The Hangover Cure: Week 2

Inspired by something I ate last night.

Everything But The…

My heart goes out to the Ohio Bobcats. They had their Goliath tied up, beached, muffing bad snaps and turning them into touchdowns for the other team, missing extra points. They had the lead in the fourth quarter against mighty Ohio State; then, mighty Ohio State woke up.

The 26-14 loss was no small feat for a team that doesn’t spend a lot of time leading teams with numbers attached to their ESPN graphics, and the elevated sonorous tones of Pam Ward on the replay will be less prize than they deserve for sending a scare into the Buckeyes.

But, uh, Jim Tressel, is it really that bad an idea to put in the guy who ran all over the field in his limited appearances and have him run the option for a little while? Terrelle Pryor was not purchased recruited for chart-reading duties, and Ohio State won’t beat USC without a substantial contribution from him.

Half Baked

Of course this goes to whoever on the NCAA competition committee decided that something as simple as Washington’s Jake Locker’s flip to the sky would draw a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty. While he celebrated scoring what could have been the game-tying touchdown against BYU a bit more demonstratively than, say, Barry Sanders would have, Locker was not trying to show anyone up, and certainly was celebrating with his team rather than individually.

You know the story by now: the kick, backed up, gets blocked; BYU wins 28-27. (I saw the footage of the end of the game while it was being replayed last night; the hold and kick were both abysmal, and it would have probably been blocked from the shorter try, but perhaps the angle taken would have been different.)

And the official, though he did manage to call three penalties for two seconds of game (BYU got an unsportsmanlike for bench players running on the field after the block, and U-Dub was hit with an offsides on their first onside kick attempt), did little more than enforce the rule as written. It’s the rule, not the enforcement, that disconcerts.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

The best of all possible outcomes was East Carolina’s 24-3 throttling of West Virginia. From someone who watched almost all of the game, that score’s even deceiving: WVU was never in it after Pat White left the ball on the sideline during a dive for a first down.

ECU let White and Noel Devine get their yards on the ground (the two combined for 191), but shut down the Mountaineers’ passing game and rode the revelation that was Patrick Pinkney (22 of 28 for 236 yards and a TD) to a very easy win that left the Pirates looking as good as the ‘Neers looked bad.

Number fourteen good? I’m not so sure. But minus a game against a UCF team that was quite good last night, the Pirates’ schedule looks like smooth sailing.

Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies Encore Edition

Something, like, tells me that, man, those Wisconsin Badgers were out of it early. Actually, that could said of a lot of the Big Ten, which played a smattering of FCS and bottom-feeder FBS schools and did little of note.

Aside from Ohio State’s lackluster showing against Ohio, Wisconsin let Marshall go up 14-0 early, Michigan never really put Miami of Ohio away, Michigan State let Eastern Michigan stick around early, Purdue only scored 21 before the fourth quarter on Northern Colorado, and Northwestern had to fight Duke until the end.

The only really positive performances were probably by Illinois, in a romp over Eastern Illinois that showcased Juice Williams’ running ability, Penn State’s rout of Oregon State, and Minnesota’s upset of a good Bowling Green team. And if that’s what you’re holding up as your conference’s highlights…

Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz

How potent is Oregon’s offense? Check the impressive statistics: 53 carries for 408 yards and seven TDs on the ground, 66 points in less than 28 minutes of possession, no running back averaging less than six yards per carry, a total of 34 first downs, or a 9-of-14 mark on third down.

Sure, it was Utah State, and sure, Purdue and Boise State will be better tests of this team in the coming weeks. But it was 59-14 in the third quarter as the starters began trickling off the field. These Ducks pack some punch.

Chunky Monkey

Steve Spurrier’s tenure at South Carolina has gone much like this: play remarkably for one week or a stretch, then soil the bed against an inferior opponent the next.

Now, Spurrier’s Gamecocks have lost to Vanderbilt in consecutive years, falling behind 24-10 in Nashville before losing 24-17. The ‘Cocks have a better-than-good defense, but Spurrier’s offensive magic deserted him at some point on the long, strange trip from Gainesville to Columbia via the District, and it showed on Thursday, with the woeful 6-for-15 performance on third down and three turnovers to Vandy’s zero.

