Saturday, September 6, 2008

Gators Down Canes - Immediate Thoughts and other NCAA Football Observations

For the first time since 1985, the Florida Gators have defeated the Miami Hurricanes. The final score was 26-3, but the game itself was much more competitive. As I watched this game, intently, a few things stuck out to me...

For the Hurricanes: Miami has a blindingly bright future. Robert Marve looks like the real deal. The defense held up against, and at times looked better than, the Florida offense. Constant pressure on Tebow for the first 3 quarters. Miami committed no turnovers, a huge key, especially for such a young team. The overall team speed could lead them to an ACC title if not this year, in the very near future, especially when you see VA Tech lost to East Carolina, Clemson completly overwhelmed by Alabama last week, Wake Forest needing a miracle over the SEC bottom feeder Ole Miss, N.C. State get blown out by a less then impressive South Carolina, and Maryland losing to Middle Tennessee. I was very impressed by Miami. As I type, Florida State leads Western Carolina 62-0. It looks as though Miami and FSU could be on their way back up to join Florida as perennial powers.

For the Gators: Yikes. I'll go ahead and assume that Urban Meyer and the Gators were holding back, not wanting to show the SEC their full playbook. But 9 points through 3 quarters is not something you want to show Tennessee or Georgia or LSU... As good as Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, and Kestahn Moore were against Hawaii last week, they were non-existant this week. I don't recall hearing Emmanuel Moody's name once. Why? Even Herby or Musberger failed to bring it up. Maybe I missed it. But only 89 rushing yards for Florida. If they hope to compete in the SEC, that will have to improve. Aaron Hernandez took a big step into the starting tight end role. As for the defense, big impressive showing. Yes, the 'Canes offense moved the ball fairly well on the ground, at times. But in the end, the stats show only 61 yards gained rushing for the Canes. When Miami fell behind in the 4th and went to the air, the Gators defense looked even better. It's funny to think that Florida's secondary might be a bigger strength then the front 7, but at times it looked that way tonight. Only 79 yards gained through the air against the Gators. I hate to say it, but I think the defense outdid the offense tonight. Not that that's a bad thing... not at all.

In the end, a win is a win for my alma mater. It wasn't pretty, especially for 3\4ths of the game. But the Gators got past the 'Canes for the first time in the last 6 tries and now head into SEC play. They will take a week off before heading up to Knoxville for a showdown with the Volunteers. Miami also has a week off before they go up against Texas A&M. The Aggies have already lost to Arkansas State (who?) and barely held off mighty New Mexico today. Look for the 'Canes to steal that one. Then they will begin ACC play. 3 straight home games beginning with North Carolina, before hated Florida State comes to the Orange Bo... I mean Dolphins Stadium. If FSU's showing today is any indication of their season, watch out. Florida Atlantic put up big numbers in their win against UAB, 49-34. QB Rusty Smith got back into his rhythm after a rough game in Texas last week. Smith went 21 for 34, 325 yards, and 3 TDs. Charles Pierre lead the ground attack, rushing for 138 yards and 2 TDs.

Other NCAA thoughts; what happened to the Big East? #8 West Virginia got dominated by East Carolina, 24-3. And it wasn't as close as the score indicated. #19 South Florida needed an overtime touchdown to get past UCF. The same UCF that only managed 7 points through 3 quarters in week 1 against I-AA team South Carolina State. UCONN also needed a late, 4th quarter comeback AND overtime to get past Temple. While that sounds like a great basketball storyline, this is football. Temple football... Syracuse lost to Akron, and Pitt held off mighty Buffalo. Not the Bills, the Bulls. Last week, Louisville got spanked by a down Kentucky team, and Pittsburgh, some pundits favorite to win the league, lost to Bowling Green. Yikes. Lots of talk this week has been about a down ACC this year, but when you really look at it, it's not that bad. The ACC went 2-4 against IA teams last week. But when you take a closer look, there's reason to be calmed. The losses were against top 10 teams Alabama and USC, as well as an East Carolina team that should now be favored to be one of those BCS-crashers. The Big East, on the other hand, has reason to worry. The University of South Florida is the frontrunner to make a BCS bowl... yikes. I could go on and on about college football, but I'll stop here. And I hate to say it, but watch out for the Big 10. The "top 2" are actually looking extremely vunerable, while the rest of the league is making giant strides. Ohio State managed a late comeback against in-state "rival" Ohio U. It was ugly. Michigan escaped with a win against another Ohio team, Miami (Ohio). A win is a win, but both teams will need to make huge strides if they are planning on contending for the Big 10 title. Penn State looks unstoppable. After a 66-10 throttling of Coastal Carolina in week 1, the Nittany Lions continued their attack with a 45-14 beatdown of Pac-10 team Oregon State. Wisconsin is coming off of an easy 51-14 win over another MAC team, Marshall. Illinois, coming off of a tough loss to a very solid Mizzou team last week, ran up 47 points against Eastern Illinois. Even Minnesota dismantled the same Bowling Green team that went into Pitt and won last week, 42-17. This could be a fun conference to watch in October.

Next week! Florida, Miami, and UCF have the week off. South Florida has the key matchup in the Sunshine State, as they head off to face Kansas. Florida State welcomes Chattanooga, a.k.a. cupcake #2 to Bobby Bowden Field, and FAU will need another big day from Smith and Pierre if they hope to upset Michigan State in East Lansing. Oh yea, and I think there's some game out in California... Ohio State vs. USC? If OSU plans to show up like they did today against Ohio U, they might as well not bother booking a flight. Can't wait!

No comments: