September 24, 2006

Top 25

1. Ohio State
2. USC
3. Auburn
4. West Virginia
5. Florida
6. Michigan
7. Louisville
8. Oregon
9. Texas
10. LSU
11. Georgia
12. Virginia Tech
13. Notre Dame
14. Florida State
15. Iowa
16. Oklahoma
17. Clemson
18. TCU
19. Boise State
20. Tennessee
21. Nebraska
22. California
23. Georgia Tech
24. Washington
25. Wake Forest

Talking Points:

- Notre Dame and Georgia drop a spot for needing improbable comebacks. Georgia moves out of the Top 10 because they are one confident opponent away from being removed from the unbeaten ranks. While I feel good about the Irish win there are still major concerns.

- The only other explanation required is about teams 22-25. California gets back in after crushing undefeated Arizona State. Georgia Tech and Washington get in for nice wins this week and combined that they've lost to Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Wake Forest gets in as the last team because they beat Connecticut and Mississippi on the road easily. The two opponents aren't heavyweights, but the Deacons showed no sign of struggle in either game.

- We're down to 19 undefeated teams. This week sees Ohio State travelling to Iowa as the only game between two unbeatens. Top 25 vs. Top 25 include Virginia Tech hosting Georgia Tech.

- The Top 3 all hit the road in somewhat tricky places. Iowa has had the OSU game circled for some time, USC needs to make sure Dwayne Jarrett is okay otherwise, Washington State could provide problems and Auburn finally hits the road, period. Michigan is also on the road at Minnesota and Oregon travels to Arizona State.

- Texas and Wake Forest play absolute dogs this weekend: Sam Houston State and Liberty.

- Four teams are out of action this week: West Virginia, Louisville, Florida State, and Oklahoma.

- Houston, Missouri, Purdue, Rutgers, and Texas A&M are all undefeated at 4-0 but not in the Top 25. Four could make statements this weekend as Houston plays at Miami (FL), Purdue travels to South Bend, Rutgers plays at South Florida, and Texas A&M hosts Texas Tech. Missouri hosts 0-4 Colorado.

Terrail Lambert, My Hero

Man crush.

I really wanted to post immediately after the game but my emotions and body were spent. My reaction is a lot like other Notre Dame bloggers in that you go from being ready to move on to next year and benching Brady to seeing his final stat line (20-36, 319, 5 tds, 1 int) in amazement.

I have been victim to bouncing ball heroics, so Terrail Lambert's interceptions, both juggling acts, soothe my soul since that day in Lexington against LSU.

If you've seen Fever Pitch I was the fifth member of the Red Sox clan drowning their sorrows heading into the fourth quarter. (I know, bad mix between football and a baseball movie. Sue me.)

The Irish were down 37-21 and new meterologist Brent Musberger kept reminding my tortured soul about the driving rainstorm that had now switched its wind direction back into the face of the Irish. Could their please be more salt to rub into this wound?

Maybe Charlie had said to the alumni that he would never beat the Spartans?

Touchdown, Shark. 37-27. We need this two-point conversion... nevermind. Fumble by Stanton! Fumble by Stanton! Two plays later the Irish had moved back to near midfield after some dumb penalties. Eventually, lightning struck as Rhema McKnight proved to be Maurice Stovall for a play and make it 37-33, PAT pending.

WHAT!??!??! He missed?!??!?!! "Ugh to come back all that way to be deflated by the missed PAT." Surely the heroic Stanton would come onto the field now. The one ready to scramble for first downs and break my heart. We have got to force him to throw.

Stanton goes back...

"Oh YEAH, RUN DANG YOU, RUN LAMBERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", I said in my mind but thoughtful to stay quiet with my sleeping, 2-year old nephew just feet away. My body shook and I did the only thing I could think of... I opened the front door, closed it behind me, and screamed like a madman into the Lexington night. Surely someone in the neighborhood spotted me and is having a great laugh today.

Back into the house now, 40-37 Irish and I am ready for the crushing drive and win by the Spartans who are now forced out of their self-induced offensive coma. The Spartans move the ball down the field with Stanton completing passes and making key, fourth down runs.

Just make them kick a field goal, guys. Then Terrail Lambert became my personal hero when I had just settled for an incomplete pass. I stared at the replay as the ball bounced around, off Richardson coming back to try and make a play, off Lambert heading over to deliver a hit on the Sparty receiver and ultimately off the Sparty receiver and into Lambert's hands like a gift-wrapped present.


:24 left, new rules=ballgame, without a snap and I love that Charlie immediately knew that and just started to walk onto the field, pointing to the clock and the clock keeper that could do nothing about it, unlike in other cases.

Notre Dame 40, Michigan State 37.

Give me a call today, Scott, because I have a priceless recording on my machine about the struggling Irish from you. Can't wait, pal.

September 21, 2006

Blogpoll 2.3

1. Its only the third week of the season and we've already seen some highly ranked favorites drop out of national championship contention. Preseason favorite Cal dropped to #21 after a loss and a pair of underwhelming victories. Who's your pick as the next NC contender to take a fall?

Florida is the easy pick. Their schedule is murder. So lets go with the team that is in the NC hunt but won't be very, very soon and that choice is Michigan. You can't win every game on emotion and the Wolverines did score a ton of points on Irish miscues.

2. By that same token there are several schools hanging around without a loss that all of a sudden look like surprise contenders. There are also a few one loss teams with a legit shot at getting back into it. Looking at the rankings who's the team no one's talking about with the best shot at crashing the party?

Texas needed Oklahoma to beat Oregon. (By the way, Stoops and OU, STOP THE FREAKING DUCKS FROM GETTING DOWN THE FIELD AFTER THE KICK!) They'll suffer because of the OU defensive lapse and will not enter back into the title game even if they run the table from here on out. I mean, come on folks, who is winning that North division?

To answer the question, I say watch for USC. We ALL have done everything in our power to write off the Trojans. Take a peek at their schedule again. This team gets everyone in L.A.

3. Every team has their quicksand away game. You know. That place you should win but somehow find ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory or at least scare the &*%^ out of you every year. Did you know that over the last 21 years Kentucky wasn't won once in Knoxville? Where is your team's yearly sandtrap?

Notre Dame going to Los Angeles used to be a fun game when I was an adolescent. Lately its been the 31-point beatdown palace. I don't like the Irish chances any better this year. Maybe not 31 points, but I never saw a win when I glanced at the schedule for 2006 right after the Fiesta Bowl.

4. Now that you've looked into the darkest place in your football soul, free Escalades aside, turn and look into your crystal ball. Conference play is either just starting or a single game in. Based on what you've seen so far, give the order of finish in your conference, and if you've got a Conference Championship game tell us who the winner will be. Independents must predict the remainder of their schedule. The results your predictions will be held against you at the end of the season.

The SEC - I love the SEC.
SEC East
1. Florida
2. Georgia
3. Tennessee
4. South Carolina
5. Kentucky
6. Vanderbilt

SEC West
1. Auburn
2. LSU
3. Alabama
4. Arkansas
5. Mississippi
6. Mississippi State

Auburn defeats Florida in a rematch from a close Tiger win on the Plains.

However, Notre Dame is my team, so...

Michigan State - W
Purdue - W
Stanford - W
Navy - W
North Carolina - W
Air Force - W
Army - W

10-2 and let the nation rail about the Irish going back to the BCS. I love it.

5. In keeping with the spirit of Maize n Brew, name your beverage of choice on game days and why. It need not be alcoholic, as there are some of us who choose not to imbibe on game day. Further, it need not be limited to a single brand/type/category. If you enjoy drinking PBR and Kraft Turkey Gravy at the same time (which I have personally witnessed), please, elaborate. Finally, if you should feel so inclined, and this is not a requirement, add an anecdote involving said beverage choice.

Milk. But really, food is the bigger thing for me. Downing a Hardee's Thick Burger is the best way to go while watching some afternoon football. Oh wait, I don't get an afternoon of uninterrupted football until October 28th.

BONUS: What gridiron memory sears you so deeply, down to your appropriately-colored veins, that a simple acknowledgement, a "sorry" from the proper source - even if it didn't change the outcome - would lift a burden and cleanse a scarred corner of the soul? What injustice do you still carry, and want officially recognized?

1993 poll voters to finally come clean and admit they were going to do any dadgum thing to get Bobby the national title.

September 17, 2006

Top 25

1. Ohio State
2. USC
3. Auburn
4. West Virginia
5. Florida
6. Michigan
7. Louisville
8. Texas
9. Oregon
10. Georgia
11. LSU
12. Notre Dame
13. Virginia Tech
14. Florida State
15. Iowa
16. Oklahoma
17. UCLA
18. TCU
19. Boise State
20. Boston College
21. Clemson
22. Michigan State
23. Arizona State
24. Tennessee
25. Nebraska

What We Know Now...

We know everything and nothing at the same time.

Separation Saturday is over and we're now down from 42 to 29 undefeated teams. Some went down hard (Notre Dame) while many were merely pretenders who ran into their first formidable challenge (Nebraska).

- Get ready for the myriad comparisons of Charlie Weis and Tyrone Willingham. I mentioned it before and already a stat circling around is that both coaches were 11-3 before losing big games to Michigan (38-0 for Ty, 47-21 yesterday for Charlie). What does this prove? Nothing. Simply put, the fun time had by all pundits will end so long as the Irish venture up to East Lansing and win the game. National Championship hype over, the Irish can go back to being under the radar that worked well for them last year.

- The SEC struggles to score points. 6-3 Alabama vs. Tennessee last year was trumped by 7-3 Auburn over LSU this year. When Florida meets Auburn later in the year, I am already calling the unheard of 3-2 win for someone. Oh, and by the way, LSU got absolutely jobbed on the one call of pass interference, no wait, the Auburn guy tipped it. If I am a defensive coordinator I now have a new way to defend. Drape the receiver then have your helping safety come over and tip the ball and all is fine. Ridiculous.

- 23 rushes for -11 yards. This was Tennessee's stat line against Florida trying to run the ball. Granted it includes the sacks of Erik Ainge totalling 29 yards in reverse, but that means that Hardesty, their RB, carried the rock for 14 yards... on 17 carries. Ouch. My friend Scott is right, you can't be that one dimensional in the SEC and hope to win.

- Louisville has the worst luck. Michael Bush is gone after three quarters and now Brian Brohm will miss significant time. Hunter Cantwell stepped in and performed nicely against a declining Miami program. Living in Lexington I run into my fair share of new Cardinals fans and they say that Cantwell is better. Uh huh, yeah, right. West Virginia is experiencing planetary alignment in their hopes for the title run.

- I wonder if Louisville doesn't do something at home, like bug the locker rooms because when they play in the Pizza Pit the Cards look like USC. Away from it and they look very mortal when playing a team with equal speed.

- Michigan State should be favored over Notre Dame, right? The Spartans have won the last 7 of 9 and they also own a 3-0 record with the same team that beat the same team Irish. Notre Dame has supposedly been exposed as frauds so it will be hard to play the "overrated Irish, underappreciated MSU" card, Spartan fans. Like my boy, Colin Cowherd says, put a $1,000 on it if Notre Dame is so overrated. Much like the Purdue game of last year, this Irish team will be absolutely focused for this game.

- I am also thinking Charlie likes the road games better, too. "It's you against the world."

- Kentucky, baby! 2-1, 1-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1987. Usually the Cats get Florida first and since they haven't beaten the Gators since 1986 its been a long time. The Cats took out Ole Miss 31-14 and look poised for a six win, bowl season. Unfortunately, the next game is against said Gators. Play with house money, Cats. Good luck.

- Interesting stat: Kentucky is 25th in scoring nationally at 33.0 ppg. Texas Tech is ranked 60th, averaging 25.0 ppg. Mike Leach used to be the o-coordinator under Hal Mumme in Lexington. Our fan base mentions his name a lot should the Rich Brooks administration fail to win six this year.

- ACC national championship hopes now rest with the Virginia Tech or Boston College. The two face each other on an ESPN Thursday Night in Boston, October 12th. The Big 12 is depending upon Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma State, or Kansas State. See you in 2007, gang.

- USC last lost a game at home on Sept. 29, 2001 to Stanford, 21-16. The Trojans get Arizona State, Oregon, California, and Notre Dame at home. Their road "challenges" are Oregon State and UCLA. We may not be done with the Trojans just yet.

- FYI: Auburn sits at #3 in my poll amongst others. Deja vu 2004.

- TCU and Boise State keep clearing hurdles to crashing the 2006 BCS party. Utah could put their chips back into the pot as the Utes get both at home on Sept. 30th (Boise State) and October 5th (TCU). The Utes could run their table and be 11-1 with a opening week loss at UCLA.

- The Heisman race is now completely Troy Smith's to lose. The Buckeyes wont lose, so as long as he posts the big numbers in their high profile, nationally televised games its all done but the engraving.

- Brady Quinn is not your No. 1 QB headed to the NFL next year. The Irish receivers have bailed him out more than most, evidence of Samardzija's touchdown against Michigan right before the half when the Shark had to reach 18 inches behind himself to snare the catch. Sorry Brady.

- Doak Campbell is off the list of intimidating road stadiums. Clemson had their way and the noise never got above a manageable level.

- Michigan vs. Wisconsin and Louisville at Kansas State are your only games of undefeated ranked teams playing other undefeated teams. We had 10 such games this past Saturday. Stop and Smell the Roses Saturday could be your moniker for the upcoming weekend.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

Two friends of mine are Tennessee and LSU fans respectively. We are all crying in our proverbial beer this weekend after a tough Saturday.

My boys will have to sit and ponder the numerous what ifs that come with a one point (21-20 Florida over Tennessee), one score (Auburn 7, LSU 3) loss. For me? I get to pick up the pieces after a rout. No second guessing here after Michigan completely killed the Irish on Saturday, 47-21.

I got to a television after my duties of my daytime job finished and saw the 20-7 deficit. No big deal, I thought, Michigan is playing well and the Irish are just starting slow. Let's get to half and then make some adjustments. Sure enough, here came a recap of the scoring and I see a defensive touchdown. Relax. D and ST touchdowns are random gifts that boost close games into ones with marginal leads. The teams can be standing toe-to-toe but the pendulum on such luck of TDs off turnovers generally balance themselves out.

Well, I am still waiting for the pendulum back the other way.

Book end defensive touchdowns by Michigan didn't even explain the story in South Bend on Saturday. The Wolverines were an absolute buzzsaw that circled this game from the moment they started lifting weights in the spring. Mike Hart, who had totaled merely 22 yards in two games against the Irish busted out for 124 yards on 31 carries. Chad Henne who had come under scrutiny from pundits and Weis-Guys like me, responded with three beautiful TD passes to WR Mario Manningham. The entire Michigan offense, criticized for being too conservative in 2005, answered with a brilliant game plan and execution and put on a display not seen from the winged helmets since 1997.

Simply put, get ready for a jump in the polls by Michigan and suddenly the Michigan - Ohio State game could be one for the ages if Michigan can use this game to catapult them like the Penn State win in 1997 did.

As for the Irish, the Weis Era takes its first hit. Big losses were our mantra about why the school was justified for removing Tyrone Willingham in 2004. Well, now Charlie has something to match Tyrone, in the form of a 26-point loss and the most points put on the board at Notre Dame Stadium since 1960. The key now as it was then is to prove this is an aberration. Detractors of Weis and Notre Dame will be cheering like mad for Michigan State where as fans like me simply want to see a quick rebound against the Spartans and a "righting of the ship".

They say your never as bad as your last loss. Let's hope this is the case.

September 14, 2006

YOUR Viewers Guide - Sept. 16th

My mood about soccer and volleyball coaches and their scheduling habits.

Yes, once again we have another 2:30 soccer match at my school where I am S.I.D. I swear he scheduled the game on PURPOSE! But it gets better as we also get an eight-hour volleyball extravaganza that begins at 9:00 a.m. and won't stop until the last round of games at 3:00 p.m.

Bad for me is that the night games don't have the same appeal as last week. Cursed am I that the 3:30 slot will feature all the national championship shakeout action. I love my job. I just need to get to a bigger school with a spring sport, say baseball, where it never touches football season, but I digress.

So here is the guide for this Sept. 16th Super Weekend of College Football that I will only get to read about hours later. However, new for this year are predictions!

Iowa at Iowa State, ESPN, 12:00 noon
Nope fans, I will be line judging my second volleyball game of the day when this one begins, but you will get treated to a battle of unbeaten teams in the land of corn. Iowa State has spoiled Iowa's dreams before (see 2001) and the Cyclones could be in good shape to do the same with Iowa QB Drew Tate sitting on the sidelines. The Hawkeyes struggled against hapless Syracuse without Tate and Iowa State represents a serious upgrade compared to the Orange. Iowa State 23, Iowa 17

Michigan State at Pittsburgh, 12:00, ESPN 2 (regional)
ESPN 2 has gone all regional on us now? Other viewers will get BC-BYU but for those lucky to see this tilt I can only hope that Drew Stanton runs (and passes) wild on Pitt. Both programs had meaningless wins in their first two games and now they will step it up in this game. From an Irish standpoint, I hope the Spartans win because then we'll get a week to focus on revenge. Michigan State 26, Pittsburgh 21

