Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NCAA Weekend Primer: "Fear the Spear" and "Swag" Return

Can Miami and Florida State rule the college football world again?
By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

Don't look now, but the Miami-Florida State game actually matters to people outside the state of Florida!

How long has it been since that happened? Well, every season from 1998 to 2005 these two teams finished the year ranked in the Top-25, and the game was considered a national title "knock out game" of sorts. Since 2005, both those things have happened zero times.

Even in 2005, Miami was on the way down, and FSU was about to begin the "Bobby Bowden needs to retire" period in its history. Neither was a national title contender, FSU lost five games (But upset Virginia Tech to sneak into the Orange Bowl, where it lost to Penn State) and Miami was annihilated by LSU in the Peach Bowl, 40-3.

It was the end of a period in college football dominated by the Noles and Canes (Along with Oklahoma and USC), and the beginning of the SEC era.

Really, you have to go back to the 2004 Orange Bowl, or 2002's "Wide Left" game to find a meaningful FSU-Miami slug fest. This week's game between the Seminoles and the Hurricanes, however, promises to be a vintage Sunshine State Showdown.

Both teams are 7-0 and holding onto, not only ACC title hopes, but BCS championship dreams as well. The last time the Canes were 7-0 was 2003, when they beat FSU twice. The last time FSU was 7-0 was 1999, when they won their last national title.

The game features two star quarterbacks, as Florida State's Jameis Winston is doing his best Charlie Ward impression (Not Chris Weinke, thank you), but Stephen Morris is simply treading water for the Canes (His Ken Dorsey impression, perhaps).

As big as this game is, don't let it erase the fact that Miami is playing pretty horribly right now. The aforementioned Morris threw four interceptions in a "how the hell did they pull that out" win over North Carolina, and Miami responded by squeaking past Wake Forest 24-21 at home.

If you go with the "hot" team, it has to be Florida State. The Noles are coming off a dismantling of nationally ranked Clemson two weeks ago, and have outscored opponents 163-31 the last three weeks.

But with this rivalry, and I haven't been able to say this for a long time, throw out the records. It's gonna be a good one... Even if the Noles are 22 point favorites at home.

Worst Parent of the Week: Nathan Scheelhaase's Pops

We know how overbearing some parents can be at their kid's sporting events, but Nathan Creer, the father of Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, took it to another level last Saturday.

Creer, 51, was arrested by University of Illinois police after he instigated an argument with at least five people during the Illini's home game against Michigan State. Officials gave no comment on what the argument was about, but said, unsurprisingly, that "alcohol appeared to be a factor."

"(Creer) resisted and obstructed the officer's efforts to remove him from the incident," university police Chief Jeff Christensen said. "He became somewhat aggressive with the officer."

For his trouble, Creer was sent a letter from the university banning him from campus for a year. That's right, the father of one of Illinois' most popular athletes can't be on campus for a year. My guess is he'd be allowed back if his son had led the team to more than three points against MSU.

Most Entertaining Game of the Week: 18. Oklahoma State at 15. Texas Tech

While most fans are eager to watch BCS No.3 Florida State battle No. 7 Miami in ABC's Saturday night game, the most watchable game begins two hours earlier on FOX.

Texas Tech surprised most when it came out of the gates 7-0 and jumped to No. 10 in the polls. That magical run ended last week at Oklahoma, as freshman QB Davis Webb was held under 400 yards passing for the first time in three weeks. He still put up 385, but a pair of picks doomed TT against the Sooners.

Okie State, meanwhile, is struggling to get its usually phenomenal passing offense going. Coach Mike Gundy gave senior Clint Chelf the keys to the Cowboys' Air Raid attack, but he produced just 78 yard and a single touchdown against hapless Iowa State in relief of sophomore J.W. Walsh.

Still, OSU is 6-1, the winners of three straight, and scoring nearly 40 points per game.

How have they done it? Well, the Pokies have gotten a big performance from a different player each week. Last week against the Cyclones it was junior running back Desmond Roland, who went off for 219 yards and four touchdowns.

Who will it be this week, and can they slow down the potent Raider passing game? Who knows, and probably not are the answers that make this game so intriguing.


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:

AUBURN(-8) over Arkansas

Arkansas has lost its last three games by a combined score of 132-17. The Razorbacks have also only covered the spread once all season (In a 45-33 loss to Texas A&M when the spread was 14), and coach Bret Bielema has changed his lead recruiting pitch from "I produce NFL linemen" to "don't go play in a no-huddle spread offense! Nobody in the NFL is running that cooky stuff!"

Auburn, meanwhile, is enjoying an offensive resurgence under coach Gus Malzahn and his, um, no-huddle spread offense. It is the same offense that helped Cam Newton run/throw his way to a Heisman Trophy, and lead the Tigers to their lone BCS National Championship in 2010. Head coach Gene Chizik was never able to recapture 2010's magic after Newton left for the NFL and Malzahn left to become the coach of Arkansas State.

With Malzahn back in Auburn, I think we're seeing who the real genius behind that unstoppable offense was. So, if the Razorbacks are giving up 31 to Florida's third-string QB and 52 to South Carolina, I'm willing to bet Auburn can score a few in this one.

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