Serving a football version of David’s Appetizers, assorted observations and musings:
RAZORBACKS-RUTGERS: Reality set in Saturday.
Rutgers was the strongest team in the end of the comeback victory over Arkansas, ralling from a 24-7 deficit the second half. The Scarlet Knights won in the method that UA coach Bret Bielema prefers, pounding the opposition and taking control of the line of scrimmage at the end and picking their spots for big pass plays.
This should have been clear from the beginning, disguised by the UA’s success in the running game: There was a significant gap between Brandon Allen and everybody else at quarterback. Bielema noted as much during the spring.
The UA coaches did a good job making AJ Derby functional, and he’s a spunky guy. But he’s an average quarterback with little experience and limitations.
Many of the same questions and issues that shrouded Arkansas at the beginning of the season remain. The Hogs are better, both offensively and defensively and particularly at running back. But they have vulnerabilities, particularly without Allen, which limits their passing game. Many of those issues can only be fixed by recruiting, particularly on defensive side, which hasn’t been a priority in awhile.
And we saw again how much a game can turn with big plays in the kicking game. And the downside of a rugby-style punt is, on the run, the punter can hit in the wrong way — kinda like a lot of our golf swings.
This was rated by many observers as the pivotal game for the UA, in the face of a brutal schedule, to get bowl eligible.
Too early to make those kind of judgments because the Hogs appear stable and have the chemistry (with players and coaches) to pull a couple of surprises.
But in the face of the schedule, the incline it becomes much steeper.
After four games, the Hogs are actually where most expected.
The season remains a mystery.
FARGO: ESPN’s “Game Day” did a lot for the exposure of FCS football by airing the popular Saturday morning program from Fargo, home of the two-time defending national champion North Dakota State Bison.
Folks saw the passion that characterizes the subdivision, overshadowed mightily by the BCS.
North Dakota State fans are as enthusiastic, passionate and devoted as any in college football — any level, any conference, including the Southeastern Conference. The “Game Day” crew noted they were blown away by the experience.
The Bison fans traveled 15,000 strong to Frisco, Texas, to see their team win their second national title in January.
The game this January is reportedly sold out because North Dakota State fans, anticipating their team will be there, have bought tickets by the bushel. “Game Day” reported they are selling for $300 apiece on one Internet site.
National observers are saying with straight faces that Baylor, one of the bottom-feeders in college football, may be the best team in the Big 12 — after a 70-7 trouncing of Louisiana Monroe.
RGIII got the train moving after Baylor had become a prime example for a breakup of the Big 12. Now, with admittedly not against great teams (Louisiana Monroe isn’t bad), it’s a locomotive.
Baylor coach Art Briles is proving himself one of the best coaches in college football — with a fast-paced system based on speed everywhere at the skill positions. And he and his staff have built a system that ignores those recruiting stars. They are doing it with two- and three-star recruits by those services that are smitten by ratings and stars. And Mack Brown is struggling at Texas with five-star recruits and annually rated one of the best classes in the country.
There are no more electric and fun-to-watch teams in college football than Baylor and Texas A&M.
How’s that Longhorn network looking now?
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabinnet. Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd)