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Archive for September, 2009

Fourth and inches …

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
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College Gridiron 365 Power Rankings

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.
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College Gridiron 365 Power Rankings

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.
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Fourth and inches …

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.
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College Gridiron 365 Power Rankings

Miami and Cincinnati continue to impress with big wins, while BYU, USC and Utah all tumbled following bitter losses. This is the weekend we find out if Mississippi, Cal, TCU, and Houston are the real deal.

1. FLORIDA GATORS/SEC (3-0). The Gators failed to overwhelm Tennessee in The Swamp, which is puzzling after all the bulletin board material Lane Kiffin provided. We just might have a bit of a tussle in store for the SEC title. Not this week, though, at Kentucky.
2. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE/SEC (3-0). And the Tide keeps on rolling, this time over North Texas State, 53-7. The work-in-progress Razorbacks visit this weekend with the potential to shoot off some fireworks of their own and take ‘Bama to the limit.
3. TEXAS LONGHORNS/Big 12 (3-0). The Longhorns outlasted Texas Tech, 34-24, and face little challenge this weekend with UTEP visiting Austin.
4. MIAMI HURRICANES/ACC (2-0). The way the ‘Canes are playing I could see them in the national title game in four months. But first they’ll need to get by Virginia Tech on the road this weekend. No small feat.
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Fourth and inches …

Florida State knows how to get away with the big cheat… Watch the replay of FSU’s thrashing of BYU in Provo last weekend and a couple things become very apparent. The Cougars would’ve been in a shootout with the Seminoles like I predicted if they would’ve held on to the ball better. But, FSU also knows how to cheat very well.

In their first possession, the Seminole offensive line took out Cougar nose tackle Russell Tialavea with a ruthless chop block. Tialavea didn’t play the rest of the game and is out for at least the next four weeks with a grade 3 MCL sprain, probably longer. Tialavea is a quality defensive lineman that takes two blockers to handle every play, so it’s easy to see why the ‘Noles had a rather easy time of rushing up the gut the rest of the game.

Another play that stands out in the replay is Greg Reid’s interception and TD return of a Max Hall pass at the beginning of the second half. Reid grabbed tight end Andrew George’s jersey and slingshot himself toward the ball while knocking George off balance and unable to fight for the ball.
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