Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

08 Sep 2006

Seventh Day Adventure: Crikey, What a Start!

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Russell: Had to throw my man the Crocodile Hunter a little love. Is it wrong of me to try and hock my kids' Steve Irwin/Wiggles video on eBay? Wait, looks like I wasn't the first one to think of it.

Vinny: Russ, you're a heartless man. I'm not going to stoop to making light of the dead. But at least he died with two eyes.

Russell: Vin, I couldn't help but notice we threw a pair of 6-2 records on the board to open the season, and our double-Edelsteining of USC had no effect on the Trojans, who nonetheless rolled over Arkansas. Could this be the start of something big for SDA?

Vinny: Nah, probably just a fleeting deviation from the mean.

Russell: Is it just me or is the non-conference schedule better than usual this year? There are a number of good matchups this weekend, and September 16 is a cancel-your-plans Saturday, to be sure.

Vinny: It should almost be a national holiday, which reminds me of the marquee above the local adult theater on the Fourth of July: "Come Explode with Us." Ah, San Francisco.

Russell: (Awkward silence).

Penn State (+8) at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Russell: As much as I'd like to punish Notre Dame for its narrow escape from Georgia Tech last week, that game showed me about what I expected from the Irish. They were awful on offense in the first half, but Charlie Weis made some masterful halftime adjustments to better protect Brady Quinn after intermission. The defense was better, but also benefited from Georgia Tech forgetting to throw the ball to Calvin Johnson.

Vinny: Ah yes, that's just Chan Gailey being Chan Gailey. Meanwhile, I still can't get over the fact that Quinn is listed at 6-foot-4 -- he looks like an eight-year-old playing Pop Warner the way his helmet is five sizes too big for his noggin. Quinn and Weis have to be salivating at Penn State's inexperienced defensive line and secondary.

Russell: The biggest change I saw in the Notre Dame offense from last season is that Rhema McKnight appears to have replaced Jeff Samardzija as the go-to receiver. Perhaps that's a result of Samardzija spending his summer pitching in the Cubs' organization.

Vinny: Samardzija will work back into form. And if Quinn has his timing down with both Samardzija and McKnight, and Darius Walker is running strong, that's scary. This offense could be just as good as last year. For Penn State, wideout Derrick Williams seems to have picked up where he left off last season before breaking his arm halfway through the year.

Russell: Penn State needs to follow the blueprint that Georgia Tech laid out. Blitz, blitz, and blitz some more to get Quinn off his rhythm. The Notre Dame offensive line clearly had some protection issues that Paul Posluszny and friends can exploit. Quinn didn't look like a Heisman favorite when he was picking himself up off the turf every play. I think Notre Dame has enough to win this game, but the line is way too high for my taste. I'll take JoePa, his high-waters, and the points over Weis and his size-56s.

Vinny: The cheap shots are plentiful this week. The Anthony Morelli Era got off to a pretty good start last week. But the Lions had a hard time running the ball against Akron -- Tony Hunt had only 36 yards on 14 carries. Ooph. The Irish secondary is back intact, although they were skewered early and often last season. That was just as attributable to their paltry pass rush. Like you, Russ, I think the spread is too much to go with the Irish. And if Morelli holds up in his first road test, this could be a fun game (read: track meet) to watch. Penn State and the points for me.

Clemson (-2.5) at Boston College, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: This is a key game in the ACC Atlantic Division, as Clemson looks for some revenge for last year's home loss to the Eagles. The last time these teams met in Chestnut Hill, Doug Flutie was the quarterback for Boston College. This time, he'll be in the ABC studio, where in Week 1 he proved to be a big upgrade over Aaron Taylor.

Vinny: Speaking of the ABC/ESPN lineup shuffles, why hasn't there been some sort of UN resolution re: Mike Patrick and Paul Maguire assailing college football fans with their sycophantic drooling and inane observations? (As opposed to the dazzling college football acumen displayed in this space every week...) Is this some sort of divide and bludgeon strategy? I liked it better when they were paired together on Sunday night NFL games, so I could avoid them altogether.

Russell: Vin, I want you to read this comment right here. Read it! ESPN seems bound and determined to suck every ounce of joy out of my football-viewing life. But yet I still watch. I think this one could come down the to play of the quarterbacks. Boston College's Matt Ryan is a veteran, and he looked terrific against Central Michigan last week, throwing for 323 yards, three TDs and no interceptions in a 31-24 win. Will Proctor, on the other hand, who is replacing Charlie Whitehurst at Clemson, didn't look all that great despite the Tigers' 54-6 rout of Florida Atlantic. Now he faces an amped-up road crowd in a key conference game. I'm not sure he's ready.

Vinny: There's a lot of talent on this Clemson team, led by senior defensive end Gaines Adams (9.5 sacks in 2005) and stud freshman running back C.J. Spiller. The Tigers' four losses last year were by a combined 14 points. Two of those came in overtime, including the 16-13 loss at home to Boston College. The schedule for Clemson this year isn't kind, with trips to Tallahassee, Winston-Salem and Blacksburg all coming up. At least they avoid Miami.

Russell: The man to watch in this game is Boston College LB/RB Brian Toal. He scored the OT-clinching touchdown in last year's meeting, and had both a rushing TD and an interception against CMU last week. He'll score again this week. Plus, this are the kind of game that Tom O'Brien always seems to win. I'll take Boston College and the points.

Vinny: Ryan's top targets are gone at wide receiver and tight end, and senior Tony Gonzales will have to step up from being the No. 3 receiver last year. There are certainly more intimidating places than the Heights, but Proctor is a bad gamble (I'll be here all week!). The Eagles win outright.

Washington (+16.5) at Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Oklahoma was a chic pick to win the national title before starting QB Rhett Bomar was kicked off the team. But with Paul Thompson under center, it seems nobody gives the Sooners a chance. Funny thing happened in the opener: Thompson played fairly well and Adrian Peterson ran wild (208 yards from scrimmage), but Oklahoma barely survived in a seven-point squeaker over UAB.

Vinny: Thompson has some great young receivers in Malcom Kely, Juaquin Iglesias, and Manuel Johnson. And Thompson found tight end Joe Jon Finley (my new favorite name in college football) seven times, including once for a touchdown, in the opener.

Russell: I can't believe you've turned on BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Washington escaped with a win against San Jose State in its opener last week, but it's hard to say if the Huskies are really making progress in year two under Tyrone Willingham, who apparently has had a bit of an identity crisis recently.

Vinny: That kind of delusion is probably familiar to Notre Dame fans.

Russell: I have to believe Oklahoma will play much better this week, especially on defense. Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback is a talented athlete who will probably make some big plays for both teams, but it'll add up to a three-TD win by the Sooners, who cover the big number.

