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On Ball State Football, CFB Playoffs, and Clemson Punters

OTP Rucks ReactionWell, hello there, friend. How are you? Enjoying your pre-holiday festivities? That’s delightful. Yes, it’s been a while but that isn’t without reason. Frankly, this football season left a quite sour taste in my mouth, and it’s hard to be my usual beacon of positivity and Card-riffic fanfare when you are oscillating somewhere between a murderous rage and general befuddlement about how and why this season went so off the rails. I’ll be the first to admit that my preseason prediction with Jason on the OTPcast of 10-2 was being my usual extremely optimistic self, but not even in my most negative thoughts did I see 3-9 as a real possibility. I would have bet darn near anything I had that at worst the Cards were 5-7 and even then I’d feel like it was a sucker bet for whomever was on the other end of the wager.

So now I, like most Cards fans, sit and grumble about the 2015 campaign as the gap between the Cardinals and the upper echelon of the MAC continues to widen. For whatever reason, the Cards just can’t seem to crest the hill. Conference brethren BG, NIU, and to some extent others seem to be able to consistently win. Wins that come regardless of personnel, coaches, and details. Year in, year out, W after W. That hasn’t been Ball State in the past, isn’t Ball State now, and frankly, may never be Ball State, and that’s a tough pill to swallow.

Speaking of coaches, no news out of the nest on coaching shake ups, additions, or reorganizing. Admittedly, it has only been a week or so since the Cards’ last game, but I would be shocked if there wasn’t a shake up of some sort on the coaching staff. If there isn’t, there’s your sign that Coach Pete Lembo (CPL) has decided it’s ride or die with the group he has, and while noble and loyal, may be the decision that years from now people point back to as the tipping point of when things really went south.

The key thing now is holding a recruiting class together and somehow figuring out how to cobble together an offseason that will set this group who remains up for success in 2016. The excuses this year were ready-made in a tough schedule, two relatively new coordinators, so on and so on. But with each year that passes, the excuses get smaller and smaller. 2016 is a critical year for this program, this staff, these players, and this fanbase. A successful season means 2015 was a blip on the radar and the prior years when everyone was ready to sell off Letterman memorabilia to raise money to keep CPL is the norm. A season that doesn’t meet expectations says that mediocrity may very well be the new norm. Another disaster like this season and I don’t even want to think what that’s going to look like. The Cards’ fanbase is small but mighty, and when it’s angry mobbin’ time, we do it with the best of them.

Regardless of the outcomes, it’s going to be a fall not to miss.

The Playoff
Well, whoopy-ti-do we got ourselves a final four! Fans of Clemson (more on them later), Alabama, Michigan State, and Oklahoma can now lord their playoff appearance over their non-playoff-participating-friends. Is this group the four best teams? Eh. Cases could be made for probably three or four others (Stanford the most notable) but on the whole, I’d say those four  are just as qualified as any other. My gut says the final will be Oklahoma-Alabama, but Michigan State has seemed like a team of destiny most of the year. Hard to pick against the Sabanbot though.

Dabo Screams at a Punter, the World Explodes
In case you didn’t see the ACC Championship game on Saturday, you missed Clemson’s punter deciding to fake a punt. The aftermath…

Right on cue and predictably so, the world seemed to explode immediately with an undercurrent of “Dabo is so mean!” or “How can he treat a player like that?!”, all of which makes me weep for our society if that’s what we’ve come to. Andy Teasdall, though I’m sure a delightful human being and great punter, decided to freelance a play in a championship game where his teammates and coaches were counting on people playing as one. That’s not championship football, it’s not a winner’s attitude, and it’s selfish. That, in my mind, isn’t up for debate. The outcry is what is most unnerving and makes me wonder if this is more placation for the fragile snowflakes today’s youths. Did the punter’s feelings get hurt? Too bad. Don’t be a selfish asshole and life dramatically improves for you. Best you learn that now, Princess.

The amount of coddling and insulation from failure or critique for students of today is one of the biggest cancers in higher education. It is a breeding ground of students that are neither equipped to handle failure nor capable of solving their own problems. We are doing a disservice to students when we don’t prepare them for the world, a world that on the whole is a cold, heartless, and cruel place that cares approximately dick about your feelings. Don’t like your place in the world? Change it. Don’t like how you get treated? Address it. Don’t be bitter, be better. And don’t blame the people who are trying to make that so.


Final Word on Virginia

The Final Word 200Teams from the non-AQ conferences clamor for just one thing: an opportunity. On Saturday, the Cards had just that. An opportunity to turn heads, raise awareness, and announce to the nation that there is more than Northern Illinois to slobber over in the MAC. And boy, did they capitalize on that chance.

