Posted 09/26/2008 at 06:29 PM
Friday, 6:30 p.m. Eastern: Consider this lay-up lines prior to the start of Saturday's noon games. Week 5 couldn't have possibly started any better in terms of drama, excitement and pre-mature field rushing. That's right, Tulane won a 34-27 thriller over SMU on Thursday.
I'm kidding, although I'm sure there were plenty of gamblers like me that were pleased with that 'over' result in the Big Easy (and some that are/were fuming that the Green Wave were backdoored after leading 31-7 at halftime).
The pre-mature field rushing came in Corvallis, where memories of Kentucky's gatorade bath of former coach Guy Morriss prior to LSU's Bluegrass Miracle became fresh when USC cut Oregon State's deficit to 27-21 with plenty of time left. But the Trojans' onside kick failed and the Beavers prevailed as 25-point home underdogs. Hello!
Nevertheless, note to Oregon St. fans: NEVER jump on the field in anticipation of a monumental upset with more than two minutes left. Did we not learn anything from the Stanford-Cal game decades ago?
Oregon St. was 1-2 with losses at Stanford and Penn State (45-14) going into the USC game. Nobody outside of Oregon (and parts of Texas close to Rosenberg) had ever heard of Jacquizzi Rodgers before Thursday. He's a household name now.
Looking to Saturday......let's throw some top-fives out there...
Five Players who must play HUGE:
1-Va. Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
2-North Carolina WR Brandon Tate
3-Tennessee QB Jonathan Crompton
4-Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead
5-Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Five Teams Dying for a 'W':
1-Michigan (vs. Wisconsin)
2-West Virginia (vs. Marshall)
3-Tennessee and Auburn (vs. each other on the Plains)
4-FSU (vs. Colorado)
5-Virginia (at Duke)
Five favorites that better not be flat:
1-East Carolina (vs. Houston)
2-South Florida (at N.C. St.)
3-Oklahoma St. (vs. Troy)
4-Florida (vs. Ole Miss)
5-West Va. (vs. Marshall)
Five players not named "Quizzi" Rodgers who will SHINE:
1-Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno
2-Michigan St. RB Javon Ringer
3-Pitt RB LeSean McCoy
4-Purdue QB Curtis Painter
5-Colorado RB Rodney Stewart
Sleepers: Auburn LB Tray Blackmon, Florida WR/RB Percy Harvin, Clemson RB C.J. Spiller, Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill and Duke WR Eron Riley.
Five Burning Questions:
1-Can Tennessee pull a shocker to silence Phillip Fulmer's critics?
2-Will FSU get anything going offensively vs. Colorado?
3-Would Bill Stewart be fired instantly if WVU loses at home to Marshall?
4-Will Sylvester Croom be in trouble if MSU gets trounced at LSU?
5-Might Troy expose Oklahoma State as a fraud?
Saturday, 1:55ish p.m. Eastern: Good afternoon, folks. Excuse my tardiness that has us in catch-up mode with no time to waste. Most of the early games are either late in the second quarter, early in the third or at halftime. Florida has a 17-7 lead late in the second quarter, but the Rebels are threatening in UF territory. Syracuse has a stunning 24-13 lead over Pitt early in the third, and you have to think that a Panthers' loss will put Dave Wannstedt on a boiling hot seat. A loss would drop his record at Pitt to 18-21 in four years.
Speaking of teams that are struggling, let's talk about the Texas A&M Aggies. First, they lost their opener at home to Arkansas St. Then they lose at home to Miami by double digits. And now they are knotted at 7-7 late in the second quarter against Army (again, at home). In my 'teams that better not be flat' (above) section last night, I almost mentioned the Aggies, but figured they surely would handle Army with ease. Not the case so far, though.
Ole Miss was at UF's 15 with 36 ticks left until intermission, but penalties took the Rebels out of field-goal range and they go to the half with the Gators leading 17-7. The second-half line is UF minus 13 which basically equates to the original line for the game (-23). I passed on the game and will also pass on the 2H number.
