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Unscientific Preview: Auburn

KentuckyHelmetAuburn helmet

Kentucky vs. Auburn

Gametime: 7:30pm
Location: Auburn, AL
Television: ESPNU

Just a few short weeks ago, Kentucky sat at 2-0, with the fans again bubbling with optimism that perhaps the naysayer amongst us, who thought this would be a down year for Big Blue were members of an unneeded Pessimism Army. That dream of staking a place at the SEC upper echelon was quickly tamped down by the consecutive games against Florida and Alabama, the top two teams in the most recent CBSSports Blogpoll. Today we take a look at Auburn and UK. But admittedly… like most Kentucky fans are a bit distracted today. Continue reading


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.

By the Numbers – Week 5, Part II

By The Numbers, Part 4

Apologies for not getting this to you sooner, but sometimes things get in the way, right?  Two days ago we covered some statistics on Ball State and Kentucky on their respective offenses.  So, as promised, here are some numbers on the other side of the ball.

As we may already know, Ball State’s defensive numbers are a bit better than the offense, but they still leave a bit to be desired.  Kentucky is also a relatively uninspired defense, save their passing numbers.  Let’s see how we’re doing (number in parentheses is national rank out of 120):

Rush Defense Stats

  Avg Yards per Rush Allowed Rushing Yards Allowed per Game Rush TDs Allowed
Ball State 4.49 (94) 184.80 (111) 6 (56)
Kentucky 4.88 (104) 190.25 (87) 5 (40)

Pass  Defense Stats

  Passing Yards Allowed per Game Passing TDs Allowed Yards Allowed per Completion Allowed Completion Percentage INTs Gained Percentage of Passes Intercepted
Ball State 242.80 (92) 13 (116) 12.39 (84) 68.53% (117) 3 (78) 2.10% (87)
Kentucky 163.00 (16) 6 (57) 12.54 (90) 49.52% (12) 3 (78) 2.86% (63)

Tackles for Loss/Sacks Stats

  Tackles for Loss Tackles for Loss Yards Sacks Sacks Yards Lost
Ball State 31 (34) 101 (60) 6 (86) 39 (90)
Kentucky 20 (99) 70 (103) 8 (63) 41 (84)

Drive Stats

  First Downs Allowed Opponent Third Down Conversion Opponent Fourth Down Conversion Opponent Red Zone Drives Average Red Zone Points Allowed
Ball State 194 (99) 39.71% (74) 33.33% (30) 15 (59) 4.80 (67)
Kentucky 163 (46) 38.71% (66) 57.14% (71) 17 (75) 4.18 (33)

Once again, there you have it.  Defensively, I don’t think anyone that is a fan of either team will be surprised at any of this.  As I did a couple days ago, I will pick one stat on Ball State’s side that did slightly (annoy?) concern me.  That stat is “Allowed Completion Percentage”.  68.53% is incredibly high, don’t you think?  Raise your hand if you think our DBs have been giving a little too much room to our opponents’ receivers.  Yeah, I figured everyone’s hand would be up.  The bad thing about this is that it’s not as if we’re giving up six to eight yard curls and flats.  We’re giving up an average of 12.39 yards per completion (by the way, Kentucky’s numbers are worse).  And those Toledo bombs didn’t help that average one bit.  One thing is for sure: it’s not just the BSU offense that needs some serious attention.  I’ll be back again soon for some special teams stats for both teams.  Until then, rock on.

Unscientific Preview: Alabama

KentuckyHelmet Alabama

Kentucky vs. Alabama

Gametime: 12:21 (Palindrome! BOOYAH!)
Location: Lexington, KY
Television: ESPN360.com, many of the local markets

I know it’s been a while since we’ve rocked out an Unscientific Preview. Frankly, I’m surprised that the football team, the fanbase, and the SEC even carried on without. Blame it on the fact that the first few games this season were far from noteworthy, with the exception of Louisville… who didn’t even deserve this sort of treatment. This week, much like last week, the Cats face a Top 5 opponent who is skilled, talented, and has their eyes on an SEC title and accompanying BCS payday. Getting your teeth kicked in week in and week out is sort of the defining characteristic of the SEC… welcome to the party.

