Okay, I give up.
Just who is this Rutgers team anyway? What costume will they come with next week? I just don't know.
Is this just because we are getting near Halloween?
Is it just a case of trick or treat?
The only certainties I had going into yesterday's game were: 1.) We have an "on demand' passing offense.2.) We have absolutely no secondary,
Ryan Hart, who had two straight three hundred yard plus games, was able to throw for 190 yards. But that was due only to the fact that Brian Leonard took a swing pass and ran 55 yards with it. Honestly, Ryan was awful on Saturday. Hart threw three interceptions and repeatedly bypassed open receivers for the opportunity to throw into triple coverage. It was an embarrassing performance.
In the first half you could excuse some of Ryan's troubles on the field. There was a brisk wind that made it hard to throw anything. By the second half, though, that wind had died down and Hart showed only slight improvement in slinging the pig.
On the other hand, just as Temple shut down the Rutgers offense, Rutgers shut down the Temple defense. Not only that, the Knights shut down the Owls' passing game. The one worry that I had about this game was the unique form of the spread offense that the Owls use. Oftentimes, Temple sets up Walter Washington alone in the backfield and splits out five WR's.
With Rutgers weakness in the secondary this year, that could have spelled trouble.
The secondary is really starting to come along. Unlike in past games, you rarely saw the ball being thrown to uncovered receivers. In fact, the coverage was generally quite tight with several of Walter Washington's 21 completions coming only as the result of excellent catches by his wideoouts. Add to that good reactions by the linebackers and six sacks by the defensive line and you have the making of a real defense.
We are going to need it, next week we play away in what is clearly the biggest game of the season.
This week, ESPN's self-appointed genius, Trev Alberts, all but anointed Boston College as BCS Bowl recipients and Big East champions. Alberts' conclusion was based on his belief that the other teams in the Big East were simply no competition for the Eagles. To hear Alberts talk you'd think that the only redeeming feature of the Big East was its ability to showcase a future ACC team (the Eagles) as a temporary member of the league.
Well, Boston College's BCS juggernaut ran into a little problem yesterday when the Eagles lost to the hapless Pitt Panthers, 20-17.
Even I wouldn't' have predicted that one.
On Saturday, Boston College became "Air O'Brien" as Paul Peterson connected on 32 of 53 attempts for 367 yards.
It wasn't enough.
BC's bread and butter is the run game. They moved the ball only 56 yards on the ground and an opportunistic Pitt team made the most of its chances to pull out the win.
That is bad news for BC and good news for Rutgers.
It is bad news for BC since they are one game away from being eliminated from a shot at the Big East Championship and they still have West Virginia to play. True, the Mountaineers haven't been the barnburner that all the pundits expected but they are good enough to "run" the balance of their schedule, which includes a home tilt with the Eagles in November.
Bye-Bye, Birdies; Bye-Bye, BCS.
The Pitt win is good news for Rutgers due to the nature of the Pitt animal.
During the Walt Harris era Pittsburgh has become notorious for over looking opponents. A Pitt win over BC, happening the week before Rutgers visits the Steel City, is more than any Rutgers fan could ask for. Pitt will now be convinced that they are just a cut below Fiesta Bowl caliber and they'll spot Rutgers at least one quarter and may an entire half before they decide to play football.
That is just vintage Pitt. You can lay odds on it. In fact, in Las Vegas, they probably will.
The word out of Pittsburgh is that they have had enough of this nonsense and that Walt Harris will be fired at the end of this season, win, lose or draw. In fact, it will be mostly losses and Harris' expected firing earns a big "Hooray for Pitt" from this writer. Harris' program building is quickly going into the tank and the Panthers can do far better than what they have shown in the Harris era.
But what about the RU-Pitt game itself?
There is no way to tell. No one knows which Rutgers team will show up. I have heard that Vegas has decided not to put a "line" on a Rutgers game for the rest of the season, just to protect themselves!
I mean, just think about it. RU dominates Michigan State, who yesterday destroyed nationally ranked Minnesota. Then RU loses to New Hampshire who subsequently goes on to lose to both William and Mary and Massachusetts.
Rutgers can't be consistent between games (MSU / UNH); can't be consistent between halfs (Vanderbilt) and can't even be consistent as to the play of their units (Temple).
And you think I'll predict the RU / Pitt game? No way. Especially with Halloween coming.
I will say this. If RU beats Pitt, they'll "bowl qualify" this season. There's no way they finish their last four games as a "0 fer". Eventually, a complete Rutgers team will show up for a complete game, in which case they could beat just about anyone and probably will.
If we beat Pitt, we end up at least 6-5.
That makes the Pitt game the biggest game of the season.
Smokin' Joe Louisville
When Miami left the Big East the question was: Who replaces the Hurricanes?
Soon, the answer came. No, we couldn't get another perennial football power into the Big East, but we could add to the mighty arsenal of basketball powers that the BE already had. Louisville joined the Big East and with one swipe the pen, the already powerful Big East Conference surpassed the ACC to become the premiere basketball conference in the land.
But what about football?
How do you handle a loss like that of the Miami Hurricanes?
This past Thursday night, it was again Louisville who had the answer.
Miami is the high fivin', trash talking, "in your face" King of intimidation and King of college football. They came out looking at "Louisville" as if it was actually "Chump City" - another pretender to be quickly destroyed by the Superstorm of the South.
But the Hurricanes got a little more than they had bargained for with the Louisville Cardinals. In fact, in the first half Louisville was wiping up the Orange bowl with Miami, beating them in every aspect of the game. Larry Coker paced the sidelines looking like someone on verge of a heart attack. Top ten ranking, BCS bid, Miami's reputation ... they were all going out the window faster than shit goes through a goose. Miami wasn't just being beaten. They were being mauled, manhandled and murdered. They were being embarrassed on national TV.
After halftime, Miami made adjustments and came out on fire.
Now, the traditional script is supposed to read that the Hurricanes would dominate the game from that point on.
Miami and Louisville traded punches like two great heavy weights. It was like the speedy, skilled Muhammed Ali (Miami) against the tougher than tough Smokin' Joe Louisville. If you missed this game, you missed a great one, probably one of the great games of this decade.
Miami pulled out the game but the Big East pulled in the haul. Louisville won't lose again this season and when they start their first Big East season they'll bring instant football credibility to the rebuilding league.
Big East fans should welcome Louisville to the league.
It's only fair.
You see, the Cardinals won't be welcomed back to Miami any time soon.
Mike and the Big Dog's LLC