Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Blogpoll Roundtable V2.2

1. What team best met your overall expectations of them in their opener?

That would be Louisville, a team best known for running up the score against nobodies in order to rev up the hype engine. As usual, the Cardinals got off to a quick start, scoring no fewer than 14 points in any one quarter, punching their in-state rival Kentucky in the mouth, and taking home the Governor's Cup. But even if they hadn't lost Michael Bush, this would be same-old, same-old Petrino-era Cardinal football. Throw, rush, take no prisoners, put up 600 yards and 5 dozen points. The only surprise was that they appear to have neutralized Kentucky's running game.

2. What team jumped off the map and surprised you the most? (Bonus points to anyone who can make an argument for someone besides Tennessee.)

Montana State, for definitely.

If you want teams that can only wind up winning a mythical national title instead of a real one determined by a playoff, I have to go with Tennessee. Second place would go to Pitt, which beat Virginia 38-13. However, I have to admit that I had no idea how UVA was "supposed to be" this year, so maybe it's not all that surprising that the Panthers took them down by a 25-point margin. (Well, it's a surprise in that Wannstedt got a win that looks impressive on paper, I suppose.)

Scanning the results from Week 1, I don't see any other surprises that go in the positive direction. I'm surprised that Rutgers handled UNC so well. I'm surprised that South Carolina didn't blow out Mississippi State. I'm surprised that Arizona State-Northern Arizona was close going into the fourth quarter. I'm surprised that Alabama made Hawaii look like they're capable of playing defense. I'm surprised that Michigan State's point total against Idaho was closer to two dozen than twenty dozen. And I'm shocked that Notre Dame won and still slipped in the polls.

3. What team best moved themselves into a position to surprisingly contend for a national title?

I think I'll go with West Virginia for this one. Sure, they only played Marshall, but their running back (Slaton) led the nation in rushing last week, which might be an indicator that the Mountaineers will be able to hang with teams from legitimate conferences and ride their talent -- not their schedule -- to a perfect season. Erstwhile Heisman hopeful Michael Bush of Louisville, the team rumored to be WVU's only real competition in the Big East, broke his leg, further helping West Virginia in its quest for a second consecutive BCS berth.