National Championship Post Mortem

It’s never a good sign when your team climaxes 16 seconds into the game like the Buckeyes did with Ted Ginn’s kickoff return. Never in a million years would I have guessed the football team would lose to Florida by more points (27) than the basketball team lost to Florida a couple of weeks ago (26).

I give the game ball to the Buckeyes’ halftime show coordinator: if your team is advertised as the unsinkable juggernaut, is it really the best idea to play the theme song from Titanic? Come to think of it, I don’t think My Heart Will Go On ever has a place in a football game.

This and That

  • Will there be a rematch after #1 Ohio State beat #2 Michigan last weekend? I don’t think it will happen provided either USC or Florida (and possibly Arkansas) wins out. The result eliminates Notre Dame’s title hopes because there’s no way they can let a team that lost by 21 to Michigan at home in the title game over the team that beat them.
    carr_defeat.jpg

    I think it’s best to avoid a rematch if possible. Going into the game, I kind of viewed this as a semifinal game with the loser out because it would just create more controversy if, say, there was a rematch and Michigan won by one at a neutral site. Given those two results, it’s pretty much impossible to say the Wolverines should be the undisputed champions. It’s just like the NFL playoffs where the top ranked team got home field advantage and won to get into the Super Bowl.

    I think Michigan’s probably better than USC, Florida, or Arkansas…but I think it should be one of these three that get the championship shot provided at least one of them finishes with one loss. It’s just like in the Final Four or NFL playoffs when the two best teams sometimes just happen to meet in the semis instead of the final.

  • George Carlin had “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television”. Michael Richards’s new act is “One Word You Can Never Say To Hecklers”.
  • ron_zook_rocks

    The Illini finish the season 2-10 after a loss to Northwestern. Given that they’re not getting smashed by 50 points like they did last season, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t the result that the university had in mind when they hired him. In his first two seasons as coach, Zooker is 4-19. What was Ron Turner’s record in the two years before he was fired? Yep, it was 4-19.

  • And, what do those ingenious Republicans do after losing the House for the first time in 12 years? Re-elect the same House leadership that lead them to the defeat. Not to be outdone, the Democratic House leader incompetently tries to purge dissent by endorsing an ethically candidate against her former House leadership opponent. In other news, common sense, ethics, decency, and real change seen frantically running away from the Capital building.

What Happened to the Buckeyes?

That’s what we were wondering after going to see the Buckeyes and Illini play. In case you missed it, the Buckeyes made it out of Champaign with a 17-10 victory. The only answer we could come up with was that Ohio State was trying to avoid injury and limiting their play calling to avoid showing their hand to Michigan as it were.

The first half was about what you’d expect with the Buckeyes winning 17-0 and gaining about 200 yards; the second half, not so much. Jim Tressel must have given quite possibly the worst halftime speech ever because, in the second half, the Buckeyes only gained about 25 total yards on offense.

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Looking back at the box score and having watched the game, they basically just stopped passing the ball in the second half. Troy Smith only had 23 attempts in the game and probably a third of those were screens. They probably only had 2-3 (unsuccessful) attempts for long passes. Their longest play from scrimmage for the game was only 17 yards.

This wouldn’t be so bad if their running game was working, but Antonio Pittman only averaged 1.8 yards per carry on 32 carries and Chris Wells got taken out of the game in the first half because of a terrible fumble where no one even touched him. That the Buckeyes’s running game couldn’t handle the Illini defense is not a good sign considering Michigan has the top run defense in the country.

Despite all this, the game really wasn’t as close as the score showed. It was still 17-0 for most of the second half until about halfway through the fourth quarter. Pretty much the only tense moment in the game was when the Illini kicked an onside kick with a couple minutes left after scoring their tenth point. It was a great kick by the Illini, but the Buckeyes got it and ran out the clock.

Luckily, they picked a pretty good week to have their worst game of the season since Michigan barely escaped Ball State, Florida had trouble with Vanderbilt, and West Virginia lost to Louisville.

It was nice to have my mom come over from Columbus to watch the game as well as one of our friends from Chicago. Our picture album for the event it now up in our gallery.

Thoughts on College Football

An eclectic mix of thoughts as Leigh Ann and I get ready to head to Memorial Stadium to watch the number one Buckeyes take on the non-so-number-one Illini this Saturday with my mom and some friends. Last time we saw the Buckeyes play here, they won the National Championship (2002)…hopefully history repeats this year :).

