October 30, 2005

Knowing a good thing

Notre Dame announced yesterday that they agreed to a 10-year contract extension with current head coach, Charlie Weis. The media will now begin the deconstructions of Weis' progress at Notre Dame. They will now mention the absence of a Top 20 win (at Michigan is the best win to date for Weis and the Irish in 2005). They will now want to bring up Tyrone Willingham and how fast he was fired. Notre Dame will now be labeled a racist institution once again by some person on an edgy sports show (think HBO RealSports...cue up Bryant Gumbel now.)

All of this folks wont matter. Weis has Notre Dame on the fast track back. Everyone outside of the Irish fandom was suddenly bursting with glee once the articles starting surfacing about Weis' buyout clause in his contract with Notre Dame. You could feel the sigh of relief in Ann Arbor, West Lafayette, and all points non-Irish. "Thank God, some NFL team will dupe Weis and the Irish and he will be gone."

You could feel the exasperation as Notre Dame made their announcement yesterday. Weis commented back when he was hired that he views Notre Dame as a special place. Weis strikes me as a different brand of coach. A refreshing person who makes these statements not as coachspeak.

Its his alma mater, folks! No one questions Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech because he is at his alma mater, even though he ransomed a raise out of the Hokie brass with a flirtation with North Carolina a few years ago. (To end debates, I like Beamer, he cares and looks out for his assistants, bar none.)

The move is now a part of a poll on ESPN. (Did the Irish act too fast?) I say no. You always hear how teams and players, and even professionals in the business world need to strike while the iron is hot. This is the case with Weis inking the deal with Notre Dame. The recruiting now has no angles against it. Weis now has put to rest all speculations and Notre Dame will now continue its ascent back to the top of college football.

October 26, 2005

Blogpoll Discussion for this week

Blog Roundatble Week X+1

Being the Domer homer I am, here goes...

1. The Envy Poll (as seen on rsfc)Name the five teams, other than yours, whose accomplishments you respect / envy the most. Use whatever criteria you feel is appropriate (wins, titles, consistency, academic integrity, competitive integrity, NCAA violations, general thuggery, mascot intimidation factor ...).

I admire the Alabama Crimson Tide. They have the championships, they have Bear, and they have a rabid fanbase that thinks of nothing else but football all the time.

Respect? I respect USC and their "true" fans. Not the out-of-the-woodwork Nick Lachey types who want to be cyberRambos and spout everything Trojan but the ones who were there during the 0-12-1 vs. the Irish and rightfully revel in their success now.

I respect Florida State and their 14 year run of being in the Top 5 but admire? No. Pure envy I guess.

Respect also goes for those programs' fans that would rather eat a bullet then sell their tickets to the enemy. (Notre Dame fans still need to learn this. I think Tennessee and Nebraska here, they jump to the forefront.)

2. Admissions
With regard to Question #1, what is the most damaging criticism of your program that you will admit is a legitimate criticism? That is, what negative trait does the most damage to the overall respect level of your program (in your eyes, or to others, interpret as you will).

What traditional ploy will the Irish use this week? The Green jerseys, Touchdown Jesus, Rockne's legend, Ara, Leahy, the Four Horsemen, the Golden Dome, winning one for the Gipper, sheesh...sometimes I feel like saying "just play the stupid game".

3. Unrelated Discussion Question
Who do you think is the best player in the history of your program? Tell us a little about him (especially if he's not a household name). Feel free to pick someone from 50 years ago that none of us has seen play.

I followed in 1986 to present, so for me its a no brainer, Raghib Ismail. The man was lightning in a bottle and seemed to play his best in the biggest games. The two touchdown returns against Michigan still remains my favorite Notre Dame moment. I have never since seen a person single-handedly bring down a very good opponent.

October 25, 2005

My Top 25

For me, the Top 25 ranking represents using a bit of situational logic. The only objective of any poll is getting #1 and #2 right. For me, I take the "body of work" approach. I am taking this poll from a stance of not having a prior ranking.

1. Southern California (7-0)
The BCS folks have demoted the Trojans to #2 in their poll and I cannot figure out why, other than to ensure that SC will be super-motivated to reach the Rose Bowl. You don't think Pete Carroll has used this as motivation behind closed doors? I feel sorry for Washington State this weekend.

2. Texas (7-0)
The path is clear for the Longhorns: at Oklahoma State, at Baylor, Kansas, at Texas A&M, Big 12 Championship (likely Missouri or Colorado - two teams UT dominated already). Texas' big win is still the one over 2-loss Ohio State. Texas Tech was described as a fraud by those who follow college football, yet they provided the juice for Texas to leap USC in the BCS poll. Texas will make the Rose Bowl only to rue the day they got this #1 ranking.

3. Virginia Tech (7-0)
The Hokies have games left against Boston College, Miami, at Virginia (same place FSU lost), and then the ACC Championship Game (likely Florida State) to zoom their ratings. The Hokies get through that (they also play UNC at home to close the year) and they will have a better argument than Auburn did last year being left out.

