NCAA Football Report (Week 3)

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This week of games was a bit of good and a bit of bad and again saw a lot of boring games until the night. With Notre Dame and Stanford both going into the spotlight expected to lose in the night games the roles were reversed. The Irish beat their rivals the Michigan State Spartans who were ranked 10 spots ahead of them and the Cardinal beat the second best team in the nation in the USC Trojans. They were big upsets that are sure to change the national picture and the Heisman picture going forward. Yet it was a story earlier in the week that caught most people’s attention this week as Notre Dame made headlines for another reason than their rivalry matchup. The legendary school announced that they would be moving most of their sports from the Big East to the ACC next year. The football team was the only holdout as they would remain as an independent but would still be affected by the move. With the school’s sports programs moving to the new conference the football team would play a number of games against the conference. The football team would take on the ACC in 5 games every season meaning a big shift for the team. With only 12 games every season the football team would now be left with 7 games to schedule by themselves. For most teams that wouldn’t matter as much but for Notre Dame it is 7 games for them to schedule the numerous rivalry games that have kept Notre Dame in the national spotlight. Classic rivalries like the annual game against Navy, USC, Michigan State, Michigan, and Boston College will all be at risk with only 7 games to work with. They may have enough rivalries to fill the spots but both teams need to have the proper schedule to get these days synced up. That was the best part of being an independent for the Irish as they could schedule any team at any time and not worry about working around a conference schedule. The story also brought out another trend in the NCAA as teams continue to change their allegiance as conferences continue to grow and to shrink. With the SEC taking over the national spotlight teams continue to look for their chance at a spotlight in a new conference. Teams are beginning to move to bigger conferences that have big TV deals and big teams that ensure a national spotlight every week. The change also allows for a chance at a good championship game that can provide one extra game toward the BCS rankings that many conferences do not have. As the Pac-12, Big 12, ACC, and SEC continue to grow they are quickly creating a group of super conferences. While these conferences continue to get strong others are beginning to lose out as conferences like C-USA, WAC, and especially the Big East are all suffering and threatening to be wiped out. If these conferences continue to lose their best teams they become less and less relevant in the national picture meaning that the remaining teams become less relevant. This process continues until teams no longer want to be a part of the conference and begin to leave forcing the conference to be gutted. It seems more and more like this is the path that the NCAA will take as conferences continue to get stronger and add good teams. With so many teams moving it will only be a matter of time before the best teams are located in a handful of conferences leaving the rest of the conferences to fight it out for any type of relevance in the bigger picture. As Notre Dame begins to shift to the ACC, yet still does not join them, the rest of the league sees one of the oldest and most storied programs shifting towards the conference play. They may never fully go in to a conference it marks the times of the NCAA where conference play is becoming increasingly important and teams realize this as they begin to pick and choose their conference looking to get the best shot at gaining a national spotlight. It is a trend to keep watching as conferences continue to grow and continue to become a focus of the NCAA while other conferences look to be on the brink of extinction as the change in the NCAA continues on.

 

Heisman Watch:
1. Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
The week off seemed to help Geno Smith who burst into the Heisman race after his performance in the first week of the season. In his second game Smith pulled off another great performance against James Madison. Leading his team Smith threw for 5 TDs and over 400 yards against a team that he was expected to beat. Doing what was expected generally will not allow him to move up but he was lucky to perform on a week that Matt Barkley did not. Now the frontrunner Smith needs to be generally flawless to keep his top spot and he will look to do so next week when he takes on 2-1 Maryland.
Stats (2 Games):
88.0% cmp
734 yds
9 TD
0 INT
209.8 rtg

 

2. Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
It was a rough week for the Trojans and even worse for their leader as Matt Barkley had a bad outing against a team that was supposed to be a good win. Barkley was in trouble from the start of the game against the Stanford Cardinal as he was under pressure almost constantly. With the pressure the Cardinal were able to stop the passing attack as Barkley threw no TDs and threw 2 INTs in the game. With the loss and the bad performance Barkley is no longer the leader in the Heisman race. He can get back as the race is not over but the fact is this race just went from who can beat Barkley to a real race. Next week Barkley will try to get back at it and stop his slide against another rival in Cal.
Stats (3 Games):
60.6% cmp
813 yds
10 TD
3 INT
148.0 rtg

