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Post Bye week thoughts from the couch

Monday November 24, 2008

Where is Penn State among the discussion of 1-loss teams? Their dismantling of Oregon State looks better every week, and their only loss was a 1-point road upset against an 8-4 Iowa team. Not saying they necessarily stand out over Texas, Florida, or any of the others, but it’s amazing how quickly they were written out of the conversation after the Iowa game.

Jarrett Lee’s taking a lot of heat for LSU’s woes this season, and he has made his share of mistakes, but issues at quarterback were more or less a given entering the season. Most expected LSU to follow a tried-and-true SEC formula: play well enough on defense to get by with average offense. The story of LSU’s season hasn’t been Lee’s struggles at quarterback; it’s been the slippage on defense. LSU has given up 31+ in five of their last seven games. Houston Nutt has won at Death Valley in consecutive seasons with two different teams and seems to have his quarterback for the next several seasons. The Alabama-Auburn-LSU power structure in the SEC West has been shaken up this season, and if the Rebels can win the Egg Bowl this year, an 8-4 Ole Miss team might be headed to the Cotton Bowl.

How might a guy named Sammie Stroughter impact Georgia’s postseason? Pac-10 leader Oregon State had to come from behind to win at Arizona, and Stroughter was Mr. Clutch for the Beavers down the stretch. He tallied 3 catches for 88 yards on OSU’s final two drives, caught the touchdown pass that pulled the Beavers to within 1, and then set up the game-winning field goal with a 49-yard reception with under 40 seconds remaining. With the win, Oregon State remains in position to win the Pac-10 if they can beat Oregon this weekend. If OSU does win out and earn a Rose Bowl trip, it will likely keep Ohio State out of the BCS and put them in a position for a possible game against Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. If OSU loses to their rival, Southern Cal heads to the Rose Bowl, Ohio State gets an at-large BCS bid, and it would be Michigan State heading to Orlando.

Is it possible for a team like Vanderbilt to have a letdown game? Twice this year after milestone wins (the Auburn victory in front of a national Gameday audience and the Kentucky victory which made them bowl-eligible), the Commodores have come up with an ugly loss. Mississippi State and Tennessee have a combined 4 SEC wins, and Vanderbilt accounts for half of them. It’s great and all that Vandy is headed to a bowl game, but they are still very much Vanderbilt.

David Cutcliffe’s Duke team was the talk of the college football scene after a 31-3 win over Virginia gave the Blue Devils a 3-1 start. Entering the final week of the season, Duke is now 1-6 in the ACC and will be favored to lose to rival North Carolina this weekend. Duke has won just one game since that blowout of Virginia back in September…naturally, that win came against Vanderbilt. Four wins would still be as many victories as Duke had from 2004-2007, but that quick start might have inflated expectations for this season. Cutcliffe is still a heck of a coach and will continue a tough turnaround job.

When sorting out the Big 12 South mess, how important is the strength of schedule factor? Texas’s win over Oklahoma on a neutral field surely counts for a lot, but we can’t forget that Texas (and Muschamp’s defense) had the game in Lubbock for the taking and didn’t get it done. Looking outside their respective Big 12 schedules, Oklahoma should get credit for a slate that includes wins over respectable TCU and Cincinnati teams. Meanwhile, Texas’s best nonconference opponent was SEC bottom-dweller Arkansas, and Texas Tech hasn’t played a BCS conference team outside of the Big 12.

2 Responses to 'Bye week thoughts from the couch'

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  • Penn State is paying for the sins of Jim Tressel.

  • Point understood… but it’s not just OSU, Hobnail. It’s the whole conference.

    Iowa lost to Pitt. Michigan State lost to Cal.

    Penn State has two wins against good but not great teams in Oregon State and OSU.

    They should be ahead of USC, but they don’t belong ahead of any 1-loss SECC or B12 team.