Here's your dispatch from "Cupcake Saturday."
In yet another opening week, the Fighting Irish bucked the national trend and allowed the dessert cart to pass by until after the first course of the meal. Along with Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida State, California, and Tennessee, all of whom deserve credit for risking an early loss, the Irish chose to watch their waists rather than gorge on Division 1-AA petit fours and assorted directionals. My most intense scorn is reserved for Boston College, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Penn State (who may regret the decision to "tune up" against Akron). Embarrassing and cowardly, the lot of you. But on Saturday, like some 1970's Roger Corman schlock-fest, one of the cupcakes said #@&* this! and bit back. Colorado lost to Montana State. Not only did the Buffs lose, they lost at home. They scored one touchdown. They racked up 216 total yards. They were shut out in the second half. Good on ya', Bobcats.
Knowing that predictions on this blog are worth the paper they're...errr...printed on, I will say with confidence that, based on the Nittany Lions' performance against Akron (!), Notre Dame is going to roll over Penn State. Million Dollar Morelli looked more like Two-Buck Tony in this one. Don't let the three touchdown passes fool you. First, one of them was underthrown by about five yards and would have been intercepted by most any non-Akron secondary. Second, they played freaking Akron. Against the Akronese onslaught, Morrelli averaged a whopping 6.4 yards per attempt. The running game was clicking similarly, piling up 76 yards (2.8 yards per carry), 42 of which came on a single AJ Wallace run. At least the Paternos only lost two fumbles and held the Zips to a measly 37:29 of possession time. Yeah, yeah, I know the weather was bad. AKRON.
In a game that could have been subtitled "The Culture War," Cal proved why so many programs schedule like scared schoolgirls by getting pantsed, swirlied, and pooped on by birds in a whupping adminstered by a surprisingly good looking Tennessee team. The Vols jump squarely into the "enigma" column, pending a September 16 tilt against Florida.
Last year, I believe after their first game, I called Oklahoma "horrible," and I was right. I'm not going to predict a losing season, but they have serious problems again. They managed to avoid a Coloradic humiliation, but not by much. Against the UAB Blanc Mange, the Sooners gave the ball away four times, converted 3-11 third downs, were out-possessed by eleven minutes, and were losing late in the third quarter until Adrian Peterson bailed them out, something he'll be called upon to do about twenty times a game, I reckon. They could not kill the clock and gave the Blanc Mange three fourth quarter possesions to try to even the score. But the problems weren't all on offense, as the Sooners allowed the opposing quarterback to complete 11-17 on the way to 17 points. Their schedule will get them to a bowl, but the Sooners will all be home by New Year's.
The Florida State/Miami game was one of those early season brain-twisters. Were the defenses that good, or do the offenses just plain suck? I choose the latter. Yes, both defenses are fast, and the fetishization of speed was florid in the ESPN (or was it ABC?) coverage. LOOK AT THAT SPEED! But I saw poor offensive line play, poor quarterback play, and above all, miserable play calling. The defenses are good, but come on. 310 combined yards of offense? Three combined yards rushing? Is there lipstick red enough to pretty up this porker? Off topic, why oh why can't we go back in time and make Craphonso Thorpe and De'Cody Fagg the same guy? Craphonso Fagg -- we'd never have to have a "best name" contest ever again.
Kentucky may have punched West Virginia's ticket to the BCS Championship game by going all Tyrone Prothro (you may not want to click that link if you've eaten since the weekend) on Michael Bush (ditto). The Mountaineers may end up as the only undefeated team this year. Unfortunately for them, there's no Holiday Bowl in their future and despite their laughable schedule, they have ZERO chance at the title. Foolishly early prediction: If Notre Dame loses a game this year, there will be a split AP/BCS National Champion. A pat on the back for the first one who figures out why.
Who's for real so far? Notre Dame is. Fear not, the Irish will score a lot of points this year. Ohio State, Auburn, Texas, and LSU have also done what they were supposed to. On whom is the jury still out? USC. Not to nit-pick a blow-out, but the Trojans gave up almost 5 yards a carry to Arkansas. SC rolled because Arkansas insisted, at every available opportunity, that the Trojans remove the ball from their quivering fingers. Also because Pete Carroll had Mark (It Wasn't Me) Sanchez passing on 4th and 4, up 44-14 with under three minutes to go on the Arkansas 20 yard line. Nice. Here's hoping we can lay the karmic whiplash on the Poodle.
Penn State is right around the corner. We pray that ND's brilliant, gold-flecked helmets are strong enough to repel the inevitable attempts to crack the Irish crania and munch on their grey matter.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Here's your dispatch from "Cupcake Saturday."