College Football Weekly Update


Miami Defeats Oklahoma – What Does It Mean?

Miami Quarterback Jacory Harris overcame a dreadful start to lead the Hurricanes to a 21-20 victory over Oklahoma in front of a crowd of 45,000 at Landshark Stadium Saturday night.

Harris started the night off about as bad as he possibly he could. Harris threw an interception on each of Miami’s first two drives that helped Oklahoma get out to an early 10-0 lead. Harris would bounce back, finishing the game 19-28 for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Harris did not throw another interception.

With Heisman-winning Quarterback Sam Bradford still unable to play due to a right shoulder injury and All-American Tight End Jermaine Gresham already out for the season, the Sooners got another huge blow. Senior Wide Receiver Ryan Broyles, who entered the game 22 receptions for 309 yards and an impressive seven touchdowns in just four games, fractured his left shoulder blade and had to leave the game with the Sooners ahead. Broyles is the Sooners’ leading receiver and after he exited the game, Landry Jones and the Oklahoma offense started to fall apart and never really got back into their groove. Oklahoma was forced to use Running Back Mosis Madu as a Wide Receiver and had only one real reliable target throughout the night in Wide Receiver Cameron Kenney, who entered the game with just three career receptions.

Oklahoma had a lot of success running the ball. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown combined for 151 yards on 34 carries, but Stoops and company kept trying to move the ball through the air. Strange thing to do when you have a redshirt freshman Quarterback out there.

Mark Whipple’s Miami offense also probably threw the ball a little too much, but with all of the success Whipple has had thus far, it’s hard to question his play-calling. Graig Cooper could not get going, rushing for just 21 yards on eight carries, but his teammate in the backfield, Javarris James, had a career-high 150 yards on 15 carries.

Oklahoma was down by just four and faced a 4th down on Miami’s 22 with 4:18 to go. Rather than go for it and take the lead, Stoops opted to kick a Field goal to cut the lead to one. Thanks to a good running game, a gutsy call by Mark Whipple and an excellent throw by Jacory Harris, Oklahoma wouldn’t see the ball again.

Stoops’ big game strategies and abilities used to never be called into question, but after his recent string of big game losses that include three losses in BCS National Title games, one has to wonder what Stoops is thinking with some of his decisions.

Miami is obviously one of the most improved teams in the country and I admire Randy Shannon for all of the adversity that he is overcome, but I still think he has some work to do as a game day coach. But, with Shannon’s excellent recruiting abilities and his fantastic coaching hires (especially the hiring of Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple, who has turned the offense around), he has put himself in an excellent position to be successful.

Harris still struggles when he has pressure put on him. He threw two interceptions early on and had a dropped interception that would have certainly been a pick-six. When Harris is protected, he makes excellent decision and is one very good Quarterback. His offensive line kept him clean throughout the second half, which enabled the ‘Canes to win the game. I don’t necessarily think that Miami is “back.” Miami being back, by their standards, makes them one of the five best teams in the nation every year. The ‘Canes aren’t quite there yet as evidenced by their blowout loss at Virginia Tech, but the team is very close and is no doubt on the right track.

Cal – The Most Overhyped Team in the Nation?

California entered the season with a top-10 ranking, a Heisman contender Running Back and lofty expectations. It took just a few weeks to take Cal out of the top 25 all together.

A week after being destroyed at Oregon, the Bears returned home to face Southern Cal in what was supposed to be the biggest game in the Pac-10 this season.

If it was, somebody forgot to tell the Bears. Cal was embarrassed for the second straight week, losing to Southern Cal 30-3. Jahvid Best managed just 47 yards this week, nine less than he had at Oregon a week ago. If his Heisman campaign didn’t come to an end last week, it has now.

Southern Cal, whose offense has struggled throughout the entire season, put up 457 yards. Freshman Quarterback Matt Barkley was 20-35 for a career-high 283 yards, while Cal Quarterback Kevin Riley completed just 15 of his 40 pass attempts. Southern Cal built a 20-point halftime lead and never looked back.

Cal’s Pac-10 title hopes are all but over while Southern Cal has a chance not only to win the Pac-10, but to get back into the BCS National Title picture as well.

“That’s how we play,”  USC Senior Safety Taylor Mays said. “We know what we have in the locker room, and we’ve been playing close to our potential for the last few weeks.”

USC’s October 24th matchup at Oregon and their date with Stanford this November in the Coliseum should decide the Trojans’ fate in the Pac-10.

Cincinnati Continues to Fly Under the Radar

With an NFL quality Quarterback, Tony Pike, an NFL quality Wide Receiver, Marshawn Gilyard, maybe the hottest coach in the country, Brian Kelly and a 5-0 record, you’d think Cincinnati would be talked about by every pundit and analyst in the country.

They’re not.

If you look at the team’s overall body of work so far in the season, few teams have been as impressive as Cincinnati. They started the season with a blowout 47-15 win over Big East rival Rutgers, a team that many expect to contend for a Big East title .

The Bears then went out to Corvallis and came away with a very impressive road win over Oregon State, ending the Beavers’ 26-game home win streak over nonconference opponents. It is never easy to go across the country and play a football game, especially when you face a perennial Bowl team who rarely loses at home.

Cincinnati has given both Rutgers and Oregon State their only loss.

Cincinnati struggled with Fresno State, but Fresno is a team that took Wisconsin to overtime at Camp Randall Stadium and for the most part, kept up with Boise State.

I’m not calling Cincinnati a serious national title contender – they’re not – but they have been quite impressive and Head Coach Brian Kelly deserves all the credit in the world for what he has done with Cincinnati’s football program.

We will see what the Bearcats are really made of a week from Thursday when they take on the unbeaten South Florida Bulls, fresh off road wins over Florida State and Syracuse. The Big East will officially have a front runner after that game.

Auburn’s Offense Continues to Impress

What happens when you a dump a coach who has had great success and even turn in an undefeated season (Tommy Tuberville) and sign a coach who has had one major head coaching gig  and went 5-19 over those two seasons (Gene Chizik)?

A 5-0 start, of course.

Auburn has been one of the most surprising teams in the country this season. Gene Chizik’s first move was his best move. Chizik hired Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn. Under Malzahn, the Tigers are averaging 512.8 yards of offense per game. Auburn currently has the fifth ranked offense in all of college football after ranking 104th a season ago when the Tigers finished 5-7.

The Tigers defeated Tennessee in Neyland Stadium on Saturday by a final score of 26-22. Auburn was in control throughout the game, allowing 16 of Tennessee’s points to come in the 4th quarter. This included a touchdown by Tennessee that came with no time remaining when the game was no longer in doubt.

After a shaky 2008 in which he split time with Kodi Burns, Auburn decided on Chris Todd as their starting Quarterback.

Good decision.

He is completing nearly 60% of his passes and has 12 touchdowns and just one interception. He had just five touchdowns and six interceptions last season.

Former starting Quarterback Kodi Burns isn’t being left out. He is 3-of-7 with 46 yards and a touchdown out of the Wildcat formation. He also has rushed for 83 yards and four touchdowns.

Running Back Ben Tate has 540 yards on 97 carries and his backup, Onterio McCalebb has 416 yards on 67 carries. Auburn is running and passing the ball with great efficiency.

We thought we’d have a three-horse race in the SEC West and after Ole Miss’ slip-up at South Carolina, it seemed like Alabama and LSU jumped to the front of the pack. Well, they may have company in the Auburn Tigers.

Performance of the Week

Donald Buckram, Running Back, UTEP

Buckram rushed for an astounding 262 yards and four TDs in UTEP’s 58-41 upset win over the 12th ranked Houston Cougars.

The Heisman Race

It wasn’t a big week for the Heisman contenders.

Both Texas Quarterback Colt McCoy and Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow had bye weeks.

Houston Quarterback Case Keenum had another huge game, going 51-76 for 536 yards, 5 TDs and 0 interceptions. Seems like that would boost him up the list, right? Wrong. Houston was defeated by UTEP 58-41. On a team like Houston, if you lose a game to a UTEP team that Colt McCoy’s Longhorns beat down 64-7, you fall out of the race. It’s unfortunate for Keenum because the loss was not his fault – there’s not much more he could have done.

As I mentioned earlier, Cincinnati Quarterback Tony Pike continues to impress. He passed for 270 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception in a 34-13 win over Miami (OH) Saturday.

Notre Dame Quarterback Jimmy Clausen is flying up the charts after another big game. He had 422 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception in the Fighting Irish’s comeback overtime victory over Washington. Clausen has 1544 yards, 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and is completing 67.6% of his passes on the year.

