Saturday, September 30, 2006

Big 12 North: Somebody Has to Win

When Nebraska and Kansas State took a tumble, so did the Big 12 North. In the last two Big 12 title games, the North champion has been humiliated by a 112-6 margin. Of course, the North's representative in the past two titles games was Colorado, and now the Buffaloes are falling on hard times. So is the Big 12 North still going south? That might be the case, especially when you consider the correlation between athletic budges and football success. In a nutshell, all the money is in Austin. ... Thanks to John for his help on this!

Game of the Week

Because our gridiron guru, Mark Mathis, is MIA this week, the Wiz has volunteered for the daunting task of picking a winner in our game of the week. Do not be concerned, ladies and gentlemen. The Wiz has exceptional credentials, having spent considerable time at various betting parlors, race tracks, sportsbooks and other dens of inequity. When it comes to putting the money down, the man knows how to do it. So let's get to it!

Iowa City is the place to be Saturday. The Hawkeyes take on No. 1 Ohio State in the biggest game in these parts since 1985, when No. 1 Iowa beat No. 2 Michigan, 12-10. But there will be no such party this time around. We're looking for the Buckeyes to take it to the Hawkeyes. Now before Hawkeye fans jump all over the Wiz, the health of quarterback Drew Tate remains a concern in this corner of cyberspace. He sat out the Syracuse game three weeks ago and when he has played, Tate has not looked sharp against so-so competition. Tate's backup, Jason Manson, threw four interceptions against Syracuse. Putting it all together gives us no reason to believe Iowa can spring the upset. Too many offensive weapons, just too many athletes on the Ohio State side of the ball. The Buckeyes win this and win it easily, 27-7.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Ted Ginn Jr. a Hawkeye? "If it wasn't Ohio State, he'd probably be at Iowa," Ted Ginn Sr. said (subscription, story is in comments).

Andrew Logue, Des Moines Register: Button down or business casual? Jim Tressel and Kirk Ferentz walk the coaching catwalk.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times: To be considered among college football big boys, Iowa has to win.

Doug Lesmerises, Plain Dealer: Talent-rich Northeast Ohio has always been a recruiting target of Ohio State. Now Iowa is trying to get into the mix.

Friday, September 29, 2006

At Clemson, Inflation Is a Good Thing

It's called college football's grandest entrance. Clemson players emerge from the locker room, rub Howard's Rock for luck and race down the hill into Death Valley while the band plays the Tiger Rag. When the cannon is fired, the exclamation point is provided by the release of 25,000 balloons. It's a spectacle second to none, but getting all the environmentally friendly balloons ready is a monumental task. How does Clemson do it? It couldn't be done without students, who volunteer to their services and arrive early in the morning at Memorial Stadium. "We have a system, but it's still a process," said Jeff McDowell, a co-director of the committee in charge of the task. Now nothing will top the effort of Nov. 12, 1983, when Clemson released 363,729 balloons before its game against the Maryland Terrapins. "They were nationally ranked and had [quarterback] Boomer Esiason and they were never in the game," said Sam Blackman, an associate sports information director.

Crystal Ball

Double D, Boston Herald: USC is a big favorite at Washington State, but the Trojans should have no trouble covering the spread.

Jon Wilner, Mercury News: Coming off his best week of the season, he will take three underdogs and two favorites.

Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal: Expect Rutgers, Ohio State and Oregon to win on the road.

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News: Texas Tech rolls into College Station to play Texas A&M, but which team has the edge?

Fan IQ: The search continues to find the real "experts" and compare the results to fan predictions.

Betting Fool, San Francisco Chronicle: Who needs a publicist when you can pick winners?

For the latest lines, check with Doc's Sports. And thanks to Hester Graphics for all the help with the site.

Reporters' Notebooks

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: When it comes to marketing, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is in a class by himself (registration).

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: You have questions? Mr. College Football has answers (registration).

Christian Ewell, Baltimore Sun: National notebook. Surprises? Try Rutgers, Wake Forest, Missouri and Washington (registration).

Carlos Frias, Palm Beach Post: Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, whose team plays South Florida on Friday night, has taken advantage of his Florida roots.

Rich Radford, Virginian-Pilot: A guide to help you plot which games to watch and which games to skip when you're channel surfing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Shuler Race Is Heating Up

They know how to hold a grudge in Washington. Former Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler, who won the Democratic primary in North Carolina's 11th District last May, is now in a neck-and-neck race with incumbent Charles Taylor. But a website based in Washington does not want the former first-round bust of the Redskins back in town. Stop Shuler is on the attack, producing Internet ads like the one above. In the interest of fairness, we present all sides. The site Scrutiny Hooligans, which says Taylor has outspent Shuler 4-1 on media buys, has produced a segment supporting Shuler. You can view it by clicking here. And here are links to Shuler's official site and to Taylor's site.

A Meltdown Second to None

Mike Valenti of the Sports Inferno on Detroit's 1270 XYT loses it after his Michigan State Spartans collapse against Notre Dame. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the rant of rants, and you can listen to it by clicking here or visiting House Rock Built, who we thank dearly for this. A sample of what you are about to hear: "Michigan State handed it away like nice a three-button coat at the Salvation Army. ... I paid my $75 and I got a bunch of old asses off their feet, into the air and got them cheering their ass off. ... Note to John L. Smith: Learn the f-ing rules and understand that your timeouts are not like cell phone minutes. They don't carry over! ... Notre Dame got away. They had them by the throat and instead of cutting it real deep and watching the blood squirt all over, you let them get into halftime so fatboy could feed them pudding! ... Pucker, pucker, pucker! ... You're asking Drew Stanton to run the option in Hurricane Katrina!" Stick with it, this is well worth it. Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent.

