Monday, September 25, 2006

The Only Way to Go is Up

Last Sunday, this past weekend looked to be the worst of the 2006 college football season. Most of the games did little to buck that expectation. In fact, it may have been even worse than predicted. Texas and LSU were up a combined 58-14 at halftime on Iowa State and Tulane. The rest of the top ten struggled, often against mediocre to awful opponents. Here were some of this week's halftime scores:

- #24 Penn State 3, #1 Ohio State 0. Ohio State's defense finally picked off Nittany Lion QB Morelli to end the game late in the fourth quarter.
- #2 USC 3, Arizona 0. The final score was USC 20, Arizona 3. Didn't ESPN say USC's offense reloaded?
- #4 West Virginia 14, East Carolina 7. East Carolina's mascot is a pirate. They have lost to Navy and UAB. Those facts alone show how silly this score looks.
- #5 Florida 12, Kentucky 7. Kentucky isn't in Mississippi, but still...
- #6 Michigan 10, Wisconsin 10. This one isn't that embarrassing, I guess.
- #8 Louisville 10, Kansas State 0. Kansas State beat Illinois State by one point to open their season.
- Colorado 13, #9 Georgia 0. Without two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Georgia would have lost to the Colorado team that lost to I-AA Montana State the first week of the season. If quarterback troubles continue in Athens, I don't see Georgia beating Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, or Georgia Tech.
- #3 Auburn 10, Buffalo 0. Auburn did pull away to a 38-7 victory (well below my 117-0 prediction). However, Auburn's defense, run and pass, looked anemic against Buffalo's offense. This is Buffalo's offense about which I am talking! I'm going to give myself an extra point for not ending the previous sentence with a preposition.

Speaking of extra points, I bet Alabama placekicker Leigh Tiffin wishes he could have the one I just gave myself after his performance on Saturday. He is shaping up to challenge John Vaughn for "Least Clutch SEC Placekicker." Everyone says they feel sorry for these guys, but I'm not so sure we should. When a quarterback throws three interceptions in a game (see Drew Stanton against Notre Dame), no one cuts him slack. Why should we cut a kicker slack for missing three, four (see Tiffin against Arkansas), or five (see Vaughn against LSU in 2005) kicks that would have made the difference in the game?

On a random note, I wore my authentic Mexican sombrero to the Auburn/Buffalo game this weekend. I told people that if Auburn was going to schedule opponents as ridiculous as Buffalo, I was going to dress for the occasion. In addition to being hilarious, the sombrero provided some welcome shade from the blistering sun, which produced an 85-degree heat wave in Jordan-Hare. I'm not sure if the people behind me appreciated it as much as I did.

Thankfully, some tidbits of college football news offered hope rather than leaving question marks. Florida State destroyed Rice 55-7. Mississipi State finally won a game, beating UAB 16-10 in overtime. Actually, I guess that was all the hope I saw in the scores. I'm proud to say that Laura watched most, if not all, of the Michigan State/Notre Dame game. I am only sorry that the Spartans could not hold on to the ball long enough to pull off the "upset" for her.

Next weekend looks to be a slight improvement over the previous one, although that isn't very hard to accomplish. #3 Auburn goes to South Carolina Thursday night (7:30 PM ET, ESPN). On Saturday, #5 Florida hosts Alabama (3:30 PM ET, CBS). Both should be closer games than the rankings would indicate. Georgia Tech visits Virginia Tech (3:30 PM ET, ABC), and Ohio State goes to Iowa (8 PM ET, ABC). I'm looking forward to both of these games but for different reasons. The first might decide the ACC Coastal Division champion, while the second is another chance for Ohio State to lose. Go Hawkeyes!


asimperson said...

If quarterback troubles continue in Athens, I don't see Georgia beating Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, or Georgia Tech.

I'm glad someone who isn't a Georgia Tech fan thinks this!

It's hard to explain to people how much we hate Georgia here. You might even say we're obessed: we do anti-UGA cheers at games when we're not even playing them. (Examples: "What the good word? To hell with Georgia!"; 'To hell with Georgia!' also appears as a line in "Ramblin' Wreck": Oh if I had a son sir, I'd tell you what'd he'd do/He'd yell 'To hell with Georgia!' like his daddy used to do; and our other fight song is pretty much all about beating Georgia:
Oh, well, it's...
Up with the white and gold
Down with the red and black
Georgia Tech is out for the victory
We'll drop our battle axe on Georgia's head
When we meet her our team is sure to beat her
Down on the farm there will be no sound
'Till our bow-wows rip through the air
And after the battle Georgia's team will be found
With the Yellow Jackets swarmin' 'round
Best fight song we ever stole from Cal. Anyway...)

