Thursday, September 14, 2006

Calm (look back) before the storm

Before this loaded Saturday (or as I like to think of it, The Pinnacle of Human Evolution), let's quickly look at last Saturday:


Living in Michigan and needing to buy groceries instead of ESPN Gameplan means no game recap this week. But there’s plenty to be gleaned from the box score of Auburn’s latest demolition of the Condemned House that Sherrill Built:

--Yes, we can see now that, as predicted by so many national media-types in the pre-season, the departure of living legends Ben Obamanu and Cooper Wallace has left Auburn’s receiving corps truly decimated. Saturday, Brandon Cox was only able to complete passes to 10 different receivers. And where is the go-to player? Courtney Taylor’s 9 receptions for 103 yards only show how far he has to go to fill the shoes of the great Anthony Mix.

(My point? If you expected this to be a problem for Auburn this season, you weren’t being very bright.)

--Remember back when scouting reports on Auburn read something like “Well, the offense is unstoppable and the defense eats nail for breakfast, but the kicking game is a soul-sucking black hole from which not one atom of hope can escape”? After Vaughnbot 3000’s 55-yarder, Kody Bliss’s four punts for an average of 47.5 yards a kick, and Matt Clark’s six touchbacks in seven tries, I feel like those days are behind us for good. Provided, of course, we don’t face any opponents against whom one of our kickers might have some sort of jagged psychological trauma from last season to deal with. Now, who does Auburn play this week, again?

--So that Irons4Heisman business didn’t last long, I guess. Still, I think Auburn has much worse problems than a semi-injured guy gutting out 21 carries against a superbly talented D keyed to stop him. And he still got 69 yards—it’s not like we’re talking Ken Darby vs. Hawaii numbers here.

--Croom may just want to install the option at this point. That Tray Rutland attempted 25 passes and earned just 82 passing yards is bad enough, but when you factor in Auburn’s four sacks, it works out to 29 called pass plays for an average net gain of 1.8 yards … and, oh yeah, all three turnovers. Ye gods.

--Anyone who think Auburn would be better off having Cox out hurt than Irons is a complete idiot (or, possibly, a usually sharp national columnist who isn’t reading his own commentary), but at least Blake Field’s 4-for-4 day means a Cox injury might not be the de facto end of AU’s season. Might not, I said.

--The showdown with the Cajun Kittens is still two days away, and you can already hear the melodious hair-raising sounds of LSU fans booing their coach and making excuses! The JCCW will preview the biggest game of the season tomorrow, cross my heart.


--That “South Carolina will compete for the SEC East” bandwagon sure got empty in a hurry, didn’t it?
--Let me sum up the thinking Auburn fan’s reaction to the news that a) LSU’s whooping of their Pac-10 cannon fodder was essentially no different from Auburn’s whooping of their Pac-10 cannon fodder b) Alabama has a kicker named Tiffin hitting game-winning kicks from distance: Sh*t … on …toast.
--That said, you have to also say 2006 looks more and more like a three-game season (all three of them at home) for Auburn at this point.
--And the SEC’s non-conference momentum train has stopped … now.
--The battle for “Most Completely Overhyped SEC Freshman Quarterback” is now well underway. After those three picks, Stafford has the early edge, but you’ve got to give credit to Mustain for only beating Utah St. 20-0.
--So apparently, the kicker for Kentucky's opponent in their win Saturday didn't actually look like this:

And there I was desperately trying to get the game on PPV like a sucker.


--Think there’s any truth to the rumor that Mack Brown offered McConaghey to the Redskins straight up for Cruise and a Breakfast Club cast member to be named later?
--All right, can we all please stop whining about the new clock rules now, everyone? Yes, they went too far, yes, they make it tough to come back, yes, the committee should do something different next year. We’re all in agreement. But it’s not changing this year. And it’s not like they decided teams only get three downs to make a first or that field goals now have to be headed through the uprights soccer-style. The game these teams are playing is still football. Any team that loses has not lost because of the clock rules—they lost because their opponent played the game of football better than they did in the allotted time.
-- Got to say that EDSBS has hit the Chad Henne nail on the head.


Want to get these out of the way so I can focus on actual previewing later. Also, seems that other bloggers are picking … well, maybe not bushels of games, but more than three. So we’ll pick five college games. Coming off of a 2-1 college, 4-2 overall week (5-4 on season), why not.

LOUISVILLE (-4) over Miami: Coker’s record as an underdog scares me. But there’s no way, playing at home, Petrino and Brohm let an opportunity like this one get away.

TCU (+2) over Texas Tech: If Tech can’t beat UTEP in regulation, how’s it going to fare at a TCU team that’s sprung this kind of upset before on the road?

Nebraska (+18) over USC: I must be crazy. But I watched the Huskers crush a decent La. Tech team and thought they looked better than I’ve seen in years and years—and 18 is an awful lot of points.

PITT (-3) over Michigan St.: While Pitt was blasting Virginia at home and soundly defeating a decent Cincy team on the road, the Spartans were struggling to beat Idaho (56-10 losers to Wazzu a week later) and MAC cellar-dweller Eastern Michigan at home.

N.C. State (+3) over Southern Miss.: See, here’s the thing: Southern Miss isn’t nearly as good as they used to be. And the Wolf Pack are going to be mad, mad, mad. This game looks like such an easy call (mid-major + vulnerable BCS team = “upset”) I think it’s going the other way.

NFL: Ravens (-13) over Raiders, Broncos (-11) over Chiefs, Packers (+3) over Saints.

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