Now on to the first full weekend of college football ... or, if you want to save time, just tune to the Weather Channel.
|The Hurricanes' opener against the Seminoles has been moved to Sept. 10 ... because of a hurricane.(AP)|
Coaches Credibility Gap Report No. 3,221: Well, it has started and we've only played a handful of games. The coaches poll has blown a gasket. Anybody notice that LSU gained a first-place vote this week without playing? Or that Utah, before its season-opening victory over Texas A&M, went from 21 to 19? The two teams the Utes passed, Virginia and Maryland, must have had extremely bad practices. Oh, and Purdue fell from 23rd to 25th, again, without playing a game. With the human polls having so much influence on the BCS this year, a Football Writers Association of America officer was right recently when he wrote that there is the possibility of a voting scandal in the coaches poll.
Instant Replay: There seems to be some feeling Saturday's offensive pass interference call against Virginia Tech was another endorsement for instant replay. The SEC crew blew it, right? Yeah, but there isn't a replay system in existence (NFL, Big Ten, TiVo) that could right the wrong that was (not) offensive P.I. It's a judgment call, people. It's also the toughest call for an official: bang-bang, either/or. So let's get past that. Virginia Tech was jobbed. However ...
This is the week the Big Ten replay system debuts with seven of the conference's 11 non-conference game being watched by Big Brother. Keep tabs on the early noon ET starts. One of these four games could have the first instant replay review in college football history: Miami (Ohio) at Michigan, Kent State at Iowa, Cincinnati at Ohio State and Central Florida at Wisconsin.
What would Brett Favre do? Thoughts and prayers to George O'Leary, who will miss Central Florida's opener at Wisconsin because of the death of his mother. "I've always preached family, religion, and football," O'Leary said. "Not going to my mother's funeral would be hypocritical." On paper, this looks like one of those upset specials a la UNLV going into Wisconsin and knocking off the Badgers last year. Not so. Stand-in Dave Huxtable (the linebackers coach) is bringing 10 true freshmen on the trip including a true freshman starter in the offensive line. Not a good matchup with a veteran Whiskey D-line. Wisconsin is 30-5 in the Barry Alvarez era against non-conference teams at home. Two of those losses, UNLV and Fresno State (2001), have come in the past three seasons.
Tulane at Mississippi State: It's not a game, it's a cultural event. Sly Croom, the SEC's first black head football coach, coaches his first game. Nice, but what if Tulane doesn't play the Washington Generals (the Green Wave aren't horrible) and pulls the upset? The Bulldogs might be worse than we thought, about to be buried, again, near the bottom of the SEC. Instead of celebrating Croom, we might have to feel sorry for him.
Colorado State at Colorado: The beginning of the end of Colorado football as we know it? The offseason scandal has resulted in sweeping recruiting changes that eventually will cut Gary Barnett's legs out from under him. Maybe not Saturday, maybe not this season, but soon. Since the Rams became "competitive" in the series in 1999 (breaking an eight-game CU winning streak), this game became an indicator of the Colorado season. In the three seasons Colorado State won (1999, 2000, 2002), CU went on to finish a combined 19-18. In the two years CU won (2001, 2003), the Buffs are a combined 15-10. Part of it is mindset: "We (used to) have to sell it to our players to make it a game because our teams were usually ranked," Barnett said. "That's not true anymore. Colorado State has done a good job of getting our respect."
Husker Hype: New coach Bill Callahan already has his image cast into his own coin with a career college record of 0-0. While that might offend fans of some guys named Devaney and Osborne, Callahan's arrival in Lincoln has caused a stir not seen since the last bumper crop. Tickets for Saturday night's opener against Western Illinois are rumored to be going for $500. Husker heads are acting like dogs that have been shown a card trick: curious and confused. This thing called pass, what is it of which you speak? Watch tight end Matt Herian, who will catch 70 balls this year and go head-to-head with Virginia TE Heath Miller for All-America honors.
Oregon State at LSU: Watch the LSU receivers closely because you won't recognize them. There are a combined 10 career starts in the lineup after the loss of Devery Henderson and Michael Clayton. Slot receiver David Jones has five, but all those came two years ago when he was a tight end. Hobbled Skyler Green (14 catches last year) has four but is coming back from a sprained ankle. Recently returned Olympic hurdler Benny Brazell has the other start. Cornerback Corey Webster has taken some snaps on offense. If Oregon State plays as tough as advertised, this could be an early showcase for Xavier Carter and Early Doucet, two of the most coveted prep receivers in the country. This might not be the blowout it is projected to be. With all the hype over USC last year, the Beavers quietly finished in the top 10 nationally in both total offense and total defense. Quarterback Derek Anderson is the second in Pac-10 history to throw for 4,000 yards (2002). He's thrown for a touchdown in 18 consecutive games. Oregon State is the only team scheduled to play both defending national champs. USC goes to Corvallis on Nov. 16.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt: Cock-A-Doodle Lou is either cutthroat or a genius. Probably both. He ripped the offensive coordinator duties from son Skip after a dreary showing last year. It's a good sign when Lou Holtz takes over the offense. He senses something special this season. But go with the 'Dores in this one. Bobby Johnson showed real progress last year. Jay Cutler might be the SEC's best quarterback.
Kentucky at Louisville (Sunday): The 'Ville is SEC lite. So, too, might be Kentucky, which seems to be sliding instead of ascending under Rich Brooks. The difference is Louisville is the best team in the best non-BCS league. Kentucky is an also-ran in the nation's best league. Louisville has most of the starters back from last year's mediocre defense. Good or bad? It will be enough in this game. Shane Boyd is about all the Wildcats have on offense. Look for the Cards to hang 40 on the Cats just to make sure it wins the hearts and minds of Kentucky recruits.