Thursday, September 29, 2005

We Believe!

Expecting to win. While some may say doing so hinders a person from ever coming to grips with the reality that his team is not quite as untouchable as the optimistic fan would care to confess, it is this hope that sustains him during his team's times of struggle and despair. But this is how many fans of all sports across the world view each game. How else could you explain the loyalty of Cubs fans or Clippers fans or even Ole Miss fans? There can be no other way. In fact, to be a true fan, one must not just merely root for his team to win, but he must trust that it will actually be so. Thus, this explains the origin of the "wait 'til next year" assertion that supporters of losing teams cry at the end of each season as they fully believe that when the next season arrives, all of their team's incompetencies will be resolved and their losing ways will be no more. But what is it that gives such hapless romantics the perseverance to continue in their blind allegiance against the voice of reason? It is the example of others who have overcome. Just look at last year's Boston Red Sox or this year's Vanderbilt Commodores. It is teams like them that give fans everywhere the affirmation that "it could happen for me, too." So, as another weekend of college football approaches, many underdogs (Alabama, Arizona State, Missouri, etc...) find themselves hanging onto hope in the face of insurmountable odds as they believe that this is their turn for them to pull off the upset. So, whether you're from the era of Kirk Gibson or Curt Schilling, George Michael or Limp Bizkit, the same truth applies to you--"You gotta have faith." With that said, let's see whose faith is going to be rewarded this weekend...

Alabama 24, Florida 20. The anxious anticipation and uncertainty around the state of Alabama caused by the arrival of a 5th ranked Florida Gator football team can be compared only to that of a young boy making his first trip to Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch: he is highly excited, but in the back of his mind he knows something might go wrong. Throughout the 90's, these 2 teams were the stalwarts of the SEC, meeting each other in 5 of the 1st 8 SEC Championships. Six years and a combined 5 coaches later, not much has changed as the Tide and Gators are back on top of their respective divisions. This time, though, it's Shula vs Meyer. Ever since Urban Meyer took the reins in Gainesville during the offseason, there have been many questions concerning how effective his innovative spread option offense can be in the SEC. While his Gators are off to a 4-0 start, including 2 wins against conference opponents, this question still may have not been answered because even though they put up 49 in the 1st half last week against Kentucky, it was against Kentucky. For a better idea of how successfully this scheme works, it might be helpful to recall Florida's game against Tennessee 2 weeks ago in which the Gators only produced 1 touchdown and 3 field goals. In Meyer's 2nd game against a ranked opponent this season, don't expect Joe Kines' defense (7th in the Nation) to be much more generous, especially since star receiver Andre Caldwell is now out for the season with a broken leg. Therefore, when the Tide hosts a Top 5 opponent in Bryant-Denny for just the 6th time in history, look for 2 major streaks to be ended: 1) Bama's 0-5 record in games against teams ranked 5th or better in T-town, and 2) Urban Meyer's 20 game win streak as Mike Shula exposes the Gator coach to be merely an urban myth and Bama pulls off another upset over the Gators, taking an unblemished record into its bye week.

Auburn 31, South Carolina 13. For the 3rd consecutive week, the Gamecocks kick it off against a team from the state of Alabama. While they were embarrassed by the Tide 2 weeks ago, Steve Spurrier's ball club regained its composure last week by scoring 45 against Troy. But this week, it's back to the SEC. After a shaky opener against Georgia Tech, Auburn has had 3 exhibition games against Mississippi St., Ball St, and Western Kentucky to figure out how to move past their dream season of a year ago. And it seems like the old addage "practice makes perfect" has shown true again as Tommy Tuberville's team has outscored its opponents in these games by 111 points in spite of Brandon Cox's "sickness" last week. This week, though, it's Auburn's opponent whose #1 QB will be sitting it out. Last Saturday, Blake Mitchell (3rd in the SEC in Passing Efficiency) sprained his ankle and will not be in the lineup for Saturday's game, so backup Antonio Heffner will be calling the shots. Since Heffner is a run-1st QB, don't expect Spurrier's "cock-n-fire" offense to be on display under the Tiger Eyes in Jordan-Hare as Spurrier's return to the Heart of Dixie will fare no better than his former team's, leaving the Tigers unbeaten in SEC action.

