College Football Weekly Update: Stanford Does it Again


Stanford Does it Again (and so does USC)

A week after defeating an Oregon team ranked in the top 10, the Cardinal put a whooping on another top 10 team. This time, the victim was Southern Cal.

Stanford got off to an early 14-0 lead and had a 21-7 lead at halftime. Southern Cal made some big plays in the third quarter to cut the lead to just 28-21, but, Stanford dominated the final quarter, outscoring the Trojans 27-0 in route to a 55-21 victory.

Stanford has moved in the top 20 and is arguably the hottest team in the nation. Meanwhile, Southern Cal’s quest for an eighth straight 11-win season, BCS Bowl bid and top-four finish is all but over. USC is now 4-3 in conference play and is tied for fifth in the Pac-10. Stanford still has a chance at the Rose Bowl while the Trojans may be relegated to the Emerald Bowl.

The most points ever given up by a Pete Carroll-led USC team came three weeks ago when Oregon lit up the Trojans for 47 points. Then, Stanford scored 55 points at USC Saturday. In other words, this is the worst defense that Carroll has had at USC. By far.

On the flip side, Stanford had scored 106 points in their last two games.

Many feel the Cardinal have the most-balanced offense in the entire country and they showed why on Saturday.

Quarterback Andrew Luck, a redshirt Freshman, was 12-of-22 for 144 yards with 2 TDs and 0 interceptions. Toby Gerhart continued to show that he is an elite player by rushing for 178 yards on 29 carries and scoring three touchdowns.  Gerhart was understandably excited.

"“To do that against a storied program, a perennial power, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. It was just will. The offensive line just moved people. We got after them and got downhill, and it was just a good offensive day.”"

Stanford rushed for 325 yards and picked up 469 total yards, while holding the Trojans to just 334 total yards. Stanford was also extremely efficient when they needed to be, converting eight of their 11 third down attempts and converting on their only fourth down try.

Stanford has just two games remaining. They play host to California in their annual rivalry game and then head back home to host Notre Dame.

Stanford is currently in a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-10. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, they lost to the two teams they are tied with – Arizona and Oregon State.

The best bet for a Stanford BCS berth would be to have Arizona lose one of their final three games. That very well could happen because the Wildcats host Oregon and then travel to Arizona State and USC. Stanford would love for Arizona to upset Oregon and lose one of their final two games because Stanford also needs Oregon to lose at least one game. The Ducks are currently in first place in the Pac-10 at 6-1.

Oregon State plays Washington State and Oregon on the road in their final two games. Wazzou is maybe the worst of any team in a BCS Conference, so it is unlikely that Beavers will drop that game. That means the Cardinal will need Oregon to defeat their rivals and lose their game this week at Arizona.

To summarize, Arizona has to beat Oregon and then lose to either USC or Arizona State and Oregon has to defeat Oregon State to get Stanford to the Rose Bowl.  It’s a complicated scenario that seems unlikely, but it’s far from impossible.

Is TCU a National Title Contender?

In the highly anticipated MWC matchup between TCU and Utah, the Horned Frogs dominated from start to finish. TCU gained 549 total yards while holding the Utes to just 284 total yards and just 65 yards rushing. The Horned Frogs rushed for 342 yards.

The game seemed like it would be a good one early on but TCU turned a 7-7 tie into a 35-7 blowout in just over six minutes spanning from the end of the first quarter into the second quarter.

Junior Quarterback Andy Dalton is playing great football for the Frogs. He’s completing 63% of his passes (149-of-236), has 2,088 yards and 17 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions. He’s making great decisions and is avoiding mistakes. He’s also rushed for 389 yards and 2 TDs.

TCU’s running game has been outstanding. Dalton has 389 yards and is just the team’s fourth leading rusher. Joseph Turner (622 yards), Ed Wesley (598 yards) and Matthew Tucker (471) make up the three-headed monster at Running Back. The team has rushed for 2,521 yards, is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and has scored 30 touchdowns.

There is a very good argument for TCU.

TCU is the only team in the country to rank in top four in both total offense and total defense, ranking fourth in both categories.

That defense is led by Defensive End Jerry Hughes, who has 49 tackles and 10 sacks. The unit is also extremely well coached by Defensive Coordinator Dick Bumpas and Head Coach Gary Patterson.

TCU has won three key road games. They won at likely ACC Atlantic Division Champion Clemson, at Virginia, and blew out conference rival BYU at Provo.

The Horned Frogs have defeated three teams currently ranked in the top 25 (Clemson, BYU, & Utah). Alabama has defeated just two teams currently ranked in the top 25 (Virginia Tech, LSU) while Florida (LSU) and Texas (Oklahoma State) have defeated just one each.

TCU isn’t just beating these teams either – they are destroying them. Outside of a close, come from behind win in Death Valley against a very talented Clemson team and a scare at Air Force, TCU has won every game by at least 16 points and is winning by an average of 26.3 points per game.

Unfortunately the Frogs need a loss by Texas to make the title game and that doesn’t seem likely. The Horns host Kansas Saturday, play at rival Texas A&M on Thanksgiving and then have 9 days to prepare for the Big 12 Championship against either Nebraska or Kansas State.  The Horns should be a heavy favorite in all three games.

TCU is one of the country’s elite team.

And they probably won’t get the chance to prove it.

FBS Notes

After disappointing losses to Southern Cal and Purdue, Ohio State is going back to the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes were in third place in the Big 10 just two weeks ago, but after wins against second-place Penn State and first-place Iowa, the Buckeyes clinched the Big 10 title. They conclude their season in the Big House against Michigan Saturday.

Duke’s performance has been one of the stories of the season. It looked like the story would get even better after they took a 10-0 lead against ACC Coastal leader Georgia Tech. Then, the Yellow Jackets scored the game’s last 49 points, winning 49-10. Tech has clinched a spot against either Clemson or Boston College in the ACC Championship and has a week off before finishing the season against rival Georgia on November 28. The Jackets have won 8 in a row and are the BCS’ top ranked one-loss team.

Props to Redshirt Freshman QB E.J. Manuel of Florida State. He stepped in for an injured Christian Ponder and led FSU to their first win against Wake Forest in four years. On the road. He was 15-of-20 (75%) for 220 yards with 1 TD passing and 1 interception. He also had 10 carries for 45 yards and a TD rushing. If Manuel can lead the ‘Noles to a home win against Maryland Saturday, FSU will be bowl-bound after a 2-4 start.

Miami Sophomore QB Jacory Harris has now thrown 16 interceptions after his 4 interception performance against North Carolina on Saturday. Harris looks great at times but his inconsistency has cost the Canes a shot at the ACC title. Then again, without him, it’s unlikely that they would have even been in the ACC race to begin with. The media was way too quick in anointing Harris, but he is still just a true sophomore.  There is plenty of room for improvement but there is also plenty of time for improvement.

LSU is not a top-10 team. LSU nearly lost to Louisiana Tech, coming from behind to win 24-16 last weekend. The Tigers have not had an impressive win all season. Sure, they kept it close with the nation’s top two teams, Florida and Alabama, but a loss is still a loss.  Their best win is also tainted in the eyes of some because of the excessive celebration penalty called on Georgia Wide Receiver A.J. Green after Georgia took a late lead.

Houston Quarterback Case Keenum probably lost his chance at the Heisman Trophy after Houston was upset by Central Florida. Keenum threw for “only” 377 yards and 3 TDs. I would also like to congratulate UCF on their first ever win over a top 25 team. Houston entered the game ranked 15th.

If Charlie Weis wasn’t done after the loss to Navy, he is now. Notre Dame was defeated by Pittsburgh and Weis is now just 35-25 in five seasons at Notre Dame. He’s just 6-4 against what was considered a fairly weak schedule. And with games left against Connecticut and at red-hot Stanford, it may get even worse for Weis and the Irish.

Performance of the Week:

Toby Gerhart, Running Back, Stanford

Gerhart takes home the honor for the second straight week after rushing for 178 yards on 29 carries and scoring three touchdowns, leading Stanford to a 55-21 blowout win at Southern Cal.

The Heisman Race

We have a little bit of shake-up, but the top 2 remain the same.

1.Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Last Week: 19 carries, 149 yards, 2 TDs
Season: 194 carries, 1,297 yards (6.7 yards per carry), 25 receptions, 225 yards, 3 TDs.

2.Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Last Week: 23-of-34 for 181 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Season: 254-of-351 (72.4%), 19 TDs, 9 INTs, 1 TD rushing

3.Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
Last Week: 9 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD, 87-yard punt return TD
Season: 74 receptions, 1,172 yards, 11 TDs, 23 carries, 159 yards, 2 TDs, 1 punt return TD

4.Case Keenum, QB, Houston
Last Week: 33-of-56 for 377 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Season: 358-of-514 (69.7%), 4,194 yards, 31 TDs, 6 INTs, 3 TDs rushing

5.C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Last Week: 18 rushes, 97 yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions, 48 yards, 1 TD, 1-of-1, 17 yards, and a TD passing.
Season: 153 carries, 836 yards (5.5 ypc), 6 TDs, 24 receptions, 382 yards, 4 TDs, 1-of-2, 17 yards, 1 TD, 11 punt returns for 191 yards, 1 TD, 16 kickoff returns for 543 yards, 3 TDs, 1,952 all-purpose yards, 15 Total TDs.

Looking in:

Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

My Top 25

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. TCU
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Boise State
  7. Georgia Tech
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. Ohio State
  10. Oregon
  11. LSU
  12. Iowa
  13. Penn State
  14. Oklahoma State
  15. Wisconsin
  16. Virginia Tech
  17. Stanford
  18. Clemson
  19. Utah
  20. Brigham Young
  21. North Carolina
  22. Houston
  23. Rutgers
  24. Oregon State
  25. Miami (FL)

Game of the Week

#9 Ohio State @ Michigan

12:00 pm, EST, ABC

The Line: OSU – 12

Michigan came out of the gate strong, starting 4-0. The Buckeyes started the year a disappointing 5-2. Both teams have since gone in difference directions. Michigan is just 1-6 since their 4-0 start and the Buckeyes have won four straight claims and clinch the Big 10 title. Michigan has to win this game in order to become bowl eligible. If they don’t, Rich Rodriguez’s club will be home for the holidays for the second straight season – that won’t make the big wigs and boosters at Michigan happy.

Sure, the game is in the Big House, but I don’t think that matters. The Buckeyes have a better team, plain and simple.

Michigan’s defense is awful. They give up over 400 yards per game and 5.73 yards per play, ranking 89th in the country.

Ohio State’s defense is one of the nation’s elite. It is an extremely well coached unit and is fifth in the country in total defense. The Buckeyes give up just over 258 yards per game and only 4.08 yards per play.

Michigan’s offense is improved but they still rank just 56th in the nation. The Wolvers average less yards than they give up at 391.36. They average 5.74 yards per play. They have struggled against good defenses and Ohio State’s defense will easily be the best the Wolverines have seen.

Terrelle Pryor is playing much better as of late so I like the Buckeyes to come away with a comfortable win.

Keep an Eye On…

#11 LSU @ Ole Miss – 3

Ole Miss has been disappointing this season, losing three games after being projected as a top-10 team, but the Rebels have won 4 out of 5 after a 3-2 start and played their most complete game of the season last week against Tennessee. The Rebels dominated the Vols, 42-17. Running Back Dexter McCluster was incredible, rushing for 282 yards on 25 carries with 4 TDs against a Tennessee defense that has been very stout this season.

Both defenses are stout. LSU gives up just under 312 yards per game while the Rebels give up 313 yards per game. Both units are extremely talented and it will likely come down to which offense can make more plays.

LSU’s offense is awful. The Tigers rank 107th in the country in total offense. They average just 310 yards per game. Ole Miss’ offense has had a lot of trouble with turnovers and inconsistent play from QB Jevon Snead, but they have been a much better unit then the Tigers. They rank 41st in the nation, gaining 405 yards per game and 5.96 yards per play.

California @ #17 Stanford – 7

If you haven’t seen the balance of their Stanford offense led by Quarterback Andrew Luck and Running Back Toby Gerhart, do yourself a favor and check it out.

We should see some points in the “Big game.” Both defenses have had several lapses but both offenses are capable of scoring points.

It looks like Stanford should come away with the victory, but this is a rivalry game and Cal is a very talented team.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)