By John Harris
October 18, 2011
The Weekend that Was
Can anyone push the top teams in the country? Let’s recap quickly. Alabama beats Ole Miss 52-7. LSU beats Tennessee 38-7. Oklahoma struggled with Kansas yet beat them 47-17. Wisconsin beat Indiana 59-7. Boise State beat Colorado State 63-13. Stanford rolled Washington State 44-14. Those top five teams combined to beat opponents 303-65. C’mon, people! Has there ever been a year when it’s so blatantly evident which teams are the top seven teams in the country? The good news is that LSU will play Alabama. Oklahoma will play Oklahoma State. Stanford will play Oregon. Okay, so the best teams that Wisconsin and Boise State play are Michigan State and TCU, respectively. But, it won’t matter much, if LSU/Alabama winner and OU/OSU winner win out; those two will meet in New Orleans for that fancy crystal football. Regardless, let’s get the weekend that was out of the way.
1. Clemson WR/KR Sammy Watkins – What hasn’t this young man done this year? He just might be the most valuable newcomer in the nation (one that has never played before Wisconsin fans, Russell Wilson has played before, he doesn’t count in this one). He accounted for 355 total yards against Maryland in Clemson’s 56-45 comeback win in College Park. He had two touchdowns receiving and one kick return for a touchdown. If he’s not the most exciting player in the ACC, I don’t know who it is (David Wilson is the other).
2. Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill – When the Aggies needed a top notch performance, Tannehill gave it to the Aggies. He threw for 415 yards and six touchdowns against the #21 ranked Baylor Bears to lead the Aggies to a 55-28 win in College Station. But, Tannehill had some help.
3. Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope – the former running back out of Austin, TX had a career day. He was on the receiving end of eleven passes from Tannehill, including four touchdowns – two of those were 68 yarders. Swope accounted for 206 yards receiving in the process.
4. Washington QB Keith Price – Don’t look now, but the Huskies signal caller has made most of Husky nation forget about underachieving Jake Locker. Against Colorado on Saturday, Price completed 75% of his 28 passes with four touchdowns to give him a total of 21 on the season. He’s thrown at least three touchdown passes in every game this season and only has four interceptions, half of those he threw in his first road game at Nebraska. It won’t be easy next week (Stanford), but with the way Price is playing and Chris Polk is running, Washington won’t go away easily.
5. Alabama RB Trent Richardson – if you haven’t seen his 76 yard run for a touchdown against Ole Miss, you’ve missed out. He even had Nick Saban clapping at the end of it. He finished the night with 183 yards and four rushing touchdowns.
6. LSU’s front four– I haven’t seen a group as dominant anywhere this season. Michael Brockers and Bennie Loganare ridiculous next to one another and BK Mingo might be the fastest DE in the nation.
7. Michigan State’s defense– this crew is, legitimately, in the discussion for the best defense in the nation not named LSU or Alabama. LSU’s front four is tremendous no question, but Michigan State’s front is taking the backseat to no one. William Gholston has to get his emotions under control a bit more, but other than that, it’s tough to run on these guys, protect against them and beat them physically at the point of attack. Whether it’s Jerel Worthy, Marcus Rush or Kevin Pickelman, this group is determined to make everyone forget last year’s beatdown in Orlando at the hands of Alabama. The Spartans defense held Michigan to 250 total yards offense in a huge 28-14 win, the fourth straight for Sparty over the Wolverines.
8. Miami QB Jacory Harris – He’s taken so much heat from, well, not just me but EVERYONE. So, when he throws for 267 yards and three touchdowns in a big game against North Carolina, he deserves a ton of credit. He made huge throws throughout the day and led the Hurricanes to a 30-24 win in Chapel Hill. And, check the interception column…a big, fat stinkin’ zero. Harris needs more of those, but this performance vs. UNC is a sweet start. Or re-start.
9. Oregon’s OL– The Ducks OL found a way to make All-American LB Vontaze Burfict totally and completely irrelevant. He finished with seven tackles, but he spent most of the night complaining about the treatment he was getting from Carson York, Mark Asper, Hroniss Grasu and company. Even with LaMichael James on the sideline for the entire game and Darron Thomas on the sideline for a half, the Ducks still ran behind the Ducks’ hogs for 327 yards on 49 carries, including Kenjon Barner’s 171 rushing yards.
1. Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin – the two coaches got into a heated conversation…and by heated, I mean Grantham blew his top at Franklin and if you don’t believe me, check the video. We don’t know much about Franklin, but we do know Grantham is the coach who gave the choke sign to the Florida kicker in last year’s Cocktail Party. In other words, Grantham held true to form, while with Franklin, we don’t quite know. The only image that remained burned in my brain, and many of the rest of you, is that of Grantham blowing a gasket in the face of Vanderbilt’s head coach.
2. Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict – See the above comment – he complained to officials more than made plays on the field. He was slow to the ball. He was slow reading and deciphering. With a late night national television audience paying attention, he didn’t grab anyone’s attention.
3. Michigan QB Denard Robinson – Nine of 24 doesn’t ever cut it, but in the past, he’s got away with some poor days throwing the football in Michigan wins. Alas, it finally caught up to him. Now, I don’t know how healthy he was as Devin Gardner got plenty of snaps under center, but either way, Robinson wouldn’t make excuses for his play so I won’t either.
4. Baylor head coach Art Briles – If you missed it…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b09Xgrg5Crk - this is pretty innocuous, yet, Briles seems to find fault with this reporter’s question. I’ve been a Briles fan for a long time, but this strikes me as a bit odd.
1. Why isn’t anyone talking about the playmaking skills of Kansas State QB Collin Klein?
2. I’ve been thinking about my mid-season All-America team and I’m fairly certain both of my corners would be LSU Tigers – Morris Claiborne and the Honey Badger himself Tyrann Mathieu
3. Keep an eye on Peter Konz the center for the Wisconsin Badgers in the future. Just a heads up.
4. Speaking of guys making an impact earlier than expected, Auburn DE Corey Lemonier is taking his game up a few notches – he leads the SEC in sacks with six.
5. Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnisch became the 14th quarterback in the history of the game to run for 200 yards/pass for 200 yards in the same game (203 passing/229 rushing v. Western Michigan)
6. We all talk about how a team has to have weapons, gamebreakers. What gamebreakers reside in Palo Alto at Stanford? Tight ends. Coby Fleener, Zach Ertzand Levine Toilolohave 44 of the teams 137 receptions and 12 of the team’s 19 receiving touchdowns.
1. Wisconsin at Michigan State – if Wisconsin is going to get beat this season, prior to a bowl game, it can only happen here, in my opinion. That said, Michigan State is going to make ‘Sconnie VERY uncomfortable with the pressure it can put on the QB and the way the front seven can run and play the outside/inside zone run. Can Michigan State score consistently enough to pull the upset? Good question.
2. Auburn at LSU – I know Auburn won last week at home, but no way this is going to happen. Unfortunately, we don’t have much going for us this weekend, if I’m being truly honest. Auburn will battle, but it’s not going to be enough. Not even close to being enough against LSU.
3. USC at Notre Dame – now, excuse me for getting all down about the college football weekend, I sort of lost my head. That said, this one is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to see USC’s defense attempt to “tackle” the Notre Dame offense. Tommy Rees has put the Irish in a position to be one of the least talked about, yet most explosive offenses in the country. I go back to the first two games of the year – total turnovers? Eight. The last four games? Only six. And, in the last two games, only two. The Irish have found the offense that many thought ND was going to have. USC, on the other hand, is still a lot of Matt Barkley to Robert Woods. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s a bit one dimensional.