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September 10, 2009 It certainly did not take long for the drama of 2009 to hit the fan, as the season was barely six hours old when the travesty on the blue turf happened. For those who may have been living under a rock, Boise State thoroughly dominated Oregon and won the first big battle of Week 1 19-8. As the players crossed each other at midfield, Boise State player Byron Hout was taunting and shoving the Oregon players. Oregon star RB LeGarrette Blount responded by throwing a right hook sucker punch right across Hout's face, and Hout went to the blue turf. Things got even crazier as Blount went after teammates and Boise State fans before he could be restrained, and just like that, sportsmanship takes a huge hit in college football before the season was one night old.

It only took one day for the Oregon athletic department to make the obvious decision. Given Blount's former indiscretions and the severity of his breakdown in Boise, LaGarrette Blount is finished in college football, suspended for his senior season. Blount had an opportunity to lead a team that had a nice chance of winning the conference crown and knocking off the ultimate kings of the decade in USC. If that happened, there's no question Blount may have been raking in the millions of dollars from the NFL draft next spring. Instead, he will be forced out of football for over a year and will be lucky to get drafted with any guaranteed contract coming down the road due ot his character issues. This is a real shame, watching some young man throw away his gifted life in a few seconds. Perhaps there are lessons we can all learn from this experience though.

First off, the Boise State scoreboard operator needs to be seriously reprimanded. Now I'm not one to call for a young man's head, and the scoreboard operator is likely another college student. Nevertheless, replaying the punch and the ridiculous scene happening in the stadium over and over, sending the Boise fans into a borderline frenzy. For some reason the major media outlets do not think this is a big deal because "every other stadium would have done the same thing." Absolutely not. Ohio Stadium will very rarely replay plays on the field that are controversial or causing a ruckus in the stands, let alone going to the low point of replaying a criminal assault. In an era where sportsmanship is in serious jeopardy, the last thing we need is scoreboard operators showing the fans something they will be upset by. It is best to think before you act, and it appears that did not happen in the Boise State scoreboard operations department on Thursday night. Thus, discipline should be in order.

Next we turn our attention to Mr. Hout and the Boise State athletic department. How is it possible that the proper punishment for Hout's actions is more reps in practice or whatever internal punishment was privately doled out by Boise State? Simple answer: it is not proper at all. In a season where team handshakes were mandated before the opening game for each team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, one man let somehow checked his sportsmanship at the door despite the handshake. Now Desmond Howard striking a Heisman pose after returning a punt return against his hated rival Ohio State is not the pinnacle of sportsmanship, but there's a big difference between those kinds of celebrations and rubbing it directly in the loser's face. As bent out of shape as Blount ended up being, Hout is lucky he was not absolutely busted up by Blount. This is another young man who needs to learn a lesson and the best way to make the point is to take away the privilege of football. Not for an entire season by any means, but boise State is making a mistake by playing Byron Hout anytime in the next two weeks.

What in the world has happened to playing a clean game and acting like you've been there when you win a big game? Now winning a national championship or conference crown is cause for serious celebration, but there's no reason why you cannot congratulate your valiant opponent on a hard-earned battle and a courageous effort. Whether this is at the end of a game or just small stuff like not running up the score intentionally or helping your opponent up off the ground after you lay a mighty tackle on him, it does not take much effort to show a high level of sportsmanship. Perhaps the NCAA needs to be more direct or drastic than mandatory handshakes, but the direct course of action will be hard to figure out. In a world gone mad on the outside, it is nice to escape for a few hours on Saturday and see a good game of football. Preferably this escape is unmarred by unsportsmanlike conduct. If players continue down this slippery slope, we will sadly not be talking about a knockout punch only next time.

There is one beautiful thing about the sport of football and life in general, and that's the chance to redeem yourself. One only has to look at Michael Vick to understand how low a human being can go only to make what appears to be a triumphant return a few years later. While there are thugs and people who never learn to live on the straight and narrow, many other men find a proper course even after making mistakes, and the rigors and structure of a football team can make that process smoother. One can only hope and pray that LeGarrette Blount gets into a program in the NFL where he can be mentored instead of used up by the business, thereby learning how to overcome his weakness. This is only a process LeGarrette can determine for himself, so it will be another interesting case study in whether he can be like Mike (Vick) or like Maurice (Clarett).

So let's hope that the focus shifts back to what we see on the field as opposed to off in the weeks to come. The first weekend brought more drama than expected, as teams like Northern Iowa again proved that higher-echelon FCS teams are dangerous opponents for BCS conference schools, especially in openers. Besides the blowout on the blue turf, three other major games between ranked teams saw Alabama, BYU, and Oklahoma State make big strides towards possible national championship contention, while Oklahoma and their defending Heisman Trophy winning quarterback are now looking for a new direction. All of a sudden it is not so far-fetched for Oklahoma State to be the favorite instead of Texas and Oklahoma, but there's a lot of football to be played before we get to those conference games. This week we have the biggest non-conference game of the year part two and not much else behind it. However, it's always the seemingly quiet weeks where the biggest surprises happen, so let's jump into the top three games of the upcoming weekend.

The first game of the week is a battle of newly minted national power versus great non-BCS program when Houston visits Oklahoma State. Last season this battle between wildly prolific offenses led to a 56-37 Cowboys win. QB Case Keenum got off to a great start for the Cougars last weekend, and he will be looking to continue his stat padding against the Oklahoma State defense. However talented the offensive stars are at OSU, the Cowboys will only gain true respect by continuing to put up the defensive efforts they did against Georgia last weekend. While this has the makings of a letdown game for the now-top-5 ranked Cowboys, but Mike Gundy will not let his team overlook such a high-quality opponent as the Cougars. As such, look for another breakout performance from Zac Robinson and company, OSU wins by 18.

After falling from grace experienced in 2005 for the Golden Domers and 2006 for the Wolverines, neither program has been on the top of their game in this battle. However, week 1 brought a surprising blowout of Western Michigan in the Big House and an even more shocking rollover of Nevada in South Bend. All of a sudden, both these teams seem to be on the right track again and one of them will come out of this game with legitimate thoguhts of rising in the national rankings and competing for a BCS bowl berth. Rich Rodriguez finally has his quarterback in freshman Tate Forcier, so expect Michigan to move the ball well against the Fighting Irish defense. After a few bumps in the road, Charlie Weis also seems to have an experienced top-flight quarterback in Jimmy Clausen. There should be a few touchdowns put on the board, but this game will certainly turn on the special teams and turnovers. While Michigan has a nice setup going, it is still a little too soon to expect Big Blue to be back in top form. After all, Notre Dame was only 6-6 last year after their own 3-9 debacle. Notre Dame wins by 7.

Unlike the first weekend of the season, week two only brings us one game between ranked teams and it is a good one. USC travels to Columbus to provide the Buckeyes with another opportunity to prove they and the Big Ten conference can win the big game. USC has terrorized much of the country this decade but especially the Big Ten, taking the skins off Illinois, Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State in recent years. But let's not focus on last year's 35-3 clobbering or the past in general...what USC has is a freshman quarterback Matt Barkley walking into a more hostile environment than he's ever dreamed of. Even with some of the best playmakers at wideout and running back, Barkley will likely be rattled at some point in this game and will need to overcome his nerves to prevent making the big mistake. On the other side of the ball, Ohio State knows all about making the big freshman mistake, as Terrelle Pryor single-handedly lost the game against Penn state with a poor decision. However, Pryor has come a long way since splitting time with Todd Boeckman in the Coliseum last year. While it's not always the case, one can only look at the three previous mega-games Ohio State has played in September: a home loss to Texas and Vince Young with Justin Zwick and Troy Smith sharing time, a road win at Texas and Colt McCoy because the defense rattled the young quarterback and Troy Smith was a full timer then, and last year when Boeckman and Pryor split time and got beat by a veteran QB Mark Sanchez. This just looks again like OSU has the better quarterback and USC is walking into a major trap like Texas from three years ago. If this game is close at the end, Ohio State will likely make the plays necessary to steal the game. However, OSU is a year away from being great again and USC has more talent, so look for USC to cruise to an 11 point victory.

2008 GOTW Record: 2-1
Last Week: 2-1

Fitz Top 10 - Week 1
1. Florida (1-0)
2. Alabama (1-0)
3. USC (1-0)
4. Oklahoma State (1-0)
5. Texas (1-0)
6. Boise State (1-0)
7. Penn State (1-0)
8. California (1-0)
9. Ohio State (1-0)
10. BYU (1-0)

Just Missed: Mississippi, Georgia Tech, TCU, LSU, Utah

So here we go into the fray for a second week. One can only hope the big games this week live up to last week's amazing finishes, especially the OSU-USC game. Will the non-BCS conference schools continue to make strides against the big boys or will we see the dominance of the same 5-6 programs from the last decade? Good luck to all teams and for the love of all that is good in sports, please conduct yourselves with good sportsmanship whether you are a player or a fan in the stands.

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