Pryor ready to lead Ohio State to national title; more Mailbag
From the time he burst onto the scene as a nationally decorated recruit,
Yes, Pryor's Pasadena performance was an anomaly -- but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Many dubbed the then-sophomore quarterback's 338-yard day in the Buckeyes' 26-17 victory over Oregon as his "coming out party." For a variety of reasons,
There were presumably game-specific reasons why Tressel chose to air it out (Oregon's young secondary, the extra prep time, etc.), but what really matters is that after two, often erratic seasons, he sent a signal that he finally had full faith in his quarterback. And with good reason. Pryor's entire demeanor seemed to change after that Purdue game, both on the field and in interviews. Perhaps the loss was the wake-up call he needed. And let's not forget most of Pryor's equally young supporting cast (running backs
But anyone who thinks Pryor is going to attempt 37 passes and 20 rushes every week next season is setting himself up for disappointment. And the Vince Young comparisons? Bury them for good. Pryor is a tremendous athlete, but it's clear by now that OSU's coaches don't intend to turn him into a Young- or
(What, you thought I was going to list the other four? Not a chance. I've got four more months of Mailbags to fill ...)
Hey now, don't forget about Presbyterian at Clemson.
It's a tough call (and one I'm going to eventually have to make, because I
But as juicy as that lineup looks (and I'd throw USF-Florida and Iowa State-Iowa into the mix as well), it's going to have a hard time topping Sept. 16, 2006. You may remember that day, which featured seven matchups between ranked teams (albeit a couple of them intra-conference games): No. 2 Notre Dame vs. No. 11 Michigan; No. 3 Auburn vs. No. 6 LSU; No. 4 USC vs. No. 19 Nebraska; No. 7 Florida vs. No. 12 Tennessee; No. 12 Louisville vs. No. 17 Miami; No. 15 Oklahoma vs. No. 18 Oregon and No. 20 TCU vs. No. 24 Texas Tech. Of the games Drew mentioned, only three might fit that bill, since Tennessee and Michigan are unlikely to be ranked in Week 2.
What stands out upon looking back at that 2006 slate is that the most surprising result at the time was Michigan trouncing Notre Dame (en route to an 11-0 start), while by far the most memorable game, Oklahoma-Oregon (a.k.a. the "replay game"), had very little buildup. (I was at Michigan-Notre Dame.) There's no predicting which of this year's games will end up fitting those scripts.
You'll notice I allowed Michael a pass from my longstanding "No 'we'" rule when discussing one's team. That's because Michael's (much longer) e-mail also mentioned he was a walk-on for
Unfortunately, I don't share the perennial optimism that surely comes with having actually donned the orange and white. While I have no reason to believe Dooley won't make a fine SEC coach -- eventually -- there's a strong possibility his first Vols team will be downright awful. Even before He Who Must Not Be Name ditched Knoxville, Tennessee had a lot to replace in 2010, most notably on the offensive and defensive lines. (And, oh yeah,
As for the notion that Tennessee perennially defies preseason expectations, one way or the other -- that was absolutely true for most of Fulmer's tenure, but doesn't necessarily carry over from coach to coach. Kiffin's team went 7-6, which was almost exactly what most would have predicted in August. It's kind of like Clemson. For years, the Tigers' most heavily hyped teams either choked or couldn't quite get over the hump -- and then
No way. Those teams are spoiled enough, what with their fancy-dancy "playoff" and all those mid-December weekends in Montana and Chattanooga. Why should they get to have their cake and eat it too?
Much will depend on the course of Leach's pending lawsuit against Texas Tech. As you're presumably aware, what was already an ugly dispute (see some of the comments at the bottom of
Whether Leach wins or loses, however, I do think he'll ultimately return to coaching, most likely at the FBS level. He's certainly not the right fit for all schools. Whoever hires him must be OK with the idea that one if its most visible representatives is an odd cat who may have mistreated a concussed player. But he's also a proven winner whose teams play an exciting brand of offense -- one that is now spreading across the country (Oklahoma State, Arizona State and East Carolina will all be running variations this fall) -- and who can come in to some down-on-its luck program (Washington State? Illinois? A Conference USA school?) and energize things in a hurry.
I'm sure few will be surprised if Iowa falls short of the considerable (possibly preseason top five) expectations, because the Hawkeyes were never fully appreciated last season. Yet this was a team that won 11 games, came within an overtime field goal of beating Ohio State in the Horseshoe for a spot in the Rose Bowl (while playing its backup quarterback, no less), then absolutely suffocated Georgia Tech's powerful rushing attack in the Orange Bowl. It's no secret why the Hawkeyes are expected to do as well or better in 2010: They return eight starters from an already stout defense, most notably stars defensive end
Without question, one of the biggest mistakes we prognosticators make is underestimating the impact of losing veteran offensive linemen like
But the main reason I'm keen on Iowa: the schedule. Last year, to their credit, the Hawkeyes went on the road to beat Penn State and Wisconsin. This year, they get those teams, plus Ohio State, at home. That doesn't mean they won't slip up -- they barely survived Northern Iowa and lost to Northwestern in home games last season. On paper, however, it's a pretty favorable schedule, though it does include one incredibly difficult game early: at Arizona in Week 3.
2. They lost to OU and Texas last year by a combined score of 68-14.
3. They lost nearly their entire starting offensive line, linebacking corps and secondary.
4. Mike Gundy is still their head coach.
Oh, I remember Carta-Samuels well. Why? Because in our office bowl pool (no money, of course), I had my highest number of confidence points (34) on 11-point favorite Fresno State. So naturally, Carta-Samuels, who'd thrown seven TDs all season, threw three in that game, including the game-winner in overtime, and Wyoming, which came in with the nation's 109th-ranked scoring offense, doubled its season average by posting 35 points. So yes, I was impressed, but I'm always reticent to put too much emphasis on a bowl result. The Cowboys lost 52-0 to BYU and 45-10 to TCU last season. I have a lot of respect for
But while we're on the subject, keep an eye on another non-BCS team that delivered a seemingly out-of-nowhere bowl performance: SMU.
Like I said: No more "Crush." No more playful flirtations with sparkly, hilarious, up-and-coming starlets. That was
I will admit, however, that I overstated things just a tad when I said the oh-so exotic Saldana had "basically rendered every other female celebrity moot." I didn't mean to diss
The Mailbag (more specifically, its author) will be on vacation next week -- Argentina, baby. But fire away with more questions because I'm coming right back with another edition on May 26.