September 30, 2007
Neither Texas nor OU is going to win a title this year, and in some ways that makes this game all the more interesting. Texas has won two straight, OU sucks. Some are beginning to question Mack again, Bob Stoops had to forfeit an entire seasons wins because he is a lying/cheating bastard. Colt McCoy needs to rebound from by far the worst game of his career, Sam Bradford allegedly likes to kick puppies and considers Mike Vick to be a personal hero.
So, for the remainder of the week, don't worry about the football aspect of a 4-1 Texas team playing a 4-1 OU team. Otherwise you'll lose sight of the fact that our football team may not be very good, but Oklahoma still sucks.
September 29, 2007
Colt can clearly drive the bus, and John Chiles is nowhere near Colt's level right now. One could make a convincing case that 2003 was thrown away in order to benefit 2004 and 2005. Texas clearly has tremendous talent along the OL, linebacker corps and secondary, but for the most part older and less talented vets occupy those positions. A slightly different but somewhat similar situation could be developing for McCoy and Chiles.
Colt was pretty surreal in victories in 2006 over Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Nebraska. He lacks Chris Simms' arm strength but has the charm and intangible assets that makes Simms a target of Micah Hart's ire. He beat Oklahoma in his first Red River Shootout, a feat that neither Simms (duh) nor VY achieved. All of which makes this conversation so difficult.
Either way, the way we see it, a quarterback controversy is on the horizon. Colt is not just keeping the seat warm like Chance Mock did in 2003. Colt McCoy and John Chiles will be at the University of Texas together for the next three seasons. Colt will be the man this week against Oklahoma, but, thinking long term, for how long will that continue to be the case?
It is the new elephant in the room.
As though the mind numbing margin of defeat weren't punishment enough for us, as Oklahoma racked up big play after big play on the Texas defense, one of our dates kept repeating "it's okay guys, it's okay!"
But, you know what?
She was right.
It is okay.
- Oklahoma lost.
- We could be seeing the beginning of the John Chiles era, although we feel 100% that Colt is still the man.
- Vince. Young.
- Tulane led LSU for just over a minute in the second quarter. It really was a beautiful moment for one of us.
- Boston Red Sox: 2007 AL East champions.
- It could still be the offseason.
- We get the shock of losing our first game of the year now instead of next week. Should make next week go down easier, no?
- Notre Dame is 0-5, that's always awesome.
- One of us got the LSAT out of the way this morning, hopefully he did "Georgetown good."
- At least Oklahoma lost.
September 28, 2007
September 27, 2007
My 11th Birthday was not a good one. Why should you care? Well... you shouldn't. But if you're going to read the rest of this, it's relevant. When I turned 11, a few good things happened. I got a bicycle - diamondback outlook. Very nice. I think a girl at school kissed me on the cheek - that was the most action I'd get for awhile. The problem is, on that particular weekend, a fellow named Kordell Stewart decided to heave a ball 75 yards into the south end zone at Michigan stadium, off the hands of a couple over-eager young men in maize and blue uniforms, and into the waiting hands of Michael Westbrook, whom, we were disappointed to discover, was clad in a different hue.
The shocked hush at Michigan Stadium that followed was not the first to grace the corner of Stadium and Main in Ann Arbor. But for me, at least, it marked a significant turning point in terms of the way I interacted with sports. As I realized that we had just lost a game in a way that it is scarcely possible to lose a game, my reaction was... not a shocked hush. It was a shocked string of profanities that my parents were probably surprised I knew. And then the waterworks. Think losing team in the little league world series waterworks. Simply put, I cried like a little b... a little boy. And while I was probably a bit too old to be crying at the result of a football game, (I think the only other time I cried in the 7-11 age range is when Optimus Prime died in transformers. Damn that was devastating) I can't really blame myself. Like those LLWS kids, something I had invested a lot of myself in had just turned into a f---ing train wreck.
There was, however a key difference between those kids and me: I had no input, no control whatsoever over the events that had unfolded. For me, like billions of others around the world, my happiness, sanity, and psychological well-being depended, as it does to some extent continue to depend, on an outcome that I had no ability to effect. Does this make it less painful when things go awry, or more so?
I saw a hush just like the Colorado hail mary hit Michigan Stadium on September 1 of this year. The inconceivable had happened. A division 1-AA school (I will not say FCS) had come into Ann Arbor and trashed the national championship dreams of a senior-laden Michigan team, tabbed by most to win the suckier-than-ever-before Big Ten and send the coach out on top in what many believe to be his final season. In a certain sense, a purely football sense, this should not, perhaps, have been as shocking as it seemed. Fast team, spread offense, running quarterback, well coached - it's been well known for at least 10 years that this is how you beat Michigan. But on a conceptual level, as a Michigan fan, it was and remains impossible to accept.
It seems paradoxical that so many invest so much in something so beyond our control. But it's exactly that relationship that can make fandom such an intense, tolling, and desperate experience. What happens on the field is so magnified that it becomes other-worldly. Sure, many of us have played a little ball, know a couple guys on the team, or whatever, but that doesn't mean we understand what it's like to be down there. If we could understand it, if we could participate in it, it would lose much of the mystique. For most of us, the experience of watching a game that we care about is tantamount to surrendering our will to a higher power- one that operates in a world where fundamental tenets are supposed to apply.
If your team of choice happens to be a college football powerhouse, one of those rules is that, win or lose, the team isn't supposed to lose "it." Losing that game in 1994 was brutal, but it was not a fall that transcended any significant boundaries. Michigan had just beaten Notre Dame the week before, back when that was an accomplishment, and was, like this year's team, ranked in the top 5, and poised for a title run. That didn't happen, but the order of the universe nevertheless remained intact.
Such was not the case earlier this month. The God damn plane had crashed into the God damn mountain. This was the Titanic. This was the Hindenburg.
Obviously, watching that game, I reacted somewhat differently than my 11-year-old self. When I was little, growing up in Ann Arbor, I literally worshipped these guys. When I was 7, I was at some fan appreciation thing, when Desmond Howard threw me a football, and I somehow managed to catch it. When he said "nice grab," I nearly soiled myself. I dunno, maybe I did. Even in high school, I used to walk by the players practicing on the way to school. It still seemed larger than life. I just turned 24, (and no, Abram did not call me on my birthday) and I haven't lived in Ann Arbor for 6 years, so I obviously view things a bit differently. Some of these kids are only 3/4 of my age. I know full well that when I was 18 that I didn't know jack, and i can't imagine it's different for many of these guys. I have to think, as the years pass, it will seem more and more ludicrous to follow the exploits of athletes that get younger and younger than I am. I'm not going to be these guys.
