By: Ryan Moreland (@ryanmoreland)
Interconference play came to a close with another slew of great games. Here is what I took away from Week Two.
The Wolverine Gauntlet
The opening two weeks have been a gauntlet for the teams at the top end of the CFSL. Last season’s top teams have started the season by playing each other and no one is getting out unscathed. Well, almost no one. The Michigan Wolverines have started the season with the strongest 2-0 start in recent memory. It started with a neutral site meeting with Miami in the Cowboy Kickoff. It was a close, hard-fought game, but the Wolverines came out the victor. Aaron Ike’s squad followed that up with a trip to Kentucky that was even more impressive. The Wolverines shocked the Wildcats in a 40-16 thrashing.
To say things are going well in Ann Arbor would be an understatement. They have two straight wins over CFSL powerhouse programs, QB Topher Foreman appears to be taking the next step in his growth as a player, and their defense has been electric. Michigan’s early run should be more than enough to guarantee them the top spot in the rankings.
However, the gauntlet isn’t over as the Wolverines head into conference play. For the third straight week Michigan will be on the road and this time their destination will be Stillwater, OK. This will be another difficult matchup for the Wolverines, but they have plenty of reasons to feel confident. They have essentially played the same schedule as Oklahoma State and they have the better record to show for it. They also beat Oklahoma State in their last meeting, in Season 15’s season opener. However, all the confidence aside, this should be another tough test for Michigan.
If Topher Foreman and company can come up with another great win they would be all but locked in as the favorite for the rest of the season. There will still be a lot of games left (and Michigan will get every team’s best), but they will have likely already played the toughest part of their schedule. Even a close loss to the Cowboys wouldn’t be enough to dissolve the feeling that Michigan is one of the very best teams right now. They have earned it with their impressive showing in this gauntlet.
You Don’t Talk About the MAC Enough
Alright, I will take a moment to discuss the MAC. Perhaps this will keep all the MAC players (and Easty for some reason) off of my back for the next 15 minutes.
This season the Mid-American Conference started the season by playing Power Two teams and it hasn’t gone exactly to plan for the MAC. The CFSL’s third conference is a combined 2-10 after the first two weeks. This included two games that ended early thanks to the mercy rule (and thanks to Clemson, who won both of those games). However, there have been a few highlights in that time.
The first MAC win came in week one when Toledo outmatched Oregon 34 to 16. Bowling Green would be the next to do the impossible with a great win last night over West Virginia. The Falcons also had a great showing against Notre Dame in the opening week. For that reason, BGSU has to be considered the favorite as the MAC enters conference play. Either way, I think MAC play should be interesting this week.
The Griffin Family
Right now the Florida Gators are running away with the league lead in takeaways (they have almost twice as many as second place). A large reason for their success on defense has been the ball-hawking skills of Lincoln and Braxton Griffin. The duo have combined for six interceptions (three apiece) in just two games. That not only gives them a share of the league’s lead (they are tied with Michigan’s Maverick LeBlanc), but six turnovers is how many the next-best teams have in the CFSL!
This is an unreal pace that will be difficult to keep up (and historic if they can). Either way, Florida appears to have two of the best corners in the nation. And they just so happen to come from the same family.
The Rise of the SEC, Part Two
Last week I noted that the SEC was slightly outperforming their counterparts in the north. This was noted after last season when many felt that B1G was the noticeably better conference. Well, the SEC dominated the action this week. The Southeastern Conference won five of the seven games that pitted the two conferences against one another. As conference play comes to a close, the SEC will be able to hold on to the title of the CFSL’s best conference until at least the playoffs.
Who Impressed Me This Week
I know a few people were upset that they didn’t make this list last week. For that reason, every player in the CFSL made it this week. Just kidding. There are no participation trophies for my affection. Here are the people that caught my eye in Week Two.
Ronnie De La Rocha, Florida State HB
Ronnie “All Day” La Rocha was a man possessed on Wednesday night. Not only did he put up huge numbers, but he was consistently great while getting a lot of touches. The Sophomore phenom ended the game with 35 carries for 213 yards, with a pair of scores to go with it. That was good enough to break the single-game Florida State rushing record. That record was set by Michael Kovach in Season 1 and had stood for 16 seasons.
Cece Range, Alabama QB
The Crimson Tide had a tough matchup this week against Texas and they knew they needed a big performance from their QB if they wanted to win. Well, he delivered. Range completed 72% of his passes while throwing for 552 yards and five touchdowns. The junior’s performance went a long way in securing his team the win this week. It was the fourth-most yards and sixth-most touchdowns Range has ever had in a single game.
James Freeman, Bowling Green WR
The Falcons of Bowling Green were able to pull off the upset win over West Virginia this week and Freeman was a big reason why. The senior brought in 12 passes for 227 yards. That performance landed Freeman in the BGSU record book for the most receiving yards in a single game. Simply put, the Mountaineers never found an answer for him.
Deuce Bolden, Miami WR
I know us broadcasters like to say the old cliche, “They wouldn’t win this game without him” a lot. However, it is 100% true in the case of Bolden this week. Miami played a great game against Oklahoma State this week, but it was Bolden’s play that put them over the top. The Hurricane standout had 11 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. This was the second-most yards the sophomore has had in a single game.
Boise State’s WR corp
The Broncos suffered a tough loss in Week One at the hands of the Tar Heels. However, this week the team came ready to play, especially the wideouts. The two-headed monster of Riley Rury and Steven Rodriguez put up an astounding 411 yards. 83% of Bronco QB Sam Dobbins’ production went to these two players. They may have only had one touchdown between them (thanks to TD vulture Draymond Shakur III), but they moved the ball for their team all game and picked up several first downs.
George Yost, Miami DE
Just like Bolden, Yost had a big impact in Miami’s game against Oklahoma State. This sack artist is already a household name for the work he has done against opposing QBs. This week he added to that legacy with a four-sack performance. As the guy taking those hits, I can tell you firsthand it was a dominant performance.
The Adieu Haiku
First place lost again.
Could there be a first-place curse?
Good luck, Michigan.