4. Georgia (7-0)
The Dawgs are in trouble this weekend against Florida without D.J. Shockley. Should they pull through, they will have games with Florida, Auburn, at Georgia Tech, and the SEC Championship Game (Alabama or LSU). See Virginia Tech...

5. Alabama (7-0)
This team has gone in the tank offensively and now they await a team that can make them pay for it. The Tide play Utah State and at Mississippi State next, so no threats there. However, they close the year home with LSU, at Auburn, and the SEC Championship Game (Georgia). I don't think they make it through those three unscathed.

6. UCLA (7-0)
Here is where the illogical mindset begins with the polls. I dont think UCLA is truly the sixth best team in the country, but I think being undefeated this late in the season causes you to be stacked near the top. UCLA will have all the chance in the world to prove their mettle with three out of the last four on the road. (at Stanford, at Arizona, at USC - with Arizona State at home). I think UCLA makes it to the Dec. 3rd USC game unbeaten, then gets taken out - yet earning the BCS at-large bid.

7. Florida State (6-1)
The Noles raise the age old debate: are their 2 wins against Miami and BC more important or is that bad loss more telling? FSU is the only team in college football sporting those 2 wins over teams in the top 12 of the BCS poll. However, their lone loss to unranked Virginia stands out as well with other 1-loss teams having their setback to ranked teams. The deciding factor for me were those wins...other one-loss teams have no wins over even ranked teams to speak of, yet the Noles have those two.

8. Penn State (7-1)
Penn State gets #8 due to their method of losing at Michigan. It took an executed play from a Michigan team that hasn't been performing well lately to beat the Nittany Lions. Penn State has their one ranked win having beaten Ohio State at home.

9. LSU (6-1)
The Tigers win over Arizona State has been muted, but for me that is still a standout win when you consider that the Tigers had to pack everything up and play on the road all in a week's notice. Their true best win was over Florida at home. Their loss was at home to a below-for-their-average Tennessee.

10. Miami, FL (5-1)
Here I stick with the method of losing. Miami is a botched FG attempt away from OT with Florida State. Since then the Canes dont have a ranked win to speak of, but at this point only 2-loss Northwestern in my breakdown remains as having a true ranked win. I have to rank the one-loss teams first for the most part. Miami gets here because their game was also way back on Labor Day.

11. Oregon (7-1)
I combine two things for the Ducks. They last lost on September 24th and that loss was against #1 USC when the media had focused that game as the Trojans first challenge. They were buried in the second half, but the Ducks did hold a 13-10 halftime edge. They also own a solid win over Fresno State at home. At this point, ranked wins are gone for the 1-loss crowd. That Fresno State win is as solid as some others.

12. Boston College (6-1)
BC gets more juice from their lone loss being Florida State than any of their wins. Their best win to date would probably be their overtime win at Clemson. However, the Eagles will get all the chance in the world to prove themselves traveling to Virginia Tech on Thursday.

13. Wisconsin (7-1)
The Badgers land here with their best win coming against Michigan at home. Their lone loss to Northwestern gained a bit of luster last weekend with the Wildcats blowing out Michigan State in East Lansing. Bucky however is in a quandry this weekend when you look at their opponents with Northwestern facing Michigan at home. One side of Wisconsin's ledger will improve while another side will decrease.

14. Ohio State (5-2)
A bit of comparative logic here with No's. 14 & 15. The Buckeyes beat Michigan State at home whereas the Irish lost to Michigan State at home. The bad part for Ohio State is that the Spartans represent their best win. However losses to Texas and at Penn State help the Buckeyes greatly.

15. Notre Dame (5-2)
I am a Domer homer, however I wanted to take a fair, objective look at the Irish and I come up close to what the BCS computer reflects. Had the Irish beaten Michigan State in overtime they would be closer to their AP ranking (#9), maybe even pushing Florida State as the best 1-loss team in the country. If this were a power poll I would have the Irish higher. List them under the heading of "If College Football had a Playoff, this is the Team You Wouldn't Want to Face".

16. West Virginia (6-1)
Best win is over Louisville which in the preseason would have been a great win. The lone loss however is helping the Mountaineers, who lost to Virginia Tech back on October 1st at home.

17. Florida (5-2)
Florida's best win is over a struggling Tennessee team at home in the Swamp. Their losses however are both on the road at Alabama and at LSU. This weekend against Georgia without Shockley finds Florida needing a win. A loss in that situation would probably end the Gators in my rankings.

18. Texas Tech (6-1)
If Florida State at #7 is the best 1-loss team in America, then the Red Raiders are the weakest one-loss team. The problem is that Texas Tech has absolutely no good win worth mentioning. Their incredibly weak non-conference schedule (Florida International, Sam Houston State, and Indiana State) did nothing to capitalize off their win last year against California in the Holiday Bowl.