  • The Most Unlikely Contenders: Given they haven’t had that great of a schedule, but could it be possible for Rutgers to throw themselves into the national title picture? They’re sitting at 8-0 right now and even though it’s expected that they’ll get whooped by Louisville and WVU, you have to wonder what if. Louisville will be coming down off their biggest game of the season next Thursday when they play Rutgers. And, it’s in New Jersey on a Thursday night (road teams have a horrendous record on Thursday night). If they were to somehow pull off that upset, beat Syracuse and Cincinnati, that would set up a winner takes all match with WVU for the Big East title. Again, the Mountaineers would be heavy favorites at home, but when it comes down to one game, there’s always a chance that the Scarlet Knights could pull off the upset. I’m just saying…
  • Reality Check: I’m a USC hater, but you’ve gotta admit it’s amazing that their 2-point loss to Oregon State was their first regular season loss since since September 27, 2003 (thereby avoiding a repeat of the real headline Trojans Come From Behind Against Beavers). Over three years since they lost that game to Cal. Perhaps even more amazing, they still haven’t lost any game by more than a touchdown since a 27-16 loss to Notre Dame on October 20, 2001. That’s nearly five years and counting! That’s the most dominant dynasty since I’ve been following college football.
  • A Tough Nut to Crack: Everyone seems to think Michigan’s defense is the best in all the land, but Ohio State’s is pretty darned good. They’ve only had one game (Iowa) where the opposing team scored more than one TD (they scored two). Their closest game has been 17 point win against then number two Texas on the road.
  • At Least the 60-0 Losses Are Gone: I still don’t think hiring Ron Zook was the right decision for the Illini, but I have to admit they’ve gotten better this season even if their record doesn’t show it. At least they’re losing games by a touchdown or two in the second half rather than being down by 40 at half time like last year.
  • Clemson Brought Their D Game to Virginia Tech: Man, we were so stoked for this Thursday night game. We even went with some friends to BW3 to watch the game since we’re cable-less. All the excitement was squashed by the Tigers’s 24-7 loss where they looked totally lethargic. Other than their one TD drive, it seemed like Clemson barely even got a first down. At least our table did pretty well in trivia :?.
  • Hoosier Daddy: There’s a chance that Indiana, the perennial doormats of the Big Ten could make their first bowl since 1993. They have five wins with three games left, so the only need to win one to become bowl eligible. Unfortunately for them, though, their game against Minnesota this weekend is pretty much their only good shot. After that, they play an undefeated Michigan and a Purdue team also fighting for bowl eligibility. So, as close as they’ve come, if they can’t close the deal against the Gophers this weekend, then the bowl-less streak will probably be extended. I’ll be they wish they had back those early season losses to UConn and I-AA Southern Illinois.

Pigskin Pick’Em

OK, after a few busy weekends, let’s try to pick some college football games again and see how I do.

  • Illinois at Penn St.: (Line is Penn St. by 18.5) The Illini seem to have done better on the road. But, the Illini are just in shambles. Do I give them the line or not? Naw. Penn St. 28, Illini 7
  • Indiana at Ohio St.: (Line is Ohio St. by 31) This is a Hoosier team with the most momentum that the program’s had in over a decade after wins at Illinois and against a ranked Iowa team. Unfortunately for them, this is the best Buckeyes team since about 1998. You have to go back to 1988 for the last time the Hoosiers beat the Buckeyes and they’d have to pull the biggest upset in their programs history (by about 2 orders of magnitude) to break that streak this year. Ohio St. 38, Indiana 14
  • Texas at Nebraska: (Line is Texas by 6) All of a sudden, the sports writers seem to be lauding what a great rookie QB Colt McCoy is…which is something I pointed out weeks ago. Even though Nebraska is better, I still don’t think they have the horses to compete with the Longhorns right now. Texas 31, Nebraska 10
  • UCLA at Notre Dame: (Line is ND by 13.5) Notre Dame will use this as a statement game since the Bruins are an extremely weak 4-2 right now (as Pac-10 teams usually are). ND 34, UCLA 7
  • Iowa at Michigan: (Line is Michigan by 13.5) The biggest loser in last week’s Indiana upset of Iowa was Michigan. Now, instead having the chance to beat a top 15 team to move up in the eyes of the pollsters, they’re playing the laughingstock of the Big Ten in a game that a blowout is expected. The Buckeyes were much luckier that they got to beat this weak Hawkeye team when everyone still thought they were pretty good. Michigan 38 Iowa 14
  • Alabama at Tennessee: (Line is Tennessee by 11) I’ve got a feeling that this has the makings of an upset. The SEC teams seem to just continue cannibalizing each other and Tennessee hasn’t had a beatdown laid on them in several weeks since the Florida game. So, for no logical reason whatsoever, I’ll say: Alabama 21, Tennessee 20
  • Boston College at Florida St.: (Line is Florida St. by 7) I was really surprised that the Seminoles were favored in this game even though it’s at home. Last I checked, Florida St. was still plagued by injuries and an incompetent offensive coordinator. BC 28, Florida St. 24
  • Rutgers at Pittsburgh: (Line is Pittsburgh by 6.5) Who had this game circled at the beginning of the season, where we now have an undefeated Rutgers team playing a one-loss Pittsburgh team? Too bad we couldn’t see what these teams’ records would be if they were in the SEC instead of Big East. Pitt has the top rated QB in the nation, so you’ve gotta go with them at home. Pitt 21, Rutgers 17
  • Georgia Tech at Clemson: (Line is Clemson at 7) If there’s one game Clemson has to prove that they’re not going to fall in their typical pattern of underachieving about this time of year, this is it. Can they shut down WR Calvin Johnson of the Jackets? Let’s hope or else this could be ugly. Don’t make me look stupid, Tigers. Clemson 38 Georgia Tech 28

Five Thoughts on the Weekend in College Football

  • I’m Slightly Better than Random in Picking Games: How’d my picks do? I went 6-4…slightly better than the 5-5 you would expect if you just picked a winner at random.
    • OSU did about as I predicted against Cincy even if they were a little sluggish (and, surprisingly, they did when by exactly 30).
    • brasic_syracuse

      I was right about Syracuse beating the Illini, but even I was surprised at how bad a Big East bottom dweller would spank them. I thought it was a mistake to hire Ron Zook and it’s looking more and more wrong each game. The Illini are getting worse if that’s possible.