Queer Eyes for the Buckeyes

Todd Heustess of Outsports is back on the tailgating tour, and his first stop was Sept. 16 in Columbus for the Cincinnati-Ohio State game. "I was drinking from a keg at 9 a.m. with a couple hundred of my newest friends while proudly flying a rainbow flag at a school-sanctioned tailgate party," he writes. Heustess, you may recall, correctly predicted last November that Texas would beat USC in the Rose Bowl. Rob Rochholz and Richie Weldon also offer up their Dirty Dozen. And Buckeye fans, don't forget to stop by Muck Fichigan for your latest gear.

Reporters' Notebooks

Todd Schulz, Lansing State Journal: An alum who gave $5 million to Michigan State to help renovate the football building before the loss to Notre Dame said of the 40-37 defeat: "Ridiculous. That was hard to watch, wasn't it?"

Michael Rothstein, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Notre Dame running back Darius Walker and assistant Michael Haywood got into it during practice, with Haywood telling Walker to "shut the (expletive) up and do what the (expletive) you're told." It's the second item in the notebook.

Bill Sanders, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Auburn's Kenny Irons returns to South Carolina Thursday night, a program that essentially didn't want him (registration).

Earl Kelly, Annapolis Capital: The Naval Academy and Annapolis residents want to see an end to a decades-old tradition of football fans throwing candy to Naval Academy midshipmen while they march to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium for games.

Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, the youngest Division I-A coach, meets Penn State's Joe Paterno, the oldest.

Doug Lesmerises, Plain Dealer: Work is progressing on replacing the turf at Ohio Stadium, with the project expected to be completed Thursday.

Indianapolis Star: Graduation rates for Division I-A and I-AA football teams released by the NCAA.

Kevin Tatum, Philadelphia Inquirer: Yes, help is on the way for Temple. Two players who were suspended will be in uniform for the game against Vanderbilt.

Ted Miller, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Pac-10 notebook. Like it or not, Arizona State will sink or swim with Rudy Carpenter at quarterback.

Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle: Big 12 notebook. Texas A&M's pass defense leads the conference, but here comes Texas Tech.

Chip Brown, Dallas Morning News: Inexperienced quarterbacks are a big reason Big 12 teams struggled in nonconference play (registration).

Ron Higgins, Commercial Appeal: SEC notebooks. A look at the Western Division and the Eastern Division.

Columnists' Corner

Eric Crawford, Louisville Courier-Journal: If college football were serious about credibility, it would establish national oversight of its officials and disallow the affiliating of officiating crews with individual conferences.

Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register: Alabama is in trouble. Mike Shula is impersonating a head coach.

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: When you look at the numbers, there's no defense for over-hyping Notre Dame.

Ron Bellany, Eugene Register-Guard: Oregon needs a victory at Arizona State to validate its controversial win over Oklahoma.

Pat Dooley, Gainesville Sun: The challenge facing Florida officials: How to get fans to quit tailgating and get into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Brett McMurphy, Tampa Tribune: Prep coaches are not happy about South Florida's game Friday night against Rutgers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Urine for a Bad Time at N.C. State

And you thought coach Chuck Amato was North Carolina State's biggest problem. Well, get a load of this. It appears students have been relieving themselves in the stands at Carter-Finley Stadium. "I know people were urinating in their sections," student body president Will Quick said. "I have heard reports of individuals being splashed by urine." Yes, we know the Wolfpack played Saturday's game against Boston College under the threat of showers, but little did we realize the forecast called for golden showers! ... Officials say the problem can be traced to overcrowding in certain sections of student seating. It starts with students making copies of friends' tickets with more desirable seats. These sections become overcrowded. Officials then tell anybody leaving one of these sections that they won't be allowed back in, even if they need to use the bathroom. So the solution for many is to relieve themselves in the stands. Thanks to Joe Ovies at 850 and 620 The Blog.

Columnists' Corner

Dennis Rogers, Raleigh News & Observer: North Carolina may end up firing John Bunting, but the Tar Heels won't find anyone with his qualities (registration).

Dave Hyde, Sun-Sentinel: Larry Coker's survival may not be in the best interest of the Miami Hurricanes.

David Teel, Daily Press: Virginia Tech's season could well hinge on its game against Georgia Tech.

Steve Dilbeck, L.A. Daily News: He has started only two games, but it's clear linebacker Rey Maualuga is the next big thing at USC.

Art Thiel, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Washington's Tyrone Willingham wants fans to get silly for a night, but don't get stupid over a couple of wins.

Reporters' Notebooks

Bob Clark, Eugene Register-Guard: What happened to that image of the Pac-10 as an offensive league?

Tucson Citizen: Who is the better team, USC or Louisiana State? After seeing both, LSU gets the vote.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Where is Ron Dayne when you need him? Wisconsin ran for only 12 yards against Michigan (subscription, story is in comments).

Bryan Strickland, Durham Herald-Sun: Duke coach Ted Roof said his team shouldn't stare at the scoreboard in the middle of a game.