2:15ish: Look at Ball State with a 31-7 lead over Kent St. Obviously, I hate what happened to WR Dante Love last week. He was leading the nation in receiving yards and suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury. And that sucks in so many ways for him, although by all accounts he is going to be able to live a normal life moving forward. But in the context of this season alone, I hate that Love won't be with this squad the rest of the year because Ball St. has an excellent shot at running the table. If you haven't seen this team play yet or haven't bet ON them yet, you're missing out. First of all, the Cardinals are 4-0 straight up and 3-0 against the spread. It appears they'll be 5-0 SU and 4-0 ATS at the end of the day. The rest of their schedule? The only serious testers I see are at Toledo next week and at Central Michigan on Nov. 19. The schedule isn't formidable enough (Indiana is the only BCS squad on the slate) to make Ball St. a BCS contender, but this is still a squad that can put money in your pocket. And we get to see Ball St. on ESPN games in its last four outings that fall on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (love those mid-week matchups!). Have I even mentioned stud QB Nate Davis? He's the reason this team is good. He's without his favorite target Love the rest of the way, but you should still keep an eye on Ball St. as a team to back and cash with.
2:25ish: Ole Miss makes a big play to start the second half, forcing and recovering a Percy Harvin fumble. The Rebels are inside UF's 30. Pitt is still trailing at the Carrier Dome by a 24-16 count. Ouch! My only play pending on VI during this early round of games is the Panthers. It was strictly a play-against selection to fade the Orange, but it's looking awful right now. AWFUL!
Michigan State has its hands full in Bloomington, clinging to a 34-29 lead early in the third quarter. Javon Ringer is enjoying another big day and if the Spartans win today and keep winning, he has to be in the conversation of Heisman candidates at this early date.
Quick score updates with all these games in the third quarter: Iowa leads Northwestern 17-16, Pitt has pulled into a 24-24 tie with the 'Cuse, Duke has a 17-3 advantage over UVA and Miami is holding on to a 17-14 lead over UNC. Also, Ohio State (I need a degrading nickname for the Buckeyes, let me think on it for a bit) has a 34-6 edge on Minnesota.
2:40: Ole Miss turned the Harvin fumble into a field goal and then recovered another UF fumble (by Tim Tebow). A few plays later on third and 10, Jevan Snead threw a TD pass and we are knotted at 17-all with 10 minutes and change left in the third quarter at The Swamp. That means I'll be excusing myself to the living room to watch the Gators in hi-def for a bit. Back shortly...
2:55ish: Florida hasn't sniffed a first down in the second half. Ole Miss was just inside UF territory and had converted a third-and-eight play for a first down, but the Gators reviewed the play. The replay showed the Ole Miss WR CLEARLY making the catch, yet the call inexplicably was reversed. How? I have no idea. HORRIBLE call by the replay official, forcing Ole Miss to punt and perhaps taking away their momentum. The Rebels would've been inside UF's 30.
3:05: We have several extremely important games that are tight as they move into the fourth quarter. Dexter McCluster just busted loose for a long TD run to give Ole Miss a 24-17 lead. The Rebels have absolutely dominated the Gators in the second half. In Miami, the 'Canes are clinging to a 24-21 lead against UNC. Maryland has rallied to take a 20-17 advantage at Clemson. Northwestern has taken a 22-17 lead at Iowa. Remember, the Wildcats are undefeated. And look at Pitt, which now has a 34-24 lead that gives them a chance to cover (-15) against the 'Cuse.
4:00: Ole Miss has pulled the second stunner of Week 5, going into The Swamp and beating Florida 31-30 as a 23-point underdog. Again, just like the Oregon St. upset of USC, this was no fluke. There were no gimmicks. In fact, the officials seemingly kept the Gators in the game. But in the end, it was Ole Miss simply outplaying Florida in the trenches, winning in every facet of the game.
5:50ish: I'm back. I needed an hour to digest that Gator 'L'. Then I went over to my neighbor's (Bradley Burns) place and helped him and his Auburn buddies knock back some GREAT BBQ ribs.
During these 3:30 games, I have plays on Auburn, Colorado and Purdue. I'm 1-2 so far this week, winning the SMU 'over' on Thursday but losing Louisville last night when it blew a double-digit lead. I also lost on Pitt earlier today. Auburn leads 14-6 but looks anemic on offense. Purdue is down 21-14 at Notre Dame due to Curtis Painter throwing a pick-six. Colorado trails FSU 19-7 after Antone Smith busted a long TD run late in the second quarter. However, the Buffs did just get a key stop on third-and-one to force the semmies into a FGA.
