Matt Barkley & USC
Wasn’t the triumphant return of the stud QB, those receivers, and tons of starters supposed to have USC Trojans challenge the SEC’s dominance of the BCS national championship trophy? Five weeks into the season, the Trojans aren’t even in the Top Ten anymore and have been written off as a true contender in the BCS picture. Barkley has been less than impressive and has fallen off the Heisman radar as a result.
Bobby Petrino’s little escapade on his motorcycle over the summer sparked a disaster in Hog Country. After Petrino’s firing and the hiring of John L. Smith, it appeared that Arkansas, with QB Tyler Smith and a host of returning players, wouldn’t miss a beat. They missed terribly. After a season-opening win over FCS Jacksonville State, the Hogs have lost four straight and sit at 1-4.
And speaking of ULM, is this a program on the rise? An upset of Arkansas, they took Auburn to overtime before falling, and were right in it with Baylor. The WarHawks average 42 points per game and have a highly underrated QB in Kolton Browning. ULM begins play in the Sun Belt this weekend. Look for them to be in the hunt for a conference title.
MAC vs. Big Ten
The Big Ten used to schedule MAC teams as warm ups for the coming league schedule or even homecoming games. No more. Miami (OH) beats Penn State. Northern Illinois over Kansas. Central Michigan shocks Iowa. Ball State wins at Indiana. The MAC is no longer the “little brother” to the Big Ten and the Big Ten, well, is just not as strong as it used to be.
After a dismal 3-9 campaign last year, Mike Riley has his troops ranked in the Top 20 with three wins over ranked teams already (Wisconsin, Arizona, UCLA). The Beavers QB Sean Mannion has matured and delivered for the Beavers who still have a long road ahead with the Pac-12 schedule and the year-ending Civil War with #2 Oregon. Doubtful anyone thought OSU would be unbeaten and ranked heading into October.
A 4-0 start, a top ten ranking…Irish fans have dreamed for years and now head coach Brian Kelly has made it come true. The Notre Dame defense is something special and is the big reason the Irish are unbeaten. If QB Everett Golson can get it figured out on offense, Notre Dame can be a true BCS contender. A strong running game and powerful defense are part of the necessary ingredients in championship football teams. Golson, or even former starter Tommy Rees, needs to add the QB to the mix.
Texas Tech Defense
Who leads the nation in total defense? Alabama? LSU? No…it’s the Red Raiders of pass-happy Texas Tech. There hasn’t been defense like this in Lubbock since the days of Spike Dykes. Tommy Tuberville’s unit gives up just 167.5 yards per game (just 85.5 on the ground!) Hey, some of it is the schedule they have played but they are better than year’s past. And they will need to be. Beginning Saturday, the Red Raiders face five nationally ranked opponents in a row.