VETTEL: Week Five Musings

The second month of the college football season is just barely underway and we are down to 13 unbeaten teams in division one. Six of the unbeaten squads went down this weekend, including Iowa and Virginia Tech. The guy putting up the best numbers in the Heisman race is at one of the smallest schools and there’s an October heat wave blistering Coral Gables.

With that, it’s on to this week’s college football musings.

Garrett Wolfe can’t win —– North Illinois has a very talented running back that will be making a lot of money next year. Still, it’s impossible to consider Garrett Wolfe as a legit Heisman candidate; at least it is for me. The moralizing is already coming down from some national pundits about those who won’t consider Wolfe being morally and intellectually inferior. I heard the same crap years ago when people wanted Steve McNair to get Heisman consideration. Wolfe had an outstanding game against Ohio State, but week in and week out he simply doesn’t face good enough competition to warrant serious consideration.

Troy Smith sure can —– The Ohio State quarterback is probably just about everyone’s Heisman front-runner and with good reason. He passed for just 186 yards, but four touchdowns against previously unbeaten Iowa. Smith now has passed for 1,070 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s the top player on the top team. What’s hard to understand is that on ESPN’s “experts” Heisman rankings Chris Leak who has nearly identical stats (1,240 14/4) is a distant sixth. Leak even trails Brady Quinn of Notre Dame who has already had two very poor performances. This will be a big week with Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson facing Texas and Leak challenging a terrific LSU defense.

No BCS Spoiler this year —– TCU had the best chance to sneak into the BCS from a “non-BCS” conference. That chance ended with the Horned Frogs’ 31-17 loss to BYU. Yeah, I know Boise State is unbeaten, but that schedule is so incredibly weak it’s hard to see them moving up the rankings very far. I look for the traditional power conferences to grab all four of this year’s at-large invites with the SEC having a chance to grab two of the four. Common sense says another will go to the Ohio State/Michigan loser while Notre Dame gets the other. All of this assumes no “bad” losses for any team in the picture right now. It’s also possible the Pac Ten runner-up will be in a position to warrant consideration, especially since the Fiesta Bowl is the entity that’s staging two games.

Zook gets his biggest win —– Illinois’ 23-20 win over Michigan State ended a ten-game Big Ten losing streak and gave former Gator Coach Ron Zook his first league win. It didn’t come easily, especially after the replay official decided the NCAA needed to use the NFL “tuck” rule and turned a Michigan State turnover into an incomplete pass. Zook has an exciting young quarterback in “Juice” Williams who passed for 122 yards and ran for another 103. With Indiana and Ohio (not Ohio State) coming up the Zookers have a chance to get on a run and improve to 4-and-3. If that happens, they can start thinking about a bowl bid. Meanwhile the Illinois loss has put a great deal of heat on Michigan State Coach John L. Smith. The fourth-year coach has a 21-and-20 record and has lost eight of his last twelve games.

Hurricanes really struggling —– The Miami Hurricanes’ plunge toward mediocrity continued with the ‘Canes having to hold on for dear life to edge Houston 14-13. In fact, Miami had to go for it on fourth down at their own 38 to put the contest away. Miami is now 2-and-2 with wins over Houston and FAMU. They have been held to just 14 points or less in three of those four games. With three ranked teams ahead on the schedule, an 8-and-4 season is no sure thing.

Look at the surprising unbeatens —– As I mentioned above there are just 13 teams perfect through this weekend. The most surprising members of that club have to be Wake Forest, Missouri, Rutgers, Boise State and Oregon. Several teams will face significant challenges to their undefeated seasons this weekend, including Florida (LSU), Georgia (Tennessee), Auburn (Arkansas), Missouri (Texas Tech) and Oregon (California).

Leave it to the Head Ball Coach —– It was great to see Steve Spurrier take what is likely his final bow at The Swamp Saturday, but it was even better to see his comments after South Carolina almost shocked Auburn. Gamecocks fans cheered the team loudly after the effort, and Spurrier wasn’t too pleased. “I don’t want our fans to boo, but please don’t clap when we come close,” Spurrier said after the game. “Our guys through we’d done something pretty good; when in essence we didn’t do anything but let a game get away that we were in position to win.”