Friday, December 13, 2002
Weekend wrap-up: Coaches deserve praise
By Terry Bowden
Special to BCSfootball.com
Bowden's Weekly Chat Show
Every Saturday throughout the season, ABC studio analyst Terry Bowden will weigh in his assessment of the day's games, the highlights, the lowlights and the surprises.
The coaches get my game balls this week, and there are three who have done exceptional jobs with their programs under various circumstances.
Three Game Balls:
Joe Paterno: I can't think of any coach that's been through a more difficult season so far than JoePa. Not only was he facing the worst start of his career at 1-4, but he had to deal with the tragic injury of freshman defensive back Adam Taliaferro, who remains in very serious condition. In spite of all this, he was able to get his Nittany Lions to shut down Drew Brees and get a huge win against Purdue.
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but Penn State's blitzing defense and bump-and-run coverage had Purdue on its heels all day.
Penn State may not have the best season it has ever had, but the sun will shine brighter in Happy Valley tomorrow. Our prayers continue to be with Adam and his family.
Mike Bellotti: It's about time Oregon started getting credit for the great job it is doing this year. Not only are the Ducks in a position to move close to the Top 10, but they extended their home winning streak to 18 games, and continue to make Autzen Stadium one of the toughest places to play in the country.
Oregon is bringing great defense back to the Pac-10, and with it, another reason why the entire conference is on the upswing.
Dennis Erickson: Not long ago Oregon State was the laughingstock of the conference. Saturday against USC, Ken Simonton ran over, around and through what was supposed to be the best defense in the conference -- amassing 234 yards, the second-highest single-game total in school history. The Beavers' 31-21 win was the first over Southern Cal since 1967. I'd have to say as of this weekend, I don't know who will represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl Game presented by AT&T.
Surprises of the day:
|Dennis Erickson has brought joy to Corvallis. His Oregon State Beavers are a surprising 4-0.|
Mississippi State: Whodathunkit? Mississippi State scores 47 points against one of the most talented defenses in the country. It's not like the Gators were playing great defense before this weekend, but for Jackie Sherrill's Bulldogs to put up 47 points on the board is truly amazing. In fact, I could just as easily have given this game ball to Jackie Sherrill and his amazing defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn.
LSU: The Tigers pulled off the biggest surprise of the SEC by suffering a devastating loss to the University of Alabama-Birmingham last week. This week, they came back to defeat the league's best team, the Tennessee Volunteers, in overtime. All I can say is ? where has Rohan Davey been all season?
Northwestern: I don't know if this is really a surprise after the way Northwestern played against Wisconsin last week to win in double-overtime, but I am surprised at how easily the Wildcats put away the Michigan State Spartans. After watching the game, I'd have to say that this wasn't even an upset, because Randy Walker has this team playing with new-found confidence and talent -- especially tailback Damien Anderson, who rushed for 219 yards to upstage Michigan State's T.J. Duckett.
Auburn: Who would have believed after five games that the Auburn Tigers would be the only unbeaten team in the SEC? Against an out-manned Vanderbilt squad, the Tigers were running on all cylinders, making big plays on offense, defense and the kicking game. I can't wait to see the Tigers matchup with those Bulldogs of Mississippi State next Saturday.
Clemson: I know they have been playing well every week, but after each game, they look even more impressive. Woody Dantzler has a chance to become the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000. If he does that, and the Tigers find a way to beat Florida State in Tallahassee, look for Woody Dantzler to move way up in the race for the Heisman Trophy.
Michigan: After the tough loss to UCLA, I seriously wondered how far the Wolverines could go in the national picture. Although John Navarre did a fine job filling in for the injured Drew Henson, it's easy to see that Drew takes this team to a different level. He has the talent to make Michigan the leading candidate in the Big Ten to get to the Rose Bowl, and just maybe, if things fall into place, Henson will have them in Miami playing for the National Championship in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
Florida Gators: What is going on with the University of Florida? This team continues to amaze me with the way it plays. One week after Jesse Palmer looks to be the most solid quarterback the Gators have had since Danny Wuerffel, Steve Spurrier dumps him and goes with Rex Grossman, who played well enough in a loss to most likely become their No. 1 signal-caller. If a redshirt freshman QB isn't a precarious enough situation for the previously third-ranked Gators, the defense looked horrendous against Mississippi State. Who would have thought the Gators would give up 47 points to a very average Mississippi State offense that rushed for 351 yards?
Wisconsin: The Big Ten's two-time defending Rose Bowl champion is already out of the race after suffering its second loss within the conference. The Shoegate incident has disrupted any continuity the Badgers hoped to have this year. No matter how much they recover, the 2000 football season will fall well below expectations for all the fans in Madison.
Washington: Although they were undefeated, fans in the Pac-10 had to see this coming. The Huskies have won some big, close football games, but Oregon was primed for the upset. In one of the most bitter rivalries in the Pac-10, it's nice to see Bellotti get his first win against Rick Neuheisel.
This season is making it awfully hard to be an expert analyst. Nine of the Top 25 teams in the country went down in defeat, which goes to show why college football has greater parity than it has ever had in its history.
Terry Bowden is ABC's college football studio analyst and hosts a weekly audio chat on BCSfootball.com on Thursdays at 5 p.m. ET.