1. Brett Favre has had a personality transplant. For the second straight game he played reasonably selfless team football, and it is working for him. He didn’t take any of the stupid risks that we have gotten used to, he settled for smaller plays that would have once driven him crazy, and he was stunningly efficient. If he can keep this up and not trip over his ego then he could really do something this year. I’m not betting on it, though – he can’t keep things under control for that long.
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Here are the storylines that stand out for me this week in college football action:
Eastern Michigan (+24) at Michigan – Isn’t everyone always endlessly fascinated every time Michigan plays? I know I am. If this one is even close I am going to be less than thrilled.
Cal (-13.5) at Minnesota – Cal seems to be for real. The pollsters sure think so. This game won’t prove that they really are, but it’s a chance for a misstep if they aren’t focused.
Ohio State (-21) at Toledo – The Buckeyes were brutal offensively the Trojans. This will be a good chance for them to start to work out the kinks before they begin their next shot at redemption when their Big Ten season starts.
Tennessee (+29.5) at Florida – Urban Meyer is really, really, really going to try to pound the life out of Lane Kiffin and the Vols. This one won’t be even close, but it will certainly be entertaining. The Gators could win by 50.
Nebraska (+5) at Virginia Tech – Both of these teams are well regarded in the polls, but both of them could use a big win here to define their season and prove that they are legitimate. This would be one heck of a momentum win for the Pelini era.
Tulsa (+18) at Oklahoma – Is Landry Jones any good. How about Tulsa. This one probably won’t be very interesting, but there is a chance that it could be.
Michigan State (+10) at Notre Dame – Can Charlie Weis bounce back from a tough loss last week, or can this season degenerate into a total disaster?
USC (-19) at Washington – There are some prominent people out there who are predicting an upset here. I’m not sure that I see that, but I would love to see the Huskies finally make some real progress. It will also be interesting to see how the Trojans’ offense looks under the control of Aaron Corp. It can’t look much worse than it did under Matt Barkley for most of the Ohio State game.
Utah (+4.5) at Oregon – The Ducks need nothing more than a huge win here to prove that the Boise State debacle was just a blip in the road. A team like Utah can always use a win over a major conference opponent.
Cincinnati (-1.5) at Oregon State – This game fascinates me. The Bearcats have been almost flawless so far this year, but they take a step up in class. The Beavers have one of the most exciting young players in the country. Either tea could win this one, and it will be a big win for whoever does.
Rice (+33.5) at Oklahoma State – The Cowboys totally and utterly outclass Rice. They need to have a massive game here – if they don’t bounce back strong from the embarrassment of last weekend then there are serious questions to be answered.
Florida State (+8) at BYU – A second win over a legitimate major conference team would help BYU’s cause. An overwhelming win would keep alive their slim chance of making the national championship game.
Texas Tech (+18.5) at Texas – Am I the only one that is still uneasy about Texas? They have ridiculous amounts of talent, but they haven’t had to prove anything yet, and I can’t shake the feeling that they have looked a bit lethargic so far. This will be the biggest test they have had yet. A big win here would prove a lot to me.
For the first time in a long time, a UFC event is being overshadowed – in a very big way – by a good old boxing match. It’s not that surprising, really – UFC 103 is a lousy card full of less than captivating fights without headline names, while the boxing match features the return of one of the top fighters of this or any time after a two year break against a stellar pound-for-pound star.
It’s my birthday today. I am older than Tom Brady, but much younger than Brett Favre. I am at that age when you really start to cringe when you hear about a guy who has retired because he can’t physically do it anymore, and then you realize that he is younger than you. I could be the father of a college freshman (physically, I mean. There is sadly one good reason why I am 100 percent sure that I am not, and it has everything to do with what it takes to make a baby – that just wasn’t happening back then), but putting him up for adoption probably would have been the right thing to do because I would have been too young to raise him. If I were an NFL coach or MLB GM I would still be young enough to be surprising, but by a lot of measures I’m starting to feel pretty old.
The Blue Jays seem determined to rip every shred of decency out of this season. It seems impossible to believe, but they were actually competitive back in April, and people thought for a while that they may be able to keep their act together. Instead, they have been the pathetic laughing stock of the league. Last night they found a way to sink to a whole new low. They couldn’t just accept that they were beating up on the Yankees in New York behind their ace, Roy Halladay . Instead, they had to mar the win with an ugly brawl. The benches cleared twice, and the second time it got ugly – punches were thrown, players wrestled on the ground, and there was general chaos. A fittingly ugly chapter in one of the uglier seasons baseball has seen in a while. Never has a team needed a total, top-to-bottom house cleaning more than this one.
That was a crazy game to end a crazy sporting Monday. There is, like the first game, a whole lot to digest in that one. Here are a few of those things:
1. Oakland played very straight forward defense, but it was shockingly effective for much of the game – The Chargers are supposed to be a world class offense, but Oakland thoroughly outplayed them, and they did it without doing anything fancy. The defensive scheme really just looked like a basic preseason package, but they played it with intensity and burning desire, and San Diego couldn’t manage to overcome it to nearly the extent that they should have. Part of what helped the Raiders was Richard Seymour. He might not be happy to be in Oakland, but you’d never guess it by the way he played. He was a beast. The exception to that defensive strength, of course, was on the last drive when the Raiders played a tentative, pathetic prevent package when they badly needed to hold the Chargers.
I just finished watching that crazy New England game. There is a lot to digest there, and it will take a few days, and probably a second viewing, to digest it all. Tom Brady mostly looked pretty good, though he was tentative in the first half. It was amazing how many passes he threw, and how well he connected with Randy Moss again after a year apart. He still has a lot of work to do, though. The biggest first impression from that game, though, is that the Bills didn’t deserve to lose that one. They were outplayed in most ways by the Patriots, but they were tough when it counted and they deserved better than that ending. Alex van Pelt may not have been much of a quarterback, but he did a remarkable job of getting a team ready after taking over the offensive coordinator gig just a week ago. Buffalo may not be nearly as bad as I thought they would be, and the Pats have a whole lot of work to do to prove they are still worthy of their reputation.
1. Rich Rodriguez is a very good coach. And Charlie Weis is a very bad one. Alright, I’ll admit, I didn’t need to learn either thing – I was already certain of both. Notre Dame owned Michigan in the first half, but were only up by three at the break. Michigan made effective adjustments at halftime, and came out as an entirely different team in the second half. Notre Dame made no noticeable changes. The fact that Weis couldn’t win this game in the fifth year of his program with a junior QB who was at the top of his class against a team in the second year of a total rebuild with a true freshman at the helm is a clear sign of just how pathetic Weis is.
Here are the weekend’s top college football stories as I see them:
Iowa (-6) at Iowa State – The Hawkeyes started the season ranked, but they looked truly awful last weekend. Which team is the real Iowa?
MVP – Drew Brees. I expect him to put up huge numbers again. That plus a division win should be enough to earn the guy a sympathy win here. He’s of course vulnerable to any of the big quarterbacks – most notably Tom Brady – or a running back like Adrian Peterson who could shoot the lights out.