    • I don’t think even Lloyd Carr would have predicted the a 26-point road win over the Irish…I thought Notre Dame was over hyped and even I blew this pick. Who knew Henne would become Peyton Manning for a day?
    • Oklahoma should have beat Oregon, but apparently Stevie Wonder was hired as the instant replay reviewer for the game. See Oklahoma get screwed by the refs in all its YouTube glory.
    • Got the call for Louisville right, but I had no idea Miami would get trounced despite the Cardinals having their two first-round draft picks injured for an entire half.
    • Missed the LSU game, though they could have won it on the last play of the game, as it were..
    • Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought TCU would hold Texas Tech to three total points. Needless to say, I blew this game and underestimated the Horned Frogs’ defense by about two orders of magnitude.
    • Boy, was I wrong about Jad Dean’s redemption. If not for Clemson’s kicking team, this would have been a blow-out. The Tigers’ first extra point was blocked and returned for a safety and then their next field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a TD (recall that last week the Tigers had a PAT blocked to lose at Boston College). Lucky for the Tigers, Florida State is pitiful thanks to Bobby Bowden’s obstinate decision to stick with his son as offensive coordinator. Thanks, Bobby, the lack of offense will just send more Florida recruits up to Ohio State. Despite, this rant, I got the pick right.
    • Picked the Florida win over Tennessee. How quickly Phil Fulmer can go from being off the host seat to back on it after two less than stellar home performances.
    • USC won over Nebraska about as I expected them to. That naked bootleg that the Huskers did on fourth-and-goal at the one to get their touchdown was pretty sweet.
  • Rich Rodriguez is a Great Coach: He’s done amazing things in his five years at West Virginia. I always suspected he carried Tommy Bowden when Rich was Tommy’s offensive coordinator at Tulane and Clemson (2000 and 2001). Tommy’s never filled that void since Rich left…the Tigers have consistently underachieved since.
  • Three Coaches on Major Hot Seats: I think all three will be gone after this season, but I’ll rank them in order of likelihood that they’ll be fired before next season: (1) Chuck Amato (NC State), (2) Dennis Franchione (Texas A&M), (3) Larry Coker (Miami). As you can see, each already has the pink slip of the Internet age: a firecoach.com domain (evidently, there’s decent money in cyber-squatting these domains).
    • chuck_amato

      NC State got beat by Southern Miss a week after losing to Akron, which Amato followed by a bizarre rant about how NC State was at a disadvantage over MAC schools since they can’t accept academic non-qualifiers. Yea, Chuck, it’s amazing ACC schools are even able to compete against the likes of Ball State and Bowling Green. To add insult to injury, he has some of the most noticable man boobs in sports (probably second only to Phil Mickelson).

    • coach_fran

      Coach Fran has lead the Aggies to a 3-0 start with a cupcake schedule that would make Kansas State proud. But, uh, their last win on a goal-line stand against Army. For those of you that don’t follow college football much, Army has been perpetually among the nation’s worst for about the past two decades. Let’s face it, he’s not getting paid $2 million per year to make the Aggies the fourth-best team in the state of Texas (behind the Longhorns, Horned Frogs, and Red Raiders). I think Bear Bryant cursed Coach Fran for leaving Alabama when he did.

    • Larry Coker did a good job of finished off what Butch Davis started with a national championship and runner-up in his first two years (Butch Davis left one of the most loaded teams ever when he bolted for the NFL…you gotta respect that). But since then, it’s undeniable the U’s program has had a downward trajectory. I think the blowout by an injury-depleted Louisville team was the swan song for Coker. This season now becomes his farewell tour, me’s thinks.
  • Best Quotes from Deadspin Comments This Weekend:
    • I’ve played this season more than five times on NCAA ’07 and Mario Manningham has never ever played this well.
    • Syracuse radio: Matt Park: “Little bit of confusion on the extra point try.” Coach Mac: “They’re not used to it”
    • In the last five minutes of the Iowa-Iowa State game, both the lesbian and Grandpa Simpson have praised Drew Tate for making tackles after he throws interceptions. I know that’s what the NFL looks for in a quarterback.
    • charlie_weis
    • “There was a sign during Gameday this morning – “Charlie Weis: The Devil Lovechild of Jabba the Hut and Rosie O’Donnell.”
    • Did Illinois replace Temple in the Big East?
    • Rece Davis just called the Syracuse-Illinois game “The Big 6 Conference Pillow-Fight of the Week.”
    • In his weekly pick where he dresses up as the team he’s picking, Lee Corso put his Trojan helmet on… backwards. I’m wondering if a similar Trojan snafu led to the birth of one or more of his children.
    • Thus far, this Michigan State/Pitt game is like watching a PG-13 movie, you keep sitting around waiting for some action, but you know that you’re not going to see anything good.
  • Does Anyone Get that Nike High School Commercial?: Michael Vick and a bunch of NFL pros go up against a high school football team and need a last second play to win the game. I don’t get it.

And, completely unrelated to college football:

  • Finding Egg Roll and Wonton Wrappers: If you’re ever planning on cooking homemade egg rolls and/or wontons (as I plan to do), you may think one would look in the international food aisle at one’s local grocery establishment. You would be wrong (at least in Champaign). You need to go to the chilled food section around the cream cheese to find them. Evidently you’ve got to keep them cool.

