If not quite yet in full optimistic mode after the pigskin revelations of the last few days, I’ve morphed a smidge more hopeful about Louisville’s chances against two-score favorite Ole Miss Monday night.
Let’s start with Virginia Tech’s solid win over the North Carolina Baby Blues* Friday evening. The Tar Heels have been a darling of the wags since last campaign’s successful season, viewed as a possible breakthrough contender for the Final Four.
* The pastel hue all of college football is now marveling at this Sunday of Week I, is that of the “sissy blue” Westwood Bruins. That’s how LSU’s Ed Orgeron referred to a UCLA fan’s garb when entering the Rose Bowl, before his Bayou Bengals were manhandled.
Then there’s the fate of another Flavor of the Month, now melted, Indinia. (Not my typo. Blame the Crimson and Cream’s uniform maker.)
The Hoosiers were whomped up one side of the head, then the other by Iowa. The Hawkeyes took charge early, and never let up, in a four TD beatdown.
Penn State started last campaign 0-5, before finishing 4-0, after eschewing protocols, and Zoom meetings, and started bonding as a team in person.
In a boring, but down to the wire, Bo and Woody 1960ish tussle at Camp Randell, the Nittany Lions outlasted not-enough-jump-around-to-get-over-the-hump Wisconsin for an opening week B10 W on the road.*
*Did Graham Mertz really beat out Notre Dame’s putative starter Jack Coan for the Badger QB position? Does play-calling Badger head coach Paul Chryst realize we’re living in 2021, not 1954? They actually lined up in a T formation.
By now, University of Louisville fans are wondering what all the above has to do with my beliefs about the Cardinals chances against the Rebels?
Here’s what. The above results reinforce my anecdotal evidence-based theory that the COVID made last season a throwaway. For many, if not all schools.
Results, and the resulting takeaways for the future simply cannot be relied upon in many cases. Some schools handled the adversity better than others. Like, IU. And North Carolina. And, Penn State, after it moved beyond the rigors of squad members eating alone in dorm rooms.
The guys from Oxford Town finished only 5-5, but that six point victory over Indinia in the Outback Bowl might be, could be, hopefully is a false positive. Reason for more confidence in the Johnny Rebs than it should be.
U of L was off its feed last year. My sense is there is a renewed energy and focus, and this season’s results will be more successful. Starting tomorrow night in Hot ‘Lanta.
Plus Lane Kiffin, a premier play caller despite his prickly nature, will be watching, quarantined in his den. Thankfully, he’ll be prohibited from communicating play calls. Like Denny Crum once did back in the day when he was home ill, and watching on TV, telephoned the bench in a win over UCLA at Freedom Hall.
* * * * *
My saddest takeaway from the weekend is the devolution of my favorite college pigskin play by play guy, Gus Johnson.
He’s morphed into Dickie V territory.
Those excited exhortations of his, which have been so real and spontaneous through the years, he now forces.
He’s missing calls, like first downs that aren’t, not paying full attention to the action on the gridiron. Of one player Saturday, he said, “He makes chicken salad.” ???
Then his intro to the Wisconsin student section jump around was so over the top, you’d have thought it was going to end the pandemic by itself.
I hope he calms down.
* * * * *
I don’t understand how you can be clicking between 4-5 games at once, and they’ll all be in commercial at the same time?
I do understand why I needed fresh batteries in the clicker midway through the day.
* * * * *
I’m not proud of my moments of schadenfreude, but own that they creep in from time to time.
Like when I read the announcement that BYU, Central Florida, Houston and Cincinnati are going to be invited and make the Big 12 an actual numerically correct dozen.
Where did my mind go?
To Memphis State, left out again, its face pressed longingly to the candy shop window.
Not sorry, Reese’s.
— c d kaplan