The third Saturday in September began with a wild upset, and it was capped off by a stunner as well. Throughout the day, the Gators served the Volunteers a harsh dose of reality, Kentucky staked their claim to the bottom of the barrel in the SEC in a loss to Western Kentucky, and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray had a hoot of a night against the Florida Atlantic Owls. Here are my favorite story lines from the third week of college football.
Dawg Night in Athens-Aaron Murray got the Georgia Bulldogs off to a fast start against FAU. With two touchdown passes, The current Georgia QB tied Eric Zeier for second all-time in passing touchdowns at the University of Georgia. Despite throwing an interception near the end of the third quarter, if Murray can complete passes early and often on a consistent basis, the best offense in the Southeastern Conference may reside in Athens.
Unlucky Number 13-Virginia Tech got walloped on the road at Pittsburgh. The Panthers were 0-2 coming into the noon contest, and they looked terrible in their first two outings this year. That is why games are not played on paper. It will be interesting to see how high the former #13 Hokies can get after the Panthers ate their undefeated season balloon.
Revenge of the Huskies-In 2010, Randy Edsall entered the history books as a result of winning more games at Connecticut than any previous Huskie coach. Edsall led UConn to a BCS bowl appearance at the end of that year. Connecticut is known as a basketball school so Huskie fans were understandably excited about the future for the upstart football program.
Unfortunately for Connecticut, the clock struck midnight on their Cinderella BCS season before it was over, courtesy of the Oklahoma Sooners at the Fiesta Bowl as Oklahoma dominated the Huskies by a final score of 48-20. Coach Edsall did not even fly back with his team, and he took the head coaching job at Maryland a few days later. This past weekend, Connecticut visited Maryland looking for vindication. The Huskies came out a winner, outlasting Maryland 24-21. Continue reading →
While browsing the Atlanta Journal Constitution last week, I was stunned to learn that some Georgia fans feel the starting quarterback position in Athens should be more open ended going into the summer. In Bill King’s latest “Junkyard Blog,” King addresses the concern that some of Bulldog Nation has with Murray turning the football over too much last season.
I will concede that Aaron Murray certainly has things to work on this off-season. However, the same can be said for every other quarterback at any level of football. To think that the University of Georgia football team would somehow be better off with Murray on the bench is absurd. The combined number of starts between back-up quarterbacks Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay at the University of Georgia is zero. Both young men have a lot of potential, but that alone is not enough to supplant a two year starter. The Bulldogs will be replacing a healthy portion of their offensive line this fall, and Murray’s starting experience will be a valuable asset in helping the young Georgia offense grow.
Regardless of experience, the statistics that Aaron Murray put up in his first two seasons leave little doubt about who should be the starting signal caller for the Bulldogs. Murray has thrown for 6,198 yards and 69 touchdowns in his career between the hedges. The frustration with Aaron Murray comes from the number of turnovers he committed last season. The rising junior threw 14 interceptions, and fumbled the ball away at crucial moments a year ago. There is no substitute for maturity and the Dawgs are confident that Aaron Murray will cut down significantly on the number of balls he throws to the other team in his third year.
It is obvious that everyone in and around the Georgia Bulldog football program is hungry for a national championship. Championships come with patience and hard work, not by making hasty decisions and keeping your quarterback on a short leash. Change for change’s sake is never a smart move. All of Bulldog Nation needs to be united in support of Aaron Murray. After all, USC quarterback Matt Barkley is the only returning starter in the country to put up better numbers than Murray in 2011. As long as he takes care of the football Aaron Murray is poised to re-write a lot of Georgia passing records starting this fall.
The biggest story of the college football weekend unfolded under the Friday night lights. #2 Oklahoma State fell into Iowa State’s trap, as the Cyclones left the Cowboys’ head spinning. While this development is not likely to bother many outside of Stillwater, the horrific off the field circumstances surrounding Oklahoma State’s loss are tragic. Hopefully the Oklahoma State community can rally the Pokes to their first at large Bowl Championship Series bid. A BCS bowl appearance may be on the line in two weeks when the Cowboys face the Sooners in the Bedlam game.
As for LSU, the Tigers walloped the Ole Miss Rebels by a final score of 52-3, strengthening their grip on the #1 ranking. LSU and Arkansas each have a short week before the two teams meet in a Friday afternoon showdown in week 13. The Tigers have a long way to go before they can play for the national championship, but for now LSU is unquestionably the best team in the nation. It is expected that Arkansas will be the new #3 in the upcoming BCS standings. Friday’s game between the Razorbacks and Tigers is must see for college football fans, as Arkansas could steal the SEC West with a win.
Will Carlton Thomas ever learn from his mistakes?
For the Georgia Bulldogs, Saturday’s game against Kentucky was not one for the highlight reel. However, the Georgia Bulldogs are the SEC East champions of 2011. The Dawgs got their all-important ninth win in a row beating the Kentucky Wildcats 19-10. Now, Georgia has some issues to address as they begin preparing for Georgia Tech. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that Georgia running back Carlton Thomas broke another rule. Thomas has already been suspended twice this season. The Georgia Bulldogs are paper thin at the tailback position, and they desperately need positive contributions from the junior ball carrier if the Dawgs hope to continue their win streak.
