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The College Football Report: Blue Horseshoe Loves Boise State

The Week Four Obligatory Heisman Discussion
In the wake of the explosion by Denard "Shoelaces" Robinson in the early going of this season, we will now engage in the mandatory Heisman speculation. The Michigan QB has gone crazy in the first three games, with over 500 yards rushing, 4 TDs and a very un-QB-like 7.6 yards per attempt. Oh, and he has thrown the ball a little bit too - to the tune of 671 yards, a 70% completion percentage and a ridiculous 158.64 QB rating. If you don't know anything about QB ratings, don't worry. We don't either. But we do know that's a good number. And don't forget the decimals - that's the difference between #20 (Robinson) and #21 (Clemson QB Kyle Parker, at 158.4). To top things off, some guy at The Michigan Daily snapped a photo of Robinson that bears a striking resemblance to a certain famous trophy.

But before we award Robinson the Heisman, let's note that he isn't the only quarterback putting up gaudy numbers running and throwing the ball. Taylor Martinez has led #6 Nebraska with over 400 yards rushing (at a 10.5 yards per attempt clip) and 8 TDs. However, Martinez's passing numbers (392 yards, 1 TD) don't compare to those of Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. The Wolfpack quarterback sits ranks among the top 15 FBS players in rushing (369 yards and 7 TDs) and QB rating (with 728 yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs). And of course some QBs don't bother with the running, like Ryan Mallett of Arkansas (1081 yards), Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State (975 yards, 11 TDs) and Nick Foles of Arizona (877 yards, 4 TDs).

In the backfield, our predicted pick for the top finisher among running backs (Wisconsin RB John Clay) hasn't cracked the top 10 list in total yards. For sake of comparison, the guy just below Clay carries the ball for the unranked Kentucky Wildcats. UK RB John Locke has nearly identical stats, except that Clay rushes for #11 Wisconsin while the 3-0 Wildcats have yet to garner a single vote for the Top 25. In other words, Clay hasn't done much to stand out from the field. At this point, Clay doesn't even seem like the best back in the Big Ten. Michigan State sophomore Edwin Baker has 4 TDs, 390 yards and 8.5 per rush. Now Baker just needs a great photo.

But let's not overlook the other skill position on offense. Two wideouts in the Sooner State - Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles - have set their sights on being an "also-ran" for the 2010 Heisman. Wait, are we not supposed to talk about that? You know, that since Michigan's all-everything Charles Woodson won in 1997, the Heisman has gone to a QB or RB every year?

SEC Hype Reaches a Fever Pitch
As we head into Week Four, four Southeastern Conference teams rank in the Top 10 (Alabama #1, Florida #9 and Arkansas #10) and six teams in the Top 25. Most BCS conferences tend to have a number of teams in the Top 25, and even as many as six is not an unusual number. The Big Ten also has six this week, the Pac-10 has five and so on. But as many teams start conference play, we should remind ourselves that - apart from the top tier - SEC teams are not immortal.

For example, in his blog on ESPN.com, Pac-10 sportswriter Ted Miller points out that the SEC has a losing record against both the Pac-10 and Big East (12-9 and 19-14, respectively) since 1998. And while the conference will have at least three undefeated teams next week, we should be careful not to grant the top spot overall to the SEC this season. The debate takes place every year - which conference has the best bowl season, who wins the national championship, etc. Don't get us wrong - until someone can beat Alabama, the national championship runs through the SEC - but some early strength of schedule numbers don't put the conference in a good light.

For example, the stats folks at teamrankings.com put the SEC's strength of schedule to date in a virtual dead heat with that of the WAC at fourth in the nation.

And that other West Coast conference (the Pac-10) merits some attention as well. The conference has at least proved to be one of the more interesting to watch thus far. Five ranked teams, including #5 Oregon, may factor into the conference championship (with #20 USC as spoiler) although Saturday night's matchup between Boise and Oregon State may drop that number to four. (We're not sold on Oregon State.) And lest we forget, the drop off between the top teams in the Pac-10 and the likes of Washington State looks steep.

But despite the success of the Pac-10, much less the WAC and Mountain West, the SEC still hogs the spotlight. Take Ivan Maisel's column on Wednesday: Are we to believe that league play in the SEC is that much tougher than in other conferences?

Actually, wait, what are we saying? Of course it is. Most seasons. But this seasons . . . we're not so sure. While the head-to-head issue will fade into the background during conference play, keep that strength of schedule figure in mind when bowl season rolls around.

Money Never Sleeps
Anyone who watched the Thursday or Friday night primetime games on ESPN knows that ads for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps have been on maximum rotation. The ad guys at 20th Century Fox must have gotten a bulk discount. In honor of the original, we present to you a summary of Week Three in the words of Gordon Gekko:

What's worth doing is worth doing for money.

Ohio 7 @ #2 Ohio State 43 (-30)
Portland State 0 @ #5 Oregon 69 (n/a)
Furman 19 @ #13 South Carolina 38 (n/a)
Massachusetts 37 @ #20 Michigan 42 (n/a)

Comment: We hope the Creampuffs picked up their checks on the way out of town last week. With the (very!) notable exception of the Minutemen, last week was not a fun time to be a FCS (or the "other" university in Ohio) team on the road against the big boys.