So no, I'm not going to cry when my team loses a football game. I can also, mercifully, drink alcohol, which as we all know, serves the wonderful purpose of interfering with the brain signals that otherwise allow us to act like functional human beings. And oh, did it serve me well in that regard on Sept. 1. But I have to admit, as the debacle ended, I didn't think of the devastating implications, or the wave of insults followed by anger followed by self pity that would grip the Michigan-verse. I thought of that day in 1994, and wondered, as I have after many a loss, why I care so much about what these college kids are doing. It makes no sense. It's meaningless.
Which is exactly why I'm about to buy a plane ticket to Ann Arbor for the weekend of November 17.
Hey, it's the Ohio State game.
September 25, 2007
Also playing significant minutes in this ballgame was former USC running back and current Tennessee running back LenDale White, who in truth was SC's MVP in that Rose Bowl game. LenDale seems to have put on a few pounds since the 2005 season, but nonetheless ran for a touchdown in this "contest." The extra weight probably helped White last night, because while the Saints defense may not be big, at least they're slow. Of course, Horns fans' lasting memory of LenDale White will always be a warm and fuzzy one (go to the 3 and a half minute mark on the video. Or watch the whole thing.):
Former Longhorns Michael Griffin and Bo Scaife also wore Titans jerseys last night and played well, with TE Scaife catching passes from a familiar quarterback in Young. Finally, the game also had a Louisiana connection with LSU's Kevin Mawae suiting up in the trenches for Tennessee and former Tulane standout Roydell Williams catching a key 18-yard pass from VY on the Titan's early 4th-quarter scoring drive.
"When hungry and thirsty in Tuscaloosa, The Dash recommends eating and drinking somewhere else -- the town is just not big enough to properly entertain 100,000 people on a football Saturday. So if you end up in, say, Birmingham, try the ribs at Dreamland (39) and experience gustatory ecstasy. (Dreamland originated in T-town and remains more real there -- but good luck getting in.) Post-barbecue, hit Little Five Points (40) and check out the underrated bar scene."
September 24, 2007
The evening started off enchantingly with ESPN building on last year's theme of hope and destruction with a "depress the hell out of everybody" introduction from New York native Spike Lee. That was followed by an even more depressing monologue from Tony Kornheiser that made us even more depressed and reminded us that the Lower 9th is the only area that got water during Katrina. By that point we were pumped for some football, for about five minutes.
The defense is at least not that much worse than they were a year ago. The offense, however, is an entirely different story. The Saints rely on their offense to keep a below average at best defense off the field. A power running game is supposed to work alongside short, crisp passes to keep the chains moving. First and foremost, Drew Brees can't hit the broadside of a barn, which would be a problem except that Brees rarely has the time to set and throw accurately. Reggie Bush is in a constant black hole of space, unable to be Reggie Bush. Devery Henderson looks like a high school receiver, and Robert Meachem is a ghost. Oh, and the coaching. 4th and 1 throwing deep, reverse flea flickers, atrocious challenges, wasting timeouts, etc.
We blame this. You can't bury the past and then hope to recreate the magic. What comes out of the ground ain't the thing you put in. The Indians knew that. Don't bury your son's body at the Indian Burial Ground! The one that's right up over there, behind the Andersons' bar. Sometimes...dead is better. Sorry, got a little sidetracked.
The now 0-3 Saints gave us one amazing season in 2006. Maybe they can win a few games this season and set up for another run for next year, but probably not. 2006 is but a memory, but what a memory it was. Now we'll go back to doing what Saints fans are used to doing, cheering on a loser. Because the important lesson to take out of this is: win or lose, they're still our New Orleans Saints. And Darren McFadden is going to look REAL good along with Reggie and Deuce.
1) LSU -- We like Frank Okam, but he is no Glenn Dorsey. LSU was clearly the better team in a win that was more lopsided than the final score might indicate, despite the announcers' desperate attempts late in the game to declare that South Carolina had "made a statement" that they could "play with LSU." Right.
1A) USC -- The Trojans may have a more difficult schedule than in other Pac-10 years. We like what we see from Washington, Cal and Oregon--though the Huskies need to get back on track.
3) OU -- The Sooners are thus far untested, like 2003. Texas has not looked super in non-conference, like 2003. Texas has a young and untested CB that may be lined up man-to-man on a more experienced OU reciever, like Cedric Griffin was 2003. We're really hoping we aren't due for a 60-something to 13 loss again.
4) WVU -- The start of the second tier. Teams we think are really good but have had at least one weak moment this season. The Mountaineers are obviously fast and well-coached, and we'll see how that defense does on the road at South Florida this weekend. That preseason pick of the Bulls to win the Big East will make us look brilliant if they pull off the upset on Saturday. Fortunately for West Virginia, South Florida no lolnger has the ability to sneak up on anyone as they have begun to make a national name for themselves.
5) Florida -- The end of the second tier. The Gators struggled at Ole Miss, which was a combination of Florida not playing its best game ever and Ole Miss really showing up strong. Luckily we'll find out where Florida belongs in two weeks when they visit Death Valley.
6) Texas -- The Horns beat Rice, and we reward the Horns. Homerism? Of course, as always. But they finally did what they were supposed to do against a lesser opponent. Texas could jump a few more spots with impressive wins in the next two weeks. Or it could go the other way. But it's clear that the tone for the rest of the season will be set this weekend and next.
7) Ohio State -- Call us believers. Maybe not in a title run, but this could be a BCS squad--largely because someone from the Big Ten has to be.
8) Cal -- Probably should be ahead of Texas. The Bears will get their big test next week at Oregon. A win there would clearly place Cal in position as the best chance that "The Field" of the Pac-10 has to take down the monster.
9) EMPTY -- Whom to put here? Wisconsin? Struggled with Iowa. Oregon? Struggled with Stanford. Boston College? Struggled with Army (Go Navy!). Clemson? They seem to be awfully good, but boy the ACC is bad. We'll wimp out and leave this spot blank for the week.
