The Ferringo Report: College Football
by Robert Ferringo - 09/05/2006
That's right - the Ferringo Report is back for another fun-filled season! And this year, The Report has extended its diabolical reach into the realm of college football. Not to worry, I'll still share my reflections on the National Football League, but college will be on Monday and pro will be on Tuesday.
In the meantime, here are my random, nonsensical ravings about a wild Week 1 in the World of College Football:
- The Big East would have to be the conference I was most impressed with last weekend. Beast schools finished 7-1 straight up and 5-0 against the spread, and notched a pair of rousing victories over ACC schools (Pitt hammered Virginia; Rutgers handled North Carolina). The Mike Bush injury has all but eliminated Louisville from BCS contention (I wasn't a believer anyway - not with that defense) but it also opened the door for a powerful West Virginia team to possibly run the table and earn a slot in the National Title Game.
Here's a look at how each of the six major conferences performed:
ACC: 6-4 straight-up, 2-5 against the spread, four games off the board.
Big East: 7-1 SU, 5-0 ATS, two games OTB.
Big 10: 11-0 SU, 6-2 ATS, three games OTB.
Big 12: 10-2 SU, 3-3 ATS, six games OTB.
Pac-10: 7-3 SU, 3-5 ATS, two games OTB.
SEC: 8-4 SU, 6-5 ATS, one game OTB.
An interesting side note is that only four of the 12 teams in the Big 12 returned their starting quarterbacks, while nine of the 11 Big 10 schools brought back their signal caller. That may have something to do with the ATS disparity. Or not.
- Someone explain to me the big to-do about Cal? I don't care who you are, you don't just walk into Knoxville and kick the Volunteers around. Especially not with a starting quarterback that was named about 15 seconds before kickoff. Tennessee is now 12-0 straight-up and 9-3 ATS in season openers over the past dozen years. The Vols are going to be dangerous this season as they seek retribution for the Debacle of 2005.
- Week 1 of the college football season has become the equivalent of NFL preseason football. Twenty-nine teams played Division I-AA schools this weekend. This season there will be 74 games played between the big boys and their Div. I-AA little sisters. Last year there were just 45 such matchups.
The humorous - or distressing - part of the story is that two I-AA teams actually won! Montana State humiliated Colorado and Richmond treated Duke like the pansies they are.
Also, what's up with counting these games towards bowl eligibility? That's not the case in college hoops, so what gives with football? I think all that does is give schools a reason to go out and put more cupcakes on their slate.
- During the first half of the Notre Dame-Georgia Tech game I was having serious flashbacks to Super Bowl XXXVI. That was the game in which Charlie Weis' New England club took down an infinitely more talented St. Louis squad in one of the Big Game's great upsets. The Rams downfall was their hubris and their soft game plan.
You would think Weis - an alleged football genius - would know better than to come out pussy-footing around against a very game Tech team. Dinky passing and no rushing attack doomed the Irish to a 10-0 deficit. It wasn't until they started grinding it out on the ground that they established control.
Also, with six months to design a defense to stop Yellowjackets uber-wideout Calvin Johnson you would've thought Notre Dame would've done a better job. Like, say, triple-teaming Johnson from the opening snap. That shouldn't have been a halftime adjustment - that should've been the plan all along. That's a red flag.
- Sylvester Croom should be coaching Pop Warner football. Mississippi State faced fourth-and-one at the South Carolina 45, down 6-0 with about 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Now, I loved the call to go for it, but how about digging into the playbook a little bit. The Bulldogs averaged 2.4 yards per rush for the game and were getting hammered at the point of attack. What'd Croom do? Just ran up the gut. No misdirection. No ingenuity. Just a dive play. The result: minus-two yards. If they had simply faked and sent the quarterback on a bootleg - which they had set up by trying to run up the middle for the entire game - they would have picked up 25 yards easily.
Conversely, after stopping the Bulldogs on that crucial fourth down, Steve Spurrier pulled out the wide receiver option pass. MSU was caught with its pants down and the Gamecocks managed the game's lone touchdown. That's the difference coaching makes.
- Somehow, even though it shouldn't have surprised anyone, who wasn't utterly shocked to find out the Crocodile Hunter was killed? After watching him dance with King Cobras and brush the teeth of frenzied crocs a few dozen times, I thought the guy was the real-life Beast Master. Steve Irwin was supposed to be indestructible. The best a person can hope for in life is to find something that they can be as passionate about as that guy was with animals.
- With all the concern about rule changes and games being shortened, the effect on over/under bettors was minimal. In the 44 games that had posted totals, teams went 21-23 against the number.
The only part of the rule change I don't like is starting the clock after a change of possession. That's ridiculous.
- Who looked less impressive than Michigan last weekend? Oh, that's right - Michigan State.
- USC is a machine. They lost 91 percent of their total offense last season and rang up 50 points, on the road, in their opener. Quite impressive.
- Penn State and the University of Georgia have both banned alcohol from parking lot tailgate parties. They want pregame to be a safer environment. I say if people want safe they should stay home. Tailgate parties should be a staging point for hedonism, vulgarity and general debauchery. That's what makes college football so fun. The word "college" is involved. There should be drunkenness, nakedness and all manner of recklessness. What's this world coming to?
- Do you think it's any coincidence that now that the Yankees have extended their lead to nine games A-Rod is suddenly unstoppable? Now with no pressure the guy morphs into Babe Ruth. But when the chips are down, you know he's going to fold faster than the French army.
- I was at a Jocks and Jills in Alpharetta, GA on Saturday and about 40 rowdy Oklahoma fans had reserved a room for a private party. Fortunately, I left before the end of the first quarter of the OU/UAB contest. I have a feeling they would've burnt that place to the ground if Adrian Peterson hadn't put that team on his back in the second half. The Sooners are severely on tilt.
- Chris Spielman and Sean McDonough were calling the Michigan-Vanderbilt contest on Saturday. After about the 28th dropped pass in the game, Spielman told a story about how he teaches the pee wee kids that he coaches to catch the ball with their hands instead of with their body. "I find that if you whip the ball right at their face, they get those two hands up there," he said, getting increasingly angry as he told the tale. He apologized afterwards for his "passion". Priceless.
- Take your hat off to Northwestern. They proved once again that football can be transcendent, and they showed the college football fraternity that their fallen coach taught them well.
- Kenny Irons is legit, and will soon join Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and Brandon Jacobs as the next successful Auburn-to-NFL running back. Irons looks a bit bigger and stronger this season, and he hasn't lost that burst that helped him gain 1,300 yards last season.
The Tigers dominated a decent Washington State squad 40-14, but may be caught in a bit of a look-ahead game this weekend. Auburn travels to Starkville to face Mississippi State before hosting LSU in a critical SEC clash.
- What happened to the Mid-Atlantic Conference? The daddies of the MAC have been thorns in the side of Goliath over the past few seasons. However, they were a putrid 3-7-1 ATS and looked downright feeble doing it.
- Even if Gary Throne had a hard time telling them apart, Rutgers halfback Ray Rice (black) and fullback Brian Leonard (white) may comprise the best backfield in the nation. Rutgers is legit this year and I'm already calling that they win their bowl game.
- I had heard that LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell beefed up over the summer. But until I saw all 6-feet, 6-inches and 252 pounds of him sliding around the field I didn't realize just how big he'd gotten. He might be the best quarterback in the SEC, and the Tigers will be a BCS dark horse because of him.
- Reggie Ball is the Nick Anderson of college football.
- Give me some of whatever Tiger Woods is eating these days.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.