An outsider look at college sports
Monday, September 30, 2002
With Miami having the week off, and both Texas and Oklahoma getting a particularly soft opponent, it was a relatively uneventful weekend for college football. As referenced below, two of the three most exciting games involved SEC schools: Florida holding off the Hefty Lefty and Kentucky, and Auburn coming from way back to edge Syracuse. The other game was probably a little too exciting for fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes, blowing a 22 point lead in the final eight minutes, only to beat Penn State in overtime, 41-35 (JoePa looked to be in fine form for a man his age chasing after the officials when the game ended).
Illinois is officially the disappointment of the college season so far, getting blown out at home by Michigan, 45-28. USC may be a legit Rose Bowl contender, spanking OSU, 22-0. And CAL lost its second straight, collapsing in the second half against WSU and "injured" QB Jason Gesser, 48-38. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the total collapse of Nebraska, getting totally outclassed by Heisman candidate (front-runner?) Seneca Wallace and Iowa State, 36-14. Super Saturday arrives in two weeks, with Miami hosting Florida State and Oklahoma playing Texas at the Cotton Bowl.
The lead game in the SEC had Kentucky visiting Florida. The Wildcats are no longer undefeated, but they showed they belonged, losing to Florida 41-34. Florida jumped out to a big lead, 19-0 at the half, and looked to be cruising. But Kentucky controlled the third quarter and actually led 28-25. Florida came back to take the lead, but Kentucky had cut it to 39-34 when Florida returned a two-point conversion attempt all the way back for two points of its own, to reach the final score. Florida's special teams were sloppy, but Kentucky deserves a lot of credit for going to Gainesville and playing with the Gators.
Alabama beat homestanding Arkansas, 30-12, with redshirt freshman backup Brodie Croyle playing quarterback the whole way in place of the injured Tyler Watts. Alabama's Shaud Williams scored on an 80-yard run on the first play from scrimmage; Williams and nominal starter Santonio Beard both ran for over 100 yards. Alabama continued to have trouble with mobile quarterbacks, Matt Jones in this case, who ran for a touchdown and a couple of other big gains.
Auburn got probably the SEC's best nonconference win this season with a triple-overtime win over Syracuse, 37-34. Carnell Williams ran 40 times for 202 yards, and Jason Campbell relieved Daniel Cobb at quarterback and may have won back the starting job. The Tigers trailed 17-0 early but came back to take a 24-17 lead, but the Orangemen tied it late. Both teams botched fieldgoals in the first overtime; Auburn won in the third by following a Syracuse FG with a TD.
I wrote a new fight song for Vanderbilt this weekend. Here's the chorus:
Look, here comes another
It's the only kind we
Ever get to see!
Way to keep it close, Vandy!
The Commodores actually led South Carolina 14-10 in the third quarter. But the Gamecocks of course came back with ten late points to win 20-14. Such is life in the SEC's intellectual bastion. You would think that if Vandy is such a good school they would have figured out by now that they're wasting their time trying to compete with enormous state universities cum football factories. As for South Carolina, QB Corey Jenkins ran for 97 yards to lead the team; their actual running backs didn't do much, which has to be a concern.
LSU had some early problems with Mississippi State, but pulled away as the game went on, winning 31-13. Neither team could really move the ball -- both were under 300 yards of total offense -- and both turned the ball over three times. LSU had no passing game to speak of, completing only four passes. That might work on State, which seems to be in a down year, but against Florida or Alabama they're going to need to throw.
Tennessee stunk up the joint in the first half, trailing Rutgers -- Rutgers! -- 14-7 at halftime only because the Scarlet Knights couldn't get a play off at the end to maybe put more points up. The Vols reasserted themselves in the second half and won 35-14. Georgia's overmatched opponent du jour was New Mexico State, which it throttled 41-14. The Bulldogs came up short of 300 yards of offense despite the gaudy score, and David Greene still has problems hooking up with his receivers. They'll need to do better if they want to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa this week.
Thursday, September 26, 2002
Only two games this weekend involve match-ups of ranked teams: the aforementioned Iowa State v. Nebraska game, and overrated Pac-10 schools USC and Oregon State get together at the Coliseum, where the Beavers haven't won in a long, long time. Kentucky, which would be ranked were they not on probation, and Jared "J-Load" Lorenzen travel to Gainesville and play Florida in a rare (for them) nationally televised appearance. Mighty CAL, also on probation, hosts 19th ranked Wazzou; both of the QB's for the Cougars are nursing injuries. The rest of the games are dogs....
The rest of this weekend's schedule, starting with tonight's blow-out. We're starting to get near the time when the BCS ratings are published, so we'll keep you posted. While you're here, check out the new link to a site devoted to college fight songs....
ED.: Well, I guess tonight's game wasn't exactly a "blow-out". The 'Noles ended up making it much closer than I thought they would.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Conference play begins in earnest nationally this weekend. One game of interest features what may well be the first game between the two schools in which Nebraska is ranked lower than Iowa State. The Huskers have now been anhiliated in their last three games against ranked opponents, and will have to find a way to stop Heisman dark-horse Seneca Wallace, something Florida State and Iowa were incapable of doing.
Monday, September 23, 2002
I was at a memorial for most of Saturday, and got to see only a handful of games in the evening. Perhaps the biggest surprise (other than defending Big-10 champion Illinois losing at home to San Jose St.) has to be the Florida rout of Tennessee, described more fully below. The Pac-10, so dominant a week ago, got leveled, with UCLA getting blown out at home, 31-17, by Colorado, USC rallying late but falling short against K-State, 27-20, and CAL losing its first game of the year to Air Force, 23-21. As it turns, my upset specials almost came true, with Michigan struggling but holding off Utah, 10-7, and Ohio State rallying to defeat Cincinnati, 23-19. And yes, Notre Dame is still undefeated.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
The first big SEC clash of the year (apolgies to Auburn/Vanderbilt) was won by Florida, as the Gators smashed Tennessee 30-13. The game was played in soggy conditions in Knoxville, and many seemed to think that the wet field would play into the Vols' hands. As it was, the Vols' hands were apparently the problem, as they fumbled eight times, seven in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, Florida scored 24 in the second, taking command and putting Tennessee in a hole it couldn't crawl out of. They did cut it to 24-13, but the Gators answered quickly. Either Miami is a very good team, or the Gators figured something out in the last two weeks, or this might be Georgia's year in the SEC East. Rex Grossman had a big game, throwing for 324 yards and maybe finding the sort of link with Taylor Jacobs (nine catches for 141 yards) he once had with Jabar Gaffney.
Auburn easily handled Mississippi State, 42-14, on Thursday night in Starkville. Tommy Tuberville, who learned sportsmanship from Jimmy Johnson, had Auburn attempt a fake fieldgoal with a 21-point lead and five minutes to go; it failed but State was offsides. Then Tuberville denied he was running up the score. Carnell Williams ran for over 100 yards, and State turned the ball over five times to Auburn's none. Ole Miss' defense, a strength in the team's first two games, has looked porous of late. But they were playing Vandy this week in the only other SEC game, and so managed to pull it out, 45-38. The game was tied until 3:12 to go. The Commodores had two 100-yard rushers and got a moral victory, I suppose, and they have to be satisfied with moral victories in Nashville.