Miami, FL at Louisville, ABC, 3:30 p.m.
The appetizers over with, we now move on to the main course where I will join everyone about an hour into the action. First we begin with the Biggest Game in Louisville's History while for Miami is simply a regrouping to get back into the national picture. Bobby Petrino's offense vs. Miami's defense. The Cardinals are without Michael Bush (UK did something right.) and they will rely on Brian Brohm more and more. However, the Miami offense hasn't shown me anything that they can hang with the Cards. In college, I'll always take the team that can score, because while they might not get their average, you always struggle to make yours. Louisville 27, Miami 23

Oklahoma at Oregon, ABC, 3:30 p.m.
Its the rematch of the Holiday Bowl, won by the Sooners, 17-14 last year. In this version we have Adrian Peterson carrying the entire offensive load for OU versus an Oregon team that is vastly underrated. If revenge is the word of the day, then the Ducks should fare better than UAB did against Oklahoma. Oregon can score and mentioned before, I'll take the better offensive team everytime. Oh, and Autzen Stadium is the loudest, small stadium you have ever heard in your life. Oregon 24, Oklahoma 17

LSU at Auburn, CBS, 3:30 p.m.
For the love of God, why couldn't this be the primetime CBS game? Sigh. Alas, the Loveliest Village on the Plains will host the second defining moment of the 2006 college football season. Its the Bayou vs. the Plains and both come in with wins over Pac-10 fodder and hapless opponents. Auburn gets credit for it being against a BCS school, but Mississippi State might not score for quite some time this season. Some games however, defy logic and the Bengal Tigers have won their last three games (Peach Bowl included) by a score of 130-9. Give me my first eyebrow raise of the year: LSU 16, Auburn 14

Michigan at Notre Dame, NBC, 3:30 p.m.
The Lou Holtz in me says to fear the Wolverines. Fear their awesome defense. Fear their explosive offense. Fear, fear, fear. Problem is, I am not buying it. How many times has Michigan sent far better teams to South Bend only to walk away losers? How can anyone expect Lloyd Carr in his right mind to get innovative after the second quarter? And how, for the love of God can Charlie Weis get outcoached by this ragtag Michigan group? Puhleeze. I don't see a spanking, as Irish fans will never have a day to counter the 38-0 loss in 2003, but I have feared far better Michigan teams in the past and have come out okay. Notre Dame 23, Michigan 10

The Night Games. On paper the night games should provide dessert to a full day, however, I can see all three games getting out of control quickly. Nebraska doomed themselves against USC thanks to a mouthy cornerback. The Bowden Bowl could be an exciting back and forth affair but I doubt it with Jeff Bowden running the show. While not a blowout, it could be a yawner. Finally we come to Tennessee and Florida. The question to be answered is which Tennessee team will the nation see? The Air Force Tennessee would provide Florida will have a huge win, 62-37 style. If the California Tennessee shows up then CBS will be justified for their primetime choice. The problem? Florida tackles on defense and Erik Ainge hasn't been hit in the mouth, yet.

USC 44, Nebraska 14
Florida State 7, Clemson 6
Florida 27, Tennessee 14

Happy viewing, punks.

September 10, 2006

The Top 25 - Sept. 9th weekend

1. Ohio State
2. USC
3. Auburn
4. Notre Dame
5. West Virginia
6. LSU
7. Florida
8. Florida State
9. Texas
10. Louisville
11. Oregon
12. Michigan
13. Georgia
14. Oklahoma
15. Miami, FL
16. Virginia Tech
17. Iowa
18. UCLA
19. Tennessee
20. Texas Tech
21. Nebraska
22. TCU
23. Pittsburgh
24. Boise State
25. Boston College

- Ohio State is now the #1 for the year. See you in Glendale.

- Notre Dame makes the move after destroying a Penn State team that now stinks per the pundits.

- Florida State staying ahead of Texas is interesting right now but the Noles did rally to win.

- Iowa and Tennessee had the least impressive wins of the week. Iowa needed overtime to defeat lowly Syracuse. Air Force ran all over Tennessee.

- Boise State is here to stay. They'll make Glendale, but it'll be the true Fiesta Bowl. They are one of two newcomers, joined by Boston College after the Eagles rallied against Clemson to win their second straight overtime win over the Tigers.

- Two weeks into the year and we're already down to 42 unbeaten teams out of 117. Mentioned in the last post we'll dump at least 10 more unbeatens this week as we have 10 games featuring zero loss teams coming up next weekend.

What We Now Know

Week Two provided some near misses (Air Force at Tennessee, Troy at Florida State) and it showed that the second game of the season usually offers the best improvement (Notre Dame 41, Penn State 17). I am still debating over how far to drop Texas in my poll. The hardest part about college football polling is that you have to put last year out of your mind and go with what you've seen out of teams with just two games played.

Here's what we now know...

- Ohio State will rumble to the title game. Buckeye fans can go ahead and make plans for Glendale, Arizona around January 8th. The Buckeyes will not lose at home and their only road games against potential winners are at Iowa and Michigan State. Same Hawkeyes who beat Syracuse in overtime at the Carrier Dome this weekend. Michigan State? Please. Its now the race to determine Ohio State's opponent in the desert. So much for that worry about losing nine defensive players.

- Notre Dame displayed a lethal offense in their home debut but the headlines should start focusing on this defense, which has only given up one meaningful touchdown in two games. Next up is Michigan for the Domers. Michigan comes into the game inflated with rollups against Vandy and Central Michigan. The Irish have had serious opponents in Georgia Tech and Penn State, who no doubt were vastly overrated because now they have lost to Notre Dame.

- What do we have in Texas? Gone now is the swagger of Vince Young. Gone now is the confidence that led to a national title. The Horns won't face their next true test until the Red River Shootout, but suddenly teams in the Big 12 South other than Oklahoma have hope against the Burnt Orange.

- What do we now have in Tennessee? California rebounded this weekend with a 42-17 win over Minnesota and the Volunteers held off a two-point attempt for the win to defeat an Air Force team that moved the ball late in the game at will. Florida comes calling this weekend and I can only think that Florida fans are salivating about putting in Tim Tebow and running the Urban Sprawl (Spread) against that shaky defense. Maybe Tennessee was just looking ahead?

- Auburn and LSU have played lesser talent so far this year, but both have set the stage for next Saturday when the two versions of Tigers rumble on the Plains. I will miss most of this game, as I will all the other great tilts of next week in the 3:30 time slot. However, I will see the ending of this classic and that will be good enough.

- Rutgers is 2-0 with a realistic shot to go 6-0 before facing Pittsburgh in the Steel City. The Scarlet Knights next play Ohio, Howard, at South Florida, and at Navy.

- Boise State roared back from a 14-0 deficit to paste Oregon State, 42-14. The Broncos have some challenging games left in their season: At Utah, Fresno State, At Nevada, however the road for them to make the Fiesta Bowl or any BCS bowl is looking good. Their main challenge for the non-BCS conference BCS slot is TCU who is 2-0, but faces Texas Tech on the 16th.

- Is Spurrier still the offensive genius of the College Game? In two games, the Gamecocks have put exactly 15 points on the board and the lone touchdown was due to a masterful flea-flicker. Essentially the South Carolina team sits at 1-1 only because they played a woefully inept Mississippi State team to begin the year.

- This Oregon team is good. The Ducks cut down the Trees in their first game, then ventured to Fresno State and got a very nice win over the Bulldogs. They next play Oklahoma at Autzen Stadium - the loudest 55,000 seat stadium you'll ever hear.

- The Heisman Race could be over as well, or at least its a two-man race. Troy Smith vs. Brady Quinn. Quinn will face the superior competition however, Troy Smith won't lose the rest of the way. Could it be possible that only two players get invites to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City?

Perhaps the biggest thing We Now Know is that we will know a heckuva lot more after next week when we have 10 games between undefeated teams:

- LSU at Auburn
- Michigan at Notre Dame
- Nebraska at USC
- Florida at Tennessee
- Maryland at West Virginia
- Iowa State at Iowa
- Texas Tech at TCU
- Michigan State at Pittsburgh
- Oklahoma at Oregon
- BYU at Boston College

Mind you, this list leaves out Clemson-FSU and Louisville-Miami. What a weekend we have coming!

September 07, 2006

What You'll Be Watching This Weekend

You mean there are other games than Ohio State - Texas?

Week Two is upon us as I try to evade the allure of the Boise Blue Turf. (Yes, fools, I have stood on the Blue Turf.) The good part is that my SID job keeps me occupied for the early afternoon and for the second straight week I won't miss a thing. Mississippi-Missouri, Illinois-Rutgers, and Virginia Tech-North Carolina will glide past me while I set up for exciting soccer action at my college. (We put in FIFA box goals, suhweet!)

While the soccer action begins at 2:30 p.m., I will be thinking of some way to get the Irish-Penn State highlights delivered to me at the field. If only it were an indoor event, as we have wireless connection in the gym, dang!

So I'll miss the first half of the game in South Bend along with the Clemson-Boston College game. Its tough doing what you love I tell myself. So I get home, finish the game in South Bend around 7:00. Georgia at South Carolina will entertain me for the 15 minute interim until we're all watching Ohio State - Texas in Austin.

And yeah, that is pretty much it for Week 2... but there is Oregon-Fresno State for the WAC snack.


September 04, 2006

Top 25

Exercising my God-given right as a college football fanatic...

No reason to deliberate in my mind, here is the new poll...

1. Texas 2. USC
- Yup, call me Lou Holtz because this week reflects exactly his thoughts at the end of Saturday. Texas and USC at the top because the talent they are shifting into their rotations is simply not allowing much of a drop off.

3. Ohio State 4. Auburn 5. West Virginia 6. Florida State
- This second-tier of teams represent those schools with great schedules of opportunity for the national championship. Ohio State plays Texas then will be favored for the rest of the year if they win. Auburn ventures outside the states of Alabama and Mississippi only two times all year. West Virginia will only not be favored against at Louisville on November 2nd. Florida State will be favored from here on out.

7. Notre Dame 8. LSU 9. Florida 10. Louisville
- Teams that still have rough schedules and in the case of Louisville, now they have something to answer for the loss of Michael Bush.

11. Oregon 12. Michigan 13. Georgia 14. Iowa
- What did we learn here? All four won at home against huge underdogs. Oregon and Michigan beat academic powers Stanford and Vanderbilt at home while Georgia and Iowa played I-AA teams Western Kentucky and Montana.

15. Oklahoma 16. Miami, FL
- Oklahoma will be in severe trouble when they travel to Eugene, OR to face the Ducks on Sept. 16th. Miami has a porous offensive line that Florida State exposed. The Canes won't lose for sometime but this is not a vintage Cane team.

17. UCLA 18. Tennessee
- Nice wins against solid teams, Cal and Utah, at home. The skeptics are still there for both programs but they both avoided the upset bug in the first week.

19. Virginia Tech 20. Texas Tech 21. Clemson 22. Nebraska

- We learned that scheduling gimmes at home prove nothing about this foursome. Each have tests upcoming later. Virginia Tech faces Georgia Tech at home on Sept. 30th. Texas Tech goes to UTEP and TCU back-to-back on the 9th and 16th. Clemson does the same, visiting Boston College and Florida State in the next two weeks. Nebraska ventures to USC on the 16th.

23. TCU 24. Pittsburgh 25. Fresno State

- A gutcheck win (TCU), coupled with a strong, underrated showing (Pitt) against an ACC solid team in Virginia, and Fresno State beating a game Nevada team at home make a motley crew to round out the Top 25.

Teams to keep a close eye on are Boston College who host Clemson, South Carolina, who takes on Georgia, and Penn State who challenges Notre Dame in South Bend.

What we now know... Week 1

Sometimes the lights go on after the games begin.

It might be premature, but any outcome of the Florida State - Miami game will result in the winner thrust to the forefront of the ACC and National title chase while the loser will walk a fine line to get back to those heights. Both teams are players in the game of big time college football and really not much else will be learned.

Maybe I just want to get the opinions out there before it becomes too tainted by the media's version of events.

First off, the opening weekend provides few clues about the rest of the season. Performances that appeared to have a "wow" factor need to be dialed down a notch or two. We also have a wide swath of teams out there that we really don't know much more about.

- Colt McCoy at Texas looked great, but he and the rest of the Texas offense will face a major upgrade going from the North Texas defense to the revamped Ohio State defense. Let's not get too high on McCoy just yet.

- Tennessee won big, but when you throw three hitch patterns the defensive backs miss their tackles the result is a stat line that reads 11 completions for 291 yards by Erik Ainge. Make no mistake, the Tennessee defense was lock-down as usual and the Vols will not repeat last year. However, the Cal defense more than did their part making Tennessee look good. Earlier in the summer, I railed to a friend of mine that it is a travesty that the Florida-Tennessee game on September 16th will be the CBS prime time game instead of Auburn-LSU. After Saturday's results in Knoxville and Gainesville, UT-UF will do just fine.

- Kentucky can still win six games, however, I am perplexed at how the players seem unprepared for any big game. Louisville scored in three plays and you could see the panic on the coaching staff's face. Any staff worth anything scripts its plays, usually about the first 15-20. Why does it seem that when the UK staff gets off the script, the offense starts to move? The other issue is the defense. I don't know whether the talent level is still years away or whether the Mike Archer schemes, but Wildcat defenders seem always to be out of position, especially against the run. Chalk the loss up to a national title contender as one they weren't supposed to get, but I can attest that this Wildcat fan is tired of hearing the talk. Start walking the walk, gang.

- Notre Dame will slide in the rankings this week due to their game with Georgia Tech. While most of the country was tuning up with I-AA patsies, (Oops, Colorado had that plan and botched it.) the Irish had their hands full on the road with a defense that shutdown Miami and Auburn on the road last year. They still aren't the #2 team in the country, but it was a nice win. However, the credit in the media isn't for the tough, gutsy win. Its for the tough, gutsy loss by a defense that got no help from an inept offense. So, in both ways Notre Dame will get nothing from this weekend. They beat a team that had no chance of moving the ball and couldn't rest their defense. That is your perception from the weekend. I go with a tough win on the road against a stellar opponent and a supposedly game-changing wide receiver. I guess wins just aren't good enough anymore.

- One of the most overlooked game of the weekend was in Pittsburgh. The Panthers beat Virginia, 38-13. I haven't checked the boxscore and I didn't see the game which makes me on the level with most voters of the coaches and writers polls. I do know when I see a score like that it tells me that Dave Wannstedt will have less heat on him today than last year and Al Groh at Virginia will be hearing it all next week. Both coaches were hired as a part of the "Pete Carroll Rule" where ex-NFL coaches were returning to college. The result Saturday now gives Pitt hope that it made the right move last year while the UVA fans are starting to wonder if this is as good as it gets with Groh, who can recruit well but can't win big.

- Finally, the game now feels like the NFL. The new time rules have created a quick game and have left virtually no chance for a comeback under five minutes. ESPN's wrap of the day included a bit about records being safe due to the shorter games and I couldn't agree more. We now have replay, we now have a shorter game, we now are having the celebration penalties, we now know the players number when a penalty occurs. What is left that makes the college game unique?

September 03, 2006

The Early Irish Report Card

14-10. It's a win.

For just under two quarters in Atlanta on Saturday night I saw a scared, happy-footed Brady Quinn. It was BQ, the Ty Willingham version. The end stat line looks amazing compared to the feel of Saturday night's game. 23-for-38, 246 yards. Quinn made big throws in the second half when they were needed and the Irish benefitted from dim-witted Georgia Tech playcalling.

14-10. Time for Mr. Positive and Mr. Negative.

Mr. Positive: "You have to like the Irish ability to be stone-cold killers when it matters. Slant pass to McKnight on a pivotal third down, a great catch by Jeff Samardzija when the Irish needed to move the ball from deep in its own territory. Fourth down dive by Quinn to ice the game. This team plays exactly like the New England Patriots. They just win."

Mr. Negative: "The book might be out on how to slow down the Irish offense. Good line play and speedy, active linebackers doom the Irish offense. The receivers are good, but not speed demons. The moxie is there, but the talent is still a notch below the USCs and Texas' of the world."

Mr. Positive: "But they won. In gut check time this team has a great mentality. Yes, Rhema missed a ball on third down that ultimately resulted in a missed field goal. However, when the Irish got the ball back, they closed the door on the Jackets. And, the DEFENSE. One big pass to Calvin Johnson down the sideline is the only blemish on an otherwise solid effort."

Mr. Negative: "How much were we worried about the GT offense? Reggie Ball has never completed more than 50 percent of his passes in a year. The Jackets didn't score over 30 points against teams not named Duke and Wake Forest. Reggie Ball got plenty of runs over 10 yards. This defense didn't get a real test in the Jackets."

Mr. Positive: "14-10, Irish win. Now we return home and face the Nittany Lions. The Kid Morelli comes calling and Penn State is bringing a ton of youth into Notre Dame Stadium..."

Mr. Negative: "...yeah but they return the heart and soul of the defense, Paul Pozluszny and for what its worth, Joe Pa knows defense."

Mr. Positive: "All that aside lets wrap this up by saying one thing about our Domers... they might have the flash of the passing offense and Weis' reputation for game calling but when it comes down to it, they are a power running team that wore down Georgia Tech and will need to do the same thing against Penn State."

Mr. Negative: "I might agree with that."

September 01, 2006

Let's Get This Party Started...

Stephen Colbert has the Irish opponents on notice!

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