5 Things I Think: After Week 4

Week 4 was a difficult set of games to wrap my head around. Ten teams scored at least 55 points and four of those scored at least 70. If we look at the AP Top Ten (Oregon had a bye) going into the games, did any of those teams in that group really impress in their wins? I’d say the only game that really impressed me was Stanford’s handling of Arizona State. They held that high-powered offense scoreless in the first half while opening up a 29-point lead. Outside of that, there were several blowouts, none of which should have been surprising. Ohio State put 76 on an FCS team (Florida A&M) that won 4 games last season and the only reason it wasn’t worse is because the Buckeyes didn’t throw a pass in the second half (Kenny G threw for 6 TDs in the first half). Louisville put 72 on 0-3 Florida International in a game that saw FIU possess the ball for 32 minutes and only run 43 plays. The two Florida teams in those games combined for just two converted third downs. Florida State beat an FCS team, Bethune-Cookman, by 48 and that did nothing but illustrate how unfair the Louisville/FIU game was because Bethune-Cookman beat FIU 21 last week. Alabama did not play well offensively against a Colorado State team coming off a 4-win season and that has only beaten FCS’ Cal Poly. Clemson struggled against an NC State team that barely beat Richmond the week before but always seems to play up against better teams. Georgia was tied with North Texas at 21 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter, keeping in mind that the Mean Green lost to an Ohio team that Louisville beat by 42 earlier in the season. Texas A&M beat SMU by 29 but let Garrett Gilbert (remember him from Texas?) throw for 310 yards against them to demonstrate that defense is still struggling. LSU, while they looked good at times, only outgained Auburn by 19 total yards and had twice as many penalties as Auburn in a “dreaded” night game in Death Valley. The Top Ten will all have decent tests in Week 5 (with the exceptions of Clemson and Florida State who face Wake Forest and Boston College respectively).

1. Who is the best team in the country? If there were no preseason polls and you had a vote, which would you vote as the number one team in the nation after four weeks? Keep in mind, only take into account what we’ve seen this season, not what we’ve seen in years past. It’s tough right? Let’s look at the current “number one” team in Alabama. In Week 1, they rushed for less than hundred yards and completed less than half their passes for a little over 100 yards against a Virginia Tech team that just allowed 228 yards passing and 133 yards rushing to Marshall in a triple overtime win. Week 2, the Tide defense allowed more yards than it ever had in its storied history to Johnny Football and company. Then Saturday they didn’t convert a third down until near the end of third quarter against a team, Colorado State, whose only win is against FCS’ Cal Poly. Oregon looks great but what have they really done? Yes, they’ve scored at least 59 points in each of their three games, but one of those was against lowly FCS team Nicholls State. The Virginia win gets a few cool points only because the Cavaliers beat the BYU team that would go on to beat Texas down. Then the Ducks beat Tennessee by 45, but the Volunteers only beat Western Kentucky because the Hilltoppers committed five turnovers in a six-play span and only put 17 against Florida because they got a pick six on a play during which Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel broke his fibula. The point is that if we look at this season (and this season alone) thus far, there isn’t any team that stands out as the best team in the country. The good news is that conference play is about to get ramped up around the country and we’ll start to learn a little bit more about everyone, because they’ll get away from the “gimme games” and actually get challenged. My Buckeyes are ranked in the top five but the only thing they’ve really accomplished is playing well against inferior opponents despite doing so without their star quarterback and while I don’t know if many other FBS teams could do that well with a backup QB, it doesn’t really make the “w” any more valuable.

2. What is Florida going to do? Jeff Driskel is out for the season after breaking his fibula in the first quarter against Tennessee on Saturday. He was already playing in a brace on his sprained left knee and wasn’t looking particularly good this season. He only had two touchdown passes versus three interceptions and the Gators offense hasn’t looked like it had a rhythm in any of their three games thus far. Junior Tyler Murphy came in and performed admirably against a weak Tennessee defense throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 84 yards and another score. The Gators are one of the three teams that are a favorite to come out of the SEC East along with Georgia and South Carolina but it’s going to difficult to keep up after losing their starting quarterback. What I’m wondering is whether Will Muschamp will abandon plans to redshirt freshman Max Staver out of Tennessee. He’s 6’6″ 238 and is known for his big arm and accuracy (only threw four interceptions against 19 touchdowns his senior season). Muschamp probably has another week to make that decision as the Gators travel to Kentucky next week, which is a game that could easily be used to assess Murphy’s abilities, as there is very little danger of a loss to the Wildcats. The Gators’ defense is what is keeping them in games already, so they will certainly be able to contain a Wildcats team that have already lost to two teams from their own state (Western Kentucky and Louisville). If that game is on television and you happen to tune in, don’t be surprised if you hear mention of Staver’s name because I don’t know how Muschamp can avoid at least considering bringing him in. The Gators still have game at LSU, at Missouri (don’t sleep on the Tigers), hosting Georgia, at South Carolina, and hosting Florida State. If they want to make a run at a divisional title, I don’t know if they can do it with defense alone — although they made an admirable run at it last season.

