Archive for year 2009
The 95th Rose Bowl Game on Thursday was over before the first-half clock had expired. Doomed by 62 yards in penalties, a turnover, and an inability to lock down USC’s receivers, Penn State was licked when Stephfon Green fumbled at the tail end of a 30-yard gain with 1:24 remaining in the second quarter.
USC capitalized on the turnover within 36 seconds, moving the ball 58 yards in five plays to push the scoreboard to 31-7 in its favor.
Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez turned in an MVP-caliber performance in the first half alone behind solid front-line protection, hitting a wide-open receiving corps 18 times out of 23 attempts for three touchdown passes and 276 yards. He added 14 yards and another score on the ground. Sanchez’s most productive targets were wide receivers Damian Williams (10 receptions, 162 yards, 1 TD) and Ronald Johnson (4 grabs, 82 yards, 2 TDs).
Fearless prediction: Utah’s 31-17 Sugar Bowl hammer job on Alabama will lead to a plus-one system to determine the national champion in D-1A college football when the ESPN contract kicks in after next season.
While the plus-one would have still been overloaded this year with five legitimate title qualifiers (Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, USC), look for a new BCS formulation that would assure undefeated teams with respectable strength of schedule to make it to the final four. Under the new formulation, Utah’s SOS this season, which included wins over ranked teams like TCU, BYU, Oregon State and three other bowl-bound programs, would have been sufficient enough to land the Utes in a semifinal matchup.
Funny to see the love sportswriters like Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! are giving 13-0 Utah now, after the Utes surprised the masses with their Sugar Bowl victory.
Where were they all year long when the Utes and fellow Mountain West Conference teams were racking up a 6-1 record against Pac-10 opponents? Or when the conference’s last-place Wyoming knocked off the SEC’s Tennessee in Knoxville?
Wetzel does get it right when he points out how few, if any, pollsters even saw Utah play. For that, the Utes can thank Craig Thompson, commissioner of the MWC. Thompson oversaw the conference’s ill-advised defection from ESPN for a slightly weightier contract with now-defunct CSTV.
Kicking off the fourth year of “Fourth and inches…” here’s a quick rundown of the most intriguing games for the 2009 season’s opening weekend of Division 1 College Football:
No. 16 Oregon at No. 14 Boise State (Thursday night). This is the only difficult game that Boise State will play this year in the regular season and they get the Ducks at home on their atrociously ugly blue smurf turf for that extra dose of competitive advantage. Oregon has a serious revenge mentality working for them after last year’s BSU cheap shot knocked QB Jeremiah Masoli out of the game. If the Broncos win, pencil them in for a BCS bowl game.
Toledo at Purdue. Yes, this is a rather interesting game because it’s the Rockets first under new head coach Tim Beckman (former DC at Oklahoma State). Beckman inherits a hungry and experienced team led by senior QB Aaron Opelt and stellar senior safety Barry Church. The Purdue game provides a solid proving ground to see what Beckman has been able to do during the offseason to turn the Rockets program around. Toledo is not scared to load up their non-conference schedule with heavyweight games. Coming up on Sept 19: at Ohio State in Cleveland
Yep, another college football power ranking. Unbiased and responsive to each week’s results and key statistical indicators. Compare with the others out there and share your thoughts.
1. FLORIDA GATORS (1-0). Gators are Numero Uno until they lose, but they don’t get any style points for their 62-3 yawner over 1-AA Southern Charleston. SubUrban needs to get a clue from Oklahoma about what a real non-conference schedule looks like for a national power.
2. TEXAS LONGHORNS (1-0). 59-20 win over Louisiana-Monroe was a snore with sentimental Heisman frontrunner Colt McCoy (21-29, 317 yards, 2 TD passes) leading the onslaught.
3. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (1-0). ‘Bama’s impressive 34-24 road win over Virginia Tech puts them on the verge of the No. 2 ranking, but that bitter Sugar Bowl aftertaste is still a factor this early in the season.
Alabama hopped over Texas to assume the Number 2 slot following the Longhorns’ sloppy win in Laramie. The rest of this week’s rankings reflect an upward thrust by the SEC with four teams now residing in the top 10.
1. FLORIDA GATORS/SEC (2-0). They turned the cruise control on in Gainesville and zoomed past another vastly overmatched opponent (56-6 over Troy). The Tennessee – Florida match-up used to be a fantastic SEC battle but the Vols are still on the skids and will offer little resistance this week.
2. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE/SEC (2-0). The Tide rolled over Florida International, 40-14, but gain little respect this week by taking on North Texas State, another Sun Belt Conference foe.
3. USC TROJANS/Pac-10 (2-0). The Trojans showed just enough offense and a lot of heart to withstand Ohio State and 100,000 screaming Buckeye fans in Columbus. Don’t be surprised if Washington gives USC fits this weekend. Jake Locker is a more mature QB than Terrelle Pryor.
The Two Biggest Winners and Losers of Week Two …
Biggest Winners: 1. Houston Cougars. They took down then No. 5 ranked Oklahoma State on the road and set themselves up for a run at the BCS. QB Case Keenum is the real deal now that he finally has a signature win over a quality opponent. 2. Tate Forcier and the Michigan Wolverines. In a year where freshman QBs are all the rage in college football, Forcier showed more talent, poise and maturity than many accomplished senior signal callers. RichRod needed the win and so did the Big M. It silenced the critics and called into question stories of internal dissent in Ann Arbor. I spoke with a former player who is still well-connected with the program and he claims it’s a small handful of troublemakers making a lot of noise about nothing. At 2-0, with wins over two solid opponents, the Wolverines are suddenly relevant again in the Big Ten title hunt.
Biggest Losers: 1. Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. Loaded with senior talent and experience, and facing their easiest schedule in years, including USC coming to South Bend with a freshman QB, Weis’ questionable play calling and the Golden Domers’ inability to finish off Michigan when they had them on the ropes has to be a huge disappointment to Beano Cook and the Irish fan base. 2. Dan Hawkins and the Colorado program. Not to take anything away from the Toledo Rockets and head coach Tim Beckman for an overwhelming offensive performance against the Buffs, but you really have to wonder how the Colorado football program could sink any lower than it has. The Buffs are 0-2 and they have four sure losses coming up on the road against West Virginia, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma State. Don’t count on Colorado making it to a bowl game this year.