I’d love it if my favorite team could muster one 10-win season. Meanwhile, Texas now has eight.
In a row.
It’s official: life’s not fair.
1. DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: TEXAS 35, KANSAS 7
A few years back, I admit to wondering how Texas would replace do-everything, national championship-winning, Heisman Trophy-deserving quarterback Vince Young. Young set a school record with 30 wins for the Longhorns, and after his departure to the NFL, everyone assumed Texas would take a step backwards.
On Saturday, Young’s successor also won his 30th game...and he’s only a junior. Ever heard the saying, “They don’t rebuild, they just reload”? Colt McCoy has the Horns in position for a possible run at a national championship, and he just might lay his hands on the Heisman that Young never quite came up with.
The Longhorns visited Lawrence, Kansas to take on a team that was already bowl eligible. On the road...hostile environment...talented opponent...I thought the scene was ripe for a battle...a thriller...a nail-biter...a...what?
As you probably already figured out by now, Texas knocked off Kansas 35-7 in this week’s Diamond game (we were due for a blowout, right?) behind stellar play from Colt McCoy. McCoy only completed 70.6 percent of his passes on the game, which drops him to a paltry 77.2 percent on the season. I dare you to play a Big 12 schedule on your Xbox and complete 77 percent of your passes.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
McCoy has all the receivers he needs in Quan Cosby and boyhood friend/current roommate Jordan Shipley. The pair of wideouts has combined for 147 catches and almost 1,800 yards receiving in 11 games. Of course, in actuality, McCoy has more receivers than he needs. Six Longhorns caught at least two passes in the 28-point victory.
Kansas has a healthy aerial assault of its own, but not nearly as much balance. Of the 25 completions KU’s Reesing mustered this weekend, 17 went to Doug Briscoe or Johnathan Wilson. To be fair, star pass-catcher (and backup quarterback) Kerry Meier was battling a tweaked hamstring and didn’t play up to his Biletnikoff-finalist potential.
(Wait, is it still the Biletnikoff now? I was thinking we had already renamed it the Crabtr...oh, never mind.)
Anyway, despite the lopsided final margin, Kansas actually had chances to make this a game, but the breaks never quite went the Jayhawks’ way. For instance, KU was only down 14-0 in the third quarter and forced a key fumble, but couldn’t fall on the loose ball. Texas went on to score a touchdown and stretch the lead to 21.
With the win, the Horns can now turn its attention towards rooting for an Oklahoma win over Texas Tech to create a possible three-way 6-1 logjam in the division. If you haven’t checked out the standings in the Big 12 South, you need to—it’s flat-out ridiculous: 10-0 TTU, 10-1 Texas, 9-1 Oklahoma, 9-2 Oklahoma State.
Like I’ve said all along, if a team goes undefeated in that conference, they deserve to play for the national title.
Meanwhile, the Horns keep their fingers crossed, keep winning, and keep hoping things will go their way.
They did their part in Kansas.
Here’s my random thoughts on this week’s “Diamond in the Rough”:
- I love a football game with some good hitting, and this game had more than its share. Especially noteworthy were a few ooh-and-ah collisions between Kansas running back Jordan Quigley and Texas safety Blake Gideon. One of their meetings resulted in a forced fumble, at least one was a helmet-to-helmet smack, and one really hard knock left Gideon woozy. Let’s just put it this way: You didn’t need microphones to hear these hits.
- Jordan Shipley converted a fake field goal by leaping over the pile...way over. The man literally flew about five yards in the air. I kid you not: Watch the tape! And I thought all Shipley could do was catch footballs!
- Murphy’s Law strikes again. You may have heard about Texas reserve center Buck Burnette getting kicked off the team last week for making racially insensitive comments about President-elect Barack Obama on his Facebook page.
However, you might not have heard that the Horns’ starting center suffered a knee injury in practice on Wednesday and wasn’t able to play against Kansas. Because of Burnette’s dismissal, true freshman third-stringer David Snow was pressed into duty, and his bad snap caused a first-quarter Texas fumble.
- Texas does a really nice job executing the screen passes. The patience and touch that a good screen requires from the quarterback don’t get enough attention, and McCoy executed several flawlessly for big plays.
- I know it should probably go in the Lou Holtz Specials, but sideline reporter Jim Knox tried to chest-bump the camera during the UT/KU telecast. This is not advisable.
- Did you know leasing heated sideline benches is an actual business? I didn’t...but Texas got some toasty-warm seats trucked in. I guess they’re headed to South Bend next week (the seats, not the UT football team).
- Kansas had multiple fourth-and-short conversion attempts fail due to incomplete passes. In this humble writer’s opinion, if you can’t trust your running game on 4th-and-1, you probably don’t have much of one.
- Did I mention there were some vicious hits in this game? I don’t envy those guys the headaches and bruises they’ll wake up with tomorrow.
- Texas hasn’t lost to Kansas since 1938. For those of you that struggle with math, that’s 70 years ago...or right about the time Bugs Bunny was born, if you’re keeping track on your cartoon calendars at home.
Diamond in the Rough is an in-depth profile of a game outside the national media spotlight. If you want to see your team in an upcoming edition, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why!
2. LOU HOLTZ SPECIALS
(MAYBE BROADCASTING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT)
We start with basketball, not football...because this was just a funny line that had to be included. From the color commentator on the UCLA/Miami (Ohio) hoops contest: “I don’t understand why everyone wants to go pro early. You’re in a place with 10,000 girls about your age, they’re all broke...you’ll never have that again.”
Here’s a SportsCenter anchor introducing the next highlight: “Boise State and Idaho now; no small potatoes for Boise State, they’re up to No. 9 in the nation.”
“To leave body parts on stadiums all over Big Ten country, it’s a special feeling.” – Anthony Herron
And cue the jealous sideline reporter: “You guys can’t tell in the ivory tower up there, but it’s really cold down here.” – Anthony Herron
Can’t forget the reader submissions. Here’s one from Joe:
As he was heading into the locker room down 28-3, Steve Spurrier said that he was proud of his defense: "They're playing really well." I’d hate to see the Gamecocks playing badly...
Or how about this one that Cody sent along?
"If Illinois isn't making all of these mistakes and turnovers, they would probably be leading this game." – Mark May
Who would have thought that a team playing perfect, mistake-free football would have a good chance to lead a football game? Thanks for that expert analysis, Mark.
Dave Lapham had a Lou Holtz-worthy type day:
A little yakety-yak-yak, but he assumes the fetal position too early. – Dave Lapham
He’s getting airborne there! Shipley looks like a plane, not a ship. – Dave Lapham
He’s an honorary hog right there. – Dave Lapham
Number 12 in the blue jersey, Holt, just jolted Colt. Holt jolted Colt. How ‘bout that? – Dave Lapham
Last but not least...this one deserves a category all its own. I had actually written in my notes this weekend, “How did Dan Fouts get demoted to CBS College Sports?” This guy used to do Monday Night Football, big-time college football color commentary, and then even play-by-play. Now he’s nowhere to be found unless you pay extra money for all the niche sports networks like I do. So what happened?
It was 10 minutes into watching Mr. Fouts that I got the answer...and it’s possible I’ve never heard a line butchered this badly. Seriously. I had to rewind it four times just to get all of this in order. Read it out loud—it’s that bad.
“He found his homerun hitter, Dav-Darrien-er-Ber-Brandon-John-Berrian, excuse me.” – Dan Fouts
Remember, if you hear a Lou Holtz Special, send it to email@example.com before 7 pm Sunday: you could make it into next week’s edition!
3. THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT
The ridiculous stat lines and improbable scores that make you think the sports ticker has malfunctioned...
The television score ticker is seriously confusing in November. In fact, see if you can solve today’s COACF trivia question (without research) by correctly labeling each of the following university/points scored pairings from Saturday with the right sport (NCAA football or men’s basketball).
Western Kentucky 64
Florida State 59
Miss. Valley St. 25
Anyone else do a double take at this third quarter score? Troy 31, LSU 3
Oh, and of course, the final score: LSU 40, Troy 31
Can somebody tell me what exactly happened to South Florida and Rutgers? Talk about teams heading in opposite directions! The Bulls started the year 5-0 but are now 6-4 after dropping a 49-16 decision at HOME. Meanwhile, the victorious Knights head home from Tampa with a four-game winning streak after starting the season 1-5.
Florida 56, South Carolina 6? Are you kidding me? Ranked teams aren’t allowed to lose by 50. It’s in the Constitution, I think.
2007 score: Tulsa 56, Houston 7
2008 score, Houston 70, Tulsa 30.
(I don’t think the Cougars were worried about running up the score, do you?)
Special kudos to Houston quarterback Case Keenum, who threw for six touchdowns and ran for another. In related news, I think we’ve officially put to rest the discussion of whether Tulsa’s 8-0 start was due to a great team or a weak schedule.
Trivia answer: Western Kentucky, Florida State, TCU, Drake, Dartmouth, and Miss. Valley State were basketball scores from Saturday. The rest were all football.
One last note in the stats and scores section: Congratulations to Clemson wide receiver Aaron Kelly on his ACC-record 217th career reception.
4. THANK GOODNESS FOR MY DVR
Here are the jaw-dropping highlights that were worth rewinding for this week.
Purdue safety Frank Duong is going to see Iowa running back Shonn Greene in his nightmares for a while. Greene left Duong in the dust with a beautiful spin move on a 75-yard touchdown run, then literally ran over Duong in the fourth quarter for a second TD. Welcome to the Gang Greene highlight reel, Frank.
As always, we’ve got the beautiful one-handed catches (bonus points to the first two because they went for touchdowns):
Florida’s Aaron Hernandez
Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant
Virginia Tech’s Jarrett Boykin
Can’t forget the best onside kick I’ve ever seen: Navy’s Matt Harmon got an unbelievable bounce to help the Midshipmen put a scare into Notre Dame. I swear the ball deflected off the blimp overhead, it got that far off the ground. Navy was down 27-7 with less than two minutes left and recovered a pair of onside kicks to make it interesting, but finally fell short, 27-21.
It must have been “Onside Kick Week”...Northern Illinois got a pair of them as well.
I don’t like to rip off the ESPN Top Ten, but I saw these plays for the first time on SportsCenter last night, and they were too good to leave out...so we add an “Honorable Mention” category:
Chris “Beanie” Wells hurdling an Ilini defender to keep a run alive...
and Idaho’s only TD against Boise State, where Daniel Hardy didn’t actually get tackled, rolled across another body, got back up, and scored an 81-yard touchdown on the Vandals’ first play.
All of those were nice, but the play of the day comes from “Diamond in the Rough.” Kansas wide receiver Desmond Briscoe converted a 4th-and-11 with an amazing catch where he tipped the ball off the defender to himself, and then used one hand to pin it to his helmet.
Which reminds me...is there a statute of limitations on how long we have to bring up David Tyree every time somebody catches the ball by pulling it to their helmet? I’m ready for it to expire.
5. SINCE I DO LIVE IN OHIO... (news from around the Big Ten)
Going into Saturday’s action, Penn State had never lost to Indiana. Ever. Some things don’t change. PSU posted a 34-7 win in Happy Valley, and now a victory over Michigan State in the season finale will send the Lions to Pasadena.
On the other side of the coin...in 128 previous football seasons, Michigan had never lost eight games in the same season.
Some things DO change.
U-M fell to 3-8 on the year after coming up short against Northwestern at home...and with a trip to Columbus looming, do I hear nine? Anyone?
Memo to Minnesota Golden Gopher players: When you’re on the road, and the other team’s fans are doing the Wisconsin-famous “jump around” before the fourth quarter...
...you aren’t supposed to participate.
Not sure which was more embarrassing...the Minnesota players getting in on a song designed to pump up the other team’s crowd...or the two safeties the Gophers gave up afterwards, snapping a 24-24 fourth quarter tie.
Last, but not least...Purdue was 4-4 on fourth down in Iowa City Saturday. If Purdue could just skip first, second, and third from now on...they might actually score some points.
6. MAYBE COACHING IS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT
Today’s honoree is Washington State head coach Paul Wulff.
In the last four weeks, his Cougars have lost by scores of 69-0, 58-0, and 31-0. I don’t know much about coaching college football, but I’d like to think I could do better than that with a Division 1 team.
To put these absurd numbers in perspective, Washington State is losing by an AVERAGE of over 54 points a game in the Pac-10.
I mean, really! A 69-point loss? Then 58? Then two weeks later, 31?
At least they’re improving.
Maybe coaching is easier than I thought.
Honorable mention in the coaching category: South Carolina’s ill-advised throw across the field on a kick return (and the ensuing turnover) put them in a 21-0 hole one play later. I understand trying to make something happen, but that’s probably not the best decision Spurrier’s ever made.
7. EVEN THOUGH SEVENTEEN IS A RANDOM NUMBER
Here’s the Top 17 ballot I submitted today...due to the pronounced lack of upsets, we don’t have a lot of movement from last week’s edition. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to explain why your team should be included!
1. Texas Tech
8. Penn State
9. Boise State
10. Ball State
11. Oklahoma State
14. Ohio State
15. Michigan State
8. COMING ATTRACTIONS
I don’t know why anyone would need a reason to be excited about the upcoming college football weekend. But if you do, here are three.
a. “Worth buying a ticket for”: A matchup that deserves the hype.
This one’s a no-brainer. Texas Tech and Oklahoma go at it Saturday night in Norman...and with both teams having a bye yesterday, we’ll have two solid weeks of anticipation and hype before one of the biggest games of the year. It’s rare that Ohio State/Michigan is an afterthought, but with such a huge Big 12 game this weekend, it should be.
b. “Heat check”: This team’s playing great, but faces a serious test.
The only thing standing between Utah and a second undefeated regular season in five years? A monster showdown on Saturday with conference foe and fellow Top 20 squad BYU.
c. “Diamond in the rough”: An in-depth profile of a game that deserves a closer look.
Everyone knows Ball State is undefeated in the MAC West. Not as many people know that Central Michigan is also. Both squads are 6-0 in their division, and a midweek collision in Mount Pleasant awaits. Check next week’s “Carrying On” for complete analysis on a MAC showdown that could propel the Cardinals towards the BCS...or shatter their hopes for a perfect season.
Speaking of the MAC...in case you didn’t get to watch a lot of weeknight football, there were some great games in the Midwest this past week.
On Wednesday, Central Michigan blew a 24-point third quarter lead in the fog before rallying to beat Northern Illinois in overtime...and that wasn’t even the most exciting contest. Buffalo and Akron took four overtimes Thursday before the Bulls finally pulled out a hard fought 43-40 decision.
Can’t wait for another MAC classic in a couple days...talk about a great “Diamond in the Rough”! See you then!
Tim Cary (yes, Cary...as in “Carrying on”) is a resident of Springfield, Ohio and a die-hard college football fan (especially when it comes to the Purdue Boilermakers). To submit thoughts, ideas, questions, arguments, or anything else for “Carrying On About College Football”, e-mail: email@example.com. Send in your ideas throughout the week...and check out the latest installment of COACF each Sunday night on BleacherReport.com.