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National week 3 in review (Okay, wheat goes over here, and chaff goes over there…)

I have no had a couple of days to digest some of my thoughts on this week, and while I must pay homage to ESPN and refer to it as ‘separation Saturday’, I prefer to think of it more as just a great day for college football. By no means did a team win a national title on Saturday, as with injuries, fluke plays, and sheer bad luck a team can fall apart at this point. Several teams, however, lost a chance at the title.

Right at the top of that list has to be Miami. The Hurricanes pulled a Purdue and completely messed themselves at the first sign of adversity, this after making asses of themselves by stomping on Louisville’s logo. The old Miami would have done that then gone out and taken care of business. Instead, they folded up and were shut out in the second half of a big game yet again. This was very much like their bowl game against LSU last year, where they started with a good drive, and thought the day was over. Even if the Canes turn things around and win the ACC it won’t make the situation better, as that offense is downright putrid against even mediocre defenses.

The second team that got knocked out already is Notre Dame. There are some saying that they will still be right there if they run the table, beat an undefeated USC team to end the season, and there are a bunch of one loss teams. There are some who have even said Notre Dame could leapfrog over an undefeated West Virginia or Louisville if it finishes with just this one loss and the other team is Ohio State. If they get in the title game that way, it will be a travesty against college football, but we all know the media factor would make it happen. Michigan went in and truly proved me wrong by viciously ending the hype, but they also exposed the true Notre Dame for what it is. Brady Quinn cannot handle any kind of pressure whatsoever before he starts to fold up, and a solid offense can roll on that defense all day. All you have to do is control the clock and get pressure and they crack. It was refreshing to see Quinn revert to the whole ‘throw three picks early, then get his stats’ late mode. And CFBNews still made him a top 10 player of the week because he managed to pad his stats once the game was over. Lest we forget he personally had two turnovers taken to the house. True leaders and good quarterbacks don’t fold in the face of the slightest pressure, Brady. Rick Mirer and Ron Pawlus would be proud.

I honestly feel better about facing the Irish in a week and a half. I feel like Purdue’s offense can move against the Irish defense, and it could be a shootout. I am not predicting a victory, but I think Purdue can keep it close for a half to three quarters at least. Certainly not the blowout we experienced last year and what many Domers are predicting. Notre Dame choked, and there is no other way to say it. Let them have their delusions of grandeur that things will turn around. This is the type of loss that often causes Notre Dame to unravel as they have the past several years. Your season is over, enjoy the Gator Bowl again.

This also proves that I was wrong this past week in my point about attitude. I felt Notre Dame would roll simply because they were being Notre Dame again. I didn't take into account that the true Notre Dame of the past 15 years has been prone to fall apart and not truly be a national player, despite a lofty start. I was also wrong about Miami having attitude, as it lasted for all of the first 10 minutes when they fell apart. Michigan had more of an attitude and used it to punch Notre Dame in the mouth early. Louisville took offense to Miami's early attitude and survived an early bloody nose to crush the Canes. This goes to show that sometimes too much attitude can be harmful.

We are starting to see, even this early into the season, quite a few teams that are overrated and underrated. There are some teams that are showing improvement each week and will be dangerous down the road, where others seem to be riding high on past accomplishments and really have not done that much aside from what is expected. I think this week proved that in addition to Notre Dame being grossly overrated, Oregon might be a bit when they really lost in a win. You can toss Florida State and Miami into that overrated category together, as their game may not have been so much of a classic as two really bad offenses going at each other.
Some of the more underrated teams have to be Clemson, who is only a tough double overtime-special teams breakdown-punch in the groin loss from being unbeaten and controlling the ACC divisional race. Louisville was vastly underrated after seeing them in person. They smoked Miami with backups playing in place of two Heisman trophy candidates, and since they essentially have a one game season with West Virginia now, I give them the edge in Papa John’s Cardinal stadium there. Throw Michigan State into this category as well, with a better than expected win this past week.

