It is with much awe that I watched Oregon's dismantling of UCLA last night.
I've heard the disclaimers that the PAC 10 plays no defense and that Oregon wouldn't score on an SEC defense. And I held fast to the belief that Ohio State proved the Ducks were overrated in the Rose Bowl.
I watched one series with a fourth and one, inside the 20 and the Ducks hustled to the ball and ran a perfectly executed trap play for the first down, barely stopping when the ball was set. There was no time to call a play. There was no time to bark audibles. There was no personnel substitution. The ball was set, the linemen set - BAM - first down.
I thought, "whoa."
I remember playing football as a kid - there were three or four of us that played pick-up football every winter day around 10 years in a row. We use to have the "1-second play" that was simply called by holding up a one, after the last play. Tackle on the last play, hold up the one, Set - Hike - BAM. It was a mix between a slant and a shovel pass where the receiver simply stepped in front of the corner and it was unstoppable. We'd played together so long that the timing was second nature.
Oregon looked like that last night. They are better than last year's squad. Auburn and Boise State appear to be the only two teams with enough offensive fire-power to hang with the Ducks in a shootout. At the half way point, it appears that we're in for a wild Heisman race and BCS championship race.
Without the Big Ten. :(
Penn State over Minnesota
If you read last week, you know I'm down on the Lions a bit. OK, a lot. PSU just had a week off and Minnesota just fired their head coach mid-season. Yet my hopes still are not up. Sad, no?
Michigan struggles defensively this week and Denard Robinson gets a bit dinged up. Why should this week be any different? Michigan prevails.
Illinois over Indiana
This is a strange game, statistically. Vegas has the Illini as 13-point favorites at home. Indiana must have really depressed Vegas after a 10-point showing against Ohio State and a two point win against Arkansas State. Don't let that stomping of PSU fool you, however. Illinois was completely ineffective offensively against MSU and Ohio State. Nathan Scheelhaase is completing 58% and has 4 TDs to 7 Ints. Illinois also cannot run with Indiana's offense like Michigan did. Illinois squeaks out a home win (I'd take Indiana with the points in a pretty safe bet.)
Michigan State over Northwestern
On Monday, Michigan State players awoke trapped in a black-and-white 1950's television set with Rod Serling narrating:
You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the BCS Zone!
#7 Michigan State? They can't believe it in East Lansing. #15 Iowa next week and smooth sailing into Pasadena?? Just a short hop, skip, and a jump over Boise State (and TCU) in the rankings. Just one little tune up against Northwestern.
Thank you, Admiral. Thank you.
Ohio State over Purdue
Keys to beating Ohio State:
1. Catch them Sleeping. See 2009. Thank you again, Admiral.
2. Overpower them.
3. Don't make mistakes.
I cannot see any of those happening this week.
Iowa over Wisconsin
Fans of the SEC, Big 12, and PAC 10 - you need not watch. I'm telling you to scan your cable offerings and block this channel. All Big Ten fans and people over the age of 50 should pull up a chair and settle in for some good, old-fashioned 1950s era Smashmouth football. Clay battles Clayborn. Stanzi battles Tolzien. We don't need none o' those fancy-pants mocha lattes from Oregon. You can keep your fried okra and jumbo-lie-yas, SEC. We don't need none of you're cheap beer and tortilla chips from the Big 12.
We got steaks. We got corn. We got cheese. We got manly beer. We got Brats. We got middle-American, down on the farm, meat & potatoes football the way our Daddies and Grand-Daddies use to play. Or at least the way they TOLD us they used to play cause that's the way we were supposed to become men. Real men with overflowing testosterone shooting John-Wayne glares, and un-waxed chest hair plus Rough-rider mustaches. They played real football back then before the Nam-era Hippies and Soccer-lovin' Europeans and Hockey-stick riding Canadians turned us into a bunch of wine drinkin', Tea party electin', Farmville playin' Pansies. How many Facebook friends do you got???? And how many have you punched in the mouth for just being ugly?? - That's right! None. That's the problem with America today - can't punch nobody in the mouth for bein' stupid and ugly.
Iowa's going to line up and punch Wiscy in the kisser. Wiscy's going to put on a cousin-lovin' grin and punch right back. They're going to stand toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose and beat the livin' piss out of each other because that's what they've always done. That's what they should do, dammit.
Iowa's just going to do it a little bit better and Wisconsinites will go home and punch a bull or something.
No. 4 Auburn over No. 6 LSU
Cam Newton has the Auburn Tiger's clicking on all cylinders. The defense is still a few steps behind in development but I just don't see LSU keeping up. This recap sucks but it's not my fault. Alabama lost and screwed up all of my misconceptions and now I don't know what to write about. That's ok... everyone else wrote about it.
No. 11 Missouri over No. 1 Oklahoma
There's' very little difference in the production of Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Mizzou's Blaine Gabbert. Oklahoma has just a little better offense, on paper. Mizzou has a better defense, by the numbers. Mizzou fans are finally thinking that their chance has arrived. The Tigers have not beaten the Sooners since 1998 and are on the edge emotionally. Will it be the same 'ol story or is this FINALLY their year?
For the first time, ever, ESPN's Game Day is visiting Columbia, Missouri. The atmosphere will be more intense than any the student body has ever experienced. The emotional intensity favors Mizzou but the experience in handling the intensity favors Bob Stoops' troops. Oklahoma players expect to be in the Big 12 and National Title hunt where every game is a Big Game.
But just this once, the fairy tale comes true for Mizzou. The BCS gets a new Number 1, again.
[b]Idaho over New Mexico State[b]
So last weekend, I went on vacation to southern New Mexico. I ate Green Chile at Si Senors, drank beer at High Desert Brewery, drank wine at the St. Clair Bistro, ate pistachios from Eagle Ranch in Alamogordo, and climbed the dunes of White Sands National Monument. But the Aggies still suck so I'm taking Idaho. But I'm taking Green Chile and Pistachios over potatoes. Every day of the year.