Monthly Archives: September 2008

Recap of week 5

If you are a gambler; condolences, if you are a college football fan, life is a yellow brick road journey.  On the last weekend of September, in what could best be described as Shake Up Saturday, four of the top nine, and nine of the top twenty-five teams went down in defeat.  It is what makes college football great, and reiterates once again, why every weekend is a true drama.

The tone was set on Thursday night in Corvallis, Oregon, when one of the orange clad OSU students displayed his sign which read: “We ain’t scared.” Then the 25 point underdog Beavers proceeded to knock off, and dominate, the number one ranked Trojans 27-21, in game that shook the college landscape, and was a portent for the shockers that the Saturday games would bring.

In the “black-out” in Athens, it was the Georgia Bulldogs who were humbled, as the Tuscaloosa Titans, otherwise known as the Crimson Tide of Alabama, opened a 31-0 lead over Georgia, before closing them out 41-30.  Here’s how dominant the Sons of Bear Bryant have been:  for the season, Alabama has outscored it opponents, 74-0 in the first quarter, and so far this season, the Tide has yet to trail in any game, and ‘Bama now finds itself as a legitimate national title contender.

Earlier in the day, in the Swamp in Gainesville, the value of an extra point was ingrained into the Gator faithful, as Mississippi, stunned the Gators 31-30, on a blocked extra point. Here’s a note of interest, Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Tim Tebow, has never led Florida to a second half comeback victory, as the Florida offense continues to look out of synch.

In the Big house in Ann Arbor, the gremlins were everywhere.  Wisconsin raced to a 19- 0 half-time lead.  It appeared insurmountable, as Wiscy coach Bret Bielema, had never lost a game (19-0) when leading at halftime, that is, until Saturday.  In that first half, the Little Sisters of the Poor must have been wearing the winged helmets of the Michigan Wolverines, as the Maize and Blue had five turnovers, and only one first down.  In the second half, mighty “Meechigan” roared to twenty-seven unanswered points, then, held on for a 27-25 victory for coach “Rod’s” first signature win.  It was the biggest comeback in the 500 game history of Michigan Stadium.  

 In his 81st year, Joe Paterno has one of his best teams.  Quarterback Darryl Clark’s ( 9 touchdowns – 1 interception, 3 rushing td’s) leadership was clearly on display, as the balanced and dynamic Nittany Lions knocked off Illinois 38-24, and now have a legitimate chance to win not only the conference, but like ‘Bama, a chance to play for the national title.

More fun stuff.  Navy’s defeat of previously undefeated Wake Forest was the Midshipmen’s first victory over a ranked team since 1985.  

Don’t look now, but the best team in the East is the Huskies of UConn, who for the                       second year in a row sit at 5-0.  The Connecticut hounds are led by the nation’s leading rusher Donald Brown, who is averaging 181yards a game, and has scored eleven touchdowns.  He may have the best feet, this side of Gene Kelly.  No wonder Boston College is afraid to play the Huskies.  Hopefully, UConn’s coach Randy Edsall, who should have gotten the BC job that was given to Tom O’Brien, will remain in Storrs, but if Tennessee ever pulls the plug on its beleaguered coach Phil Fulmer, I’d have Edsall on speed dial.

Beware of the Tar Heels.  Coach Butch Davis has a smooth blend of tobacco nicely curing on the Chapel Hill campus, even with backup quarterback Cameron Sexton, and Carolina is going to be a factor in every game it plays.

Duke is 3-1, under coach David Cutcliffe, boy does Tennessee miss his play calling, as the Blue Devils are off to its best start since 1994.

Speaking of Tennessee, the once vaunted Volunteers have fallen to 1-3, its worst start in 14 years.

In Aggie Land at College Station, the faithful eyes pleadingly ask, “Where have you gone R.C. Slocum?” as new coach Mike Sherman’s Texas A&M team barely hung on, to defeat a pathetic Army team, 21-17.

In another case of wasted prosperity, this may finally be the end of Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, as the Tigers were upset by Maryland 20-17, in a game in which juggernaught Clemson, failed to score a point in the second half. 

Old friend Greg Robinson and his Syracuse Orangemen blew an eleven point second half lead to Pitt, and lost again, keeping Mr. Robinson’s win total at 8, five games into his fourth and last season at the helm.

The Hawkeyes Kirk Ferentz, is another of our hot seat hotties, as Iowa lost to Northwesten 22-17 in Iowa City, pushing coach Ferentz closer to the exit door. 

On the opposite side of the ledger, Northwestern is 5-0 for the first time since some coach by the name of Parseghian was roaming the sidelines.  I wonder what ever happened to that guy?

Wonder if Bobby “Take the Money and Run” Petrino, would like to go back to the Atlanta Falcons?  In its last two games Arkansas has seen its bacon sliced by the combined score of; 101-24.

What a weekend!!!

That’s it from cyber space.  Check back in on Wednesday night, when we’ll be up and running with week 6.  Until then; Peace.  PK


Handicapping Week 5

We begin this week with a stampede.

