There are a lot of places to begin after the opening weekend of the college football season which saw a pair of top-5 teams go down in defeat for the first time since Richard Nixon was planning the secret bombings of Cambodia in 1972. (There is a big game tonight, and another one on Labor Day.)
Tuscaloosa, Houston, Madison, West Point, Pittsburgh, College Station, Lincoln, Chestnut Hill, and Lawrence, Kan. to name a few, but we’ll begin up the street a ways in; Amherst, Massachusetts.
The “Fighting Whipple’s,” or dare I say the “Mighty” Minutemen of UMass, considered by all the experts to be the doormat of Division 1, ranked 128 out of 128, ventured down to the Swamp in Gainesville as a 37-point underdog, and on the night that had its field was dedicated; “Steve Spurrier Field,” gave the 25th ranked Gators the fight of its life.
Whipple’s lads led by its spunky r-shirt sophomore QB Ross Comis were only down a field goal, 10-7 entering the fourth quarter, when Florida finally pulled away scoring a pair of unanswered touchdowns.
But UMass showed surprising physicality, and weren’t by any stretch intimidated by the atmosphere or the five star recruits it went up against.
It makes for a potentially very entertaining, and massively important game next week for both teams, when the Minutemen take on its despised rival, the Eagles of Boston College at Gillette Saturday at Noon; it what is billed as the; “Battle of the Bay State.”
Speaking of BC, the Irish Eyes were not smiling on the lads from Chestnut Hill who found another way to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” as it suffered a heart piercing 17-14 last second loss to Georgia Tech in Dublin, Ireland. The loss was made all the worse by GT’s final drive as it converted a 4th and 19 pass play to keep the winning drive alive.
BC has now lost 9-consecutive ACC contests, “Bitterly disappointed,” said its coach Addazio (he seems to say that a lot lately) and the tick, tick, tick you are hearing in the football offices at the Heights is its coach on the clock making next Saturday’s game against UMass a must win for the Eagles.
Fully aware that it is only one game, but Alabama was cobra-like in defense of its national title springing out of the box by hanging an embarrassing “half-a-hundred” (52 to be precise) on the Men of Troy, as the Tide rolled; 52-6.
It was the worst loss by a Trojan team in a half-a-century.
The last occurred when Notre Dame torched USC; 51-0 in 1966, one week after Irish Coach Ara Parseghian was castigated by the national media and college football fans near and far for running out the clock in its (in) famous; 10-10 tie against Michigan State. It ultimately proved to be the right strategy as ND was awarded the national title. But don’t tell that to the late Michigan State coach Duffy Dougherty whose team was also undefeated and tied.
The shellacking was also sweet revenge for the Tide’s offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin who was fired by USC five games into the 2013 season.
The now highly respected coordinator cherry topped the game when he called for a successful 45-yard touchdown bomb with ten minutes left in the game and the Crimson up by 39.
It brought an aggravated palms-up response from Saban, but an eye-gleam to Kiffin, who called only one more pass play the rest of the way.
And as a note to the rest of the college football world; it appears as if Alabama has found its QB, and not a one year wonder, but a true freshman in Jalen Hurts, who looks like he’ll put a lot of “hurts” on a lot of teams for years to come.
In the home of NASA, and unlike Apollo 13, there was no problem in Houston yesterday, as the Cougars went out and manhandled the number three team in the country, the Oklahoma Sooners: 33-23.
The key play of the game occurred when OU missed a long third quarter field goal that Houston returned 109-yards for a backbone-breaking touchdown.
Houston’s starry QB Greg Ward, who could move into the Heisman conversation, torched the helpless OU secondary for over 300-yards and a pair of touchdowns, as the Cougs and its Urban Meyer protégée coach Tom Herman, have muscled its way into the playoff conversation.
And if LSU decides to pull the plug on its embattled coach Les Miles Herman is considered a prime suspect to replace him.
Up at West Point kudos to the Cadets of Army who Friday night traveled to Philadelphia as a two-Touchdown underdog then proceeded to run all over the Owls of Temple piling up 329-yards in an impressive 28-13 victory. It may be the start of something good the Long Grey Line which has been as woeful as Kansas in recent years.
Speaking of Kansas, the last team that our favorite gasbag blowhard Charlie Weis ruined – Sorry Charlie- saw its 15-game losing streak come to an end by smoking the 1AA visitors, the Rams of Rhode Island; 55-6, who at the very least earned a nice game-day check.
To paraphrase “Casey at the Bat,” there is no joy in Baton Rouge, not only because of the biblical flooding, but its football team the Tigers of LSU, which some saw as a playoff contender, had those dreams crushed on the verdant grass of Lambeau Field falling to an inspired bunch of unraked Badgers of Wisconsin: 16-14.
Once again it was the Achilles Heel that has tortured the Death Valley faithful, namely the performance of its erratic QB Brandon that cost the Tigers the victory. It’s amazing that LSU cannot find a QB, but in all honesty that seems to be a problem throughout the SEC landscape.
If you think the clock ticking in the football offices in the Heights is loud, the one in the corridors of Baton Rouge has become ear splitting. As we said earlier: can you say Tom Herman??!!
Big wins for Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies of Texas A&M whose seat is in need of some asbestos cooling, as his Sons of John David Crow knocked of UCLA 31-24 in OT, while Kirby Smart of Georgia won his debut against a tough bunch of NC Tar Heels: 33-24, which saw its star tailback Nick Chubb run for over 200 yards in his return from last season knee injury.
Finally kudos to Mike Riley and the Nebraska Cornhuskers who paid tribute to their former punter Sam Fultz who was killed in a car accident this summer, with a moving gesture that epitomized class.
When Nebraska came out for its first punt of the game, it intentionally lined up with only 10-men on the field.
And when the Cornhusker fans realized what was taking place they rose as one, many with tears streaming down their faces, giving a long standing ovation as Nebraska took a delay of game penalty in honor of their deceased teammate. Very cool Indeed!!!
That’s it from cyber space. We’ll be up and running with our analysis of week 2 Wednesday night. Until then, Peace, and listen to the music. pk
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