College football roundup: Top 25 buzz
It’s only Week 2 of the college football season and already we’ve seen season-ending injuries, player suspensions, intrastate Twitter bashing, press conference diatribes and, oh yes, a brand new No. 1 team in the national polls.
Here’s what’s buzzing nationally as we near kickoff on another Saturday of college football:
Alabama coach Nick Saban’s media rant
Alabama leap-frogged preseason No. 1 USC to take over the top spot in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls after the Crimson Tide’s eye-popping 41-14 win over then-No. 8 Michigan last week. Apparently, Alabama coach Nick Saban wasn’t as impressed as the rest of the country.
On Wednesday, Saban went off on the media for not showing enough respect for Western Kentucky, the Tide’s opponent this week (and a 40-point underdog).
But Alabama beat reporter Don Kausler, Jr. of the Birmingham News writes that there is genuine concern about, and precedent for, a potential letdown against the Hilltoppers this week:
The Tide didn’t have far to go up in the polls, but it went from No. 2 to No. 1. It now has been ranked No. 1 at least once in five consecutive seasons.
That stretch began in 2008, which started with a 34-10 victory over No. 9 Clemson in Atlanta.
The Tide fell flat the following week but defeated Tulane 20-6.
The following year, Alabama opened with a 34-24 victory over No. 10 Virginia Tech in Atlanta.
A week later, the Tide trailed Florida International 14-13 in the second quarter but rebounded to win 40-14.
Common denominators signify déjà vu: Neutral sites. … Big-name, top-10 opponents. … Impressive victories. … No-name opponents. … Oh, no.
No. 6 Florida State’s historic spread
While it’s unlikely that Western Kentucky can shock the Tide (and the media!) this weekend, Saban’s attempt to keep his team focused is commendable. But Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher likely found it much tougher to talk up his team’s competition this week.
That’s because the Las Vegas oddsmakers initially installed the Seminoles as a 70 1/2-point favorite over this week’s FCS opponent Savannah State. While the spread dropped to 69 1/2 late Friday night, according to ESPN.com, it is still believed to make Florida State the biggest favorite in college football betting history.
But don’t blame the Seminoles for putting such a monumental mismatch on their schedule, writes FoxSports.com‘s Jesse Temple:
Actually, Florida State was not supposed to play this game at all. Initially, West Virginia was on the schedule, but when the Mountaineers left the Big East for the Big 12, they had to drop a non-conference game. West Virginia paid Florida State $500,000 for breaching the contract.
With a hole in the schedule, Florida State found itself in the unfortunate position of having to play its second FCS opponent in as many weeks.
Michigan gets a boost
With no ranked teams playing each other this week, there are plenty of opportunities for underdogs to pull off an early-season upset. No. 19 Michigan is one team that must be mindful of a letdown against a potentially dangerous opponent, especially coming off last week’s beatdown at the hands of Alabama.
But the return of starting tailback Fitz Toussaint for this week’s game against Air Force should help Michigan bounce back.
Kyle Meinke of MLive.com lists the season debut of Toussaint, fresh off a one-game suspension for a DUI arrest, as one of his five keys to a Michigan victory:
Michigan needs Toussaint to help take pressure off [Denard] Robinson, who has been blistered in the past week for his ineffective play in the opener, as well as the rest of the backs. The Wolverines can string together drives when Toussaint’s at his finest, which also helps keep the ball out of the hands of Air Force’s triple-option offense.
Speedy start for Oregon
While the offensive speed and athleticism showcased by No. 4 Oregon in last week’s 57-34 win over Arkansas State inspired some to new heights of hyperbole, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian writes that the Ducks (and their fans) would really benefit from a stiff test against Fresno State on Saturday with Pac-12 Conference matchups swiftly approaching:
UO Quarterback Marcus Mariota needs to get knocked on his butt a few times. The level of difficulty for the video game De’Anthony Thomas always appears to be playing in real life must be raised from “freshmen” to at least “varsity.”
The defensive regulars could stand to feel the heat of having the goalpost looming behind them.
Watching UO obliterate an inferior opponent once is enthralling. Watching the Ducks do it again and again will become boring in a hurry.
Key losses for top teams
No. 3 LSU and No. 7 Georgia both face a challenge this week after the loss of some key players.
LSU will be without starting left tackle Chris Faulk when the Tigers host the Washington Huskies on Saturday.
Faulk, one of the top left tackles in college football, suffered a knee injury in practice and is likely done for the season, according to the Times-Picayune.
But ESPN.com college football blogger Chris Low expresses confidence that LSU can overcome the loss:
Getting Josh Dworaczyk back for a sixth season was huge. He’s versatile and will step in Saturday at left tackle for the Tigers. He’s not the only option there, either. It’s a blow to lose Faulk, no question. But I’m not ready to say it was a knockout blow. This LSU team has been too resilient in the past and is still oozing with talent.
Georgia, meanwhile, will be missing four defensive starters against Missouri this week because of player suspensions.
Linebacker Alec Ogletree and All-American safety Bacarri Rambo did not make the trip with the Bulldogs and will be suspended for four games each after failing a drug test, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Starting cornerback Sanders Commings and linebacker Chase Vasser are also currently serving suspensions, both for off-season arrests.
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