of him in celebration).

Georgia alive and well: While it’s tempting to write-off teams after week 1, it is the best week to lose a game. Georgia has bounced back from the opening week loss to Clemson to post wins over South Carolina and LSU in SEC play, and is in firm control of the SEC east division. Aaron Murray was outstanding against LSU and is playing his way into the Heisman race (see below). The Bulldogs will need some teams to lose (like Ohio State and Clemson), but the path is now clear. Win out, and most-likely be in the title game.

Buckeyes get big win: Ohio State’s schedule is full of cupcakes and short on big-time opponents, which makes their win over Wisconsin this past Saturday so key. Braxton Miller put any QB controversy to rest, throwing for 4 touchdowns.

Week 6 Preview 

Game of the Week 

Washington at Stanford: College Gameday chose to go to Evanston for Northwestern-Ohio State, but I like this game better. Stanford will be looking to avenge last year’s loss to the Huskies and continue building towards a Pac-12 title and national championship game birth. The Cardinal looked great last week pounding Washington State, but will face a new challenge with the Huskies. Washington is having its best season in years. Few readers of the 2manwave are probably aware, but Washington was a powerhouse in the early 90s, splitting a national title with Miami in 1991. Steve Sarkisian has slowly rebuilt the program to this point, with a huge chance for a national statement against the Cardinal. Quarterback Keith Price will try to go toe-to-toe with Stanford signal-caller Kevin Hogan (a Notre Dame legacy who would be in South Bend without question if this current coaching staff had been smart enough to offer; don’t get me started).

Other Games to Watch 

Ohio State at Northwestern: Kudos to Pat Fitzgerald, who has built up the Northwestern program into a Big Ten contender. The Wildcats get a chance at a monumental win this weekend when the #4 Buckeyes come to town. This could be the best chance Ohio State has to lose until the final weekend at Michigan. Coming off of a big home game against Wisconsin, there could be a threat of a letdown, but the fact that Gemeday will be at this game should help keep the focus and energy up. Urban Meyer hasn’t lost a game yet at Ohio State.

Notre Dame vs. Arizona State (Arlington, TX): Notre Dame’s new annual off-site “home” game takes the program to Dallas to face a lethal Arizona State squad. Well, lethal on offense. The Sun Devils laid 60 points on USC last week, and are seeking to become the first team ever to defeat USC and Notre Dame in back to back weeks. The offense is one of those high-speed spread attacks that should put a tremendous amount of pressure on Notre Dame’s defense, which has trouble covering the field laterally in its base defense (ding!, play more nickel and dime). On offense for the Irish, the answer again will be to run the ball, which they did with lots of success against Oklahoma last week. I expect to see the same this week and will be bitterly disappointed if I don’t.

Maryland at Florida State: Maryland has been one of the sneaky surprises of this season, sitting at 4-0 after thrashing West Virginia 37-0. Quarterback CJ Brown has been a big upgrade, but the Terrapins will face a huge step up in competition this week against Florida State, also undefeated behind a fledgling quarterback in Jameis Winston. Winston has been phenomenal and has lived up to the considerable hype coming out of high school. Good thing for Benji that Winston chose FSU over baseball.

Georgia at Tennessee: The Volunteers don’t appear to be especially good, but could make a huge statement for new coach Butch Jones with an upset of the Bulldogs.

Oregon at Colorado: The Ducks might win 70-0 in a conference game. Really. This program is unbelievable. Didn’t blink at all last week against Cal.

Heisman Watch 

1. Teddy Bridgewater-QB-Louisville: No change. Still think Bridgewater will get it.

2. Tajh Boyd-QB-Clemson: Waiting for his big chance in a few weeks against Florida State.

3. Johnny Manziel-QB-Texas A & M: Public image will probably prevent another Heisman.

4. Marcus Mariota-QB-Oregon: No one can slow down this Ducks offense, and Mariota is a big reason.

5. Aaron Murray-QB-Georgia: Murray jumps into this list with 2 huge wins in September vs. South Carolina and LSU. He’s the undisputed leader of this Georgia team.

-Chooch (@MrCianciulli)

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