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I'm gonna make you rich, Bud Fox.

#1 Alabama 62 (-24) @ Duke 13
#3 Boise State 51 (-23) @ Wyoming 6

Comment: Wagering on the Tide and Broncos continues to pay off. After taking a long look at the Blue Devils in the preseason, we wondered if their aerial attack would test the Bama corners and open the possibility of a backdoor cover. We wouldn't have wanted to put any of our hard-earned shekels (or doubloons or whatever) on it, but we were curious. I guess the Tide gave us a pretty clear answer to that question.

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I don't throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things.

Baylor 10 @ #4 TCU 45 (-21.5)
#9 Iowa 27 @ #24 Arizona 34 (-2.5)
#14 Utah 56 (-22) @ New Mexico 14
Kent State 0 @ #22 Penn State 24 (-21), 11:00AM

Comment: While the Inaugural Beachwood Parlay didn't come in last week, we like to think our picks did pretty well including all of the above.

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The most valuable commodity I know of is information.

#6 Texas 24 @ Texas Tech 14 (+3)
Louisville 28 @ #25 Oregon State 35 (-20)

Comment: We could have used a bit more data before making these picks last week. We thought a) Louisville sucked, b) Texas Tech could score, and c) Oregon State had some playmakers. As it turns out, Louisville doesn't so much suck as Oregon State is overrated, Texas may get to the BCS title game on defense and OSU's Rodgers brothers can't be relied on.

Jesus, if this guy owned a funeral parlor, nobody would die!

#12 Arkansas 31 @ Georgia 24 (-1.5)
Comment: We have some advice for Coach Richt of the Bulldogs. Mark, go edit your LinkedIn profile now. Under "Contact Settings," make sure you check the "Career opportunities" box.

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Mixed emotions, buddy. Like Larry Wildman going off a cliff in my new Maserati.

#18 USC 32 (-11.5) @ Minnesota 21
#23 Houston 13 (-3.5) @ UCLA 31

Comment: Fans of the Trojans and Bruins can't be too happy about last weekend. Southern Cal continues to win without covering the number (something the wagering alumni can't be happy about) while UCLA managed the upset, knocking out Case Keenum must have helped. Keenum started the game looking as if he had yet to shake the effects of a concussion suffered against UTEP the week prior, and left the game in the second quarter after a brutal collision.

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And in other action last week . . .

Air Force 24 @ #7 Oklahoma 27 (-16.5)
#8 Nebraska 56 (-3) @ Washington 21
#10 Florida 31 (-14) @ Tennessee 17
Arizona State 19 @ #11 Wisconsin 20 (-12.5)
Mississippi State 7 @ #15 LSU 29 (-7.5)
Clemson 24 @ #16 Auburn 27 (-7.5)
Wake Forest 24 @ #19 Stanford 68 (-18)
Maryland 17 @ #21 West Virginia 31 (-10)

Comment: There was money to be made here, but we didn't see it.

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Gordon Gekko On Week Four: I look at a hundred deals a day. I pick one.

This week, Boise State gets one last shot at a ranked team this season. One last chance to impress the voters. To score some style points. In front of a national television audience. Can you see where this is headed?

The Broncos host Oregon State on the Smurf Turf in prime time on ABC (7PM Beachwood Time). Oregon State will come into the game prepared - or so they would like us to believe. Months ago, an anonymous donor plopped down thousands of dollars to paint the Beavers' practice field blue the week before Boise State. Reportedly the brainchild of OSU Athletic Director Bob De Carolis to emphasize the "bigness of the game" against Boise, we think the move shows that this game could be over before kickoff. We have to agree with Coach Chris Peterson of Boise State:

"Perfect," Peterson said with a laugh. "We've got them right where we want them if they're going and painting their field."

And to quote Coach Gecko: "Read Sun-tzu. The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought."

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Thus, we only have one pick for you this week and it's a doozy:

Oregon State @ Boise State (-18), Saturday, 7:00PM for $1000 Beachwood Bucks

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Seals Don't Understand the Stock Market
The Sports Seal has been laying low. We don't quite know what's happening, but the volume of incoming phone calls from "Private Number" has skyrocketed in the past week. And there has been a white van parked across the street for the past few days. Earlier this morning, on our way for coffee from the Swim Cafe, we couldn't find the Seal but we did find the following picks scrawled on the back of yesterday's Chicago Tribune:

Florida International (+10) @ Maryland, Saturday, 11:00AM
Air Force (-13.5) @ Wyoming, Saturday, 1:00PM
Southern Cal (-22.5) @ Washington State, Saturday, 2:00PM
Nevada (-4) @ Brigham Young, Saturday, 5:00PM
Fresno State (+2) @ Ole Miss, Saturday, 6:30PM

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Next week: a recap of our progress to date, an APB on the Sports Seal and our thoughts on whether or not greed is, in fact, good.

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Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.

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