10) Kentucky -- Two tough victories over two pretty good teams...though Louisville just lost at home to a 37 point underdog. And the Arkansas win was the piggies' second loss in a row. Regardless, reasserting themselves as the best team in Kentucky was an emotional game, and to refocus after that and beat a fired-up Arkansas team on the road is impressive. They may not stay here for long but it's fun to believe. (side note: over-under on the percentage chance that Houston Nutt finishes the season in Fayetteville?)
September 23, 2007
“I’m not worried about the fact that he can’t play football,” said running back Deuce McAllister. “We don’t need another person to run, catch, and tackle. We need someone who can show us how to be unselfish, overcome adversity, and compensate for our lack of talent with sheer guts and determination. Just talking about the guy is making me feel gritty. I want to go lay down a bunt. I want to make a diving catch. I want to hit a bunch of foul balls! Dammit, why did God have to make me so strong and talented? I hate myself. I have no heart. Only tiny little white guys with below average talent have hearts.”
September 22, 2007
- Appy State lost to Wofford. That should close that argument.
- Cross Florida off the untested list. Only USC, LSU and OU have shown thus far to be a cut above the rest. The great thing about college football, however, is that Florida and Texas both get their shots on October 6th to replace LSU and OU atop the national standings.
- Notre Dame is 0-4, and that makes us really happy.
- LSU has, statistically, the worst red zone defense in the country; think about that one for a minute.
- Arkie St gave Tennessee a scare and UCF blew out Memphis. See what Texas playing crappy the first three weeks has reduced us to?
Our Texas lessons:
- Ryan Bailey, wow. We didn't think he had that in him.
- We know that it was Rice, but Texas needed put a large number on the scoreboard in the worst kind of way. Hopefully Limas found some of his old form, and we really hope this will transfer into next week.
- Speaking of next week, this should be an emotional revenge game for the Horns. Here's to putting up another large number on the scoreboard (just like last year) with KSU putting up a considerably smaller number (unlike last year).
- The best part of this week by far is that Texas found its vertical passing game. Sure, it was Rice, but Texas had been unable to successfully throw down field against Arkie St or UCF either.
- Finally, apparently Texas does have some backups on the roster. John Chiles is fast and elusive, but there probably isn't going to be that much of a role for him in the offense...yet. We knew Vince Young as a redshirt freshman and John Chiles is not yet VY at that stage. That said, we suspect that no matter what happens on October 6th, many Horn fans will decry Greg Davis for not using Chiles as though he is some sort of golden bullet. We REALLY liked that all 11 Longhorns on the field were freshmen or redshirt freshmen on offense for a few series. Hopefully Chiles and Vondrell McGee can get a few touches against KSU.
September 21, 2007
"The exhibition season is over...We'll see what we're made of now."
Awesome. Somebody needs to remind Fran that college football is set up a bit differently from the pro game; there is no preseason college football, even while playing poorly against the likes of Fresno State and Miami.
September 18, 2007
1a) USC -- The resume argument that kept SC a little further down last week no longer holds water. Nebraska is not a great team, but it's also never an easy place to win. Southern Cal won, and won with ease. This is, once again, a football-game-winning machine.
3) OU -- Probably should be 1b, but it's our blog and ou still sucks. QB Sam Bradford is absolutely sick for a freshman, and Texas is legitimately the only team on the sooners' schedule that will be a single-digit underdog--and even that is now in doubt. We're afraid.
4) Florida -- The Gators could be team 1c here; there's just no way of telling these 4 squads apart. Luckily for LSU, they get to play Florida in Baton Rouge this year. Unfortunately for both teams, the winner of that matchup will likely have to beat the other one again in Atlanta in December. It won't be easy for either one to beat the other twice, and that could be the undoing of the SEC's chances of a berth in the BCS Championship. But it's awfully early for that kind of speculation.
5) West Virginia -- Speed kills, and in this case, speed on offense makes up for an above-average but not super defense. The Mountaineers are really fast.
6) Cal -- It became clear in Utah that UCLA will not, after all, be a legitimate threat in the Pac-10. That leaves Cal once again as the most legitimate threat to the Trojans in the conference. Jeff Tedford continues to be a top-notch gameday coach and RB Justin Forsett is very talented. This week's game against Arizona will be a beatdown of a head coach named Stoops--which is always fun.
7) Ohio State -- They won a championship playing like this--i.e., pulling games out without looking so hot in the process. Last week's win showed two things: Washington is probably still year away from returning to national relevance, and Ohio State can still step up and play a very impressive ballgame.
8) Texas -- Looked awfully shaky this week. Texas has a lot of issues to work out before the October 6 One Game Season, and the more players keep getting arrested the less likely it is that the Horns will succeed in doing that. This season does not have the same positive vibe surrounding the program to which we have grown accustomed, and Texas probably won't be on this list come October 7th. But, again, it's our blog. And of course, pulling out a win in Dallas would fix that vibe in a hurry.
9) Penn State -- Could be higher, but that Notre Dame win doesn't look all that impressive right now. The Lions are in a tough situation this weekend, because if they win at Michigan all it means is that they beat the Wolverines in a year when everyone is beating them. If they lose, they lost to Michigan in a year when everyone is beating them, which is even worse. Appalachian State essentially robbed Penn State fans of any joy that may come from breaking the 8-year losing streak vs UM.
10) Rutgers -- Look, they're good, ok?! One of us has family in Jersey, screw you for judging us.
September 17, 2007
What is your early-season opinion of West Virginia?
Abram: I honestly don't know what to think. Obviously, Slaton has a lot of speed and ability. Freshman Noel Devine looked superb against Maryland and he will likely be a special back in the next couple of years as well. And Pat White is a smart quarterback who is fun to watch. I guess my problem is, it's tough to really know how good the Mountaineers are because they literally don't play a single team that I believe is a legit Top Ten squad. Rutgers, Louisville, and South Florida, you say? Please. USF may be the best team among those three. UL has no defense at all and Rutgers is just as unproven as WVU. The fact remains that this team was unimpressive against Marshall and I just don't think they could stay on the field with the likes of LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Florida--and possibly even Texas--in a big game. Therein lies my main issue with West Virginia: I would hate to see them undefeated and playing for the national championship over any of those other teams should they have one loss. A no-loss Mountaineers team would be, in my opinion, the best argument yet for a playoff system. They deserve a shot, but ought to have to prove they belong before just being handed a spot in the championship game.
