Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scattershot: Desultory Musings From Around College Football

After careful consideration, I realized that only a crazy person would attempt to replicate last week's Scattershot feature for both college and pro football (plus busy nights in other sports) every week, as evidenced by my work schedule preventing me from writing anything else between then and now, much less multiple features.  I hereby declare Scattershot to be college football only from here on out so I don't feel guilty when I can't keep up with more than that.  Now let's get to yesterday, a chaotic yet declarative affair wherein the national championship picture began, with alarming suddenness, to take on its first real vestiges of clarity.

Forgetting Bobby Petrino

I have to think the 2012 Razorbacks are the first team in history to deeply lament the absence of that scumbag-weasel-boy excuse for a coach.  He's a terrible human being entirely devoid of concepts like "morality" and "accountability", but the man knows how to run a college football program at a level that new coach John L. Smith simply can't fathom.  (Honestly, it must be tough to concentrate on little things like running practices and assembling game plans when you're broke.)  That guy's chair must be feeling pretty toasty 'round the hindquarters by now.  Last season, the Hogs were darkhorse SEC contenders.  This year has been a cavalcade of ever-escalating humiliations, the latest of which was yesterday's 35-26 loss to Rutgers.  Rutgers!!!  Sheesh.  And it's not like Arkansas played all that poorly.  Tyler Wilson threw for 419 yards and 3 TDs, though the two picks probably didn't help.  Really, 26 points ought to be enough for any SEC team (except the Wildcats) to dispatch a Big East opponent, but the Razorbacks were simply too disorganized defensively to hold it together.  Rutgers' offensive line for the day: 397 passing yards, 128 rushing yards, 5 TD, 0 turnovers, 39:02 time of possession.  Dear ACC, we'll trade you Arkansas and Kentucky for FSU and Virginia Tech.  Whaddaya say?  - SEC fans.  

Al Groh's Days Are Probably Numbered

Speaking of humiliating losses, defensive collapses, and hot seats, Georgia Tech's DC did himself no favors yesterday.  At home against Miami (FLA), the Jackets' defense played as pathetic and sloppy a game as Bobby Dodd Stadium has seen in quite some time.  In the interest of fairness, I'll exonerate Groh from one of the first-half touchdowns Tech allowed, the result of an extra 'Canes possession via Orwin Smith's inexcusable self-induced safety on a kickoff return.  It's tough for any defense to get a stop when they literally just left the field and have to go back out with zero rest.  However, the second-half disintegration perpetrated by the Jackets' D yesterday (not the first time such a thing has happened under Groh) was positively atrocious.  Tech had stormed back from a 19-0 deficit, scoring 36 unanswered points behind a stellar effort from Tevin Washington.  When your offense gives you that kind of performance, you have to stand up and reciprocate.  Instead, the Jackets coughed away the lead in the 4th quarter, allowing the tying score with a mere 0:27 left on the game clock.  Then Tech stalled out in OT and allowed The U to kick a field goal for the win.  Somebody has to be 42nd in the country in points allowed, but with their offense, Georgia Tech should be better.  Al Groh might want to spruce up his resume sometime soon.  I'm just saying.   

Breakout Player Of The Week

We learned last year that TCU quarterback Casey Pachall can sling it with the best of them.  Yesterday solidified the emergence of Pachall's most electrifying target, sophomore wideout Brandon Carter.  Carter had 5 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown against Virginia, lifting his season numbers to 20.7 yards per reception and 4 scores.  At 5'11" and 161 lbs, the young receiver probably needs to bulk up a little to play with more physical corners, but his sure hands and zippy athleticism portend good things in the future.    

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright ...

And by "burning bright" I mean "crystal football aspirations going down Hindenburg-style in a disastrous ball of flames."  Yesterday's iteration of the Big Stripey Cats Bowl pretty much obliterated LSU as a serious 2012 contender in my mind.  I know they're still undefeated, and they're still 3rd in the AP rankings, and they get 'Bama at home this year, but Les Miles' team showed zero evidence of being a top-flight program yesterday.  In fact, they looked downright pedestrian; possibly even below-average.  While they did indeed put another "W" up in the win-loss column, they had to eke out a "never should have been necessary" nail-biter fourth quarter to do it.  This against Auburn, whose sole victory this season came when they toppled that fearsome opponent known as Louisiana-Monroe.  By a field goal.  In overtime.  Yes, I wrote last week about how LA-Monroe has a sneaky-tough team this year, but to reiterate LSU's dubious position: The #2 team in the country barely beat a team that barely beat a team from the Sunbelt Conference.  Also, LSU put up a profoundly dismal 12 points against the 61st-ranked defense in the country.  It's early days yet, but I'm declaring the boys from the bayou D.O.A.  They are, dare I say it ... paper tigers.  (Sorry.  /hangs head in shame.  /stands in corner.)

Wait ... What?

I don't care what Aaron Murray, Denard Robinson, Matt Barkley, or anyone else does for the rest of the year, the Quarterback Single-Game Performance of 2012 Award belongs to Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke.  The Division I record-setting outing for the sophomore QB was as follows: 55 of 79 (69.6 comp %) for 730 yards and 5 touchdowns.  I'm fairly certain no other signal caller will come close to topping that performance this year. 

Afwac.  AFWAC!!!!!

For the first half of yesterday's late game, it looked like Arizona might be poised to pull off a mammoth upset.  'Zona held Oregon's patented speed-freak option offense to just thirteen points through the initial 30 minutes of play, and appeared to be one big offensive possession from making a game of it.  Then the Ducks came out in the second half and did what they do best, sowing chaos and entropy among the opposing defense and generally exploding any normal sense of pace or context.  It was a prototypical Chip Kelly whiz-bang display, all stutter and flash and bright propulsion, and the Wildcats simply had no answer.  Hanging up 36 2nd-half points is something not many team can do, regardless of how weak the opponent.  When Oregon finds that extra, ludicrous gear, I'm not sure any team in the Pac 12 can stop them, including USC.  Early indicators point to an Oregon-Alabama title game.  Which reminds me ...

4-0.  Outscoring opponents 168-21.  Un.  Freaking.  Stoppable.  'Nuff said. 

Welcome Wagon

Missouri and Texas A&M migrated to the SEC this past off-season because they wanted more prestigious conference affiliations.  Thus far, both teams remain unranked and are 0-3 collectively against the conference.  This just how you pictured it, fellas?

Your Weekly Notre Dame and FSU Are Relevant Again! Update

The #10 Irish completed a sweep of Great Lakes State teams, knocking off the Wolverines 13-6 in a defensive-minded tilt in South Bend. 

The #4 'Noles, meanwhile, survived an early 14-0 deficit to prevail in an offensive shootout with Clemson, 49-37. 

Both teams are undefeated and in the Top 10.  

Tattoo U 

Ohio State is 4-0 and nobody cares.  

Upset Of The Week

Kansas Sate pulled a "Trading Places" routine by taking out Oklahoma, moving from #15 to #7 in the AP Poll, while the Sooners tumble from #6 to #16 as a result of the loss.  Oklahoma looked poised to sneak into the national title mix with a few breaks, but they'll be lucky now if they can sniff the Big 12 Championship game.  Meanwhile, K-State have set themselves up to build on last year's superb showing.  If the 'Cats can take care of business against the surprising number of ranked teams left on their schedule, they can start building a mini-dynasty within their conference, and mayyybbbbee on a grander stage if some improbable things fall in their favor.    

OK, I'm wrapping this up to devote my full attention to the Falcons game.  Happy Sunday!

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