Chat with Graham Watson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com's non-BCS reporter and contributor to the College Football Nation blog Graham Watson will stop by to talk about the 2009 season.
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.
Send your questions now and join Watson Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Graham Watson (1:00 PM)
Welcome to the chat. I'll be with you in just a sec.
Evan (Salt Lake City)
Will Bradford be back in time for Texas and will he be productive?
Graham Watson (1:03 PM)
I think they'd want him back for that Miami game because that's a matchup that could springboard the Sooners back into the national championship conversation.
What does CSU have to do to take down BYU on Saturday? And if they pull it off, do you see the Rams getting attention in the polls or will everyone just call BYU overrated?
Graham Watson (1:06 PM)
I think CSU needs to look at some of the things that made FSU successful, namely, keeping the BYU defense on tilt. I think you'll see a lot of play action by CSU, a lot of running plays to the outside. CSU is far more athletic than people give them credit and they're going to mix it up this week. Ia slo like the CSU defense getting to Max Hall. I'm not sure I'd pick CSU to win the game, but I think it will be competitive. And no, I don't think people will say BYU is overrated. I think people think BYU is a good team and CSU would get the credit it deserved.
Blake (Mobile, AL)
Taking a look at Boise State's schedule you see a mediocre at best conference lineup, an embarrassing game against UC Davis, and the only bright spot a win against an average Oregon team - do you really think they deserve the hype they are getting?
Graham Watson (1:09 PM)
I think Boise State is a very talented team. I'm not sure that they are the best non-AQ team in the country, but a lot of people had those doubts about Utah last year regardless of the results. And that's the thing, unless we had some sort of tournament, a team can only play the teams on its schedule. I know it's a cliche, but not much you can do about that. So, on paper, Boise State is the best team and I think they've played well enough to deserve the credit. If TCU win out of even BYU finishes with one loss and Florida Sttae goes on to be awesome, I think there's a pretty good debate on our hands.
Stephen (Berkeley, CA)
Are Cal and Jahvid Best the real deal? I think so, what is your opinion?
Graham Watson (1:11 PM)
I think Jahvid Best is the real deal. Hands down most exciting player in college football right now. And as long as he plays for Cal, that makes Cal exciting. I think he has his way against Oregon and the USC game next week will be very interesting.
Chad (Las Vegas)
How bad of a hit did non-AQ conferences take this past weekend?
Graham Watson (1:13 PM)
Well, last I checked four non-AQ teams appeared in the Top 25 this week, including one in the Top 10, so I'd say the hit was minimal. I think we're seeing these teams get a lot more respect than they have in the past. And a lot of those teams could move up, including Houston, which has a tough game against Texas Tech this weekend.
Idaho or Northern Illinois?
Graham Watson (1:15 PM)
I've become a big fan of what Robb Akey is doing over at Idaho. You have to admire how he's gotten those kids to play. However, I think Northern Illinois is going to be tough. The Huskies have great coaching, great players and is a touchdown away from being undefeated. I think Idaho can move the ball and score, but I like NIU to win.
jimmy (dayton oh.)
what kind of impact do you think the loss to michigan will have on notre dame?
Graham Watson (1:17 PM)
I think more important is the loss of Michael Floyd. They shook off the Michigan loss against Michigan State, but they're now going against a high-powered Purdue team that's a lot tougher than many thought. Clausen is limited with turf toe and now without his best receiver. This will be an interesting challenge for the Irish.
Stephen (Berkeley, CA)
Is Jahvid Best now the front runner for the Heisman or will we have to wait to see what he does against SC?
Graham Watson (1:18 PM)
I think Tebow and McCoy are still the frontrunners, but he definitely has everyone's attention. He'll have to keep putting up ridiculous numbers to stay in the spotlight, and yeah, if he can do it against USC's defense, well, I think he deserves some serious consideration as the No. 1 guy.
If BYU starts blowing out opponents, until TCU, won't that help diminish the FSU outcome in voters minds and help Hall return to Heisman talk?
Graham Watson (1:19 PM)
Eh... I think that's part of it. I think BYU needs Florida State to be the team many thought it would be at the beginning of the year. If Florida State continues to be dominant, then it becomes a quality loss for BYU. Like I said earlier, a one-loss BYU team is very interesting when it comes to the end of the year, especially if that loss was to a team that's now ranked in the Top 10.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Purdue high powered? They have lost their last 2 games to Oregon and N Illinois. C'mon Purdue is bad.
Graham Watson (1:22 PM)
Purdue can point points on the board. Have you seen Notre Dame's defense? And with Floyd out and Clausen hurting, it makes for an interesting scenario.
Chase (Oxford, MS)
Who you got Thursday night? Ole Miss/ South Carolina?
Graham Watson (1:23 PM)
I like Ole Miss, though I think it could be a great game. South Carolina is better than everyone thinks, but man, it's hard to goes against that Ole Miss offense.
Travis (Los Angeles)
True or False: UCLA has a shot to win the Pac-10 this year?
