Alabama powers its way past USC and LSU in the polls while the Big 10 appears a bit off in college football’s opening weekend.
Associated Press Top 25 (first-place votes in parentheses)
1 Alabama (45)
2 USC (11)
3 LSU (4)
6 Florida State
9 South Carolina
9 West Virginia
11 Michigan State
14 Ohio State
15 Virginia Tech
18 Oklahoma State
21 Kansas State
22 Notre Dame
It surprised nobody that Alabama jumped to the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press and Coaches’ polls after its 41-14 win over Michigan.
What was surprising was the way the Crimson Tide pounded their overmatched opponent.
USC and LSU were the previous kings of the AP and Coaches’ polls respectively, but playing Hawaii and North Texas were more like practice games.
The Crimson Tide once again dispatched a supposed Big 10 power, the same way they did last season against Penn State before that program was rocked by the atrocities of Jerry Sandusky.
Although Alabama lost many of its top defensive players to the NFL, it still stifled Michigan’s offense. Heisman candidate Denard Robinson didn’t look spectacular.
On offense, the Tide’s offensive line asserted itself, opening holes for the running backs replacing Trent Richardson.
Michigan was never in the game.
Then again, many of the Big 10’s teams have looked lost when the brightest spotlight has been on them.
It is becoming a trend for Big 10 teams to take a backseat to the Southeastern, Pacific 12 and Big 12 conferences.
Not So Big 10
Are there Big 10 powers?
Other than Ohio State’s 2002 national championship victory, the Big 10 has been quiet in many major regular season games and bowl games.
The Buckeyes did break through in the 2010 Rose Bowl and 2011 Sugar Bowl. Before that, they were embarrassed in back-to-back national championship games then lost a close one to Texas in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. When the Big 12’s Oklahoma got a shot at an SEC team in the Bowl Championship Series title game, the Sooners only lost by a touchdown.
USC beat Ohio State in consecutive regular season meetings (2008 and 2009).
In fact, USC has had the pleasure of pantsing the Big 10’s best in the Rose Bowl: 2009 (USC 38, Penn State 24); 2008 (USC 49, Illinois 17); 2007 (USC 32, Michigan 18); and 2004 (USC 28, Michigan 14).
Wisconsin and its high-powered offense failed in the 2011 and 2012 Rose Bowls against Texas Christian and Oregon. Former Texas great Vince Young had one of the strongest performances in football history in the 2006 Rose Bowl against USC, but his warm-up act was leading the Longhorns in a thriller the year before.
The 2005 Rose Bowl victim?
If you really want to put the Big 10 down, give it credit for another laugher in 2002: Miami trounced its opponent in the national championship game that year, 37-14. The Hurricanes were catastrophic against Nebraska, which was a member of the Big 12 at the time, but now plays in the Big 10. As an official member of the Big 10, the Cornhuskers lost the 2012 Capital One Bowl against South Carolina. The Huskers should feel at home with the Big 10’s losing-a-big-game tradition.
Props To …
Alabama: Nick Saban is a coaching beast. And the Tide embarrass another Big 10 opponent.
USC: Opposing secondaries don’t want any part of Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.
LSU: Defense and running the football win games. The Tigers have plenty of both.
Oregon: The Ducks’ competition wasn’t great, but they could have scored 100 points if they wanted.
Le’Veon Bell: Michigan State’s Bell was a workhorse: 210 yards on 44 carries, six catches for 55 yards. He earned it this week.
Geno Smith: One of the season’s early Heisman Trophy candidates, West Virginia’s Smith was an efficient 32-of-36 passing for 323 yards. He also had eight carries for 65 yards and five total touchdowns.
Taylor Martinez: A big game from an unlikely quarterback. Martinez threw for 354 yards and five touchdowns for Nebraska. No picks.
Sam Durley: Durley is a Division III quarterback for Eureka (Ill.) College who threw for 736 yards last weekend. That’s tough to do on a video game, let alone real life.
Drops To …
Oklahoma: If you’re a college football powerhouse, you don’t struggle against UTEP.
Stanford: Here’s how much Andrew Luck meant: without him, the Cardinal held on for a three-point win against San Jose State.
Houston: Losing to Texas State? In its first ever Football Bowl Subdivision game, come on.
Pitt: Losing to Youngstown State? Really?
Penn State: This is probably the last time you’ll see the Nittany Lions in the drop section. Joe Pa would have never let them lose to the Ohio, no matter how “dangerous” the Bobcats were. These are going to be extremely lean years for Penn State so don’t expect much from its football team. The crimes that were committed on that campus were horrifying and that community must try to move forward as difficult as that may be. Football won’t be a major power in Happy Valley for a long time.