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Weekend Carnage Report

boom-goes-the-dynamite-bria

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.

Parrish, BSU, Want Out of Iowa

AHHH!!! FEAR ME!!! AHHHHHH!

AHHH!!! FEAR ME!!! AHHHHHH!

It’s been a somewhat quiet week around BSU-land. We’re focused on Kentucky’s rivalry week here at OTP and the Cardinals have dropped two straight turds in their 09 punchbowl, against the perennial championship contender North Texas, and the dominating University of New Hampshire. In all truthfulness, it would have been fine with me for news coming out of Muncie to be fairly low key and virtually non-existent until the Army thrashing game. Leave it to Doug Zaleski to ruin an otherwise fine morning with this tidbit

Ball State has a football game scheduled at Iowa next season that coach Stan Parrish doesn’t want to play, and the school will examine whether it can delay the game or get out of the contract.

The Cardinals are still working on their 2010 non-conference schedule. They have scheduled games at home on Sept. 2 against Southeast Missouri State, at Purdue on Sept. 18 and at Iowa on Sept. 25.

Ball State athletic director Tom Collins said he hopes this week to finalize the fourth game, which would be at home on Sept. 11. He would not identify the potential opponent.

Collins said his immediate goal is to wrap up the non-conference schedule, then look at what possibilities might exist to make a change with the Iowa game slot.

“We’ll see if there’s anything we can do at that point,” he said. “I think Stan would prefer not to play (Purdue and Iowa) back to back, but it just hasn’t worked out date-wise (with Iowa).”…

…Purdue will pay Ball State $350,000 for next year’s football game. Ball State and Iowa signed a contract in March of this year to play in Iowa City next season. Iowa will pay Ball State an $800,000 guarantee for the game.

So let me get this straight…we don’t want to play Iowa because we would rather play Purdue? We are going to try to finagle out of an $800,000 game in favor of a $350,000 game? And I wonder why the budget for this athletic department is so screwed.

If the game can be moved, and it’s agreeable to both parties, then fine. That happens on occasion and isn’t a reason to get anyone’s panties in a twist. However, and it’s a sizeable Stephen A. Smith “HOWEVER…”, if this game gets moved to a different season or outright canceled, there is going to be hell to pay. It is beyond my comprehension how a school that operates on a shoestring budget can say to a school with their bags of money, “No… that’s ok. We don’t want your $800,000. We’d prefer to take less than half and play an in-state opponent.” Jesus. Christ. On a triscuit.

This is the kind of thing that worries me about this athletic department and gives at least a little bit of credence to what Jason Whitlock has been espousing on BSUFans… that this is the most horribly mismanaged athletic department in the country. And with a head coach openly saying, essentially, “This game is too tough. We don’t want to play it” along with an AD essentially saying, “We’ll take less money for an easier game” it makes me weep for the future. What’s next? Three FCS opponents and a game against Muncie Central High School? Why stop there? How about we play Northside Elementary. I mean, if we really want to stoop low, let’s just schedule the University of Louisville.

Play Iowa. Take the money. Stop looking like whiny bitches. Ask Boise State. Ask Fresno State. Ask BYU. They got better by scheduling teams far above them. On the road. And yes, Stan and Tom, back to back on occasion. I mean, God forbid those two games, regardless of the outcome, prepare you for the epic powerhouses like Eastern Michigan and Ohio. It’s been said that we have a notoriously cheap athletic department that operates “half-assed”… at best. This certainly makes the case for that argument remarkably stronger.

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.

Week One… with a Little Help from the Fab Four

Club_ID_by_BeatlesFanClubWith week one in the books, the football machine is now fully operational.  But if you haven’t noticed, this week is a landmark occasion in the music world.  The Beatles are set to release all their albums today, finally remastered on CD, as well as The Beatles: Rock Band video game.  I have had a chance to hear about half of the remastered albums (we rockers get early access to everything, or we find someone who does), and the results are nothing short of incredible.

But as I listened this weekend, a lot of the songs played as great soundtracks to the weekend of college football.  And once again, I did the work for you.  Here are some timeless Beatles songs and their connection to week one.

Here, There and Everywhere
Notre Dame was all over the field Saturday.  And for once, they weren’t being led around it.  They came out fast, and they stayed that way the entire game.  If they keep this up, maybe Crazy Lou was right.

Let It Be
Air Force did anything but let it be.  Demolishing Nicholls State 72-0 should show the rest of the Mountain West that Air Force should probably not be taken too lightly in 2009.

I’m Looking Through You
Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly almost seemed inside Rutgers’ head coach Greg Schiano’s head the entire game.  Taking a 47-15 beating from a fellow conference team is not a pretty way to start the season.

A Day in the Life
Leave it to Ohio State to make a close game out of a sure blowout.  Just another day in the life for Buckeye fans.

You Can’t Do That
LeGarrette Blount committed one of the worst acts of losing one’s temper that I have ever seen on national television.  Next to Ron Artest.  Needless to say, I fully agree with the year-long suspension, and it should serve as a reminder that as much as you want to lay out an opponent for talking shit, sucker-punches aren’t the answer.

Continue reading

09 Homer Preview: The Wolverine Edition

homer previewIn an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their team or go outside the box. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of Jackie Jones, a Michigan fan and ardent anti-Buckeye… even their marching band!

Homer Preview: Michigan Wolverines

michigan logo

All In for Michigan

It was funny when I first started writing this review at a local coffee shop, Hang on Sloopy was playing in the background on a radio station. If you have no idea what that does to a Michigan fan, let me tell you, hearing this song is like hearing nails on a chalkboard. An unpleasant feeling going through your entire body, kind of like the same feeling Michigan fans had at the end of the 2008 football season with their 3-9 record and a 42-7 loss to Ohio State.

But, it can’t get any worse, right? Well, that’s what most Michigan fans are hoping as we enter the 2009 football season. It has been a trying couple of years for the program, and with major coaching changes and attitude of the players and fans, it is still up in the air how this team is going to perform. It is time to go “all in” as the season mantra states, and Michigan needs to give it all it has to remain a credible team in the Big Ten. All of those who cheer on the maize and blue are optimistic, but with a healthy sense of skepticism. Wolverine fans haven’t had to face major changes often, let alone head coaching changes. I can still recall the days of Bo Schembechler coaching, the brief period of Gary Moeller, and Carr stepping into his shoes. Most Wolverine fans will never forget losing the last six out of seven games to Ohio State under Carr’s watch but recall it was through Carr that Michigan has had back to back Big Ten Championships (2003 and 2004) and a National Title (1997).

Rodriquez has some big shoes to fill (whether some Michigan fans will admit it with Carr or not), but the program has high expectations and the fans are not shy about letting the coaches know when they have fallen short of their duty. The coaches are the source of inspiration for the players, and last year it seemed to many Michigan fans that Rodriquez wasn’t connecting to the team. Granted, the players were recruited into a different system, a different team, and the change is difficult for them too. However, if the coach isn’t inspiring the players, he’ll be fighting an uphill battle until the program becomes his own, the players come on board, or he gets fired. Whichever comes first.

A Wolverine running back, Brandon Minor, stated that “Everybody on the team didn’t buy in like they’re supposed to. We’ve got a couple of guys not going hard, but we’ll correct that. Most definitely. It ain’t happening on my watch next year.” Well Brandon, let’s see them step up to the plate and make it happen.

Something every Michigan fan wants to know right now is who is going to be playing QB this fall. Well, no one knows. Not even Rodriquez. For most of us, that is a scary piece of information to not have before the season starts. None of the quarterbacks have even thrown a play in college football, and I know that has many Wolverine fans on edge. Will it be Forcier, Robinson, or Sheridan? Is this Michigan’s biggest problem to worry about right now? Probably not. And even if Rodriquez plays all three to some varying level of playing time, which is suspected right now, Michigan will be better for it in the long run to have each quarter back with some field experience under their belts. My guess is Forcier will start and ultimately keep the starting position, but we’ll see when the Wolverines suit up against the broncos of Western Michigan University Saturday September 5th at the Big House.

Other fun tidbits of info about the Big House for 2009:
Because of the 100,000+ people that step foot into the Big House for games, Verizon Wireless has activated a COLT (cell on light truck) that doubles capacity of its high-speed wireless network in and around Michigan Stadium. So if you’re going to the games, don’t be afraid to bring your Blackberry along and send some pictures to your friends of the victorious Wolverines! Also, the Big House is now serving Coke instead of Pepsi. For most that isn’t a big deal, but in the land of the mid-west we are a Coke nation (and I am a Diet Coke girl, so this news was exciting to hear).

And, most notably Michigan fans can see the new suites added to the upper level—which are 70% sold out for the 2010 season. Suites range from $55,000-$85,000 but with those prices you get to bring 15 of your friends, two flat screen televisions, smooth granite counter tops, fancy wood floors, and modern cabinetry. Not exactly in the mix of it all with the rest of the fans down below, but if luxury is your thing, the Big House has it for you if you have the money to pony up!