In non-SEC play, Alabama bested Southern Miss, 20-7 in a game in which the Golden Eagles were held to 145 total yards and no offensive touchdowns (their lone score came on an interception return). Alabama lost their starting tailback and team captain Ahmaad Galloway, probably for the year, with torn knee ligaments, and quarterback Tyler Watts left the game with a sprained foot on the first series. Alabama's deep at running back (third-stringer Shaud Williams ran for over 100 yards; Alabama was well over 300 as a team), but Galloway is a key contributor, particularly in short yardage and power situations. Kentucky continued to impress, beating Middle Tennessee State 44-22. Yes, it's Middle Tennessee, but neither Alabama nor Tennessee managed 44 points against the Blue Raiders, who have to be happy the SEC will start picking on its own from here on in. The Wildcats are 4-0, one of only two SEC teams (with Georgia) still unblemished. But next week they have to go to Florida and we'll see what they're really made of.
Georgia toyed with Northwestern State (apparently Northwestern Louisiana) before settling for a 45-7 win. With DJ Shockley nursing an injury, David Greene was left the quarterback position to himself and excelled, throwing four touchdown passes. It was against a I-AA opponent, however; we'll see how he does against real competition in two weeks in Tuscaloosa. South Carolina licked its wounds of the last two weeks and evened its record at 2-2 by beating Temple 42-21. (Does anyone have a convincing explanation of why Temple plays big-time college football? I didn't think so.) The Owls actually played the Gamecocks even through the first quarter of the Bird Bowl before South Carolina pulled away. Corey Jenkins had the quarterback position to himself finally and responded by going 18-23 for 198 yards. Like David Greene, we'll see how he does against a top opponent eventually, but they have Vandy next so it will be awhile.
To reply to Steve Smith, Florida and Tennessee didn't play for so long because at the time the SEC played only six conference games a year in a ten-team conference, and the schedule didn't rotate regularly and was pretty much left to the schools to work out. Alabama didn't play Florida or Georgia for most of that period either. Alabama not playing Georgia was the big problem then, because they were the conference powers; Florida was a weak sister in the seventies and spent most of the eighties on probation. Before Steve Spurrier came along, Florida was probably less important in the conference's history than, say, Ole Miss.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Speaking of Florida-Tennessee, that game is easily the best of a mediocre lot before the conference schedules start for most of the country. Tennessee is looking for its second consecutive win in the series, and 3rd in the last 4, over a suddenly vulnerable Florida team (but the Gators have a habit of sneaking away with wins in Knoxville; in fact, there's an old saying in Tennessee that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- won't get fooled again) The next best game is probably VA Tech v. A&M, which will cause narcolepsy in 90% of the viewers who don't have money riding on the outcome. Also of interest are USC v. K-State (the Wildcats finally play a Division 1 opponent), Notre Dame v. Michigan St. (a rare match-up involving two black coaches) and Miami v. BC. Two potential upsets to look for--Utah comes off a horrendous last second call in a loss to Arizona, and travels to Ann Arbor to face the nation's worst big-time QB, John Navarre; and Ohio State travels to underrated Cincinnati (who could imagine Woody Hayes allowing the Buckeyes to play an in-state rival on the road). And is it possible that CAL could win its fifth in a row going back to the end of last season?
All of this weekend's games, beginning with tonight's tussle between Auburn and Mississippi State, are here. Btw, how were Florida and Tennessee able to avoid playing each other for twenty years in the 70's and 80's, even though they are in the same conference?
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
The damned NCAA refused to give Alabama some relief from its excessive penalties. Alabama got a two-year postseason ban, which was unprecedented for violations that didn't include a lack of institutional control. The NCAA wanted to make an example of Alabama, which is exactly what it did. Now nobody is going to self-report violations and self-impose penalties, as Alabama did, because the NCAA won't care and will slam you anyway.
Monday, September 16, 2002
Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News has noticed what I did; the SEC is getting its butt kicked by major out-of-conference foes. They're 2-8 against BCS competition, with the wins coming from Kentucky (against Big Ten doormat Indiana) and Georgia's struggle against Clemson. That a game in which a heavily favored SEC team, playing at home, was dominated on both sides of the football but pulled out because of special teams is the conference's best win is scary. Actually, the best game an SEC team has played against major competition was Alabama's valiant loss at Oklahoma. Conference favorite Tennessee hasn't played anyone (wait until Miami pays a visit to Knoxville Nov. 9), and most of the losses came on the road. But for a conference that prides itself on being the football conference to be 2-8 three weeks in is troubling to say the least.