19. Northwestern (5-2)
The Wildcats are the only 2-loss team left with a win over a ranked team (Wisconsin). Their losses are mixed with a loss at fading Arizona State earlier in the year combined with a last-minute home loss to Penn State. The Wildcats get Michigan this weekend and a win over the Wolverines would be another quality win, not ranked win, however.

20. Minnesota (5-2)
Understand that my rankings from #20-25 are purely interchangable. Heck, you could even have an unranked team in my poll ranked here in your poll. I am solid about my Top 19, but here begins the quest of the best teams with the better losses and maybe a quality win (win over team with winning record). Here Minnesota qualifies winning at the Big House and losing at one-loss Penn State and Wisconsin.

21. Colorado (5-2)
The Buffaloes are purely here because their losses are to Miami and Texas.

22. Auburn (5-2)
I do live in SEC country, so call this a homer pick. I think Auburn has a big win in them down the stretch.

23. Missouri (5-2)
The difference between Mizzou being here and not in the Top 15 is a head-scratching loss earlier in the year at home to New Mexico.

24. Georgia Tech (4-2)
The Yellow Jackets did beat Auburn on the road to begin the year...

25. Michigan (5-3)
3 losses by 13 points. Michigan also owns a nice win at home over Penn State.

October 22, 2005

What I'll Be Watching (Oct. 22)

Michigan at Iowa, ABC, Noon

I am in the weird position of needing Michigan to win to help the campaign for getting Notre Dame to a BCS bowl. To date, Notre Dame hasn't beaten a BCS poll ranked team. If Michigan can win in Iowa City then that argument will end.

Mario Manningham has emerged as the Wolverines best receiver. I dont follow UM but I haven't heard much of Jason Avant or Steve Breaston (at least for his receiving exploits) this season. Iowa is turning their ship around, having won three straight games against inferior talent. The Hawkeyes will see this game as their welcome back to relevance. I know less about the Hawkeyes (chalk that up to living on the border of ACC/Big 10 ABC regional coverage). I know that Drew Tate was injured early in their loss to Iowa State and the whole team stunk up Columbus.

In the end, LLLoyd Carr is a wuss on the road. He will play tight and close to the vest and Michigan will be 4-4. Its the only way he can do anything negative to Notre Dame anymore.

Iowa 28, Michigan 23

BYU at Notre Dame, 2:30, NBC

Get this stupid week over with. Yes, the Irish lost no matter how you slice it. Yes, I was hopeful for the future after what I saw against the Trojans. Yes, assisting the runner is a rule hardly ever called and yes, I would have taken the win had Quinn been pushed in with :03 left. (I dont think the rest of the college football would wink, wink, nudge, nudge the Irish for the play. I imagine the rivals would have big problems with it.)

BYU is a good opponent to have coming in after USC. Weis only needs to show game film of last year's pathetic effort against the BYU gimmick, 3-3-5 defense. I hope to have this game out of the way in time to catch..

Notre Dame 49, BYU 21

...Tennessee at Alabama, CBS, 3:30

One of the greatest nicknames for a rivalry is "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate" to describe the rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech. In the case of Bama and UT the hate won't be clean. The Snitch (Fulmer) comes to town for the first time since the probation and the Alabama fans will be ready. The game itself features a Bama squad searching for life after Prothro and Tennessee is once again on the ropes to save their season with two losses and a trip to South Bend in two weeks after Tuscaloosa.

I think last week for Bama was more looking ahead than any indication that they are lost without their star wide receiver. The Bama D is a killer even though its not 1992-level.

I like the Tide. (But for the Irish sake, I need UT to win.)

Alabama 20, Tennessee 14

Auburn at LSU, 7:45, ESPN

Auburn plays only its second game of the year (at least where they stood a chance of losing) and they venture to Death Valley. LSU seems to fear success this year, nearly giving a dominating performance back to Florida due to offense ineptitude. The Bayou Bengals are dang lucky to have all these games at home. The Tigers (Cajun version) are #6 in the BCS and I find that a tad overrated when you see how the Tigers have played. The results, only loss in OT, are quite another thing.

Auburn now has seasoning under their belt for their quarterback, Brandon Cox and their running game. However, the Tigers (Plains version) will be taking a large step from their five consecutive creampuffs. I would like a closer game, maybe even taking Auburn, if this game was back on the Plains. However Cox will be welcomed by a rowdy (read: drunk) LSU crowd ready for Saturday Night at Tiger Stadium.

LSU 24, Auburn 7

World Series Game 1:
Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox, 8:00, FOX

I can't remember the last World Series in which I didn't have a rooting interest either way. Year in, year out I can usually identify with a team or story that I prefer over the other.

Its Houston's first World Series and the White Sox haven't won since 1917. Somehow, though, the Boston drought had more impact than the White Sox drought. I have known that the White Sox haven't won in forever, but there seemingly was a justice involved with a team that had members proven to have gambled away the 1919 World Series to the Reds of all teams.

