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College Football Week 3 Roundup

   by Scott Spreitzer - 09/20/2005

News and notes from this past weekend in college football.

QB Mobility: Over the last 20 years, football has seen the advantages of having a two-way threat at quarterback. It used to be the straight drop-back passer with the powerful arm, but ever since guys like Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach and Randall Cunningham electrified offenses with their two-way capability, the mobile quarterback has been a sought after commodity. There is one overlooked drawback in this: Many running quarterbacks can't throw. I happen to think QB Michael Vick is overrated. Yes, he's a great running back, but his passing accuracy and decision making ability is poor, at least at this stage of his career, especially when his team is behind and his passing skills are needed.

Regardless, there are some college quarterbacks who are legitimate two-way threats. Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal is one. Since the start of last season he has 20 TDs, 5 picks. On Saturday, McNeal set a school record with 449 total yards, throwing for 349 yards and running for 100 in just three quarters to lead Texas A&M to a 66-8 win over SMU.

Stats, Shmatz: Anyone who observed Louisville's decisive 63-27 manhandling of Oregon State can see how important good coaching is. Bobby Petrino has the best offensive mind in college football now that Norm Chow has moved on to the NFL. His spread formation attack is dazzling opposing defenses again, and his new project is 6-foot-6 sophomore QB Brian Brohm. Teacher and pupil are doing quite well, thank you, as Brohm was 18-of-22 for 366 yards and 5 TDs against the Beavers. Of course, we know the "Pac" in Pac-10 is an acronym for "Please Avoid Contact" as it's not a conference known for defense of late. Oh, in that game Oregon State had the edge in time of possession 39:24 to 20:36, which shows you how important that stat can be at times. Think the Oregon State coaching staff is hanging their hats on the fact they dominated time of possession?

More Louisville: The Cardinals actually trailed in that game 10-0 in the first quarter. But to show you how well disciplined and coached this team is, notice that Petrino liked what he saw on his players' faces when they faced the early deficit. "When we got behind, the sideline was great," Petrino said. "There were guys on offense who talked about how we'll come back and get it done and the guys on defense had a lot of energy." Louisville is now 11-3 ATS the last 14 under Petrino.

Let Down!: In last week's article I pointed out that there is an old betting adage about going against the team that is off a huge upset win where fans storm the field. There were two spots like that this past weekend. Ohio was off a big upset of Pitt, then lost 45-0 at Virginia Tech (as a +35 dog). SMU upset TCU the previous week, then was a 28-point underdog at Texas A&M Saturday. The Mustangs looked like a team that, well, was still thinking about how much fun it was to have their fans storm the field and embrace them. Texas A&M 66, SMU 8. Chalk up a 2-0 ATS mark for the "Go-Against Teams Where Fans Stormed the Field."

Matchups: I'm first and foremost a matchup guy when it comes to handicapping. On Saturday I wagered on and gave out Alabama to my clients. Steve Spurrier may be a fine coach, but in that game the talent on the field and matchups all favored the Tide. As I pointed out in my pre-game analysis, Alabama has a rock-solid returning defense, a superior quarterback in Brodie Croyle, and the South Carolina defense has been very poor thus far against the run. It wasn't a surprise to see Alabama dominate play as a short favorite. Wyoming was another winner, and I liked the Cowboy tandem of QB Corey Bramlet and WR Jevon Bouknight. Bouknight had 132 yards receiving as Wyoming not only covered but won as a road dog at Air Force.

Air Force at Utah: Speaking of Wyoming winning 29-28 at Air Force, the Falcons poor defense has an even tougher challenge taking on Utah this week. Air Force has covered 4 of the last 5 games in the series. However, they are off a tough home loss. In last year's meeting, Air Force had an impressive 302 rushing yards, but allowed over 600 total yards. Air Force is 8-3 "over" the total its last 11 games.

Pity Poor Pitt: If Nebraska can get Bill Callahan's West Coast offense down, they could have a productive offense. However, it still hasn't awoken after Nebraska "rolled" up 266 total yards (at home), including 93 passing, in a 7-6 win over Pitt. Just 3-for-15 on third down, it's clear the Huskers haven't yet mastered the playbook. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if they've even opened it.

Irish Go from Green to Blue: The Irish still have a great offense under new coach Charlie Weis. However, Michigan State exposed some weaknesses as the Irish secondary was picked clean by Drew Stanton. Weis still has some work to do on defense, although let's give some credit to the Michigan State offense. That offensive line is huge and Stanton is a terrific, poised talent who can run and pass.

QB Shuffle: Ohio State coach Jim Tressel scrapped the two-headed QB system one week too late as the Buckeyes won over SDSU, though they failed to cover again. QB Troy Smith is the better starter, and even ran for 87 yards to lead the team. QB Justin Zwick completed 9-of-10 passes, but don't be fooled: It was on the final series of the game. The Buckeyes open Big Ten play against Iowa this weekend, their fourth consecutive home game.

Tennessee/LSU: The Tigers have had two weeks to prepare for this game. The Vols just had an SEC showdown at Florida. The underdog is 6-2 against the spread the last 8 meetings.

Good Pitching Beats Offense: The most bizarre score on the college football Saturday board was Tulsa leading North Texas 5-2 in the second quarter. That reminded many of a year ago, when Penn State lost to Iowa 6-4. No, not in straight sets, but four quarters!


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