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jones Top Ten - Week Two - 2009

I make sandwiches. Every day I make sandwiches. I connect as a modern day parent this way. And as a modern day chef: hand-made food, or hand-assembled, anyway. Peanut butter, jelly, no jelly, honey, honey and jelly, cheese, ham and cheese, peanut butter and cheese—all very complex, especially when dealing with the thirteen-year-old with the sophisticated palate. I swear to you all that the kid came right out of the womb and asked to see the wine list.

But the dividing is the best part for an anal-retentive dad. One in quarters, one in halves, one full. Perfect little segments, in one part or in four, with only a simple rule binding the recipients when the lunch boxes are open and the task revealed. You must finish.

The boys must finish.

Ohio State 15
USC 18

Notre Dame 34
Michigan 38

They didn’t finish. The two teams for whom the stakes were highest did not finish. USC could have lost and we would have been fine with it—freshman quarterback under the blinding lights of the Horseshoe and 100,000 plus charming Ohioans openly cheering for your failure and humiliation. This is a rebuilding year for the Trojans anyway, right? Right. Ohio State, restore the glory of Midwestern football, if you would be so kind. They did, for a while anyway. Woody Hayes couldn’t have scripted it any better. Low-scoring slugfest? Check. Rattling USC’s glory boy? Check. Fourth-quarter lead? Check. Putting the opponent in an impossible field position at crunch time? Check, er, well, maybe not so much. Needing 95 yards to defend the honor of Troy, Matt Barkley engineered every last one of them, with a huge assist from Joe McKnight, who could be the nation’s best tailback (USC tailback as Heisman candidate? Never happens). Cue the music and add it to the pre-game highlight reel at the Coliseum.

Jim Tressel got the game he wanted and he went home unhappy. This USC squad can be had, but not by playing it close to the, ahem, vest. Knife, meet gunfight.

If there was ever a game that Notre Dame had to win in Michigan’s stadium, this one was it. The Irish wished for a special season; Michigan’s hopes were to climb the next rung toward respectability. Charlie Weis had the Weis advantage: strong-armed and accurate quarterback and dependable skill-position players with years in the system. Michigan’s quantity was unknown. We know it now. Tate Forcier meet Matt Barkley. Barkley, Forcier. Forcier, Barkley. Another true frosh, Forcier, led Michigan on a last drive for the ages, after some curious play-calling decisions from Weis left the Wolverines plenty of time for a decent possession. The kid delivered, hitting Greg Mathews with eleven seconds on the clock. This is the kind of win that could re-surge Michigan ahead of schedule. As for the Irish, they still might get to ten wins, but this one won’t be one of them. It should have been.

In other news, Oklahoma State’s strong bid for immortality in the Sports Illustrated Cover-Jinx Hall of Fame, came via a 45-35 loss to Houston. State’s demise came courtesy of, you guessed it, defense (although the offense had a few jim-jammy moments of its own). In retrospect, Joe Cox having the flu last week may have been very fortunate.

A healthy Joe Cox made the Cowboys feel somewhat better by leading Georgia to a bizarre 41-37 thriller over South Carolina. The teams scored every which way and threw in 24 penalties as an added bonus for the viewing audience.

Check out these two scores: Wyoming 10, Texas 6 and Florida International 14, Alabama 13. OK, neither score held up because Alabama’s running game resembles George Foreman tenderizing skirt steak with his fists and because Colt McCoy can do with a football pretty much whatever Ty Cobb could do with a bat, Ben Hogan could do with a golf club or Bill Clinton could...never mind. Anyway the Elephants and Steers won easily (40-14 and 41-10) but left the loyals with no style points to discuss on the front porch at church.

Texas did enjoy, however, its strength-of-schedule going right down the toilet with Oklahoma State’s loss and Colorado embarrassed by Toledo on Friday night; and then sweated out Mizzou’s eventual win over Bowling Green late in the fourth quarter.

Texas Tech bombed Rice 55-10; apparently the Raiders intend to score with or without Harrell and Crabtree. Kansas destroyed UTEP 34-7 and Oklahoma blistered Idaho State, 64-nada.

Florida crushed Troy 56-6, setting up next week’s hate-fest (yes, I know, I am sure Tim Tebow feels only unconditional Christian love for his opponents, and for you, too) against Tennessee. The Vols lost at home to UCLA, 19-15. That’s two in a row for Rick Neuheisel over Tennessee.

Vanderbilt made a game of it in Baton Rouge but LSU’s depth eventually won the day, 23-9. Lots of very good defensive players on the Vandy squad, they will give someone in the SEC a very unpleasant surprise this year.

The best game of the day may have been Central Michigan’s 29-27 upset of Michigan State. The Chippewas (that’s Central Michigan for those of you who do not have their media guide handy) leaned on the excellent Dan LeFevour at quarterback, who reminds me more than a bit of Ben Roethlisberger and made all the clutch throws to keep his squad alive for the end-game, which included a perfectly executed on-sides kick and two chances for the game-winning field goal: after missing from 47, a Michigan State penalty gave the Central kicker a mulligan. It was good. Sparty was depressed.

In the Mountain West, TCU completely dominated Virginia, 35-0 and are probably very upset about the trash-time TDs that made the final 35-14.

BYU smoked (and drank?) Tulane, 54-3. If there is anything more amusing than the Mormons traveling to the Las Vegas Bowl, it may be them traveling to New Orleans. It’s a shame there’s no one for them to play in Amsterdam, Kingston or at Lindsey Lohan’s house.

Utah beat San Jose State late.

The always amusing ACC gave us a 24-0 second-quarter lead for Georgia Tech against Clemson in the Thursday special, at which point I figured Georgia Tech for a top ten squad. Clemson countered with 27 unanswered to go up 27-24, at which point I figured this wasn’t the same old Clemson. The Tigers blew it and Georgia Tech escaped with a 30-27 win, at which point I turned on the Titans/Steelers game.

Nawth Klina cobbled together a 12-10 win over UConn. The winning points came on a safety when UConn was called for holding in the end zone. That’s like a match-point in tennis being decided by a foot-fault.

NC State scored 65 points against Murray State, which does them little good when looking back at the 3-point effort against South Carolina. Oh well. Virginia Tech gained about a bazillion yards rushing in routing Marshall 52-10. The Hokies host another big national game next weekend when Nebraska visits. The Cornhuskers beat up on Arkansas State, 38-9.

Cincinnati hung a cool 70-spot on Southeast Missouri, but next week will go across country to Oregon State for the first good indicator of the Big East’s relative strength for 2009.

Cal clobbered Eastern Washington and Boise State did the same to Miami, the Ohio version. Did I mention Penn State beat Syracuse, 28-7?

Impressive Showing of the Week: Michigan

1. Florida

2. Texas

3. Alabama

4. USC

5. Penn State

6. California

7. BYU

8. LSU (or Mississippi maybe?)

9. Ohio State

10. Virginia Tech