 

3. De’Anthony Thomas, RB (Oregon)
The quarterbacks are dominating the competition while Thomas continues to make an impact on his team despite not getting a lot of work. With only 13 touches in three games Thomas has not been the focus of the offence in Oregon this year. Even with the limited touches Thomas is taking advantage of the times he gets the ball as he is already over 200 yards over three games and has scored 4 TDs. Thomas is an impact player but seems to be used sparingly which could hurt him in his Heisman campaign. Still he enters the top three thanks in part to a lack of performance by Le’Veon Bell and no other players making a bigger impact. Next week he takes on Arizona and hopes to get more touches to continue to fight for his shot at a Heisman Trophy.
Stats (3 Games):
13 rsh
228 yds
17.5 avg
4 TD

 

4. Johnathan Franklin, RB (UCLA)
Stats (3 Games):
66 rsh
541 yds
8.2 avg
3 TD

 

5. Le’Veon Bell, RB (Michigan State)
Stats (3 Games):
81 rsh
357 yds
4.4 avg
4 TD

 

AP Top 25:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)
2. LSU Tigers (3)
3. Oregon Ducks (4)
4. Florida State Seminoles (6)
5. Georgia Bulldogs (7)
6. Oklahoma Sooners (5)
7. South Carolina Gamecocks (8)
8. West Virginia Mountaineers (9)
9. Stanford Cardinal (21)
10. Clemson Tigers (11)
11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20)
12. Texas Longhorns (14)
13. USC Trojans (2)
14. Florida Gators (18)
15. Kansas State Wildcats (15)
16. Ohio State Buckeyes (12)
17. TCU Horned Frogs (16)
18. Michigan Wolverines (17)
19. UCLA Bruins (22)
20. Louisville Cardinals (19)
21. Michigan State Spartans (10)
22. Arizona Wildcats (24)
23. Mississippi State Bulldogs (–)
24. Boise State Broncos (–)
25. Nebraska Cornhuskers (–)

 

Key Scores:
#19 Louisville Cardinals 39 – 34 North Carolina Tarheels
– The Cardinals looked in control heading into half time and so many of their fans took off for home assuming a blowout but then the Tarheels kicked it into another gear scoring 27 points in the second half and almost completing a massive comeback

 

Pittsburgh Panthers 35 – 17 Virginia Tech Hokies #13
– The Panthers are that other team moving to the ACC next year but they were not looking like a great addition to the conference until they took on a current member in Virginia Tech as they took advantage of some sloppy play to get their first win and handing the Hokies their first loss

 

#20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 20 – 3 Michigan State Spartans #10
– The Irish were coming in to East Lansing for their biggest test of the season as Redshirt Freshman Everett Golson took on the defence of the Spartans but it was the Irish defence that took control allowing on 3 points and leading the Irish to the surprise win

 

#21 Stanford Cardinal 21 – 14 USC Trojans #2
– Stanford does not have Andrew Luck anymore but that didn’t matter when they took on the second best team in the country as they were able to get in the face of Heisman hopeful Matt Barkley and throw him off to win the game

 

Next Week:
Missouri Tigers vs. #7 South Carolina Gamecocks (September 22nd; 3:30 pm EDT)
– The newest member of the SEC was looking to bring excitement to the “Old Man Football” they claimed was in the conference and instead got a rude awakening as the Gamecocks are looking to continue the conference trend and beat the Tigers

 

East Carolina Pirates vs. North Carolina Tarheels (September 22nd; 3:30 pm EDT)
– The Tarheels were only a few yards away from the biggest upset in week 3 but came up just short as they look to take the momentum of a great second half against a ranked team to a rival from their state in East Carolina

 

Rutgers Scarlett Knights vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (September 22nd; 7:00 pm EDT)
– The Arkansas Razorbacks are in big trouble after a tumultuous offseason has turned into a tough regular season after losing to LA-Monroe and getting buried by Alabama as they try to get back to winning against a tough and surprising Rutgers team

 

#18 Michigan Wolverines vs. #11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (September 22nd; 7:30 pm EDT)
– The schedule is always a tough one for the Irish as they face yet another rival in the Wolverines who are looking to continue their upward trend after a rough week one led by the dynamic Denard Robinson

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