Bama is one of those teams that has tradition and mystique unlike a lot of other programs. But in Notre Dame style fashion, the Tide have had nothing of note to celebrate lately. Their last national championship? 1992. Their last SEC title? 1999. That’s 10 years without a conference title for the program that thinks they, and they alone, are the class of the SEC. Mostly because of their former coach Bear Bryant… who used to coach UK. Small world, Tide fans.

The college football universe has been perpetually gaga over the Tide for the last two seasons, most likely because Nick Saban is the man in charge in Tuscaloosa. His first two seasons led to bowls for the Tide, and recruiting classes universally lauded as some of the best in the nation. More on Satan… I mean Saban in a bit, though. Let’s get it on…

Alabama comes into Saturday’s contest as the #3 scoring offense in the conference (40.5 ppg) thanks largely to a 234 yard per game average rushing the ball. And these sorts of stats weren’t compiled against tomato can after tomato can from FCS or the Sun Belt. The Tide has played a decent schedule to this point, including their season opener against Virginia Tech. The Hokies were gashed for 268 on the ground, 150 of them coming by way of Mark Ingram. When the Tide decides to pass the ball, QB Greg McElroy is 4th in the conference in yards per game. He’s tops in the conference for passing accuracy at a shade under 70%, and has only 1 INT along with 7 TDs  and 938 yards. More a product of teams loading up to stop the run? Probably. But it works for the Tide and McElroy… and that’s what counts. Most notable for the Crimson Tide passing game is who McElroy throws to. Julio Jones, who generates the most buzz and internet chatter, isn’t their leading receiver. That honor belongs to Marquis Maze, who does have an extra game under his belt this season. Both receivers are threats, and should Kentucky choose to simply stack the box, they will make UK pay.

Offensively for the Cats, it’s a far cry this season from the Woodson years in Lexington, as the Cats are in the bottom third in nearly every offensive category. Scoring? 10th at 26.7 ppg. Passing? 9th at 171 ypg. Rushing? 8th at 166 ypg. Granted, those stats were skewed because 33% of the statistical evidence is being accumulated against a dominating Florida defense. But most fans will tell you outside of hapless Miami to start the season, this team has not looked offensively dominant. That isn’t to say it isn’t possible, though. The running game for Kentucky has the potential to keep the Cats in this game, as Derrick Locke and Alfonso Smith offer a troublesome 1-2 punch capable of breaking out. Randall Cobb also provides a spark and playmaker for the UK offense capable at anytime of making a highlight reel sort of play. Ultimately though, those playmakers aside, the offensive prowess of this team rests squarely on the shoulders of Mike Hartline. Much maligned, but supported by his coaches, Hartline must will this team to win if they are to have a shot on Saturday.

Advantage: AlabamaAs much as it pains me to say this. The rushing game for Alabama is a bit better than UK’s, the passing game more advanced, and the Tide is facing a defense nowhere close to the D that UK is facing.

Oh defense… how you define teams’ identities. For Alabama, that’s certainly the case. The Crimson Tide come into Saturday’s game the #3 team in the conference for scoring defense (13 ppg), #1 against the rush (47 ypg), and #5 against the pass (155 ypg). Overall, the Tide is allowing just a shade over 202 yards per game… good for #1 overall in the entire SEC. Fabulous. So Kentucky’s potential strength… if you can call it that… is facing the best rushing defense in the conference? AWESOME! Other interesting fun facts… after the Tide’s season opener where they allowed 24 points, they’ve allowed a total of 28 points. In three games. The last two? 7 each. Personnel-wise, the Tide feature Marcell Dareus and Javier Arenas, #3 and #4 respectively in the SEC for sacks (3.5 & 3.0).