Vinny: Russ, we're thinking alike this week. Linebacker Scott White and punter Sean Douglas are Washington's most reliable players, and they'll be on the field most of the day. Oklahoma coasts to an easy cover.

Arizona (+14.5) at LSU, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Russell: I don't think LSU received enough credit for what it accomplished last year -- 10 wins and a Peach Bowl destruction of Miami -- despite dealing with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita at the start of the season, all while breaking in a new coach. The Tigers had their first three games rescheduled or moved. I'm sure they're enjoying a Hurricane-free start to 2006.

Vinny: Nice job Russ, if that's not a kibosh, I don't know what is.

Russell: Come on, Vin. It's not like I predicted clear weather for Columbus or South Bend. This is Mike Stoops' third season in Tuscon, and big things are expected following a pair of 3-8 campaigns. He certainly seems to have the family trademark -- defense -- working. Arizona completely shut down BYU in a 16-13 win in their home opener last week.

Vinny: Yep, and brother Mark Stoops -- do these guys grow on trees, or what? -- is the defensive coordinator. Junior cornerback Antoine Cason leads a very good secondary for the Wildcats. The linebacking corps will be solid if it can stay healthy, and the defensive line is expected to improve from last season. LSU has an outstanding secondary as well, including free safety LaRon Landry, who's back on campus after nearly jumping to the NFL.

Russell: LSU has had its way with Pac-10 teams in recent years, and I can't see things changing here. JaMarcus Russell, who had to win back his starting QB job in fall camp, is coming off a huge game. He won't put up monster numbers against a Stoops defense, but I can't see Arizona scoring much at all. LSU covers.

Vinny: This is where we part company, Russ. Arizona struggled offensively in the opener with three redshirt freshmen earning starting jobs on the offensive line. Normally that would spell disaster against LSU, but the Tigers have a young front seven of their own. I think Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama (1,105 yards, nine TDs in five games in 2005) will make this a ballgame. The Wildcats cover.

Georgia (-3) at South Carolina, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Steve Spurrier as a home 'dog. That's gotta tempt you, right Vin? Especially considering the opposing quarterback is Joe Tereshinski III.

Vinny: The Sausage King of Athens does not inspire confidence.

Russell: Tereshinski derailed Georgia's season last year in his only start, a loss to Florida. He won the job this fall, but was an uninspiring 7-of-17 for 90 yards against I-AA directional patsy Western Kentucky last Saturday. He'll face a South Carolina defense that shut out Mississippi State on the road in its opener. Granted, that's the equivalent of allowing 21 points to a real offense, but still worth noting.

Vinny: "Derailed" may be a little harsh, since he did account for Georgia's only touchdown over Florida: a nine-yard catch and tumble on a halfback option. But you're right in that he's not exactly D.J. Shockley or David Greene. Mark Richt is saying two quarterbacks will see time this Saturday, but he's mum on exactly who. So backup Joe Cox and/or freshman Matthew Stafford are in the mix. Whoever it is, it will be their first road start.

Russell: Spurrier's offense may not be much better than Mississippi State's, but he reached into the bag of tricks for a receiver pass for the clinching touchdown. Spurrier nearly pulled off the upset of Georgia last season, which would have given him the hater-ade trifecta of wins over Tennessee, Florida and Georgia in his debut season with the Gamecocks. He may get it this year. South Carolina in an upset.

Vinny: I'm probably going to regret this, but I think Georgia finds a way, even with all the uncertainty at quarterback. Maybe Brandon Coutu kicks six field goals and Quintin Moses has three sacks. Georgia gets a hard-earned road cover.

#1 Ohio State (+2.5) at #2 Texas, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Vin, are we sure about these rankings? Maybe we should check with Senator Tressel. While we're at it, perhaps we can find out if he'll be wearing the sweatervest on Saturday, when the high temperature in Austin is supposed to hit 95 degrees (advantage, Longhorns).

Vinny: He probably sleeps in that thing. Both of these programs lost plenty of talent from last year's squads, and they're still atop the rankings. That tells you how much talent Tressel and Mack Brown reel in each year, mostly from within their respective state borders. Defensive end Tim Crowder and safety Michael Griffin are back to lead a Texas defense that's expected to be almost as good as last year's unit.

Russell: Hard to believe, but this time a year ago, Troy Smith was coming off a suspension and was platooned with the immortal Justin Zwick, while all the headlines went to Vince Young in Texas's 25-22 win over the Buckeyes.

Vinny: Smith looked sharp in the opener last weekend, going 18-of-25 for 297 yards while finding Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez for three touchdowns. Of course, he'll face more of a pass rush this week.

Russell: Texas has an issue in the secondary, where senior corner Tarell Brown, who was to have drawn the assignment opposite Ted Ginn, earned some Fulmer Cup points by getting arrested on marijuana and gun charges. Backup safety Tyrell Gatewood was also arrested on marijuana charges. They'll sit on Saturday (advantage, Buckeyes).

Vinny: Who are you, Nick Bakay? For what it's worth, they passed a drug test. When asked about it, Tressel reportedly responded, "That's the first I've heard of it."

Russell: Ohio State has some work to do with all the new guys on defense after being shredded by Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois. Not that there's any shame in that. Still, last year it was Vince Young that bailed out Texas in this matchup. Can redshirt freshman Colt McCoy make those kinds of plays? Moreover, with Smith having morphed into a Young clone for the Buckeyes, will it matter? Put me down for another underdog. Ohio State wins outright.

Vinny: Yep, the Buckeyes offense won't be stifled by the Texas defense this time. Ohio State wins going away. Forget the sweatervest and grab the trench coat -- this is my Fred Edelstein Lock.

Russell: I think now would be the appropriate time to accuse us of a kibosh.

Texas Tech (-6.5) at UTEP, 9 p.m. ET., CSTV

Russell: With Texas-Ohio State on an hour before, I'll definitely have this one on the second screen in my living room Saturday night. Neither of these teams likes to run the ball much. Somewhere, Mouse Davis is smiling.

Vinny: A Mouse Davis reference! What's next? An allusion to Jerry Glanville's original "get back" coach?

Russell: Speaikng of Glanville, he's now sporting the flower-lei-and-big-belt-buckle combo on Hawaii's sidelines as the defensive coordinator for June Jones. Texas Tech's latest robo-QB, Graham Harrell, threw for five TDs in his debut as the Red Raiders' starter, continuing in the fine tradition of Kliff Kingsbury and Cody Hodges. Speaking of tradition, UTEP quarterback Jordan (brother of Carson) Palmer hopes to avoid the struggling brother lineage that claimed the athletic careers of the likes of Dan McGwire, Ozzie Canseco, and the all-time leader in the category, Keith Gretzky.

Vinny: Chris Gwynn, Jeremy Giambi, Eugene Staubach ... the list is a long one...

Russell: Palmer will have to do better than last week's four-INT performance against San Diego State if the Miners are to pull the upset. It won't happen. Mike Leach channels his best Blackbeard pregame speech and the Red Raiders roll. This is my Fred Edelstein Lock.

Vinny: Leach is breaking in his first non-senior quarterback since 2001. But there's plenty of talent around to ease the learning process. I like Texas Tech as well.

Oregon (-5) at Fresno State, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: I might be tempted to take Fresno in this game, but I'm not sure the Bulldogs actually know what to do with themselves on a Saturday night, given the typical weekday scheduling that prevails with the WAC's marquee teams.

Vinny: Hmm, a Saturday night at Fresno State usually involves ... weed and guns? In other words, the same as a Sunday night in Austin.

Russell: They don't call them "Fres-necks" for nothing. These teams have a penchant for playing close games, with four straight nail-biters in the series, all won by Oregon. Last year, the Ducks trailed 17-0 before rallying to a 37-34 win. With Cal's no-show at Tennessee, Oregon looks like it might be the top challenger to USC in the Pac-10, a notion that gained steam after the Ducks crushed Stanford in their opener. Dennis Dixon looks like he will indeed keep Brady Leaf on the bench, and Jonathan Stewart could challenge Cal's Marshawn Lynch as the conference's best running back.

Vinny: For their sake, I hope the Ducks do a better job of disguising their signals than Cal did. Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and linebacker Anthony Trucks are big losses from last year's team, so defensive coordinator Nick Alloti has his work cut out for him.

Russell: I'm a big fan of Fresno coach Pat Hill and his "anyone, anytime, anywhere" approach to scheduling. Occasionally, he even gets one of the big boys to pay a visit to Bulldog Stadium, where his teams are 44-8. I also like Fresno tailback Dwayne Wright, who missed two years with a knee injury, returning with 158 yards and three scores in a season-opening win over Nevada. Still, I think I've had enough of the home dogs this week. I'll take Oregon on the road, laying the five.

Vinny: Paul Pinegar is gone, but the Bulldogs have Wright, a veteran offensive line and a good bunch of receivers to surround sophomore Tom Brandstater. And Hill should have a solid defense. I think Fresno State can cover at home.

The Picks
(* -- "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home Vinny Says Russell Says
Penn State +8 Notre Dame Penn State Penn State
Clemson -2.5 Boston College Boston College Boston College
Washington +16.5 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
Arizona +14.5 LSU Arizona LSU
Georgia -3 South Carolina Georgia South Carolina
Ohio State +2.5 Texas Ohio State* Ohio State
Texas Tech -6.5 UTEP Texas Tech Texas Tech*
Oregon -5 Fresno State Fresno State Oregon
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 6-2-0 (1-0-0) 6-2-0 (1-0-0)
Russell 6-2-0 (1-0-0) 6-2-0 (1-0-0)

Posted by: on 08 Sep 2006

113 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2006, 1:08pm by Kal


by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:18pm

Two Michigan guys picking Ohio St? I gotta go (sprinting to my underground bunker).

by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:33pm

#1, that's just their tricksy logic. They know that if they pick OSU, OSU is sure to lose, thus it is really a pick against OSU.

Or something.

I'm a bit worried about Oregon playing against Fresno, but not much; they looked horrible at stopping Nevada's rush, and Nevada didn't have the line or the talent that Oregon does. Still...not the funnest of non-conf games.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 1:57pm

So far I'm 1 - 0, with Georgia Tech covering vs Notre Dame last week.

This week, I'm taking Missouri -8 over Ole Miss. Mizzou = very underrated.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:10pm

Chris Gwynn, Jeremy Giambi, Eugene Staubach … the list is a long one…

Don't forget Billy Ripken and Mike Maddux.

by Mitch Cumstein (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:34pm

. . . or Bill Gramatica.

I went 3-3 last week playing at home. Don't see any lines that look like sucker picks among those selected, so I will invoke some other, potentially completely made up and invalid, handicapping rules for my selections this week.

1) early in the year, teams tend to bounce up and down in performance, and play good teams that may have disappointed a bit in the previous week, and against those that had a big week and may be overconfident; and

2) ACC and SEC home teams have performed poorly against the spread in conference games where the spread is close.

Here are my picks:
NOTRE DAME -8 vs. Penn State
Clemson -2.5 at BC
OKLAHOMA -16.5 vs Washington (with the added note that if OU does not cover this coming off last week's performance, I would have serious concerns in Norman)
Arizona +14.5 at LSU
Georgia -3 at SOUTH CAROLINA
TEXAS -2.5 vs Ohio State
UTEP +6.5 vs Texas Tech
FRESNO STATE +5 vs Oregon

And as a Missouri alum, I hope you are right, Kevin11.

by bowman (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:35pm

What is the standard for instant replay in college football? Is it:
"I would have called it differently" - Overturn
"I could defend that call with a straight face" - Uphold
"One angle suggests a different result, but the ref. had a better angle" - Overturn

(In legal terms, the standard of review sounds like strict scrutiny, but the practice of instant replay seems like a rational basis. Change the wording, or change the results, as the system makes no sense.)

Watching ND-GT killed me in the slowness of it all - can't the booth just make the call, radio it down to the field, and we won't have the 10 minute process of leading the ump. to the "booth" to make the same call?

by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 2:57pm

What a bunch of "boring," "nationally interesting" games. I'm pumped to watch Colorado Vs. Colorado State at Mile High! Go local teams!

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 3:14pm

I would have picked Colorado-CSU this week, but CU's lost to a I-AA team has rendered the Buffs ineligible for further consideration in this space.

by MarkV (not verified) :: Fri, 09/08/2006 - 10:28pm

watch my buffs! Best placekicker in the nation!

by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 12:23am

Anyone watch this Pitt/Cincinati game? Three consecutive replays late in the fourth quarter, torturous.

Pitt keeping them in this game repeatedly also torturous, as a partisan

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 12:26am

Good to see a split over the Ducks this week. I know last week was fine and all, but the curse could still live on. 5 points does seem like a lot, but the offense looked pretty good and I think the defense is going to get better as the season moves along. I'm not predicting them to knock off USC, but they're looking like #2 in the Pac-10 right now.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 12:44am

Saw that. I thought they got them right for the most part, although on the 3rd down spot, he looked short, but from their angle it was hard to tell where the ball was... at least they made a quick and decisive call... which seemed to be correct, rather than "indisputable visual evidence".

Watching LA county football... a team just tried a 56 yard FG (in HS) and it was blocked and returned deep into their territory... way to go field position!