Trust me, it's not like I've forgotten my roots - I still hate Alabama to this day. However, Auburn has other rivalries as well, most notably Georgia. As we both know, GT and Auburn used to be big rivals. (Speaking of "the South's Oldest Rivalry", even though the AU-UGA rivalry outdates AU-GT by 10 years, had GT's series against Auburn continued since 1987 we would've met 103 times, only 6 less than the number of times UGA and AU had met. Also, if GT-AU had kept their series going, GT-AU would've met more times than GT-UGA has. (GT and UGA didn't play between 1915-1926, probably for similiar reasons Alabama-Auburn stopped playing for awhile.)) Currently GT only has one big conference rival (Clemson), though we may get one going with VPI if we can beat them this year. (Some delusional GT fans think we have a rivalry with FSU, but FSU fans find this hilarious considering that since FSU joined the ACC GT has never beaten them.) I've also heard old-time GT fans talk about other SEC rivals, most notably Tennesse (another series that got nixed after 1987), but we haven't schedule them recently or in the near future.)

I told people that if Auburn was going to schedule opponents as ridiculous as Buffalo, I was going to dress for the occasion.

A recent article detailed how much trouble AU is having finding BCS opponents to play. However, I also remember 2004, when AU backed out of deals with Georgia Tech and one other team (Louisville, if I recall correctly) that resulted in a non-conference slate of Louisiana-Monroe, Citadel, and Louisana Tech. And we know how that turned out. (I am convinced to this day (esp. since I just crunched the numbers) that had AU played their original schedule and gone 12-0 they would've been #1 in the computers and been able to pass Oklahoma in the BCS. Of course, since that was the first year the formula was "fixed" to give the human polls more influence, the next year they probably would've just nixed the computers all together. Who knows?)

That's all I got for now. Man, this should be its own post...

asimperson said...

We were discussing secondary rivalries on one of the Tech sports message boards recently, when someone posted this:

I recently engaged into a football conversation with a 78 year old Auburn grad. He said to me, "All Auburn fans today think Alabama is the real rival. They are not. They are johnny come latelys. Georgia Tech is the real enemy. I will hate Georgia Tech with every inch of body until I go into the grave. If Alabama played Georgia Tech, I would hope that Alabama wins 1,000 to 0 and injuries every Tech player on the field."

He was serious. I was really taken aback by how much he hates Georgia Tech. He said that Auburn went many years without playing Alabama, but played Tech every year and it was a war. He also said that Grant Field in the 1940s and 1950s was the most hostile environment that he had ever been in as a fan, so much so that he hated going to see Auburn play in Atlanta. Very intimidating and very unwelcoming.

He also told me the losses last season and in 2003 were two of the most bitter he had ever experienced as a Auburn fan.

So, I went home and looked up the Tech/Auburn games in 1946 through 1949 that he referenced as when he was a student at Auburn. Tech won those games 27-6, 27-7, 27-0, and 35-21. All four games were in the hostile environment of Grant Field.

Someone then followed up with this:
Sorry your old friend is still bitter, but... ...having grown up in an Auburn family, I'm not surprised at all to hear that from an older AU guy. Bama has replaced us now, but Tech WAS Public Enemy No. 1 to them for a long time.

The Auburn-Bama game wasn't played between 1907 and 1948, and meanwhile Auburn and Tech played every season until 1987. Even today, they've played Tech more times than Bama.

Some of the older Dog fans still hate Tech for Bobby Dodd's streak of 8IAR over them. But Auburn once went 17 years without beating Tech. When they finally beat Tech in 1955, it really was much more important to them than beating Bama was at the time.

On top of all that, for many years Grant Field was so much larger than Auburn's stadium that AU (well, back then it was actually API) played every year in Atlanta. Even when Tech finally did agree to let Auburn host a game, for several years - 1960 thru 1968 - their "home" games were at Legion Field in Birmingham. At the time, LF still had a lot more seats than did Auburn's on-campus stadium. Tech didn't play at Auburn until 1970. Bama didn't play there until 1989!

Ironically, now their stadium has a lot more seats than ours. Glad they were willing to come to our place in 2003.