CFB Week 7: Respect the Hat

Les Miles will be taking it easy this week, not a bye week exactly but they’ve invited Bob’s College (…er the Mighty McNeese State…Widgets!) down for a game which is pretty much the same thing.  Honestly, he deserves the break because it must seriously hurt to be pulling full size horseshoes out of one’s backside week after week.  In case you missed it, this happened last Saturday night (videohere).  They win their second game in a row out of end of game chaos, though this time they decided to put their offensive switch in the On position and actually score some points beforehand.  The fact that he called a fake FG isn’t all that surprising in and of itself, not when you consider his style of play calling, history and the damn long field goal that would have been otherwise, but the way that play self-destructed so terribly and still worked is just perfect Miles.  What are the chances they will be able to keep this up?  Low, considering Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas are still in the hopper. However if working as a low-rent errand boy on a casino floor taught me anything it’s that you don’t bet against the crazy looking guy in a hat who keeps rolling sixes.

SATURDAY
Arkansas @ Auburn: Will be framed as another “QB Shootout” but their styles couldn’t more different.  Ryan Mallett for Arkansas is the whiny cannon-armed gunslinger, who Brett Musburger would like to remind you is of above average height.  That said this week he’ll be facing an equally vertically gifted QB albeit one who makes Mallett look like the skinny bespectacled kid who ran your chess club in 5th grade. Cam Newton is a new arrival on the scene who can be described as a bigger and faster Tim “Second Coming of Jesus” Tebow (he actually was Tebow’s backup in 2008 at Florida).  The guy is an absolute beast, 6’6″ 250lbs and has an arm on him as well.  There’s not a linebacker in the league who could honestly tell you they are fine with trying to tackle him off the edge. For an idea of the kind of player he is, watch here and here. This game means a lot more for Auburn than it does for Arkansas in terms of conference standing but both teams will come firing.  Should be a good physical game to kick off the weekend.


Texas @ Nebraska: Perhaps not the matchup it could have been if Texas wasn’t rolling in with two losses but this is a HUGE game for Nebraska. They are coming off a solid win against Kansas State last Thursday in which the defense looked nasty (as expected) and the offense surprisingly explosive. Nebraska’s QB, Taylor Martinez, a redshirt freshman, looked great last week (4 rushing TDs) and was launched onto the national scene.  The ESPN talking heads were drawing comparisons to D. Robinson, Cam Newton and Tebow.  Now he certainly looked great but most of his production comes on the ground, they looked like old school option attack Nebraska.  As impressive as that attack was against Kansas State they will be facing a whole different animal in Texas. They’ll jam the box and try to force Nebraska to throw, which no one has done yet.  Texas is not a great team this year but they are still Texas.  Their offense has faltered (NO running game) and will struggle to score against the Blackshirts.  Will likely be a defensive struggle but fun to see how Martinez holds up against a serious D.

South Carolina @ Kentucky: South Carolina has to stay sharp to avoid a letdown after their statement victory over Alabama (Best roundup of that can be found here.  They didn’t win that game on lucky plays or any flukes they simply outplayed Alabama, looking better than they have at any other point in the season.  The Gamecock’s offense is extremely balanced and put up some big points against a stout Alabama D while their own defense managed to stifle ‘Bama and make the big plays when necessary. Kentucky is only a mid-level team this year even after giving Florida a somewhat hard time.

Ohio State @ Wisconsin: This will be Ohio State’s biggest matchup until facing Iowa in late Nov.  Wisconsin has been a bit of a disappointment.  They are the typical Badger team, solid running game, stout defense, absolutely hopeless at QB and never one to pass up a blowing heightened expectations. They lost control of their game with Michigan State and despite putting up some big points have not yet beaten anyone decent.  Ohio State is also plugging along with the usual Tressell ball.  Only showing just enough power on offense to win the game and letting their defense slow things down to a crawl.  Hard to imagine they won’t be read for Wisconsin.  Unless Tressell let’s his QB Pryor off his leash to run wild (unlikely) it’s hard to imagine this one will be a barn burner.

Ole Miss @ Alabama: Ole Miss has played like complete dogshit so far this year losing to Vanderbilt and Jacksonville State (D2 team) but this one is at least worth checking in the box score on Sunday if only to see how Alabama responds to their loss last week.  Hard to imagine anything but a pure beatdown and tune up for Alabama before continuing their brutal SEC march.

Saturday, October 16th
Arkansas at Auburn 2:30 p.m. CBS (HD)
Texas at Nebraska 2:30 p.m. ABC *1 / ESPN-GP *2
South Carolina at Kentucky 5:00 p.m. ESPN2 (HD)
Ohio State at Wisconsin 6:00 p.m. ESPN (HD) / ESPN 3D
Ole Miss at Alabama 8:00 p.m. ESPN2 (HD)
Comments, thoughts, criticisms?  Hit Reply All or feel free to stew in silence and obscurity
p.s. And yes, the Jen Sterger pic is likely all I will say about the NFL this year, I think it was actually pretty topical of me to do so.

 

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CFB Week 6: ESPN does it to spite you, yes you

Wasn’t sure whether to even bother to include this but it is just so unbelievable and a football train wreck that if you didn’t see it happen live it is well worth watching.  (Billy, stop reading and please loosen that belt around your neck before untying it from the fan)
This is the last two minutes of the LSU-Tennessee game last week where you get to see how one of the most insane, wildly inept and luckiest coaches in football history keeps a winning streak alive.  Against all reason, it really is not safe to bet against the possibility that Les Miles will continue pulling horseshoes like this out of his ass (see 2007 Championship Season).  We’ll see for real on Nov. 6 versus Alabama.  Until then, pour yourself a cold one and watch the horror.

My semi-composed thoughts on the conferences now that most inter-conference matchups are out of the way:

ACC: The usual unintelligible blob of equally matched and variously dysfunctional teams, probably the most wide open in terms of who will win it.
Big East: ….an irrelevant and laughable mess…but they still have an automatic BCS bid, dammit!!!
Big Ten: Boring and predictable if you ignore the insanities going on at Michigan. Ohio State is dominant, PSU, Iowa and Wisconsin have already choked well ahead of schedule.  If you’re counting on one of the teams from Michigan to run the table don’t hold your breath and welcome to the 21st century.
Big 12: Mediocre at best. Texas has shit on offense, Oklahoma looks iffy at best, Nebraska still has yet to play anyone and everyone else is marginal.  Not expecting too much excitement until the conference championship.
Mountain West: Top heavy with TCU up on top, Utah down, Air Force…eh.  They’ll go to some bowls this year, probably even send TCU to a BCS game but they are really waiting for the new members next year.  Still, they already make the Big East look like a terrible joke.
Pac 10: Offense happy and probably the best record in big non-conference games. How they will matchup against teams with truly solid defenses (e.g SEC, OSU) is another question. Expect lots of random intra-conference cannibalism.
SEC: Top heavy but still clear favorite for the title. Alabama is looking more dominant than ever but the middle has never looked so…well, questionable. Take the SEC East’s performance last week, the only team that didn’t lose was S. Carolina who had a bye.  Regardless don’t bet against further carnage and chaos, even the favorites will be lucky to get out by December with only 1 loss.
WAC: Boise State hides out here for most of the year stomping on baby rabbits and game planning for January
——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

THURSDAY NIGHT
Nebraska @ Kansas State: A fun looking Thursday night game with the first real chance to see Nebraska play anyone.  Kansas State  doesn’t look to be a very impressive team but they are 4-0.  As always these Thur night games usually lean towards the home team but Nebraska is clearly the superior team here.
SATURDAY
Tennessee @ Georgia: Georgia is pitiful (1-4) this year while Tennessee is just tragic.  The teams actually do line up pretty well against each other squad to squad but I have no idea how the Vols will react emotionally after that LSU loss.  I’m not even saying that to be mean, I don’t know how any young team could really handle that.  It was cruel and unusual. Only good explanation for it is as karma payback for something absolutely unspeakable one of Tennessee Coach Dooley’s ancestors did in the Crimean or First World War. The again, Georgia did just lose to Colorado…and that is pretty embarrassing in and of itself.
I’ll let Billy fill in here if he has any thoughts on the game.  Come on out, buddy, it’s okay, gonna be alright.

Alabama @ South Carolina: South Carolina is coming off a bye and hopefully a long week of making sacrifices to different deities in the hope one of them will come out and give them a chance against Lord Saban.  South Carolina has been playing well but there is nothing to indicate that they should any better than Florida against ‘Bama. An upset is possible, for sure, always is in the SEC particularly coming off a bye week but I just don’t see it.

Michigan State @ Michigan: This is a stressful game for Michigan fans even when they’ve been a clearly dominant team, which is not the case this year with #17 vs #18.  Their performance last week against Indiana highlighted the disastrous instability of Michigan’s squad with a Denard Robinson..err…Offense (hint, it’s 95% Robinson) that can score quick and a defense that lets a team from Indiana do the same. Michigan State is 5-0, knocked off a favored Wisconsin last week and ranked nationally just one spot below Michigan. There will be points, lots of points, probably at least 30 on each side. The fact that Michigan’s D struggled so much against Indiana is a very very bad sign.  They’ll need to improve or count on Denard racking up about 600+ yards (possible) if they’re going to have a chance.  Michigan State isn’t a pretty team but they’ve proven they can win close games.  This one should be fun to watch.

Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame: The Wannstache is headed to South Bend.  Both teams are almost laughably tragic but let’s not forget that even midget fights can be competitive and a good time all around.

LSU @ Florida: If you watched the video in the intro you know that to call Les Miles lucky is like calling water wet or Jenna Jameson a ‘woman of loose morals’, somewhat of a massive understatement.  Florida was dismantled last week by Alabama (seriously, not even a fun game to watch unless you’re the kind of guy that likes to watch snuff films) but Florida should still be considered a superior team to LSU if for nothing else than for actually possessing an offense, no matter how inconsistent.  A Ouija Board could call a better offensive game than Les Miles at this point but I still wouldn’t count him out.  On LSU watch for Patrick Peterson on defense and kick returns, an explosive playmaker. Florida has loads of talent but no one has stood up consistently.  Their QB Brantley will start but probably not be 100% after being knocked silly a few times against Alabama.
Florida State @ Miami: Battle for the ACC??? Both teams have looked about as strong as anyone realistically expected them to.  Personally I think FSU’s schlacking against Oklahoma was a bit more embarrassing than the beating Miami took up in Ohio State that same week but that’s debatable. Expect lots of offense and while I think Miami should probably be favored as always that will depend on Jacory Harris’ “Fuck it, I’m going Deep” TD vs Interception rating. Watch out for some wild special team plays.

USC @ Stanford: Both are coming off losses from last week.  Stanford’s was against probably the best team in the conference while USC had a fantastically delightful loss to Washington. Really don’t know what to expect in this one as Stanford has to be feeling beat after dropping a major lead against Oregon and USC is…well, coached by Lane “I’m a douche” Kiffin. All I can say here is that sometimes but not often in life there are clear conflicts between good and well if not true evil then something very douchey.  This is one of those cases.  Go Christmas Trees!

TV Schedule: Accurate to the best of my knowledge though I know the tv execs in the Chicagoland area had some fun playing random Big Ten matchups last week rather than the Red River shootout and thought that the Oregon-Stanford game would be best fit on ESPN “The Ocho”.  Anyways, good luck with all that.
Thursday, October 7th
Nebraska at Kansas State 6:30 p.m. ESPN (HD)
Saturday, October 9th
Tennessee at Georgia 11:21 a.m. SEC Network / ESPN-GP
Alabama at South Carolina 2:30 p.m. CBS (HD)
Michigan State at Michigan 2:30 p.m. ABC *1 / ESPN *7
Pittsburgh at Notre Dame 2:30 p.m. NBC (HD)
LSU at Florida 6:30 p.m. ESPN (HD)
Florida State at Miami 7:00 p.m. ABC *1 / ESPN-GP *2
USC at Stanford 7:00 p.m. ABC *1 / ESPN-GP *2

 

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CFB Week 5: Hellz Fire Boy!

Some big things will shake out this week.  Teams like Oklahoma, Alabama, Stanford and Oregon will have an opportunity to make a statement, while Texas has a shot to bring the Sooners down to earth and Florida can silence critics and haters (like me) if it manages to stun Alabama.  While Miami @ Clemson and Stanford @ Oregon are probably the games most certain to be exciting you should never count out the Red River Shootout or anytime Saban lines up against Urban.  All in all should be a fantastic weekend.  This is one of those where you tell the loved ones that you already have plans for Saturday night and will be indisposed to attend her friend’s birthday party or even that wedding.  Sorry hun, sacrifices have to be made.  Ask me in a couple weeks.

Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State: There’s gonna be points, lots of points considering neither team actually has a coherent group of 11 players that know how to play defense.  Because it is a Thursday night game Ok State should be favored.  Whoever wins this will probably end up ranked because that is what 4-0 gets you in the FBS no matter who you’ve played. If the Aggies win in Stillwater you know exactly where they’ll be headed to in the most homoerotic way possible.


Miami @ Clemson: Given Jacory Harris’ tendency to channel Rex Grossman while under pressure (“Fuck it, i’m going deep”) Miami is always only a few picks from disaster.  Clemson can be a tough, physical team and beat Miami in a close one (40-37 OT).  Luckily for Clemson they had a bye week to recover after their fantastically violent matchup and close loss to Auburn two weeks ago. Miami has the better athletes and probably team overall but I’m expecting a very good tight game if Clemson comes back hungry.

Oklahoma @ Texas “The Red River Shootout”: Well, this one would be a whole lot more exciting if Texas wasn’t exposed last week as having absolutely zero running game after losing their pride of Texas QB Colt “Yes Ma’am” McCoy.  Apparently Mack Brown neglected to consider that not only would he have to find a new QB after Colt left, but also some sort of running game.  Regardless, I still don’t think this will be a disappointing blowout mainly because the Sooners haven’t done all the much to impress either.  They almost got knocked off themselves in a Brian Kelly’less Cincinnati last week (31-29).  So, to sum it up simply Texas has no Offense and Oklahoma has shit for Defense.  Yahoo let’s play ball!  First one to 15 wins!!!!

Florida @ Alabama: Another game that was wetting panties in anticipation alone a couple weeks ago that now looks a bit less spectacular.  Florida has been schizophrenic on offense (though improving) and Alabama has been going Denzel Washington/Man on Fire on it’s early season schedule.  You can’t tell me that even when Arkansas was up and Ryan Mallett throwing some zingers you didn’t wonder about the suppository full of C4 and a timer that the Razorbacks had stuck up their behind.  It was only a matter of time before Saban lit that shit off and unleashed his dogs of hell (unfairly dominant pair of RBs) to end that daydream.
So, basically this shouldn’t be a good game, but don’t put it past those shady gap-toothed degenerates from Florida ( that goes for theentire state, mind you) to have planned this as some kind of fantastic rope-a-dope scheme to trap Alabama.  Either way I’ll take Saban in this one hands down but there could be some fireworks if the nitroglycerin that is Florida’s offensive talent gets lit.

Stanford @ Oregon: Possibly the most interesting game of the night, not only because it is between the two best teams in the Pac 10 but also for the very different styles of play both sides bring to the matchup.  Stanford runs a more physical pro-style (read traditional) offense while also being called one of the best physically conditioned teams.  Oregon has athletes up the ass and runs a more loose option-style spread offense meant to get their many playmakers the ball in open space. It’s questionable whether either team has really been tested so far this year (sorry, Billy). Oregon slowed down a bit against Arizona State and even Tennessee shut them down for almost 3 quarters but they depend on getting big plays and forcing turnovers to capitalize on.  Stanford has a solid QB in Andrew Luck, even most hype around him about being one of the best was started by his own coach, an O-line that is actually fun to watch and a physical D.  They tend not to make many mistakes but Oregon will test that.  Autzen Stadium can be a tough place to play at night.  It’s not Death Valley but the Ducks usually do quite well.  If Stanford can make a statement like they did last week that will really mean something.
TV Schedule, all times Central.  Also Boston College is playing ND, but I can’t imagine why anyone should really care. Threw in the William & Mary game ‘gainst ‘Nova for our Col’ Chicken Tribe contingent. Enjoy! Happy Saturday!
Thursday, September 30th
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State 6:30 p.m. ESPN (HD)
Saturday, October 2nd
Miami at Clemson 11:00 a.m. ESPN2 (HD) & ESPN 3D
Oklahoma vs. Texas 2:30 p.m. ABC *1 / ESPN *7 / ESPN-GP *2
Villanova at William & Mary 2:30 p.m. CSNE / CSMA / CSS (cable)
Florida at Alabama 7:00 p.m. CBS (HD) / online video
Stanford at Oregon 7:00 p.m. ABC *1 / ESPN2 *7 / ESPN-GP? *2

 

 

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CFB Week 4: Return to the Smurf Turf

A very nice slate of games this week.  Although the game will probably be absolute crap, the big story this week will be Boise State.  This is one of their two “marquee matchups”.  Where they get to show to the world that they deserve a shot at the title.  This will be the only time I will speak of them again until at least Week 10 or so, regardless of what happens.

[Begin Boise State Rant]
In 2010 I both really like and am slightly annoyed by Boise State.  I like them for what they represent and their style of fast and aggressive play, not afraid to take a chance and leave it all on the field.  It was hard not to crush on them hard after the 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, still one of the best entire days of college football I’ve experienced.  All that said, here is my problem with them now. As much as it is fashionable for the pundits to lament how Boise State is in a weak conference and how badly that hurts them in terms of the BCS I think that the advantage they gain from that now is even greater.  Their conference is such dogshit and their own talent level so superior to that of their conference foes they barely even have to show up to dominate most of them.  What this means is that they can spend a lot of extra time, weeks or even months in advance, preparing for their next Big Game, whether that be Oklahoma in 07, Oregon in 08/09 or TCU in 08/09.  All of those big games come either very early in the year when they have an entire offseason to prepare and no upcoming conference opponents to scheme for or in the bowl season.  In a one-off series their may be no greater team but I have serious doubts as to how they would handle a more serious conference load where 5-6x a year they faced teams that talent-wise could potentially knock them off or give them a run for their money.  If they had to face even actual mid-level teams every week I don’t think they’d be able to spend as much time scheming for and preparing for these big matchups once or twice a year.
I’ll feel much better even when they join the Mountain West next year but until then, even looking at their body of work over the past 3 years,I can’t help but wonder if they really deserve the hype and could they have done it in a BCS conference.  If they win out again this year, their only realistic chance of going to the title game will be if there is only 1 other undefeated team from a major conference and even that would be iffy.  An Alabama or Nebraska or Texas coming out of their respective conferences with only 1 loss has done more to earn it than Boise’s two wins over middle-field teams and a conference of nobodies.  That said, Long Live Zabransky!
[End Boise State Rant]


THURSDAY NIGHT
Miami @ Pitt: An interesting matchup.  Both teams are coming off a bye week and should be better than their last losses.  On paper this one should easily go to Miami.  Pitt is missing some stud d-linemen and their supposedly heisman-quality RB has been quiet.  After watching the Miami-Ohio State game I don’t think Miami’s QB Jacory Harris is actually as bad as many like to think.  He had several turnovers but most were the fault of bad hands on his WRs or miscommunication while under siginifcant pressure from what is a very good buckeye team.  That offense should look better this week.  Pitt’s biggest advantage is that Thursday night games almost invariably favor the home team. That said, the Wan’Stache is going to need more than that to get over the canes.

SATURDAY
Alabama @ Arkansas: Alabama finally enters SEC play.  Arkansas looked potent last week even if they were also mistake and penalty prone.  That led to another week of commentators stroking Ryan Mallet’s whiny ego and whispering “upset, upset” under their breath.  Look, it’s not going to happen.  Mallet is a ballistic football throwing machine who will probably be a beast in the NFL but Arkansas is one-dimensional and you’ll need more than that to keep up with ‘Bama.  The only way to describe watching Alabama play the past few weeks is detached surgical dismantlement.  The defense has looked solid and the offense is a multi-dimensional hydra, more a force than a side of 11 players.  I don’t want to sound too over the top but they have a heisman-winner at RB, a backup RB who may be just as good, a big play wideout in J. Jones and their QB McElroy has proven he is more than just the guy who hands off the ball, the kid can make plays.  Last year they took apart the razorbacks 35-7, shutting down Mallet while McElroy threw just south of 300 yards.  ‘Bama’s offense is even more potent than last year.  Arkansas may put some points on the board but they won’t be able to keep up.

Stanford @ Notre Dame: Every week there are games that are interesting for their national title and bowl season implications, this is not one of them.  No, this game is included because Stanford is overrated (3 wins against crap teams) and I’m still not sure how good the Irish are after two close and delightfully soul-crushing losses in a row. The key matchup here will be Notre Dame’s D trying to contain a Stanford offense that has been racking up points.  The Irish have struggled against mobile QBs (particularly if you count the demi-god Denard Robinson, though that hardly seems fair) and Stanford’s QB Luck can make a play if necessary.  Regardless of what happens you know this one will be close, not just because it will be in South Bend, but also because the Irish always keep it close, within 7+-.  A good game to watch during the Alabama/Arkansas commercials, unless you are John who will be watching it while hugging his ND trademark throw pillow and thumbing his rosary beads.

South Carolina @ Auburn: Probably the best game of the week in terms of a matchup.  Both teams are 3-0 and both have shown they can compete in and win tight games with ranked competition.  Auburn’s OT win against Clemson last weak was a violent opera of physical college football.  Watch for South Carolina’s true freshman RB, Marcus Lattimore who has been tearing things up ever since he won thestarting position. Very exciting and unpredictable matchup, could be a lot of points.

Oregon State @ Boise State: Blah blah blah, ‘cliche statement about how Boise State has to win this game and must send a message’.  That is obviously true and the ESPN pundits have been spouting those lines ad nauseum since February. Does Oregon State have a chance?  Eh, not really.  They aren’t that great and they’ll be heading into Smurf Turf stadium for a night game.  Maybe the BCS voters will be satisfied if the Broncos score eighty hundred points, regardless I’m sure they’ll try.

West Virginia @ LSU: Both teams have looked mediocre.  West Virginia certainly has its offensive weapons, as usual, but lack a quality win and struggled against Marshall (24-21 OT).  LSU has looked lost ever since their title win in 2007.  What passed as brass balls and moxy in their coach Les Miles then now has Tiger fans looking for a straight-jacket.  Though none of that should matter in this game.  West Virginia is headed into Death Valley for a night game.  Kickoff is at 9pm, that stadium is going to be jampacked full of shitfaced, rowdy cajuns.  The West Virginia cheerleaders will probably be lucky if they get out alive.


Thursday, September 23rd
Miami at Pittsburgh 6:30 p.m. ESPN (HD)
Saturday, September 25th
Alabama at Arkansas 2:30 p.m. CBS (HD) / online video
Stanford at Notre Dame 2:30 p.m. NBC (HD)
South Carolina at Auburn 6:45 p.m. ESPN (HD) / ESPN 3D
Oregon State at Boise State 7:00 p.m. ABC (HD)
West Virginia at LSU 8:00 p.m. ESPN2 (HD)


 

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Week 3 – CFB – Conference play begins…slowly

Hard to top last weeks lineup and there’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that this Saturday lacks the exciting Top 15 matchups and drama that ESPN loves to hype up and sell.  That said, anytime a big powerhouse gets over an early season milestone there is the chance of an immediate letdown.  While not highlighted below, one upset watch could be Oklahoma going on the road after their domination of Florida State to play a confident Air Force team up in the mountains. There may be only a 1 in 5 shot of it being a decent game but the elements of an upset are definitely there for the Sooners.  Texas is in a different but equally dangerous scenario.  After a couple weeks of destroying cupcake opponents in Austin they must go on the road to face rival Texas Tech.  Texas Tech may be in a rebuilding year but not much is really known about how they will play after Tuberville took over as head coach but is playing with Mike Leach’s high octane players.  Unknowns like that can be dangerous things in college football.

Regardless, it is just as often low profile weeks like these that have some of the most exciting games of the year, even when BCS hopes aren’t necessarily on the line or pitted against each other.  Not a bad Saturday to build up some capital with the significant other for later in the season (*cough October 2nd!), just make sure to keep the TV or gamecast on in the background for an upset alert. Happy viewing.


Arkansas at Georgia: A solid mid-level SEC matchup between two teams who many think may be competing for the #2 or 3 spot of the entire conference. Georgia lost a tough one last week to South Carolina (17-6) while missing both their stud first string RB, AJ Green, and their second stringer. Not sure if Green will be eligible to play by kickoff but they should at least get their backup and have something of a 2nd dimension to throw at Arkansas.  The story for Arkansas is their QB Ryan Mallett the whiny but massive and obviously NFL-talented refugee from the Michigan program a couple years back.  He’s had some good games this year but all against crap defenses, this will the first big test for the supposedly explosive Arkansas offense in a rough early SEC schedule. The two teams have generally had close games and with question marks around the field on both sides it’s hard to see how this year will be any different.

Florida at Tennessee: Hate Week. This matchup is back in Knoxville and frankly that and a lackluster Florida offense is about all Tennessee really has going for it. I’m not sure what to think about Florida yet.  Their offense has looked horrible, total identity/confidence crisis after losing their savior Tebow. Last week they ended up putting up a lot of points but had a very slow start, I imagine this week will look the same. They will be missing one of their studs, Chris Rainey, who played the role of a concussed violent stalker earlier this week and is apparently no longer with the team.  Modern day UofF seems to be taking after the Miami teams of the 90’s, pure uncontrollable thug.
Nonetheless I’m having trouble imaging how a young and demoralized Tennessee team is going to have the confidence to smother Florida’s athletes for 60 minutes. I’m open to discussion on this and hope I’m wrong but the way last week played out for Tennessee I think even a Florida team playing at 70% is going to top the Volunteers



Nebraska at Washington: This has to be a statement game for Nebraska.  It should be no surprise that their defense will be physical and effective but there are some serious question marks on offense.  Luckily for Nebraska’s O they should still have time to develop this week against a Washington defense that was pitiful in 2009 and decimated this year.  Washington is certainly no offensive powerhouse but their QB Jake Locker is a senior media darling with most of last year’s offense returning.  Personally I think he is overrated as a college QB, he may have the size and particular skill set to be a stud in the NFL but college ball is a different game. The matchup is strength against strength but the real thing to watch will be how Nebraska’s offense plays to get a first look at how they may fare against more competitive Big 12 opponents on their farewell tour.