Last week, at the University of Colorado, the handlers of CU’s mascot, Ralphie the Buffalo, were taking the beast for a practice run on the turf of Folsom Field.  Suddenly someone’s cell phone went off, spooking poor Ralphie, who by the way is a female, sending her running off in a frightened tizzy.  One of the handlers somehow managed to hold on for dear life, as he was pulled for at least thirty turf-burning yards, before the others were able to corral the spooked Buffalo.  This weekend let’s see which teams burn and stampede the opposition, and which leave it fans with the feeling, that they’ve once again, been buffaloed, and need to call for help.

No. 8 Alabama at No. 3 Georgia (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) The Tuscaloosa Titan, Nick Saban, should take a shot at solving the financial crisis.  The resurgent Tide has seen its stock dramatically climb on the legs of the nation’s top fifteen rushing attack, highlighted by the tailback tandem of Glen Coffee, and Mark Ingram.  The senior QB play of John Wilson Parker has been steady, and his field stretching targets, featuring freshman speedster Julio Jones and tight end Nick Walker, have helped to somewhat balance the Bama offense.  The D, behind a pair of athletic backers in Rolando McClain and Brandon Fannery, along with nose tackle Terrence (Mount-360 pounds) Cody, is vintage Saban, impossible to run on, and the eighth stingiest outfit in the nation. 

The Dawgs have displayed a deadly bite.  Directed by its starry junior quarterback Matthew Stafford (0-interceptions) with help from its All-America, Heisman Trophy candidate tailback (9 td’s) Knowshon Moreno, and assisted by big play true freshman receiver A.J. Green, Georgia can attack a defense from a number of fronts.  The D, behind backers Rennie Curran and Darryl Gamble, is the third toughest to run on, but has some vulnerability in defending the pass.  It will be a black shirt “black out” in Athens Saturday, and a black out in more ways than one, for the Crimson Tide. 

No.22 Illinois at No. 12 Penn State (Ch.5, 8 p.m. regional) The defense of the fighting Zookers has been as vulnerable as a Wall Street investment banker.  Despite a pair of All-Americas in end Will Davis and corner Vontae Davis, the porous Sons of Red Grange are ninety-fourth in allowing points to be scored, and one of the nation’s bottom feeders in stopping the run.  The Illini offense feeds of its dual threat quarterback Juice Williams (7 td’s-5 interceptions) and a pair of explosive assistants in tailback Daniel Dufrene and All-America wideout Arrelious Benn.  And despite the weakness of its defense, the offense will keep Illinois in every game. 

The Nits may be the show ponies of the Big Ten.  In his 81st year, JoePa has a group that in its first four games has scored more points than any other team in the 122 year history of Penn State.  The Happy Valley crew is led by senior quarterback Daryll Clark (7td’s-1 interception), who is the nation’s fourteenth most efficient passer.  The QB, directs the  country’s third highest scoring offense, with the help of running backs Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, who comprise the eighth best rushing group.  Clark also has a pair of starry targets in speedsters Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.  The D led by backers Tyrell Sales, Navarro Bowman and end Josh Gaines, pounds and blitzes, as the nation’s ninth stingiest defensive squad.  In “white out” conditions in Happy Valley, the Lions who have won 23 of its last 25 at home plow through the colander, otherwise known as, the Illinois defense.

No. 9 Wisconsin at Michigan (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) Wiscy will never win any USC style points, but the crew from Mad-Town, victorious in 24 of its last 29 games, simply finds a way to win.  The Badgers pound away with the country’s thirteenth best rushing attack led by its All-America tailback, and the nation’s ninth leading rusher, P.J. Hill.  He gets a breather from his quality running mates, John Clay and Zach Brown. The director of the Cheese-head attack is senior quarterback Alan Evridge, who manages the game with the help of tight end Garrett Graham and wideout David Gilreath.  America’s seventeenth stingiest D, is led by backers DeAndre Levy, and end Matt Shaughnessy, but has shown some susceptibility in defending against the passing game.

The Iraqi army has more fire power than the Wolverine’s offense.  Michigan comes in at a pathetic ninety-ninth in scoring and nineteenth from the bottom in moving the ball through the air.  The boys from Ann Arbor have a talented freshman tailback in Sam McGuffie, but the quarterback situation, which continues to alternate between Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan, remains a big concern.  The D does have quality, behind backer Obi Ezeh and safety Brandon Harrison, but strains in defending the pass.  It’s “On Wisconsin,” as Wiscy wins its first game in the Big House in 14 years and the four million dollar man, Wolverine coach “Rod” falls to 1- 3, as Michigan loses its first Big Ten home opener in 23 years.

Va Tech at Nebraska (Ch.5, 8 p.m., regional) In summarizing his young team, and its struggle to score points, coach Frank Beamer said it best, “We never claim to be pretty.”  The Hokies offense under the direction of its dual threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor, (7-0

as a starter) is as about as dynamic and animated as a George Will speech on public policy.  The aerial attack ranks fifth from the bottom, while the ground attack behind Darren Evans and Kenny Lewis is pedestrian.  The D, led by a trio of backer in Brett Warren, Purnell Sturdivant, and Cam Martin, isn’t vintage VaTech, and has a great deal of trouble stopping he run. 

After getting its fill from a trio of corn-dogs, the Huskers step it up in competition.  The Big Red from Lincoln, averaging 40 points a game, is led by senior QB Joe Ganz, the nation’s nineteenth most efficient passer.  Nebraska can also hurt an opponent with a ground attack led by Marlon Lucky and Roy Helu, who fire out behind an experienced offensive line.  The D, behind backers Phillip Dillard and Cody Glen is still striving to get back to its once feared “Black Shirt” status, but currently ranks seventeenth from the bottom in defending the pass.   We’ll take the Boys from Lincoln to make the crew from Blacksburg even uglier.

Northwestern at Iowa (ESPN Classic, Noon) Who says the kids with the big SAT numbers can’t play football?  The last time (1962) Northwestern was 4-0; JFK was sitting in the Oval Office.

The Cats have done this Houdini courtesy of the nation’s 13th stingiest defense, which features backers Malcolm Arrington, Prince Kwatang, and end Cory Wooten.  The offense motors behind its scintillating tailback Tyrell Sutton, and is directed by its double threat quarterback senior C.J. Bacher, who can choose from a trio of talented targets.

In recent years the crop yield hasn’t been up to its bountiful standards in Iowa City.  Unless things quickly improve, it could send coach Kirk Ferentz and his CEO salary on an early tractor out of town.  The Hawkeyes offense operates under the shared QB system of Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi, but the quarterbacks really depend on the legs of tailback Shon Green, the nation’s eighth leading rusher to set the offensive tone.  The country’s fifth rated D, attacks behind backers Jeremiah Hunter, A.J. Edds, and end Adrian Clayborn, but its numbers are slightly inflated, due to its opponent’s flimsy resume.  

This week the harvest looks a little more promising, as the Hawks open its Big Ten season with the victory.

Last week’s record:  4- 1.                            Season Record:  14-6.


Recap of Week 4


Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne is reported to have said, “Prayer works a lot better with big players.”  That nicely sets the tone for week four, as the “big boys” came out to play. 

The Champ still has the magic.  Chants of Ali! Ali! Reigned down from Papa-John Stadium as Citizen of the World, and Louisville native, Muhammad Ali, made a surprise pre-game visit before the Louisville/KState game last week, and the Cardinals promptly went out and had its best offensive explosion of the season in its 38-29 victory.

Rule number one:  Never hire the assistant coach simply because he’s a nice guy – just ask Miami, and Michigan State.  In three short weeks, Mountaineer coach Bill Stewart (1-2) has seen WVU, with its Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Pat White, tumble from its lofty number 8 ranking, all the way out of the top 25.  YIKES!

One Cinderella has seen its coach turn into a pumpkin, as old friend Tom O’Brien and his N.C. State Wolfpack knock off East Carolina in overtime 30-24.  The early signature win for O’Brien.  While the dream continues for a pair of programs; Northwestern is 4-0 for the first time since the Kennedy Administration (1962), and Vanderbilt is also 4-0, and ranked for the first time, since the early eighties. 

Syracuse did its best to blow the lead, but was able to hang on against local heroes Div. 1AA Northeastern 30-21, and give Orange coach Greg Robinson his eighth win, four games into his fourth season.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he was going to split the snaps between senior quarterback Todd Boeckman and true freshman QB Terrelle Pryor, he just never mentioned the word evenly, as Boeckman took two snaps, while Pryor took 54.  It was also the first time a freshman started at quarterback for the Buckeyes since the Carter Administration, some 30 years ago.

Rutgers is 0-3, and is quickly reverting back toward its SUNJ moniker; State University of New Jersey, as the Scarlet Knights are 6th from the bottom in scoring, and 13th from the bottom in stopping the run.  That’s Syracuse bad!

Notre Dame 23-7 losers to Michigan State, shows two things:  Irish QB Jimmy Clausen isn’t the savior, and Charlie Weis may not be the right guy. 

But Spartan tailback Javon Ringer is ringing Heisman bells.  Ringer has now rung up consecutive 200 yard plus games, has 484 in his last two games, in second in the nation in rushing, and leads the country in touchdowns with eleven.

Local favorite, UConn tailback Donald Brown, leads the nation in rushing, averaging 179 yards a game, with 10 touchdowns. 

FSU head man, 79 year old Bobby Bowden said his team was good enough to win the 1AA title after the Seminoles thrashed a pair of resume enhancers, but Wake Forest isn’t a patsy.  For the third consecutive year, the Deacs defeated the once vaunted Seminoles, who continue to have quarterback problems.  Try these numbers. In its last two games in Tallahassee, Wake has held FSU to 3 points, while scoring 42, and in those games the Seminoles have turned it over 11 times, and committed 21 penalties.  As former B.U. President, and gubernatorial candidate John Silber once said, “When you’re ripe, it’s time to go.”

