Tuesday, October 17, 2006

College Football Week 7 Wrapup

It was a wild weekend both on the field this week for many different reasons. You had a top- ranked team fall, a Heisman hopeful lost for the season, and an on-field brawl as ugly as any in the sports' history. Plus I went 4-1 on my picks. Crazy, man, crazy. Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down...

2 Gators stumble at Auburn, lose 27-17
MY PICK: Tigers 14-13
The Gators are going to remember this loss for a long time to come. Remember it as the game that cost them a shot at the National Champion-ship. A game that they had in their hands for more than one half of play, and a game in which Chris Leak again crumbled under the pressure of a big SEC game and handed the game to the hungrier Tigers. The Gators got burned on a blocked punt returned for the go-ahead TD, and then Leak had two costly 4th quarter turnovers, one a controversial fumble call on a play where he appeared to be passing, and then a back-breaking interception he had no business throwing that cost them any shot at making a late comeback. Now the Gators are back with Auburn & the rest of the 1-loss pack, and the Tigers served notice that they are not dead yet. Both teams still have a shot at an SEC title, but that National crown seems like a long shot now for Florida.

Ugly on field melee mars FIU/Miami contest
The game was supposed to be about bringing together two South Florida schools just 9 miles apart whose players are very familiar with each other for bragging rights to Dade County. Unfortunately both squads took the turf war analogy a bit too far as a major brawl involving at least half of both teams saw 18 players ejected and resulted in suspensions ranging from 1 game to indefinite. It was a truly ugly scene, with players swinging helmets, crutches, and stomping on the legs of players on the ground, and to many it was reminiscent of the days of the Hurri-ganstas of the 1980's, when the 'Canes were feared both on & off the field for their extracurricular exploits. In the wake of the brawl 30 players received suspensions, 2 FIU players were booted from the team, and Miami TV analyst & former 'Cane Lamar Thomas was fired for these ridiculous comments uttered during the fracas: "Now, that's what I'm talking about. You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don't come into the OB(Orange Bowl) playing that stuff. You're across the ocean over there. You're across the city. You can't come over to our place talking noise like that. You'll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing." Wow, so that's how this thing gets uglier.
This incident brings to light a much bigger issue than exercising on field self control; it brings in the larger question of Larry Coker's ability to control this team and President Donna Shalala's ability to control her staff. Coker has been on the hot seat since the start of the season and in the wake of this mess refuses to admit this is a problem but merely a minor incident that can solved by suspensions. And Shalala's disregard of the school's recently rebuilt image seems like a replay of the Gary Barnett/Colorado fiasco, where an out-of-control, embattled coach retains his job far past the point of no return for the institution. Although the school says Coker is safe for now, you can bet the house that you will not see him back with Miami next year. Reality check, Larry: when you stop winning it's bad enough, but when you can't stop your players from beating up other players on the field, your time is up.

OU's Peterson pleases his dad then breaks his collarbone
It had to be quite an emotional day for Oklahoma star RB Adrian Peterson when the Sooners took on Iowa State in Norman on Saturday. The Heisman contender (935 yds, 10TDs) had his dad, Nelson, watching him play for the first time in his career; Nelson had recently been released from prison after serving a 10 year sentence and had never seen his son play organized ball. And wouldn't you know his boy put on quite a show for his old man. Peterson took the first carry of the game 40 yards, electrifying the crowd and pleasing his proud papa. He would go on to total 183 yards and 2 TDs to vault himself into the top 3 for the coveted trophy. But then the happy story came to a sad conclusion: on his final carry of the day, and it turns out probably his OU career, Peterson took a hand off and scampered 53 yards towards the end zone. By this time the game was out of reach (27-9 w/ 7:00 to go) and there was no real need to have him in there except to pad his Heisman stats and please his dad. But the play turned into a devastating injury as Peterson dove into the end zone avoiding a tackle and landed awkwardly, breaking his collarbone and putting him out for the remainder of the season. Most likely he has played his last game as a Sooner as he is expected to be the first running back chosen in next years draft. A sad ending to a great story and wonderful college career. See you on Sundays, AP.

Rutgers roughs up Navy, 35-0, to make it 6-0
MY PICK: Navy 35-31
Okay let me preface the defense of my horrible prediction by stating that Navy QB and offensive leader of their triple-wishbone attack Brian Hampton suffered a devastating knee injury in the first quarter and had to be replaced by an unproven sophomore. That said, what Rutgers is doing deserves recognition as the Scarlet Knights went to 6-o for the first time since 1976 and moved up the rankings from 24 to 19- that's right, Rutgers has cracked the Top 20! With Hampton out the Knights had their way with the untested Middie defense, and they rolled right through them like a carrier through the Pacific. Leading rusher Ray Rice racked up 93 more yards & 1TD and QB Mike Teel threw for 215 yards & 3 TDs as the Scarlet Knights took full advantage of Hampton's absence; with Hampton running the option Navy was leading the nation in rushing at 350+ yards/game, but with him out the Middies managed only 113 yards on the ground and 161 total yards. Still it was an impressive win for the Knights, albeit one that was made much easier by the loss of nearly the entire Navy offensive attack.

Indiana knocks off #15 Iowa
This story is little more than a blip as far as national titles, Heisman trophies and BCS standings go, but it warmed my heart nonetheless, so I though I'd make note of it. Indiana, a school that has been rocked this season by terrible losses, a key suspension and their coach's illness finally got something to cheer about. The Hoosiers knocked off the #15 Hawkeyes 31-28 (you know, the team that was supposed to knock off Ohio State a couple of weeks ago) Saturday, their second win in as many weeks (Illinois) and it had to bring a big smile to the face of Coach Terry Hoeppner. You may remember I wrote about Hoeppner's return from his second brain surgery in less than a year a mere 3 weeks after his latest operation, and although the Hoosiers lost his first game back, they have won the last 2 since their beloved coach's return to the sideline. The irony is that the suspended player, captain WR James Hardy, had a career day with104 yards & 3 TDs, the last one with just under 10 minutes remaining for the final margin. Said Hoeppner after the celebration had begun in Bloomington: "I had an interesting call on the field -- Ben Roethlisberger called my son's phone," said Hoeppner, who coached the Steelers quarterback at Miami of Ohio. "He just wanted to call and congratulate me. Normally, I wouldn't take a phone call at that point, but I'd take that phone call." Up next for this feel good squad: The #1 & undefeated Buckeyes.

How do you spell Georgia? U-G-H!
The Bulldogs were trounced last week by the Volunteers, 51-33, which was one of the more embarrass-ing home losses in Georgia history. They only had to wait a week in Athens to top that one. The #16 Dawgs fell to lowly Vandy, 24-22, in a game that might mark the end of the Mark Richt era at UGA. Vandy had not won a game against a ranked opponent in 53 tries and had not defeated the Bulldogs since 1994. The funny thing is that Georgia had plenty of chances to secure this one, leading 10-0 near halftime and 13-7 going into the break. But things started to go wrong at the start of the 2nd half; RB/KR Thomas Brown was injured during the kickoff and was removed from their game. It has been learned that he suffered a probable season-ending knee injury. After a turnover on the 2nd play Vandy cashed in with a TD, then added another near the end of the 3rs. Georgia would scrap back and take a 22-21 lead with 9:00 to go, but blew it when Vandy nailed a 35-yd FG with no time left, stunning the fans at Sanford Stadium and leaving Richt's ability to steer this team to the promised land in doubt.

The 1st BCS Standings are out

The magical, manipulative poll that determines which two teams will vie for the Sears Trophy & the National Championship made its debut this week and left many people scratching their heads. Here are the Top 10, with their AP rankings in parentheses & Sat results:
1.)Ohio St. (1) def. Michigan State, 38-7
2.)USC (2), def. Az St, 28-21
3.)Michigan (3) def. Penn St., 17-10
4.)Auburn (8) def. Fla, 27-17
5.)W.Virginia (4) def. Syr,41-17
6.)Florida (9) lost to Aub., 27-17
7.)Louisville (6) def. Cin, 23-17
8.)Texas (5) def.Bay, 63-31
9.)Notre Dame (10) bye
10.)Cal (11) def Wash St. 21-3
The most glaring difference is that Michigan is ahead of USC in the AP poll but not in the all-important BCS. This fact will become a moot point when the Buckeyes and Wolverines square off on November 18th, eliminating one contender. Other discrepancies include 7th ranked Tennessee at #11 in the BCS, making it virtually impossible to climb back in it even though they are 5-1 like a dozen other teams, and Auburn at a hope-inspiring #4 BCS, so they can basically forget about the meaningless AP.

This just in: Here is my up to the minute Super-specialBCS busterJRose Readout Top 5(this poll is based solely on which teams I believe are the best in the country right now):
1. Ohio State- will remain there at least untill Nov. 18th
2. Michigan- need Manningham back to beat OSU
3.Auburn- when they play their game, can't be stopped
4.Louisville/WVU-one offensive power will be eliminated in 3 weeks
5.Cal- ready to knock off USC Nov 18th

By the way, my three other picks:
-Cal over WSU, 37-21: SCORE: Cal 21-3
-Ohio State over Mich St. 28-17; SCORE: OH ST. 38-7
-Mich. over Penn St. 27-10; SCORE: Mich 17-10

Buckle up, folks, it's going to be a fun final month.

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