I am completely indifferent. I think this thing goes the distance with Cub fans rolling in their graves and otherwise when the South Siders bring it home in 7. Sorry Brian, but if I am wrong I will lose zero sleep.

October 17, 2005

The Greatest Weekend in College Football

Its a pretty convincing argument when you think about the Michigan State-Ohio State game ranking about SIXTH as the best game of the weekend. Matter of fact, here is a ranking of the top games.

1. USC 34, Notre Dame 31.
- This game had the most hype and delivered. I wish the game would have ended differently than it did, but it was a slugfest with both teams going toe-to-toe.

2. Michigan 27, Penn State 25
- 10-3 Michigan led into the fourth quarter. This game seemed destined for a yawning finish. However, a 22-17 quarter later, this game became an instant classic sadly overshadowed by the happenings in South Bend. Mario Manningham is now, officially, Michigan's best receiver.

3. Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 34
- As bad as I handled the Notre Dame loss, I would have been mired in depression if I had lost the way that Minnesota lost this game. The punter fumbles the snap then the defense gets the ball with :30 in the end zone for the win? Ouch.

4. (tie) West Virginia 46, Louisville 44 OT; UCLA 44, Washington State 41 OT.
- I didnt see a lick of either game so I can't differentiate between the two other than they were in overtime.

5. Alabama 13, Mississippi 10
- Top team against the ropes gets their best drive of the day when it counted and made the kick. Ole Miss has one heckuva defense, but absolutely NO offense.

Now, what we know.....(trying to be one-liners here)

- Notre Dame is good and will be pre-season Top 10 next year.
- USC's Reggie Bush is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.
- Florida fans are already restless with Urban Meyer.
- Texas vs. USC in the Rose Bowl is now set. Get your tickets Trojan and Horns fans.
- LSU would be a dynamite team if they can overcome themselves.
- John L. Smith is a stand up guy. The coaches ruined Michigan State's great game.
- 643 passing yards by Texas Tech's Cody Hodges is insane, and Kansas State isn't bad.
- Good balance by Nebraska leads to decent win. Will need the same against Missouri.
- I guess Virginia will get to plant sod after beating Florida State. From what I read and saw in highlights, Hagan was a magician.

The BCS crystal ball:

Rose - USC vs. Texas
Orange - Virginia Tech vs. LSU
Sugar - Georgia vs. Ohio State
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs. West Virginia

October 14, 2005

The Irish and the Trojans

Nothing new:
  • The Trojans are still the best team in the land, hands down.
  • Matt Leinart is still the best quarterback in the country.
  • Notre Dame's defense is still mediocre at best, yielding a ton of yardage and points.
  • The secondary is still the weakness for both teams.
  • Reggie Bush and LenDale White are incredibly good backs. (Personally, I think White is a better future pro than Bush. Just me.)
  • Pete Carroll is still the best coach in the land.
What's new?
  • This is NOT the Notre Dame that suffered three consecutive 31-point beatings at the hands of SC.
  • This is Brady Quinn with confidence going against the Trojan D, the pride of Pete Carroll.
  • Charlie Weis will enter into this game knowing he can win rather than knowing he's beat, like the three previous matchups under a different guide.
  • The Notre Dame players believe they can win and they're ready to prove it.

The whole college football world is cyclical. I can remember a time (1983-1995) when the Irish were 12-0-1 in this series. Simply put, beatings may come and go but eventually the traditional programs right themselves. What this meeting has done is make Notre Dame-USC the game of college football. Gone is OU-Texas, gone is Tennessee-Florida, gone is Ohio State-Michigan, rendered moot by Michigan already having three losses this year. Penn State, Alabama, and Notre Dame are all hot again this year.

I envision the game going against the grain. I dont think USC will start slow. The Trojans will have a halftime lead, but I think in their minds, they will expect the Notre Dame crowd and team to roll over and start questioning in their heads once they score on a long play and put the Irish in a bigger hole. This is where the difference of Charlie Weis takes over. Notre Dame won't roll over. I imagine halftime being something like USC 24-14.

USC's performance in the second half of games this year has been nothing short of phenomenal. 168 points scored after halftime. That line is staggering. However, this is where Notre Dame will try and set the snare. I think Notre Dame will view the third quarter (the Trojans most explosive with 91 points scored) as Armageddon. The mantra of the players will be to take USC's best punch and keep standing. This is the crucial moment of the game. Its late third quarter and the Irish have weathered the storm to some degree. USC leads 34-21. The Trojans are marching for the kill, only to have something go wrong. A fumble, interception, turnover of some kind will befriend the Irish and inspire new life. Notre Dame quickly drives the field, scoring early in the fourth quarter. It's 34-28. Fans believe, players believe, the Trojans believe because they have been here before. They will reach for their patented Bush or White long run through a swiss cheese defense. Only it won't appear. Notre Dame Def. Coordinator Rick Minter will have preached to his boys about staying strong late in the game. A panicky deep bomb will be well defended to the delight of the crowd.

