Monday, September 07, 2009

College football, Saturday viewing

And then September came, and there was football, and it was good. (Back in the old days, the NFL would have started this weekend, but then they realized if they dragged out the season longer, there would be time for more commercials. Wait until they try to squeeze in that 18th game.)

12:00, Minnesota at Syracuse: I watched about three plays, enough to see Greg Paulus not understand that when there are five seconds left on the play clock and you're not calling signals yet, you need a timeout. Then I remembered that I had the Big Ten Network and I switched ...

12:00, Toledo at Purdue: The good news is that the offense isn't bad. Well, the running game isn't bad. Actually, the running game was good against a second-division MAC team. Okay, actually the good news is that we have a kicker who can hit from distance. A school-record 59-yard kick to end the first half, breaking the record he set last year from 53. (Prior to that, the record was 51, first set by a guy in the '50s. That probably doesn't mean much to you, but if you saw how people kicked back then and how it works now, you'd be a lot more impressed.) The bad news is that the defense might still be bad. And the quarterback might still not be that good. (Being more accurate than Curtis Painter means setting the bar low.)

3:30, Western Michigan at Michigan: From one win to another. Suddenly Michigan looks like they did before Lloyd Carr fell asleep in his office and Western looks like they did before the MAC realized they had bowl tie-ins and could actually play for them. Of course there's no guarantee they'll play so well against Notre Dame (oh please please please please), but it's a better start than last season and a much better start than expected.

5:30ish, Stanford at Washington State: The Cougars look as bad this season as they did last season. I didn't catch much of this game, just enough to see Stanford kicking them around. The Apple Cup looks like a consolation prize once again, unless somehow Washington managed to improve from terrible to somewhat bad.

7:00, BYU vs. Oklahoma in Dallas: Didn't see a lot of this game, but enough that I got the impression BYU was hanging with the Sooners. Can't blame Bob Stoops, though. He learned a long time ago that the best one to fold is the first one; play well enough in conference and you can still play for a "title" or in one of those other silly little bowls.

7:30, El Salvador at USA: Missed the start of this match just like last time, but did get to see the Americans score both goals and then hold on for dear life. A big win, and Mexico's win over Costa Rica means that the US has an outside shot at winning the group. Not that they need to, they just need to avoid finishing out of the top three, and a win Wednesday at Trinidad and Tobago would put them a lot closer to a trip to South Africa.

8:00ish, Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta: Switched to this after the World Cup qualifier and saw the Tide keeping VT at bay. Alabama did not hold the Hokies to minus 10 points or whatever some people were thinking, but they did play very well and looked to be off to a good start this season.

9:00ish, Maryland at California: Remember when Ralph Friedgen was a media darling? Me either. I'll give Maryland credit, they've understood that they can't necessarily improve on him. Friedgen won 31 games in his first three seasons in College Park (data courtesy of the College Football Data Warehouse), but has won only 33 in the last five, and based on what I saw Saturday, this is likely to be more like the 5-win seasons he posted a few years ago. And yes, Maryland is no USC, but if you'll notice, the Trojans spend a lot of time playing teams like San Jose State and Washington. California certainly looked like the type of team that could challenge Southern Cal this season in the Pac 10.

Didn't watch much on Sunday (a tiny bit of the tape-delayed Buffalo-UTEP game on CBS College), and then caught Eastern Washington at Minnesota-Duluth tape-delayed on Monday, followed by Rutgers being absolutely smoked at home by Cincinnati (hey Greg Schiano, how does that Michigan job offer look now?) and perhaps Miami-Florida State at night.

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