SEC play started this weekend, though most of the conference was content to prey upon assumed patsies. The big game was a remarkably ugly affair between Georgia and South Carolina, won by the visiting Bulldogs 13-7. The game delayed by lightning and later played in a downpour, and neither offense ever really got going. Georgia's touchdown came on a pass deflected and intercepted in the Gamecock endzone, which gives you some idea. Though they won, Georgia (now #8 in the AP rankings) has to be concerned about its offense, which in two games has yet to put on a really sustained touchdown drive and accounted for only 190 yards in the first half. Both teams are now headed towards the dreaded quarterback controversy, made all the more acute by the fact that none of the four quarterbacks has looked like he can play.
Auburn throttled Vanderbilt, 31-6; I'll lay off Auburn this week since they didn't have any choice but to play the Commodores, though the musical group would be just about as much of a test. Carnell Williams ran 20 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns, and he still isn't 100 percent healthy. If he ever is, Auburn will be dangerous even if they never do find their passing game. As for Vandy, I again ask why they're in the league. They didn't get exactly blown off the field, despite the final score, but they turned the ball over four times to Auburn's one, and obviously Vandy can't stick with the big boys if they do that.
Ole Miss played the most credible out-of-conference opponent, a road game at Texas Tech. And they lost, as the SEC has lost most of its top nonconference games so far, 42-28. Eli Manning threw the ball 57 times, completing 34, and generally gave the impression of his father on any given Sunday afternoon. Ole Miss outgained Tech by almost 200 yards, and turnovers were even, but still lost by two touchdowns. You explain it.
Florida struggled early in the rain but eventually pulled away to easily defeat Ohio, 34-6. Meanwhile, LSU took on Miami of Ohio and won 33-7, but I still don't know if they're any good. Arkansas pummelled South Florida, 42-3. Alabama is now 2-0 against the Sun Belt after crushing North Texas 33-7 in a game that but for badly timed turnovers could have easily been 48-0. Kentucky continued to impress, taking out Indiana 27-17 and moving to 3-0. Mississippi State wins the Pathetic Opponent award this week for 1-AA Jacksonville State (from near Anniston, Alabama), whom the Bulldogs beat 51-13.
Tennessee played mighty Idle U to a scoreless tie, in preparation for next week's showdown with Florida. Auburn and MSU will clash, with Alabama stepping up from the Sun Belt to Conference USA to take on Southern Miss, always a handful. The rest of the conference plays the usual assortment of nonconference patsies or (in the case of Ole Miss) Vanderbilt, or takes a turn against Idle themselves.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
All in all, it was a great day for the Pac-10, and a horrible day for the Big-12, as two of the top schools in that conference were absolutely embarassed. It looks like Penn State might be back, considering the manner in which they destroyed Nebraska, 40-7(no doubt, the loss will probably boost the Huskers BCS rankings). Same goes for USC, which pounded Colorado, in Boulder, 40-3. And how about the Golden Bears, going 3-0 for the first time in six years after going to East Lansing and smoking the Spartans, 46-22...too bad they're on probation. Ohio State powered their way to victory with a strong second half effort to beat Wazzou, 25-7(btw, the only Pac-10 school to lose; this year, the conference as a whole has lost only four games, three of which were at schools ranked in the Top 10), while their archrivals choked at South Bend, 25-23. In games of interest to my colleague, JB, the Cyclones of Iowa State, led by Heisman hopeful Seneca Wallace's 361 passing yards, came back to beat cross-state rival Iowa, 36-31, while Jared Lorenzen threw three touchdown passes in Kentucky's 27-17 win over Indiana.
