College Football Report

By Mike Luce

The college football season finally got underway last Thursday and, truthfully, caught us a bit before we were ready for it here at the Beachwood Sports Desk. So let's get you caught up and then take a look at this weekend. As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only.

The Week(s) in Review

Game: Utah St. 17 @ #19 Utah 35 (-21)

What was supposed to happen? People love the Utes. And for good reason, I suppose. I've always enjoyed Utah's outsider role in the BCS mess. But for whatever reason, this year's team does not turn me on. Their game last Thursday was an audition for another run into BCS contention.

What actually happened? Utah won but didn't cover. See what I mean?


Game: #16 Oregon 8 @ #14 Boise State 19 (-3)

What was supposed to happen? Boise State, playing at home on itsblue "Smurf Turf," went into the game as a slight favorite although most seemed more interested in the prospect of a high-scoring shootout between two of the most hyped offenses in the country.

What actually happened? No one seems to remember due to the outburst by Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount immediately after the game. For the record, Boise shut down Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli and ruined a sexy BCS dark horse pick. The game was not as close as the final score would lead you to believe.

As for Blount, young people in high-pressure, emotionally heated situations can't be relied on to always make good decisions. Hell, I've made worse decisions in cold blood.


Game:: CSU 3 @ #1 Florida 62 (n/a)

What was supposed to happen? CSU - no not that CSU, or that one, or . . . - was expected to get killed. Florida kindly requested that Charleston Southern (oh, that CSU) play along, to the tune of $450,000. Allowing Tim Tebow to simply run the length of the field, for example, would not be acceptable.

What actually happened? CSU accepted a healthy paycheck for a glorified practice session with the Gators. (Bonus: name CSU's mascot! First to respond earns the undying respect of the Beachwood Sports Desk.)


Game: Louisiana-Monroe 20 @ #2 Texas 59 (-45)

What was supposed to happen? Texas QB and Heisman aspirant Colt McCoy, part of The Year of the Quarterback (as proclaimed by ESPN, The Sporting News, et al), was supposed to dazzle us with his good looks, strong arm, and gaudy stats. Helmetless preening for the camera during warm-ups was deemed optional.

What actually happened? Why don't we call the University of Louisiana at Monroe by an acronym? At most, you see "LA-Monroe." From now on, we'll refer to them as ULM. If Charleston Southern gets CSU, it's the least we can do. Oh, ULM lost. But they were scrappy! Ten fourth quarter points prevented Texas from covering a healthy spread. Stick it in your eye, McCoy.


Game: #20 BYU 14 @ #3 Oklahoma 13 (-23)

What was supposed to happen? Really? This was a match-up between two Top 25 teams, right? You're telling me the Sooners were favored by more than 3 touchdowns? Why didn't that sound as crazy at the time?

What actually happened? Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford left with an injured shoulder late in the second quarter. Bradford, part of the Year of the Quarterback (YOTQB, henceforth), showed us in his absence why 2009 is not the YOTB-UQB. Bradford's back-up, a porn-stachioed young man named Landry Jones, looks better on the sidelines.


Game: San Jose St. 3 @ #4 USC 56 (-34.5)

What was supposed to happen? I love USC. I may even root for them against Notre Dame this year. The outcome of this game was never in doubt, even in the pre-season media guide.

What actually happened? No mystery here.


Game: #5 Alabama 34 (-6.5) @ #7 Virginia Tech 24 (in Atlanta, GA)

What was supposed to happen? A huge match-up in the early season had everyone, ABC TV executives included, licking their chops. TIDE! HOKIES! Battling it out in the Georgia Dome! See? It sells itself.

What actually happened? I don't really know, to tell you the truth. I didn't watch the game. (Not that I watched all the other games. Nor do I regret missing it. Dinner, and the company, on Saturday night were lovely.) I was shocked to learn, however, that a Hokie co-worker (let's call him Keith) was only vaguely aware of this game a few days prior. How does that happen? Keith is a casual sports fan and seems to love his alma mater. Why didn't this game make the radar? I couldn't bring myself to care too much, and I wasn't alone.


Game: Navy 27 @ #6 Ohio St. 31 (-22)

What was supposed to happen? Ohio State paid Navy a million dollars to travel to Columbus, get knocked around, and sucker us all into believing that the Buckeyes might stand a chance against USC in Week 2.

