SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
9/23/2006 07:32:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part IV
Troy Smith made up for a subpar day with one spectacular touchdown pass.
I'm guessing we're going to see many, many replays of Troy Smith's 37-yard touchdown pass against Penn State between now and the Heisman ceremony in December. Talk about a signature moment.
If you missed it, Smith scrambled to his right, eluded a potential sack, turned himself around and ran back toward the middle of the field before launching a perfect throw to Brian Robiskie in the end zone. Overall, it wasn't a great day for Smith (12-of-22, 115 yards, two INTs). What's scary, though, is how well Ohio State's one-time questionable defense is playing. They held the Nittany Lions to 106 passing yards, and cornerbacks Malcolm Jenkins and Antonio Smith both returned interceptions for touchdowns late in the Buckeyes' 28-6 win.
• Penn State QB Anthony Morelli doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence, does he? The two late interceptions Ohio State returned for touchdowns were both cases of just plain misreading the coverage. Morelli's reputation coming into the season was that he's a superb physical specimen with a questionable mental makeup, and I'd say he's living up to it so far.
• The SEC has some good teams … but Alabama and Arkansas are not among them. Dear lord. While it certainly made for high drama, the teams' double-overtime game Saturday was a case of who would screw up less. Turned out it was Razorbacks freshman QB Mitch Mustain, whose 7-of-22, three-interception performance got trumped by Crimson Tide kicker Leigh Tiffin's meltdown (three straight missed field goals and a missed extra point in the second OT, all wide right). Given a chance to redeem himself, Mustain threw a nice 11-yard touchdown to high-school teammate Ben Cleveland. And Arkansas' kicker, Jeremy Davis -- who himself had missed a PAT earlier -- made his for the win. Please give me those three hours of my life back.
• Prior to Mustain's game-winner, it had been a nightmare day for the nation's freshman QB saviors. Georgia's Matthew Stafford got benched for and outplayed by Joe Cox. In his first start, Illinois' Juice Williams went a miserable 9-of-32 for 161 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in a 24-7 loss to Iowa. And obviously Mustain struggled badly.
• Once again Saturday, Arizona State showed it's still light years behind the upper echelon of the Pac-10, getting drilled 49-21 at Cal. Not only are the Sun Devils 0-9 against USC and Cal under head coach Dirk Koetter, they've lost those games by an average score of 43-18. That's unbelievable.
• Finally, we have a verified Florida State offense sighting. The Seminoles put up 498 yards in a 55-7 rout of Rice. And check this out: The 'Noles had not just one but two 100-yard rushers, Antone Smith (12 carries, 137 yards, two TDs) and Lorenzo Booker (13 for 115 and a TD).
I am so upset at Shula's coaching choices. Two times Shula played for the conservative field goal knowing he had a young emotional kicker who was having a severe case of the shanks. Alabama had been rolling offensively and was more likely to score a touchdown than actually going for a field goal. It makes me sick to my stomach.
The OSU/Penn State game was a typical Big 10 game...very hard-nosed, physical football. It was rainy and somewhat miserable in the Shoe, but nice to get the win. Many of us OSU fans were concerned about JoePa leaving, but we're glad he's okay, and hats off to PSU for a good game. And for those folks who'll of course say "but Big 10 teams can't compete with the speed from OUR conference" I'll just tell you'll see us in the bowl games and we'll be plenty physical AND plenty fast. And Stewart, there's good defense in the Big 10 too you know!
Wow, Mandel talks about Michigan struggling and fails to mention that Michigan won 27-13 while holding Wisconsin to 12 yards rushing in his later posts. What's next, will he write a hack-job article about Lloyd Carr allegedly forcing a referee in to retirement? It's okay, you can admit that you underestimated Carr's ability to lead the Wolverines to victory at any time.
Oklahoma State got robbed by the replay official at the end of the first half on a fumble...two plays later, a hail mary is tipped and completed. If the replay system is going to suck this bad, week in and week out, then scrap it.
Lloyd Carr is a classless act. Up two touchdowns with 50 seconds left, Wisconsin has no timeouts left. Rather than taking a knee, Carr decides to go long? It was picked around the 5 yard line, but it was typical, classless Lloyd Carr. Here's looking to Wisconsin shoving it down your throat next year.
I love Big Ten football when the calendar turns to fall and the weather gets a bit sloppy like it was in Columbus for OSU/Penn State. Great football game. I keep thinking back a couple weeks back to your reasons why college football is better than pro football...and we keep seeing game after game, weekend after weekend proving you right.
Although I know FSU's offense has been MIA, they did only lose once so far, and only by a touchdown to Clemson. Clemson does not look that bad so I still have faith FSU can get it going. I only hope Clemson loses another ACC game before year's end. Notre Dame technically has one loss, but they would have two if not for MSU's miserable 4th quarter performance. I think that game should hurt ND in the standings, not help them. Unfortunately we saw from the Oklahoma game last week the W-L column counts more than what sports writers see with their own eyes.
Penn State not only needs a QB that can handle pressure (and maybe Morelli will grow into one) but a new kicker (give up on Kelly) as he has destroyed them in the two loses this year and almost killed them in the bowl game last year.