Friday, September 7

Roundtable Roundup: The 'Canes are on fire, the Wolverines are on Prozac, and the kids aren't all right.

The results are in from the first regular-season BlogPoll roundtable, and it wasn't hard to tell who was happy with their teams' opening-weekend performances and who wasn't. Some of you I might actually call this weekend at a random time just to make sure you're OK. But anyway . . .

1. By the end of the season, some previously unheralded teams' bandwagons will be so full they'll be having to bump passengers and offer them free vouchers and first-class upgrades; others will have emptied out in a big way. On whose bandwagon are you already scrambling to save a seat? Conversely, which team's bandwagon is being driven by Toonces the Driving Cat, prompting you to leap off now before it careens over a cliff to its fiery death below?

Corn Nation begins thusly:

Wow, we're already into jumping and bumping after one game? After one game, I'm not ready to make a pronouncement about anyone's program (except Michigan). This need for instant gratification plagues American society — it's a 'get-rich' scheme that I won't join. If there's something I can't stand, it's a bunch of impatient whiny butts complaining that something isn't moving fast enough to satisfy them.

Hey, that wasn’t the question, jackwipe! But since you asked, Miami was a surprisingly popular pick for bandwagon-jumpers, including Off Tackle, Saurian Sagacity, and Garnet and Black Attack; another surprising pick was Clemson, whose near-collapse against FSU and coached-by-Tommy-Bowden-ness were not enough to scare off Saurian Sagacity or Mountain Lair. Not as surprising: California, whose carpet-bombing of Tennessee’s defense earned requests for bandwagon tickets from Orange::44 (despite the fact that they ”do not look like they want to play any defense in 2007”) and Texas A&M & Baseball in No Particular Order (henceforth known as TAMABINPO to keep things to a reasonable length); and Hawaii, who passed for 5,363 yards on Saturday alone and thus impressed and My Opinion on Sports, who loves him some offense.

Others, however, went out on limbs of varying lengths to pick teams that are still flying somewhat under the radar despite impressive wins on Saturday. Oregon blog Addicted to Quack is already sizing up Arizona State:

I know that in the past driving the Arizona State bandwagon has been akin to lighting a firecracker and clenching it in your fist, but that was in the before time. Before Dennis Erickson. The I-won-a-Fiesta-Bowl-at-Oregon-freaking-State-Dennis Erickson. Talent wise, ASU has always been a Cadillac. Now, they have a competent driver.

If you say so, guv'nor.

Sunday Morning Quarterback urges the nation to fear the Badgers:

Quietly, I think Wisconsin took a very positive step to answering its one outstanding question, at quarterback. The assumption was that Tyler Donovan might be Jon Stocco at best, and Jim Sorgi at worst, but his debut was all kinds of hot against Washington State. Not like Matt Ryan or Sam Bradford HOT!!, where he's going for 400 and five touchdowns on 20 yards per completion, but Donovan threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns in his second start, in an offense Constitutionally required to pound the hell out of opposing fronts as a first resort.

Joey from Straight Bangin’, who’s seemed a little down lately for some reason, says Penn State:

I hate that I am writing this, but put me down as riding with Penn State (although I am sitting shotgun and hoping for a crash from which I can walk away thanks to the airbag). There is returning experience, speed on the offensive and defensive perimeters, strong linebacker play, and a favorable schedule. Jimmy Clausen is not going to be ready for a 6 PM kickoff at Beaver Stadium; Wisconsin and Ohio State are at home; PSU will come to Ann Arbor and end a decade of futility (has to happen some time, and PSU almost did it last year against a departed Michigan defense that wouldn't let the Lions run); and the hardest road trip is the contest in Champaign.

The most exotic bandwagon, however, the Citroën of bandwagons, whose charms are known only to a select few and truly appreciated by even fewer, was chosen by Pitch Right, who likes . . . Wyoming, after their beatdown of Virginia:

I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who actually saw this game (myself included) who would label this as a fluke. Wyoming has always had the defense under Joe Glenn, and now with Karstan Sween under center and Devon Moore in the backfield, it looks like they've found the offense. Considering all the injury problems suffered by Utah in the opener, I look for Wyoming to come in a surprising second or third within the conference.

Small consequence to my Wahoo dad (Col 1972, Med 1976), but there you go.