Saturday, September 14, 2002
Holy unfreaking believable. Its toward the end of the first half, and Temple is within a TD of Miami. The 'Canes will still win by 45, but still...the Owls actually scored not once, but twice !! By the way, here's the rest of today's schedule.
(ED.--well, I was off by a bit. Miami didn't even score 45, and looked sloppy at times, but still won 44-21)
Friday, September 13, 2002
Sometimes, a program can own an area of the country for recruiting purposes. About 15 years ago, almost every top basketball recruit from Michigan headed to Missouri, of all places, until the NCAA began to get wise. For many years, Nebraska always snatched more than a few top athletes from Los Angeles every year; UCLA, in turn, built a series of great teams with players from Oklahoma and Texas. Now, Miami (FL), apparently not satisfied with dominating the "state" of Florida, had decided to make the Bay Area its own protectorate.
As a CAL alum, what's even more embarassing is that this particular recruit didn't even bother using the school for leverage, the way Dorsey and Williams did. Sad to say, the only Bears coach I remember ever getting the local kids to stay home was Todd Bozeman, and that experience didn't end particularly well for the University. In the meantime, CAL plays its first away game of the season Saturday in East Lansing, getting two touchdowns in what promises to be an indication of whether Jeff Tedford has really turned things around.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
A much better weekend ahead, with up to six games matching ranked teams. The top game, as well as the most intriguing battle, will take place in Columbus between Wazzou and Ohio State. The Cougars, consensus PAC-10 favorites, haven't impressed in either of their wins, and I can't honestly recall the last time (if ever) that Washington State had a non-conference game in the regular season that was nationally televised. The PAC-10 has become notorious for lobbing overrated teams into the national rankings (ie. 1999 Arizona, 2001 Oregon State), and Ohio State will either expose the Cougars for being another fraud, or will legitimize WSU's credibility as a national power.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
One of the people who was thrust into the spotlight after the events of one year ago today was Saleem Rasheed. Rasheed, a Birmingham native and a Muslim, was the starting middle linebacker and best player on the Alabama football team. And he became, in his own words, "the spokesman for Muslim people" in Alabama. It wasn't something Rasheed was comfortable with, but in addition to being the best player on the team he was also one of the smartest and most articulate. And he did a fine job of it.
Monday, September 09, 2002
Since my usual hang-out does not have the college football package, I have decided to experiment with different locales this year for my Saturday morning fix. The last two weeks I patronized Over/Under, which is the sports bar adjacent to 14 Below in Santa Monica, for the early morning Michigan game. While it is nice to root for your team at a friendly locale, Over/Under has the added benefit (for me, at least) of being the place where Miss Michigan Sorority Brunette watches her team. This week, she (who shall remain nameless, since I don't know her name) sat at the table next to the entrance, below a set that had the Pitt-A&M game, so anyone watching that game was clearly doing so for the purpose of stealing a peak at that goddess, with her Garneresque features, her short shorts, and her perfectly tanned body. It was an exciting game, too, with the Aggies barely holding on to beat the Panthers, 14-12. According to later newspaper accounts, Michigan won its second straight, beating Western Michigan, 35-12.
Aside from the emergence of Tyrone Willingham as coach of Notre Dame, the biggest story in college football this year has gone unreported. I am referring to Jared Lorenzen of course, the large quarterback of Kentucky. The problem with the non-blog press is the inability to lose the pre-made theme when covering an event or an individual. With Lorenzen, you can't find coverage that does not yuk it up over how Lorenzen resembles a fat tub of goo. The media cannot get around the fact that he's a 300 pound QB. He threw 5 touchdown passes in 2 quarters last week and, apparently, he's still just a fat slob. He has a 175 QB efficiency rating, but I guess I shouldn't pay attention becuase the guy could use some slim fast. Well, f*** that, here's my vote for Lorenzen as the Davey O'Brien Award winner. I guess O'Brien must have been one skinny f****r.
SEC teams played three national TV games, and lost them all. Alabama lost to Oklahoma, 37-27, in a game they probably should have won, sending me into a funk all weekend. The Tide led 27-23 when they kicked a field goal with less than five minutes remaining. But after the Alabama defense had dominated Oklahoma the entire second half by coming hard after the quarterback, genius defensive coordinator Carl "North Carolina's Mike DuBose" Torbush pulled back into that bonehead prevent defense and let the Sooners drive for the go-ahead touchdown. And then Tyler Watts, trying to drive for the winning touchdown or at least a tying field goal, let the ball fall out of his hand while pulling back to throw and Oklahoma ran the fumble back to finish the game off.
Alabama was more impressive than highly-ranked Florida, which was wasted at home by Miami, 41-16. Florida led 10-6 late in the first half, but Miami drove for two touchdowns late in the half and another to start the third quarter, and the rout was on. Rex Grossman never got comfortable and may miss Jabar Gaffney; I'm pretty sure that he missed Steve Spurrier. Florida's last chance to make a game of it died when a Grossman interception was returned for a Miami touchdown.
South Carolina, coming in ranked, lost to an 0-2 Virginia club. The Gamecocks turned the ball over seven times and looked completely unlike a contending football team. Virginia really isn't very good, and even at home USC should have handled them. With Georgia coming up next, and the NCAA poking around, the Gamecocks are in danger of their season spiraling out of control.
The rest of the SEC had the good sense to pick on overmatched opponents, or take the weekend off in the case of Georgia and Mississippi State. Kentucky blasted UTEP 77-17 in the Adolph Rupp's Revenge game. And though it is UTEP, 77 points is a lot against anybody and Kentucky may surprise some people come SEC play. Tennessee handled Middle Tennessee State much more handily than Alabama did, 26-3. Ole Miss trailed honorary SEC member Memphis (why doesn't the conference dump Vandy and bring in Memphis?) early but came back to win easily, 38-16. Eli Manning didn't look particularly impressive, for what it's worth, but the Rebels have more good players than I thought; their defense dominated and they ran for over 200 yards.
Those were the good nonconference opponents the SEC beat. The bad ones... Auburn recovered from the USC debacle of last week by scheduling West Carolina, whom they thrashed 56-0. I'm sure that it made them feel a whole lot better, but it proved nothing. Ditto Arkansas' manhandling of Boise State, 41-14. Neither West Carolina nor Boise is a state, nor is either an opponent worthy of the name. LSU rebounded from getting thrashed by Virginia Tech by beating the Citadel, which apparently does allow women to play on their football team, 35-10. The Tigers were only 10-22 for 107 yards passing, though, and that won't do it in the SEC. And Vandy found someone they could beat in the form of Furman, with the 'Dores taking it 49-18. They may not win again until October 26, when they play UConn.
Sunday, September 08, 2002
It's way too early in the season to award the national championship to Miami, but after yesterday's blow-out in the Swamp, I don't see a likely scenario where they won't be playing for the title. The 'Canes play in the weakest major conference, play only Syracuse on the road among the better teams in that conference, and get Florida State at home. Even if they lose one of those games, which isn't likely, a single loss probably will be sufficient for them to get chosen for the Orange Bowl, especially after the way they routed one of the best teams in the country in their crib. In an otherwise indifferent weekend, Oklahoma had to rally at home late to beat surprisingly tenacious Alabama, which, combined with last Friday's struggle against Tulsa, is a good indication that S.I.'s pick is going nowhere (as well as a sign that Franchione has the Tide moving in the right direction); UCLA exploded in the fourth quarter to shake off Colorado State; Stanford blew a ten-point lead late in losing to BC; and CAL won its third straight (!!) over a two-year period--too bad they are on probation).
Friday, September 06, 2002
Thursday, September 05, 2002
This week, there's only one match-up between Top-10 schools, but what a game that is: top-ranked Miami and number 3 Florida resume their once-heated rivalry for the first time in the regular season in 15 years. For your inspection, here are the rest of the games featuring ranked teams, and the weekend schedule. Other games of interest include the first ever regular season match-up between Oklahoma and Alabama, Tyrone Willingham's home debut as Notre Dame coach vs. Purdue, underrated and unheralded Colorado State travelling to the Rose Bowl to face UCLA, and, of course, New Mexico State attempting to prevent CAL from winning an unthinkable third straight game.
More SEC football programs are now under investigation or already penalized by the NCAA than not. Now it's South Carolina, one of seven. The programs not being investigated are Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia, and (of course) Vandy.
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
I'm generally pro-gun control, but this is just dumb. The West Virginia Mountaineer has an antique musket, which fires only powder. But U of Wisconsin has a ban on firearms on campus and won't let him bring it to the WVU-Wisconsin game on Saturday. Just plain nuts.
One of the more interesting stories Saturday was the halting of the Wisconsin-U.N.L.V. game with less than eight minutes to play due to a power outage. At the time, Wisconsin had a 27-7 lead; as you might expect, Badger fans who had RV'd to Vegas were pissed off big time, not at the fact that their school won, but that the game ended before it could become "official" by the standards of the sports books in Nevada, which is 55 minutes. I don't what my favorite quote was from this article: the Luxor sports book supervisor who described the scene at his casino as "a bunch of Cheesehead fans that were outraged..." or the Wisconsin native who said that the whole thing "stinks of Vegas chicanery."
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Just discovered another college football blog, BlockInTheBack, which is worth a check into, if you have the time or inclination (thanks to Frank H., who will hopefully be a contributor in the future).
This is a new blog, and we are still looking for contributors (contact if you are interested), but we are getting a lot of Google hits right now for people interested in some combination of "Volunteers", "ESPN", "commercial" and "pig". I mean, c'mon, its almost like I had written a post referring to Anna Kournikova, panties, and bestiality, or about Charlize Theron performing lesbian sex acts with the Hilton Sisters, for all the hits this site has been receiving from this article last week.
Both AP and ESPN/USA Today have Miami (FL) ranked first in this week's ratings.
Pair of exciting finishes yesterday...UC came from 15 back in the final six minutes to shock TCU, and USC had its first prolonged fourth quarter drive in a big game since the 1990 Rose Bowl to edge Auburn, 24-17. After a long drought, the Trojans might finally have a team worthy of its cheerleaders (err, "Song Girls").
Looking over the SEC... Everyone but Arkansas was active out of conference this "weekend" (spilling over into Sunday and Monday). Four teams have to be happy with big wins; three teams have narrow victories to consider; and four teams have losses to stew over.
Tennessee and Florida dominated overmatched competition. The Vols romped over Wyoming, 47-7, and it really wasn't that close. I caught the replay of the game, and Tennessee seemed able to move the ball at will. Florida was even more dominant against UAB, 51-3. I see a fair amount of UAB, and they usually don't get badly beaten by elite competition. I mean, they're not able to win, but they manage to get a few stops and a few points. Not this week. Ole Miss, meanwhile, delivered a solid effort against Louisiana-Monroe, 31-3. The Rebels did it mostly on the ground and with defense, moreover, with Eli Manning having a subpar game. And Kentucky pulled off a fairly major upset of a ranked Louisville team, 22-17 at Louisville. While you have to figure that the in-state-rivalry factor was in play, it's still impressive.
Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina all pulled off uncomfortably narrow wins. Alabama jumped out to a 22-0 lead over Middle Tennessee, then let their opponents back into it, needing to recover an onside kick late just to pull out a 39-34 victory. Undisciplined play on the defensive side of the ball, an Alabama bugaboo for years, was a primary culprit, with penalties keeping MTSU drives alive and the defense continually losing containment on the quarterback allowing him to scramble for first downs. Georgia was outplayed on both sides of the ball by Clemson but made up for it on special teams with a touchdown return and two other scores set up by returns, and Clemson missed a late kick to tie a game that ended 31-28. Georgia couldn't run the ball effectively, which doesn't surprise me, but they couldn't throw either and the quarterback situation is up in the air. DJ Shockley outplayed incumbent David Greene (in limited action) and while they say they'll cooperate, if that happens again Mark Richt will have to make a move. South Carolina held on to beat New Mexico State 34-24. The game was close much of the way -- tied until late in the first half -- and a ranked team shouldn't have that much trouble with NMSU at home. I don't know that Lou Holtz will make any changes, but as long as USC lets everyone stick around they'll be upset-prone.
Mississippi State, Vandy, LSU, and Auburn all had losses of various severity. None were really upsets; all were road games against favored competition. But Vandy was absolutely demolished by Georgia Tech, 45-3, which is embarrassing even for the SEC's weakest program. Combined with Kentucky's upset victory even Vandy's hopes to finish out of the cellar seem remote. MSU also was demolished, but by a ranked team (Oregon) 36-13. I expected a loss, but I thought State would make a game of it. It was never close -- MSU didn't even have a first down until late in the first half. The Bulldogs' starting quarterback, Kevin Fant, was suspended by the NCAA for the game, but even with a reserve playing it shouldn't have been that bad. LSU was totally outclassed by Virginia Tech, 26-8, shutout until late in the game. They looked awful on special teams, giving up two blocked punts. The Tiger lines were pushed around, and I think they really miss Rohan Davey. Auburn played hard and kept it close against Southern Cal, but their offense fell apart in the second half. After running up and down the field in the first, they gained only 35 yards in the second half, and Carnell Williams was in and out of the lineup with cramps. That's a conditioning problem, it would appear, and no SEC team should ever have trouble with heat. USC was only able to break a 17-17 tie with a touchdown with 86 seconds remaining, but Auburn had really no chance to tie the game the way its offense was playing.
Monday, September 02, 2002
Sunday, September 01, 2002
Uneventful beginning to the college football season, with the exception of the absolutely unfreaking believable finish to the Michigan-Washington game. Of course, any Saturday when Duke, CAL, and Navy all win has something to say for it. Notre Dame looked very impressive in blasting Maryland, and Georgia, Texas and Nebraska may be overrated. Illinois and Colorado are definitely overrated.
How on earth to explain Michigan's last-second win? Both teams pretty much moved the ball at will in the second half, but the Wolverines kept shooting themselves, literally, in the foot. Three missed field goals, of which two looked like my using a 3-wood after drinking a six-pack of PBR. Michigan gets the ball back in the final minute, no time outs left, and pick up a first down after Braylon Edwards dropped/fumbled a fourth down pass; for some reason, both he and the defender tried to sell the referee that it was an incompetion, which would have given the ball back to the Huskies on downs. Two plays later, Washington calls a time-out, and my old law school compadre Rick Neuheisel apparently drew up a defensive scheme that included an extra player. Not surprisingly, John Navarre failed to find an open receiver, and the officials called a 15-yard penalty for too many men on the field. At the place I was watching the game, Over/Under in Santa Monica, which is the Michigan alumni bar, the overwhelming sentiment was that the Wolverines had a better chance of winning if they ran the ball up the middle and tried to score from the Washington 27, rather than attempt another field goal (incidentally, most of the morning I spent in a maddened haze, dumbstruck by a brunette who sat at the far corner of the bar, wearing a Michigan Athletic Department t-shirt, and a body that looked like it had been chiseled from stone; like many of the other patrons of that establishment, I took in the game from the TV monitor located directly over her head, so that we could steal a glimpse of that 20-something sorority goddess between breaks in the action). Instead, on the fourth and easily the most difficult attempt of the day, Phillip Brabbs entered Michigan lore with a dead-solid-perfect 44 yard field goal.