Today, we join with racing fans in mourning the loss of Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon. As such, this week’s soundtrack has a bit of a somber tone. We give ESPN/ABC a lot of criticism, but they got this one right- Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends.
This week was very very special across the college sports landscape, as special teams highlights and gaffes were the order of the day across the nation. First, the “Woah! Did that just happen?” moments…
When Clemson and Maryland met, the undefeated Tigers should have known that something was swirling that could have put a blemish on their dream season. For starters, the Terrapins chose a uniform that didn’t look like a condiment tray this week, choosing instead the “Fancy Hot Sauce” look. Maryland opened up an eighteen point lead in the second quarter on the Tigers, and nothing in the Michelle Obama playbook was working at all. Then, Sammy Watkins happened, all 345 total yards of his offense, including a special teams play that turned the tide for good.
However amazing his individual performance was for the night, the special teams highlights for the day happened in the “Battle Of The Oil Money”, where T. Boone Pickens University traveled to Austin and found themselves in a shootout with the Longhorns. It was one of those games where you were certain that the last team with a series of possession would win… unless there was time for a kickoff or two:
The Cowboys eventually prevailed, riding their “Defense? Shoot, we’ll just outscore ‘em” philosophy to a victory over Texas, much to the dismay of the always sexy Texas coeds.
On the other side of the coin, the beating in Madison has multiple lowlights for Hoosier fans, but none worse than this one:
Nothing says “Is it basketball season yet?” like a punt into the shoulders of one of your blockers. I’ve seen that with field goal attempts before, but never a punt… ’cause, you know, those are supposed to go waaaay up in the air and stuff.
The Indiana game also gave Bret Bielema a chance to be Bret Bielema, and throw a halfback pass in the red zone against the Hoosiers with his team up several scores already. At least he didn’t choose to go for two, though…
Normally, a play like that would lock down the “goof of the week” honor, but that distinction goes to the entirety of the Florida Special Teams Experience. Not only did the Gators struggle in catching punts and kickoffs against the Auburn Tigers, but this punt attempt pretty well sums up the loss in Opelika:
Continuing our exploration of the world of “fail”, let’s commiserate for just a moment with the folks in Michigan, who saw the Tigers eliminated from the playoffs, the Lions’ undefeated season ripped from them by a Michigan Man, and watched the Wolverines lose to “Little Brother” for yet another year. As many of us thought, once Michigan played a team with a pulse, they’d get punched in the mouth and struggle… much as they’ve done for the past three seasons. Blue faithful have to be feeling a lot of deja vu… although, for the record, this team looks significantly better than previous incarnations. Now that the coach is not running for president, I’m sure he can avoid losing the team (unlike his predecessor).
A quick word about the cheap shot linked above- MSU lineman William Gholston had several such incidents, including a late hit and helmet twist on Denard late in the game as well. It will be interesting to see if the B1G responds, perhaps suspending him for the game against Wisconsin this week. While I appreciate his intensity, we cannot sanction his tactics- plus, that’s not how Gholstons should treat Michigan linemen and quarterbacks.
OK, I’ll say it- Since when does a proud program dress like a clown college?
Also in the B1G, Penn State held off Purdue just long enough to distract law enforcement from getting wise to their evil plan. Iowa’s victory over Northwestern included a tribute to Ricky Stanzi… actually, that’s a pretty impressive card trick.
The hit of the week comes from the ACC, where North Carolina’s scandal wracked program faced off against Miami’s scandal wracked program. Oh, and this happened-
Always some excitement in the SEC, and this weeks matchup between Alabama and Old Miss certainly had a highlight move from the Tide’s Trent Richardson. He’s really really good… handles like a dream, too- power steering and all that. Also in the SEC, the “No Stephen Garcia” era began for the Gamecocks, and the hits just keep on coming. Starting running back Marcus Lattimore’s suffered a major injury to his knee, and is unfortunately out for the season. Well wishes for a speedy recovery, and give thanks that you’re not playing at Alabama, where Nick Saban would have already cut you for medical reasons. Mississippi State did managed to achieve the catch of the week, though:
Since we’re already in the SEC, let’s celebrate the 1-2 punch of Alabama and LSU at the tops of the BCS standings… as long as we remember that they have creative roster management strategies. Ah, but that doesn’t fit the narrative of eSECpn or cbSEC, so don’t expect to hear about it. Oh, and Wisconsin below Boise State is a joke.
Speaking of the Four Letter Network, I watched the entire Oregon/Arizona State game last night, just to see the team that Illinois beat earlier in the year. I was shocked that, late in the fourth quarter after the game was decided, Brent and Kirk came back from commercial to talk about the “challenges” that the Ducks program had gone through, including a nifty graphic that was on screen for about seven seconds. After about 25 seconds of patter, they moved to a celebration of Auburn being cleared by the NCAA without discussing that many of the key witnesses simply refused to cooperate with the NCAA. The total discussion of Oregon and Auburn couldn’t have taken more than 45 seconds to a minute, and again came late in the game (on west coast time, as well).
Earlier, when Oregon DB Cliff Harris intercepted Arizona State and ran the ball back deep into Duck territory, there was no commentary about his return from suspension from the earlier car/drugs/improper benefits situation, only the excitement of the game. If you watched the Ohio State game on Saturday (or any Saturday this fall), you know where I’m going with this. Immediately following Dan Herron’s first carry came a lengthy discussion (with graphic!) of the circumstances surrounding the program, and the end of the game found Bob Davies giving kudos to Luke Fickell for the work he’d done midst all of the controversy. I’m guessing about 4 minutes for both situations.
Can someone remind me where the Freedom Of Information Request process is regarding the Notice of Allegations that Oregon received earlier this season? I’m sure ESPN has it by now…. Sigh. It’s also interesting that Ohio State releases these to the media on their own, while other schools wait to be asked for them- given the vitriol that is surrounding the Buckeye program, though, maybe this isn’t such a wise decision.
Back to the funny- silly UC fan… everyone knows that the cheese stuffed crust is for dessert!
We made some friends from Prairie View this past week, and have always been excited to follow HBCU football. So, when we saw the incredibly unfortunate ending to the Southern/Arkansas Pine Bluff matchup yesterday, we were just as frustrated as fans from both teams. In other “non- FBS” news, Rob Harley’s Panthers of ODU fell to Findlay as a really crappy birthday present, while NAIA stalwart Azusa Pacific rushed for a season high 442 yards. Wonder if they completed any passes?
This week’s games are a bit blase, and not just because the Buckeyes are on a bye. Wisconsin travels to play Sparty (I’m hoping for a bloodbath so that the Badgers will be banged up coming into Columbus), and the Sunflower Showdown (seriously) finds KSU and the Jayhawks matching up. Washington/Stanford and LSU/Auburn wrap up the rest of the weekend’s contests of note.
tBBC will have extensive coverage of the upcoming Buckeye hoops season this coming week… well most of us will, at least. As for me, I’m going to take the time off to honor my Scottish heritage in hopes of playing as well as the musicians in this week’s soundtrack-