My Top 25





Virginia Tech


Boise State



Ohio State




Oklahoma State

Penn State



South Carolina

South Florida


Brigham Young

Georgia Tech

Ole Miss



Game Of The Week

#1 Florida @ #4 LSU, 8 PM EST, CBS

The Line: Florida – 8.5

With Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow’s status up in the air, I’m surprised that the line is so high. I know that LSU has struggled and Florida returns the majority of their two-deep from the team that won the 2008 National Championship, but 8.5 points is a huge spread for any team going into Death Valley, especially at night. LSU has won 32 straight night home games.

This is a difficult game to gauge because of the unknown status of 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

Florida has had it easy outside of a closer than expected win against Tennessee while LSU has, for the most part, struggled. They needed a goal-line stand to defeat Mississippi State and had to score with under a minute to go to defeat Georgia last week.

I think, because of some close wins against inferior competition, LSU has flown under the radar, but the Tigers are already 3-0 in the SEC and have two impressive road wins, defeating Washington, who is just 2-3, but is 2-0 at home, and Georgia, whom the Tigers defeated 20-13 in Athens. Georgia scored 41 and 52 points in their first two SEC contests against South Carolina and Arkanas, but were unable to get on the score board until the fourth quarter against the Tigers. LSU shut down the Georgia running game and really only allowed one offensive player – superstar Wide Receiver AJ Green, to do much damage against them. LSU ran fairly well throughout the game. These close games could work to LSU’s advantage because they have proven they know how to win these games and should be confident when a game comes down to the wire.

There are a few keys for LSU if they want to win this game.

The Tigers must slow down Florida’s running game. They have averaged more rushing yards than any team in the country (307.5 yards per game)

This will force Florida’s Quarterback, whether it’s Tebow or his backup, John Brantley, into throwing to their unproven Wide Receivers against LSU’s talented secondary.

LSU must establish the run themselves and have Quarterback Jordan Jefferson play extremely smart football. This will allow LSU to control the football and keep the Gator offense off of the field.

Unfortunately, I don’t trust Jordan Jefferson and the Tigers offense to do that. I’ll take LSU to cover but Florida to win the game.

Upset Alert

Boston College @ #5 Virginia Tech – 13.5

The Eagles are coming off an emotional win against Florida State and Virginia Tech struggled to defeat Duke last week. The Eagles will be full of confidence and have traditionally played the Hokies tough. Although Boston College has lost two straight ACC Championship games to the Hokies, the Eagles have defeated the Hokies three straight times during the regular season. I like the Eagles to keep it close, but in the end, I think Tech has too much talent for the Eagles to match.

#22 Georgia Tech @ Florida State -2.5

Seriously, who decided to make FSU a favorite? Not only have they looked awful in their last two games (losses to USF and BC), but now there are rumors of Bobby Bowden retiring or being forced out and dissent among the coaching staff.

#2 Alabama – 6.5 @ #23 Ole Miss

Before the season, this was billed as the game of the year in the SEC West. Ole Miss nearly took down Alabama last year in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss Quarterback Jevan Snead will have to have a phenomenal game and that is something that he is yet to do this season. Still, Ole Miss has enough talent and the home crowd behind them to pull the upset if Alabama makes some mistakes, but Alabama Quarterback Greg McElroy has played excellent football, so I wouldn’t bet on the Tide’s offense making too many mistakes.

Georgia @ Tennessee – 2

Someone explain to me why Tennessee is favored.

#25 Wisconsin @ #10 Ohio State -13.5

The Badgers gave Ohio State all they could handle last year before Terrelle Pryor’s game-winning touchdown run late in the 4th quarter last year and have traditionally given the Buckeyes trouble. With that being said, it will be difficult to knock off the Buckeyes at home, but I can see the Badgers covering.

#13 Oregon – 6.5 @ UCLA

Oregon has to be riding high. They are 4-0 since their loss at Boise State, knocking off two consecutive ranked teams (Utah, Cal) and then blowing out Washington State 52-6 last week. The Ducks go to Washington, host USC and travel to Stanford from October 24th-Novemeber 7th in a stretch that will decide their season. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Oregon has a bye next week, so will not be looking ahead. UCLA is much improved. They had back to back wins at Tennessee and against Kansas State before dropping a game at Stanford last week 24-16. Kevin Craft has played fairly well for the Bruins since taking over at Quarterback against Kansas State and the UCLA defense has been very good outside of Toby Gerhart’s 134-yard performance for Stanford last week. If UCLA can play keep away from the Oregon offense, they have a chance.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger an an avid college football fan. Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)