This has been a difficult week. “Gee, you think?” – People in Happy Valley
Even as someone who’s not affiliated directly with PSU football, the news and headlines coming out of this story has created a pall over all of the games this weekend. This story reminds us that there are things greater than the trivial games that we enjoy, and that these are (after all) just games. It makes us take a step back and wrestle with the support we give to programs and the expectations we have for people who are in charge of them. It is the icing on the cupcake of a season already filled with reminders that the purity of the sport is not what it should be (particularly if you buy your cupcakes at one of those overpriced “boutique” places).
In addition to the national news, we hear that Urban Meyer lost his father this past week- thoughts and prayers to him and his family. With all that’s been going on, this has been a difficult look back at this past week’s contests- but the games can also be reminders of the better things that can happen on the fields and in the lives of the young adults who represent the Universities we follow. So, with that, this week’s soundtrack is some older U2- here we go.
If Disney were in charge of college footbal (and they aren’t. Yet.), Nebraska would be filled with evil villains and Penn State’s valiant, moxified seniors would figure out a way to beat the evil Huskers to honor their “fallen” coach. Alas- we’ve seen that movie, and while miracles happen in real life, the truth of the matter is that two good football teams played and the one with the better strategy managed to emerge victorious. Penn State’s defense is as advertised, as is their offense- it will be interesting to see if this week’s matchup against Ohio State will make the LSU/Alabama game look like a scoring juggernaut.
Speaking of scoring- Oklahoma State has got it figured out, behind their “he makes Joe Bauserman look young” quarterback and impressive offensive philosophy. Even more impressive, though, was the fact that the Pickens’ 112th ranked defense shut out the Red Raiders’ 14th ranked offense on the road… which might be indicative of a blowout in this year’s “Bedlam” game if it was played on paper by people who understood the transitive property. Nope- we’re gonna go ahead and match up these two in the next version of this season’s “Game Of The Century”. How did TTU beat Oklahoma? Man, I have no idea…
Since this is an Ohio State site, whose fans might not be familiar with the idea of a “offensive philosophy”, I bring you this illustration that was all over the twitters and message boards yesterday (HT 11w).
For Buckeye fans, we find ourselves in the unusual position of not playing for a conference championship with two weeks to go in the season (note: this has been historically called “The Indiana Effect”, although that starts after week two). Instead, we look forward to supporting the seniors as their careers end and building on some of the flashes of brilliance we’re seeing from the young guns. Oh, and the chaos that will be the coaching search- if you’re interested, Joe D and I have joined Birm from 11W over at Buckeye House Call to chart through our picks for the next Ohio State coach… be sure to check it out!
Since we’re already talking about offensive things, let’s go ahead and address this week’s “Miscalculations In Fashion”, starting first with Washington State’s upset of Arizona State in the snowy climes of Pullman. I actually liked the Wazzo outfits. More specifically, I liked them the first time I saw them- in the Ohio State/Wisconsin game.
The second costume fiasco came in another upset, as Boise State fell out of the “BCS Buster” position for the second straight year due to ineptitude in the kicking game. Nick Saban nods knowingly. They chose to come out in their “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Copyrighted Character Name” costumes, which will make film breakdown really easy. With the rumors that the Broncos might be eying a move to the Big lEast, they’ll get to claim that TCU is dodging them- the Frogs left the MWC and then the BE, just to avoid breaking the hearts of Idahoans on a regular basis. Stat from the game- Kellen Moore has lost three games in his career, by 5 points total. In those games, there were 5 total missed field goals. Wow.
The winner of this week’s “Occular Apocalypse” comes to us from Notre Dame’s home game that was about 15 miles from Maryland’s campus. Both teams decided to wear their “special” helmets’- we’d seen Maryland’s Roller Derby look before, but I was mostly interested in finding the designer of Notre Dame’s newest attire. It’s not often that a 13 year old girl gets the opportunity to have her work highlighted on national television… must be something special.
While some folks were looking for flash in their clothing, others were satisfied making it happen on the field. Here’s the first highlight of the week from the Arkansas- Tennessee game;
We’ll get back to that game a bit later- believe it or not, there’s a play that tops that return.
