Midterm grades are in and all report cards have been distributed. Some parties got a pat on the back while others took a whipping to the backside.
The 2009 College Football season would drive thoroughbred handicappers crazy
Preseason darlings that swept up preseason polls now are a distant memory. Iowa and Cincinnati, dark horses of their conferences, closed in on the field down the stretch.
However, do not play that exacta anytime soon. Cincinnati looks like a sure thing. Iowa still might find itself place or show. Conference favorites Ohio State and Penn State are no longer the studs at the post. West Virginia and South Florida have gone off the grid. The state of Oklahoma doesn’t even have a say for the overall purse.
Oklahoma literally got a shot in the arm in the Red River rivalry. However, it’s not the type they hoped for. Texas held off the Sooners 16-13 and knocked Sam Bradford out of the game in the second quarter. Last years game provided fireworks before the end of the Texas state fair. This year the fireworks remained on schedule. Texas used its defense to force 5 turnovers en route to victory over the Sooners. Despite, no Sam Bradford and a porous rushing attack the Sooners hung in the game. Oklahoma might be the best 3-3 team in America while having several opportunities to win the game. The Longhorns face a tough test versus Missouri and need to get that offense cranking or their bound to fall into the same trap they did in 2008.
Nebraska seems resemble Charles Manson during his parole hearing. The Cornhuskers always seem poised to turn the corner and then they lay an egg. The 31-10 thrashing by Texas Tech and backup Steve Sheffield showed the country that the Big 12 North is division by cybil. Nebraska’s offense is atrocious and it really takes the spotlight away from intimidating defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Kansas finally showed us how vulnerable they were by being upset by a backup Quarterback in his opening start 34-30. While the South Division is Texas’s to lose the North will continue to shuffle around like a card deck till the championship game in December.
By the way what ever happened to Texas A&M football. After leading the nation in total offensive yards and averaging 50 points a game the Aggies were thrashed 62-14 by an inferior Kansas State team. College Station probably should have kept R.C. Slocum around. At least he mashed inferior talent and boosted an intimidating defense.
Iowa is the Seabiscut of the Big 10. No matter how far behind they are they continue to leave the field in the dust. Iowa fell behind early in Madison last week 10-3. They ran off 17 straight points to take out Wisconsin 20-10. Ricky Stanzi is one of the most underrated signal callers in the country. He threw for a modest and controlled 17-23 for 218 yards and a Td. Adam Robinson has made injured starter Jewel Hampton an afterthought. When it has mattered most Robinson has ran hard and fought for the extra yards.
Ohio State and Penn State are the Smarty Jones of thoroughbreds in the Big Ten. Every year they seem to be to powerful for weaker conference foes. Purdue showed that Ohio State is not worth the dough by upsetting them 26-18. In West Lafayette its great to see Danny Hope get a reprieve for letting the Notre Dame game slip away. Tyrell Pryor looked horrific. He seems to be confused whether to run or sit in the pocket. Jim Tressel and the staff might have made the wrong move to throw Pryor into the fray. To bad that redshirt year is no longer an option. Penn State has been laughable this year with all 5 wins versus teams below .500. The Big House beckons ahead for the Nittany Lions. Penn State has lost 6 straight since 1996. Michigan’s defense no doubt is susceptible to yielding 30 or more points. However, Sean Lee’s injury and the defensive injuries might make tackling Tate Forcier a headache. Michigan will be juiced for this game hopefully Penn State provides the same flavor.
Cincinnati has become the War Admiral of the Big East. We knew they were strong on offense but the defensive play makes them a pretty site. The Bearcats handled South Florida 35-17 without Tony Pike. Pike has a cast on his wrist and is questionable for the Louisville game. Even Cincinnati could take this contest even without Pike at the controls. With tougher tests in the future he should sit out. Pike is on fire with flashy receiver Marty Gilyard.
Pittsburgh is a couple defensive plays away from being undefeated. Their crucial 24-17 win in Piscataway vs. Rutgers was a huge statement and they should be ranked in the Top 20. Dion Lewis has eased the blood pressures of the Panther faithful with 1,500 yards on the year and Jonathon Baldwin continues to look like a Big East All America.
Connecticut got an important win over Louisville to move to 4-2 but lost something even bigger. Jasper Howard was stabbed during a school dance after the game. Howard died from an abdomen wound from the stabbing. No doubt about it Howard was a major asset to the team off the field. Jasper left Miami to get away from the gangs and trouble. Connecticut showcased his skills and now he will be unable to fulfill them. These are the tragedies that hurt college sports the most. Condolences to the Brown family and the UConn community.
4 yards separated Notre Dame from forcing overtime against USC. The Trojans built a 20-point and saw it evaporate in the fourth quarter. After Robby Parris caught a crucial fourth down pass to extend the game-tying drive, a spear from Taylor Mays knocked him out for the game. Mays penalty helped the Trojans in the long run because Jimmy Clausen’s last pass was supposed to be directed towards Parris’s hands. Instead, the play went to Duval Kamara and he slipped on his cut with the ball sailing away from him in the end zone. Notre Dame got another chance to score when the officials thought the game was over even though one second remained. Right then and there you thought the Irish would tie it based on the events in 2005. A clock error during that game allowed students to run on the field and slow the pace down. USC sneaked it in to win with the help of Reggie Bush. Notre Dame did not have the same luck.
For all the Weis haters Notre Dame showed the country they have the athletes to compete with the Elite game in and game out. I know USC led by 20 points and might have let up but championship teams don’t do that. Troy’s hiccups have cost them a place in the title game and the fourth quarter revealed similar tendencies. The Irish are far from being an elite program. However, they now have the depth to compete with the elite. Losses hurt in the eyes of all teams but this one helped the Irish image and recruiting chances. It was the biggest recruiting weekend ever at Notre Dame and they couldn’t have asked for a better ending.