Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Saturday 5K...Sort of

Running enthusiasts have often claimed that the 5K race is the perfect distance to test any runner. For the runner who prefers sprint races, it's just enough of an endurance test to make him uncomfortable. And for the runner who prefers distance races, it's just enough of a sprint to raise his heart rate. Thus, to be a good 5K racer, one has to not only have rapid leg turnover, but he must also be able to mimick the little bunny and "keep going and going." So, how does this relate to college football in any way you may ask? Well, if you look closely at the breakdown of a 5K, the similarities readily appear. For those of you who are metrically handicapped, 5 kilometers is equal to 3 a little more. Comparably, the college football season is equal to 3 a little more. During a 5K, the runners use the 1st mile to position themselves for the rest of the race. Throughout the 2nd mile, the runners hope to not lose any ground but instead, to maintain their good standing. And in the 3rd mile and last few yards, for however many are still in the lead pack, it's pretty much an all-out sprint and fight to see who's going to cross the line first. Similarly, September is used by college football teams as a tune-up month to get ready for the rest of the season, while October is where things become a little more difficult as the pressure builds. In November and the 1st week of December, as the pack of true contenders has thinned out, teams pull out all of the stops to either be a champion or to keep their opponents from becoming one...So, the next time you feel intimidated at the gym by all of those fit people talking about their PR's (personal record time), tell them that you prefer to run a 5K the easy way by watching college football all season long. Don't worry if they don't get it. Ralph Friedgen, Phil Fulmer, and Mark Mangino will all have your back because there's no way they're running a real one either...Anyways, with that said, let's see who's still got a shot at winning after the first mile is passed this weekend.

Alabama 30, Arkansas 15. What a difference a knee makes. Last season, without Brodie Croyle in the lineup against the other USC, the Crimson Tide offense was shutout of the endzone as Spencer Pennington completed more passes to the Gamecocks than his own receivers en route to a 20-3 embarrassment, resulting in thousands of fans leaving the game early and entering into a mild state of depression. This season, with Croyle back in the saddle, the Tide found the end zone 4 times and added 3 more field goals against the Gamecocks on its way to its best offensive performance and biggest win in the Mike Shula era thus far, resulting in thousands of Bama fans beginning to plan trips to Atlanta in December. But slow down BamaNation. While Steve Spurrier may have been on the other sideline, it was his unranked team with a losing record on the field. However Tide Fans, don't let your bubble be burst just yet because another unranked team with a losing record is on the docket for this week. So, even with the much anticipated matchup against the top 5 Florida Gators on tap for next weekend, don't expect the Razorbacks to catch the Tide looking ahead because Mike Shula's 0-6 record against teams from the West not from the state of Mississippi proves he still has some work to do in his own division before he starts looking to the East. So expect Alabama to control the game but to keep it low scoring by playing conservative against a demoralized Arkansas team with a coach who's approval rating has dropped below W's--if that's even possible.

Ohio St. 23, Iowa 14. Two weeks after the Big 11 was exposed as an illegitimate selection for the nation's toughest conference, its overrated members will finally play each other. And none of the first round of Big 11 games is more important than this one. Along with Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa were both picked to be in Pasadena on January 4th by different analysts. Now, if anyone of these three stumbles again, that prediction is history. Thanks to overtime now eliminating the possibility of any game ending in a tie, this 2nd loss is inevitable for one of the 2 teams playing in Columbus Saturday afternoon. Although the Buckeyes have some of the most explosive playmakers in the country with Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr and the Hawkeyes have put up at least 45 points twice this season, this game will be all about the defenses as 4 of the starting linebackers on these teams should be selected within the 1st 2 rounds in next Spring's draft. So, which team's defense is tougher? Last week, after giving up an 80 yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, Jim Tressel's team allowed only 99 more yards the entire game, including just 13 yards rushing. Also, Ohio State has given up more than 2 touchdowns only once--to the #2 team in the nation. On the other hand, Iowa let Division IAA Northern Iowa score 21 a week after losing to Iowa State 23-3. Therefore, Kirk Ferentz's ball club has about as much chance of giving the Scarlet and Gray their second loss in the Shoe as Senate Democrats do of blocking the John Roberts confirmation.

Virginia Tech 28, Georgia Tech 17. The former pride of the Big East and the current pride of the "Anybody Care?" Conference, Virginia Tech welcomes Georgia Tech to Blacksburg this weekend for its first home game against a conference opponent. While the Yellow Jackets have already proved they can win big games on the road by knocking off the other school in Alabama in week 1, they did so with a healthy quarterback and against an inexperienced quarterback. Make no mistake, though. Chan Gailey's passing attack featuring NFL prototype receivers Calvin Johnson and Demarius Bilbo (26 catches and 3 TD's between them) is just as good as anybody's if Reggie Ball is running on all cylinders. But he's not. A case of viral meningitis that forced Ball to miss last week's game against powerhouse UConn (they play football?) in a rematch of the 2003 NCAA basketball championship left Taylor Bennet under center resulting in all of 142 yards through the air. With Ball just being released from the hospital on Monday of this week, don't expect him to "be like Mike" during His Airness' game with flu-like symptoms. Instead, look for that guy named Vick to steal the show by continuing to play like a veteran and not a 1st year starter as the Hokies claim their 10th victory in 11 games in their new conference.