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 1:30pm

I just don't think I can adequately explain how awful Illinois is on offense and special teams, other than to note that it's 14-0 Rutgers and Rutgers hasn't gained a first down yet. As an alumnus, I would seriously consider getting behind a campaign to simply abolish the football program.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 1:35pm

Oh, the defense sucks, too. 21-0 Rutgers, still in the first quarter. Should I just take a nap until Penn State-Notre Dame?

by Rocco (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 2:02pm

It's a good thing Joe Dailey sucks, or else VT would be in serious trouble right now.

by Nate (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 2:27pm

I too am an Illinois alumnus, and I just don't know what to say. I think I'm cancelling my homecoming reservations, because I couldn't stand to watch the Illini football team get blown out by the Hoosiers. On a brighter note, our defense seems a little bit less putrid than normal. We actually got near the QB ebfore he threw a couple of times. I'm expecting a two digit ranking beginning with a nine this year, rather than the three digit ranking that began with a one last year.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 3:25pm

how long does Crooms keep his job?

Miss St. hasn't scored a point this season yet (6 quarters and counting)

by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 3:43pm

Wow. Northwestern's really struggling with New Hampshire. Not that I didn't know it, but apparently good D-IAA teams are pretty good.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:07pm

I was completely caught off guard when Akron went for it, down by 3 with three seconds left. It paid off though.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:14pm

That Akron-NC State finish was great.

I'm not sure if Croom is doing a bad job or if Mississippi State has just turned into a place where good players don't want to go. They were 8-27 in the three years before Croom arrived, so it's not like he's made them worse, it's just that he hasn't made them any better.

I can't believe Charlie Weis just punted on a fourth-and-1.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:20pm

I was on my way to work (ugh) and was told the power was out at the office. So I'm happily back in front of the TV. This marks the first time in history anyone has ever cheered for PG&E to not do their job.

Morelli looks like he's going to be very good. He just threw an absolute frozen rope while rolling to his right to avoid the rush. Good thing JoePa blew his redshirt for no reason in 2004.

by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:23pm

For God's sake, what the hell is wrong with Penn State's field goal unit? I was hoping to chalk up last week's screwups to the field conditions... but c'mon!

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:35pm

Oh Christ, the kicker is having a better day than Brady Quinn. I knew I should have grown up an Ohio State fan.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:39pm

I thought Croom was a terrible hire. If he did well, it would be a matter of time until he was hired by Alabama. If he did poorly, well...

From the start, Croom has seemed genuinely concerned about developing boys into men, stressing character, etc. Unfortunately, "winning football games" doesn't seem to be high on his list of priorities. I've literally never seen or heard him broach the subject. Not that I've seen or read every interview with him, but I've seen plenty.

I'm not saying MSU will be at the level of Florida State or Michigan any time soon, Jackie Sherrill demonstrated that a good coach could have a level of success at MSU.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:39pm

How much do you think Penn State would pay for ROBOHOLDER?

So far this game, I haven't been particularly impressed with Quinn (although he still should win the Heisman, for being Brady Quinn). On the last three plays he's thrown a bad fade, overthrown an open receiver in the end zone (and putting a cameraman in harm's way), and forced a horrible throw into coverage that should've been an end zone pick. I've seen him look so good before, it's quite surprising seeing him so bad all at once.

The NBC announcer has an odd way of counting. I don't think when two defenders are in front of a runner, the runner is "going one on one".

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:47pm

What a terrible spot! He had the ball for the first, then ran backwards on his own, and they spotted it to give him the first. How do you get forward progress on a spot when you voluntarily run backwards? Man, I hate Notre Dame.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:57pm

At the very least that spot should have been reviewed. I honestly have no idea how the guy in the booth decides when to stop a play for a review and when not to. I've seen five-minute delays for obviously correct calls and I've seen no review on close calls when the camera angle obviously gave a better view than the officials had.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 5:58pm

Okay...I understand that NBC has a vested interest in Notre Dame, and as a result it's not always easy to be impartial.

But they REALLY need to try harder.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:02pm

I'm just going to keep complaining about replay until my head explodes. Why shouldn't clipping be reviewable? The end zone camera angle that NBC showed gave a far better view than any of the officials had, and that call negated a huge gain.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:05pm

Yep, and it also negated almost a sure scoring drive.

Zbikowski is insane.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:06pm

Because if you start using replay to look for penalties, there will be a penalty on every play. It wasn't the worst clip I've ever seen, but until somebody finally admits there was no block in the back on Ismail's punt return against Colorado in the '90 Orange Bowl, I'll take whatever satisfaction I can get.

Damnit, Zibby! Stay away from the damn ball.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:11pm

OK, Quinn appears to be in a groove now. Yep, he'll be a good one. Much better than Powlus, even.

I haven't been paying total attention to this game because of work stuff. I would explain it, but the sheer amount of swearing would overload the server. Anyway, why is Penn State unable to score? I was sure ND had improved on defense, but they can't be that good yet, can they?

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:13pm

Aright, I know there are a lot of ND haters on this board, but you have to admit that drive was about as good as the 2-minute drill gets.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:20pm

Harris, the reason it wasn't the worst clip you've ever seen is that it wasn't a clip at all. Even Hammond and Hayden were scratching their heads at that.

Yep, nice 2-minute drill. If Quinn just plays like he's capable of, this is a lethal offense against anything but a very good defense.

Trogdor, PSU has shot itself in the foot a couple times (fumble, muffed hold), but ND's defense has mostly stuffed PSU's O-line. When given a chance, Morelli and (especially) Tony Hunt have looked pretty good.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:25pm

Who can be national champions with a loss, a tie, a 5th-down "win", and another win on a horrible call in the bowl game? Ladies and gentelmen, your Colorado Buffaloes! Yeah, that was clearly not in the back (unless the dude's side is his back, and the helmet was clearly in front), an awful call, and I hate Notre Dame.

Oh great, we get some Bettis charm at halftime. Man, what a douche, the only worse thing than him being active and interviewed is him being retired and always in front of a mike. But at least they'll be cutting to a Manning thing soon! Oh joy! I hate halftime, can't they just show highlights or the bands?

I knew Marshall had taken a step backwards, but they're trailing HOFSTRA? And what the hell happened to Northwestern? How can you lose to a team from Division 1 Championship Playoff Division? Northwestern pre-1994 I could see that easily, but now? Wow.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:28pm

Northwestern's coach suddenly died, so I'll cut them some slack this year. And, UNH is pretty good.

Still..a 34 - 17 loss. Ouch.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:30pm

Yeah, he died, and that's tragic. But it's not like he died this week - they freaking won, on the road, at an actual Division 1 Non-Playoff Bowl Championship division team, one that took Purdue to overtime on the road today. They get some slack, like 4-7 or 2-6 in the Big Ten slack. Losing to 1-AA at home? By 17? That's axing a bit much.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:31pm

In other news, Syracuse is tied 7-7 with Iowa midway through the third quarter. Is Iowa going to hold its annual choke early this year?

