Jonesy's back with some thoughts on today's games.
Finally! Finally we have some 2011 College Football signature moments that don’t involve a punter taunting or, for me personally, a PSU QB throwing up a duck that is intercepted in the end zone. Great games last Saturday, between Michigan State’s Hail Mary, Texas Tech’s shocking upset of the over-rated Oklahoma, and Notre Dame perfecting the fumbled snap return for a defensive touchdown play, it was a fantastic weekend of watching ball games. Let’s hope that this weekend keeps the momentum going. C’mon Georgia Tech! Let’s go Baylor! USC, USC, USC.
Look, we all know that the BCS Standings have replaced the AP & Coaches Polls. The BCS rankings are king when deciding who plays where in the post season. But let’s get real. In college football there are the top programs. These are the Power Teams. Therefore I've created “The Real Top 20[i]”.
These are teams that over the last 25+ years consistently had good to great teams, compete regularly for conference and/or national titles, have large passionate fan bases are a national TV draw and MOST IMPROTATNLY will be good over the next 25 years.
Teams not included on this list don't really matter. (General rule of thumb, if you are playing your biggest games on Thursday or Friday nights to be seen on TV, you are NOT big time.)
Without further ado:
The Real Top 20
ACC: Florida State & Miami
Big East: None (Sorry, West Virginia)
Big 10+2: Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State & Nebraska
Big 12: Oklahoma & Texas
Pac 12: USC
SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU & Tennessee
Independent: Notre Dame
The team most likely to fall-out of prominence over the next decade: Notre Dame. Yes, I know this is almost sacrilegious but really, have they been relevant since 1988. While the college football landscape is radically changing, Golden Domer's still think (1) Rockne & Parseghian are walking the sidelines, (2) you can win with big plodding Midwesterners (i.e. slow white boys) and (3) all Catholic high school players must attend their school or risk the hell fires of eternal damnation. As Brian Kelly (their best hire in 20 years) is failing to make progress, the school must radically adapt or die. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
As you might notice, there are only 15 teams listed above. I couldn't, in good conscious add any other teams. Some really good programs that missed the cut include the following. (Ranked in order of prominence):
Georgia: They belong on the list above. Why didn’t they make it? Because I'm pissed off at them. I first fell in love with college football in 1980, the year Hershel Walker led Georgia to a National Championship. That was also the last time the Bulldogs won a big game. If you never win your conference, you don't make the list. Beat someone of note this year and I’ll reconsider your status.[ii]
VaTech: Outside of Mike Vick, name another player. An ESPN Thursday night staple.
Utah: Let's see you do it in the PAC 12 first.
Iowa/Wisconsin/Michigan State: Despite last weekend’s great game, these are solid Big 10+2 programs that will never win a national title.
Oregon: Great program that no one, and I mean no one, south of Oregon or east of the Oregon Trail cares about. Yes, they made it to the Championship game last year. They have cool uniforms and Nike’s money. But, they are the Clemson of the West Coast[iii].
BYU: A proud program that is mistaken if they think forming their own network will help their team. Their religion, yes. Their football team, not so much[iv].
Boston College: An under-rated team that even bores all the Mass-holes.
Georgia Tech: An afterthought in their own city and state.
Boise State: Love the Blue turf but after the 1st month of the season play nobody.
West Virginia: They do a lot with a little. Is that a compliment? I'm not sure.
Texas A&M: Great fans, tradition and stadium. Sadly, an afterthought in their own state. Good luck becoming relevant in the SEC.
Pittsburgh: Eff'em. They screwed JoePa 25 years ago and neither he nor I will ever forgive them. You suck.
UCLA: Basketball school.
I might be missing some other contender but does it even matter? Some other team might have a good year or two but, over time, are not relevant.
Games I’ll Be Watching[v]
Stanford @ USC: It’s rare that I’d root for the idiot Lane Kiffen two weeks in a row. Or rot against a Stanford program that I really admire. I just want an upset. Besides, Andrew Luck has to get used to losing some time to prepare him for his life with the Colts or Dolphins.
Navy @ Notre Dame: Would this really be an upset. Navy has won the last 3 of 4. The Domers are sloppy and the Academy teams usually play with discipline. I do wish Navy had better health coming in.
Clemson @ Georgia Tech: Now we have a wishbone team with true BCS talent at the skill positions. Clemson is good but GT can be tough when you only have a week to get ready for their unique offence.
Illinois @ PSU: Each week PSU gets a little better on offense and still plays lights out defense. But the reeling Illini are tough. They are probably the toughest team for PSU to face since Alabama in week two.
Michigan State @ Nebraska: In past years, MSU was guaranteed to choke this game away. Coming off that big win and fantastic finish would be hard for most teams. But this is a very good and they have a chance to prove themselves once again against good competition.
Non Football Football Comment
PSU is about to have its lowest attendance figure since they expanded the stadium back in 2000. Already there have been two crowds of less than 100,000. (Yes I know that still is a lot, but PSU used to average 109,000 a game) This year’s homecoming was the smallest in a decade. Why the change. The school screwed over its longtime, diehard fan base by implementing a new tiered ticketing program. And, at least these days, the fans reacted with their wallets. Instead of sellouts and screaming passionate fans, we are stuck with more and more empty seats and fans sitting on their hands.
So that’s all I’ve got. Please feel free to comment, praise, or argue as you wish. And enjoy this week’s game.
[i] Trade mark pending.
[ii] C’mon Georgia, get off the porch and run with the big dogs. Hunker down you hairy dog!
[iii] Except without the surprisingly good academic reputation.
[iv] Bold move going independent. BYU was never a good fit for any conference and was really screwed when Utah switched conferences.
[v] These are not necessarily the best games, only the games I care about most. Obviously the PSU-Illinois game is only of interest to us Blue & White diehards and other masochist out there.
* Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck
** USC quarterback, Matt Barkley
*** "Between the Hedges" at Georgia's Sanford Stadium