Jeff: Why are we trying to create controversy after week three? Usually these things work themselves out. Plus, wasn't a no-loss Auburn a good case for a playoff? I'm not sure I'd take West Virginia to go undefeated this season, but they are the team that I would HATE to see in a bowl game. Between Pat White, Steve Slaton and now Noel Devine, this team has more offensive speed than any team in the country. Steve Slaton is my early favorite for Heisman, and they present match up problems for just about every team in the country. If the Mountaineers are turning it over or the offense is out of rhythm, they may drop a game or two this season. If they go undefeated they'll have a good shot at winning a championship.
How would Appalachian State fare in D-I?
Abram: I honestly believe that Notre Dame is the worst of the 3 teams Michigan has played thus far. In 10 meetings, Appy State beats ND 6 or 7 times. Yes, they are I-AA. Yes, they have fewer scholarship players. But these guys are fast! Did you see any of the highlights of the Michigan game? Michigan's secondary couldn't catch ASU skill players with 1- and 2-yard head starts. That likely speaks also to how slow Michigan is, BUT: Notre Dame is equally slow, if not more so. I think Appy State would finish no worse than the middle of the pack in most BCS conferences, and would win several non-BCS I-A conferences. This is a better team than, say, Arkansas State.
Jeff: No, Appy State is still Appy State. They may be better than two-thirds of D-I teams, but according to the power rankings list that I checked, that makes them equal with...Central Florida. Hmmm...I may need to go back to the tape and take a look at them again. I'd say New Orleans Bowl contender in I-A
How do you feel about the Transformers Movie?
Abram: The Transformers Movie is a movie about a cube, from outer space, that can turn any device into a Transformer. One of the main characters is a truck named Optimus Prime. This is a movie with such an insanely ridiculous premise that it simply doesn't matter whether the military component of the plot has any semblance of accuracy.
Jeff: We are just going to have to agree to...agree. What a crappy movie. Not only did the Transformers plot line make zero sense, the American response makes no sense. The V-22 Osprey blows up in the beginning of the movie, which is just about the only realistic thing in the whole damn thing. The acting was awful, and the Transformers were nothing like I'd imagined in my dreams. I saw a bit less believable version of Transformers when I thought about this film, and that is not was I got.
September 15, 2007
- You don't just walk into Bright House Networks Stadium and come away with an easy win. As a matter of fact, UCF has NEVER lost in BHN Stadium before today! The facts clearly and unambigously show that it's a tough place to play.
- We haven't played Oklahoma yet. Take advantage of every week where we don't play them.
- Texas was without Limas Sweed. Just keep saying that until it makes you feel better.
- UCF is D-I, and D-I teams are tough.
- You got 4 hours of Texas football, we'd have killed for that much football a month ago.
- Texas didn't catch a single break until late in the 4th quarter. Not one. We reviewed the game film, Texas didn't catch a break. One break would have made this a blowout.
- We play in the Big XII, we don't have to play more than one really elite team.
- Any day that you get 4 hours to look at Jeannine Edwards on the sideline must be a good day.
- Ohio State won a national championship in 2002 playing like this.
- Boston 10, New York 1.
- Remember on January 5, 2005 when you said you'd gladly lose to UCF as payment for 41-38? Well...TADA...You may still owe Rumpelstiltskin at some point, we're looking into that.
- We could be cheering for Notre Dame.
- Remember, Colt McCoy is still young. He's going to continue growing up and should be a better quarterback by the end of the year than he is now.
- Finally, just watch this and go about spinning that straw into gold:
September 14, 2007
September 12, 2007
September 11, 2007
1) LSU- While the Tigers' defense remains one of the most entertaining units in the country to watch with an awesome combination of speed, size, and great schemes, the offense was the story against Virginia Tech. The Hokies never had a prayer, as new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton opened up the LSU attack like he was known for doing at BYU and Oregon. Most importantly, the O-Line, which we deemed a question mark last week, opened up lots of holes for the Tigers' RB-by-committee and gave Matt Flynn plenty of time to throw.
T2) Oklahoma- This is a team that doesn't look to have many flaws. They took Miami behind the woodshed on Saturday in what was supposed to be ou's first real test. Granted, Miami is not what it used to be--but true freshman QB Sam Bradford has been mighty impressive in his first two collegiate starts and does not seem to be easily rattled. Texas will have to put some serious pressure on him in October to win that one.
T2) USC- It is quite likely that after their trip to Lincoln on Saturday, Southern Cal will move back into at least a tie for the top spot here. But for now, all SC has done is beat Idaho one week and watch a bunch of games on TV the next, so we don;t know much about them yet.
4) Florida- The defending national champions have looked sharp in two tune-up games, and QB Tim Tebow is showing why he was so highly sought-after as a high school senior. The Gators play Tennessee this weekend, which will teach us at least a little bit more about what kind of team they are--although it certainly appears to be a down year for the Volunteers.
5) Texas- Against TCU, the Longhorns looked in the first half like they'd end up off this list completely. But in the second half, the burnt orange finally started clicking the way we'd all been waiting to see since the Kansas State game last year. We loved the way the defense looked, especially the aggressive style employed by the coaches. As mentioned above, that attacking style will be vital in the Horns' quest to win the one-game season in October. But what really made us breathe a sigh of relief was Colt McCoy's apparent return to top form in the third quarter. The offensive line played its best half yet, although the loss of Adam Ulatoski for (insert amount of time unknown to anyone outside the program here) could be a problem.
6) West Virginia- You can officially call us skeptical about the Mountaineers after their lackluster performance against Marshall. It is impossible to say whether Marshall legitimately exposed Mountaineer weaknesses--most glaringly in pass coverage and against a scrambling QB--or if this was one of those emotion-driven performances by the Thundering Herd that usually peter out eventually, as this one did. Marshall was hosting its much larger and higher-profile cross-state rival for the first time in many years, so this may be one where you have to credit WVU for not catching the upset bug and move on. We'll learn more Thursday night against Maryland.
7) Wisconsin- We have formed the belief that the winner of the Penn State-Wisconsin game will probably win the atrocious Big Ten by default this year. UW was lucky to escape Vegas with a win over UNLV, and they just haven't shown a whole lot of elite play on either side of the ball. "Then why do you idiots have them in the Top Ten?" you ask. Good question; it's a cautious wait-and-see with the Badgers right now.
