https://www.hornsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/TLS.jpgWelcome to the third edition of The Landscape and a mostly harsh welcome to the SEC for Texas A&M and Missouri. Their two matchups set the stage for the second week of the football season and despite the two losses, both programs played well and have to be excited about the future academic and athletic implications of being a member of the conference. The top 25 didnâ€™t necessarily hold true, with the more-than-gutsy performance by the Louisiana Monroe War Hawks, the debacle by Wisconsin, and a pair of upsets within the top 25. That being said, letâ€™s get right to it with my analysis of how each team fared in their second contest of the year.
Matchup #1 â€“ #24 Florida at Texas A&M
Two quite intriguing storylines came from the showdown at Kyle Field: the return of ex-Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and the play of Freshman Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Muschamp set a fire under Aggie nation in the offseason when he was quoted as saying, â€œHave you ever been to College Station? Itâ€™s the only time youâ€™ll go.â€ Manziel played like he took those words to heart, and was busy running wild on the Gators from the start. He finished with 60 rushing yards and a score, but also showed some maturity in the pocket. His high school numbers speak for themselves and he showed Saturday that he will be up to the challenge of the pressure-packed SEC contests.
The team in maroon just couldnâ€™t handle the Florida ground attack and struggled to find momentum offensively in the second half. Manziel is not much, if any, of a step down from Tannehill and will keep the Aggies competitive for the upcoming couple of years.
Florida – A (their defense was stout, but they nearly left College Station with an L)
A&M â€“ A-
Matchup #2 – #22 Notre Dame vs. Purdue
Speaking of conference realignment, Notre Dame announced on Wednesday that they have agreed to join the ACC, except for their football program. However, they plan on scheduling five ACC football opponents each season. The move pays dividends for the university, who is fleeing from the Big East. The ACC includes many wonderful academic institutions that most likely drew the attention of Notre Dame. On the field, Sophomore Irish quarterback Everett Golson is showing strides, but was lifted for the final two-minute drive by coach Chip Kelly. Kelly made it clear that Golson was the starter and admitted that backup Tommy Rees is more adept at executing the two-minute offense. Things are looking up for Notre Dame and the idea of a Florida State/Notre Dame rivalry has CFB fans drooling. The move was a win/win for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame â€“ A (The Big East is not so big anymore)
Matchup #3 – #7 Georgia at Missouri
Despite the #7 ranking, Georgia had certainly flown under the national radar before they demolished Mizzou 41-20 on the road. They delivered a wake up call to the Tigers and the rest of CFB. Mizzouâ€™s flashy offense was efficient in the first half and perhaps caught Georgia a little off guard entering Columbia. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and Georgia showed what makes them so tough, a tire-you-out defense and running game combination.
Georgia â€“ A+ (Without 4 starters, but still dominated)
Missouri â€“ B+ (Gary Pinkel will need to toughen up his squad for the rest of SEC play)
Matchup #4 – #17 Texas vs. New Mexico
On a related note, tough is an adjective that may best describe the Longhorn defense. Mack Brownâ€™s squad shut out the Lobos, with contributions from many different players. It is tough to tell how much can actually be taken away from the game, though, because New Mexico simply isnâ€™t at the level they need to be right now. Malcolm Brown only had two carries and just about every Longhorn experienced some amount of success when they were put into the game.
Texas â€“ A+ (Canâ€™t complain about a confidence boost)
â€¢ Monte Ball of the Wisconsin Badgers failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 22 games as Wisconsin was defeated by the unranked Oregon State Beavers. Ballâ€™s Heisman stock has hit a wall for the time being.
â€¢ No reason has been given, but it was announced this past week that LSU linebacker Tahj Jones and three others have been suspended by the team for the remainder of the season. The blow is tough for the Tigers, especially with the pre season loss of the Honey Badger. However, you have to like the message coach Les Miles is sending by suspending his most experienced middle linebacker.
â€¢ My Week 3 Radar â€“ Perhaps the game getting the most press is the matchup of #20 Notre Dame and #10 Michigan State. The play of the teamâ€™s two quarterbacks should be the deciding factor. Similarly, Week 3 will be Andrew Luckâ€™s replacement, Josh Nunesâ€™ first true test against arguably the best team in the country in USC. The Cardinal will be at home, but will have to play at a better offensive level than the Trojans which is a tall task for anyone.