Monday, October 31, 2005

Week 9 Review

Before we begin, a couple things...

I am covering the SEC for football.com, which involves game previews and recaps as well as voting in the site's Heisman poll, top 40 poll, and pick'em contest. This is good for several reasons, not the least of which is that my work will now reach a larger audience.

On a personal note, my mom in San Antonio works for home improvement retailer Lowe's, and was recently sent to a store in Lake Charles, LA for ten days to help out while they attempt to get things back on track after Hurricane Rita. She described the property damage as "worse than what they show on TV", though the locals who are still around are pretty patient when they're waiting in painfully long lines for roofing supplies and such.

One of the problems that they're having down there is a complete lack of people to work. Businesses close at 8:00 PM because there isn't anyone to work the later hours. The Lowe's store in Lake Charles normally has a payroll of 120 people, but only 20 stayed on after the hurricane. Anyway, if you're not tied down to anyone or anything, I would encourage you to make your way down to Louisiana if you're looking for work. There is more work than people, and all the overtime that you can stand.

Various NFL thoughts
I don't much follow the NFL except for a few things, including:

-San Antonio's attempts to lure the Saints are probably in vain, and that's a shame. If New Orleans is in no shape to host the Saints next season, look for the NFL to steer them to Los Angeles, which is the nation's second largest TV market. Nevermind that San Antonio has a facility already built with no major tenant (the Alamodome) and a population hungry for big-time sports smack dab in the middle of football country. If New Orleans could support an NFL franchise, I have no doubt whatsoever that San Antonio could as well, though it will never have the chance.

-New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi's triumphant return to the field nine months after a stroke is nothing short of remarkable. Like ESPN.com's Sports Guy, I would have saved him for next week's game against Indianapolis, where he would emerge from the stands with a folding chair and lay out Peyton Manning WWE-style. Boston would burn in celebration.

-The Bengals are 6-2, which is neat from the perspective of someone who roots for underdogs like Vandy. I have tickets to the 12/24 home game against Buffalo, and my early concerns about that game being meaningless are probably unfounded. Looks like they're playoff bound.

Enough about the pro game.

South Carolina-Tennessee
I've never been so happy to be so wrong. I picked Tennessee in this one because they're better on paper, but I should never have ignored the obvious: Steve Spurrier is the better coach. I should have known that Spurrier, visiting Neyland with his third team on Peyton Manning jersey retirement day, would put forth his best effort to knock off the Vols. By the end of the game, Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer looked like he might lose his substantial lunch, and sightings of orange faithful wearing brown paper bags became the stuff of SEC legend. Funny thing is, nobody I know feels sorry for Tennessee.

Florida-Georgia
When Florida took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, I knew that my prediction was in trouble. Florida's week off before the game allowed Urban Meyer to retool his underperforming offense, which he kept on the ground to wear down the Georgia run defense. Backup Bulldog QB Joe Tereshinski III, forced into service by DJ Shockley's knee injury, was largely ineffective except for one play in the second half, where he pitched to running back Thomas Brown before eventually catching Brown's pass at the two yard line and plunging in for the score.

Texas-Oklahoma State
I don't know what it is about playing the Longhorns that brings out the best in the Pokes, but they had 28 points in a hurry and Stillwater was bracing for an upset celebration for the ages. Only problem is that Texas had Vince Young and OSU did not. Young took over the game with 239 passing yards and 267 on the ground, setting a Texas record for total yardage. Wow. Dude's a hoss. He won't let Texas lose. He singlehandedly beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl earlier this year, and beat Ohio State with his arm in the second game of this season. This is the stuff of Heisman legend.

Oklahoma-Nebraska
Reminder when picking Nebraska: Bill Callahan is their coach. I'm not picking OU in any big games without a decent defensive coordinator (Brent Venables need not apply). Still, Stoops had Mack Brown's number for five years before Texas' talent caught up to him. I should have known to take his squad over Callahan's. Lesson learned.

Michigan-Northwestern
Northwestern is a lot like Vandy, though it has been more successful in recent years in terms of wins and bowls. It's a small, academics-first school playing in a semipro league and struggling to be relevant more than once every five years. It enjoyed some early success, drawing national media attention and a big spotlight for a home game against Michigan. Of course, the Wildcats stumbled, effectively killing that bandwagon. That stinks. It's a shame that when a squad like Randy Walker's puts together some wins and then drops one, they lose all the positive momentum and coverage that they earned. It took Tennessee going 3-4 to finally get it out of the Top 25, but Northwestern loses and gets bounced in record time.

North Carolina-Miami
National pundits are dogging the throwback unis that Miami broke out for this game, featuring hurricane warning symbols on golden helmets and a plain green jersey and gold pants. Apparently, it's insensitive to use the hurricane nickname and motif while people are picking up the pieces after being hit by real hurricanes, including those in South Florida affected by Wilma. This is getting ridiculous. These are NICKNAMES. Find me one person who was personally injured by Miami's throwback helmet and I will apologize. If I ever become AD at an upstart college, I promise to come up with the most offensive nickname I can. How about the University of Tennessee-Bucksnort Slobberin' Honkeys?

Anyway, Miami QB Kyle Wright may well become the real deal, but throwing three quick interceptions won't help. The Canes turned to Tyrone Moss to get the job done on the ground, and he answered with 195 yards to ice the game.

UCLA-Stanford
UCLA ought to thank its lucky stars that it ran into a Stanford squad who couldn't play with a three touchdown lead. Having failed to score a touchdown in 53 minutes, the Bruins rattled off three in the last 8 minutes of the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. They got another Drew Olson touchdown pass in the extra frame to escape Palo Alto with a 30-27 duke.

Worse than Stanford's Vandy-like disappearing act in the fourth quarter might be old Stanford Stadium, which looks like a dump even on TV. Good grief. I know that they plan to renovate it, but that can't come fast enough. It's amazing that the NFL held the Super Bowl there in 1985.

Vandy football
After playing eight games in eight weeks, the good guys took a well-earned bye week this week to heal some wounds and summon back the mojo that left after their 4-0 start. They play Florida on the road this week. This game is being televised by ESPN2 at 7:15 PM Saturday night, marking the 7th time in the first nine games this season that a Vandy game got televised. This, folks, is uncharted territory for the black and gold and undoubtedly a boon for national interest and recruiting.

Final thought
I spent a total of 13 hours this past Saturday watching football, including portions of some real dogs like Central Michigan-Toledo and Fresno State-Hawaii. Still, I couldn't make myself stay up late enough to finish a Kentucky-Mississippi State snoozefest that was tape-delayed past midnight. Now with its first conference win under its belt, look for Kentucky to take it to Auburn this Saturday. So say the faithful on catspause.com, by far the funniest reading you can do when you're bored.

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