Sunday, September 20, 2009

College football, Saturday viewing

Friday note on Boise State vs. Fresno State: Boise continues to pick up victories. Can't say for sure if this was poor defense or simply a good job on the road, but either way it's a big WAC win for the Broncos as they stay alive in the chase for a BCS spot that will absolutely not be in the title game (Boise State is ineligible because the pollsters have decided it).

First wave: Northern Illinois at Purdue
Oh my goodness. Just like last season. The offense did nothing, the defense still cannot figure out how the QB is managing that "run" thing, tackling is occasionally suspect, and now special teams have gone to pot (which is saying something considering that they actually scored on a punt return early in the game).

Given the other action of the weekend (see below for some), Toledo looks less impressive and Oregon looks more impressive, so it's possible that this was just a tough matchup, but nevertheless you have to give NIU credit for controlling the game. They ran the ball very well, passed well when they needed to, and shut down Bolden almost completely.

Considering that the Huskies prefer not to throw the ball (they are basically running a throwback offense, think '70s Big Ten), the Notre Dame game is really, really worrisome. If Clausen is healthy he will throw for 400 yards, Floyd or no Floyd. I believe that game is now unwinnable, and I am concerned about the prospects for the Big Ten season. Northwestern is certainly beatable, but I wouldn't be sure about the rest of the games.

Second wave: Utah at Oregon, bits of Michigan State at Notre Dame
My, the Ducks certainly turned things around pretty well. The offense looked decent and the defense was very solid. Given BYU's terrible defense against Florida State, you have to wonder if this season is going to put an end to the non-BCS uprising (which would be a shame; ironically this would be the perfect season to be including non-BCS champions, just so they could point out how unworthy they were). With USC's loss to Washington, the Pac-10 may be interesting after all. Minnesota played well against Cal for a while, but they did let Best score a few times. (Funny how ESPN reported in their little snippet that Best scored all of the Bears' points. Really? I didn't know he kicked too.)

Sparty failed to get the job done in South Bend. Clausen may chuck and cower at the first sign of pressure, but when he has time to throw he does a lot of damage. MSU had a winnable game and did not get the job done either this week or last, they may well regret that at season's end. Dantonio stated that his primary focus was beating Michigan, and he's done that once, but if he can't start picking up these other wins the heat in East Lansing will intensify.

Third wave: bits of Georgia at Arkansas, Kansas State at UCLA, Hawaii at UNLV
Didn't focus too much on the Georgia-Arkansas game thanks to Rock Band, but we did notice scoring. A lot of scoring. Kind of like Eugene Robinson at a Super Bowl scoring. Probably something for Bobby Petrino to work on.

Not sure why Bill Snyder came back to K-State, and it may be that Rick Neuheisel actually has someone to challenge Cal and USC in the Pac-10. I missed the first half, I think, so I really just watched the UCLA defense doing its job. I also missed the end of the UNLV-Hawaii game, which is a shame because it looked pretty exciting. Got to like late-night football.

Other notes:
I know Maryland's AD has been very comfortable with Ralph Friedgen, but after their home loss to Middle Tennessee State, the Terrapins have to be one of the bigger disappointments in I-A football. I can't picture him coaching another season there; on the other hand, he'll last the season and Dan Hawkins may not. Colorado blanked Wyoming, but frankly that isn't going to matter if the Buffaloes don't play tolerably in Big 12 games.

Pete Carroll chokes away another Pac-10 game. Somewhere in the idolatry that is the coverage of the USC program, someone ought to be pointing out how USC is consistently out of the national title picture largely because Carroll can't get his team ready for every single game in the conference. If the Pac-10 had another solid team, USC would probably have been out of the BCS picture half of the seasons Carroll's been there. Granted, this may sound like nitpicking, but I think it's more like the praise John Wooden got for his run at UCLA. Looks great on paper, but perhaps not so much when you consider the quality of opposition (at the time, the tournament was split geographically, so UCLA really only had to knock off one solid team at most to play in the title game while the ACC, SEC, and Big 10 champs all found themselves in the same half of the draw).

Add Al Groh to the list of coaches not likely to return. Losing on the road at Southern Miss shouldn't really hurt that much, but it's the 0-3 start that will likely have Cavaliers fans calling for Groh's firing. It's clear very few college coaches can succeed in the pros: has anyone noticed that not all pro coaches can succeed in college?

Indiana is probably the least impressive 3-0 team in I-A football right now, but Hoosier fans don't care ... sometimes it's better to build confidence by scheduling weaker teams and beating them. Put a light non-conference schedule together with a couple of conference wins and you get yourself a December road trip ... play a tough non-conference schedule and a lot of times you end up 4-8 or 3-9 with people wondering why you're not winning games. Lynch may not be the best coach for the job, but he's getting the job done, and another bowl appearance may get him a contract extension.

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