Rushing The Field: Poll Anarchy

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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Rushing The Field: Another SEC Barnburner

Seriously, if we’re gonna go through this every week with SEC teams in the night game on ESPN, it’s gonna be a real long, nail-biting season.  LSU pulled out the victory in the Tiger Bowl against Auburn thanks to a late touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee, who was subbing after Andrew Hatch got concussed, to Brandon LaFell to end a game largely characterized by the hard hits on both sides along with fits and starts on offense that have to infuriate Auburn fans. I mean, just watching the passing on Tony Franklin’s offense look spectacular one minute and awful the next has to drive the Auburn faithful nuts rights now.  So much more of the game was about the heavy hitters on defense, and the eight guys LSU rotated in and out on the D-line came through and pounded Chris Todd in the end to secure the win.  Les Miles would also like to remind you about the size of his play-calling balls.

When UGA’s Rennie Curran took Rudy Carpenter’s helmet with him on a sack in the first half of Georgia’s visit to Tempe to face Arizona State, I knew this game was going to be in favor of the Dawgs, and ugly in the second half. Matthew Stafford now has a new target in A.J. Green, who caught for more than 150 yards last night and a score on top of two more touchodwns from the reliable Knowshon Moreno.  Carpenter now has a fifth off-brand orifice thanks to an offensive line that can’t protect him; at least two of them were provided by USC’s Rey Maualuga.

The Tennessee Volunteers just flat out gave up when Florida came to town. The final score does say that the Vols got on the scoreboard, but really, when you’re down 27-0 in the third quarter, do any points after that count?  It wasn’t exactly a spectacular game for Tim Tebow, and that offense still looks a little too dependent upon him and Percy Harvin, but the Vols defense had very few counters and the Vols on offense — well, this is a team with two studs at RB in Arian Foster and Monterio Hardesty whom they can’t open holes for and get the ball to. Jonathan Crompton is still being asked to do way too much.  In joining Steve Spurrier as the second Florida coach to beat Tennessee and Phil Fulmer four times in a row, Urban Meyer would be perfectly within his rights to snark, “You can’t spell Outback without UT.”

Continue reading

Above The Rim: Walking In Memphis (All-College Edition)

Tennessee 66, Memphis 62 – Chris Lofton has an off night with two layups and Tennessee takes the win on the road thanks to good bench play and Memphis’ inability to make free throws (again, I will not pick them to make a Final Four until they shoot at least 60% as a team). Derrick Rose still looks like a dynamo who’s ready to play 82 games.

Indiana 85, Northwestern 82 – The players show support for their departed coach (Kelvin Sampson) on their shoes while picking up what usually is a gimme win in Evanston that was anything but, considering the tension.

Drake 71, Butler 64 – The Humane Society is offended at such a dogfight, but the rest of us were entertained when two teams of Bulldogs faced each other: Drake got 25 from sophomore Josh Young, including the closing free throws that put the game out of reach. A.J. Graves led Butler with 18.

Baylor 92, Kansas State 86 – Yes, apparently you can have a team where one player scores 44 (Michael Beasley), another scores 31 (Bill Walker), and still lose when the rest of the team only scores 11 points. Balanced scoring keeps Baylor in the hunt for a tourney spot.

UCLA 75, Oregon 65 – The Ducks, in yet another hideous experimental uniform courtesy of big booster Phil Knight’s company, get up early on the Bruins yet allow them to come back at home in Westwood. Kevin Love gets 15 points and 11 boards, still looks like he needs another year in school.

USC 81, Oregon State 53 – This game was 45-15 or something like that at the half. The Beavers have just fallen apart this season and showed it at the Galen Center. O.J. Mayo led the Trojans with 21.

Arizona 65, Wazzu 55 – Chase Budinger nails down 22 points while Jerryd Bayless chips in 20, doing the “0” in a Wildcats uniform proud. Wazzu’s still in third place in the Pac-10, but Arizona needed it more to keep pace in the standings.

Photo: AP/Mark Humphrey

Dad And Baseball.

It’s oddly fitting, for me, that Father’s Day lands when there are no other major sports going on save baseball, because my best sports memories in life were spent with my dad during baseball season — obviously, teaching me how to play catch, going to pro games and being taken to my own baseball games as a kid, etc.

My dad took it very personally when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, and even though he wound up living in L.A. and having kids there in his adult life, he refused to root for them. When the Mets came along, he declared his loyalty and stuck with it — so much so that he imparted it upon me, which is why I refuse to root for the Dodgers to this day and am a Mets die-hard (it was kind of tough on both of us when I was assigned to a T-ball team called the Dodgers). Our weekends together were spent with college football and baseball (he is also a frustrated Northwestern alum; 1995’s Rose Bowl was a great year for him.)

Despite his Dodger hate, he would take me to games at Chavez Ravine, a stadium he admittedly loved (the only other thing he loved about the Dodgers was Vin Scully) — usually when the Mets were in town, so we could go root against the Dodgers, but the best was watching the 1986 World Series together — he’d had a rough year personally, and I remember him leaping out of his chair when Buckner had the ball go through his legs, and the smile on his face when they won Game 7. Gooden, Strawberry, Gary Carter, Ron Darling, Ray Knight, Keith Hernandez — despite some of the character issues, those were his guys. Plenty of those afternoons were spent with board game baseball — APBA, I think it was, and we’d argue over who got to play as the Mets. Whomever lost would usually play as the Cubs or Red Sox.

Today, we’ll celebrate by doing a serious number on the phone — back and forth on game updates, and we’ll be watching Mets-Yankees together, and the over-under on the use of the phrase “fuck the Yankees” is set at 10.

My dad did enjoy watching other sports, especially tennis — not only for skill, but in later years, for sheer cheesecake purposes (Wimbledon is still his favorite). Since I left a photo for Mother’s Day, I gotta leave one for today. Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads.