** A post-mortem e-mail conversation about the weekend that was in college football.
Willie Funk: Another interesting Saturday, wasn't it? OU got stunned at home against a Kansas State team I seriously undervalued. The Sooners looked like the finesse team, not the powerhouse bully I expected. Their turnovers were costly, each of them setting up the Wildcats for scores. Collin Klein was steady if not spectacular for Bill Snyder's squad, and the fans back home in Manhattan can let their national title hopes build for a couple weeks while they await their showdown with West Virginia in Morgantown on Oct. 13. Landry Jones will now shift his focus to improving his stock for the draft with the national title he came back for likely out of the picture.
Jonathan Tjarks: He hasn't been the same player since Ryan Broyles got injured last year. Going back to 2011, he's thrown for 6 TD's and 7 INT's in his last seven games w/o his former No. 1 target. Without someone to stretch the field vertically, OU really hasn't figured out a Plan B. That's what is most surprising about the loss to K-State: they couldn't overwhelm the Wildcats in the trenches. This even though OU can get practically anyone they want while Bill Snyder is basically running a halfway house for rejected and overlooked players in Manhattan. Has there ever been a coach who has done more with less than Snyder? K-State without him has one of the worst programs of all-time.
Funk: Oh no doubt -- see Ron Prince for evidence. He really does well with transfers (Arthur Brown) and JuCo guys. And whether it's his system or something else, he always seems to get the most out of his players. Meanwhile, in the other big game this week, a Florida State program that had struggled to do that for the past few years showed some signs that their highly ranked recruiting classes are becoming good teams.
Taj Boyd and the Tigers put up some big numbers on the stat sheet and on the scoreboard, but E.J. Manuel was there to match him every step of the way and place himself firmly in the Heisman conversation going forward. After watching them fall behind 28-14 you have to wonder how much they're gonna miss Brandon Jenkins the next time they come up against an explosive offense. But if their offense can consistently put up the numbers they did against Clemson they'll find themselves in the national title picture late into the season.
Tjarks: Manuel is really something: he's big (6'5 240), fairly fast and he has a huge arm. It feels like he can unreel a play pretty much at whim. Florida State-Clemson was on at the same time as the OU game and the contrast was jarring. They were putting up points like it was an Arena Football game. Considering Clemson got lit up by 70 points in the Orange Bowl, it's hard to say exactly how much this says about the Seminoles offense, but they're definitely a team to watch going forward. The schedule certainly sets up pretty well for them, with their only other game against a ranked team a home date against Florida. Nevertheless, I doubt they'll go undefeated if only b/c it's such a hard thing to do. After all, no team finished 2011 w/o a loss.
Funk: Speaking of that, the last team to lose last year had a scare down at Auburn. Granted it was a night time home game for Auburn, but LSU mustered only 12 points against a team that Louisana-Monroe hung 31 on and took to overtime -- AT AUBURN. It was a conference game, but any other excuse doesn't make sense. Auburn was a desperate team against Monroe too, so it wasn't a sudden burst of urgency. LSU simply wasn't able to impose their will on Auburn's front seven, and Mettenberger wasn't able to carry the offensive load. It's early in the season, and they have time to find an offensive rhythm yet, but if Mettenberger can't exploit defenses stacked to stop the run, LSU's season will end like last year's.
Tjarks: Gene Chizik might not be able to coach, but he definitely can recruit. Well, at least at Auburn. I could see the coach who replaces him making some serious moves with his players. At the same time, it's hard not to appreciate the philosophy behind the spread offense when you watch what UL-Monroe was able to do against the same defense the week before. Everyone wants to be Alabama, but everyone (except Texas and a full scholarship USC) can't be Alabama and just out-talent people. Auburn and Florida both won national titles with the spread; I don't really see why they've returned to the pro-style offense. It hasn't exactly been a stunning success. And if their offense can't get going, I'm not sure LSU makes it to Nov. 3 undefeated. Even if they get by South Carolina in two weeks, at Texas A&M is a classic trap game. Maybe Johnny Manziel's coming out party on the national stage?
Funk: Johnny Football is the real deal, but the South Carolina point is a good one. South Carolina looked GOOD this weekend. They simply overwhelmed Missouri at home and looked explosive and talented all over. Their only problem is their play-calling. Running option read with Connor Shaw is preposterous. It's even more ridiculous when you do it on back to back plays on the other team's goal line with Marcus Lattimore in the backfield. Head Ball Coach needs to do a better job of play calling and their slow starts will end up hurting them. Their emergence does make the SEC more interesting, though, and they take Arkansas' presumed place as the third top tier team in the conference. That game against LSU may just determine who poses the most legitimate threat to Alabama's dominance.
Tjarks: The SEC is going to start shaking itself out over the next few weeks now that the non-conference schedule is pretty much over. Looking forward to that South Carolina -- Georgia game too, but Alabama has clearly put themselves ahead of the pack. You can say the same for all of the major conferences (Oregon in Pac 12, Florida State in ACC, who cares in the Big Ten), except for the Big 12. I'm going to choose to be optimistic as a Texas fan b/c life is short, but you can make a pretty strong case for at least five different schools (UT, OU, TCU, West VA, K-State). The Horned Frogs, who have been pretty under the radar so far this season, seem to be the most balanced. How badly are they going to beat SMU this week? Patterson usually likes to conduct himself professionally, but there's clearly some bad blood between him and June Jones after what happened last year.
Funk: I have a feeling it's going to get out of hand. I'd like to hold out hope that the extra week to lick their wounds and game plan would give the Mustangs some kind of advantage, but I don't know that that will be the case. They've struggled against the pass in their two games against major conference teams and with Casey Pachall coming to town I don't see that trend turning around. Maybe Garrett Gilbert can get on point this week, but if he can't it'll get ugly fast with Gary Patterson out for blood. TCU might be the most balanced, but I still like West Virginia in the Big 12 and Kansas State has been the most impressive in the early going. Should be a shootout in Morgantown next week to kick off the weekend's slate of games. The later games of note include two of the most overrated teams in college football when UT faces Oklahoma State and Ohio State has to travel to East Lansing in games that have been watered considerably after early season stumbles.