College football Week 1: Bill Young & Brigham Young
Funny how football works. Small is the difference between champ and chump.
Take the fate of two defensive coordinators of note. OSU’s Bill Young and OU’s Brent Venables.
Let’s analyze. Who has the better offense, Georgia or Brigham Young. I think most would agree it’s BYU. Better quarterback, better scheme, better offense.
So what happened Saturday. Young’s defense gave up 10 points. Venables’ defense gave up 14 points.
Young is a hero, with the Cowboy crowd willing to parade their new defensive chief through the streets of Stillwater.
Venables, while not a bum, at least not this week, to the Sooner faithful, is answering questions about the late touchdown drive that allowed BYU to pull out a 14-13 upset.
Some of that is grading on the curve. OSU has been looking for years for a defensive game like it produced against Georgia. OU was sort of expected to play shutdown defense.
But still. All kinds of grades are passed solely on victory and defeat. And maybe that’s the way it should be. Young would have been happier with a 31-30 victory than a 10-7 loss. Same with Venables.
Still, victory sometimes masks problems. Defeat rarely does.
I’ve been driving to Dallas for 30 years. Getting through Denton always has been the biggest headache.
I generally love driving in Dallas. Freeways everywhere. Easy to get around. Everyone gripes about the LBJ, but Interstate 635 is easy to avoid. Just take a different route.
You can’t do that with Denton. You’ve got to go through the belly of the beast. For some reason, just south of the University of North Texas’ Fouts Field, traffic always slows.
Slows. Doesn’t stop. Until last Friday. It was bumper-to-bumper through Denton. Total traffic jam. I still don’t know why. Probably took us 30 minutes to get through five miles of Denton.
We already were late because of the Oklahoma construction on I-35. We hit the Pauls Valley backup just south of Paoli, so we illegally cut through the media on a gravel path, went back to the Paoli exit and took U.S. 77 all the way to Turner Falls. Probably 30 miles.
I’ve been going to Dallas on Wednesday the last several OU-Texas weekends. That plan never has looked better.
Besides the Sooners, who was the biggest loser of Brigham Young’s upset of Oklahoma? How about Boise State?
The Broncos were the mid-major darlings for about 48 hours after their 19-8 thumping of Oregon. Then BYU took the mantle.
A year ago, Boise State went 12-0 in the regular season and was ninth in the BCS but didn’t make a BCS bowl. The reason? Utah also went 12-0, and the Utes were ranked sixth. A team from outside the six automatic-qualifying leagues is guaranteed a BCS berth if it is ranked in the top 12, but only one per year is guaranteed a spot, no matter how high it is ranked.
I know that’s confusing, but the result is simple. No. 6 Utah in, No. 9 Boise State out. This year, same could happen with Boise State and BYU.
After one week, Boise State is ranked 11th by the coaches, 12th by AP. BYU is 12th in the coaches poll but ninth in AP. If BYU keeps winning, it will jump Boise State and a whole bunch of other teams, since the Cougars play such teams as Florida State, Utah and TCU.
Hopefully, if Boise State is ranked somewhere like fifth or sixth, it would get a BCS invitation regardless of where BYU stands. But don’t count on it.
Dallas is a funny town. I like Dallas. Like it a lot. But I’ve never eaten anywhere in Dallas that makes me declare I have to go back every time I’m in town. Well, other than Fuddrucker’s.
Anyway, take me to Kansas City or San Francisco or Chicago, and I know exactly where I have to go or it’s a calamity. Gorozzo’s (KC), Sabella & LaTorre (San Fran) and Giordona’s (Chicago).
But Dallas, wherever.
So often as not, I end up on Northwest Highway between I-35 and Loop 12, at one of the Pappa franchises. Pappedeaux or Pappasitos. They also have a Pappas Brothers Steakhouse and a Pappas Brothers Barbeque, though I’ve never eaten at the steak joint and tried the BBQ only once.
Pappadeux is my favorite. They’re in Houston, too. Wish they’d come to Bricktown.
Anyway, Pappadeaux is a seafood/Cajun place. I had some red beans and rice last week in Norman that were pretty bland, so I ordered some at Pappadeaux on Friday night that reminded why it’s such a good combination. Also had a grilled seafood platter that was superb. Always is at Pappadeaux.
OU fans were everywhere in Dallas, including Pappadeaux. Some goobers started the “Boomer!” chant. In a bar, OK. In a nice restaurant, how about letting your colors let people know where you’re from?
TEN BIGGEST LOSERS OF THE WEEK
10. Arrelious Benn: The Illinois receiving star suffered a sprained ankle early against Missouri in a marquee ESPN game. He’s expected to return this week, but Benn left the stage for Mizzou’s offense to dazzle, and the Tigers won 37-9.
9. Washington State: The Cougars went 1-11 a year ago, and 2009 doesn’t look to be any better. One of WSU’s best chances for victory, a home game against Stanford, ended in a 39-13 thrashing.
8. Northern Iowa: Rare is the chance for a I-AA team to upset a ranked, in-state foe. But 22nd-ranked Iowa blocked two Panther field-goal attempts in the final seconds to preserve a 17-16 victory.
7. Fans: Week 1 included 78 games involving at least one Division I-A squad. Forty of those 78 were I-A vs. I-A; 38 were I-A vs. I-AA. This sport will be destroyed from within.
6. Al Groh: The Virginia coach, who left the New York Jets to return to his alma mater, lost to William & Mary 26-14. Groh’s nine-year record is respectable, 56-45, but losing to an in-state I-AA foe might spell his doom.
5. Dan Hawkins: Gary Barnett won four Big 12 North titles in his final five seasons at Colorado, 2001-05. Rick Neuheisel went 33-14 in four years, a winning percentage of .702 that is the best in the last 104 years of Colorado football. Bill McCartney won a national championship and turned the Buffs into a power. But after a 23-17 home loss to arch-rival Colorado State, Hawkins is 13-25 in three-plus seasons in Boulder.
4. Rutgers: Let’s see. Celebrating the opening of a stadium expansion, similar to what we’ve seen in Stillwater. A big home game in a season in which you’re touted by some as a conference favorite. A school once synonymous with losing but has turned the tide. And Rutgers laid a clunker, a 47-15 loss to Cincinnati that stamped the defending champ Bearcats as a Big East power and Rutgers as a struggling squad.
3. ACC: The league went 4-6 in its opening week, losing two games to I-AA foes (William & Mary beat Virginia; Richmond over Duke). Three of its victories came against I-AA opponents. The ACC’s most notable win – Clemson over Middle Tennessee.
2. Sam Bradford: The Oklahoma quarterback’s Heisman Trophy campaign probably has ended with the separated shoulder. His championship hopes hang by a thread with a team in tatters.
1. Chip Kelly: Hard to imagine a worse debut for the Oregon coach. His offense manages just six first downs and 152 total yards in a 19-8 loss at Boise State, then his tailback, LeGarrette Blount, punches Boise State’s Byron Hout in a post-game fracas. Kelly suspended Blount for the rest of the season.
BEST KIND OF LOSS
Here’s what’s strange about OU-BYU. The loss wasn’t the biggest problem for the Sooners. Even Sam Bradford’s injury has to share the spotlight with how bad the Sooners played even before Bradford went out.
In many ways, an 0-1 record is the least of OU’s problems.
Look at this way. If you’re going to lose, this is the best possible loss.
* Season opener, giving a team plenty of time to recover. OU is ranked 13th now. Last season, when November arrived, OU was sixth in the BCS. Florida was fifth. There’s plenty of time to rally.
* Lost to a quality team. BYU on a quasi-neutral field is not a bad loss. Brigham Young is ranked ninth now and will rise high if it beats Florida State next week.
* Lost without your quarterback. The Sooners will get brownie points for falling without Bradford.
Make no mistake. The loss is not OU’s biggest problem. Playing poorly, and now playing for who knows how long without Bradford, is the Sooners’ albatross.
Something strange is going on. From 2003 through 2006, here were the scores of the Miami-Florida State games: 22-14, 16-14, 16-10 and 10-7. The last three years, here are the scores: 37-29, 41-39 and 38-34.
What’s strangest is that defense seemed to rule the first week of college football.
Three marquee games that you thought might get pretty heavy in points instead were defensive struggles.
BYU 14, OU 13; OSU 24, Georgia 10; Boise State 19, Oregon 8.
Meanwhile, the Alabama-Virginia Tech game, which figured to be first one to 20 wins, was a 34-24 Bama victory.
TEN BIGGEST WINNERS OF THE WEEK
10. Turner Gill: The Buffalo coach just keeps winning. After an International Bowl appearance in 2008, Buffalo opened 2009 with a 23-17 victory at Texas-El Paso. Some school soon will hire away the ex-Nebraska quarterback. It just won’t be Nebraska.
9. Rahim Moore: The UCLA safety was one of three players with three interceptions in the opening week. But he’s the only defender to do it against a Division I-A opponent. The NCAA record (I-A) for interceptions is 14. Take aim, Rahim Moore.
8. Greg Paulus: The Syracuse quarterback gave hope to dreamers everywhere. Having finished his Duke basketball career, Paulus decided to give football try. After all, he had been pretty good in high school. The scoffers laughed. No one is laughing now. Paulus completed 19 of 31 passes for 167 yards against Minnesota and proved he could play major-college QB. Alas, sport is not a fairy tale. Paulus threw an overtime interception, and Minnesota won 23-20.
7. Steve Sarkisian: Not all winners have more points. The Washington coach made his UW debut with a 31-23 home loss to LSU, but the competitive game was a far cry from the dismal 2008 season under Tyrone Willingham, when the Huskies went 0-12, a far fall for a proud program. Sarkisian, a former BYU quarterback and USC assistant coach, seems to have Washington on the right track.
6. Texas transfers: Colt McCoy ran off a lot of good quarterbacks from Texas, for good reason as we now know. Two of those transfers were on national television in Week 1. Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead, a fellow Heisman candidate, shook off a slow start and directed a 45-14 rout of Memphis, throwing for two touchdowns. And G.J. Kinne made his Tulsa debut by leading a 37-13 rout of Tulane. Kinne completed 15 of 20 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown and also ran 13 times for 77 yards and a TD.
5. Unmandated sportsmanship: The coaches association’s request for teams to shake hands before games drew skepticism from some corners, and the Boise State-Oregon fiasco showed sportsmanship is not blooming in all ports. But in Columbus, Ohio, sportsmanship was in good hands. Ohio State decided to honor Navy and its fans joined the bandwagon. Navy ran onto the field with the Buckeyes, to thunderous applause. Then those fans were treated to a royally-entertaining game, won 31-27 by Ohio State.
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