The storylines from this game are massive and the credit will go to Keith Wenning and Jahwan Edwards who rewrote BSU’s record book en route to a victory, setting the career passing yards and rushing TD records respectively. But it’s the unsung little things, in true Lembo fashion, that made this win over Virginia a reality. First and foremost, the offensive line was dominant and aggressive in both rush and pass schemes. I would compare it to the line of scrimmage dominance thrown on Indiana in Pete Lembo’s first game as the Cardinals head coach in Lucas Oil Stadium. Yet again, the Cards performed virtually without penalties, while the opponent continued to beat itself with turnovers, penalties, and mistakes. And after each and every one, BSU was there to capitalize. Perhaps the greatest staple of the BSU program under Lembo is taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Whether that’s in-game like an opponent mistake or an opportunity to play for a lower seeded man on the depth chart, or a more macro view of opportunity like a nationally televised game against a “name brand” opponent, the Cards took advantage of all of them on Saturday. I seem to recall another BSU team that had that personality and they finished the season 12-0.

Virginia isn’t a national powerhouse and their home environment is anything but a snake pit. The national pundits and the hardcore football fans already know this. They are not who this win was big for. This win was big for the casual fan. The one who only pays attention when its convenient. Not the one who rearranges commitments to ensure he can see BSU play. Not the one who can tell you who the AP Top 25 is, the last six national champions, or what three coaches have already been fired this year. That hardcore fan already knew what was brewing in Muncie this season, and this win did nothing but cement what most already thought: This version of the Cardinals is awfully damn good.

It is the casual observer though that puts too much stock in a middling ACC team that this victory will reach most of all. The casual fan who was die hard cardinal and white from midway through 2008 until week 2 of 2009. The casual observer who needs a reason to break out the fandom. They frustrate me and confound me, but they exist and that’s the fan this game brings back into the fold. And what a supremely awesome time for that to happen! This week’s contest against Kent State is Homecoming for the Fighting Football Cardinals, and there is a push from athletics to pack Scheumann Stadium with die hard Card fans. More on Operation 20k below, but for now, the final word on Virginia is…

eye-opening (adj.)

  • causing a strong emotional reaction because of unexpectedness

Some other notes…

  • After the UVA game, Keith Wenning has moved into 7th nationally for passing yards per game and 37th nationally for QB rating, which overall is a worthless statistical algorithm. He’s 23rd nationally for TDs.
  • Jahwan Edwards is 32nd in the country in rushing yards per game and oh by the way, first nationally for TDs scored. He’s the first running back to hit paydirt 10 times.
  • As mentioned above, athletics has rolled out Operation 20k where the goal for Homecoming attendance is 20,000 or more. In my mind, that is an extremely reachable goal under one fairly important caveat: Whomever is counting the attendance needs to actually be precise. Granted, I haven’t been to a game this season but it seems like every time I do go back, there is a general “We think this is how many students just herded into the stadium in that large group”. Maybe I’m just really bad at crowd estimates, but given the last home game where there was allegedly 4,000 or so empty seats, I’m not sure where they would have fit. The place looked pretty darn full to me. So you know, go to the game and such. The weather is going to be beautiful and the beer will be as cold as you remember it.
  • The opponent for Homecoming is Kent State and don’t let the Golden Flashes’ 2-4 record fool you. Their wins were against Western Michigan (ROW ROW ROW ROW) and Liberty, and their losses against BG, LSU, Penn State, and Northern Illinois. Kent is a talented football team and one fans and the players should not take lightly.
  • A name to keep in mind for Kent is Dri Archer. Coming into 2013, he and Jordan Lynch were the back-and-forth picks for Conference Player of the Year, and the guy is talented. He’s missed most of this season with a dreaded high ankle sprain, but in true BSU fate, he came back last week against Western and should be 100% for the BSU game. Archer is important not only for his production but about the defensive attention he demands and the opportunities he opens up for his fellow running mates. The lower his production, the better.

Initial UVA Thoughts

You're looking live at the BSU career passing leader.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

You’re looking live at the BSU career passing leader.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

On Saturday, UVA proved the age old truth that turnovers kill as Ball State cruised to a 21-point thrashing en route to a 48-27 beatemdown. In epic meltdown fashion, though, it wasn’t just the four Cavalier turnovers. They were massive, sure, but their accompanying side dishes of penalties (13 for 93 yards) and countless drops by the receiving corps of UVA made this a nearly forgone conclusion. With all the negative on UVA’s side of the ledger, if this wasn’t a 20+ point win, I may have even been a little disappointed. To go on the road and have me come away with that potential attitude is so amazing, my head might explode even contemplating it. So instead, we will just cruise right past that paradigm shift in this program.

