Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gameday Recap

Week Four
Columbus, Ohio - Penn State vs. Ohio State
September 23, 2006

A poor week of football is planned, and I'll be stunned if they actually fill 2 hours of programming with information. I'm expecting lots of filler. And Ohio State hype. It seems pretty clear to me that ESPN's horse this year is wearing a sweatervest. This could be the second of possibly 5 (or more) visits to Buckeye games this year. This is the first time Gameday hasn't been at the ABC night game site (though the show is still cross-promoting).

  • No Musberger, so no "YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE!"
  • Corso is excited because of no more cupcakes (again, he's on the record before as saying that he'd load up on cupcakes were he still a coach).
  • Fowler provides facts! Penn State is 0-6 in Columbus since joining the Big 10, Penn State is the biggest underdog they've been since 1988.
  • Fowler: Troy Smith is the Heisman "co-frontrunner" (doesn't say who else - Peterson, I'd guess, but maybe Quinn?)
  • Corso: OSU has a big advantage in the kicking game, especially if the weather is bad.
  • Herbstreit: Penn State's "White-Out" last year was "the best environment I've ever watched a football game [in]". Bold statement.
  • Fowler: conference record for signs and fans behind them. Looks like a big crowd.
  • What to watch for: Michigan intensity, Michigan State D, Texas muscle, Cal O, USC big plays, Auburn to letdown? (For the record, that's 5 of 6 games mentioned featuring teams that play on ABC/ESPN nearly exclusively, and the one negatively discussed plays on CBS primarily. Just so you know...)
  • Fowler: Auburn fans came to Columbus because they want to see a competitive ball game. (Auburn might be playing a weak opponent today, but their overall schedule is pretty tough, and not quite deserving of a snide comment - imagine, if you will, had Gameday gone to Auburn-LSU last weekend, and then the show put an Ohio State fan on camera and badmouthed the fact that the Buckeyes were playing only Cincinnati. I don't see that happening.)
  • Graphic on ranked teams "away from home". (I'm not sure what this means, but it seems misleading. There are probably a few teams that might not be ranked today but might be by the time they play any of these teams. Plus, there might be a team or two that is ranked today, but won't be by the time they play. And finally, the "away" qualifier is stupid. USC and Auburn both have very tough games against top opponents - tough enough to be a serious threat. USC has three ranked opponents in a row late in the year. Auburn has two top 10 teams. But these games aren't threats because they're played at home? That's silly.)
  • Fowler: After Ohio State, which is a given at #1 this week, how do you rank the other unbeatens? (Here's what I hate: why is anything "a given"? Why can no other team have as good a claim to #1? Michigan beat a highly ranked team on the road. USC has pretty much blown out everyone it's played. Florida has beaten a highly ranked team on the road too. Not to dispute that Ohio State has a claim, but why is anything this far into the season perceived as "a given"?). Herbstreit says USC has an advantage at #2.
  • Corso: forget preseason polls. Michigan is #2 because of what he's seen so far. (Seems like the meds are on today).
  • Herbstreit: When you're undefeated and trying to crack the top 2, it's "all about style points". (if you need a single sentence to describe why I get frustrated with awarding titles via polls, look at this quote. Style points? Go judge figure skating.)
  • Fowler points out too that the preseason polls are affecting Michigan. Paraphrasing, "Had we known Michigan would've played well, they'd be in a better spot now." (YES. AND THAT'S WHY THE PRESEASON POLLS ARE STUPID AND POSSIBLY UNFAIR!)
  • Fowler: If Florida runs the table, how can you not have them at #1. Herbstreit: Florida has the "toughest schedule in the history of college football", but only says that if they run the table "they should be up there."
  • Fowler: "The worst week in instant replay officiating". Hints at regional bias. Replaying these Oklahoma-Oregon plays is frustrating, but it's good that Gameday is showing it.
  • This is taking a lot longer than normal. Surprising, not much filler so far.
  • Fowler thinks Oklahoma might not be focusing on the field because of the officiating deal (uhh, not so much. MTSU took a pounding).
  • Corso: thinks we only need instant replay in the MNC game. Gets on soapbox to yell at Stoops, but Herbstreit puts Stoops' statements in perspective (he's answering questions).
  • Herbstreit: The Pac-10 and Big 12 need to get on board with better technology. Replay technology and officials should be universal.
  • Corso: Oklahoma should've still won the game. Compares it to some game he coached 30 years ago where he got screwed.
  • Herbstreit: the field officials suck too - Oklahoma recovered the ball!
  • Fowler uses that joke about Oregon's new uniform being vertical black and white stripes.
  • A third of reviewed plays have been reversed, most in the SEC. (This would've been a nice spot to highlight the controversy of officials making decisions on the field that can be reversed, as opposed to what they think is the correct decision - i.e. allowing possible fumbles to continue because if they rule it down and get reversed the recovering team doesn't get their return yards. )
  • Two teases so far on Tyson Gentry, but that's it because they roll right into the story. Tom Rinaldi reporting. Nice piece, and timely with the Adam Taliaferro aspect.
  • Gillette Game Face: No facepaint. Just an idiotic rasta-wig.
  • Young QBs in the SEC discussed.
  • Extended piece on Chris Leak with Desmond Howard reporting. Throws in some Theismania. Dallas Baker towers over Desmond.
  • Back on set, Howard tells us several things that coaches told him. Then he tells us what he told Chris Leak about what his own former coaches told him. (Some important media critic told me how lame Desmond Howard's analysis is.)
  • Herbstreit and Corso fluff Chris Leak for a while. Lots of hype. (Normally I'd think that this is significant because of the usual lack of SEC hype... but Florida's playing on ESPN tonight.)
  • Gameday flashback: a marriage proposal at Columbus in 1998. This is the second time this year Gameday has focused on couples hooking up via gameday.
  • Corso on WVU: Slaton's good. Mountaineers roll (they didn't really).
  • Herbstreit: Louisville might face a little bit of a test early, but Louisville wins. Fowler thinks K-State is better than people think.
  • Corso: Louisville is better than WVU now, but he's sticking with WVU in the MNC game, but also thinks Louisville will beat WVU. Herbstreit thinks Corso's using reverse psychology, like he tried last week with UT-UF.
  • Fowler: Louisville's win over Miami last week was a low point for Miami. (Hang on here. Louisville was ranked higher, favored, and playing at home. Yes, it was an asswhipping, but it wasn't that surprising a loss. And the LSU Peach Bowl loss was much worse, in my opinion.) Fowler's surprised that Miami's getting any votes in the polls.
  • Joe Schad reports about the feeding frenzy surrounding Larry Coker. They interview Dan LeBatard. One misleading statement: "After winning the MNC, the rankings have gone down each year" - uhh, the next year they finished 2nd and lost the MNC game on a suspect call! It's not like Miami has fallen apart after the 2001 season. They were still right in the mix.
  • Corso: If Coker makes the BCS, he'll be back at Miami.
  • Herbstreit: Miami basically gave up against Louisville and that's a problem. Confidence and desire are needed at Miami.
  • Fowler gives some facts about Cal-ASU. ASU doesn't win in the state of California, ASU has turned the ball over too much.
  • Corso: Cal wins because the game is in Berkeley and that's where scholars are and Cal wins at debating and stuff. (You can't pay for this kind of analysis).
  • Herbstreit: Cal looked terrible against Tennessee on D, so Arizona State will score, but Cal wins.
  • Fowler is concerned about Cal's Offensive line.
  • As we near the second hour, there are now a lot more commercial breaks. Filling time.
  • Graphic tries to jinx Mike Hart into fumbling ("Hasn't fumbled in 500+ carries!")
  • Extended piece on Paul Posluszny. Wendy Nix reporting. This piece is better than normal. Very football-focused. Not as much heart-wrenching stuff. Fits the player too. This piece is how they should do these in-depth bits. Seriously, this one was good. Someone tell Shelley Smith that this is what her product is supposed to look like. Highest praise. Nix had a good piece on Ray-Ray last week too. Rising talent.
  • Fowler again breaks out the Joap-uh.
  • Corso and Herbstreit don't think Posluszny is all the way back. Fowler wants them to be nicer.
  • In a tease, Fowler asks if Colorado will score against Georgia. (Henshould've asked if Georgia would score against Colorado...)
  • Fowler: Stocco has been "aight" so far, PJ Hill out of Brooklyn has been "representin' the 718". (Say word, Chris!)
  • WIRED! with Bret Bielema. Another totally useless minute and a half. "REACH!" "RUN THROUGH!"
  • They bring in Chris Spielman to discuss Michigan. Fowler calls it fair play because Desmond Howard has been talking about OSU. (Aren't there any players from conferences outside the Big 10 that can string 5 words together? Guess not.)
