Jerry Seinfeld once said that in sports we are really rooting for laundry…and while in College Football you’re supporting your school it still rings a little bit true. People refer to Michigan as the Maize and Blue almost as much as the Wolverines. Alabama’s called the Crimson Tide…and Syracuse the Orange (after Orangemen/Orangewomen proved to be too unwieldy a decade ago). Fifty shades of Grey had nothing on the multiple shades of red–growing up I learned the difference between Crimson and Cream (Oklahoma), Scarlet and Gray (Ohio State) and Garnet and Gold (Florida State). Iowa’s known as the school that wears Steeleresque black and gold because Hayden Fry wanted his early 80’s Hawkeyes to think like a winner by dressing like one. And the UCLA-USC contrast of blue and red was the subject of a many a Kodak ad in Sports Illustrated. Flashforward to this fall with multiple schools boasting multiple alternate uniforms. In the interest of full disclosure, my alma mater Syracuse is a major culprit with Saturday’s gray sweatsuit look against Notre Dame. But even the Fighting Irish–a college football blue-blood if there ever was one– has trotted out monstrosities. Saturday I saw another member of college football royalty debase itself as Nebraska went with all-red helmets and a red-on-red outfits (I didn’t check the shoes on purpose). Maryland trotted out special unis honoring the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore–and the Star Spangled helmets and jerseys were kind of cool. But Saturday’s Indiana-Maryland game saw the Hoosiers wear their “reflecting chrome helmets” against Maryland…a safety violation if I ever saw one. And I’m sure it didn’t commemorate the 200th of anything–although it could be to celebrate the 30th anniversary of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” reaching #15 in the charts (he is from Indiana if you weren’t aware). I know there’s no going back (even Oklahoma is tinkering with its unis) to the day where the uniform (noun) was actually uniform (adjective)…but can we have a little quality control?
Alma Mater Update– another September of Discontent in Central New York. Another 2-2 start with an unfriendly ACC (Florida State, Clemson) looming. Five takeaways and they still can’t get within a one possession game of a Fighting Irish team that might be in the top ten but has wins over Rice, Michigan and Purdue (combined 5-9 record). Somehow the defense allowed 25 consecutive completions by Everett Golston while the SU offense converted just 3 of 15 third downs… and penalties continue to pose problems with 10 more flags for 85 yards against the Orange. Terrel Hunt seems to be finding himself– but a tough slate looms. When does basketball begin again?
Maryland won its first ever game in the Big Ten…and it wasn’t close. The team’s 37-15 thrashing of Indiana put the other 12 members of the Big Ten on notice that this is not a team that’s happy to be along for the ride. Especially with Penn State and Michigan looking less than their brand this fall. Terrapin Triumphs– NO TURNOVERS (when you don’t beat yourself like that you merit all-caps)… both quarterbacks CJ Brown and Caleb Rowe carved up the Hoosiers defense (22-33=361) with big plays the rule again (29, 30 and 36-yard TD passes)…and the WR combo of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long roasted the secondary for 220 yards…LB Cole Ferrand notched 11 solo tackles with 8 assists to lead an aggressive defense. Terrapin Troubles– eight penalties (I only use all-caps if it gets to double digits) will give the coaching staff something to work with… the defense allowed over 200 yards rushing for the second straight week. Next: Saturday vs Ohio State. Welcome to the Big Ten, indeed…
Virginia Tech ended a two-game slide by staggering to a 35-17 wobbling win over Western Michigan. For those who never saw Muhammad Ali late in his career when he was rope-a-doping and outlasting opponents, this team has that feel. Thank goodness September is over in Blacksburg. Hokie Highlights– 308 YARDS RUSHING! The thunder and lightning tandem of freshmen Shai McKenzie and Marshawn Williams gives VT a credible threat for the first time in a few years… the defense holds the Broncos to 4 of 15 on third down while notching 5 sacks… and special teams gets things going by returning a fumbled kickoff for a TD followed by a safety on a bad snap to the punter. BEAMER BALL! Hokie Humblings-- another rough outing for Michael Brewer (under 50%, 2 INT’s)… nine penalties gives the team 49 for the year-a top ten list you don’t want to be on… and was that a blocked extra point? Is it too late to take the beamer ball all-caps back? Next: Saturday at North Carolina.
Virginia bounced back from a slow start to crush Kent State 45-13. Nothing like exceeding last year’s victory output in September…even though the Golden Flashes have an outside shot at going 0-12 in 2014. Cavalier Congrats– Five takeaways including a 69 yard interception return for a TD by Maurice Canady… Kevin Parks assumes the offensive security blanket by rushing for 62 yards and a TD while adding 4 receptions for 43 yards and another score… Eli Harold leads the sack pack with 2 of the team’s 5. Cavalier Concerns– two fumbles lost, two interceptions and nine penalties… and the quarterback carousel didn’t feature the injured Greyson Lambert this time but David Watford (aka 2013’s starter)–at least it was in mop-up duty and not via the Magic Eight-Ball. When Lambert’s healthy, will the shuffle resume? All signs point to yes. Next: Saturday vs Pitt in prime time.
Navy saw a 21-13 lead early in the third quarter dissolve into a 36-27 loss to Western Kentucky. Believe it or not, there was talk of the Midshipmen potentially going 12-0 if they upset Ohio State in the season opener. Instead, the team is trying to count to six (wins and bowl eligibility). VMI is the one true gimme with San Jose State, South Alabama and Army must-win games for a Merry Christmas in Annapolis. Midshipmen Medals– Keenan Reynolds rushes for 121 yards and 2 TD’s… LB Daniel Gonzales notches 13 tackles and an interception… Pablo Beltran averages 44.8 yards on 5 punts. Midshipmen Miscues– Reynolds completes just 3 of 14 passes with an interception… the offense converts only 2 of 11 third down attempts…and the defense allowed 551 yards (387 through the air). Next: Saturday at surprisingly good (3-1) Air Force.