Saturday, October 07, 2006

Week 6 in CFB and PICK EM- Letdown in Champaign...

First, you have to oblige me with an ILLINI update here in WEEK #6. I'll get to the rest of the action in a second. Ugh - this loss hurt (34-32) at home to Indiana on Homecoming. We were up 25-7 in the 2nd quarter only to lose the game on a last second 33-yard field goal. Ouch, not a good way to show-up after the monster win last weekend in East Lansing. But, I knew this was going to be a big challenge for my young ILLNI. And, unfortunately it's part of the growing pains for a young team like ours. We were favored by 7 and should have won by 25 or 30 points. Something happened in the 2nd quarter where we let our guard down and opened the door to a scrappy Indian squad under Terry Hoeppner. But give him and them credit for climbing back into the game and engineering the game-winning drive late in the 4th quarter. Our defense just wasn't up to the task of stopping them to win the game. Last weekend, it was the defense that carried the squad making big play and big stop time and time again. But not today, it was a big letdown for the defense as the offense did more than what it really needed to do to win today. Ugh, on to Ohio next weekend and what should be a bounce-back victory. The Juice had a great game throwing for 190 and rushing for 53 yards. Thomas had another solid game in the backfield with 126 yards on 22 pounding carries. But give credit to Kellen Lewis (freshmen QB at Indiana) who passed for 240 yards including most of the 65 yards on their final drive. On to the next one. Ah, the inconsistency of a young team. Like I said before, this was a tough loss at home - a game we had no business losing in this fashion. Hopefully we'll learn from it.

On to Ronler PICK EM. Well, I guess I can't complain too much about a 49-point week. Not bad, but not great. Air Force (at home) cost me 5 points and a big swing with some of the competition this week. How do they lose at home 24-17 to Navy? Good job by the Midshipmen. KUDOS to REGGIE REDBIRD who logged a perfect 55 this wee - very impressive. And, hey - give it up to Christine Dustin who posted a very strong 52 points this week. A wise man once said that this is a marathon and not a sprint, but nobody seemed to listen to the wiseman until the race was over. PICK EM is tight at the top. But the race doesn't really begin until week #10 once the rivalry games start. So hang in there and hold on. It's hard to stay at 95% and above right now. BTW, the blog captured 95 unique (non-repeat) hits last week. Not bad, but nowhere near the 167 it logged 4 weeks ago. @ 930 unique hits since early August, ~ 16 / day, you'll want to make sure you check back often and pass the word around to your friends and other interested parties. OK, enough of the advertising. On to week #6...

What a great Saturday of CFB. How about the SEC, best conference in the land? Yes, but wow - was it turned upside down today. When was the last time that Georgia, LSU, and Auburn all lost on the same day. At least LSU lost on the road in the SWAMP to Florida. Georgia and Auburn were embarrassed at home by Tennessee and Arkansas, respectively. The Hog upset of the Tigers had to be the biggest upset of the year to date. Beat-down. Two more words - Mitch Mustain of Arkansas (and he's only a freshmen). And the HAWGS can run it! They ran it 45 times and passed only 10. Only once this year was a top-15 team defeated by an unranked team until today. We haven't had one of these so far this year. Arkansas just ran all over the TIGERS in their own backyard. And, some trickeration by Houston didn't hurt either. Maybe next time Tommy should shut up about the BCS in October and focus on playing ball. Arkansas dominated today in Jordan Hare. Clearly, Auburn was not focussed today. Did they overlook those HAWKS today? Probably. They get Florida at home next week. You gotta show up and play 'em one at a time on the field and not behind the microphone, Tommy. Next week you might want to remember that before chomping at the bit in front of the national media. Gameday FINAL has all of the action summarized nicely, including the Arkansas win over Auburn.

Then there were those DAWGS of Georgia. Not a good day to be an animal in the SEC. Georgia was up early, but didn't have the offense at home to keep up with the VOLS who put up 51 points on the vaunted DAWG defense. 6 for 6 inside the red-zone, all touchdowns. This just in, Tennessee is pretty good this year. Eric Ainge (Hillsboro, OR) is looking more and more like a guy named Peyton with each and every snap. he was sharp tonight in shredding the DAWG defense. I guess Auburn and LSU were a bit overrated, but like I said it 's worse to lose at home in the SEC than on the road. Kudos to the Gators who probably play the toughest schedule in the land this year. If they win out it's going to be hard to rank them any lower than #2 in the land, and why not #1? LSU had too many miscues, including 5 turnovers who won their last two trips into the SWAMP. But CFB is all about momentum which can change in a heartbeat or a turnover. Just ask LSU. TEBOW and LEAK are a brutal twosome down in Gainesville. FLORIDA is for real this year under the leadership of Urban Meyer. How about the GATOR defense? Yep - pretty good. LSU just self-destructed today and is in some trouble in the SEC West.

