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College football teams can't lower their guards

Michigan, California and Auburn are among teams that had rocky starts and must find ways to regroup for Week 2. Alabama and Stanford must stay on their toes.

September 08, 2012|Chris Dufresne
  • Michigan Wolverines dropped 11 spots in the AP poll after last week's embarrassing loss to Alabama.
Michigan Wolverines dropped 11 spots in the AP poll after last week's… (LM Otero / Associated Press )

Sending out a few early-season wake-up calls for:


The Wolverines fell from No. 8 to No. 19 in the Associated Press poll after last week's embarrassing loss to Alabama, and now must hop-to-it regroup for their home opener against Air Force.

Michigan should replace the wings on its helmets with danger signs. The last time Big Blue faced an "A" school was last week against Alabama. The last time Michigan faced an "A" team in Ann Arbor was Appalachian State, in 2007. You might even remember that upset of the year.

There was considerable preseason hope for second-year Coach Brady Hoke's team, and the season certainly is not lost.

Hoke walks a delicate line. His team needs to learn from the Alabama defeat without dwelling on it. "You can't let one team beat you twice," he said this week.

Air Force's option-run attack is a nightmare to defend. The Falcons last week rushed for 484 yards in an opening win against Idaho State.

A second loss could send Michigan into the wild blue yonder. The Wolverines still have remaining games at Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State. Michigan has also lost grip lately on its rivalry with Michigan State.

The Wolverines have lost starting corner Blake Countess to a season-ending knee injury, but leading rusher Fitz Toussaint returns after a one-game suspension.


The Golden Bears should have swapped its Week 1 and 2 opponents and played Southern Utah last week. Instead, Cal opened renovated Memorial Stadium with a resounding dud, losing to giant-killer Nevada.

Jeff Tedford is 30 games over .500 (79-49) as coach at Cal. He should earn his 80th victory, this time against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.

People are starting to forget how bad it was before he arrived. Tedford is only 36-27 since the 10-3 season of 2006.

Cal better get its act together quick because it's already staring 1-3 in the face with upcoming games at Ohio State and USC.

•The Atlantic Coast Conference.

Florida State, Clemson and Duke — yes, Duke! — are off to good starts, but let's take an early look at expansion plans: Syracuse and Pittsburgh, playing their last year in the Big East before joining the ACC, are one USC win over Syracuse from being a combined 0-4.

Pitt lost its opener to Youngstown State and got crushed Thursday night by Cincinnati.

Syracuse and Pitt might fit right in to an ACC that owns a 2-13 record in Bowl Championship Series bowls.


Was Gene Chizik a one-quarterback wonder? Auburn's fourth-year coach rode Cam Newton to a 14-0 record and the national title two years ago. Chizik's record in all other Auburn games is 16-11. Adding his 5-19 record at Iowa State gives Chizik a 21-30 record without Newton.

Auburn lost its opener last week to Clemson and opens Southeastern Conference play Saturday at Mississippi State.


Nick Saban impolitely asked that the Crimson Tide be included on the "better-watch-out" list. Saban is America's best coach because he doesn't miss a trick. In a calculated move, Saban blasted the media for gushing too much over last week's win over Michigan. It was disrespectful to Western Kentucky, Saturday's opponent.

"We win one game and I can't believe what gets written," Saban said in a beautifully choreographed, post-practice production.

Saban knows how it works. Alabama crushed Clemson in the 2008 opener, then struggled against Tulane. The next year, the Crimson Tide followed a Virginia Tech win with an uninspired effort against Florida International.


Does this begin the "wilderness years" for the Trees? Life after Andrew Luck got off to a patchy start with a three-point win over San Jose State. Saturday's "Brain Bowl" against incoming Duke isn't going to be easy. The Blue Devils fired a warning with last week's 46-26 win over Florida International.

•The Big Ten Conference.

This league has historically struggled on the road against Pac-12 teams but has a chance to make up ground with Wisconsin at Oregon State, Illinois at Arizona State and Nebraska at UCLA.

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