Wow, I never thought the Ohio U. tailgate would be the highlight of my football Saturday! At 9 am there were scores of green-clad people of all ages--mostly mid 20s, but a lot of 50s and up as well--drinking keg beer (Heineken! Way to go, alumni association!) and happily chatting away. I felt a glimmer of recognition from my time at the ND soccer fields.
After the tailgate though, it was mostly downhill. The sun was as hot as the offensive ineptitude on the field. Both teams struggled to move the ball, and NU shuffled to a 9-0 lead on three FGs that they couldn't convert into TDs. The Bobcats had opportunities but kept blowing them, either by missing FGs or committing turnovers. A late TD made a 16-0 halftime deficit.
The third quarter provided a glimmer of hope when RB Sutton went out with an injury. This provided Ohio U's only success on offense, when they took over in NW territory after a turnover. Unlike previous attempts, bad-ass named QB Boo Jackson finally found the end zone, and a two-point conversation gave Ohio U eight points. This turned out to be the final: 16-8.
I learned from Phil Steele a few days later that Ohio U's long snapper was hurt, which helps explain the three blocked/missed FGs. It also explains (I hope!) why EVERY TIME Ohio U punted, they one-hopped the snap back to the punter. The first time, the fans said, 'oh, that's bad.' When it happened the second (and third) time, we said, 'are they TRYING to do that?'
I didn't see as much of ND/MSU as I wanted, due to coming back from Evanston and drifting off to sleep once on the comfy couch. That's probably good, based on the hand-wringing from Irish fans on the Internets. I think the bottom line is: this is a young team, they will improve in fits and spurts, and fail inexplicably at times. They might win all their home games and lose all their road games. That's fine with me...that's a 7-5 season (assuming a win over Navy at Baltimore). A bad performance like the MSU game has caused a lot of panic and grumbling given the high expectations we all had. I'm telling ya, Irish fans: calm down, and let's just see how the season proceeds.
For the second straight week I got Iowa updates via telephone from Dad. But alas, the blinding glare of the Wannstache subdued the Hawks, and our QB merry-go-round produced more frustrations and three-and-outs. To quote Hawkeye Joyce: "We went to the Pitt game and it was the PITTS - not the city, but the game." Iowa loses, 21-20.
Pick Six: After four weeks of football, we're finally seeing some separation. Since TM and I ended up picking three of the same teams, we knew the season would boil down to the top two lines: Ohio State and Auburn vs. Florida and Missouri. That pick doesn't look so good now, as my top two have two combined losses (to Top 10 teams, I might add) where Florida and Mizzou have held steady (against mostly weak foes, I might add).
Games watched at least partially(* means watched most/all of this game): Colorado vs. W. Va., Baylor @ UConn, Ohio @ Northwestern*, Florida @ Tennessee, ND @ Michigan State, Va Tech @ North Carolina, South Florida @ Fla. Int'l, Wake at Florida State, Ball State @ Indiana. LSU @ Auburn*, Georgia @ Ariz. St.
Week 5 Preview: Back Home
Conference play begins at Kinnick for the Hawkeyes, with a team I personally scouted last week: the Northwestern Mildcats Wildcats. Ferentz named Stanzi the starter, so I guess the Stanzi Era has officially begun. Sorry Art, the local kid just couldn't cut it. This is a winnable game for Stanzi and the Hawkeyes. NU's offense looked shaky and out of sorts. They could only get one touchdown, at home, against a so-so MAC defense. Naturally, the Hawks will surrender at least 21-24 points to that same offense. (Sigh.) The only question is, can Stanzi & Co. generate 22-25 points? By the way, Northwestern says Sutton is 100%....I'll believe it when I see it.
Notre Dame hosts Purdue. I'm wholly unimpressed with Purdue so far: in three home games they beat up a cupcake, struggled with QB-less Oregon, and struggled (again) with MAC-tastic Directional Michigan. If the defense steps up and keeps Curtis Painter in check, we should be fine. If we see another offensively flaccid game like last week, well, it's still not time to panic, but it portends another painful rebuilding year.
Ohio takes a deep breath from their series of near-misses and has a September Homecoming game agianst VMI. Easy win, right? Except, uh, VMI scored 69 points against something called Chowan last week.
Pick Six: a couple interesting games, including Auburn hosting Tennessee. Both teams lost last week, but I have more faith in Auburn bouncing back. Clemson hosts Maryland, pitting TM vs. Cat in a loyalty test. USF goes to NC State, who had a big win last week over previously undefeated E. Carolina. Quigley puts himself in a no-win situation when Illinois goes to Penn State.
Nebraska content: After sleepwalking through three home games, Nebraska gets their first real foe in Virginia Tech. The Hokies do not look as imposing as we thought in August, due to QB problems and overall malaise. Since it's a home game, I'm picking the Huskers to win. But I'm reserving judgment on the team as a whole til they play Mizzou in Week 6.