Not a lot of apparent big name matchups this week, but still plenty of excitement this Saturday. If you are a Notre Dame hater, stick around to hear this Irish fan blister them over their horrific showing.
(3) USC 13 Washington 16
This game was not entirely unpredictable with a backup QB for USC and a much improved Huskies team, but regardless of circumstance, when a team with 2 wins in 2008 beats the #3 team in the country, it is deserving of some publicity. Washington is a legitimate team this year under Steve Sarkisian as they proved against LSU and proved again against USC. Jake Locker is still a playmaker and the defense has been outstanding thus far this year. USC also seems a bit different this year. They used to be a bit like the Patriots in that no matter what the team looked like, you trusted that Pete Carroll would bring the best out of them and they would be serious contenders for a BCS Championship, but this year they have looked very normal. Ohio State played them tough and is a pretty good team, but the USC teams of the past really would not have let a team hang around like that. The same goes for this week; USC teams of the past probably would have closed them out, but could not do it. I realize that they were playing on the road against a pretty decent team with a backup quarterback, but the old USC would have won. This is not the same USC team. As a Notre Dame fan (more on them in a bit, and not at all positive) I am thrilled, but as a college football team, I am just confused. Props to Washington for doing it, but still a shocker for a program like USC.
Notre Dame: Trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
Michigan State 30 Notre Dame 33
I am a Notre Dame fan. So when you read this, please keep in mind this is the opinion of a fan. I could not stand watching that game today. Michigan State, a team that lost to Central Michigan last week, had no business being within 20 points of Notre Dame, but for some reason Notre Dame loves to do their best not to win games. Notre Dame was giving away penalty yardage like Goodwill gives away clothing, missing big stops like Jameer Nelson on Derek Fisher, and losing momentum like a Howard Dean presidency in 2004. On top of that, they lost their Michael Floyd, who is without a doubt Jimmy Clausen’s favorite target and one of the best receivers in the nation when healthy. This game should not have been close and with the injury of Floyd, I am 100% backing off my thoughts about the USC-ND game. What a depressing game to watch as a ND fan. They have outstanding players who just cannot make important plays when they need to. I do not even care about the game-saving pick because it frankly should not have come to that. The game would not have needed saving if the Irish would have made one big stop in the first half. The drive that most comes to mind is with Notre Dame leading 13-3 and coming off a touchdown, they kicked off and Michigan State took over. Michigan State ran the ball once, and after the second run, got a late hit call on Robert Blanton. That moved them to their own 40. Then they handed off again and Kyle McCarthy (eventual savior) was called for a late hit. Now the ball on the Notre Dame 40 and about 12 yards of that has been done by State. Pass down the middle and a pass interference call. The ball is now on the ND 30 and Sparty has accounted for about 12 yards of it. Then Sparty makes a pretty good call with a WR pass (with a WR who was a HS QB) 30 yards for a touchdown. 4 plays, 80 yards, is how it is listed, but a little bit of intelligence and it never happens. You have to make a team move the ball on the road and Notre Dame’s defense just does not get it.
In fact, unless they give me a truly legitimate reason to write about them, I am swearing off writing about Notre Dame as a team for the year. I will talk about Jimmy Clausen, who was once again outstanding, but not the team. Clausen threw for 300 yards again and was pretty much perfect in the first half before injuring his ankle. He is for real, not just a product of a system. I do not know his NFL prospects, but he is not to be written off. However, until Notre Dame learns to make big plays when they are needed, especially on defense, they do not deserve to waste your time in this weekly article. Moving on.
Rocky Top’s Smooth Start
Tennessee 13 (1) Florida 23
Florida makes its first appearance in the College Football Roundup after winning fairly comfortably despite the close score. Tennessee actually played pretty well, but the Vols are a threat down the road a bit, not this year. Being able to stick with Florida obviously bodes well for them for years to come, but whether Lane Kiffin can calm down after a fairly boisterous offseason remains to be seen. It is one thing to be loud to get the name of your program out there, but the line between promotion and just being a nuisance is thin and we will see if the younger Kiffin can achieve the former rather than the latter.
I was unable to really see this game, but after seeing highlights, it seems it is time I lived up to my promise to talk about Eric Berry, the standout safety in Knoxville. Similar to Taylor Mays, he is a physical freak: 5’11” 203 with a sub 4.40 40 yard dash and like Mays, hits harder than a cougar on prom night. The only real difference is that Berry is a much more developed cover corner but still gets into the backfield and is disruptive. He is one of those once in a blue moon kind of a guy who demands the attention of every man on the offense. He is great in coverage, an outstanding tackler and projected by Mel “The Hair” Kiper as high as 2nd overall. Maybe someday he will get a ridiculously awesome yet somehow scary and intense commercial like Adrian Peterson. (If you don’t know, now you know. Click it, you will not be disappointed).
A Few Other Notes
Texas Tech really impressed me in Austin. I did not see the game because I had a few prior engagements, but purely looking at the score I am seriously impressed. Think of it this way: Team A lost its 2 best players to the draft last year and has had a horrendous record in Team B’s Stadium and Team B is the #2 team in the country. You say blow out? I would have too, but the Red Raiders did the opposite of their Silver and Black brethren and hung in there. I give TTU a ton of credit but also question Texas’ credentials. I mean they were in a tight contest with Wyoming last week for a half and now did not show up at home against a rival, albeit a secondary rival. Again, I did not see the game, but just looking at the score, I am impressed.
Another game I did not see much of was Georgia at Arkansas. Rather than talking about a game I did not see much of I would much rather talk about the hardest thing to do, at least lately, in college football: Winning a road game on the SEC. No matter how good the home team is in the SEC every road game is a possible upset. I do not know whether to attribute it to the fanaticism of the fans, the proximity of the fans to the players in SEC stadiums or what, but it is a serious deal anytime a SEC team goes on the road. I am not sure if my “proximity to the field” theory holds any water, but when you watch SEC games, it seems like the fans are almost spilling onto the sidelines and end zones. It must be harder to hear on the field with that but maybe all that is in my head. Regardless, any time there are almost 100 points scored, it is entertaining football. Bad football at times? Possibly, but always exciting and not a type of game often associated with the SEC. Alright time for a wrap up.
CLOWN OF THE WEEK: I’m not sure if this was this week, but calling Kanye a clown after that is never really out of the question.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK: I do not have a stat for this week. Any suggestion, please comment.