The list of teams with suddenly deserted bandwagons is not quite as varied — Michigan, of course, heads the list after the App State disaster, while Texas and Virginia Tech find their bandwagons suddenly riding a lot lighter after sketchily close wins over supposed-to-be-so-easy competition. Rakes of Mallow predicts doom for the Hokies and, correspondingly, for the ACC as a whole:

I'll say Virginia Tech, who I never really understood why anyone was all excited for in the first place. Sean Glennon is just not a good quarterback, and the running game hasn't been that good for a couple of seasons now (think Miami stuffing them repeatedly in Blacksburg two years ago). In fact, outside of Boston College, Georgia Tech and potentially Miami (FL), the entire ACC should be On Notice, as Virginia and NC State suffered ugly losses and the Hokies barely pulled it out against East Carolina.

The bloom is also off the collective roses of Florida State and their supposedly awesome new coaches for Mountain Lair and Off Tackle, as well as Kyle King of Dawgsports, who calls the 'Noles "college football's most thoroughly spent volcano":

When Mark Richt departed Tallahassee, it appears that much of the F.S.U. magic went with him, and, based upon Monday evening's performance, it is difficult to see how great an impact Chuck Amato, Jimbo Fisher, and Rick Trickett are going to have on this faded former power. Quite frankly, there is no rule that says the Seminoles have to be good and I am off this bandwagon until at least some signs of resurgence are seen.

Though as Kyle points out, they've still got Jenn Sterger -- so they've got that goin' for them, which is nice. Another bandwagon that suddenly has plenty of good seats available: Auburn, deserted by Orange::44 and My Opinion on Sports after needing a semi-miraculous comeback to beat Kansas State. Finally, Pitch Right makes a couple surprising selections in Notre Dame and Central Michigan, whom I didn’t know had bandwagons to begin with.

2. What do you think was opening weekend's biggest mirage -- either a "big win" over a team that isn't really as good as everyone thinks, or an embarrassing loss (or embarrassingly close win) that won't seem quite as embarrassing by season's end?

Well, OK, this will probably still be embarrassing.

The Michigan fans still holding a bottle of Jack in one hand and a handful of sleeping pills in the other and going “Hmmmm” after last weekend’s loss might be cheered up to know that many bloggers don’t necessarily think it portends automatic doom for the rest of their season. No less than Eleven Warriors, a Buckeye blog who apparently passed on the App State merchandise fever currently gripping Columbus, ‘splains:

From a Buckeye and Big Ten perspective I actually got more satisfaction out of Notre Dame’s loss but I’m pretty sure Michigan has the talent to bounce back. It seems many are now speculating Michigan could lose at least one of the next three games, but many of those foks are the same people who had them ranked in the top 5. Last week obviously raised serious doubts about the defense, special teams and Lloyd’s leadership but its not as if they don’t have talent on the roster, unlike the Irish.

Sunday Morning Quarterback will “believe Michigan’s lasting demise when I see it”; Addicted to Quack is not really loving the fact that his Ducks have to play Michigan next.

California’s whuppin’ of Tennessee also garnered some votes, particularly from Rakes of Mallow and Saurian Sagacity, who sez that “Good teams don’t give up 31 points at home, and nearly 400 yards total offense.” For indirectly dissing the mighty Pac-10 and invoking the heretical concept of “defense,” sir, Heismanpundit thumbs his nose at you.

I'll have you know they're the greatest team ever, sir! Look, they're even tackling and everything!

Corn Nation agrees with me that Georgia Tech’s curb-stomping of Notre Dame is no reason to start tattooing the Jackets’ names on the crystal football just yet:

Georgia Tech hammering Notre Dame wasn't a big win because the Irish suck this season, so don't go reading into it that the Yellow Jackets are on their way to the top.

Which would’ve almost given me a big ol’ pumped-up ego, but then Dawgsports noted the same Boston College victory over Wake Forest I'd used to justify a major bump for BC in the rankings and said it "represents little more than the law of averages in action." The real cold water, though, came from Garnet and Black Attack:

I know this is going to be seen as a homer pick, and I know it's contradictory to my jumping them into the BlogPoll, and I know Kyle will probably destroy me again, but I have to say Georgia. I'm not saying the defeat of Oklahoma State University wasn't impressive. But it also wasn't worthy of ranking UGA No. 1, whatever your method. Instead of being a game which should be seen as a sign that Georgia might be better than the middling SEC program I predicted, it's being seen as THE QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED!!! ATLANTA OR BUST!!!!!! First games are notoriously misleading, and I say this one was no different.

You just wrote your own death warrant, Gamecock!!1!1!1!! But, uh, you might be right.

3. Compared to how you felt Friday night, how do you feel now about your team's chances this season? I'm not just talking about your impressions of your own team -- also take into account their prospects relative to this year's opponents, whom you've also gotten a little more acquainted with after this past weekend's action.