Weekend Pickoff

So, tomorrow’s college football brings us seven games between Top 25 teams, which is the most in one day since like 1993. I’m going to try my hand at picking the games so everyone can tell me how dumb my picks were after the fact. I’ll do those seven games along with Ohio State, Illinois, and Clemson.

  • Syracuse at Illinois: (Line is Illinois by 3) The most shocking part to me is that the Illini are actually favored in this game. Given that Syracuse lost last week when they couldn’t score on seven straight plays inside the two yard line. That’s pretty freakin’ lame. But Illinois couldn’t even cross midfield last week. This has to be one of the worst inter-conference games ever played by schools from BCS conferences. Syracuse 20, Illinois 13
  • Cincinnati at Ohio State: (Line is Ohio State by 29) I love the Buckeyes, but I’d take Cincy with that spread. Even as an offensive power house, I just don’t see a Tressel team winning by more than 30. Ohio State 31, Cincy 10
  • Michigan at Notre Dame: (Line is ND by 5.5) Weis is a prick, Brady Quinn is overrated, but Henne’s a tool and Michael Hart only has big games whenever I’m not watching. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, I’ll probably tune in for this one. Notre Dame 28, Michigan 17
  • Oklahoma at Oregon: (Line is Oregon by 5) Oklahoma’s looked pathetic this year, but Oregon is a Pac-10 team not named USC…that’s just too big of a hurdle to overcome. Oklahoma 24, Oregon 21
  • Miami at Louisville: (Line is Louisville by 4) If Miami loses, Larry Coker is pretty much fired, me’s thinks. Louisville’s got a great coach and they’ve got the horses to beat the Hurricanes this year (even without Michael Bush). Louisville 17, Miami 13
  • LSU at Auburn: (Line is Auburn by 3.5) LSU is one of those teams that is good every year but I couldn’t name you a single player on the team or tell you anything about them. All I know about Auburn is they have Kenny Irons and he’s awesome. LSU usually seems to rise to the occasion in big SEC games and then lose to about a 15-20 ranked team. So, I’ll go with my gut. LSU 28, Auburn 27
  • Texas Tech at TCU: (Line is Texas Tech by 2.5) When did Texas A&M become the fourth best team in the state of Texas? UTEP’s gunning to knock them off that pedestal now. I think the Red Raiders can end the Horned Frogs longest winning steak in the nation. Texas Tech 35, TCU 17
  • Clemson at Florida State: (Line is Florida State by 5) I think Clemson’s better than Troy and the Seminoles have totally lost their offensive mojo. Jad Dean redeems himself for last week’s missed extra point with five field goals. Clemson 15, Florida St. 10
  • Florida at Tennessee: (Line is Florida by 4) I still think the Cal game was a fluke for Eric Ainge and Tennessee. Chris Leak has to be the most over-hyped solid, but not spectacular QB since Chris Simms. Florida 28, Tennessee 20
  • Nebraska at USC: (Lines is USC by 17.5) Of all the games between ranked teams, ESPN Gameday picked this one to broadcast from? Pretty blatant that they’re always going to choice the ABC-televised game over the real games of the week. I’ve hoped USC would get upset so many times in the past and it never happens, so I’m just going to resign myself to reality and keep picking them until they lose or meet Ohio State. USC 38, Nebraska 14

Six Thoughts from This Week in College Football

    gonzalez_smith
  • Ohio State is clearly number one: Their defense is still suspect, but the national champ now seems poised to be one of these five: OSU, USC, Notre Dame (though, I still think they’re over-hyped), West Virginia, and Auburn. There’s definitely no team as strong as 2004 USC or 2002 Miami in the bunch. Heck, even last year’s Texas and USC teams would be the run away front-runner this year. So even though the Buckeye’s defense isn’t great, there may not be another team with the total package necessary to beat them this season.
  • Anthony Gonzalez is a stud: He seems to have brought his A game this season since Santonio Holmes left. The Buckeye’s general strategy seems to be to send Ginn long each time, throw to him if he’s open, and otherwise hit Gonzalez in the 10-30 yard range. Somehow I still get this feeling that Tressel’s coaching staff has never really figured out how to use Ginn such that his full potential is reached.
  • Colt McCoy will be a heck of a QB in a year or two: I have to admit he was awesome for a freshman QB in such a big game. Other than his one interception, he didn’t make may rookie mistakes. In fact, his receivers screwed up a lot more than him. Barring injury, he’s got Heisman written all over him in a couple of years.
  • Troy Smith is not a mobile QB: I don’t know when this myth started, but he’s not Vince Young or Michael Vick. In two games this season, he has 8 rushes for negative 14 yards. Let’s just accept that he’s a good passing, pro-style QB and stop talking about his mobility (this probably helps his NFL draft status as pro-style QBs seem to be much preferred over dual-threat QBs).
  • Florida St. needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat Troy: The Seminoles were down 17-10 with about 6 minutes left in the game before scoring two TDs to win the game. As best we could tell, Troy seems to be a primarily online university (think University of Phoenix). This prompted one of our friends to observe that the football team probably practices by playing Madden over a network. Is Bobby Bowden going to start feeling a bit of heat?
  • Illinois Stinks: 33-0 loss to a Rutgers team that they beat last year. Guess Illini fans will have to wait until next decade.