Another upset could be brewing in Winston Salem. Wake Forest trailed Navy 17-0 at the half, creating an opportunity to back the Demon Deacons at -11 in the second half. That equates to Wake plus six for the game when it was orginally a 16-point 'chalk.' That's 27 points of value from the orginial line and a solid play -- whether it wins or not -- in my opinion. Wake has scored in the third to cut the deficit to 17-7. Check that, it's now 17-10 following a Sam Swank field goal. Meanwhile, FSU's field goal was good for a 22-7 advantage.
6:20: Wake Forest is into Navy territory early in the fourth quarter trailing 17-10. FSU maintains a 22-7 lead over CU. Auburn just forced UT into a three and out after the Vols had great field position. Jonathan Crompton is playing horrible for the Vols, but they are very much in this football game that pits two SEC teams in desperation mode. CBS analyst Gary Danielson is KILLING Crompton and I love it.
Crompton just misfired on a crucial 3rd and four from Auburn's 40 with 6:10 left. Fulmer has elected to punt and pin Auburn deep. Good move since the Tigers are doing NOTHING offensively. However, Auburn did just get a touchback when it appeared the Vols might've downed the ball at the one yard line.
FSU has tacked on a field goal for a 25-7 lead.
6:55ish:Ok, let's get you up to date. Auburn has held on to beat Tennessee 14-12, but the Vols take the cash as 6 1/2-point underdogs. For gamblers that took a Georgia-Auburn teaser per my suggestion, you are good and simply need the Dawgs to win outright tonight. UT lost because of atrocious QB play by Crompton. If there's any silver lining for Fulmer, his defense was spectacular and that unit showed a bunch of heart and (Bill Raftery voice) onions.
Wake Forest is in serious trouble. The Deacs have committed six turnovers and trail 24-10 with less than two minutes left. That's another shocker. And how about this: Michigan has rallied from a 19-0 deficit to take a 27-19 lead over Wisconsin. The Badgers have the ball at midfield with 45 seconds remaining.
Oh wow. Wisconsin's Allan Evridge just threw a TD pass with 13 seconds left. And the Badgers have converted the two-point conversion to tie. Or have they? There's a flag. The refs flag Wisconsin for an illegal man down the field. Here's the next attempt from the eight. It's incomplete and Michigan will probably hold on pending an onside kick and possible Hail Mary.
Speaking of onside kicks, Navy just recovered one but Wake Forest still has all three of its timeouts (great coaching as always by Jim Grobe) down 24-17. CU has cut FSU's lead to 32-21 with about nine minutes left so that game is still in doubt, especially for our purposes with the Buffs catching 5 1/2.
7:15ish: What a BLOODY day this has turned into for yours truly. My Gators go down at home for only the second time during Urban Meyer's tenure. And now with FSU extending its lead over CU to 39-21, my picks on VI are about to fall to 0-4. DISGUSTING!
We'll see if Va. Tech can prevent me from going 0-for-Saturday.
Let's talk some top-fives (not including teams playing tonight)...
Five Biggest Wins:
1-Oregon State (+25) over USC, 27-21.
2-Ole Miss (+23) over Florida, 31-30.
3-Navy (+15) over Wake Forest, 24-17.
4-Michigan (+6) over Wisconsin, 27-25.
5-FSU (-5.5) over Colorado, 39-21.
Five Best Players:
1-Jacquizzi Rodgers (Oregon State)
2-Colt McCoy (Texas)
3-Greg Hardy (Ole Miss)
4-Case Keenum (Houston)
5-Eric Kettani (Navy)
Quick Thought: It's still September. Florida and USC are still going to be able to get themselves back in the national-title mix if they take care of their own business.
Five Coaches in a HORRIBLE mood right now:
Five Coaches on boiling hot seats:
1-Greg Robinson (Syracuse)
2-Ty Willingham (Washington)
3-Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee)
4-Al Groh (Virginia)
5-Bill Stewart (West Virginia)
And I'd keep an eye on these coaches who could drop into 'hot-seat' status if things go south from here: Tommy Bowden at Clemson, Dave Wannstedt at Pitt, Ron Prince at Kansas St., Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State, Kirk Ferentz at Iowa and maybe -- just maybe -- Randy Shannon at Miami.
If you look above toward the start of this blog, you'll see my top-five favorites who had better not be flat. Two were -- Florida and East Carolina -- and both took losses.
Have we mentioned the seal clubbing Texas gave Arkansas today? The final was 52-10. The Razorbacks are bad -- real bad. Somewhere in Charlotte tonight Arthur Blank is smiling.
Time for a dinner break, folks.
Editor's note: For more analysis from Brian, check out his Week 5 Rewind.