My guess is that the OBC is gone before the year’s done, or shortly after it; at this point, you can’t spell the Papajohns.com Bowl without SC, and I’m sure that’s not Spurrier’s idea of success.

Tortoise Soup

Matt Grothe looks a little bit like a turtle. He’s small, stocky, and has as much shot at the NFL as I do at winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

But he’s one of the ten best quarterbacks in the NCAA this year, and he proved it with a gorgeous pass to Taurus Johnson in overtime that put USF up for good against UCF in the day’s most exciting game.

Once more bailing out Delbert Alvarado, perhaps the most consistently erratic kicker to ever play college football, who missed a game-winner with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter, Grothe and the Bulls ran wild over UCF, tallying 504 yards of total offense and coming through when it mattered to erase any memory of the three turnovers they committed.

Still, USF only put away a pesky Knights team that got the game of Joe Burnett’s life on returns (six returns for 206 yards) and a fantastic day from Michael Greco when it stopped a fourth-and-six scramble by Greco about three inches short in overtime. It’s fitting, I suppose: just as this rivalry really begins, it ends.

Imagine Whirled Peace/Vanilla

I couldn’t resist the pun here: no one watching the Florida-Miami game of last night could have possibly been thinking of the glory days of the ’80s in this rivalry, when Howard Schnellenberger’s Miami teams swaggered into and out of stadiums, kicking ass and forgetting the names. There was no hint, however faint, of Wayne Peace’s effort for the Gators in their last win in Gainesville against UM, in 1982, at least not outside of an ESPN flashback.

No, this was, as it has been for UF for a little more than a year, the Tim Tebow Show. And Tebow gained over 300 yards of total offense, bludgeoned the Miami front seven as the Gators’ leading rusher, and threw two excellent touchdown passes, leading an uninspired Gators offense to a victory that was never really in doubt, but never really comfortable.

For that, blame the vanilla offenses that Patrick Nix and Dan Mullen put on the field for the ‘Canes and Gators, respectively.

Nix seemed to want to run the ball every first down, and Graig Cooper must have had ten two-yard rushes in Miami’s pathetic 37-carry, 61-yard rushing “attack” that featured a long of ten yards; his passing game was almost as bad, with Robert Marve and Jacory Harris combining for 3.6 yards per attempt. Nix’s ‘Canes, blessed with some athleticism in the backfield and on the fringes, rang up just 140 yards of total offense in a performance that had Ken Dorsey rolling in his grave. (Ken Dorsey’s not dead? Oh.)

Meanwhile, the Gators’ offense, invariably described as high-octane, was perhaps running on leftover Billy Donovan hair gel. Dan Mullen strayed from the running game early, as the Tebow smash accounted for half of UF’s carries, and he refused to challenge the ‘Canes downfield for much of the game, opting for a series of dinks and dunks that only succeeded when Aaron Hernandez broke free, then late-game pyrotechnics that gave Carl Moore a chance to break every bone in his body to get an elbow down in bounds.

Certainly, there’s a little of the Gator Nation hunger for the bombs of yesteryear in this analysis, but there was also a sea change from the opening win against Hawaii, in which UF’s cruise missles were deployed to great effect; against Miami, the Percy Harvin model was used surgically, and the Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps ones sparingly.

When Demps, an Olympic-level sprinter, makes his best play of the night on a punt block, there is perhaps a misuse of some substantial speed on offense.

(I’m cheating a little bit for these two.)

Straight Talk Crunch

If you’re Pete Carroll, you must not show any footage from this week’s Ohio State game to your players. Show them the Buckeyes’ opening victory, or clips of Beanie Wells running roughshod in the fall of 2007.

The Men of Troy will lose the titanic game of next Saturday if they come out flat, because Ohio State, you can rest assured, will return to the field with a fire that did not burn against Ohio.

Whirl of Change

The old guard is dying. All over, Shelley’s words are being murmured.

Spurrier’s South Carolina experiment is as close to failure as we’re likely to admit; Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer must be worried that his team will look even worse against the surprisingly good Florida defense in two weeks than it did against UCLA; Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer cannot be pleased by a loss to East Carolina and an entirely underwhelming win over Furman.

Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden both won. I’m not sure they remember who they played, though.

And, with that, I’ll see you later.

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