Beginning to become a popular attitude around certain parts.

A complicated question, and everybody’s got completely different answers, so I’ll try to just hit the high points here — or rather, the low points, since the sagest analysis seemed to come from the folks who think their teams are DOOMED DOOMED DOOMED after week 1’s action.

Addicted to Quack wants to “swap defenses with Linfield or Willamette” after seeing his Ducks get run over every which-way by Houston. Mountain Lair is not big on West Virginia’s defense at the moment. Garnet and Black Attack, despite earlier comments, thinks Georgia will be tough, as will Florida, and says he “actually feel[s] worse about South Carolina now” than before they slopped around with UL-Lafayette. As for the Gators themselves, Saurian Sagacity feels mostly the same, which is good, but not so much on defense, and not so much on one DB in particular: “Teams are likely going to challenge Kyle Jackson, and he probably won’t rise to the occasion.” Kyle Jackson’s momma ALSO thumbs her nose at you — that’s two nose-thumbings, sir, and we’re not even halfway through this thing.

Straight Bangin’, unsurprisingly, predicts a Costco-sized jar of misery for the rest of Michigan’s season, and even though he’d probably be saying that if the Wolverines had beaten ASU 84-0, I think he really means it this time. So do Rakes of Mallow and Orange::44, who’s had a whole extra day to stew over Syracuse’s Friday-night shellacking at the hands of Tyrone Willingham:

Considering the fact that I only anticipated a three-win campaign for the Orange, the fact that Syracuse got shellacked by a pretty mediocre Washington team cements my prophetic intelligence.

The saddest aspect of this assessment is that it need only consider Syracuse's complete lack of football competency. The Orange is going to stink something terrific this year, and may be staring down another historic one-win campaign.

Mr.! you're on fire Mr.!

4. Looking at how those future opponents performed this past weekend, which developments are you most excited about? Which of your opponents' performances have you a little worried?

One of the best things about college football is that even when your own team is showing some glaring weaknesses, you can still revel in the miseries of others, and the roundtable responders didn’t disappoint. Both Saurian Sagacity and Garnet and Black Attack are licking their chops at Tennessee’s defensive struggles in Hippieland on Saturday night. Addicted to Quack watched Arizona’s allegedly “Texas-Tech-style” new offensive scheme net a decidedly un-Texas-Tech-like 7 points against BYU, and found it “delightful.” In the Big 12, TAMU blog Off Tackle, unsurprisingly, was “very enthused” to see Texas’s offense sputter, while predicts vengeance against a team that conquered them in 2006:

Baylor. Finally we have a legitimate shot at beating this big 12 north powerhouse. /snark.

Others were less, uh, optimistic, and that includes two gentlemen from the Big East: Orange::44 points out “Louisville, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Rutgers combining for 277 points” and reaches for the Pepto-Bismol; even Mountain Lair, whose WVU Mountaineers fared considerably better in their opener than Syracuse, sees a rocky road ahead in the Big East if the defense doesn’t improve:

I didn't find much to be excited about. Everyone that I expect to be good this year in the Big East went out and pummeled their patsy. As far as being worried, Brohm, Urrutia, and Douglas have been together for three years now. Plus that tight end, his name escapes me at the moment, seemed to be catching everything that came his way. And oh yeah, we don't defend the pass very well. Shit!

Eleven Warriors must be Catholic, because he saw his most hated arch-rival go down in flames to a I-AA team and still couldn’t get too excited:

I assume I’m supposed to be excited about Mich1gAAn losing but I don’t think it means much as it relates to Ohio State’s chances of winning the conference. Considering Hart, Henne and Long all came back to compete for national crown, the only thing left is to finally beat OSU and win a bowl game. Plus, in a rivalry game, anything can happen.

Finally, SMQB, whose Southern Miss Golden Eagles got punked by East Carolina last year, didn’t get to see the Pirates get beaten down by VT nearly as badly as he was hoping they would, and is just sick about it:

I feel like a schmuck for actually considering East Carolina a potential equal, but Skip Holtz of all people obviously has a one-time laughingstock on an upward track athletically and in intangible competitiveness, and I know now it's going to be very tough to score there. Again.

5. There are now 32 bowls in D-IA football, meaning 64 bowl teams, meaning any given team now stands a better-then-50-percent chance of going to a bowl. To get that number under 50 percent, we'd have to eliminate three bowls. Which ones would you get rid of?

Nice tower, but we still don't want to go to a bowl there.

