Big Ten fans are hoping this season ends better than it began…
Acker Assessment – Week 3
By Jon Acker
Week three is in the books and the college football landscape is slowly coming into focus as to who are the pretenders and contenders. This week I’ll focus on the pretenders.
The Entire Big Ten: It was another rough week for the conference. West Virginia (Big 12) won at newly admitted Maryland. Bowling Green (MAC) knocked off Indiana. TCU (Big 12) shellacked Minnesota. Iowa State (Big 12) took care of in-state rival Iowa. Notre Dame (Independent) easily handled Purdue and Washington (PAC 12) trounced Illinois. But perhaps the biggest blow to the conference came in Blacksburg, where East Carolina beat Ohio State killer Virginia Tech- making the Buckeye loss look even worse.
Next weekend look for possible conference losses to Missouri (vs. Indiana), Miami (vs. Nebraska), Navy (vs. Rutgers), Pittsburgh (vs. Iowa) and Syracuse (vs. Maryland).
Florida State: The Seminoles did not play this week but given lackluster wins over Oklahoma State and The Citadel one cannot justify their number one ranking, let alone any ranking in the top five.
Week four will be a good barometer to see whether the ‘Noles and Clemson are worthy of playoff consideration as they face-off in Tallahassee. FSU is on upset alert.
LSU: Despite being 3-0 the Fighting Les Miles’ have looked very vulnerable. It took a small miracle to win over Wisconsin in week one. This past weekend the Tigers could muster only 31 points and 372 yards against Louisiana Monroe. Their defense looks stout, but the offense under new quarterback Anthony Jennings is a mess. Jennings is 27 for 52 (52%) against weak opposition. That does not bode well for games against teams with a strong D. Mississippi State travels to Baton Rouge next weekend. Upset alert.
The City of Los Angeles: UCLA has the distinction of being the top pretender. A pre-season top-10 team, the Bruins are 3-0 but have won by a total of 18 points against weak opposition. Quarterback Brett Hundley was injured in the game against Texas. If the injury is severe look for Jim Mora, Jr’s boys to collapse like a house of cards. Mora has always been an arrogant SOB, pardon my French, and he under performs everywhere he coaches. His struggles are no surprise.
UCLA travels to Tempe next weekend to face #15 Arizona State. Upset alert.
The other LA team, USC was looking like Lazarus, resurrected from the dead after beating Stanford. But the Trojans had an epic let-down at Boston College. These schools could finish with respectable records given what seems to be a much weakened PAC 12, but neither will be anywhere close to the playoffs come December.
The SEC East: South Carolina’s win over Georgia resulted in five SEC West teams ranked ahead of the top SEC East team in the AP Poll. Many have seen Florida seemingly bounce back from last year’s catastrophe, but last week the Gators escaped by the skin of their teeth with an overtime win over Kentucky, almost ending a 28 game winning streak over the Wildcats.
A missed delay of game call possibly saved the Gators. Thus, the seat for Will Muschamp remains quite hot with seven tough games remaining. Will the Gator Nation retain their coach with 4-5 losses?
Missouri won 38-10 over Central Florida, but a closer look at the stats reveals that game was much closer than meets the eye. Four turnovers did in Central Florida.
The one bright spot in the SEC East is Tennessee, who gave big mouth Bob Stoops a good scare in Norman. OU won by 24, but without a 100 yard pick-six in the 4th quarter the Vols may have lost by only 10. Still, Tennessee is a very freshmen heavy team and I don’t see them faring well when the attrition-bug hits in coming weeks.
Alabama???: Yes, Alabama. The Tide are ranked two and three in the polls, but many of us in the Bama Nation are still not convinced this team has what it takes to bring home #16. The defense is still trying to find its sea legs and has been prone to giving up big pass plays against weak competition.
The quarterback situation seems to have worked itself out, for the most part, with Blake Sims being the starter, although Jacob Coker will surely still get playing time on occasion. The offense looks off-
the-charts averaging about 570 yards a game so far.
The old adage, “Defense wins championships,” is true for the most part. If the D remains somewhat porous the Tide may have to rely on an offensive juggernaut to outscore the opposition akin to Auburn in 2010. The Gators come to Bryant-Denny this weekend in a game that will be very telling on where the Tide stands in 2014. I don’t see an upset alert here given Florida was battered and bruised after the Kentucky game, but it could be way too close for comfort for Tide fans.
Key matchups next weekend which will shed tremendous light on who is a pretender or contender.
Auburn at Kansas State
Clemson at Florida State
Oklahoma at West Virginia
Mississippi State at LSU
Florida at Alabama