I watched way too much football yesterday.
My two teams, Notre Dame and San Diego State, bookended the college football schedule. My alarm went off at 5:30 AM to start making breakfast for a 6:00 AM kickoff for the Irish. And San Diego State took on Washington with a kickoff at 7:30 PM.
My friend Paul came over for the ND game. We had fun making an Irish-inspired breakfast. I bought a few Guinness for the occasion and let me tell ya, I don’t really like Guinness, but they are especially tough to drink at 6:00 AM. I think we each took a couple of sips and that was as much of Ireland as we needed.
Here are some thoughts on the college football season, in random order:
- Notre Dame is better than I thought. I know Navy is very weak and Notre Dame is supposed to steam roll them. But the Irish were pretty sharp. They could do what they wanted on all sides of the ball and showed a lot more depth than in previous years. I think we’ve found a quarterback in Golson, he ran the offense well and got a lot of players involved. With a few veteran players coming back from suspensions I suspect they will roll Purdue next week and set up a challenging Michigan State & Michigan back-to-back match-up in a few weekends. Oh, and wasn’t it cool to play that game in Dublin? 35,000 North Americans came bringing $125,000,000 into the country in tourism dollars. A lot of people think Notre Dame gets unfair special treatment. Well… how many schools can get 35,000 fans to fly to another country for an opening game? Not very many colleges can get 35,000 to a bowl game! That’s why the Irish get special treatment. They are special.
- San Diego State was about what I thought they’d be. We lost a lot of talent to the NFL and graduation and we looked very young. I’ve always liked Walter Kazee and was happy to see him get some big runs. Ryan Katz was OK, he played scared in the first half and then woke up in the second. I’ve never seen a player take so many slides… and for a young man who likes to slide I’d encourage him to take 1-2 more steps before sliding the rest of the season so he can slide us to first down instead of 3 and 2. I wrote earlier this fall about the introduction of Rockyball. We didn’t punt when we had the ball inside the 50, never kicked a field goal, and never kicked a PAT. Rockyball got an F yesterday because none of it panned out. But if it had we’d be celebrating a victory over a Pac-12 team.
- Penn State. I don’t think Penn State should be playing football for the next 4-5 years. But since they did a deal with the NCAA and saved football… I’ll just be forced to hope they lose a lot. If you watched the game you saw Penn State give up. Ohio (not Ohio State, mind you) man-handled the offensive and defensive line in the second half. The commentators tried to spin it as the PSU players were overly emotional at the beginning of the game and just ran out of gas. I think, what we saw, was the team flat out giving up. For months they’ve tried to hold it together and pretend that what happened had nothing to do with them… and it was almost like you could see it hit them during the physical exhaustion of the game. With all of their best players heading for other programs they just couldn’t compete against a MAC team. And the realization of that has big implications in the Big 10. By the time the game came to its merciful conclusion you had to wonder how many players from Penn State were thinking, “I should have transferred.” They should have. All of them. And just for the record… with yesterdays loss they continued a 14 year losing streak.
- Alabama vs. Michigan. I’ve got to give Michigan credit, I didn’t think they’d have an offensive touchdown and they did. Alabama is, by far, the best team in football. What we saw yesterday was an exhibition of just how good they are. I think they’d give a bunch of lower level NFL teams fits. (They’d be #2 or #3 in the AFC East) Alabama’s defense exposed the single dimension, Denard Robinson-focused, offense. Michigan entered the game #8 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop into the 20s. Someone even gave them a #1 ranking… yeah, those days are over. All future opponents saw how Alabama did it and will use that as the roadmap, which spells trouble in Hoke-ville. All of Robinson’s Heisman dreams went out the window yesterday. It was kind of sad to see. He’s make a great NFL tailback, though.
- Here’s to the wussy schedules. Some of the match-ups this weekend have been horrid. None so bad as Oklahoma State vs. Savannah State. 84-0 and the Savannah State coach said “it could have been a lot worse.” (North Carolina vs. Elon was a close second.) Almost as interesting, though, were how many of these mid-majors and mini-majors hung in there. Northern Iowa almost beat Wisconsin. NIU came up just short against Iowa. Arizona needed overtime to beat Toledo. Bowling Green played toe-to-toe with Florida for 3 quarters. Arkansas State outscored Oregon 24-7 in the second half. And San Jose State almost held on to beat Stanford.
- Mountain West report. Outside of Nevada beating Cal, the Mountain West underachieved against non-conference opponents. That’ll hurt us down the road. We needed SDSU to beat Washington and Boise State to beat Michigan State. I think this is a weak year for the conference, but I expect Boise State, Nevada, and SDSU to be the top 3 teams at the end of the year. (Which leaves SDSU out of a bowl for the last time before joining the Big East.)