Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Belated College Football Roundup

Well this past weekend, everyone got into the swing of things in this new season. Nationally, I think that people who were writing USC off might be rethinking things. They killed Arkansas again. John David Booty might not be Matt Leinart. But he and others will do nicely in keeping the current streak of great seasons intact. In fact, I think they'll go undefeated and play the winner of the Texas/Ohio St. game in the BCS title game.

Speaking of the Horns and Buckeyes, they each did what they had to do. I'm sure both teams were thinking more of their contest this coming weekend in Austin than their opponents last weekend. Last year's game between these two was the best intersectional matchup (along with USC/Notre Dame). Both teams have had to replace quite a bit from last year. But each of these programs are very strong and are probably amongst the best 3 or 4 teams in the country.

In the ACC, Miami and FSU played their annual grudge game last night. Last year, FSU won but I thought Miami was the better team. It looked as if that might be the case again this year. But I don't think so. Both teams have strong defenses. And neither team has a reliable offense. Both teams combined for a ridiculously low rushing total. But the difference was FSU's offense was able to make a couple of clutch 3rd down conversions in the 2nd half. Miami left its best efforts on the field before halftime, and didn't take advantage of an interception deep in FSU territory. I don't believe either team will be a factor in the national championship race. But it was only the first game of the year. Things could come together offensively for the Noles.

Duke lost to Div 1-AA opponent, Richmond, 13-0 at home. I've never seen a Div 1-A opponent get shut out by a AA team. I've seen both them and Wake Forest lost to AA opponents like Appalachian St. many times through the years. But this has got to be a new low.

Virginia was crushed by Pitt. It's going to be a long season for the Cavs I'm afraid. But Clemson did what they were supposed to. And their season may ultimately be decided in the next two weeks vs. Boston College (who struggled to beat Central Michigan) and FSU. I can't wait to see what Virginia Tech has. Overall, I think the ACC will look like it did last year. No real heavyweights at the top. But some quality depth in the middle.

Georgia Tech put up a valiant effort against Notre Dame. The defense played its heart out. But Notre Dame's defense was just as impressive. Tech still isn't getting the ball to Calvin Johnson enough. He had a great first half. But they let the ND double team discourage them from going to him in the second half. He's taller than any guy trying to cover him. At some point, you would think the Tech braintrust would just say "damn it all" and throw towards him anyway. Tech would be a serious contender in the ACC if they had a better QB. But they don't. Still, they'll be tough to handle. If they avoid losing to Duke or NC State, they may end up with 8 or 9 wins.

Besides the game, once again both student sections in the end zones are right on top of the field. And they've been prone through the years to throw trash at referees and the other team's band and players. I'm not sure what the Tech AD is waiting on. They need to move those students to another place or start kicking people out. If not, someone's going to get hurt.

In the SEC, Tennessee came up with the big win over an overated Cal team. Not many are giving the Vols much of a chance to contend this year. But their problems haven't been in terms of talent. They've been between the ears. Ole Fulmer's shenanigans finally caught up with him. But he's taking a different approach this year. And bringing back Cutcliffe as OC is probably the best thing he could've done. Ainge had a rotten year last year. But we saw during his freshman year that he can play. Look out for the Vols. They are playing for pride. And they may be the best team available to take advantage of Florida's ridiculously hard schedule.

Speaking of the Gators, they handled Southern Miss after a sloppy start. SEC teams have run afoul of the Golden Eagles before. But Florida took care of business. They can't afford any slipups with teams like this. Much more difficult games loom mid season.

Auburn and LSU did as they were supposed to do. Auburn's the popular pick to win the SEC. Good pick. The pressure is squarely on them. And I think they represent the SEC's best hope to play in the BCS title game. I think they'll finish 3rd or 4th nationally and will have to settle for the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama overcame Hawaii and their Haka dance in Tuscaloosa. But it was a struggle. UK got killed by Louisville. It wasn't unexpected. But watch the Cards this year. I think they'll beat Miami and I think they get West Virginia at home. They are definitely in the running for the Big East title and a BCS bowl.

Also, Vandy gave Michigan a tussle. The game was only 13-7 late in the 3rd quarter gefore UM pulled away. And Ole Miss won their underated rivalry game with Memphis. But it was close, as that game usually is.

I don't know what to make of South Carolina's win over MSU. Neither team looked great. But like FSU, the Cocks used a couple of big defensive plays in the 4th quarter to get them going. They always bring their A game for Georgia. Even though the Dawgs have more than doubled the Cocks in wins at Williams Brice Stadium, most of the games are extremely close. I don't see any reason to expect anything different this year. Many people will pick this as the upset of the week. But they always do so with this game. I think that helps to motivate Georgia and works against the Cocks. Though their fans don't really see it that way.

A future UGA opponent, Colorado, also lost to a Div 1-AA opponent. No doubt UGA haters will use this against them. But CU 's not that far removed from stomping a national runner up Nebraska team and playing for the Big XII title. No one would've seen this coming. Oh well, at least they're bringing their mascot Ralphie. It will be the Buffalo mascot's first ever trip to a road game. It's quite fitting since CU and UGA have the two best mascots in all of college sports.

The hometown Dawgs did what they were supposed to do. Mikey Henderson had one punt return for a td and should've had two. All 3 QB's that played did some nice things. But you can tell the fans want Stafford, who directed the team well late in the game. I think Joe T is the smart choice for the South Carolina game. The Dawgs rarely win that game with a flashy offense. They win it with defense and a sound running game. Georgia has both going for it. However, if the Cocks can burn the Dawgs with a couple of big plays, they can win this game.

This year is the year to get Georgia. So I would suggest that South Carolina and Tennessee take advantage of it. But nothing is a sure bet.

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