The hype was legitimate in 2011: Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin were both worthy of the Heisman. Alabama and LSU were both worthy of the national championship game. By season’s end nobody wanted a piece of Southern California, while the Fiesta Bowl, pitting Luck’s Stanford versus Brandon Weeden’s Oklahoma State, might have been the BCS National Championship Game were it not for a few bad bounces – and the Ducks of Oregon. Certainly it was a far more compelling game than Alabama-LSU II.
This year? At the midway point of the season, disappointment – not complete disappointment, but certainly skewing that way – is the overwhelming sensation. USC, the preseason No. 1, and Matt Barkley, the overwhelming Heisman favorite in August, have been pedestrian at best. The Big Ten’s two best teams are bowl-ineligible and Montee Ball – a Heisman finalist in 2011 – has been average.
Florida State, yet again, is not back.
Alabama may be the only truly great team in the nation this season (we’ll get to you in a moment, Oregon), but quick, name one player on the Tide. If you are like me, your first name was Nick Saban. Then there’s that offensive lineman whom all the writers love because he was as nerdy as we were when in high school and he may legitimately be the nation’s top offensive lineman (Barrett Jones).
Jesse Williams should be a household name, since he will likely be the only person ever to hail from Thursday Island to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Watch when Williams shatters the bench-press mark at next February’s NFL combine. By then, of course, it’ll be too late.
So, Alaboring, just the way that Saban likes it.
Oregon? Legitimately legendary, but we all wish that series with Kansas State had not been canceled. Oregon in Manhattan was supposed to have transpired last month before both schools mutually discontinued the series (a decision made in 2010). The Ducks’ own foie gras appetizers of Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech told us nothing. In Chip Kelly’s first three seasons, Oregon migrated to Boise, Knoxville and Dallas (to face LSU). It lost two of those games.
The Ducks are certainly doing what’s good for the Ducks, but again, the theme of this post is disappointment, and that’s what their non-conference schedule has been so far.
South Carolina? Not a disappointment, but let’s reconvene and discuss in two weeks after they visit Baton Rouge and Gainesville. And what happens if the Gamecocks and Alabama are both the only two unbeatens in the nation come the SEC Championship Game? Would we be subjected to them meeting twice in a row? You can bet Mike Slive has already commissioned a position paper on this topic.
Florida? We like the Gators, but see what we wrote about South Carolina and, well, ibid.
Notre Dame: Not a disappointment, with two defensive players being named midseason first-team All-Americans. Manti Te’o has a legitimate shot of at least being invited to the Heisman ceremony if the nation’s second-stingiest defense maintains its level of play. But it’s far too early to write the “Irish are back” story, and currently the Irish are only dominant on one side of the ball, not unlike…
… West Virginia. Geno Smith has been a revelation, like Saul transforming to Paul on the road to Damascus (a road we’d recommend avoiding right now), but allow us to remind you that in the past two weeks the Mountaineers have given up 111 combined points to Baylor and Texas. WVU is a lot like global warming: Sure, that defense is worrisome, but I’m admiring my tan too much to care right now.
Besides, the Mountaineers are about to engage one of the few programs/players who have yet to disappoint this season: Kansas State and Collin Klein. The Wildcats humbled Oklahoma in Norman and destroyed Miami at home. Klein is legit.
If you had Kansas State at West Virginia, October 20, circled as your (non-SEC) game of the season, more power to you. But it just may be that. This one should not disappoint.