In the SEC classic between Auburn and LSU, both teams found its quarterback, Auburn in Chris Todd, and KSU in Jarette Lee. 

Georgia doesn’t dazzle, but wins with the cold calculating coolness of an assassin -Where do we go?  Who do we play?  Just get the job done and go home.

Heisman Race:  Knowshon Moreno Georgia:             69 carries, 455 yards, 9 Td’s

                         Chase Daniel            Missouri:           101-133, 1412 yards, 12 Td’s- 1 int.

                          Javon Ringer           Michigan State:  143 carries, 699 yards, 11 Td’s

                          Mark Sanchez         USC:                  43-63, 510 yards, 7 Td’s  2 ints.    

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll be up and running with the breakdown of week 5 on Wednesday night.  Until then; Peace.  PK

handicapping week 4

We begin this week with a sale.

Hoppy Hoffman, proprietor of the Jonesboro, Arkansas Design Shoppe, created his own unique version of a Monday-madness sale promotion.  After each home game victory by the Red Wolves of Arkansas State, Hoffman sells his Arkansas State apparel discounted 1 percent for every point the Red Wolves win by.  Two weeks ago, Arkansas State beat Texas-Southern by the eye-popping score of 83-10, thus triggering a 73 percent discount. 

“It got crazy,” said Hoffman.  “When we opened the door at 9:30, at least 200 people filed in.  It looked like they were waiting to buy tickets to a rock concert.”

This weekend let’s see which teams rock with that certain “Hop,” and which play like they’ve been discounted, discarded, and marked down for the losers bin.

No. 4 Florida at Tennessee (Ch.4, 3:30 p.m.)  The Gainesville express is steaming into Knoxville.  Its dual-threat All-America junior quarterback Tim Tebow engineers an offense that runs like mercury, but has yet to fully explode.  The QB is assisted by a healthier wideout/tailback Percy Harvin, (who will be let loose for the first time since his heel surgery) and his receiver counterparts Louis Murphy and tight end Aaron Hernandez.  He also has a pair of road-running tailbacks in Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey, but the running attack had yet to establish any consistency.  The third ranked overall D zooms around like the Acela, led by its All-America backer Brandon Spikes, and has been very disruptive to the opposing quarterback.   .

Phil Fulmer’s Volunteers are seeking redemption after last year’s Gainesville debacle, where Florida hung over a half-a-hundred on its hated rival.  The boys from Rocky Top are directed by quarterback Jonathan Crompton (2 touchdowns – 3 interceptions, balky right ankle), who leans heavily on his top twenty rushing crew led by the Vols powerful tailback Arian Foster, who is averaging over 8 yards a carry.  The D stones runners behind backers Ellix Wilson and Adam Myers-White, and All-America corner Eric Berry, but has some difficulty in defending against the pass, which isn’t a good formula against the Gators.  Unfortunately for the Knoxville Orange faithful, Rocky Top sounds like its being played in 33 speed, as the Gators take a chomp out of Tennessee.

No. 3 Georgia at Arizona State (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)  The Dawgs are searching for more consistency on the offensive side of the ball, particularly from its offensive line.  Despite the ability of its starry quarterback Matthew Stafford, and its All-America tailback Knowshon Moreno (nearly 7 yards a carry, 7 touchdowns) plus the big play capability of wideout A.J. Green, Georgia has yet to approach the attacking style it employed in 2007.  The D, behind end Jeremy Lomax and backer Rennie Curran, has been stellar in stopping the run, but has had early struggles in defending the pass.

The Sun Devils burn on the arm of senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who ranks fifth nationally in both passing yards, and efficiency, thanks in part to his big-play target Michael Jones.  Unfortunately, the ASU running game has been drier that the Tempe air, which puts a great deal of pressure on Carpenter to remain mistake free.  The D, led by end Dexter Davis and backer Gerald Munns is solid, but shows some vulnerability when trying to slow a quality runner.

We think the Dawgs are angry about it perceived lack of respect, and on Saturday night, coach Mark Richt who is 31-2 against non-conference opponents, and 26-4 on the road, draws a line in the desert sand, as the Dawgs take a bite out of ASU.

No. 6 LSU at No. 10 Auburn (ESPN, 7:45) After gorging itself on a pair of cupcakes, the Boys from the Bayou, get to taste the red blooded meat of an SEC schedule.  The Tigers faithful are also anxious to see how coach Miles quarterback platoon of Andrew Hatch (formerly of Harvard) and Jarrett Lee handles the atmosphere of a hostile environment.  The quarterbacks have a pair of quality targets in Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd, but the trigger point is the ground attack.  Tailback Charles Scott, the nation’s sixth leading rusher averaging over eleven yards a carry, is the offensive catalyst.  The D is of disruptive LSU vintage, and roars behind end Rahim Alem and backers Perry Riley and Jacob Cutrera.

