Monday, September 7, 2009

Seriously, what just happened?

If you'd told me sometime before Saturday that BYU would beat Oklahoma 14-13 while Alabama and Virginia Tech were busy putting 58 points on the board in Atlanta, I probably would have asked the following two questions:
  1. What are you smoking?
  2. How much have you already smoked?
There was a good reason for that 14-13 score, though, specifically this:
As Sam Bradford's shoulder was obliterated on the Cowboys Stadium turf, Oklahoma's dreams of a national title went with it -- and the guys playing about 200 miles away in Austin might as well have thrown themselves a party. Bob Stoops announced Monday that Bradford won't need surgery and should be back in a few weeks, but since a date with the Longhorns looms in just over a month and Bradford almost certainly won't be at 100% (or very sharp after a lengthy layoff), Texas' biggest test of the season now takes on a different tone: Anything other than a win in Dallas, an undefeated season and a trip to the national title game will be a big disappointment for Colt McCoy and Co.

Back to Saturday night's game, though, the outcome seems to have been mostly written off as a byproduct of Bradford's injury, but I think BYU deserves more credit than that. Holding Oklahoma to 10 points in the first half -- which Bradford played all of -- was impressive, and pulling off that game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter was even better. What I can't say is if BYU is actually that good or if Oklahoma just played that poorly -- I don't think we'll know the answer to that question until we have a little more context. But if BYU can run the table ... ahhh, never mind. All the tough games are at home, but those games are against Florida State, TCU and Utah. As good as the Cougars looked Saturday night, an undefeated season is probably out of the question.

I'm not sure you can say the same for Alabama, though. The Tide offense was very impressive against Virginia Tech, racking up 498 yards and scoring 34 points (and that easily could have been 42 if not for a couple missed red-zone opportunities). We knew the defense would be good, but if Alabama can move the ball like that against the Hokies ... man, they're gonna be tough to beat. LSU (at home) and Mississippi (in Oxford) will be the biggest tests, but it doesn't look like 'Bama has dropped off much -- if at all -- from last year.

As for Virginia Tech ... well, they're probably still the best team in the ACC, but that's just because the ACC is flat-out bad. Consider this: The conference's only win over an FBS team this weekend was by Clemson (over Middle Tennessee State), while Virginia and Duke both lost to FCS teams -- both at home -- by a combined 20 points. That's just awful.

And I don't know what to say about the Big Ten. Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State looked good, but almost everyone else in the conference looked pathetic. Ohio State seemed thoroughly uninspired against Navy, Illinois got clobbered by a decent but rebuilding Missouri team, Wisconsin had to hold off a late rally to beat Northern Illinois and Iowa verified that it has no offense whatsoever while needing two blocked field goals to survive against Northern Iowa. Oh, and Indiana needed a last-minute stop to beat Eastern Kentucky on Thursday.

It was an odd week, to say the least ... and I didn't even mention Notre Dame winning 35-0 or Florida State and Miami combining for 79 points (!!!) Monday night. My personal top 10 after Week 1 (keep in mind that this is NOT a projection of how they'll finish, just my opinion of which teams are the 10 best in the country right now):

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Alabama
4. USC
5. Ohio State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Boise State
8. Penn State
9. BYU
10. Oklahoma

I'm obviously basing Oklahoma's ranking on Sam Bradford's absence; I'll reassess them once he gets back on the field and we can see what their offense will actually look like this year. Cal and Ole Miss are probably deserving of inclusion, but it'd be hard to justify replacing any of the 10 teams above.

No comments: