Every year, Saturdays in October are filled with classic games and crushed dreams, and glimmers of hope on college campuses across the nation.
We saw a little bit of that and more in the first weekend of October 2009, and all that did was leave the country salivating for more.
The fans will be fed with a healthy serving of breathtaking football this coming weekend. CBS will be airing a double-header Saturday, featuring Alabama and Ole Miss at 3:30 p.m., followed by Florida at LSU at 8:00.
If the Alabama game is the main course and the Florida game the dessert, there are still some great appetizers and sides in the rest of the country.
Auburn, no…undefeated Auburn takes on Arkansas in Fayetteville. Boston College hits the road to take on Virginia Tech. Both of those games will warm up fan’s stomachs at noon for the main courses. But I digest…
Here is looking back on the week that was in college football:
The Little Engine that Could award – Boston College
Let’s be honest. If you told any Boston College Eagles fan at the beginning of the season that they would be 4-1, 2-1 in the ACC, and averaging 33.6 points per game, they would have taken that and ran with it.
After perhaps the most tumultuous off-season a football team can have, the Eagles look like they may very well spend a third straight early December weekend in Florida for the ACC title game.
Former head coach Jeff Jagodinski was fired after being told not to interview for the New York Jets’ coaching job then did it anyway. That led to Frank Spaziani, the long-time defense coordinator in Chesnut Hill to be promoted to head man.
Spaziani was already facing a rebuilding project when tragic news struck campus: All-American linebacker Mark Herzlich had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare cancer found typically in young adults. Not only were the Eagles losing their most talented player due to the disease, but also Herzlich was the face of that football team and the clear leader in the locker room.
To make matters worse for Spaziani’s first year, Dominique Davis, the only returning quarterback on the Eagles roster with collegiate experience, was suspended then subsequently left the program.
After all of the problems facing Spaziani and his team were on the table, the outlook on their season was very grim.
Somehow, the Eagles have remained a good football team. After beating Florida State at home on Saturday on national television, they look as capable as any team in the Atlantic Division to make the conference title game.
Led by the coach who never wanted to leave and finally got his due, and the quarterback David Shinskie who at 25 years old is leading the offense to plenty of scores, and an inspired defense with a spectacular extra coach on the sidelines (Herzlich), the Eagles aren’t going anywhere.
One final note: in the middle of last week, Herzlich announced that doctors are ready to proclaim him cancer-free, and he intends on returning to the field in 2010. ESPN ran an excellent feature on him for its “College Gameday” show Saturday morning. After seeing that, he can count me as another of his biggest fans.
The One Month Wonder Award, sponsored by 2008 East Carolina – Houston
I will have to take credit for nailing this one on the head last week. The Houston Cougars were the toast of Texas (or Texas Toast, if you will) last week after knocking off their second Big 12 South opponent in convincing fashion.
Unfortunately for the Cougars and young coach Kevin Sumlin (who would win a Mike Tomlin look-alike contest any day of the week, by the way) learned two games does not make a season.
The Cougars were halted in a shootout by UTEP 58-41 late Saturday night. That same UTEP team only scored a single touchdown the week before against Texas.
Of course, the Longhorns are a far cry stingier than Houston defensively, but remember the Cougars held Texas Tech to 28 points last week. The focus was obviously elsewhere Saturday night.
In the end, Houston turned out to be another East Carolina; winning two huge games in the early weeks, only to falter against lesser opponents come October. The Pirates pulled this same stunt in 2008, after beating Virginia Tech and West Virginia in the first two weeks before losing to NC State and…you guessed it…Houston a few weeks later.
It seems like only yesterday when Cougar quarterback Case Keenum was a Heisman Trophy candidate. Oh wait….
The Better-Late-Than-Never Award – LSU and Georgia
Both teams deserve this award, but the Tigers will get slightly more recognition because their last score came later than Georgia’s. The Tigers did not necessarily beat the Bulldogs as much as the clock did.
After 57 minutes of action in Athens, Georgia led 7-6 when LSU running back Charles Scott punched in what felt like the game-winning touchdown. Not so fast, my friend (one dollar to Lee Corso).
Bulldogs quarterback Joe Cox proceeded to lead a miraculous drive, capped off with a touchdown catch by Larry Fitzgerald Jr. … er, A.J. Green to give the ‘Dogs a 13-12 lead.
Then the officials decided to step in and control the game themselves, flagging Green and Georgia for a more-than-questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That forced the Dogs to kick off from their own 15-yard line, and allowed ultra-quick Tigers kick returner Trinton Holliday to take the boot into Georgia territory with just over a minute to go.
All the Tigers needed was a field goal, and their undefeated season would be preserved. That was not enough for Scott, who decided to bust through the line on the drive’s second play for a 33-yard touchdown run.
Sanford Stadium was an emotional roller coaster on the grandest of scales Saturday afternoon. After fearing impending doom, Cox and Green brought euphoria to Athens with their touchdown hook-up. Then Scott silenced the 80.000 plus red-clan home crowd, and sent the home that way.
If football played five quarters instead of four, who knows how many points would have lit up the scoreboard. Instead, time ran out for Georgia, and the Tigers remain unscathed heading into next week’s showdown in the Bayou against the top-ranked Florida Gators.
Player of the Week – Golden Tate, Wide Receiver for Notre Dame
First of all, can a guy with that name play anywhere but South Bend? Tate’s play was golden on Saturday, catching nine passes for 244 yards and a touchdown in the Irish’s overtime win over Washington.
On the first play of the second half, Tate took a quick slant 77 yards to just short of the goal line, which led to a field goal, briefly giving the Irish a 19-17 lead.
After Tate’s star partner in crime Michael Floyd was lost for the season with a broken collarbone, the weight of the passing game was left on Tate’s shoulders. He has responded admirably, coming up with huge catches the past two weeks in wins over Purdue and the Huskies.
With Tate catching his passes, quarterback Jimmy Clausen will have all the credentials he needs to be a Heisman finalist come December.
If it were not for the toughness of that combination, the Irish would have lost both of their last two games, and Charlie Weis would likely be sending out his resume in search of a job.
Pardon me if I ramble, but this is why they play the games. There’s not enough time in the day to talk college football. Oh, and we’re not even halfway through the season. It’s only Monday, and I’m getting hungry again. When’s dinner?