Saturday, September 1, 2007

Outstanding Start to the Season

You couldn't have asked for a better start if you are the Big Ten network. By showing one of the biggest upsets of all-time, the network shows definitively that fans are missing something if they don't have access to this channel.

Chad Henne was terrible, completing barely half his passes and he threw a terrible interception in the 4th quarter with his team still trailing by a TD. The interception looked like a classic freshman mistake. Henne rolled out to the right and while he had a player closely guarded (but still open underneath), Henne instead chose to throw across his body into traffic, and of course it was intercepted. Luckily for Michigan, Mike Hart bailed the team out, and almost single-handedly won the game. Hart's highlight reel TD run to give his team the lead in the 4th quarter was reason for optimism in Ann Arbor. Instead the day ended in heart-break for Wolverine fans and the odds of Lloyd Carr surving the season have gone down dramatically.

The end of the game actually looked like it would be a miracle comeback for the Wolverines, thanks to some questionable play calling by Appalachian State. Because Appalachian State had no timeouts left at the end of the game, they decided to kick a field goal with 30 seconds left and not risk a mistake. Michigan still had one timeout left. What Appalachian State could have done was run to the middle of the field on first down, draw the timeout, run to the middle of the field on second down, and spike the ball on third down before kicking the winning field goal with no time on the clock. Instead Appalachian State kicked it through the uprights with 26 seconds left.

While this may not seem like a huge mistake, a team receiving a kick-off has a great chance to get into field goal range in half a minute. First off, the clock stops on first downs in college, and now that kick-offs are from the 30 yard line, almost every possession starts with great field position. Most teams will only need 2-3 completed passes to get into field goal range, and as it turned out, Michigan only needed one completed pass to get into field goal range.

Luckily for fans of the upset, Appalachian State blocked a field goal for the second consecutive possesion and the Wolverines lost. But Appalachian State could have had a much easier win if they had just trusted their offense to do simple tasks like spike the ball.

In other action, the Colorado - Colorado St. game was decided by 7 or fewer points for the 6th consecutive year. Trailing by 3 in the final two minutes, Colorado elected not to attempt the 47 yard field goal on 4th and 4. After a disastorous year last year, the new Colorado coach was willing to take a risk to try to win at the end of regulation. As it turned out, his team got the first down, but still couldn't get a TD before time expired in the game. Colorado settled for a field goal and had to send the game into overtime. In OT, Colorado intercepted a pass and kicked the long field goal to earn the victory against their in-state rivals.

The late games are already underway with plenty more excitement. Washington St. and Wisconsin each scored a TD on their first two possessions.

Meanwhile, Illinois and Missouri are scoring in unique fashion. Illinois blocked a Missouri punt for a TD. Later, Illinois fumbled into Missouri's end zone and Missouri picked up the fumble and returned it over 100 yards for the score.

Finally, is there some rule that Notre Dame always has to play teams with the same colors as them? I swear with half of Notre Dame's opponents wear Notre Dame's opposite color scheme. This week Notre Dame is in Gold and Blue and Georgia Tech is in Gold and White. Notre Dame needs to play Tennessee and Clemson more often.