Some in the media and the blogosphere will call this an upset, and by strictest definition it was, as the Cards were a five point underdog at kickoff. But those that know college football knew that the gap in talent between this ACC team and this MAC team isn’t your usual one. This wasn’t a case where flukes and weirdness led to an upset. As is often the case, the better team just won. Do the turnovers and negatives from UVA make that more likely? Of course. But anyone who thinks that BSU played their A game while UVA mailed it in hasn’t been paying attention. In fact, I’d say if the little things don’t go BSU’s way, it’s still a victory, albeit by a smaller margin. And that’s a great thing. An enjoyable thing. Not Dancing on the Ceiling worthy like the CMU game in 2008, but we’re getting close to a game of that magnitude.

I’m sure the importance of this win for the program and the season will sink in a bit more and we’ll be back with Final Word tomorrow, but for now, it’s celebratin’ time. On the road. ACC. Domination. Feels good.

Some other thoughts on the win…

  • The mantra of this team this year is “Anything. Anytime. Anywhere.” but it might as well be “Overcome” as time and time again the Cards prove that this is not a situation where the 1s are just a good unit and problems are hidden further down the depth chart. The last few weeks have seen a rash of injuries and in turn inexperienced players find the field, and find it well they do. Take the offense… missing KeVonn Mabon, Connor Ryan, and Chris Shillings and the offense doesn’t miss a beat. Quake Edwards out for a game or two? No worries, Horactio Banks has you covered. It speaks volumes to the depth and coaching in Muncie and it isn’t something that should be happening in a MAC team. Enjoy it.
  • Speaking of Quake Edwards, he had a massive day and was one of the primary reasons this “upset” was possible. 155 yards and 3 TDs proves his GrownAssMan-ness and also sets the mark for rushing TDs in a Cardinal career, passing Marcus Merriweather. Excellent job, Quake.
  • While we’re on the subject of records, Keith Wenning did his share of rewriting Saturday also, setting the career passing yardage mark eclipsing Nate Davis. Some will say Nate had less to work with and he didn’t get a senior season. Pay them no mind. Some will call me crazy, but I’ll go ahead and stake my claim that Keith Wenning is the greatest to ever call the shots in Muncie. When 346 yards passing and a couple TDs is just another day at the office, you have something special.
  • In what has become a theme this season, Jordan Williams impressed again going for 159 yards on 9 catches with a TD. We were one of the first to tell people that Williams was going to be a star, and as I said on Twitter on Saturday, he’s making me look a heck of a lot smarter than I am.
  • Special shout out to the BSU defense, who has taken their fair share and then some of the criticism this season. They had a great effort today and created momentum and opportunities with their created turnovers. You can’t have good defense without a good offense, and vice versa.
  • Pitiful attendance for UVA with an announced crowd of just over 38,000 and for an ACC team (even a middling one against a MAC opponent) that’s not a good number. When (not if) Mike London is let go, a lack of support from the fanbase will be one of the reasons.
  • Kirk Herbstreit called a BSU upset this morning, so he looks quite smart. I’ve never felt so dirty after a victory.
  • I have never seen such armchair coaching for a BSU game as I did with this one. The decision to go for it on 4th down in the third quarter was largely and roundly criticized on social media, and it seemed like with the exception of Kelly Page, I was one of the few notable BSU tweeters to stick up for the decision of Lembo and crew to go for it. Granted, it worked out exceptionally well when Jeffery Garrett picked off a UVA pass that led to an Edwards TD that put the Cards up for good, but even if it worked out differently, it was still the right call. We’ve always said “In Lembo We Trust” and that applies here. Live it. Love it.
  • I think I’m guilty of this more than anyone else as I fret and hand wring and pace, but teams like this don’t come along all that often, and we’ve seen two in the past five seasons. My goal going forward for 2013 is to not nitpick the little things or simply look forward to the bigger things. OTP’s slogan for the rest of 2013 is “Enjoy the Ride”. Because I’m not sure when we’ll see another one like this again.

Final Word tomorrow. Enjoy your evening. Go Cards!

Conference Champs and the Last Weekend of 09

Bittersweet. That’s how I would characterize this past weekend in college football around OTP Manor. To have great games on, beginning with Thursday’s Civil War is a fantastic way to spend a few days. To realize on Saturday as you’re soldiering through a Wisconsin-Hawaii blowout that after that there are only 35 FBS games left this season is a bit of a buzzkill. At least conference championship weekend brought the thunder and gave 2009 more of what it had all season long: upsets, upsets gone awry, and controversy.

More after the jump…

Continue reading

Al Groh – You’re F%^&ing Out

Al Groh? Do I even need to say it?

Ready the obit writer in the college football world, since another head coach has met his untimely demise. This time, it’s a BCS conference school, but hardly a BCS caliber type team or talent, as the Virginia Cavaliers have given the old heave ho to Al Groh.

