Friday, September 07, 2007

Red Storm Warning

Louisville is not a good team.

Good teams don’t give up a dizzying 555 yards offense – at home mind you – to Middle Tennessee State.

The same Middle Tennessee State that lost to FAU the week before, an effort in which the Blue Raiders had only 217 total yards against the Owls. For Louisville to be worse defensively than the Owls – by a factor of 2.5 times no less – beggars belief.

Plus, in that game against FAU (played in Ft Lauderdale’s decrepit Lockhart Stadium), the Owls had 411 yards total offense against Middle Tennessee. Against this backdrop, Louisville’s 729 yards looks merely pedestrian, no matter how gaudy it appears at first glance. (Remember, they were “only” a 40 or so point favorite).

Championship teams simply don’t have games where they give up big points, especially to mid-level Division I-A teams. Any team giving up more than 30 points in a single regular season game is vulnerable when it comes to the games that count. Sure, Ohio State – Michigan may be entertaining at 42-39 final score, but with 900 yards of total offense, astute observers actually see two very vulnerable teams. And we all know what happened to Michigan and OSU next.

Of the past 5 BCS champions, note the following maximum points surrendered during a regular season game –

2006 Florida – 27 points in a loss at Auburn
2005 Texas – 29 points in a win over Texas A&M
2004 USC – 28 points in a win over Stanford
2003 LSU – 24 points in a win over Arkansas
2002 Ohio State – 21 points in a win over Texas Tech

Of a total of 61 regular season games between the above teams, not a single time was 30 or more points scored against them.

Similarly astute observers might well have seen the outcome of the 2005 BCS title game between USC and Texas (my money was on Texas in that one). Sure the game was a virtual tossup, with Texas edging USC 41-38. But during the course of the regular season, USC twice surrendered over 30 points to opponents: 31 in a win over Notre Dame, and 42 in a win over Fresno State.

The sports media, and some fans, may love the high scoring contests. But in looking closely, they are really indications of vulnerability, not strength.

Louisville is going to be beaten this season, likely more than once, when they face better opponents. They are headed south in my BlogPoll after this win.

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