USC will have to send Tom "the Bomb" Malone in to punt. He gets off a beauty with about 8:00 minutes left and everyone in the stadium is now watching the Irish get the ball, down less than one score late in the game. Here is where Notre Dame needs a play out of the ordinary. Carroll will adjust the defense, sensing a momentum shift. The blitz is ready to attack, only Weis calls a draw and Darius Walker takes off. Down the sideline he goes, knocked out deep in USC territory. The fans sense something big, but the USC defense stiffens after two runs and a shot at the endzone to Samardzija. Its about a 40 yard field goal coming up. Take the points you think, but no. Brady gets back in the gun, the SC defense looking to bear down and the call goes out for Stovall in the flat. He catches the ball, twisting and turning and getting the Irish the first down. The place is delirious. When the clock starts again they are under 3:00 minutes. Two soft runs get the ball to the 5-yard line. Notre Dame slips the TE out and Fasano makes the grab in the endzone! 35-34, Irish. 1:56 left.

Too much time left thinks USC. Too much offense ready to dispose of the Irish. The Irish kick the ball off and USC gets a mediocre return to the 30 yard line. A quick slant gets 13 yards. A draw to Bush rips off 10, but he's kept in bounds. A batted ball goes to the turf. 1:03 left. Another run/scramble by Bush and he is tackled in bounds after eight yards. USC takes their final timeout with :37 left. An incomplete pass, Trojan fans want interference and its close, but no call. 4th and 2 on the 39 with :32 left. A quick post goes for 11, saving the season for Troy. The receiver gets out of bounds at the 28 with :24 left. Lendale White gets the ball on a draw, he scampers to the endzone. Touchdown SC! A flag is visible. Touchdown SC! Holding SC is the call.

1st and 20 at the 38 with :16 left. Leinart stays cool, calmly rips a 9-yard out pattern, stopping the clock with :11 left. 2nd and 11. Reggie Bush lines up in the slot. He gets the pass and smartly avoids the seam pattern and turns sharply to get out of bounds. The dilemma exists. Ball on the 24 with :05 left. Pete Carroll has to make a decision.

On trots the field goal unit, previously untested with any pressure kick. The Notre Dame students jump around, waving their keys. Touchdown Jesus stands in the background.

The snap...the hold...the kick...WIDE WIDE WIDE RIGHT WIDE RIGHT...you know it as soon as he booted it...Students mob the field shortly after the gun and the clock reading :00.

Notre Dame wins 35-34.

October 13, 2005

What YOU will be watching...

Appetizers before the Showdown:

Michigan State at Ohio State, Noon, ABC

Gosh this game fell off the map quickly. Someone needs to tell me why I would favor Ohio State in this game other than being at home? Michigan fans (notably on MGoBlog) are getting cute about saying that Notre Dame hasn't beaten anyone with a winning record. Well folks, Ohio State is about the same. Their best win is over Iowa, who got blown out by Iowa State who just lost to Baylor. Yummy. But back to this game. This is the match of the teams that the month of October has forgotten. Michigan State proved inept against Michigan and Ohio State can now officially be ranked and filed as an overrated club, if you thought highly of them to begin with. This is a offense vs. defense battle.

However, for all my bad mouthing of the Buckeyes, I don't trust the Spartans. They are in free fall beginning here.

Ohio State 27, Michigan State 23

Wisconsin at Minnesota, 12:00, ESPN

Have the Golden Gophers taken the next step in the Big Ten and ready to make a run for the conference crown? Will the Badgers respond from the 51 points Northwestern laid on them? This will be one of those games that passes the time until the Showcase in South Bend. I think Minnesota wins and gets everyone talking. Wisconsin is a lot like Michigan State. I think they had their moment in the sun beating Michigan.

Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 17

I will not see these games...thanks to ABC Regional coverage (ugh!) I get Louisville-West Virginia...so PSU-UM has no chance, but then again how many of these games will be more than commercial break and halftime viewing?

Penn State at Michigan, 3:30, ABC

This game all depends upon which team shows up for Michigan. Penn State will play stodgy defense and their offense will try not to lose the game, but Michigan needs to hang it out. Why not be aggressive now LLLoyd Carr? The Wolverines lose this one and the 1974 bowl streak is in jeopardy with Iowa on the road and Ohio State coming to Ann Arbor.

Hart is back, finally, full strength, but then again wasn't he last week? Will Chad Henne continue to be the quarterback/lightning rod for the UM fans? Will the Big House stay the Quiet House?

I think Penn State's win over Ohio State last week has them believing in themselves completely.

Penn State 16, Michigan 14

Florida at LSU, 3:30, CBS

Notre Dame can lose 50-0 to USC and I will still thank my lucky stars that the Urban Decay is in Gainesville. Chris Leak is either A) getting wasted or B) just a pretty-boy quarterback who doesn't excel in big games. Could the Gators be held to less than a touchdown again?

