College Football is Back!

As you already know from reading my previous post, I love college football. No, I love college football. So much that I have to put it in bold-type. So, as you probably imagine, yesterday–the first Saturday of the season–was like Christmas for me. I literally spend 90% of my waking hours watching college football yesterday. Here are a few observations:

1) Can we all agree that Clemson is overrated? Seriously. The national media, especially ESPN, seem to do this every year:  they take a team that, on paper, should be really good and place these lofty expectations on them only to see them come out flat in their season opener. Don’t get me wrong, Alabama is a good team, but Clemson just got blasted. It’s usually a sign of how the rest of the season will go…we’ll see with Tommy Bowden’s boys.They can still win the ACC, but they can kiss any shot at the National Championship goodbye. They don’t have the pedigree to be voted into the NCG with a loss like that.

2) The new celebration rules are stupid. Once again, the NCAA is trying to legislate emotion out of college football. More and more they’re turning the NCAA into a carbon-copy of the No Fun League. There’s a reason that college football is FAR more enjoyable than pro football–THE EMOTION. Here’s a tip for the NCAA Rules Committee:  You’re not the NFL…please keep it that way.

3) Bob Stoops has a heart. After routinely hanging 70-80 points on the poor saps they schedule in season openers, Oklahoma only scored 57 in a 57-2 route of lowly Chattanooga yesterday. Of course they were up 50-0 at halftime, but it was nice to see Stoops call off the dogs and only score 7 points in the second half. There’s no need to embarrass a team like that.

4) The ACC is a terrible conference. Clemson was blasted by Alabama. East Carolina upset Virginia Tech, North Carolina State was embarrassed by South Carolina–even though South Carolina’s QB threw four, yes FOUR, first half interceptions and, finally, Maryland won by 7…over DELAWARE. Yeah, it’s official, the ACC sucks. How long until basketball season?

5) This is not going to be a good year for Michigan.

Now that I’ve touched on some stories from outside the state of Missouri, it’s time to talk Tigers. The game last night was fun to watch, for about two and a half quarters. Most of you, including my girlfriend, would say that you prefer watching close games over blowouts. I’m not so sure I agree. Don’t get me wrong, I like excitement, but close games that are the result of a total meltdown on one side of the ball don’t excite me…they ALARM me. I consider my Mizzou Tigers to be a National Title contender, so that’s why last night’s game scares me so much. Let’s just go over the stat-line, shall we?

Juice Williams, the quarterback from the University of Illinois, went 26 of 42 for 451 YARDS. 451 YARDS??!! He threw 5 TOUCHDOWN PASSES. Do you even realize how terrible your secondary has to be to allow Juice Williams to throw 5 touchdown passes?? Yeah, this is the same Juice Williams who tossed only 13 TDs last year compared to 12 INTs. This is the same Juice Williams who, prior to this game, had two career 200 yard passing games. Take a moment to let that stat set in:  before Saturday night, Juice Williams had never thrown for more than 250 yards…EVER. This is the same Juice Williams who completed a meek 39% of his passes his freshman year two years ago. This is the same Juice Williams who couldn’t even hit a receiver when the game started because he kept throwing the ball at the speed of light. Are you kidding me? There’s no two ways about it, there’s no silver lining, there’s no “It’s not so bad…”…Mizzou’s secondary got torched. Wasn’t it the defense that was supposed to be the rock solid complement to a potent offense? I’m pretty sure I heard all the prognosticators talk about how good the defense was and how it was the defense that would help carry Mizzou to the Big 12 and possible National Title games? Yeah, that defense was somewhere else last night. It wasn’t in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome.

That’s the worst performance I’ve seen from Mizzou’s secondary in several seasons. It’s inexcusable, and if they can’t shore that up, there’s no way in hell they’ll play in a BCS game. Hell, I doubt if they’ll even make it to the Big XII Championship Game with that secondary.

The offense, overall, was impressive as usual. Although they had to be bailed out by Sean Weatherspoon…twice. They seemed to move the ball at will for the first series of the game, then got bogged down, them moved the ball at will again, then got bogged down and so on and so forth. That is until the fourth quarter, anyway, when it needed to move the ball but kept coming up short. Yeah, that’s right, I’m criticizing the offense. It stalled on several key fourth quarter drives that could’ve put the game away. Oh, and that’s the inherent problem with Mizzou’s offense. When they need to go into “Protect the Lead” mode, they CAN’T. Of the very few times the defense actually stopped Illinois in the fourth quarter, the offense would get the ball and burn all of 58 second off the clock. What the hell does that accomplish? Mizzou’s inability to line up and play big boy, smash-mouth football to burn the clock might be the thing that keeps this team from reaching its full potential.

That being said, the game never should’ve been that close. Did you see how wide open Illinois’ receivers were getting in the second half? It’s one thing to give up 451 yards to a quarterback who can’t throw if all the throws are contested and the receivers just make plays…that’s just something you have to accept, but it’s quite another to give up 451 yards to a quarterback who can’t throw because you keep blowing your assignments and getting beat so badly on your coverage that  you leave the opposing receivers wide open down the field with nobody in sight to stop them. That performance by the secondary was an absolute disgrace.

It followed the same formula as last year:  Game is close at first, Mizzou Offense comes out firing, Mizzou Defense comes out stout, Mizzou pulls away at halftime, Mizzou Defense lets Illinois back in the game, Mizzou almost blows huge lead, Mizzou Offense can’t move the ball to ice the game, Mizzou Defense bails out Mizzou Offense. Mizzou wins a game that never should’ve been as close as it was. Mizzou leaves game with major questions.

Well, I think I’m done rambling now…see you next Saturday.

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