Run and Shoot: 11 Lessons Learned from Week 9

« 11 Lessons Learned from Week 8 | Main | 11 Lessons Learned from Week 10 »

11 Lessons Learned from Week 9

It was kind of an ugly weekend. Not hideous, but let's say ugly like the Wendy's hamburger girl ugly. Scoreboards took a lot shots and needed a lot of replacement bulbs.

(The Big Uglies have a lot to cheer about here as win No. 381 for JoePa U. was one of his biggest. Penn State took a huge step toward the national title game with its 13-6 win at Ohio State.)

Competitively, take away the slight scare of Texas by Oklahoma State and a little bit of intrigue in the Ohio State-Penn State game and this was a bore of a weekend. Oh sure, there were a few upsets near the bottom of the Top 25, but the Top 10 had all the mystery of a Harlem Globetrotter game.

Let's get to the lessons we learned from Week nine.

Lesson 1-
The college football world needs to prepare itself for another Big 10 team in the national championship game.

Penn State's last perceived big hurdle to an unbeaten season appeared to be Saturday night's game in the Horseshoe. Well after the 13-6 bloodletting-type win, the Fighting Nittanies improve to 9-0 and have only a roadie at Iowa and home games with Indiana and Michigan State remaining on their yellow brick road to Miami.

But with Big 12 and SEC teams looking all sexy and scoring nearly triple digit point totals, seeing a Big 10 team plodding into the BCS title game by kicking field goals and recovering fumbles to score game-winning touchdowns and sending their coach to the press box for the entire game, my guess is that most of the college football world will be hoping for the upset somewhere.

Lesson 2-
We're officially forming a search committee, rounding up the blood hounds and looking for that thing we used to call defense in our beloved sport.

Did you see those numbers? 58-35, 52-38, 63-21, 63-5, 54-7, 58-0, 54-34 and 42-35. And that's just the Top 25 scores. Two of those track meets took place in the supposed defense-first SEC. And Holy Pellini! For the first time in conference history, LSU gave up 50-plus points for the second consecutive game.

As I said last week, the spread offense is ruining college football. When scores start looking like Arena football scores, it's time for some new rules.

(There should also be a rule that LSU doesn't have to give in to CBS and change their home games to daytime starts. As you saw in the Georgia loss on Saturday, it's never the same energy and atmosphere. Also, got any idea why Tiger Stadium administrators felt the need to have the energy-burning lights on during a cloudless afternoon?)

Lesson 3-
Well, we found out that Texas IS human after all.

But the Longhorns recovered well enough in their new state of mortality to stay unbeaten with the 28-24 win over pesky, and better than we thought, Oklahoma State. But there sure were a whole lot of white-knuckle moments. Even Colt McCoy wasn't immune, committing two turnovers and ditching a pass into the sod on a fourth-down play at the Pokes goal line. All three of those transgressions took place in the final quarter of the game too.

Still, the Steers survived and have one more game remaining on their murderer's row schedule, at Texas Tech this coming Saturday. In fact...

Lesson 4-
We found out two more things, UT's road to the national title just got a little bit tougher and karma doesn't really exist.

Did you see what UT's next opponent did to Kansas? Didja? Aye caramba! Texas Tech was all over the No. 23 Jayhawks like a cheap suit, to the tune of 63-21. That's like a mid-80s type of KU loss. Kudos to the Raider defense too, holding the Jayhawks to just 315 total yards and had Darcel McBath intercept Todd Reesing on three of his first four second half passes.

(Well, if you're going to sit through a 63-21 rout, you might as well sit through it in style. These reclining leather end zone lounge chair seats go for $2500 a year at Kansas. These field-level seats also come with 42-inch plasma TVs in front of them.)

I'm more than willing to eat crow when it calls for it. So far, my curse of karma coming back to bite Texas Tech in the proverbial butt for that last-second touchdown at Texas A&M just didn’t happen on Saturday. The Raiders went into Lawrence and completely defeathered the Jayhawks.

Lesson 5-
You can be a pretty awful team and still be the leader in your conference.

Look who is now at the top of their conference standings after Saturday's games:
- Virginia (3-1 and on top of the ACC Coastal)
This is the same team that lost to USC, UConn and Duke by a combined 128-20.
- Nebraska (2-2 and tied for the lead in the Big 12 North)
The Huskers lost 52-17 at home to Missouri. Wait... maybe I should put Kansas in here. They're tied with NU as well despite that vomit-fest vs. Texas Tech.
- West Virginia (2-0, alone atop the Big East)
Remember when East Carolina was a good team? They beat the 'Neers by three touchdowns.
- Marshall (2-1, tied for first in the C-USA East)
This team is tied with that formerly-good ECU team and has lost three straight including last week's 23-21 clunker at UAB.
- Oregon (4-1, tied for first in the Pac 10)
Ducks had to go to OT to beat a languid Purdue team and also was a sieve in the Boise State loss. Oh and flush those unis while you're at it..

Lesson 6-
It's easy to find the best feel good story of the year: the Minnesota Gophers.