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:36pm

I love it when I-AA teams beat I-A teams. Serves the I-A team right for pulling such a weak scheduling move. The two things I dislike about college football are the officiating and the scheduling. (Which is why I hope the poll voters don't drop tonight's Ohio State-Texas loser down very far -- teams should be rewarded for scheduling games like that. In fact, if it's a close game I'd have no problem with keeping them No. 1 and No. 2 next week.)

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:38pm

Game. Over.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:39pm

Wow. Just wow. Dropped pass on a potential long gain, followed by a horrible decision on a completely blown-up option. Apparently one of PSU's halftime adjustments was to hit the self-destruct button.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:39pm

Ouch. Morelli showed his inexperience there. Have to pitch the ball early or just tuck it. Bigger question is why is Galen Hall calling the option for Morelli? He knows Robinson's gone, right?

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:39pm

Testify, MDS. I'm in 100% agreement with you.

It drives be BALLISTIC that West Virginia is ranked so high in part to having a weak schedule. I honestly think that if LSU or Auburn finish with one loss and WVU finishes undefeated, the SEC team should be ranked higher.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:40pm

Yep, time to switch to BC v Clemson.

by Tom (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:41pm

And Northern Illinois is losing at home to Ohio, 28-23 with about 5 to play. Screwy day. At least Louisville beat Temple 62-0.

by Mitch Cumstein (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:42pm

Good call, Kevin, on Missouri to cover against Ole Miss. The 34-7 final score was no where indicative of how lopsided that game was. Total yards were something like 500-100. Chase Daniel is very accurate, and (gulp) looks to be an upgrade over Brad Smith because good defensive teams would dare Smith to pass downfield, which he was incapable of doing.

I think Brent Schaeffer had maybe 2 completions for over 10 yards. The only Ole Miss score came following a fumble on a punt right before the half, where the returner should have called for fair catch but chose to get hit right after catching the ball.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:46pm

Okay, that's two bulls%$t calls in a row.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:48pm

Or rather, a bulls%#t PI call and a bullshit holding non-call. Sorry. I've been drinking.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:53pm

46- Thank you. Missouri is my sleeper team this year. I have them winning nine games and finishing second in the Big 12 North.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 6:57pm

A one-man swarm?

by Tom (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 7:04pm

And NIU is going to lose, 35-23, after the 4th and 10 throw falls between a stretching WR's arms in the end zone. Would've been tough even with a catch with only a minute to go and an onside kick recovery needed. Earlier in the drive was a classic "I got it, I got it, I don't got it" drop in the end zone.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 7:13pm

NIU must be absolutely terrible. Ohio hasn't had 500 total yards in a game, maybe ever. But as an OU alum, I'm thrilled to see the team still undefeated so deep into the season.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 7:30pm

This is ugly. Maybe JoePa should have gone out on top last year.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 7:38pm

Why are the starters still in for ND and PSU? Have Weis and JoePa never heard of Tyrone Prothro?

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 7:59pm

Great goal line stand by Iowa in OT, with some help from Syracuse (dropped catch in the end zone).

Watching 'cuse's ugly unis on this terrible turf is like watching an old semi-pro game. It hurts your eyes.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 8:02pm

Coaches most likely to get fired:

1. Amato, NC State
2. Bunting, UNC
3. Brooks, Kentucky
4. Nutt, Arkansas
5. Coker, Miami

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 8:21pm

'Cuse has run about 8 plays from inside the one and haven't scored. At some point, I'd call the play action pass.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 8:29pm

Kevin, don't forget about Greg Robinson. I have a feeling Norm Chow would have gotten his team into the end zone. Yeesh.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 8:29pm

Kevin, don't forget about Greg Robinson. I have a feeling Norm Chow would have gotten his team into the end zone. Yeesh.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 8:37pm

Despite it just being his second year, Robinson could be in trouble.

Florida State is scoreless at the half at home vs Troy.

by Tom (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 8:48pm

I'm kinda thinking these are Pac-10 refs doing this Cal-Minnesota game. They just called a PF, but the play before Lynch picked up maybe 8 yards with the help of two holds. And they'd missed a defensive holding and roughing the passer when the Gophers had the ball. Bonus: the Dan Fouts wannabe Pac-10 homer doing color commentary, though I guess this one comes from the TV contract. Gad, tOSU-UT can't get here fast enough.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:07pm

Good to see so much action on the board today. Lots to talk about from today's games.

Chuck Amato is a dead man walking at NCSU. Robinson can't be far behind at the 'Cuse.

Penn State made at least five major mistakes that could have given them an early lead before the roof caved in at South Bend. We still don't know how good ND is. The defense is clearly better than a year ago, but how much? PSU was gashing them pretty good before they fell apart.

Can't wait for OSU-UT.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:17pm

Ginn can fly, obviously, but am I the only one who thinks he looked like he just lackadaisically jogged out of bounds when he could have fought for more yardage at the end there?

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:17pm

Trogdor, can you tell me how a Big 10 receiver like Ginn can outrun a Big 12 secondary like he did on that first big play? Aren't all Big 10 receivers slow?

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:19pm

MDS, Ginn is listed by OSU as 180 lbs. Which means he's probably 170. I don't have a problem with him not lowering the shoulder on a first quarter play.

by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:21pm


by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:25pm

am I the only one who thinks he looked like he just lackadaisically jogged out of bounds when he could have fought for more yardage at the end there?

No- I have three people here, and we were all like "WTF?!?!?"

Florida State and Troy tied at 10 - 10, late third.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:40pm

Troy just recovered a muffed punt in FSU territory. Still 10-10, 12 minutes to go.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:48pm

Touchdown, Troy! 17-10, 11 minutes to go.

Troy was a 30 point underdog.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 9:59pm

ABC *finally* let everyone know that FSU is in trouble.

Hindsight being 20 - 20, Troy had "cover" written all over it. FSU had a short week after a tough game in hot weather, and it's a sandwich game between Miami (top rival) and Clemson (Bowden vs Bowden).

Exactly why is Dwayne Wade setting that poor coach up to be carjacked?

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:04pm

FSU ties it up. 6+ minutes to go.

by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:06pm

Texas is going to have to start playing these receivers more aggressively, because they're getting picked apart

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:06pm

Re: 69

True, but Miami is in a similar situation (next week at Louisville), and they're winning handily.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:10pm

73- it only works when the team *wins* the first game in the sandwich. I should have mentioned that :)

Another notable was Tennessee v Air Force, with the Vols having played Cal last week and Florida next week.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:10pm

FSU intercepted a pass on the Troy 30, 4:54 to go. Damn.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:17pm

Isn't FSU-Troy the type of game really hurt by the new clock rules?

