September 29, 2005

What to Watch…October 1st

Michigan at Michigan State, Noon, ABC
Well someone gets to tell me about this one. In a rare oddity, the Lexington market will receive the Big 12 match-up (Texas at Missouri) instead of the Big Ten. Interesting.

I can’t see Michigan 2-3. Its hard to imagine, but then again, with the ease that Notre Dame sliced through the Wolverines on their first drive in Ann Arbor, the Spartans will have no problems at home cutting through. Drew Stanton officially launches the Heisman campaign with a huge day.

Michigan State 35, Michigan 20

Florida at Alabama, 3:30, CBS
Alabama is finishing up their probation scholarship reductions and looking for a chance to showcase to the nation that they are back. Urban Meyer brings in his bunch after a blowout of the Cats. This game is the typical offense vs. defense battle. The Gators think they hit their stride last week, but the difference between UK and Alabama is as wide as an ocean.

Brodie Croyle vs. Chris Leak is your matchup here. I think Bama announces to the world they are back indeed with strong defensive play setting up some short scores.

Alabama 24, Florida 13

USC at Arizona State, 3:30, ABC
Again, who is at the controls at ABC in Lexington? We get this game over the ACC-Big East dud (Florida State vs. Syracuse) and the undefeated Big Ten showdown (Minnesota at Penn State). This guy needs a raise.

You know the adage that the media lives to build you up and then tear you down? The Trojans are in the crosshairs. Some in the media pointed to last week’s 45-13 win over Oregon as a sign of the Trojans weakness being exposed. Excuse me? A 32-point win is a weakness? The catch phrases going into Eugene were about how loud Autzen Stadium is and how the defense of Oregon could use that to their advantage. They did, for a half.

Now the buzz is about Arizona State’s potent offense. ASU’s Sam Keller is enjoying a fantastic season and hung points all over the field against LSU as well, however, this is a team that can exceed the Devils in scoring. Last year’s game was 42-0 at the half, USC. Either that is a point of focus for the Devils or a point to be made about ASU’s defense.

I think USC will make a point per minute. ASU’s offense is explosive? You haven’t seen anything yet. USC gets another “ho-hum” 32-point win.

USC 63, Arizona State 31

Notre Dame at Purdue, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
For more intelligent Irish fans, this is the critical game for the Weis era at Notre Dame. Lose this and your 3-2 heading into USC with zero momentum. Good luck. Win this and your 4-1 with two weeks to prepare with all the momentum in the world.

Weis is no dummy, he knew from day one that the USC game would need extra preparation. The Irish last week benefited from running an offense that was designed to just win versus Washington. The play calling was bland and yet effective. The defense surrendered yards in buckets but was stingy on giving points away.

Purdue played terrible against Minnesota save a late drive and interception return. 28-20 Purdue had me worried they would have the downward momentum heading into this game. However, with Minnesota bludgeoning them with Maroney, expect Darius Walker to get his fair share of carries.

This game is big because the Irish need to get back to making this game an automatic. Quite frankly, I am tired of Joe Tiller and the Boilers looking like a better coach and team against the Irish. Its time to return the ND superiority over the Engineers. I want payback for last year.

Notre Dame 41-16…okay, I wish, but here is what I think:

Notre Dame 34, Purdue 23

September 27, 2005

Turning it Around…UT saves their season.

I stand corrected. Rick Clausen is the starter for the University of Tennessee from now until the end of the season. For Erik Ainge its time to grab the clipboard and master the offense for seasons beyond this year.

Clausen came in after Ainge threw an ill-advised desperation pass from the back of his endzone. Avoiding the safety, Ainge gave up a defensive touchdown when LSU defensive end Kenneth Hollis plucked the ball out of the air. Game. Set. Match. The Tigers would go on to build a 21-0 halftime lead and Death Valley was rocking. It could have been more, but the Tigers missed their chances. No matter I figured. Fulmer was a dummy for flying and playing on the same day. He is too conservative. I could hear my friend Scott in the Air Force all the way in Germany complaining while watching the destruction.

I work third shift and I figured it was time for a quick nap. 21-0 Tigers and the place rocking, forget about it. I snoozed after watching Clausen complete a few passes but also to see Tennessee cough up the ball. This was over. Tennessee was headed to ruin as written in the previous entry.

I catnapped, and when I awoke the screen read: LSU 24, Tennessee 14. Fulmer usually keeps it close and it appeared the Vols had made a valiant comeback with 9 ½ minutes left. However, wiping the sleep out of my eyes, I noticed the telltale sign that things had changed. Tiger Stadium was silent. I mean crickets in the fields are louder than the noise being generated by the stadium famous for setting off seismographs in 1988 against Auburn.

The game had changed and right on cue, ESPN puts up Clausen’s numbers. Over 60 percent completed, 170+ yards and a touchdown. Stability had come to Tennessee and momentum followed. It would jump on board with two feet after Tennessee made an interception and returned it to the two-yard line. Suddenly its 24-21 and the place is deafeningly quiet. My eyebrows curiously raised. Tennessee was going to win. LSU needed to make a big play on the next drive or else they were going to see this slip away. LSU ran the three most boring plays of your life and they were forced to punt. Tennessee now had the ball and the 91,000+ in attendance knew what was coming. Could LSU at least hold the Vols to a field goal and get overtime?

