Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Top Ten Topics: College Football

1. Missouri-Oklahoma tonight in the Big Twelve title game.

It makes perfect sense in this particular college football season that Missouri is ranked No. 1 in the nation - on merit. Yet the Sooners are a three-point favorite on a neutral field - on merit.

2. West Virginia is supposed to have the layup . . .

In the backyard brawl against Pittsburgh today in Morgantown. A huge Panthers upset could lead to BCS chaos since WVU's and Missouri's losing would mean that already-finished No. 3 Ohio State would be in the title game. But its opponent would be far from obvious and might have two losses. Georgia and Kansas are next in line, and neither even made its conference-title game. Don't expect any of that to matter, though. Pitt is 4-7 this season and 0-4 on the road.

3. Yes, this is the right year for a playoff.

Not that a playoff would automatically determine the top team. The whole point of this season is that there is no top team. Hold an eight-team playoff five times, and we'd wager there would be at least four different winners. Any team would be capable of losing in the first round or winning the whole thing.

4. Based on this week's BCS standings . . .

Here's what you'd have for first-round matchups in a 16-team playoff, not worrying about who qualifies under BCS rules or anything like league championships.

Let's just look at the matchups with the top 16:

No. 1 Missouri-No. 16 Clemson; No. 8 USC-No. 9 Oklahoma; No. 4 Georgia-No. 13 Arizona State; No. 5 Kansas-No. 12 Hawaii; No. 3 Ohio State-No. 14 Tennessee; No. 6 Virginia Tech-No. 11 Boston College; No. 2. West Virginia-No. 15 Illinois.

Those are great matchups, probably headlined by USC against Oklahoma, with even better ones in the second round.

5. Army-Navy today in Baltimore

It returns to Philly next year and will be here in 2009. The games after '09 haven't been awarded, but expect a good portion of them to be at the Linc.

6. Our Heisman pick

We don't vote, but we'd go with Darren McFadden of Arkansas. We'd have no problem at all with Florida's Tim Tebow winning, and he probably will. But Florida's system is set up for Tebow to succeed. Urban Meyer's spread-option worked for Alex Smith at Utah, and it works better for Tebow. That's not a knock on him - he runs it expertly - but it's got to factor in a little bit when two candidates are so close.

Arkansas obviously gears its system for McFadden, but defenses have an easier time putting the clamps on a running back. And his quarterback isn't special, either. Last weekend, Lou Holtz made the less-than-brilliant comment on ESPN that McFadden didn't deserve the Heisman because he failed to rush for 100 yards in three games. One of those games was against Florida International, when Arkansas won, 58-10. Another one was against Mississippi State, when the Razorbacks won by 45-31. The only team that really held down McFadden when it needed to do it was Auburn. The Tigers won, 9-7, and held McFadden to 43 yards on 17 carries. In the only other two Arkansas games that were decided by fewer than 10 points, McFadden averaged 200.5 yards in road games at Alabama and LSU.

7. And that LSU game earned him our endorsement.

The typical Heisman winner plays for the No. 1 team. By definition, that means he has a lot of good teammates. Isn't it far more impressive to do what McFadden did on the road, rushing for 206 yards and throwing the winning touchdown pass against the No. 1 team in the country?

8. Of course, Chase Daniel is Heisman-worthy, too.

If Missouri beats Oklahoma today, that would still be true. And SEC voters might split their loyalties between Tebow and McFadden, while Daniel would have the Midwest to himself and also have the last highlights before voters must turn in their ballots.

9. A tough one for the Blue Hens today in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

We'd never heard of the place, either, but checked out the city's Web site to find out what goes on there. The big news right now is about the area's first roundabout opening at Viking Road and Cedar Heights Drive, and how the city has a used truck for sale.

The Blue Hens are there to face the No. 1 I-AA team in the country, Northern Iowa. The Panthers are 12-0, but they were almost upset last week by New Hampshire, 38-35. They won the game on a 24-yard pass with seven seconds left. The Blue Hens will have to stop running back Corey Lewis, who rushed for 220 yards against UNH.

10. The real top 10

1. West Virginia. 2. Missouri. 3. Ohio State. 4. Georgia. 5. LSU. 6. Kansas. 7. Virginia Tech. 8. USC. 9. Oklahoma. 10. Florida.

Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com.

Mike Jensen Inquirer Staff Writer
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