Monday’s melange of morning mayhem looks back at an amazing weekend of college football… Just promise to wait until the end of the article to rush the field, OK? Given the news on Campus from Sunday Night, here’s your soundtrack for our special time together.
It was a great weekend to be an Angry Bird, particularly if you were a Cardinal. Let’s start in Palo Alto.
In what’s become an annual tradition, a highly ranked Southern Cal team derped a game that many expected them to win. While it seemed to have always been the Beavers of Oregon State under the previous administration, the past four years have found a Cardinal thorn in the Trojans’ armor… as unbelievable as it is, September Heisman candidate Matt Barkley has never beaten Stanford in his career. The nice thing, though, is that Chad Henne and Mike Hart have a great support group that will welcome him with open arms.
Saturday we saw the real “teeth” of the NCAA’s sanctions for all things Reggie Bush-esque: While the Bowl Ban was significant in terms of financial benefits and being able to compete for make believe championships and other post-season swag, the real kick of what the folks in Indianapolis handed to Southern Cal as a parting gift is the inability to field a full squad of 85 for the coming several seasons- which creates issues at depth when the offensive line gets banged up (as it did in Palo Alto). Granted, Barkley still is incredibly talented and has amazing weapons- however, without the time to find them it’s essentially a moot point. And once he’s gone, well… we may just get to see how good of a coach the man is, as a number of folks could be successful with the talent depth that they experienced over the past decade.
This is in no way to take anything away from Stanford- their attitude has changed, and they find themselves in the unique position of being a bully in the PAC12. While the November 3 date between Southern Cal and Oregon is still going to be significant, the matchup between the Ducks and Cardinal may be even more crucial for the national picture. My initial take- Stanford can’t keep up with the Ducks… at least not unless they emulate the team across the bay.
Since we’ve decided to get ornithological for this week’s review, let’s give a slow clap to the Cardinals of Papa John’s Stadium, who managed to hold off North Carolina for a win that many people assumed was academic for the TarHeels. On the contrary, they mounted a furious comeback that required a late play by Charlie Strong’s current team (more later) to remain undefeated.
Sticking with the boys in red- While it doesn’t help the B1G’s perception in the national media, kudos to Ball State’s Cardinals (although, they’ll always be the Fighting Letterman to me) for upsetting Indiana in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are definitely missing the leadership of their QB, and we wish him a healthy rehab. As for Ball U, it’s great to finally have something football related to talk about other than “remember that time that Hoke shut down the Golden Corral?”. Loves me some MACtion.
Ok, so let’s revisit Charlie Strong’s coaching situation for a bit… or at least take a look at his future employers. The nation’s number one team faced off against “It’s Not John W. Smith” and the Arkansas Razorbacks, a program where Strong has history and is looking for a new coach following this season (requirement- no motorcycles). While they put up what’s surely a valiant effort, the Razorbacks were just out gunned by ‘Bama, particularly given the absence of their starting quarterback (who’s making lots of friends in the locker room). Personally, I’d love to see Smith get an extension- he’s a very hands on coach that’s a lot of fun for the media. Plus, he’s a lot more dignified than the coach he faced on Saturday- trip a duck, will you Nick?
The other possible landing spot for Strong, should he leave Louisville, has been rumored to be Tennessee, who squared off against the mighty Florida Gators on Saturday in what used to be a great SEC rivalry. This time, Derek Dooley’s Mom’s Son and his boys were able to easily roll over Florida, since they were so depleted from when Evil Urban Meyer gutted the program and left them all alone in the swamp with no one to… what’s that? Florida actually roared back in the second half to bet the Vols by 17 points on the road? And they looked really good doing it- so good that they jumped into the top 15? Wow… who knew, right? Although, we should have had a little bit of a hint that things were not going to go well in Knoxville, given the preview that we got during Gameday.
As a reminder- when the B1G ended up with “Leaders and Legends” rather than a logical east/west split, the concern was for “competitive balance”. Somehow, folks forgot that the SEC used to be dominated by the Eastern Division (Georgia, Florida, Tennessee) before the Western Division learned how to oversign… and that history has proven that “power” is cyclical.
As annual as the Southern Cal unexpected loss comes Saturday’s “Virginia Tech serves as a reminder that pre-season polls are stupid”, as they “welcomed” Pitt into the ACC (eventually) by getting their heads handed to them in everyone’s favorite mult-use facility and ketchup emporium. This is, as you might recall, the same Pitt team that fell to Youngstown State and Cincinnati in two matchups that weren’t even close. Ah, the ACC… if only there was some way for them to gain credibility… Wait! I’ve got it! Let’s tout the great fan support that these teams muster- look at Miami’s “34K” from the game against Bethune Cookman this past week. And, with the high level of play that the ‘Canes exhibit, can you blame them? Ooo… or Florida State’s great crowd against in-conference foe Wake Forest. On second thought- nevermind.
