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Last week, the buzz surrounded the Top 10 matchup between Boise State and Virginia State. The game lived up to the hype but the larger implications were almost more interesting than the game itself: the loser was certain to be eliminated from the BCS title, while the winner would springboard into the national championship picture. Week Two features three games between Top 25 teams with national title consequences and a fourth that may determine the SEC East.
We aren't often treated to this many high-stakes games in the second week of the season. Further, the Football Gods saw fit to spread the kickoff times from 11AM to 6PM Central. Let's pray for miserable weather on Saturday to help us feel better for spending the day in front of the television.
Great First Game, Coach . . . Now, What About Michigan on Saturday?
The CFR applauds the first-year coaches who triumphed last weekend. We imagine most of these newcomers would second Jimbo Fisher's comments in his first post-game interview as head coach. After his Seminoles stomped Stamford, Fisher related the sense of relief that washed over him after taking the field. We can only imagine the distractions, uncertainties and stress that must have melted away for each of these signal callers at the 14:59 mark of the first quarter last weekend.
Jeff Quinn, Buffalo: The former Cincinnati offensive coordinator under Brian Kelly accepted the top spot at Buffalo, breaking up the duo that had been together for 22 years. We'll touch on Kelly's situation below, but Quinn has some tough work to himself to guide the Bulls to a winning season in the MAC. Yet he could have made a worse choice for his first solo flight - the former Buffalo coach, Turner Gill, landed at Kansas this season. Buffalo has proven a decent stepping stone to positions at bigger programs, provided the coach can scrape together some wins.
Dan Enos, Central Michigan: A Michigan native and former Michigan State QB ('87-'90), Enos earned his chops as a position coach and coordinator at Cincinnati and MSU. Under his tutelage during Enos' years in East Lansing ('06-'09), the Spartans produced a number of good backs (notably, Javon Ringer - who led the country in carries and TDs in '08) and QBs (such as Drew Stanton, a 2nd round draft pick in '07). CMU has fielded some scrappy teams in the past, and figure to compete in the MAC under Enos. In late-breaking news, we should have taken the Chippewas (+7) at Temple on Thursday night - the game was decided in OT for a tough CMU loss, 10-13.
Ruffin McNeil, East Carolina: Trading touchdowns - including a Hail Mary for the W - isn't the best way to ease your new coach into the season. A win is a win, but if the Pirates keep this up McNeil will be a much older man by January.
Joker Philips, Kentucky: Inheriting a winning program is never easy. Taking over for the coach who took the program to four consecutive bowls and three straight bowl wins (a first in both cases) is downright thankless. Toss in that Philips is the first black head coach in UK's history, and we would expect some butterflies before Saturday's game against rival Louisville. While Big Blue fans don't despise the Cardinals with the same passion as Georgia or Tennessee (odd, given the lopsided nature of those "rivalries"), leaving Papa John's Stadium with an L would not have gone over well. Nice job, coach.
Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech: Dykes, guru of the spread offense, takes over at La Tech after the departure of Derek Dooley. Expect more scoring from the Aggies this year as Dykes brings his system with him to Ruston, LA. While he may have some disciplinary issues to sort through, Dykes flourished in places like Arizona, Texas Tech and Kentucky by spreading the field and getting the ball to playmakers. The Bulldogs play some tough games on the road this year (at Texas A&M, Boise and Hawaii) but could take a few teams by surprise at home. Plus, he has good bloodlines - he is the son of Texas Tech coaching legend Spike Dykes.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame: Contrast Joker's position at UK with that of Brian Kelly, the latest arrival being hailed as the savior of Notre Dame football. Few Irish coaches stirred up more bile than Charlie Weis and his 16-21 record at Notre Dame in his last three seasons. Much like his failed stomach staples, Weis just didn't stick in South Bend. Kelly took over in December and promptly tossed the pro-style offense, instituted tougher practices and installed his uptempo system. The new offense was on display in a solid win over Purdue last week. Unproven QB Dayne Crist didn't set the world on fire, but ND carried a 10 lead into halftime and never looked back. Kelly needs at least another season (if not two) to stock his team with the right mix of talent for his spread offense, but getting a win in Week One never hurts.
Skip Holtz, South Florida: We hope Holtz can continue the success of his predecessor, because QB BJ Daniels deserves to play on January 1 someday. Daniels drew criticism for his erratic play last year, but never for lack of effort. A 59-14 blowout over Stony Brook doesn't correct all the sins of the past, but the Bulls look to be on track for another eight win season.
Lane Kiffin, Southern California: Sigh. Fine, you too. Well done, now go out there and try to cover the spread this time, mmkay?
Derek Dooley, Tennessee: Dooley is already a household name in the SEC thanks to Vince Dooley, former head coach ('64-'88) and athletic director ('79-'04) at the University of Georgia. As a legacy, Derek Dooley seems like a natural fit in the coaching world. And yet many in Knoxville look at Dooley's past experience (only three years as head man at Louisiana Tech, where he compiled a 17-20 record) and wonder if he could use more seasoning before taking the reigns at a major program. We think Dooley was a fine choice for a program reeling after the tumultuous Lane Kiffin experiment - and facing possible NCAA sanctions - but Volunteer fans won't be happy with seven or eight wins. The Vols welcome the high-flying Oregon Ducks this Saturday in what might be a shock to the system for Dooley. Welcome to the big time, coach. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for . . .
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Yes, you read that correctly. Tommy Tuberville is back on the sidelines, with a headset and everything! After a year of laying low, Tuberville takes over at Texas Tech for Mike Leach at a program where the stink of last season's Turd in the Punchbowl Award still lingers. We last saw Tommy at his resignation press conference following a 5-7 record at Auburn in the 2008 season. Fundamental issues like scoring seem to have flummoxed past Tuberville teams - witness the offensive implosion and early dismissal of O-coordinator Tony Franklin in '08 - and we have a question mark next to the offensive coordinator at Tech as well. Tuberville will allow Neal Brown to hold the Red Raider playbook this season, provided Brown drinks his milk, eats his vegetables and clears his plate. Brown arrives in Lubbock from Troy University where he was the youngest OC in Div I-A. We like to see rising stars, but wonder how proven players like RB Baron Batch or WRs Detron Lewis and Tramain Swindall will react to an assistant barely out of college. Responding to a question about buy-in during a July interview, Brown expressed confidence but admitted that the new staff had "not got all of them [the older players] yet, but we are on the right track." Tommy, Neal, you'll have to pardon our skepticism. And please understand if we never pick you to cover the spread this year.
Mike London, Virginia: Now this is more like it. The Cavaliers didn't leave the continent in Week One nor did UVA need a last-second play to pull out the win. The Richmond Spiders took their licks, lost by 21 and just like that Virginia enters Week Two at 1-0.
The College Football Report's Guide to Patriot Day
This Patriot's Day (September 11), we suggest you celebrate in true American fashion: get together with some friends, put some action down on at least three games, hunker down in the booth of some local establishment and contribute to the US economy. As a red-blooded American citizen, you need to do your part. So go ahead, order that extra plate of potato skins. Just remember: don't burn anything that isn't on the grill. That is our one hard-and-fast rule for Saturday. Besides, lighting things on fire is usually a good way to get tossed from the bar, and nobody wants that.
Due to time constraints, and the fact that we do have a day job besides football, we have limited the CFR picks to a few Top 25 matchups. Without further ado:
Idaho @ #6 Nebraska (-28), 11:30AM for $110 Beachwood Bucks
Comment: We believe in Bo Pelini.
#17 Florida State @ #10 Oklahoma (Over 58), 2:30PM for $110 BB
Comment: Neither team has a problem with offense, and to take the underdog Seminoles to cover we would like to get more than seven points on the road. Thus, the over!
#12 Miami (FL) (+9) @ #2 Ohio State, 2:40PM for $120 BB (yes, we will buy the hook)
Comment: We heart Jacory Harris, although we wouldn't want to bet the Hurricanes to win. Nine points just seems like a lot for a game between two good, determined teams.
#18 Penn State @ #1 Alabama (-12), 6:00PM for $110 BB
Comment: Did we mention that we are SEC fans? We like Bama to walk over the Nittany Lions.
Finally, we pulled the Beachwood Sports Seal away from Skype long enough to get his Week Two picks. Rumors of a long-distance romantic situation appear to be true. He claims to have a system for these selections, but we can't see it:
Memphis @ East Carolina -13, 11:00AM
San Jose State @ Wisconsin -38, 11:00AM
Eastern Michigan @ Miami (OH) -14, 1:00PM
Toledo @ Ohio -9.5, 6:00PM
Colorado State @ Nevada -23.5, 9:30PM
Mike "Dr. Dude" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space twice a week, with the generous assistance of the Beachwood Sports Seal. They both welcome your comments.More from Beachwood Sports »
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