BLITZING SEVEN: No Love for Heisman? Tide is Really Rolling, DEE-Fense, Is Wazzu for Real? Fans Stay
1. No Love for Heisman? No list of Heisman Candidates would be complete without some Love…as in Bryce Love. Stanford RB Bryce Love’s numbers are so unreal that he absolutely deserves to be in contention. His biggest hurdle are late games that few on the East coast have ever see him play. In just 5 games (including games against two current Top 20 teams) he’s amassed 1088 yards on only 98 carries and scored 8 touchdowns. By comparison (and with no disrespect) Penn State’s Saquon Barkley has yet to play a team ranked in the top 20 and would have to gain 514 yards on his next 14 carries to catch Love. Adding Barkley’s receiving numbers gives him 113 touches on offense for 960 yards and 6 touchdowns (an average of 8.5 yards per play). Bryce Love has 100 total offensive plays for 1093 yards and 8 touchdowns (an average of 10.9 yards per play). Saturday night at #20 Utah will kick off at 10:15 eastern so expect Love’s obscurity to continue. Love needs Notre Dame to keep winning to set up a marquee game in week 12.
2. The Tide is REALLY Rolling: Alabama travels to take on Texas A&M. The Aggies have rebounded from the second half collapse against UCLA to win four straight, but will they have enough to challenge the nation's #1 team? Don’t bet on it. Alabama has won 19 straight SEC games, including 12 against ranked opponents. But what is most impressive is that the Tide has outscored their SEC opponents 727-248 in that span (an average score of 38-13.0). That's rolling.
3. DEE-FENSE!: Michigan State heads to Michigan to reclaim the Paul Bunyan Trophy in a match-up of Top-5 defenses. Michigan is #1 nationally and Michigan State is #5 so expect an old-school Big Ten battle. The key for Michigan may be the play of quarterback John O’Korn stepping in for injured starter Wilton Speight. This game could be very physical so even those watching at home should get their ankles taped and buckle their chin straps.
4. Wazzu A Playoff Team?: With the win over USC, Washington State has jumped into the periphery of the playoff conversation. Saturday they go to Oregon, a team that is newly resurgent with a 4-1 start. This is Washington State's first road trip and it should give a strong indication if the #11 Cougars are for real. The winner emerges as a potential challenger to Washington in the Pac-12 North.
5. Penn State Offense Has Steeper Climb Ahead: After five games Penn State fans have been questioning the offense's consistency. Barkley has been explosive in the pass game but has broken the 100-yard rushing mark just twice in 5 games. Against Indiana, Penn State's longest run from scrimmage was 8 yards. Expect that to change this week at Northwestern. But the climb will get steeper. Penn State has struggled on 3rd downs, in the Red Zone and running the ball against defenses that have an average rank of 85th. Penn State will play their last 7 games against defenses with an average rank of 38.
6. TCU Is Back in the Playoff Saddle Again: It was just a few years ago that TCU was a playoff team that just missed getting in. After going to Oklahoma State and winning TCU is back in the saddle and has a strong enough schedule to kick in that door. First up, they will have to beat #23 West Virginia. The Mountaineers had a narrow season-opening loss against Virginia Tech or they would also be in the playoff discussion. But this is the Big 12 and there have been some wild games.
7. Stop Rushing The Field: Universities need to stop fans from storming the field. After Washington State's win fans stormed the field and a USC player leveled one. Reports indicate that authorities are contemplating an assault charge. That's ridiculous. I've had to make my way across a field like that as a coach after a tough loss. People run at you from all angles and grab you and extend their fingers at your face. You're never sure if some drunk is going to punch you. Schools should police this better. Without getting into the USC-Washington State specifics, in general visiting players, coaches and staff should be allowed to defend themselves if they feel threatened. Fans should understand that risk if they rush the field. After a game there are a number of people with the visiting team who need to move equipment and other things off the field. They should have a safe professional environment.