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats:
RB Brandon Minor: 103 att, 533 yds, 9 TDs
DE Brandon Graham: 46 tkls, 10 sacks, 10 TFL
QB Tate Forcier: All-world recruit, looked at as potential savior.

Games to Watch:
I think the two most important games in the Michigan season this year are the first and last—reason being that there is much anticipation for this season and in the first game we will know how well to expect the rest of the season to go. Will this be an embarrassing start to this season like in 2007 against Appalachian State, or will the Wolverines continue where they left off with a 3-9 record and a huge loss to Ohio State 42-7? Or will Michigan perform like the team many of us have come to know and love? The first game will have glitches and hang ups, I imagine, as Rodriquez is still working out the kinks, but if he can’t get it together early on, I don’t imagine much hope for the rest of the season or the rest of his career as head coach at Michigan.

Ohio State is an obvious choice for any Michigan fan, it is the be all game for college rivalries. This game has determined bowl eligibility, national titles, and much more. It doesn’t matter if Michigan walks into this game with a 3-8 record, if they win against Ohio State, that’s all the Michigan fans will remember for the rest of the winter until spring training picks up again. It would be nice to have a Michigan victory in Ann Arbor, and Michigan fans will be praying for it for months to come.

They’ll do well if…
… the players adapt to the spread offense that Rodriquez has brought to Michigan. Michigan can be successful if the offense holds on to the ball—they have had too many fumbles and turn overs that have brought to their dismal performance in 2008. Michigan’s defense is not the biggest concern here, I think if Michigan establishes a solid offense from the quarterback and throughout, then the team will be much better off than it was last year.

Season Outlook
It’s all in for Michigan, and all in for Rodriquez. If he can’t perform this year, I don’t expect his coaching position to last longer than one more year. Michigan fans have high expectations, if you don’t step up, you’re out. No hard feelings, it is the way the Wolverines operate. Rodriquez may have some adjustments coming from the Big East, because the Big Ten is like no other conference, and Michigan is like no other team in the Big Ten. With a 3-9 finish last year, I imagine that with the time to prepare, Michigan will do much, much better this year. I imagine an 8-4 season, with potential loses to Michigan State, Iowa, Penn State, and Ohio State (a girl can only hope that this isn’t the case however). Michigan could be in position to go to a bowl this year, but it’s hard to say which one or if it will really happen. The players need to step up and perform, the coaching staff needs to inspire the players and make sound decisions about who is playing and when. I’m feeling good that Michigan will turn it around, and may even surprise us with a finish in the Top 25.

09 Homer Preview: The Hoosier Edition

homer previewIn an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their team or go outside the box. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of Kelper, an IU fan who comes not only highly recommended but also highly enlightened and knowledgeable about the Hoosiers. And that recommendation did not in fact come from Bill Lynch. Which would have negated its validity.

Homer Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

iu logo
What You Need To Know:
The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to rebound from a dismal 3-9 season in 2008. The Hoosiers managed only one Big Ten conference victory over Northwestern, with the other two early season victories over barely 1A Western Kentucky and 1AA Murray State. Over the course of the last two years there has been a major renovation project going on at Memorial Stadium that will debut in 2009 looking completely different. The now enclosed north end zone houses what is now one of the largest weight room facilities in the country as well as many other upgraded amenities that Hoosier faithful hope will soon help the coaching staff bring in an upgrade in talent from the recruiting circuit. With the stadium renovation completed, Coach Bill Lynch and his staff have implemented a pistol offense hoping to renovate the product on the field in 2009 as well.

Offensively the Hoosiers are now completely rid of former quarterback Kellen Lewis. Lewis was dismissed during the offseason for continued lack of discipline off the field. Indiana will look to now-veteran quarterback Ben Chappell to lead the new pistol offense. Chappell saw a lot of playing time in 2008 and showed some flashes of brilliance. After getting the majority of the reps in spring practice, and without having to worry about a constantly flexing QB rotation, Chappell should be able to settle in and perform more consistently. In part, his success will depend on the health of the offensive line and the production of the running back corps. The line brings back significant experience and it is time for late head coach Terry Hoeppner’s “7 Blocks of Limestone” class to push the Hoosier offense to the next level. Experience mixes with expectations as Bryan Payton returns at RB and will be pushed by redshirt freshman Darius Willis. Willis has all the hopes of Hoosier Nation on his back as he is the most talented RB recruit to join Indiana football since perhaps Alex Smith in the early ‘90s. DeMarlo Belcher, Tandon Doss, Mitchell Evans, and Terrance Turner will lead the wide receiving corps as one of 2008’s better playmakers, Ray Fisher, has been moved to the defensive side of the ball. The IU offense scored 13 or fewer points five times in 2008 and will have to become more consistent with getting the ball to the end zone and keeping the defense off the field if they plan on improving upon the 3-9 record in 2009.