This is a team that went 1-11 last year and had the worst defense in the entire country. On Saturday, the Gophers improved to 7-1 with a 17-6 clampdown at Purdue. The biggest key to the season has been the Golden boys' knack for pulling out a host of turnovers. The U came into Saturday's win leading the nation in turnover margins and got four more in the win in West Lafayette.

(Boil THIS Purdue! Defensive players like Kyle Theret, Traye Simmons and Kevin Mannion are part of the reason Minnesota is one of the best defensive teams in the country this year. A far cry from last year's horrid unit.)

In pulling their first win at Purdue since 1990, the Gophers also held their third opponent in their last four wins to single digit scoring. And isn't it hard to imagine a Pudue squad being held to just 109 yards through the air? That’s the lowest single game total in the Joe Tiller era.

Lesson 6A-
The second best feel good story had to be Rutgers' Mike Teel.

The oft-berated QB of oft-losing Rutgers put it all together in the Knights' 54-34 win at No. 17 Pitt, throwing for a school-record six touchdowns and 361 yards on the day. Nice goin' home-boy. But where has this been all season?

Lesson 7-
Clearly, all that "SEC has too much speed" talk doesn’t apply to West Virginia.

The 'Neers are now winners of five straight vs. the SEC and they've done it in dominating fashion. This was the second time in a high-profile national TV game that a Mountaineer running back ran roughshod through an SEC D. At the 2006 Sugar Bowl, Steve Slaton rushed for 204 yards against Georgia. Then, on Thursday, Noel Devine plastered Auburn for 207 yards on 17 carries.

After a slow start that saw the Plainsmen race out to a 17-3 lead, WVU put the clamps on, holding Auburn scoreless from the 10:20 point of the second quarter on. In all, the Tigers offense struggled again, gaining just 260 total yards, only 33 of which came in the second half.

Lesson 8-
This past weekend assured us that we're starting to see more and more examples of the following things this season in college football:
1- Seems like there is an inordinate amount of helmets flying off of players getting tackled. (I picture a lawsuit eventually)

(Tulsa's A.J. Whitmore keeps on running even though his helmet got ripped off his head on this end-around against Central Florida. Question for some of you lawyer-types out there: if he had gotten injured on the play, would he have grounds for a case against Riddell here?)

2- Pass interference is called way too much. (Don't get me started on this.)
3- The un-catchable pass call on those P.I.'s isn't called often enough.
4- Nimrods still man the replay booth. (Bad gaffes at Michigan State-Michigan, Baylor-Nebraska and USC-Arizona in particular.)
5- Offensive facemasking must not be a rule any more.

(Shouldn't Alabama's Mark Ingram be flagged for this? Readyyyyyy, discuss.)

Lesson 9-
Never, never doubt Dennis Dodd.

Two weeks ago he made the ridiculous statement that 5-1 Vanderbilt wouldn't go to a bowl. Well people, guess what? After Saturday's 10-7 loss vs. Duke, the 'Dores drop to 5-3 and have Florida up next. Hmmm, looking ahead to games with Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest after that, this could really be a 5-7 season for VU. Damn Dennis, if this happens, I promise to kneel at the visage that is the Temple of Dodd.

Saturday's horrid Homecoming loss was due mostly to the three turnovers, the four sacks and a fumbled punt at their own 15 that led to the Devil's difference-making field goal midway through the third quarter.

And we all need to take a step back and appreciate the job that David Cutcliffe is doing at Duke, as the Devils are now 4-3 and threatening to make their first bowl appearance since 1994. Remember when Ole Miss ran this guy off for all those 9-win seasons? Fools.

Lesson 10-
Instead of the "Coach to cure MD" armbands that you saw every coach in college football wear on Saturday, we as college football fans, believe that it would do the sport a favor if they wore "Coach to cure the BCS" armbands instead.

(Those white arm-bands you saw coaches wearing this past weekend was part of a national campaign to bring attention to the fight against Muscular Dystrophy. Nice cause and all, but they should be wearing arm-bands that say "Screw the BCS")

Don't get me wrong, I want to cure MD more than anyone else. But with Texas, Alabama, Penn State and Texas Tech all still unbeaten, one-loss teams like Florida, Georgia and USC playing as good as anyone out there and four mid-majors still unscathed, we're certainly heading for another needless disaster in the post-season and deserve armband unity across the board too.

Lesson 11-
East coasters go to bed way too early.

At 3:24am East coast time on Sunday morning, Hawaii's Greg Alexander hit Malcolm Lane with a clutch 24-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left to allow the Warriors to pull out a riveting 38-31 win over Nevada. It was especially stunning considering the Wolf Pack had a third-and-one and could've just set up for the field goal. Instead, Coach Greg McMackin and crew went for the glory, tossing a fade pattern into the end zone that just snuck inside the pylon.

After that, I had reached my college pigskin satiation point and it was time for me to hit the hay... with a smile on my face.

(Ahhhh, the disgruntled fan reaction shots. Hey Mr. TV Executive Producer, you asked for a shot of what the fans emotions were, so there you have it. Now you see why I believe live football games should be rated TV-MA, just like those soft-porn movies at 2am on Cinemax.)

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


DI-A College Football

↑ Grab this Headline Animator