This week’s soundtrack is colorful, but has a bit of a different taste to it: trust me, it makes total sense in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy… language warning.
There’s no denying it… one group of conference-mates had an incredibly difficult Saturday.
Positioned for excellence, and featured in a number of nationally significant matchups, the on the field results just did not help dissuade the critics who argue that they have lost their prestige, and are rightfully scorned by college fans across the country. Once seen as powerful contenders for titles, it seems as if the results on Saturday have shown that the game may have passed them by.
Yup, it was a terrible day for the Big 12 expats. Who did you think I was talking about?
Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska all dropped matches on Saturday, with two of these being significant “upsets” in terms of rankings and so forth. The Aggies, after a week full of bravado regarding their new allegiance to the “we can spell three letter words” conference, saw the early lead against Florida disappear in the waning moments of the game, and couldn’t count on Kyle Field to help carry the day. You’ve got to wonder if the different understanding of the word “cheerleader” might have had something to do with it. Ah well, you know they’ll just say that they won later… it’s the SEC way.
Missouri also opened SEC play by welcoming Georgia to play between the… uh… rocks in Columbia. The Bulldawgs emerged victorious, but you’re right in realizing that Mizzou is excited to be in a new home. There were too many Longhorns in the last one, and the B1G never returned their phone calls, so you can’t blame them for being OK with a loss in their prestigious opener. So excited about the new opportunities were they, that they broke out their new school clothes… or someone else’s old school clothes from when they were in the Arena League. As goofy as they looked, though, they didn’t win our “awkward haberdashery of the week award”… more later.
Ah, CoLOLorado… See, here’s how it works. You schedule a FCS opponent in the pre-season, you get them at home, you beat them and build up your alumni/student confidence in your program = profit. But, the Buffs are constricted by no man’s social norms, and instead chose to allow the mighty Hornets of Sacramento State to kick a field goal with time expiring and upset the Buffs in Boulder. I’m sure the fans will have to find some way to console their grief.
Which brings us to Nebraska.
If you were following us on the twitters yesterday, you know that I had a pretty good seat for the spectacle in the Rose Bowl. Big Red Nation did what they always do, and was occupying at least a third of the stadium prior to kickoff. To be fair, though- that happens most of the time for UCLA events; Bruins are still at Whole Foods picking up their Pinot, and can’t be troubled to watch something called a “kickoff”. We were fortunate enough to be sitting with the families of UCLA coaching staff, and even some of them didn’t show up until halftime. It’s a great stadium with a neat history, but when you have to have someone tell you when to cheer it’s hard to argue that you’ve got the best fans in the conference.
As for the game itself- hopefully you got to listen to the Gus Johnson telecast on Fox, it was easily the most entertaining game of the day that didn’t involve the word “Arkansas”. While I tip my hat to Coach Mora and the Bruins, and think they’re doing some good things, the game was more lost by Big Red than it was won by the men of Westwood. Defensively, the Huskers gave up over 600 yards of total offense and well over 300 on the ground. From where I was sitting, it looked like several things were at issue- 1) The defensive front was not getting pressure/penetration, which was surprising given how young some of the Bruin offensive line was. 2) Linebackers were either out of position or a step late in man coverage and constantly got picked apart on mid-range crossing routes. 3) The Huskers didn’t want to tackle. This was the biggest surprise for me, given the Blackshirt reputation, but it seemed that the defenders were not wrapping and moving their feet, there were a lot of bounced running plays and yards after contact.
On offense, not having Rex Burkhead healthy certainly created problems for Nebraska, but the biggest issue is that Taylor Martinez remembered who he was. That Bret Favre impression he did last week against Southern Miss was well and good, but the majority of the game on Saturday was spent reverting back to his former passing form and making some questionable decisions, including several “To heck with it, I’m going deep” throws that didn’t seem to take things like “coverage” and “defenders” into account.
That being said, I was talking about the conference with those around us (even starting a “B!1!G!… B!1!G!” cheer at one point), and came to the conclusion that the “slow midwesterners” have the best running quarterbacks, bar none, in the entire nation. I’d take Braxton, Denard, and Martinez over any other group across the country… funny how time change.
Ok, time to take off the homer glasses and talk about the dumpster fire that was Saturday’s B1G slate. For the record, I get the whole “support your family” ideology that comes with conference pride, but it seems to me that those moments are most often reserved for teams who suck. The “conference strength” idea is important for post-season recognition, but if my favorite squadron takes care of business every Saturday, it seems to all work out. Plus, there’s a lot of bias that comes to the “conference strength” argument anyway: in-conference upsets are either proof that the teams suck or proof of how tough the conference is.
Not that any of this mattered on Sunday- the B1G inhaled profusely, often against questionable opposition. Among the hilarity was Bert Bielema’s “rent a quarterback” plan blowing up in his face against an Oregon State team that he refused to share film with. Granted, he had a good reason- the Beavers hadn’t played yet and had nothing to “exchange” but it’s just the kind of arrogance that you can’t help enjoy when it blows up in his face. Pity that he gets to shift the blame and fire someone… two games into the season?
