Main | October 2005 »

September 2005 Archives

September 28, 2005

Photo Journal

Hey Boney, nice looking hat you got on there, eh?


September 25, 2005

Who Can Beat USC?

Was Oregon's 13-0 second quarter lead a sign that there is a chink in the Trojans' armor? Perhaps. Or was USC's 45 unanswered points a sign that they have an unstoppable offense that can score at will? At this point, can anyone hope to defeat the two-time defending national champions who have won 25 straight?

USC still faces four ranked teams that should give the Trojans some trouble. And three of these games will put the Trojans in hostile road situations. And you can bet that these teams have seen USC's vulnerable side. Consider this: In the first twenty minutes of yesterday's game at Oregon, USC committed 9 penalties for 78 yards. Quarterback Matt Leinart was rattled early and by halftime had completed only 12 of 25 passes with as many touchdowns, one, as interceptions. The second half was a different story as USC completely dominated overmatched Oregon and won convincingly, 45-13. Do any of USC's remaining regular season opponents have a chance?

at #14 Arizona State (10/1): Tuning up for the game next week at Sun Devil Stadium, ASU beat up the Beavers in Corvallis, 42-24. Sun Devil quarterback Sam Keller leads the nation in touchdown passes with 16 and almost led his team to a victory over #4 LSU two weekends ago in Tempe, falling short in the last moments of the fourth quarter.

at #13 Notre Dame (10/15): The Irish face Purdue in West Lafayette next week and then get a bye week to prepare for the game against the Trojans. USC has owned Notre Dame lately, winning each of the last three games by a 31-point margin. But under new head coach Charlie Weis, the Irish offense will not be intimidated by USC as they have been in recent years. This game should be a back and forth shootout.

at #12 California (11/12): Despite losing JJ Arrington and Aaron Rogers, the Bears are off to a 4-0 start, albeit against limited competition. Still, this game has proved tough for Trojans in recent seasons. The Bears were the last team to defeat the Trojans before the 25-game winning streak began. And last season in the Coliseum, Cal was a dropped pass in the end zone away from upsetting the Trojans in L.A.

#20 UCLA (12/3): The Trojans close the regular season at home against crosstown rival UCLA. Last season, the Trojans narrowly escaped the Rose Bowl with a win over the Bruins in a down year for UCLA. But UCLA is playing much better football this year, as evidenced by their 3-0 start. And in a rivalry game of this magnitude, you can throw the records out the window and expect this to be a hard-fought and close game that will come right down to the wire.

But in reality, it may be that the only ones that can beat the Trojans are the Trojans themselves. If the Trojans bring their A-game week after week, there's not a team on their schedule that matches up with them. Now having to face Texas or Virginia Tech in a bowl game may bring the Trojans an opponent that can match up with them. But it's way to early to even think about that now, isn't it?

September 24, 2005

Pac-10 Reviewers Need Reviewing

Three reviews by three different Pac-10 replay officials had me scratching my head today.

Notre Dame - Washington: While the field officials were from the Big Ten, the replay officials up in the press box were from the Pac-10. The play under review occurred late in the fourth quarter when Washington was driving for its first touchdown. Husky quarterback Isaiah Stanbeck scrambled to the left side of the field and lunged for the end zone as he was knocked out of bounds. The original ruling on the field was a touchdown. But the play was reviewed. Watching the replays that ABC was showing, it was clear that the ruling on the field should stand: Stanbeck stretched his arm toward the goal line and the ball made contact with the inside of the pylon as his body hit the sideline. Surely, this play would stand as called. Except it didn't. The referee explained that there was indisputable video evidence that the runner hit out of bounds at the one-yard line. Sure looked like a touchdown to me (and Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts for that matter). But it was inconsequential as the Huskies scored on the next play courtesy of a Mark Palaita run.

USC - Oregon: The play in question came on the game's fourth play when the Ducks were forced to punt. Aaron Knowles' 33-yard punt was muffed by a Trojan and the loose ball resulted in a swarm of bodies forming a pile on the ball at the USC 40-yard line. Originally, it was ruled that the ball was recovered by USC. But the replay officials upstairs wanted another look. ABC showed several different replay angles and none of them appeared conclusive. No one watching these replays would have been able to see who recovered the ball first. Surely, the ruling on the field would stand. Except that it didn't. The referee explained that there was conclusive evidence that the Ducks had recovered. Did the replay officials have an angle that ABC wasn't showing us? I couldn't figure it out. But in any case, it was Ducks' ball, first and ten.

Arizona State - Oregon State: This review was just entirely unneccesary. Early in the third quarter, Sun Devil quarterback Sam Keller was under heavy pressure. Beaver lineman Henry Anderson had Keller in his arms and was bringing him to the ground. Clemens decided to throw the ball away to avoid the sack, drawing an intentional grounding flag from the referee. When I first saw it happen live, I thought that Keller's knee actually had hit the ground before he released the football and that the penalty flag should not have been thrown because the play was dead at the spot. Well, I figured that it didn't matter because the penalty for intentional grounding is simply a "loss of down at the spot of the foul" (NCAA 2005 Football Rules Book, Rule 7-3 Article 2.f). In other words, there is no yardage penalty; a sack results in the same thing as an intentional grounding penalty.

