Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Your College Football Weekend Primer: Time for UF and ND to Wake Up

Gator coach Will Muschamp may have the best "anger face" in college football.
By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

Look, a win is a win, and I'm just as guilty of saying "the U is back" as the next guy, but the Hurricanes didn't beat Florida two weekends ago. Florida beat Florida, as five turnovers and 10 penalties led to the Gators losing a game that saw them outgain the Canes by over 200 yards and possess the ball 17 minutes longer.

Luckily for the Gators, it seems like every time they need a wake up call, they get a bye, or they get to play Tennessee/Kentucky. Well, rest easy Gator fans, because after that ugly loss to Miami, your team gets a bye, followed by a home game against the Vols (A team that hasn't beaten Florida since 2004), and a trip to Lexington to play the Wildcats (A team that hasn't beaten Florida since the Cretaceous Period).

Time for Jeff Driskel to start living up to that "next Tebow" hype, and maybe make Florida fans feel a little better about their favorite team recruiting him (And teammate Jacoby Brissett) over Teddy Bridgewater. That's right Florida fans, the Gators had two slots for quarterbacks in the 2011 recruiting class, and used neither one of them on Teddy, a Gator-lean from Miami Northwestern. They opted, instead, for a pair of uber athletes that have yet to show they can read a junior high cover 3, let alone an SEC defense.

Notre Dame is having its own quarterback issues, after academic fraud led to the suspension of BCS title game starter Everett Golson. Veteran Tommy Rees has been decent in relief, cutting down on the turnovers, but the Irish just aren't as dynamic offensively as they were last year.

And they were a defensive team last season.

Still, the Irish have the chance to enjoy another solid campaign, if they can elevate their level of play from the last two weeks. A sloppy turnover fest in Ann Arbor and sleep walking in West Lafayette nearly left the Irish 0-2 against the Big Ten. Luckily for Notre Dame, Purdue simply refuses to win games, and a late pick-6 thrown by quarterback Rob Henry bailed the Irish out.

But, with its final test this year against the Midwest conference it refuses to join, Notre Dame has a lot on the line. A loss to Michigan State at home would be disastrous, considering the Spartans have looked pedestrian at best on offense against anybody not named Youngstown State.

It would also give the Irish a pair of losses heading into three straight challenging games against Oklahoma, Arizona State and USC, plus late season tilts with suddenly dangerous BYU and fifth ranked Stanford. If Notre Dame can't reclaim its running game and rediscover that defensive magic from a year ago this week, you can kiss a trip to a BCS bowl game goodbye.

Game of the Week: No. 23 Arizona State at No. 5 Stanford

Ok, so Arizona State shouldn't have beaten Wisconsin last week. You know it, I know it, the American people know it, and the football crazy fans of Wisconsin (Who also endured last season's terrible Seahawks-Packers "Fail Mary" call) certainly know it.

That being said, the Sun Devils are pretty salty.

Controversial call or not, ASU can put up points, and junior quarterback Taylor Kelly can move the ball. He wasn't the most efficient quarterback last week, but throwing for 352 yards against the Badgers is nothing to sneeze at, and running back Marion Grice is unstoppable around the goal line.

Add in a physical defensive front, and you have a team that can challenge the Cardinal.

Speaking of Stanford, was I the only one underwhelmed by their 34-20 win over Army? The Cardinal put the clamps down in the second half, but you get the feeling that this team needs a breakout game of sorts to really get rolling. Could this be it? Playing at home against a quarterback that has had turnover issues and a defense that gave up over 230 yards on the ground last week… Yeah, sounds about right.

Sneaky Good Game of the Week: Missouri at Indiana

You want offense? You got it. We knew Indiana would be able to score some points, but I don't think anybody expected them to be averaging the 50 points a game they currently are (Especially with a loss already on their record). The Tigers average only a meager 48 points per game, but with Indiana's defense surrendering 35 or more in two of its first three games, I still dare say this has the look of a shoot out.

It's also significant for both teams' bowl hopes. The Hoosiers hoped to emerge from the non-conference 3-1, setting up a the need for only a 3-5 conference record to reach the postseason. Well, most people thought that one loss would be to Missouri, but with Navy already coming to town and beating IU, the pressure is on coach Kevin Wilson and his staff to pick up a mild upset here.

Lest we forget, the Hoosiers open their season with five consecutive home games and play eight overall. You have to make a bowl game with that schedule.

Missouri, meanwhile, would love to get to 4-0 (They play Arkansas State next week) before the beginning of a brutal SEC schedule that will send them to Vandy and Georgia, before coming home to face Florida and South Carolina. Yeah, if you see more than one win in those four games, you're crazy. Zero wins is probably more likely.

That would put the Tigers at four or five wins heading into their final four games against Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Do you think they can win more than two of those? Me neither. That means they better beat IU this week, unless they want to be home for the holidays.

Coaching Seat Heat Index

BMW Seat Warmers: Kevin Wilson, Indiana. Gary Pinkel, Missouri.

Oh hey, it's Missouri and Indiana again! Like I said, IU NEEDS to make a bowl game with this schedule and Missouri needs to rebound from an embarrassing first year in the SEC. The Tigers went 2-6 in the conference last year and 5-7 overall. Pinkel has presided over some of the best teams in school history, but another losing season could be the end for him in Columbia.

Uncomfortable Sweat on Back of Knee: Bo Pelini, Nebraska. Charlie Weiss, Kansas.

Pelini is sweating it out after his defense gave up 38 unanswered in a loss to UCLA, and a recording of him dropping the F-bomb on Husker fans/calling them fair weather surfaced this week. You can check out this piece for more on that. Meanwhile, Weiss is 2-12, with both his wins coming against the FCS. Yeah, you may want to beat an actual Division I team at some point Charlie.

Pants on Fire: Mack Brown, Texas. Lane Kiffin, USC.

The heat is one for these two high-profile coaches. In Brown's case, a national championship and multiple Big 12 crowns have made him one of the highest paid (If not the highest paid) coaches in America. But, an inability to field a competent defense, and a failed experiment switching to an SEC-style power offense have haunted the Horns in recent years.

Now, back-to-back ugly losses to BYU and Ole Miss have the largely successful tenure of Brown hanging by a thread in Austin.

Kiffin, meanwhile, has down absolutely nothing to become high-profile, and yes he is. A 35-7 smack down of a bad Boston College team hasn't abated the flames caused by a 10-7 home loss to lowly Washington State, and a loss at home to Utah State this weekend could be the final straw… Well, heck, any bad loss the rest of the way could be the final straw.


First, here is your Stone Cold video of the week.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here is my Stone Cold betting lock of the week. Home team in caps:

Michigan (-18.5) over CONNECTICUT

The Wolverines are insanely undervalued here after a scare in the Big House against lowly Akron, and because this one is on the road. I don't think I need to remind you that Michigan torched Notre Dame's vaunted defense a couple weeks back, and that quarterback Devin Gardner is one of the better players in the Big Ten.

And do you remember UConn? They're terrible! This is the same team that lost by 15 at home to TOWSON! I have to think that Michigan is at least four points better than Towson, plus you know Brady Hoke will have them ready to play after a near-disaster last week.

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