Rome, er, LA is Burning: Lessons from Week 2
In a week that was supposed to be relatively quiet, it seemed like the world was on fire. First, the noon games were punctuated by a win by the Miami Hurricanes who won a turnover battle against an absolutely ugly Florida offense that reached its logical endpoint on a penalty to end the game. Then, the late afternoon games were highlighted by Georgia’s victory over South Carolina where Mark Richt seemed like he was going to be fired if he didn’t win. The prime time spot featured a dominant Michigan team led by Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon’s beautiful display of football. Yet Michigan’s time in the light would soon be eclipsed by a Texas defense that proved that the following axiom has not been altered in the slightest: Texas is still Texas. Calls for Mack Brown’s head in Austin were interrupted by a “Fire Kiffin” chant that could be heard alllllll the way from the East Coast due to USC’s terrible, terrible, terrrrrible loss to Washington State. Yes – the world is burning specifically Los Angeles and yes, also Austin. Week 2, you are an unpolished gem.
The day began mildly with America’s only way to start to Saturdays in the fall, College Gameday (sorry Fox Sports 1). But then even that seemed to go hay wire as soon as Lee Corso brought a pack of chickens onto the set to illustrate that he was picking Notre Dame and, I think, South…Caro…li…na? The wheels started to come off down in Miami at Sun Life Stadium for a game that was filled with the ugliest offensive play I had ever seen in the 2013 season (I had yet to watch USF-Michigan State or USC-Washington State, mind you). The crowd seemed to be 50/50, as is usually the case with Miami fan bases these days, but once Florida started turning the ball over you would have thought that everyone there was all in for THE U. Stephen Morris was able to connect with Phillip Dorsett and Herb Waters for two touchdowns in the first half which is when Miami was tiring out Florida’s ferocious defensive line with an up-tempo offense. As soon as Miami abandoned this strategy and moved towards a more Duke Johnson focused running game, Florida started to dismantle any and all offensive hope that Miami started with. If it weren’t for Florida’s offense, which couldn’t stop getting in the way of itself, Florida would have probably won the game.
Some credit is due to the Miami defense that gave up 0 points when Florida was within Miami’s 30. There was also a boatload of penalties in this game for Florida who gave Miami 70 yards to work with. When you look at the offensive statistics, it’s dizzying to think of how Florida lost this game as they racked up 413 yards compared to Miami’s seemingly paltry 212. In the end, poor execution and too many mistakes cost Florida the game. Miami may have gotten lucky but that’s fine. They will be ranked in the AP and The U is always more fun when it is nationally relevant.
During Florida-Miami, nationally ranked teams beat lesser FBS and FCS opponents while the Spartans, and I cannot italicize this enough, struggled against South Florida. The Bulls had 53 points hung on them by McNeese State in the previous week. Going into the half, the score was still at 7-6 with Sparty’s only touchdown a result of a South Florida fumble recovery by the defense. Michigan State’s offense only scored once in a game that saw Mark Dantonio shuffle around quarterbacks Tyler O’Connor, Andrew Maxwell, and Connor Cook as if he were a shady street hustler. At this point if Michigan State is struggling to find an offensive identity, the Legends division race in the Big Ten may be a race between Northwestern and Michigan.
The late afternoon games kicked off with Oregon v. Virginia and San Diego State v. Ohio State. It’s easy to see why Oregon jumped the Buckeyes in the polls – they are a force. Nicholls State was a cupcake but Virginia would put up some fight, right? Not really. Oregon blew through Charlottesville and toppled a Cavaliers team who looked like high school track stars against 11 Usain Bolts. The Ducks scored 21 points in the first quarter alone which started with a 71 yard run from Marcus Mariota and was complemented by two De’Anthony Thomas rushing touchdowns. UVA managed seven near the end of the first and then could only score a field goal for the rest of the game as Oregon manhandled them.
Ohio State, on the other hand, played a San Diego State team that was defensively shut down for most of the game. Braxton Miller was sidelined in the first quarter with a sprained MCL which stunned the home crowd. Whatever chance the Aztecs thought they had of stopping the Buckeyes with Miller out of the gamee never came to fruition as Kenny Guiton came in and played masterfully. Guiton completed 19 of 28 passes throwing for 152 yards and rushing 83 yards. Urban Meyer’s foot seemed like it was firmly on the gas for Ohio State with visions of jumping Oregon in his head after the Buckeyes defense gave up twenty points to Buffalo last week.
Speaking of Buffalo, someone give that team a cookie. Two top 25 teams in two weeks and being subjected to two beat downs. If the Bulls thought they had a better shot at stopping Baylor than Ohio State, all went out the window in the second quarter. Buffalo struck first at the beginning of the first quarter while being able to limit Baylor’s high potent offense to 28 points. But all hope of getting back in the game was lost when the Bears proceeded to score 28 points and allowed no points for Buffalo in the second quarter. It only got worse as Lache Seastrunk, Shock Linwood, and Tevin Reese all got touches. Quarterback Bryce Petty completed 13 of 16 for 331 yards and two touchdowns. In the end, Baylor had a record breaking 781 yards of offense with a final score of 70-13. Baylor has been named as one of the most exciting teams to watch by SBNation and after reading those stat lines of yesterday’s game, it seems like the Bears are going to be Oregon Lite and the most fun you’ve ever had in Waco, Texas.
The weird 4:30 time slot opened up the SEC East matchup between South Carolina and Georgia in Sanford Stadium. And I’m going to venture to say that the only team in the East with a great defense at this point is Florida. This game did not look any different from the high scoring affair down in Clemson. The team with the seemingly better defense at the outset with the most imposing defensive lineman looked pedestrian as Aaron Murray aired it out for 309 yards and four touchdowns. They also couldn’t seem to stop Todd Gurley who rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown. Connor Shaw and the South Carolina offense was impressive until the fourth quarter when a last attempt to put them within four of Georgia resulted in a turnover on downs. Mark Richt ran the clock down for a win and a Saturday night where radio callers aren’t sobbing for him to lose his job.
All is not lost in the divisional race for South Carolina though as Georgia moves forward into their conference schedule they look to games against LSU, Florida, and a resurgent Vanderbilt. It may be a case where South Carolina, by virtue of being touched by a scheduling angel, could win the SEC East like UGA last year. Or Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football rolls on and finds a way to win despite the fact that they have no clue what they are doing on offense.
The highlighted game of the evening was one of the last college football pornographic films in a series dedicated to Midwestern football fans who view their money shots through prisms of history and tradition. The build up to this game by ESPN was servicing all of that. From Heather Cox’s romp through Notre Dame’s hall of trophies, trophies, and, oh look, more trophies! to ESPN broadcasting Devin Gardner getting honored with Tom Harmon’s numbers, this is the one of the last hurrah’s for the stoics of college football who believe that Fielding Yost and Knute Rockne are rolling over in their graves post-West Virginia and Baylor in 2012.
Michigan’s glaring weak spot before the game kicked off was the interior offensive line player filled by three freshmen. A defense highlighted with the play of Louis Nix III was supposed to give Gardner and the backfield their share of fits. Instead, the quarterback had enough time to connect with Jeremy Gallon on several magnificient plays that led to three touchdowns. He has great pocket presence with a Denard Robinson-like ability to extend plays should anything get disrupted up front. Gardner racked up 294 yards of total offense with four touchdowns and one really bad interception that gave Notre Dame their final touchdown of the game.
Tommy Rees, on the other hand, was getting shut down and pushed around Michigan’s front seven. The defense was able to completely knock the Fighting Irish from the game in the second half. This led to many Brady Hoke fist pumps, shrugs, and oh yeah, they played the chicken dance song in the Big House to piss off Brian Kelly even more than he already was. As if the appearance by
Eminem Marshall Mathers with Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger wasn’t hilarious enough, this was the icing on the cake.
While Hail to the Victors was echoing across Ann Arbor, there was some shit going down in Provo. Taysom Hill was running laps around the Longhorns who were supposed to be an improved defense compared to the team we have seen in recent years. Hill racked up a total of 259 rushing yards capped by three touchdowns. He set school records for rushing and also broke Jim McMahon’s single play record of a 56-yard run by quarterback with a 68-yard run. When the dust settled and Texas finally had a chance to look up at the scoreboard, BYU dominated with a score of At this point, I can only imagine that same girl who cried vulgarities during the Red River Shootout in 2012 is having to patch up dozens of holes in the dry wall after this loss to the Cougars. Mack Brown is now on the hot seat once again but he’s not alone.
Leave it to Lane Kiffin to drop a home opener for the first time since 1997. The Trojans could not get ANYTHING going on offense whatsoever which isn’t to say that Washington State was any better. In a game that seemed like it was played in the early 1900s, this one ended with a score of 10-7 which Wazzu won by way of field goal. After the game, fans were heard calling for Kiffin’s job at the end of the game while Mike Leach was glad the Cougars pulled out the ugliest win since Miami beat Florida earlier in the afternoon. It’s expected that the fall from AP Top 25 grace will be huge and the climb back won’t be any easier with games against feisty teams like Arizona and Arizona State on the slate as well as Notre Dame, UCLA, and Stanford. Lane Kiffin may want to take the Mark Richt approach to everything from now on or Charlie Strong might find himself in Los Angeles.
IN OTHER NEWS: Clemson wins against the Bulldogs of South Carolina State and also gets to enjoy a transitive win over South Carolina until they actually have to play the Gamecocks (SHOCK THE WORLD KEEPS ROLLIN’). Texas A&M pounds Sam Houston State to death in the same fashion that ESPN has pounded into your head that Texas A&M-Alabama is the most important thing you will ever watch this fall. Louisville rolled over Eastern Kentucky as expected. Oklahoma barely beat West Virginia and now Barry Switzer is crying in his Coaches Cabana. Wisconsin continues to roll as they defeated lesser FCS opponent Tennessee Tech and received a Bon Iver reference from none other than John Buccigross. Nebraska crushed Southern Mississippi with the offense that only runs on T-Magic. Northwestern annihiliated Syracuse and are flexing their muscles as the team to beat in the Legends division. TCU redeemed themselves with a nice win over Southeastern Louisiana (yeah, I know that last sentence is ridiculous). LSU keeps trying to tell people that they have a competent offense. Last but not least, Stanford wins over San Jose State at The Farm with the most conservative football play calling west of the Mississippi.
WHILE YOU WERE BEING A SPORTS SHUT IN: The Arcade Fire’s new James Murphy produced single leaked onto the Internet (David Bowie is on it). 2 Chainz’s album also leaked and it’s alright.