Pigskin Punditry No. 7: Let the Festivities Begin

David SingletonCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2008

And that’s why we don’t play the games on paper or on our computers. Hypotheticals are great sometimes, but to make the blanket assumption that no one was going to challenge USC this season?




Or rather, Beaverwash.


For the second time in three years, the Oregon State Beavers took out USC in Corvallis. USC has now lost in three of their last four trips up to Reser Stadium.


True freshman Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 186 yards and two scores on 37 carries against the vaunted USC defense.


And it’s not like Oregon State was running reverses and double reverses or the option against USC.


No, they played big boy football last night. Rodgers (all of 5'7") did most of his damage between the tackles.


Oh, and he was running right up the gut of the USC defense without the benefit of a fullback. Oregon State was running out of a single-back set when Rodgers was getting his yardage.


Rodgers’s older brother, James, caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Lyle Moevao.


Watching the game last night, it was hard to believe that this was the same Oregon State team that got thoroughly trounced by Penn State a couple of weeks ago.


Heck, it was hard to believe that this was the same USC team that thrashed Ohio State a couple of weeks ago.


But it goes to show that some of us in the media and in the blogosphere are often too quick to judge and have short memories.


Because how can you forget about what Stanford and Oregon did to USC last year? Or what Oregon State did to USC in 2006? What about UCLA 13, USC 9?


That infamous USC swagger and aura exists. I don’t think anyone would doubt that.


Once you enter conference play, though, that goes out the window. Even though USC recruits nationally, they take a lot of kids from the same fertile recruiting grounds as the rest of the Pac-10 schools. So the intimidation factor is not there, as opposed to when USC goes and plays non-conference competition.


But to the rest of the top teams in the polls, be warned: Never forget that you have to bring it every week in conference play, or you too could get picked off when you least expect it.


Oh, one other thought: September hasn’t even ended yet. And if you look at the current top 10 in the polls, a lot of those teams play each other in the coming weeks.


So if you think that USC is dead (or even that Ohio State is dead) just remember that every time we thought Jason was dead, a new Friday the 13th movie made its way to the theaters.


So bury them at your own risk.



On to this week’s Pigskin Punditry picks, and we will start with one of those top 10 matchups.


Alabama travels across the state to Athens to play Georgia. Alabama comes off of a thrashing of future Sun Belt member Western Kentucky, 41-7. Georgia comes off of a cross-country flight and demolition of Arizona State in Tempe, 27-10.

This is SEC football, so while both teams have talented offenses, this has low-scoring game written all over it. Georgia, playing at home, has called for a “Black Out” and will sport the big game black jersey for the third time in the last two years. Georgia is 2-0 while wearing the black tops, and I think they’ll make it a third. It will be a low-scoring slugfest, with Georgia barely escaping, 17-14.



Our second game involves a “White Out” for a big prime time matchup involving Penn State hosting the Fighting Illini of Illinois. Penn State’s “Spread HD offense” has been electrifying, scoring no fewer than 45 points in any game this season. Illinois put up good numbers in their first two games, but struggled against Louisiana-Lafayette two weeks ago.


The last time Illinois faced an offense this explosive they wound up in a wacky shootout in the Edward Jones Dome against rival Missouri. This time, with the game being played outdoors at Beaver Stadium, I don’t think it’ll be that close. Illinois might be able to hang around for a while, but Penn State is too explosive and has too many weapons. The Nittany Lions won’t break 40, but it won’t matter as they win, 38-17.



The last game doesn’t involve a gimmicky “_____ Out,” but it still could be a barnburner because of past history.


The last two times TCU has hit Norman, they have won, including a 17-10 victory over the No. 7 ranked Sooners in 2005. Oklahoma hasn’t lost a home game since. Both of these teams have been destroying their opponents this season.


Oklahoma’s average margin of victory has been about 40 points per game this year. TCU’s average margin of victory this season has been by 35 points, and the Horned Frogs have not trailed in a game yet.


Oklahoma has a high-powered offensive attack (556.7 yards per game). TCU is using defense to help lead the way (183 ypg, 30.5 yards rushing per game).


I think TCU will use that defense to keep it close and respectable, but Oklahoma will score enough in the fourth quarter to pull away a bit. The score will look big, 38-21, but it won’t be that big of a blowout.



It should be a pretty good weekend. Oregon State got the ball rolling. The season has officially begun.



Questions or comments? E-mail the Pigskin Pundit at pigskinpundit@gmail.com



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