Notre Dame at Michigan State: Certainly not a nationally significant game but an intriguing matchup nonetheless. Notre Dame usually gets the best out of of their opponents and MSU is one of those schools that certainly only shows up for certain matchups, this should be one of them.  Will have to see how ND responds after their close loss to Michigan/Denard Robinson last week.  If their offense is able to get in rhythm and their starting QB doesn’t get poked in the eye again they should cruise past MSU.  If they get bogged down by mistakes or a feisty, if less athletic, MSU defense they’ll be in for another slugfest.

Texas at Texas Tech: A dangerous game for Texas.  Texas Tech may be a shadow of the team they were under Pirate Coach Mike Leach the last time Texas visited Lubbock (and left with their heads hanging) but this isn’t exactly TT’s new coach Tommy Tuberville’s first rodeo. (Sidebar: I really do miss their previous Coach Mike Leach he ran a wild unconventional offense and even had dating advice for the student body. He never held back whether it was calling his players for being distracted or going Abu Ghraib on his own players, you gotta respect that in a man. College football needs and thrives on coaches like him. /Rant over.)
Back to 2010. This year Texas is the clear favorite and Texas Tech is expected to be in serious rebuilding mode.  Nonetheless TT still has some of the weapons left over from the Leach era. Their QB Taylor Potts has a cannon for an arm and led them over Oklahoma last year with the same backfield and receiving corps.   I shouldn’t have to say much about the University of Texas, they are obviously stacked.  Arguably the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 even with a new QB, Gilbert Grape, at the helm. The real showdown here will be Texas’ lockdown secondary versus the talented Texas Tech receiving corps.  Even with a newly revamped and more balanced offense Tommy Tuberville has to know where this team’s strength lies and it is in the air.  I’ll be hoping for an upset but if Texas stays balanced and in control it could get ugly.

Iowa at Arizona: Iowa’s first “test”. Granted it’s Arizona but Iowa doesn’t have a great record when they travel out West and the Wildcat’s RB Nic Grisby knows how rack up yardage (8.4 yards/carry avg so far this year and 7.2 last year).  Iowa’s biggest asset will be their size and physical style of play. How did those Iowa boys get so big?  Well, the Iowa strength and conditioning program is one of the best in the country.  They turn people into complete animals. How do they do it? One word: Kettleballs.
Iowa should have a grinding but solid win over the Wildcats but if you somehow manage to stay awake enough to watch football or have a tv on this could be a game worth monitoring.
TV Viewing Schedule. All times CST. And last but not least a throwback treat to the soccer World Cup (el otro futbol). Apparently it’s in 3D, I imagine that AJ is already on his way to Billy’s apartment to check it out.
Saturday, September 18th
Arkansas at Georgia 11:00 a.m. (ESPN or ESPN2) (HD)
Florida at Tennessee 2:30 p.m. CBS (HD)
Nebraska at Washington 2:30 p.m. ABC / ESPN2 *7 / ESPN-GP *2
Notre Dame at Michigan State 7:00 p.m. (ABC / ESPN2 *7) (HD)
Texas at Texas Tech 7:00 p.m. (ABC / ESPN2 *7) (HD)
Iowa at Arizona 9:30 p.m. ESPN (HD)

 

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Week 2 – CFB—Armageddon is coming early this year

That’s right, Armageddon, a label worthy only of Saturdays where multiple teams with national championship hopes face dangerous upstarts.  It’s generally foolish to read too much into Week 1 results although there were some surprises (Michigan, Ole Miss, Florida…) and it was a pretty solid slate overall.  Out of the teams below Oklahoma probably has the most to prove after a pretty poor showing against Utah State.  There is really more at risk this week for the big teams than real potential for the challengers to rise to the top, with the possible exception of Miami.  A pretty fantastic lineup for so early in the season.

Michigan @ Notre Dame- Suddenly relevant again because of how both teams played last week. Michigan in particular was impressive.  Their QB Denard “shoelace” Robinson, who only split time last year, passed for 186 yards and rushed for another 197 while blowing through UConn.  The kid is fast, 6th gear fast when get gets past the first level D.   His performance will be the key to the game.   If ND is able to restrain him they may need to open up their playbook which was a problem for him last year and they kept it simple last week as well.  He’s a prototypical QB for RichRod’s offense and the O line looked much better.
Notre Dame had a much closer win against Purdue (and the Boilermakers are pretty horrible).  Kelly’s hurry-up offense didn’t look bad but it put a lot of strain on their defense and that dogshit secondary of theirs.  Some pundits think Kelly’s hurry-up offense will pressure Michigan’s questionable D but they have seen this game coming for a while and have a pretty badass weight and conditioning program (lots of burpees) so I think they will be okay.  This will be the first game of several this weekend where it would probably be wise to take the Over on points.