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:20pm

FSU scores a TD with 1:56, then squib kicks for no apparent reason. Troy starts on its own 40.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:21pm

Interception, game over.

by admin :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:23pm

Just wanted to say two things, watching Texas-Ohio State:

1) I'm very impressed with the way Antonio Pittman seems to always fall forward or push forward for an extra couple yards when he is tackled.

2) Way to go, ESPN/ABC, for using Gomez as bumper music when you go to commercial.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:29pm

Arizona, down 45-0, had 4th and goal at the LSU 5 with 1 minute left. They kicked the field goal.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:31pm

80- I'd have done the same thing. Avoid the shutout.

I had no idea Arizona changed their unis, not had I seen Syracuse's new look before today. Congress must step in and force a Syracuse v Oregon game.

by FJ (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:33pm

I’m kinda thinking these are Pac-10 refs doing this Cal-Minnesota game. They just called a PF, but the play before Lynch picked up maybe 8 yards with the help of two holds. And they’d missed a defensive holding and roughing the passer when the Gophers had the ball. Bonus: the Dan Fouts wannabe Pac-10 homer doing color commentary, though I guess this one comes from the TV contract. Gad, tOSU-UT can’t get here fast enough.

So, are these Big-12 refs doing the OSU-UT? Bogus roughing the passer call on a 3rd-and-6 incompletion gives Texas the tie 2 minutes before halftime.

Gad, REAL football can't get here fast enough.


by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:35pm

82- Right, since in "real" football, the refs are infallable.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:35pm

Big ups to Tressel for going with the sweatervest in 90+ degree Austin.

by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:40pm

Cue TMQB, Texas keeps getting beat when they blitz

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:51pm

San Jose State over Stanford!

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:55pm

Re: 86

Not a good 2 weeks for the "academic" major conference schools, with that result and both Duke and Northwestern losing to I-AA teams.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:57pm

It was interesting to see Texas Tech run a QB sneak on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Tech spreads the field so much that UTEP couldn't really stack the middle of the line against the sneak like they would against a more conventional offense in that situation. It's counterintuitive, but it almost makes me wonder if an offense like Texas Tech's could be more effective in short yardage situations for that reason.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 10:59pm

Air Force going for 2 down 31-30 with 1:35 to go ... and the toss right fails miserably.

by mattman (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:00pm

#82 - that was the worst roughing call in the history of organized footall. He may have well announced 'Personal foul - hurting the pretty white boy.'

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:01pm

What could Fisher DeBerry possibly have been thinking?

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:02pm

Air Force recovered the onside kick, but they're flagged for offsides. Tennessee recovers the second, and now they can run out the clock.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:04pm

Stupid new clock rule alert - Air Force had to use one of its last two timeouts after Tennessee recovered the kickoff. Under the old and future rules, Tennesseee would have to get a first down or punt.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:05pm

Eh...I'll answer my own question. UT's D was likely exhausted after two consecutive long drives, and the offense was in a groove.

I wouldn't have done it, but one can justify the decision.

by FJ (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:08pm

82- Right, since in “real� football, the refs are infallable.

Re: 83 - I guess you've never heard of irony. Notice the construction of his post and the construction of mine.

The point of my post was pretty much the one that you pointed out.

As #90 pointed out, though, that was a pretty egregious bogus call.

People mess up, though. It's part of the game. It's stupid, IMO, to start spouting off nonsense about the refs being biased, in response.


by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:08pm

Obviously they're successful with them, but all these runs out of the shotgun Texas runs always look like they're going to be stuffed until the guy breaks loose for like 15 yards to me

by mactbone (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:15pm

Did anybody else find that human interest story about Clint McCoy odd. The guy ran a little ways so that he could tell the Paramedics where to go... There were a lot of ways that situation could be resolved, so I'm surprised that the neghbor would be so indebted for that. It just doesn't seem like McCoy's actions were that critical to saving his life.

by mattman (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:19pm

#1 playing #2, second half, still close, seems like a good time to interrupt game action for an interview with Emmitt Smith on his grueling preparation for 'Dancing With The Stars'.

by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 09/09/2006 - 11:19pm

Conventional media wisdom, at least on the surface, is bearing out pretty well in this game wrt the QBs

by mattman (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:02am

anyone have any idea why all the graphics for this game are for ESPN, even though it's an ABC broadcast?

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:08am


Officially, there is no longer an "ABC Sports". It's "ESPN Sports presented by ABC". Thus all ABC sports broadcasts are really supplanted by ESPN.

by Tom (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:11am

Re #82
Sorry, but regional and conference bias when it comes to referees is one of my pet peeves in college football. Moreover, the Pac-10 generally has quite incompetent referees from what I've seen, with the noticeable exception of whichever crew did the Georgia-Purdue Capital One Bowl a couple years ago. I expect the latter, but when you combine the former with the latter, it's a bad combination.

And I didn't think the personal foul was a bad call, just a bad rule. As for what Patterson could have done to avoid a PF, I guess the two-handed shove.

Troy Smith continues to impress me. He was bad in the Texas game last year, then he lost the Penn State game with the interception returned to the 2 and the fumble on a sack at the end of the game. After the PSU game, though, he seemed to realize that a key part of his job as a QB was to not to lose the game, not just to win it. And he's still been good, though he hasn't been as productive with his legs as I'd expected him to be. Life is easier when you have receivers like Gonzalez, though.

Anybody else up for creating BoycottDancingWithTheStars.com?

Last note: for all the talk about Gene Chizik's defensive success, why hasn't anybody bothered to tell us just what it is he's doing with his defense that everybody else isn't?

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:22am

Vinny hit it- OSU going away.

This wasn't in the league of the 2005 classic, but college football needs non-conference games like this every year.

by Tom (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:36am

Re #88
I think that only works well if you have the right back. That's why Louisville isn't the same team without Michael Bush; they could get those two tough yards with him, even against a team with good athletes. So, I'd like to see Tech run the same play against Texas and get good results.

by FJ (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:41am

And I didn’t think the personal foul was a bad call, just a bad rule. As for what Patterson could have done to avoid a PF, I guess the two-handed shove.

Except it was a bad call. They showed replays and the helmets weren't even close to each other.

The face masks MAY have been close, but it's hard to say that was helmet to helmet when you can't even tell if the FACE MASKS touched.

As to officiating, in general, it's hard to say one conference is necessarily worse than the other. I'd probably say that Pac-10 officials are generally incompetent, but I wouldn't set my opinion down, in stone. And I wouldn't be crying "conference-favoritism" just because some bad calls came about for the home team.

