Er, morning everyone. Just got up after a long night and I sit down on my couch to find my beloved Hoosiers down 7 to Minny in the second quarter. You know, because fast spread teams like IU have trouble playing in domes. Our offense lends itself much more to playing in the elements, especially snow. My Ball State-alum friends warned me this crap would happen with Lynch as the coach. The lovely Charissa Thompson is even mocking the quietness of the IU sideline. We’re never going to make it if you talk like that, Charissa.
Long way to go today, though. Lots of games, updates, and fanbases to insult still. We’ll be updating all day once I can find some food and after each game ends. Enjoy the hell out of your Saturday and we’ll see you soon.
–McD, 10/4 12:52pm
When Kate Hudson’s character said, “Famous people are just more interesting,” in Almost Famous, I think she could have been talking about college football. Metaphorically speaking, that is. Can you believe that movie is eight years old, by the way? You’d think Kate Hudson would have made one good movie since then, but here’s her IMDB page, and it ain’t pretty. Um, anyway. What Ms. Hudson could have been talking about is not the style of play because clearly the NFL has better players than college football and we all know the option would never work in the NFL. She probably wouldn’t mean the coaches since there have been more college-to-NFL coaching disasters than I have fingers and toes (22…kidding). And she probably wasn’t even talking about the lack of scandals because the NFL and college football are equally racked with issues, just in different areas. No, what she could have been talking about is the fans.
College football fans are superior in every way because the game simply inspires more emotion, more fire. Anyone who’s heard the crowd during a night game at LSU knows this. OK, so the ultra-racism of your average LSU crowd isn’t exactly what I meant, but you get the idea. There are also far more colleges out there playing football than there are NFL teams. When you root for your college, it is YOUR college and you share that with every other fan. NFL fans basically share geography and the fact they spent thousands on tickets. It’s the fans’ college, no matter how much money ends up being involved in, say, Michigan’s stadium renovations. If the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, the fans would be upset, but they’d all move on and hear “well, football’s a business” from the NFL and everyone else. If Notre Dame, shit, if Indiana shut down its football program, there would be riots in the streets.
But why doesn’t the NCAA, or at least the networks that broadcast games, capitalize on that kind of craziness? Perfect example: the Sky Sports Premier League Fanzone. Two fans of the opposing teams in a tiny booth, calling the game, acting like idiots when their teams score, and talking shit to each other the entire game. It’s fantastic, but more importantly, it’s genuine. Football broadcasts have become an overwhelming corporate melange of graphics and boring commentary from the same people week after week. The passion is missing because announcers and former players don’t look at the game the same way the screaming, homer fan does. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just not the same. Here are a couple of examples from YouTube of what we could be enjoying if the networks did the cool thing and put this together. Go here and here. Notice the similar amount of huskiness between the fan-announcers (fannouncers?) and your average SEC fan.
So, to go along with my other causes this season (Free Keiland Williams, Free SDSU, Free College Football from the BCS, and Fire Tommy Bowden–see below) I am adding one more: Viva Fanzone! We could even have it sponsored by the various pork, beer, and chip products that make college football go.
I’m not saying it would work for every game. That amazing LSU/North Texas game probably doesn’t need a Fanzone broadcast. But how much fun would it be watching an Alabama fan and a Georgia fan square off in the booth during last week’s game? Or Ohio State and Wisconsin fans this weekend? Television magic, people. Television. Freaking. Magic. Viva Fanzone!
Record through week five: 47-17, 31-31-2 ATS
Duke (3-1) at Georgia Tech (3-1) (-12.5)
It’s the week of the unexpectedly ranked/good record team! Duke, Vandy, Northwestern are all well over .500 and it’s freaking me out, man. It’s the smart-kids football revolution! Freaking Duke is 3-1! Minnesota is 4-1! Northwestern is undefeated, as is Vanderbilt! Could there actually be a really good team or two among them?
Hell no, it’s not because they’re actually good. It’s because of some very good scheduling against some very weak opponents early in the season. Come on people, things are still right in the college football universe. Now, if a few things happen this weekend, that could change, but they won’t.
Like this game, for example. I’ve been attempting to chronicle Tech’s first season running Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense in the ACC. So far, it’s been a pretty great success, considering they’re 3-1 including wins over BC and Mississippi State. This game isn’t really a test, is it? It’s Duke. Who beat Navy. A Navy team that runs the triple option and who beat Wake Forest and Rutgers. Crap. Looks like another close one featuring the Yellow Jackets.
Pick: Tech wins, but Duke keeps it close.
Update: Georgia Tech 27 Duke 0. Looks like order has been somewhat restored in the football universe. Duke football is still Duke football, suffering their 17th straight ACC road loss. Tech ran for a ton of yards and even passed for 230 yards, all to Demaryius Thomas. Not too bad for an option team against a still-crappy Blue Devils team. I hate Duke.
Record: 48-17, 31-32-2 ATS
The “Wait, This Is Nothing But An IU Homer-Blog!” Game of the Week
Indiana (2-2) at Minnesota (4-1) (-7)
So the Hoosiers haven’t won at Minnesota in forever, though that isn’t saying much given how awful IU football was before 2007. And now Minnesota football is equally as terrible, though that doesn’t mean this is a guaranteed win for Indiana. It’s the Hoosiers’ first road game of the season and they only managed to go 2-2 in their first four home games. Hell, they did everything but do the tango last week on offense and Michigan State still won going away. In year two of the Bill Lynch Era, the issues plaguing this program haven’t changed one bit: horribly-timed penalties, a porous defense, and a major lack of consistency.
That said, I love the makeup of this team. They play with heart and are potent enough on offense to play with absolutely anyone on their schedule. And Minnesota is absolutely made for them. They’re a young spread team on the rise, but they aren’t as far along in their development as Indiana. They’re like the Hoosiers of last season, with less talent.
Minnesota is the weakest 4-1 team ever. Their four wins came against Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State, and Florida Atlantic. Yeah. So at least the Gophers are improving, but this is yet another game the Hoosiers should win. Whether they will is the question.
What’s not in question is my overall homer-ism and belief this team can win. Kellen Lewis is going to throw this game on his shoulders if the coaches let him play and don’t overuse that double-quarterback package. Ben Chappell is good and everything, but this is Lewis’ team.
Update: Minnesota 16 Indiana 7. Two and three. Two…and…three. How did we ever win two? It’s a miracle. Eric Decker blah blah blah blah. The fucking guy didn’t even score a touchdown, so he wasn’t that great, okay? And there still aren’t any moral victories for Indiana football. Plus that last field goal by Minnesota cost me a win against the spread too, you motherf*ckers. We just plain sucked today. We didn’t do diddly-poo on offense and the defense made a ton of plays, but couldn’t make one more and get off the field in the fourth quarter. We didn’t run the ball. We didn’t try to run the ball. We couldn’t complete a pass. Bowl game? Don’t talk about a bowl game. Are you kidding me? BOWL GAME? I’m just hoping we can win a game, another game! Horse shit performance.
Be back in a bit. I’m going to go listen to go put a gimp mask on while I clean my gun collection and listen to “Shiny, Happy People”.
Record: 48-18, 31-33-2 ATS
Rutgers (1-3) at West Virginia (2-2) (-13.5)
A year ago, this was a fantastic game between two highly-ranked teams. Now those formerly good teams are a combined 3-5 and represent the horribleness that is the Big East in 2008. West Virginia made the brilliant decision to make Pat White more of a passer in their offense, despite how amazing and productive a runner he has been throughout his career. All those passes aren’t hurting White’s rushing numbers though, they’re taking carries away from Noel Devine, better known as the Couch Burners’ home-run threat.
Rutgers is just plain terrible. Losing Ray Rice means they can’t run the ball for shit and they’re still coping with having program-killing quarterback Mike Teel run the O. It’s not that he sucks. Well, yes it is, but he doesn’t suck enough to lose his job because he’s a three-year starter and did guide those winning Rutgers teams from the last couple of years. So basically, he’s only starting because of history and reputation, and they’re stuck with him. Other than that, Rutgers really doesn’t have anything. I wonder if Greg Schiano is re-thinking taking Joe Paterno in his death pool.
Pick: West Virginia
Update: West Virginia 24 Rutgers 17. Mike Teel went 14-32 for 170 yards and was inaccurate for most of the day. Pat White looked pretty great but got hurt in the third quarter and didn’t return. No chance that affected the Mountaineers’ opportunity for blowing the Scarlet Knights out, though. White also passed Antwaan Randle-El on the all-time rushing list for quarterbacks. Only Brad Smith remains between White and first place. So I say this: screw Pat White for passing IU’s own Randle-El and screw West Virginia for being so awful. Good thing they gave that extension to Bill Stewart after one good game.That in no way is going to come back to haunt WVU. But tonight they have a win in conference against Rutgers, so good for them. It sucks a little less to live in West Virginia tonight.
Record: 49-18, 31-34-2 ATS
Penn State is for real, right?
On last Sunday afternoon, Phillips and I were at Nick’s in Bloomington, IN (the finest college bar on the planet) to watch the Chargers and the Raiders. Out of the blue, he turns and asks me, “So, Penn State is for real, right?” My quick response: “Yep,” though I wasn’t fully aware of what I was saying.
I thought about it some more and yeah, they sure as hell seem for real. There’s something about the way Penn State is playing that seems different than most teams who are just having a good season. They just switched to a spread offense this season, but Daryll Clark and the rest of the O seem like they’ve been running it for years. They’re scoring a ton of points and everyone is making plays.
But how the hell can we really tell? They haven’t played any games worth reporting except an ass-kicking of Illinois this past Saturday. And the Illini aren’t even that good this season. Plus, I’m pretty sure there are a shitload of teams that haven’t played anyone this season who the talking heads are more than happy to hype up.
Maybe we all are so desperate for some one, anyone to replace Ohio State as the Big Ten champion that we’ll throw our names behind any team that shows even a glimmer of respectability. I have to admit I’m pretty goddamn excited about some other Big Ten champ getting destroyed in the Rose Bowl by USC, that’s for sure.
And then there’s the JoePa factor. I, for one, am a sentimentalist when it comes to certain college teams/coaches/programs. I hate Notre Dame and others, but I catch myself rooting for Joe Paterno and Penn State, at least so he’ll pass Bobby Bowden (I hate FSU too, but that’s a long story) for the wins record. There’s even a bit of sentimentality in hating Notre Dame. It means I’m part of a legion of fans, dating back to the early twentieth century, that hates Notre Dame. It feels like I’m part of something. So does saying, “well at least that’s something” when JoePa’s team wins.
In essence, we’ve all got our own reasons for believing Penn State is a good team even though the way the Big Ten is shaping up isn’t going to lend itself to a team going undefeated in conference. I’m still not sure what it is their offense does, exactly. Are they a running offense? A throwing offense? Are they balanced? Is it a good balance or do they just not do either well enough to win this thing? And I fear that many of their successful plays can be stopped by a disciplined defense (which they haven’t faced yet). But yes, Penn State is for real. For now.
(6) Penn State (5-0) at Purdue (2-2) (+13)
I do know one thing about this game: Purdue is horrible. The Curtis Painter Era has completely destroyed the Joe Tiller Era. Tiller would probably not be retiring after this season if it wasn’t for Painter because Purdue wouldn’t have been terrible for the last few years. That spread-and-throw-it offense Purdue ran so well with Drew Brees and Kyle Orton is now average at best and doesn’t really scare anyone. Hell, they’re even moving toward offensive balance between the run and pass. Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Then again, the similarities between Penn State and Oregon are striking. Both are spread teams that skew towards the run, though manage to maintain some balance. Yet if even one little thing goes wrong in one of their various plays, or they can’t run the ball, the offense totally shuts down. It’s hard to believe Purdue’s D can stop Penn State for an entire game, but if they can stop them for a half, then Purdue’s uncharacteristically anemic offense might be able to put something together. Plus, there’s the letdown factor since Penn State is coming off a major win on national television.
Pick: Penn State, but Purdue beats the spread. This will be the second time Purdue screws me. I just don’t learn.
Update: Penn State 20 Purdue 6. What the hell is this world coming to when Penn State throws for more yards in a game than Purdue? Curtis Painter only threw 22 times and completed 13 for 112 yards. Then he got benched in the fourth quarter. Purdue is now 0-9 against ranked teams with Painter as the starter and is 0 for it’s last 15 against ranked teams overall. Hey, Joe Tiller, you probably didn’t need to wait this long to bench Painter. Two years ago probably would have worked just as well. Now it just means you have no idea what to do to make this team, your team with your offense, work. Purdue is a damn mess and can’t even run the spread correctly anymore. It’s sad to see such an innovative guy like Joe Tiller go out like this.
Actually, no it’s not. I really could care less. It’s just fun for me to point out how bad Curtis Painter is in one of the most quarterback-friendly offenses ever. Looks like that Purdue/Indiana game is going to be for pride and the bucket, but that’s about it.
Record: 50-18, 31-35-2 ATS
(12) Florida (3-1) at Arkansas (2-2) (+24.5)
Something’s just not right with Florida. Besides the evil, I mean. The same fantastic spread offense they ran last season is gaining yards again this season, but isn’t nearly as explosive or interesting even though they’re doing basically the exact same things. If the SEC figured out Urban Meyer’s offense that quickly, then I have to drastically rethink my opinion of him as an offensive innovator and of Tim Tebow’s amazingness. I just can’t lost my religion like that, so UF better show up at Arkansas and destroy that horrible-ass team in Fayetteville.
Pick: Florida. On faith, though as the Book of Tebow tells us, “One cannot win on faith alone, one must score touchdowns as well (2:3-4).”
Update: Florida 38 Arkansas 7.I put my faith in Jesus H. Tebow and my faith has been rewarded. His rushing stats were down again, but he threw well, and the Gators’ rushing offense may have finally reappeared. They got 277 yards on the ground from various ball carriers and had a few very long plays for touchdowns. It’s hard to gauge whether they really got it together or not, since this was just Arkansas, though. They’re playing LSU next week and are probably going to want to be firing on all cylinders for that one. It may not matter because we all know Les Miles coaches every LSU game with both hands around his neck.
Record: 51-18, 32-35-2 ATS
MAC Game of the Week
Ohio (1-4) at Western Michigan (4-1) (-5)
Ohio has to be the best 1-4 team in the history of college football. To call their early-season schedule a “murderer’s row” would be polite. Okay, so that 21-20 loss to Wyoming doesn’t look great, but they’ve also lost to Ohio State (26-14), Central Michigan (31-28), and Northwestern (16-8). All close games with teams who have good records, proving even though they lost, MAC teams can compete with the big boys. Good for Frank Solich in the ballsy scheduling department, but bad for the overall record of his team.
Update: Western Michigan 41 Ohio 20. I don’t know what happened, but I guess my support for Ohio is overwith. It felt good to pump them up, but maybe Western Michigan was the horse I should have backed. I just kind of felt bad for the Bobcats. They played a murderous schedule and have the bruises to show for it. Maybe they just can’t quite beat anyone, let alone major-conference teams.
Doesn’t mean Frank Solich is a bad coach. After all, it’s freaking Ohio, who should technically be the true state college for the state of Ohio. Everywhere else, the college that ends in “state” is the redneck cousin to the main state college. Michigan and Michigan State. Oregon and Oregon State. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Indiana and Indiana State. Texas and Texas State. Only in Ohio do they have the hierarchy backwards, which says a lot about Ohio, doesn’t it?
Record: 51-19, 32-36-2 ATS
Stanford (3-2) at Notre Dame (3-1) (-7)
Enjoy it, Notre Dame fans. You are a touchdown favorite against a decent team who just stole a star quarterback recruit from Tennessee. Nice. This game positively reeks of a Stanford “upset.” Maybe it’s just because I hate Notre Dame.
Update: Notre Dame 28 Stanford 21. Push! Thanks to a 14-point fourth quarter, Stanford secured my third push of the season, saving me untold embarrassment for picking them to beat a seven-point spread. So congrats to Stanford for playing a stinker on the road against a vulnerable rival. The Irish did most of their damage in the first half and then Stanford managed to come back on them, but it wasn’t enough. Once again, a mediocre Notre Dame team escapes with a victory for which they’ll get way too much credit. Hey, Domers, you’re not back. Clausen isn’t God. And your offensive line still can’t block for shit.
Record: 51-20, 32-36-3
Illinois (2-2) at Michigan (2-2) (-3)
Has Illinois really fallen far enough to be a ‘dog to a terrible Michigan team? That’s amazing. I knew losing Mendenhall and Leman, better known as the heart and soul of last season’s team, would cause problems, but wow. Because Michigan really is not a good team, no matter what happened in the Wisconsin game. They did everything but walk off the field and forfeit during last week’s game and still won. God, Wisconsin’s offense is terrible.
Update: Illinois 45 Michigan 20. Such an obviously low spread. The Big House isn’t the Big House when the team isn’t all that great. Juice Williams did have himself a day, though. 431 total yards is pretty damned impressive on the road against a feisty Michigan defense. Illinois is a dangerous team, but they are still a second-tier Big Ten team.
Michigan, on the other hand, has found yet another way to lose a game this season. They actually started well and then totally melted down. Their usual M.O. was the opposite. Rich Rodriguez has a mess on his hands. Even motivating his guys has to be an issue these days with the amount of mistakes his team is making. I would have thought they’d just be losing based on their lack of talent, but they are still screwing up like it’s spring practice.
The thing is, everyone expected them to have a tough season with Rodriguez, but they’ve been having tough seasons all along the past few years. Only at Michigan, where there’s no chance the fans will totally bail on the program, could a coach get away with this kind of mess. It’s the same thing for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, only the issues actually ARE Weis’s fault.
Record: 52-20, 33-36-3 ATS
Kentucky (4-0) at (2) Alabama (5-0) (-16.5)
Speaking of letdown games, Alabama is going to be fighting a lot of post-big win karma this week. Kentucky can’t really score the ball, which is a nice bit of similarity to their basketball team. Also, Alabama has five games under their belts this season, which means essentially all their good plays are on film already. You’d think SEC defenses would be able to figure it out by now, even though Alabama just runs the ball and takes as much of the game as possible out of John Parker Wilson’s hands. It’s not a miracle, it’s just sound football. That’s what I love about the SEC. People really think Nick Saban is going to walk on water next when all he really did was take the big, athletic players he already had, recruit a few more, and make them play simple, effective football. Genius.
Pick: Alabama. Against my better judgment.
Update: Alabama 17 Kentucky 14. This was a letdown game. I knew it was a letdown game. Yet I still went with Alabama at home against a tough Kentucky team. What’s worse is Alabama did everything they could to blow this game, including fumbling the ball on their last drive in the fourth quarter. Kentucky actually fell on the ball, but it squirted out and rolled out of bounds. And Kentucky actually scored a touchdown that would have tied it had they recovered that fumble, but instead Alabama got an extra field goal, and that was the difference. There was no bad lucky for me, though. I should have seen this one coming; no question.
Record: 53-20, 33-37-3 ATS
(7) Texas Tech (4-0) at Kansas State (3-1) (+7.5)
Well, Tech has gotten through all the cupcakes in its early-season schedule and now it’s time for an exam. They’re on the road in-conference against a dangerous, if not great, K-State team. Oh yeah, and Josh Freeman is good and everything. Blah blah blah. No excuses for Texas Tech here. If they’re going to do anything this season, if they’re going to take that next step as a program, they must win this game.
Pick: Texas Tech
Update: Texas Tech 58 Kansas State 28. Well, Texas Tech took a step in the right direction Saturday. Though they did go for a fourth and short by RUNNING THE BALL in their own territory (you know, because they’re pirates), this game was pretty much never in doubt. Harrell was good. Crabtree was good. And the Tech defense even limited Josh Freeman and the K-State offense. Tech has Nebraska and a road game at Texas A&M before playing four consecutive teams that are currently ranked, including #1 Oklahoma. So they took a step, but there’s a hell of a lot more to go.
Record: 54-20, 34-37-3 ATS
That black book’s a joke. It’s only got two names in it, and one of them is still Al Capone.
True Hoop beat me to it, but there was a fascinating article posted by Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel about cheating at major college programs. I’ll let you read it for yourself, but the basic message is this: there is virtually no oversight over college sports these days. Your favorite football and basketball programs are probably cheating on some level. And the biggies may be getting away with murder.
The article spends quite a bit of time discussing the fact no major program has been busted for anything in 15 months, but it doesn’t say why. I’d like to think it’s because coaches are getting better at cheating, having learned from their predecessors’ mistakes. But we all know the real deal: as always, the NCAA is simply behind the times. To borrow a phrase from whoever, they are analog players in a digital world. Their investigative staff is woefully undermanned and out of touch with the realities of modern college sports, and they’re run by Miles Brand. Enough said.
Says a lot about how bad things must have been at Indiana University for Kelvin Sampson to get caught.
But the moral question of the day is this: if your team was cheating, would you want to know? We know what happens when programs DO get caught. NCAA punishments are usually harsh and deeply injure the program upon which they are laid. It’s just that they aren’t laid on anyone anymore. Look what happened to Indiana’s basketball program at the mere hint of probation and scholarship loss. The entire program has been cleaned out and the team hasn’t even played a game yet under Tom Crean. You also may not even want to know if your team is cheating, since the euphoria that comes with success for your school in college sports is pretty f*cking great. I’ve wondered repeatedly, if Indiana fan could reverse time and go back to January 2008 when the basketball team was still good and everything seemed right in the world, would we want to know about all the awfulness going on behind the scenes? Do we want to know how the sausages are made, so to speak?
I, for one, wanted to know what happened to IU’s basketball team. Not because I am some higher, hyper-moral being, though I am. It’s because I want the good moments and the bad moments in my life to be true. The 1998 baseball season is a cherished memory that has been ruined for a generation of baseball fans because virtually every player who was successful in that era has proved to be on some type of performance-enhancing drug at the time. The knowledge of their cheating has completely ruined a lot of good memories and tainted a hell of a lot of records. Plus it shits all over my Padres’ best season. And yet, I’m happy with that because I, for some ludicrous reason, don’t want success for my teams unless it’s legitimate.
I think I need therapy.
Triple-Option Game of the Week
Navy (3-2) at Air Force (3-1) (-5.5)
Probably should have been the Georgia Tech game, but I can’t resist a game between the two service academies. Especially when they both run the ball so well. Between Georgia Tech, what West Virginia used to be, and the service academies, I want to show all those spread-and-throw-it, trendy teams how it’s done. The option will always work when run correctly. It’s the perfect football play. Thus, I will always cheer for the triple-option teams.
Update: Navy 33 Air Force 27.The 433 combined rushing yards is actually a little lower than I thought it would be, but this was not a disappointing game. Air Force was way down at one point but came back and got the crowd into it. If they hadn’t allowed a late touchdown to Navy, this obviously would have been a totally different game. I love me some service academy football.
Record: 55-20, 35-37-3 ATS
(13) Auburn (4-1) at (19) Vanderbilt (4-0) (+4)
Screw Auburn and screw their ridiculous offense. Did Auburn fan and the coaches really think one season in Tony Franklin’s system would change anything? They couldn’t move the ball last season, and with virtually the same players, they can’t move the ball this season. Amazing. There’s a reason pretty much every NFL team runs a similar offense. It’s because talent makes all the difference. It makes any system look good. And when there’s no talent, it makes any system look bad. Football ain’t rocket surgery.
As for Vandy, it’s nice to see them ranked and successful. Won’t last for long, though. They’re really into conference play now and have to face the teeth of the SEC, including games against Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and even Wake Forest (though they’re not in the SEC). They’re going to need to beat Mississippi State and Duke and win one other game if they’re going to make a bowl for the first time in forever.
Update: Vanderbilt 14 Auburn 13. This. Is. Awesome. Good for Vandy. I know all they did was beat a mediocre Auburn team, but that is a program-changing win for the Commodores. Vanderbilt may be the only team that randomly had a good record heading into this weekend that’s legit. It’s hard to say they’ll keep it up because of their schedule, but they need two wins and they’ll be guaranteed a bowl-berth. As an IU fan, I know for a fact that doesn’t suck.
As for Auburn, there really isn’t anything to say. The offense doesn’t work because it has no talent. Therefore, the coaches decided there’s no reason to have any continuity either, so they are switching quarterbacks all through the game again. Brilliant decisions by Tommy Tuberville. I’m sure this would have been easier if Chris Todd hadn’t been so mediocre as the sole starter, but it’s not like Kodi Burns is setting the world on fire, so there is no need for rotation. It just screws up an already screwed up offense.
I thought it was hilarious that the announcers even commented how Auburn seems more comfortable lining up and running the ball instead of their current spread offense. No shit, guys. This is a spread offense being run by Al Borges personnel. Of course they’re going to look more comfortable that way. The whole point of this switch is to get away from that mess, so why would they suddenly revert to the offensive style that didn’t work at all for them last season? Football talking heads are so purely reactionary, it’s amazing anyone listens to them anymore.
Record: 56-20, 36-37-3 ATS
Torrey Pines High School Football Update
The Falcons are 1-3 so far in 2008, though they did play close with local power Poway last week before falling 18-14. This week they face a quality El Camino High School team on the road, which will be a stern test of Scott Ashby’s team. The Falcons still seem to be struggling to find their identity after the departure of long-time coach Ed Burke. A win Friday will greatly help them out on that front, if not on the winning-record front. I’m keeping it very general because I don’t really live near my alma mater anymore. But I’m supporting them from afar. Go Falcons! Fuck Beat El Camino!
Update: Torrey Pines 10 El Camino 3. Clearly using the momentum brought on by being endorsed by such a prestigious sports blog, the Falcons came out and beat El Camino. The porn-named Brock Ringo and the Falcons ran for a ton of yards, with Robert Murray leading the team with 193 yards on 27 carries. Murray, a senior, is averaging 7.4 yards per carry this season and has four touchdowns in five games. He is also the team leader and perfect embodiment of an American young adult you would expect from a Torrey Pines Falcon. The Falcons head into their bye-week with plenty of momentum after a big win over a good North County team. Next up for TPHS is Escondido High School on the 17th of October. Tickets are available.
(24) UConn (5-0) at North Carolina (3-1) (-7)
Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen is out with a broken foot for eight weeks, so Notre Dame refugee Zach Frazer is in. UConn still has the nation’s leading rusher, however, in Donald Brown. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. I’ve been pumping up UNC for a couple of weeks now and it’s become a little stressful because they aren’t actually that good yet. Cameron Sexton did an excellent job leading them past Miami last week, though. I just can’t believe being at home against a Lorenzen-less Huskies squad makes UNC a touchdown favorite against a ranked team. That’s insane.
Update: UNC 38 UConn 12. Well that could have gone better. UConn just wasn’t the same with a new starter in the game and UNC used all the momentum from playing at home against a weakened ranked team and destroyed the Huskies. It is what it is.
Record: 56-21, 36-38-3 ATS
Thanks to Kimbo Slice for showing up on CBS tonight. He did a great job getting knocked out in the first minute by a tomato can who was a stand-in for Ken Shamrock. For some reason, some one in Shamrock’s entourage managed to cut him while he was practicing or warming up or something and wasn’t allowed to fight Kimbo Slice. I guess Elite XC did the only thing they could do and put some kind of a fight together, but now they’ve televised an underwhelming main event that was hyped to no end AND cost their main guy a lot of respectability in the MMA world. So basically it was a perfect night for the hacks at Elite XC. I don’t know if UFC would have done the same thing, but I do know Kimbo Slice got knocked out by some one who didn’t make it in the UFC, so Elite has that going for them. I assume there’ll be a rematch as soon as possible.
Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.
I’m not picking their game this week, if there even is one, but I so love the fact that people are moving onto the Clemson Sucks bandwagon that I have to mention it. There’s this article by espn.com’s Heather Dinich (she’s an IU grad too. I hear they have a decent journalism school) about how Clemson, well, sucks. There’s one telling quote in this article that fully explains the point I’ve been trying to make about Clemson this entire season:
“I just don’t think you can go out there and run the ball up and down the field and just move it and score at will when you play good teams.”
Actually, coach, that’s exactly what you can fucking do. You have James Davis and CJ Spiller; get yourself together! With that one quote, Tommy Bowden has fully explained why his teams never, ever meet expectations despite being extremely talented.
In their loss last Saturday to Maryland, James Davis and CJ Spiller got quite a few more touches than they had been getting, receiving a total of 32 touches between the two of them. Yet they only had ten carries between them in the second half of a close game. You just read Tommy Bowden’s official reason, so here’s mine: they’re crazy. Plain, simple, country crazy. This isn’t the NFL, where offensive balance is next to godliness. IT’S DIVISION 1 FOOTBALL!!! (Thanks, Coach Hawkins!) You can run the hell out of the ball if you have to elite running backs, like Clemson does. It’s absolutely batshit insane to say otherwise.
Imagine West Virginia trying to run a balanced offense when they had Pat White and Steve Slaton to run the ball. Imagine having these two amazing running backs and not getting them 40 combined touches in any game this entire season. Shit, they’ve barely cracked 30 combined touches, and only a couple of times. Recruiting is a vital part of college football, but so is coaching and strategy. This fiasco at Clemson is an outright embarrassment to the program, the players, and the coaches. And something must be done. Or not because I love ragging on Clemson.
(23) Oregon (4-1) at (9) USC (2-1) (-16.5)
Now that all the pressure’s off, thanks to that awful loss to Oregon State last week, the Trojans can relax and get back to Winning Forever. Like they do every year after they blow their shot at the title. They’re really inching towards becoming the new Free Shoes University. The underachieving, a few legal problems for players. All we need is a player dealing yayo at road games, and they’ll be able to become an SEC-quality program. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.
Oregon is on their 97th quarterback this season because that position is cursed. Since Joey Harrington graduated in 2002, there hasn’t been one Ducks starter who was effective and healthy at the same time. They even had a Leaf brother in there, which you know can’t be good. And now they’re on the road at USC, who will be looking to destroy them because they lost last week. Oh, and USC owes the Ducks for last year’s 24-17 lost. This is a pure and simple revenge game. Easy to motivate the troops now, eh Pete? Phillips is going to be in rare form for this game, and it’s just a warm-up revenge game for the Stanford game later this season.
Update: USC 44 Oregon 10. See? USC is USC again once the pressure is off. It’s like if they play a bad team when there are expectations on their season, they have trouble motivating. Suddenly, they’re playing great. It did help that this was a double-revenge game. The Trojans were getting revenge for last season’s loss at Oregon AND last week’s loss at Oregon State. Just based on sports karma the Ducks had no chance. Mark Sanchez looked like Mark Sanchez again and Oregon stood no chance with Jeremiah Masoli to run their offense. No disrespect to Masoli, but that position is cursed and they’re on the road. This thing wasn’t happening.
Record: 57-21, 37-38-3 ATS
(5) Texas (4-0) at Colorado (3-1) (+13)
It’s not so easy being a team on the rise. The young Buffs got matched up against a Florida State team with just enough left in the tank to have one knockout shot in them, and they got hit on the chin. Now some of the shine is off Colorado and they’ve got the talented Longhorns coming to the crib on Saturday.
Texas’ best offensive player is obviously Colt McCoy. I know this because he’s their leading passer and rusher so far this year. Not a good sign heading into conference play. They seem to be heading into the Red River Shootout very vulnerable again. This game? Not so much.
Pick: Texas wins, but Colorado keeps it close.
Update: Texas 38 Colorado 14. I love how it was a huge day for Chris Ogbonnaya and he had 71 rushing yards. I know he had over one hundred receiving yards, but it’s not that exciting a night for the Longhorns. They played well on the road and I guess that counts for something heading into the Red River Shootout next week.
As for Colorado, it seems they aren’t as far along in the Dan Hawkins Era as they had hoped. Texas is down this year, especially at the skill positions, but the Buffs couldn’t get anything done even though they had the home advantage and a real shot at winning. I’m starting to think Hawkins had more talent when he was at Boise State.
Record: 58-21, 37-39-3 ATS
(14) Ohio State (4-1) at (18) Wisconsin (3-1) (+1.5)
I promise you this, there may be highlight-reel plays, but this game will be unwatchable. Neither team has an offense that can score many points and both have solid defenses that aren’t quite solid enough. I would love to trust Ohio State in this situation, since they are better at virtually every position. But they are starting a freshman quarterback at night on the road in a very, very hostile environment. That is usually a recipe for disaster. Not this time. Wisconsin can’t run a good offense at all. 20 points is a stretch for them.
Pick: Ohio State
Update: Ohio State 20 Wisconsin 17. This ended up being a classic Big Ten game between two old-school Big Ten powers. Ohio State wasn’t exactly running the usual Ohio State gameplan, but they still ran the ball and gained a ton of yards on a formerly stout Wisconsin defense. My real question is why doesn’t Ohio State score more points?
The answer is Terrelle Pryor isn’t managing the games all that well. His throwing skills are sub-par (I don’t mean his arm strength) and he has a long way to go in his game management. Whoever called him the “LeBron James of football” doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Record: 59-21, 38-39-3 ATS
(4) Missouri (4-0) at Nebraska (3-1) (+10.5)
This is a nice barometer game for Bo Pelini’s Nebraska program. They’ll find out exactly how far along they are in recovering from the Bill Callahan Era. Saturday, they’ll find they aren’t far enough. Usually, I’d feel insane for taking a road favorite with a double-digit spread, but not in this game. I do think Nebraska will show some fight, but will eventually go down.
Update: Missouri 52 Nebraska 17. Man, does Missouri look good destroying bad and mediocre teams so far. It’s like…everything they run looks better when the defenses they face are sub-par. Amazing. We’ll see what happens when they face the better teams and aren’t allowed to get away with quite so much of that finesse spread stuff. Okay, so that’s only really going to happen one time when they go to Texas, but even next week against Oklahoma State is a step up. That one could actually be a great shootout.
Record Through Week 6: 60-21, 39-39-3 ATS.
And I’m sure some on this site will eulogize the Cubs season better than I, but I can say this for sure: they may as well have not made the playoffs with the way they played in that series. I think it would have been better for all concerned if they hadn’t shit down their legs quite this badly. Even Tim Kurkjian was on ESPN two minutes after the season ended in disaster for them saying they need to get two new outfielders and a go-to bat in the lineup for next season, but otherwises they should be a good team. It’s one hundred years and will be at least one hundred and one. Sorry, boys, you choked. No other way to say it.
Good night. Good luck. Go Rays.