This week's buys and sells, as presented by Hannibal and Orson. Enjoy.
Georgia. I feel your pain, Orson, but what happened at the Cocktail Party was an essential bloodletting if Georgia is going to take control of this wayward division with the kind of year-end run it pulled off last year. Troy, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech stand between 10-2 and, if Tennessee loses one of its last three conference games, the East title. We always wish for the very best health and welfare on behalf of our fellow man, of course, of course, but re: Thomas Brown’s injury, any event that results in more carries by Knowshon Moreno is a
positive event where the Bulldog offense is concerned. When Georgia has had that durable number one back in the past – Musa Smith, Verron Haynes, young Thomas Brown – Mark Richt’s offense has hummed, and here we are again.
Knowshon Moreno. Good.
Speaking of Richt: nothing to apologize for. The whole team storming the field was a fun, spontaneous move that boosted morale
for the rest of the game, and the game now will boost morale for the rest of the season. Georgia was dead for a decade and a half against Florida and dead in the East standings going into Saturday, and neither is true anymore. Just remember: like any good trick, it only works once.
Texas. Still hasn’t beaten a good team, but things seemed to gel in the second half against Nebraska. Colt McCoy is still making very "gutty" plays in the verable "small town hick" tradition, like staring down his first option or, occasionally, running around aimlessly after failing to recognize open men. But if the Longhorns will commit to running Jamaal Charles, dammit, and doing what they do best (the read option, if the quarterback is a threat to run), UT can finish the season on a six-game run and be in pretty good position for one of the wide open at-large spots in the BCS, or the Cotton Bowl at worst.
BYU. Just quietly cruising along in the Mountain West.
Last game at San Diego State was suspended for wildfire-related reasons, but, stereotypes aside, you do not catch Mormons when they build a two-game advantage - with wins already over top Mountain West contender Air Force and New Mexico, that’s essentially what the Cougars have over the last five games. Ten wins got BYU into the top 20 last year, and I would expect the same if it can run the table from here out.
Arizona. Short term, junk bond hold only! ONLY! Why the smoking hell would anyone be daft as to take the third version of Mike Stoops putrid Arizona teams and pop them into the buy column when we know full well there is a four game cap on any and all Wildcat teams coached by Mike Stoops? For one simple reason: they play UCLA next week, a team that burps up turnovers like a drunk giving off whiskey fog (-5 TO margin on the year) and the most inconsistent team in the known universe. Logic would dictate that UCLA would bounce back following a road loss to Washington State. Logic is more than happy to stab you in the face on this one; buy, hold for the game, then drop like a bag of shit on fire immediately afterward. Because Jesus Jackhammerin' Christ, it's still Arizona, after all.
Missouri. Chase Daniel's got Meast written all over him, and Missouri hasn't slumped into the normal Pinkel late-season trough. They go to troglodyte Colorado this weekend, a spot that tripped up Oklahoma, but after that they're through and skating until a November 24th game with Kansas. Rewind your brain; insert new variable of "Kansas versus Missouri will be a game with national implications" into the time clip marked September 1st, 2007. Enjoy the reactions.
Ohio State. Convinced now that they are demonstrably very, very good. Please proceed to national title checkin, as you have entered the Big Ten/Pac 10 express line and bypassed the pesky ID check at the championship game.
The rest of the SEC East. A couple weeks after they were all in the top ten, South Carolina’s suddenly lost two straight and Florida and Kentucky three out of four each. That trio went 4-9 in the month of October, and 2-7 in games outside of one another. Just by following up its upset of USCe by beating Miami, Ohio, Saturday, Vanderbilt had a better month.
This includes division leader Tennessee, too, because the Vols are still giving up 500 yards to merely competent offenses and requiring timely fumbles and the high, unforgiving irony of overtime flags to eke out decent victories. I would say the conference can’t stand for that kind of team representing in Atlanta, but with Arkansas, Vandy and Kentucky left, I dunno, maybe there’s no one willing to do his duty of knocking the Vols out of their perch.
California. A little late to the game here, but anyone still holding on to the "Tedford Magic" needs get out while he still can. The running game is broken and the defense is bordering on a freefall with USC still in front of it.
Texas Tech. The Raiders are fun, but after all the numbers is the fact that they aren’t good enough at fundamental football: Tech can’t play defense and can’t finish drives when it runs of field in the red zone. Missouri is one thing, but Colorado is too lo-fi to be an excusable loss. I wouldn’t be as pessimistic if the last three games didn’t still include Oklahoma and the aforementioned Longhorns, which probably leaves Cap’n Leach’s Crew at 7-5, again.
Florida Sell 'em hard. Injuries riddle both sides of the ball, the tailback can't hold on to the ball, the d-line's down to three healthy tackles (losing not one, but TWO in the course of the Georgia game,) Tebow's hurting, and the defensive backs give a 15 yard cushion at all times. Attempt to hug one, and they will maintain a perfect 15 yard distance from you; have them as a student in your class, and they will sit miles away in the back of the auditorium. It's kiddie hour in Gainesville, and time for trial by inferno. Fun comes in a thousand varieties.
Michigan State. A team reeling from two straight losses heads into the three game home stretch of Michigan, Purdue, and Penn State. The Spartans' suffer from a particular lack of production in the passing game, only throwing three touchdowns in their four losses. Their run first, pass-second offense will find no purchase in the final haul through the Big Ten. Plus, an eternal law of football follows here: if it's November, it must be Michigan State flaming to earth in the Big Ten.
UCLA. Only because I know the Bruins will turn in at least one and probably more stunning performances over the final month, and since three of
their last four games are against Arizona State, Oregon and USC, it’s more likely than not that effort will be the next addition to L.A.’s provocative "Shocking Upset" series. Of course, it could continue the program’s "Blue Period" (known in some circles as the "Dorrell Period"), and lose to Arizona Saturday, in which case, buy! Buy! Volatlity is the essence of life!
Boston College. I’m more convinced that ever after last Thursday the Eagles will lose a game, but looking at their remaining schedule (Florida State, Maryland, Clemson, Miami, ACC Championship), hell if I have any idea who. Clemson, possibly, but as long as B.C. is favored, just ride the wave on out.
UConn. Ditto the first place, once-beaten Huskies, who are not a good team, as far as I can tell, and might easily lose three of their last four and fall quickly off the face of the planet (or into the International Bowl; same thing). Or UConn might be that scrappy boxcar fighter we get every year –Rutgers and Wake Forest in ‘06 come to mind, two teams that won one legitimately big game between them – that gets the bounces and the schedule to take its fortune the distance. Like Rutgers last year, UConn closes at West Virginia in a possible winner-take-all scenario, and all judgments are off until the Huskies actually win their way into that situation.
Kansas. Would love to see what occurs when they face a team that can pass...like, say, Missouri in the final game of the season.
Texas. A late collapse and 200 yard diarrhea of yards allowed by Nebraska should be no reason to celebrate in Austin. They same problems plaguing Texas all season remain, and the obstinacy of Mack Brown's coaching staff in plowing headlong into solid walls without the proper tools remains. As long as their linebacking corps misreads plays, the run game can't get blocking against real competition, and Colt McCoy devolves from "nicked" to "completely banged-up," you'll have problems.
Georgia. The UCLA of the SEC, capable of road-housing Florida the week after a demoralizing no-show at Tennessee. A team so schizophrenic could only be called Dorrellian, and with a skilled and nasty Troy team coming in this weekend, it's a crapshoot as to which team you're going to see. They could easily lost to Troy, win the division, make the championship game, and then get to a BCS bowl where you may flip a coin to see whether they show and rage or coast and get torpedoed in the game.