USC 59, Arizona St. 47. Where did that score come from? It's the average score of both teams this season, which should tell you all you need to know about how much fans tuning into this one will be wanting to see defense. Another Pac-10 opponent for the Trojans should translate into another victory for Pete Carroll's team since they're 23-2 in conference games dating back to the 2002 season. So, is this game even worth covering? ESPN's College Gameday sure thinks so since it picked it over the Bama-Florida showdown as this week's venue. And Sam Keller (1443 yds passing, 16 td, 2 int) and Derek Hagan (26 rec, 431 yds, 5 td) are going to do everything they can to corroborate that choice. While it definitely should be exciting, in order to beat a team like USC, you have to be able to control the ball. But this is not exactly the Sun Devils' strength since they like to score as early and often as possible. So, don't expect Dirk Koetter's team to be the one to knock off the #1 team in the land this year since they have about as much of a chance of outscoring Bush and Leinart as Kate Moss does of kicking her cocaine habit.

Notre Dame 38, Purdue 34. After looking at Notre Dame's schedule before the season began, there were few, if any, people outside of South Bend who thought that Charlie Weis' football team had a chance of being 4-1 after the first 5 games, especially since 4 out of these 5 games were scheduled away from Notre Dame Stadium. However, coming into this week's matchup against Purdue, that is exactly where the Irish stand. While its 3 wins are not as impressive as they could've been since preseason Top 25 teams Pittsburgh and Michigan have fallen faster than Phil Fulmer in a parachute, all 3 did come on the road, and the Golden Domers are still ranked 13th in the nation. On the other side of the ball, Joe Tiller's Boilermakers are also listed among the nation's best 25 teams thanks to a balanced attack led by QB Brandon Kirsch and RB's Jerod Void and Kory Sheets that eerily resembles the balance displayed by ND. Another similarity also exists between these 2 teams because both of their losses have come in overtime. Therefore, both squads have been battle-tested and fought for more than the usual 60 minutes. So, when they meet head-to-head in West Lafayette this weekend, expect it to be close until the bitter end as the Irish squeak out a win and avenge last year's loss to the Boilermakers that spoiled a 3-1 start to the 2004 season, giving the Fighting Irish its 50th win over their fellow footballers from Indiana and 4th win away from home this season.

Delta St. 27, Valdosta St. 21. For the 2nd week in a row, a Top 10 team from Georgia is traveling to play an underdog team from Mississippi. However, this matchup is in the GSC, not the SEC. This Saturday, the heated rivalry between Statesmen and Blazers returns to Travis Parker Field in Cleveland, MS, for the 25th meeting between these 2 Division II heavyweights. In the last 5 years, both DSU and VSU have won the Gulf South Conference Championship en route to becoming national champions (DSU in 2000 and VSU in 2004) proving that taking care of business in this conference is of paramount importance. But this season, both teams have already stumbled in conference play, so there is no more room for error. While Chris Hatcher's squad has been playing smothering defense by allowing just over 12 points per game, Rick Rhoades' Fighting Okra have been scoring over 30 a game led by veteran QB Scott Eyster (league leading 11 TD passes). Therefore, when these 2 foes square off Saturday night in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, expect another 5th ranked team in the nation to fall as the 24th ranked Statesmen stay alive in the conference hunt.

There you have it. So much for my critics' accusing me of not stepping out on a limb. Let me know what games you expect to see upsets in this weekend. Hopefully, your team will. But just remember, a true fan would never tear down the goal posts after an "upset" win b/c he expected them to win all along...Don't forget to nominate your pimp/wimp--since no one ever does, and be ready for a special edition next week as I celebrate the Alabama off week.


Anonymous Lance said...

Go Statesmen!!! Keep up the good work Kyle.


Thursday, September 29, 2005 8:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Joe Tiller said...

When will the Notre Dame lovefest end??? It is disgusting. Anyway, the dynamic of playing in a packed Ross Ade Stadium under the lights with the world's largest drum looming along with a QB not named Orton under center should be enough to propel the Boilermakers to victory. Boil'er up!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2005 9:08:00 PM  
Anonymous JACOB BATSON said...

The pimp of the week should have definitely been Sylvester Croom, as he showed that winning didn't matter to him that much as his team nonchalantly took it to the huddle with four minutes remaining down by 13. Of course, I should have known that winning isn't what matters as the Bulldogs ran the clock down to preserve the 13 point deficit, for I stood amongst many helpless souls gleefully showing off their "Maroon is all that matters" shirts at hallowed Scott Field. So, I realized that I had to leave quickly, before I became one of the fat quitters myself. However, before my departure, I took one last look at Croom and the entire State sideline, and thought to myself, "What a pimp. He could lose every game this year, and it would not matter because all of the fat losers sitting in the stands here have been convinced that maroon really is all that matters."