Florida State @ Oklahoma- If Oklahoma plays like anything like they did last week, they are totally screwed. Their defense has to really step it up.  OU QB Landry Jones has not exactly been impressive and I wouldn’t expect too much from him, but both offenses can score like a 20-yr-old at Prom so it should at least be an exciting matchup.  I think FSU could pull it off but the game being in Norman and FSU’s defense still being dubious at best makes it very iffy.  I think this is the hardest game of the week to get even a decent read on.

Miami @ Ohio State- In my opinion, this is the most intriguing and meaningful matchup of the night. Battle of the pure athlete QBs. Key to the game, if OSU’s D-line can get to Miami QB Jacory Harris he will make mistakes and they will be in trouble, if he has time he and that WR corps will be able to pick away OSUs less than formidable secondary. Another question will be to see how much leash Tressell gives his QB Terrelle Pryor.  Don’t expect to see anything flashy from the buckeyes early but if Tressel feels comfortable with finally letting loose the physical talent Pryor brings there could be some highlights by the second half. The guy makes running faster than 99.9% of all human beings look effortless, he’s a gazelle.  If the past is any indication, OSU did go to a more open shotgun-based offense in Troy Smith’s last year at QB in 2006, when he also won a Heisman
I think Miami matches up well athletically with OSU but I’m not sure about how well they will take a real physical game (like the hurting Wisconsin put on them in the bowl last year).  QB Jacory Harris is something special and if his line gives him time he can make things happen. Ohio State has a whole lot more to lose, Miami upset OU in Norman last year (albeit with Bradford out..) so the Buckeyes know to be wary.  Miami is the clear underdog but I think it’s going to be one hell of a game.

Oregon @ Tennessee- Expect lots of points, mostly from the ducks (put up 72 last week).  I’ll let Billy get into the hypotheticals about the dangerous Knoxville humidity and how a 102,000 Jack Daniels-fueled crowd can be pretty damn intimidating for waterfowl from out West, but still….  Oregon is absolutely loaded with quality RBs and if they aren’t afraid to pile it on.
My gut tells me this is a much more dangerous game for Oregon than generally expected but hard to back that up with anything tangible.

Penn State @ Alabama- This game is being highlighted by ESPN for the sole reason that Joe Paterno is the last person alive (hyperbole warning!), much less even coaching, to have faced Bear Bryant.  Oh and he lost all 4 times. He won’t likely fare any better this time up against Satan’s disciple Nick Saban.  Penn State will be led by a true freshman quarterback against Alabama, read that again if it hasn’t sunk in yet, against a Saban defense.  I don’t care how young or inexperienced they are, those kids have been nursed with protein shakes made of virgin QB blood since they stepped onto the Tuscaloosa campus, they will be hungry and violent enough to overcome missing some starters on D-line.  Penn State’s defense is actually their strong suit this year but Alabama, even without the Heisman Ingram, will have them outgunned.  Expect them to unleash that quick back Richardson and their corps of underutilized WRs (Julio Jones!) to rain on Penn State until Saban feels satisfied to let the defense sit on and strangle the Nittany Lions and TV/slingbox viewership to death. (Actually if you’ve been watching all day you’ll probably be pretty drunk by now and ready to go sleepy regardless)
TV/Slingbox Guide. All time US CST.  If you’re stranded like me it would be advisable to have 2 laptops running, for the 2:30 and maybe even 6pm shift.  Be sure to advise your loved ones that the whole day is pretty much off limits.
Saturday, September 11th
Michigan at Notre Dame 2:30 p.m. NBC (HD)
Florida State at Oklahoma 2:30 p.m. ABC / ESPN2
Miami at Ohio State 2:40 p.m. ESPN (HD) / ESPN 3D
Oregon at Tennessee 6:00 p.m. ESPN2 (HD)
Penn State at Alabama 6:00 p.m. ESPN (HD)
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Week 1-CFB- 2010 Season Kickoff- Games of the week

So…it’s that time again
(cue cliché music and grainy football hits video-here)
A few quick things. Like last year I’m going to try to shoot this preview email out once a week to get a debate going. As I lack many english-speaking football fans with whom to discuss the week’s upcoming games last year I began writing some of my thoughts down and attaching pictures of the finer sex in a sad attempt to get people to respond with thoughtful, critical and piercing commentary about the world and happenings of college football.  As should have been obvious given my choice in friends, most of what actually comes back are ‘That’s what she said‘ jokes, rolling debates on the ‘gayness’ of each other’s mascots and comments on barely-of-age college girls dressed in Volunteer orange. So yea, it’s actually much better this way.
All that said, if you do not want to be on the receiving end of my fantastically uninformed thoughts of the upcoming college football matchups or the responses (maybe MBA Boscoe.. or NFL AJ) or do not like receiving pictures of pretty ladies every week (…Daniel living in Castro or maybe Billy who’s joined the priesthood) let me know and I’ll spare you the weekly delete/archive.  Also, if you know someone who may enjoy such things (pity the soul) let me know and I can add them so they get on the original mail so they get all responses.
All that aside, remember to hit Reply All and I wouldn’t worry too much about offending anyone in this group. (Though not sure that applies for Daniel, I think most of us have seen the depths of disturbia he can be commenting from, so be wary)
Enough of that, on to the football!
I’ll keep this part brief because there has already been too much rambling.  I think this year is going to be one bumpy ride.  Lots of parity and no truly dominant team or obvious pick for the title, not even 2 or 3 obviously dominant teams.  Not sure if 2010 will reach 2007’s level of carnage and hysteria with a top 4 team falling every week but expect and rejoice in the chaos.  This is so much better than watching 2 teams destined from pre-season rankings to go undefeated until they meet for the title in January.
Damn any logic or predictability, embrace the madness!

