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College Football First Week – 2019

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 2, 2019

The first week of college football, and the following two weeks to a lesser degree, are characterized by contests resembling those between lions and Christians. That is, major college programs book smaller schools for low risk, non-conference warmups. The small schools get ravaged, but they also get a large paycheck. That said, there are usually some unexpectedly close calls and the occasional upset.

This week was typical, but a little more exciting. There were more close calls, notably among mid-tier Big XII and SEC schools, and a couple more upsets than usual, such as Georgia State’s “stunning upset” of Tennessee.

Through Saturday, I only watched two games from start to finish. One was Oregon (11) v. Auburn (16), and it was exciting. Auburn won the game 27-21 in the last nine seconds, which was the only nine seconds it had the lead the entire game. But Auburn didn’t cover the spread, and the total points were under.

Auburn was quarterbacked by a true freshman, and Oregon by a veteran, talented and popular one. I like the Oregon kid; he’s exceptional in many ways, not just football. But since the replay officials at Eugene cheated OU out of a win there a few years ago, I was pulling for Auburn, with which I have no connection whatsoever.

If you think I hold a football grudge too long, consider that I still despise Notre Dame for ending OU’s NCAA record winning streak, and that was in 1957, before I even went to OU, or even lived there. If Notre Dame never wins another football game, it will be too soon for me. Besides, ND is chronically overrated by the sports media. So there.

The other game I watched throughout was Cincinnati v. UCLA, because OU plays UCLA in LA this season (I hope to attend this game), and I wanted to see how they looked. I am happy to report that they looked dreadful. Cincinnati won the game 24-14 and dominated more thoroughly than the score indicates.

I was pleased with my beloved Oklahoma Sooners’ opening game win against Houston, 49-31. Here are my takeaways, in order of priority.

  1. The defense was visibly, and statistically, much better than it has been in recent years, but as the commentators correctly observed, it still has a way to go. In fact, from the last five minutes of the third quarter to the end of the game, they resembled those dreadful defenses of the last few years. Nevertheless, it is clear they are improved, and have a much better defensive mindset. I am encouraged.
  2. My worries about the offensive line are somewhat assuaged. It was totally revamped from last year; only one starter returns. It has lots of talent, but one always worries about the lack of experience in such situations. I think they can get there. They blew some big holes in Houston’s defense.
  3. Jalen Hurts is as advertised, and he insinuated himself into the Heisman conversation. As improbable as it seems, it is conceivable that OU could have a third consecutive winner of the trophy, though I can’t imagine voters doing that.
  4. As good a coach as Houston’s Dana Holgorsen is, Lincoln Riley is that much better. Riley has beaten Holgorsen eight straight times now.  

My favorite sports show other than actual football games, is Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.  The two principles are Skip Bayless, renowned sports journalist and author, and Shannon Sharpe, Hall of Fame tight end.

Bayless, like me, attended Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City, lived and worked in Dallas for years, and is a diehard fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Oklahoma. I followed his writing in the Dallas papers for years. The show puts a lot of emphasis on those two teams and I love it.

Sharpe’s aphorisms, colloquialisms and homespun humor are very entertaining. He obviously knows football and brings some true insight and personal experiences to the discussions. He’s flat funny.

But perhaps my favorite thing about the show is that in many of their “debates,” both are right. Both make valid, substantiated points, and I get to decide. As Lil Wayne’s show introduction song “No Mercy” says, “No, I embrace debate. I don’t make mistakes; I just make my case.”

BTW, Bayless predicts the Zeke Elliott holdout will get resolved with a new, big contract for Zeke today or Tuesday. We’ll see.

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