To shorten this entry, they did. 24-24, 2:02 left when LSU runs three more conservative plays, the last one a pass which stopped the clock for UT. Again, my eyebrows furrowed. Tennessee was now going to win in regulation. Then the Orange Crush tried to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Clausen made his only mistake and LSU picked off the pass at their own 46-yard line. Again, shouts from Germany could be heard all the way here in central Kentucky. Then the Tennessee defense stood up, sacking JaMarcus Russell and forcing overtime after a desperate Hail Mary. No miracle this time Tiger fans.

I hate college overtime. Regardless of the victor it simply is not the complete game. I could go on and on, but there is no point. The Tigers would kick a field goal and UT would score on a Gerald Riggs one-yard run.

Game, set, match, and out the door I went, wondering what has happened to Erik Ainge and all his promise. This is not the same kid as last year. Going into this year, I had told my friend Scott that Erik Ainge was the key to the season. With him, they were a Top 10 team, without him, Tennessee was mediocre. Its not the first time I have been wrong. Tennessee found their quarterback and saved their season.

September 25, 2005

What we NOW know ... Week 4

  • I know that Michigan State will be a decent favorite at home against Michigan next week. Surely the Spartans will use last year's collapse at Ann Arbor for motivation. Gang green lost 45-37 in overtime after leading 27-10 with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter. However, I am tempted to look to October 15th should the Spartans and Buckeyes win their next challenges against fierce rivals. Michigan State at Ohio State on that day would feature a delicious contrast of high-octane offense and brute force defense. Get it done boys, this game would be the marquee of the day on ides of October. (Somehow this is about Michigan State's 61-14 win over Illinois and Ohio State's 31-6 win over suddenly punchless Iowa.)
  • We know what we knew all along that USC will only beat themselves. Last night's game against Oregon might have been an upset if Leinart were holding a clipboard in the NFL, but he's too calm and collected to wilt under only a 13-0 hole. It will take a team that simply exploits their defense while taking hits from USC's offense in stride. (USC 45, Oregon 13)
  • Michigan and Tennessee are watching their seasons fall apart. Granted, the Vols got a reprieve and will try and upset the Bayou Bengals of LSU on Monday, however, if not, both teams will have two early losses with huge games left to come. (Wisconsin 23, Michigan 20)
  • I watched Purdue bumble their way to a loss yesterday in the Metrodome, featuring dropped passes, fumbles, and horrible throws. What stinks is that we'll see NONE of this when the Irish come to town next weekend. However, with the Boilermakers giving up 216 yards rushing to Laurence Maroney, Darius Walker features to see his share of carries. (Minnesota 42, Purdue 35)
  • From earlier in the week...why in the hell did CBS pick up Florida-Kentucky? CBS play-by-play announcer Verne Lundquist sounded as if he was there by force of a gun or weapon. This game was 49-7 at half. Thank God Urban Meyer is not Steve Spurrier. Florida could have hit 100 if they so desired.
  • Notre Dame won, and it was ugly until the fourth quarter. Both coaches looked relieved to have this media-hyped game over. Jeff Samardzjia shined with 164 yards on 8 receptions for the Irish. To me, he looks like Cris Collinsworth or Chris Doering of Florida fame, a tall lanky receiver who can make the impossible catch.
  • Virginia Tech is scary good on special teams. That we knew. What we now know is that Marcus Vick has complete control of this team, going 13-for-18, 223 yards passing and a touchdown. Vick spread the ball around, completing passes to six different receivers. Georgia Tech started Reggie Ball, who earlier in the week was in the hospital for meinigitis. He never looked comfortable, throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns late in the game. (Virginia Tech 51, Georgia Tech 7)
  • Clemson fans should get free blood pressure readings after the second straight overtime loss. So far every one of the four Tiger games has come down to the final possession. Boston College is making their way towards a nice bowl, perhaps on January 1. (Boston College 16, Clemson 13)
  • Vanderbilt is 4-0. Wow. (Vandy 37, Richmond 13)
  • Is anybody out there ready for South Florida to play in the Orange Bowl perhaps? The Bulls demolished Louisville, 45-14. With the loss, Louisville, now is essentially two games behind the Bulls who get West Virginia at home in Tampa. Granted, they need to capitalize on the road by remembering this performance, but its the biggest win in the program's storied history for coach Jim Leavitt. South Florida started playing football in 1997. (South Florida 45, Louisville 14)
  • A final parting shot. Should Virginia Tech and Texas win out, along with USC then I think we will have trouble beyond the natural "three teams in a two-team matchup" in Pasadena. The interesting thing is to think about if the Hokies beat West Virginia, Miami, and Florida State in the ACC Championship along the way. All possiblities boiled down to mush, that would be a 3-0 record against BCS-qualified teams. Texas is playing in a down Big 12. Oklahoma is 1-2 after September, with more losses on the way from folks who the Sooners romped over in previous years. Folks in Austin better hope that Ohio State wins out and heads to the BCS mix as the Big Ten champions. Without that quality win, I would not be able to keep the Hokies out of the title game.