Gary Lambrecht, Baltimore Sun: Navy knows how to rebound. Over the past four seasons, the Midshipmen are 10-1 after a loss (registration).

Kyle Tucker, Virginian-Pilot: Teammates supported and coach Frank Beamer defended two suspended players.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ralphie Between the Hedges

Colorado mascot Ralphie made the trip last Saturday to Georgia, and from the looks of things, she (yes, Ralphie is a girl) really enjoyed the romp around Sanford Stadium. And we move from the beast to the beauties, who were enjoying the tailgate before the Bulldogs' 14-13 victory. Thanks to Matt for sending these images!

Reporters' Notebooks

Dave Dye, Detroit News: Michigan State coach John L. Smith says video shows no Spartan player hit Notre Dame coach Crewcut Charlie Weis during a sideline scuffle.

Ryan Suchomel, Iowa City Press-Citizen: Tickets for the Ohio State-Iowa game are going for as much as $1,000.

Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: In Penn State's case, numbers do lie.

Jerry Hill, Waco Tribune: Baylor has a problem. It's the most penalized team in the land.

Tom Luicci, Newark Star-Ledger: Rutgers has started to promote running back Ray Rice as a Heisman candidate.

Doug Segrest, Birmingham News: A look back at the week that was in college football.

Dave Reardon, Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Problems with the charter flight kept Hawaii on the road an extra 16 hours after the loss at Boise State.

Chris Dempsey, Denver Post: Missouri is 4-0, but are the Tigers for real or merely a pussycat?

Richard Lake, Clarion Ledger: A star recruit pushes on and disputes a "learning disabled" label.

Jeff Carlton, Greensboro News-Record: North Carolina coach John Bunting has been given a vote of confidence.

Jeff Latzke, Associated Press: A Conference USA replay official has been suspended for overturning a call in the Houston-Oklahoma State game.

Columnists' Corner

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: With no wins in nine games against ranked teams, the Big 12 has been far from impressive in nonconference play (registration).

Dave Hickman, Charleston Gazette: Despite a 4-0 start, West Virginia may have a glaring weakness: no pass rush.

Jim Moore, Seattle Post Intelligencer: Washington has gone from rank to almost ranked. But is it deserving?

Bob Lutz, Wichita Eagle: Four nonconference games were meant to provide answers. But the games created more questions for Kansas and Kansas State.

Dave Joseph, Orlando Sentinel: Forget the losses. Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger has a larger plan.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Expect Further Review of the Replay System

They just can't let it go. Oklahoma fans remain livid over the blown calls that led to the Sooners' 34-33 loss at Oregon on Sept. 16. Never mind that Oklahoma gave up 501 yards to the Ducks. A group of animators has developed the site Quack Squad, which features a "press conference" regarding the controversial calls. The site also has the Quack Squad Game, where you can take on the officials. Now given the scene Saturday in Norman, it seems everybody was trying to cash in on the controversy. T-shirts protesting the calls were sprinkled throughout tailgates, including one that said "Fowl Play." Even former WWE announcer and Sooner honk Jim Ross has something to say about it in his Slobberknocker Report. Oklahoma fans are not the only ones upset with Pacific 10 officials. Baylor coach Guy Morriss asked the league to review six plays from the Bears' 17-15 loss to Washington State on Sept. 16 in Seattle. In all six cases, Pac-10 coordinator of football officiating Verle Sorgen agreed with Baylor's assessment and "graded down" the referee, back judge and head linesman. But unlike the Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco, there was no public apology or suspensions handed down to officials. Maybe this is because there simply are not enough officials to go around. Two of the "suspended" officials from the Oklahoma-Oregon game worked Saturday's USC-Arizona game, and three other "suspended" officials worked the Idaho-Oregon State game. The business of a replay system likely will be revisited at season's end. Oregon State coach Mike Riley says he doesn't like the coach's challenge. And Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter is simply not in favor of any replay system. "It's the biggest joke in the world. It's sickening. It's ridiculous," he said (some registration).

Checking In on Plays Lost, Time of Games

If you are not familiar with cfbstats, you should be. Marty, the site's administrator, has logged every play of every team from the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Simply put, his database is something the NCAA drools over. For example, did you know Arizona State is a better rushing team on the road in 2006? Or that Louisville running backs are averaging almost two more yards a carry on grass fields compared to turf fields? These are just some of the goodies available. Now Marty is tracking the impact of the controversial rule 3-2-5-e, which is designed to reduce the time of games. As we've stated before, the rule is also reducing the number of plays. Now we've never really heard of anyone complaining about the games being too long, but we've heard many complaints about too many commercials. That is the real problem here, folks. ... Again, if you use any of this information, please credit the great cfbstats. One other note: The time of games is that given by the official scorekeeper.


