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More SPJ Mania & Blogpoll Roundtable (#2)

Ok I lied when I mentioned we were going to put last week behind us. But we did bring the focus back to Rice. However, we need to tie up some week 1 lose ends before moving on.

Southpaw Jesus ... er ... Big Ben is becoming a huge hit around the blogosphere. After first week he is listed as one of the top-3 candidates for Maxwell Pundit. From Notre Dame bloggers Rakes of Mallow who are organizing the award:

3. Ben Olson, New PAC-10 Gunslinger/Southpaw Jesus, UCLA

Aside from the aforementioned McCoy's, was there a more impressive quarterback debut this fall than Olson's performance against Utah? The rising star of Westwood connected on 25 of his 33 pass attempts for 318 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions, giving him a 186.7 quarterback rating. 186.7? That's just tacky. . - DawgSports

I'm just going to send you here to read Nestor sing the praises of UCLA's new prized quarterback.  Pundits were throwing out Utah as a potential BCS-buster, or at least predicting them a decent team, and Olson rolled the Bruins offense through them like hot katana-through-butter.  Much like Slaton, Olson can roll up all the numbers he wants to against some of the weak PAC-10 defenses, but his chances at this award will be decided at the end of the season against the Trojans.  Still, I'm none-too-happy to have him coming into South Bend in October.
And from our rivals at Conquest Chronicles who ranked UCLA at no. 16 in their blogpoll ballot:
16. UCLA: The Southpaw Jesus era has begun. Olson looked good in his debut and it seemed that he has been there forever. The defense is improved but the running game is still a question.
Ben's legend will only continue to grow from hereon out. And no doubt what we are doing is helping to get the word out.  So I'd say we keep having some fun until some of the back and forth silliness (much a do about nothing) is all hashed out.

Speaking of the blogpoll as noted in the diaries UCLA is closing in on entering the blogpoll. And since we are on that topic here are my responses to the second blogpoll roundtable of the season. Bruce over at the Ciskie Blog is hosting it this time around:

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

The easy answer here is Tennessee.  I never bought the chatter that Tennessee was on a downward slope and that they were going to lose to Cal at Neyland stadium. I expected them to beat Cal at home in front of 100,000+ orange clad fans. They came through. Eric Ainge looked awesome. But another guy who deserves a lot of props. is Robert Meachem. Meachem (5-182, 2 TD) was smoking Cal secondary all afternoon on Saturday.  I think TN is now set up with a very favorable schedule rest of the way to have big come back season. They get Florida and LSU at home.  If they can hold serve in those two games and sneak out a win against Georgia, then they may find themselves in position to have more than just a "come back" season.

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.)

Nebraska. I know I don't have the Huskers in BN top-25 yet. But I caught a lot of the Huskers game this past weekend, and I was surprised at how productive Bill Callahan's WCO offense was against Louisiana Tech. From Corn Nation:
Balanced offense, over 200 yards rushing, 200 yards passing.
588 total yards for Nebraska, 252 yards rushing. Taylor completed 12 of 13 passes  on two drives, including 10 in a row. The only thing you could complain about was the waste of scoring chances in the first half. Otherwise, these looked like our old Huskers with a different offense.
Those are some impressive numbers. I remember the Huskies finishing the season last year on an upbeat note with two wins. But those wins came against two teams who were tanking down the stretch: CU and Michigan (in a game involving a questionable call). So I didn't have them on my radar.  Is Bill Callahan finally turning it around at Lincoln? Honestly I am still not sure. But their offense surprised me. We will find out if they are for real when they go up against gang-bustin' SC defense in couple of weeks. Should be interesting. SC defense had nothing to defend against an impotent Hog offense.

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

See answer to No. 1.

Also I will add FSU to this mix as well. Sure their running game was atrocious. They gained 1 yard in 25 carries. That is just unreal. We will see if FSU offense is that suspect or if the Miami defense is something special. But how about that FSU defense?

Buster Davis Smacking Down Kyle Wright (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

FSU DC Mickey Andrews is up to his old tricks again. FSU defense is a force. And if Drew Weatherford can develope into serviceable QB they may be able to make a run.

Just like the Volunteers all of 'Noles' remaining tough games (Clemson, Boston College and Florida) are at home. Their toughest game left on the road is against NC State. FSU is set up perfectly to make one last run for Bowden. Tomahawk Nation should be pretty happy.

Again let me know what do you think of these responses. If you disagree please chime in or give us your responses to the 3 Qs. I am sure everyone else would love to read what we are all thinking as a community.