LSU is reeling still from the Tennessee game, but getting over that hump the Tigers still have a clear path to Atlanta. This is simply another step to take to position themselves to have a chance. In the end, I think the pressure is off the Bayou Bengals and the new coaching staff. They will excel.

LSU 24, Florida 10

I'll talk about the big game tomorrow...

October 10, 2005

What we now know...

  • Michigan stinks. Seriously. It wasnt as if Minnesota ran some trick play to get into field goal range. It wasnt like they had their starting quarterback still in the game. They had a backup...who had yet to throw a pass...and on 3rd and 12, they get a LONG run from their BACKUP running back to get into field goal range. Hey, Jim Hermann, you wanna put eight in the box? (Minnesota 23, Michigan 20)

  • My earlier statement about the Big Ten being the best conference is in shambles. The basketball coach at the college I attend keeps pushing the ACC on me. I now say the SEC but it for dang sure isn't the Big Ten.
  • This whole time warp we have going is fun. Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama are all good to great. The sport is better for it.
  • Blake Mitchell at South Carolina is the latest bad quarterback made into a SEC Player of the Week after playing Kentucky. Good lord the Cats are horrible. Fear not fans, basketball season officially begins next week. (South Carolina 44, Kentucky 16)
  • Speaking of Michigan...they have 3 losses and still have to face Penn State, at Iowa, and Ohio State. The Wolverines, for now, own the longest bowl streak dating back to 1974.
  • Its time to say that the road to the SEC East now goes through Athens, Ga. The Dawgs have now beaten Tennessee in Knoxville in their last three trips and won last year in the Cocktail Party. Win this year and the Dawgs can book Atlanta for the SEC Championship and perhaps a return visit as this year's site for the Sugar Bowl.
  • USC and Texas are on a collision course. Texas got their monkey off their back beating Oklahoma. They will be favored in every game from here until Pasadena. USC has work to do with Notre Dame, California, and UCLA on the schedule. The Trojans could win all three, but if they keep playing ho-hum one of them will spoil it all. All this is bad news for Virginia Tech or Florida State. The BCS is rooting for Miami to win out, beating the Hokies and Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game. Otherwise either ACC unbeaten (FSU/VA Tech) will be this year's Auburn.
  • The before mentioned basketball coach is a Florida State fan. I dont think I will mind too much if Florida State gets jobbed. Serves them right. I can hear the complaining now.
  • Most perplexing score of the weekend: Northwestern 51, Wisconsin 48. Half a hundred by the Badger defense?
  • Vanderbilt is watching this season slip sliding away. LSU pulled away late after putting up with the gamey Commodores. Enjoy it now Vandy fans, Cutler leaves and its back to 2-9's. Bobby Johnson better parlay this year into another job. His character says that he won't, but sometimes you have to get out of character. (LSU 34, Vanderbilt 6)
  • Tennessee and Michigan. Can we please start these teams in the mid-teens or 20s next year? What has either team done since their championship years in 1997 and 1998? Sure, Michigan went to back-to-back Rose Bowls, that is fine, but with their vaunted recruiting classes they are both beginning to join Texas amongst the ranks of coaches who dont develop the supposed amazing talent heading to their campuses year after year.
  • Key difference between SEC ball and Big Ten ball. Minnesota is on their own goal line and they need a big play. The backup quarterback is in, so they run all the time. Thanks be to Michigan for proving that to be genius by thinking the Gophers might pass. In SEC ball, Georgia is backed to their goal line. Tennessee just scored, so its 13-7 and Neyland is electric. The play? Your run-of-the-mill 35-yard hook pattern to your tight end. SEC coaches go for it (minus Fulmer).
  • Tuscaloosa is on simmer for 2 weeks until the NCAA snitch Tennessee arrives. Hoo boy, that place will be wild. Its the game of the week for me on October 22nd.
  • I think we all know what place will be jumping this weekend. Go IRISH! My posse of haters are all decked out in their USC garb this week. Suddenly everyone is a Trojan fan, including Nick Lachey.
  • Lendale White is your Heisman Trophy candidate. Reggie Bush is the Ferrari, sure, but Lendale is the reason why the Trojans are #1. Both will be tough to stop on Saturday. I hope Weis has channeled Bill Belichick's defensive schemes.
  • Pac-10 still equals no defense. Cal and UCLA was exciting with the hometown Bruins pulling it out. Both showed they can score enough to beat USC. But, can they stop USC?
  • How about Guy Morriss and 4-1 Baylor? So glad UK didn't spend the money on a 9-14 career coach. Instead, we got Brooks. I am on anti-depressants.

