Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chief - a Devil Killer!

Well, look who's back? It's been a while since I've penned my last blog, and for good reason. Sure, there was the TEXAS BOWL victory over Baylor (38-14). That was the announcement. But yesterday's win over #18 ASU on Zupke Field inside majestic Memorial Stadium was something bigger. It signified a change in culture for the Fighting Zookers. It changed how we view and play on the BIG STAGE and under the bright ligts in front of a national audience. We got a small taste of what it means to be on top, even for a week. And for the first time in a long time, the Chief is RANKED AGAIN #24.

Don't get me wrong, we're still a young team that makes a lot of mistakes. At times, the offense sputtered - especially on short yardages. Heck, we only had 246 total yards. We had almost 400 rushing yards last week alone against SDSU. Going forward, we will need to shore-up the short yardage conversions. 5 for 13 on 3rd down won't cut it. But, the Sun-Devils are not the Jack-Rabbits. Burfict is a beast. And that ASU defense can make plays at every positionl. In the end, we proved we can win a defensive battle. We showed that deep inside, there is a will to win.

The Illini defensive effort was amazing. I haven't seen an ILLINOIS squad play with as much determination and acumen in some 15 years. You have to go back tot he mid to early 90's when we had guys like Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice. "They brought a lot of pressure tonight," Osweiler said. "Shoot, it seemed like almost every snap." For the night, we had six sacks of the ASU QB and 12 TFL's. Zook later remarked that we really did sell-out on the pash rush, forcing them to beat us with their running game which never happened. We may have the best 'D' in conference. Snap to whistle, not sure there is a better unit in the LEADERS division. We've only given up 32 points in our first three games. Holding an explosive ASU squad to just 14 points is showing up. The Devils will light-up opponents in the PAC-12 this year.

Yes, a momentum builder for sure. It was also our 4th win in a row and our first over a ranked PAC-10/12 opponent since 1995 (#16 Arizona). And with two more home games this month (Western Michigan is next), we have a chance to open at 5-0 before travelling to Bloomington to play Indiana. I'm not sure where this leaves us. The BIG-10 is looking somewhat soft to me at this point in 2011, save for Wisconsin who is looking more and more like a national-title contender under Russell Wilson. But, for now, we're 2nd best in the Leaders and maybe in the conference. And, that's not all bad.

My TOP-10:
1) Oklahoma - one of the best wins on the young season in Tallahassee last night.
2) Alabama - Tide continues to roll.
3) LSU - May be underrated at #3 after that defensive performance over the Bulldogs.
4) Boise State - for now, I respect the blue turf. It may not last.
5) Stanford - I have to put the Luckers at #5. Is this team deep enough?
6) Wisconsin - Badgers look scary good to the Chief under Wilson.
7) A&M - Balanced on both sides of the ball. Looking more like an SEC team each week.
8) Oklahoma State - Cowboys can score points. Can they play team defense?
9) South Carolina - Yes, I saw the Navy game. Letdown. Gamecocks are good. I think.
10) Virginia Tech - Hokies pull-down my last spot this week. Many teams worthy.

Putting out an APB:
a) What happened to BYU in the Holy War? Ouch!
b) Where was the vaulted Sparty rushing attack (29 yards on 23 attempts vs. ND).
c) And how bad is the QB situation in Columbus? Bauserman / Miller oh my!

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