8) Cal- The Golden Bears have played two games and shown two different levels of performance. Cal was dominant in Week 1 versus Tennessee, and if that's the way they play the rest of the way then they will be a force to reckon with in the Pac-10. But against a less-than-stellar Colorado State team, they escaped with a 34-28 win last Saturday. There are no questions about the effectiveness of the offense, especially with All-Everything RB DeSean Jackson in the backfield; but the Rams exposed possible weaknesses in the defensive secondary that the top teams in the league (read: USC) will try to exploit.
9) Penn State- The Lions destroyed Notre Dame on Saturday, which is at least somewhat more impressive than shellacking FIU in Week 1. As always, PSU has a sick defense--it has allowed 3 points through 2 games, and those 3 only came as a result of a punt return to the Penn State 7 yard line and an ensuing goal line stand. So the defense has not allowed a scoring drive through two games. For that reason, the Nittany Lions will almost certainly be in a position to win every game they play, if only because they ought to hold any opponent to a manageable point total. But the offense has to show more consistency, and that all comes back to QB Anthony Morelli and his...questionable decision-making.
10) UCLA- Keep an eye on the Bruins. BYU last week was a definite upset alert type of game, and the Gold and Blue responded nicely with a 10-point victory. The Cougars made them sweat a little in the 3rd quarter, but the UCLA "D" stiffened and the offense produced an insurance TD late in the 4th to seal the deal. However, the game does bring up a cause for concern: BYU had 23 first downs and 435 total yards to UCLA's 15 and 236, respectively. The big stat in helping to determine the game's outcome was a 3-1 turnover advantage for the Bruins. UCLA will have to move the ball against much better defenses than BYU's if they want to make any noise this season.
September 9, 2007
- For the first two weeks, LSU and Oklahoma have been head and shoulders above everybody else. We are happy about the former and decidedly unhappy about the latter. We are currently conducting research as to how it is possible that the Sooners can play this good and yet the fact remains that ou sucks. We are using our college experience from 2002-2004 as a basis for our research. The Horns and Sooners look good, Aggy looks bad...all seems right in the Big XII.
- LSU could be the best team in America. Virginia Tech has a really good defense and the Tigers hung 597 yards on them. And that LSU "D" looks pretty scary as well. Whether that offense remains successful in the SEC will make or break the Tigers' season.
- There's something wrong with the water in the Midwest. For all our Southern homerism, we recognize that it's unusual for the entire Big Ten plus Notre Dame to be so thoroughly unimpressive (with the possible exception of Penn State; the jury is still out). Ohio State was not great against Akron. Wisconsin struggled with UNLV. And with Michigan and Notre Dame both entering next week's contest 0-2, with 4 bad losses between them, we can only scratch our heads and wonder, "how?" Not so much for ND, whom we expected to be no good. But Michigan? This is weird.
- The Washington Huskies have been lights out through two weeks, ending Boise State's 14 game win streak in impressive fashion. If the Huskies can take two of three from Ohio St, UCLA and USC (their next three games), it would be a huge step for Ty Willingham's program.
Our Texas Lessons:
- Huge props to the coaching staff for making adjustments at halftime. TCU was up 10-0 at the half but really wasn't outplaying Texas. The offense got in a rhythm, getting Colt out of the pocket being especially effective, the defense continued to dominate, and the better team won.
- The offense benefits from involving Chris Ogbannaya and Vondrell McGee. Both backup RBs provide a different look from that of Jamaal Charles, give JC a chance to rest and can inject some energy into the offense. In the third quarter, for example, Ogbannaya had a routine 3-yard run. But it took 7 TCU defenders to stop him, and they never did get him on the ground--they just stopped his forward progress. The way Ogbannaya celebrated this feat, you'd have thought he scored a touchdown. That clearly provided a spark to the offense. McGee may not get a ton of carries this season, but he can make a big contribution as a goal line and short yardage rusher.
- If the Texas team that you saw in the second half is the one that is going to show up for the rest of the season, you can officially color us Optimistic Orange. (Alliteration! Yes!) These guys could be dangerous.
- The O-Line really seemed to jell in this ballgame. They started to give Colt more time in the pocket in the second half, and he began to show the brilliance he displayed so often last year. Some of the credit for the improvement has to go to the coaches, who clearly adjusted the blocking scheme at halftime. That's the kind of performance we will need up front from the hog-mollies all season.
- Utica, MS correspondent Scott Price suggested that, since Mack Brown just signed a contract extension through 2017, it's possible that the next Longhorn coach could conceivably be Major Applewhite. He is already the Alabama OC, so it's within the realm of possibility that he'd get a pretty good head coaching job in the next 6-7 years and be deemed ready to take over for Mack in 2018. That would be cool.
- One of us was at DKR this weekend, and has a few observations. For current students, this is not your slightly older sibling's DKR. Godzillatron and the new North End Zone seats could make DKR a unique and much improved football venue. What's more, the Horns regained the swagger that seemed to depart the team in Manhattan last season. Texas has a potential trap game in Orlando next week, followed by Rice and a revenge game against KSU.
- Finally, just because it feels good to laugh again, below is a reason to laugh at Aggies, who are apparently having trouble selling out but still want to bring the noise in overtime.
Still Saturday, September 8
12:43 pm: It's a good thing I packed my Colin Cowherd koozie this morning. I vow to drink every beverage that touches my lips with my hands warm and cozy (koozie). Special thanks to the Herd
1:57 pm: I just started watching the WVU and Marshall game. WHY IS PAM WARD DOING A CRAPPY BIG EAST GAME?! SHE SHOULD BE DOING A CRAPPY BIG 10 GAME...NOOOO!
1:59 pm: I have been informed that the Gopper (a restaurant that made many a delivery to my apartment) was busted this summer for a drug ring. This is crushing news.
2:16 pm: I am now walking up to the stadium to commence tailgating.
2:20 pm: Girl with shirt that says "Notre Dame Sucks....Just ask God" just walked by me. I'd like to congratulate Penn State fans on coming up with very hilarious tees for this weekend.
3:11 pm: I have finally found someone to fill my Colin Cowherd koozie with a beer. Hooray beer!
