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


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