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Closer look at college football’s uncharacteristic first half

first_imgOh, the madness. And no, it’s not March.Given the perplexity of NCAA college football this year with all of the upsets, slipups and outright parity, it’s a wonder that there are still any teams without a loss. Seven bewildering weeks into the season and just three of the preseason top 10 teams remain in there. None of those teams remain undefeated.Since it’s nearly impossible to accurately predict what will come of the remaining six weeks, I took the liberty of dishing out a number of midseason classifications that describe a glimpse of what has already gone down.Walt Disney”s Cinderella Team: — South FloridaA mere 11 years ago, the South Florida Bulls football team was just an idea. Entering the scene for the first time in 1997 as a 1-AA independent, USF quickly climbed the ladder to Division I football in 2001. And now, at No. 2 nationally, it is in contention for the BCS title.The Arizona Diamondbacks of the college football world could become the fastest program in Division-IA history to play for a national championship. Controlling its own destiny and with only a fading Rutgers team, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Louisville on the docket that could conceivably dash its historical run, South Florida’s season has the makings of the next “Hoosiers.”Before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at what the Bulls have done. South Florida snuck past No. 17 Auburn on the road 26-23 Sept. 8. The win gave the Bulls their first national ranking. Two weeks later USF upset No. 5 West Virginia for the second consecutive year in a 21-13 turnover fest to move to sixth nationally.Every week, a new travesty occurs in the top 25, and every week South Florida gets a little bit closer to its prince charming.Harry Houdini”s Disappearing Act: — WisconsinReturning 18 starters from its 12-1 team a year ago, Wisconsin was ranked No. 7 to start the season. Despite losing its starting quarterback John Stocco to eligibility, UW was returning most of its nationally ranked defense and formidable offense. The season started off shaky as the defense clearly wasn’t the same unit as last season. But the biggest thing was that the Badgers continued to win when other teams lost. As a result they moved up to No. 5 in the country.However, just two weeks and two losses later — including a disturbing 38-7 defeat Saturday against Penn State — Wisconsin is off the radar. Hidden among the numerous questions the team will have to answer in the remaining weeks is whether the team still has anything left to play for.The reason I say this is the players admittedly quit after halftime against the Nittany Lions.”A lot of the guys just weren’t into [the game] completely,” right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel said. “Once the game started getting away from us, I think a lot of us kind of just gave up.”Certainly the besieged Badgers have been plagued by injuries and misfortune, but for a first half that started so promising, it’s playing out to be one to forget.Tommy John”s Comeback Kid: MichiganThe Wolverines’ season has been almost an exact replica of the Badgers’ but in the reverse direction. Starting as the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, Michigan proceeded to lose two straight games in a fashion similar to Wisconsin’s most recent losses: Appalachian State upended Michigan in a game the Wolverines should have won and would have won had it not been for a blocked field goal try in the game’s final seconds. Then the floodgates opened against Oregon. Michigan lost 39-7.Rumors began swirling that head coach Lloyd Carr would be fired and that since the senior class’s chance at winning the national championship was dashed, there was no reason to continue playing.Behind the Heisman-worthy Mike Hart, the Wolverines stuck with it, though. They have run off five consecutive victories to remain one of two teams in Big Ten conference play that remains unbeaten.Unable to contend for a national championship, Michigan still proved there is something worth playing for.Oedipus” Victim of Circumstance: — Florida, LSU…… — SEC in generalForced to play other highly talented teams within its conference, the SEC, Florida and LSU have fallen on hard times. Although they are two of the best teams in the nation (as their top-six rankings would indicate heading into the season), the Gators and Tigers have three losses between them with conceivably more to come.At one point or another this season, nine of the 12 teams within the SEC have been nationally ranked and seven are currently in the top 25 (No. 5 LSU, No. 6 South Carolina, No. 8 Kentucky, No. 14 Florida, No. 18 Auburn, No. 20 Tennessee and No. 21 Georgia). Clearly, the fact that so many teams are loaded dumbs down the entire conference and makes weaker ones (i.e, the Big Ten and the Big East) look better.Steady Eddy: — Ohio State, Boston CollegeAs vexing as the new rankings were for just about everyone — media, fans, SEC, Pac 10 — to see the new top three, there is some truth to why they’re there and others aren’t. Aside from the obvious — Ohio State and Boston College are undefeated– they both have played consistently well all season long.The Buckeyes’ tightest game this season was against the Akron Zips. They held a 3-2 halftime lead. From there, OSU took over and won 20-2. The Eagles in their own right haven’t faced any adversity either. Their biggest scare was a 14-7 first-quarter deficit to Wake Forest in the season’s opening game. A seven-point deficit is it.Although not everyone is ready to give these two teams respect, they surely have proven that of all the teams in college football, they are the steadiest when it comes to wins.Kevin is a seniorr double majoring in journalism and economics. To comment about the first half of the NCAA college football season he can be reached at [email protected]last_img read more

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