Sunday, September 17, 2006

Now that the Smoke Has Cleared...

First, let me thank Nick for inviting me to share my misinformed thoughts on college football this season. Hopefully, I will at least give people something to laugh about (my commentary, that is). I guess I'll start this week's post by discussing the only game I actually watched: LSU at Auburn.

I arrived at Jordan-Hare Stadium around 10:30 AM CT, four hours before kickoff. The general vibe of the students outside the gates was optimistic nervousness. By 2:10 PM, pregame festivities had begun. The eagle who flies before each Auburn home football game did about three full laps around the student section, which I took as an omen from God that Auburn would win the game.

The game was pretty lacking as far as offensive excitement. Early in the first half, John Vaughn channeled himself from last year's LSU game, hitting the left upright with a crappily-kicked football. Apparently, Vaughn is no longer in the good graces of Damon Duval, Auburn place-kicking demigod from years past. LSU called a timeout with seconds left and kicked a field goal to end the half 3-0. All was silent and apprehensive in Jordan-Hare.

During halftime, an interview of Tre' Smith was shown on the big screen. For those of you who don't know, Tre' Smith is the white running back who beat Alabama three years ago and has done little since. In fact, Tre' Smith's sole mission on the Auburn football team last year appeared to be fumbling the ball and/or failing to make positive yardage on punt returns. During this year's Washington State game, Tommy Tuberville gave Tre' three consecutive downs to punch the football into the end zone. When Smith failed, Tuberville regained his senses and sent in Brad Lester to score on fourth down.

Anyway, one of the questions Tre' answered in the interview was what three things he would bring with him if he were trapped on an island. Tre''s response was, "A helicopter, some fuel...and a trillion dollars." Initially, I wondered, "What are you going to do with a trillion dollars on a deserted island?" Then, I realized the genius of it. You could fly the helicopter to land and spend the money on things! What kind of question is that, anyhow? If you were going to a deserted island with the knowledge that you would be stranded, of course you would bring things that would help you escape.

Apparently, Mississippi State isn't the only school with hidden water fountains. I had some trouble finding them in Jordan-Hare this weekend, due to the incredible lines at the concession stands blocking all visibility. My friend Josh and I had to ask a policeman, who kindly pointed us towards some dispensers of lukewarm dihydrogen monoxide. There is nothing like tepid water to wash down contraband PBJs snuck into the stadium in one's pockets.

Somewheres in the second half, the Auburn offense made their way down the field, and Brandon Cox thrust forward on a third-and-one for the touchdown. John Vaughn made the only kick necessary for Auburn to win (an extra point), because LSU was unable to score the needed touchdown in the fourth quarter. Even though Auburn's secondary looked like Swiss cheese, JaMarcus Russell couldn't put the ball in the end zone. It was pretty exciting when the clock finally read 0.00. I think I hugged two or three people in the frenzy.

Elsewhere in the nation, Notre Dame was destroyed by Michigan, ending another potential media favorite. As much as I detest the media's obsession with USC, I think it would be even worse if they also fell in love with another overhyped school. Speaking of USC, Auburn is still significantly behind them in the coaches' poll and barely ahead in the AP poll. Something is wrong with these voters. They seem to think beating a team that used to be good (Nebraska) by 18 points is better than beating a team that is currently good (LSU) by 4. They might be right, but I'm still going to be bitter about it.

Does anyone know what is up with Florida State or Miami? Both teams have fallen pretty far (though not as far as the aforementioned Nebraska). And the Mississippis are an embarrassment to the SEC. Mississippi State couldn't even beat Tulane, despite scoring their first 29 points of the season. Ole Miss lost to Kentucky. That's right, Kentucky. It looks like the SEC West has turned into the former SEC East, where only two teams are good.

Next week's matchups are looking pretty lackluster. The only one I might watch is Penn State at Ohio State. An upset there would put Auburn squarely in the national title picture, assuming they win their next ten games (quite an assumption). Alabama goes to Arkansas to see if they (by "they", I mean either team) can regain some dignity in the SEC. It's now three weeks until Auburn plays Florida. Here's hoping I can make it that far without going crazy.

Oh, one more bit of news. My girlfriend Laura watched most of the second half of the Michigan State/Pittsburgh game, which her school (MSU) won. I'm so proud! Tune in next week to see if she watched the Fighting Irish come to Spartan Stadium (or, better yet, if she attended the game in person)!

4 comments:

asimperson said...

I would pay attention to any polls until October...

I will probably write a post about the ACC later in the week, but suffice it to say that we're feeling the best about our chances here than any time I can remember since I've been here. If we take care of business Thursday, we can go into Blacksburg 3-1 for a game that will likely have the same implications for the ACC Coastal as the Auburn-LSU did for the SEC West. (I'm not saying either VPI or GT is as good as Auburn or LSU, though.)

Also, I don't think FSU is that bad - Clemson looks pretty good, excepting the kicking thing. (Not the first time Clemson has had ST issues - see the 2004 GT @ Clemson game, where a bad long snap with around 1:30 gave GT the ball and launched Calvin Johnson into the national consciousness with a game winning catch. Luckiest damn finish for us ever.)

As for Miami, well, GT would like to take some responsibility in starting their fall....

asimperson said...

Also, I wouldn't pay attention to any polls until October. Bah.

Tito said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tito said...

I wish that polls didn't matter in September, but Auburn's predicament in 2004 makes me think otherwise (see the end of that season). If USC and Auburn keep their same poll momentum, it might be difficult for Auburn to pass USC in the coaches' poll. It might also be difficult for USC to pass Auburn in the AP poll, although the distance between the two teams is smaller there.

If I had my say, the polls wouldn't begin until a week before the first BCS standings were released. This would give voters a chance to really evaluate and rank all the teams without giving some teams the advantage of a high preseason ranking. Unfortunately, this change will never happen; fans love reading preseason rankings, and their existance helps hype early television matchups (like this year's Texas vs. Ohio St.).