Still two weeks until Duke crushes Presbyterian on college basketball’s opening day, so let’s take another look at the college football season. It may not be clear who is going to play for the national title, but we are starting to build up to some very big games.
Texas beat Oklahoma St. 28-24. I was surprised to hear the normally flawless Stacey Dales appear awe-struck in the post game interview with Colt McCoy, asking what seemed like 7 final questions. “Oh, one more thing, what did you think when your defense played well?” “Oh, one more thing, what happened to your hand?” “Oh, one more thing, will you ask me to the prom?” He's just so darn cute after all, in a sort of made-for-tv movie about a QB growing up in the sixties kind of way. Yes folks, Colt McCoy has become the “Ah Shucks” QB of post-game interviews.
On the flip side, Oklahoma St. played a “Maybe we are the 2nd best team in the Big 12 game.” This certainly beats a “We blew a big lead again” game. Except it still wasn’t a win.
Next week Texas will face Texas Tech in Lubbock in a matchup of unbeaten teams. Texas Tech pulled off the 63-21 victory this week against Kansas. I tried to convince my wife that it wasn’t running up the score because Texas Tech is more than capable of blowing a 28 point lead. She pointed out that the lead was 49 points at the time I made this comment. Still, given that Kansas just went to a BCS bowl and won a national title in basketball, and the best thing to happen to Texas Tech in the last few years was the arrival and departure of Mr. Auto Parts Billboard, I have no problem with them running up the score on anyone. (Random Thought: If Texas Tech played Washington St., would they get to 100?)
After Texas beats Texas Tech next week, (oops, I mean after the last great match-up of undefeated teams in the regular season), we’ll have 3 fun matchups to determine 2nd place in the Big 12 South (between Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma St.) And then Texas will have the Big 12 title game to earn a national title shot. Am I naively overlooking the Texas game at Kansas or the rivalry game against Texas A&M? Eh.
By the way, did we suddenly get a windstorm in Kansas on Saturday? Oklahoma and Kansas St. combined for 83 points in the first half and then combined for only 10 in the second half. Bizarro world stat: Sam Bradford was 13 of 32 and his team scored 58 points. By the way, Choir Boy McCoy was 38 of 45 completing 84% of his passes against Oklahoma St. So I’m sorry, but I don’t see Bradford in the Heisman race unless Texas starts losing.
Seriously, what’s with all the high scores today? The following teams all scored at least 45 points: Florida, Georgia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M (and they aren’t very good), North Carolina (they supposedly have a ton of injuries), Rutgers (they’ve been having a terrible year), TCU, Kent St., and Troy.
Florida beat Kentucky 63-5 and Georgia beat LSU 52-38 setting up the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party. The winner will likely meet Alabama in the SEC championship game. I’m sure there will be some other big games in the SEC this fall, but given the way LSU has given up 50 points in back-to-back big games, and given that Vanderbilt just lost to Duke, nothing really stands out.
And the season is over in the Big 10. Oh, sure there will be some games and a few upsets. But I agree with Kirk Herbstreit. Now that Penn St. has beaten Ohio St., Penn St. is going to go undefeated and play in the national championship game. The only thing that gives me pause is Daryll Clark getting pulled late in the game with an injury (?). (Honestly, is there anything more awkward than watching a teams starting QB cheer for the backup QB scoring a TD?) But assuming that doesn’t lead to any controversy, Penn St. will finally pay off for the Big Ten with a football national championship berth. Seriously, the Big Ten has put up with some horrible Nittany Lion basketball teams with the hope of a Penn St. football national title contender. It’s about time.
