Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday 09/14 (Very) Quickie

UPDATE: All of a sudden, Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL...

Here's what we learned last night: USC is very very good.

Though it is possible that Ohio State wasn't as good as we though -- it's a fair point. Just as we found in the last two national title games: Were Florida and LSU that good? Or was Ohio State simply not as good as their ranking?

As much as the Trojans put on a show to stake their claim as the best team in the country, the Buckeyes had arguably their biggest humiliation of the Tressel Era (though most OSU fans will likely point to a lack of Beanie Wells as a big factor -- he wouldn't have helped all that much).

The result: USC has pole position for the national-championship game. The rest of their schedule is entirely favorable, and the rest of the Pac-10 looks mediocre, at best. (Aside from USC, it was not a good day for that conference. UCLA was bad, but the loss was predictable; as bad as that margin of defeat was, Arizona State losing to UNLV was much worse for the league.)

And Ohio State has virtually no chance at making the national-title game, even if they go 11-1 en route to a Big Ten title. After this, I think it's possible even a 2-loss Big 12 or SEC champ would earn the poll votes to stay ahead of Ohio State.

Also helping themselves yesterday: Missouri, behind new Heisman front-runner Chase Daniel, and BYU, who took a UCLA team that beat Tennessee and handed them their worst loss since the Great Depression. Also, Penn State was presumably watching the Buckeyes' loss eagerly, even if PSU feasted on lowly Syracuse, proving nothing. Same with Wisconsin, which survived its own night game on the West Coast, against feisty (now-BCS-busted) Fresno State.

(I'm not going to defend Georgia, but in a slightly SEC-apologist way, I will say that recent history has shown that SEC defenses are brutal; don't let the low scores fool you, although I don't think Georgia played well enough to not drop behind Oklahoma and Mizzou. And having Arizona State unexpectedly lose last night didn't do anything for that "monster" schedule UGA had lined up.)

Not helping themselves yesterday: East Carolina. A win's a win, and no one will remember this game if they end up going 12-0, but I (and presumably others) will drop them in this week's poll.

Outside of CFB, it was a big night for K-Rod, who set the all-time single-season saves record, which last week I wondered was a record that won't be broken by the time he's finished (presumably over 60).

-- D.S.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I've been thinking this since the Florida game, honestly, and even though I know nothing will happen until Michigan beats OSU a couple of times under Rich-Rod's direction, I have to say it: Heacock and Bollman need to go. (As an OSU fan, I'm pretty sure it's illegal for me to call for the vest's early retirement, but he hasn't impressed anyone, anywhere, in three very important tries, so take that for what it is.)

I'll admit that USC's defense is just better, because, well, good Lord. But there's no reason that, with no shortage of NFL talent on its roster, OSU's defense should look like that against any offense, I don't care whose. And the offense can't escape judgment, either: both coordinators have proven themselves effectively worthless, capable of beating up on inferior teams on the shoulders of talented kids, but not up to the challenge presented by equally (and more) talented squads with better direction.

The lesson should be obvious: no amount of talent can really make up for horrible defensive schemes, unimaginative play-calling, and the kind of discipline deficiencies that lead to ridiculous penalties that come at the worst possible times. I don't know as much about football as a lot of people, but to me, those aren't so much signs that the players aren't talented as signs the coaches aren't doing their jobs.

That said, Rich-Rod needs to make huge progress in the next couple of years and beat OSU a time or two, and maybe, just maybe, OSU will realize that it's coaches are squandering more raw talent than, year in and year out, than most programs will ever see.

And that is why the Big Ten is down. It's not speed, it's not a talent-gap; all the big-time programs have those things (and the disparities ebb and flow). It's the coaches, and they've gotta go.

I mean, honestly, I'd like someone to stand up and answer me, with a straight face: if you swapped the rosters of OSU and USC and play the game again, do you really think OSU would win 35-3? I think not.