Pro Ball Wrap-Up & College Ball Preview
The first thing that needs to be understood is that it is too easy to overestimate the importance of week 1. It is easy to do, because right now, all we have to go on is one single performance from each team, and that's an awful lot of weight to put on one game, especially one that happens before the teams have really had a chance to develop their chemistries and identities.
That in mind, here's a review of the big stories from the first weekend.
First, the Saints big win in Carolina. It was great for the players and their fans, and important because it shows how the players are ready to react to their situation, at least initially. I expect this emotion to carry them through the first half of the season, and it'll being to wear off around the same time they begin to get used to their odd circumstances.
Secondly, Atlanta wins at home against Philly. Don't go handing the title of NFC's best team over to Atlanta quite yet. Jeremiah Trotter was missing and it's tough to win on the road in prime time, especially on Opening Weekend. But Atlanta got a big win that could be very important come tiebraker time.
Thirdly, Colts romp in Baltimore. The Ravens let the Colts dictate the tempo of this one, and the result was disasterous. The positive effect that the Kyle Boller might have had, however (and this is no reason to cheer for an injury, Baltimore fans - Good God, when the Eagles' fans cheered Irvin's injury - and that was disgusting, too - at least he was playing for the other team!!!), is that the Ravens will toss the playbook where the QB drops back to pass 40-odd times and instead do the smart thing and hand it off to the NFL's best rock-toter.
Lions win - no suprise to me - I've still got them winning the NFC North; Redskins win a defensive battle, not the last time that'll happen; Rams fall to San Francisco, shocking only only to those who don't realize that any team in the NFC West is perfectly capable of losing to anyone on any given Sunday, including Chesapeake High, or me and 10 buddies; Pittsburgh runs all over Tennessee, who is in for a long season; so is Houston, who proved their inabilities against the Bills; Dallas beats San Diego, can Schottenheimer spell "fluke season"?; Giants roll over Arizona - don't know why everybody was so in love with the Cardinals; same goes for the Jets, who got stomped by KC, and the Broncos, who got trounced by the Dolphins (I mean, seriously, how do you get trounced by the Dolphins? TROUNCED, by the DOLPHINS?????); the extremely overrated Vikings made me look like a genius by honking against the Buccaneers; and the Bengals beat the Browns.
Ok, College Week 3 starts tonight with Utah versus Texas Christian, which was threatening to crack my top 5 before TCU blew it against SMU, which is probably the most consistently bad program in NCAA Divison 1A football (Army and Buffalo are up there, too). Anyway, that might not hold your interest (I'll be watching), but there are several games this weekend that should be mandatory viewing for all those who call themselves football fans. So many, that my top 5 did not have room for Michigan State/Notre Dame, or SMU's follow-up game against Texas A&M. The ones that did make it...
5. Oklahoma/UCLA - The fall of the Sooners, who lost to the aforementioned Horned Frogs of TCU then nearly blew it against Tulsa, comes as a great joy to me. They have their biggest test of the season thusfar when they travel to Los Angeles (although not, sadly, to get trounced by the Trohjans again). UCLA is supposed to be one of the Pac 10's best this season, and if they have any hope of competing with USC, they have to prove they can beat up on an Oklahoma team that looks like a shell of it's former self (although they have been overrated for about 5 years running, now). As for Oklahoma, they had better turn things around quick, their match-up with the Longhorns is coming up and Texas has a lot of frustration they can't wait to take out on Stoops' squad.
4. Alabama/South Carolina - Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks did much better than expected in his SEC redebut. You can bet Georgia wanted to stomp the Ball Coach silly, but they were simply unable. Two apparent future SEC powers will meet when the Crimson Tide comes to South Carolina. 'Bama has had probation problems recently, but they are moving away from that era and should reemerge as a powerhouse soon. Which team is closer to being a power, this game will help determine.
3. Miami/Clemson - Miami and Florida State both looked horrible in week 1, and both pratically had last week off (FSU was playing "The Citadel" - whatever the hell that is). Both better get their act together quickly, because they are each playing teams this week that have impressed thusfar. Miami gets to play Clemson, who have beaten Texas A&M at home and Maryland on the road. This is still a very winnable game for Miami, and they would be my easy pick if they weren't so terrible opening weekend, but with Clemson coming to play and smelling a possible division championship, Miami had better come with it this time.
2. Florida State/Boston College - Meanwhile, the Seminoles have to make the trip north to Boston, where they'll lock horns with the Eagles of Boston College. BC dissapointed last year by not winning the Big East, but have big wins this year against BYU and Army, but Florida State is obviously a big step up in competition. FSU, BC, and Clemson are all in the Atlantic Division, so this weekend has huge potential implications down the line.
1. Tennessee/Florida - The Gators are back under prodigy coach Urban Meyer and with prodigy QB Chris Leak. Tennessee failed to impress in its week 1 win over Alabama-Brimingham, while Florida has had no such problems with its two opponents, Wyoming and Louisiana Tech. This could be the game of the year in the SEC East, and it could decide who walks away with the division title (although Georgia certainly has something to say about that).
With so many great games in store, who can wait for Saturday? Not me...