And, one bonus thought…

aunt_jemima
  • How does Aunt Jemima still exist?: Totally unrelated to college football, but it struck me as odd that the Aunt Jemima brand of breakfast foods is still used. It must have just flown under the radar in a politically correct world given the stereotype it represents.

Five Thoughts on the Weekend in College Football

  • Biggest Shock: The trendy pick is Division I-AA Montana State beating Colorado 19-10 in Dan Hawkins coaching debut (how the value of the domain FireDanHawkins.com just increased). But, I have to go with Kansas State beating Division I-AA Illinois State by one (24-23) when they stopped a two point conversion! To put this in perspective, just three short years ago, Kansas State was in a BCS bowl after destroying undefeated Oklahoma while Illinois State lost by 27 to an Illinois team that went 1-11. Given that this was Ron Prince’s coashing debut for the Wildcats, I imagine FireRonPrince.com could soon become a hot commodity.
  • How Good is Garrett Wolfe?: The Ohio State offense was very impressive in their 35-12 win over Northern Illinois, but the game opened up a huge question make about the Buckeye defense. Are they that bad or is Northern Illinois running back Garrett Wolfe that good? Wolfe had 285 total yards! That’s the biggest individual performance I can remember against the Buckeyes since Tim Biakabutuka’s 313 rushing yards in 1995. I hope it was an anomaly that Tressel and company can fix, but let’s just say it didn’t comfort me in how well they can handle Texas’ offense next week.
  • Notre Dame Wasn’t a Top 10 Team This Weekend: A solid, but not spectacular Irish team beat a solid, but not spectacular, George Tech team 14-10. Even the most loyal Notre Dame fans have to admit there was nothing in their team’s performance to justify a number two ranking with such an effort against an unranked team. If Georgia Tech had a real coach, the probably would have won since the Irish defense had no answer for 6-5 receiver Calvin Johnson. Unless Charlie Weis is hiding something, I have a feeling that someone (e.g., Penn St., Michigan, Michigan St., USC) is going to thrash Notre Dame this season.
  • The Pac-10 Still Belongs to USC: Number 9 Cal, the great hope to dethrone the Trojans, laid an absolute egg in their 18-35 loss to a Tennessee team that shouldn’t have ranked. Arizona State struggled for three quarters against Division I-AA Northern Arizona. Oregon did crush Stanford, but beating Pac-10 teams not coached by Pete Carroll doesn’t count for much. Meanwhile, a USC team going through a “rebuilding” year beat what was supposed to be a decent Arkansas team by 36 on the road. Move along, nothing to see in the Pac-10 except a fifth straight USC title.
  • Oklahoma Stinks: Uh, beating UAB be a touchdown at home? Yea, good luck with Texas. Lucky for the Sooners, the Big-12 is weak enough that they can probably still finish the season ranked with a decent record. They’re definitely now a top 15 team, though.

Oy Vey! Maurice Clarett is a Schmuck

For the next season of The Surreal Life, they should just have one guest…Maurice Clarett. After his little chase from police with his vodka, guns, and lint roller, now details emerge that Clarett was involved with the Israeli mafia! Some chutzpah. Honestly, I didn’t even know such a mafia existed. Hollywood has taught me about the Italian, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and African mafias…but I was not aware of Israel’s The Jerusalem Group. Mazel tov, Maurice, Mazel tov.

2005 College Football Awards

Feel free to add your own awards in the comments!

