Around The Nation

RaiderPower takes a look at the teams around the football nation. Who is on the rise, and who is experiencing a decline? Who are the unknowns at this point? Which teams are looking like contenders in their league, and who looks like they have a real shot at the national title? Come inside to read more.

On the Rise:

California - Their game against Oregon was strange because the team in the hideous yellow jerseys was not the Oregon Ducks.  Don't worry, Oregon's were still another terrible experiment.  Still, Cal's uniform change fared far better than ours did, so maybe there's a correlation between ugly uniforms and good play, and vice versa.  Once again, Longshore gets all the credit for the win, while the running game provided more offensive production, with the bulk of it coming from the great play of Justin Forsett, who came into the game for an injured Marshawn Lynch.  I had thought that California would earn this season's "overrated Pac-10 team" title early in the season, but it appears that Oregon will fight for honor of receiving this coveted accolade from me this year.  At least I had the pick right in this game by choosing Cal in last week's "Around the Nation." 

Florida - Say what you will about the Gators, but they are an entertaining team to watch.  What other team in the country will try a designed jump pass?  That play made some of the absurd stuff we tried in my backyard football days look conventional.  Still, the jump pass worked, perhaps merely because the defense was in a state of shock at the audacity of the play call.  It also appears that the Tebow/Leak QB switcheroo is working far better than I anticipated.  This is the point where some of you are probably wondering if this would work for our Red Raiders, considering the nice change of pace that Chris Todd brought during our struggles against Mizzou.  I'm not there yet, but I might be soon if it keeps working for the Gators and we continue to struggle.  That said, I like watching Florida, and I think and hope they have what it takes to win the SEC.

Texas - They're still winning stuff in Austin, but I called this one last week.  The best thing about this game was that someone had to end up with a conference loss, and I'm happier it's OU.  Thompson showed his weaknesses as a quarterback, and the team couldn't rely solely on Peterson in this one.  I'm going to keep patting myself on the back for being exactly right on in my prediction of this game.  Oklahoma's defense was exposed once again.  Texas' defense is scary fast.  I wonder what it would take to get Gene Chizik to come to TTU.  I'll throw in the $7.32 in my wallet if it will help.  Anyway, I'm glad we get Texas at home, but it might not matter with the way we have been playing lately.  And now, Oklahoma's "game they want to win" on their schedule is us.  At least they have looked vulnerable, but I'll be happy winning one out of two against OU/Texas.

Missouri - Well, Missouri is officially dangerous, as they are now the only undefeated team in the Big 12.  I wish that we weren't the team that had to prove it, though.  I just hope they don't pull a TCU on us and start playing poorly from now on.  The Tigers travel to A&M this week, so that should be interesting.  I still think that they play Nebraska for the North title on November 4th, and I'm glad one of those teams should make the Big 12 Championship game worth watching again.  Chase Daniel is the best quarterback in the Big 12.  No, it's not just because they beat us, as I hinted at it last week in my Keys to the Game before they even played us.  And no, Colt McCoy isn't better.  McCoy's supporting cast makes him look better, while Daniel makes his supporting cast look better.  NU's Zac Taylor is probably second to Daniel, but doesn't do as much for his team.

Iowa - I'm giving them some slack for losing to Ohio State, because it's looking like every one of OSU's opponents is going to follow the same trend.  (Hey, if the media is going to forget UT's loss to Ohio State, I figure the Hawkeyes deserve the same.)  Plus, I still like the Hawkeyes.  They punished a good Purdue team in a 30-point blowout on Saturday as Drew Tate and the rest of Iowa got back on track.  That is what a team with heart does.  They are resilient, and they play like the week before never happened.  The Hawkeyes should get an easy win this week, as they visit Indiana.  The following week should be a great game, though, as they will travel to Ann Arbor to face a possibly undefeated Wolverines team.  I'd love to see the Hawkeyes pull the upset and make a trip to a BCS bowl this year.  They deserve it as much as anyone else does.


On the Decline:

Colorado - The Buffaloes are absolutely awful, but here's what scares me about our Red Raiders playing them this week.  For one, it's a road game, and I'm fairly sure that they haven't cut the grass since the last time we were there.  Two, they have a mobile quarterback, which is always disaster for our defense for some reason.  Three, the game probably will mean more to them than it will to our team.  It's a recipe for a Oklahoma State-type disaster.  I hope that we got that yearly debacle out of the way in the TCU nightmare.  (I don't really consider the Missouri loss a "game we shouldn't have lost" considering their talent, but I am unhappy with the home loss.)  Our Red Raiders better get back on track and blow out CU.  I wouldn't even feel bad about running up the score against them, with the way the majority of their fanbase handles themselves.

Georgia - The Bulldogs had a loss coming after squeaking by struggling Colorado and Ole Miss teams.  The irony of it was that it didn't happen until they got their star QB Joe Tereshinski back in a 51-33 loss to Tennessee.  Furthermore, how in the hell did two SEC teams score a combined 84 points?  This isn't the Pac-10.  You guys are supposed to be all about defense.  Also, Georgia's kicker somehow managed to injure himself in practice and took himself out for the season by tearing a hamstring.  It wasn't a contact injury, either.  He was just kicking the ball, although apparently it happened on an onside kick.  I guess he did it wrong or something; I don't know.  Maybe it's just me, but I would think that a kicker would try to not injure the one part of his body that he needs to play football.  I'll bet he's probably kicking himself now.  Har Har.

TCU - TCU is killing me.  First they beat us, now they decide to make us continually look worse by completely blowing it on the field in the two games since.  If they lose to Army, I'm driving to Fort Worth to give their team a collective kick in the nads.  The Horned Frogs aren't that bad of a team.  At least I hope that they aren't, considering that they have scoreboard on us.  Turn it around.  Otherwise, it will become more and more apparent that Texas Tech was your Super Bowl.  I don't want that, and you don't want that.  You have already likely taken yourselves out of contention for the Mountain West championship, now don't take yourselves out of bowl contention as well.   Much more of this, and Gary Patterson is going to have a heart attack.  He already looks like he is "at-risk," if you know what I mean.  His belt knows, and knows it all too well.

Memphis - DeAngelo Williams is gone, and so is Memphis' status as a decent team.  The Tigers' only win is against Tennessee-Chattanooga.  Impressive.  Furthermore, there are too many teams called the Tigers.  I just wish Missouri and Clemson had kept with the pattern of Memphis, LSU, and Auburn last week.  I'm tired of hearing about Tigers.  Unless they're attacking flamboyant show performers.  I know that sounds bad, but seriously, I'm fairly sure that it's not a tiger's dream to be paraded around on a stage in Las Vegas.  A tiger is a predatory animal who cannot be tamed, not a damn pet.  It's like that guy who went and lived with the grizzly bears.  He thought he was becoming part of their community, while they were just keeping him around in case they got hungry.  Sad, but not exactly surprising.  Wait, what was I supposed to be talking about again?   

Auburn - The Tigers (ugh) blew this one, and Hoggie fans rejoiced.  Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was whining about the need for a playoff system last week because the SEC is so tough, so maybe he saw this coming.  The SEC is a tough conference, arguably the toughest this year, and we do need a better system than the BCS.  However, Tuberville picked the wrong time to make this argument.  Auburn was ranked second or third in nearly every poll prior to fun with Arky, so now after the loss, Tommy's point lost some support.  Sure, he lost to an SEC team, but he didn't lose to a national juggernaut who is going to unjustly prevent them from a national title shot.  He should have saved this little speech for the Florida game.  Then, he might have had a point whether his Tigers won or lost, and he would have avoided making an ass out of himself.


The Unknowns:

LSU - It's hard to rag on LSU for their two losses, which came in a nearly scoreless game against Auburn and a loss last week to a very good Florida team.  This is the team that Tuberville should be using as an example for whining about the BCS.  The Tigers (damnit) have dominated the other teams that they have played outside of their two losses, and in my opinion, are still a top ten team.   They are currently ranked #14 and #16, and I believe that they could beat nearly ten of the teams ahead of them.   They would beat Clemson, who is ranked ahead of them in every poll, by about three touchdowns.  Nothing would make me happier than seeing Clemson get beaten by Temple, who is perennially one of the worst teams in football.  How long will the media let Clemson ride their win over what was a horribly overrated FSU team?

Georgia Tech - Well, let's review their season. They began with a close loss to Notre Dame, followed by convincing wins over Samford, Troy, and Virginia.  Then, they get an impressive win at Virginia Tech and follow it with a struggle at home against a mediocre Maryland team.  I don't know what to think.  Reggie Ball is an impressive athlete, but is not that great of a passer.  Calvin Johnson is the nation's best wideout, but he has been struggling with his health all season.  I like their team, but I just can't shake this feeling that they aren't as good as they're getting credit for.  Maybe Tashard Choice is the behind-the-scenes guy who is getting it done.  Perhaps the Yellow Jackets should make a "choice" to get him the ball more often.  Hopefully, you're seeing these terrible puns coming at this point.  And somehow, I think my puns are getting worse.

Notre Dame - It's ironic that the Fighting Irish make me want to both start drinking and hitting something.  Why, you ask?  It is because Notre Fame (not a typo) is on pace for their automatic BCS bid.  Can we just have a season in which they are just an absolutely awful team?  I want to hear about Notre Dame failing at stuff.  I had forgotten entirely about the 5-7 and 6-6 seasons in '03 and '04, because I've been bombarded with Fighting Irish propaganda for the past few years.  I want to see an 1-11 season, followed by an 0-12 season.  However, I'm fairly sure if that actually happened, we would never know about it because the media would just replay the last decent season and superimpose new faces on the players.  We can't have anyone thinking that Notre Dame is not infallible in every aspect as a university.  That's blasphemy. 