Let me guess, you're a Big-10 supporter?

I think, in general, there's a favoritism for the HOME team that occurs when you have officials. It's just part of the game. You just have to deal with it. Otherwise, you're going to have all sorts of conspiracy theories running around with all human mistakes/bad officiating that occurs (cf., Super Bowl XL).


by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 12:51am

I think it's safe to say that #1/#2 will be Ohio State/Notre Dame next week.

This is ugly. Maybe JoePa should have gone out on top last year.

I think a lot of people aren't realizing that even if Penn State is only 'above average' this year (and I doubt they would've struggled with Syracuse, so they're probably at worst the 3rd best team in the Big Ten), the real possibility shows up next year. Basically the entire offense returns next year, and a good portion of the defense as well. Morelli, with those set of receivers for another year, is going to be pretty dangerous next year.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 1:09am

Ah, the joys of being a fan on the road. I'm in Georgia for the next few weeks, and I felt like going to a sports bar and watching the game. Seventeen screens in this place, and I had to BEG to get the game on one screen - most screens were on Georgia/Cocks, and two each were on NASCAR (!?!) and Georgia Southern. Wow, what a strange place. Anyway, the audio was on the Georgia game, which meant I got the thrill of watching one game while listening to another - and the other was announced by Mike Patrick. Yeah.

Seriously, I know this is Georgia and all, but for the biggest regular-season game since what, 1996, they can't even put it on one screen out of 17? I've watched plenty of games in Columbus and throughout Ohio, and if another big game is going on, just one between two ranked teams, it'll be on a screen or two even if OSU is playing at the time. How could you not want to watch this game, if only just during commercials in the game you most care about?

By the way, my usual haunts around Ohio have wireless internet, so I can watch multiple games and post simultaneously. Not this place. So these thoughts are being compiled for after-game posting. Should be interesting watching my thoughts throughout the game, as I'm sure I'll contradict myself at some point. Here goes.

Encouraging sign on the first OSU possession - on 3rd down, they called an actual pass instead of yet another QB draw. Hopefully this means they've left the "punt, play defense, and score by accident" gameplan behind tonight. Smith has to scramble, but Texas wisely has spies in place and snuffs it.

Oh, what would Tressell give to have Nugent, Huston, or Wilkins back... For the first time in years, I'm not happy about the FG safety net.

Good first series by the defense. They still seem to have problems finishing plays (tackling, shutting down cutback lanes), but they're diagnosing them quickly and getting people there. It'll all come together at some point... hopefully very soon.

Ginn tries too hard on the punt return sometimes. He's so talented you hate to stifle him, but sometimes he needs to just run straight ahead or even call a fair catch. And for the same reason - he is so talented, if he just runs forward and takes what's there, he may be able to break it.

Question for draftniks out there - how do you think Datish moving inside will affect his NFL prospects? He was a pretty good left tackle, but moved to center this year. Will his athleticism (superior for a center) make him more attractive as a potential middle anchor be more appealing than it would've been as an average tackle?

Don't get me wrong, it was the correct call... but how long does it take to call an obvious intentional grounding, and how much lobbying from the Texas sidelines was involved?

Finally, after about six consecutive 9+ yard runs, OSU figured out that Texas was just running the sprint option to alternating sides and stopped it for a loss! Of course, all the good was undone when they allowed 12 yards on a simple counter. Yeesh.

I like Texas's decision to go with the hurry-up against a young defense here. It's catching them off balance, not letting them get real organized. I also like OSU's counter to the strategy - blitz someone different on every play, since the O-line doesn't have time to adjust either. Playing it straight wasn't working all that well, might as well mix it up and see what happens.

OK, what's the rule on replays? Can the booth call one at any time, or does the coach have to challenge? Because if the booth can call it, why the hell did Texas have to waste their challenge and a timeout on that fumble? Can there be a more automatic replay than a fumble on the 1 when the runner is almost down? If you're going to review anything at all, that should be an automatic quick look, just in case...

Is it just my imagination, or is Gonzalez the key to this offense? He runs a lot of underneath patterns while Ginn runs the defense off, just a quick out or crossing pattern for an easy 8. Those kind of plays can be huge, keep the chains moving.

The run defense is officially fugly. Last year, their big defensive adjustment (after being eaten alive by QB runs on the first two drives) was to basically ignore the running back, let one linebacker bring him down solo, and have everyone else attack Young. This year, they can't even tackle the RB with a gang. They're just getting manhandled by the line, and abused by stinking cutbacks.

What's wrong with Florida State?

Do we really need to be told that Ted Ginn Sr is Ted Ginn Jr's father?

I'm among the first to complain when OSU gets too conservative, but they haven't even tried a non-QB run in about 45 minutes. Texas is just teeing off to get to Smith on every play now, and even a hint of a threat of the run would help a bit, methinks...

OSU either doesn't believe in disguising blitzes, or just really sucks at it. I noticed this last week against Northern Illinois, but I figured they were just being extra-obvious to put out some scouting misinformation. Nope, they're tipping off nearly every one about ten seconds early, it could be a real problem (as well as the other things they did poorly last week, like bad tackling and lousy lane discipline).

I just realized - as much as I'm worrying about the defense, it's almost halftime and they're still pitching a shutout. Maybe I'm just spoiled. Granted, they needed a fumble at the 1, and Texas is back inside the 20, but all things considered it should be a whole lot worse.

OH COME ON!!!! They called roughing on THAT?!?!? I somehow doubt that's the kind of helmet-to-helmet contact the rulemakers had in mind... So apparently, if while making a legitimate hit, your helmet glances off the QB's shoulder pad and the crown of it barely makes contact with the bottom of his earflap, it's 15 yards. What-the-hell-ever.

Wait a second... I think at the beginning they said these were Big 10 officials. Is that true? If so, they are even more incompetent than the usual ones - they don't even know they're supposed to call penalties on the not-Big 10 team! Can they call one tonight, please?

Just as some teenage douchebag frontrunner with a Texas hat (to nicely complement his Georgia jersey - douche) came over to stand by my table to get a better view, Texas decided to leave a corner isolated on Ginn. Touchdown! Go back to your table and cry!

Apparently OSU's halftime adjustments didn't include "wrapping up".

Big INT by Laurinaitis. He's not having a great game overall, but he's making some huge plays. After the pick, a sack where Pittman blew the protection. He slipped out into the left flat as an outlet, but he should've chipped the DE on the way. The DE, of course, went on to make the sack. Very nice run on 3rd down to set up a (hopefully) makeable FG - yes!

And that right there is why NFL teams hardly ever run the option. McCoy is getting lit up on every play, whether he keeps the ball or not. You just can't expose a franchise QB to that kind of free shot in the NFL.

