Morris: Football season still too young for upset tag

September 8, 2013 

TELEVISION commentators and newspaper headline writers are much too quick to label an “upset” victory.

Evaluating early season outcomes is suspect at best. Odds-makers have a difficult time establishing point spreads over the first few weeks of the season because they do not have a great reference point.

The two biggest “upsets” over the weekend were BYU, a seven-point home underdog, defeating 15th-ranked Texas, 40-21; and Washington State, a 15-point road underdog, defeating 25th-ranked Southern California, 10-7.

Not until November will we know whether these were actually “upsets.” By then, BYU and Washington State could be Top 25 teams, while Texas and Southern California might be slogging along as they begin looking for new head coaches.

NCAA tournament

The second round of the NCAA football tournament saw nine more teams eliminated this past weekend, leaving 52 teams with a chance to play in the BCS Championship Game.

Those eliminated were Arkansas State (loss to Auburn), Cincinnati (loss to Illinois), Indiana (loss to Navy), Kent State (loss to Bowling Green), Pittsburgh (lost to Florida State), Southern California (loss to Washington State), Texas (loss to BYU), Virginia (loss to Oregon), and Wake Forest (loss to Boston College).

Doubling up

Clemson has attempted to rotate onto its schedule one non-conference game each season against an instate FCS program.

This season, the Tigers scheduled two: South Carolina State, which it thumped 52-13 on Saturday, and The Citadel on Nov. 23. It was not by design.

Kent State, which lost in the MAC championship game a season ago and finished with an 11-3 record, originally was on Clemson’s 2013 schedule. But a proposal to expand league games in the ACC to nine forced Kent State off the schedule.

Then, when Notre Dame entered the ACC scheduling picture on a limited basis and the league decided to remain with an eight-game league schedule, it was too late to get Kent State back into the fold.

They call him what?

When it comes to nicknames, you cannot beat “Johnny Football” for reigning Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.

There are a couple of others contenders for best moniker in college football. North Carolina running back Romar Morris has been known since high school as the “Zoomin’ Human,” and Florida State’s freshman quarterback is fast becoming known by “Famous” Jameis Winston.

Up and down

Ohio State carries the longest active winning streak among FBS programs. The Buckeyes, ineligible for bowl games or for the national championship because of NCAA probation, went unbeaten in 12 games last year. They have extended the streak to 14. Stanford is next in line with nine.

On the losing side, Southern Mississippi has dropped 14 consecutive games over two seasons and New Mexico State is close behind with 13.

In case you were wondering, North Dakota State leads FCS programs with an 11-game winning streak, and Rhode Island has dropped 15 consecutive games.

Boyd vs. Manziel

S.C. State has faced Manziel and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd the past two seasons. Based on their respective performances against S.C. State, it would appear Manziel was the better quarterback.

Early in his Heisman Trophy winning season a year ago, Manziel completed 15 of 20 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns and ran eight times for 78 yards and two touchdowns in Texas A&M’s 70-14 victory. On Saturday, Boyd completed 14 of 23 passes for 169 yards, and ran six times for 10 yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs.

After studying videotape of the two quarterbacks, an S.C. State defensive coach gave Manziel the edge for his ability to improvise on the field. But he gave the nod to Boyd in arm strength and game management.

Heartwarming

Nick O’Leary, the grandson of golf great Jack Nicklaus, caught three touchdown passes in Florida State’s 41-13 victory against Pittsburgh.

O’Leary, a junior tight end from Palm Beach, Fla., counts every day he is alive as a blessing. He was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident — if you can stomach it, go to YouTube and watch the video — on May 2 in Tallahassee, Fla.

O’Leary walked away from the accident without serious injury.

Odds and ends

Georgia already has lost to Clemson and Florida fell to Miami. The last time two ranked SEC teams lost non-conference games in the opening two weeks of the season was 2007, when Tennessee fell to California and Auburn lost to South Florida. ... How bad is Texas’ defense? The Longhorns allowed BYU 349 yards rushing in the first half of Saturday’s 40-21 BYU victory. BYU finished with 550 yards rushing on 72 carries and 679 yards of offense. That came one week after BYU managed 362 yards in a 19-16 loss at Virginia. ... Few have been impressed with Florida’s opening win over Toledo or its loss Saturday against Miami. Yet the Gators’ defense ranks fifth nationally allowing 208 yards per game and is fourth in rushing defense, allowing 50 yards per game.

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