Miscellaneous Thoughts

It's time for some weekly quick hitters…

  • Purdue found on Saturday that Chris Gamble catches (on offense, defense, and special teams), and he tackles.  According to the announcers, the Purdue coaches wanted to force Chris to show he could tackle.  Wisconsin and Cincinnati wanted to test his abilities to cover.  Penn State apparently did not know exactly what to do with him.  This is to be expected.  Teams will probe until they either discover that Chris is not someone to be tested, or they will find his weakness.  Good luck is all I have to say.
  • OU lost this week.  You are probably thinking, "Tell me something I did not know."  Well, you might already have figured this out, but do not count them out for the national title picture.  Miami and Ohio State both have to win out.  If either stumbles, OU and Washington State are both poised to be in the title game.  WSU has a very tough road to make it without stumbling…  So, look for pollsters and coaches to jump OU over Texas if it comes down to the two of them for the Fiesta.  Why?  OU has owned Texas for starters.  Also, OU will have to play in the Big Twelve Title game and win in order to keep a record with just one loss.  This will aid their schedule strength (along with the Alabama victory).  OU has victories over Texas, Alabama, and Colorado.  Meanwhile, Texas has only one win over a ranked team (Kansas State).  Considering who is left for them to play (Baylor, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M), they are not likely to pick up another.  One.  Uno.  That is pathetic.
  • I am still uncertain as to whether or not this Buckeye team will win out.  Yeah, we have 2 games left, but unless we execute better on offense Saturday – mark it down… we will lose.  Illinois has improved, and the Buckeye offense has regressed since the Penn State contest.  Throw in the injuries OSU is dealing with and the fact that this is a road game?  Upset city folks.  It could happen.  Here is hoping the Buckeye players get their heads screwed on straight this week.  Otherwise, there probably will be no Fiesta, no Rose, and maybe no BCS bowl.
  • Washington State has improved since we last saw them.  I do not want to see them again in our bowl.  Yeah, we have improved as well, but Gesser and co. are looking very proficient.  Without his two poor decisions that gift-wrapped Oregon 14 defensive points, they would have held the Ducks to a whopping 7 points.  If you don't watch any Pac Ten games, then perhaps this does not sound too impressive, but it is telling on just how good the Cougars are right now.  Since 1996, only one team has managed to keep the Ducks under 10 points.  That team was a 12-1 Arizona squad in 1998.  Besides this contest, they have been held under 20 points only 7 times since 1995.  That is pretty incredible folks. 
  • Apparently winning head to head games only means something for select teams.  Two years ago, FSU had the nod over Miami for the BCS championship because… well just because – despite the fact that FSU was defeated by the Canes.  This year, there are some pundits claiming that while OU should get the nod over Texas for their win in a head to head battle, OSU should be ranked below WSU.  At the very least, some sportswriters are taking pot shots at OSU and saying that Ohio State could not beat the Cougars again.  Newsflash – why should the Buckeyes have to prove they are the better team twice in the same season?  Ohio State mauled the toothless Cougars in Columbus.  OSU easily could have tacked on another touchdown at the end but took mercy on Washington State.  Inane comments like these are why the media gets a bad name.
  • How is this for injury problems?  Georgia is now without their top three wide receivers and has 5 wide receivers injured overall.  Their offensive line is beat up with three starters in and out of the lineup (2 are questionable for this week's game).  Musa Smith is running with a cast on one hand.  They have to travel to Auburn to play a tough War Eagle squad.  If Georgia wins out after this kind of adversity, they will be extremely deserving of whatever ranking and bowl they are granted.
  • Notre Dame needs to pray for a win against USC.  The Trojans are not the best team in the country, but they are pretty good.  Also, they really need Texas or OU to lose a second game.  As it now stands, Iowa and Texas are in line to get the at large BCS berths.  Of course, I am expecting at least a couple of the one-loss teams to lose a game between now and the first week in December.  My prediction?  USC wins their tilt against the Domers and sends them to a nice bowl outside of the BCS, costing ND millions of dollars.
  • OSU's win was pretty fortuitous, but the most incredible finish this weekend goes to LSU.  If you still have not seen the play, trust me – you will.  This one will be played over and over again until the tape is frayed by the highlight folks.  Down by 3 with time for only 1 final play from their own 20, the Tigers had no choice but to throw a bomb.  Everyone knew it would never make it to the end-zone, and the Kentucky players were already celebrating by dumping the Gatorade bucket over Morris' shoulders.  One little problem.  The game was not over.  In a horrible decision, the Kentucky players not only tried to intercept the football on the desperation pass, they also let an LSU player get behind them.  A Tiger caught the tipped ball and ran it into the end-zone to win in stunning fashion.
  • Second place for luckiest team was Syracuse.  The Cuse won in the Carrier Dome over Virginia Tech after the normally stellar Hokies special teams blew not one but two shots at game winning field goals.  One shank was right before the teams went to overtime and the second was during overtime. 
  • Don't look now, but the Big Ten might have troubles filling its bowl slots.  Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Minnesota are qualified for the bowls.  However, Wisconsin has to get one more win against either Michigan (this week) or Minnesota (next week).  Purdue and Michigan State can both qualify for a bowl if they win their remaining two games, but the problem is that they play one another this weekend.  Illinois has to win out to go to a bowl as well, and they play Ohio State (this week) and Northwestern (next week).  In the best-case scenario, the Big Ten would fill 7 slots with Wisconsin and another team winning out.  In the worst-case scenario for the conference, Wisconsin fails to win without their two biggest offensive weapons, Purdue and MSU lose, and Illinois drops one of their last two against either Northwestern or Ohio State.  Expect most media pundits to discover this story and wax eloquent on it after this weekend.
  • What the media is not realizing when they discuss the offensive woes of the Buckeyes is that it is not just Clarett.  Yeah, that hurts, but they are pointing to the Penn State game as the genuine start of the decline.  What they are not seeing is that Chris Gamble was switched over to play defense mainly from that game forward.  Throw in the loss of Vance last week, and Ohio State was without arguably 3 of its best 5 offensive weapons (Jenkins and Krenzel are the other two, and they came up huge).  Look for Ohio State to get better offensively this week.  Vance will return, and the offensive line should be getting healthier with Olivea almost a month removed from his surgery.  How much better is the question. 