USC 45, Oregon 28. The Men of Troy (sorry ladies, but we're not talking about Brad Pitt) head north this weekend to play the "Oregon Ducks brought to you by Nike." While many people are pointing to this game as the possible end of the USC dominance because of the hostile environment of Autzen Stadium in which Pete Carroll's team will have to play, it'll take more than a 41,000 seat stadium to slow down Matt Leinart and friends. After just 2 games, the Trojans are averaging 66.5 points per game while giving up just 17. Furthermore, Leinart has already thrown for over 700 yards and 7 touchdowns. In fact, in the 16 series that the first team offense has been on the field, they have produced 13 touchdowns and 1 field goal. Better still, they haven't punted yet. Therefore, the only thing that might be able to help Mike Bellotti's team is if they can pursuade Nike CEO and Oregon alum Phil Knight to force all of his shoe company's athletes to suit up and play for his alma mater (but please not in those "highlight yellow" uniforms). There's probably some eligibility issues here somewhere, though. So, since that isn't going to happen, here's what is. Southern Cal will "Fight On" and retain its #1 spot in the polls for a record breaking 23rd consecutive time. The Ducks will be the first team to hold USC below 60, though--if that's any consolation.

LSU 27, Tennessee 20. After all of the preseason hype sorrounding the Vols this summer, Phil Fulmer's team is staring straight down the barrell of a 1-2 record coming into this weekend. So to say that Saturday's contest against the Bayou Bengals is a must win is like saying the Olsen twins need to eat a little more--a slight understatement. Therefore, Fulmer finally woke up and realized he needed to name a starting QB and stick with him, so Erik Ainge will finally get his chance to play without looking over his shoulder between series to see if his buddy Rick Clausen is warming up. While this might not result in an offensive explosion by the Vols, it will enable them to score more than their 12 point average and cover more than 19 yards on a play from scrimmage for the 1st time this year. On the other side, LSU didn't look so impressive in their only other game against Arizona St. for the first 3 quarters. But a 28 point 4th quarter against a Top 20 team on the road including a last minute touchdown reassured everyone that this team will answer the call in the clutch this season as Les Miles' players are now playing for more than just their university--they're playing for the entire state. So, with the opportunity of actually getting to play inside the Louisiana borders for the 1st time this year, expect the emotional night crowd at Tiger Stadium to be too much for the Vols as they are eliminated from a Rose Bowl possibility.

And so goes the last weekend of the first month of the 2005 season. Time flies doesn't it? In closing, I'd like to say how much I've really enjoyed all of the feedback--about 40 comments last week, but please, don't waste everyone's time by arguing about the 2nd tier SEC teams or a Division 2 team that loses by 5 touchdowns...Also, I'd like to make it known that I'm going for the rare double header this weekend by going to the Bama game at 11:30 and the Mississippi State game at 8:00. However, as of right now, I still need tickets for the night cap, so if anybody knows of anything, you know where to find me. Thanks, and let me know what games you want to see next week besides the Bama (& probably Notre Dame) game of course...


Blogger Kyle Manley said...

This post was published before I found out about the postponement of the LSU-Tennessee game...

Thursday, September 22, 2005 4:14:00 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

I hate to admit it, but this is a very good week...great commentary and nice analogy with the whole 5k thing...but why didn't you give Miss. State some could be the first quarter.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 4:25:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Kyle, I think this week you brought the essence of who you are with marathon pics. UCONN faced Ga. Tech in the 2004 NCAA Championship game. Actually, UCONN plays some decent football teams for only being a recent member of the Division 1-A family.
Props also go out to the Crimson Tide for winning Pontiac Game Changing Performance for a 2nd straight week. Keith Brown's catch and run got 78 percent of the vote on

Thursday, September 22, 2005 6:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Will Simpson said...

Don't knock D-2 Football.

Thursday, September 22, 2005 7:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Russell said...

Kyle, Nascar is still much more complex than a marathon no matter what analogy you use for college football. I dont think, though that GT will lay down and let VT take this dream season away. It will be taken away, but not by a VICK! Bilbo will have a great game en route to a win that will postpone the jacket's let down yet another week. As for Alabama, who couldn't kill Arkansas this year no matter what Jason Curry says. Hey man, hope all is well. Keep it up. I'm glad to see some other conferences represented. And could you please explain what your problem is with the ACC. They did what they thought would be good for them... thats what the SEC did several years ago. Please dont act like this is a new occurance in sports. dont forget to check my will change every post. oh ny the way... kelsy says hello. smack!

Friday, September 23, 2005 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger horner said...

big 10?....pac10?

