Well, seven weeks in and we’ve got the same damned problem we had last year with college football (or non-problem, for without these issues, the sport isn’t as half as fun to discuss or opine on.) The field has leveled out so greatly that you have three of the top five getting knocked off on a Saturday.
Oklahoma and Texas were essentially trading blows for about three quarters, with Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy upping the ante on who would be favored in the Heisman race. Texas turned it in the 4th quarter: prodding Bradford into picks and getting big play from McCoy (who was 28-35 passing, good accuracy) along with a huge 60-yard run from Chris Ogbonnaya, and the Horns took the win 45-35. However, any analysis of this game without a lament about the sorry Big 12 officials in charge is incomplete. I understand the reasons for stringent rules about roughing the passer or personal foul calls; you want to keep people from getting hurt. McCoy flopped twice on ruhses out of bounds that got called for 15-yard flags, he and Bradford both were given the gift of flags on roughing penalties that shouldn’t have been called, an OU interception that should have been in the first half wasn’t, and the OU punter put on an acting job that Cristiano Ronaldo would have been ashamed of.
The Swamp is an entirely different beast of a stadium, particularly for a new starting QB like Jarrett Lee in his first road game as LSU “supplied the butt” for Florida to whip, in Mike Patrick’s parlance. Florida got out to a 20-0 lead at one point; LSU closed it to 6 points, but the Gators’ defense finally stepped up, turning the multitude of running backs of LSU into an ineffective rotation, and forcing them to try to win on Lee’s arm — never a good prospect for a redshirt freshman. Urban Meyer’s squad wound up putting half a hundred on ‘em in the first complete game where Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin were not the sole playmakers in the Gator spread.
T. Boone Pickens’ money is apparently going to good use; it’s enough to buy a defense when there apparently was none. A 28-23 upset of Missouri at Columbia gives Oklahoma State some of the respect they’ve been seeking, as no other team made Chase Daniel look out of sync as often as the Cowboys did (Mizzou fans may be tempted to blame the fact that Daniel was wearing #25 in honor of a fallen teammate rather than his usual #10 jersey), forcing him into crucial picks late. Zac Robinson was a revelation for those of us who haven’t taken the time to watch him, pulling touchdown passes out of his ass. One in particular impressed me in the second half: he rolled out left and had NOTHING at the time downfield, he’d just avoided a sack, and to avoid another one, he hurled it to a spot in the end zone where he had two receivers against one cornerback — leap, catch, touchdown.
After the last two vistis to the title game by Ohio State, I’m loath to root for a Big Televen team to make it back there again, but why do I sesne Penn State might just hold up? A systematic 49-7 destruction of Wisconsin at Camp Randall, mind you, is an impressive feat — but Wisconsin does look lost, and may have troulbe getting that first conference win for a while. The Nittany Lions are clicking on all cylinders — Daryll Clark makes me wonder why Joe Paterno stuck with Anthony Morelli for so long; Derrick Williams returned another punt for a TD.
If USC can turn the ball over five times to Arizona State and still shut them out 28-0, that’s not only an indictment of Dennis Erickson as a coach, but it makes the Pac-10 look even worse. Not like it needs any help — thanks for losing to Stanford, Arizona.
Missed Texas Tech pull one out in OT over Nebraska? Too bad. The Huskers’ offense is potent, if not quite at the proficiency level and caution-to-the-wind factor of Mike Leach’s Pirate Academy in Lubbock. The Red Raiders had to fight back after watching Nebraska force overtime thanks to a 21 point 4th quarter. Tech then took the ball and scored. A TT corner picked Joe Ganz on a 2nd and 10 during Nebraska’s turn to end the game.
The least Michigan could have done was lose to a respectable MAC team. Toledo, now 2-4, was not that team, but it’s obvious that Rich Rodriguez can’t model these student-athletes to run his spread, and now you get analysis and second-guessers saying he should go to a pro-set. (I think such a suggestion is particularly stupid; I couldn’t believe I was actually hearing a former coach in Lou Holtz advocate this.) It will be particularly odd when the Wolverines head to Columbus at the end of the season, likely ineligible for a bowl, and Rodriguez will look across the field and see the quarterback he wanted all along in Terrelle Pryor leading Ohio State to bragging rights for another year.
Speaking of Pryor and the Buckeyes, you know this isn’t the best Ohio State team when they win over Purdue — yes, the shitty, always-defensively challenged Boilermakers — without an offensive touchdown of their own. Yikes.
The Red River Shootout wasn’t the only home of referee shenanigans — New Mexico coach Rocky Long is still pissed about a touchdown play in the 4th quarter against BYU getting called back on a phantom block in the back. This would have made the game 14-10, BYU. Instead, the 4th down conversion fails, BYU gets the ball back, and scores one more time for a 21-3 victory and their skins as a BCS buster. It was a good game for the Cougars’ D to step up, but looking at the replays, it should have been closer.
The Revenge Of The Nerds has ended — Vanderbilt was postively anemic offensively against Croom State (109 yards of total offense), while Northwestern met with the battering ram that is Javon Ringer when Michigan State came to visit.
Thankfully, North Carolina, despite producing only about half of the total yards of Notre Dame, was able to hang on thanks to corner Quan Sturdivant’s picks of Jimmy Clausen and keep the Irish out of Top 25 talk.
The only positive Tennessee can take from being beaten 26-14 by Georgia is that they now have a competent quarterback. Nick Stephens throwing for two TDs and more than 200 yards on the road in Athens is a good way to start an SEC career despite the loss. Now, if only the dreaded (by Vol fans) Clawfense could figure out how to get more than one yard rushing on the day, it would be in business.
Tennessee’s offense is now officially in better shape than Auburn’s, though. Guess firing Tony Franklin didn’t solve the problem, eh Tubs? Well, if your two quarterbacks complete less than 50% of their passes and can’t throw for 200 yards combined, that’s not a problem firing a coordinator can fix. Tommy Tuberville obviously has a recruiting problem when it comes to offensive players: he doesn’t do it, and he lost to Arkansas, the worst team in his division. It’s particularly nasty because the Hogs’ head coach is Bobby Petrino, who was part of an attempted coup on Tubs as O-coordinator (started by an overzealous booster.)
And the result of all of this? Alabama will be #1 in the polls on Monday, having sat out and faced that troubling opponent, the Bye. But don’t tell Nick Saban — he doesn’t pay attention to it; he doesn’t have time for that shit.
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