Thursday, September 29, 2005 9:21:00 PM  
Blogger mattkeathley said...

Kyle, this is my last post until we get at least some coverage on Mississippi State. Lsu should beat us by 50, but at least post a score. I understand why you don't cover the Ole Miss game. Everybody knows that they are irrelevant, but c'mon, your own flesh and blood is a State alum! By the way, great

Friday, September 30, 2005 6:03:00 AM  
Blogger Josh Manley said...

Needless to say, I am very happy to see the Fighting Okra made the blog. For those of you that don't understand major college football, this is as big as it gets at Travis Parker Field. While I am not sure I am as optimistic as Kyle about the Statemen's chance of pulling this one out, I am not counting the Okra out on this one. And, I do think it should be noted that Delta State got picked before Mississippi State. I would rather be from a small school program and win than continually embarass the SEC any day. Roll Tide, Go Statesmen.

Friday, September 30, 2005 6:26:00 AM  
Anonymous russell said...

Hey josh i think that's called sanbagging, but not sure. Dont worry though, if anybody understands that I do. PLAY basball at MC or join a fraternity somewhere else!

Kyle this weeks blogs was very enjoyable. Your disclaimer of why YOU pick the tide every week was still there, but you did hide it well.

Oh btw, I dont understand how DSU could ever lose a night game at home... heat and mosquitos are much more intimidating than ?Iowa's? pink locker room. (James Im not sure it was Iowa, but there was something on SC about somebody's locker room being painted pink.)

Friday, September 30, 2005 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Ming said...

One of my buddy is in ASU. I don't think he likes your pick...

Friday, September 30, 2005 6:50:00 PM  
Anonymous JAYHAWK NATION said...

two weeks till midnight madness...thank god...then we can get going with the real goliath of college sports...COLLEGE BASKETBALL...what else is better???a month into this football crap and i am already sick of hearing about how usc is going to win it all, or slip up and lose one, texas and mack are going back to the rose bowl, coach O is taking ole miss to the promise land...oh wait maybe i havent heard that yet(in the past two weeks at least)...WHO CARES...the one thing i am happy to see is how well dave wanwhoever and pitt has done this year, this guy has lost everywhere he's been...hey maybe he will end up at MC next...PLEASE MAKE FOOBALL GO AWAY AND BRING ON THE HOOPS!!!

Friday, September 30, 2005 8:33:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

The pink locker rooms do indeed belong to the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Friday, September 30, 2005 8:39:00 PM  
Anonymous russell said...

Tumi shoot up! Grats on the Florida game. Grats on the florida game... thats a big win. Nat'l championship talk in T-town?

Sunday, October 02, 2005 1:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

brodie croyle for pimp, urban meyer for wimp, his offense isnt as easy to run in the sec as it was in the mountain west. hey urban good work, one touchdown in two conference games.

Sunday, October 02, 2005 6:47:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

My nominee for pimp of the week would be Mike Shula for leading Alabama to their first win over a top 5 opponent in Tuscaloosa and for thoroughly schooling Urban Meyer in the coaching department.
The wimp of the week not only belongs to Jeremy Mincey, but he should be a title sponsor for his pre and post game comments.

Stuck on Stupid

Sunday, October 02, 2005 7:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

the elephants arent ready for a national championship. shula really isnt that good of a coach, give urban the time to get his players, that offense ran with the right people is unstopable. if you know anything about football the pimp should be Joe Kines.

Monday, October 03, 2005 5:52:00 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

aka bosshog

Monday, October 03, 2005 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Right now it's a little to early to be thinking about Pasadena. However, if Alabama is undefeated after the Tennessee game, the nat'l championship talk will pick up.
Tyrone Prothro is up for another Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the week.

Pontiac Game Changing Performer

Monday, October 03, 2005 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

Once again-great blog-
too early for everyone to get excited- lot of football left.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 1:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please notice the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. It is ridiculous that the Coaches poll has UT ranked ahead of Bama.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 7:06:00 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

please do not let me see bama fans turn into hotty totty talkers(this could be the year)not yet, shula has a lot to learn. he has surrounded himself with good coaches that is the only reason he has somewhat survived. kines is the pimp since this is an alabama blog and there seems to be no other teams in the country, urban is no wimp and bama has a few more years before they win the west and the bears success comes back

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 12:10:00 PM  

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