VETTEL: Week Four Musings

We’re one month into the college football season and we’ve learned quite a few things. Among them; that there is no elite team in college football in 2006. There are maybe a dozen or so teams that are capable of beating each other but none that is capable of running the table against quality opposition.

As a result, there seems to be a great possibility of a debate late in the year as to whether the winner of the West Virginia/Louisville game should play for the national title ahead of a one loss team that faced a tougher schedule. Oh, it’s still possible Southern Cal could win ‘em all or perhaps Ohio State and Michigan make it to their showdown unscathed, but I don’t think so. Nor do I believe Florida, Auburn or Georgia can sweep through the SEC, but of course, time will tell. Now on to this week’s musings.

“Big Tease” Saturday —– Well if last week with seven games featuring ranked teams going head-to-head was separation Saturday this week needs a title too. It was a big tease to see so many potential upsets, but they each went by the boards. Top ranked Ohio State needed two interceptions returns for touchdowns to survive against Penn State. Georgia needed two late scores to rally past winless Colorado. Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Michigan and West Virginia all found themselves in trouble against unranked teams but all managed to win. The biggest upset was putrid N.C. State knocking off Boston College.

Heisman Anyone? —– One thing we don’t know after the first month is who is now the favorite for the most prestigious individual award in college football? The Heisman Trophy started out as Brady Quinn’s to lose and he probably lost it with an awful game against Michigan. He bounced back with five TD passes against Michigan State but has been erratic so far. Troy Smith of Ohio State struggled with Penn State, posting pedestrian numbers (12-22, 115 1, 2). Adrian Peterson had 128 and three TD for Oklahoma, but it was against Middle Tennessee for crying out loud. You like Steve Slaton of West Virginia? Well he ran for all of 80 yards on 24 carries against East Carolina and did not score. Thus, look for Chris Leak to move up on every Heisman list this week. His numbers (15-26, 268, 2, 1) were strong and the Gators keep winning.

Miss-ery continues —– It is not my intention to pick on our brothers from the Magnolia state every week, but it’s hard not to. Ole Miss was flattened at home by Wake Forest 27-3 while Mississippi State needed overtime to get past UAB. It’s not likely to get better next week when the Rebels face Georgia and State takes on LSU.

Carolina in my mind —– That’s the song many small school head coaches and big school coordinators are humming these days as things get worse and worse for North Carolina. John Bunting is in his sixth year in Chapel Hill and it’s almost impossible to see any sign of progress. Saturday’s 52-7 loss to Clemson was about as embarrassing as it gets. After an 8-and-5 record in his first season, Bunting’s Tar Heels have lost two out of every three games (17-and-34). They have a week off before facing Miami. Two years ago Carolina saved the coach’s job by upsetting Miami. Can they do it again?

Is kicking THAT hard? —– Well, it was for Florida and Alabama on Saturday. The Gators missed two extra points, bringing their botched p.a.t. total to five in 18 tries. Bama missed two field goals that should have beaten Arkansas and then an extra point that was the difference in a 24-23 loss. Oklahoma and Clemson lost games on blown kicks and there have been others. We’ll examine the problem in a column this week.

Booker runs past Tebow —– Lorenzo Booker set a goal of rushing for 12-hundred yards for Florida State this season. He may have to settle for out-rushing Florida’s backup quarterback. Despite Tim Tebow’s strong running day against Kentucky, Booker was even better, shredding Rice’s nationally ranked (really low) defense for 115 yards on 13 carries. For the year, Booker’s 175 yard total is ten better than Tebow’s; although he has a dozen more carries.

Hooray for David Ball —– Big time attaboy for New Hampshire receiver David Ball who tied the NCAA Division 1-AA record with his 50th TD catch Saturday. He tied the greatest receiver ever, Jerry Rice who set the mark at Mississippi Valley State. Ball should break the mark next week, but don’t look for him to challenge’s Rice’s NFL records. That ain’t happening.

Thirty LONG years —– That’s how long ago I graduated from Martin County High School in Stuart, Florida. And that’s how long it’s been since Rutgers was nationally ranked. But all hail the State University of New Jersey! The 4-and-0 Scarlet Knights moved into the A.P. poll this week, culminating five years of building for Coach Greg Schiano. Every time I hear anything about Rutgers, though, my mind wanders back only to 1985 when Florida blew a 28-7 lead at Florida Field and ended up tied 28-28. I called it a 28-28 loss on my post-game show Dial-Score. And I had to use that phrase again in 1994.