What actually happened? Navy did not get the memo. They wanted to win the game. Navy beat OSU in the rushing game (186 to 153) and third-down conversions (66% to 25%) and came within a botched 2-point conversion of tying the game late in the fourth quarter. OSU surrendered scores on long plays of 16, 16, 85, and 24 yards. In between, the Buckeyes yielded more than 4 yards per rush. Somewhere, Joe McKnight (10.4 YPR on Saturday for USC) is drooling with anticipation.


Game: Akron 7 @ #9 Penn St. 31 (-29.5)

What was supposed to happen? I'm not exactly sure, but I'm fairly confident PSU would like to score some points in the second half this year. The Nittany Lions couldn't manage to do so against the vaunted Zips "D". (Lightning round: Akron's kangaroo mascot "Zippy" is a rarity in college football. What makes Zippy unusual?)

What actually happened? Not much. PSU didn't exactly run away with this one. Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx advanced warning: after feasting on weak opponents in 2008 when favored by double digits, Penn State laid an egg in Week 1. Just for reference, SI featured Penn State, Oregon, Oklahoma State, and Ole Miss on the 2009 college football preview issue (covers varied by region). In Week 1, the SI Four went 2-2 against the spread and 3-1 straight up. Not bad, but then again, it was only the first week.


Game: #13 Georgia 10 @ #24 Oklahoma State 24 (-5)

What was supposed to happen? I don't know about you, but I am on the edge of my seat every time OSU (that other OSU) coach Mike "I'm a man, I'm forty!" Gundy speaks to the media. Would an SEC win and a ranting post-game press conference be too much to ask for...?

What actually happened? Apparently, yes. To make matters worse, the Midwest was victimized by the networks' asinine regional coverage scheme and forced to watch Towson vs. Northwestern. (Note: not what actually happened, but close.) Take note as this will be a recurring theme.


Game: #11 LSU 31 (-18.5) @ Washington 23

What was supposed to happen? Everyone was ready for a stunning upset in the coaching debut of former Saskatchewan Roughrider Steve Sarkisian. A disciple of offensive mastermind Norm Chow, Sarkisian showed more sense than many other candidates by withdrawing his name from consideration for the vacant Oakland Raider head spot in early 2007. Instead, he took over for Lane Kiffin (former USC offensive coordinator and Oakland Raider head coach, now spending his days reprising Steve Spurrier's role as Most Hated SEC Coach) as O-coordinator and parlayed that into the top job at Washington.

Just so we're all clear on the algebra involved here: USC offensive coordinator > Oakland Raider head coach > Other Pac-10 school head coach > University of Tennessee head coach.

Yes, the rest of the Pac-10 is that mediocre. And yes, UT has really fallen that far. Kiffin has shown skill with sound-bites. We'll see how he does running the ship. My money is on Sarkisian.

What actually happened? It looks like U-Dub will be suffering through a Ty Willingham-sized hangover for another year or two. Then again, the Huskies were in the game the whole way and could be good enough to squeak into bowl eligibility. That would make everyone in Seattle happy. Wait, scratch that. Moving to San Diego would make everyone in Seattle happy.


Game: Maryland 13 @ #12 California 52 (-21)

What was supposed to happen? Everyone expected Maryland to lose. But the commentators and producers must have comforted themselves knowing that Ralph "The Fridge" Friedgen would be on the sidelines for UM (this UM). Even casual fans will watch a woodshed game for a few minutes in hopes of a long, lingering profile shot of Friedgen wallowing under the red tarp that doubles as his signature red polo.

What actually happened? Friedgen dropped eighty pounds in the off-season! The man once weighed a full four bills. Maryland didn't recruit Freshman K Nick Ferrara, they found him under Ralph's spare tire in June, slapped some cleats on him and called it a day. Way to go, Ralph. Sadly, this could be a tough year for the Terps. Let's hope The Fridge doesn't have a problem with comfort food.


Game: Jacksonville St. 17 @ #15 Georgia Tech 37 (n/a)

What was supposed to happen? With all this pay-to-play money just lying around, JSU had to schedule somebody in Week One.

What actually happened? Georgia Tech tuned up for this week's game with Clemson. Move along. Nothing to see here.


Game: Citadel 6 @ #21 North Carolina 40 (n/a)

What was supposed to happen? If it's any indication, I didn't know The Citadel had a football team.

What actually happened? Keep an eye on UNC. The next two weeks will tell us all we need to know. The Tarheels visit UConn this week and then return home to play the pesky ECU Pirates. With games against Miami and Florida State at home, North Carolina could be off-the-radar BCS contender. Then again, I detest UNC. I hope they lay an egg this week.


Game: Northern Iowa 16 @ #22 Iowa 17 (n/a)

What was supposed to happen? Early in the season, you can (or should be able to) safely assume that a ranked team facing a "Direction + State Name" school will result in a blowout. Bonus points if the underdog has an obscure mascot. (Eastern Kentucky Colonels, we're looking at you.)

What actually happened? Well, this was certainly not what the Hawkeye faithful had in mind. Conference title aspirations tend to dim a bit when you struggle against a creampuff in the first week. Let's focus, people. Iowa still must face juggernauts like Arkansas State later this year. I don't have a good feeling.


Game: Nevada 0 @ #23 Notre Dame 35 (-14.5)

What was supposed to happen? The Notre Dame faithful needed some reassurance. After lackluster results from Charlie Weis, supposed cure for the Ty Willingham hangover, the 2009 campaign might be a make-or-break season.

What actually happened? ND sprinted out to an early lead and went into halftime up 28-0. The second half was played on cruise control. I'm not sure this game holds much relevance to the remainder of the Irish schedule. For example, ND is a mild favorite visiting Michigan this weekend, and I would not be surprised to see the Wolverines win straight-up. With games later against Navy, USC, and other decent teams, this season might not be a cakewalk for the Irish. (Weis: Mmm, cakewalk . . .)


Game: Florida Atlantic 3 @ #24 Nebraska 49 (-24.5)

What was supposed to happen? As we have discussed, this game fell squarely into the Creampuff Equation.

What actually happened? Nebraska held up their end of the bargain.


Game: Northern Colorado 3 @ #25 Kansas 49 (n/a)

What was supposed to happen? See above.

What actually happened? Ditto.


Game: #8 Mississippi 45 (-18) @ Memphis 14

What was supposed to happen? While I certainly appreciated the extra game, especially while we waited for the NFL season to start, something about college football on a Sunday doesn't feel right. I wonder how many Ole Miss or Memphis fans missed part of the game due to church. Or vice versa.

What actually happened? This game was built up due to the growing rivalry between Ole Miss and Memphis. I'm not sure I'm buying. To make matters worse, DeAngelo Williams was Memphis football. Since his departure, the Tigers have not been the same.


Game: Miami (FL) 38 @ #18 Florida State (-6.5)

What was supposed to happen? I don't understand the thinking behind this game. Historically, this match-up has been decided by more last-second plays than I can remember. And yet the game opened with FSU favored by 4.5 and the line crept steadily northward until Monday. Combined with the option at some sportsbooks to "buy the hook" (a personal favorite) and push the spread up to 7 points, Miami felt like a sure-fire pick.

What actually happened? Easy for me to say. Midway through the second half, the Seminoles hit Miami QB Jacory Harris, jarring his shoulder and sending his pass looping into the arms of an FSU player, who promptly waltzed in for a defensive touchdown. I proclaimed the game "over." Little did I know that several lead changes would follow, capped off by an instant replay review of the final play and an inexplicable failure by FSU to manage the clock. Too much happened for me to recap here, but suffice it to say that this may have been the best game of the season.


The Week In Preview
This weekend does not hold many promising games. The second week is often a bit of a letdown. Contenders have relieved the pressure of kicking off the season, possibly grabbing some headlines by winning a competitive game (see Ohio State, LSU, et al.) and now will settle down to the business of shellacking a scrub team or two before conference play begins. That said, there are a few interesting match-ups out there highlighted by the prime time OSU-USC game.

Game: #16 TCU (-10.5) @ Virginia (Saturday, 2:30pm CT)

What I think will happen: Texas Christian is late to the party, having watched most other BCS hopefuls make their mark last weekend. Along with Boise, Houston, and Utah, TCU has attracted a good deal of attention as a likely candidate to crash the BCS party. I don't know much about UVA but a road game is always a good test for a heavy favorite. I like the Horned Frogs but the final score may be a bit deceiving due to TCU's defense. Something along the lines of 27-10 sounds reasonable.


Game: South Carolina @ #21 Georgia (-7) (Saturday, 6pm CT)

What I think will happen: When you get bored watching USC rout Ohio State, flip over to ESPN2. I think UGA will cover the number, but the game should be worth watching.


Game: #3 USC (-7) @ #8 Ohio State (Saturday, 7pm CT)

What I think will happen: Avert your eyes, Buckeye fans and Big Ten believers. This could get ugly. Again.


Beginning next week, Mike Luce will review the previous weekend's results on Tuesdays and preview the upcoming weekend's games on Fridays. Comments welcome.

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