The Aztecs, as you know, are struggling. They are 2-4 this year, and even though they pulled out a win over Colorado State, each loss was a one-sided loss (Arizona, Arizona State, Air Force, UNLV). The expectations for the Aztecs were much higher coming in to the season as they had over 20 starters coming back, but this team has not proven to be very good.
RB Larry Ned (pictured left, AP Photo/John Miller) is the team's best player and the one that needs to be stopped. He has 817 yards and 8 TDs so far this year. SDSU has a QB quandary as both Lon Sheriff and Adam Hall have seen time, but this week, Sheriff will get the start. Hopefully, a lot of Buckeyes will have the chance to say "I sacked the Sheriff..." J.R. Tolver is the leading WR. But the Aztecs haven't been able to score much this year, and they have also had trouble stopping teams.
In a nutshell, SDSU doesn't have a whole lot. They are one of the worst teams in the Mountain West conference. It's important to not underestimate the opponent (duh), but this seems like a good week to get well for OSU and to work on some different things as well.
Because I'm cutting that analysis short, I thought I'd throw in some other thoughts regarding the world of Ohio/college football...
-There hasn't been a lot of talk about the Heisman this year, but one candidate has arguably emerged, and it is the one who Ohio State fans felt didn't have much of a chance after the Buckeye defense got through with him, and that is DeShaun Foster of UCLA. After his 300+ yard performance against an overrated Washington team, DeShaun seemingly is the man of the hour when talking about the Heisman. Despite the awful game against OSU, the elements are in place for him to win. First off, the game he played against OSU was early in the season, and it was a game the Bruins won. The fact that the Bruins are still unbeaten and gunning for the Rose Bowl does help. And after last week, he now has the attention of the nation, which is something that isn't easy for players out west to get. Just ask Oregon -- they had to shell out big bucks to put Joey Harrington's picture in Times Square. But now, everyone knows who he is, and the schedule is in his favor as the Bruins host a weak Cal team, travel to play Stanford and Washington State teams that give up a lot of points, host Oregon, visit USC, and host Arizona State. If he averages 150 yards a game in those six games, that will put him over 1700, which will be worthy for the Heisman.
But it's still early. Woody Dantzler is raising some eyebrows, and his combination of the run and pass will work to his advantage as he seems to be the only do-everything QB among the candidates. He is on pace to pass for over 2,000 yards and run for over 1,000. And some are still singing the praises of Fresno State QB David Carr. Also, don't forget Ken Dorsey, and don't count Rex Grossman out just yet. Dorsey is in a good position as that Dec. 1 game against VaTech could be a chance to sway some doubters if the race is close. Eric Crouch is also in there, but the fact that he is not a passer will kill him. As for Harrington... well, he's still in the hunt, and he has some work to do, but at least everyone knows who he is.
And that leads me into what's next... my midseason awards (hey, everyone else is doing it this week)...
MVP: Hmm... I'd have a hard time deciding between Woody Dantzler and David Carr. But for Fresno State's big first half and their explosion on to the national scene, I'll give the first half award to Carr. I don't think he'll be the man at the end of the year though.
Best Game: The Florida/Auburn game was very, very entertaining, and that gets my vote. Every time it seemed like Auburn had thrown the game away, they were able to come back against the Gators. The game was highlighted by the great kicking performance of Damon Duval, who was battling a vicious wind with each field goal.
Best Player: I was with Mel Kiper at the beginning of the season in thinking that Roy Williams was the most talented player in America. And at the mid-point, everyone's saying that Roy Williams is indeed the top player. But the Roy Williams that is getting all the talk is Oklahoma S Roy Williams, not Texas WR Roy Williams, who is the one that Mel and I liked. The Thorpe Award is his to lose. But I didn't get to see that big-time performance everyone is talking about against Texas. But with all the talk about Williams, I will say that OSU may have gone up against someone who is right up there in Wendell Bryant. No doubt about it, he's the real deal.
Disappointment of the Year: Most seem to be going with Oregon State, but I was never high on the Beavers to begin with, so I'm not putting them here. Instead, I'm going to go with Mississippi State and Pittsburgh. Both of these teams were projected in several preseason top 25s, and Mississippi State was projected by many to win the SEC West. But their loss at home to Troy State proves that they have truly hit a low point. Pittsburgh looked good coming into the year, but after losing to South Florida, it was apparent that the Panthers would be in for a long season.
Surprise of the Year: I give it to Maryland. They're the one team I look at and say, "Man, where did they come from?" There are quite a few surprise teams this year, but Fresno State aside, the Terps are the one that is in the best position to win their conference. Sure, they have some tough games left as they travel to FSU and NC State and host Clemson, but the win at Georgia Tech makes you think that a win in any of those games is possible. Right now, the Terps are the one surprise team that may have the best shot at -- dare I say it -- a BCS berth.
Look for some Buckeye mid-season awards after this weekend's game...
-Let's talk a little high school ball... An interesting question is who is going to win Mr. Football in Ohio this year? Lots of folks are looking in Maurice Clarett's direction, and for good reason as he has had a great year for the #1 team in the state. Also, DeShaun Wynn has put up some fine numbers. But don't count out Bedford Chanel RB Anthony Franklin. He should break the 2,000 yard mark this year, and Chanel appears to be the favorite to win it all in D-V. Sure, D-V is a small school division, but just a couple of years ago, Chanel had a Mr. Football winner in Bam Childress, so keep Franklin in mind. Or what about Jason Bainum, the running QB from Williamsburg? He is averaging 349 yards per game on the ground, including a 532-yard output earlier in the year which set the state's all-time single-game rushing record, which was previously held by one-time OSU standout Bob Ferguson. Coincidentally, he is only 165 yards shy of breaking the career rushing yards record in the state of Ohio, which should be broken in tonight's game. That record is also held by a Buckeye, Carlos Snow. Click here for an article about that. There's some good candidates, for sure. Clarett can further his case with a good performance at Cincinnati Elder.
Well, that's it for now. This Saturday should be a more relaxing day than last Saturday as we enjoy a (hopefully) relaxing game against SDSU and look forward to more Buckeye victories. Go Bucks!!!