Sunday, September 02, 2007

CAL [12] 38, Tennessee [17] 24: Unlike last season, when the Vols moved out to a 35-point lead in the third quarter, this game was evenly played, with a fumble return and a runback of a punt by Heisman-candidate Deshaun Jackson providing the difference for the Bears. By itself, the closeness of this year's game is enough to put the kibosh on the notion that CAL somehow "avenged" last year's shellacking. The 2006 opener not only put the knife in the hopes of any chance CAL had of going to Glendale, Arizona at the end of the year, it also signified that the SEC was da Bomb, a deep conference which produced the nation's best football; it may have been a leading factor in why Florida, and not, let's say, Michigan, got to play for the national title.

The game this year was a pick 'em, with the Bears doing just enough to pull away at the end. No one is going to look at the SEC any worse as a result of this game, and CAL's national title hopes are even more precarious this season, with road games at Oregon, ASU and UCLA still to be played. The 2006 game was more important, so winning the rematch can hardly be "revenge," even if the score hadn't been as close as it actually was.

Speaking of Michigan , who does Chad Henne have to f*** to lose his starting position? The Wolverines 34-32 loss to Appalachian State (!?!) Saturday is a testament to why it's always a stupid move to schedule a non-Division 1 school. You get no credit for getting the expected win, your players don't develop any competitive advantage for racking up a lopsided score against nobodies, and every now and then you actually lose the game, which sets your program back a decade.

Usually, it's the sort of thing that bites you in the ass at the end of the season, when berths in the BCS title game are handed out; LSU not winning the undisputed title in 2003, and an undefeated Auburn watching the championship game on TV in 2004, occurred largely because their schedules had too many cupcakes on the non-conference slate. But at least they won those games. The image of a Mountaineer player breezing in unmolested to block the potential game-winning field goal will be the legacy of the Big Ten policy that permits schools to schedule four non-conference home games, few of which have provided any value to the conference other than softening them up for the games that count in January.


Blogger Cas said...

Great comments about the games this weekend! I thought that the Cal/Tenn game showed just how talented Cal is and that they can finally put away a team.

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