The Ocho

A home away from home for the college football fan who's tired of the talking heads not knowing what they're talking about.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

JoePa Uber Alles . . . for real

There's a new #1 in college football, according to Wes Colley:

http://www.colleyrankings.com/

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Week 5 - One Third Down, The Rest to Go

It's been a crazy college football season, and one third of the way in, some big surprises, and some shifts in the game have appeared. Here's my weekly installment on what I think is news in the college football world, followed by my favorite games of the week, and my weekly Penn State Report.

Surprise #1 - No Cinderella - Maybe this comes as no surprise to anyone else, but with Fresno State's 44-14 pasting of Toledo last night, one, and only one, undefeated non-BCS team remains. Give a big hand to Mike Price and the Miners of UTEP. The season isn't over yet, but so far they're our non-BCS survivor. In addition, the C-USA schedule facing UTEP isn't particularly daunting, and gives them a good chance to end the season undefeated. However, that same schedule will hurt them, as UTEP has and will play exactly 0 BCS conference teams. Its non-conference slate this year: New Mexico (a 21-13 victory), New Mexico State, and Texas Southern. Its remaining C-USA schedule: Memphis, Tulane, Marshall, Rice, Tulsa, UAB, and SMU. Not looking too powerful there. It's going to take multiple losses by all but one or two BCS teams to let the Miners dig their way into a BCS bowl this year. But still, best of luck, and I wonder if Bama is wondering if they let Strippergate be too big of a deal.

Surprise #2 - The Undefeateds (so far) - The ranks have been winnowed to 26 out of 119. There's basically four categories of teams still unblemished up to this point. The first category are those that are no surprise to anyone, and legitimate national title contenders. These include Texas, USC, Cal, Virginia Tech, Georgia, and Florida. The second group has those teams that have done well in recent memory, but have always managed to screw it up somehow down the stretch. In this hallowed group are FSU, Virginia, Kansas State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, UCLA, and Washington State. Our third group are those powers on the rebound, maybe, who've done well so far, but are starting to face some real tests. This subgroup includes Penn State, Nebraska, Alabama, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State. The final group are the Fantastic Four of this year's season. Granted, they haven't played much of anybody yet, but these four teams have never been undefeated at the same time. Kudos to Vanderbilt, Baylor, Kansas, and Indiana. I don't know how long the dream will last for any of these four, but bowl eligibility, usually a pipe dream, is only two victories away for some of these teams. Our special fifth goes to UTEP, mentioned above. Not really fitting in any category, let's call them the Utah-but-not-BCS-bowl-bound-Utah team this year. Til they lose, anyway.

Surprise #3 - The Importance of Being Coach - Coaching decisions seem to have more and more impact this season, as opposed to many others. A perfect example of this are the differences between teams with basically the same personnel but a new head coach. Charlie Weiss at Notre Dame has done amazing things with his team so far, as has Frank Solich with Ohio. Urban Meyer at Florida has passed his first test, and made it through, in a situation that the Zooker often lost in. On the other hand, there are the apparent washouts. Wanny at Pitt looks just awful - how many games will it take to post a win against a IA opponent? (I shouldn't complain - it makes Penn State look a lot more attractive to the in-state recruits.) Les Miles, in the snatching defeat from the jaws of victory Monday in Death Valley, shows how important coaching can be. Even Mike Gundy, at Oklahoma State, has looked awful, moving Donovan Woods from QB to CB, and posting such impressive wins as a 15-10 win over the Bobcats of Montana State. The coach is apparently more important than the talent, and this trend has been shown over the years by FSU's drop after losing Mark Richt and Chuck Amato to head coaching jobs, and even Oklahoma's demise since losing Stoops the Younger to Arizona.

Games of the Week - Week 5

1. Pittsburgh at Rutgers -
Can Wanny manage a win against a IA opponent? Surely, the new doormat of the Big East, since they kicked Temple out, will provide it. Right? Don't count on it. Wanny managed a loss to Ohio, and with props to Frank Solich, the Bobcats aren't that good yet. Meanwhile, Rutgers has been prophesied for years now to have a big season. While I don't believe the hype, Wanny has managed to destroy a once proud program so quickly that I like the Scarlet Knights chances in this one.

2. Michigan at Michigan State - Can the Spartans keep the momentum going? This is a real test here, as Michigan State has habitually choked, and the Wolverines have often benefited from it. A win here might make MSU the favorite in the Big Ten championship race, and I think the Spartans manage to keep it together for yet another week.

3. Texas at Missouri - The battle of running QBs is on in Columbia, MO. So far, the Big 12 South championship seems Texas's to lose. This game is the second real challenge to the Longhorns, with the dust-up in Columbus being the first one. Let's hope this one won't be as close, and I don't think it will be. Texas, ever since the OSU game last year and coming back from a 35-7 deficit, has displayed a toughness not shown before by previous Mack Brown squads. The talent level in this one is squarely on Texas's side, and Mack still has the edge in coaching. Maybe the Tigers can get Quinn Snyder to shift over, and try his greasy haired hand at football, because Gary Pinkel ain't getting the job done.

4. Indiana at Wisconsin; Baylor at Texas A&M; Kansas at Texas Tech - Time to kiss the dream goodbye, boys. It's been a nice run, but none of these three dream teams will be undefeated by the end of Saturday. Indiana, barring a letdown after the Badgers' emotional win over Michigan and Lloyd Carr, Barry Alvarez's first, will be overmanned and beaten up on the line. Baylor goes into Kyle Field, with a 12th man hungry for revenge over last year's embarrassing loss to the Bears. Kansas, meanwhile, has displayed a stout defense to date, but hasn't played anybody with the offensive firepower Texas Tech brings to the table. On the other hand . . .

5. Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt - Surely this one is in the bag, after victories over Ole Miss and Miss State. While Vandy does possess the ability to let this one get away from them, hopefully the Commodores will must enough magic to win this one and go 5-0. In fact, with a conference game against Kentucky awaiting them, a win this Sat. puts the Commodores in great shape to get its first bowl berth since 1982, when it lost to Air Force in the now defunct Hall of Fame Classic. This battle of Tennesseans I think is taken by the Commodores, who know how big this game is for their best season in their team's lifetime.

6. Florida at Alabama - The second big test for Urban Meyer - going into Tuscaloosa. Has Alabama's misfortunes of late been due more to Brodie Croyle's injuries and less on Mike Shula's abyssmal coaching? With a healthy Brodie Croyle, this game may be a breaker for Mr. Shula's continuation as the Bear's heir, and may further enhance the reputation of Meyer's Gators, who look even better after the Vols came back and beat LSU at home at night. Still, seeing what I said above about coaching, this one goes to Florida. Urban Meyer is untested as a recruiter, having never stayed anywhere longer than two years, but his ability to coach with lesser material has been showcased at both Bowling Green and Utah. Expect the Gators to win a tough, close one here.

7. Iowa State at Nebraska - The battle to see who is for real in the Big 12 North. Neither has looked impressive so far, with Bill Callahan, despite a 3-0 start, guaranteed to be making the Cornhusker loyalists question his hiring. Iowa State, which dominated a Drew Tate-less Iowa, looked downright pedestrian against a scrappy Army last week. The battle to see who sucks less will probably go to Nebraska, as Lincoln gives it home field advantage. Still, I'm rooting for the Cyclones to ramrod the Huskers in this one.

8. South Florida at Miami - This game will tell us whether Louisville just had an off week, or if the Bulls are for real. I for one am hoping for the latter, as it makes Penn State's 23-13 victory look that much better. Miami finally showed some signs of life in the game against Colorado, and I expect to see some of that. I think the Bulls may be more talented than anyone expected, but not talented enough to pull off the upset here. Look for a close one, but Miami soldiers on in this one.

9. Washington at UCLA - Why can't I believe in the Bruins? They beat OU, right? What is it about them that makes me think they're not for real? Could it be . . . recent history? That's pretty much it. UCLA did well against an Oklahoma that seems like it'll be lucky to manage a winning record. So far, though, it's opponents have managed a grand total of 2 wins, against Tulsa and San Jose State. Not too impressive. Washington, meanwhile, isn't looking too great itself, with it's sole win against Idaho's Vandals. I don't think the Bruins are as good as their record indicates, but I think they are good enough to beat the Huskies. And probably pretty badly. Look for a 42-17 win in the Rose Bowl this Saturday.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for,

Minnesota at Penn State - 4-0 despite their best efforts in Evanston, Penn State welcomes an undefeated Golden Gophers to Beaver Stadium. I feel good about this game, for a number of reasons. One, the 16-7 loss last year in the Metrodome was due mostly to completely ineffectual offensive production. Two, the game's in Beaver Stadium, which surely gives some advantage to the Nittany Lions in this one. Three, the defense is just as good as last year's, and Minnesota's offense seems pretty much the same. This game, though, comes down to one person: Michael Robinson. Penn State can't expect to turn the ball over to Minn. 4 times, and give up only 13 points like last week at Northwestern. The defense has been performing up to last season's standards, and the new freshman speedsters have opened up the Penn State offense. As I've said before, if Robinson can play like it's the second half the whole game, this game is a toss up, with my emotional gut check giving the Lions an edge, at 31-28. On the other hand, if he play's anything like he did the first half of the Northwestern game, I can see a 35-7 deficit easily by the end of the first half, which the Minnesota defense should be able to defend. In addition, I have to comment on Galen Hall's play-calling as OC. So you have Tony Hunt, who seems to average about 6-7 yards a carry, a questionable QB, and admittedly some real talent at wideout. Why, though, do you feel compelled to throw every first down? With some more running plays called on first and second down, and fewer mistakes from Robinson, this game is Penn State's to lose in a close battle. I call it 31-28. With four turnovers in the first half, though, this one goes to the Gophers, 49-28, and the battle to return to a bowl game gets that much harder.

Get used to it, LSU fans

Bo Pellini's pass defense has been exploited in both LSU games this year. That shouldn't come as any surprise, given that Bo Pellini was the architect of the horrific Oklahoma defense of a year ago. Here are what the last 6 Pellini opponents with winning records have done to his pass D vs. what their passing average is, and the point totals that resulted:

Average vs. Pellini Point total
Okie State 144 207 35
Texas A&M 261 360 35
Colorado` 215 50 3
USC 272 332 55
Arizona St. 395 461 31
Tennessee 224 250 30

Defense wins championships. It appears the Less Smiles era will bring neither to Baton Rouge.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

tennessing is tennebelieving

for those of you lucky enough to watch the tenn v. lsu game, WHAT HAPPENED?

did lsu run out of gas? did tenn flip a switch? is the first of many "miles moments"?

and fulmer, for god sakes, stop with the eric ainge experiment. clausen is your guy.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Week 4 - What will happen next?

So it's Week 4 of the college football season, and so far, there have been a lot of unexpected twists this year. Oklahoma is 1-2, while Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Baylor are all undefeated. The 3 favorites in the Big Ten all have one lost, while recent bottom dwellers Penn State and Indiana a combined 6-0. As far as BCS busters, a grand total of 3 teams are undefeated (Toledo, UTEP, and New Mexico) and two of them (UTEP and New Mexico) play each other, while Toledo still has to deal with the 1-loss but still potent Fresno State. In addition, none of these schools have the sort of schedule to allow for a reasonable BCS busting run, even if they do run the tables.

Once again, here are my most interesting games of the week, my picks, and of course, the Penn State report to wrap it up.

1. Purdue at Minnesota - Purdue, one of the potential preseason picks to be the Big Ten champ, is also the only one to remain undefeated. Minnesota, after playing a cupcake schedule so far, is also undefeated. Purdue has the easy road to the Rose Bowl (I mean, winning the Big Ten and being undefeated has to get you in the Nat'l Championship game. Or not - see Auburn, 2004), as it doesn't face Michigan or Ohio State. Get past the Badgers, a still untested Penn State squad, and the split-personality Spartans (they'll drop one to someone they shouldn't), and Purdue is sitting pretty. However, first, they have to be able to stop Minnesota's Laurence Maroney, and show that they can move the ball against a Big Ten defense. I don't think the Boilermakers will win them all, but I think they've got this one.

2. Youngstown State at Pittsburgh - Is this going to be Wanny's first win as Pitt's coach? He better hope so, otherwise his tenure with the Panthers will be over swiftly. This game is interesting only to see how awful Pitt looks in ekeing a win out over the Penguins, a perennial IAA power. After watching the utter lack of offense against Nebraska and Ohio, this one may be a 6-3 win for the Panthers, but a win nonetheless.

3. North Texas at Kansas State - Perhaps the Mean Green will finally get a win over someone in the Big 12 not named Baylor. Kansas State is 2-0 on the virtue of a miscue of the Marshall coaching staff, and is, as is most of the Big 12 North, looking awful so far this year. North Texas has the number one rushers of both 2003 and 2004 in its backfield, and plays a slightly tougher schedule than KSU's. Look for UNT to pull the upset in Manhattan, while holding onto the ball for 45 minutes of the game. Pass? We don't need no steenking pass!

4. Florida at Kentucky - Test No. 2 for Urban Meyer and the Florida offense. Kentucky, still universally bad, played Louisville right up to the end. Expect more of the same in this game, but, as usual with the Wildcats, expect to Florida to pull it out in the end. Look for a close game, but I can't tell you if it's going to be a 38-35 thriller, or a 16-7 snoozer.

5. USC at Oregon - Autzen Stadium. Home of the Ducks and their just plain awful yellow highlighter uniforms. This game is one of the big stumbling blocks between the Trojans and a second consecutive national championship, and a third AP victory (which counts for what now, since the AP pulled out of the BCS rankings?). The Ducks haven't looked impressive so far, but it is Autzen, which is one of the toughest places to play nationwide. Still, to misuse a metaphor, I think the Ducks' goose is cooked, and USC rolls over them again, en route to the Rose Bowl.

6. Indiana State at Texas Tech - Big question: can Tech score triple digits? Will Cody Hodges break the record for most passing yards in one game? Or most passing TDs? Will Tech ever play a IA team again?

7. New Mexico at UTEP - Two of our three non-BCS undefeated teams meet this Sat. night in the Sun Bowl. Mike Price has down amazing things with UTEP so far, and New Mexico is similarly impressive, coming off the bowl loss to Navy last season. Whoever wins this one will be the most likely team in the now highly unlikely scenario of a non-BCS team to play with the big boys again. UTEP has the best path with a win here, as its remaining C-USA opponents so far are a bit more competitive than the Mountain West as a whole. New Mexico, though, must face the still powerful Utes and the surging Cowboys of Wyoming, in addition to the schizoid TCU Horned Frogs. New Mexico so far has managed a win over Missouri, which is better than anything UTEP has done so far, so I say the Lobos have this one.

8. Tennessee at LSU - The Vols just lost in the Swamp, and now they have to go to Tiger Stadium. Facing chants of "Tiger Bait" from throngs of drunken Louisianans, I think the Vols drop another here, and Les Miles gets to continue his honeymoon. LSU simply just found ways to win against a hihg-octane ASU offense. Meanwhile, the Vols have looked anemic not only at Florida, but against the mighty mighty Blazers of UAB at home. Before this season is up, the hype about Tenn. will be gone, and playing as they have so far, are likely to give Spurrier yet another notch in his belt against the Safety Orange Gladiators. Look for the Tigers to romp all over Tennessee in this one.

9. Penn State at Northwestern - Now we get to see if the Nittany Lions are for real. Kind of. Just awful on the road the past two seasons, Penn State opens up its Big Ten schedule at Northwestern. The same Northwestern that has beaten us two years in a row. If the Penn State offense that showed up in the Cincy and CMU games shows up, Northwestern probably won't make it 3 in a row. The defense has no questions, and, while allowing yards especially to mobile quarterbacks, has clamped down, and will keep the Wildcats out of the endzone. Last year, two touchdowns by the Cats was enough to win the game. Hopefully this year will be different. Northwestern got deviled by ASU, barely leashed the Huskies of Northern Illinois, beat the Bobcats. If the Penn State offense can move the ball and make big plays, expect a 42-28 victory (cause you know JoePa will put the backups in once we're up by 4 touchdowns.) However, if Penn State looks like it did last year, expect a close 14-10 game that could go either way.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Texas v. Rice

rather than review the game (although i'll say i love watching jamaal charles run), i am going to rant on our scheduling.

granted, texas did play osu this year and will play them again next year, i am still concerned that playing a cream-puff noncon schedule will not prepare the team for the rigors of conference play. vince young essentially took the night off. our receivers were relegated to blocking duty.

rather than palying bottom dwellers from the sun belt or cusa, i think texas, or any other contender, would benefit from playing bottom dwellers from bcs conferences. the step up in talent would present a greater challenge and i think better prepare them for conference play. the texas offense could use more game experience than ulala or rice could provide. so, i would suggest scheduling teams like arizona, ole miss, maryland, vandy or illinois.

i know that there are any number of factors that dictate playing teams from the houston are or the metroplex. but speaking just in terms of being ready for games at mizzou, against ou, and at a&m, i just don't feel like the games that are scheduled get the team up for conference play.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Week 3 Lines

Alabama at South Carolina (+2)
Illinois at California (-21)
Florida State at Boston College (+1)
Kentucky (+2.5) at Indiana
Oregon State (+14) at Louisville
Michigan State (+6.5) at Notre Dame
Purdue at Arizona (+7)
SMU (+27.5) at Texas A&M
Arkansas (+31.5) at USC
Ole Miss (+3) at Vanderbilt

This would be a great week for some teasers: example: Arkansas (+37.5) at USC with Michigan State (+12.5) at Notre Dame. Also, I would ML both the MSU-Notre Dame as well as Ole Miss-Vandy. The gimme line of the week is FSU at BC (+1). Take the Eagles.

mini-analysis of picks:

Alabama-South Carolina: Alabama has yet to post an impressive victory during the Shula Era. Maybe they hired the wrong head coach? Auburn may have blanked them, but Croom seems to be doing more with less at MSU as compared to his Alabama counterpart. South Carolina 23 Alabama 16.

Illinois-California: It's possible that Cal might struggle early against this Big Ten oppoent, but they are at home and should be able to name their score in the second half. California 45 Illinois 17.

FSU-Boston College: FSU has a great defense, but BC isn't going to allow 9 sacks. It's possible that BC's defense will outscore FSU alone. Look for this one to get potentially ugly. Boston College 27 FSU 13.

Kentucky-Indiana: Even without the wideouts, Andre Woodson is by far the best athlete on this field. Kentucky 37 Indiana 31.

Oregon St-Louisville: If Lousville controls the game with Mike Bush, then this game could get ugly. But they didn't even do that against Kentucky. Oregon St will put on a good show before fading late. Lousville 34 Oregon St 23.

Michigan St-Notre Dame: Drew Stanton is to be watched. Notre Dame can't bring it 3 straight weekends. MSU 20 ND 17.

Purdue-Arizona: Arizona's defense is DAMN good. Purdue will be happy to win this game, let alone cover the spread. Purdue 24 Arizona 21.

SMU-Texas A&M: SMU's performance against Baylor and not against TCU is what makes this pick. Texas A&M 38 SMU 21.

Arkansas-USC: Arkansas can run the ball so USC's defensive line better come prepared. Look for Arkansas to keep it close until midway through the 2nd quarter when USC creates separation. However, don't look for USC to cover the line. USC 41 Arkansas 22.

Ole Miss-Vandy: It's time to jump off the Vandy bandwagon. Ole Miss beat a respectable Memphis team (which Vegas installed as the favorite) and based on a lucky Vandy win over Arksansas, Vandy is labeled the favorite. In case you didn't realize this, Vandy is the FAVORITE. Ole Miss isn't great, but it isn't Vanderbilt either. Ole Miss 27 Vandy 21.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Week 3 excitement: My games of the week

The most interesting games this week, and my picks in those games:

1. Utah at TCU - We get to see if SMU was just overlooked by the Frogs last week and if Utah can keep its winning streak going. Sooners, you better hope this one is competitive, otherwise, expect a bad bad beating by the powder blue of UCLA. Whether the game is competitive or not, I think this one is going to the Utes.

2. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt - Interesting only because its another chain in the Commodores' quest for a winning season. The Rebels are rebuilding, and played an ugly game against Memphis. Will Vandy get another SEC victory? Well, they beat the Hogs, and I think Arkansas is fielding a better team than people think, so Vandy, in my eyes, the dream stays alive again this week.

3. Michigan State at Notre Dame - Are we sure ND isn't in the Big Ten? After travelling to the Big House and beating the Wolverines, the Fighting Irish host the Spartans this week. While ND has improved dramatically on offense, their defense can't be said to have faced a real challenge as of yet. Michigan State, on the other hand, has lit it up so far, though against MAC and WAC opponents. Expect a shootout in this one, but I have to give the edge to the Spartans.

4. Miami at Clemson - Can both Bowdens beat the 'Canes this year? After giving up 9 sacks to an FSU that was, *ahem*, tied with the Citadel at half-time last week, expect another Clemson victory. Clemson has won two nail-biters in a row - expect a third.

5. Oklahoma at UCLA - So there's a lot of buzz about the Bruins again this year. It seems like UCLA has been a hot up and coming team every season at this point, until reality sets in again. Oklahoma, on the other hand, looked downright awful against TCU and Tulsa. Still, Bob Stoops is definitely the better coach, and the Sooners have better talent, so I think it's time again for another wake-up call for the Bruins. Sorry, but the elder Bosworth gets the edge this time, with a win for the Crimson and Cream.

6. FSU at BC - Welcome to the ACC, BC! See my earlier comment about FSU and the Citadel, so I've got to say the 'Noles first visit to Chestnut Hill won't be a pleasant one. Are we going to see an all-"Big East" first ACC championship game? We just might.

7. Fresno State at Oregon - The Bulldogs blow into Eugene, to try to take out the Ducks in the confines of Autzen Stadium. Of course, Oregon won't be the best Pac 10 team the Bulldogs face this season, and this one may just be a warm-up for them. It'll be close, but Fresno beat their IAA opponent worse than Oregon did, so I think their BCS-busting hopes stay alive this time.

8. Northwestern State vs. UL-Lafayette - Why is this interesting? Because NW State has already beaten UL-Monroe, and I think has a good shot at knocking the rage out of the Cajuns this game too. Maybe the Sun Belt ought to look to trade up.

9. Purdue at Arizona - The Wildcats defense is improving under Mike Stoops, as has their attitude. After a tough loss to Utah, they welcome the Boilermakers to the desert. Seeing the Big Ten in action so far, and Purdue's inability to keep more than a 35 point lead over Akron (goodbye to that pick in Yahoo Pick'em), and my utter disbelief in Purdue being good regardless of the facts, I've got to give the Cats this one.

10. Central Michigan at Penn State - Penn State gets a chance to win all of its non-cons this year, and actually have some offense in the first half. The defense will be intense, as usual, and if someone could just tell Michael Robinson that game's already half over, the fireworks in the first half will be there too. Though it doesn't look like as much a cakewalk as I though, due to CMU's victory over Miami (OH) this past week, the Nittany Lions' should walk into conference play undefeated. 3 Big Ten wins = bowl eligibility. Can we count on it? Not yet.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The greatest football story of the year

The prayers of the Auburn Nation have been answered. True freshman DE Alonzo Horton is a New Orleans native, who learned shortly after Katrina hit that his aunt had died. A few days later, he learned that his two younger brothers had drowned in a New Orleans shelter. His father was also missing. ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski wrote about the situation in the following story: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=wojciechowski_gene&id=2156454

Now, AuburnSports.com and Inside the Auburn Tigers are reporting that Horton's brothers and father have been found, alive, in Houston.

Praise God!

Penn State is #2

Our creator (of the ocho, not of the universe) should be happy:

http://www.colleyrankings.com/

Back from exile in Cleveland

Due to having to perform best man duties this past weekend in Cleveland, my game watching time was cut down. However, I do have a few highlights I want to bring up, and then, of course, my take on Penn State's current situation:

1. Pitt wants a take back - So the loss to Notre Dame is forgivable/understandable. Charlie Weiss has done a lot with the talent on hand, and beat a talented Michigan team that some (though not me) thought was the heir apparent to the Big Ten title this year. But . . . Ohio? Frank Solich be damned, Ohio should not have beaten Pitt. Maybe now we know why Wannstedt wasn't doing well at Miami. Meanwhile, Stanford and Walt Harris are undefeated, with the narrow victory against Navy. Can I just say I'd really like to renew the PSU-Pitt rivalry right now?

2. Big surprises of the week -
a. TCU goes to Norman, and beats OU. Perhaps the trip across I-20 over to SMU was a little too much for them. Meanwhile, OU struggles with Tulsa, and makes itself look even worse. So I guess there won't be a Utah this year unless it is Utah. Who do the Utes get next? That's right, TCU. Time to see if this last game was just a letdown, or if TCU is just going to be a split personality team this year.

b. Vandy beating Arkansas. Vandy is likely to be 4-1 or even 5-0, depending on the upcoming Ole Miss game, walking into October. I'm not sure I ever expected to see Vandy to be 2-0. Ever. With a start like that, that put's them in great shape to be bowl eligible. Now, granted, once October starts, Vandy getting one or two more wins is going to be difficult, but a 5-0 Vandy on Oct. 2 need beat only Kentucky to be bowling come December.

c. Iowa - where have you gone? Injury problems plague the Hawkeyes once more, only this time it's Drew "Little Man" Tate, who carried Iowa on his shoulders last year. Perhaps Iowa State is resurgent and will actually win the Big 12 North this year. But in any event, Iowa must really hope that Tate comes back sooner rather than later.

d. South Carolina - While this game may just further my view that Georgia is overrated (though BSU did redeem itself, and Georgia, by playing the Beavers well in Corvallis), if not, the SEC East is facing the rise of a new power. Spurrier, with a South Carolina team that many expect to not even be bowl-eligible, was a missed extra point (and subsequent failed 2 pt conversion try) away from taking this game to OT. I still want to see Florida play someone, but so far both the Vols and the Dawgs don't seem to be on top of their game. It may not be too long before we see the Cocks rising in the SEC. (Come on, everybody's thought it - I just had to say it).

3. The Penn State Report -
So despite being in Ohio, I was unable to see the PSU-Cincinnati game, but here are my thoughts based on what I've read and seen of this game and the future opponents. The game was what I had hoped the USF game would be - a dominating effort. Once again, the Penn State D stepped up to the plate, causing 5 turnovers, 4 of which were converted into points. Disappointing is the offense - while the explosion in the third quarter was welcome, it is far too reminiscent of the Penn State of 99 to the present, except for 2002. With the Big Ten schedule looming, scoring one touchdown in 28 minutes of the first half isn't going to cut it. However, once the boys in blue got into the swing of things, it looked exciting, with big contributions coming from both Justin King and Derrick Williams. Perhaps EA Sports is right - maybe they are that good. Central Michigan is coming up, which, after their surprising win over a competitive-with-OSU Miami of Ohio, may not be as much the cake walk as I anticipated. The Big Ten schedule looks less imposing now as well. Ohio State acquitted itself well against Texas, but Michigan has continued to look vulnerable against Notre Dame and Northern Illinois, and Northwestern struggled against the Huskies as well. Wisconsin seems to be running full steam, but have yet to hit a team that can play big-time defense. Purdue allowed a pesky Akron to run up 24 points. All in all, assuming the offense can capitalize on the turnovers that the outstanding defense has been providing, this year looks like a return to bowling, with at least one of my preseason automatic losses (Michigan) looking a lot more winnable. We'll see how the Nittany Lions do against CMU, but at least three wins in the Big Ten looks very plausible. San Antonio, here we come!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This week's sign that the apocalypse is upon us

There's a decent chance that come Oct. 1, Vanderbilt will be 5-0, and Oklahoma will be 1-3.

Week 2 Winners and Losers

Texas - Big Winner
What a year Mack Brown, Vince Young and the Longhorns are having ! They have won both first time match-ups with fellow storied programs Michigan (Rose Bowl) and Ohio State (at the Horseshoe). It is too early to say that Texas is on a collision course with USC in the so called BCS Title Game to be held by the Rose Bowl this season. I can assure you that this would be a dream match-up even bigger than last season's Texas-Michigan Rose Bowl classic game for the ages. What stands in the Longhorns way? The toughest road game on the schedule is at Texas A&M at the end of the year and of course the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma which is struggling with new quarterbacks but this will provide little comfort to Brown until he can actually end the five game skid against the Sooners.

Notre Dame - Big Winner
Notre Dame dominated Michigan even though the final score may not reflect that. The Irish were in control most of the game but Michigan did attempt to stage a rally at the end. The Irish looked awesome in their opener against Pittsburgh but some wanted validation and this game was it. The Wolverines did lose Michael Hart in the first half but that is not why they lost. The Irish opened up the game with a dominating drive that led to a touchdown and basically set the tone for the game. Notre Dame has the toughest schedule in the country with big names like Michigan State, Washington, Purdue, USC, BYU and Tennessee still left. With this kind of schedule, the Irish can never afford even a little emotional let down. Assuming they can maintain their hunger each week, they should be the favorite to win every game with the exception of USC which visits South Bend in mid-October. The Associated Press voters should have Notre Dame in the Top 10 this week without a doubt.

Clemson - Winner
Clemson has opened up their season with impressive wins against solid opponents in Texas A&M and Maryland. The Tigers season could be headed for something special if they can beat Miami at home next Saturday which would give them an impressive 3-0 start considering the quality of opponents.

Steve Spurrier - Winner/Georgia - Loser
Georgia and its fans have nothing to brag about in barely beating South Carolina at HOME led by the legendary Steve Spurrier 17-15. The big difference in the game was a missed extra point early in the game by the Gamecocks which forced them later in the game to go for a two point conversion after a touchdown but they failed. Georgia fans were looking forward to this game as revenge against Spurrier for all those years he clobbered Georgia while the head coach at the University of Florida. However, this is hardly fair as he is just in his first season as head coach of a school with no winning tradition rather than coaching the powerhouse at Florida he created. The Gamecocks do not have anywhere near the talent level of Georgia yet Spurrier's coaching almost led them to a big road victory. Not sure why anybody in the media is calling this game sweet revenge for Georgia especially since it was just a two point victory at home.

Oklahoma - Loser
Oklahoma struggled against Tulsa which is not reflected in the final score. Tulsa could not score touchdowns while inside the five yard line on at least two occassions early in the game which very well would have deflated the Sooners and led to a different outcome. Later at night, Texas Christian (which beat Oklahoma in the opener) lost to Southern Methodist 21-10. Expect the Sooners to lose to rising UCLA in Pasadena next Saturday.

Washington - Loser /California - Winner
The Huskies got clubbed at home by the University of California - a school that Tyrone Willingham dominated in his seven seasons at Stanford. The Huskies were 1-10 last year so Willingham was not given much to work with this year. It is sad to see the overall fall of Washington football from the national powerhouse program it once was under the legendary Don James. Willingham is not the kind of person who will look back but if he were, he would surely regret the day he resigned as the head football coach at Stanford where expectations were much lower but managed to win the PAC-10, something the Cardinal had not done since the days of Heisman Trophy winner and Stanford legend Jim Plunkett. The Golden Bears' offense looked terrific under Joe Ayoob who replaced the injured Nate Longshore.

Texas comes up big

Wow! Just, wow!

The Horns pulled out another one. The Heisman campaign is in full effect for Vince. I can't even begin to explain the feeling when Sweed came down with that touchdown pass. So, where do we go from here?

My thoughts from the game tonight:

Selvin Young is no longer the starter at tailback. Jamaal Charles is the next great RB at Texas. By the way, Melton got in at the end of the game. The fact that is was not reviewed is a tragedy. But it worked out anyway.

The Texas defense was stout. Bend, but not break.

Ted Ginn was no factor, but he and Santonio Holmes are great.

Great win for Texas, punch our ticket, we'll see you in the Rose.

This is an edit, as I was DRUNK when I posted last night. I just want to elaborate on a few points.

The Horns played a great game, but the issues we had going into that game nearly killed the Horns.

Turnovers: You cannot continue to turn the ball over and give good teams extra opportunities to score. That first interception by Young was completely boneheaded. Selvin Young cannot hold onto the ball, and it probably cost him his starting position. The coaching staff said the Selvin reinjured his ankle, but I suspect Mack lost confidence in Selvin last night. Selvin had 11 yards on five carries and a crucial fumble that shot right into AJ Hawks' hands. Jamaal Charles was more effective as a runner and had some great catches out of the backfield. By the way, passing to Charles out of the backfield was the only effective weapon Texas had against the Buckeye linebackers.

Special Teams: Are you freaking kidding me? Texas continues to get beat on kick-off coverage. We should either: Kick the ball out-of-bounds or onside kick after every score. During practice this week, they should run some coverage drills and every time a man gets out of his lane or misses a tackle, he should be shot on site. I promise that would solve our coverage issues.

Unfortunately, turnovers and special teams will lose you ballgames, and they may do Texas in against Oklahoma, A&M and potentially a Big 12 north foe on Dec. 3 or, hopefully, whoever they face in a BCS bowl.

Defense was solid. Texas would shift from a four man front to a five or six man front just before the snap and it caused problems for the Buckeye O-line. The key to last night's victory was neutralizing Ted Ginn. The Heisman contender had two catches for 9 yards and 1 rush for -2.

The offense came out with a game plan to get the receivers involved early. The running game disappointed me. Vince was the leading rusher, but the running game was largely ineffective. With Texas' O-line, I would like to see more I-formation rather than running out of the shoutgun. This especially hurt after a sixty yard completion to Pittman that gave the Horns a first and goal at the Ohio St. 5 yard line. Three plays later and the Horns had to settle for a field goal. By God, line up in the I and pound that ball into the endzone. Instead it was three QB draws out of the shotgun and kick the field goal.

The good news, the receivers have arrived! Pittman, Sweed and Charles all picked up big yards on receptions and of course, Sweed had the game-winning reception with 2:30 left. The Buckeyes took TE David Thomas out of the game, but that left Pittman, Sweed and Charles out of the backfield single covered. Thomas had some oppotunities and he missed a couple of passes that I would have expected him to make. Young fininshed 18-29 for 270 with 2 tds and 2 ints.

Moving forward, I would like to see better kick-off coverage and a better turnover margin. But this team looks good and will be tough to beat. The defense is stout and the offense is becoming less one-dimensional. By the way, this game counts as a "big" win for Mack Brown. Although it is not his first big win as you will no doubt be led to believe by the national media. Previous wins against Nebraska at lincoln (twice, the first snapping a long home win streak), wins against A&M at college station(twice), the rose bowl win and others were all big wins, but it turns out the only "big" games the horns have played in the last five years are the ones they lost. I never bought into, nor understood, the "Mack can't win big games" nonsense. My attitude is, you can't win them all, and in fact, most teams do not win them all. Anyone, who thinks the Texas program is worse off for having Mack Brown is probably named Matt Hayes or Colin Cowherd and they both look like idiots this morning.

By the way, I predicted 30-17 Texas. I got the Point total right but I was off by five each way. Texas 25-22.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Thoughts on the biggies this weekend

I like home faves: Ohio State (hope I'm wrong about that one), Mich (narrowly), and Arizona State (though I think they're a dog by a point or so, they get LSU in their first game, in Tempe, after a long plane flight, and LSU players and coaches have had a lot of other things on their minds lately).

Auburn-Georgia Tech: what went wrong and can it be fixed?

Well, the Auburn Tigers' 15 game win streak came to a crashing halt as the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech steamrolled onto the Plains and wreaked havoc. A few thoughts.

1) Asymmetrical rivalries are difficult. Georgia Tech really, really likes to beat Auburn. They grew so tired of losing to Auburn that after dropping 10 in a row from 1978-1987, they cancelled the series, which is one of the South's oldest and most storied. Only Georgia has played Auburn more times than GT. The rivalry was so fierce back in its day that Tom Wolfe mentions it in his ubernovel A Man in Full (Auburn is the team that irreparably injured the knee of protagonist Charlie Croker).

Georgia Tech was always a bit of a little brother to Auburn: they got the idea about this whole "football" thing from us. In February of 1892, Auburn played Georgia at Atlanta's Piedmont Park (now just a stone's throw from my office) in both schools' first football game. Among the 5,000 spectators in attendance for the 10-0 Auburn win were Tech students, who, at Auburn's invitation, had arrived to cheer against Georgia. GT thought watching Georgia lose was so much fun that they decided to purchase their own oblong spheroid, and have their guys play as well. Also in 1892, Auburn began admitting women, which is an idea Tech should look into.

Nevertheless, as the once fierce rivalry turned lopsided, the Jackets' furor grew and grew. This is THE game for them. In a year in which Auburn plays Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Steve Spurrier (though for the first time in several decades, neither Florida nor Tennessee), GT isn't high on the priority list. Thus, AU spent all spring and fall preparing for the season. GT spent all spring and fall prepping for Auburn.

2) New defensive coordinator David Gibbs' made changes in play calling/signalling that were difficult to adjust to.

From the outset, it was clear that the defense was late getting set in its formation. That difficulty appeared to be from the fact that Gibbs, unlike predecessor Gene Chizik, called the plays in from the field, and, also unlike Chizik, used an elaborate semaphore like sign system. Confusion from this contributed heavily to Auburn's giving up two quick scores and falling behind 10-0. Obviously, the advantage of something being simply a result of a transition is that as people get used to it, it can be fixed. That appears to be the case here, as the AU defense surrendered just 111 yards, 6 points, and 0 TDs in the second half, despite the offense turning the ball over 5 times.

3) The DEs' recognition is awful, and thus they are liabilities against the run

Auburn's stable of DEs is among the deepest in the nation. In fact, preseason, the starting tandem of Stanley McClover on the strong side, and Quentin Groves on the weakside was touted by some (including me) as the best pair of bookends to hit the SEC since Alabama's Eric Curry and John Copeland in 1992. The two speedsters had sensational inaugural campaigns a year ago, tormenting opposing QBs, and as backups, each garnered 7.5 sacks, making them the leading returning sackers in the SEC. Unfortunately, they are not as stellar at recognizing and defending the run, which, combined with their speed, makes them highly successful to delay and misdirection, which GT employed in spades last Saturday. PJ Daniels ran well on the Tigers on a variation of the smoke draw, and relied on Auburn's DEs to consistently run themselves out of the play (the speedy LB corps did that as well). Unfortunately, this is not as much of a quick fix as the communication issues.

4) Blitz pickup was subpar

As I mentioned earlier, while Tech spent the last 8 months scheming for Auburn, Auburn didn't do the same preparing for Tech. Nowhere was that more evident than in the Tigers' inability to stop the onslaught of GT blitzing. This was something that anyone should've known was coming. Jon Tenuta is known as a top shelf defensive coordinator, and earned that reputation by becoming a blitzing fiend. While he's not as out of control as Joe Lee Dunn, you know when ordering at the drive-thru window at Tenuta's, you're going to get a large blitz with blitz on the side, and a super sized blitz to drink (blitz pie for dessert is $.99 extra). Auburn's running backs continually struggled with picking up their man off the blitz, as did senior TE Cooper Wallace. Combined with an offensive line not picking up its primary assignments (the play by newbie Joe Cope and his backup Steven Ross at Center was especially horrible), and Brandon Cox had men in his face all night long for a majority of his 44 pass attempts. Cox himself wasn't particularly effective at reading the defenses either, as reports are that he checked into the wrong play on at least a dozen occasions.

The silver lining from this is that Auburn won't play a team this hell bent on blitzing until South Carolina on October 1, and won't play a team that will blitz this much with this much talent until at least the Arkansas game on October 15. While teams in between may blitz more than usual after watching the GT game tape, they won't be as comfortable with it as GT, and, let's face it: Mississippi State, Ball State, and Western Kentucky don't have the athletes to make even the best scheme work successfully against Auburn. Thus, the newbies who screwed up (Cox and Cope were making their first starts; Tre Smith his second at RB, and first since 2002) have time to learn, and get better. The offense grew light years in the month of September under Al Borges a year ago, and is no doubt capable of doing the same this year. The veteran TE Cooper Wallace has to get better, or perhaps lose his job to one of the highly touted true freshmen at the position, Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie.

5) Officiating was awful and outcome determinative

I'm not usually a "blame it on the zebras" guy, and playing at home, AU should've won by a decisive enough margin that the officials didn't matter. However, in this game, the officials made a difference in the outcome with their incompetence. Pass interference calls to keep Tech drives alive occurred, even on one pass that was so obviously uncatchable that Calvin Johnson dove 5 yards out of bounds to try and grab it, and still it was too far out of bounds. Auburn, on the other hand, couldn't get a PI call even when its receivers were being held at knifepoint by GT defenders.

The most crucial calls, however, may have concerned Cox, who was battered repeatedly and unnecessarily by GT defenders, all without consequence. Cox's 3rd interception saw him roughed, and then shoved to the ground by the helmet by the same GT defender. When Cooper Wallace retalliated against Cox's assailant, Wallace was called for the penalty, but GT got away with it. The roughing penalty was the biggest of them all, b/c it's pre-possession change: the INT would've been wiped away, and Auburn would've kept the ball, still driving, still in GT territory. Absolutely huge blunder by the officials that is probably the reason why I'm writing about Auburn's loss and not its narrow escape.


In any event, AU suffered from major problems, but most are curable, and AU's schedule sets up nicely to allow time for that cure. You'll note I didn't complain about Brandon Cox's 4 INTs. no QB can be expected to make his first start against a team returning 9 players with starting experience of a defense that finished #12 in the country, face that much blitzing, get that little protection, throw 44 pass attempts, and not throw a few mistake passes. Overall, Cox's arm strength wildly exceeded expectations and press reports (and wildly exceeded his receivers' grasp early when the jittery Cox was overshooting). Even with the game going the way it did, Cox nearly did enough to win. Cox had his 3rd TD pass taken away by a holding penalty on backup Center Steven Ross which, though a good call by the officials, was still a bad penalty: Ross grabbed the jersey of a GT defender who was well behind the play and couldn't've gotten to Cox anyway.

With the rest of the SEC West having proven very little - LSU, Ark and MSU haven't played I-A competition yet; Ole Miss proved only that they can be competitive against backups from CUSA, and Alabama has proven that they can be competitive in the Sun Belt (not dominant though; after struggling with MTSU, the Tide wants no part of North Texas or Troy) - and no Florida or Tennessee on the schedule, Auburn ought to be able to learn from the Tech game, and return to Atlanta.

RIP to two of my ESPN college football faves

Belated condolences (sp?) to the family and friends of Adrian Karsten, former ESPN sideline reporter. He was truly one of the best. One of the many reasons why I hate taxes is that he was imprisoned for not paying them, and we were robbed of his sideline reporting. He died this week at age 45.

I met Adrian at a cheap Chinese restaurant in Auburn the night before the 2000 Auburn-LSU game, which Auburn won 34-17. We talked football, and bashed Ole Miss (where he'd been the week before for Auburn's 35-27 win over the Rebs on what had been dubbed in Oxford "Tommy Tuberville Appreciation Day") because they had misspelled his name on the scoreboard. I also bashed the Johnny Rebs for reasons I'll go into the week leading up to the Auburn-Ole Miss game.

Later in 2000, Karsten endeared himself to the AU faithful by appearing as a guest on SportsCall, a local radio program, and talking about how he'd been moved to tears by Auburn's gameday experience, especially Tiger Walk, which is now being copied by many other SEC programs, as well as Louisville. He called it bar none the best atmosphere in college football. I have to agree.

Premature death is always sad, and one troubled guy dying may not seem like much given the recent devastation along the Gulf Coast, but Adrian Karsten's passing made me sad, and it was a bad thing for college football.

Trev Alberts may not be dead, but he is dead to the producers of ESPN's college football programming. This is also heartbreaking news. The one guy on ESPN who consistently knew what he was talking about was canned by network execs on Sunday after refusing to show up. He was unhappy that the studio crew of himself, Rece Davis and Mark May weren't given anything to "take ownership" of.

At a time when Gameday - once the premiere sports show on television - is pimping itself out to the likes of Nick Lachey - whose twin claims to fame are that he can't sing very well and married a hot but stupid chick - and the NTACs known as BigNRich - who created "country rap," the single worst idea to hit America since New Coke - losing a truly football knowledgeable guy like Trev isn't what the network needed.

In an era in which defense dominates at all levels of football - Bellichick owns the NFL; the decade of the "oughts" has seen national champions from old school defensive minded college coaches like Stoops, Saban, Carroll, and Tressel - having the perspective of an old fashioned "front seven" guy really added a lot to ESPN's coverage. Though ESPN- shortly after my post on the Ocho concerning the subject - finally realized that USC was overrated, only Trev took note of the heavy losses SC suffered on defense. He will be missed, and I can only hope he ends up on CBS offering his commentary on SEC games.

Between this and the splitting of the Franklin/Gottfried primetime crew, I'm beginning to think the Tennessee fans were right in 1999 when, in the wake of Linda Bensel-Myers' accusations about tutoring fraud, they made signs that cleverly played upon the initials ESPN, calling it the "Extra Sucky Piss-poor Network."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Week 2 Lines

What an abysmal start to the college football betting season (1-3 ATS on this site, 2-4 on http://www.wssbsports.com) for me! Let's hope that we start getting better in a hurry. Here are some lines that should be especially interesting for next week:

1) California (-9 and dropping...) at Washington: One Joseph Ayoob 0-10 performance (albeit against Sacramento State) and the panic buttons are howling. Note to linesmen: California still beat SacSt by 38 points, and they are playing WASHINGTON this week. In other words, they won't need a passing game. Marshawn Lynch wins this game all on his own. California 34 Washington 17.

2) Clemson at Maryland (-1): Tommy Bowden's club pulled off a miraculous victory over the Aggies last weekend and are looking to keep things going with a win over the Terrapins as they open conference play. The keys to this game will be whether Maryland has an answer for Whitehurst and whether Maryland can get anything going on offense. I'm picking against Clemson again. Maryland 20 Clemson 17.

3) Stanford at Navy (+3): Navy took Maryland to the wire. That's all you need to know. Navy 31 Stanford 20.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Texas/ULL review and fearless prediction for TX/OSU

Texas looked great against ULaLa (of course). The only thing worth mentioning is the ground game. Texas tacked up over 400 yards on the ground and spread out the touches evenly. Freshman Jamaal Charles ran great, as did Selvin Young. But the stand-out runner was 6'3", 270 lb. Henry Melton. Melton had two touchdown runs that were so old-school, smash-mouth, cram-it-down-your-gut, that I wanted to run outside and gnaw on a tree. Melton's first score came from 14 yards where he ran into the line, got stood up, spun out of the mass of humanity and then bowled over two DBs on his way into the endzone. His second TD came from 22 yards and he broke five tackles on his way in. He probably won't get those kind of touches this weekend, but watch for him in short yardage situations.

Thanks to my in-laws having direct tv, i got to watch the ohio st. game as well. I was not as impressed with the Ohio St. offense as I expected, but their D was solid. From what I did see, I believe that Texas can and will dominate both sides of the ball. The Texas O-line and D-line are too good for Ohio St. to stop the run, or to move the ball effectively.

The only thing that could hurt Texas are the special teams (i.e. Ohio St. gets great field position due to kick run-backs) or if our coaching falls flat on its face (always a possibility). The good news is McGee, though unable to kick an extra point, put most of his kick-offs five yards deep in the endzone.

Allowing for turn-overs, fluke plays and home-field advantage, I predict Texas 30 - Ohio St. 17. The game is this saturday, 7:00 p.m. on ABC. If you miss this game, you better bead dead or in jail. And if your in jail, breakout.

BCS Busts

Potential BCS Busters Bowling Green and Boise St. are already out of the picture. I'd also like to thank Oklahoma for playing this year. They could win the next ten games 100 - 0 and no voter will forgive that loss to TCU. Tennesse will not go undefeated if their QB play does not improve dramatically. And LSU has done themselves the disfavor of swapping their ASU game to Tempe. LSU's coushy home schedule got blown away with the hurricane.

Lousiville looked impressive, but by no means world beaters. However, their stiffest competition got blown away by ND. They could still do it.

And of course, the loser of the Miami/FSU game will have a long way to go to get into the BCS picture.

Could be a wacky season, boys.

Expert Miami vs FSU analysis

Miami always beats Florida State...

Miami 19 FSU 17


Venu (still smarting from a 2-4 ATS performance for week 1)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

3 days down, 2 to go this weekend

So far, this has been a weekend of big surprises, not so big surprises, and the demise of many (including mine) upset picks and BCS busters. So, here at the halfway point, let's look at the first weekend of college football so far:

UCF at South Carolina - Not a good start for the Ole Ball Coach. Though the Gamecocks won the game, aside from flashes of brilliance, they looked mediocre against an awful UCF. Be prepared for a dismal SEC campaign from Spurrier's new boys, but with much the same talent as last year, 6-5 and a bowl game should still be attainable.

The I-AA problems - So far, a number of teams have struggled mightily with their I-AA opponents, with ULa-Mo managing to lose to Northwestern State. While it's to be expected of some teams (San Jose State, ULa-Mo, even Iowa State), it should be disturbing for others like Marshall and Oklahoma State. Let's hope some of this stems from teams overlooking their lower division brethren, because otherwise it could be a long season for some of these teams.

BCS Buster Busts - It'll be a hard thing to jump on the Bronco bandwagon again after the meltdown against Georgia. Despite being basically the same team that scored 40 points against Louisville in the Liberty Bowl, and upended Oregon State last year, Boise State was downright awful between the hedges. 5 picks will do that, and unfortunately for Georgia, this game doesn't tell them much about their offense. Miami (OH) made a good showing, but was dominated by Ohio State from the get-go. Wyoming did about as well against Urban Meyer at Florida as they did when he was at Utah, which still may be a sign of things improving for the Cowboys. Bowling Green had the lead at points against Wisconsin, and made a late rally to keep the game to two touchdowns, but the defense's ability to keep Wisconsin from scoring from the second quarter on made Omar Jacob's impressive outing moot. So far, none of these teams will be able to be the Utah of this year, though BG probably has the ability to win the rest of their games if they can put numbers up like that against a good Big Ten defense.

BCS Buster Boom - But just maybe Utah will be this year's Utah. While the game was close, the Utes still edged the Wildcats, keeping their unbeaten streak alive. Of course, their biggest obstacle may not be the non-conference opponents, but perhaps their road trip to Fort Worth. Kudos to the Horned Frogs in knocking off the Sooners this weekend. There won't be much chance of Oklahoma edging someone else out of the Rose Bowl this year, though there's always the possibility of the Mack Brown magic giving the Red River Shootout up to the obviously slumping Sooners.

Good starts/bad starts - Good starts: Texas, USC, Iowa, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Florida, and BC
Bad starts: Auburn, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Marshall, Nebraska, Kansas State

This week's Penn State report - Much as I'd like to be sitting here smugly with Playstation-esque stats for the boys in blue, that didn't happen yesterday. The Penn State defense and special teams looked pretty familiar - as good or better than last year's units. Unfortunately, the offense looked pretty familiar too. Despite a couple of big plays from newcomers Justin King and Derrick Williams, and a nice running game from junior Tony Hunt, the dismal 23-13 win falls squarely on the shoulders of Michael Robinson. With the first drive ended by a fumble, a 25 yard pass to Derrick Williams immediately followed by an interception that set up the Bulls' first touchdown, and another fumble in the second half, Michael Robinson is obviously the make or break man of PSU's offense. While he looked great running out of the very Texas like shotgun formations that prove very effective for Vince Young, MR hasn't shown Vince's ability to protect the ball. A 9-15 for 90 yards and 1 pick in a game against South Florida doesn't bode well once Penn State hits teams with more defensive talent than the Bulls. While this is only the first game, it makes the non-con schedule look much less automatic. Can the Nittany Lions improve? With better play from Robinson, this game is a rout. Let's see how he does next week against the Bearcats of Cincinnati, but I'm not feeling good about my boys so far.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Ol' BallCoach

Spurrier's tenure at USC starts with a whimper rather than a bang. SEC coaches will be lining up to take a shot at the ballcoach. If he accuses anyone of running up the score against his cocks, he should be banned for life.