Here are the five shortest games from Week 4:
Wake Forest-Mississippi: 2:35
Marshall-Tennessee: 2:36
Middle Tennessee State-Oklahoma: 2:43
Indiana State-Northern Illinois: 2:44
Kent State-Bowling Green: 2:44

Here are the five longest games from Week 4:
Iowa State-Texas: 4:17
Notre Dame-Michigan State: 3:31
Hawaii-Boise State: 3:30
Central Michigan-Eastern Michigan: 3:23
Iowa-Illinois: 3:21

Week 5

We're almost halfway through the regular season for many teams and yes, baseball is still playing its endless regular season. But we're talking football here folks. Every game counts! We have four weeknight games, beginning Tuesday with Southern Mississippi traveling to Central Florida. On Thursday, Brigham Young plays Texas Christian and Auburn meets South Carolina. On Friday, it's Rutgers at South Florida. Check out some of Saturday's games: Texas Tech at Texas A&M, Boise State at Utah, Ohio State at Iowa, Oregon at Arizona State and, of course, Nevada at Nevada Las Vegas in the battle for the Fremont Cannon. Now you can get all the numbers by going to Doc's Sports, one of our sponsors. Please check out Doc's and if you also enjoy the NFL, all the numbers are available by clicking here. Remember, Doc's is located under Free College Football Picks in Sponsored Links.

Arkansas Digs Into Its Bag of Tricks

Nice find by Hogs, Hill, SEC, which has the You Tube video of Arkansas' trick play against Alabama. You can view it by clicking here. According to the site, Razorback players were complaining after the game that officials tipped Crimson Tide players and coaches shortly before the ball was snapped that something was coming, and Alabama held the Razorbacks to a 10-yard gain.

It's Not Easy Bleeding Green and White

This season certainly has all the ingredients for another collapse by Michigan State. That certainly was the case Saturday, when the Spartans trotted to the locker room at halftime leading Notre Dame, 31-14. Did anyone really think Michigan State was going to win? You got the feeling that Spartan fans were expecting the worst. They've seen this time and again in East Lansing. The turning point — besides the obvious ... the Spartans coming out for the second half — came with under five minutes left and the Irish trailing, 37-33. In a bizarre move, Michigan State's Demond Williams fielded a kickoff at the six, ran six yards and took a knee. That pinned the Spartans deep in their territory and three plays later they scored the winning touchdown on a 23-yard interception return. No, it appears even the Spirit Squad can't save the Spartans from themselves. As for Notre Dame, a 10-1 record is possible entering the Nov. 25 game at USC. Oddly enough, USC was probably cheering for Notre Dame to win Saturday. Why? A victory over a 10-1 Irish team could help secure a spot in the BCS title game for the Trojans, who will be without star receiver Dwayne Jarrett for two to four weeks (some registration).

Just Some Passing Thoughts

The longest run of a sluggish first half Saturday between Penn State and Ohio State was by Joe Paterno, who dashed into the locker room after becoming ill. Woody Hayes would have been proud. By the way, they are having a contest over at the fine M Blog asking readers to guess where JoePa was for much of the game. ... Nebraska coach Bill Callahan was under fire last week for throwing only 17 passes, including one on a fake punt, in a 28-10 loss at USC. Was he playing to keep the score close against the Trojans? With overmatched Troy in town, the Cornhuskers attempted 23 passes in a 56-0 win. In four games, Nebraska has averaged 25.5 passes, making that USC gameplan seem rather peculiar. ... Brigham Young and Utah State played for the first time since 2002 and tensions were high, with four personal fouls called. With 2:16 to play and the Cougars clinging to a 31-0 lead, quarterback Jason Beck threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jonny Harline, completing a 38-0 win. ... Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter is 0-12 in games played in the state of California. That likely will become 0-13 when the Sun Devils play at USC on Oct. 14.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Battle Over the Big House Continues

Not so fast with those planned luxury suites at Michigan Stadium. John Pollack, who is spearheading a move to prevent the building of the suites, has put together an alternate plan that would cost less and add about 10,000 seats to the facility. Fielding H. Yost III, the grandson of the athletic director who built the stadium, unveiled Pollack's proposal last week at Michigan Union. Pollack's proposal would add 15 rows of seats in a second concourse encircling the stadium and would cost $93.1 million (compared to Michigan's $354.7 million). It also addresses the long waiting list for Michigan season tickets. Michigan officials do not seem to be impressed. "We are not considering alternates at this point in the process," said Timothy Slottow, the university's executive vice president and chief financial officer. Pollack's site is Save the Big House.

Applewhite Is Down on the Field

Our man Carl is back with another interesting creation. This time he pokes fun at the announcers at the Sept. 16 game between Texas and Rice. If you don't remember his earlier creation dealing with Mack Brown, here is the link.

Columnists' Corner

Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe: Boston College had built up a lot of respect in its first three games. It lost all of that and the game at North Carolina State.

Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star: Minnesota coach Glen Mason's decision-making against Purdue recalled the greatest moments of Barry Switzer, Marty Mornhinweg and Sam Wyche.

Jeff Rice, Centre Daily Times: Most of Penn State's players had no idea an ill Joe Paterno twice retreated into the locker room during the loss to Ohio State.

Pat Harty, Iowa City Press-Citizen: Forget the side dishes. Let's get to the main course: Ohio State vs. Iowa.

Greg Hansen, Arizona Daily Star: Look at the bright side, Arizona fans. A year ago, USC gained 724 yards in a 42-21 victory over the Wildcats.

Steve Kelley, Seattle Times: What did we learn about Washington in its victory over UCLA? There is bite to the Huskies' bravado.

David Teel, Daily Press: Virginia Tech's sins went unpunished for the fourth game in a row. But if the Hokies continue to play this poorly, their day of reckoning is coming sooner rather than later.

Peter Hockaday, Casper Star-Tribune: Wyoming just lost its third game in a row, but running back Devin Moore has something to say: "I'm going to guarantee a win next week against Syracuse, and every other conference game."

John Henderson, Denver Post: Air Force is showing signs that its F-16 is back on course.

Steve Scholfield, North County Times: San Diego State wants you to believe it is returning to the glory years of the early 1990s. It's a fool's dream.

John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader: It was fun in Gainesville for the Kentucky Wildcats, but only for a half.

Michael Lewis, New York Times Magazine: The ballad of big Michael Oher, an offensive tackle at Mississippi (registration).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Quite the Catch for Iowa State Receiver

Sorry to inform you, but if you are running around Austin on Saturday and see this young woman, she's taken. Her name is Janna Skrabanek, and she is a cheerleader for the Houston Texans. Skrabanek is also the girlfriend of Iowa State receiver Austin Flynn, whose team is playing Texas. "He's out-kicked his coverage —— by a mile-and-a-half. That's the only reason I room with him on road trips — to see her," Cyclone teammate Todd Blythe told the Des Moines Register. Skrabanek and Flynn are from Deer Park, Texas. "High school sweethearts," he said. So is Flynn feeling insecure now that his girlfriend is hanging around NFL players? "We've been together so long that I trust her in whatever she does, but I get a lot of flack from the guys about that." Blythe is most prominent in this regard. "From what we hear, she's now dating David Carr," he joked about the Texans' starting quarterback.

A Gloomy Forecast From Mike Leach

We can't imagine many coaches who would want to forecast weather. Then again, there aren't many coaches quite like Texas Tech's Mike Leach. This past week was a prime example. Leach ripped into his team after last Saturday's 12-3 loss to Texas Christian. It was the Red Raiders' worst offensive effort since a 60-15 loss to Oklahoma in 2002. What did Leach make of his team's play? "I saw a bunch of prima donna pretty boys prancing around like they thought they were too good to be there," he said. Leach was just getting started. "I think there's too many golden calves around here that are either being worshipped or think they're being worshipped or worshipping themselves. We need to melt them all down and make silverware if we're ever going to get anywhere."

'Suspended' Ref to Work USC-Arizona Game

Seems like the Stoops brothers can't catch a break. Referee Dave Cutaia, who was among the officials suspended in the wake of last Saturday's Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco, won't be serving his suspension just yet. It turns out a shortage of referees has required that the officials will have to stagger their suspensions. So where does Cutaia turn up? In Tucson, of course, where he will be among the crew refereeing the USC-Arizona game. Of course, Arizona is coached by none other than Mike Stoops, the brother of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. Are you kidding me! ... Now as bad the errors were in Eugene, they can't compare to what happened in 1990 to J.C. Louderback, the referee who awarded a fifth down to Colorado that stripped Missouri of an upset and helped the Buffaloes win a share of the national championship. Louderback still thinks about the blunder. "The feeling has never gone away," he said. And fans were not quick to forget. It took five or six years for the phone calls to stop, and he still has a sack of hate mail that he has yet to read (some registration).

Friday, September 22, 2006

Game of the Week

Is Notre Dame out of the chase for the national championship? Far from it. Despite Saturday's humbling loss to Michigan, the Fighting Irish have plenty of time to get back in the hunt. Nine games are left and Notre Dame should be favored in all but one — Nov. 25 at USC. And in what could be a good omen for the Irish, a rainbow appeared over the Golden Dome on Wednesday morning (thanks to Brendan Loy). But nemesis Michigan State is next, and going 0-2 against teams from the state of Michigan won't get the Irish a ticket to the BCS title game. It's our game of the week, and fearless forecaster Mark Mathis — arguably the greatest scout team quarterback in Baylor history — will put his 3-0 record at risk. Let's see what the pigskin prophet has to say:

"Can a team from Michigan actually beat Notre Dame twice in as many weeks? ... Can the hangover from last week's game still be in the heads of the Notre Dame players? Trust me, it is!
Here is what the Notre Dame practice schedule was like this week. Coaches and players came in on Sunday, watched the film and analyzed the game. Coaches say 'that game is over and we need to move on.' Players are thinking bullsh--! Players never quite get over a loss until Wednesday or Thursday. Because of this, the players have missed a few days of practice mentally.
"Can the Irish recover? Is Notre Dame that much better than Michigan State? This kid seems to think the Irish are. Don't get me wrong, my two favorite teams are Baylor and whoever is playing Notre Dame. But, I'm going with Notre Dame to win at East Lansing, 38-31.
"Look for some scattered showers at kickoff. It's the first time the game of the week has seen some rain. The temperature will be hovering around 67 with a light north wind when they tee it up."

Al Lesar, South Bend Tribune: Legend has it that Crewcut Charlie Weis said, "We will never lose to Michigan State again on my watch."

Blue-Gray Sky: The Notre Dame blog breaks it down, including the Spartans planting their flag at midfield after last season's victory at South Bend.

Detroit Free Press: Michigan State's captains are sending emails to students urging them to act responsibly on Saturday.

Joe Rexrode, Lansing State Journal: Motivational games often don't live up to the hype.

Crystal Ball

Betting Fool, San Francisco Chronicle: What have we learned thus far? Oklahoma is not that good.

Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal: Can Kentucky pull the stunner and beat Florida? Don't bet on it.

Fan IQ: The site that tracks the "expert" picks each week and reveals the "real experts" each Monday has a good read on Notre Dame's chances.

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News: An under-rated Michigan State, playing at home, gets the nod over Notre Dame.

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News: Trying to rebound off a tough week, he'll take No. 1 Ohio State over Penn State.

Fearless Forecasters, Roanoke Times: The staff of experts take a stab at 20 games of interest.

For the latest lines, check with our sponsor Doc's Sports. And a big thank you to Hester Graphics for all the help making the site look spiffy. Check them out if you have special needs for your site.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rebel Without a Cause

Maybe this replay thing isn't such a good idea. Just take a look at Nevada Las Vegas coach Mike Sanford after his team's 16-10 loss to Iowa State on Sept. 9 in Ames. Sanford races from the officials' locker room and onto the field in an attempt to persuade a review of the final play, a pass to the Rebels' Aaron Straiten in the back of the end zone. Straiten caught what could have been the game-winning touchdown, but was ruled out of bounds (it turns out the play was reviewed, but word didn't reach Sanford until long after his tirade). In the interim, Sanford kept his team on the field for 15 minutes after the final play in protest. The situation started to turn ugly when Cyclone fans began chanting "Let's go home" to the Rebel players, who were more than eager to respond to the chants. Eventually the Rebels took the fans' advice and headed to the locker room, but each player was escorted to the team bus by police. Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent!

How About a Beer Bong, Senator Kerry?

Iowa, with its first-in-the-nation caucus, is where candidates test their presidential timber. So it should come as no surprise that Senator John Kerry was making the rounds Saturday through the various tailgates before the Iowa State-Iowa game in Iowa City. Now when reader Jacob alerted us to the top photo being on an Iowa message board, we were skeptical that it was another fark job. But after a little investigation, we found the bottom shot available through the website of the Burlington Hawk Eye. Authentic? Certainly appears to be the case.
Update: Thanks to reader Mikey, who found the photo on Wonkette. It was taken by Rodney White of the Des Moines Register.

Number of Plays in a Game Down by 15

Marty from the site cfbstats is back with his statistical wizardry. He is helping us track the impact of rule 3-2-5-e, which is designed to reduce the time of games. The problem is, it's also reducing the number of plays, and anything that results in less college football is not a good thing. Especially when more and more commercials are interrupting play. Again, if you use any of this information, please give credit to cfbstats. It's a terrific site and if you want to see how your team is doing from a statistical standpoint, it's the only place to go.


Here are the five shortest games from Week 3:
Colorado State-Nevada: 2:25
Buffalo-Northern Illinois: 2:34
Western Michigan-Virginia: 2:40
Eastern Michigan-Northwestern: 2:42
North Texas-Tulsa: 2:43

Here are the five longest games from Week 3:
Kansas-Toledo: 4:00
Oklahoma-Oregon: 3:54
Brigham Young-Boston College: 3:50
Michigan-Notre Dame: 3:28
Furman-North Carolina: 3:27

The Human Side of Officials

Gordon Riese, the Pacific 10 Conference replay official who acknowledged making errors in the last minutes of Saturday's Oklahoma-Oregon game, has been granted a leave of absence for the rest of this season. Riese, 64, who earned $400 a game as a replay analyst, told the Associated Press earlier this week he received death threats after the game. "I can't sleep, I can't eat, my blood pressure is skyrocketing." Riese added: "I'm struggling with it. I feel so bad I missed the call, it's driving me crazy." We certainly feel for Riese. Imagine being in his situation, with the world coming down on you. These men make a lot of sacrifices to officiate games. Take Mark Johnson, a back judge who has worked 160 I-A games, including Saturday's Iowa State-Iowa game. "We don't just jump out of a van 10 minutes before kickoff, do the game and go home until the next assignment rolls around," Johnson told Eric Pratt of the Fort Dodge Messenger. "This isn't a few hours a day for one day a week. It's an extensive, exhaustive process." Johnson is a assistant principal at a middle school, is married and has a daughter and son. "It's not always easy. There's no way you could even consider something like this if your family wasn't on board and on the same page. I really appreciate their respect for what I do." Thanks to reader Bruce!

Hey, Aren't You Chris Perry?

Kenny from the site Westside Rider is still recovering from his trip to South Bend, but he was able to regain consciousness long enough to send us some nifty shots from Michigan's bludgeoning of Notre Dame. Among the Maize & Blue faithful was Chris Perry, the former Wolverine running back and current member of the Cincinnati Bengals. There are many other shots to look over. Check them out by clicking here. And if you plan to go to a game this weekend and can provide us with a shot or two, we'd love to hear from you. The address: dawizofodds (at)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reporters' Notebooks

C.J. Spang, Minnesota Daily: A student reporter has a discouraging encounter with Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman (thanks to the Midwest Correspondent).

Scott Carter, Tampa Tribune: A Florida State alum, upset over the team's fall from the elite, has started Retire Coach Bowden.

Tom Oates, Wisconsin State Journal: If the Miami job opens, don't look for former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez to apply.

Molly Yanity, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Oklahoma is threatening to back out of its 2008 game at Washington if the Pac-10 doesn't change its policy regarding officials.

Dave Hickman, Charleston Gazette: West Virginia running back Steve Slaton is playing with a painful injury to his right wrist.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Suddenly, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is no longer known as LLLLLoyd Carr (subscription, story is in comments).

Paul Buker, Oregonian: Former Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson brings his Idaho team to Corvallis and some Beaver fans would like him back on their sideline.

Steve Sneddon, Reno Gazette-Journal: Reno mayor Bob Cashell wants area businesses to close early so fans can get to Nevada's home game against Northwestern, scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Pacific.

Reid Hanley, Chicago Tribune: The Big Ten is looking more and more like the Big Two and the Little How Many? (registration).

Bob Clark, Eugene Register-Guard: The biggest potential challenge ahead for USC could come from an attorney's office.

Greg Wallace, Anderson Independent-Mail: Clemson has announced that a trust fund has been set up to help defensive back Ray Ray McElrathbey raise his 11-year-old brother.

Luciana Chavez, Raleigh News & Observer: Duke is trying anything to get a victory. The latest is computer simulation to help prepare the Blue Devils for games (registration).

Mike Knobler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech will wear throwback jerseys in Thursday night's game against Virginia (registration).

Michelle Hiskey, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Maybe this is Colorado's problem: Ralphie IV, the Buffaloes' mascot, is a girl (registration).

Tim Gayle, Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama coach Mike Shula says Tyrone Prothro's third surgery is "not a setback."

Lee Barfknecht, Omaha World-Herald: It's clear that the Big 12 is suffering through a power outage.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Replay Official Was Involved in 'The Play'

A replay official involved in Saturday's Oklahoma-Oregon game was the line judge in the 1982 Stanford-California game that ended in "The Play." Gordon Riese, the lead replay official on Saturday, was on the field in the 1982 game. This development comes from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News. The Pacific 10 Conference issued one-game suspensions Monday to the field officials and instant replay crew, but the result — a 34-33 Oregon victory — will stand. "Errors clearly were made and not corrected, and for that we apologize to the University of Oklahoma, coach Bob Stoops and his players," Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said in a statement. Former Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill ripped into the officials during a speaking engagement in Montgomery. "The officials on the field, they're human. They make mistakes," he said. "One game for them is right. But the replay officials, they should be suspended for the year. Because you do not miss those two calls with the 11 [camera] angles he had to look at. That guy had every angle to look at those plays, and he still missed it. I'm in the studio. I know." Sherrill is a college football studio analyst for FSN South.

Reporters' Notebooks

Larry Stewart, Los Angeles Times: USC officials have complained to ESPN about a disclosure by ABC's Brent Musburger of what they consider privileged information.

John Koblin, New York Times: Rutgers is facing big cuts in its budget and has cancelled hundreds of classes, but the football team has helped ease the pain (registration).

Doug Segrest, Birmingham News: A look back at the winners and losers of a memorable weekend.

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska's Bill Callahan is defending his conservative play calling against USC.

Robbie Andreu, Gainesville Sun: Turns out some comments made by ESPN's Lee Corso got the Florida defense fired up for its game against Tennessee.

Phil Stukenborg, Commercial Appeal: Joe Lee Dunn was fired as defensive coordinator at Memphis (registration).

Mike Huguenin, Orlando Sentinel: One thing is clear after "Showdown Saturday." USC, although young, is to be feared.

Tony Barnhart, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The SEC is showing its strength and the ACC is in a world of hurt (registration).

Jim Young, Greensboro News-Record: North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato wants to know why the critics are always picking on him.

Susan Miller Degnan, Miami Herald: A 1-2 start appears to be having an impact on prep players who are considering Miami (registration).

Bill Sanders, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Miami coach Larry Coker was a no-show Monday at a gathering in Atlanta at which he was to be the keynote speaker (registration).

Chris Dempsey, Denver Post: There is little to like about the play of Big 12 teams thus far.

Terry Hutchens, Indianapolis Star: Indiana is using a high-tech device to monitor players for concussions.

Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Crewcut Charlie Weis doesn't have much practice licking wounds, but his Notre Dame team was left bloodied by Michigan.

Jake Curtis, San Francisco Chronicle: USC is very hard to please and Duke is just glad to be alive.

Ken Goe, Oregonian: Washington State quarterback Alex Brink is taking the brunt of the criticism for the Cougars' struggles.

Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant: The Big East was once thought to be unworthy of its BCS affiliation. Now it has the upper hand.

Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville missed the bus after the Rainbows' 42-13 victory over Nevada Las Vegas.

Rob Biertempfel, Tribune-Review: My Space and Facebook continue to present problems for coaches and athletic administrators.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Turns Out, Oregon Didn't Recover the Ball

How complete was the screwjob Oklahoma got at Oregon? Take a look at this video. On the disputed onside kick, you will see that even though Oregon is awarded the ball, it is recovered by Oklahoma's Allen Patrick, who simply scoops it up after it pops out of the scrum. Amazing. ... Said Sooner coach Bob Stoops: "I see my guy stepping up inside of 10 yards to go up and gain reception, gain possession of the football, I see their guy go in front of him and hit the football before my guy is allowed to at 10 yards and I see him collide with my guy inside of 10 yards as well. That's illegal touching and interfering with the reception. And then I see my guy get up with the football that's laying on the ground." While the Sooners cry about this, they might want to turn their attention to the defense, which gave up 501 yards to the Ducks. In other words, learn how to finish a tackle. As for Oregon, it's a good thing the Ducks have a week off. The last victory of this magnitude in Eugene came in 2003, when Oregon beat Michigan, 31-27. The Ducks followed it up with a 55-16 loss to Washington State at Autzen Stadium.
Update: The Pac-10 suspended for one game the officiating crew and instant replay officials that worked the Oklahoma-Oregon game.

Barnett Feels 'a Little Vindication'

Former Colorado coach Gary Barnett told the Colorado Springs Gazette said he has mixed feelings over the Buffaloes' stumbling start under new coach Dan Hawkins. "I hurt for the kids," he said. "Those are my guys. I know the talent that we have there, the maturity and the leadership, and I want those guys to get everything they deserve, and I want them to play in the [Big 12] Championship Game again. Then, on the other side, I got taken out of that situation. I got removed from it and someone else made that decision. Part of me felt a little vindication because of it." From Barnett's perspective, there is no shortage of talent at Boulder. "There's plenty of talent there," he said. Barnett, 60, is not sure if his coaching days are over, but when asked about the possibility of succeeding Fisher DeBerry at Air Force, he appeared interested. "Fisher and I are very close, so who knows. I don’t know about that one. . . . I’ve always had great respect for that program and institution."

USC's Jarrett, Image of Sport Score Again

USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett was a man among boys Saturday night, catching 11 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the Trojans' 28-10 victory over Nebraska. This crisp image of Jarrett comes to us from Image of Sport, a premium photo service for daily newspapers, editorial publications and websites. If you're looking for the right image or just love good sports photography, check out Image of Sport's gallery. It's top-notch photography. Image of Sport is also located on the links list, under Sponsored Links.

Once Again, Iowa Is the Hawkeye State

Two fantastic images sent to us by Tony, who attended Saturday's Iowa State-Iowa game in Iowa City. The top photo is a shot of the Kinnick Stadium Jumbotron as the Hawkeye captains lead the rest of the team from the locker rooms to the field. The second image shows the Hawkeyes as they swarm the field moments before kickoff. Iowa, which had lost six of eight games to Iowa State, prevailed, 27-17. In two weeks, Iowa plays host to Ohio State in a night game. Should be a wild scene.

Week 4

There's still time to get your copy of Doc's Sports Journal, a must for those who follow the gaming end of college and pro football. It's a 120-page schedule booklet that also contains helpful articles and statistics. You can get a copy by going to this link. Doc's is one of our sponsors and we urge you to check out their site. By the way, Doc's correctly picked the over on the Kansas-Toledo game last Friday. As for this week's games, the action begins Thursday with Virginia at Georgia Tech. On Friday, we have Northwestern at Nevada. The Saturday schedule includes Wisconsin at Michigan, Penn State at Ohio State, Arizona State at California and Notre Dame at Michigan State. Check out all the numbers by clicking here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Michigan's Punishing Victory at South Bend

It was a glorious Saturday in South Bend, and the big, bad Wolverines were in town. When it was over, Michigan had a memorable 47-21 victory over Notre Dame, the most points given up by the Fighting Irish at home since a 51-19 loss to Purdue on Oct. 1, 1960. Brendan of the excellent site Irish Trojan sent some terrific photos, and there are more where these came from. Additional shots can be viewed by clicking here.

Quack Calls Do In the Sooners

Officially, Oregon defeated Oklahoma, 34-33. But the Ducks could not have prevailed without two calls in the final 66 seconds that went against the Sooners (video). The plays in question — an onside kick and a subsequent pass interference call — brought back memories of the Sooners' loss last season at Texas Tech, when a series of calls went against Oklahoma in a 23-21 loss. This latest gut-wrenching loss has Sooner fans in an uproar and the players believing that a victory was snatched away by the officials. Oregon players, of course, have a different opinion. Oklahoma did have a chance to win, but a field goal attempt was blocked on the final play. (Some registration).

Columnists' Corner

Buck Harvey, San Antonio Express-News: Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione didn't lose a game or his job Saturday night, but he's on his way to doing both.

Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star: The honeymoon is over for Notre Dame's Charlie Weis and the clock on the Crewcut Era officially began to tick.

Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press: Michigan's victory is what salesmen call "value added" — like getting a free airline ticket and then being bumped to first class.

Israel Gutierrez, Miami Herald: It wasn't the end of Larry Coker's tale at Miami, but the final scene is painfully predictable (registration).

T.J. Simers, Los Angeles Times: It could have been worse for Nebraska's Bill Callahan. He could've woken up on Sunday and still been the coach of the Raiders.

Bud Withers, Seattle Times: Washington's victory over Fresno State could mark the turning point in the program.

Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News: Now all Stanford has to do is field a competitive team to play in its remodeled stadium.

Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier-Journal: A huge victory and a huge loss. Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm is out three to six weeks because of a thumb injury.

David Climer, Tennessean: Tennessee is separating itself from the upper crust in the SEC East, but the Volunteers are moving in the wrong direction.

Joe Starkey, Tribune-Review: The plain truth: Pittsburgh isn't ready to play with the big boys.

Jeff Jacobs, Hartford Courant: Connecticut's surprising loss to Wake Forest revealed that the Huskies have a lot of work to do.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: Auburn's Tommy Tuberville is the SEC's best big-game coach.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: Needing money sometimes means getting clobbered. Just ask Alabama Birmingham what it feels like.

Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Advertiser: Hawaii safety Leonard Peters, a sixth-year senior, was a man on a mission in the Rainbows' 42-13 victory over Nevada Las Vegas.