Sorenson's 10 Questions: Week One

Sept. 6, 2005

By Eric Sorenson

Special to
The first weekend is completed and we've already discovered a lot about the 2005-06 season. So while wondering why there's such a loud cheer coming from Texas fans, here are 10 pressing questions concerning college football this week.
Question No. 1
What state is smiling the most after this weekend?
A: The state of Texas.
First the Longhorns. Did you see the scores in the Big 12 South? Holy cow, Mack Brown might win his first conference title in 22 years of coaching. The Horns have to be grinning like the Cheshire cat after seeing all of their rivals either lose, struggle or look unimpressive. Take a look for yourself:

Clemson 25 , Texas A&M 24
Oklahoma State 15, Montana State 10
Baylor 28, SMU 23
And, of course
TCU 17, Oklahoma 10
Speaking of TCU, add it as well. The Frogs lost the chance to wrap up a bowl spot last year with a heartbreaking loss to Tulane in their final game. But I guess this win in Norman makes up for it, dontcha think? The Frogs are also smiling huge because after watching Utah struggle and Wyoming get beat soundly, they now look like the best team in their new conference home, the Mountain West.
And finally, UTEP. The Miners showed that there may not be much drop off from their hugely successful 2004 campaign by thumping local rival New Mexico State, 34-17 (it was 31-zip at the half). Also, other than UAB's scare of Tennessee, they saw their new conference mates from the C-USA look less than impressive. Jordan Palmer and company  play host to the Blazers Nov. 19.
Question No. 2
Whose Heisman campaign is out the window already?
A: Adrian Peterson (OU) and Jared Zabransky (Boise State)
So, 22 carries for 63 yards against a defense that was ranked No. 99 in the country last year? Ouch! But it's not that A.P. isn't talented enough to be a finalist again, absolutely not. But that O-line is weak and the quarterback play was abysmal, which, together, made for an awful offense. It doesn't appear that Peterson has much of a chance this year. But he'll be back in 2006.
Zabransky needed a win over Georgia to have any legitimacy at all. And, well, throwing for 70 yards and giving away four picks in a huge loss isn't exactly Omar Jacobs-like.
Question No. 3
Which coach had the best debut?
A: Charlie Weis, Notre Dame
I don't think anybody saw this one coming. Most considered Pitt and star QB Tyler Palko as legit threats to make it to the BCS, again. Well, the Irish spit into the wind here and came out clean with a big 42-21 win. Maybe all that hype about him being an offensive genius isn't just talk, right? We see bling-bling in the Irish future after all.
Question No. 4
Who had the best uniform change for 2005?
Harkening back to their "QB Factory" era, the Cougars came out in blue unis and dual-stripe white helmets sporting the traditional "Y" on them. We're just assuming the Cougar head stickers are going to be added once again. Those navy blue/gold/white "bib" jerseys they had for a while and the navy helmets were just fads. Thankfully they're gone, just like that whole boy band thing.
Question No. 5
What were the best and worst observations of the weekend?
A: The best line: From analyst Steve Israel: "If you notice, the teams with new quarterbacks that had some experience or split time with another quarterback in the past, had success. Those teams that had a completely inexperienced guy, didn't."
Looking at TCU, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Louisville compared to Oklahoma, Hawai'i, Auburn and Memphis, you can see his point.
The worst line: From Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson:
"To be honest, I'm kind of shocked. They just threw a monkey up in here or something like that."
Let's assume he wanted to allude to the old "monkey wrench in the works" adage.
Question No. 6
What "comeback players for 2005" did I miss in last week's article?
A: Brian Calhoun, RB, Wisconsin
Though he had some bright moments in his two years at Colorado, this 258-yard explosion was just the tonic Coach Alvarez was hoping for, after the departure of Anthony Davis and the uncertainty of Booker Stanley.
Tye Gunn, QB, TCU
It's hard to remember Mr. Gunn, given his three previous injury-shortened seasons. But the former two-time C-USA player of the week delivered a steady, solid orchestration in the upset of the Sooners. If he stays healthy, the Mountain West trembles.
Question No. 7
What conference had the best opening weekend?
A: The Big Ten
All10 teams that played, won. Although most were favored and playing at home, you didn't see that black eye or two to a MAC school or to a big conference bottom-feeder. It just didn't happen this time. In fact, teams like Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota looked downright scary. Better tests lay ahead (OSU's defense vs. the Texas offense, yum-yum), but two thumbs up so far.
Question No. 8
What is it with kickers making headlines in week one for the second year in a row?
A: At least this time it was for good reasons. In light of last year's week one debacle by placekickers (remember Oregon State vs. LSU?), this year the foot-men came up huge. The nation's best kicker is Colorado's Mason Crosby, who nailed a perfect kick from 48 yards out to beat arch-rival Colorado State. Later, Clemson's Jad Dean punched his sixth field goal of the night to beat Texas A&M, 25-24. Quick note to A&M Coach Dennis Franchione: They don't pay you outrageous amounts of money each year to lose a game like this because you didn't understand when to kick an extra point and when to go for two.
Question No. 9
While we all hope for the best for the future of the Sugar Bowl, why has it always been the best bowl game?
A: The party atmosphere
C'mon, it's New Orleans. Do I have to explain? Okay, well, the Sugar Bowl is the only BCS bowl where you can party in the French Quarter before the game, go to the game, then either celebrate your win or drown your sorrows in the French Quarter afterward. And it's all within walking distance. None of the other BCS games, the Rose, Orange or Fiesta, have a surrounding atmosphere that can hold a candle - or a séance - to it. Let's hope the Sugar Bowl, like the city of New Orleans, rebounds in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy that took place last week.
Question No. 10
Last question ... what are the "keepers" and what do we "86" from this past weekend?
A: Keepers:
Wisconsin's throwback helmets. The electrical tape look replaces the drunken "W".
Syracuse's old-style unis. Ernie Davis looks down from heaven and says, "yes!"
San Diego State's "gradient" black-to-red helmets. Modern, but in a good way.
In-state matchups. Colorado-CSU, Miami-Florida State, Maryland-Navy and Louisville-Kentucky were all down-to-the-wire games in lieu of the usual boring non-conference plonks we're subjected to.
North Carolina State's Chuck Amato's Oakley shades. It was a night game, Coach.
Kentucky QB Andre Woodson's post-TD taunt of the Louisville bench. Maybe the fumble at the one-yard line was bad karma.
On-the-way-to-the-locker-room interviews of coaches. You gotta know the coaches just loathe them.
The Tomahawk Chop. I bet most non-Florida Seminole tribesmen consider this "abusive and hostile."
And for good measure...

Question No. 11
Okay, last year we were subjected to Bubba Sparxx's indecipherable rap, and this year it's Big-N-Rich's country/rap fusion. Can we finally get some good old style punk for next year's ESPN Gameday opening?
A: We can only hope.



Read Eric's last column: Preseason Top 10 Questions


Eric Sorenson is a regular football and baseball contributor to Email your thoughts to Eric.



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