Things are taking shape in regards to how teams are progressing and performing. Very little still separates the top four teams on my ballot though Florida struggled against Ole' Miss so while they are still getting it done I dropped them spot and moved LSU up one spot.
There were some great games this week. Georgia-Alabama, South Carolina-LSU, Penn St.-Michigan, USC-WSU.
LSU played well against South Carolina but the ole' ball coach found some vulnerabilities in that LSU defense and if Spurrier had a little more offensive talent he might have just pulled it off. The Gamecock pass offense is just awful. Their running game is a grind it out type of game but that is not how you beat LSU. The problem for South Carolina is their backs aren't big enough to be grinders they may look like an Emmitt Smith physically but they don't run all that powerfully, and they're not fast enough to get to the edge and challenge aggressive defenses.
I did get a kick out of the fake field goal, that was a great play and that kicker can move but it exposes something else. What stands out is their possible nervousness of staying with their base offense by putting their explosive reserves in during the second quarter (Holliday and Perilloux). Maybe their base offense can't sustain itself so they were quick to bring in the game-changers and post a lead before going back to the base offense, which speaks volumes to me that they cannot always go out and execute what they want whenever they want like the great teams tend to do. I mean the score was only 28-16 and it was clear that LSU was having their way with the Gamecock defense yet they couldn't run up the score.
Georgia was up on the Crimson Tide but they let them back in it. This whole icing the kicker thing leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth but that's how it's done. I liked that Georgia went for the throat on their first possession in over-time and succeeded that was a ballsy play.
Penn St. went to the Big House and found it rough going as the Michigan defense showed up and held the Nittany Lions to only 9 points. That had to give Michigan a confidence boost even after beating Notre Dame the previous week; the question is how will Michigan respond now.
I didn't see the game but Oregon must have been looking towards Cal in the first half of their game against Stanford, as they were down 10 at the half. The ducks poured it on I the second half pulling away with a comfortable win. Cal vs. Oregon this week will be a doozie.
USC went out and took care of business against WSU though some aren't impressed. I simply disagree with Kyle but more on that later. There is a dimension to this USC team that is slowly coming to the surface. It is clear that Pete Carroll could care less about style points his job is to just go out and win games. SC really hasn't had to open up the playbook so far this year. In the Nebraska game it was run, run, run some more and then run again. Against WSU it was pass, pass, pass some more and then pass it again.
Pete Carroll substituting liberally and getting everyone in to the mix is his way of tinkering to see what works best. With the game comfortably in hand why not? Running up the score may or may not be the flavor of the day but if it isn't needed to win convincingly it shouldn't have any bearing on how the voters vote, why not mix things up and see what fits. Pete Carroll has that luxury so he should use it. Some would say that Pete Carroll is toying with his opponents, fine but as I said here I think he was moving the pieces on the chessboard to set this program up for another run. Lord knows he has the talent to do it. It is safe to say that Pete Carroll really hasn't shown us the full potential of what this team can do so I'm not worried.
All SC has done is gone out and win their games in a dominant fashion. It may not have been spectacular but it was dominant nonetheless. Because of all the media hype in the preseason some expect a laser light show when SC plays. I think the Nebraska game provided that, I mean did you see those holes! It was like the Lincoln Tunnel. If some think that Nebraska was so bad then why are they ranked #14 prior to the game. Sure they almost blew it against Ball State but, while they may have needed a little luck, luck is a part of the game, see Alabama- Arkansas. At the time Nebraska played SC they looked much improved. As far as comparing WSU against Wisconsin and WSU against SC, I would point out that both of those losses by WSU were on the road and that is a part of the game as well.
I am not impressed that the three teams that Kyle mentioned are all undefeated except for their loss to LSU. A quick look reveals a few things:
It may not be fair to judge a teams performance just because they haven't played anyone good but I mean come on, if simply being undefeated is the base standard, outside of one loss to a powerhouse. Then it should be fair to look as those wins. Kyle's argument that SC's win against WSU isn't impressive because they are only 2-2 to me doesn't hold water. WSU lost to two ranked teams, on the road.
I mean outside of South Carolina's win over UGA, I'm not seeing impressive wins over powerhouses on any of those schedules. I would be more impressed if any of those wins were against ranked teams. USC's wins are just as impressive just not with all the glitter of a New York Broadway show opening. You could probably throw Auburn in there, as the their loss to MSU was by only 5 points and I believe they were ranked at the time but since then they have obviously not performed up to the vaunted SEC standard of play.
Don't punish SC for all the hype that they have received. They have done what they are supposed to do, win games convincingly. I might not be sure what dominance is but 450 total yards against Nebraska and 500 total yards against WSU is pretty dominant.