3:21 pm: Just talked smack to a ND fan. He actually said "at least we went to a BCS bowl" to which I responded, "Yeah, I wish we could have [been embarassed] by LSU with all of America watching." He turned away before I could get in a comment about how that did not bode well for Brady Quinn and his hair gel during the draft.
4:05 pm: Am I seriously drinking a Busch Light?
4:30 pm: I guess when this many people are accessing the two cell towers in State College phones are bound to malfunction. This means that I am waiting at the gate for my friends who actually got tickets and am going to have to find them the old fashioned way. I have about given up when I randomly find a group of girls that I know who are looking for the same group I am. We decide to just go in and being girls we had to immediately use the facilities. We walked out of the restroom and lo and behold, there are our friends! SO COOL! (been tailgating awhile)
5:08 pm: Getting to our seats was absolutely insane. I can't believe how rowdy these people are and how loud it is just walking in. The kids behind me just offered me some ice out of a bag. What?
5:09 pm: I realize we are a hilarious distance from the actual field of play...but who cares?! IT'S NOTRE DAME!!!!!! Also we have a lot of sitting to do before the game starts. I am getting really nervous. We can't lose to this team. They are very bad. I hate realizing that there's a chance that could happen. It's awful.
6:02 pm: KICKOFF!!! It is NUTS in here!! Starting before kickoff...since about when the band came, I've been smiling uncontrollably. It's a little silly. I can't put into words how much I love college football AND Penn State AND JoePa AND seeing an entire stadium of people in white. It was...wow.
1. To the girl sitting in front of me: You're wearing a fanny pack. And I know you think it's okay because it says Gucci on it but what you're failing to see is that it's still a fanny pack. A really expensive one, but you still look like an idiot. Also that boy you keep flirting with thinks you're annoying.
2. The first series had me concerned. Charlie Weis the offensive genius had The Emu just throwing these pansy dump passes right next to the line of scrimmage. We let it work for a bit then hunkered down and the defense looked incredible. I think The Emu's longest completion was 7 yards.
3. Okay. We need to talk about the offense. Now I know we're not going to win a national championship...hell, we may not even win the Big 10 (and what a dubious distinction that would be!) but there are some things I need to get off my chest. Every game we win this season will be in spite of Anthony Morelli. He is not even serviceable. He's bad. He has no touch on the ball. He makes terrible decisions and I think I am more effective reading defenses. The worst part of this is that Penn State has been able to do very well when the quarterback is average...or worse. Think back to the Miami camo game. Remember that guy's name? I seriously doubt it. BUT what that team did have was a good o-line and a good running game (and a national championship). This team has neither. I started to get excited that the running game got going later in the game until I came to a horrible realization. NOTRE DAME'S DEFENSE IS TERRIBLE! Not to mention the fact that the offensive juggernaut which Charlie Weis the offensive genius has put together was going 3 and out every time they were on the field. This was a very crappy, very tired defense. All of a sudden we're creating holes, Austin Scott doesn't look like he misses practice to smoke weed- this is awesome! And then it hit me- this is a very very bad no good terrible just go eat worms Notre Dame defense. Color me nervous for the rest of the season.
4. The stadium looked AMAZING. The only people not wearing white were the green Irish types. And even some of those fools had on white. Good job, jerks.
5. This was the first game of my last season in the student section. NOOOO! But as I sit here with tired legs and swollen ankles like some kind of old lady I am kind of relieved. Standing and yelling for 3 hours is exhausting. But...I would do it over and over again if I could.
September 8, 2007
Good Morning Happy Valley and the world beyond! It's 11:14 EST and it's still pretty quiet outside. My roommates were all asleep when I woke up, one of them passed out on top of her bed in what I am assuming is the attire she donned for a "rubics cube" party last night. Everyone wears different colors on a rubics cube and throughout the night trade clothes till you're all one color. She didn't make it. Orange shirt, red silk boxers, and tie-dyed blue tube socks. Hot.*
Here is something for you to ponder as you roll out of bed, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and watch bleary images of Lee Corso screaming, "not so fast, my friend" this morning: why does Jimmy Clausen look so much like an emu (see below)? Oh-and a tool, I forgot that part.
I'm venturing downtown soon and then tailgating...it's gameday, bitches!
Also...chance of thunderstorms today...could the Whiteout scheduled turn into a wet t-shirt contest? Could the usual crazy drunk mob scene turn even crazier and mobbier and drunker and see-through?? We can only hope...
GO STATE! BEAT THE IRISH!
*I could have this Rubics Cube Party thing backwards; it's possible that she wore an outfit all the same color and her goal was to end up with different colors on. If so, mazel tov!
Jimmy the Tool/Emu and an actual Emu. Cousins?
September 7, 2007
5:21 PM: A local radio DJ has mentioned a rumor that Regis Philbin is in State College. Warning: if Regis is here, I'm going to pee. He IS a huge Notre Dame fan, and we ARE only about 5 hours from New York City...it's possible!
5:22 PM: In an effort to hear what's happening at Paternoville (the tent city outside the student entrance gate of Beaver Stadium), my driver Jen and I turn down the radio. There are easily 200 people in at least 100 tents. Many of the students are standing by the road holding signs imploring motorists to honk; if they do not oblige, they are loudly booed. I am giggling.
5:25 PM: Lion spotting! The Nittany Lion is at the Men's Soccer game. We also just heard the Blue Band practicing. This is awesome.
8ish PM: We Are...UNDERWAY! People are going crazy and rec hall is superpacked. It's also about 100 degrees. For some reason Rally in the Valley is in the smallest and hottest venue on campus. Go figure.
8:07 PM: There's been a contest going on this week for "Penn State's Ultimate Fan" and the emcee just introduced him. He ran out trying to get the crowd excited like a real athlete would and the crowd booed him. Mean, but funny. He looks like a tool anyway. (I'm kind of a jerk when I'm hot. I mean temperature hot.)
8:11 PM: I really like Blue Sapphire, the twirler. Aside from having a hilarious name she just jumps around and twirls around and everyone cheers for her. I think she is living out every little girl's dream. Plus, during the Ohio State game my sophomore year she twirled 3 flaming batons. It changed my life.
8:15 PM: Where the hell is the football team plus JoePa? I can hear people complaining about this all around me. The Blue Band is cute until you realize that you're hot and packed in like sardines.