Surprising no one, Groh was finally removed from the position most thought he would be terminated from last season after a 5-7 2008 and a 3-9 2009. Much like Marshall’s Mark Snyder, Groh was also a player at the school that terminated him, but unlike Snyder, Groh actually had some level of success at UVa.

The 2002 and 2007 ACC Coach of the Year, Groh compiled a 59-53 record with a 36-36 conference mark. Far from horrible, though never great, and that’s ultimately what cost him his job. From the penthouse of the ACC Coach of the Year to the outhouse of fired… coaching is a cruel fickle beast.

Al Groh… you’re fucking out.

2009 Axe Man Victims
JD Brookhart – Akron
David Elson – Western Kentucky
Al Groh – Virginia
Steve Kragthrope – Louisville
Mike Sanford – UNLV
Mark Snyder – Marshall
Dick Tomey – San Jose State
Tommy West – Memphis

Weekend Carnage Report


Boom goes the Weekend Carnage Report

If OTP were a train, our actual real life function and existence Monday totally derailed the high hopes and expectations of the morning and afternoon. Post victory hangover? Perhaps. And while I wish we had all day to celebrate and mock since we have victory numero uno, part of me falls along the “Act Like You’ve Been There Before” line. We have been here before… 12 times last season to be exact, but for whatever reason, this win, this 29-27 eeking out over Eastern Michigan just tastes a lot sweeter than many of the wins last season.

Perhaps that’s because this one was unknown. Perhaps because this one silenced more critics, both internal and external, than any victory last season. Perhaps it was because of the record breaking day on the ground. It really is hard to say why I feel the way I do, because the game was far from perfect. The defense played deplorable at times, outstanding at others. As good as the running game was with Quale Lewis and Cory Sykes going for over 500 yards, the passing defense was just as bad… going for 1 yard. Singular. Not good. The special teams were far from special, as an extra point and a field goal were both blocked, and EMU was able to have favorable field position thanks to shoddy kick coverage most of the time.

The injury bug? He’s back again, this time claiming Eric Williams, the promising young tailback who at times this season has been the most exciting player on the field offensively for the Cardinals. No official word from BSU, but Williams has alerted us it’s an MCL sprain.

Any other time, a victory over a winless, hapless, severely overmatched squad like Eastern Michigan wouldn’t be cause for excessive celebration, but this time is different. The monkey is off the back of Stan Parrish and the team… finally.

The rest of the weekend…

The Good

  • Iowa: Their wins have been far from sexy, but the Hawkeyes continue to roll them up. Only a handful of teams in each of the major conferences control their own destiny any longer for a conference title, and Iowa is one of those lucky few. A win at Ohio State on 11/14 and avoiding trap games against Indiana and Illinois locks the Hawkeyes in for the conference crown and the BCS payday.
  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats are also in the control your own destiny camp, and took most of the country by surprise. Cynics will point to the lack of major opponents, but supporters can just as easily point to what Cincy has been able to do to those not so impressive teams. The area of largest concern heading into the season, the defense, has been more than impressive for the Bearcats.
  • TCU: After dismantling BYU at BYU this weekend, the Horned Frogs are making a serious case that it should be them, and not Boise State as the top ranked non-automatic qualifier. TCU’s performance on Saturday was dominant and one-sided, which is what they’ll need to keep doing to have a shot at the big dollar Bowls.

The Bad

  • North Carolina: After squandering a second half lead to Florida State and dropping their 3rd ACC contest of the season, the Tar Heels, whom many predicted to contend for the ACC find themselves in a virtual must win this Thursday at Virginia Tech to save face and try to go Bowling.
  • Kansas: The Jayhawks had the opportunity to plant their flag in the Big 12 North race with a win over a depleted and somewhat weakened Oklahoma team. After their loss, the Jayhawks now find themselves in a perilous position with the meat of their schedule upon them.
  • Rice/Miami (OH)/Eastern Michigan/Western Kentucky/New Mexico: All still winless after 8 weeks of action.

The Ugly

  • Alabama: Needed a blocked field goal in the final seconds to ensure a victory over Tennessee. It certainly raises some questions about which team in this contest was wrongly valued by the pundits and pollsters. My gut says Tennessee just plays big against big time opponents, and I hope my worst case fears that the Kiffin system actually works are not realized.
  • Auburn: LSU delivered the Tigers’ third straight loss. Auburn was a team being lauded mere weeks ago as a potential SEC West darkhorse. After Arkansas, Kentucky, and LSU, Auburn is falling back to Earth and quickly.
  • SEC Officials: No one had taken more heat leading up to Saturday’s action than the official crews in the Southeastern Conference. After yet another gameday across the south dictated by shoddy calls and blatant incorrect review decisions, there are some major questions being raised. All totally valid and worth exploring, but truly unfortunate that the country’s best conference, who happens to find themselves under the biggest microscope, is missing call after call after call.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan

  • MiQuale Lewis/Cory Sykes, RBs, Ball State: In the win over Eastern Michigan, the Cardinal backfield rushed for over 500 yards. That’s more than most teams gain on the ground in two games. Hapless opponent? Of course. Any reason to not celebrate their accomplishment? Nope.

Weekend Carnage Report

Kiffin throws a signature win on the resume with Saturday's Georgia upset. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Kiffin throws a signature win on the resume with Saturday's Georgia upset. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

This weekend was clearly the media’s dream sort of day. Two top 5 schools facing off in Florida-LSU, the return of Sam Bradford, the Michigan-Iowa game garnering national attention because of the early season upsets provided by both. Has has been the case the last three weekends, both our Ball State Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats walked into Sunday with another loss, and another game that frustrates the fanbases, albeit for very different reasons.

For UK, a loss on the road in the SEC is certainly respectable, especially considering it was against a Top 25 team, QB Mike Hartline’s injury resulted in him missing a majority of the 2nd half, and Steve Spurrier was roaming the sidelines for the Gamecocks… a coach UK has never beaten. Despite all that, Kentucky was still in it till the bitter bloody end. One of these days those sort of games that Kentucky seems to always find a way to lose will go UK’s way. I simply hope I’m alive to see it. Now the Cats find themselves facing off against a team that we’ve already covered once this season… the Auburn Tigers. Injuries are numerous, hope is little, but stranger things have happened.

The Ball State Cardinals continued to find new and impressive ways of losing games this season, this time shooting themselves in the foot with penalties, poor special teams, and more turnovers than is either acceptable or overcome-able. The fanbase is on edge, there are people calling for the ousting of head coach Stan Parrish, and unlike recent weeks, there isn’t a lot of positives to take away from this one. Do I think this all blows over? Hard to say. A victory would go a long way in righting the ship for Parrish, but just one is unfortunately not enough. With another loss this season, the Cardinals are guaranteed a losing record, and that isn’t sitting well with a fanbase that grew exponentially with last season’s 12-0 perfection.

Off we go for the weekend…

The Good

  • Florida/Tim Tebow: Tebow was far from dominating, and the Gators didn’t blow anyone out, but watching the #1 ranked team’s defense on Saturday against LSU certainly made me feel better about UK’s struggling against them two weeks ago. I have rarely seen a defense as good as theirs, and Tebow playing the way he did considering the circumstances was admirable, impressive, and worthy of the celebration and adulation he receives week in and week out.
  • Oklahoma/Sam Bradford: Yes, it was against Baylor, a team the Sooners should beat. But watching a star player return to form after a potentially serious injury is a great thing for the sport. Bradford certainly looked back to form, but the real test for his readiness is next weekend versus the Longhorns.
  • Virginia Tech: Holy woodshed, Batman. After putzing around with Duke last week, the Hokies laid a beating on Boston College from minute one. VT is getting very little attention compared to Florida, Texas, or even Alabama, but they are very much capable of running the schedule and making some noise at the national title table.

The Bad

  • Ole Miss: Heading into 2009, most thought Saturday’s game against Alabama would be essentially an early season elimination game for the SEC West. No one expected it to be Ole Miss’ second conference loss, and the game that would plummet them off of any Top 25 ballot they were on. Ole Miss fans were hoping that this was the year that the Rebs would prove the naysayers wrong, but it appears once again, that the cynical bloggers who had Ole Miss pegged as a fraud were right.
  • Penn State’s Schedule: Eastern Illinois? In middle October? As if the MAC schedule that Penn State played to start the season could get any softer. Kudos to teams like Oklahoma and USC for playing non-conference games of note. Shame, shame, shame to Penn State for loading their win totals up with cupcakes and softies.
  • Auburn/Wisconsin: Two teams who sat at undefeated and were just barely sniffing the Top 25 and now no longer need to play the “lack of respect” card since they proved they belong nowhere near a Top 25 ballot. Wisconsin’s loss, on the road to Ohio State was at least respectable. Auburn, on the other hand, was on the road and a complete and utter disaster.

The Ugly

  • TCU: The Horned Frogs, the second most respected non-automatic qualifier this season outside of Boise, needed to recover a late onside kick to hold off a surging Air Force squad. Hostile environment? On the road? Sure. But that’s a game that most, including me, expected TCU to roll through. Perhaps that high ranking is not so deserved after all.
  • Georgia Tech: Anyone who thought Paul Johnson’s offense was incapable of scoring points needs to look at Saturday’s Florida State contest and their 49 points and 401 rushing yards. What made this one ugly? The 44 points surrendered and 539 yards to a Florida State team hardly dominant or impressive this season.
  • Texas: Another game, another example of Texas going through the motions early, allowing a team to hang around longer than it should, and relying on the large talent gap to eventually take over. That won’t bode so well for them next week against Oklahoma, a team that is looking to make a national splash and has just as good, if not better, talent on the roster.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan

  • Freddie Barnes, WR, Bowling Green: 22 receptions, 278 yards, and 3 TDs in the Falcons’ win over Kent. This does not bode well for the Ball State defense next weekend.
  • Jonathon Crompton, QB, Tennessee: 20-27, 310 yds, 4 TDS in a victory over Georgia. As much as it pains me to write that and as surprising as it is considering how this season started for Crompton, Saturday, he was dominant in the Vols’ upset win of Georgia. Granted, this isn’t the Georgia team of years past, but still…
  • Lee Campbell, LB, Minnesota: In the win over Purdue, Campbell certainly earned himself the game ball, blocking a field goal returned for a touchdown, intercepting a pass, and making 11 tackles, 1.5 for loss.

Weekend Carnage Report

Huge ManateeBetter late than never, certainly, and the lack of which is making me reconsider heading to a distant road game in the future. On one hand, we have the delayed posting, the inability to get stuff done while traveling, etc. On the other, it’s southern barbecue, southern beauties, and maybe some of the nicest people on Earth. More on the Auburn trip tomorrow, but for now, it’s time to run through the weekend.

The Good

  • Florida/Texas/Alabama: Points to the top 3 for taking care of business and not losing. The same cannot be said for more than a few Top 10 teams. Bonus points to the Gators for doing it on the road, against a decent team, after an injury to Tebow.
  • Iowa: In what has become an annual rite of passage, the Hawkeyes knock off Penn State and essentially ending any hope of Joe Pa and the Nittany Lions to compete for a national title. Whether Iowa continues this sort of success is anyone’s guess, but for now, they certainly look like favorites for the Big 10.
  • Auburn: Bias because of watching them in person? Perhaps. But the Tigers looked damn good on Saturday against Ball State. Give a team like Auburn the emotion of a game against Alabama and they are certainly a darkhorse SEC West contender.

The Bad

  • Ole Miss: For weeks now, anyone that has lauded the Rebels as potential BCS busters has had to deal with a host of folks who throw around terms like “overrated”, “has played no one”, and “Nutt can’t coach a two-car funeral”. Frankly, after the performance on Thursday night, I may have to agree with the latter and not the former.
  • Maryland: Another week, another home loss for the Terps. At least this team the opponent was an BCS conference school. With Rutgers’ victory, the grumblings about Ralph Friedgen are getting louder, more insistent, and more correct.
  • Cal: Just as we were beginning to drink the Cal Kool Aid, Oregon came along with their fancy uniforms and ran roughshod all over the Bears. Did Cal not show up? Oregon simply play the game of their lives? Who knows. What is known is that Cal only mustered 77 yards on the ground. Not good at all.

The Ugly

  • LSU: Whether it was simply the football Gods not trying hard enough to upset the Tigers, their win over Mississippi State was not something that inspires any sort of confidence in the Tigers. This week? Georgia. Next week? Florida. Play like this past weekend, and say hello to 0-2.
  • Notre Dame: Notre Dame needed a miscue from Purdue’s coaches to pull out a victory, one that should have been nowhere as close as it was. Clausen injury or not, ND needs to lay the wood to teams like Purdue. This game did nothing to ease the yells for Charlie Weis.
  • Georgia/Georgia Tech: The Jekyll and Hyde sort of teams from the Yellow Jackets and the Bulldogs makes anyone watching them want to tear their hair out. GT gets blown out on national televison, then defeats UNC. Georgia struggles against everyone, does it again, but pulls out the victory. This has to stop eventually. Right?

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan

  • BJ Daniels, QB, South Florida: Leading the Bulls for the first time after an injury to Matt Groethe, and Daniels rings up the Noles for 341 total yards and 2 passing TDs.
  • Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati: 9 catches and 177 yards with his 2 TDs as Cincy outlasts Fresno, moves to 4-0, and gains even more national attention.
  • Russell Wilson, QB, NC State: Lights up Pitt for 413 total yards and 4 TDs… you know… that Pitt team that was vaunted for its defensive presence.

From Edge

  • The Oregon Ducks: Outgained the Bears 524-207, withstood 3 lost fumbles, scored 42 unanswered. Dominating.
  • Case Keenum, QB, Houston: 435 yards passing and TDs passing and rushing as the Cougars rally past Texas Tech, move to 3-0, and are looking every bit the team capable of busting the BCS
  • God, Jesus, Vishnu, Buddha, whoever: Offering up a plate of hot Karma to Tim Tebow for his apparent taunting of Kentucky fans in the first quarter.
  • De-sticker goes to Purdue for calling a timeout at the end of the Purdue-ND game.  Just stupid football right there.

From RV

  • Quoted for posterity: “I didn’t get a chance to watch enough but I give all my helmet stickers to the dude who knocked tebow into the afterlife.” (Ed. Note: “The Dude” being Taylor Wyndham, DE for Kentucky)

Weekend Carnage Report

Apologies for the delay this morning… stupid real life. We’re back now, though, and playing catch up for most of the morning. The weekend itself was noteworthy more for what didn’t happen (Tennessee not getting destroyed, USC struggling, etc.) than for what did, but it’s another weekend over.

Thankfully, the time for teams to load up on tomato cans from FCS or pitifully overmatched FBS teams is drawing to a distinct close as conference play is just around the corner for most. I, for one, cannot tell you how exciting it was to welcome the 3:30 SEC/CBS marriage back onto my television. It had been gone far too long. Off we go…

Ball State logoBall State Report: More coming in a bit, but frankly, this one was both disappointing and encouraging, if that’s even possible. In what’s sort of become a refrain so far this season… as bad as we played all game, we were still in a position to win it. While it sucks we’re 0-3, this isn’t like we’re getting beat by 60 points. Having said that, we play at Auburn this weekend, where the potential for a beating of epic proportions is entirely possible. Could this be the weekend where lightning strikes? Who knows…

Kentucky LogoKentucky Report: It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless for the Wildcats. Years ago, that wouldn’t have been the case, as UK tried every way in the world to give that game to the Cardinals. Penalties, turnovers, clock problems, etc. all colored this game, and could have very easily been the reasons why a loss was inevitable. Fortunately for UK, the football Gods and more specifically Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb smiled on them Saturday as they walked out of Commonwealth a winner. Tremendous effort by Louisville, though. Totally unexpected. More a bit later on this one as well.

On to the weekend…

The Good

  • Washington: With a stout defensive effort, as well as some key USC injuries, the Huskies upset #3 USC on Saturday, snapping a 10-game Pac 10 losing streak and announcing to the world that Steve Sarkisian, was in fact, the right man for the job.
  • Oklahoma: No Sam Bradford? No problem for the Sooners, who dismantled Tulsa 45-0 behind the arm of backup QB Landry Jones. The freshman threw for 336 yards and 6 TDs, leaving many wondering how they would have done against BYU without Bradford at all.
  • Oregon: After the punch heard round the world, and their 1-1 start, most had written off Oregon as any sort of threat out west. With Saturday’s victory over Utah, the Ducks announced they are still very much in the picture, while dealing the non-automatic qualifiers a significant blow to their BCS hopes.

The Bad

  • BYU/Utah: Two teams that most thought would be in the conversation for a BCS at large berth, especially given the Cougars upset of Oklahoma to start the season. Both beaten on Saturday, and both virtually guaranteed to not be in the BCS.
  • Maryland: Following the trend of the last few seasons, Maryland certainly played to their competition Saturday in Byrd Stadium as they were upset by Middle Tennessee State on a last second field goal. “Upset” may be a bit much, though, considering the Terps needed overtime to beat James Madison last weekend and were beaten by MTSU last year.
  • USC: Saturday’s upset at Washington was another example of SC underperforming at least once per season. The last 4, to be exact, were all characterized by a Trojan loss to an unranked opponent. It’s not a question whether or not Pete Carroll can coach a big game, it’s whether or not he can coach the run of the mill ones.

The Ugly

  • Kentucky: A Louisville team that is the bottom of the Big East shouldn’t test anyone the way they did on Saturday. It remains to be seen whether this was more Louisville playing over their heads or Kentucky under theirs. With the Gators heading to Lexington on Saturday, we shall have an answer to that question.
  • Florida: Blame the swine flu, but Florida looked far from sharp or dominant in their 10-point victory over Tennessee. Rivalry games have a ridiculous tendency to be close, but the margin in this one was surprising to say the least.
  • Penn State: Another weekend, another win for the Nittany Lions, but like every other victory this season, it was far from a blowout, the Nittany Lions far from dominant, and this one was again against a MAC school. Ugly for not only their margin, but their continuous opponents who provide no real challenge.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan

  • Jahvid Best, RB, Cal: Further proving that he is without question the best running back in college football, Best racked up 131 yards and 5 TDs in the Golden Bears victory over a tough Minnesota team.
  • Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame: 22-31 300 yds, 2 TDs in a victory over Michigan State, a win the Irish desperately needed.
  • Jeremy Avery, RB, Boise State: 186 rushing yards, 83 receiving yards, and a TD in the victory over upset minded Fresno State.

From Edge

  • Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Record setting performance with 6 TD tosses in a Sooner victory… as a freshman.
  • Washington: The entire team for upsetting USC and costing them a good chance at a national title. Congrats.

Weekend Carnage Report

Exciting weekend for college football, and sort of unexpected. Only one game between Top 25 teams (USC-OSU), and that one turned out to be a doozy. Upsets of Oklahoma State and Notre Dame, and the emergence of Tate Forcier as a Forcier to be reckoned with all made the weekend memorable.

Ball State logoBall State Report: The Cardinals now have a week to ready themselves for the Black Knights of Army, and what could potentially be either the turning point or the early beginning to the end of this season. A victory means the heat gets turned down a bit and the vociferous outcries of anger about Stan Parrish get quieted. Temporarily, at least. A loss spirals things further out of control, and no one wants that.

Kentucky LogoKentucky Report: The Cats had an off week, and now face the task of preparing for archrival Louisville. The Cardinals are certainly nothing to write home about recently, and have given no evidence that this year will be any different. Big Blue has to stay focused and not overlook this team, but I think most Cats fans and probably more than a few Louisville fans expect this to be a bloodbath.

On to the weekend…

The Good

  • USC: Kudos to the Trojans for not taking the easy way out and scheduling cupcake after cupcake. Their game at Ohio State was a classic to watch and one that propels USC into the national title conversation. Their freshman QB Matt Barkley was cool, calm, and collected… impressive to say the least for a 1st year player on the road at the Horseshoe.
  • Central Michigan: After a season opening loss at Arizona, not many gave CMU a shot to upset Michigan State. Riding behind Dan LeFevour and the flukiest luck ever, they did just that as LeFevour become the MAC’s all-time leading offensive player.
  • Toledo: Helping also to restore the MAC’s reputation was the Rockets who absolutely decimated Colorado on Friday night. The MAC gets few chances to beat a BCS conference school on national television… kudos to the Rockets for taking advantage of the opportunity.

The Bad

  • Ball State: The Cardinals join schools like Duke and Virginia, not in academic prestige, but as an FBS school that was defeated this season by an FCS school. With the loss to New Hampshire, rock bottom is close.
  • Oklahoma State: A week after the Cowboys christen a new stadium, defeat Georgia, and demand some attention in the national title race, they go and lose to unranked Houston. It was the third consecutive time OSU gets ranked in the Top 5 and loses their next game. Shameful.
  • Miami (OH): After getting shutout in their season opener 42-0 by Kentucky, Miami had nowhere to go but up as they ventured west to play Boise State. Unfortunately, staying on the same level was also an option, as they were blanked 48-0. 2 games, yet to score. Next week is Western Michigan… at least there’s a chance they’ll find the end zone.

The Ugly

  • Maryland: When you need overtime to defeat FCS James Madison, after you were dismantled in Cal the week before, that ain’t good. The Terps are 1-1, but could very easily be 0-2. It looks as if the tradition of Maryland playing up or down to their opponents continues.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels traveled to Connecticut and looked more like Duke than a ranked UNC team. The Heels appear Jekyll and Hyde as their season opener against the Citadel was a dominating performance.
  • Florida State: The Seminoles close out our ACC uglyfest by underachieving against Jacksonville State. After losing their season opener against Miami and having a short week, no one expected the Noles to be perfect. They won, but didn’t erase any of those doubts or questions… they just created more.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan

  • Tate Forcier, QB, Michigan: 23/33, 240 yds, 2 TDs, INT, 13 rushes, 70 yds, TD in a gigantic program redefiner against Notre Dame. In one fell swoop, Forcier saved RichRod, ruined ND’s season, put Weis on the hotseat, and returned Michigan to the national rankings.
  • Case Keenum, QB, Houston: 32/46, 366 yds, 3TDs, INT in a monumental upset of Oklahoma State.
  • Aaron Opelt, QB, Toledo: 15/23, 319 yds, 4 TDs, 8 rushes, 102 yds, 2 TDs in a nationally televised game against Colorado.

From Edge

  • Matt Barkley, QB, USC – not an impressive three quarters by the numbers, but this 19-year-old came through when it counted most and led an offense with veteran poise to a victory against a tough Ohio State.
  • Rahim Moore, S, UCLA – an intercepting machine this season, Moore grabbed two against Tennessee to make sure the Kiffin Era doesn’t go without at least one loss.
  • Adam Gunn, LB, Pitt – three sacks for Gunn against Buffalo, with five on the year so far.  Watch this senior – there’s some promise for this guy.