Friday, Sep 10 at 7:38 AM
The NFL or college football? I don’t often ponder this question since the obvious answer of “yes, please” is often acceptable considering they play at different times, on different days. Thursday however, I had this question put to me; first by a co-worker, then by that moment of truth, after the Dave Matthews Band and Aerosmith finished playing.
I was brought up halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. This is prime NFL territory. My early football memories are of Brian Sipe, Bernie Kosar, and the 1980’s Cleveland Browns. College football was still fun, and the local college was a 1-AA power, but it wasn’t the Browns. So I felt like a trader to the NFL when I flipped on Cam Newton and some SEC football.
Maybe it is the Cam Newton factor. Maybe it’s the little blog I write. All I know is I wanted to see if Mississippi State was for real after kicking around Memphis and if Cam Newton was as good as his YouTube clips. For now, I guess I’m a college football guy and I’m not sure when that transformation occurred.
Onto “What’s Next?” College Football:
Saturday’s action is headlined by the major state schools in Kentucky squaring off; WKU and Big Blue in Lexington and EKU and the Cards here in the ‘ville. The latter airing live on WHAS11, with pre-game coverage starting at 3:00pm.
WKU @ Kentucky, 7:30. The Cats get top billing for this week only due to their win a week ago in the Governor’s Cup. I will be watching to see the development of a back-up to Derrick Locke and hoping to see Morgan Newton get some snaps. Also, the Cat defense played fairly well save one big run last Saturday. Considering the question marks surrounding that defense (and the Louisville offense) coming into the season, the continued development of that unit will be vital to Kentucky’s success in the SEC this season.
Western will look to make a better impression than they did a week ago at Nebraska and snap that long losing streak dating back to 2008. Prediction: UK 41 WKU 17.
EKU @ Louisville, 3:30 WHAS11. The Strong era didn’t quite start the way Cards fans had hoped, but Kentucky is a quality opponent and the Cards looked focused and improved. I will be watching (and really, won’t we all be watching WHAS11’s coverage) for improvement out of Adam Froman at QB and establishing an identity offensively under the new staff.
I thought Froman was the victim of some unfortunate drops last Saturday, but I also thought he never looked particularly dangerous or effective. So I expect more from him this week against a weaker opposition (although EKU’s conference rival Jacksonville State took out Ole Miss last week).
Further, I look for the Cards to bring some mash with their running game. Powell was a beast last week, and is rounding nicely into feature back form. Anderson also had some nice runs a week ago. With the struggles in the passing game, I expect Louisville to develop a strong running attack this season and I expect it to start Saturday. Prediction: Louisville 35 EKU 21.
#18 Penn State @ #1 Alabama, 7:00PM. This game and the next game make a real nice doubleheader on ESPN Saturday afternoon and evening. This Big ten boy sees no way out for Penn State, starting a freshman QB at the defending champs. This is reminiscent to me of Colt McCoy’s second start at Texas, against eventual national runner-up Ohio State. No matter how good Lion freshman Robert Bolden will be, this one is too tough. Prediction ‘Bama 34 PSU 16.
#12 Miami @ #2 Ohio State, 3:40. This one should go better for the Big 10 than the other South vs. North match up. You cannot possibly glean anything from the teams’ first week match ups against Florida A & M or Marshall, so you go with pre-season impressions when you take OSU 28 Miami 14.
#22 Georgia @ #24 South Carolina, Noon. The SEC East sees a top battle that at least one (maybe only one) of my SEC fan friends in the media thinks will ultimately decide the SEC East. Georgia has been under the radar this off-season, but was outstanding in week one and hopes in Columbia are high for a gamecock SEC east run with Florida showing signs of weakness in week 1. I’ll give them this one at home South Carolina 21 Georgia 20.
#17 Florida St. @ #10 Oklahoma, 3:30. Oklahoma gave up 300+ yards passing against Utah State. Can you imagine what Heisman hopeful Christian Ponder could do to that defense? On the other hand, DeMarco Murray is back and running very well for the Sooners. In my mind, this game is a little “duddy” at first glance, but I am interested to see how the above two dynamics play out. For now, I believe in the Seminole uprising and will pick Florida State 38-30.
There is a lot more to watch in the college football world, but there’s only so much time to write, and we got NFL this weekend ba-bee.
The headline rematch of the NFC title game took place Thursday night and everybody looked rusty. This is why, despite my better judgment, I can see a compelling argument for adding 2 more regular season games.
NFL teams do not take the preparation time the pre-season allows them seriously enough, so once games start the teams struggle for continuity. Starters regularly play one to two series in the first pre-season game, one to two quarters in game 2, a half in game 3 and not at all in game four. That’s a total of less than one game of “live” action for the primary units of most NFL teams. Put that together with the boring defensive schemes teams employ in the pre-season and these offenses just aren’t ready for week one.
Really it takes 2 or three weeks before teams are humming along in “regular season” form. So, start the season earlier and you get more interesting games. Anyway, here’s the games FMD deems most interesting in week one.
Indianapolis @ Houston, 1pm. We have been hearing about this up and coming Houston team breaking through and challenging the Colts at the top of the division for some time now. If they are going to do it, they will want to get the Colts in this, their only home match-up with them this season.
Cincinnati @ New England, 1pm. Our other “local” team also starts with a tough road challenge. Questions about Carson Palmer were not answered definitively in pre-season, so it will be interesting to see if still has “it”. Defenders sure can’t blame his receiving corps anymore. The New England defense is currently much maligned, so Palmer should be able to get it done, and if he doesn’t the questions may grow louder.
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh 1pm. Pittsburgh starts their 4 games without QB Roethlisberger against an Atlanta team many think will challenge the defending Super Bowl champ Saints for the NFC South.
Baltimore @ New York Jets, Mon. 7pm. Rex Ryan’s loud mouth against his former team. The “super” Jets taking on a “super bowl contender” in the Ravens. Really I wish both these teams would shut up, but two teams that are easy to dislike make for an interesting contest. May nobody win and both teams be worse for wear heading into the rest of the season.
As an aside to this game, I heard somewhere that Rex Ryan lost a weight loss bet to someone despite the fact that he had the lap band installed. Installed, is that right? I guess. Anyway, you know a man loves his M&M’s when even modern science can’t help him.
There are other games, one of which I will be sure to watch (Cleveland at Tampa).
Oh Reds, what has happened since last I wrote about you? A week ago you were among the hottest teams in baseball, looking at what could have been an all intents and purposes division clinching series with St. Louis. You lost 2 of 3 to St. Louis and then 3 straight to the Rockies and now your division lead is down to 5 games from a high of 8 a week ago. The Reds play last place Pittsburgh at home this weekend while St. Louis goes to NL East leading Atlanta. Big chance for the Reds to put fans fears to rest.
Meanwhile, the Louisville Bats are in the play-offs. After splitting the first two at home, they will head to Durham over the weekend.
Yes, the FIBA World Championships are still going on in Istanbul Turkey. The USA plays their quarterfinal against Lithuania Saturday at noon.
The US Open of tennis finishing up and surprise surprise, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer are still alive on the men’s side and Venus, Klijsters, and Wozniak in the “wide open” women’s side. This is my biggest complaint about tennis. The same people end up playing in the quarters, semis and finals all the time. All the other players are just henchmen in this drama, eliminated one by one while the heroes survive. Why even have a two week tournament? Just invite the top 10 and play a round robin format. That way all the tennis is better.
Anyway, Danielle Santoro is a big tennis fan, the picture at the head of the column comes from her when she attended the matches last week, so she’ll be happy with her sports weekend- as I expect we all will.