10 Questions: Week 7

Oct. 10, 2006

By Eric Sorenson

Special To CSTV.com



Eric Sorenson is a regular contributor to CSTV.com, covering football, basketball & baseball. E-mail here!

I know this is an over-used, hackneyed and tired phrase in college football, but I have three words for you: Pair-Uh-Tee.


That's parity, folks. Exactly what we saw in full effect this weekend. Arkansas bludgeoned Auburn with the fierceness of a Viking invasion. USC proved they are, indeed, in a rebuilding year by escaping Washington. N.C. State sent Florida State into a deeper tailspin. And Good Golly Miss Molly, a team named Rutgers is still ranked. Are we really sure Ohio State is penciled into the title game as long as the Bucks beat Michigan? Who knows.


And don't worry, just because I spent a four-day weekend in the Pacific Northwest searching for Bigfoot doesn't mean I was out of touch with the college football happenings this weekend. In fact, I was able to take in a pair of games on Saturday - a Division III game between Menlo College and Lewis & Clark in Portland and the Saturday night snoozer-of-a-tussle between Oregon State and Washington State in Corvallis.


I'll have some quick comments about those games later on, but first, let's get to the most cogent questions surrounding the landscape of Division I following this crazy weekend.


Question No. 1 - After what we've seen recently, who wants a "Mulligan" for week one?




USC was like that dude with super-sonic speed from the Fantastic Four against Arkansas' running game, in a 50-14 white-wash to open the season. But Saturday, the Hogs ripped Auburn's once-vaunted defense for 279 rushing yards, controlling the game in a 27-10 upset. Darren McFadden ripped off 145 yards and Felix Jones chimed in with 104. How did Auburn let this happen?!




Oh, what the Bears wouldn't give for another shot at Tennessee. They walked into Neyland Stadium thinking they were too big for their britches then got their britches handed to them, 35-18. But a new attitude permeates Berkeley now as they demolished unbeaten Oregon this weekend 45-17 to put themselves into the Pac-10 driver's seat.


Georgia Tech


The Jackets got a shaky performance vs. Maryland this week, but survived, 27-23. Now if the 5-1 Engineers could just get that painful 4-point loss to Notre Dame back again. But Calvin Johnson has been monstrous and living up to his hype as the best wide out in the country and Tech still leads the Coastal Division with a 3-0 mark.


Question No. 2 - Which teams would really love one of those schoolyard "do-overs" from Saturday's games?


Washington (Lost 26-20 at USC)


Clock mismanagement on the last play. Remember guys, you must be ready when you have the ball at the opposing 15-yard line with two seconds left and the referee blows his whistle.


Oklahoma (Lost to Texas 28-10)


OU out-gained Texas by 101 yards on the day. But four 4th quarter turnovers and 11 penalties overall erased a 10-7 halftime lead and evaporated any chance for a Red River comeback.


Maryland (Lost to Georgia Tech 27-23)


This could have been a season-turning win for Ralph Friedgen's Under Armor boys. Allowing Tech to score 14 4th quarter points to pull the rabbit out of the hat and having quarterback Sam Hollenbach sacked at the Jacket 19 on the last play of the game is painful.


Question No. 3 - Why must we all bow to the all-knowing words that Tommy Tuberville speaks?


Because he's right about the SEC.


That sonic train-wreck sound you heard this weekend was the carnage that the SEC has started. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville talked last week about how the SEC was too good to let any teams go through unbeaten, thus assuring no national championship team from the deep south. And he's right, Tommy Tooby's two-ranked Tigers fell hard to a questionable Arkansas team, LSU "mistaked" its way to a loss in the swamp and Georgia was expectedly exposed at Tennessee. That leaves Florida as the last remaining unbeaten and now No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll. Considering Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State and a possible SEC title game still remains, it would be a surprise to see the Gators pull through unscathed.


Guess what guys? That BCS thing that SEC kingpin Roy Kramer helped start is still partly your fault. And so is the gluttony of 12 teams in one conference, requiring a conference title game. Sorry, you'll just have to live with the consequences.


Question No. 4 - Who had the best comeback of the weekend?


Clemson (beat Wake Forest 27-17)


The Tigers could've seen their season lost in the abyss after trailing Wake Forest for most of the day. But Gaines Adams' 66-yard fumble return sparked a remarkable 24-point 4th quarter rally that saw CU overcome a 17-3 deficit to win. With the W, the Tigers knock Wake out of first place in the Atlantic division and improve to 5-1 overall. The Deacons missed a chance to go 6-0 for the first time since 1944.


Question No. 5 - Which teams are making us all wear one of those huge over-sized neck braces because we have to snap a "double-take" to see these teams are at the top of their respective league standings?


Idaho (2-0) in the WAC


Wasn't it just a year or two ago that the Vandals considered joining their Idaho State brethren in Division I-AA?


 N.C. State (2-0) and Georgia Tech (3-0) in the ACC


Great jobs by both teams so far, sure. But can you imagine the miniscule TV ratings this championship game will pull in December?


Pitt (2-0) in the Big East


Okay, so Louisville and West Virginia are on the way, still, this is nice territory for Dave Wannstedt & Co.


Baylor (2-0) in the Big 12 South


Kentucky is still bemoaning the loss of Guy Morris as their head coach. He's a miracle-worker in Waco so far.


 Arkansas (3-0) in the SEC West


Considering Auburn is 2-1 and the rest of the teams have two losses, the Hogs are, in essence, two games up on the rest of the division. Mercy!


Houston (2-0) in Conference USA


In eight days time this team lost by a single point at Miami and then lost by three to lowly Louisiana-Lafayette.



Question No. 6 - Why don't we just go ahead and bring the tie back to college football?


Here's an example of why:


North Texas was celebrated as being the last team in Division I to never play in an overtime contest. Well, judging by this past Saturday, we wish things would've stayed that way. The Eagles beat Florida International 25-22 after 7 OTs. But this game was more a monument to ineptitude than an example of why overtime is exciting. Neither team scored a touchdown in OT, just five field goals. Both teams missed four field goals each in the extra frames. Yes, that's eight missed field goals from 51-yards and in. In fact, there were only four first downs in all 14 possessions. Please! The fans at this game had to be in desperate need of a steady supply of Red Bulls.


Question No. 7 - What two immediate changes need to take place in college football officiating?


1. Replay officials need to pass an eye-chart test.


That's it. That's all I'm asking. Hell, I'll settle for them being able to see the giant "E" at the top and that will suffice. `Coz I don't think there are many replay officials out there that can even see that.


In Thursday's N.C. State-Florida State game, a pass was caught along the sidelines by an FSU receiver that went under review. The first replay shown on TV was painfully obvious that he came down with feet in bounds and in control of the ball. But the replay official in the booth took upwards of four minutes to review the play. Just come to the same conclusion that everybody in the free world already knew 20 seconds after it happened in real time and get on with things, will ya'?


2. Pass interference.


Is it just me, or has P.I. become way too much of a feather foul? In the Oregon State-Washington State game I was at Saturday, pass interference was called twice in the game. The first time the "penalty" was called on a guy that was merely going for the ball and there was minimal contact between defender and receiver. The second time it was called on an OSU defensive back but the ball was well over-thrown and should have been ruled un-catchable.


Question No. 8 - What hot seat coaches bought themselves some more time?


Chuck Amato, NC State


Although a win over FSU nowadays isn't carrying much marquee value anymore, Amato does have the Pack in first place in the Atlantic Division at 2-0.


Houston Nutt, Arkansas


Remember when Nebraska wanted this guy really bad? After seeing the running game wear out Auburn, old school Husker fans might want him after all. Well... NU also had two rushers go over 100 yards this week, so nevermind.


Gary Pinkel, Missouri


I mentioned Pinkel's admirable use of quarterback Chase Daniel and his season in general last week. But after the complete-game win over Texas Tech, it's obvious that Mizzou is THE team in the Big 12 North. But a showdown with Nebraska looms.


Question No. 9 - What was the coolest things about the two games in Oregon I went to?


1. Stadiums


At Griswold Stadium on the Lewis & Clark campus, from the upper rows of the grandstand, you could see through the trees and across the Willamette Valley with a half-million pine trees outlining the horizon and snow-capped Mt. Hood leering over.


Revamped Reser Stadium is now first class all the way. The year-old east side features numerous luxury boxes, kids play areas (indoors at that, with air hockey, pop-a-shot, pinball machines and video games) and great views no matter what seat you're in. The stadium itself sits right on top of the field and makes for great sightlines.


2. L&C's punting formation


I've never seen a team set up two punters 15-yards back. Yes, TWO players in punt formation. One a lefty and one a righty. The ball is hiked to either one and that punter rolls out to his respective side and kicks the ball, sort of rugby-style, while the "other" punter runs forward and blocks. Bizarre.


3. The impatient, yet inventive OSU fans


A row of OSU fans first held up giant letters that spelled out "C-A-N-F-I-E-L-D" which called for the back up quarterback to starter Matt Moore. Then, late in the game, when Wazzu was running out the clock, those same eight people stood up and held up letters that spelled out "C-A-N R-I-L-E-Y," hoping to sack current coach Mike Riley.


4. The popularity of OSU Baseball coach Pat Casey


I saw Casey walking through the crowd after the game (he being the coach that led the Beavers to its first ever national championship). He was shaking hands every few steps, getting pats on the back and hearing cries of "Can you coach football too?"


5. Everything in Oregon is vibrant green


Especially the trees and campuses that surround the stadiums these games were played in. Living in Los Angeles, you come to appreciate when you visit places that actually show vegetation and beauty - two things that are sorely missing in Smogland. Though I never found Bigfoot, it was incredible scenery to walk through while on the search.



Question No. 10 - What do you think will happen first in college football: the student-athletes at the highest end of Division I-A getting paid, an incredibly lucrative post-season playoff overtakes the bowls or the college football players forming a union and forcing the NCAA to pay them and give them a playoff at the same time?


It's a rhetorical question... Or maybe a prediction. But feel free to send me your feelings on the subjects.




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