Looking around the country it is still difficult to say how good teams really are after week two. It’s fun to look at it and prognosticate before the season kicks off but you never really know for sure until teams start playing games. If it were up to me there would be no polls until October as all those early predictions have too great an effect on how things shake out over the course of the season. Get overrated early and you fare much better after a couple of losses. Oh well, it is what it is. Below are the games I looked at earlier in the week and my two cents on how they shook out. It was a rough weekend for Irish fans in particular.
Notre Dame 34 at Michigan 38- I’m still trying to keep this one in perspective. It was a tough loss to take in every respect. I DVR all the Notre Dame games and typically re-watch them on Sunday. I skipped the re-watch today. Too painful. All the mistakes, poor officiating and missed opportunities are seared into my brain anyway; I don’t need to see them again. Great teams overcome those things and win anyway. Whether this team finally gets over that mental hump and actually starts finding ways to go ahead and win those games remains to be seen. My answer to question #3 on the 9/1 IBG didn’t take long to rear its ugly head!
The biggest weakness this team has heading into the season can be best described as knowing how to win.
That said the Irish were still in a position to win the game at the end which is better than what we saw in 2007 and 2008. Those two teams would have looked like stunned mullets by halftime and folded it up. That didn’t happen this week, they fought their way back into the lead twice. Like life it is a hell of a game. If Clausen completes that last out route to Evans to get another 1st down this post would be all about how this team finally found a way to win those games and what a great step it is for the program. I’d also be talking about how Clausen and Floyd should be legitimate contenders come national award season. When I put it in that context it makes me think about it a little differently. It really is a game of inches. The loss was brutal, but its potential to become the catalyst that finally prods this team over that mental hump still exists. This early in the season where you have been still matters much less than where you are going. There is still a lot of football to be played. I won’t re-hash all the details from the game. I try to avoid being redundant and a few of the great ND Bloggers in my right side bar have some good detailed recaps if you want to peruse them.
Offensive Game Ball- Armando Allen had a great game. The unsportsmanlike call at the end was questionable but there’s a lesson in that for the whole team. Just hand the ball to the ref and go on about your business. As for his performance he did a great job running the ball and also had one monster screen for a TD cut short by a bogus out of bounds call and another nice gainer negated by a holding penalty. Clausen and Floyd were solid again as well but Armando stepping up in the run game will pay huge dividends for the offense as a whole going forward. Kudos to the Offensive Line too, they did well at the point of attack. I'll leave the questionable holding calls alone but those lessons will be important to remember at Purdue in two weeks with the next round of Big Ten refs.
Defensive Game Ball- Last week I said the whole defense for a group effort. This week I say no one gets it also for a group effort. They have to be able to make a stop with the game on the line. Shutting down that inside run would be cool too.
Random Game Ball- The officials. Nice job fellas you did your part to help the Big Ten save face on an otherwise brutal day for the conference. Check out how the conference fared overall on the day. Nothing about that is impressive.
OK now back tracking to all the other games I kept an eye on over the weekend.
Clemson 27 at Georgia Tech 30- This was a highly entertaining game to watch. I hope Tenuta paid attention to what Clemson did defensively in the second half. It worked.
Colorado 38 at Toledo 54- Dan Hawkins probably won’t be coaching in Boulder next season. I mentioned this half joking in the weekly preview then it actually happened. Things are not good for Ralphie.
Central Michigan 29 at Michigan State 27- Wow. If the Irish can’t handle up on Sparty next Saturday I’ll have to go back and line out everything I wrote above.
Pitt 54 at Buffalo 27- I was hoping to see Turner Gill pull another upset. So much for that.
Houston 45 at Oklahoma State 35- I can’t say I was that surprised by this one. I thought it would be a shootout but I figured T. Boone’s boys would pull it off. Not so much. This is a classic case of a team appearing in the Top 5 for the first time and not knowing how to handle it. Sort of like Texas Tech last year only 9 games sooner. No pun intended. Any bets on how much longer until Ole Miss flames out?
UCLA 19 at Tennessee 15- Nice win for Slick Rick. He’s shady but he’s a good coach.
South Carolina 37 at Georgia 41- What’s with all the points?
USC 18 at Ohio State 15- I didn’t come away from this one real impressed with either team. We’ll see how it plays out but both of these teams are beatable. I remain relatively unimpressed with Terrelle Pryor too. Enough with all the Vince Young comparisons already, until Pryor wins some big games a comparison on any level is ridiculous. I’ll stop there before I get all riled up.
Purdue 36 at Oregon 38- I can’t figure out what to make of either of these teams. I watched the 1st half, then went to bed unsure of whether or not I just watched two pretty good teams or two bad teams trade punches. No pun intended there either.
Final thoughts for the week. OFD regular and frequent commenter "Dimes" left a good comment underneath my Perspective post on Saturday night that summed up the two things I found most annoying this weekend. He was all over penalties and freshman QB stroking. Instead of re-hashing it in my own words I’ll just copy and paste those portions of his comments below. Thanks Dimes!
Dimes on penalties- After 2
weeks, there is one thing we know for sure; college football is softer than ever with all of the horse collar, "holding" and unnecessary roughness calls. Some of these things are just ridiculous. Sam Young's holding call late in the game should be exhibit one. If you twist a guy and pancake him- it is good line play, not holding.
Dimes on freshman QB's- From my perspective- the WWL and others are trying to make some of these young bucks into something they are not. I really don't believe that Barkley, Forcier, and Pryor will ever be Bradford, McCoy, and Tebow. Both Barkley and Forcier were compared to Joe Montana yesterday. Please stop the madness.