9. Navy at Notre Dame, Nov. 3
Forget USC-ND: This is the Notre Dame game worth tuning in for. If there was ever a season where Navy had a chance to knock off the Irish, this is it. ND has won an NCAA series-record 43 straight games against Navy. They've done so in nine different stadiums, but this is the worst Irish team in that span. Their offense is horrible and their run defense isn't much better (93rd overall) and Navy has a very potent ground attack. The Irish have scored 80 points in the last two meetings in this series, which is exactly the same number of points the Irish have scored in their first seven games this season.
My friend The Lovely Vicki cheerfully texted me Sept. 7 with the following: "this might be the year Navy beats ND". I don't endorse her glee there, but it's obvious some people have been circling that date in anticipation of something embarrassing.
Also: Feldman Picks
--- ESPN's Ivan Maisel document's Nebraska's efforts to stem an insurrection in offing Athletic Director Steve Pederson.
For one thing, as Perlman made clear in his statement Monday, he believed that Pederson had tied his future so securely to Bill Callahan, the coach he hired four years ago, that Pederson couldn't objectively make any changes.
--- ESPN's Mark Schlabach delivers another round of On (and off) the Mark
Also: Lights, camera, action
--- ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski tells us why the Franchione newsletter really matters
--- ESPN's Bill Curry writes about life in the SEC
To read the rest of ESPN's SEC series, scan the menu running down the right side of this article
--- Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel checks in with another round of The Mailbag
The 2007 season had barely begun, and already I was scurrying around Manhattan in a mad scramble to find a sports bar showing a potential upset-for-the-ages (Michigan-Appalachian State) in the making. Looking back now, those first few hours of that first Saturday in September wound up setting the tone for the season to date.
I would never have guessed just five weeks later I'd be sitting in the press box at the most anticipated game of the season, Florida-LSU, clamoring for play-by-play updates during Stanford's game-winning drive against USC. Or that I'd be voting South Florida in my top 10 that night and Cincinnati in my top 15.As is obvious by now, we are in the midst of a college football season unlike any before it, one in which no team -- not even the mighty Trojans -- is immune from defeat on any given week and where the national landscape changes drastically from one week to the next. In fact, this is the first time I can remember being this far into a season and having no idea who will play for the national championship.
Also: The Mandel Blog
--- Sports Illustrated's Austin Murphy says it's the year of the upset - so who's next?
--- Sports Illustrated's Cory McCartney ranks the top five one-loss teams
Not bad for a guy who had never played wide receiver in a game before this season.
The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder was a high school quarterback, throwing for 11 touchdowns and running for five more as a senior at Dallas Carter. It's an experience that has proved helpful in Crabtree putting himself in position to make plays.
If not for a delay in Crabtree being ruled eligible to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse, Harrell would have been throwing to him last season. Crabtree was forced to redshirt and he and Harrell worked together privately and have become close on and off the field. "We call each other 'brothers,' " Crabtree said.
During that redshirt season he also picked the brains of all-Big 12 receivers Joel Filani and Jarrett Hicks, who along with Robert Johnson, combined for 205 receptions in 2006, and the confident Crabtree saw what it took to be effective in Leach's offense."I seen 'em, I talked to 'em every day," Crabtree said. "Basically, I just put them all together and just made one person."
--- CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd pens a halfway review: where did all the heavyweights go?
Halfway through the season, offenses are on a pace to shatter, not just break, all-time records for points, total offense and passing.
NCAA I-A record for points per team: 27.3, 2002
So far this season: 28.5
Record for total offense per team: 382.6, 2003
So far this season: 392
Record for completion percentage per game: 58.4 percent, 2006
So far his season: 59.2 percent
Record for passing yards per team: 224.6, 2005
So far this season: 234.6
Record for yards per play: 5.42, 2006
So far this season: 5.47
Also: Healing Nebraska football should start with Dr. Osborne, be careful what you wish for (or don't): Bulls could actually do it, Sunday 7, Oklahoma earns an important victory but left wondering what if, Weekend Watch List, answer to Illinois mystery lies with D.C.-wired Locksley
--- CBS Sports' Spencer Tillman wraps up his three-part series about academics and athletics
Interesting read. Tillman's writing surprises me, he's kind of bland on TV but when he puts finger to keyboard he's thoughtful and has a command of a wide range of concepts and ideas.
--- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes gives us his midseason read on college football 2007
--- The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart previews the second half of the 2007 college football season
Also: Conference Call, If Callahan goes, Nebraska can't blow it again, In a crazy season why not the Buckeyes?, Week 7 awards, Blog Fog, Saturday Dreaming, Aggies are laying foundation for a change, Conference Call, good NFL candidates for college jobs
--- Yahoo! Sports Terry Bowden tries to discern why traditional powers have been upset so much lately
Now, I have to be careful here because this isn't going exactly where you think it might be going. I'm not saying that coaches at the power schools are getting out-coached. They didn't get to where they are by not knowing how to coach 'em up and get 'em ready to play. I'm just saying that desperate times call for desperate measures. Coaches who are trying to find a way to win ballgames with lesser talent are more willing to scrap their old philosophies and try something new than the guys with all the talent. Heck, if I have better players than you've got, I'm going to make sure I just keep doing what I've been doing and let the superior athletes be the difference. Jackie Sherrill used to say if it ain't broken break it. Now I know what he means. If you were the first person to put in the wishbone, you won the national championship. If you were the last guy to take it out, you got fired. The successful coaches at non-traditional power schools are playing a different game than a lot of the "comfortable" folks are willing to play.
