Monday, September 14, 2009

Lost Money and Earned Regrets: College Football Recap Week 2

During a weekend that saw Ohio State handed one of their more disappointing defeats ever, a revived Michigan team saved the pride of the Big Ten, some non-BCS schools strengthened their cases for BCS bowl bids, and some FCS schools scared some BCS conference schools much more than they should have.  Here's a quick look at the weekend's top 25 games, including the spread, as well as a few other games of note.
#1 Florida 56 Troy 6
Spread: Florida (-36)
Nobody should even talk about Florida until they play a school that 90 percent of Americans know where it is.  Tim Tebow's stats (425 yards passing, 72 yards rushing, 7 total TDs), for instance, should be discounted by Heisman Trophy voters.

#2 Texas 41 Wyoming 10
Spread: Texas (-33.5)
I knew the Laramie crowd would get to the Longhorns. 

#3 USC 18 #8 Ohio State 15
Spread: USC (-7)
This is a tough one to swallow.  Almost everyone expected USC to blow the Buckeyes out of the water.  If this would have happened, it would have been embarrassing, but, as I said, it was expected.  Instead, Ohio State controlled the entire game, right up until USC converted on 3rd-and-8 from their own 16 with less than seven minutes left in the game.  Being a long-time Ohio sports fan, I knew this was the beginning of the end, as did most everyone else (if they're honest with themselves).  While I'm proud (somewhat) of the Bucks for hanging in there so well, I am also both frustrated and fed up with Jim Tressel's conservative play-calling.  Didn't he notice how much momentum USC gained when they punched the ball in on their first possession on 4th down?  Doesn't he think it sends a bad message about his faith in his team when he elects to kick a field goal in the same situation?  Doesn't he remember that it was a gutsy fourth down call that played a big part in his only national championship?

  So where does this game rank in the list of most disappointing Ohio State games since I started watching college football in 1993?  Pretty high. Here are the ten worst:

10. November 6, 1993 Wisconsin 14 Ohio State 14
The first Buckeyes game I remember watching, this one hurts more because my dad was so upset.  As it turns out, he was right to be so angry; the tie (along with the annual John Cooper loss to Michigan) cost the Buckeyes an outright Big Ten title, and instead of going to the Rose Bowl, they beat BYU in the Holiday Bowl.  My introduction to Ohio State disappointment was complete.

9. November 22, 2003 Michigan 35 Ohio State 21
The Buckeyes and Wolverines each had only one loss, and a win would have given the Buckeyes the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth.  In hindsight, this hurts a whole lot less, since it's the last time Michigan beat Ohio State.

8. November 7, 1998 Michigan State 37 Ohio State 13
Ohio State went into this game ranked #1 (as they had been the entire season) and absolutely loaded (David Boston, Antoine Winfield, Andy Katzenmoyer, among others).  While the loss cost the Buckeyes a shot at the national championship, most fans were certain Ohio State would lose to Michigan, anyway (a game the Buckeyes of course won).

7. October 11, 2003 Wisconsin 17 Ohio State 10
Coming off their shocking upset of Miami in that January's Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State was looking to repeat.  Unfortunately, they ran into the Badgers and Chris Chambers in prime time.  The sting would have been greater from this one if the Bucks hadn't just won the national title.

6. November 23, 1996 Michigan 13 Ohio State 9
Despite losing Terry Glenn, Rickey Dudley, Bobby Hoying, and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, the Buckeyes rolled through the '96 season undefeated, only to lose to the Wolverines in the last game of the season for the second year in a row.  The fact that the Buckeyes went on to beat Arizona State in the Rose Bowl makes this one hurt that much more, since the Rose Bowl victory would have given Ohio State at least a share of the national title.

5. January 5, 2009 Texas 24 Ohio State 21
After getting blitzed in the previous two national championship games and earlier that season by USC, the Buckeyes were looking to redeem their national reputation with a win over the heavily favored Longhorns in the Fiesta Bowl.  The upset appeared to be in their grasp, as the Bucks had the Horns in a 4th-and-3 with around a minute left in the game and Ohio State on top 21-17.  Colt McCoy, however, hit James Kirkendoll to convert the four down, and two plays later, hit Quan Cosby for a 26-yard, game-winning touchdown. 

4. November 25, 1995 Michigan 31 Ohio State 23
Ohio State was rolling through the regular season behind a high-powered offense fueled by Eddie George, Bobby Hoying, Terry Glenn, and Orlando Pace.  Undefeated coming into the game, Eddie George was expected to carry the Buckeyes to victory and cement his Heisman Trophy candidacy.  Instead, Wolverine halfback Tim Biakabutuka ran for 313 yards and a touchdown, and Michigan upset their rivals 31-23.  George would still win the Heisman, but a deflated Bucks team would go on to lose the Citrus Bowl against Peyton Manning and the Tennessee Vols, 20-14. 
3. September 12, 2009 USC 18 Ohio State 15
This one hurts for all of the same reasons losing to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl hurt.  Just when it seemed the Buckeyes were going to regain some national respect, they blew it.

2. September 10, 2005 Texas 25 Ohio State 22
In one of the biggest non-conference games in memory, the Buckeyes and Longhorns traded leads until Ohio State seemed to go up for good after a field goal made it 22-16 with 5:12 left in the 3rd quarter.  The Buckeyes should have scored a touchdown on the drive to make it 26-16, but tight end Ryan Hamby dropped the would-be TD catch not once, but twice.    After holding Texas at bay for most of the fourth, Vince Young finally took over and led the Horns on a 7-play, 67-yard scoring drive to put Texas up 23-22 with 2:37 left.  After Ohio State fumbled and got a safety to pretty much end the game, I threw a chair through my wall.  I still hate Ryan Hamby.

1. January 8, 2007 Florida 41 Ohio State 14
Ouch.  The game that really started America's complete disdain for the Buckeyes, you can read my thoughts on this one here (language NSFW, as I was pretty drunk when I wrote it).

#4 Alabama 40 Florida International 14
Spread: Alabama (-34)
Florida International actually had a 14-13 lead in the second quarter, and only trailed 20-14 at the half.  In the second half, however, Alabama played like the storied football powerhouse they are and Florida International played like workers from the airport they are named after.

Houston 45 #5 Oklahoma State 35
Spread: Oklahoma State (-15)
Oklahoma State gets beat at their own game, which is to say Houston had just enough offense to make up for a terrible defensive display.  I guess that Fiesta Bowl berth I gave the Cowboys was a little premature.

#7 Penn State 28 Syracuse 7
Spread: Penn State (-28.5)
Penn State still hasn't allowed a point in the first half.  Also, Greg Paulus is still annoying.

#9 BYU 54 Tulane 3
Spread: BYU (-17.5)
Is there a word for the opposite of a letdown game?  Perhaps denyup game?  No?

#10 California 59 Eastern Washington 7
Spread: N/A
California should be ashamed that this game was only 7-7 after the first quarter.  Everyone knows you have to come ready to play vs. E. Washington.

#11 LSU 23 Vanderbilt 9
Spread: LSU (-14.5)
After a few seasons of either winning extremely impressively or giving games away, maybe LSU has decided they're just going to win ugly every week.

#12 Boise State 48 Miami (OH) 0
Spread: Boise State (-36)
If I had asked you prior to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl if you would ever take Boise State as a 36-point favorite, would you in a million years expect them to cover?  It's amazing how much one game can mean.

#13 Oklahoma 64 Idaho State 0
Spread: N/A
Oklahoma fortunately gets to take it easy while Sam Bradford hurries to get himself back in playing shape for the October 3 showdown in Miami.

#14 Virginia Tech 52 Marshall 10
Spread: Virginia Tech (-19.5)
The Hokies were looking to take out some frustration after their week one loss to Alabama.  Unfortunately for Marshall, they were next on the schedule.

#15 Georgia Tech 30 Clemson 27
Spread: Georgia Tech (-5)
Georgia Tech turns a blowout (the Yellow Jackets scored the first 24 points of the game) into a come-from behind win.  Coach Paul Johnson has to be concerned about what will happen when the triple option isn't getting it done and Georgia Tech is going to have to rely on the arm of QB Josh Nesbitt (3-14, 83 yards, 2 INTs).

#16 TCU 30 Virginia 14
Spread: TCU (-11)
TCU tries to get in on the BCS buster trend that BYU and Boise State started last week.  Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, Virginia is no Oklahoma or Oregon.

#17 Utah 24 San Jose State 14
Spread: Utah (-13.5)
Unbelievably, this game was 7-7 heading into the 4th quarter.  Between the first three quarters of this game and the first quarter they led 3-0 at USC last week, San Jose State has played one very impressive game this season.

Michigan 38 #18 Notre Dame 34
Spread: Notre Dame (-3.5)
Hopefully, we can have a 38-34 instant classic between former college football superpowers every week (Miami and Florida State fit the bill last weekend).  Week 3's candidate: Nebraska at Virginia Tech.  Also, it is nice to have Michigan matter again.  What used to be the greatest rivalry in sports (Michigan-Ohio State, not Michigan-Notre Dame) has lost a lot of its luster these past few seasons, and I was afraid it was going to reach Browns-Steelers depths soon.  It looks like the Wolverines will actually make a game of things this year.

#19 North Carolina 12 Connecticut 10
Spread: North Carolina (-4.5)
Yuck.  When a game is decided by a safety caused by offensive holding in the end zone, it is probably best to just imagine it never happened.  And in case you haven't heard, Butch Davis sucks.

#21 Georgia 41 South Carolina 37
Spread: Georgia (-7)
While everyone was watching Ohio State battle USC, Georgia and South Carolina were engaging in an extremely entertaining game that really came down to a South Carolina extra point that was blocked (the Game Cocks had the ball on the Georgia 7 with 22 seconds left but had to go for it on fourth down because they were down 4 and not 3).

#22 Nebraska 38 Arkansas State 9
Spread: Nebraska (-23.5)
I hope the Cornhuskers can put up 38 next week, too.  I'm counting on them.

#23 Cincinnati 70 SE Missouri State 3
Spread: N/A
Prediction: The Bearcats scored more points in this game than the Bengals will score in their first 4 games combined.

#24 Kansas 34 UTEP 7
Spread: Kansas (-11)
The Jayhawks piled up 576 yards of total offense.  Somewhere, Tim Hardaway cried.

#25 Missouri 27 Bowling Green 20
Spread: Missouri (-18.5)
Bowling Green led 20-13 going into the fourth quarter until the Tigers put up 14 unanswered.  Between this performance and the Falcons' rout of Troy last weekend, the MAC appears to have an actual good team...

Central Michigan 29 Michigan State 27
...or two...

Toledo 54 Colorado 38
...or three.  Dan LaFavour set the MAC record for career total offense in the Chippewas huge upset of Michigan State, while Toledo put up 300 yards rushing and passing vs. Colorado.  Speaking of which, shouldn't the Buffaloes just fire Dan Hawkins now?

West Virginia 35 East Carolina 20
The Mountaineers completed leg one of the East Carolina Revenge Tour, avenging their loss to ECU last season.  Virginia Tech visits the Pirates on November 5 to complete leg two.

Maryland 38 James Madison 35 (OT)
Florida State 19 Jackson State 9
The ACC has to be feeling like world beaters after these two victories.  Florida State trailed 9-7 until they finally took the lead with 37 seconds left, and Maryland obviously needed overtime to vanquish George Mason.  The Big Ten looks like the SEC by comparison.

Auburn 49 Mississippi State 24
Don't look now, but here comes Auburn.

Louisiana-Lafayette 17 Kansas State 15
Is this the biggest win ever for the Sun Belt?  As it turns out, no.  In 2007, Lousiana-Monroe beat Alabama.  Still, great win for the Ragin' Cajuns.

College Football Picks 9/8/2009

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