McMurphy's Law: Big East Getting Chances to Save Some Face
Three weeks into the season the overall performance of the Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences can be summed up in one word: yuck.
Or ewww. However it's described, it's not good.
In non-conference games, the Big East is 1-6 against other automatic qualifying BCS leagues and only 3-3 against non-automatic qualifying BCS leagues.
The Big East's best win to date was West Virginia's victory over Maryland. The Big East's worst loss: Connecticut losing at Temple.
As bad of a start as the Big East has had, the league can still boast: "Hey, at least we haven't stunk as much as the ACC."
In non-conference games, the ACC is 1-9 against other automatic qualifying BCS leagues. The ACC, however, is 6-1 against non-automatic qualifying BCS leagues, but that doesn't include Virginia Tech's loss to James Madison, arguably the worst loss of a power six conference team this year. The league's best win? N.C. State over Cincinnati.
While the biggest victories the Big East and ACC can claim are against each other, the remaining automatic qualifying BCS leagues have fared much better. The Big 12 and SEC are both 6-2 against the six power league teams, while the Pac 10 is 8-4 and the Big Ten is 5-4.
The lack of respect for the Big East and ACC also is evident in the national rankings as the leagues have only one team each in the AP Top 25 – No. 19 Miami and No. 22 West Virginia.
This week, though, the Big East has a huge opportunity to reverse its fortunes with three games against ranked opponents.
On Thursday, Pittsburgh plays host to No. 19 Miami and the Panthers are pulling out all the stops. Former Pitt All-Americans Tony Dorsett, Jim Covert, Ruben Brown, Al Romano and Chris Doleman and former coach Johnny Majors will be in attendance.
On Saturday, No. 22 West Virginia visits No. 15 LSU, Cincinnati plays host to No. 8 Oklahoma and Rutgers welcomes North Carolina.
Even though all four Big East teams are underdogs, if the league wants to save face, it has to win some games it is not supposed to. Until it does, the most common question about the Big East will be: when does basketball season begin?
Another Temple of Doom For the Owls?
Saturday, Temple visits Penn State for the 40th meeting between the two Pennsylvania schools. While the past games between the Nittany Lions and Owls have been nothing but a Penn State glorified scrimmage – the Nittany Lions have won the last 27 meetings, including the past four years by a combined margin of 154-9 – there will be one major difference in this year's meeting.
For the first time since 1990, the Owls (3-0) will enter the contest with a better record than Penn State (2-1). Temple hasn't defeated Penn State since 1941 and isn't given much of a chance this year, either.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who is 26-0 against Temple, has racked up the most victories of his coaching career, or 6.5 percent of his 396 victories, against the Owls. Paterno's 26 victories against Temple are his most wins against one school, followed by 25 wins against West Virginia, 24 vs. Maryland and 23 each vs. Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
Also, last week's victory against Kent State was the 500th game Penn State has won since Paterno joined the staff as an assistant in 1950.
No Need To Wait For Next Week's MWC Players of Week
When New Mexico (0-3) visits UNLV (0-3) Saturday, two things are guaranteed to happen: one team will get its first victory and at least one UNLV Rebel will earn Mountain West Player of the Week honors on Monday.
So far, New Mexico's first three opponents (Oregon, Texas Tech and Utah) have won a combined five conference player of the week honors: Oregon's Kenjon Barner (Pac 10 offense) and Cliff Harris (Pac 10 special teams); Texas Tech's Eric Stephens (Big 12 special teams) and Utah's Lamar Chapman (MWC defense) and Shaky Smithson (MWC special teams).
Where Have You Gone, Tim Tebow?
Besides a reduction in Florida jersey sales this fall, the next biggest difference in life after Tim Tebow is on third down.
During Tebow's three years as a starter, the Gators converted 51.2 percent of their third-down conversions. Strangely, though, UF's third-down conversion success decreased each year with Tebow from 53.4 percent his sophomore year to 51.5 percent as a junior and 49.1 percent as a senior.
Entering last week's Tennessee game, UF had converted only 32 percent of its third downs. However, the Gators were successful on 8- of-14 third downs in Knoxville, increasing their season total to 41 percent, still a ways from duplicating their success with Tebow.
Meyer Next To Join Century Club
Florida's Urban Meyer makes his first attempt at getting his 100th career victory when the Gators play host to Kentucky on Saturday. If the Gators win, Meyer would become the sixth fastest coach to 100 victories at a FBS school. In 117 games at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, Meyer is 99-18.
"I feel very blessed with great players and assistant coaches," Meyer said. "One hundred games just means you have been doing it long enough."
The only coaches who reached 100 victories quicker: Gil Dobie 108 games (100-5-3); George Woodruff 109 (100-9); Bud Wilkinson 111 (100-8-3); Fielding Yost 114 (100-10-4) and Knute Rockne 117 (100-12-5).
Meyer would also be the quickest to 100 wins among active coaches. Penn State's Joe Paterno and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, are currently tied for eighth. Each got 100th win in their 122nd game.
It Never Rains In Southern California – or Norman, Okla
Oklahoma's Bud Wilkinson not only was one of the top college coaches of all-time, he also was one of the most shined upon. Literally.
During Wilkinson's 17-year career at OU from 1947-63, he coached 81 home games. And in all 81, it never rained once, Gary McManus, an associate state climatologist for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, told Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman.
There was a 17 percent chance of precipitation in Norman, Okla., during the months of September and November. Yet, McManus' staff researched climate records and there was only one instance – a blowing mist for an October 1951 home game with Colorado – when it came close to raining on Wilkinson's parade. McManus said the odds of having no rain on 81 random days during a 17-year period were "very similar to the chances of rolling a die 81 times without showing a 6," he said. "About 2.5 million to one."
