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Running out of Fingernails to Bite

Cornerback Andre Dawson may have found the best way to describe the Ball State football season with his tweet.

While I am sure fans are happy for the win over WMU these types of games need to end.

Both Ball State and Western Michigan had ample opportunities to make Saturday’s game a blowout for either side. Offenses left points off the board.  When either team made it to the red zone disaster seemed to occur. Ball State itself had an interception, a fumble, and two turnovers on downs in Western territory.

One thing is for sure, Western’s offense died in the second half.

Maybe it was the rainy weather, maybe Ball State’s defense figured it out; maybe it was the backup quarterback Western had to roll out.

Ball State played to win this game while Western Michigan played not to lose. I am sure the Broncos would have been more aggressive in their play-calling in the fourth quarter had their senior quarterback Alex Carder been healthy.

So what if it is the second game this year Ball State won because the other team’s quarterback was injured. See IU win.

So what if it is the second game this year Ball State won that it should have loss. See IU win.

So what if this is the third straight MAC game where the offense wasted scoring opportunities like Congress does with tax dollars. See Kent State and NIU losses.

The only “so what” that matters is 30 is more than 24.

At 4-3, Ball State is still in decent shape to earn seven wins and a bowl invitation. The Cardinals still have a slim hope of winning the MAC West if NIU falls off the face of the Earth. Do not hold your breath.

A loss though would have made this season a wash. The road is still tough as Central Michigan is in panic mode after their loss to Navy.

Are these Central Michigan uniforms or what sinners wear in Hell. If the latter it might be time to repent.

Nothing is ever easy in Mt. Pleasant, where warm temperatures do not exist.

Central should be a win but this is the Cardiac Cards we are talking about. No matter what I am sure it will be interesting.

Having a team that drives its fans to the edge of it seat every Saturday is not so bad.

Especially when compared to winless MAC peers Eastern Michigan and UMass. If you think Ball State has fan problems then you should look at the bottom of this box score.

I guess my high school has more fans than Eastern Michigan does.

Cardiac Cards are looking good right about now.

A Speed Bump Named Kent

We knew the luck would run out eventually.

Unofficial comic strip of the Mid-American Conference

Under Pete Lembo Ball State has developed a good habit of wining close games. The Cards were 5-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less in 2011 and had two straight close wins against BCS schools in 2012.

It is only natural that a team would find a way to beat Ball State in the final seconds at some point.

It turned out to be Kent State, which is okay. If it was Northern Illinois this weekend then it would be cause for concern.

Alan covered it Sunday as this is nothing more than a speed bump for the Cardinals. The two biggest games of MAC play are coming up. Losses to the Huskies and the Broncos will pretty much cancel out the wins over IU and USF.

The prize is still the MAC West but Ball State must go through the gauntlet of the MAC’s best to get it. It is mind boggling to think but South Florida and Indiana were in a way a soft spot on the schedule.

Four MAC West foes remain with all four of them having a victory against a BCS team. Throw in Ohio, a tough trip to Army, and rivalry game at Miami University and you have a schedule that can turn this season into the trash can fast.

The Cardinals will be at best a slight favorite for any remaining game. Five weeks into the season and we are still where we started. Ball State could finished anywhere from 4-8 to 8-4; just how we all thought it would be at this stage.

That is why this week is so important. To be the champ you have to beat the champ and that still is Northern Illinois. A loss here and Ball State may have to reassess its MAC championship goals.

A speed bump for now and let’s hope it stays that way.

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.

Weekend Carnage Report

Football is back, ladies and gents, and with it brings the return of the Weekend Carnage Report, your Monday Must Read for football goings on. While the weekend was short on major earth shaking upsets, there was excitement to be found throughout the land. Blocked field goals, overtimes, sucker punches… and this was all week 1. It’s going to be a good year.

Ball State logoBall State Report: For the Cardinals, it was hardly worth rehashing. It was game 1, it was a learning experience, and we have an FCS team coming in on Saturday. Play like they did on Thursday and they’ll get beat again. Play like they’re capable of, and it’s an easy W. There are some that will tell you that the gap between non-BCS teams and excellent FCS teams isn’t all that large. I am not one of those people. The gap is there and this is a game BSU needs to win, and win big.

Kentucky LogoKentucky Report: What really can you say that hasn’t already been covered by A Sea of Blue? The Cats looked dominant, energetic, poised, and skilled. The things we thought would be troublesome, like pressure and skill from the defensive ends, or the offense picking up blitzing schemes was present, but that’s something teachable and nowhere near the problems that the Legion of Doom expected to be dealing with after game 1. The positives, like Randall Cobb, Mike Hartline, the offensive line’s dominance, and Trevard Lindley all looked extremely good. Yes, it was a MAC school… I get it. But a win like this builds confidence and swagger no matter who you beat… and that’s what this team needed. The most improvement usually occurs between games 1 and 2, and throw in a bye week and I’m feeling good about Big Blue.

On to the weekend…

The Good

  • Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish were lampooned early this season as a team exceptionally overrated and ranked to highly. Most pointed to their season opener against Nevada and their high octane offense as a potential upset for the Irish. After Saturday’s 35-0 shellacking, ND looks like a team to keep your eye on. Charlie Weis silenced some critics, the Irish certainly impressed some pollsters, and Jimmy Clausen finally looked like the Clausen he was expected to be out of high school.
  • Florida/Texas/USC: Three of the teams universally expected to compete for a national championship berth all came out and handled their business against lesser opponents. Impressive, dominating, and totally expected but good all the same.
  • Boise State/BYU: Two non-BCS conference programs that have catapulted themselves into the BCS conversation. Boise’s victory over Oregon was overshadowed by a sucker punch, and BYU’s upset of Oklahoma overshadowed by Sam Bradford’s shoulder injury, but both those wins will be worth their weight in gold come this week’s poll and for the hopes of both of those programs to crash the BCS party come January.
  • Kentucky/Tennessee: Two teams needing large wins to sort of ease the fears of fanbases in worry mode. Both did exactly what was needed as Kentucky took Miami behind the woodshed and Tennessee laid the smack down on Western Kentucky. Welcome to FBS, Toppers… now grab your ankles.

The Bad

  • Virginia: It’s hard to say what’s worse… the fact that UVA lost to FCS William & Mary or the fact that no one seems to really be talking about it. Is that because of the other stories happening? Or because UVA is just expected to be awful. Probably a little of both.
  • The MidAmerican Conference: Some were lauding the MAC as a conference on the rise and in a position to get back some of the prestige lost when Marshall and Miami stopped dominating. The first weekend was hardly anything to warrant celebration as the MAC went 3-10 and the universally thought stronger MAC West went 0-6. The most damaging losses? Ball State’s to North Texas and Temple to Villanova. WMU looked dreadful against Michigan.
  • Maryland: Many were expecting the Terps to be contenders in an ACC devoid of overwhelming talent and skill. After the thorough decimation at the hands of Cal, Terp fans have got to be concerned. The Golden Bears ran absolutely roughshod over the Terp defense, didn’t allow the offense to flourish, and simply dominated.

The Ugly

  • Iowa: In what was nearly the largest upset of the weekend, Northern Iowa played Iowa closer than nearly every expert expected. So much so that the Hawkeyes needed two blocked field goals in the final seconds to seal a win. Iowa has had a ton of injuries but this is a game they have to win… largely… impressively… going away.
  • Ohio State: The Buckeyes were one pass away from a tie game with under three minutes to go Saturday. I’m certainly a fan of not running the score up in any fashion against a service academy, but playing like this next week against the Trojans is going to be an ass whipping waiting to happen.
  • Indiana: Not surprisingly, IU ends up on this list again. But at least this time it isn’t in the bad! Congrats! After a lackluster performance against Eastern Kentucky, it’s looking like it’s going to be a long year for the Hoosiers and their fans.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan

  • WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame: 4 rec, 189 yards, 3 TDs in an impressive win against Nevada, announcing to the fans that ND may in fact, be ready to lay claim to a BCS berth with hopefully different results.
  • RB Ralph Bolden, Purdue: Sure, it was against Toledo. But when you throw up 234 yards and 2 TDs, that gets you some OTP love. Now… do that against Penn State and the Buckeyes, and you’re getting invited to New York for a bronze stiff-arming trophy.
  • QB Max Hall, BYU: 26-38 329 yards and 2 TDs in a shocking upset of Oklahoma. Hall commandeered an offensive unit that was far from dominant, but he got the job done. And that’s all anyone can ever ask for.

From Edge

  • Arizona State LB Mike Nixon hauled in an impressive three interceptions and even took one to the house.  Granted it was against Idaho State, it was still a great effort, and he’s clearly someone to watch this year.
  • Tony Pike threw for a personal best 362 yards and three touchdowns in Cincinnati’s rout of Rutgers on Monday.  One hell of a performance from one surprisingly good team, at least from week one’s showing.
  • Purdue’s RB Ralph Bolden accumulated 234 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 carries against Toledo.  And I thought Ball State’s rushing defense was poor on Thursday… jeebus.

Weekend Carnage Report

This was one of the more ho-hum weekends in college football, as evidenced by the lack of change in the Top 15 of the BCS. The season is winding down, and some teams are beginning to believe again while others are realizing that their season or in some cases, their career, might be over. Some good finishes were there for the finding for the truly dedicated, but this may have been a nice weekend to step outside, get some fresh air, and remind your loved ones that you do indeed care about more than an oblong ball and a set of uprights. (Of course, this isn’t true, but loved ones are usually foolish, blinded by their feelings and emotions. This goodwill should last you at least through the conference championships, then you can buy enough Christmas gifts to allow you uninterrupted Bowl watching. Thank me later.) On to the weekend…

The Good

  • Florida. As in really really good. I think most thought the South Carolina-Florida game would at least be fun to watch. Not so much. Florida jumped on the Gamecocks early, often, and impressively in route to a 56-6 shellacking. I said it in June, and I’ll say it again here… this Florida team is the best in the country. And the National Championship is their’s to lose.
  • Utah. The Utes had to be hearing the whispers after an ugly win over TCU that they were a tad bit overrated. Coupled with the other non-BCS undefeateds and the Utes needed a statement win. They got it in the form of a 63-14 pounding of hapless San Diego State. Granted, SDSU is 1-10, but good teams blow bad teams out. A lesson some of the big boys and a few of the mid-majors would do well to remember.
  • Maryland. In defeating 16th ranked North Carolina on Saturday, the Terps not only made their claim for the ACC Championship, but also defeated their 6th straight ranked opponent. If Ralph Friedgen could ever figure out how to beat the Middle Tennessee’s of the world, the Terps would be amazing.
  • Ball State. The Cards defeated Miami on Tuesday last for their first 10-0 start in school history. They drop three spots in the BCS, leapfrogged by TCU and BYU in the process as their reward. Up next for the Cardinals will be Central Michigan on Wednesday, a game that should they win, will get the Cardinals some respect in the minds of the computers and the pollsters.

The Bad

  • Syracuse/Greg Robinson. Alas, the love affair between Greg Robinson and Syracuse has come to a bitter bloody end after a 39-14 beating by UConn in the final home game of the 08 season. Robinson was 9-36 in his career and 3-25 in the Big East. In trying to find at least a little humor in this otherwise awful situation for Syracuse fans, Robinson won 2 of his 3 games against Louisville. Proving yet again that Louisville sucks.
  • Washington. Remaining the only winless team in FBS, the Huskies now close the season against 1-10 Washington State and 6-4 Cal. If Ty is going to go out with a win, he would do well to beat Wazzu. At least they kept it semi-close against UCLA.
  • Tulsa. Just a few short weeks ago, Tulsa was everyone’s darling with thier glitzy high powered offense and head coach Todd Graham appearing on many short lists for vacancies. Looks like the Golden Hurricanes are petering out to be a minor rain storm as they get violated by Houston 70-30.
  • Michigan. One of the most storied programs in history has its first 8-loss season after the 21-14 loss to Northwestern. Deep breaths, M fans… with Coach Rod it only gets better after the first season.

The Ugly

  • LSU. The Tigers needed a 30-point fourth quarter to defeat the Troy Trojans 40-31. If you’re good at math, that means they were trailing 31-10 when the 4th quarter began. That’s simply inexcusable. It was a night game in Tiger Stadium for Christ’s sake. A lot of folks are talking about how overrated the SEC is, and LSU is one of the many reasons why.
  • Wake Forest/Florida State/North Carolina. Apparently, no one wants to win the ACC as all of the ranked teams in the conference got beat this weekend. At least Wake and UNC were on the road. The ACC Title and the accompanying BCS Bowl and $17 million payday is like a bad penny that no one wants. Do everyone a favor and just forfeit your auto-bid.
  • The BCS. I know I’m biased. But Ball State wins their game, they are undefeated, and ahead of them in the BCS standings are a bunch of two-loss teams and right behind them is LSU. They were jumped by TCU and BYU, effectively ending their hopes of a BCS game. It’s complete and utter bullshit, and I for one, am pissed. The major conferences created a shitty little sandbox and refuse to let anyone else in. There will be a post forthcoming about this, but I’m not happy right now.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From Alan:

  • Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa: Greene gashed Purdue for 211 yards and 2 scores in the Hawkeyes victory over the Boilers. Javon Ringer gets a ton of press, but Greene is just as good if not better.
  • Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: In a game ripe for stat building, Harvin took advantage of the South Carolina defense for 167 rushing yards and 2 TDs.
  • MiQuale Lewis, RB, Ball State: In the win over Miami, Lewis hung 165 yards and 2 TDs on the Red Hawks while helping BSU to its firsts 10-0 start in school history. Lewis has quietly amassed some impressive stats this season, moving to 7th in the nation in yards per game.

Weekend Carnage Report

With Monday comes clarity about the season as we take stock of the weekly shake ups and shockers in college football. We had a relatively upset-free weekend of college football save for one big Nittany Lion loss. Other than that, the outcomes were fairly predictable. Exciting, but predictable.

The Good

  • Texas Tech: The knock on Mike Leach’s Red Raiders was that they couldn’t play defense. Critics said there was no way that this team could bounce back against a Top 10 opponent after knocking off number 1. All Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree did was pound the Oklahoma State Cowboys 56-20 in Lubbock. Tech can solidify its place in the National Title hunt with a victory in two weeks against Oklahoma, but for now, it’s great to be a Tech fan.
  • Iowa: Effectively ending Penn State’s title hopes, the Hawkeyes rallied for a game-winning field goal with one second remaining to beat the Nittany Lions. It would have been nice to see Joe Paterno go out on top… by getting crushed by a one-loss Florida team in the National Championship.
  • Cincinnati: Quietly and effectively, the Bearcats under coach Brian Kelly are right in the running for a BCS berth. Sure, it’s because they play in the Big East, but after an upset of West Virginia, the Bearcats control their own destiny.
  • Michigan State/Oregon State: Similar to the Bearcats, color me shocked that Sparty and the Beavers controls their own fates for a BCS berth. Could we see an Oregon State/Michigan State Rose Bowl? Yawn.

The Bad

  • Indiana/Purdue: These two Hoosier state public schools would do well to take a lesson from fellow in-stater Ball State. Combined, the Boilermakers and Hoosiers are 6-14. It’s Purdue head coach Joe Tiller’s final season, and I would wager it might be Bill Lynch’s as well.
  • Illinois: A loss to MAC member Western Michigan puts a nice exclamation point on a craptacular season for the Illini. At 5-5, with Northwestern and Ohio State remaining, it will be a struggle for Illinois to even reach Bowl Eligibility.
  • Notre Dame: An ugly showing for the Irish on Saturday, as they were blanked by Boston College. It was BC’s 6th straight win over ND, and showed the type of sloppy play that Irish fans were hoping to avoid this season. Winning a game while committing 5 turnovers is hard to do, and with ND’s somewhat stagnant offense at times this year, perfection is a must.

The Ugly:

  • Alabama: A win is a win, and while playing a road game against a Top 15 team is tough, Alabama tried every way in the world to lose this game. Bama finds ways to win, and that’s impressive in its own right, but I have to believe their day is coming in the SEC Championship Game. Florida wins. And wins big.
  • Utah: Sloppy was the order of the day when Utah took on TCU on Thursday. This battle of BCS busters came down to the wire, and when the dust cleared, Utah stood victorious. Is Utah a good team? Absolutely. Is Utah the 7th best team in the country as they are now ranked in the BCS? Absolutely not. Is Utah even the best BCS buster? Probably not.
  • Tennessee: Wyoming. A 3-6 Wyoming. In Knoxville. My goodness.

OTP Helmet Stickers
From RV:

  • Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: This kid catches everything thrown his way and continued the ride for Texas Tech, regardless of his coach’s affinity for Pirates. I hope this kid gets a chance to catch the ball on a team in the NFL that knows how to use him, because he’s amazing.
  • Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State: Great game against an overrated Northwestern game, if he can stay healthy…OSU will continue to bore the shit out of me when I watch them.
  • Nate F*ing Davis, QB, Ball State: Straight up nasty on Wednesday against a competent NIU defense. He showed off well for the orange bowl scouts in attendance and will do it again on national TV on Tuesday.

From Alan:

  • Chris Williams, WR, New Mexico St.: Made the most of 7 catches with 220 yards and three TDs in a loss to Hawaii.
  • Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech: Gashed the Maryland defense in a primetime Thursday game to the tune of 253 yards and a TD. That’s a school record, folks.
  • Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia: Rang up the vaunted Kentucky defense for 191 yards and a score in the Bulldogs 42-38 victory.