To get you ready for Week 2 of the college football season, Aaron Torres has been breaking down all of college football's top teams, coaches, and players. To see his entire top 25, as well as the remainder of this preview, click here, or visit him at www.aarontorres-sports.com/)
One week of college football is in the books. And what a very interesting week it was.
Think about it, the two biggest stories of the week included a backup defensive end from Boise State, and a right AC joint. What we couldn't get Arkansas State's defensive backs coach a little airtime as well? Welcome to the 2009 college football season my friends.
With the first set of games behind us, let's get to Week 2. Week 2 is interesting because of a disturbing, yet fascinating trend: There isn't a home favorite that I'm totally comfortable backing. Seriously look up and down the lines, I'm not comfortable with any of them. Florida is playing the top team in the Sun Belt. Virginia Tech hosts a pesky Marshall squad, Alabama an improved FIU team.
It's going to be a tough week for the home teams, and a tough week for us to handicap the games. Either way, let's get to the picks!
Syracuse (+28 ??) over PENN STATE: Saturday, 12:00 p.m.
If you're picking Penn State to cover in this game, you're basically admitting to me that you didn't watch Syracuse's opener against Minnesota. Go ahead admit it. Admit it!
Because if you did watch, you know two things: That Greg Paulus actually looked like a real quarterback against Minnesota, and that Syracuse's defense is infinity times better than they were last year.
As someone in Big East country who was subjected to entirely too many of Syracuse's games during the Greg Robinson era, this looked like a totally, completely different team than the one that took the field these last few years. If it wasn't for the goofy uniforms and the Carrier Dome's shag carpet, I honestly wouldn't have believed it was Syracuse on the field.
Even Jo Pa admitted in his weekly presser on Tuesday that Syracuse looks much better on film now than they did a year ago.
And if Joe Pa says it, it must be true. Sure he's senile, but the guy is like 165-years-old. Have you ever been around someone his age? They say whatever's on their mind at all times. There's no holding back.
A few weeks ago I took my 93-year-old grandmother out to get ice cream and she openly questioned whether some of the people in line should actually be ordering ice cream as opposed to going on a diet. And she said it in a loud old person's voice that everyone in the place could hear.
My point? Old people don't waste anyone's time lying, they don't have much of it left. So if Joe Pa says Syracuse is better, believe him.
Notre Dame (-3) over MICHIGAN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Here's the thing, I think Rich Rodriguez is a better coach than Charlie Weis, and the better coach usually wins close games. Don't let last year fool you, I saw Rodriguez a ton at West Virginia, and I promise you folks, the man is the real deal.
For example, say this game is tied in the fourth quarter, and ABC decides to show a split screen of these two guys on the sidelines. Who would you be more confident in, Rodriguez with his Oakley sunglasses hugging his face, calmly whispering into Tate Forcier's ear? Or Charlie Weis and his oversized, color coordinated play sheet, with dried saliva crusted to the corners of his mouth? I thought so.
But with that, here's why I'm taking the Irish: If we learned one thing from last weekend, it's that the team with the better offensive line won every big game, with the possible exception of Florida State-Miami. Think about it, BYU over Oklahoma, Boise State over Oregon, Alabama over Virginia Tech. Even Oklahoma State was able to get a good push against Georgia. And in this one, Notre Dame has a huge (no pun intended) advantage along the offensive line.
While I'm still not sold on Jimmy Clausen (didn't he still seem to throw a lot of balls into triple coverage last week?), Charlie Weis' coaching internship should continue with another victory.
(To read the rest of Aaron's Week 2 preview, click here)
Houston (+15) over OKLAHOMA STATE: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Three thoughts and three thoughts only on this game:
1. There is no way Oklahoma State won't have at least a minor let down after the Georgia game last week. It's inevitable.
2. Dating back to last year, Houston has scored 40 or more points in seven of their last nine games. Conference USA or not, that is a lot of end zone celebrations my friends. Did I mention they put up 37 in Stillwater last year?
3. When did every coach, announcer and analyst decide that we will never again refer to a quarterback as a quarterback, but instead someone who plays "The Quarterback Position." I'm not quite sure who came up with this term (Yes I'm looking your way Ron Jaworski) but, why can't we just say Case Keenum and Zac Robinson are good quarterbacks, rather than saying, "They both sure know how to play the quarterback position."
We don't say someone sure knows how to play the "defensive end position," or the "punt returner position." We don't use the term in any other walk of life. Nobody ever says, man, he sure is great at the "CEO position." No the guy is a good CEO. Alright, I'm done rambling now.
Vanderbilt (+14 ??) over LSU: Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
The only way Vanderbilt has a chance in this game is to keep the ball on the ground, keep the clock and chains moving, and slowly try to suck the life out of Tiger Stadium. LSU wins, Vanderbilt covers. The end.
As for LSU, can you think of team that is going to improve more over the course of the season than these guys? I'm scared, seriously scared, to think about how good they'll good be in a few months.
The Tigers have young quarterback and younger defense, both of which are only going to get better with more game reps. Jordan Jefferson, just turned 19-years-old a few weeks ago. 19-years-old! Think back to what you were doing at that age. My guess is it involved phrases like, "Keg stand," and "I swear officer, I was just holding it for a friend," and probably didn't include "starting SEC quarterback."
I still think the Tigers schedule might be a bit too tough to win the SEC West this year, but they could potentially be the No. 1 team in the country coming into 2010. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves.
South Carolina (+7) over GEORGIA: Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
So how many road teams am I going to pick to cover this week? 50? 100?
But in regards to this one, was it just me, or did anyone else notice Joe Cox didn't seem as poised as you'd expect for a 5th year senior last Saturday? He took some bad sacks in key situations, and forced too many throws. I know he had the flu, but come on guy, you waited four years for this game, and all you could muster up was a first possession touchdown drive? Against Oklahoma State's defense? Really?
As for South Carolina, I want to be the first one to throw it out there: We are all going to enjoy the Stephon Gilmore experience in Columbia. I checked the stats, and apparently he didn't register a tackle in the entire game against NC State. But I seem to remember him being around the ball on every single big, fourth quarter play last Thursday. Maybe I'm getting old, but I swear I remember that happening.
More importantly, the guy is the first player I've seen during the Steve Spurrier era that plays with that Eric Berry/Tim Tebow/Rolando McClain confidence/swagger/borderline cockiness that says, "Not only do I belong on the field with these guys, but I'm better than the guy lining up across from me. Throw the ball my way. Go ahead I dare you." Trust me, the kid is going to be a star.
Also of note, the last two times the Gamecocks have gone between the Hedges? A 17-15 loss in 2005 and a 16-12 win in 2007.