We’re back for another installment of Tire Fires: showcasing the awful, the hot and the sticky of college football. It’s slim pickins’ this week, both in good games and obvious beat downs. Luckily I’ve been at this for a few weeks, so I know where to to find fire. Let’s begin.
Kansas, it’s your time …
… to be thrown in the fire. Here at The Solid Verbal we like to give teams all around the country a chance to show off how truly awful they are. Last week, I didn’t pick any Tire Fire games, but if I had, I certainly would’ve chosen Kansas to get incinerated by Baylor. Let’s not let Charlie Weis off the hook. Kansas is on notice to get trashed by Texas who will probably look like Texas in this game.
The only thing you really need to known about Kansas is that, through six games against FBS opponents, the Jayhawks have not eclipsed the 20 point-mark. In the team’s only FBS win – against a bad Louisiana Tech side – Kansas only managed 13 points.
Soak that in for a second.
Now let’s move on.
On the other side of the ball, Kansas is bottom of the barrel in scoring defense, giving up 31.6 points per game. Against the upper crust of the Big 12, the Jayhawks surrendered 59 to Baylor, 54 to Texas Tech and 34 to Oklahoma. They even let TCU’s putrid offense, led by backup quarterback Trevone Boykin, put up 27.
While Texas is normally the cure for the common run game, I can’t imagine Kansas mustering up any potency on offense to put the Longhorns’ middle-of-the-pack defense on its heels. It’s also a very real possibility that Texas will gash Kansas on the ground. The Longhorns rank No. 2 in rushing offense in the Big 12 out of teams not named Baylor.
The bright side of Saturday’s looming beating is no one, not even the most die-hard Jayhawk fans, will get to see the game thanks to the Longhorn Network. They’re really doing the country a public service.
Pitt better have notes on the triple option …
… because Georgia Tech is always a tricky team for which to game plan. The Yellow Jackets’ unapologetic style of running the ball and grinding the game clock presents a unique challenge. It’s an especially tall task for first-timers like Pitt head coach Paul Chryst.
Here is a likely conversation between Chryst and defensive coordinator Matt House this offseason when examining the schedule:
Chryst: Man, if only we played a small-time team that runs the triple option, so we really can prep our guys before he head down to Atlanta. Wouldn’t that be swell, Matty?
House: Well hold on just a second there, Paul. We play Navy the week before we play Georgia Tech. And if I recall correctly, the Midshipmen still deploy the same rushing attack from when … [Eyes widen] Paul Johnson was Navy’s head coach! What luck!
What luck indeed. On paper. Unfortunately for the Panthers, last Saturday’s game against Navy was more of a demonstration than hands-on learning as they lost 24-21 on a last second field goal. Navy was able to run for 220 yards, with a hobbled Keenan Reynolds willing his team to victory and running in the game tying score with under four minutes to play.
Pitt’s defense contained Navy in the first half, but completely melted down in the second, which makes me wonder how long they’ll last against a Georgia Tech side that is faster, more talented (no offense, Navy bros) and currently on a roll.
The Yellow Jackets hit a rough stretch of schedule a month ago, losing three straight to Virginia Tech, Miami and BYU. Now they’re back at, bludgeoning their previous two opponents a combined 91-25 and rushing for 788 yards. Naturally, Georgia Tech is tops the ACC in rushing and fourth in the country, averaging 315 yards per game. They also rank No. 3 nationally in time of possession, No. 5 in third down conversions, and rank in the top-ten for rushing plays of at least 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards. All of this is to say that the Yellow Jackets should win this game. Handily.
If the Panthers couldn’t thwart an undersized, undermanned version of this offense last week, then they’re certainly going to have their hands full down in Bobby Dodd Stadium.
This game doesn’t scream Tire Fire …
… but the Trojan secondary should be on notice when it heads up to Corvallis to take on the conference’s top passing attack in Oregon State. USC has only faced one team that’s proficient through the air, and got lit up.
In a game against Arizona State that was largely overshadowed by a post-game coaching change, Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly had his way with the Trojans’ secondary en route to a 62-41 victory. Kelly threw for 351 yards, averaging 10.3 yards per completion to six different receivers, three of whom pulled down at least 80 yards.
This week the Trojan secondary will be staring down Sean Mannion, who enters this game as the nation’s leader in yards per game and touchdowns. Mannion is extremely accurate, completely a smidge fewer than 70-percent of his passes with only three interceptions. It’s their first true test against a top-level quarterback and their second test against a quarterback that isn’t afraid to sling it around a bit.
Perhaps the Trojan secondary learned in their go ‘round with Arizona State. I won’t call for the outright Oregon State victory, as the Beavers’ run defense could be their undoing, but I do fully expect Mannion to have his way with an overhyped Trojans secondary.