Much to the chagrin of Bulldog Nation, freshman sensation Isaiah Crowell never got a chance to get going against Kentucky. Crowell left the game hurt following his second carry when one of his own teammates landed on top of his ankle. The AJC reports that Isaiah Crowell is questionable for next week against the Yellow Jackets. Whether Crowell attempts to come back against Georgia Tech, or the Dawgs decide he needs to take a week to heal, Georgia needs Isaiah Crowell at full strength to have a chance at upsetting the LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. (or whoever comes out of the wild SEC West)
Maddawg’s Play of The Day goes to the season altering upset that may have won the Heisman Trophy for Robert Griffin III. With all due respect to Matt Barkley and the Trojans’ tremendous victory over the Oregon Ducks, Baylor had never beaten Oklahoma before last night. “RG3″ had his “Heisman moment” as Baylor was trying to get into field goal range to upset Oklahoma. With 17 seconds left, Griffin III took the snap and threw a pass that will go down as one of the biggest plays ever in the history of Baylor football. The game winning touchdown toss gave the Baylor Bears a 45-38 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners.
Following his spectacular performance, Robert Griffin III has 33 touchdown passes and 5 interceptions. His numbers are comparable to anyone in the nation. There is not a player in college football this season that has done more with less than “RG3.” The Heisman vote will have to wait, but Robert Griffin III is the first two time award winner of Maddawg’s Play of The Day.
This Saturday is all about college football and the Georgia Bulldogs’ quest for redemption in Jacksonville. But first, Major League Baseball takes center stage tonight for Game 7 of the World Series. Game 6 was fantastic, (I was fortunate enough to turn on my TV for what I thought would be the conclusion in the ninth inning.) Here’s hoping the Rangers have something left after losing in extras last night. Congratulations to both teams on a wonderful baseball season.
Tomorrow brings about a more serious tone. College Football enters its ninth week of regular season play. For the Dawg fans in Dixie, Georgia-Florida is not about having a good game, or may the best team win. Those cliches are out of the window. For Bulldog Nation, this Saturday is about winning at any cost. Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is doubtful for the game, but the Dawgs remain optimistic.If Georgia’s leading wide out can not play, it will be up to other receivers such as Marlon Brown, and Tavarres King to step up.
Although, the real key to success for the Dawgs is Isaiah Crowell. If the young tailback can get Georgia’s running game off to a fast start it would take a lot of pressure off of quarterback Aaron Murray. Georgia needs to pin the Florida Gators down early and make sure they don’t have a chance to get up. Defensively, the Dawgs need to prove that the Vanderbilt game two weeks ago was an aberration, and not a sign of things to come.
Elsewhere in college football there are a plethora of good games throughout the day. Michigan State travels to Lincoln to take on Nebraska just one week after bushwhacking the Badgers. I’m not a fan of Taylor Martinez and it would be fun to see Michigan State and Wisconsin meet again at the end of the year. Look for the green and white to win a hard fought contest.
Among other intriguing match-ups is Baylor taking on BCS #3 Oklahoma State,while the Oklahoma Sooners try to rebound at Kansas State, and Stanford travels to USC to battle the Trojans.The BCS standings have helped bring more excitement to college football this year and week 9 will be no exception.
In pro football the Atlanta Falcons have a bye week following their big win in Detroit. While I will still pick five games in this blog there are only two games that look good on paper. First up, The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to square off with the Steelers. After the Ravens lost to the Jaguars in a horrific Monday night game there is not a clear favorite in the AFC. The game between the Pats and Steelers will likely determine who the best team in the AFC is going into the second half of the season.
The Sunday night game features Dallas on the road at Philadelphia. Neither one of these teams have been able to live up to lofty preseason expectations, and they both need to win. If the Eagles lose they will be 2-5 and their season will be all but over. Andy Reid is too good of a coach for that to happen, the Eagles will fly at home.
Picks– College Football:
Michigan State won’t have a let down this week against Nebraska. Senior Spartan signal caller Kirk Cousins is determined to get Michigan State to a BCS bowl.
Michigan State 31, Nebraska 21
Baylor will attempt to burst Oklahoma State’s BCS bubble. The problem with that is Baylor’s defense has been dreadful. Oklahoma State wins again.
Oklahoma State 56, Baylor 31
Oklahoma may have watched their Bowl Championship Series title game hopes fade last week. This week, they play the role of dream crusher, ending the perfect season of the Wildcats.
Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 27
Andrew Luck versus Matt Barkley in prime time on Saturday night. Stanford wins as USC is still a year off probation away from becoming a Pac-12 powerhouse again.
Stanford 35, USC 21
The big Dawgs eat tomorrow afternoon. The main course? Gator.
Georgia 41, Florida 24
Picks–NFL quick picks this week due to falcons being off.
In a battle of rookie quarterbacks the Panthers beat the Vikings.
Carolina 34, Minnesota 24
Miami remains winless in their fight to get lucky.
NY Giants 28, Dolphins 10
Stafford beats Tebow just like in 2007.
Detroit 31, Denver 6
Big Ben and company out duel the Brady Bunch at home.
Pittsburgh 38, New England 34
Philadelphia wins at home to stay in the NFC playoff race.
Philadelphia 24, Dallas 20
Phenomenal weekend to be a sports fan. Enjoy. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!