Also: Playoff pulpit (oh brother here we go again!)
Also: Missouri the machine
--- CSTV's Jerry Palm analyzes the initial release of the 2007 BCS standings
--- CSTV's Brian Jones relays a story about a broadcast last week that saw him anger both coaches and the lead official. Funny stuff.
Also: Nation who loves to hate
--- CSTV's Carter Blackburn administers an interesting top 25 pop quiz
--- Be sure to check out this week's efforts from the Rivals.com team of Olin Buchanan, David Fox, Steve Megargee and Mike Huguenin
--- Sun Sports TV's Whit Watson debates college football's top five helmets
UCLA?! LSU?! Your co-hosts need help, heh.
So understanding that, understand this: the four-ton egg that UCF laid at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Saturday set the Knights' program back five years. Forget Alabama, forget any monumental game that UCF has played in its 28-year football history -- this was the one game that could have changed their lives, and they blew it. Bad.
It's not a rivalry if you're getting your intestines handed to you every year. South Florida was ready; UCF was not. As an unbiased media guy, I truly have no dog in this fight, but sweet Christmas -- 64-12? 545 total yards to 144? The leading rusher in the nation garners 56 yards on the ground and no touchdowns? Are you serious?
You gotta show me something. What a disaster for UCF. And what a blow to the Big Five.
--- USA Today's Kelly Whiteside finds critics taking early shots at USF
--- The New York Times' Pete Thamel says this topsy-turvy season faces more flips
Also: The Quad Blog
--- The Dallas/Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Wendell Barnhouse says the season's first BCS standings don't mean much
Also: Wildcats hit Tigers in the mouth, knock them down, what do phone threats, O.J. and cupcakes have in common?, Ohio State's rebuilding becomes demolition D, polls need to take the wait-and-see approach
--- Be sure to check out the blog by Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Tony Barnhart
--- The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi says the Miami - Florida State rivalry is a shadow of its former self
Never in my newspaper career has a Florida State-Miami game seemed so meaningless. This is the first time in 30 years that both teams have come in unranked. Which is why they should have kept it as the season-opener. Even though both teams have been down for a while, when they opened the season against each other the game at least had some significance. When it was the season-opener, fans could at least harbor some hope about what the rest of the season would bring. Now the fans aren't hoping for greatness; they're coping with mediocrity.
--- The New York Post's Lenn Robbins says BCS madness strikes again
Consider this: A USF-Ohio State championship would pit one program that wasn't in existence 12 years ago against another that is in its 117th year of football and claims seven national titles. Somewhere in that great IT room in the sky, Woody Hayes is Googling South Florida. Hayes won't get any sympathy from Bo Schembechler, who like the rest of us, thought Ohio State was rebuilding this season.
--- The Tuscaloosa News' Cecil Hurt says the greatest college football rivalry gets second-class treatment
--- In response to the replay review weirdness of last weekend, the Mobile Press-Register's Neal McCready says equality is absent in the SEC
--- The Birmingham News' Kevin Scarbinsky says minority coaches have been invisible
--- The Birmingham News' Ray Melick says wielding power is essential to righting wrongs
--- The Mobile Press-Register's Paul Finebaum says Tennessee - Alabama no longer a must-see
The Tennessee-Alabama game has become an afterthought. It's passé.
Check the starting time. The game begins Saturday at 11:34 a.m. and will be carried on something called Lincoln Financial. There will be no Keith Jackson bellowing "Whoa Nellie" and remembering his old friend Bob Neyland and his other old friend Paul Bryant (Keith called him "Paul" and not "Bear.")
This game this year couldn't even draw Verne Lunquist and Gary Danielson. Not than anyone will miss Danielson's incessant and banal chatter.
The announcers for this game will be Dave Neal, Dave Archer and Dave Baker. Does three Dave's beat a full house?
Instead, the league's No. 1 "old-school rivalry" isn't even the No. 2 matchup on this Third Saturday in October. The top dog belongs to the Ali vs. Frazier bloodletting in the Bayou Saturday night. No. 2 on this day belongs to Florida-Kentucky, a game that usually has to fight to even get on Lincoln Financial (the artist formerly known as the JP game).There's something wrong with this. The Tennessee-Alabama game once stood the South on its ear. Now, it's the appetizer in the SEC. This is the first time since 1988 the game has failed to make a national network (Lincoln Financial is shown in nine states).
To read articles and blog entries from many other college football writers, be sure and visit CFR's "The Punditry" links. You can either bookmark that link or find it via CFR's College Football Links section on the menu at left.