October 06, 2005

What I wish I could watch…October 8th

Every football season there comes one weekend that life gets in the way and football takes a backseat. This is that week for the year. I work for free (internship, finishing my last semester of college) at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky., in the sports information office. This weekend is homecoming with the volleyball team and both men’s and women’s soccer teams in action at home. To top it off, it is my wife’s five-year reunion and the class is getting together and she wants to go. So I have to work the volleyball matches at 2 and 4 pm then the gathering is at 7 pm. Lovely.

So this guide represents what I wish I could see this weekend. Don’t worry though, nothing will compare for the Showdown in South Bend next weekend.

Quick glimpses in between volleyball matches for these…

Oklahoma vs. Texas, Dallas, 1:00 p.m., ABC
Two weeks ago this game appeared to be a cakewalk. Oklahoma was struggling to say the least and Texas was resting on their win at Ohio State. Nothing has changed for Texas now, outside of a blowout at Missouri, however, the Sooners chose the right quarterback and are showing signs of life. This game comes down to attitude. The Oklahoma upperclassmen have no idea what losing in Dallas feels like. They have always carried home the gold cowboy hat (trophy between the two). Texas is talking in clichés this week about how the past doesn’t matter, convincing themselves they can win, I for one, witnessed Florida’s mastery of Tennessee in the 90’s and it didn’t matter what UT did, Florida knew they would win. I believe the same thing happens here with Texas’ dreams of a national championship once again dying in the Cotton Bowl.

Oklahoma 17, Texas 14

Georgia at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Who is for real? Who will be behind the eight ball should they lose. This game will set up the East to determine what team will represent the SEC in Atlanta. Both teams play incredible defense while the offenses run a bit conservative. The last two road teams have won this game in the series. For Georgia, this game will be their first test of the year, while the Vols pulled out the win in Baton Rouge for their proving game after losing to the Gators in the Swamp. Tennessee, then, is the more known quantity. The Vols have the better receiving crew and the running back position is a dead heat. The Dawgs have the better depth, but Tennessee has the best back in Gerald Riggs. Its cliché, but the turnover, field position battles truly will determine your winner in this one. This game is a pick’em, for sure.

Tennessee 21, Georgia 14

Texas Tech at Nebraska, 4:00 p.m., TBS
70-10. Every Nebraskan remembers Mike Leach running it up on the Huskers last year in Lubbock. There will be a stadium full of revenge-seekers in Lincoln this Saturday. Not much is known about Texas Tech after their creampuff non-conference schedule and subsequent win over Kansas last week. The Huskers can’t really say much more than that, having only won a home game against Iowa State in overtime last week for their resume. Nebraska plays at home for the fifth straight game to open the season. That schedule maker deserves a raise. The Husker defense is for real, and revenge is a motivator. I think Mike Leach will wish he had brought some of the points from last year to this year’s game.

Nebraska 24, Texas Tech 21

Home for the second half kickoff…

California at UCLA, 7:00 p.m., TBS
This is the Game for the Holiday Bowl. I would love to believe that the Pacific Ten conference could get two teams to the BCS, but it’s a rare occurrence. UCLA beat weak-at-the-time Oklahoma and Cal’s shining win is over Illinois at home. The winner of this game will then emerge as the team to beat for USC to return to Pasadena. The loser gets a consolation prize of perhaps being able to sneak up on the Trojans already having one loss. The only thing I know about each team is that they play decent defense for Pac-10 teams. Other than that, I am picking on intuition that tells me that the Golden Bears are just a bit stronger.

California 28, UCLA 21

Ohio State at Penn State, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
No one questions Ohio State, yet everyone wonders aloud about Penn State. I see two identical teams at Happy Valley this Saturday. Troy Smith is more mobile for the Buckeyes, but Penn State has speedy receivers in Deon Butler and Derrick Williams and a Smith-replica in QB Michael Robinson. The Nittany Lions are looking to prove they are back, ala Alabama last week at home against Florida.
I think they make their announcement.

Penn State 16, Ohio State 7

The one game I might get to see…if FSN Ohio cooperates…

Oregon at Arizona State, 10:15 p.m., FSN
Last week I was supposed to get the Washington-UCLA game. I didn’t think the Huskies were going to hang with the Bruins, but it would have been nice to see. This week’s midnight snack features the two teams that led USC before collapsing. Andrew Walter of ASU and Kellen Clemens of Oregon will explode the scoreboard in Tempe. Both teams are jockeying for bowl position in the Pac 10. The defenses either stop you three in out or had better force a turnover. I expect this to be a traditional shootout.

Arizona State 49, Oregon 38

October 03, 2005

My Top 25

Well I can’t vote in the Blog Poll (or at least, I didn't sign up), so here it is peeps. I waited until October to rank and file because I wanted to get rid of the pretenders. The bad part is what do you do with Team A that beat Team B who beat Team C, who lost to Team A. In essence, what do you do with Florida in relation to Tennessee? What about Michigan State in relation to Notre Dame in relation to Michigan? I guess you have to judge off margins and where the game was played. Unfortunately, all the losses were at home, two in overtime, which I don’t punish nearly as bad as a regulation loss. College overtime is stupid, but it’s what we have to use and teams know the rules going in.