September 22, 2005

What to watch - September 24th

Iowa at Ohio State, Noon, ABC

It’s the shakedown weekend in the Big Ten and this game along with the others, will determine who is the head of the pack and who will be playing catch-up. Iowa has quarterback Drew Tate back since you last saw the Hawkeyes bumble and stumble against Iowa State, losing 23-3. The Buckeye hype machine was put back in mothballs after Texas stole victory in Columbus two weekends ago. Ohio State showed their true colors in their game with San Diego State last weekend. This is still a team that doesn’t move the ball very well.

I would say that Ohio State would need to stop the run, but in 2004 Iowa didn’t run much anyway. Tate is a difference maker, but coach Kirk Ferentz has a knack of being a monster in November, not September.

Ohio State 20, Iowa 16

Michigan at Wisconsin, 6:00 p.m., ESPN2

Michigan loses to Notre Dame, who loses to Michigan State, who is ranked lower than the Wolverines and the Irish and the Wolverines are ranked higher than the Irish. Get it? Got it? Good. Welcome to the absurdity of college football. Want another example? Wisconsin’s defense is better than Notre Dame’s, yet Michigan and head coach Lloyd Carr wont call the same boring game they are known for calling against Notre Dame. Michigan will be daring, they will take risks and they will look like they deserve their ranking.

It’s not like Wisconsin won’t have a say in the matter. Brian Calhoun, the running back transfer for Wisconsin will have his chance. Wisconsin will hold close with their usual massive o-line clearing holes. However, I just can’t see Meechigan eliminated from the Big Ten race in September.

Michigan 24, Wisconsin 21

USC at Oregon, 7:00 p.m., ABC

This is USC’s first test, blah, blah, blah. Autzen Stadium is a tough environment, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Don’t drink the kool-aid that the media is passing out here. USC will win. However, I do think that Oregon will be the true first test for the Trojan defense. The only way USC loses this game will be a minus-3 turnover ratio and really, that will be the standard for the entire year. A team will have to get that ratio and cash in with touchdowns when they get them. Field goals are a waste of time unless your kicking to win the game with no time left.

A scary proposition is to think that if a team were to get the Trojans in a hole they would have to go to a desperate mode. The thought of QB Matt Leinart, RB/WR/KR/Popcorn salesman Reggie Bush, and WR Dwayne Jarrett in a desperation mode sends shivers down the spine. Ultimately, I think the Trojans can be beaten; Hawaii and Arkansas were not all that tough. But, it will take a mentally tough team to do it. I don’t think I have ever heard that attribute about the Ducks.

USC 49, Oregon 27

Tennessee at LSU, 7:45 p.m., ESPN

Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer bumbled last week in the Swamp, getting a bit too cute for Vol fans. Instead of pounding Gerald Riggs at the Gators, Fulmer wanted to morph into Spurrier and hit the deep ball. Bad move. Now his Tennessee team travels to Baton Rouge.

Typical Fulmer, he complained and whined that this game should be during the day with the Hurricane Katrina relief work still going on, but the powers at ESPN laughed in his face.

LSU is powerful, the Tigers are at home at night, and they have a fabulous balance to their team. They know what quarterback they are going to use. (Fulmer did decide Erik Ainge for UT this time.) And, after this Saturday, the Bayou Bengals will be one step closer to a date in Atlanta. Tennessee will need a come-to-Jesus meeting to save their season.

LSU 28, Tennessee 14

Arizona State at Oregon State, 10:00 p.m., TBS

Late night football is back, thank God. This is why the NFL pales in comparison with its slotted times and rigid format. You get a blow out in your regionally selected NFL package and your toast for the next 3 hours. College? The next kickoff is at most an hour away.

I digress, the “soap box” moment over, however lets talk about this match-up. Oregon State is not a terrible team; they just got caught in the avalanche at Louisville, losing 63-27 after holding a 10-0 lead. Arizona State scores a ton of points, 35 versus a quality LSU.

I honestly expect 40 points to be scored by the winner of this game. Oregon State will either come out with plenty to prove or be in shell shock from the Louisville game. I think the former in a true Pac-10 classic.

Oregon State 49, Arizona State 45

Keep the clicker ready:
Purdue at Minnesota, 12:00, ESPN
Penn State at Northwestern, 12:00, ESPN2
Notre Dame at Washington, 3:30, ABC
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, 3:30, ABC

September 19, 2005

What We Know...Week 3

- Charlie Weis has balls. I swear, I thought he was going to go for it on fourth down with over 6 minutes left at midfield. I just sat there and told my wife that I would not have the slightest gumption to go for it in that situation. (Michigan State 44, Notre Dame 41, OT)

- Vanderbilt going to a bowl is a real possibility now with a win over Ole Miss. The ‘Dores have Richmond and Middle Tennessee the next two weeks and will get Kentucky at home. While I don’t believe all the hype about QB Jay Cutler, I will say that confidence and emotion go a long way in college football. Without the wins over Wake and Arkansas, Ole Miss would have completed the comeback. A new Vandy? Maybe…(Vanderbilt 31, Mississippi 23)

- So USC puts up 70 points against Arkansas… Folks, lets calm down here, while the above-mentioned Vanderbilt stands at 3-0, the Hogs are down. Sure USC has firepower, but the Hogs aren’t their usual selves. USC will be in for a fight against Oregon…wait, no they won’t. (USC 70, Arkansas 17)

- It was ugly. It wasn’t Fun-N-Gun, but Florida now has the keys for Atlanta in their hands after taking down Tennessee. Urban Meyer will get the headlines and is the perceived savior in Gainesville for his offensive play calling ability, but questions still remain for the Gators. For today, we will reward Meyer for making the Gators solid in the kicking game, a staple that never existed under Spurrier. (Florida 16, Tennessee 7)

- Speaking of Spurrier… it seemed everytime I flipped from the Notre Dame game, I saw Alabama with the ball on their way to rolling up 338 yards on the ground. The Cock-N-Fire has a LONG way to go. I guess I was duped with the Cocks game against Georgia. I now wonder about Georgia’s offense when they play comparable talent. Alabama needs to now be in the mix of talks about the SEC West. (Alabama 37, South Carolina 14)

- Note to coaches everywhere: Shutting it down with over 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter is NOT advised. John L. Smith did everything to lose the game that Michigan State held firmly in their hands. I understand running the ball to run clock, but when you have the pedal to the metal and its working, why back off? JLS needs to confer with Mike Leach at Texas Tech… (Michigan State 44, Notre Dame 41)

- Rhett Bomar, 20-for-29, 241 yards vs. UCLA is a far cry from his Tulsa outing (7-for-18, 61 yards). However, wasn’t the Oklahoma defense supposed to be the anchor this year? So much for my early prediction of the Sooners playing with a chip on their shoulder. This was the only appearance in Pasadena this year for the Sooners. Stoops will earn his paycheck for the rest of this year, however Bomar’s improved play will help avoid this season becoming a lost cause. OU is now a team playing for a Big 12 championship. If Texas doesn’t win in Dallas this year…hang it up. (UCLA 41, Oklahoma 24)

- Drew Weatherford of Florida State is another bounce-back candidate. After his gem against Miami, (7-for-24, 67 yards) not much could be expected against Boston College. Weatherford did more than manage the game or playing safe and not taking chances. Instead the sophomore stood his ground, moved the team, and answered after BC took a 17-14 lead. Add in the measly 13 rushing yards for the Seminoles and Weatherford can be credited for the win. Florida State will be just fine, thank you very much, but their Rose Bowl hopes will be dashed down the road without a running game. (Florida State 28, Boston College 17)

- Expect Miami to get things rolling after surviving a scare in Death Valley. Clemson showed moxie, coming back from 20-10 down to send the game to OT. However, Miami would pull out the win. The Hurricanes called a balanced game, with Kyle Wright going to the air for 152 yards and Tyrone Moss rushing for 139. The Canes face Colorado at home this weekend before getting three glorified scrimmages (South Florida, Duke, at Temple). The showdown with Virginia Tech will loom large for the ACC Coastal division. (Miami 36, Clemson 30, OT)

Quick hitters:

- Dave Wannstedt is now the biggest fraud in college football, although, isn’t Bill Callahan supposed to be modernizing the Nebraska attack? Zac Taylor’s (10-for-20, 93 yards doesn’t exactly impress me.) Fortunately, I didn’t see the game as we got the Ohio State-San Diego State yawner in the Lexington area. (Nebraska 7, Pitt 6)

- Shame on ABC for even having that Ohio State – San Diego State crap in their regional mix. (Ohio State 27, San Diego State 6)

- Shame on CBS for picking up the Florida-Kentucky game this weekend.

- C’mon coach (Mike Leach), 208 yards by your backup quarterback in a rout? (Texas Tech 80, Sam Houston State 21)

- Notre Dame’s secondary was THAT BAD last year for Tyler Palko, who threw for five touchdowns for the Irish…Palko, a shell of himself or the true representation after the South Bend fluke (you decide), was 11-for-26, 190 vs. Nebraska (Nebraska 7, Pitt 6)


Dummy of the Week: Phil Fulmer, Tennessee. “We’re gonna start Clausen.” (For a quarter.) “We’re gonna run the ball with Riggs.” (Only when we don’t try to hit one deep.) “We’re gonna keep them off-balance.” (Florida looked pretty comfortable to me.)

Genius of the Week: The genius was on the visiting side of the field in South Bend… until it was 38-17, then the Spartans got ultra-conservative. However, JLS was talking his boys up coming into this game and they delivered…just after working some overtime.

September 15, 2005

Week 3 – What to Watch

Tennessee at Florida, 8:00 p.m., CBS
Last year, Tennessee got handed the game after the refs called a personal foul on Florida’s Dallas Baker, ignoring a previous, instigating head slap by Tennessee safety Robert Wade. Subsequently, the Vols drove into field goal range and stole the game, 30-28. Since then, Urban Meyer was hired by Florida, Tennessee QB Brent Schaeffer transferred and his counterpart Erik Ainge was demoted to second string. Senior QB Rick Clausen will get the start for the Vols opposite Florida junior QB Chris Leak. Leak has talent but has done nothing noteworthy to anyone outside of Gainesville. This Saturday is his chance to start leaving his mark on the program. Expect the fans to be unruly, expect a few signs in the stands about last year’s robbery, and expect the Gators to win.

Florida 27, Tennessee 17

Florida State at Boston College, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
Nothing is truly known about Florida State coming into this game. The Noles won a titanic defensive struggle with an anemic offense against Miami and then played the Citadel. Drew Weatherford is somewhere between his 7-for-24 and 67 yard performance vs. Miami and his 26-for-37, 342 yards against the Citadel. The BC Eagles haven’t played the caliber of Miami, but their two opponents (BYU and Army) give us a bit more of picture of what the Eagles have done. QB Quinton Porter is the x-factor for this game. Another variable will be the presence of ESPN’s Gameday in Chestnut Hill. The ACC debut for the Eagles could be a fantastic start or a rude welcome to the league. After this game, I think we will know that Florida State’s offense is a far cry from the Mark Richt-days in Tallahassee.

Boston College 21, Florida State 14

Miami, FL at Clemson, 3:30 p.m., ABC
I can’t see Miami going 0-2 and I think Clemson has been living a charmed life in their first two games. Miami will have the motivation on their side, having suffered a defeat at home last year to the Tigers. Miami QB Kyle Wright now knows he is the leader of this team after nearly taking a victory from the jaws of defeat in Tallahassee. Devin Hester needs to put a little more steak to his sizzle. Clemson’s hopes are on the renaissance of Charlie Whitehurst. In 2003, he was brilliant leading Clemson to a Peach Bowl upset of Tennessee capping off a year that grabbed pro scout attention. Last year he threw only seven TD’s and 17 interceptions. Which Charlie shows up, or will Miami simply be too focused for it to matter? I just can’t envision the Canes winless going into October.

Miami 24, Clemson 20

Michigan State at Notre Dame, 3:30, NBC
The Irish come into the game sky-high after beating rivals Michigan and Pitt to begin the season. Charlie Weis is warning anyone this week who will listen that the Spartans are to be feared. Michigan State has rolled through Hawaii and Kent State, winning by a 91-28 combined score. The Irish have faced much better talent in Pittsburgh and Michigan. However, the Irish offense didn’t win the game at Michigan like they did against Pitt. Irish WR Rhema McKnight will miss the game with a knee sprain, but the Irish return WR Matt Shelton, the 2004 deep-threat for the Irish with six touchdowns on only 20 receptions. The cause for concern for Notre Dame and their fans is that there is a lot of mention of the USC game in mid-October after the Michigan win. I hope that Charlie’s warnings aren’t falling on deaf ears.

Notre Dame 23, Michigan State 14

September 14, 2005

This ain't happenin'...

In a recent ESPN article, it mentions that Oklahoma tailback, Adrian Peterson, could miss the start of the UCLA game to be played on the road in Pasadena, site of the 2006 National Championship Game. Coach Bob Stoops is quoted that Peterson has violated a team rule about missing too much class. Even the AD, Joe Castiglione chimes in about OU raising the standard in order to elevate the awareness about the NCAA cracking down on programs that just keep kids eligible.

All this is window dressing and you're a fool if you believe anything substantial will come of the penalty. The "guideline" as the school refers to it, mentions that gametime is missed in the form of a suspension after four missed classes. The players miss two days of practice for that transgression. Any absence after that is a suspension from the next competition.

OU is already violating their policy, are they not? This story is being released in order to quell rumors about the situation. One can presume that Peterson has missed his four classes having now missed two days of practice. However, do you really think that Peterson will miss that weekend's game the next time his alarm clock doesn't go off? Puh-leeze. The Sooners have already shown favortism to more talented players. Freshman quarterback Rhett Bomar was named the starter for this week's game at UCLA. Its the same Rhett Bomar who was cited for possession of alcohol by a minor (What a shock on a college campus, right?) who has received no visible suspension.

In the end, Bob Stoops is not a dense fellow. Adrian Peterson will play. He will sit the first ten or so plays which will amount to the Sooners first quarter. Oklahoma's offense is pathetic without Peterson and while not saying Stoops is on any kind of hot seat, coaches don't ultimately save their jobs with their outstanding class attendance rates by players. Bomar will struggle in there alone, throwing at least one interception in those first 15 minutes. But by the second quarter (or earlier if UCLA scores), Peterson will tote the rock.

In the end, it won't matter. OU is terrible this year. Oh and remember the 2003 game won by Oklahoma, 59-24 with Antonio Perkins running back three kicks? The Bruins do...