  • Irrational Exuberance Award: After the Illini started 2-0 by beating Rutgers and San Jose State, one of the local news stations led a segment with the title, “Feels Like 2001”. 2001, of course being the year that the Kurt Kittner-led Illini went 10-2 and earned a BCS birth. Turns out, the season felt more like 2003 (1-11) with the Illini ending the season on a nine game losing streak to finish 2-9.
  • Fastest Time to Erase Memories of the Past Season Award: The Illini win here given that they already had their 2006 football schedule up last week.
  • Coach of the Year Award: I’m sorry, but giving this to Joe Paterno is kind of like giving the Queen of England the Politician of the Year Award. Despite Penn State’s amazing success, I can’t help but think that Paterno and Bobby Bowden are more figureheads at this point. That being said, I’m going with Charlie Weis because I don’t think this Notre Dame team would be going to a BCS bowl if anyone else was coach this season.
  • Game of the Year Award: I’ve got to go with USC-Notre Dame since a 30 game win streak was on the line. Runners-up are: Penn State-Michigan (the Nittany Lions were pretty much undefeated for all but one second of the entire season), Ohio State-Michigan, and Ohio State-Texas.
  • Most Improved Analyst Award: Aaron Taylor on ABC. He seemed like a rookie next to John Saunders and Craig James last year. This year he matured a lot.
  • Worst Analyst Ever Award: Lou Holtz on ESPN. Good gosh he’s bad. If he’s not saying something that’s just wrong, then he’s filling the air with meaningless fluff that makes me yearn to have back the seconds of my life that I just spent listening to him.
  • Worst Game to Be an Oddsmaker Award: Did anyone have 2-6 Arizona beating 8-0 UCLA by 38?
  • Least Deserving Bowl Team Award: Rutgers. They lost to the Illini. The fact that they went 7-4 speaks volumes about the Big East.
  • Dude, Where’s My Yards Award: Adrian Peterson who went from 1925 yards as a freshman to only 1024 yards due in part to injuries and the loss of Heisman caliber quarterback as a teammate. It’s easy to forget that Peterson was the Reggie Bush of 2004.
  • Prettiest Hair Award: Notre Dame wide receiver Jeff Samardzija. Daggum, those are some beautiful locks. As Leigh Ann noted, he reminds us of “Sunshine” from Remember the Titans.
  • Buckeye That Was Most Likely a Ninja In a Previous Life Award: Troy Smith, though ninjas don’t fumble in game critical situations. As evidenced by the Michigan game, Grasshopper is learning.
  • Buckeye That Was Most Likely a Pirate In a Previous Life Award: A.J. Hawk. Led all swashbucklers in sword cuts for a loss (of limbs that is).
  • The Georgians Working Together Award: Georgia Tech upsets Miami and Georgia upsets LSU to deny their respective opponents BCS births. The end result is that Atlanta’s the Peach Bowl ends up with the best non-BCS bowl of the season with Miami (9-2) versus LSU (9-2). The Gator Bowl with Virginia Tech (10-2) and Louisville (9-2) is the second best non-BCS bowl, IMHO.
  • The Opposites Attract Award: The Cotton Bowl, which will match Texas Tech against Alabama. The Red Raiders have the 2nd ranked offense in the country and the 28th ranked defense. The Crimson Tide has the 74th ranked offense and 2nd ranked defense.
  • Incredible Insight Award: The group that came up with the brand new San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. I think I speak for all college football fans when I say that it would have been a tragedy…a tragedy, I tell you…not to have scheduled this match-up between Colorado State (6-5) and Navy (7-4). I’m just counting down the hours until I can watch this classic match-up.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Award: Ted Ginn. You just know when he receives a kick that something big is going to happen. The problem is the “big thing” is about equally likely to be a turnover as it is to be a TD return.
  • Strike One Award: Call it the Zook-Willingham rule: If you go to a prestigious football school and don’t have them in the national championship picture within three year, you’re fired. Urban Meyer gets strike one for going 8-3. Zook and Willingham didn’t help themselves by going both going 2-9 in their first year at new, less prestigious football schools. What the heck, I’ll go ahead and give Ron and Ty a share of this award too.
  • Mediocrity Award: Clemson for the seventh year in a row (6-6, 9-3, 7-5, 7-6, 9-4, 6-5, 7-4). Tommy’s the master of doing just enough not to get fired. Stewart Mandel has them picked as the breakout team for next season. I’d like to see that, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

The BCS Picture As I See It

So, Saturday seems to have cleared a lot up. We know that the the following three conferences stand no chance of getting at-large bids:

  • The Big East. If West Virginia trips, there’s a plethora of more qualified two loss teams.
  • The ACC. Miami’s loss took care of this…there’s better two loss teams than the Hurricanes. Presumably, Virginia Tech beats FSU for the automatic bid, but if the Hokies trip, they’re not going to the BCS.
  • The Big 12. Presumably, Texas will win this conference. If they lose to A&M or the Big 12 championship, the entire picture is screwed up. Texas Tech is definitely too weak of a two loss team to be considered.

Obviously, USC and Penn St. have their respective conference bids locked up. The SEC be the winner of Georgia and LSU. If LSU loses, I think they’ll have a hard time getting in just because they will have ended on a sour note.

So, given all this, there’s really four teams vying for the two at-large spots: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, and Auburn. In my opinion, it should be Ohio State and Auburn. Yesterday, I detailed why the Buckeyes deserve it over the Irish. With respect to Auburn, I just that they get more street cred for their schedule and wins and loses than the Irish this year.

Now allow me to rant about the fact that the one loss Ducks are being considered over these three teams with two losses. The problem with the Pac-10 teams is this: it’s basically the WAC save for the fact they have one national powerhouse in USC. Given the weakness of the conference, any arguments in favor of a team not named USC basically revolves around circular logic. The Ducks beat Fresno State (more about them later) by three and lost to number one USC by 32. Notre Dame lost to the same USC team on a last second TD. Ohio State lost to a Texas by three. Besides that game, no one’s came within 19 points of the Longhorns! Based on this season alone, I fail to see how one can consider USC a better team than the Longhorns at this point. So, the Buckeyes lost by three to a team that’s as good, if not better than, the team that beat Oregon by 32. There’s been nothing to indicate the Ducks are a better team that the Buckeyes.

OK, now one final complaint about the reverence given to USC by the human pollsters. As mentioned above, I don’t see how you can argue that the Trojans are a better team than Texas based on this season’s play alone. When Ohio State lost to the Longhorns, they slipped from four to nine in the polls. That’s fine…about what would be expected. When Notre Dame lost to USC in similar fashion, they didn’t drop a single spot in the polls (I believe that they were eight at the time). Fine, this rarely happens, but I could accept it for that game. Now, Fresno State has the same thing happen when they lose to USC…16th before and 16th after the loss. Why in the heck is it that, rather than USC dropping by barely beating teams they were strongly favored against, the opponents get treated as if the loss never happened? If this was any other team, they would have dropped below Texas. USC has won by an average of 48.5 to 21.5 (27.0 point difference) while Texas has won by an average of 50.1 to 14.3 (35.8 point difference).

Finally, I’ve got to throw in that Reggie Bush is something special. I know he has USC’s line and the top quarterback behind him, but I think he’s going to be great in the pros. If the Heisman is for the best individual player in the nation, he deserves it hands down this year.

