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The Kickoff: Freshman ready to star for LSU
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Welcome FreshmanWhen you have a game featuring the two teams that have accounted for the last three BCS titles, have combined for more than a dozen NFL first-round draft picks this decade, and have played in some of the most thrilling nationally televised games in recent memory, there are more than enough familiar faces involved. Sometimes it feels like LSU senior wideout Brandon LaFell's been in college for 27 years. He hasn't but he, like his teammate Ciron Black or Florida's Brandon Spikes and Tim Tebow has played in more big time games than the average college football player could ever possibly dream of.
All Eyes on You, JevanOle Miss quarterback Jevan Snead entered the 2009 college football season as a Heisman frontrunner and a 2010 NFL mock draft favorite. Ranked as high, if not higher, on both lists as fellow big time college quarterbacks Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow, Snead entered his junior year with some pretty lofty expectations. There were "Snead 4 Heisman" bumper stickers and posters all over the state of Mississippi and his Ole Miss Rebels were ranked in the preseason top 10 for the first time since 1970. Things haven't gone exactly as planned for the junior QB. Ole Miss, at one point ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation, stumbled out of the gates with uninspiring efforts vs. Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana. Snead wasn't Heisman material in either outing. During a bye week, an estimated 30 Ole Miss players came down with the flu. Then, with critics already mumbling about the Rebels' rather curious high poll ranking, the apocalypse hit. Sept. 24, 2009 a day in history Jevan Snead would likely love to forget. That evening, in front of a nationally televised audience, Snead and his Ole Miss Rebels lost 16-10 to unranked South Carolina. It wasn't your usual Thursday night upset special, though. It was worse. The Ole Miss offense looked inept. Snead looked lost. In one crucial stretch, he missed six straight throws. Every time you thought he would wake up out of the fog and pull a rabbit out of his helmet, Snead came up short. The junior completed just 7 of 21 passes for 107 yards.
An Underappreciated Team out of the Big Ten? I Know, I Know...One thing is for certain I've never been accused of being much of a Big Ten guy. Readers have railed against me in recent years for making the case of Florida over Michigan in the BCS race of 2007, for referring to this year's Penn State-Iowa game as a "typical Big Ten snooze fest", and for all but writing off Ohio State as a second-tier national power year after year after BCS bowl-losing year. I'll be the first to tell you Big Ten football just usually doesn't do it for me. Pam Ward's voice at noon on Saturday usually has a Pavlov's dog reaction with me and my remote control. That reaction is not salivation, though it's changing the channel as fast as possible to anything else on the tube. And yet, with all that that said, I was surprised to see Wisconsin on the outside looking in of the AP Top 25 poll this week. Wisconsin's win in Minnesota last Saturday like its recent victories over Fresno State and Michigan State showed a steely resolve that quite frankly, I wasn't expecting from the Badgers heading into the '09 campaign. Wisconsin's as tough as nails this year. But here they are a run-heavy, defensive-minded, undefeated Big Ten squad five weeks into the season and they're unranked. That seems a bit off. "I can't say enough about the resiliency of this team. We tend to make things a little more difficult than they need to be," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after Saturday's 31-28 win over the Gophers in Minnesota. The style and fashion of their wins this year not exactly suited for the faint of heart have seemingly hurt the Badgers in the polls. But a win is a win, and five wins are well, five wins. With Fresno State giving Boise State a battle two weeks back and Michigan State knocking off Michigan last Saturday, those early season Badgers victories appear to be even more impressive than they were when they originally occurred. So, where's the love?
We've Been Down This Road BeforePlease excuse me for not getting too excited over South Florida's 5-0 start out of the gates this season. I just happen to have a decent memory and like to learn from my mistakes. South Florida's started 5-0 the past two seasons, only to limp to 9-4 and 8-5 records in '07 and '08, respectively. I regrettably jumped on the Bulls' bandwagons twice before. I'm not purchasing any tickets this time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times well, you won't fool me three times. But and there's always a "but" there is something a little different about these Bulls. They've already overcome a bit of adversity when senior quarterback Matt Grothe went down a few weeks ago, already won a defensive slugfest with big, bad Florida State two weeks ago and most importantly they appear to be as well aware of their recent poor finishes down the stretch as anyone.
Heidi Game Part II:Looks like some viewers in the Chicago-area had their Notre Dame-Washington game briefly interrupted by an episode of "Access Hollywood" on Saturday night. Hello, Billy Bush! The guys at The House Rock Built put together a puppet show interpretation of the near "Heidi Game" disaster this week. Check it out here.
Upset Picks of the Week:I went 2-0 with Northwestern and Oregon State last week. I'm hot. Watch out. This week, I'm taking Ole Miss over Alabama and Michigan over Iowa.
Upset Picks This Season: 6-4