SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/23/2006 01:35:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part I
Many folks predicted this could be a trap game for No. 6 Michigan.
This week, I'm coming to you from the couch in New York. The dearth of marquee matchups on the docket provides a chance to get some much-needed rest and, more importantly, see as any different teams as possible. Some early observations:
• You know conference season is here when you turn on the tube at noon and it's wall-to-wall Big Ten games. I'm currently getting three of them on regular cable alone (Wisconsin-Michigan, Minnesota-Purdue and Illinois-Iowa). Credit commissioner Jim Delany for annually securing a monopoly on this time slot, but as a former Big Ten undergrad, let me just say -- those 11 a.m. CST kickoffs are a drag. If you want to do any serious tailgating, you're looking at a 6 a.m. wake-up. And it's safe to say you didn't go to bed at 10 the night before.
• This is the first chance I've had to watch the Badgers, and I'm really impressed with their defense. They've largely held Mike Hart in check and gotten good pressure on Chad Henne. Of course, this is also typical Michigan -- a week after attacking Notre Dame relentlessly they've gone back into dink-and-dunk mode (with the exception of Henne's 24-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham).
• The biggest surprise so far: 0-3 Colorado, owner of the nation's 115th-ranked offense, practically moved the ball at will against Georgia, owner of the fifth-ranked defense, in the first quarter of their game in Athens. The Buffs gained 160 yards -- only 33.7 less than they were averaging per game -- to the Bulldogs' 23. But a blocked field goal and false-start on what would have been a fourth-and-inches touchdown left CU with just a 3-0 lead.
• It's been fun, John Bunting. We have some wonderful parting gifts for you on your way out, though we're still a bit perplexed as to how you lasted six seasons at North Carolina in the first place. The Tar Heels (1-2), trailing Clemson 28-0 in the second quarter, is in for a long season.
• Although that raises an interesting question: Who will actually finish last in the ACC's Coastal Division: UNC, Virginia (1-3) or Duke (0-3)?
• Lunch just arrived, so I'll check in again later.
Stewart, I'm a big fan, and read your blogs and stories every day, but that ode to the SEC defense...well you may have jinxed yourself with that one. Georgia ain't looking so good. I've always been on the fence with the SEC, sure they have low scoring games, and it looks like there are plenty of powerful defenses but every now and then you see a bowl game score, or an intra-conference game that makes you scratch your head and think, maybe their offenses just suck...we'll see!
Hey, Stewart. You're right about Wisconsin's defense, and I was also very impressed by their offense. They seemed to run and pass at will in the first half, which really scared me. I think they'll do well in the conference.
However, we also have to give credit to the way Michigan gelled in the 2nd half. Their defense tightened up considerably, smothering Wisconsin. And they even started clicking again on passes and runs. It's good to see the Wolves can deal with a challenge as well as a blowout victory.
(1) A moment of silence for the (annual) death of the "SEC is undisputedly the best conference in the country now and forever" braying. Ralphie couldn't quite pull it off but (s)he is laughing all the way back to Boulder. (2) Having started tailgating for the OSU - Cincinnati (?!?) game at 9:15 a.m. last Saturday, I can only say, if you can't drink beer before the fog burns off, cover golf. (3) The plethora of terrible ACC coaches has now spawned, in addition to a great Chuck Damato rap, a DontfireAlGroh.com web site maintained by Va. Tech alums. Scary.