With Stewart Mandel stationed in Dallas for the Red River Shootout, I was left to tend to the other early games. And let me tell you, folks -- "slim pickings" is putting it lightly. Watching Michigan-Toledo and KU-Colorado over OU-Texas is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. And that somebody is me.
Mandel will satisfy your appetite for Red River Shootout analysis with a full College Football Insider, but in the meantime chow down on this appetizer of Non-Shootout early observations:
• Holy Toledo! Two weeks after seemingly breaking through in the second half against Wisconsin, Michigan lost to lowly Toledo, 13-10 -- UM's first ever defeat to a MAC team in 25 games. Growing pain? Pssshhh, more like growth stunt.
The Wolverines, who missed a 26-yard field goal that could have sent the game into overtime, have taken an enormous step back over the past two games. At this point, the offense is back to square one. Michigan is no closer to finding a suitable spread-option quarterback than it was on August 30.
The unforgiveable defeat drops Michigan to 2-4, putting bowl eligibility in serious jeopardy. Michigan's 33 straight bowl games is the longest current streak in the nation and two short of Nebraska's all-time mark (35). But looking at the Wolverines' remaining schedule, 6-6 seems like wishful thinking:
- Oct. 18 at Penn State
- Oct. 25 vs. Michigan State
- Nov. 1 at Purdue
- Nov. 8 at Minnesota
- Nov. 15 vs. Northwestern
- Nov. 22 at Ohio State
Unless there's a huge turnaround in Ann Arbor, Rich Rodriguez's first Michigan team will snap America's longest bowl streak and record the program's first losing season since 1967. We all knew this was going to be a process, but it's hard to ask Wolverines fans to stay positive after a loss like today's.
• No. 16 Kansas ended up beating Colorado 30-14, but once again their offense looked completely flat in the first half. KU travels to Norman next weekend and that game could get very ugly within the first 15 minutes. Not only will the Sooners be thirsting for blood after a loss in the Red River Shootout, but they've outscored opponents 110-6 in the first quarter. This overrated KU team definitely won't be able to sleepwalk through the first half against Sam Bradford and Co.
• Juice Williams threw for 462 yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota ... and Illlinois lost?!? The Illini had three turnovers, including a fourth-quarter fumble by Williams that was returned nine yards for a touchdown and basically put the game away. This is a crushing home loss for Illinois (3-3), but a fabulous win for Tim Brewster's Golden Gophers. After finishing 2007 at 1-11 (0-8 in the Big Ten), Minnesota is bowl eligible at 6-1.
• Surprise, surprise -- Steve Spurrier's playing musical quarterbacks again. After earning SEC offensive player of the week for his performance at Ole Miss, Chris Smelley was replaced by Stephen Garcia during South Carolina's 24-17 win over Kentucky. Garcia played well off the bench, maybe earning the starting nod next week against LSU. As the season progresses, this will be quite an entertaining situation to follow -- at least for non-Gamecocks fans ...
• How 'bout them Cavs?! After scoring 36 total points during a 1-3 start, Virginia has racked up 66 combined points in consecutive wins over Maryland and East Carolina. Much of this success can be attributed to the emergence of senior RB Cedric Peerman, who has rushed for 283 yards and three touchdowns in the past two weeks. What in the name of Skip Holtz happened to ECU? With today's 35-20 loss, the Pirates are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Did they really peak in the second week of the season? Holtz's stock fits the current economy.
• West Virginia's offense has sputtered all season long, and with Pat White on the shelf today, the Mountaineers looked dreadful in a 17-6 victory over Syracuse. It got so bad that a simple first down at the end of the third quarter evoked a raucous cheer from the WVU faithful. The silver lining: Noel Devine ran for a career-high 188 yards and a touchdown.