Auburn’s new look offense has been about as dynamic as a speech by Joe Liberman.  The play of junior-college transfer quarterback Chris Todd (fumbles) also remains a question on the Plains.  Until he becomes fully acclimated, the Tigers will depend on the sturdy legs of Ben Tate and Brad Lester (questionable – neck).  The nation’s tenth ranked defense, featuring end Antonio Coleman and backer Merrill Johnson, have been impenetrable, surrendering a miniscule 15 points in three games, while holding opponents to three successful third down conversions in forty-six attempts.  In what will likely be a war of attrition, we’ll take the visitors from Baton Rouge.

No. 18 Wake Forest at No. 24 Florida State (ESPN, 7 p.m.)  Coach Jim Grobe, and his resilient Demon Deacons, has become a permanent resident in the lofty status of the top 20.  The Deacs engineer is its dart throwing junior quarterback Riley Skinner, who in addition to completing seventy-five percent of his passes, has yet to throw an interception.  The QB also has a pair of talented targets in wideout D.J. Boldin and tight end Ben Wooster.  The running game featuring Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass remains stuck in neutral.  The veteran D, sports a pair of All-Americas in backer Aaron Curry and corner Alphonso Smith, and has the ability to scheme and confuse a defense. 

Florida State needs an insulin shot.  After tasting nothing but frosting against a couple of éclairs, that had about as much of a chance of winning, as Ralph Nader does in the presidential election, the nation’s second highest scoring team, and tops in defense will be sampling from a different menu.  Sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder has replaced senior starter Drew Weatherford, and has responded, by not throwing an interception.  The running attack thunders with Anton Smith and Jermaine Thomas, while the trio of field-stretching wideouts is led by senior Greg Carr.  The signature of the Seminoles is its defense, led by end Everette Brown and backer Derek Nicholson.  In the old days it was next to impossible to win in Tallahassee, but this isn’t the old days and this isn’t your father’s Wake Forest, we’ll take the Deacons.

Virginia Tech at North Carolina (Ch. 5, 3:30 regional) The Hokies are road warriors.  Since joining the ACC in 2004 VA Tech has gone 15-1 in conference road games.  That may change this season, as the Hokies sport a lineup that is dotted with freshmen and sophomores.  Coach Frank Beamer has also, at least temporally, scrapped his two-quarterback system and decided to let his dual-threat sophomore Tyrod Taylor, run the show.  The Tech attack will rely heavily on its ability to run the ball, and features a very good one in freshman tailback Darren Evans.  The D, because of graduations, isn’t vintage Blacksburg, and is led by backers Brett Warner, Purnell Sturdivant, and All-America corner Victor Harris.  This group has had difficulty in stopping the run, and overall sits in the middle of the pack nationally.

The ‘Heels are starting to kick up its heels, as  Coach Butch Davis has his North Carolina Tar Heels on an upward curve.  The Chapel Hill faithful are so energized that thoughts of a bowl game are beginning to creep into their heads.  The director of this pig-skin renaissance is sophomore quarterback T.J. Yates, with big assists from tailback Greg Little wideout Hakeem Nicks, and senior receiver Brandon Tate, who has averaged an astounding 25 yards every time he touches the ball.  The D is pedestrian against both the run and the pass, and is led by end E.J. Wilson and backer Quinn Sturdivant.  We’ll stick with the Chapel Hill renaissance, as Butch Davis begins to paint a winning portrait in Carolina.

Last week’s record: 3-2,     Record for the season:  10-5.


recap of week 3

The song “Spinning Wheel” from the sixties group Blood, Sweat, and Tears led by David Clayton Thomas, best summarizes week three of the college football season.  The lyric went: “What goes up, must come down… .

It began Thursday night when coach Butch Davis and his North Carolina Tar Heels put a hurting on Rutgers 44-12.  Rutgers is reeling at 0-2, and if this trend continues coach Greg Schiano’s boys could revert back to its old nickname: “SUNJ” – State University of New Jersey. Think the administration, and the state of New Jersey, are having second thoughts about its $100 million stadium refurbishing plan?  Kudos to Butch Davis, and watch out later in the season, Carolina will be dangerous.

The first wild game of the weekend took place on Friday when the Kansas Jayhawks and coach Mark Mangino, he of the 400 pound girth, and the great line regarding the sorry history of KU football, “Anybody can have a bad century,” saw his 12th ranked team lose to South Florida on a last second field goal.   KU saw its 10 point halftime lead disappear into a 14 point deficit in the second half only to come storming back to tie, then watch helplessly, as a freshman kicker Makon Monani, making his college debut, hooked the winning field goal inside the right upright as time expired giving USF the 37-34 victory.  It’s enough to give a coach a heart attack, and Mangino doesn’t need any help. The game was also an aerial circus as both quarterbacks combined for: completions 66-96, 5 touchdowns, and 719 yards passing.

David Cutcliff has his Duke Blue Devils 2-1.  To put that in perspective; Duke’s last winning season was 1994 – which is also the last time it won more than 4 games in a season.

The Commodores of Vanderbilt also find themselves 3-0, while another Little Sister of the Poor, Buffalo, under coach Turner Gill of Nebraska fame, find themselves 2-1. 

Buffalo defeated Temple 30-28, on an end of the game Hail Mary touchdown pass, in a game that saw the lead change three times in the final 2:27. 

