If I had a vote in the AP Poll

Each and every week during the college football season, CN's founder Steve Deace will be breaking down his top 25 and delivering his thoughts on Iowa State as well. Check out what Deace had to say about week one of the college football season right here at CN.

1. Texas (1-0)…Colt McCoy looked like he belonged and passed his first test, although the one looming this week will be a much more difficult one and he'll have the national spotlight on him for the first time.

 

2. West Virginia (1-0)…The dynamic duo of Pat White and Steve Slaton just picked up right where they left off in the Sugar Bowl. 

 

3. USC (1-0)…I know Arkansas has slipped below mediocrity, but that was still a very impressive opening for the young Trojans on the road.

 

4. Ohio State (1-0)Garrett Wolfe has already exposed the young Buckeye defense, and you must pack a defense when you go on the road, especially against the reigning national champions.

 

5. Florida State (1-0)…The Seminoles impressively held the Hurricanes to less than 200 yards of total offense despite having to replace four NFL first round draft picks on defense.

 

6. Auburn (1-0)...Looked sharp and methodical on both sides of the ball against a game opponent from the Pac-10.  Starts SEC play this week.

 

7. Notre Dame (1-0)…It appears that Charlie Weiss didn't reinvent the sport and Brady Quinn doesn't walk on water after all.  However, the Irish have to be happy with the way their defense played in a tough road opener.

 

8. Tennessee (1-0)…Easily the most impressive team of the week was the Volunteers, who completely dismantled a top-10 team and proved that last season's struggles isn't a lingering problem in Knoxville.

 

9. LSU (1-0)…Don't know that we gleaned anything from that win over Louisiana-Lafayette that we didn't already know.

 

10. Florida (1-0)…Not surprised the Gators didn't dominate Southern Mississippi, a proud program used to playing in bowl games and playing teams from the SEC on the road.

 

11. Louisville (1-0)…Although it had no bearing on the outcome Sunday night, the season-ending injury to Michael Bush could have ended the Big East title to the Mountaineers already.

 

12. Michigan (1-0)…The new defense looked like the old '97 national championship model.  The new offense looked like the old, sluggish, lack-of-a-killer instinct model.

 

13. Oregon (1-0)…Now that's the way to start the season against a conference foe, but a sneaky road trip to Fresno State looms.

 

14. Miami, Fla. (0-1)…Have the Hurricanes lost their mojo?  Or was the loss of four regulars to suspensions just too much to overcome?

 

15. Iowa (1-0)…A workmanlike effort for the Hawkeyes against a Division I-AA opponent.  Will they get tested this week at Syracuse?  Probably not.

 

16. Clemson (1-0)…Not sure what there is to glean from a blowout of Florida Atlantic, but a road game at Boston College this week will tell us more.

 

17. Georgia (1-0)…Not sure what there is to glean from a blowout of Western Kentucky, but a road game at South Carolina this week will tell us more.

 

18. Oklahoma (1-0)…The second Paul Thompson era didn't look much better than the first one did last year. 

 

19. South Carolina (1-0)…That was a sneaky solid shutout win on the road at Mississippi State for the Gamecocks.

 

20. Virginia Tech (1-0)Sean Glennon looked solid in his first start under center, and the Hokies' defense began the season where it left off last year.

 

21. Texas Tech (1-0)…No Taurean Henderson and no Jarrett Hicks was no problem for the Red Raiders.

 

22. Arizona State (1-0)…Not sure what to make of the talented Sun Devils' shaky opener against Northern Arizona. 

 

23. Nebraska (1-0)…The Huskers showed balance on offense in blowing out Louisiana Tech, but there are injury concerns on defense.

 

24. California (0-1)…So much for the Golden Bears making a run at the BCS National Championship, right Lee Corso?

 

25. TCU (1-0)…That road win at Baylor is better than it looks, especially since the Horned Frogs had to do it without their starting quarterback.

 

Honorable Mention: #26 Pittsburgh, #27 Penn State, #28 Georgia Tech, #29 Texas A&M, #30 UCLA

 

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

 

The Good—The offense, when it was unshackled, was unstoppable and lived up to the hype it's been generating in the preseason.  I thought the opening game plan was aggressive and the quarterback draws were well conceived and called at the right time every time.  That aggressiveness needs to be sustained for a full 60 minutes considering the current state of the ISU defense.  I also thought the offensive line played its best game since the 2004 Independence Bowl.  The Cyclones also showed some testicular fortitude in taking Toledo's best shot and not wilting, even when they were down by seven in the second overtime and facing a 3rd-and-14.  The defense was exactly what was expected: young, fast, and inexperienced.  However, Reshawn Parker made the two plays at the end of regulation that likely saved the game for ISU. Without those two quarterback sacks, we may not get to see any overtime heroics from Bret Meyer and Todd Blythe.  Speaking of Meyer, how was he not the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week?  There's a big difference between what he did against a consistent bowl team and what the Missouri kid did against a Division I-AA foe.  Special teams made some big plays and Bret Culbertson made every kick he had the chance to kick. However, as is customarily the case at ISU, special teams giveth and special teams taketh away.  More on that soon.

 

The Bad—The defense was, in a word, bad.  Time and time again it didn't get off the field on third down.  It allowed Toledo to control the ball offensively for long stretches of the game.  Time and time again it was just a step slow in getting to the ball to make a play.  That will come with experience, and they'll get a baptism by fire given ISU's first half schedule.  But keep this in mind when considering the ISU defense, when you do the math the Cyclones are actually replacing 12 starters.  They graduated eight seniors from last season's unit.  Then they lost returning starters Jason Berryman and Matt Robertson to disciplinary measures.  Then they lost expected new starters Kurtis Taylor and James Smith to injuries in fall camp.  That is a test of depth for a team like Texas, let alone ISU.  That's why I was telling anyone who would listen right up until kickoff that any game that gives the Cyclones one more point than Toledo should be considered a good thing.  The reality is that ISU is going to have to be consistently more aggressive on offense to compensate for the youth and lack of depth on defense.  On special teams, the botched block kick was a mental error and the bad snap on the field goal were two plays that stopped ISU from winning this game in regulation.  Luckily, a dropped snap on a punt that led to a block didn't come back to bite ISU in the posterior.

 

The Ugly—Never, ever, ever, never go for a two-point conversion until you absolutely have to.  The reason Toledo was able to force overtime is not because it got that quirky two-pointer off the blocked PAT.  The Rockets forced overtime because ISU didn't kick the extra point on its first touchdown of the second half, meaning that it actually gave away three points.  Had the Cyclones just kicked the PAT there they would've won the game, 24-23, in regulation.  ISU's dismaying inability to put the boot to the throat and finish off opponents at times reared its ugly head again against the Rockets.  Up, 23-15, late in the third quarter the Cyclones forced a turnover in Toledo territory.  But instead of going up-top to its All-American caliber wide receiver Todd Blythe for the kill-shot, the Cyclones instead stalled their own momentum by running twice in a row against a loaded defensive front.  The drive went nowhere, the turnover went by the wayside, and the momentum went right back to Toledo.  I have yet to see a collegiate secondary that can stop Blythe.  It appears the only thing that can stop Blythe is ISU's scheme at times.  And Blythe shouldn't have to call for the ball when it's winning time, especially since Toledo loaded the box to stop the run in the second half leaving ISU's receivers with man coverage on several downs.

 

(Steve Deace founded Cyclone Nation in 2002.  He can be heard on the radio each weekday from 4-7 p.m. on 1040-WHO, and seen each week on television on Mediacom's "Cy-Hawk Talk: State of the Nations.")

 

 


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