Ten Things - Week Two
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne, Birmingham, AL Tags:
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Normally, the second week is the least interesting week in all of college football. It’s too early for losses to really count in the grand scheme of things (unless there are two of them), many national powers are still munching on cupcakes, and this year’s week 2 seemed particularly bleak with only one game featuring two ranked teams (Alabama at Penn State). But this past week may have been the best ever for football fans. Saturday’s games began with many tributes to and reminders of the men and women who serve in various capacities to secure our freedoms, and ended with a beautiful example of everything that is right with the sport. Join me in reflecting on the marvelous week that was…
1. 9/11 Tributes – All across the country, schools and fans alike were paying tribute to the many servicemen and women as well as rescue workers that risked and continue to risk their lives to protect our freedom. Helmet and midfield logos, fans, and even some fields were donned in red, white, and blue. My personal favorite was Central Florida’s tribute to Welles Crowther. Fans wore red bandanas to honor the former Boston College who aided many survivors of the initial crash down to safety in the South Tower, where he worked. The ones he helped remembered him by the red bandana that he wore to protect his face as he scoured the wreckage for survivors before the tower finally collapsed.
2. One for the Ages – The Michigan Wolverines have taken the field for more than 1,200 games. Of those games, only one has been played under the lights of The Big House. Saturday night capped the best second week I can remember with a magnificent come from behind 35-31 victory against rival Notre Dame. This game had just about everything you could want – two storied programs, history being made, an explosive fourth quarter, and two teams that just wouldn’t quit. Behind the arm of Denard Robinson (and 28 fourth quarter points), Michigan defeated the Irish in consecutive seasons for the first time in 25 years. Hail to the Victors, indeed!
3. It’s Starting to Heat Up – Just two weeks into the season, there are already coaches feeling the warmth build underneath them. After back to back losses for the first time in his coaching career, many believe Georgia’s Mark Richt has to finish with 9 or 10 wins to save his job. Clemson has probably the most unsettled fan base of any 2-0 team in the country. A week after trailing Troy at the half, the Tigers barely eked out a win against Wofford, 35-27. With upcoming visits by Auburn and Florida State and a trip to Va Tech, Clemson could sink to below .500, which wouldn’t inspire much support for Coach Dabo.
4. Thoughts and Prayers with Jerry Kill – The head coach at Minnesota suffered a seizure on the sidelines of the Golden Gophers game against New Mexico State. This isn’t the first time it’s happened in Kill’s coaching tenure (twice while at Southern Illinois), so the staff was prepared and last reported he is in stable condition with a potential to coach this coming weekend. With a record of 0-2, the Gophers need all hands on deck as Big Ten play begins in two weeks.
5. Out of the Ordinary Heisman Hopefuls – Justin Blackmon, Marcus Lattimore, and Case Keenum. Gotta mix it up a bit, since this section could easily be an Andrew Luck lovefest. All three of these players are putting up big numbers, but all three could be somewhat unique winners. Case Keenum certainly joins Kellen Moore as two of the bigger names of the second tier, but Keenum, if healthy, could set new marks for career yards and touchdowns thrown by season’s end (he currently ranks 4th and 6th in the categories, respectively). Lattimore continues to churn out yards, much like Mark Ingram two years ago (and also, the only sophomore RB to win the Heisman). Averaging 2 TD’s and just under 150 yards a game, he could be just the second ever winner from South Carolina (and it’s worth noting that his coach, Steve Spurrier, won the award himself). Finally, Justin Blackmon continues wow on the field, currently extending his own streak of consecutive 100-yard receiving games (now at 14), and aims to be the first pure receiver to win the award.
6. Under the Radar Offensive Player – Tyler Bray QB Tennessee. The sophomore, in just his 8th start of his career, threw for 405 yards and 4 (yes, 4) touchdowns at home against Cincinnati. Sure, Cincy isn’t known for its defense (or wins, for that matter), but for a rebuilding Volunteer squad that wasn’t pegged to finish better than third in the SEC East by anyone outside of eastern Tennessee, over 400 yards and an 82% accuracy rate is a great way to build confidence heading into Gainesville this weekend.
7. Under the Radar Defensive Player – Matt Kalil LT USC. I know he’s an offensive player; that’s what makes his play so great. When Utah lined up for the potential game tying field goal, Kalil got his big 6’7 frame in the way and forearmed the ball to the ground. How many offensive linemen get the chance to be the defensive hero. Too bad the ensuing return of the blocked kick didn’t count – that is, until 2 hours later when the call was overturned. Which leads me to…
8. PAC-12 Refs Make Bizarre Call – When Kalil blocked the field goal, as teammate Torin Harris returned the block for a touchdown, the USC bench cleared onto the field in celebration. This prompted a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, which this year is now enforceable to the extent to remove points from the scoreboard – if the offending party was on the field when the play started. Due to a quirk in the rule that states fouls against bench personnel are dead ball fouls, thus they cannot remove points from the board, and the game is over. Due to a communication breakdown, though, it wasn’t until a few hours after the end of the game that PAC-12 officials overturned the call and made the final score 23-14. Crazy.
9. SEC Corner – The defending champs continue to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Nine out of Auburns national best 17-game win streak have come by 8 points or less. Alabama continues to roll, controlling the game almost from beginning to end in a 27-11 defeat at Penn State. Mississippi State is behind the 8-ball in their quest for the West after losing to Auburn and South Carolina is sitting pretty in the East after taking care of Georgia. Conference play really gets rolling this week, as Mississippi State hosts LSU and Tennessee travels to Florida.
10. Games to Watch
* Oklahoma at Florida State – The game of the week puts two top 5 teams together to see who has the inside track to the national title game, and who will need some help down the stretch. The Seminoles are looking to avenge the 47-17 beat down in Norman last year, and Jimbo Fisher is out to become the seventh coach of the BCS era to claim a national title in his second year. Oklahoma, meanwhile, after a warm-up against Tulsa and a week off look to see what they can do against a foe that can test them. Oklahoma wins 31-27
* LSU at Mississippi State – The only other game featuring ranked teams gives one team a chance at redemption and one team the keys to the top of the West standings. After a heartbreaking loss at Auburn last week, the Bulldogs are eager to shore up the issues on defense, but more importantly will need to figure out how to score on a defense that could be one of the best in the country, though the Tigers rank 36th in passing defense. This one could get ugly, LSU wins 27-10
* Ohio State @ Miami – Sadly this game is a shell of its former self. You know, the one before Buckeye coach Jim Tressel was ousted in disgrace and before Nevin Shapiro outed his involvement in the Hurricane program for the last decade. Now, this game will be a measuring stick to see who hasn’t fallen the most. With Miami getting their suspended players back, and Ohio State still missing a few missing pieces, look for the home team to take it. Miami wins, 34-24
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