Iowa dropped the CyHawk trophy matchup with Iowa State in a baseball score of 9-6. I know that ISU is missing their offensive coordinator, and Iowa is missing every running back that’s ever been on their roster, but that score is ridiculous. Also ridiculous? Iowa’s “throwback uniforms”, our second entry in the “what are you wearing?” competition for this week.
The “Not-so-happy-valley” continued to gain occupants, as a valiant come from behind effort against Virginia fell just short on a missed field goal. As you know the Lions’ initial kicker transferred to Texas this summer; his replacement had an unbelievable game Saturday and missed three field goals before hooking the possible game winner. I’m sure it was a tough trip home for the entire team, but you’ve got to feel for that young man, who experience first hand the vitriol that the interwebs can bring from a fanbase that’s already really really touchy. In addition to being incredibly cruel, the comments only added fuel to what’s sure to be a lot of self doubt and discouragement. I’m certain that he is still kicking himself for his performance… although I’m not sure if he’s connecting.
If there was any wonder what the offensive gameplan for “Denard And The Jumpballs” was this season, be aware that TTUN’s quarterback was responsible for all of their offensive yardage as they held on to beat Air Force and prove that they hate America. Additionally, UM running backs have only accounted for 49 total yards this season. Yeah, they’re not one dimensional at all.
Indiana won, but lost their QB to a gruesome injury; Purdue is either a legitimate threat for the division or proved just how premature the “Notre Dame Is BAACK!” conversation is (given the history, I’m going with the latter). Illinois fumbled all over themselves in their loss to Arizona State, but all doubt about the superior academic conference was set to rest as our nerds beat the SEC’s nerds. Go Wildcats! Sparty beat the Chippewas and the Gophers mangled the Hampsters.
Hit of the week time… and this one should look familiar:
The conference that had the best showing for the week? The PAC12, with only three losses (Colorado, Utah, and Washington), and three upsets (UCLA, Oregon State, and Arizona). Let’s dwell on that last one for just a second- Rich Rodriguez is having success again! Granted there are a couple of factors in his favor: he’s in a conference which is “defense optional” (Saturday’s game against TBPU doesn’t vary from that script) and he has his defensive coordinator from WVa back at his side. Perhaps the problem in Ann Arbor is that the team he inherited sucked by nature. Hmmmm. Anyway, I’m excited for future matchups between Rich Rod and Chip Kelley and Mike Leach… I hope scoreboards are able to keep up.
Oh, and TBPU fans? I’m pretty sure I can guess your rationale for such a poor performance: PAC Refs.
Southern Cal didn’t cover the spread, and were struggling for a bit in their game against the Orange of Syracuse on Matt Barkley’s birthday- It took a while for the Trojans to find something to grab onto. While it could have been a weather related matter, I’d like to think that the Gods were trying to smite Kiffykins for pulling a scholarship he gave to a walk on and giving it instead to a kid who was released from jail. You can take the boy out of the SEC, but you can’t take the SEC out of the boy, it seems…
In the story of the week, though, #8 Arkansas was upset by Louisana Monroe, a team that was a 30+ point underdog. While a lot of this can be pinned on the loss of their quarterback, you’ve got to think that a team from the SEC Oversigning Division would have a spare or two. Following the loss, the Razorbacks fell completely out of the AP top 25, the largest fall of it’s kind since the Awesomeness In Ann Arbor.
This week’s winner of the “wardrobe malfunction” title is Morgan State, courtesy of Tim Burke at 30FPS:
I wasn’t aware that Morgan State had such a vibrant quilting community… as always, I blame Pinterest.
Time for my first “Polls Are Stupid, So Here’s Mine” picks of the week, and boy howdy am I going out on a limb here. As far as I can tell, there are five teams that deserve consideration for a top spot, and the rest of the country still hasn’t shaken out. In alphabetical order: Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, and Southern Cal are pretty freaking good at this point- I can’t tell you how excited I am for November 3rd, when LSU/Bama and UO/USC matchups will clarify the national title picture. You want a semifinal? This is as good as it gets…
Obviously, we’ll be getting you ready all this week for the visit from the other Golden Bears (we’ve got the original, thank you very much), but there are a few other games to keep an eye on this week. Arkansas looks to rebound, but Alabama is next… remember, it’s not John “W.” Smith, people. Arkansas State brings the nation’s #3 rated offense into Lincoln- that could get interesting.
Other notable games: Charlie Weis is in mid-season form already… Kansas lost to Rice. Charlie’s probably not all that excited about rice anyway, if you know what I mean. Also, Auburn lost to Mississippi State, in a “Don’t we have another pastor’s son to buy?” moment for the Tiger alumni base. Penn State hosts Navy in an attempt to salvage a sinking ship; and Florida/Tennessee seeks to be the game that it used to be. Iowa looks to beat an in-state opponent, and Stanford hosts the Trojans.
Big “rivalry” games this week, in addition to the UT/Fla matchup: Ball State travels to Bloomington in a “Hoosier Daddy” special, Spartans meet the Irish in East Lansing, and the “Holy War” between BYU and Utah renews a bit earlier in the season than usual due to PAC scheduling issues.
And with that, we hopefully close the book on this week and start the healing… figuratively AND literally for some folks. Keep Tulane’s Devon Walker in your thoughts and prayers this week, okay?