Cal laid a big “carbon” egg traveling across country to College Park, Maryland, and losing to the Terrapins 35-27.  Unfortunately, the Golden Bears didn’t realize that the game was being played on east coast time – and when they finally awakened – three touchdowns in the fourth quarter- it was to little too late.  I’m sure the Berkeley alumni will buy some carbon credits to east their guilt and pain.

Purdue, who hadn’t defeated a top 20 team since 2003, still hasn’t, as the Boilermakers lost in overtime to Oregon 32-26. 

The shocker of the day:  UNLV – 23,    #15 Arizona State – 20, in overtime.  In a classic “look ahead” or “sandwich” game ASU got caught looking toward its huge game next week against Georgia.  UNLV tied the game with 18 seconds left, then won in overtime when the Rebels blocked the Sun Devils game tying field goal attempt, setting off a seismic event in the desert of Tempe.  The shocking aspect of this game is the fact that the Rebels have lost 21 of its last 22, and won only 8 of its last 38. 

Here’s to you Mr. Robinson.  Or where have you gone Paul Pasqualoni?  On the weekend that saw the pre-release screening of the movie the “Elmira Express,” about Syracuse Heisman Trophy winner, Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the award, the Orange did, what it always does on a Saturday afternoon in the fall, get clobbered in a football game.  This time it was the Nittany Lions of Penn State who came up for its cupcake treat, winning 55-13.  That keeps Greg Robinson holding at 7 wins three games into his fourth season at the once mighty ‘Cuse – the home of the aforementioned Davis, Jim Brown, Floyd Little, and Donovan McNabb. The ‘Cuse, have also surrendered 127 points, in its three losses.  Local heroes, 1AA Northeastern ventures up this Saturday, and if they should knock off the Orange, and it’s not that long of a stretch, its pull the plug on the “dead man walking” coach.

Other highlights:  UConn tailback Donald Brown:  206 yards in 20 carries in the Huskies beat down of Virginia.  Michigan State stud All-America Javon Ringer 282 yards in 43 carries in the rain against Florida Atlantic.

In the oxymoron department the Air Force had zero yards through the air 0-7, but ran it 71 times in its win over the University of Houston.

Early Heisman returns:

Chase Daniel    qb Missouri:   65-90, 973 yards 10 td’s – 1 interception.

Mark Sanchez  qb USC:      43-63, 510 yards   7 td’s – 2 interceptions.

Embarrassment of  the Year:  BYU  59  –  UCLA  0

In 1997 UCLA routed Texas 66-3, in a game that has gone down in lore as “Rout 66”. 

The last time UCLA lost this badly the stock market was about to crash in 1929 signaling the start of the Depression- come to think of it, it’s a perfect dovetail to where we are now.

Mighty “Meechigan” 6 fumbles – 1-2 under the new man Rich Rodriguez.

Bob Toledo, formerly of UCLA, is starting to turn things around in Tulane, almost pulling off the upset of East Carolina, who needed a touchdown in the final 1:41 to eek out a 28-24 victory.

That’s it from cyber space.  We’ll see you Wednesday night when we’ll be up and running with the analysis for week four.  Until then – Peace.  PK

Handicapping Week 3

We begin this week with a welcome wagon breakdown.

When it was announced last year that West Virginia football coach Rick Rodriguez was leaving his alma-mater for the greener ($) pastures of the “Big House” in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a firestorm of vitriol was unleashed toward the coach by the Mountaineer nation.  The feelings of abandonment were so strong, that Mayor Robert Riggs, of Rodriguez’ home of Grant Town (pop. 650) in Marin County, ordered the two signs that read: “Home of WVU Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguez,” be taken down.  What would John Denver think of this country road?

This weekend, let’s see which teams give it faithful a positive sign, and which look like they’ve already signed out. 

No. 5 Ohio State at No.1 USC (Ch.5, 8 p.m.)    In order to win a game of this magnitude, a team must be able to toe the line.  In the Buckeyes case – it’s the injured toe of its leader, All-America tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells.  If OSU is to have a chance against the Trojans, Wells must be well.  Absent his talent, the task becomes very difficult, but the Ohio State cupboard is hardly bare.  Coach Jim Tressell takes great comfort in the ability, and game management of senior quarterback Todd Boeckman, but the coach will also find some time for Boeckman’s heir apparent, dual-threat freshman sensation Terrelle Pryor.  The QB’s have a pair of quality targets in wideouts Brian Hartline and his All-America counterpart Brian Robiskie.  Unfortunately, if Wells can’t go, the running back by committee is very pedestrian.  The D punishes, behind a pair of All-Americas in corner Michael Jenkins and 2-time All-America backer James Laurinaitis, and must pressure the quarterback, if the Buckeyes are to have a chance.