For Kentucky, they looked damn good in the season opener, pitching a shutout and allowing 188 total yards. Many fans, myself included, breathed a little easier knowing we had a defense capable of shutting a team down. Then Louisville happened… 27 points allowed and 378 yards surrendered to a team that many thought couldn’t fight their way out of a piss soaked paper sack. Let’s not even talk about the Florida game. The only defensive highlight was one particular hit. It certainly wasnt the nearly 500 yards surrendered or the 41 points… 31 of which came in quarter #1. Overall, the Cats are far from dominant, 10th in the conference in total defense (353.7 ypg), 6th against the pass (168 ypg), and 12th against the run (185 ypg). Yes, that’s right, dead last against the area of the game Alabama that excels the most. Stupendous.

Advantage: AlabamaAgain, this is more about who they are facing than the talent on the roster. While Alabama has standout defensive players, Kentucky has a few themselves, in Trevard Lindley, Micah Johnson, and DeQuin Evans. Can this Kentucky team play above what they’ve done so far this season? Of course. Will they? Doubtful, considering who they’re going up against.

Should you ask an Alabama fan, Nick Saban is the greatest thing since sliced bread. He has a 114–50–1 record in his NCAA career, has a national championship, and 2 SEC titles. Since coming to Bama, Saban has compiled a 23-8 record and one Sugar Bowl trip last year after losing the SEC Championship game. Saban was also the coach of LSU when they beat Kentucky in the “Bluegrass Miracle”. I contemplated embedding that video, but would rather jam bamboo toothpicks under my fingernails. For Coach Rich Brooks, his career at Kentucky has been slow moving but progress nonetheless. The Cats may still finish no better than 5th, but at least they don’t get beat by 70 anymore. Huzzah!

Advantage: AlabamaNational titles trump Bourbon bottles and F150 Signature Series trucks. Barely.

Famous Fanatic:
bear tattoo Crazy Bear Bryant tatoo guy. Classy.

ashleyjudd Beautiful, southern accent, and a Kentucky fan. Meet perfection.

Advantage: KentuckyHelmetAs if this even needed to be said. Though bonus points for the white face paint and the houndstooth hat for the tattoo guy.

Last season’s Alabama-Kentucky contest was a bit of a surprise to not only Alabama fans but the nation, as Kentucky hung with the Crimson Tide much longer than expected. The 17-14 margin was a jaw dropper, and most Kentucky fans felt that was a game Kentucky could have won despite the Tide’s high ranking and considerable talent gap. The last Wildcat win against Alabama came in 1997, in Lexington. The lone victory before then? 1922. Despite the 2-34-1 series record, despite the statistical dominance, despite the advantages Bama has on the roster, I fully expect UK to keep this one closer than many expect, and considering the way Florida handled the Cats last weekend, a close game, in my mind, is a great success.

Alabama 31
Kentucky 27

Florida… They’re Good

The hit heard round the world.

The hit heard round the world.

The obviousness of that headline will come as no surprise to anyone who follows college football even a little bit. Florida is the defending national champions, returning a staunch defense and a QB that garners almost as much attention nationally as a naked Erin Andrews. That’s impressive. What wasn’t impressive was the way Saturday started, and it certainly wasn’t impressive when the aforementioned Gator demi-God wearing #15 was leveled and carted off the field. For anyone who wondered if Tebow was mortal, watching him ride a golf cart and puke into a plastic bag should answer that question pretty emphatically.

For the record, the hit was clean, nasty, and absolutely sickening. I’m sure there were a few people in the college football universe that smiled to themselves for the supposed karmic comeuppance for Tebow, and for those people, I, and Jesus, have one particular gesture for you. It can be seen here. Good.

When the Tebow hit happened, then replayed, then replayed, then replayed over and over I felt the same way I did after Sam Bradford went down, would feel the same way if Colt McCoy went down, and felt the same last year watching Dante Love go down. It’s a heartbreaking moment or three when an athlete in prime physical condition at the top of their game risks health and their future to entertain me for a couple hours on a Saturday. It looks now like it isn’t ridiculously serious, and he gets a week or two to recover. That’s good news all around.

As for the Wildcat performance, there isn’t really much to say, as Kentucky didn’t look anything like a team worth talking about. Outgained by a large margin, an inability to sustain any kind of offensive attack, a lackluster defensive effort, and a painfully damning start ended this movie before it ever got going. I think I, like most everyone else, expected a Florida win, but I did expect Kentucky to keep it much closer than the spread (22) and if things broke just the right way… they might turn into Cinderalla again. Unfortunately, Cinderalla was nowhere close to Commonwealth, and even the ugly stepsister wasn’t paying attention either.

It was a folly of errors for the Cats, penalties, blown coverages, etc. that certainly helped Florida throw it on cruise control. As much as it pains me to say it, despite the improvement in this program and on this team lately, we are still light years away from competing for the SEC. Teams that cannot stop the run, blow coverages, struggle offensively, and shoot themselves in the foot do not win conference titles. They also don’t beat the #1 team in the country, flu symptoms or not.

Now… is any of this the least bit surprising? Of course not. So that’s why this game is like the bad case of Mexican shits the night after burritos and margaritas. You flush it down and move on to the next meal. For us, that’s Alabama. And frankly, I detest the Crimson Tide a whole hell of a lot more than I ever will the Gators. Roll Tide? Spare me.

The Weekend ‘O’ Doom Looms

UK, BSU, I'm coming for you this weekend

UK, BSU, I'm coming for you this weekend

Come Saturday evening, within an hour of each other, both of our teams will kick off games that will speak volumes about what’s in store for this season, these programs, and the future of the Ball State Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats.

For the Cats, it’s a battle that not many are giving UK much of a shot in. For Ball State, even fewer people are giving the Cardinals a ridiculously smaller shot. Suffice to say, this weekend is not only an important weekend, it’s also potentially a painful weekend.

Kentucky LogoFlorida @ Kentucky
Most fans point to 2007 as a year to remember for the Wildcats, made so largely because of their upset of LSU. LSU came to Commonwealth ranked #1, and left with a loss. Could the same happen to the top-ranked Gators this weekend? It’s possible.

Florida is hampered by an emotional win last week against Tennessee, an emotional game next week at LSU, and a good number of players at least slowed down by a flu bug making its way through the team. Kentucky on the other hand, has seen a lack of respect throughout the country, as most fans point out the Wildcats blew out an awful Miami (Ohio) team and struggled to beat Louisville. Mentally, these Cats should be out to prove something… something that can only be proven by knocking off the presumptive national title favorite.

Kentucky football over the Brooks regime has steadily improved, and the fans of both programs are in for a fantastic contest Saturday night. Does Kentucky win? Doubtful. Do they look solid and surprise some folks around the country by taking the Gators to the wire? They absolutely will. Florida’s defense and Tim Tebow steps up when it counts, scores late, and the Wildcats streak against the Gators continues… for at least one more season.

Alan’s Prediction:
Florida 34
Kentucky 24

BSU logoBall State @ Auburn
For the Cardinals, they’ll take the field Saturday night in front of 80,000+ fans, all fully expecting an epic beatdown, thorough thrashing, and no chance of a Cardinal win. For the casual fan, just looking over the results this season, that’s not an unfair assessment. The storylines have been beaten to death, and this game comes down to two things… the o-line and Kelly Page.

If the o-line is able to open holes for Quale and protect Kelly to throw, then BSU has a shot. A small shot, that would require everything to break just right for the Cardinals, but a shot all the same. Should the Cards come out with a porous offensive line, no success in the rushing game, horrendous penalties, or turnovers, then it’s going to be a long damn night. A tremendously long damn night.

Realistically, the coaching staff and players for Auburn have to be looking at this game the same way as the fans… that this is simply a formality and no team or players to concern themselves with. They have a game next week against Tennessee which is probably occupying more than a few minds, and that’s good news for the Cardinals. Auburn has played perfect this season, their offense is exceptional, and the defense is hardcore. It is going to take a herculean effort from the Cards.

When the smoke clears on Saturday night, I fully expect a Ball State loss, but I also expect this team to show heart and talent that we haven’t had the luxury of seeing so far this season. This is a team whose back is against the wall and often times that leads to some pretty spectacular efforts. I am optimistic we look ok, not optimistic we leave with a win.

Alan’s Prediction:
Ball State 14
Auburn 31

Edge’s Prediction:
Ball State 6
Auburn 45
sirenOF SPECIAL NOTE: OTP will be providing live coverage from the press box of Auburn-Ball State on Saturday night via our Twitter feed. You can access that up on the left hand side of this page via the Twitter logo or by clicking here. Check it out, and get your fill of BSU related awesomeness.

Oddities Needed for a Wildcat Win

Ask any true Kentucky fan and they will tell you that it isn’t just losing to teams in football that is frustrating. It is the way those losses happen. In usually epic tragic fashion, the football God (Footballor) rears his head out just long enough to screw with the minds and hearts of thousands of blue-clad fanatics packed into Commonwealth. It’s as much a rite of fall passage as the leaves changing or sorostitutes making a Friday morning scramble back to their dorm room in their black stretch pants and halter tops wrinkled and messy from too much Thursday fun. So it comes as not only hope inducing, but totally expected, that the Florida Gators are allegedly hampered by illness this week as they prepare for the Wildcats.

Why, yes, UK fans, I do aim for you.

Why, yes, UK fans, I do aim for you.

Whether it be Hail Mary passes caught by LSU, a pass with three seconds left versus the Gators in 1993, Billy Jack Haskins running over the Tennessee Volunteers, the 87 loss to Alabama snatched out of victory’s grasp, or the dozens of other examples, the Wildcats have always found a way to lose games just when it seems like the tide around UK football is rising. Take this year, more specifically, this weekend’s game against the Florida Gators… optimism is high, the team is undefeated, and it’s prime time to have some heartbreak doled out.

For Kentucky, optimism and hope ran high as last season ended. An impressive recruiting class joined a team that had made three straight Bowls… all wins. The defensive stalwarts that had paced the unit all elected to return instead of try out the NFL. Rich Brooks, for once in his Kentucky lifetime, was lauded as a coach worth celebrating… to the tune of a Maker’s Mark collectors edition bottle… the Kentucky version of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

There’s even reason to be optimistic for this specific weekend, even though the Cats haven’t beat the Gators since 1986. Florida, despite being the defending national champions, virtually everyone’s preseason #1, and returning every single starter from a dominating defense, has several negatives that Kentucky fans are keying on. Most notably, a lackluster effort last weekend against Tennessee, and the word over the last several days that flu is beginning to ravage the Gators. Of course it is! Because UK fans need a reason to be optimistic that an upset could occur despite the overwhelming empirical evidence that the odds of that happening are the same as me walking to my car to find Eliza Dushku and Erin Andrews naked in the backseat waiting for me.

Hey, Swine flu... yeah... you. Get the hell off my field.

Hey Swine flu.... yeah, you. Get the hell off my field!

Was this not the same team that manhandled Kentucky 63-5 last year in the Swamp? I (thankfully) didn’t watch that game, but I’m fairly certain it is in fact the same opponent. Perhaps vaunted Commonwealth Stadium is in fact a 58-point homefield advantage. Meaning that had Kentucky played Miami (Ohio) there instead of Cincinnati they would have won 100-0. Well, using that Miami game as sarcasm wasn’t the best since there are teams out there who could beat Miami by 100. I digress…

Call me a pessimist. Call me a non-believer. Call me a Kentucky football fan since that encompasses the first two, but I simply cannot fathom how Kentucky pulls anything closely resembling an upset. The flu isn’t even close to the top of the list of things that would make me consider Kentucky capable of shocking the world. These however would:

  • Tim Tebow not only gets the swine flu, but also the herp, head lice, erectile dysfunction, bubonic plague and a nasty case of scabies. Because of this he only throws for 3 TDs and runs for 2.
  • Florida’s plane en route to Lexington undergoes massive tragedy, team ends up marooned on island where millions of fans tune into watch their shittily crafted storylines, totally confusing plot, and rack up Emmy nod after Emmy nod.
  • Running backs Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey simultaneously suffer from Percy Harvin syndrome, where every ligament in their body snaps.
  • Urban Meyer gets arrested for massacring the Kiffin family…Florida hires Steve Kragthorpe as coach.

Frankly, I sincerely hope that I am way off the mark. It’s been known to happen on rare occasions. There is nothing I would like more than to have to tear myself away from the on-field drubbing at Auburn this weekend and post something about how Brooks is a genius, I am a dunderhead, and not even remotely worthy of calling myself a fan. Alas, what I fear will be happening is the special Sunday post of explaining an epic ass tearing of both of our teams here at OTP, swine flu or not.

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.

A Letter to Steve Kragthorpe

Meet the captain of this failboat

Meet the captain of this failboat

Dear Steve,

You know, there was once a time when I, as a Kentucky fan, dreamed of beating Louisville. That was of course partially fueled by Bobby Petrino dominating us like we had paid for it, but it was always nice to slip into fantasy land and imagine a world where beating the Cardinals was a near certainty. Where the jokes would flow easily and often. Where the in-state players would realize that UK was where they needed to be. And for making that dream a reality, I thank you.

Over the course of this series, Louisville has certainly enjoyed some successful years. BCS Bowls, 9 wins out of 12 in one particular stretch, etc. I wouldn’t expect you to know that, since it would involve you being here, which you weren’t, or reading about it, which I doubt you can do. At least, for your sake, I hope you can’t. Otherwise, if you can in fact read,you’re privy to some totally hateful garbage spewed from your fans. According to them you can’t coach, can’t speak, can’t think, can’t gameplan, can’t win, can’t get an erection, can’t last in bed, can’t beat Kentucky, hell… can’t beat Syracuse, can’t pleasure a woman, can’t make toast, can’t read so good, on and on and on. Now, that just isn’t nice of them to say, Steve. I mean, it’s all totally accurate, but it still isn’t very nice.

I know it must suck to be you, Krags. Aside from the balding dome, lack of talent on the roster, and the general worry every time you walk the streets of Louisville that motorists won’t stop when they see you in a crosswalk, you’ve also got a stadium that’s significantly smaller than your in-state rivals, and even that doesn’t get filled. I’m sure it’s sort of like an old impotent shrivel-dick sidling up next to Peter North at a urinal, looking over, and wondering why life is so unfair. But kudos to you, man, for hanging in there and letting ‘er fly, however tiny it is. I just wanted to say thanks.

Thanks really, for being you, you sweet loveable loser. Thanks for taking a Louisville program and running it over top of a Titanic iceberg in record epic fashion. You said once, “I’m the captain of this ship and it’s my job to get the ship righted.” At least you drove it somewhere.

This is where you "Take a Kragthorpe"

This is where you "Take a Kragthorpe"

Thanks, Steve, for making it clear to everyone how insignificant Louisville is in college football. Thanks, Krags, for letting the nation see a secret that the Commonwealth has known for a while… that Louisville is, has been, and always will be a second-tier program and second-tier fanbase, competing in a second-tier conference for second-tier recruits. For all that, you are truly worth your weight in gold and I, for one, think Louisville should give you a lifetime contract.

I mean, hell, man, it’s not like you’re as bad as Ron Cooper.

Love always,

P.S. Whatever you do, never, ever, ever ever ever, go to dinner with Pitino. Ever. You’ve been warned.

Official Prediction:
Louisville: 10
Kentucky: 37

This Week’s Separated at Birth

Normally on Thursday of Game week, we offer up a Separated at Both post for Ball State’s weekly opponent. It’s all in good fun, and frankly, one of the best features we do here, if for no other reason than it lets us bust balls on the other team. This week, however, Ball State tavels to West Point for a game against Army. When it comes down to it, the guys on Army’s football squad are some of the most impressive people on the field. Not because of their catches, blocks, or throws, but because when their time of service on the gridiron is finished, they’ll begin a career of serving this country.

Even though the Separated at Birth posts are all in good fun and certainly not meant to be disrespectful, I just have sort of a moral queesiness comparing an upside down mop or Whoopi Goldberg to someone who could potentially die in protection of my right to make said comparison. So, Army is off the hook this week. How fortunate for us, then, that Kentucky (the second team we cover) plays host to Louisville… and there’s certainly nothing on that team worth respecting.

QB Alan Castro and Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

RB Darius Ashley and Sugar Ray Leonard

QB Adam Froman and Vanilla Ice

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