TIGER RAG VIEWPOINT: Where We Stand

In this week's edition of Where Do We Stand, there seems to be a theme of getting back to basics.

LSU is looking more like itself on defense, Justin Vincent slashes for a few big gainers and Penn State is back in the top 10? Was there a full moon on Saturday?

At any rate, despite some miscues and penalties, LSU burst Vanderbilt's bubble and moved back into the top 10 with a little help from some upsets on Saturday.

The volleyball team finally gets to enjoy some home cooking while the powers behind the Harris make it totally clear why there needs to be a playoff in college football.

ESPN needs to freshen up its college football lineup while Tennessee continues to prove it may have been the most overrated team in this century.

It is all here in our latest rant.

 We at Tiger Rag are big fans of LSU softball coach Yvette Girouard. So when coach speaks, we listen. At a midweek press luncheon last week, Girouard, who gave an update of her team's performance in the LSU Fall Classic, passed on congratulations to the LSU Volleyball team's play this season. An avid reader of Tiger Rag's Where Do We Stand, Girouard promptly instructed we given Fran Flory's team a "Thumbs Up" for their performance against a brutal schedule in which the Tigers played their first 17 games on the road. Well coach Girouard, you got it. Make sure and come see the Volleyball Tigers in their home opener Friday night when they host Mississippi State.

To the LSU Football and its garnering of another road victory. While the Tigers have picked up back to back wins on the road against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, those are still conference road victories and should not be downgraded due to the quality of the opponent. Now, let's see if Les Miles can get his first home win Saturday against No. 11 Florida.

LSU will face its toughest back to back games over the next two weeks facing the Florida Gators and Auburn Tigers at home in successive weeks. Let's just say, the Tigers will have no chance of winning either of those games if they continue to make the mistakes they did against Vanderbilt. A total of 14 penalties and four turnovers will result in an ugly loss against quality teams in this conference.

To Justin Vincent. While the junior tailback managed just 77 yards on 11 carries, it was vast improvement to what he has accomplished since his epic performances in the 2003 SEC Championship Game and the 2004 Sugar Bowl. Right now, it is important for Vincent to take baby steps toward getting back to freshman form. He looks to be well on his way.

To the LSU defense. Was Nick Saban on the sidelines Saturday in Nashville? Nope, but Bo Pelini seems to be ready to unleash his entire arsenal against SEC competition. The Tigers blitzed and blasted Vanderbilt's impressive offensive holding the Commodores vaunted offensive assault to less than 150 yards in the game. Quarterback Jay Cutler was reduced to minus-20 yards rushing in the game and passed for just 113 yards. The Tigers sacked Cutler six times and dominated Vanderbilt's offense in ever aspect.

To Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions. PSU's upset of No. 6 Ohio State thrust the Lions back onto the national scene as Penn State is ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 1999.

While it is good to see an old football power restored, should Penn State be ranked in the top 10? While the Nittany Lions are 6-0, wins over Cincinnati, Central Michigan and South Florida and a narrow victory over Northwestern hardly warrant the step up. Granted, PSU did beat ranked opponents in successive weeks beating Minnesota and the Buckeyes. A top 20 yes, but the Lions still have a ways to go before they are a consistent top 10 team. Three of their last five games come against ranked teams (Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin). We'll check back with the Lions in five weeks.

To UCLA and Northwestern. In two of the most exciting games on Saturday, the Bruins and the Wildcats rallied from sizeable deficits to win a pair of home games on Saturday. Northwestern trailed 27-10 before rallying for 42 second half points to upend Wisconsin 51-48. UCLA was behind to Cal 40-28 with eight minutes left in the game before scoring 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Golden Bears 47-40.

The Tennessee Volunteers know a thing about comebacks. The Vols rallied for 30 second half points to beat LSU after once trailing 21-0. Good thing they won that game otherwise UT would be 1-3 in the SEC, instead of 2-2. Tennessee fell flat 27-14 in a home loss to Georgia on Saturday. The Vols pathetic offense struggled mightily as Phil Fulmer has a sure-fire mess on his hands at quarterback. Tennessee still has to face a hungry Alabama team and travel to South Bend. Uh-oh! Big Orange will be seeing red as the preseason media darlings will likely go 7-4. That is if they don't lose to Vanderbilt in what should be an emotional game for the Dores.

We have talked a great deal about the Big Ten in this edition, so why stop now. Good job Minnesota. The Golden Gophers finally defeated Michigan for the Little Brown Jug beating the underachieving Wolverines 23-20 in Ann Arbor. It was Minnesota's first win in the series since 1986! As for 3-3 Michigan, off to its worst start since starting 3-3 in 1990, is Lloyd Carr's job in jeopardy? The preseason No. 3 Wolverines had better win soon, but with surging Penn State visiting Saturday, that doesn't look likely.

Have you ever seen a collapse as bad as what is happening to Iowa State's season? Ranked in the top 25 two weeks ago, the Cyclones have dropped back to back games to Nebraska and Baylor. That's right folks, Baylor! The Bears snapped their 37-game conference road losing streak defeating Iowa State 23-13 on Saturday. It was Baylor's first Big 12 road win in the history of the conference. The Bears last won a road game in 1995 defeating SMU in the old Southwest Conference.

To the Harris Poll. Just six weeks old and the Harris Poll is already being tweaked. The changes take place in the process called "trimming" in which votes can be added for a team that did not appear in one voter's poll, based on their overwhelming voters on other ballots. In other words, if Virginia Tech were left off of only one voter's ballot, the Hokies could get added votes for statistical reasons. One possibility would be using the "trimming" system which accounts for statistical variances, but also discounting votes that are way out of line, such as those for winless Idaho two weeks ago. Can we finally have a playoff?

It is time for some new blood on ESPN. It is no wonder Mike Gottfried was demoted to the second unit on ESPN's game broadcasts in lieu of former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie. Gottfried joined Sean McDonough on Saturday's ESPN2 broadcast of the LSU-Vanderbilt game. Not to be mean, but Gottfried was downright bad. And speaking of ex Notre Dame coaches, Lou Holtz is equally awful on the College Gameday Wrap-up show with Rece Davis and Mark May. Holtz was called in to replace Trev Alberts, who was fired last month. Heck, at this point, the overbearing Alberts looks pretty good.


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