Hang On, Sloopy!

  • In Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes seem to have finally found a coach that can pwn the Wolverines the way that Carr and Moeller pwned John Cooper.
  • Gonzalez seems to have got his mojo back in this game…that was a heck of a catch towards the end of the game.

    gonzalez_michigan

  • Best line by the commentators was when Ginn made that one-handed grab in the fourth quarter and he said, “Maybe Ginn should start fielding punts with one hand.” Teddy is so inconsistent on the punts…one game you’re looking forward to the opponent punts because he looks like an all-star and the next game you hoping they go out of bounds because he can’t even make fair catches without fumbling. This definitely game was in the latter category.
  • That was sad to see Bobby Carpenter crying after going down injured on the first play of the game. That stinks to miss your final Michigan game when you’re such a great player.
  • The Buckeyes still need to solve their turnover problem. With the lost two lost fumbles in this game (which led to 10 of Michigan’s 21 points), they’ve now lost seven more turnovers than they’ve gained this season. They were very lucky that Santonio Holmes recovered another one of Ginn’s fumbles.
  • On Michigan’s last drive, Tyler Ecker deciding not to fall out of bounds to stop the clock had to have been the biggest game-ending mistake for Wolverines since Chris Webber’s phantom timeout. What was he thinking, coming back to the middle of the field with no timeouts? By contrast, the Buckeyes looked like pros on that last play by creating enough confusion to make sure the Wolverines couldn’t line up for one more play.
  • What in the heck was up with calling Holmes for an illegal celebration for diving into the end zone?! That was a pitiful call.
  • The game was amazingly lacking in big offensive plays. I think that there were only three plays I counted that went for 20+ yards.
  • If Stewart Mandel still thinks Notre Dame deserves a BCS spot over the Buckeyes, he’s a tool. Look at Notre Dame’s schedule and Ohio State’s. The Michigan wins on the road are a wash for the teams. Notre Dame barely lost to USC at home, the Buckeyes barely lost to Texas at home…another wash, IMHO. The biggest difference is that the Buckeyes beat Michigan State by 11, whereas the Irish lost to them by 3 (both were at home). The Buckeyes second lost was on the road to a one-loss, BCS Penn St. team by a touchdown.

    By my count, the Buckeyes beat five bowl-eligible teams (Miami OH, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Michigan) and lost to two BCS teams (Texas and Penn St.). Notre Dame has only beat two currently bowl-eligible teams (Michigan and Navy) lost to a BCS team (USC) and a non-bowl-eligible team (Michigan St.).

    The only way you could possibly argue for the Irish over the Buckeyes is if you believe that USC is just a much, much better team than Texas. I don’t think any rational person would agree with such an assertion at this point.

College Football Lines

Here’s the lines for some of my teams this weekend:

  • Ohio St. at Michigan: OSU by 3. I’d definitely take the Buckeyes with that spread.
  • Clemson at USC: Clemson by 2.5. It’s close…Tommy has kind of pwned the Gamecocks…but I have a feeling Spurrier wins this one.
  • Northwestern at UIUC: Northwestern by 14.5. Heck, I’d take Northwestern by at least 21.

And, finally, here’s Stewart Mandel explaining why Notre Dame deserves to be higher in the polls than the Buckeyes.

College Football Thoughts

  • The Buckeyes’ offense has actually looked pretty good the past couple of games (of course, as soon as I say this…). Ted Ginn is actually started to make some big plays…man, if he gets an opening on a kick, he can fly.
  • Props to myself for calling Georgia’s imminent loss! I think I’ll apply for Trev Alberts old job :). UCLA almost stole my thunder by going to overtime with Stanford, but their bubble is due to burst. They kind of remind me of the 2001 Illinois team…a decent team that just overachieves like mad, but isn’t as good as their record indicates.
  • How in the heck is Rutgers 6-2 given that they lost to the Illini? I don’t care if you are in the Big East, anyone that loses to the Illini has no right to such a decent record.
  • Tommy Bowden needs to take Jim Tressel lessons on how to win close games. When you have five losses and two are in overtime and the other three were decided by a total of eight points, there’s something wrong.
  • With Tennessee dropping out of the Top 25, this marks the second time this year a preseason Top 5 team has dropped out (Michigan did, but has since came back).
  • If my count is right, 9 of the 11 Big Ten teams have been ranked in the Top 25 during the course of the season: Penn St., Ohio St., Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan St., and Iowa. That’s gotta be approaching a record. Don’t think the Hoosiers will crack the list this season and I’m darn sure the Illini won’t.

Random College Football Thoughts

I never got around to writing something last week, so I guess that I’ll try to give thoughts on the previous two weeks.

