>By Dylan Davis
Another week, another number one team losing on the road. This college football season has started to gather momentum in the past few weeks and the losses of Ohio State and Alabama have been the headliners. There have been upsets and exciting games. Electric players and surprise teams. Let’s give out some first half awards, shall we?
Best Player: Cam Newton (QB Auburn) – Up until the last two weeks, Denard Robinson was first in this category, and it wasn’t even close. But, since the Wolverines edged Indiana, they haven’t looked very good in two defeats against quality competition, and doubts have been raised about Robinson’s play earlier in the year. It seems like he racked up stats against bad competition and the injuries have started to become a factor as he has been pulled out of the last two games with injuries. Auburn’s signal caller has been the exact opposite. He didn’t get as much attention at the beginning of the year (although he did have some impressive stats) but as the weeks have gone on, he’s showed that he’s one of the top players in the nation. The Tigers have played a number of ranked, quality teams this year and Newton has led them to an undefeated record so far by being the SEC’s leading rusher and the 2nd highest rated passer in the NCAA. I expect Auburn to lose at least one game from here on out, but Newton should stay firmly entrenched as a Heisman favorite the rest of the way.
Worst Player: Jordan Jefferson (QB LSU) – LSU has somehow managed to make it through half of the season undefeated despite having one of the worst quarterbacks of any BCS school. His stats been horrific (577 yards, 53% completion, 90.9 rating, 2 td’s, and 7 interceptions), despite having top-notch talent surrounding him. He’s backed by one of the best defenses in the country and the weapons at his disposal include top recruits at wide receiver and running back. Jefferson is the only thing holding the Tigers back from having a good shot at the title, and the upcoming games against Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas should prove that.
Best Team: Oregon Ducks – Anyone who reads this blog consistently (hi Dad) knows that I have had a giant man crush on the Ducks after they destroyed New Mexico 72-0. Their offense has been on another level from the rest of the country, and as I said last week, their defense is pretty stout as well. Their toughest tests left are trips to USC and rival Oregon State, but if they keep playing the way they’ve been playing, I don’t see any team being able to keep up with the Quack Attack.
Most Disappointing Team: Penn State – I know the Nittany Lions are starting a freshman at quarterback, but you can’t lose by 20 at home to Illinois. The Lions offense has been atrocious all year and Evan Royster’s disappearance has been a big factor why. The defense has started to show cracks the past couple weeks, and if that side of the ball fails too, there’s no way the Lions go to a bowl this year. For a team ranked to start the year that hasn’t had any major injuries, this is a huge disappointment.
Best Conference: Pac 10 – Having the number one team in both major polls helps the Pac 10, but this is not a one-team conference. Gone are the days of USC dominating the national scene and everyone else playing for second. Now it’s filled with quality teams top to bottom and the rankings are littered with Pac 10 teams every week. Everyone (except for Washington State) has at least three wins so far this year despite playing the most difficult out of conference schedules as a whole. Even if Oregon doesn’t win the national title, this conference should remain on top because of its depth.
Worst Conference: Big East – The exact opposite of the Pac 10, only one ranked team (West Virginia at number 20) and absolutely no depth after that. It hurts that they only have eight teams to begin with, but the other seven teams in the conference have ranged from being almost mediocre to completely atrocious. If West Virginia stumbles along the way, this conference could get even uglier.
Best Game: Boise State vs. Virginia Tech – This game was the most hyped of the first week and it had the potential to make or break Boise’s season. It did not disappoint, as a seesaw battle ensued with both teams looking like they had it won multiple times before the Broncos were able to pull out a win on a last minute pass by Kellen Moore. Tech lost its next game to James Madison but has gone undefeated since then, and Boise has remained in the top-five all year long so this game will have a huge impact on the national title race all year long.
Most Impressive Showing: Auburn vs. Arkansas – This was billed by many (including me) as a good measuring stick game for the undefeated Tigers. It looks like they stack up pretty well. This was a close game for the first three quarters before the Auburn offense completely blew away an overmatched Razorbacks defense. Cam Newton had a superb day running and passing (only four incompletions!) as Auburn showed they belong in the top five.
Best Individual Game: Denard Robinson vs. Indiana – Robinson had over 275 yards passing and more than 200 yards rushing for an astounding 494 total yards and 5 touchdowns. The Wolverines defense had trouble putting away the lowly Hoosiers; so “Shoelace” put the team on his back and carried them to a last second win.
Quick Heisman Watch:
1. Cam Newton (QB Auburn) The Tigers signal caller led the offense to over 60 points against a decent defense and has looked like what Terrelle Pryor should be.
2. LaMichael James (HB Oregon) – Bye week for the Ducks, but expect James to run all over a mediocre UCLA team at home.
3. Denard Robinson (QB Michigan) – Needs to get healthy and right the ship if he wants to stay in this race. Still has plenty of time to jump up, but needs to play better against good competition before he can be taken as seriously.
4. Justin Blackmon (WR Oklahoma State) – Put up more ridiculous stats this week as he distanced himself even further from the rest of the receiving pack.
5. Kellen Moore (QB Boise State) – Can’t keep him out any longer. He’s looked great in every game this year, even though no one has seen most of them.
Week 8 Quick Preview
Games of the Week:
- Nebraska vs. Oklahoma State – Can the Huskers right the ship? Or, was the Texas game a showing of their flaws? The Cowboys finally get to show what they have, but I don’t think they have enough against an angry Huskers squad. Pick: Nebraska-27 Oklahoma State-21
- LSU vs. Auburn – The game of the week as two top-six, undefeated, SEC foes square off. Can Cam Newton keep up his scintillating play against a quality opponent? I think LSU’s offensive struggles will finally catch up to them and Les Miles’ lucky streak will end. Pick: Auburn-26 LSU-23
- Iowa vs. Wisconsin – Both of these one-loss Big 10 teams still have a shot at the conference title, but winning here is key. I like Iowa at home. Iowa-24 Wisconsin-20
- Oklahoma vs. Missouri – The BCS number one team has to travel to a Missouri team looking to gain national respect, but I think the Sooners have too much talent on both sides of the ball. Pick: Oklahoma-27 Missouri-23
- TCU vs. Air Force – Air Force lost last week to fall out of the ranking and I think the combination of that and their offense (option, hard to prepare for in one week) will help them pull the upset at home. Pick: Air Force-24 TCU-21
That’s all the time for this week, but tune in next week for a lengthier week 8 review and a preview of the best week 9 games and players. Have a great weekend.