Posted on: October 5, 2009 1:17 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2009 2:16 pm

CBSSports.com 120 -- Boston College

Before the season started, things didn't look too promising for Boston College.

First-year coach Frank Spaziani was taking over a program that had just lost another ACC Championship and the Music City Bowl to Vanderbilt.

Things got worse in a hurry. The Eagles got news in May that All-American linebacker Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Then in June, Dominique Davis, who was expected to be the starter at quarterback, was placed on academic probation and ended up transferring to Fort Scott Community College.

But after one month into the season, the Eagles are a surprising 4-1, including victories over Wake Forest and Florida State. They are inching closer to the Top 25, moving up to No. 35 in this week's CBSSports.com 120 rankings.

One of the biggest surprises is the new man under center, freshman Dave Shinskie.

Before you can say "Who?" … that would be 25-year-old freshman Dave Shinskie, the same guy who was recruited by Indiana, Iowa and Michigan State ... in 2003.

Shinskie decided to play pro baseball out of high school after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. He never made it past Double-A, with his best season coming with the Class A Beloit Snappers in 2006. He went 6-7 with a 2.13 ERA and 11 saves.

After being released by the Blue Jays, Shinskie was ready to give college football a shot.

After Justin Tuggle's 4-for-20, three interception performance against Clemson, Shinskie got his chance to start against Wake Forest. He ended up throwing for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

Boston College had found their new quarterback.

"He confirmed a lot of the stuff we knew about him. We knew he had athletic ability. We knew he could make plays. We knew when we got into trouble he could get us out of it because of his athletic skills," said Spaziani after the game. "He didn't look like he was away from football for seven years."

Shinskie did it again against Florida State, throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the 28-21 victory.

"He's progressing just like a freshman would. He's making some progress, but in no means is he a polished, accomplished signal caller and field general. There's just not enough experience," said head coach Frank Spaziani to the Boston Herald. "But once again, he's getting better every week, he's learning and we see improvement there. We need to see a lot more."

Shinskie will need to follow coach's orders quickly as the Eagles face Virginia Tech this weekend. This might end up being a preview of the potential ACC Championship game in December.

One player that has high regards for his new inexperienced quarterback is wide receiver Justin Jarvis.

"In the huddle I can feel a different presence," said Jarvis. "It's a little similar to what I felt with Matt Ryan and Chris Crane. It's leadership. ... He's demanding a lot out of us and demanding a lot out of himself too."

Idaho, Part II

With another upset victory, the Idaho Vandals find themselves at No. 50 in this week's rankings. Idaho, who was ranked No. 105 two weeks ago, is sitting at 4-1.

The IdahoStatesman.com had a Q/A with head coach Robb Akey after the team's hot start. Could Idaho fans be thinking bowl game?

"I could see the room when we were at the WAC (media) meetings and I started throwing out the word 'bowl,' it was like 'what the hell is he talking about?' But we started talking about that a long time ago with this team and encouraged them to pay attention to us," said Akey. "We kind of hammered it home 'this is where we're headed guys and the sooner you believe in it, we can make it happen.' I do believe it's attainable, and compete for a WAC championship? That's our job. Every team in the conference should be feeling that way right now. My concern is that our guys feel that way. We're getting closer."


The Wildcats might not be making alot of noise, but they sit at 3-1, ranked No. 37 in this week's rankings. Arizona is also No. 35 in both AP and Coaches poll, while checking it at No. 37 in the Harris Poll.

Arizona's strength of schedule is No. 2, mostly because it hasn't played a team with a losing record yet (minus FCS team Northern Arizona). It beat Central Michigan, Oregon State and lost to Iowa. The Wildcats get their first team under .500 this week as they play at Washington.

Fresno State's SOS is No. 1. Not counting FCS team UC-Davis, the Bulldogs have lost to Wisconsin, Boise State and Cincinnati. All three teams are undefeated.