1. USC, 4-0
Trojan D gets no love, underrated unit.

2. Texas 4-0
Can the Horns conquer OU? Now or never…

3. Virginia Tech 5-0
Odd man out in 2005?

4. Florida State 4-0
Here’s the first big drop off in the poll.

5. Georgia 4-0
Their first test at Tennessee this weekend.

6. Ohio State 3-1
Killer D will get tested at Penn State. Wow.

7. Miami, FL 3-1
One kick away from being #4 perhaps.

8. Notre Dame 4-1
Biggest surprise of the year, hands down.

9. Alabama 5-0
Tide gazing at Atlanta, gets LSU/UT at home.

10. Tennessee 3-1
UGA game is basically an elimination game.

11. LSU 2-1
Tigers lost one game in 2003…won title.

12. California 5-0
Best defense the Trojans will face all year.

13. Florida 4-1
Team Enigma…Meyer’s offense not SEC-level.

14. Wisconsin 5-0
Manageable schedule to win the Big Ten

15. UCLA 4-0
Beat Cal…could be all-L.A. undefeated on 12/3

16. Michigan State 4-1
Dive alert…UM loss, at Ohio State next on 10/15

17. Texas Tech 4-0
Great offense vs. great defense vs. Nebraska

18. Boston College 4-1
ACC newcomer fitting in just fine

19. Louisville 3-1
UNC no slouch…plenty of time to still get BCS

20. Auburn 4-1
Tigers finally leave home. Lets see how it goes.

21. Penn State 5-0
Parachute pants, pop music…it’s the 80’s kids.

22. Nebraska 4-0
Leaves home for first time on Oct. 15th. Wow.

23. Texas A&M 3-1
Headed to Colorado for eye-opener.

24. Michigan 3-2
Saved season…won’t win Big Ten.

25. Oregon 4-1
USC losses don’t count…elimination gm. @ASU

What we know after September...

- Brady Quinn is a legitimate Heisman candidate. Compare with Matt Leinart of USC and you’ll see why. Leinart is 82-for-126, 1286 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs; Quinn is better: 124-for-190, 1621 yards, 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions. Should Notre Dame upset USC on the 15th you can book Quinn in New York, ready to receive the trophy.

- I agree with Blue Gray Sky… the Notre Dame – Purdue game showed all the difference a year has made for this brand of Irish. It was great to watch the clowns at Purdue stare agape at their misgivings and sloppy play. Jeff Samardzija IS an All-American.

- College football is in a time warp. Notre Dame is very good, Alabama played like National Champions against Florida. Penn State is suddenly dangerous. Welcome back, College Football circa 1982.

- Speaking of ’82…Vandy couldn’t handle the expectations. Gone now is the bowl season, so the drought since 1982 will continue for the ‘Dores. (Middle Tennessee 17, Vanderbilt 15)

- When you have an opponent off the ropes, DO NOT LET THEM OFF. Arizona State was having their way with USC when they got the ball late, leading 21-3 before half. Big mistake by the ASU staff not staying aggressive. They are USC, you are Arizona State; you are supposed to lose, so keep the pedal to the metal. The team that beats USC this year will have learned a valuable lesson from this week. Never, never, never stop, never quit, never let up. (USC 38, Arizona State 28)

- Oh and some tackling of White or Bush would be recommended, too.

- Tyrone Prothro, University of Alabama wide receiver…God speed, son. Alabama went from “nice year” to “dark horse national champion” to “snake bitten” all in one afternoon. The interesting part is that before this year, Prothro had lost his starting job, so the wide receiving corps should be ready to go. Now they have a rallying cry to win for Tyrone. Look out SEC. The Tide is rolling! (Alabama 31, Florida 3)

- Gosh, I wish the Irish had Urban Meyer…HA! We got Weis. You can have Meyer. Suddenly the Florida camp is pretty silent when it comes to bashing the Irish about having Meyer. We have their offense of the Spurrier days, Florida now is trying to become Utah and it’s not working out with only 19 points against Tennessee and Alabama. Sure, it worked against Kentucky but the Cats are in my backyard, I know them well enough to say that performance was a flash in the pan. (Notre Dame 49…Florida 3)

- Oklahoma looked good from what I saw in between West Lafayette being dismantled. Bomar threw a TD pass so things are now all set for Dallas against the Longhorns. Sorry if I’ve seen this play before…I think OU wins, folks. The mind screw is simply too great on these Texas players to beat the Sooners. (Oklahoma 43, Kansas State 21)

- Ahh, the Michigan State Spartans. At the end of the year, they will be 7-4 and playing somewhere distant against another mediocre team. I would love to think otherwise but when your bounce-back game is going to come in the Horseshoe against the Buckeyes…well, good luck…prove me wrong. (Michigan 34, Michigan State 31)

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