by Todd Helmick

September 27, 2007

Friday Night Lights: South Florida and West Virginia Madness

The Bulls and Mountaineers looked extremely impressive in dismantling North Carolina and East Carolina by a combined total of 85-17, setting up a humdinger of a game this Friday night between the two in Tampa. WVU is seeking revenge for the loss to South Florida in Morgantown last season. How did the Bulls pull it off? By doing what no other team has figured to stop Rich Rodriguez from running the ball even when putting four receivers out wide. The formula, which USF possesses, involves maintaining a very quick defense while attacking the line of scrimmage with seven to eight guys. South Florida is the only team that has figured out a way to hold the vaunted WVU offense to under 27 points in their last 20 outings. Of note...upwards of five different West Virginia high schools have moved their Friday night football games to Saturday in fear that the money collected at the gates would dwindle due to the fact most fans would stay home to watch their beloved Mountaineers on the bright Friday night lights of the television tube.

Clemson Rules, N.C. State Drools

C.J. Spiller and James Davis appear to be the best one-two RB duo in the country outside of McFadden and Jones at Arkansas. The Tigers pieced together a 340-yard rushing performance in beating N.C. State. Clemson is proving to be the most underrated team in the ACC according to most preseason predictions. The Wolf Pack on the other hand are starting to show that former coach Chuck Amato may not have been the reason this team cannot and will not prove to be a national power any time soon. QB problems have haunted this team since Philip Rivers left. A trio of Evans, Beck and Burke all took snaps this past Saturday and none seem to have raised the bar.

Navy QB Tired Of Running

Navy currently has the nation’s No. 1 rushing attack much like years past. The Midshipmen offense must be running wild as starting QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada had to be replaced in the fourth quarter because he was gassed. With Jarod Bryant entering the game at quarterback in place of the winded starter, Navy rode Bryant's fresh legs to 14 consecutive fourth-quarter points in a victory over Duke.

Michigan State and Notre Dame: Records In The Opposite Direction

For the first time in 119 seasons of Notre Dame football, the Irish are 0-4. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, who became the first Spartans coach to win his first four games, called the victory a statement. Michigan State also became the first opponent to win six in a row at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish finally found a running attack, now the passing attack (or lack of) only went for 86 yards.

Nittany Nine Lives - JoePa Losing Streak Continues

Penn State knew exactly what Michigan was going to do. Mike Hart to the left, right and up the middle. The 10th-ranked Nittany Lions couldn't stop him Saturday, or JoePa's longest losing streak against one school, which now totals nine straight. The Nittany Lions outscored Florida International, Notre Dame and Buffalo by large margins, but acknowledged they would know a lot more about themselves by Saturday night. What they found out wasn't good, at least on offense. The running back tandem of Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw wasn't effective and the heralded receiving corps was limited by Morelli's inaccurate throws. Michigan's turnaround on defense is the real story here.

When in Albuquerque...

The University of New Mexico has updated their concessions this year at University Stadium. According to the Lobos official website, the stadium menu will now include: Green chili stew in multiple locations and Dakota buffalo burgers on the north concourse.


Zook 180
A running back has emerged in Champaign as Rashard Mendenhall ran for a career-high 214 yards against Indiana in a Big Ten showdown of typical conference bottom dwellers through recent years. All of the sudden Ron Zook's team is sitting at 3-1, which is one win shy of the four total victories Illinois has racked up under Zook's first two seasons.

True Grit In The Bayou
LSU does two things extremely defense and run the football. Led by Jacob Hester's power and Trindon Holliday's speed, the Tigers piled up 290 yards rushing against a very good Gamecock defense. The Gamecock rushing attack yielded just 17 yards. Nobody beats LSU in Baton Rouge this year including Florida in two weeks.

SEC Winning The Heisman
Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson has now thrown 296 passes without an interception, breaking Trent Dilfer's major college record of 271. Not only is Woodson breaking records, he is now an early frontrunner in the Heisman Race. The SEC is the nation's best conference. The same can be said about the league's individual players as Tim Tebow, Darren McFadden and Andre' Woodson are the top three Heisman guys on the cbs.sportline selected voter compilation. This Heisman voter will hold off for another month before making such an impact statement.

Trojan Balance
After being kept under wraps for the season's first two games, USC QB John David Booty passed for 279 yards and four touchdowns versus Washington State. USC ran for 200 and threw for 300, total balance. Through out the summer months, fans were told how deep and talented this No. 1 ranked team would be. Six different RBs carried the ball for the Trojans Saturday and none looked any different than the other.


The Rambling Wreck
What has happened to the veteran Yellow Jacket defense? This was supposed to be a strong part of the 2007 team expected to defend the ACC Coastal Division crown. This past week the Jackets gave up 138 yards rushing to Cedric Peerman and 233 yards passing to Jameel Sewell. These are the same Virginia teammates that mustered 12 yards rushing and 87 yards passing against Wyoming. Georgia Tech now adds more fuel to the fire in supporting the fact the ACC is the worst BCS aligned conference.

Orange Crushed Part II
Last week in this segment, we made reference to just how bad the Syracuse defense had become, calling it one of the worst defenses out of all the BCS aligned teams. A week later the honor now goes to Louisville as the Orange beat the Cardinals in Papa John's Stadium snapping the nation's second longest home win streak at 20. Both offenses combined for a total of 1100 yards. Syracuse sophomore QB Andrew Robinson threw for 423 yards after only throwing for 486 yards in the previous three outings. Not to be outdone, Brian Brohm threw for 555 yards on the other side. Brohm's numbers on the year still have him as the nation's No. 2 passer in total yards behind Graham Harrell of Texas Tech. These numbers are good enough to keep Brohm on the early Heisman short list. But his team's two losses now make his Heisman plight quite cumbersome. The defense just will not allow Brohm to push for this prestigious honor.

Can A Fullback Win The Heisman?
Urban Meyer once coached Alex Smith at Utah while taking the Utes to an undefeated season. Most of the Meyer critics have clamored that once the head coach got the right QB to run his spread-option offense the Gators would be unstoppable. Enter Tim Tebow, who set a school record for quarterbacks with 166 yards rushing while accounting for four touchdowns against Ole Miss. Tebow almost looks like a fullback running with the ball while using his big-framed body to overpower defenders. Can a fullback win the Heisman? If he stays healthy, Tebow is going to win this award before his Gainesville days are done.


Dropping The Ball (State) In Lincoln
According to the disgruntled fans in Lincoln, the Huskers must have lost this game even though the scoreboard showed different. Ball State missed an extra point in the fourth quarter and lost to Nebraska 40-41. The Cardinals moved almost effortlessly against the Huskers all afternoon, as they rolled up 610 yards of offense, the most by a Nebraska opponent since Washington amassed in 1991. This Huskers team is no longer the same team your parents grew up watching. The offensive style change is not the most notable difference. The appalling defense is.

The Fridge Needs Stocked
The Terps drove inside the five yard line and were about to put a nail in the coffin while possibly going up 31-3 on Wake Forest late in the third quarter this past Saturday. Then Alphonso Smith picked off a Jordan Steffy pass and ran 100 yards for a Wake Forest touchdown and the losing walls collapsed on the Terrapins in Winston-Salem. Ralph Friedgen is taking a good bit of criticism for his offensive game planning. The bottom line...Maryland has been haunted by poor QB play the last four seasons. Steffy missed reads and open receivers and took too much time, which included a second half where he completed just 2-of-7 passes for 13 yards. He lost a galling 54 yards on sacks and has thrown four interceptions to just one touchdown on the season.