  • The Michigan State-Ohio State game seemed to be more a case of the Spartans snatching defeat from the jaws of victory rather than the Buckeyes playing well. Though, ironically, the Spartans weren’t the worst in the Big Ten in terms of giving a game away on that weekend…take a bow Minnesota (special teams coaches…you gotta remind the punter to make a B line for the back of the endzone if something goes awry in that situation!)
  • Despite the nice victory at Indiana, the Buckeyes have got to work on the turnovers. The defense can only dominate solid opposing offenses so much. It was good to see Ginn get a TD run in the Michigan State game and a TD punt return in the Indiana game. Maybe he’s got his mojo back.
  • That was pure college football bliss to get to watch the end of the Michigan-Penn St. and USC-Notre Dame games within an hour of each other. Unfortunately, I would have liked to have seen the opposite team win in both games :(.
  • The USC-Notre Dame game has to be one of the best games I’ve ever seen start to finish. I was one that thought Tyrone Willingham should have been given more time with the Irish. But, I have to admit I was wrong seeing how much coaching of the mastermind that is Charlie Weis can improve basically the same team Willingham had. Also, the fact that Willingham’s Huskies are 1-6 right now has to at least cause some doubt in the minds of those who thing Willingham is in the upper echelon of coaches.
  • I figured that Florida State was ranked a little too high and due for a loss (though, it’s a mystery how Virgina beats the Seminoles one week and loses to the Tar Heels the next). I think that Georgia is the next undefeated due for a loss.
  • Is it possible to imagine the Illini being worse if UIUC had kept Ron Turner as head coach? Isn’t a new coach at least supposed to show signs of improvement?
  • How on earth did Northwestern pwn a Michigan State team that beat Notre Dame and probably should have beaten Ohio State at home?

Mark May Was Right

As much as it pains me to say so, Mark May brought his A-game to the post-Ohio State game analysis.

First off, Lou Holtz was full of crap when he said that Penn St. won by going back to an old school Joe Paterno style of play. Having a Michael Robinson at quarterback and running the option? That’s not old school Penn St. As much as I’m sure Lou Holtz would like to see Jo Pa stick it to those new fangled offenses from Mack Brown and Pete Carroll…that’s totally not what happened in this game. Penn St. adopted a new style of play and won with it. Mark May basically told Lou that he was spewing out such stupid statements and then Lou seemed to take it personally. Taking a personal swipe at Mark May that he was just mad because Penn St. is doing better than Pitt was totally unnecessary. But then again, I guess you expect ex-Gamecocks to act that asinine.

Second, something is horribly awry with Ohio St.’s offense. Not to take anything away from Penn St.’s defense…they’re definitely a top 25 group, but there not so excellent that they should be able to shut down the Buckeyes offense like that. I mean, Ginn, Holmes, and Troy Smith are all going to be in the NFL someday (Smith probably won’t be playing QB though…do I hear the Steelers calling for another ex-QB to draft?). Pittman and Hamby probably have a decent shot at making it. In short, they’re pretty freakin’ talented. So, look at how other offenses have done against the Nittany Lions:

Yards Given Up By Penn St.’s Defense in 2005
Opponent Yards
South Florida 297
Cincinnati 360
Central Michigan 172
Northwestern 427
Minnesota 287
Ohio State 230

OSU’s yardage is somewhat misleading because 50 of those yards came on two totally uncharacteristic pass plays towards the end of the fourth quarter before the fumble. They should have been close to 180 for the game. I guarantee you that none of those other teams has the overall talent that the Buckeyes does.

I mean Tressel ball is fine and all when it wins, but right now the offense coaching is terrible. The offense is taking underachieving to a totally new level. Tressel has got to get someone that knows what they’re doing in there and start playing smarter and utilizing the talent on the team.

And, Ted Ginn needs to work on his getting open skills. When he receives a pass or kick, he seems to want to jump around a lot trying to find an open lane, which he’s evidently not that great at doing. His real skill is when he breaks into open sprints and no one can keep up with him. He needs to stop trying all these jukes and just outrun his opponents straight up.

Mark May seemed to know what he was talking about in his post-game assessment of the Buckeyes offense…how about getting him on staff?

College Football Perspectives

  • We went to see the Illini play Michigan State this morning. Pretty much the worst beating I’ve ever seen live, I think (61-14). We were gone at halftime.
  • Saw the fourth quarter of the Ohio State-Iowa game on TV. Pretty much the first time I remember seeing a Tressel-led Buckeyes team beat a ranked opponent without the game coming down to the fourth quarter (31-6). Ted Ginn? Three catches for 32 yards. What the heck?! Just toss him a screen and throw a few blocks if nothing else. Tressel should start making the offensive coordinator run extra laps the next week in practice every time that Ginn has less than ten offensive touches per game.
  • I discovered last week that I could listen to the Clemson football games over the Internet for free (probability of ABC ever televising a Clemson game in my region = 0.0000000041%). Unfortunately, I have also learned that anytime I listen to the Tigers on the radio, the game tends to result in them losing in overtime.

Five Things I Did This Weekend

  1. While checking out at the grocery store, heard the cashier tell the bag boy that Mr. Deeds is a great movie. Hoped that he is not considering a career as a film critic.
  2. In post-game wrap-up on ESPN Plus, learned that John Cooper has “never seen a bad Michigan team”, which seems pretty intuitive given his 2-10-1 career record versus the Wolverines.
  3. Continued to wonder why in the heck the Buckeyes can’t get Tedd Ginn the ball. I mean, four offensive touches for 30 yards against San Diego State’s D?! If Ohio State had someone like Norm Chow as offensive coordinator, I guarantee this wouldn’t be happening. This isn’t going to help the Buckeyes stop top offensive in-state recruits from going to California, Florida, or Michigan.
  4. Learned that Louisville plays their football games at Papa John’s Stadium, which now currently tops my list of worst corporate stadium names.
  5. Learned that the Bears-Lions announcers think that QB Kyle Orton

    kyle_orton.jpeg


    looks like Napoleon Dynamite

    napoleon_dynamite.jpg