College football is standing on its head. Who would have thought that after several weeks of the college season Miami would have played their way out of the top 25 and that Notre Dame would be one quarter away from enduring the same fate? Even more bizarre are the new national powerhouses (Rutgers, Missouri, and Boise State) who seem almost unbeatable. It is clear now that several perennially strong teams were vastly overrated going into this year, and that their reputations played more of a role in their ranking than their actual talent.
Over the last decade, no college has graduated more NFL stars than Miami. Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis, Jeremy Shockey, Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor, and Willis McGahee all played as if they were up against Colgate intramural teams. They have since brought their immense talent and arrogance, seemingly another byproduct of attending “The U,” to the NFL. However, this year’s Hurricanes have nobody with top-five draft pick potential. Quarterback Kyle Wright is having a solid year, but his ten interceptions from last year make us wonder if he’ll remain unreliable in big situations. Come to think of it, Miami really hasn’t had a legitimate quarterback since Ken Dorsey. Dorsey hasn’t exactly dominated the pros however, turning out to be a bigger bust than Jessica Simpson’s (his career passer rating is a stellar 63.7).
Miami opened the season with a hard-fought yet disappointing 13-10 loss at home against Florida State. They followed up with a 51-10 win against Florida A&M and suffered a 31-7 loss to a strong Louisville team. It has seemed that Miami is always able to beat up on weaker teams, but in their two big games this year, they have come up short. If this trend continues, it will most likely end Larry Coker’s tenure as the Hurricanes coach.
Despite the hype, I am not ready to give up on Notre Dame yet. If the luck of the Irish didn’t save the team from a fourth quarter deficit against Michigan State last weekend, championship hopes would have ended for Notre Dame as well. The Irish started the season well with a big win against Joe Paterno’s strong Penn State team. Michigan flogged the Irish in South Bend the following weekend, however, winning 47-21. It seems that Notre Dame’s offensive stars, Brady Quinn, Darius Walker, and Jeff Samardzija, force people to overlook the team’s weak defense; they have let up a staggering 87 points in the last two games! If defense does indeed win championships, the Irish will have a difficult time the rest of the season and they may be primed for a disappointing finish.
On the other end of the spectrum, Rutgers has cracked the top 25 for the first time since 1976. The Scarlet Knights have won their last three games by an astounding margin of 113-14.
“Ultimately, when we came here our goal was to be the best,” Coach Greg Schiano said on ESPN.com. “That’s the only reason I came here. A lot of people would think that’s far-fetched, but that’s the goal. We’ve got a long way to go. To me, this is only a step.”
Rutgers will look to ride their momentum into Tampa Bay this weekend when they face South Florida. South Florida beat Rutgers last season 45-31 and is off to a 3-1 start this year. This game will certainly be a challenge, but the real tests will occur when Rutgers faces off against Louisville and West Virginia later in the season. While it is hard to imagine the Scarlet Knights jousting their way to a BCS bowl bid, we must remember what last year’s 11th ranked TCU Horned Frogs taught us: never underestimate an inspired team with a strong offense, a great coach, and an utterly ridiculous team name.