USC has won 71 of its last 79.  To put that another way, if The Men of Troy were to lose its next 21 consecutive games, old friend Pete Carroll would still have compiled a .710 winning percentage.  That is Bryant-esque.  The golden boys of L.A. may have also discovered its next Heisman Trophy winning quarterback in junior Mark Sanchez.  If that isn’t enough, Tailback U has been reawakened, with Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford leading the charge.  The wideouts aren’t jaw dropping, but are of vintage quality.  As for the D, the specialists at Brinks should study the Trojan blueprint.  This impenetrable bunch is tougher than a $2 steak, and attacks from all sides behind a threesome of All-Americas in backers Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and safety Taylor Mays. Dating back to the 1974 Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes have lost five straight to USC.  In another schedule quirk, this is the fifth consecutive season that the Trojans have had a week off after starting the season.  In the previous four, when they play the next game, USC has outscored its opponents by the combined score of 196-58. Hello.  Make it a pick-six for USC, as the Pete Carroll legend continues to grow.

No.10 Wisconsin at No.21 Fresno State (ESPN2, 10:30 p.m.) This is a dangerous game for the Badgers.  The identity for the boys from Madison eleven remains its pounding ground attack, supported by its elephantine offensive line.  The engine behind this assault is All-America tailback P.J. Hill with big assists from fellow travelers John Clay and Zach Brown.  This cheese infused trio, who averages nearly five yards a carry, has combined for nine touchdowns.  The offensive triggerman is senior quarterback Allan Evridge, who despite not having All-America tight end Travis Beckum (hamstring) healthy, has utilized wideout Kyle Jefferson and tight end Garret Graham with great effectiveness.  The D’s strength lays in the front seven, featuring backers Jaevery McFadden, DeAndre Levy and disruptive end Matt Shaughnessey. 

Fresno coach Pat Hill lives for these games.  The Bulldog football philosophy of: “Anybody, Anywhere, Anytime,” certainly applies with this game.  As Hill enters his twelfth season in the Valley, he may have his best and most experienced team.  Fresno returns ten starters on offense, directed by senior quarterback Tom Brandstater, and a pair of quality receivers in Ajir Ofutu, and tight end Bear Pasoe.  The Bulldogs can also hurt teams with its running game, which features tailback Ryan Matthews.  The D is solid led by a threesome of active backers in Kyle Knox, Chris Carter and Nico Herron.

It’s difficult to go against the “cheese-heads,” but this is Fresno’s super bowl – so we’ll take the boys from the fertile valley of San Fernando.

UCLA at No.18 BYU (VERSUS, 3:30 p.m.) The “other” football team from the City of Angels has found its leader.  UCLA quarterback Ken Craft isn’t flashy, but represents the grittiness that his first year coach, Rick Neuheisel is trying to re-establish into the program.  The offensive talent level is thin, and Craft will rely on tailback Raymond Carter and the receiving of Ray Moya and Terrence Austin to move the ball.  The physical defense backbones these UCLA surfers, and is led by the Bosworth brothers, Korey at end, and Kyle at linebacker, with an added assist from tackle Brian Price.

The Cougars have quietly run off the nation’s longest (12) winning streak.  BYU prowls behind a three-pack of game changers in starry quarterback Max Hall, tailback Harvey Unga and tight end Dennis Pitta,  has the ability to score quicker than Pamela Anderson.  The D plays aggressively, and is led by backers Marr Bauman and Coleby Clauson.  The Cougs maintain its BCS mission and jack the winning streak to a baker’s dozen. 

Michigan at Notre Dame (Ch.7, 3:30 p.m.)  This reminds one of the philosophical question; If a tree falls in the forest …, does it make a sound?  With both teams unranked, if these weren’t the two winningest programs in college football history, would anybody care? 

But in reality there are a bunch of stories swirling around this game.  Coach Rich “Rod” Rodriguez is finding it harder to find the end zone, than a friend in the state of West Virginia.  He also continues to search for a starting quarterback, alternating between Steve Threet and Nick Sheridan.  Unfortunately, the Wolverines ground attack, (less than 3 yards a carry), remains weaker than the journalism credentials of Keith Olbermann, while the receiving corps won’t send shivers through the opposition.  The strength of Big Blue is its defense, and features a stellar group that includes backer Obi Ezeh, and ends Brandon Graham and Tim Jamison. 

Even the strongest supporters of Irish coach Charlie Weis, and those numbers are now smaller than the number of republicans living on Brattle Street, must be concerned.  Things are off kilter in South Bend.  The Domers offense looks as fractured as the annunciated words in a Tom Menino speech.  The jury also remains unconvinced, about the ability of “stud” quarterback Jimmy Clauson, who continues to make mistakes.  The ground attack is similar to the Wolverines and has been just as ineffective.  The speed -challenged D, is pedestrian, and when the secondary leads in tackles, the front seven isn’t doing its job.  In a game that might need a defibulator to get an offensive pulse, we’ll take the winged helmets of mighty “Meechigan.”

No.16 Oregon at Purdue (Ch.5, 3:30 p.m.) It looks like coach Mike Bellotti has the Ducks flying (110 points in two games) once again.  Gang Green has overcome some serious injuries, and is now under the direction of quarterback Justin Roper, with a big assist from a pair of tailbacks in Jeremiah Johnson (shoulder, will play) and his counterpart LaGarrette Blount.  The QB has a pair of field stretching targets in Terrence Scott and Jeff Maehl.  The D, swarms behind its All-America safety Patrick Chung and ends Will Tukuafu and Nick Reed. 

