SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/30/2006 04:13:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part II
Illinois coach Ron Zook consoles Michigan State QB Drew Stanton after the Illini's 23-20 win.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Did you hear that clip that was going around the Internet last week of the Michigan radio host screaming his lungs out for 15 minutes about Michigan State's choke job against Notre Dame? Hope he's got his voice back for this week. It's unreal how the Spartans, like clockwork, collapse at this point every season.
Saturday's 23-20 loss to Illinois had some extenuating circumstances -- QB Drew Stanton got hurt on a sack late in the game -- but that wasn't the problem. Even without him, MSU rallied from a 20-10 deficit to tie the game at 20-20 with a few minutes left. Give major credit to Illinois freshman QB Juice Williams, who drove his team down the field for the game-winning field goal. The Illini easily could have played for overtime, but Williams rushed for one first down and threw for three others on the drive. At last, there is hope for the Zookers. John L. Smith? ... Not so much.
• Can we all officially acknowledge Calvin Johnson's greatness? Can we get him in some Heisman Watches? The guy is single-handedly torching Virginia Tech's usually stingy defense, catching two first-quarter touchdowns. As I write this, Georgia Tech has just gone up 21-0. This would be an enormous win for Chan Gailey's team if they can pull it off, as it would put them in the driver's seat in the ACC Coastal Division. Of course, with Gailey it's not the Virginia Tech and Miami games you have to worry about so much as Duke and N.C. State.
• If Purdue can find itself a defense sometime in the next couple years, it's going to be pretty good, because QB Curtis Painter is the real deal. What I like most about him is, unlike past Joe Tiller QBs, he can run the option, which makes the Boilermakers' spread much more dangerous. Of course, as I write this, they're losing 28-7 to Notre Dame.
• Did you see JaMarcus Russell's stat line against Mississippi State? He was 18-of-20 for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Dear lord. Ditto Wisconsin's John Stocco against Indiana: 15-of-17 for 304 yards and three TDs.
• The Mountain West really screwed itself by ditching ESPN. After failing to get its new channel, The Mtn., into the league's own major markets, it's had to put some of its biggest games on cable channel Versus (formerly OLN). If you're able to see this Boise State-Utah game, feel free to give me updates.
I can't help you with the Boise State game but I am listening to the Oregon Arizona State game (I won't get to watch until tomorrow morning). If ASU had a defense the game would be a bit closer than 24-3 at the half. Oregon is racking up penalties like crazy.
Purdue will be a force in the next couple years. Painter, Sheets, Lymon are all sophs. The D will get better. Purdue lost two of its starters in the secondary to injury early in the season. There are 4 first year starters back there, 2 true frosh and 2 JUCO's.
Yo Stewart, we get Versus here on cable in Austin - Boise State looks tough, Zabransky is doing well, and the Broncos have Utah on their heels, up 26-3 in the 3rd quarter. Utah hasn't shown squat, at home. Can keep you posted if interested.
Beginning of 4th quarter, Boise 33, Utah 3. Utah has Tommy Grady in at QB, but he just threw two consectutive ints, and Boise converted one for a TD, and make convert the 2nd for a FG. Yep. 36-3 BSU, 12:15 left.
Yo Stewart, it's about halfway into the 4th Quarter of the Boise State/Utah game, and the Utes continue to look awful at home, down now 36-3. They're only 4 of 14 on 3rd down conversions. The Broncos defense has looked like a Top 25 team defense, believe it or not. I'd post you updates on the Nebraska/KU game starting in about an hour, but of course "the Big 12 North is dead to you", so won't bother.... ;-)
Boise St. Destroyed Utah at home. Utah's offense only completed 8 passes to 4 interceptions. Boise dominated in all aspects of the game. I think all the doubters will soon realize this Boise St. team is for real.
I'm not a fan of VT or GT and the calls ended up having no effect on the outcome of the game, but I cannot begin to describe how wrong the two pass interference calls were at the end of the game called against GT...and then there was pass interference on the last play but it wasn't called. The only way those calls aren't scandalous is if the sun was in the refs eyes and he imagined it. Makes me wish plays like that could be reviewed, if there is zero contact between the two players you should be able to overturn crap like that. Oh and yes, what a boring day of football because this is all I have to bitch about :)
You're right about my Spartans. Like clockwork...let's hope they can at least get beyond 3 victories this year. Ugh. When does basketball season start?
After this week I couldn't agree with you more about Notre Dame getting blown out against USC and whoever they get in their gift BCS bowl. Illinois looked much sharper on both sides of the ball than either MSU or Notre Dame did last week.
Today ND victory was not gutsy or spectacular. It was simply systematic. The defense bended but did not break and held Purdue to a single score in the second half. The offensive team did its work and kept ND always ahead by at least 14 points. Now, can we start giving ND some credit for her initial victory against GT? The Yellow Jackets are undefeated since and they disposed of VT today
Wow! Curtis Painter is going to have a great career up there at Purdue. If the defense comes together, and when the young talented offense gets more experience, watch out. Basically everyone returns next year. Yeah Purdue lost today, but I wouldn't want to be Notre Dame playing at Purdue next year.