Tuesday, September 27, 2005

College football - Week Four thoughts

Full disclosure
Who am I kidding? I'm pulling the majority of this out of my keyster.

--> Air Force at Utah
--> Iowa State at Army
--> Cal at New Mexico State
--> Michigan at Wisconsin
--> Tennessee at LSU

Hats off to the folks at Upper Iowa University. Nothing like having a laptop in front of you (university issue, mind you) where you get continually updated stats for use in your broadcast. I was spoiled on Saturday. No doubt about it. Good times in Fayette.

On to the show...

Iowa State at Army--> I'm not as down on ISU as a lot of other people are. Did they play well? No. But it was a Friday night game on national TV. Biggest game of the year for Army that doesn't involve a military academy. Great atmosphere. And ISU was looking ahead to their conference opener this week. Every team, even USC, has a game like this during the season. The Cyclones won it, and I thought they showed a ton of character coming back in the second half when things looked grim.

Cal at New Mexico State--> It's not supposed to be this easy to replace guys like Rodgers and Arrington. Cal looks almost fully re-loaded (I still have some doubts about Ayoob at QB), and they're definitely a Pac-10 contender. Hal Mumme has the offense installed at NMSU, but he's trying to run it with personnel that was primarily brought in to run the ball. That's tough. He'll get that ship righted, but it won't happen overnight.

Iowa at Ohio State--> Damn. What happened to Drew Tate?

Michigan State at Illinois--> Hey, Coach Smith. I have a question. Do you remember the 56-21 beating my Badgers put on you in your first season at Michigan State? More specifically, do you remember the Badgers throwing passes in the final minutes when the score was lopsided? You don't. Me neither. I'm all for not kicking a field goal in a blowout game, so I don't have a problem with your team going for it. I have a problem with your team THROWING THE BALL in that situation. Of course, why stop there? Why not have your backup QB throw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to make it 59-7? Coach Smith, between this and the completely distasteful display we saw from your players in South Bend, I'm really not sure what to say. The sooner you get yours, the better. I hope it's this week, but I would prefer if it waited until November 12 at the Metrodome.

Michigan at Wisconsin--> Hopefully, not the only highlight of Barry's last year. What a win for the Badgers. No, Michigan isn't nearly as good as any of us thought they'd be. But they're still Michigan. And Wisconsin needed to win this game. No one in Madison has any illusions about this team winning a national title. We're just hoping for a good year and a nice bowl sendoff for Barry. As for the game, the unforgettable image will probably end up being Chad Henne falling flat on his ass on the last play of the game.

Purdue at Minnesota--> For the Gophers, this was a validating win. However, Glen Mason's players fully understand that there is more work to be done, starting this week at Happy Valley. I sense a football team that is absolutely not satisfied with the win over Purdue, and I sense a different focus on this Minnesota team. With Penn State and Michigan on the road in back-to-back weeks, we'll quickly see if my eyes are fooling me.

USC at Oregon--> Did Oregon do a few things right? Yes. Did USC play their best game? No. In my view, all that does is make the 45-13 final even more impressive. If this is what USC does to a legitimate Pac-10 contender when they're not playing well, what would they do if they were playing well?

Tennessee at LSU--> I have a suggestion for Les Miles. Try not to coach the team with both your hands around your neck. It sends a bad message to your players. It was bad enough that he and his QB botched a potential scoring chance at the end of the first half, but it was 21-0 and no one thought anything of it at the time. The true crime Miles committed came with two minutes left in regulation, when he decided to run the ball and chew the clock in hopes of getting the game into overtime. When you're at home, you can't do this. That's especially true when your defense looks dog-dead-tired and completely back on their heels. The only chance they had of getting a stop in overtime was a Rick Clausen screwup (clearly, that didn't happen). Yet Miles decides that overtime is better than losing in regulation. I feel bad for LSU fans. Miles is no Nick Saban. Not only would Saban have never allowed his team to play so pathetically in the fourth quarter, but he surely would never have taken overtime in that late-game scenario.

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