NCF Nation: Tempe 0804
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
TEMPE, Ariz. -- I watched USC brutalize Ohio State. And I've now watched Georgia manhandle Arizona State.
|AP Photo/Paul Connors|
|Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno showed once again he is one of the best in the nation Saturday night.|
The obvious question is: Who's better?
Heck if I know.
But if I had to guess, I'd take USC.
That seemed to be the consensus opinion among a couple of other reporters I talked to who had covered both games.
Say what you want about Ohio State, but it's laden with NFL players and few folks would pick the Sun Devils to beat the Buckeyes.
That said: If the Bulldogs go undefeated against a schedule that includes Alabama (next Saturday), LSU, Florida and Auburn, the sight test won't matter because they will have passed the "do test."
That's a big if, which is probably why Georgia coach Mark Richt didn't want to start lobbying for respect just yet, even though his team, ranked No. 1 in the preseason, has dropped two spot in the polls while watching everyone fall in love with the Trojans.
"I wasn't really worried about making a statement," Richt said. "I just wanted to win the game."
Georgia has one of the slickest running backs in the nation in Knowshon Moreno. QB Matt Stafford owns the best arm I've seen since Carson Palmer. Freshman wide receiver A.J. Green looks ready for his close-up, too.
And the defense? Its linebackers are fast and its front four is physical. The secondary is above-average.
The defense is great against the run. It entered the game surrendering 59.7 yards rushing per game and held the Sun Devils to an embarrassing four yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs struggled to pressure opposing QBs, but the one-dimensional Sun Devils made things predictable and Georgia had four sacks.
However, be forewarned Dawgs fans: It's unlikely Georgia will face any more offensive lines with as many issues as ASU, at least not in its marquee games ahead.
Of course, Georgia isn't exactly dominant on its offensive line, and that youth -- two freshmen and two sophomores started -- that played fairly well against ASU, probably will find the going rougher against SEC front-sevens.
Or USC's front seven, should those teams hook in a some sort of game, you know, down the line.
While this game made a statement -- Georgia took care of business a long way from home against a quality opponent -- the Bulldogs don't need to fret about what sort of message they're sending.
Against this schedule, just winning makes a statement.
"We obviously know the prettier it is, the more people are going to look at it," Stafford said. "But we don't look at it like that... We definitely haven't arrived."
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
TEMPE, Ariz. -- About the only thing that favors Arizona State tonight against No. 3 Georgia is the temperature, which stands at 99 degrees an hour before kickoff.
Not that it's difficult to imagine how the Sun Devils might beat the Bulldogs.
1. ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter picks apart a fair-to-middling Georgia secondary.
3. The Bulldogs give up a bunch of turnovers. The Sun Devils do not.
4. This is college football. Anything can happen.
But, if you watched UNLV mount an 18-play, 88-yard drive and a 10-play, 73-yard drive to force overtime in Sun Devil Stadium, it's hard to imagine that Moreno and Stafford won't be able to consistently make plays, even though ASU gets linebackers Gerald Munns and Morris Wooten and defensive end Jamarr Robinson back.
On the other side of the ball, if the Sun Devils can't run against UNLV, then how can they be expected to run against an SEC defense?
And if Carpenter is forced to pass just about every play, how can the questionable offensive line protect him against an athletic front with its ears pinned back?
As for the heat: This isn't Colorado coming to Tempe. The Bulldogs are used to the heat and humidity of the deep South. They won't lose because they're sweating.
Moreover, the Bulldogs are expecting 10,000 fans -- maybe as many as 15,000, according to some estimates -- to show up to support their beloved Dawgs.
And it's not like, in any event, that UGA is unfamiliar with hostile stadiums. They are 26-4 on the road under coach Mark Richt and are 9-2 vs. ranked teams.
This is college football. Anything can happen.