 

  • Possible Ambushes:  Georgia needs to watch out for Auburn this weekend.  LSU better bring their best game of the season if they hope to defeat the Crimson Tide.  Iowa better not put it on cruise control against the Gophers.  Texas A&M needs to beware of a letdown against a pesky Missouri squad.  Ohio State is cruising for a bruising if they are not fully focused on a rapidly improving Illinois team.

 

  • The story that never seems to have an ending:  Apparently, the NCAA is considering reopening the Alabama case.  It came out in recent testimony that 2 Alabama assistants helped set up the purchase of a human being, Albert Means.  The NCAA had found no evidence that the coaches were involved and had not slapped the Tide with the dreaded, "Lack of Institutional Control."  What will happen?  I really don't know at this point.  Watch the handling of the Michigan Basketball situation for a hint.  If the NCAA absolutely lowers the boom on them, then look for the NCAA to have the moral authority and precedent to up the Tide penalties.  If the NCAA lets Michigan off with a slap on the wrist (and the self-imposed penalties are worse than a joke), then their ability to hammer the Tide (again) will be lessened.
  • You have to feel bad for Baylor this weekend.  Not only have the kids lost their coach, but OU is likely to take out all their frustrations on them because of the Texas A&M loss.
  • The guy I felt for the most was John Mackovic this week.  Yeah, I did not like him much as a commentator on ESPN.  Yeah, I did not much appreciate his wins over Ohio State while at Illinois.  Still, to see him humiliated in a public press conference like that was a bit much.  He will have a serious uphill climb to gain the respect of his players again.  If I were him (which obviously I am not), I think I would have walked away.  I say this not because of pride but because of the difficulty John will have trying to win at Arizona now.  He has basically 2 years to regain the trust of his team, undo the damage in recruiting circles (would you want your kid to play for him now), and find a way to win in arguably the best conference in the country top to bottom.  The odds of this happening are slim to none, and slim left town a good while back as they say…
  • How embarrassing is the Miami/Marshal fiasco?  Coaches destroying public property (I.e., vandalism – an illegal offense), another coach knocks down a fan, the head coach reportedly breaks a head set (which is not cheap)…  Personally, I thought the first pass interference call was legit.  The defensive back should not have his hands on the receiver, no matter what the situation is.  The other calls were more questionable, but they mattered little considering that the Thundering Herd had a first and goal from the 2 after the initial penalty.
  • Which edition of the Gators will show up this weekend?  Will it be the group that thrashed Tennessee and dominated the Dawgs?  Or will the underachieving bunch that lost to Ole Miss and was blown out by LSU?  South Carolina has looked decidedly unimpressive this season, especially after being shut out by the Razorbacks this past week.  Were the Gamecocks looking ahead, or are they that bad?  Will the Gators be ready to play, or will they suffer another mysterious loss?
  • Arizona State and USC should be a fun game to watch.  The classic battle between defense and offense.  Will the Trojans shut down the Sun Devils explosive passing game?  I am going to go with USC.  Defense wins championships.
  • Look for Miami to jump Ohio State in the BCS standings if they win out.  I like Ohio State and all, but to have the Buckeyes ranked over the Hurricanes is a bit much in my opinion.  Ohio State has had a great year thus far, but they have looked every bit as human as the Canes.  Throw in the 597 game winning streak that Miami is working on right now, and I would put them over the Bucks in a heartbeat.  One more reason why the BCS needs to go.
  • When Jim Tressel started telling folks last year that the punt was the biggest play in football, I must admit I was a bit skeptical.  I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt to a certain extent because of my familiarity with the program Frank Beamer built at Virginia Tech, but still…  After watching what Andy Groom has done to the opposition all year, especially at Wisconsin (you should have felt what his 74 yard punt did to the whole stadium.  It deflated the Badgers and their fans).  Well, then throw in what I saw last night on the tube with Louisville and Southern Miss, where Louisville's punts would have cost them the game if not for some turnovers by the Golden Eagles.  I am convinced.  Every time you punt the ball, you have the opportunity to control the field position.  If you control the field position, then that often influences whether the opposition attacks with just half a playbook (inside their 20) or a whole plethora of plays (past their 35).

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