Outstanding defensive play. The blitzer was coming off the right side, saw the RB slip into the flat instead of staying in to block, and changed direction to go with him. He forced a higher throw, giving time for help to arrive, and they were able to stuff it. The defense looks like it may be coming together as this game goes on.

There we go! Just a few simple power runs pick up a first down, and hopefully will keep that defensive line honest. Pittman runs very hard, almost always falling forward. I can't help but notice that super-frosh Wells hasn't been in a whole lot - is Tressell worried about his fumble last week, or maybe his pass protection?

Ooooh! Big drop on 3rd and 9. Smith put it right there, and the receiver (I can't see who) just can't come up with it. It may have been a little behind him, but he's gotta make that catch!

Whew! Charles sure can break tackles - he just broke a few on a simple dumpoff pass, it took about six guys to bring him down eventually. I can't remember - was he the one who was stuffed at the goal line by Youboty (?) last year because he was showboating and tried to jump in instead of just plowing over him? That was awesome.

Ladies and gentlemen, a mere 43:07 into the game, Texas finally commits their first penalty. Yeah. I'm sure they're a well-coached, disciplined team and all, but come on...

Am I crazy, or should Texas consider faking the punt on 4th and 4, down 10 with a minute left in the 3rd? Their offense has been doing nothing, they could really use a jumpstart here, and if they punt it and OSU does something with it, this game could be over. Oh yeah, of course Ginn bobbles the bouncing ball, almost fumbles. Always an adventure...

Tough drop by Gonzalez. You don't see him do that often. Would've given them a first down, instead it's 3rd and long... and they don't convert.

I frickin' hate Matthew McConaghey or however it's spelled.

Linus Sweed on the jump ball fade... major flashback to last year! Sweed obviously pushed off, but Jenkins still made the play, and almost got the interception. Outstanding! Why was Youboty regarded so highly? Oh, and the great play by Jenkins sets up a missed field goal... excellent...

Holy crap! Was that just a student body right toss sweep? Woody would be proud! And Pittman, although not particularly huge, always seems to get an extra yard or two at the end. He should have a solid, if not necessarily spectacular, NFL career.

Great... moving the ball well, down to the 20, but two consecutive penalties push them back out of (supposedly) easy FG range. Oh! Pittman is spun around by his facemask, and the officials actually saw it! First down! What a huuuge penalty.

I absolutely love this drive. They haven't gone ultra-conservative, but they're still burning clock - over four minutes so far - and they're well into scoring position. Ooh, just dodged an interception on a great play by the defensive end. But look at this - it's 3rd and long in FG range, yet they don't run a QB draw! Is that more confidence in Smith, or lack of confidence in the kicker? And they convert, first and goal! If they punch it in here, this one's just about over.

He's in! He's freaking in! It's obvious, just make the signal already! YES! Six and a half to go, and now it's a 3-score lead, and the defense has really been awesome in the second half. If I wasn't a long-time Cleveland sports fan, I'd be writing "Game over" in my notebook.

I know it's 4th and long, and they're deep in their own territory, but why is Texas punting? Why not just raise a white flag and head across the field for a handshake? What difference does it make if they lose by 17 or 24? GO FOR IT! It's your only chance to win!

Disappointing that Wells couldn't convert on 3rd and 1 to let them run out the clock. He should be great in those power situations, so strong and elusive, gets a great head of steam approaching the line. Just a solid play by Texas to stuff it and keep their incredibly faint hopes alive. Of course, the punt pins them back at the 6, down three scores with under two minutes left. Not the best of times for the Longhorns.

Aaaaaand... it's over! 24-7 on the road over an absolutely loaded Texas team, quite an impressive victory. The defense really came together over the course of this game, especially in the second half - Texas is about to run over the Big 12, averaging about 53 points a game in conference, so shutting them out in the second half is freaking impressive. Smith was outstanding of course, the defense stepped up when needed, and the offensive line really kicked some butt in the second half. I'm feeling quite good about OSU's chances this year.

So the Buckeyes most likely stay number 1. Where does Texas drop? And who's number 2? Notre Dame? USC? LSU?

by Tom (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 1:17am

Re #105
Just saw another replay during halftime of the Oregon-Fresno State game. Patterson's chest hit first, and as he went forward, it sure looks to me like Patterson's helmet made contact with McCoy's helmet on the side of his head, over his shoulder. In a rules (as opposed to standards) based world of officiating, I think it's at the extreme edge of what constitutes a PF, but I think it was the right call.

As for my rooting interests, I tend to root for teams rather than conferences. I think Minnesota is pretty much an annual fraud, and Cal hasn't beaten anybody half-decent since VaTech in the 2003 bowl season.

I agree with you as to home team bias, and that the effect of officiating is often overrated. Moreover, college officials tend to be more incompetent than pro officials. If I really wasn't to complain about bad officiating, I'd talk about the 2005 MLB playoffs.

by Tom (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 1:34am

Re #107
I never saw Datish as an NFL left tackle, and doubt he's enough of a road-grader to be a good right tackle. I think moving inside to C helps him, in that it gives him a chance at all 3 inside slots. On the subject of tOSU O-line, I'm starting to wonder if Alex Boone will start turning into "the next Orlando Pace" or stay "at least 2 penalties every game."

Rankings are an interesting question. Personally, I'd probably say Auburn 2, USC 3, Notre Dame 4, and Texas 5. I think the AP will probably flip Auburn and ND from where my rankings are, though.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 1:53am

Wow! Fresno just pulled a Leon Lett. They stopped Oregon, then blocked a field goal, but rather than just let it go, a few players dove for the ball and wound up knocking it around. Oregon recovered after a mad scramble and got the ball first and goal on the 5. They scored a TD on the next play to break a 17-all tie. Wow. Just awful lack of awareness by Fresno's special teams - it sucks to make such a great play as blocking a field goal, then screw your team because you just don't know the rules.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 2:42am

That play should be required viewing for any special teams coach. Thanks for the heads up... turning on the game now...

Just in time to see Oregon ice it with a sack... a well timed safety blitz on 4th and 7... he was 5 yards behind the line but had a full steam of head behind him.

And now another caser where the sucky rules are in effect... if these rules were in place ND never loses to BC in 1993...

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 10:54am

Hey Trogdor, next time don't give us the abridged version.

(I kid! I kid!)

Congratu...cough-cough... congratu...cough. Congratulatons. There. I said it.

I actually found myself pulling for OSU in that game. And if I had any doubts, every shot of Matthew McConaughey jumping up and down on the sidelines -- when were the naked bongos coming out? -- took care of them.

by Kal (not verified) :: Sun, 09/10/2006 - 1:08pm

How awesome was that call to go for a fake field goal option to the kicker on 4th and goal? Bellotti, you mad genius.