... Michigan State jumped up from No. 61 to No. 44 after beating Michigan. The Spartans are 2-3 and play at Illinois this week.

... North Carolina took a tumble to No. 55 after being ranked No. 33 the previous week. The Tar Heels lost to Virginia 16-3 and are 0-2 in the ACC.

... Somebody will get a W: No. 114 Florida International (0-4) takes on No. 120 Western Kentucky (0-4) this week. The Golden Panthers won last year 27-3.

... Good news for the blog lead feature? Auburn and Wisconsin were both featured in the blog the two previous weeks and soon after jumped into the Top 25.


Posted on: September 28, 2009 1:40 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2009 1:44 pm

CBSSports.com 120 -- Wisconsin moving up

The folks in Madison are getting excited.

That's because Wisconsin is one of three Big Ten teams off to a 4-0 start (Iowa and Michigan being the other) after beating Michigan State 38-30 on Saturday.

The Badgers moved up from No. 41 to No. 31 in the latest CBSSports.com 120, one of the largest jumps of the week.

Garrett Graham scored two touchdowns against Michigan State. (Getty)For a team that was projected to finish fifth or sixth in the conference, the Badgers are enjoying their early season success.

"I'm not worried about rankings," coach Bret Bielema said to the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel. "I'm just worried about getting better ... If it gets us ranked, it gets us ranked. If not, we'll just go on and do our business."

And doing business is exactly what they are doing.

One of the biggest reasons for the team's early success is quarterback Scott Tolzien.

The junior, who never started a game before this season and threw only eight passes in college, is ranked 13th in the nation in passing efficiency. To put it in perspective, Kansas' Todd Reesing is 27th, Texas' Colt McCoy is 29th, Penn State's Daryll Clark is 54th and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor is 57th.

Tolzien is 66-of-99 for 884 yards with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has spread the ball around too as three players have at least 200 yards receiving.

"I love how smart he is, he's making the right decisions, the right looks and knows when to throw it away when he has too," said offensive lineman Peter Konz. "It's really comforting knowing as an offensive lineman that you're not going to have to go chase anybody down for an interception or he's going to scramble, and you might let up a sack."

Wisconsin is playing close games, but this season is winning them. Three of their four wins have been decided by eight points or less. It opened the season beating Northern Illinois 28-20 and beat Fresno State 34-31 in overtime.

Last year the Badgers lost three key conference games by three points or less.

"This is not the same team from a year ago," Bielema said. "There's more accountability among the players. They've done things differently."

Things get real tough for Wisconsin the next three games as it plays at Minnesota (Oct. 3); at Ohio State (Oct. 10); and Iowa (Oct. 17).


The Vandals usually find themselves down in the 100-rankings, but have started the season at 3-1. Idaho jumped up from No. 105 to No. 83 this week after beating Northern Illinois.

Idaho has also beaten New Mexico State and San Diego State. Its only loss was to Washington. If the Vandals can keep it going, it might make grab one of the WAC's bowl bids. Idaho hasn't played in a bowl since 1998, when it beat Southern Miss in the Humanitarian Bowl.


Four non-BCS teams are ranked in the Top 25 with Boise State leading the way at No. 4. TCU is No. 9, Houston is No. 11 and BYU is No. 23. Utah just missed at No. 29. Central Michigan is 3-1 and at No. 46.

Nevada remains the highest-ranked team without a win, checking in at No. 89. The Wolf Pack has had a tough schedule, losing to Notre Dame, Colorado State and Missouri. Those three teams are combined for a 10-2 record.

Washington fell nine spots after jumping up to No. 36. After beating USC, the Huskies moved from No. 80 to No. 36, but fell back to No. 45 after losing to Stanford.

The lowest-ranked undefeated team is Texas A&M at No. 59. Despite going 3-0, the Aggies have the 118th-rated strength of schedule. They have beaten New Mexico (No. 106 and 0-4), Utah State (No. 114, 1-2) and UAB (No. 112, 1-3).

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com