On to CAL and Oregon? Did you see those mustard jerseys for CAL today? They unleashed a mustard-colored can of whoop ass on the DUCKS today in Strawberry Canyon. Nothing but green grass and opportunity for CAL. Did the DUCKS even show up in Berkley tonight? I think not. This was a game of too many miscues by Oregon and too many big plays by CAL. Plain and simple. The Bears dominated the DUCKS in this one from the very first play of the game. Oregon really layed an egg in this one. Ouch - no favors served here. They'll fall big-time in the polls this week, as they should. It's one thing to lose a game, but it's quite another to lose it in the fashion that they did in Strawberry Canyon. I guess they were a bit overrated. CAL is now in the driver's seat as the #1 challenger in the PAC-10 to USC. How about those Bears? Yes, they really are pretty good and have bounced-back nicely after the early loss on the road to the VOLS (see above). Tedford over Bellotti. Oregon needs to return to Eugene and lick its wounds. Maybe next week they'll show-up and play a ball game. Very very very bad on national TV. At least they looked good in defeat. Hopefully this won't be a trend.

How about those HORNS of Texas? I must say that I had my doubts about this one, especially when TEXAS was down early. But give it up to Mr. McCoy and Coach Mack Brown. TEXAS is re-loading this year, not re-building. Watchout for the HORNS in 2007. I don't think they quite have what it takes to contend for the title this year, but next year is a whole new deal. KUDOS to AP who put up 109 yards today. TEXAS only gave up 183 yards rushing all season. Good showing by Adrian. But this game wasn't close and hasn't been since 1997.

How many 4th quarter comebacks were there today? I counted 4 with Texas A&M (Kansas), Tennessee (Georgia), Clemson (WAke), and Georgia Tech (Maryland) all found the way to win late in the game. Who else impressed me today? Michigan and Notre Dame both rolled, as they should have. Clemson should me something on the road against a very game WF Demon Deacon Squad. The TIGERS scored 24 unanswered points after a blown field goal attempt early in the 4th quarter. Wow, this was an impressive bounce-back. Did you see that play by James Adams in the 4th quater? Maybe the play of the year in CFB. He forced the fumble and ran it back for six. CLEMSON is good and could contend for the title if they win out. Watchout for those CLEMSON TIGERS and Terry Bowden. So. Cal just keeps on winning, more evidence of that today in LA against the HUSKIES. USC is not dominant this year, but somehow they find a way to win. But sooner or later their luck and run will run out. I'm not sure how much luck has to do with it in their case. How do you not rank them in the top 2 or 3 in the land? Can anyone in the PAC-10 beat USC this year? Maybe, CAL and OREGON seem to have the inside track there. Hey, welcome back Missouri - 6 wins in a row after beating TEXAS TECH today in LUBBOCK - wow! Very impressive. This is good news for the BIG-12 NORTH.

OK, my TOP-10: #1) Ohio State, #2) Florida, #3) Michigan, #4) USC, #5) WV, #6) TEXAS, #7) Tennessee, #8) Louisville, #9) Notre Dame, #10) CAL. Yes, CAL belongs in the TOP-10 again after beating up on what I thought was a pretty good Oregon squad. What Tennessee loss? Longshore has 17 TD's and only 4 INT's this year. These guys have a great chance to knock-off USC later this year and win a PAC-10 title.

Here's the official coaches' poll for this week. And keep in mind who the voters are. Do you think coaches really watch all the games? I think they have USC and WV too high at #2 and #4, respectively. Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, and CAL are are too low - in my humble opinion. And wow, for the first time since late in 1982 both FSU and Miami are not ranked in the TOP 25 this week. Amazing. How both programs have fallen from greatness. I have one word: parity.

Your Heisman Race: Troy Smith, Adrian Petersen, Garrett Wolfe, Chris Leak, and Brady Quinn.

And ponder this - wouldn't it be great to see the following rematches THIS YEAR? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we ditch the BCS entirely. But, these would make for some interesting TV:

1) Oregon and Oklahoma (both big losers this week) in a Holiday - Bowl with special guest Gordon the replay offical as master of ceremonies.

2) CAL and Tennesse. Heck, with the way that these two treams are playing it could be for the national title. Are there two hotter teams in the country right now? I think not. This would be a great Rose Bowl matchup, and probably a lot closer than their first meeting in Knoxville.

3) USC and Arkansas. Let's face it, the Trojans won't be playing for the National Title again this year, in my humble opinion. So where does a 1 or 2 - loss Trojan team go for the holidays? How about to a place where we could see a rematch between a much - improved HAWG team and the Trojans of USC.

4) Ohio State and Texas. Maybe for all of the marbles again in Glendale. Maybe in the Fiesta Bowl assuming Ohio State goes down to say Michigan. People don't realize how close the first game was in Austin even though the final score would dictate otherwise.

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