So what did we learn over the weekend?
1. It was a great weekend for Georgia Tech. Now what? Bobby Dodd himself could not have drawn up a better football weekend for the Institute. Tech’s win over Virginia coupled with Miami’s loss to Clemson puts the Yellow Jackets’ in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal Division. Beat Wake Forest at home on Nov. 7 and Duke on Nov. 14 in Durham, and the Yellow Jackets will advance to the ACC championship game in Tampa on Dec. 5. Now is where the Georgia Tech team has to decide: Do they want to be good or do they want to be special? Sandwiching those two conference games are a pair of SEC opponents, Vanderbilt and Georgia. In the past Georgia Tech would be on the verge of being special and slip up. Georgia Tech is good enough to win these last four games if it can remain focused. Will they?
2. You’ve got to start giving C.J. Spiller some love for the Heisman. Nobody is playing better right now than the junior running back/return specialist for Clemson. In the Miami game alone he had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 56-yard pass reception for a touchdown, and a total of 310 all-purpose yards. In each of Clemson’s seven games Spiller has had at least one play of 60 yards or more. He has returned four kicks (three kickoffs, one punt) for touchdowns this season. And here’s the best one: In his Clemson career Spiller has had 19 career touchdowns of 50 yards or more. That’s more that Rocket Ismail, Reggie Bush, or Tim Brown. Bush and Brown won the Heisman.
3. Some SEC coaches obviously didn’t get the memo: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive reminded everybody last week that public criticism of officials is a no-no. He reprimanded Bobby Petrino last week when the Arkansas coach went off on the officials after a loss to Florida. The SEC later admitted that one of Petrino’s complaints was correct. But being right doesn’t allow you to jump the officials in public. There may be more memos going out today. Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin went right up to the line after the Alabama game when he wondered aloud how his team, which was among the least-penalized in the country, could get eight penalties while Alabama was flagged for only one. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was less subtle. He called out the replay official for not overturning a controversial touchdown in his game with Florida. “I hope he’s severely punished if he ever works another SEC game again, because I think it’s completely unacceptable,” he said. I finally saw the play last night. The score should have been taken off the board and because the Florida player fumbled before the goal line when he was trying to hot dog it as he went into the end zone. Still, it doesn’t matter if the call was wrong or not. The coaches know they can’t publicly criticize officials and if they keep doing it, the Commish is going to bring the hammer down strong on somebody.
4. Iowa is this season’s 2002 Ohio State: In 2002 Ohio State won one ugly game after another and finally got to the BCS championship game, where the Buckeyes were supposed to get blown out by a great Miami team. It didn’t happen and Ohio State won the national championship. The Hawkeyes had to score on the last play of the game to beat Michigan State Saturday night, one of many great escapes that this team has had. But here is what we now know. The Hawkeyes (8-0) jumped over Boise State and Cincinnati in the BCS standings and are now sitting at No. 4. If Texas, Alabama, or Florida stumble down the stretch it has become clear that the Hawkeyes will jump a once-beaten among those three and get into the big game. Iowa is No. 8 in the human polls but No. 1 in the computer polls.
5. Florida is getting painful to watch: It’s a good thing Florida started the season at No. 1 because the Gators are really getting painful to watch on offense. Quarterback Tim Tebow, who is now starting to get frustrated and forcing things (two pick sixes against Mississippi State), is simply not playing as well since his concussion against Kentucky. I don’t know that the two are related, but the numbers don’t lie. My buddy Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun points out that in Florida’s last 15 trips to the red zone, the Gators have scored only two touchdowns. But when you’re No. 1, you don’t have to impress anybody. My experience is the pollsters will vote you out of No. 2 (as the AP did Alabama this weekend), but they won’t vote you out of No. 1 as long as you keep winning. Do the Gators have a breakout game coming this Saturday against Georgia? We will watch and report.
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