UCLA 28, Oklahoma 3

September 11, 2005

Dog day afternoon for the Big Ten elite

Week Two in college football wrapped up late last night with Big Ten commissioner, Jim Delany, in tears after watching his hopes for a 2005 Big Ten national champion go in flames when Vince Young found Limas Sweed in the endzone, giving Texas a 23-22 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns would add a safety for good measure to close out one of the biggest wins in school history. Earlier in the day, the Michigan Wolverines stumbled against 20th-ranked Notre Dame, losing 17-10 after both schools turned in surprisingly good defensive efforts. Lastly, the Iowa Hawkeyes would watch their star quarterback Drew Tate get knocked out of their game with rival Iowa State in Ames due to a concussion, losing 23-3 to the Cyclones.

The Ohio State Buckeyes will lament the three turnovers they got deep in the heart of Texas territory, only to kick three field goals. Turn those to touchdowns and today we would be talking about a grand ole fashioned Rose Bowl matchup of the Buckeyes going to challenge the Trojans perhaps at year's end. The Irish would benefit from poor Michigan play-calling and timely UM turnovers to salt away the win, holding onto a 17-3 lead before securing victory. And, apparently, the backup quarterback doesn't get many reps in Iowa City, because Iowa State rolled over a suddenly punchless Iowa squad, winning back the CyHawk Trophy.

Commissioner Delany now turns his hopes to Purdue and perhaps Wisconsin for the Big Ten's chance for a championship. However, after Texas' solid win over Ohio State, the two-horse race is now set. Unless upset, it will be the Longhorns versus the Trojans in Pasadena for the title.

Here's what else we know after this weekend:
  • Dave Wannstedt cannot coach. Matt Cavanaugh cannot develop quarterbacks. (Ohio 16, Pitt 10 in OT.)
  • Charlie Weis is making the Notre Dame brass look smarter every weekend after firing Tyrone Willingham in year 3 of 5 on his contract. (ND 17, Michigan 10; Cal 56, Washington 17)
  • QB Brad Smith and Missouri might be the most overrated mid-level program in the last three years. How many times has this team been penciled for the Big 12 North title? (New Mexico 45, Missouri 35)
  • Oklahoma still only knows how to hand the ball of to AP. Granted 220 yards and 3 touchdowns is the reason why you do it. (Oklahoma 31, Tulsa 15)
  • So much for handling the hype by the Horned Frogs. (SMU 21, TCU 10)
  • Anyone who thought the Ol' Ballcoach Spurrier might have dogged it in the previous week against Central Florida might have been exactly right. The Cocks won everything but the scoreboard in Athens. (Georgia 17, South Carolina 15)
  • D.J. Shockley sat behind David Greene at Georgia for a reason. (8-for-17, 112 yards, 2 INT's)
  • Anybody get that late score from Fayetteville last night? (Vanderbilt 28, Arkansas 24...suddenly Vandy is 2-0.)
  • Boise State went from the heat of Athens, Ga., to the rain and hail, yes hail, in Corvallis, Ore. The Broncos lost a heartbreaker to Oregon State, but its good to see Jared Zabransky back...3 TD passes, 0 INT's. (Oregon State 30, Boise State 27)
  • Never turn away from an LSU game. It was 17-7, it had been a full day of gridiron action and the eyelids were heavy. My brother-in-law wanted to talk about the Michigan-Notre Dame game while taping the Kentucky-Idaho State replay. I obliged, thinking the hurricane and heavy hearts were leading LSU to defeat against Arizona State. Imagine my surprise when I saunter over to the computer at my bro-in-law's and see that LSU had just scored on 4th down to get a 35-31 lead against ASU. The delayed UK game was still taping, so I watched blips on the screen tell me that ASU made a valiant attempt back down the field, but came up short. Gotta remember Rule No. 1: It ain't over til its over.

Our Dummy of the Week Award: Marshall head coach, Mark Snyder. Your team is down 21-19, you have the ball well in field goal range to knock off a BCS school at home in front of a record crowd. There are :08 left and you want one more play. Fine...spread them out and hit them with a draw play, right? Oh no. Snyder calls for a pass, which is tipped, and then intercepted by Kansas State cornerback, Justin McKinney. The worst part of the deal? The coach blames the quarterback for getting the wrong signal and running a pass play. Bad form, coach, bad form.

Lastly, the Genius of the Week Award: Charlie Weis at Notre Dame has won his first two games at Notre Dame, both on the road and against ranked teams. (Well, okay, Pitt was ranked for the moment.) His feat only equals that of Knute Rockne, back in 1918. Up next are the Spartans in a rare Notre Dame home September game.

September 10, 2005

Down "Between the Hedges"

Like I have mentioned, my wife is a huge Georgia fan and for a surprise I took her to the Boise State - Georgia football game. Well, the game turned out to be a dud because BSU decided to be in a giving mood, turning the ball over six times in the first half. That was all the Dawgs needed to go onto a 48-13 victory. However, below are some pictures from the event.

First, let me say that to this point, I have attended games at the University of Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, the University of Alabama, and Mississippi State University. My experience is quite limited and as you can tell, I was born and raised on SEC football...the best football in the land, gosh darn it!

