Tuesday, September 13, 2005

College football - Week Two thoughts

Full disclosure
To convince you that I'm not just copying what Trev Alberts says on ESPN (oops!), here is the somewhat shortened list of games I saw some of this weekend.

NOTE: Because of my travel obligations with the UMD football team, I am listing six of the games I saw live on Saturday, even though they were all on at the same time. Obviously, most of my attention was focused on the Notre Dame-Michigan game. Travel note: Thanks to the folks at the Ramada in Waterloo, IA, where I was given a late checkout time to accomodate some football viewing, and then I was given the chance to watch the first half of the Iowa-ISU game while we waited to load the buses and head to our game. If you're ever in Waterloo, for whatever reason, I recommend the Ramada. Very good people, and some awesome food.

--> Pittsburgh at Ohio
--> Kansas State at Marshall
--> Notre Dame at Michigan
--> Clemson at Maryland
--> Army at Boston College
--> Colorado State at Minnesota
--> Iowa at Iowa State
--> Texas at Ohio State (taped)

First off, as I hinted earlier, Trev Alberts got canned from ESPN because he didn't show up to work a week ago this past Sunday. He apparently decided that he was too big a star to have to sit next to Mark May. Good for Trev. He's been replaced by Lou Holtz, and no one misses him. Maybe he can go be the centerpiece of FSN's college football studio coverage. Too bad no one watches it.

--> Pittsburgh at Ohio. Has Dave Wannstedt been fired yet?
--> Kansas State at Marshall. Has Mark Snyder been fired yet? Okay, that might be a bit harsh, but consider this a lesson learned. When you're in field goal range with under ten seconds to play, make sure your quarterback doesn't do anything that could turn out badly. Throwing into coverage would count as one of those things. What a way to lose a home opener in front of a record crowd. By the way, anyone hoping for a revival at KSU this year is probably being too optimistic. The Wildcats struggled with mighty Florida International, and they needed some huge breaks to beat Marshall, who is nowhere near as strong as they were even two years ago.
--> Notre Dame at Michigan. I always have fun watching big games like this, even when they involve two teams I despise. There's something special about this rivalry, and this game delivered, even though it was somewhat poorly played (especially when considering the very high standards of both programs). Brady Quinn missed a ton of open receivers, and Chad Henne couldn't find his open receivers most of the game. Michigan lost Michael Hart and couldn't really mount a rushing attack, while Notre Dame running back Darius Walker was stymied in the second half by a much-improved Michigan defense, a defense that got run over in the first half by Walker and often looked unsure of themselves. All in all, Notre Dame definitely played just well enough to win, while Michigan never got out of the hole they dug for themselves with a horrible first half, especially on offense.
--> Temple at Wisconsin. Wow. I know Temple sucks. A lot. But 65-0 is impressive against anyone. Especially when it's 51-0 at halftime. We may have understated the impact that co-coordinator Paul Chryst has on the Bucky offense. We'll know in two weeks, as Wisconsin heads to North Carolina this week and hosts Michigan next week.
--> Clemson at Maryland. Charlie Whitehurst made some mistakes, but he looks like a different quarterback this year. Good sign for Clemson, who had another strong comeback win, this time in a conference game.
--> Army at Boston College. Good opening drive for an Army TD. That was it, though, for the Black Knights, who were overwhelmed by BC.
--> Colorado State at Minnesota. The Rams still can't defend the run. They need to get better in the interior of the defense, because even the Mountain West will chew them up if they don't. While Minnesota still doesn't look like a major threat in the Big Ten, Laurence Maroney will always keep things interesting as long as the defense holds up.
--> Iowa at Iowa State. Ouch. The rough day for the Big Ten continues, as the Hawkeyes get completely overwhelmed against their in-state rival. I expect good things out of ISU this year, but I didn't expect this. The Cyclones have a strong defense, and they have one of the best receivers in the Big 12 in Todd Blythe. Iowa, meanwhile, needs to regroup if they're to be a contender in the Big Ten.
--> Texas at Ohio State. Great game, as expected. We wondered before the season started about tOSU's quarterbacks. They sure stunk up the joint on Saturday. Vince Young, meanwhile, boosted his H*i*m*n chances with a strong comeback win. Texas didn't play well, and may have gotten somewhat lucky, but national championship teams always have at least one or two games like that during their run (USC had one at Stanford last year), so the fact that the 'Horns may have had Lady Luck on their side is hardly detrimental to their title hopes.

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