Based on the roundtable responses, I can only include that America’s college football fans consider a bowl game in Canada to be a heresy tantamount to mayonnaise on French fries or Jessica Biel getting ass-reduction surgery, because the International Bowl was an overwhelmingly popular target of bloggers looking to whack a superfluous bowl game or two. Way back in second place was Birmingham’s beloved Bowl, whose dirty secret was revealed by Sunday Morning Quarterback:

And you, Papa John's, you couldn't even provide pizza at a pizza-sponsored game. And beer! To the Wikipedia archives with you.

I generally try to support anything that will give Birmingham a little more publicity, but . . . damn, that is fuckin’ embarrassing.

So you're gonna saddle us with another stupid-ass bowl name, and you won't even give us any pizza for our troubles?

Next in the voting was the GMAC Bowl, even though, contrary to Orange::44’s highly inflammatory statement, Mobile is, in fact, the balls.
Three bowls tied for fourth place in the voting, so we might as well just get rid of all of them too: the Texas Bowl, the MPC Computers Bowl, the Motor City Bowl, and -- surprise! -- the BCS National Championship Game. Rakes of Mallow agreeing with me that the newly minted BCS game is as useless as tits on a bull, as does Kyle King:

I'm with Doug . . . lose that "double-hosting" business, which is just a ham-handed prelude to the "plus-one" game that is the thin end of the wedge that eventually will lead to a playoff. When it's the Sugar Bowl's turn to host the national title game, play it at the Sugar Bowl. Don't give me that "B.C.S. Championship Game" nonsense.

An even ballsier choice, though, came from My Opinion on Sports, who suggested pulling the nuclear option and calling the Rose Bowl’s bluff:

They don’t like the BCS system but want the BCS money and they don’t want any other teams other than the Big 10 or Pac 10 playing. Well, I say let’s let them have it! The game only sells out when it’s a Big 10/Pac 10 match-up and even then people seem to be more interested in the events leading up to the game instead of the game itself.

Once again, Heismanpundit thumbs his nose and dials up the Brentwood Mafia. Hope your insurance is paid up, MOOS.

If this is indeed the granddaddy of them all, then at least one person is pushing for euthanasia.

6. And finally, in 50 words or less, how happy are you that it's finally football season again?

Lots of good answers here.

Orange::44: “I'm thrilled; my employer and clients (who connectively count on my productivity), not so much.”

Pitch Right: “It's equatable to your first Christmas, except it's that way every year. Except instead of getting like eleven presents (seven of which are clothes) you're getting about thirty toys a week. Once again I say to you, giddyup.”

Off Tackle: “Well, I'm a Michigan alum. I was under the impression that we have almost 12 months until football season starts. Is this not the case? Just in case somebody decides to play this season, I've got the HDTV installed and the ESPNHD flowing. It's going to be a fun year.”

Straight Bangin’, master of brevity: *SIGH* (Dude, I’m coming up to Annerber for Michigan-OSU this fall, for realz — and I’m getting you a beer and a hug.)

Garnet and Black Attack: “God. Family. America. College football. Come fall, it's those priorities in that order.”

My favorites:

Dawgsports waxed poetic: "Eliot erred when alleging April was the cruelest month; August is the worst, humid, sweltering, brutal, biding its time, moving by with maddening slowness as we bake and await the Lone Bugler's first plangent peal, the calling of the 'Dawgs, the Athens night, and sweet victory. Damn, I love football."

Rakes of Mallow got to the heart of why college football is such a nationwide, all-encompassing pursuit. “My school lost the first game of what looks to be a very long senior season by thirty points and my main concern 30 minutes later was ‘Can Bobby Reid or Josh Freeman pull it off?’.”

And then there was Corn Nation, whose joy was too intense to analyze but not too great to quantify: “Happier than a mentally challenged kid that's just found a big puddle of dirty water. You don't get any happier than that, man.”

And Mountain Lair gave a photographic addenda to his answer that I’d imagine strikes a chord with a lot of us:

Plus I get to do beer bongs with 18-year-olds.

Rejoice, all who enter here, it is fall again.

Thanks to everyone who participated; if you posted some answers but didn’t get mentioned here, let me know so I can rectify that. And good luck down the stretch.

1 comment:

Joey said...

Awesome roundup. Awesome. Go Dawgs!

I am in Ann Arbor this weekend. Can't yet tell what the mood is, but I sort of feel like Carl from ATHF--everything seems to bother me, I'd like for my hair to be rocking a little harder, and I feel resigned to relish the past, from that kick-ass show at Giants Stadium to the days when Michigan would wait until it played a real team to crap out under Carr.

I'll be OK, though. NBA training camps open in less than a month.