8:20 PM: A boy with a megaphone (so not okay) is trying to get everyone to scream wildly when he says "how is everybody doing tonight?" We're hot and pissy, thanks for asking! WHERE IS THE FOOTBALL TEAM? Here comes the Lion which is funnish because everyone starts chanting, "we want the lion!" and eventually he'll do some pretty intense one-armed pushups
8:21 PM: Prancing
8:22 PM: Skipping
8:23 PM: One-Armed Pushups!!
8:24 PM: This person has got to be HOT (hot hot).
8:25 PM: Steve Jones, the voice of the Nittany Lions! Apparently he didn't get the memo that it's only okay to look tacky if you're a Notre Dame fan. The white sport coat was a poor choice. I know it's a whiteout tomorrow but yikes.
8:26 PM: FOOTBALL TEAM! finally! The crowd awakens from their heat-induced coma and appears to be legitimately excited for the first time since the very beginning of the pep rally.
8:28 PM: JOE PATERNO! I totally got goosebumps when JoePa started talking. I love this man. When he got up the place went berserk. It was awesome. After everyone finally settled down he started talking. I had all intentions of documenting everything he said but i was totally in awe and unable to retain any of it. (Yes!). He did reaffirm why he is the classiest man in sports. He kept mentioning what a fine institution ND is and what a rich tradition they have and he also asked that we cheer on our own team and not boo theirs. Here are some highlights of what I remember.
- "I don't want us to boo the other team. But...ya know...if their quarterback is calling a play and you all want to get loud, that's fine."
- "Ya know, we had some...shenanigans...that happened off the field" (really, shenanigans? oh...you mean when we all thought that the entire starting defense was going to jail...don't we feel silly) "Let me tell a little story. When we...well, we--I mean, it really wasn't a unanimous decision--decided to clean out the stadium..."(crowd goes crazy--there are currently shirts on sale downtown that feature a garbage truck with a silouette of a football player riding on the back and say "big joe's cleaning service" on the back, and "keeping the beaver clean" on the front. Also, the "little" story he wanted to tell didn't make much sense but we all cheered a lot).
- JoePa rambled and we ate it up. He ended with this...a truly Joe Paterno moment. "Well. There's two ways to do things." (Takes off jacket, crowd goes crazy. I don't know what we thought he would do but we were excited about it) Then He turned around, motioned to the football team, and they all just left the building. So weird. So very JoePa.
I am very excited about tomorrow. JoePa said we were going to make it a very special night in Penn State football history and I believe Him. Ooh! Cool shirt sighting: someone had a shirt on that said, "They have Jesus. We have JoePa."
WE ARE! (now is when you scream at your computer, "PENN STATE!")
Author’s disclaimer: I know that I am not Bill Simmons, running diarist extraordinaire. I am comfortable knowing that my attempt at recording witty observations with a timestamp will only pale in comparison to his ability to make the mundane seem hilarious. Despite this, I hope that you all enjoy this attempt at chronicling what I predict will be the most emu-y and fat-joke filled weekend of my last semester at Dear Old State.
Friday, September 7
12:00 Noon: I have just stopped by The Hub on Campus, where ESPN radio is broadcasting Colin Cowherd's "The Herd" show live this morning. The crowd is very different from the screaming and yelling you get when College Gameday is on campus--this group seemed significantly interested in what Cowherd and Todd Blackledge had to say, which is in stark contrast to the Gameday crowd which would rather hold up signs that say "AJ Hawk Plays with My Little Ponies!" than listen to Lee Corso. Which makes sense, because really, Lee Corso? I'm bummed we didn't get Gameday this week, but at least I got a sweet Colin Cowherd koozie! Wooo! Also I just saw a girl wearing a shirt that says "Feed the Christians to the Lions." Point to Ponder: Is it ok for me to wear this shirt as a State fan? Or is it not ok to wear it because I'm Jewish? Which religion should I choose to affiliate with this weekend, Judaism or Paternoism?2:00 PM: I have purchased my "Rudy Was Offsides!" t-shirt for tomorrow's game!
2:31 PM: I love fall Fridays 'cause there are already drunk alumni and an old lady with a sign around her neck that says "I need tickets."
2:40 PM: I have begun "fliering" as part of my duties as a member of the PR Committee of the Blue & White Society, which is the student chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. We're trying to inform people about tonight's "Rally in the Valley." Shockingly, people are just as brisk and rude in dealing with you as you would expect them to be when you are trying to force an unwanted piece of paper in their faces.
Trends I noticed from the Fliering Experience:
- There are so many people wearing Texas shirts that they couldn't possibly all really be Texas fans. As a born-and-bred Texan, this offends me. I'm not OK with people wearing Longhorn gear just because they've been successful in recent years.
- Men who were visibly from Philly or Jersey (i.e. wearing a shirt of a team from that area) all had earrings. Every last one. Some even had both ears pierced, and unless you're Michael Jordan that's not OK.
- Generally, Notre Dame fans seem to be terrible dressers. There were tons of these people in The Hub, which is weird. But the women, honestly, were the tackiest-dressed people I have ever seen. My favorite piece of jewelry was a diamond and emerald cross on the same chain as a gold Notre Dame helmet.
- A couple of Notre Dame fans asked me if I was a cheerleader! That's not really a trend, but it was awesome. Especially since Penn State isn't even the Big Ten school known for ugly girls--that would be Michigan. Even so, I recognize that this never would have happened at a school in the South.
September 6, 2007
I was part of that bedlam, and while Vince was calmly soaking in the moment, I was screaming like a rabid banshee, high-fiving and hugging anyone and everyone around me. There were tears. I keep telling people that my sports life peaked on Jan. 4, 2006. It simply cannot be topped.
September 5, 2007
Note: The following bullet points are directed at football-deprived study abroad student Jonny Orlansky, who is in Spain for the semester and thus cannot watch college football or any other major American sport. Everyone is welcome to read them, though.
- The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, largely using smoke and mirrors, are somehow still very much in the thick of the NL Central race. Scott Rolen is out for the season. Juan Encarnacion is out for the season, and his career might be over because of a freak accident in the on-deck circle. Pitchers Mark Mulder and Mike Maroth return this week, but there's no telling how effective either of them will be. But the good news there is that they should bump Kip Wells and Anthony Reyes--both of whom have been erratic at best, sabotage artists at worst--from the rotation. Meanwhile, The Cubbies have lost a couple to the Dodgers, and now the Cards are but a game back going into Wednesday's games(albeit still in third place, half a game behind Milwaukee). This is going to be awfully interesting down the stretch.