I’ve got it, let’s help the ACC by adding a team that hasn’t been relevant in over a decade! This is no disrespect to the work the Irish did in East Lansing; knocking off a great (if one dimensional) Spartan team at home and figuring out the way to manage the MSU defense is an achievement to be proud of… they deserve to jump up in the polls significantly. However, before we talk about their being “back”, let’s remember where they’re back from- this is the first 3-0 start for the Irish in 10 years. Powerful. Proud. Although, any time you can get a conference to give you full financial membership and a priority bowl bid for only being “partially” involved, you’ve got to go for it, right?
MSU and Indiana were the only two losses for the B1G on Saturday. Read that again. The conference went 10-2, but the national narrative is that the B1G is atrocious. Granted, Wisconsin sure as hell ain’t helping anything; needing a missed field goal to avoid being beaten at home by a weaker opponent- that kind of performance is not something that any fanbase wants to see… oh. Right. Nevermind.
So, with that in mind, let’s sing the praises of Nerdwestern… the only school in the country to beat three BCS opponents this season. B!1!G! B!1!G! Yup, they stand proudly at the top of the conference with the Gophers of Minnesota, the only two undefeated teams in the B1G that are still bowl eligible. Michigan crushed the team that Indiana beat (!) this weekend, and Purdue continues to look good- maybe this is their one season every twenty years (says the guy who’s team has lost two of the last three to the Boilers). Nebraska rolled, after a halftime scare where Coach Pelini was taken to the hospital for “flu like symptoms”. Living in LA, I’m very familiar with “flu like symptoms“… just sayin’.
Time for the “hit of the week”- for the second time in three weeks, we give some love to the blockers:
And we continue to give love to Ohio University alum Timothy Burke, the maestro for GIF and Screencaps… great asset to college fans everywhere.
Saturday was also the first weekend where we had a bucketload of fantastic finishes. In Lexington, the “supposed to be SEC” Kentucky Wildcats lost to the Hilltoppers of nearby Western Kentucky on an amazing flea flicker game winner… hats off to the… uh… whatever in the heck they are.
The ridiculous ending of the week, though, was the ending of the week- Saturday’s last game highlighted the Holy War between Utah and BYU that was so amazing it needed three endings (note- that’s still two fewer than Return Of The King); one to tell us one second was left, one to give us an “illegal participation” penalty, and the last one to have Utah State/Cal’s kicker show up for the game winning attempt. If you haven’t seen it already, check out the video from Deadspin- and see if you can locate the crib that shows up during the field rush. After you’ve watched that… tell me how Michigan didn’t get jobbed of an additional down in the Alamo Bowl. And yes, I know I’m defending Mich1gAAn over Nebraska… we have a very comfy couch at my house.
No need for a cardiac ending in Oxford, where Texas got a victory over an SEC opponent this season before the good folks in College Station did. While I’d normally post a hilarious photo of ridiculous sideline signals to commemorate the 66-31 victory for the Longhorns, I can’t in good conscious turn my back on the gif you see to your right- You do NOT eff with a Marine, friends.
Also in the SEC, Lousiana Monroe saw their opportunity to clinch the western conference title fall away as Auburn held on to win. Congrats to Coach Chizik on going from a national championship to the hot seat so quickly- I wonder if “Chizik” is Latin for “Mack Brown”, given their recent history.
The rest of the slate was very cupcake friendly- WVa rolled, Oregon smoked their opposition, RichRod is undefeated in September (again!), and Charlie Weis’ offensive sooper genius wasn’t able to overcome the Horned Frogs in his B12 opener. Ohio State’s next opponent got squashed by South Carolina, while Clemson squared off against Furman (home of the greatest cheer in FCS) in a Death Valley blowout. Oh, and congrats to Penn State for their victory over Navy- the schools first* win since 1997.
I’ve still got Alabama and Oregon in my top four, with FSU and LSU rounding out the other two. Seriously, though, it’s Alabama at tier one; Oregon/LSU at tier two; FSU, Stanford, and a healthy Southern Cal at tier three. After that, it’s a crapshoot- although winning a game and dropping four slots does seem like a bit excessive. Oh, and the people who keep voting for Wisconsin in the top 25? You’re adorable.
In addition to the Buckeye/Dragon game this weekend, we’re now at DefCon5 for the 2012 version of the Asteroid Bowl when Notre Dame hosts Michigan on Saturday. Missouri’s “Welcome” to the SEC continues with a game against South Carolina, while the Golden Bears head to LA to play Southern Cal. Two “These guys are undefeated, but not questionably so” games this weekend: Oklahoma hosts Kansas State, and Clemson travels to Tallahassee to challenge Florida State. Our “smoking scoreboard” game of the week: Oregon and Arizona, who both believe that defense is like the Chupacabra: People talk about it, but no one’s ever really seen it. That’ll be the late game, so it’s sure to have some West Coast HAM in it as well.
And now, it’s time to drop some knowlege…