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College Football Week Seven Review: A Win Is A Win

Posted on October 18, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Colt McCoy and the Texas Longhorns held on to defeat the Oklahoma Sooners and remain undefeated.

Colt McCoy and the Texas Longhorns held on to defeat the Oklahoma Sooners and remain undefeated.

None of the top three teams in college football looked all that dominating this week, but they all took home the “W”, which is really all that matters.

With the first official BCS rankings coming out this week, we will get a sense of where everyone stands, but the reality is that Florida, Texas and Alabama all have their destiny in their own hands. The rankings will merely give us a better idea of which teams will step forward if any of the frontrunners stumble.

A Win Is A Win

I wrote last week about whether substance or style was more important for the top college football teams.

We will find out for sure once the BCS rankings are released, but I generally believe this past weekend illustrates that ultimately substance will be the winner.

The Florida Gators looked sloppy and out of sync in their 23-20 last-second victory over Arkansas. However, they accomplished the most important thing, they got the victory.

Unlike a year ago, Florida does not have the schedule or impressive stats to ensure that they can get to the BCS Championship Game with one loss. With only one win over a top 25 team (LSU) and no more games scheduled against teams in the top 25 (I expect South Carolina will fall out after losing to Alabama), the Gators can’t bank on a victory over Alabama in the SEC Championship Game propelling them back to the BCS title game if they have stumbled down the stretch against an unranked opponent.

Conversely, I generally believe that Alabama, which has three wins over ranked teams and still has games against Tennessee, LSU and Auburn on the schedule, could conceivably lose a game in the regular season and get to the title game if they defeat Florida for the SEC Championship. However, if that does happen, it will put a bunch of other teams back in the mix and likely throw things into the hands of those dreaded computers.

Nick Saban has the Alabama Crimson Tide gunning for their second straight undefeated regular season.

Nick Saban has the Alabama Crimson Tide gunning for their second straight undefeated regular season.

Like Florida, Texas hasn’t been dominating opponents, but they have been winning games. Their 16-13 win over Oklahoma wasn’t a classic, but it was a victory and should keep them in the top three.

They still have regular season games against Missouri, Oklahoma State and Kansas remaining, so the schedule isn’t especially easy.  I believe they have enough quality opponents left that they could stay in the BCS discussion with one loss. However, because they have not been overwhelming so far, someone like USC, Iowa or (Heaven help us) Boise State could sneak past them if they lose a game.

Anyone Want To Win The Heisman Trophy?

Last year Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy both sat in the audience and watched as Sam Bradford accepted the Heisman Trophy. That trio was arguably the most impressive collection of Heisman candidates ever as all three had the kind of season that would have won the trophy in many other seasons.

After being re-injured early in the Sooners 16-13 loss to Texas, we now know for sure that Bradford will not be back to repeat. However, while neither McCoy or Tebow have been putting up the kind of numbers they did a year ago, they are at least continuing to win games and stay in the national consciousness.

Jimmy Clausen played well against USC, but the Irish came up just short of victory.

Jimmy Clausen played well against USC, but the Irish came up just short of victory.

The general consensus this past week was that if Jimmy Clausen had a huge game against USC and Notre Dame won, he would shoot to the top of the list of candidates. While the Irish didn’t win, Clausen did play well enough to at least stay in the Heisman discussion.

His candidacy could now be a little more of a long-shot, but unless McCoy or Tebow start putting up monster numbers, if Clausen keeps playing well and Notre Dame wins out, he could have a chance for the award.

Jahvid Best of California was a popular early season Heisman pick, but the meltdown by the Bears against Oregon and USC have likely sabotaged his candidacy.

Tony Pike of Cincinnati has started to emerge as a star, but he was injured against USF and his candidacy will not get off the ground if he is unable to play at a top level the next couple weeks.

Case Keenum from Houston is piling up stats and gaining momentum, but I have a very hard time believing that another quarterback from a non-BCS conference will ever win the Heisman Trophy.

If Iowa continues to win, it is conceivable that their quarterback, Ricky Stanzi, could gain some consideration, but his stats are not all that impressive and he really isn’t even the best quarterback in the Big Ten.

I know that Daryll Clark laid an egg against Iowa, but he has been outstanding the rest of the season and if the Nittany Lions beat Michigan and Ohio State and finish with one loss, I believe he at least deserves some consideration.

I have heard some discussion that this could be the year a defensive player wins the Heisman, but I really don’t see that happening. Unless a defensive player from a national contender rises above the crowd (which hasn’t happened so far), I don’t see a defensive player getting real serious consideration.

In the end, if no “stat monster” from one of the top teams emerges and Texas and Florida stay unbeaten, Tebow and McCoy will probably both be in New York on Heisman weekend again this year and this time one of them will probably be taking home the hardware.

Is it Time To Take Iowa Seriously?

The Iowa Hawkeyes raised their record to 7-0 with a come-from-behind 20-10 victory at Wisconsin. They next travel to Michigan State for another tough game against a conference foe.

As Purdue shockingly reminded us with their win over Ohio State, winning on the road in major college football is never easy.

Michigan State is not as good as they have been in recent years, but they did defeat Michigan and have now won three games in a row.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are off to a 7-0 start.

The Iowa Hawkeyes are off to a 7-0 start.

After playing the Spartans, Iowa hosts Indiana and Northwestern before playing at Ohio State on November 14 and then hosting Minnesota to close out the season.

If Iowa does somehow finish undefeated, it could throw a wrinkle in the BCS plans.

I don’t think an undefeated Iowa team that barely beat Northern Iowa and Arkansas State will get in the title game over an undefeated Texas, Florida or Alabama, but if those teams stumble, an undefeated Iowa and even an undefeated Boise State could make it awfully hard to put a pair of one loss teams in the BCS title game.

Can a Loss Be a Win?

I heard some radio programs this past week describing the biggest “win” of the Charlie Weiss era at Notre Dame as being their last second loss to USC during the 2005 season.

Charlie Weiss and Notre Dame has come close against USC, but has been unable to pull out the victory.

Charlie Weiss and Notre Dame has come close against USC, but has been unable to pull out the victory.

If that is indeed true, and I’m not really disputing that, does that mean that Notre Dame’s 34-27 loss to the Trojans this year is his second biggest “win”?

Notre Dame looked like a contender against the Trojans. True, USC bolted to a big lead and Notre Dame rallied late, but the fact that they stayed in the game and nearly sent it to overtime illustrates that Notre Dame can compete with the better teams in college football.

Now, of course, the question is whether after five seasons, these mythical “wins” are enough to keep Charlie Weiss at Notre Dame.

Eventually, Notre Dame has to win some of these big games if they want to be taken seriously again and if Weiss wants to stick around South Bend.

The Irish have six games remaining and, with the exception of Washington State and Connecticut, all are against teams pretty close in ability and record to the Irish.

If Notre Dame finishes 8-4 or 9-3, will that be enough to keep Weiss at the helm?

Weiss probably could have secured his future with a victory over the Trojans in the “biggest game of the year” for the Irish. Instead he now has six games left in this regular season and every one of them is the “biggest game of the year.”

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