Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Week One

Yesterday was a pretty entertaining start to the 2008 season. I mean, it wasn't App. State over Michigan, but it was fun. I will try to give my thoughts on a weekly basis in this new feature.

Ohio State

Of course, I have to start with my Buckeyes, even if the Big Ten Network is
n't available in Misery.

The good: They won. There was not even an inkling of an App. State happening in the 'Shoe yesterday. Beanie surpassed 100 yards and scored a 43 yard TD. Boeckman played a mistake-free game and tossed a couple of TD's. The defense pitched a shut-out. But the best news of the day was the debut of Terrelle Pryor. He passed well and ran for a TD. His numbers and playing time were similar to another freshman on a national title contender a few years back by the name of Tim Tebow.

The bad: They played Youngstown State. And, in case you hadn't read it off the ESPN ticker of heard it mentioned like forty times in the teaser for Sports Center, Beanie suffered an injury to his right foot. Luckily, the x-rays were negative and he should be back on the field shortly. My bet is that he sits next week versus Ohio U (who lost by one to Wyoming) and returns ready to go against USC.Either way, that's one game down, twelve to go.

I was wrong about the Tigers. I figured they'd lose this game plus two more down the road. Their offense looked pretty ready, but more on that below.

The good: The offense put up 52 points on what was supposed to be a solid defense. Jeremy Maclin made an early push for his own Heisman candidacy with some impressive plays, including a highlight-ready 99 yard kickoff return that completely turned the momentum back to Mizzou's side. Chase Daniel was his usual 300+ yard and 3 TD performer. The defense even came up with a few timely plays. Oh, and they did beat a top-20 team.
The bad: Illinois put up 42 points and 532 yards of their own. I thought that Mizzou's defense would be suspect this year, but geesh! Maclin did leave the game with an ankle injury, but I don't think it's anything to cause concern in COMO. Despite his overall numbers, Chase Daniel looked rusty and somewhat mediocre (by his standards). Of course, it was just the first game. I still don't think Mizzou is a national title contender, but they are 1-0. Next up: Southeast Missouri. Who?

Big Ten
I'm a Big Ten guy. So, I feel the need
to give my take on Ohio State's conference, no matter what sort of struggles they may be having.

The good: Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Northwestern, and Iowa whipped inferior opponents. Purdue did not lose (nor play). Ohio State and Wi
sconsin looked powerful in particular. There's not a lot else to say there.

The bad: As mentioned before, Illinois missed their chance to take the next step by beating an elite team (without the refs helping them out). Michigan State also missed out on a chance to beat a Pac Ten team despite putting 31 on the board. It looks like the Spartans will be a dud once again. However, the worst loss of the day came in Ann Arbor. Michigan looked terrible versus a decent Utah team. The Wolverines are risking a Minnesota-like season. By the way, Minnesota beat Northern Illinois by four at home. Sounds like the Big Ten will take it on the chin again this year. At least we're not the ACC.

Top 25
Most of the teams in the top 25 did what they were supposed to do which was win their first game. Of course, like last season, there were a few improbable upsets to keep us interested.

The good: The freakin' SEC is loaded once again. Besides lopsided wins over inferior opponents by the likes of LSU, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, and South Carolina. Alabama put a whooping on Clemson. That's six really good teams fighting for the conference title. Eventually, they'll all beat each and one team will rise above with only two losses to be
at Ohio State in the BCS title game. Man, this is getting old.

The bad: Does the ACC play division one football anymore? The two premier, top-20 teams were embarrassed by lower ranked opponents yesterday. First, defending conference champ Virginia Tech was taken out by East Carolina. There's an East Carolina? Some kid named Holtz is their coach, and he used a special teams play to beat Frank Beamer's squad at their own game. The Pirates' next opponent, West Virginia, should look out.

The second ACC "power" to go down was Clemson. The #9 Tigers did not look like the Atlantic Division favorite, much less a national title contender after the beat-down they experienced at the hands of 'Bama. Like I said before, at least the Big Ten isn't the ACC.

The Heisman
None of the preseason favorites did anything to set themselves apart from the rest. Tim Tebow is still the favorite to repeat with a solid performance versus an overmatched Hawaii team. He set an NCAA record for consecutive games with a passing and rushing TD. Beanie Wells (despite the injury), Pat White (5 TD passes), and Chase Daniel (typical win) all did nothing to take them out of the race. Although, Daniel did throw a terrible pick-six that gave Illinois the lead in the 2nd quarter.

The one bright surprise in the Heisman chase came in the form of Jeremy Maclin in Mizzou's win. The all-purpose yards leader from a year ago started his season with another 200+ yard performance and an electrifying and momentum shifting kickoff return (as mentioned above). If he puts up numbers every week and the Tigers keep winning, he might be the dark horse in the race.

Overall Grade: C+
There were some upsets, but nothing super surprising. Michigan, Clemson, and Virginia Tech were all overrated, a fact that was exposed by underrated opponents. All the big boys did what was expected: USC made another mediocre team look like a high school squad: the SEC dominated; and the Big Ten frustrated. Luckily, there are still a couple of games left. The highlight will be Tennessee's visit to UCLA. My head says that Tennessee should whip the Bruins pretty badly, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Volunteers will underachieve and somehow lose a game they should win. We'll see.

Next Week:
Ohio State and Mizzou play no one next week. Hopefully, Beanie Wells will sit out in preparation for the trip to LA.

Elsewhere, there are not marquee matchups, but there are several games of interest that could be closer than expected. Keep your eye on the following...
Central Michigan at Georgia (I'm not kidding. LeFevour can play. He's the little Tim Tebow.)
Cincinnati at Oklahoma (The Sooners better be ready to play. The Bearcats are no joke.)
Miami (OH) at Michigan (Will the Wolverines begin a second season in a row 0-2?)
BYU at Washington (Ty Willingham is in trouble after Oregon whipped them last night. BYU is looking to be this year's Hawaii.)
West Virginia at East Carolina (Is this the only game versus potentially ranked teams? I think ECU could carry their momentum from the VT win and start an improbable 2-0.)
Miami (FLA) at Florida (Has Miami turned around completely? I doubt it.)

1 comment:

Huey said...

Nice thorough recap of the days' events. Isn't it nice to have college football back?

I'd give the O-H shout out but I am so sick and tired of that played out, fringe fan cheer that I'll pass on it this time.

And why can PBR be the last three verification letters for me?