We've always had the incredible statistical performances. In college football we have quarterbacks that throw seven touchdowns, running backs that surpass 300 yards in a contest and wide receivers who catch more than 20 balls on a Saturday. An explosive offense meeting an over-matched defense is the recipe for the type of numbers that win college fantasy football contests by themselves. But this year one thing seems to be changing.
It's not the household names that are bolstering their Heisman candidacies with Andre Ware or Barry Sanders-like performances. Those guys are battling for their lives in knock down, drag out slugfests. Instead fantasy owners are winning with guys who Joe Tailgate may have a hard time identifying.
Steven Sheffield, Texas Tech
It's performances like the one delivered by Sheffield (490 yards passing and seven touchdowns) that don't help Mike Leach when he attempts to argue it's not just the system that makes his quarterbacks great. And games like this don't help owners of Taylor Potts, and any number of care packages to the injured Potts may not be enough to avoid a full-scale quarterback controversy.
Granted former Kansas State coach Ron Prince may not have left the cupboard brimming with all sorts of scrumptious snacks, but Sheffield did this against a conference foe. One that was 3-2 coming in and had shown some signs of life. Now the Wildcats will look to get right in time for the arrival of Texas A&M, another team that can score some points.
But it's Tech's next two weekends, where they travel to Lincoln and then College Station, where things are really going to get interesting. It seems that in the Red Raider system seven touchdown performances have become the norm a couple of times each season. But now there's a real question as to which quarterback will get the pleasure of winging it for the remainder of 2009.
Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green
I knew when Alex sent me the text to "check BG box score" that this one would be interesting, as his texts are usually one-word expletives.
When Freddie Barnes woke up Saturday morning he was probably feeling pretty good about his chances for a solid game. After all he had caught 53 balls and scored three times on the young season. Why not have an extra piece of bacon in preparation for the game with Kent State?
When Freddie woke up this morning he now had 75 catches on the season and 278 more yards to add to the tally. Give this man the whole pig!
Barnes, who had caught 15,10 and 17 balls in consecutive games to start the season, could not have been a surprise to the Kent State coaching staff. The likely sole surprise came from the fact that he wouldn't stop catching passes. And, with a tasty MAC slate of games remaining, we will not be surprised to find Barnes atop the national wide receiver board when it's all said and done.
Lance Dunbar, North Texas
Who is Lance Dunbar? Why he's a sophomore tailback from Haltom, Texas. And Saturday he ran for 187 yards and four scores as the Mean Green lost yet another college football contest. His 32 carries is one fewer than his season total coming into the game, though he was coming off a 5-101-2 performance last week. For the season he now has eight scores, including a touchdown against Alabama.
Now I don't know a ton about North Texas. For some reason when I think of them I think of that horrible football movie, Necessary Roughness, in which the dude from Quantum Leap plays quarterback and Kathy Ireland kicks field goals for the fictional Texas State. I do know that, like the Armadillos, North Texas loses a lot.
And the Mean Green offense is also led by the coach's son, which in 2009 seems to be code for crappy season.
But their schedule for the next few weeks presents the opportunity for Dunbar to continue his torrid pace. Even if North Texas keeps losing.
Musburger and Forcier: Love Story
The other day, while tooling around in my ride, I was jamming a little Taylor Swift "Love Story" and thinking about what my life had become. Last night, while listening to Brent go on and on about the freshman Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier, the poppy Swift tune jumped back into my head. And like those things that go in the ears during Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, it just wouldn't leave.
Now anyone who knows me understands my admiration for Brent Musburger, and it goes all the way back to his time spent in Apollo Creed's palatial gym in Rocky II. And I've seen enough of Mr. Forcier to know that he's going to be a very nice quarterback; in fact following his performance against the Irish I wrote of great upside. But the amount of adulation for this youngster has reached an obscene level, as the unfair expectations being placed at this kid's feet are ridiculous.
Last night Brent decided to compare Tate to Fran Tarkenton. Yes, Fran Tarkenton. And this was while Forcier was throwing into double coverage, during those times when the ball wasn't slipping out of his hands. Just imagine what will be said when Forcier plays well on primetime national television?
The Michigan quarterback is a dynamic player who is fun to watch and will get better. And this is about it.
Fact is last night was the first time Forcier had left the State of Michigan to play a college football game. His great performances have come at home against Western Michigan, Indiana and Notre Dame, and his comeback to tie the game in East Lansing was against a prevent defense and a program that seemingly prides itself on torturing its fan base.