Oklahoma - Well, they lost to Texas, but there's not too much shame in that.  And their other loss at Oregon was as controversial as it gets.  However, the Sooners haven't looked that impressive thus far.  Still, neither have most of the teams left on their schedule, including us.  They have a decent chance at winning out, with their only tests coming against Missouri, the Bedlam game against OSU, and hopefully when TTU comes to Norman.  Still, the Sooners are not the powerhouse that they once were, which is always fun.  Here's hoping they lose a few more games this season by virtue of poor officiating for some more fun in Oklahoma purely for the entertainment value that I derive from reading the "Oklahoma vs. the world" angst within the OU fanbase on their message boards.  Oh, and some more scandal would be fun, too.

USC - The USC Prophylactics have had two consecutive squeaker wins against mediocre teams from the state of Washington.  Are they the next Georgia?  It's entirely possible, especially considering that their two toughest conference games are against California and Oregon.  My instincts tell me that they will lose one of these two games, but then again, both of the games are at home.  They get to beat up on the struggling Sun Devils this week, followed by powerhouses Oregon State and Stanford.  On this train of thought, how do the Rubbers get to play all of their tough opponents at home?  Oh, that's right.  They are USC.  They get away with anything.  Score a few more triumphs for Trojans.  They are, after all, pretty useful in the grand scheme of things.  Side note, is Durex looked down upon within the student body?  


Random (and possibly offensive) Thoughts:


Everyone is overrated - This is starting to seem more and more like a down year for all of football.  Ohio State is the only team that is looking extremely talented.  No one else is even close.  There are only nine undefeated teams left, and they are Missouri, Boise State, Florida, USC, Rutgers, Louisville, West Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio State. Louisville and WVU have to play each other, as do Michigan/Ohio State.  Scratch two shots at the NC.  Boise State and Rutgers would probably get snubbed even if they did run the table, so we're down to five.  Missouri, USC, and Florida will likely drop a game on their schedule.  Judging by what has happened thus far, it is looking like a Ohio State/West Virginia national championship game.  Maybe it's just me, but that would probably be the worst NC ever.  I blame the clock rules.

I dislike the Bowdens - I realize that they are a football family with all kinds of tradition in the coaching world, but I don't care.  Terry is the epitome of irritation for me, Bobby strikes me as a grumpy old codger, and Jeff seems to be the less-talented black sheep of the family.  I have nothing against Tommy, but he is the Bowden I know the least of, so perhaps there's a correlation.  Also, apparently the daughter has some explicit photos floating around.  Classy.  I found FSU's loss to N.C. State amusing, and felt the same way about Clemson's troubles with Wake Forest.  I don't know what it is that rubs me the wrong way about the Bowdenist way of life, but it's something.  However, it's entirely possible that I'm more of a jerk than I think I am.  I'm not ruling it out, considering my emotional state following the Red Raiders sub-par effort over the weekend.

Coaches are fat - With some of the nation's finest athletic facilities available to coaching staffs, you would think that there would not be such an abundance of what is affectionately known in the medical community as "man-teats syndrome."  On a related note, shout out to my parents for my good genes and metabolism.  Perhaps it's more evident with the contrast of an overweight coach standing next to an athlete at the pinnacle of human fitness.  I'm proud of Leach for losing some weight, as he was in danger of falling prey to the cellulite epidemic.  Still, with Franchione's affinity for Little Debbies and Gary Patterson's constant battle of gut vs. pants, it's getting a bit ridiculous.  Also, I find myself wondering if I'm a bad person for wanting to come up behind Mark Mangino the next time he is atop a grassy hill so I can tip him over and watch him roll. 

TBS has better coverage than ABC - This shouldn't happen given their respective budgets, but it's the way I see it.  ABC's video feed always looks like it is being bounced off a network of Cold War-era Russian satellites before it makes its fuzzy way to capitalist TV.  I've seen better quality video using rabbit ears and strategically-placed aluminum foil.  TBS offers multiple angles of the game that seem to be watching the whole field, while ABC seems to catch about half of the play because the camera crews can't follow the ball.  That said, Andre Ware did an excellent job with commentary during the A&M game.  TBS did a decent job commentating on the Missouri game, but I heard a few mispronunciations and a "Klingsbury" that conjured up angry memories of Bob Griese butchering Kliff's name in the '02 Texas game.  You guessed it; that one was on ABC.

CFN is smarter than I am - I'm not usually one to throw out plugs for other media outlets, but I have to give the guys at some props.  When I looked at CFN's projection for Texas Tech's season at 8-4, I'll admit that I scoffed a little.  I had us at 10-2 or 9-3, but it's looking like they were more on track than I was, considering that we still have OU and Texas to face.  They seem to know their stuff better than most, even when they say things that we don't want to hear.  If I had to recommend a source of entertainment other than what we provide here at RaiderPower, CFN would definitely get my endorsement.  Oh, but don't stop reading the stuff that I write.  I hear that every time one of my articles goes unread, someone clubs a baby seal.  You don't want that on your conscience, do you?


-Trent Wycoff

(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at

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