Going to Athens, we wanted to experience everything that Georgia did as a tradition. First up is the Dawg Walk. Thousands of people lined up next to Sanford Stadium at the main gate entrance and the players are dropped off from their area hotel in full pads and gear ready to go. We stood underneath Sanford Drive, one of the main arteries through campus. Here the Dawgs go marching in right next to the student center.

The beautiful part is that while your waiting for the team to make its entrance, you wander around and next to the underbelly of the student center you find UGA VI! Sonny and Cecilia Seiler of Savannah, Ga. have been the owner of the UGA mascot line since 1956. They even have a book and DVD about all the adventures they have had with the all-white English bulldogs. The dog is so revered, its as if he is everyone's dog. The amazing thing as well is to be able to talk to the Seiler's. They are the most downhome people you will meet. I introduced Miss Cecilia to Elizabeth and it was as if I was reuniting lifelong friends. Cecilia is a wonderful lady and she will talk with you all about UGA. I told her we had driven through the night to be at the game and specifically to get a picture with their dog. She mentioned that she loved visiting Lexington last year, her first time, and that she eventually wants to go to a Kentucky Derby. I am trying to contact the PR people at Churchill Downs to make it happen. She even said she would trade Masters' tickets for the event. (Make it happen C-D people!)

So we get inside the stadium and it was HOT! It was a typical, sunny, Georgia, early-September Saturday. Our saving grace was that we on the North Side of Sanford with the three-tiered deck. After about a quarter, the sun was obstructed by the newly constructed walkway that leads you further upstairs. Thank you, God!

At kickoff, the capacity crowd was all in their seats. (Take a lesson UK fans.) You begin to look around and you dont feel as if you have 92,746 people in attendance. Having been to Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, you feel as if there are more than 103,000 with you. I guess its the design of the two stadiums, Neyland is much more vertical whereas Sanford spreads out. I just wish someone would have spread out the seats. We were jammed like sardines, but eventually the game loosened and the frat boys and girls headed home to resume the party and we had plenty of room.

The game has been well documented. The Dawgs attacked and Boise State's quarterback Jared Zabransky looked like a high schooler, throwing those four first-half interceptions. Half were good plays by the Dawgs and the other half were ill-advised, floating passes that anyone could have swiped. It was 24-0 at half, 45-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Basically, the place was empty for the last quarter and we just enjoyed sitting there talking about the day and how perfect everything had gone.

It felt a little weird wearing red, but then again as a rabid UK fan, I have nothing against Georgia and their fans. Now, Tennessee and Florida are an all together different situation. But there I was decked out in the red, block G cheering on the Dawgs. It was a great time and I am sure we will be going back.

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooo Dawgs.....sic' em.....woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.

September 08, 2005

Week 2's Crystal Ball

Texas at Ohio State, 8:00 p.m., ABC
The Buckeyes don’t know who will start at QB and coach Jim Tressel isn’t forthcoming with details, but the Buckeyes will face a stiff test in Texas QB Vince Young. The game being in Columbus certainly helps Ohio State’s cause, however, Texas has the more talent on the field. The key for this game will be Seylvn Young’s running for Texas versus the quarterback play that Ohio State gets from whoever starts. Ted Ginn will need touches to make Ohio State dangerous. In the end I like Texas only because of the QB situation. This game will go down to the wire.

Texas 23, Ohio State 16

Notre Dame at Michigan, Noon, ABC
The Irish win over Pittsburgh has been talked out and Michigan’s scrimmage against Northern Illinois provided no glimpse into how the Wolverines can truly play. The Irish offense looked impressive and the defense made plays and kept Tyler Palko and Pitt in check. The intangible is that this game is in Ann Arbor. The last trip to Ann Arbor for the Irish resulted in a 38-0 loss. That score won’t happen again, but I think the revenge factor from last year’s game for the Wolverines will be the difference. Expect a good game and the loss might do wonders to curb the Irish fans enthusiasm from getting out of hand.

Michigan 24, Notre Dame 22

LSU at Arizona State, 9:15, ESPN
All of the trusted websites previewing this game say they don’t know what to expect with the game changing venues and the LSU players dealing with the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. I would agree. ASU had no problems with Temple, but that was expected. LSU had to cancel their game with North Texas. Those two facts might favor the Devils, now playing at home. Les Miles’ debut suddenly goes from a scrimmage at Tiger Stadium to a tough road game. I think the tragedy in the state will have an effect on the Tigers and the rust they will display will give ASU the win.

Arizona State 27, LSU 23

Wake Forest at Nebraska, 7:00, TBS

I pick the top five games based upon the games I feel bring the closest match-up to the table. The Demon Deacons will be motivated after dropping their home opener against Vanderbilt. The Huskers 25-7 win over Maine didn’t’ instill confidence about the changes in Lincoln, this is still a team that will struggle. Nebraska lost to Southern Mississippi at home last year, so this would not be an upset of epic proportions. This game will be important for the Callahan regime as a loss would get the natives a bit restless when compared to the leaps and bounds that Charlie Weis is making at Notre Dame. The Big Red might not stay too patient with mediocrity. I think Nebraska wins, but it won’t be a rollover.

Nebraska 27, Wake Forest 21

Clemson at Maryland, Noon, ESPN
Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson’s quarterback, is on a personal comeback tour after throwing 17 interceptions last year. Maryland’s program lost some steam after missing out on a bowl last year, the first time under coach Ralph Friedgen. Maryland survived Navy last week, winning 23-20, while Clemson capitalized on Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione’s bonehead decision to not go for two to put the Aggies up three midway through the fourth quarter, winning 25-24. One program will advance onward to a nice season with a win while the other will see their luck of the first week run out. I am taking Clemson, who will then have a showdown with Miami on the 17th.

Clemson 26, Maryland 21

September 06, 2005

Week One in the books...

Basically, this past weekend I got to be a writer for the AP poll. Essentially, I covered the Georgia Bulldogs shellacking the Boise State Broncos. The atmosphere in Athens was sky-high, we had just met UGA and his owners, the Seiler family from Savannah, Ga., and the game was to be the icing on the cake.

Well, this cake wasn't baked nearly long enough. Boise State looked intimidated by the 92,000 plus crowd in Sanford Stadium and quarterback Jared Zabransky threw four interceptions and fumbled twice in the first half, putting the Dawgs up, 24-0 at the gun. Georgia had been worried about their quarterback, senior D.J. Shockley, all week, but fear not. The College Park (Ga.) native threw for five touchdowns and ran for another as Georgia was in cruise control, leading 45-7 in the third quarter when the starters exited stage left.

Georgia is damn good folks and if Shockley can produce like this, they will be a factor in the national championship race. However, for UGA fans, you better realize that six turnovers don't happen very often. Georgia goes on to meet South Carolina this Saturday and there will be calls for blood to be shed with Spurrier (11-1 vs. Georgia) coming into town.

I feel like an AP writer voting in the polls, because most of the action from the weekend went unseen. However, here is what I know...

  • Notre Dame looked crisp and I have to laugh at every Pitt fan or ND hater that put stock in Wanny. C'mon, he's Wanny!!! This is the same guy that couldn't win at TWO NFL stops. Now, suddenly, he's the answer. I dont think so. Basically, we have another Mack Brown on our hands...good recruiter, but horrible gameday coach.
  • Overshadowing the Notre Dame bliss is Oklahoma's now wrecked season. TCU? The Horny Toads? From what I saw and read in short soundbites, the Oklahoma gameplan was to run Adrian Peterson and little of anything else. When that didn't work, Stoops and company were outcoached. Its a rare phenomenon, but they looked bad. The trendy pick in two weeks was going to be taking UCLA over Oklahoma, but now that looks status quo.
  • Auburn lost their best backfield in 50 years, folks. With that fact comes some adjustment period necessary. Georgia Tech was returning a veteran QB, RB, and standout wide receiver. I picked Auburn, but I wasn't shocked.
  • Add "fumbling on your own 2-yard line and then playing dead on defense for over six minutes" to the list of how Kentucky can lose a football game. Yes, the Cats made the game a game, making a comeback and instilling a bit of hope in this Kentuckian, but then fate reared its usual head and UK lost.
  • What happened to Erik Ainge? This kid was lightning in a bottle, now he's a shell. Fulmer has already announced Clausen the starter for the Florida game in two weeks. Wow.
  • The Big Ten-MAC challenge is over and as usual, the Big Ten wins out.
  • Think ABC would like to switch that Texas-Ohio State, Notre Dame-Michigan lineup now?
  • Dummy of the Week: Dennis Franchione of Texas A&M. The Aggies scored to go up 23-22 with minimal time left in the fourth quarter. The Aggies don't go for two, opting to kick the extra point, giving them the 24-22 lead. Clemson, led by a resurgent Charlie Whitehurst, promptly drives the field setting up the game-winning FG by Jad Dean, who had only made the previous five attempts. Snap...hold..kick...good night, drive home safely, 25-24 Tigers pick up the revenge win for last year's loss at College Station.
  • 10-7 Florida State. Pathetic offenses. Weatherford finished 7-24 for 67 yards. Yummy. Miami had two chances of smartly running the ball in FSU territory to set up another FG blunder or score a touchdown and yet Larry Coker gets cute. Miami isn't a shoe-in versus Clemson on the 17th either.
  • LSU has moved their game with Arizona State to Tempe. I will change my pick accordingly.
  • Charlie and the Touchdown Factory. Love it!
  • We'll preview the weekend later this week.
Photo credits:
Shockley - University of Georgia Sports Information
TCU celebration - Jerry Laizure / AP
Dennis Franchione - AP

September 01, 2005

Godspeed Louisiana and Mississippi

Somethings are more important than football.

I hope all goes well for everyone involved or affected by this disaster. It does hit close to home with my friend Casey and his fiancee, Michelle, and their son, Ryan.

Good luck to all. Football can take a back seat until after the weekend.

There will be plenty to report from Athens.

About Me

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.