The "South" Shall Rise Again
By Steve Barnes
Two weeks into the college football season, the "South" hasn't fared well. I have to believe this week the "South" shall rise again. Well, sort of...
Of the six FBS teams with "South" prominently in its title, three will win, two will lose, one is idle. Last week, South Florida gave up more points to the Michigan State defense than to the Spartan offense, Southern Miss barely showed at Nebraska, SMU survived Montana State and Southern Cal and South Carolina both lost games it should have won. At least South Alabama won at Tulane. This week, USF gets off the schnide against Florida Atlantic, while Southern Cal and South Carolina get back with hard-fought wins against Boston College and Vanderbilt, respectively. But USM is bad and will lose at Arkansas, and South Alabama falls to Western Kentucky, provided the Hilltoppers don't produce more turnovers than Pillsbury like they did at Tennessee. SMU is off but goes to Texas A&M next week.
Reconstruction after the War of Northern Aggression took more than a week, folks.
A LONE-STAR STATE UPSET: Sorry Johnny Football, not you. The Aggies fall to Bama, but more about that later. Look for Ole Miss to beat Texas in Austin. The Longhorns were smothered in the Rocky Mountains against BYU and showed how slow their offense can be. The Rebels are much faster than Brigham Young on defense and UT quarterback David Ash is battling a "head injury." By the way, I made this pick before the Horns canned their defensive coordinator.
Also, Ole Miss is going to benefit from its opening win at Vanderbilt. Sure, it was Vandy, but the Rebs showed on a national stage they could pull out some clutch plays. If Hugh Freeze's offense continues to feed its two-headed wide receiver combo of Donte Moncrief and freshman Laquon Treadwell, the big-play potential is there and opens the middle for another freshman, tight end Evan Engram. By the way, Ja-Mes Logan is third on the team in catches.
Just a guess, but Ole Miss 42, Texas 28.
A NEW GAME PLAN: It looked as if Louisville would face Cincinnati for a shot at the BCS title game at the end of the year if each took care of business and kept winning. With Bearcats quarterback Munchie Legaux on the shelf for the remainder of the season, the Cards play no one threatening the rest of the way. Charlie Strong's team can concentrate on scoring style points starting this week at Kentucky. In Lexington, L'ville will show the Cats are the third-best in the Commonwealth (a little love for Western Kentucky, please) and Teddy Bridgewater again will put up points.
A TAD QUIETER IN COLUMBIA: Now that Georgia has beaten South Carolina and Jadeveon Clowney has failed to get the highlight he did against Michigan in January, perhaps all the brouhaha over the defensive end winning the Heisman will cease. Now the Gamecocks can concentrate on something new this season — making sure tackles.
THE FAST LANE DOWN I-5?: USC's Lane Kiffin had what can be called a signature loss against Washington State. The Cougars, fresh off a loss to Auburn — not even mentioned among the top teams of the SEC West — shut down the Men of Troy's offense. The lack of Trojans production directly relates to Kiffin's play-calling. USC's offensive scheme was about as suspect as Aaron Hernandez' alibi. USC should edge Boston College this week, but with follow-up games against Utah State, at Arizona State, Arizona and at Notre Dame, by the time the calendar turns to November, SC athletic director Pat Haden might be turning to Craigslist for a new coach for '14.
THE BATTLE NO ONE CARES ABOUT: The SEC has a few games that are intriguing this week. Can Bama stop Johnny Football? Can Ole Miss take the next step and beat Texas? Can Tennessee come back from Oregon without surrendering 50 points? The only game on the in-conference schedule that won't get attention is Auburn at Mississippi State. This one could be for the chant, "We finished fifth in the West!" It's like determining the fifth-best junior high cattle roper in Wyoming. It is good to know, but who cares in two months?
A ONE-LEGGED BANDIT: Brigham Young quarterback Taysom Hill came into the season with a rebuilt ACL and no expectations of running the ball. Against Texas, he ran through the Horns like Bevo through a head of Gursey's. More than 250 yards against the then-No. 15 team's defense is impressive. A great game on the horizon is Oct. 12 in Provo. Georgia Tech's wishbone against the BYU spread option.
TIME TO START THINKING ABOUT THE HEISMAN: We are about a week from the nation's sports information departments sending out bobbleheads and highlight CDs for their Heisman candidates. Alabama and Florida State were off in Week Two, so the Noles' Jameis Winston and the Tide's AJ McCarron and T.J. Yeldon were in living rooms instead of huddles. The three others to watch this week: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota against Tennessee gets to impress Eastern and Southern voters again after crushing Virginia last week ... Bridgewater, who must make the scoreboard at UK's Commonwealth Stadium light up like it is Rupp Arena ... and Michigan's Devin Gardner. After a big win on national TV against Notre Dame, he should have his way with Akron. But Winston will run rampant against Nevada and when Bama runs it up in College Station, McCarron and Yeldon will be on voters' radars.