• No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State: To prepare for Saturday's game on Boise State's blue turf, Oregon State painted one of its practice fields blue. An anonymous donor – perhaps Sherwin-Williams? – donated the paint. The process, which required 440 gallons of paint, began at 8 a.m. Monday and was completed at 3 p.m., OSU spokesman Steve Fenk told The Oregonian. I'm curious if Oregon State hung a giant video board over the practice fields earlier this season before the Beavers played TCU at Dallas Cowboys Stadium?
• No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas: If Arkansas has any shot to derail Alabama on Saturday, the Razorbacks must slow running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Even though Arkansas had the SEC's worst defense last season, it did hold Ingram to only 50 yards in 2009 – his second-lowest rushing total of his Heisman Trophy season. However, the Hogs had no answer for Greg McElroy. Alabama's quarterback threw for a career-high 291 yards and three touchdowns in the Crimson Tide's 35-7 victory.
• With a win at No. 17 Auburn Saturday, No. 12 South Carolina would be 4-0 for the first time since Lou Holtz coached the Gamecocks in 2001. ... No. 16 Stanford, with a win at Notre Dame on Saturday, would be 4-0 for the first time since 1986 when the Cardinal was coached by Jack Elway.
What Caught My Eye (or Ears)
• Before kickoff, Ohio's Bobcat mascot tackled Ohio State's Buckeye mascot twice. Here's the video. If only Ohio had tackled that well in the 43-7 loss. "Obviously we needed to tackle the guy with the ball, not the mascot," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. ... The National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame noted 14 years ago today that No. 17-ranked Arizona State ended defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Nebraska's 26-game winning streak by blanking the Cornhuskers 19-0. It was the only time the AP's No. 1 ranked team had been shut out since 1978. Spearheading the Sun Devils' defense that recorded three safeties was none other than Pat Tillman.
• For the first time since 2004, the Big Ten has six teams ranked in this week's Associated Press poll: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 18 Iowa, No. 21 Michigan, No. 23 Penn State and No. 25 Michigan. Actually, the Big Ten has seven ranked teams – if you include No. 6 Nebraska. ... On ESPN's College GameDay's picks segment last week, Lee Corso went 9-0, Kirk Herbstreit 6-2 and guest picker Desmond Howard 6-3. Season totals: Corso 21-6 (77.7 percent), Herbstreit 16-7 (69.5 percent) and ESPN's guest pickers 21-6 (77.7 percent).
• With South Florida's Jim Leavitt no longer coaching, Colorado's Dan Hawkins has replaced Leavitt as college football's hardest head-butter. Before Saturday's game against Hawaii, Hawkins cut his nose while head-butting a helmeted player. Hawkins' motivational tactics took a while to kick in as the Buffaloes trailed 10-0 at halftime, before rallying for a 31-13 victory. "We got a little hyped before the game," Hawkins told the Boulder Daily Camera. "But I'm an old fullback. I'm used to playing with a bloody nose." ... Saturday was an unhappy 56th birthday for Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville as his Red Raiders lost to Texas 24-14. It was his first loss in five career games when Tuberville coached on his birthday. ... The Longhorns' victory was coach Mack Brown's fourth victory in seven games in Lubbock. That might not sound that impressive, but Brown's 4-3 record in Lubbock since 1998 looks pretty good considering the remaining Big 12 South teams are only 3-15 in Lubbock during that time.
• During Michigan's win over Massachusetts, Michigan radio analyst Jim Brandstatter talked about Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson trying to match the numbers he put up in the first two weeks. "If you're Orson Welles and your first movie is 'Citizen Kane,' how do you follow it up?" Brandstatter said. "You can't. You can't expect Denard to do this every game." ... The arrest of Florida sophomore receiver Chris Rainey last week was the 30th time a player has been arrested in Meyer's tenure with the Gators, the Orlando Sentinel reported. According to the Sentinel's figures, that means of the 185 players Meyer coached -- the number of lettermen during his tenure plus this year's freshman class -- 16.2 percent have been arrested or faced a charge. ... Joker Phillips is Kentucky's first coach to start 3-0 since Bear Bryant in 1946. ... Since 1990, ranked Pac-10 teams have beaten ranked Big Ten teams in all eight meetings. ... Already notorious for playing soft non-conference schedules under coach Bill Snyder, Kansas State's future schedules got even cushier with the Wildcats canceling future home-and-home games against Virginia Tech and Oregon.
Final Thoughts From The Road
My first trip to Washington's Husky Stadium was as good as advertised. The view from the press box, overlooking Union Bay in Lake Washington and Mount Rainer, was simply stunning. The view straight down from the press box, well, makes you feel like the press box, which tilts down at an angle hanging over the stands, could topple at any minute. Picture how James Stewart felt climbing the bell tower in "Vertigo." Especially when the Huskies' crowd is at full roar, causing the press box to shake – that was until Nebraska took control. You also have to love a college stadium that sells clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. But perhaps what impressed me the most was the, oh, 20,000 or 30,000 Nebraska fans who made the trip. No wonder the Big Ten wanted the Huskers. The restaurant and lodging businesses throughout the Big Ten will make a mint when they host the Huskers. On Saturday morning as a mass of Nebraska fans milled around Seattle's Pike Place Fish Market, one of the famous Pike Place fish throwers summed it up perfectly: "I see red people."
Finally, Here's Steve Hill's View of the College Football World
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or please follow at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY