I think I just shut off ESPN8's riveting coverage of Monday Night's Florida State Miami game. Does full circle coverage really have to follow the rather stocky fans into the bathroom after a bowl of chili? Anyway, the game drew a 6.1 cable rating, the largest ESPN college football rating since 1994.
Before looking ahead, lets quickly review the story lines from last week. Louisville's Michael Bush underwent successful surgery following breaking his leg against Kentucky. His next game will be the NFL combine next February in Indy.
The Texas players busted on handgun and marijuana charges will be suspended for at least this week, while the attorney for CB Tarell Brown says he passed a drug test and is clean. More on that a bit later.
The other earth shattering injury comes from Southern Cal, free safety Josh Pinkard tore his ACL in his right knee and is gone for the year. (You still think we need a four week playoff?)
Getting back to FSU/Miami, both teams combined for three yards rushing. For the whole game. That's less than your average birdie putt on the PGA Tour. The speed on defense that both teams showed was incredible as they looked to be in mid-season form. The offenses looked rusty, Miami's in particular as they made too many mistakes. Drew Weatherford and the Seminoles made less, and they won.
OK, Five games the boys will be breaking apart on ITB this week. Let's go through them.
I only missed with Cal last week, but at least I didn't pick them to go all the way. Hello, Mr. Corso.
Oregon-Fresno State: We have anointed Oregon as the "Vice President" of the Pacific 10. They steamrolled Stanford, while presumptive #2 Cal is still scraping their pride off the ground in Knoxville. Now, the Ducks go to mid-major scary team #2, Fresno State. (TCU is considered by most as the best mid-major). For Oregon, they must not watch the Fresno State-USC tape from last year. It's obvious that not much scares the Bulldogs and Oregon better not be looking ahead here. The pressure is on Oregon. If they are going to threaten for a BCS bid, they need to win here. They will, in a tighter game then expected. A field goal the difference, Fresno State could play in the Pac-10.
Clemson-Boston College: One team steamrolled, the other struggled, but the steamrolling team is injured at quarterback. If the adage holds that teams improve a great deal between the first and second week, then Boston College is this years poster child. Yes, they did win, but looked vulnerable against Central Michigan. CM had the ball and a chance for a tie until a backfired trick play led to an interception. Luckily for the Eagles, QB Matt Ryan played well, so it's not like we are starting from scratch from last week.
Clemson, even without Charlie Whitehurst under center, is becoming an elite team again in the new ACC. They play scrappy, play good defense, and do the little things to win. Win is something they will do up in warm Alumni Field, by 10.
Georgia-South Carolina: I think one gets the sense that Georgia is about one bad half from imploding. They went through fall practice with the thought of playing two quarterbacks and the guy thy chose, Tereshinski, was not stellar in week 1. South Carolina survived a trip to Mississippi State and come home 1-0 in the SEC East. The Bulldogs are the better team on paper, but must come out strong early and establish Tereshinski is their quarterback if they are to prevail over the old ball coach and a Gamecock team that will upset somebody this year. Georgia in a classic SEC barnburner.
Penn State-Notre Dame: I'll say this right from the start. Notre Dame is the luckiest 1-0 team in the country. The Georgia Tech defense exposed some nasty flaws in Brady Quinn, while the defense looked at best, shaky. If Tech cold pass with any regularity and if ND hadn't gone to the run, the Irish would have lost.
It's hard to see what fans expect out of Penn State this year. They may not be as good as last year, but they played well in bad weather to beat Akron Saturday. After last season, I can't imagine there is a lot of pressure on Joe Paterno to run the table. In fact, a win Saturday would be nirvana for the program.
Can ND stop the pass? Can Penn State control the tempo of the game? How do the Irish make Brady Quinn Superman again? Can the Irish run themselves out of trouble? That's the storylines on the field Saturday afternoon. The Irish are favored by nine here. They won't cover and will need to use all their resources to win. If they can force a shootout, they can win easy, but I don't see it. Penn State by 2, 21-19. Ga Tech gave teams the blueprint, it's up to Joepa to build on it.
Ohio State-Texas: On the surface, Ohio State seems to have the advantage going into this potential classic in Austin. They have the established quarterback, and an all world receiver in Teddy Ginn Jr. Texas will have two players suspended from drug charges last weekend. Texas features an untested quarterback. I could go on here, but I won't.
There are four games that we thought this pre-season would determine where Texas would finish. With Oklahoma in trouble, you now can reduce it to three, this one, Texas A&M, and the Big 12 Title game. While the quarterback is new, leading wide receiver Limas Sweed is a certified veteran. Ohio State showed last week that you can get yards and points on their defense.
Both teams have questions to be answered Saturday, and while it looks like I might be favoring Texas, I think that on paper Ohio State is the better team. They have experience on offense and Texas is down two players due suspension. If this game was in Columbus, OSU wins by maybe ten.
However, it's in Austin. The rookie qb has the home crowd in full throat behind him. Texas has lost he can't win the big one dogma that they had going into last year. Wins against Ohio State, Oklahoma, Colorado by a huge margin, and tat Rose Bowl win gets them some credit too. I think whoever scores first wins, the longer the crowd stays in it, the better off Texas is.
They are the defending champs and until they get knocked off, they get my pick. 26-23.
A reminder that Thursday night's game is on ESPN2, Ben Roethlisberger's appendix opens the NFL season and they draw special treatment from ESPN.
I'll see you Friday.