For those unfamiliar with this feature, consider it your cheat sheet for the conversations around the grill on Labor Day. As always, these come with a melodic interlude to play gently in the background during your perusal… because you’re that important to me.
It was the best of times, it was the… well… best of times. Football was played, plays were made, and the long summer doldrums finally came to an end.
Sawkaralyna got us started off in style, scoring on the third play of their first possession and kicking off the annual “Hey, we’re pretty good! Oh, that’s right… we have to play in the same conference as Alabama/Georgia/Florida/LSU… nevermind.” The only significant storyline to come out of this game, other than the fact that sometimes “new school clothes” aren’t always fashionable, is the fact that ESPN’s love-fest for all things Clowney turned into the predictable hate-fest for the sophomore after he didn’t balance the budget/solve global warming/play like a Heisman candidate. Whatever helps them get their ratings points, right?
Speaking of firsts, the news this offseason was about the new “targeting” rule and it’s potential impact on the game. Your future trivia answer to “who was the first college player to be ejected under this rule?’ is none other than Tulane’s Lorenzo Doss. Small Ohio State related fact that’s stuck in my brain for some reason- In 1995, the NCAA decided to crack down on “showboating” and OSU’s Terry Glenn was the first person flagged after signaling “First Down” following a catch against Boston College in the Kickoff Classic. What a cute rule that was…
At any rate, the impact (see what I did there?) of the new rule was certainly felt across the first weekend; Northwestern had a game-winning drive extended after Cal’s best pass rusher was flagged for “targeting” on a tackle in the end zone, Texas A&M lost a player for a similar infraction (although, to be honest, it was a really bad call), and Oregon had to go and “one up them” (as always) with this potentially crippling hit against Nicholls State. To be fair to the defender, though, everyone in the stadium was yelling “Duck!” to the Nicholls QB. At least that’s what I think they meant…
Another major story this weekend was the debilitating sanctions that hit Heisman winner Johnny Manziel following the “autograph” scandal. I can’t imagine what it was like for him to sit there on the sidelines for that time, missing the change to be with his teammates and… yeah, in the time it took you to read this sentence, his “suspension” was over. I wish my car had a suspension that cushy….
At any rate, both the football and the troll game were top notch as the Aggies faced off against the Owls, whose band decided to celebrate the game’s signature player in their own special way. As for Johnny Football, He played 19 plays, threw three touchdown passes, and generally pissed off everyone not within a 35 mile radius of College Station. Look, ESPN- we only know who he is because you keep telling us about him. He’s your monster… so you get to deal with it.
Since we’re all friends here, I’ll be honest. I love Braxton Miller for a lot of reasons including the lack of drama around him, but there’s one aspect of the Money Badger’s game that I wish he had. Brax is a great runner, but not a great scrambler… in fact, sometimes he looks reluctant to take off when he’s in the pocket. Manziel, though… whoo. Pretty amazing.
The other “learning moment” we had from Saturday was the FCS Upset Phenomenon, with eight teams from the “lower echelon” bumping off their “bigger brothers” during the first weekend of the season. Most notable were losses by #25 Oregon State at home and Kansas State at home, with the latter being the defending B12 champion. South Florida also fell to McNeese, which I didn’t even know was a state, while the Buckeyes’ next opponent dropped a game against Eastern Illinois.
Look, here’s the thing- while these types of upsets are fun, the long term result is not something that fans of “Big Time” college football should be excited about. As we move closer and closer to the larger schools breaking off and forming D4, these losses are the fly in the ointment; the things that senators point to in congressional subcommitee hearings where they complain about their local 1AA school being left behind. “Why, I remember when we beat…. Why aren’t we invited to play at this new level?!?!?” goes the logic in what I like to call the “Boise State Argument”.
The problem is sustainability… these schools don’t have what is necessary in the long term to “keep up” with the bigger schools; and trying to do so takes institutional time and resources away from being meeting their University’s mission and their students’ successes on and off the field.
Oh, and Southern Idaho State University? Welcome back to reality.
Hey! They Supposed To Be SEC! I’ll be the first to admit that the top of the Southeastern Conference is as good as it comes in college football, but for every yokel that points to the B1G’s “Purdue” and “Minnesota” as being crappy I offer up Kentucky’s second loss to Western Kentucky in as many years, Mississippi State falling to T. Boone Pickens University, and Georgia losing on the road at Clemson. These last two losses came to ranked opponents, but let’s not let that get in the way of my narrative, shall we? And, I’d be negligent if I didn’t point out that Mike Gundy’s Cowboys managed some nifty defense against the Bulldogs from Starkville.
Yup, the SEC’s best is top notch, but the rest? Well… this sums it up best, I believe.
Alabama continues to Roll, and completely dominated a Virginia Tech team that was rebuilding and well overmatched. Case in point- a huge block completely misses the point. LSU held on to beat TCU, and the goofiest looking coach on the sideline in this one wasn’t Les Miles. I’m just as disappointing as you are. Auburn won their game against the Pirate Cap’n, but the Cougs “coping mechanism game” is in mid-season form.
Let’s talk for a second about the Georgia/Clemson game. When the Bulldogs weren’t dishing out the punishment, there was some suspicion that they might have been faking some owies of their own in order to slow down the Tigers’ attack. Although…. sounds like it was serious. They weren’t the only ones with this “issue”- Northwestern was alleged to have been involved in similar shenanigans against Cal, much to the disgust of new coach Sonny Dykes and the Cal fans. I’m sure that Ohio State will see this tactic as their offense gets more and more ‘up to speed’, but for now my response to the Cal faithful is: Karma, folks… Karma. I’m sure they understand that in Berkley.
Let’s get B1G, shall we? Michigan’s Devin Gardner is well on his way to helping TTUN claim their eleventh consecutive “September Heisman” after a big day against the Chippewas. Michigan State also won in spite of the walrus, while Wisconsin and Indiana destroyed their opposition. Just when my hopes for the conference has an uptick, though- Purdue gets wiped out by Cincinnati and Iowa loses to Northern Illinois. No shame there, though- NIU was a BCS team last year… someone should have told this Hawkeye fan before she chose to medicate herself at the thought of a Ferentz led season.
Hey! Penn State started a freshman QB and held on to beat Syracuse! Let’s celebrate with a shirt, shall we?? Nebraska fans frustrated with the Blackshirt Defense giving up 600 yards in a narrow win over Wyoming should remember that it could be worse. They could have kept Carl “Spike the ball on fourth down” Pelini instead of Bo.
Staying in the midwest, it’s good to see that Notre Dame has finally got things figured out, as evidenced on the left there. If only they hadn’t hired Lennay Kekua as their spellchecker for their newfangled stadium cups.
Since we mentioned TTUN’s run at the September Heisman, let me put together my list of candidates after the first weekend of the season. I believe that it’s got to be (in no order other than my ability to remember things): Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron, De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota, Tahj Boyd, and Teddy Bridgewater. The Louisville QB will be interesting to watch- on paper, he won’t face a significant defense until the Cardinals’ bowl game, but will the soft schedule be enough to dissuade voters? Mariota and Thomas may cancel each other out, and Boyd might lose votes due to Sammy Watkins’ presence in the offense. I’m sure that Manziel backlash will be in full effect by November, but who knows? We’ll keep track of this as the year progresses… knowing that there’s only and forever one Heisman.
The great thing? We used to practice the fake punt in junior high school, but never ran it- our coach said it wouldn’t work.
Yeah, I’d be pretty floored by that being successful as well… although I’d manage to stay on my podium.
This week’s slate of games has a few interesting matchups, including South Clowney-lina traveling to Georgia to meet a Bulldogs team that will be missing a key component. Florida and Miami meet up in their quests to secure state supremacy… although “why” is something that hasn’t yet been identified. Another interesting game finds Bevo and Provo squaring off- an early season test to see if Texas fans will hate Mack Brown or REALLY hate Mack Brown. Ohio’s other undefeated team kicks off their season, as defending champion Mount Union Purple Raiders host Franklin College from Indiana; and will be doing so with a new coach.
It’s also the week that we see the 2013 version of the “Asteroid Strike” game, as TTUN hosts Notre Dame and attempts to get revenge for last year’s arm-punt clinic.
All great things to look forward to… but I’m just as excited to see what TBDBITL comes up with for Saturday. Here’s their season opener-