Sunday, September 23, 2012

9/23 (CFB Hangover) Quickie

Ranking yesterday's signature wins:

(1) Kansas State, over (at) Oklahoma: Best win of the season by any team. Tough Big 12 schedule remaining, but for now, a "if the season ended now and we had a four-team playoff, they'd be in" team.

(2) Florida State, over Clemson: Jaw-dropping offense. Defense that makes you think that if they ran into a defense like Alabama's or LSU's or a superior offense like Oregon, they would fall short. Still: QB EJ Manuel had the single-best "big game" performance by any single player this season.

(3) Oregon, destroying Arizona: Slow start -- even eyebrow-raising -- turned into a 49-0 rout that has Oregon at the top of the pile of teams vying for "No. 2 behind Alabama" status.

(4) Notre Dame, edging Michigan: It wasn't pretty -- and Michigan clearly isn't anywhere nearly as good as people were thinking they were a month ago -- but Notre Dame needed a win like that over a perceived "good" team. The Irish offense is terrible, but the D is clearly solid.

(5) LSU, escaping Auburn: "Close wins" are hardly a crime -- the Tigers will drop in the polls because September is about style points. But watch them grind through October leading up to their early-November de facto national semifinal playoff game against Alabama. They'll hang in there.

Couple of notes:

*Best detail of the day: Oregon State's Mike Riley diverted his team's travel plans back from UCLA by stopping by In-and-Out Burger for a treat.

*The Big Ten's biggest problem is not that Iowa lost to Central Michigan, which is as big of a symbol of the Big Ten being "down" this season as anything. No, the Big Ten's biggest problem is that its purportedly "best" team -- Ohio State, bowl-eligible or not -- just ain't that good.

*Anyone else surprised at how much trouble West Virginia had with lowly Maryland, especially in Morgantown? The Big 12 is fascinating: Kansas State has the signature win, West Virginia has the glitz (and favorable schedule), Oklahoma is a step behind, Texas is who-knows-what... and TCU is probably going to turn out to be the best team in the league.

*Missouri's loss to Georgia in its SEC opener two weeks ago isn't nearly as representative as the way they got throttled on the road at South Carolina yesterday. Gonna be a rough ride.

*Northwestern: 4-0 and, in a down year for the Big Ten, every reason to think they can finish near the top of the league.

Enjoy your NFL Sunday, particularly you folks in NYC who will get your first-ever taste of NFL Red Zone Channel today.

-- D.S.

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