The Sweep

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Sweep
It does not appear Rich Rodriguez's first team at Michigan bought into his new coaching philosophy.
AP

NOTE: For my column from Saturday night's Oklahoma-Texas Tech game, click here. You can also read Saturday Sweep posts about JoePa, Joe Tiller and the now-doomed Charlie Weis.

1. That Rich Rodriguez is no Paul Johnson. Now that the worst season in Michigan history is complete, it's fair to say that while RichRod may well wind up returning the Wolverines to glory, he could not possibly have handled his transition season any worse. Yes, he was stuck with a roster that did not fit his system and lack of a talented quarterback, but it's mystifying how his team failed to improve in the slightest from Week 1 to Week 12. It also seems they may have revolted on him, judging by the visible coach-player bickering on the sideline Saturday.

Now let's us head to south to Georgia Tech, where another first-year coach inherited a team he did not recruit, installed a radical new offensive system, and, last Thursday night, racked up 472 rushing yards against Miami to improve to 8-3. In fairness, Johnson did inherit a defense stacked with NFL linemen and, most importantly, a quarterback, Josh Nesbitt, who fit his triple-option offense. But you can't tell me there's that big a talent disparity between Michigan's roster and Georgia Tech's roster. The difference: Johnson got his team to buy in; Rodriguez did not.

2. That Utah now stands among the top programs in the country. Only a handful of programs -- most of them college football royalty -- have earned multiple BCS berths since the system's 1998 inception. Add Utah to that list. With their 48-24 win over arch-rival BYU, complete with a near-perfect performance from QB Brian Johnson (30-of-36, 303 yards, four TDs), the Utes completed their second undefeated regular season in five years. And they did it while beating three currently ranked foes (Oregon State, TCU and BYU), far more than any prior BCS buster.

Many assumed Utah would fall back to obscurity after Alex Smith, Urban Meyer and most of his staff bolted town following the 2004 Fiesta Bowl season. Credit fourth-year head coach (and 15-year Utah staff member) Kyle Whittingham for maintaining the program's stability. What's perhaps most amazing is that the Utes have officially eclipsed their rival (and Whittingham's alma mater), BYU, on the national landscape despite the Cougars' far richer history, tradition and notoriety. Now comes the Utes' biggest challenge yet: A likely BCS matchup against an SEC or Big 12 foe.

3. That Brian Kelly is a coaching god. You may have missed this Saturday night while watching the Texas Tech-Oklahoma "showdown," but Kelly's Cincinnati team beat Pittsburgh, putting it one win away (against "resurgent" Syracuse) from a BCS berth. Kelly is in his second year with the Bearcats. The program he took over was just two years removed from Conference USA, almost entirely lacking in fan support and thrilled just to go to the International Bowl. The fact they may be one win away from the Orange Bowl still seems completely surreal.

While former coach Mark Dantonio deserves credit for upgrading Cincy's recruiting level, Kelly has taken the program to another level with his highly efficient spread offense. You would have thought the Bearcats would take a step back after losing standout QB Ben Mauk -- not to mention going through five QBs this season - but there was former benchwarmer Tony Pike on Saturday shredding the Panthers for 309 yards on 26-of-32 passing. If Kelly wins Saturday, he will have notched championships at three straight schools. Think Tennessee might be interested?

4. That Arkansas let a good one go. Remember when Arkansas couldn't run Houston Nutt out of town fast enough despite the native son's largely successful 10-year reign with the Razorbacks? Nutt wound up at Ole Miss where, on Saturday, his team -- 10-25 the past three seasons -- could be seen throttling defending national champion LSU at Death Valley. With a win over rival Mississippi State (which, coincidentally, knocked off Nutt's old team Saturday night), Ole Miss will earn just its second eight-win season this decade. Think the guy can coach?

Nutt admittedly walked into an ideal situation in Oxford, where predecessor Ed Orgeron had upgraded the Rebels' talent and landed talented transfer QB Jevan Snead, who looked like a future pro against the Tigers. He will also have to deal with the inherent ceiling at Ole Miss created by penny-pinching AD Pete Boone. (Ole Miss, an SEC team, bussed to its game in Baton Rouge on Saturday.) Meanwhile, Bobby Petrino's 4-7 Razorbacks should be significantly better next season with QB Ryan Mallett. But which school do you think will be better off in the long run?

5. That Pat White deserves a spot among college football's all-time greats. With 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Louisville on Saturday, West Virginia's four-year star broke both Brad Smith's NCAA record for career rushing yards by a quarterback (4,292) and Donovan McNabb's Big East record for career touchdowns (98). How fitting that it was the same opponent, Louisville, against which White first burst onto the scene in 2005 with his electrifying performance in a dramatic comeback victory. That game set the stage for a remarkable career.

White has fallen off the map a bit in his senior season due to both his and his team's early struggles under new coach Bill Stewart. Even with Saturday's performance, he has just 2,012 yards of total offense, down from 3,059 last year and 2,874 the year before. But he still ranks tops nationally among BCS-conference QBs in rushing and has completed 65 percent of his passes for 17 TDs and four interceptions. Most importantly, Saturday's win, which put the Mountaineers at 7-3, gives White a 34-7 career record as WVU's starter. The guy deserves a serious salute.

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