Conference call: Rising and falling teams

Conference call: Rising and falling teams

Conference call: Rising and falling teams
September 12, 2007

Tom Dienhart

Each Wednesday Tom Dienhart brings you the lowdown on the BCS conferences: which teams are rising, which teams are falling and which games you can't miss.

ACC

Rising: Boston College. Are the Eagles the best team in the ACC? Could be. That's funny, because the Eagles were supposed to be overmatched upon joining the ACC a few years ago. (Imagine how good the Big East would be with BC still in it?) Matt Ryan is the best quarterback in the conference. And BC can bash foes with two strong backs. The defense isn't too shabby, either.

Falling: Miami. Randy Shannon has this job or a reason. That was apparent last Saturday. The offense was supposed to stink. It did vs. Oklahoma. The defense? It tanked, too. That's worrisome. I'll give the Canes' defense a mulligan. Still, it makes me wonder: Will Miami ever be Miami again?

Game of the week: Boston College at Georgia Tech. There's nary a discernable difference between these teams in what could be a preview of the ACC title game. That has to cause league honchos and tickets sellers in Jacksonville to groan. This one may come down to who plays the best defense. That means you have to like Tech.

BIG EAST

Rising: South Florida. The win at Auburn was the kind of victory that defines a rising program. Yeah, that sounds about right. USF lacks size, but it's fast, brother. And this year's team has something even better: heart. Looks like the Big East's holy trinity of West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers is gonna have to make room for a fourth.

Falling: Syracuse. Momma always said there would be days like the Orange's 35-0 drubbing at Iowa. Seasons, too. Does that make you feel better, Greg Robinson? Didn't think so. But, hey, I figured I'd try.

Game of the week: Louisville at Kentucky. Are you scared, Cardinals? You should be. The Wildcats have lost the past four meetings in what I'll call the "Maker's Mark Bowl." And they are thinking big this fall. Can't wait to see the quarterback battle: Andre Woodson vs. Brian Brohm.

BIG TEN

Rising: Penn State. Looky here! The Nits may be the pick in the Big Ten. The offense has been a surprise, thanks to a solid ground game by Austin Scott that has complemented a strong aerial attack. Defense? Oh, yeah, the Nits play some of that, too. Coordinator Tom Bradley is a genius. Someone get him a mortarboard.

Falling: Michigan. Oh, man. I'm out of words. This is almost getting sad. I said ALMOST.

Game of the week: Notre Dame at Michigan. You've read all of the gloomy numbers about the Irish offense and Wolverine defense. Now, watch the carnage play out before your very eyes as these winless titans lock horns. It's fitting that true freshmen will quarterback each team in what may be the most watched Notre Dame-Michigan game ever. Really. It'll be like gawking at a car wreck on the shoulder of the highway.

BIG 12

Rising: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are rolling -- again. It makes me wonder: How come no one ever talks about Graham Harrell as the Big 12's top quarterbacks? You know, he's better than Texas' Colt McCoy and Missouri's Chase Daniel. Not convinced? Just keep watching.

Falling: Colorado. Let's call that whipping at Arizona State "growing pains" for CU and young quarterback Cody Hawkins. The Buffs still have work to do on defense, too. Don't look now: But Florida State is coming to town.

Game of the week: USC at Nebraska. Hold on tight, Big Red. This could be a wild ride. I don't think Bill Callahan will leave anything in the tank after getting blasted for being too conservative in last year's meeting in L.A. Can Nebraska score on the Trojans' terrific defense? Will the iffy Husker defense mute the vaunted USC offense? Let's just say this would be a HUGE win for Big Bill Cally.

PAC-10

Rising: Oregon. Yeah, It's good to be Mike Bellotti. Cool shades ... cool team ... cool win over Michigan. The Ducks are poised to become an "it" program again, like back in the day when Joey Harrington was in Eugene and still good. Pac-10 title anyone?

Falling: Oregon State. One word: woof. How else would you describe that dog of a game at Cincinnati? Exactly. Speaking of "woof," that pretty much sums up the play of the Beavers quarterbacks. Say a prayer for Mike Riley.

Game of the week: Ohio State at Washington. It all sits there right at Ty Willingham's feet: opportunity. It's an opportunity to dump a Buckeyes team that's just aching to be dumped. No doubt, a win here would give U-Dub major mojo heading into games at UCLA, vs. USC, at Arizona State and vs. Oregon. Keep on dreaming, Dawgs!

SEC

Rising: South Carolina. Don't look now, but the Ol' Ball Coach (O.B.C.) has himself a team. No, it's not a typical O.B.C. squad. Not much fun, and no gun. The Gamecocks are built around a salty defense and strong ground game. But if the wins keep piling up, I don't think the O.B.C. will mind.

Falling: Vanderbilt. I saw it up close -- and the effort vs. Alabama was, well, awful. Lousy special teams, shoddy passing, bad penalties. Should I continue? Bobby Johnson is better than this. He knows it, I know it and you know it. Here's hoping he fixes things for that magical bowl ride.

Game of the week: Tennessee at Florida. That sound you hear? It's Phillip Fulmer's heartbeat. And it's getting loud. How many games does he have to win to secure his 2008 employment? Eight? Nine? 10? Roll that around your noggin' while I type this: Big Phil HAS to win this game. He just HAS to.

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