The Boilermakers chief mechanic Joe Tiller needs one more victory to become the winningest coach in West Lafayette.  Purdue, aka Quarterback U, has another good one in senior Curtis Painter.  The QB has a reliable back in Kory Sheets and can choose from a three glue-fingered wideouts in Keith Smith, Greg Orton, and Desmond Tardy.  The D, led by tackle Alex Magee and end Gerald Gooden should be its best since the conference leading squad of 2003.  Unfortunately, for the faithful, Teller must wait at least another week to capture the record, as the Ducks throw a wrench at the Boilermakers.

Last week’s record:  5-0          Record for the season:   7-3


Week Two Recap

On paper, the schedule for week two of the college football season was about as appealing as the anticipation of listening to a speech from Massachusetts junior Senator, John Kerry. But as the day slowly unfolded, it was analogous to the Senator having to cancel, and the substitute speaker turned out to be Winston Churchill. That’s the beauty of college football.

As we said last week, if it’s in the genes… . Coach Skip Holtz and his East Carolina Pirates sprung the biggest surprise and dominated the eighth ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. Going back to last season’s bowl victory, it was ECU’s third consecutive victory against a top 25 team, and the Pirates have to go back to 1999, the last time they defeated a top ten team. Here’s the crazy part – barring an injury to its starry quarterback Patrick Pinkney – ECU will be favored in all of its remaining games. If they somehow pull that off two things will happen: the Pirates will cash a ticket to the BCS party, and secondly, Lou Holtz will be known as Skip’s dad. How about this for another wild scenario, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame stumbles badly and is fired, and the Irish hire the old man’s kid!

Speaking of Notre Dame – Yikes! Charlie Weis is on the clock. The offensive “guru” has lost his mojo, as Notre Dame had to rally in the fourth quarter to eek out a win against a decidedly overmatched San Diego State squad. Unfortunately, for the Irish faithful, the only offense coming out of South Bend seems to come from Weis’s belligerent personality.

The fun really started last Thursday night, when Vanderbilt defeated a ranked opponent (South Carolina) at home for the first time since 1992.

Then on Friday a very good Ball State team defeated Navy 35-23. But the most interesting part of that game was one of the captains for the Cardinals, defensive end Brandon Crawford, is 32 years old. “Crawdaddy,” as he is affectionately known to his teammates, had some trouble with the law in high school, joined the Marines for four year, then worked for his brother-in-law before deciding to give school and college football another try – good story.

Ohio State was hoping its game against Ohio University (a 45 point favorite) would serve as a tune-up for next week’s Armageddon visit to USC. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, without its trigger All-American tailback Beanie Wells, the 26-14 victory, changed from a simple tune-up into a major transmission repair. OSU needs two things for next week: a healthy Wells and coach Tressel must get his freshman sensation quarterback Terrelle Pryor involved in the game, just like Florida did with Tim Tebow and Chris Leak two years ago, when the Gators won the national championship.

Rich Rodriguez and his Michigan Wolverines, like Diogenes, continue to search for an offense. Coach Rod continues to alternate at quarterback, between Steve Threet and Nick Sheridan. So far, in Ann Arbor, it hasn’t been pretty for the $4 million dollar man.

The day’s two most exciting games:

Wake Forest’s 30-28 last second victory against a resurgent Mississippi Rebels team. It had six lead changes, and featured a pair of quality QB’s in Wake’s Riley Skinner and Mississippi’s Jevan Snead. It was won by one of the two best field goal kickers in the nation, when Sam Swank calmly “swanked” a 41 yard field goal with two seconds remaining.

The other was also the most controversial, involving BYU at Washington. Tyrone Willingham desperately needed this win, but it wasn’t to be. His stellar quarterback and team leader Jake Locker scrambled and tumbled into the end zone with three seconds left to bring the Huskies an extra point away from overtime. Unfortunately for Washington, in his exuberance, Locker, threw the ball into the air, and with the newly minted college rules against any type of celebration, UW was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. So the chip shot extra point became a 35 yard field goal. You guessed it- blocked – and BYU escaped with the victory – while the clock is ticking louder for Willingham.

Heisman watch: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel 16 for 17 – 3 TD’s, making him 42 of 62 6TD’s – 1 INT for the season.

When is a blowout a good thing? Answer, when you’re Oregon State. The Beavers traveled across the country to play Penn State and were crushed 45-14. But fear not, OSU took some solace on their return flight, as they pocketed a $1 million dollar payday for its troubles.

Up in Syracuse the win total remains at 7, two games into coach Robinson’s fourth season – the ‘Cuse D has surrounded a total of 72 points, and the faithful can’t wait for basketball season to commence.

That’s it from cyber space: we’ll be up and running Wednesday with the breakdown of week three. Peace. PK.