SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/21/2006 05:25:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part I
Texas QB Colt McCoy did a fabulous job of avoiding pressure all day long.
Don’t worry, loyal readers: I didn’t shirk my regular responsibilities during the Blondie’s excursion. I was actually positioned in a perfect spot in the bar area (yes, I was drinking Coke, boss), where I could simultaneously watch Texas-Nebraska and keep an eye on Illinois-Penn State.
The game in Lincoln was kind of strange, actually, because for the most part, it felt like Texas controlled the contest, stuffing Nebraska’s running game and producing methodical drives. And yet, if not for a fumble recovery with 2:23 remaining, the ‘Horns likely would have lost the game.
Give the Huskers credit for remaining patient throughout and converting three huge plays: Maurice Purify’s 63-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter in which he sliced through two Texas defenders, Brandon Jackson’s 49-yard breakaway touchdown off a short pass early in the fourth quarter and Marlon Lucky’s perfectly executed halfback pass for a TD to Nate Swift to take the lead late. Those three plays alone, along with Texas’ inability to hit a field goal for much of the game, were almost enough to lift Nebraska to a huge victory.
But the star of this day was indisputably ‘Horns QB Colt McCoy. Defying the pressure and the hostile crowd -- not to mention a fourth-quarter blizzard -- McCoy continually kept drives alive with both his arm (25-of-39, 220 yards, two TDs, no INTs) and his ability to elude pressure, and he calmly led the game-winning drive at the end. Any McCoy skeptics that may have still been out there from the Ohio State game can now officially retire. The freshman is no longer a question mark.
Texas’ secondary, on the other hand -- yeesh.
∙ I’m warning you right now, if I get another e-mail(s) this week from a Penn State fan(s) up in arms about the Nittany Lions’ Top 25 absence, I’m going to forward it to the appropriate authorities, because it’s possible you may need to be committed. The final score said 26-12, but Illinois had the ball down just 17-12 with 1:20 remaining before Dan Connor sacked Juice Williams in the end zone for a safety and Anthony Scirroto returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Penn State had 184 total yards and 10 first downs on the day.
∙ So much for the great Chuck Amato/N.C. State resurgence. Following Maryland’s 26-20 victory over the Wolfpack on Satuday, the newest resurgent ACC coach is Ralph Friedgen, whose previously struggling team is now 5-2.
∙ Georgia’s latest QB switch -- going back to heralded freshman Matthew Stafford -- did not solve the Dawgs’ woes. Stafford threw for 267 yards but he also had three picks as Georgia -- only a couple weeks removed from the Top 10 -- had to tough out a 27-24 win over woeful Mississippi State.
∙ Once again, undefeated Louisville did not look like a Top-10 team for much of its 28-13 win at Syracuse, but at least RB Kolby Smith lifted the Cardinals’ suffering running game. His 165-yard performance was Michael Bush-esque in the way he seemed to get stronger in the second half.
∙ Finally, if Duke’s last-second pass into the endzone had been caught by a Blue Devils receiver instead of Miami defensive back Willie Cooper, would Larry Coker have been told to find his own transportation home?
I can't really say what happened to Miami in that game; They dominated the first half, then went into conservative mode in the second half and almost gave the game away. That seems to be the trend with Miami the past couple of years; They build up a lead in the first half and then play like crap the second half. The one thing I do know is that they'd better put up a better showing next week if they want any chance of beating GT, much less winning the ACC.
i completely agree with your comments regarding penn state. their offensive line and qb play this year, particularly today, has been dreadful. psu's defense again saved the team and played a pretty good game against a tough option from illinois. at this point, im sick of watching morelli underachieve and flat out not show improvement from week to week. plus, our o-line has been pathetic.
Roof needs to have a few more years to prove himself. As a GT Yellow Jacket fan (where Roof came from), I know he has potential. He had some very good defensive units here....which led to his hiring. And there is no way any Duke alumni are getting an itchy trigger finger to fire him...this is Duke after all. But Roof has talent and has already pulled off a few upsets (granted...any Duke win is an upset). Give him his chance to prove himself, maybe he is the next Spurrier (although I doubt it...and yes I know I used a lot of parenthesis and ellipses). Go Duke as long as they aren't playing GT. We will beat UM by 10 and Duke by 30!
Stewart- What game were you watching? Texas might have dominated the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but Nebraska dominated the 1st and 4th. The total yeads were almost identical...Nebraska actually had more. How can you say Texas dominated that game? Texas was staring defeat in the face. You could see it in their eyes...I was sitting 6 rows up from their sideline. Bottom line- Texas got lucky.
Stew . . . still no love for the Huskers huh? Texas is very good, but only gained 1 more yard in total offense than Nebraska. The Husker O was bogged down in the first half, but got rolling pretty good in the second. You still cannot seem to acknowledge this though. Nebraska's loss to Texas was a lot more impressive than Notre Dame's close win against UCLA, though no doubt you and other pollters will most likely drop Nebraska while moving the Golden Domers up in the rankings.
I am glad Callahan opened up the offense, unlike the USC game. But for the love of everything right in the world, use your time-outs after 1st, 2nd and 3rd down. It is a 22 yard field goal, he is going to make it. Icing him twice won't work. You could have had a least a minute after the kick off. Instead, you handicapped Zack with just 20 seconds. That was unacceptable!!!
My sympathies on Wildcats' loss. I remember watching the Irish trying desperately to catch up against USC in 1970 and not getting there when the monsoon came down. I saw the team as they got off the bus at Notre Dame Circle. They came back to beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Wildcats will come back.
I don't know if you can say that Texas won because of luck. Yeah, they let Nebraska make some big plays, but they made some of their own when they had to. And Studdard falling on that fumble on the last drive amidst a bunch of red shirts has to count for something. If anything, Nebraska was lucky that Texas kept them in the game with all their kicking miscues.
Driveway -- come on man..don't be a gomer for a minute and look at what happened. Texas left 7pts on the field in 'should've-been-made' kicks..but nebraska did have something to do with at least one of those..so ok. Go back and watch the replays of the absurd amount of holding that was going on every time nebrasksa had the ball -- it was laughable how many jerseys they were tugging without calls. And finally, all of Nebraska's points were scored off 1/100 plays...there were no methodical drives that beat the Texas defense..just junk from lucky breaks -- which are obviously important for any team...but the gist of my post is this -- Texas didn't get lucky. Nebraska wasn't unlucky. It was a great game...one of the best of the year. Give credit were credit is due -- they came in and beat you.
Stewart, did you seem to notice how poorly Callahan managed the clock. To start with, Texas had 1st and goal at the ten with 1:15. Had Callahan been using them from the start, NU would have got the ball back with over a minute left. Then after he lets it get down to 30 seconds or so, he wastes one of his timouts to ice the kicker instead of having the to at his disposal. On a side note, why do they always try and ice the kicker. It seems like a fairly pointless move. Is there a single statistic that says it is beneficial? I'm guessing it's not.
Just what does a "TOP 10" team look like these days? I always am amused by "experts" like you that seem to think that a team should play outstanding football every week. These are NOT professionals, these are kids.
Louisville will beat WVU on November 2nd. If they win and don't play like a TOP 10 team does that matter?
Texas pulled it off, hats off to what we thought would happen...But, Huskers are looking better AND what is up with no kudos to Zac Taylor who went 15/28 for 277 yds, 9.9 avg. He did have a pick, but look at what he did in 28 attempts vs McCoy at 25/39 220 yds and 5.6 avg. Are these the new Huskers Passing?! Hopefully we will see a rematch.
Oh you didn't know? The Trojans aren't a Top team because they won a couple close games... against teams that beat the Ducks and took Cal to overtime. It doesn't matter that SC blew out the 2006 SEC champs and 2006 Big-12 champs last month.
It just goes to show that the Pac-10 is the strongest and most competitive conference in all of college football. It's almost not fair to teams in that conference, because they seem to knock each other out of national championship contention.
The crown jewel in the SEC team's out of conference schedule are Pac-10 opponents and in fact the best team LSU has beaten all season long is in second to last place in the Pac-10 conference (look it up). That victory weighs so heavily with voters that they rank LSU at #14.
Year in and year out, the National Championship runs through the Pac-10, and this year it will be no different, for some lucky jabronie out of the little-10, whoever it may be.
no way does a better team get lucky--they just find ways to win games...sry husker that you had to witness UT beat a good NU team in lincoln yet again...there will be no rematch because MIZZOU spanks nebraska
Stewart, It amazes me that rather than eating crow and admitting that your assumptions about the Nebraska Cornhuskers were completely wrong and foolish, you give all praise and accolades save only 3 memorable "lucky" NU plays, to Texas. You make it seem as though the reason the game was so close was more an off game on UT's part. Heck the way you described it there was only one team on the field, and that they essentially beat themselves. At least acknowledge the fact that Callahan did more with less and out schemed and adjusted better than Mack Brown and Gene Chidzick who essentially got out coached. Your prediction prior to the game was that Nebraska couldn't hang with all of the talent Texas had all over the field, well ask yourself this question, If Callahan and his staff had the athletes that Mack Brown gets in his own back yard year after year, then who's team would you be betting your mortgage on? Nebraska adjusted in the second half enough to win, Texas got lucky and admitted as much in post game interviews. Quit trying to save face, and admit your love affair and bias to Texas is overblown and you underestimated how good Nebraska was. Go Big Red!
USC has been taking a lot of heat for not being much of a team this year. I hope that the narrow win by Texas over Nebraska, Washington State's win over Oregon, Cal's squeeker over Washington without Stanbach and UCLA's self destruction in the last 62 seconds and loss to Notre Dame provide you with something to think about. The Pac-10 is always under-rated because despite its talent, the teams (with the exception of USC) choke in the bowl games.
USC has not been sharp but it appears that they have played against some pretty good teams.
I don't know if USC is for real this year but if they get through their schedule undefeated, they will pose a serious threat to Ohio State or whoever is left standing.
Nebraska will see Texas again in the Big XII championship and they will beat them. Almost all of Texas' points came off Nebraska's turnovers. Next time they won't have those turnovers and Nebraska will be playing in a BCS game
Boo Hoo Husker fans! Don't give me any garbage about Nebraska losing rather than Texas winning. Bottom line, you say... the bottom line is Texas won in your yard. They practically gave you the game, but you couldn't take advantage. The last minute turnover would not have mattered as much had Texas converted their field goals AND 1st and goal at the 2. It would have been a two score game. Quit your complaining and take it like men. You will get another shot in December, but the result will be the same... HOOKEM!!!
Never mind the bias you all seem to think Mandel has against the Huskers... Anyone want to join me in taking a shot at Musberger? For 8 quarters now (including the USC game) we've had to listen to him not only one-sidedly tout the exploits of the higher ranked team, but state incorrect facts and misidentify players on an usettlingly frequent basis. He needs to go to the Notre Dame Broadcasting Company to call games with the other biased announcers.
And quite frankly, I think its Musberger who is jinxing the Huskers. Here's hoping he doesn't call the game in KC in December.
The Nebraska Texas game was one of those games where the stats do not tell the story. Nebraska could not put together a drive all game. Two scores came on a ~15 yard pass where two UT defenders collided allowing the long touchdown and a shovel pass that went for ~50 yards thanks to poor tackeling. The only time they put together something that looked like a drive, they used two trick plays (double reverse, halfback pass) to cover large chunks of yardage to score. And don't foget, that final Nebraska touchdown drive was aided by a stupid unsportman like conduct penalty by Marcus Griffin where the Huskers would have had a 2nd and 20. Zac Taylor's long yard per completion average are not the results of his accuracy downfield, but poor tackeling. Texas did everything it could to lose the game (2 missed makable field goals, blocked XP that was kicked 6 feet off the ground, Greg Davis's play calling-How many wide reciever screens can you call in a game?) but still pulled it off. And don't take Texas's struggles putting away Nebraska as evidence that the Pac-10 is so great, Callahan just called a stupid game against USC. Huskers are a much better team that they showed early on.
Gee, Texas get uber lucky and your talking about domination?? Damn, your a homer. Texas sucks and you know it. Play somebody. USC smoked Nebraska. The PAC-10 is very good. Oh, oh did Notre Dame get smacked around by a PAC-10 defense...wait till they get bombed by USC. God, I wish Texas has some balls a played a USC again or anyone other then Baylor, Sam Houston St, and the local high school...I can't wait till this kid McCoy get destroyed by RaY Mauga...Texas sucks.
bloggers are funny! I like the guy that said the Pac10 was the best conference in the country... y'all got Southern Cal. That's about it. Ok, Oregon's good every 3 years, too. The SEC is clearly the class of the country, then the Big 10, then the Big 12. But hey, I've got your boys ahead of the WAC!! If Nebraska got lucky against Texas because Texas made so many mistakes (missed field goals, missed tackles, etc.), does that make Texas a good team or a bad team? To the guy that said NU would beat UT in the Big12 championship game and get a BCS birth, you're crazy. Nebraska will still have 2 losses (because there's no way Mizzou is gonna beat them), and there's not going to be a 2 loss team in a BCS game. Brent Musberger is a jackass, though. He does have it out for the Huskers. I watched NU play both USC and Texas, and I think he hates Nebraska. Didn't he get arrested for DWI in Lincoln a year or two ago?? By the way... GO CLEMSON!!! We beat the PANTS off Georgia Tech!!
I might be mistaken, but I believe the last time the Longhorns played the "mighty" USC Trojans it turned out something like 41 to 38. There is a little crystal ball sitting in Austin, Texas that says it all.
Stewart, You seemed to be one of the frist sports writers to completely write off Nebraska saying Nebraska couldn't hang with them and the pitiful Longhorns would make quick work of them. Now being that both theories were clearly disproven you realize state Texas controlled the game when it was only the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Its blatantly obvious sports writers still have an infatuation with Texas after their toppling of USC last year. I mean come on, Mack Brown has the courage to say boldly the Huskers are going to KC hands down, and you continue to deny that. Texas only scored off Turnovers, thats it. UT returned the opening kickoff to the NU 9 yard line and only came away with a field goal. And you say Nebraska cant hang with UT. It would be wise if you might be a little more modest with your analysis come December 2nd.
I agree Louisville hasn't been putting up the numbers everyone expects them to: over 500 yards and 40 points, but lets look at the facts; their pre-season heisman candidate running back is out with a broken leg and their pre-season heisman candidate quarterback Brohm hasn't played at 100% all year....they are still 7-0!