  • Herbstreit talks about how Michigan has learned to fight off mental mistakes late. (Again, it's nice to see two Buckeyes providing everything you need to know about Michigan.)
  • Corso repeats everything we've already heard about Michigan. Then he drops a bomb: Beating Notre Dame in South Bend is tougher than beating Ohio State in Columbus. (Comedy. I take back what I wrote about his meds.)
  • Great comment by Fowler about how Bielema is glad to be coaching against someone he hasn't showered with. Gross.
  • Fowler talks about Colorado sucking on offense. Only Duke and Temple have longer losing streaks than CU.
  • Extended piece on Ralphie traveling to UGA. Chris Connelly reporting. (Seeing the Buffalo run was awesome. This story is kind of lame. He used the pun "They're running late, and hope they can speed up and 'Bison' time".
  • Herbstreit and Fowler call Hairy Dawg the "other Uga". No. There is only one Uga. Hairy Dawg is Hairy Dawg and he'll never ever ever be Uga.
  • Herbstreit thinks Georgia's schedule is OK, the defense is great. Thinks they might be able to win the SEC with better play on O line and at QB.
  • Corso thinks Georgia won't win the SEC because they have to go to Jacksonville and beat the "beloved" Gators. (Beloved?) Also doesn't think a freshman QB can win on the road in the SEC.
  • Both Corso and Herbstreit think Colorado gets shutout today. Corso thinks the Boise State-Georgia game would end up closer than CU-UGA. Herbstreit says it'll get ugly. (Herbstreit's right, but entirely for the wrong reasons.)
  • Fowler thinks the 1966 MSU-ND game was a lemon. My cable feed went out for a while here so I missed what they said about that game.
  • Footage of Charlie Weis's press conference where he doesn't want to talk about the things Gameday wants to mention.
  • Fowler gives Howard props for picking Michigan against ND. (Way to go! Your biases paid off!)
  • Herbstreit: ND has had trouble on 1st and 2nd down, then faces tough blitzes on 3rd.
  • Corso: ND-MSU will be a shootout, great offenses. (correct) Picks MSU, even though he calls himself stupid.
  • Again, they try to jinx Mike Hart about fumbling.
  • Rob Stone on UM-Wisconsin provided some info. I kind of wish they did this for more games. On site reporting is usually a little better than what the three on-set dudes think.
  • Corso likes Michigan's defense. Makes some really obvious comments all in a row. Repeating them here would be picking on the elderly.
  • Howard tells us all about Ron English, DC at Michigan. (keep your sources happy!). Howard also chastises the crowd for booing him.
  • Fowler Facts! Penn State has held OSU to their lowest O output in the last 2 meetings.
  • Extended highlights on Troy Smith. I think this might just be a re-edit of a previous piece from the Texas week.
  • Corso also now calls Ohio State "beloved". Then says nothing of interest about the OSU offense. He does like the player who is from Florida.
  • Howard: If PSU's D can't hang with OSU's O, Penn State doesn't have a chance.
  • Herbstreit AGAIN touts OSU's defense, especially the D line. Again uses the terms "as good as you'll find in college football. (He's really staying on message for his alma mater.)
  • Fowler sarcastically mentions that Michigan-Wisconsin is coming up. They've spent about half the show mentioning that.
  • Corso and Herbstreit think Iowa rolls, Texas rolls. Lots of coverage of these ranked teams.
  • Pontiac Game Changer: Corso: Drew Stanton; Herbstreit: Mike Hart; Fowler: George Stripling (Louisville)
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Michigan State, Kansas State, UCLA. Herbstreit: UCLA, Alabama
Not quite as bad a show as I was expecting. Shelley Smith had the week off, which is a good thing. Unlike last year, Herbstreit didn't use his kids as a crutch to say kind of dickish things. More than half of the individuals who were given airtime as "experts" are Big 10 homers (and that doesn't even count Corso, who coached in the Big 10 - if you count him, Fowler is the only person who offered opinions on this show who didn't have a tie to the Big 10). The Posluszny piece was one of the better pieces I've seen this show do in a while.

Next week: Dollars to donuts that they're in Iowa for Ohio State's third appearance as a participant in the Gameday-attended game. Not that there's a better game out there or anything, but it's pretty clear who they're throwing the weight of the mouse behind.