USC quickly up to speed

Irish, ACC stumble badly

National analysis

September 18, 2006|By Mike Huguenin | Mike Huguenin,ORLANDO SENTINEL

If this past Saturday was "Showdown Saturday," this Saturday could be called "Somnolent Saturday."

Frankly, this week looks to be the worst of the season. (Of course, what that probably means is that two or three heavyweights will suffer inexplicable losses.)

Anyway, what did we take from "Showdown Saturday"?

Southern California is to be feared. The Trojans are extremely young. But they're also extremely fast and extremely talented. Said Trojans coach Pete Carroll: "We're just getting going. We're just getting started. It's exciting." Well, maybe for him. Certainly not for the rest of the Pacific-10.

Notre Dame was overrated. The defense was exposed by Michigan. And quarterback Brady Quinn sure looked human - Ron Powlus-esque, even. As for Charlie Weis? He and his staff were outcoached by Lloyd Carr and his staff. That has to make Irish fans shudder. But give Carr credit: He revamped his staff in the offseason, asking for more aggression on both sides of the ball. That sure showed in South Bend. (Worth noting: That was Weis' third loss at home in his tenure.)

Auburn sure can play defense. The Tigers might not be the biggest defense around, but they're quick. They swarm to the ball, then knock the stuffing out of you. It helped their cause Saturday that LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell was, as usual, inconsistent, but Auburn won that game more than LSU lost it.

The Big 12 Conference came up short in big games. Nebraska was spanked by USC. Texas Tech was shut down by Texas Christian. Oklahoma lost at Oregon, although two questionable calls late in the game played a huge part in the Ducks' miraculous, come-from-behind 34-33 win. The only league teams worthy of the top 20 are Texas and Oklahoma.

Louisville is a legitimate Bowl Championship Series contender. No, Miami isn't what it used to be - not even close. (The Hurricanes think stomping on another team's logo is going to restore the swagger? Weak.) But the Cardinals still manhandled them, even without star running back Michael Bush. And star quarterback Brian Brohm had to leave in the third quarter with a thumb injury. The Cardinals' Nov. 2 home game against West Virginia just got even bigger.

TCU is a threat to go 12-0. So is Boise State, so expect talk to commence about the Horned Frogs and Broncos "crashing" the BCS party. Boise's biggest test might be Sept. 30 at Utah. TCU's might be Oct. 5 at Utah. In other words, if the Utes want to make sure they remain the only non-BCS-league team to make the BCS, they'll need to take care of business in consecutive weeks. Obviously, a huge advantage for TCU is that Utah will have just four days to prepare before their game.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is mediocre. Virginia lost at home to Western Michigan. Miami got hammered at Louisville. North Carolina State lost by 20 at Southern Mississippi. Maryland was routed by West Virginia on Thursday. For the second week in a row, visiting Troy threw a scare into an ACC host. (This week, it was Georgia Tech; last week, it was Florida State). North Carolina was lucky to beat Division I-AA Furman. Boston College had to go to double overtime to outlast Brigham Young.

Big-time troubles

Maybe some BCS-league schools are going to rethink this "We'll play a I-AA team and rout them on our way to becoming bowl-eligible" thing.

This week, it was Southern Illinois beating Indiana, 35-28, marking the fourth time this season a I-AA has beaten a BCS-league team. It has happened to Big Ten teams twice, as Northwestern (to New Hampshire) was a victim last week. The other two: Colorado (to Montana State) and Duke (to Richmond).

Five Division I-A non-BCS teams beat BCS-league teams Saturday: TCU over Texas Tech, Southern Mississippi over N.C. State, Western Michigan over Virginia, Tulane over Mississippi State and Navy over Stanford. For the season, it's eight I-A non-BCS teams with victories over BCS-league teams.

Western Michigan's win marked the second week in a row a Mid-American Conference school went on the road and beat an ACC team. Last week, Akron won at N.C. State.

Mike Huguenin writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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