Well, congratulations to you. You've made it through yet another week of work unscathed and ready to soak in yet another weekend of college football. You beat the Wednesday, Hump-day doldrums and have emerged victorious. Tomorrow, wives, girlfriends, children, gardening, and in some cases even personal hygiene will be neglected. It's time for some football!
As we head into the third week of this young but eventful football season, it's only appropriate to look at what has already happened out west in sets of three. Stop me if this gets confusing. Just think happy thoughts.
Before we get going, let's get updated on how our beloved western conferences are doing. The Pac-10 is sitting pretty with a 14-4 record including one conference face-off between Cal and Washington. The Mountain West teams are holding their heads above the water with a 10-8 record so far. The WAC, however, is really in a world of hurt only two weeks into the season. With a 2-12 record, it couldn't get much worse: nine teams, two weeks, and only two wins. Only Fresno State has not lost yet, holding onto its 1-0 record as it heads into a hostile game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene to face the Ducks of the Pac-10.
Week two was a great example of the excitement of college football. In the Big 10, both perennial powers fell in big-time games. The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame slowed down the Michigan offense to take home a 17-10 victory. The Ohio State Buckeyes fought tooth and nail with Texas but eventually fell at home to Mack Brown's Longhorn team.
With Notre Dame cracking the AP Top 10 this week, only four teams on the west coast are even in the AP top 25. USC still tops the charts at #1. There are no west coast teams between USC and #15 California. The ASU Sun Devils stumbled a couple spots to #18 after a loss to the LSU Tigers. Finally, the Fresno State Bulldogs of the WAC sit at #23.
With the SEC, the ACC, some of the Big 10, and definitely most of the eastern side of the country dominating the polls, it's easy to forget that there's some great football being played out this way. Let's take a look at good, the bad and the ugly from week two in college football.
The Arizona State Sun Devils and the Louisiana State Tigers played each other in a primetime game on Saturday night. The game was moved from its original location in Baton Rouge to Tempe, AZ because of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Deep South. Many in Louisiana saw the game as a return to normalcy through these turbulent times. A contingent of fans was able to make its way to Tiger Stadium to watch the game televised on the bigscreen.
The endzones in Tempe weren't painted with the typical ASU Sun Devil décor, but had the URL's listed for websites through which people could donate monetarily to relief funds in order to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Not only so, but the proceeds from ticket sales were donated to relief funds as well. The ASU Insight, Arizona State's newspaper, reported that a sold out game was expected to generate close to $1 million dollars in donations for relief funds.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, this was truly a night to remember in Tempe. Talk amongst respective teams' fans leading up to this game centered around whether or not the situation at home was going to serve as a crutch or a form of motivation for the Tiger squad. All that football stuff aside, it was nice to see people come together to help those in need.
The Cal Bears' junior college transfer quarterback, Joseph Ayoob, came back from an 0-10 performance in his first outing to throw for 271 yards and four touchdowns against the Washington Huskies. After having his first pass of the game intercepted, Ayoon settled down and proceeded to pick apart the Husky defense for 10 yards per attempt and four scores. Three of his touchdown passes went to WR Robert Jordan who accumulated 192 yards on his 11 receptions.
For a week, it was unclear as to what the Golden Bears were going to have to do about their quarterback situation with newly anointed signal caller Nate Longshore going down with an ankle injury. It didn't take long for all questions to be laid to rest. Even after the initial interception, Ayoob threw two more passes into tight coverage, trying to hit his former JC teammate Lavelle Hawkins. When he calmed down and began to take what the defense was willing to give up, which in this case was pretty much anything, Ayoob threw several well-placed balls for quite scathing strikes.
With RB Marshawn Lynch slowed because of a broken pinky finger and QB Longshore also out, Ayoob will have even more of a chance now to showcase his talents. Coach Jeff Tedford has turned out some pretty talented quarterbacks, most recently notable in Aaron Rodgers, now with the Green Bay Packers. Look for Ayoob to rip off some crazy numbers this year in the Tedford mold.
Speaking of good, USC is so good that they managed to tie Miami's record of most consecutive weeks ranked #1 in the AP poll through the bye week. Of course, pollsters didn't bother to change their ballots on an idle team, but the 21 straight weeks atop the old media poll is quite a feat nonetheless.
After Texas' thrilling win over the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe, a few voters did change their number one vote to the Longhorns. However, should the Trojans defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend, they will surely move into sole possession of having held the #1 AP ranking for the most consecutive weeks.
ASU coach Dirk Koetter's call to go for a roll out punt in the 4th quarter that was eventually blocked has to be one of the worst coaching calls of the young season. Granted, had any of the Sun Devil blockers decided to put a body on some of the rushers, the punt might have gone as planned. It looked more like the punter's instructions were to begin to run the ball but if he didn't have space to drop it and punt it down field. The poor kid didn't even have time to think before he got drilled. That play subsequently led to an LSU Tiger touchdown and, eventually, a win for the road team.
Before the blocked punt, the Tigers blocked a field goal that might have normally simply been a turnover, but the kick floated in the air until it came down into an LSU player's hands as he ran for a touchdown. Perhaps you could blame the run-back on the blocked field goal on a fluke, but there's no excuse for trying to pull the old fake punt/not-a-fake-punt trick at that point in the game. With the Tigers scoring 28 fourth quarter points, the Sun Devils will surely look back at the end of the year on this game as one that got away.
How about that WAC conference record? I've always found it annoying when people say "ouch!" when they think something is ridiculous. But in this case, I must. OUCH! Only Fresno State hasn't lost a game yet. Now, knowing that there is a team in your conference that is undefeated might normally sound like a pretty exciting thing. But, when that team is 1-0 and you're only two weeks into the season, realizing the rest of your conference is 1-12, bringing your running total to 2-12, is rather pathetic.
With another non-conference weekend ahead of them, the prospects don't look much better until teams begin to beat up on each other for WAC supremacy through conference games. I'm not so sure being the best team in the WAC means much at this point; however, it sure is worth it to at least not be the worst team. May the not-the-worst team win!
Cal's injury problems certainly make this list. Losing talent like Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Arrington isn't an easy thing to stomach. However, losing the incumbent QB in the first game of the season isn't any easier. After Longshore bowed out, Marshawn Lynch was expected to become the go-to guy, but an injury to his pinky had the Cal faithful scared for a moment. Luckily, Lynch will return soon.
Of course, injuries are a part of the game, but no one likes to know they've won a game because the other team's best players were just watching from the sideline. To be the best, you've got to beat the best.
Dan Hawkins' Boise State Broncos aren't off to such a great start this year. In fact, it might be considered down right ugly when looking back only a couple weeks ago, the Broncos might have been thought to be able to clean up in a weak WAC. Now the Broncos, out of the AP top 25, are no better than any team without a win. That's not the ugly part. Jared Zabransky has looked completely confused running the offense, throwing up 4 INT's against the Georgia Bulldogs in week 1 and then unable to lead his team to victory against the OSU Beavers in week 2.
The Oregon Ducks' uniforms make this list. Better known in some regions as the Fighting High-lighters, the Ducks took to the field over the weekend against Montana wearing perhaps the ugliest NCAA Division I Football uniform in the history of the game. You would think, with Nike not too far off, the Ducks would be outfitted with the best and sleekest gear all the time. No such luck. I had a friend who was once a captain on my high school water polo team, and he decided to pick rainbow colored uniforms for the men's team just because he thought it'd be funny to see the crowds reactions at games. Maybe that's the Duck approach on these things.
Tyrone Willingham really has it bad up there in Washington. We knew coming into the season that the Huskies weren't going to be too competitive this year, but the game against Cal was quite a surprise to me. It was fascinating to see the Huskies go up 7-0 in the first quarter, almost like watching the Discovery Channel. But then, the space shuttle landed and we were back to reality. The 56 points the Huskies gave up should have been 112 points. There is no concept of defense on that team, and Stanback might be the worst QB on the west coast, let alone in the Pac-10. Word is that Commissioner Hansen would rather only be known as the Pac-9 for this season.
FOUR GAMES TO WATCH
San Diego State @ Ohio State - The Horseshoe - Columbus, OH
Fresno State @ Oregon - Autzen Stadium - Eugene, OR
Oklahoma @ UCLA - Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA
Oregon State @ Louisville - Cardinal Stadium - Louisville, KY
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