THURSDAY, Sept’ 2nd
Pittsburgh at Utah-
Arguably the most balanced matchup between two solid teams this week.  This is the only game worth tuning into on Thursday.  Both teams finished 10-3 last year and in the Top 20.  Pitt will be a contender to win the Big East, for as much as that’s worth, and Utah is returning a solid team. Being the season opener it will probably be a bit sloppy and slow to get going but their styles of play should match up well for a good game regardless. Did I mention the Wannstache is still the skipper at Pitt…Bears fans be warned of potential traumatic flashbacks to the 1990s. 

SATURDAY, Sept’ 4th
Connecticut at Michigan –
This has to be a scary game for Michigan.  Everyone remembers their Appalachian State opening week meltdown in 2007 and RichRod is still struggling to prove he can bring consistency to Michigan.  The offense should be better this year but that defense looked like dogshit on a good day.  Connecticut is an upstart team not long out of I-AA who plays lots of close games and can beat bigger more talented teams (ND last year) if the conditions are right.  This is a good one to kick off your college football saturday on.


Oregon State at TCU – This will be the first step to what I predict will be a year of the Horned Frogs of TCU delightfully throat-stomping their opponents. Oregon State may play tough in the Pac-10 (*snicker) but Gary Patterson has his guys flipping tractor tires and drinking virgins’ blood all offseason just so his defense plays hungry flesh.  TCU also tends to score, a lot, particularly in the past two years. I try not to make too many predictions, because I suck at predictions but Oregon State has bitten off quite a load in the first week.

LSU vs North Carolina –
I’m not sure quite what to think about this game.  I know that LSU is still in a downcycle and that UNC has been on the rise the past two years but I still have trouble taking them seriously playing any sport that doesnt involve hardwood and a net. There is no denying that UNC has a defense that is stingy as all hell and they return a load of players on both sides of the ball…but can the SEC power LSU really lose to a basketball school???   I’m not really sure I want to live in that world but either way I hope and think we’re in for an interesting matchup. Another fun wrench in the mix, apparently every star player on the UNC team had a very busy tutor writing their papers and now they may not be able to play in at least the opener. Trying working that into your matchup calculus.

MONDAY, Sept’ 6th
Boise State vs Virginia Tech –
This is supposed to be the year for Boise State.  They’ve been the Thursday night spectacle for so long that their jump straight to a Monday Night matchup is either really impressive or ‘oh-so-typical’ of ESPN trying to disturb my sleeping patterns early in the season.  Frankly, I’m not that impressed by Virginia Tech and it bothers me that all the “professional” commentators and pundits have labeled this as Boise State’s “biggest test of the year”.  If Boise is half the heavyweight everyone thinks they may be this year (entirely possible) than this matchup is more like a pissed-off (presumably at the BCS) doberman going up against a toothy basset hound named Beamer.  This has less to do with Va Tech per se than the ridiculous amount of hype placed around this game for Boise State.  There will be people ready to sign Boise’s ticket to the national championship if they hurdle Virginia Tech, that’s how dogshit awful the rest of Boise’s opponents are.  On the bright side, in hope of a good game, Virginia Tech usually doesn’t self-destruct and forget how to play offense until at least mid-October, they always start hot, even in their opening loss to Alabama last year.  They lost a lot of players on defense but that is coach Beamer’s game and rarely a concern.  If Boise wins this one I hope Va Tech at least makes them pay for it, major injuries, glaring new susceptibilities for the remainder of the season etc, prevent them from just waltzing through the rest of the year.  I’m hoping for a shootout.


TV Schedule below for the best matchups this weekend. Also included are some games that will be of interest only to a couple of you guys.  William & Mary for our Fighting Tribe contingent; NIU for our Husky grads; Colorado for our many Colorado ties, and the Tennessee game because, well, UT-Martin might actually give the Vols a ride and much like a skateboarder meeting a telephone pole, that could be hard not to watch.   All times are in CDT.
Thursday, September 2nd
Northern Illinois at Iowa State 6:30 p.m. (CSNC / CSNBA / FSN affiliates) (HD)
Pittsburgh at Utah 7:30 p.m. Versus (HD)
Saturday, September 4th
Illinois vs. Missouri 11:30 a.m. FSN (HD)
Colorado vs. Colorado State (Denver) 1:00 p.m. MTN (HD)
Connecticut at Michigan 2:30 p.m. ABC / ESPN2 *7
Purdue at Notre Dame 2:30 p.m. NBC (HD)
William & Mary at UMass 2:30 p.m. CSNE / Comcast (cable)
UT-Martin at Tennessee 5:00 p.m. ESPN-GP *2 / PPV (TN)
Oregon State at TCU 6:45 p.m. ESPN (HD)
LSU vs. North Carolina (Atlanta) 7:00 p.m. ABC (HD)
Monday, September 6th
Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (Landover, MD) 7:00 p.m. ESPN (HD) / ESPN 3D

 

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