3. What I’ll never forget about Saturday: Since 1936, The Ohio State Marching Band has performed in the signature “Script Ohio” formation. Over the years, there have been many honorary “i”-dotters that include such big names as Bob Hope and Jack Nicklaus. On Saturday during the halftime, the “Script Ohio” formation was performed not only by The Ohio State Marching Band but also by 23 members of the Ohio State School for the Blind! As the proud grandson of phenomenal blind, internationally known, gospel singer named Aileene Hanks; I was thrilled to learn of this musical collaboration. Watch video here! My grandmother died in 1997, but I think she would have loved this, as she gave birth to my father in Akron, Ohio, even though she was a diehard Alabama fan (and passed that allegiance on to my father). When I learned of this late last week, I was excited about it and hoped to catch it live. However, either I missed it or they didn’t show it during the telecast on the Big Ten Network. It didn’t matter, video was available within minutes, and I felt a strong sense of pride in my Buckeyes as I watched it. They won by 76 points against a team that was ridiculously overmatched on Saturday and I will probably not remember this game ten years from now (outside of maybe Kenny G’s 6 TD passes in a half). However, I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing The Ohio State Marching Band forming the traditional script while O-h-i-o is formed alongside it in Braille. Go Buckeyes!

4. Early on the Pac-12 looks quite deep! I know the popular opinion for conference depth usually automatically leans towards the SEC and I’m not saying they aren’t deep this season as Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia all look pretty good right now and the only teams that look terrible are Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas. However, early on the Pac-12 looks very deep this season. Oregon and Stanford look like they’re ahead of everyone else, but UCLA, Washington, and Arizona State are all quite strong as well. The only teams that look terrible right now are Utah and Oregon State. Colorado, Washington State, and California aren’t horribly strong, but any of them could play with one of the big dogs on any given night. When’s the last time one could even say that about the Buffaloes? It’s been a long, long time. USC’s offense is horrid but they have one of the best defenses in the nation, which will keep them in games with teams that are better than they are. It sucks that the Trojans are unable to utilize Marqise Lee, but maybe, as Cody Kessler feels a bit more comfortable now that the starting role is his, it will all come together. Like the SEC, the Pac-12 has a little bit of everything in terms of offensive philosophies. It has the high-speed offenses like Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State, and California and then it has the smash-mouth teams like Stanford, UCLA, and Washington. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few of these teams knock each other off and there ends up being bitter fights to win both divisions this year. Who will win the North, Oregon or Stanford? I don’t know, but Washington could in. Who will win the South, UCLA or USC? Arizona State could sneak in. Let’s get into to some conference play because I’m excited to see what happens

5. R.I.P. Ben Flick. Offensive lineman Ben Flick died and two wide receivers were injured in a one-car accident on Saturday night. All three were freshmen and all three were redshirting this season. None of them travelled with the team to Cincinnati’s game at Miami (OH) but were on their way home from the game in Oxford, OH. The driver, who presumably was not a player as he was unnamed in every article I’ve read about the incident, was injured as well and was listed in critical condition. Cincinnati has a bye week in Week 5, which should aid in the grieving process for teammates. I hope you’ll all join me in sending positive thoughts to the injured in hopes of a speedy and complete recovery and condolences to the friends, family, and football family for their loss of a guy who certainly died too young. Flick’s death comes just two weeks after the death of walk-on freshman Nick Pasquale of UCLA who was hit by a car as a pedestrian. The Bruins honored Pasquale in their first home game since his death on Saturday by starting the game lining up with only 10 players on the first play of the game to acknowledge his absence. I know the Bearcats will find a way to honor Flick’s untimely departure as well.

Comments

  1. The Flick tragedy is a bummer, as are the injuries. A crummy week for crummy things to happen.

    They did show the OSUMB doing Script Ohio on BTN at halftime, it was cool to watch both the Script and the Braille. Very cool indeed.

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