What are we doing?? Where do we live?? Someone has to answer for this.

Kyle, didn't know about he game postponement? watch the news every now and then and get out of the math book.

Friday, September 23, 2005 5:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Ming said...

Kyle, I like your analogy with the 5K running. That's nice!

Friday, September 23, 2005 6:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Batson said...

How lame is this??? His picks are almost right on line with the Vegas lines as far as the point spread. So much for going out on a limb. And where is the special ND section in this week's blog? They should be ranked at least number two this next week. I mean, they have the toughest schedule in the nation, playing a Pac-10 team that went 1-10 last year only ONE week after playing a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team. Any other team would crumble under the pressure, but not Kyle's beloved Irish.

Friday, September 23, 2005 8:01:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

The game time for Miss. State-Georgia game has changed from 8:00 to 6:45.


Friday, September 23, 2005 9:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

Once again-Creativity abounds in the narrative. Who cares about the picks or the spread- Four of the five - (yes, Arkansas could regroup and beat Alabama)could go either way. The only game most likely to leave little doubt in the outcopme is USC. - it is still the narratives that bring me back

Friday, September 23, 2005 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Josh Manley said...

I write from Oxford, MS (the home of my bride) where I heard two sophisticated Oxford types talking earlier. I enjoyed the beginning of their conversation..."I think the big question is, are who's going to win the game this weekend?" It dawned on me that this town is the only place in America where that is, indeed, the "big" question. Will the mighty rebs beat the (anyone even know their mascot) of wyoming? It also struck me that you know the football program is on shaky ground when whether or not you are going to beat Wyoming is the big question. I guarantee you the D2 Delta State fighting okra could give some of the second tier sec schools a run for their money....

Friday, September 23, 2005 2:01:00 PM  
Anonymous English Nazi said...

Kyle watch your pronoun switch from first person to third person in the same sentences...

Friday, September 23, 2005 6:01:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

One game worth picking for next week would be
West Virginia-Virginia Tech.
Right now the wimp of the week should be Phillip Flumer for his b.s. comments about forfieting the game over Hurricane Rita.

Sunday, September 25, 2005 1:13:00 PM  
Blogger hrgreer said...

kyle i hate tennessee i went sleep at halftime go rebs i might not go to another game

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

As much as I hated to see Fat Phil pull out another miracle victory on the road, the win by Tennessee has given Alabama some help in winning the western division of the SEC.
Anyway, on to this week's matchup with the Gators. Unlike Arkansas' steady diet of counters, dives and play action passing, expect Urban Meyer to possess a much more dynamic offense with deep passes, reverses and some option mixed in. However, Urban has not faced a team with the defensive capability of the Crimson Tide. Florida lost a great receiver in Andre Caldwell but still have the SEC's top receiver in Chad Jackson. He has 32 catches for 401 yards with 16 touchdowns. One major hole for Florida is their offensive line. That unit has allowed the most sack in the SEC with 14. Alabama's defensive line leads the SEC with 13 sacks. If Chris Leak has can't get protection from the line, he will get well acquainted with the Bryant Denny Stadium turf.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 3:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Russell said...

"However, Urban has not faced a team with the defensive capability of the Crimson Tide."

You guys live in a dream world at Alabama!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 7:47:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Alright, Chad Jackson having 16 touchdowns is a typo. He still has an impressive 6 touchdowns receiving.
Dream on Russell, this is the SEC not the MAC or the MWC. Teams in the SEC, especially Bama, have speed on defense. From what I have seen of the Alabama defense since the first fall scrimmage, I think that Urban Meyer's offense will run into roadblocks early and often. The way you beat Bama is to run straight at their defense not around them or even over the top of them. If the defense lets up even one iota, Joe Kines will set them straight in a heartbeat.

My score:
Alabama 27
Florida 14

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with the Pimp- in fact- he has my vote for Pimp of the Year
Disagree with the wimp- Who knows- shoot a few fluids into someone - a little anti nausea medicine and you are good to go.
My wimp- Eric Ainge- been watching college football- high school- and pee wee-for a long time. I have not seen such a response to pressure-especially from my own end zone in many years.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 7:16:00 AM  
Anonymous russell said...

My wimp has to be Connor from MS State. The got got knocked down a couple of times and he was ch icken the res of the game.. if he stands in and makes a few throws that game turns out a little different. State still doesnt win it, but they make a much more respctable showing. an James, forgive me if I am still laughing, but did you just write that Florida will score less points against Alabama than Southern Miss did? WOW! Give the caterpillar back his pipe and lets sober up a bit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 9:05:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

In the Southern Miss game, although the Golden Eagles scored 21 points, 7 came off an interception return, another 7 points came off a 13 yard pass set up by a poor punt with a long return and the other 7 points came on a 37-yard bomb. USM earned only 1 touchdown that game.
Also, Urban's offense scored only 16 points against Tennessee, the only legitimate defense they have played up to this point, in an ugly win.

Thursday, September 29, 2005 11:23:00 AM  

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