Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Around the Nation: College Football- Geno Smith has Heisman on lock for now; UCLA has a chance in the PAC 12; USC sighting; Gabe Marks lights it up; LSU needs to prove themselves
By Jason Lewis (Sentinel Sports Editor,
Published October 3, 2012

Forget about more touchdown passes than interceptions, through four games, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has more touchdown passes (20) than incomplete passes (18).  He has not thrown an interception yet, and he has completed 84 percent of his passes.  Photo by Christopher Jackson (AP)   


Heisman race all locked up by Geno Smith for right now 


After this past Saturday, there is no point in discussing anybody other than West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith for the Heisman Trophy.  


Smith made this past Saturday’s game against No. 25 Baylor look like a video game, as he completed 45 of 51 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdown passes in No. 9 West Virginia’s 70-63 win.  


Smith only threw six incomplete passes in 51 attempts compared to eight touchdown passes.  This is not the first game he has done something outrageous like that.  Against Marshall he had only four incomplete passes in 36 attempts, and he threw four touchdown passes.  Against James Madison he had only five incomplete passes with five touchdown passes.


On the season, in 169 attempts he has only thrown 18 incomplete passes, and he has 20 touchdowns.  He has completed 84 percent of his passes without throwing a single interception.  Those numbers are just crazy.   


In 13 possessions against Baylor this past Saturday, West Virginia scored 10 touchdowns and only punted the ball once.  One possession ended with a missed field goal attempt, and another with a fumble.  


The Heisman is not locked up yet, because West Virginia’s schedule continues to get tougher.  They play four ranked opponents over the next six games, with one of their toughest match ups of the season this Saturday at No. 11 Texas, who has the toughest defense in the Big 12.  Actually, they might have the only good defense in the conference.  Two weeks later they host No. 7 Kansas State. 


If Smith can continue to dominate over the tough part of West Virginia’s schedule, then there will be no Heisman race.  But do not expect his team to make a run at the National Championship, not with their lack of defense and a pass it all the time offense. 


West Virginia is first in the nation in passing yards per game, and they are third in scoring.  But their rushing offense is 71st and their defense is 96th in points given up.  They are a one trick pony, but that could be enough to win the Heisman for Smith, just not the national championship.  


UCLA has a shot in the PAC 12 


Last season UCLA made it to the first ever PAC 12 Championship Game, but let’s not kid ourselves, they were not competing for the conference title.  In the PAC 12 South, USC was by far the best team, but they were ineligible for post season play.  UCLA was simply the best of the rest in the division, and that is not saying much.  Actually, with a 6-6 record, that was not saying anything at all.  


But this season is different.  Sitting at 4-1 and ranked 25th in the nation, this team is actually good, mainly because of a balanced offensive attack that is light years ahead of what the offense has been over the past few seasons.  


There are a few things working in UCLA’s favor.  


One, the only world beater in a really good PAC 12 conference is No. 2 Oregon, who is not on UCLA’s schedule.  The PAC 12 has six ranked teams at the moment.  Oregon, No. 13 USC, No. 14 Oregon State, No. 18 Stanford, No. 23 Washington, and UCLA.


Outside of Oregon, UCLA can beat all of those teams.  They may not be favored to beat every team on that list of PAC 12 teams, but they could pull out a victory over any of them.  


Also working in UCLA’s favor is that out of that list of ranked teams, USC and Stanford are the only teams remaining on UCLA’s schedule.


Cal is up next, but if UCLA is for real, they should take care of business against that 1-4 team.  The Arizona schools will be tough, but UCLA is better than both of them.  


If UCLA does not trip up over the next five games, they will enter the final two weeks of the season in contention for a berth in the PAC 12 title game, but USC and Stanford will be standing in their way.  


The road for UCLA is tough, but there is no question that they have a shot.  That is much better than the past few years.  


USC sighting 

In 2006 Reggie Dunn (right) led Verbum Dei High School to a CIF championship.  Now a senior at Utah, he will be matched up against USC on Thursday night.  Photo by Wily Low (AP)


USC has been out of sight, out of mind over the past couple of weeks, and even with a Thursday night, nationally televised game, nothing will be changing because they should easily beat up on Utah.  


USC’s last game against Cal did not make any waves, even though they won the game convincingly.  That should be the case again when they travel to Utah, who is ranked 105th in passing yards, 114th in rushing yards, and 96th in points scored.  The only thing halfway decent about Utah is their defense, which is 44th in the nation in points given up.  


USC should roll in this game, but nobody will care.  Check in on USC when the host Oregon next month.


Gabe Marks is having a good freshman year at Washington State 

Gabe Marks (Venice High School) was one of the best wide receivers to come out of the City Section in recent years.  Now as a freshman, he is one of Washington State’s leading receivers.  Photo by Ted S. Warren (AP)


The past two years Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks could be found on various high school football fields on Friday nights, suiting up for Venice High School and terrorizing defensive backs that stood between him and the endzone.  


It did not take Marks long to keep the party going.  So far this season he has 22 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdowns through five games.  His longest catch of the season was for 52 yards, which was a touchdown.


Marks is excelling in a Mike Leach offense that is extremely friendly to quarterbacks and wide receivers.  The hard work that Marks put in over the past few years with various coaches and programs (B2G Sports, Johnson Elite Sports) has really paid off.   


Time for LSU to put up or shut up 


If there was one team that would be considered the most overrated in the nation, that would be No. 4 LSU.  Even though they are 5-0, there does not appear to be anything special about this team.  


LSU opened up the season by beating up on North Texas, a Sun Belt team.  The next week they did get a quality victory over Washington, but they followed that up by playing Idaho, who is a 0-5 WAC team.  A bad Auburn team nearly knocked LSU off, and last week LSU did not look like world beaters against Division I-AA Towson.  


Well LSU will not be able to hide behind a weak schedule anymore.  Their next five opponents will be No. 10 Florida, No. 6 South Carolina, Texas A&M, No. 1 Alabama, and No. 20 Mississippi State.  


LSU, good luck with that.  But if they can run that gauntlet, go ahead and put them back in the national championship game.  


Categories: Football

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