Out west, UCLA’s status in the Western Division driver’s seat didn’t last long, as the Fighting Neuheisels refused to fight against the Utes. Southern Cal handled it’s business against former assistant Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies, setting up the “real” Pac-12 championship game next week between the Trojans and the Ducks of Oregon.
Ah, Oregon. After getting beaten by LSU in the “Will Lyles Bowl” early in the season, they’ve shifted back into high gear and blew the doors off of Stanford in Palo Alto on Saturday. The Ducks offense still reminds me of the old Loyola Marymont/Oklahoma basketball teams from the 90′s- “try to keep up”; although they were able to contain Stanford and Heisman hopeful (and Herbstreit man-crush) Andrew Luck. Usually, when Luck has a game where he puts 30 points on the board it’s going to be a victory… but 30 just isn’t enough to get a win against Oregon.
Staying in the SEC, Georgia seems to be on it’s way to the SEC East Title, and a matchup against LSU. As a coach who was on the hot seat for the past few seasons, it’s good to see that the University’s faith in Mark Richt has been fulfilled. Their fans are incredibly excited, it seems- so much so that they’re once again “borrowing” ideas from certain B1G schools.
It would be easy to look at Florida’s 5-5 record and feel comforted as a Buckeye fan- all stellar programs struggle and go through dry spots. Granted, the Gators have been facing more significant foes than Purdue, but the truth remains… a team with a new coaching staff will struggle, no matter the schematic offensive advantage that might be had.
And it’s not just Florida that’s having a rough go at this point- the Mighty Texas Longhorns dropped a game against future SEC member Missouri on Saturday, bringing their record to 6-3 and 2-3 in conference. If you pay attention to the
Longhorn Network Shaggy Bevo, you can hear the concerns that coach Mack Brown may have stayed too long and is experiencing burnout. With the “Coach In Waiting” now with the Gators, it could be a chaotic Coaching Carousel this year if Texas’ opening is added to Penn State and Ohio State on the job board.
Ok, catch (and play) of the week, again from the UT/Arkansas game:
Let’s be honest- there were more catches in that one sequence than the Razorbacks receivers gave Ryan Mallett in “The Sugar Bowl That Didn’t Happen” last January.
While there’s a lot of football to be played, what a year this would be for the “plus one” to kick in. I’d love to see the winners of LSU/Oregon and TBPU (or Oklahoma)/Alabama match up. Or, do a rematch of LSU/Bama (can anyone score) and Oregon/TBPU (will the scoreboards hit triple digits) and let the winners decide once and for all if “great defense beats great offense”.
In the B1G , Michigan continues to look toward a bid in the CCG, and scorched past Illinois. They face the Huskers for the first time this Saturday, which means that “Hate Week” gets and extra 7 days in my house. Minnesota and Wisconsin played a game for some sort of trophy… or was it a wrestling belt?
Ohio Dominican finished their season with a win against Indianapolis, to end up 7-4 and winners of their last four. Anderson’s “Fighting” Ravens lost the Brass Ball to Manchester, while the NAIA playoff brackets were finalized as well.
In “Big Boy Football”, our friends from Iowa State have a chance to make a difference this Friday as they face off with Mike Gundy’s #2 Cowboys. Tennessee and Vandy square off- did you realize that Vanderbilt used to dominate this matchup, and was the reason that UT brought Coach Neyland to campus to head their program? “The Big Game” between Stanford and Cal is also this weekend, although I’ll be surprised if it’s much of a game.
Of course we’ll be covering the Ohio State/Penn State matchup, including the usual livechat and so forth. We’ll also have commentary from inside the stadium, as we’ve dispatched Eric to bring us the details. Later this week, we’ll visit with one of the team from Black Shoe Diary and talk a bit about “fan behavior” during this game.
On that note, let me repeat something we tweeted earlier last week. No matter your affiliation, there are ways to make a difference in the important issue that’s been the unfortunate storyline for the past week in college sports. Remember- you can never pay back, but you can always pay forward.