The Hoosiers return a great deal of talent on the defense, headlined by the tremendous pass rushing duo of Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton. Middleton was a monster in 2007 when he had 16 sacks, but fell off a bit last year only to see Kirlew to step up in a big way (10.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss). The biggest question mark for the Hoosier defense going into fall camp is at defensive tackle, where Deonte Mack returns as the only experience player joined by a promising group of redshirt freshmen. The linebacking corps is packed with experienced players in Matt Mayberry, Will Patterson, Justin Carrington, and Tyler Replogle. Senior leadership leads the defensive backfield as Austin Thomas and Nick Polk return from injuries that shortened their seasons in 2008. The cornerbacks will likely rotate amongst veterans Donnell Jones, Richard Council, Chris Adkins, and converted WR Ray Fisher. The Hoosier staff hopes to utilize Fisher’s great speed to strengthen the depth and performance in the defensive backfield after seeing several teams pass all over them in 2008. The IU defense gave up 260 yards passing per game and 432 yards per game overall to their opponents last season. The Hoosiers will need Greg Middleton to return to form and for the secondary to lock down coverages in 2009 if they want to have any hope for getting back to a bowl game.

The road to playing a 13th game will certainly not be easy. The Hoosiers have only 6 home games in 2009 and they will have to travel to out of conference opponents Akron and Virginia. IU also travels to Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa, and Penn State during the conference season. The home slate is no piece of cake either with Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Purdue traveling to Bloomington. The Hoosiers open the season on a Thursday night against 1AA Eastern Kentucky before Western Michigan comes to town 9 days later.

Who You Need To Know And Their 2008 Stats:
QB Ben Chappel 80-153, 1001 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT,
DE Jammie Kirlew 74 tackles/53 solo, 10.5 sacks
DE Greg Middleton 18 tackles/14 solo, 4 sacks

Game to Watch:
Despite the likely outcome, the game to watch in 2009 has to be October 3rd against Ohio State. This will be the dedication game for the “new” stadium and will likely be a full house given the number of Buckeye fans that love to turn Bloomington into Columbus-West. Energy will be high and the Hoosiers will have had 4 games to iron out the kinks of the new offense, including a game a week prior in The Big House against Michigan. The Hoosiers will be on the lookout for a statement game to let the rest of the Big Ten know that they are truly on their way up in the world. Will this be that game? I don’t think anyone is ready to step up and make that claim, but it could certainly become a wild one with the 7:00pm start time and the Hoosiers looking to shine under the lights.

They’ll do well if…
…the offensive line lives up to expectations and stays healthy. Those who know football know that games are won on the front lines. If the offensive line can finally get over the hump and create a push that improves the IU running game and keeps Ben Chappell off his back, then the Hoosiers will have a chance to compete 4 quarters against everyone they play. If not, then 3-9 in 2009 might be overly optimistic.

Season Outlook:
The 2009 season is full of uncertainty at this point for IU. The schedule is much more difficult than the previous two seasons, and with last year’s easy schedule the Hoosiers only managed 3 wins. It is quite possible that the loss of Kellen Lewis could be an addition by subtraction change that makes Indiana a much better football team. The talent is there for IU to be a competitive football team, but execution will be crucial. This team can not survive many mistakes against the quality of opponents they will face each week. An optimistic person can look at the schedule and see 7-5 as a possibility if the veteran leadership performs each week and pushes this team forward. At the same time, 2-10 could be just as possible and Hoosier Nation could be clamoring once again for Bill Lynch to be replaced as head coach. I for one will be hoping for 7-5. I plan to see at least 8 games in person including the road games in Charlottesville and Evanston. I sure wouldn’t mind adding one more road trip in late December.

Conference Preview: Big Ten

crystalballIn an effort to address all the teams and conferences that make the fall so exciting, OTP’s All-Star Editorial staff is putting on their prognosticatin’ hats and taking a stab at each of the conferences and all of the teams in FBS. Alan and Edge are giving you the conference’s order of finish, the records, the superlatives for offense and defense, and the biggest surprise for each conference. At the conclusion of our series, we’ll have the Bowl Projections for all 34 Bowl Games.

OTP Conference Preview: The Big 10

big ten logoThe Big 10 has been an interesting beast the last several years. There is a clear divide between the haves and have nots with a bevy of teams falling somewhere in the middle. Ohio State and Penn State have dominated recently, while traditional powers like Michigan have fallen a bit by the wayside.

Most of the conference coaches have turned over save for the stalwarts like Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno, along with Kirk Ferentz who has entrenched himself at Iowa. And with more years like last one, Indiana may be the newest school to accept applications for the head coaching job in the near future. In fact, barring a remarkable improvement by the Hoosiers, Bill Lynch’s days in Bloomington may be numbered less than 180.

The Big 10 has taken a beating on the national stage as Ohio State has underperformed in BCS National Title games, and this year, despite having two teams in most Top 10’s in OSU and Penn State, the conference itself is getting very little respect when it comes to picking teams to upset the prearranged apple cart of Florida. And while the Big 10 may not be getting many looks on a national stage, both Ohio State and Penn State figure to be in the national title picture by year’s end. The upper level Big 10 programs like Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin will all give the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions hard fought games. The mid-tier programs in the Big 10 all have a great shot at being bowl eligible, and there is only two programs that have an uphill battle to Bowl eligibility… the Hoosiers and Boilermakers.

It is certainly interesting to watch the Big 10 fans and the amount of grief they have to take on messageboards, blogs, and in sports bars all over the country, but this doesn’t look like a year that will make that behavior stop.

Last 5 Conference Champions
2008: Ohio State/Penn State
2007: Ohio State
2006: Ohio State
2005: Ohio State/Penn State
2004: Iowa/Michigan

Bowl Tie Ins
The Big Ten Conference has seven bowl tie-ins:
#1– Bowl Championship Series. The Big Ten champion gains an automatic berth to a BCS bowl game, preferentially the Rose Bowl.
#2– The Capital One Bowl receives the second choice from the Big Ten, but must choose from remaining teams with the best overall record, or within one win of the best overall record.
#3– The Outback Bowl receives the third choice of Big Ten teams.
#4– The Alamo Bowl receives the fourth choice of Big Ten teams.
#5– The Champs Sports Bowl receives the fifth choice from the Big Ten, but must choose from remaining teams with the best overall record, or within one win of the best overall record.
#6– The Insight Bowl receives the sixth choice of Big Ten teams.
#7– The Motor City Bowl receives the seventh choice from the Big Ten, but must choose from remaining teams with the best overall record, or within one win of the best overall record.

Alan’s Big 10 Predictions
Order of Finish:
Penn State 12-0 (8-0)
Ohio State 11-1 (7-1)
Wisconsin 9-3 (5-3)
Illinois 9-3 (5-3)
Iowa 9-3 (5-3)
Minnesota 7-5 (4-4)
Northwestern 7-5 (3-5)
Michigan St. 6-6 (3-5)
Michigan 6-6 (3-5)
Purdue 3-9 (1-7)
Indiana 1-11 (0-8)

League Champion: Penn State

League MVP: Daryll Clark, Penn State
Offensive MVP: Jewel Hampton, Iowa
Defensive MVP: Navorro Bowman, Penn State

Biggest Surprise This Season: Ohio State and Penn State go unbeaten until their conference showdown in November. It won’t be enough to propel either to the national title, but does propel the Nittany Lions to #3 in the BCS standings.

Edge’s Big 10 Predictions
Order of Finish:
Ohio State 11-1 (7-1)
Penn State 11-1 (7-1)
Michigan State 10-2 (7-1)
Iowa 9-3 (5-3)
Wisconsin 9-3 (5-3)
Illinois 7-5 (5-3)
Michigan 5-7 (3-5)
Minnesota 6-6 (3-5)
Northwestern 5-7 (2-6)
Purdue 3-9 (1-7)
Indiana 1-11 (0-8)

League Champion: Ohio State… and Penn State… and Michigan State. Ohio State wins the tiebreaker for the Rose Bowl.

League MVP: Evan Royster, PSU
Offensive MVP: Juice Williams, Illinois
Defensive MVP: Corey Wootten, NW

Biggest surprise this season: We have a Big Ten menage-a-trois! Welcome to NCAA Controversy 2009.