Graham Watson (1:25 PM)
True, especially with the USC loss. I think each week UCLA gains confidence and there's no doubt that they are better than they were a year ago. I'm eager to see how they handle conference play beginning this weekend.
If Houston goes undefeated, what has to happen for the Cougars to get into a BCS bowl?
Graham Watson (1:27 PM)
Again, another interesting scenario. I think Houston would have a stronger resume than Boise State, but if a Mountain West team goes undefeated then it gets interesting. Look, I think any of the teams that could still go undefeated, that includes CSU, Southern Miss, Houston and TCU, all have better schedules than Boise State. No question. But there's a lot of ground to make up on the Broncos, who also have a history of winning on their side.
Damien (Las Vegas)
Graham, you focus on the NonAQ teams. Tell me, is Nevada a bust this season and do they belong in the bottom 10?
Graham Watson (1:30 PM)
I was just writing about Nevada when I popped in here. Uh, to say Nevada hasn't been a major disappointment this season would be a lie. But we're only two games in. They could turn it around against Missouri this weekend (that's wishful thinking). Honestly, it's hard to see Nevada, the Nevada that's played the last two games, winning a game until the middle of next month. Just not the team many of us expected.
ORVILLE W. (Columbia, SC)
East Carolina seems to be down this year from last year. Is this a rebuilding or is Skip Holtz on the slippery slope downward?
Graham Watson (1:31 PM)
It's not a rebuilding year when you have almost all of your starters back. I think they've played two really good teams in the past couple weeks. I think the fact that they have just five points in the second half of three games means something isn't coming across in the locker room and the second half is where they're losing games.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Texas Tech vs Houston ...100 total points over or under?
Graham Watson (1:32 PM)
You gotta take the over here. Over-Under 100 passes?
Ryan Valentine (Long Beach, CA)
Does Oregon State have a shot at the Pac 10 title? How much will they be improved once Lyle MoeVao starts taking snaps over Canfield?
Graham Watson (1:33 PM)
Last week I said Cincy would beat Oregon State and I got some stuff for that. But I don't believe this Oregon State team is that good. I just don't. I think it's a middle-of-the-road Pac-10 team, especially with the way UCLA and Washington are playing.
Dave (Boise, Id)
Is the Oregon Hangover from Boise State loss gone and can they give Cal a game this week?
Graham Watson (1:35 PM)
Oregon is 76th in the country against the run with 155 yards per game. I think that's all you need to know going against Cal.
Chad (Las Vegas)
True or False: When Charlie Weis and ND go 1-3 in their next 4, Purdue win, Wash, USC, and BC loss does Charlie boy get the boot?
Graham Watson (1:36 PM)
I'm not sure about a BC loss. They were pretty terrible last week and I'm not sure they have the offense to stay with ND. And really, that's what's keeping ND afloat. It's defense is atrocious. I say 2-2, which mean no BCS bowl.
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
Even though BYU lost to Florida State, I liked what they did in terms of scheduling by trying to get some national attention vs. Oklahoma and Florida State. Do you think this could become a trend going forward? And if so, how difficult will it be to schedule those kinds of powerhouse teams?
Graham Watson (1:38 PM)
I'd like to see this become a trend, absolutely. I think in the past, the non-AQ games have been bodybag games, but now they're pretty competitive. Utah has ND next year, Boise State has Virginia Tech. I think that these game are now becoming mutually beneficial in terms of rankings and prestige. That's why we'll start seeing more especially among the upper echelon of non-AQ teams.
Does Southern Miss have a chance to beat Kansas on Saturday?
Graham Watson (1:40 PM)
I want to say yes, but I have a hard time picking the Golden Eagles in such a big game. Those players haven't been in a game like that before. It's the biggest game in Fedora's short term and while yes, they have a chance to upset the Jayhawks, I think it's going to be tough on the road. I still like USM to win the East this year, though. Maybe with just that loss to KU.
Bradford (Boise, ID)
Why do you hate Boise State?
Graham Watson (1:43 PM)
Why do you think I hate Boise State? I've said many time they're incredibly talented and have outstanding coaching. They never get ahead of themselves and they have a killer instinct a lot of other teams in the five conferences lack. I've also said Kellen Moore is one of the coolest quarterbacks I've ever seen (cool meaning calm under pressure, not Fonzie cool). They just have a terrible schedule this season. So, if by stating the fact that they have a terrible schedule means that I hate them, then yes, yes I'm guilty.
Collin (Ontario, Or)
If you had to choose between one non-bcs qb, who would you take? Max Hall? Kellen Moore? How about Case Keenum?
Graham Watson (1:46 PM)
I;d take Case Keenum because I think he's played the best of the three so far this season. Max Hall has too many turnovers. Moore is still great, but he struggled a little bit against Fresno State. Keenum willed his team to that win in Stillwater. You ask any of those players and they'll tell you that when they went down in the third quarter, it was Keenum that kept the team focused and told it it could still win. That teams was unrattled. So yes, through three weeks, Keenum has been the best of the three.