In looking at the rest of my picks from last week, I think it offers proof that I cannot accurately pick college football games consistently. I went 9-4, but missed on most of the larger games with Louisville-Miami, Notre Dame-Michigan, and Michigan State-Pitt. Over the rest of the nation things broke in an interesting way. Auburn took the lead in the brutal race for the SEC for now, while Oregon was lucky as hell to knock off Oklahoma. Florida State proved that yes, you do need an offense to go with defense and special teams in order to win in college football. They are now successfully out of the title hunt, as well as Tennessee after blowing it late against Florida.
It is still too early to tell for a lot of teams, however. Teams like Purdue, Missouri, Wake Forest, and Arizona St. are undefeated, but haven’t played anyone yet. I will have my own top 25 ranking after this week because most of the non-conference games will be over and many teams will have already played their first conference games, allowing for a better judgment of who the best 25 games are.

In one of the funnier result of the weekend, you have to look at the Indiana-Southern Illinois game. I know that since the beginning of the season I have been praising the Hoosiers as a team to watch and that with their weak schedule they could sneak into a bowl game. I will no longer be making that mistake.

It is downright embarrassing for a Big Ten team to lose to a 1-AA team. This one may be worse that Northwestern’s loss to New Hampshire a few weeks ago. New Hampshire came in and dominated the tempo from beginning to end. Indiana was comfortably in front and managed to choke the game away. If you cannot get motivated to beat a 1-AA team in a game you are trying to win for your coach who had brain surgery, then it is time for you to no longer be trusted with division 1-A football. This loss was pathetic even for Indiana. I don’t care that they are ranked 16th in the 1-AA poll, you’re a Big Ten team and this was one of the gimmes you scheduled to try and get to a bowl for the first time in more than a decade. There’s no excuse for losing it when you throw in all the factors involved. The Hoosiers will, from now on, be referred to as the "Same old, sorry-assed Hoosiers." Don’t let the Saluki pee on your rock before they leave town, guys.

The Big Ten is starting to look like a very exciting 3-team race as long as Iowa has Drew Tate. Each of the three plays the other two, one at home, one on the road, so if they go through everyone else on the schedule, We could have a three way tie at 7-1 for the conference assuming the home team wins each game. What makes things even more interesting is that if Purdue continues to improve, I see us as having at least a chance in every game other than the game at Iowa. With no game against Michigan or Ohio State, and a lot of luck, Purdue could be right there as well. Michigan State also had an impressive win this weekend to get into the discussion.
With conference play starting this weekend I think we can divide the conference into three clear categories with the way the teams look right now, in order of strength in each category.

Championship favorites:
Ohio State
Michigan
Iowa (assuming Tate stays healthy, if not, they are demoted)
Bowl teams: (Probably won’t win the conference, but will give the above three fits and dogfight amongst themselves, this group is very balanced with each having flaws)
Michigan State
Wisconsin
Penn State
Purdue
Minnesota (Got waxed by the one real team they’ve played, dominated the JV teams)
France in 1940: (Just waiting to get rolled by everyone else in the conference)
Northwestern
Indiana
Illinois (At least Indiana has beaten some 1-A teams)

With four conference games this week this structure can change quickly. The Purdue-Minnesota game is probably the most important for both teams. For Purdue, a win would get them to 4-0 and make bowl eligibility a strong probability with the entire France 1940 group remaining on the schedule late, giving the Boilers time to improve even more on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin and Penn State at Michigan and Ohio State, respectively, that will be attempts to reel in those two power teams early and open it up for everyone else. Only Iowa having a light practice at Illinois should be a blowout. Connecticut faces IU, Northwestern goes to Nevada, and Michigan State hosts Notre Dame. Of those, only Michigan State has a chance to make a statement and move up.

NEXT UP: Week 4 Previews for the entire Big Ten on Thursday