Borrowing from Gregg Easterbrook, here’s the Ohio St./Penn St. Sweet Play: Facing 3rd down deep in their own territory, Ohio St. lined up three WRs to the left side. Ohio St. was playing zone and Penn St. ran the outside receiver deep to clear out the deep coverage. The middle WR ran a slant route to create space to the inside. Finally, the inside WR ran a wheel route, running parallel to the line of scrimmage before cutting up field. This left one corner covering the wheel-route WR underneath. At this point, Terrelle Pryor broke to the outside and had a clear lane to run for a first down. The corner dropped his man and ran towards the line of scrimmage to tackle Pryor, but this left the wheel-route WR wide open. Pryor was looking down field, saw this, and threw a 53-yard pass. That was sweet. Plays like this are why Pryor is already one of my favorite QBs in the NFL and he isn’t even there yet. Honestly, Pryor is a running QB who looks to pass first, and the experience of focusing on the passing game while in college is going to make him a star for year’s to come.
Everyone is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that Ohio St. won’t be playing in the national title game, but I still hope they play in the Rose Bowl (in the Penn St. national title scenario.) That’s because Ohio St. has built a solid reputation as a college football villain. After being blown out in the last two title games, everyone hates them. And that’s always good for creating a big game atmosphere.
While I’m on the Big Ten, Javon Ringer is the inverse Rashard Mendenhall. I.e., when Mendenhall was drafted, NFL teams loved the fact that he had carried so few times in his college career. They aren’t going to like the tread on Ringer’s tires. Of course, Mendenhall had a season ending injury in his first game as an NFL starter, so maybe if Ringer is the inverse Mendenhall, that’s actually a good thing.
Ok, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Minnesota, since I’m probably one of five people to have watched their games. They are irrelevant in the national picture, but they are proof that sometimes a team gets an inordinate number of breaks. For example, Minnesota misses Penn St. and Michigan St. on the schedule this year. As further evidence, Purdue was forced to play a RB at QB this week. (This is not to be confused with Virginia Tech which was forced to play a WR at QB.) Thanks to Purdue’s complete inability to pass, Minnesota won at Purdue for the first time in 18 years. Hooray.
Thanks to Rutgers win against Pittsburgh, everyone in the conference now has 2 losses. Seriously, West Virginia might be the only team in the Top 25 this week. The good news is that since 6 teams have 2 losses, (West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Louisville, South Florida, and Cincinnati), someone is going to eventually emerge as a decent team. Or they won’t. Oh who cares?
Undefeated Utah faces one-loss TCU on November 6th and one-loss BYU on November 22nd. Those games should be good.
With parity worse than the Big East, and teams like Maryland that are ridiculously unpredictable, almost no games are big games. But I’m foolishly going to predict that since Florida St. and Maryland each have one conference loss that their game on November 22nd could be big. Oh who am I kidding? When Virginia can lose 31-3 to Duke and still lead one of the ACC divisions, there’s nothing to look forward to here.
Arizona played USC with first place in the Pac-10 on the line.
Sour Play 1: With 6 minutes left in the game and trailing by 7 points, Arizona faced 4th and 1 inch near midfield. Arizona tried a QB sneak and lost about a foot, turning the ball over. At this point announcer Petros Papadakis said, “Arizona doesn’t really strike me as a QB sneak team.” I still don’t know what this means.
Sour Play 2: With 3 minutes left in the game and trailing by 7 points, Arizona faced 3rd and 10. They called for a bubble screen to a WR. It gained zero yards. Arizona coaches apparently did not watch the Texas vs Oklahoma St. game earlier in the day when Oklahoma St. did the same thing and lost. Arizona punted on 4th down and Gregg Easterbrook would have written “Game Over” in his notebook. I’m now done cribbing from his writing style.
Bizarre Ending: USC punted to Arizona one last time as time expired, and Arizona returned the ball into USC territory, drawing a bench-on-the-field penalty on USC. But apparently this is a deadball foul in college so the game was over instead of giving Arizona one un-timed down. Weird.
Now USC, Oregon, Oregon St., and Cal each have one-loss in conference. Cal faces all three of the teams over the next three weeks. And Oregon and Oregon St. will face off to end the season. The Pac 10 might sneak out a 2nd BCS team by the time this thing is done.
Why do you watch SportsCenter? For stupid facts like this: Navy ran 77 times Saturday and didn’t attempt a single pass. That deserves a wow.