He's also about my size, and all of my friends (who don't play football by the way) are much taller and heavier than I am. The kid is already banged up and he hasn't had to deal with freezing field turf and a Penn State or Ohio State blitz. In other words, it might get worse. For now, can we just let the freshman play football?
Brent, come up on stage:
We were at Kinnick when I first saw you.
I close my eyes
And the flashback starts I'm standing there
In the press box of the autumn air.
See the lights
See the band, the wing-ged helmets
I see you make your way through the huddle
And say hello, little did I know
That you were Tarkenton, you were dodging blitzers
And my partner said stop talking about that freshie QB
And I was crying next to Herbstreit
Begging you please run out of bounds
Forcier take me to the Downtown Coaches Club
I'll be in the lobby bar all that's left to do is pass and run
You'll be the Powlus and I'll be the Beano Cook
It's a love story baby just ask Rich Rod to say yes
So I sneak out to the Diag to see you
We keep quiet because it may be deemed extra practice time if they knew
So close your eyes
Escape these classes for a little while
Ok, I'll stop now.
I've run out of superlatives for Jacquizz Rodgers. 33-189-4 against Stanford gives him 966 yards and 13 scores on the season. Backs like Rodgers simply don't come around very often.
It looks like Dan LeFevour is well on his way to his numbers of 2007. Two six-score performances have this Chip at 20 (the same as Case Keenum), with plenty of opportunities remaining against struggling defenses. Of course none will be as hapless as Eastern Michigan.
Those that stayed up to watch Jake Locker and the Huskies were treated to more evidence of a rebirth and imminent return to the good old days.
All or nothing with Christian Ponder. Before Saturday he had two three-touchdown games and three with a goose egg. Then he goes and accounts for five against Georgia Tech.
Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon has emerged as one of the nation's steadiest performers. Four of the five defenses he's faced are legitimate units, and his low output for the season is 92 yards against Auburn.
Riley Skinner has posted two scores in every game, and yesterday's four-score performance gives him 16 on the campaign. Can't say I saw this coming.
Good to hear that Mikell Simpson didn't spend too much time in the hospital following his neck injury, and hopefully he can return to the field and build upon the last two weeks. His 15-83-4 effort against the Hoosiers comes on the heels of 20-100-1 against North Carolina.
The bye week sure didn't cool off Todd Reesing. With their gunslinger in the midst of a record-setting season I can't think of many teams more dangerous on offense than the Jayhawks. The defense is another story.
Jonathan Baldwin's performance against UConn furthers my belief that Pitt has one of the most talented receivers in the country, and he's right there with Carlton Mitchell as another Big East mismatch out wide.
Houston's James Cleveland sure has come a long way since his off-field issues ended his Hawkeye career. He's caught 25 balls for four touchdowns in the just the last two weeks.
Ben Tate is getting stronger as the season progresses, and he was impressive even in the losing effort against Arkansas.
Buffalo scores 40, Zach Maynard throws for three scores, and Naaman Roosevelt catches five balls for 46 yards?
Tell me Colt McCoy is going to go 32 for 39 every week and I figure I'll be drinking champagne at the season's conclusion. How then does he only throw for 265 yards and one score?
How in the world does Georgia's leading rusher only gain 30 yards?
Not sure I've ever see a back work harder for his 59 yards than John Clay did in Columbus on Saturday.
Norm Chow is accustomed to having a little more to work with, and it's clear the UCLA return to the ranks of Pac-10 elite will take a little while longer.
17 interceptions were returned for touchdowns yesterday, thus I was able to enjoy one of my guilty pleasures. For years I've loved watching punters and kickers attempt to make open field tackles. However equally entertaining is cheering as lumbering offensive lineman try to get a hold of a defensive back taking a pick back the other way.
Indiana's performance in Charlottesville makes me wonder if the annual Big Ten vs. ACC Challenge has started earlier this year.
I just had to get cute and put Case Keenum and Dion Lewis on the start list. Even with the disclaimers that accompanied each selection I can't hide from the fact that I'm an idiot.
There's no doubt that there was an insane amount of talent on the field, but didn't the Florida vs. LSU game just didn't have "it" and I don't just mean scoring. It was too much of the SEC from about ten years ago, when coaches played it close to the vest, afraid of making a mistake.
Brock Osweiler went 3-4 for 21 yards.
Hard to imagine another team looking as disinterested in playing a game as the Fighting Illini did on Saturday.