Will (Salt Lake)
Do you think a one-loss Mountain West team should get a BCS bid before an undefeated Boise State team?
Graham Watson (1:47 PM)
It depends which team and which loss. If it's BYU and Florida State ends a ranked team then yes. If Florida State tanks the rest of the season, no.
Daniel (Fort Worth, TX)
Does TCU have a chance to contain Spiller in Death Valley this weekend? How do you see the Frogs
Graham Watson (1:49 PM)
I liked the Frogs in this game from the outset and the way Jerry Hughes is playing right now is pretty darn impressive. Spiller is iffy for the game anyway, right? I think TCU will get through the Clemson O-line and be very disruptive. I think this game hinges on the play of Andy Dalton and the offense.
Bradford (Boise, ID)
Fair enough. I agree that our schedule is weak. But what are we supposed to do about having the WAC filled with terrible teams? And it certainly doesnt seem like BCS teams are lining up to play us. What would you propose we do?
Graham Watson (1:51 PM)
You agree to play Virginia Tech on the road. No one will be complaining about Boise State's schedule next year. The WAC is mediocre and I never said that was Boise State's fault. It's the WAC's fault for not getting better. However, I do think it's getting better. Teams such as Idaho and Utah State are getting better. But that's going to take time. Fresno State is the second-best team in that conference. Nevada let Boise State down.
Has Utah's defense taken a step back this year? I thought they would be better than last year's defense. Will Utah beat Louisville?
Graham Watson (1:53 PM)
Another interesting question. It's certainly not as dominant as it was a year ago, but mistakes on offense and in the kicking game are really putting the defense in some bad spots. I said at the beginning of the season that Utah would win 9 or 10 games. I still believe that. It's a good team, but not a great team like last year.
Graham, these schedules are made years in advance. At the time, Miami Ohio was a winning program as well as Bowling Green. Oregon was a powerhouse. Remember UC Davis is a 13th and late added home game. Your critique of terrible is off base. Also, you give BSU little credit for beating a very talented Fresno team at home. Fresno can play with anyone.
Graham Watson (2:00 PM)
Just because Fresno can play with everyone, doesn't mean it can beat everyone. It's 1-2 and its win is against UC Davis. The difference between Fresno and Boise is mistakes. Fresno makes them Boise State doesn't. Boise State is disciplined and opportunistic... Oh and I believe that Virginia Tech game for next year was scheduled this year and that Miami game was a late edition in the spring to accommodate some other teams in the MAC. Toledo was bumped. And when was Bowling Green a quality opponent outside of MAC play? 2001? Look, getting Oregon to play a home-at-home is awesome. Playing Virginia Tech on the road is awesome. Boise State is finally agreeing to travel for guarantee games which is what they need to do to get some of these marquee matchups. That's what the nation wants to see. Playing Bowling Green and Tulsa on the road is not quality when you want to be considered an elite team and that's what I think Boise State can be if it starts beating elite teams on the road in conference play. That will start next year. Trust me, no one will blink at Boise State being in the Top 10 next year with a road win over Virginia Tech.
Skylar (Boise, ID)
Do you think the season ending injury of Boise State's running back D.J. Harper will affect our chances of an undefeated season?
Graham Watson (2:01 PM)
Nope. Jeremy Avery is every bit as talented and I think Doug martin is going to be a great backup. I don't think that hurts the season in terms of production at all.
Why is there such a ranking disparity between Miami and FSU? I would say they are pretty evenly matched.
Graham Watson (2:02 PM)
Yeah, I mean they're a dropped ball in the end zone away from being flipped. I think there's too much attention being paid to that Jacksonville State game. That was a hangover game. Florida State proved against BYU that's it's the team everyone thought it could be at the beginning of the season.
Paul (Detroit, MI)
Hey Graham, I know its not your typical conference to cover, but are you surprised at what Michigan has done thus far, and do you see a sudden fall on the horizon for them?
Graham Watson (2:04 PM)
Not surprised at all. I didn't think Michigan would stay down for long. It's Michigan and Rich Rod is a proven coach. He assembled the right players to run his system and it's successful. There's no way I see them losing to Indiana, but that Michigan State game is interesting. I like Michigan to win, but it will be a great test.
Graham Watson (2:05 PM)
OK. Last one..
Can Fresno bounce back and save their season this week against Cincy?
Graham Watson (2:07 PM)
This is a very tough game for Fresno on the road and I honestly don't like their chances because the Cincy run defense is really strong and that seems to be Fresno's most potent offensive weapon at this point. If Ryan Mathews can be as efficient as he was against Boise, then I give Fresno a chance, but Ryan Colburn has been too inconsistent to prove that this offense can take it to a good defensive team such as Cincy.
Graham Watson (2:09 PM)
OK. I'm out. Have a good week and come find me on the live chat Saturday's. I'll be more than happy to answer in-game questions then. And, I'll be back here at 1 ET every Tuesday.