- ESPN College Gameday is reporting from Baton Rouge this weekend. This is the second straight Va Tech game they will have been on-location for. 12-year-old Joshua Posner of Baton Rouge is likely to drag his mother to the LSU Parade Grounds at 9:30 AM for the show, despite an 8:15 PM kickoff.
- Kansas scored a bunch of points against Central Michigan. Central Michigan is really bad. There will be no excuse for the Jayhawks to enter Big XII play with anything less than a 4-0 record, with Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo, and the worst team in D-IA (Florida International) rounding out the pre-conference schedule. Pathetic.
- You wanted App State vs Michigan highlights. Here are App State vs Michigan highlights:
September 4, 2007
1) USC-The defense--yes, the defense--is what makes this team, for now, the number one squad in the country.
2) LSU-Like SC, the Tigers' D makes them stand out above the rest. The offense is solid behind Matt Flynn, but their job is to be just that--solid. Don't turn it over, and take advantage of opportunities that the defense gives you. The O-Line remains a question mark.
3) West Virginia - This team is for real. Legitimately the best offense in the country, which is magnified by the fact that they don't play anybody with a decent defense. However, it's always difficult to avoid a letdown at some point in the season.
4) Wisconsin - They run the ball well, they play solid defense. They may not win a national title but should contend for the Big Ten championship and a berth in Pasadena.
5) Oklahoma - OU still sucks, but they sure looked good destroying an overmatched UNT team. You can officially call us concerned.
6) Florida - The defending champs go here until they prove that they belong higher or lower. They're very much an unknown quantity because of youth, but you know they have the athletes.
7) Michigan - Just Kidding.
7) Cal - Impressive in the win over Tennessee, and could be the biggest challenge all season for USC. That role will certainly not be filled by Notre Dame...
8) Texas - Probably too high for the Horns, but we are homers. TCU will go a long way toward making or breaking this season. Here's hoping for the former.
9) Louisville - Offensively very good. The Cardinals should provide an interesting race with West Virginia for number one in the Big East.
10) Virginia Tech - Sure didn't look good beating East Carolina, but neither did that team two spots up against Ark State. Week two in the Tigers' Den will decide whether or not this is a top ten team.
September 3, 2007
We are of course talking about Arkansas in 2003.
We're not saying, we're just saying...
- If this is an indication of the rest of the season, it's going to be a great 4 months! If you needed to be reminded why college football is the best sports season of all, you got it this week. Michigan's season is over; it is now playing for moral victories (AKA the "Big Ten Championship"). We were shaking following the end of a random game between two teams we don't regularly follow. You don't usually get that feeling watching the last two minutes of a Redskins vs. Jets game.
- Michigan will not win a title this season (duh), but we really like Mike Hart and could see him winning the Heisman. Stat of the week: Michigan is now 0-1 all time versus I-AA teams.
- Sorry to focus on Michigan, but (thankfully) it is the big story of the week. Their fans have been taking it all like champs. We hope we take it as well should we drop the opener to TBA in 2009.
- Va Tech's offense is very likely to get stomped by LSU's defense. We suspect LSU's offense was simply rolling with a vanilla game plan not to give Frank Bemer anything to look at. If that's not the case we could be looking at a 10-7 football game next Saturday. If it is the case, things could get ugly for the Hokies.
- Oklahoma's Sam Bradford looked like Colt McCoy out there. Playing that well in his first game is impressive no matter who the competition is.
- Our pledge (mostly to ourselves) for this football season: We're just going to enjoy it. Texas may win a title (OSU pretty much looked like this for an entire season) or they may finish third in the Big XII (hopefully no worse). We won't attempt to give detailed game analysis as BON has that angle more than covered. Let's just enjoy football season and hope for the best.
Our Texas lessons:
- Jamaal Charles is special. Poor scheming and blocking makes us even more appreciative of a great effort against Arkie St.
- Games that we can't get on TV and are forced to follow via only radio don't turn out well. The last time that happened? KSU last season. Hopefully the Horns will be readily available on TV the rest of the season.
- This team is much different than the one that got burned at the end of last season. You don't see a confused secondary, an offense incapable of establishing any consistent rhythm, poor red zone offense, non-existent linebacker play, etc. Wait a second...
- During the 2005 Rose Bowl one of our buddies decried Mack Brown for the positive attitude he portrayed toward VY after throwing a terrible interception, suggesting he should get mad at Vince, even scold him on the field. Even if Texas has a 6-6 season this year, we will not be that fan calling for Mack to publicly throw a college athlete under the bus in order to light a fire. That's not what got Mack here and he's a better coach for it.
- The TCU game is essential right now. A victory sets everything straight in our world, and a loss...would suck.
September 1, 2007
Yet, it could have been worse. Here's why:
- Most importantly, Texas is 1-0. Regardless of the score, Texas is still undefeated and can still win a title with 10 or so more victories. Moreover, neither of us saw the game, just adding to the list of really ugly games that we just didn't see. This team will go as far as Colt McCoy can take them. Last night he took them to 21 points. He can turn around next Saturday and put up 50 on TCU, and the lesson will be the same. Ths most concerning statistic for us is that Texas lost the time of possession battle. How that happens against Arkansas State is almost unthinkable to us.
- No major injuries that we know of.
- Jamaal Charles showed he can carry a big load, rushing for over 100 yards and getting 27 carries.
- A Red Sox rookie threw a no-hitter and the Cards won big. Any night where that happens can't be a total loss.
- Two words: Appalachian State
Fine! We'll tell you what the title means:
UPDATE: 28-17 App St at the half...hope Arkie St isn't this tough.
UPDATE: 26 seconds left and Appy St up 34-32, for some reason JBrater isn't answering our one-rings.
FINAL UPDATE: FG blocked by Appy St, 34-32 final. We're a tad nervous for Arkie State now...Our question to you, is this the greatest upset in CFB history? If not, name a bigger. Anyhow, make sure to watch out for your depressed Michigan fan friends, they'll probably be posting here.