But the officials for whatever reason decided to waste time to review it anyway. As it turns out, Keller's knee had in fact hit the ground prior to the ball being released and so the reviewers got this one right. So, the penalty was picked up and the ball was placed at the point of the sack. But it was a moot point. The result was exactly the same.

Although the TBS announcers Ron Davis and Charles Thulin had absolutely no clue about this. They kept insisting that Arizona State had received a break courtesy of the replay because now it was second and long as opposed to second and really long. Of course, that comment makes no sense because, again, there is no yardage marched off against a grounding penalty.

Week 4: GameDay Picks

After all picking Florida State last weekend, the overall College GameDay pick standings are as follows:

Jimbo 3-0
Kirk Herbstreit: 2-1
Lee Corso: 1-2

This week, the GameDay crew is in Blacksburg for the Tech War between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Both Corso and Herbstreit are picking the Hokies this week. Corso even donned the vintage Hokie gobbler head.

Jimbo's pick: Virginia Tech 38 - Georgia Tech 31

September 18, 2005

My Game for Week 3: Michigan State 44 - Notre Dame 41

Despite a 21-point second half comeback by the Irish, the Spartans prevailed in overtime and defeated Notre Dame 44-41. Notre Dame has failed to beat Michigan State at home since 1995. Two turnovers made all the difference in this game. At the beginning of the second half, with the Irish trailing by 7, quarterback Brady Quinn threw an interception that was returned 30 yards for a touchdown by Sir Darean Adams. In the third quarter, the Irish had the ball first and goal at the one-yard line, but fullback Asaph Schwapp, in an attempt to extend the ball to the goal line, fumbled and the Spartans recovered. That 14-point swing was just too much for Notre Dame to overcome.

Well, at least I managed to get some good photos.

Charlie Weis, Ara Parseghian, and Brady Quinn at the Notre Dame pep rally

On Friday night before the game, Charlie Weis addressed a capacity crowd at Notre Dame's Joyce Center. Former coach Ara Parseghian and quarterback Brady Quinn also spoke to the crowd.

Goodyear blimp and the Golden Dome

Goodyear blimp and the Band of the Fighting Irish on the steps of Bond Hall

Goodyear blimp at Notre Dame Stadium

It must have been a big game because one of the Goodyear blimps was out in full force, flying above the Golden Dome, above Bond Hall during the Notre Dame band's concert on the steps, and above the stadium during the game.

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

And I had my best seats of the season so far, section 29, row 28, at the north 35-yard line on the press box side, right in the heart of the Notre Dame student section.

Final score: Michigan State 44 - Notre Dame 41

Four quarters was not enough to decide the outcome of this game, but after an Irish field goal, the Spartans scored a touchdown to immediately end the game, 44-41.

September 17, 2005

Week 3: GameDay Picks

In week two, both of the ESPN GameDay analysts lost by picking the Buckeyes. I was correct in picking the Longhorns. The standings are as follows:

Jimbo 2-0
Kirk Herbstreit 1-1
Lee Corso 0-2

This week, we're all picking the Seminoles to knock off the Eagles.

Jimbo's pick: Florida State 13 - Boston College 6

September 14, 2005

My Game for Week 3: Michigan State at Notre Dame

I'm heading back to my alma mater this weekend to see Michigan State - Notre Dame in South Bend. The Irish are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame Stadium, the "House that Rockne Built," which first opened in 1930.

My pick: Notre Dame 31 - Michigan State 24

September 11, 2005

My Hero Ivan Maisel

On September 6, 1997, I attended both the Tennessee - UCLA game and the Florida State - USC game. Two games in one day. Not a bad way to kick off the 1997 season. But that was easy. The Rose Bowl and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are separated by a mere 16 miles.

Last night, I wondered to myself whether it could have been possible for someone to have crossed the Michigan-Ohio state line to attend both the Notre Dame - Michigan game and the Texas - Ohio State game. After all, the game at the Big House in Ann Arbor ended at roughly 3:30 p.m. EDT and the game at the Horseshoe in Columbus wouldn't be kicking off until after 8 p.m. EDT. The drive is just under 200 miles and could probably completed in roughly four hours, even with some stadium traffic. Sure, it was possible, but I didn't think anyone had actually done it.

That is until I read Ivan Maisel's column. Instantly I became engulfed with jealousy and admiration. ESPN even arranged to have a Town Car transport Maisel between the games. You, sir, are a professional. My hat is off.

Week 2: Sunday Morning Notes

My notes after a college football Saturday that lived up to all the hype:

It is rare that an excessively hyped up early regular season game can live up to its billing. But Texas - Ohio State certainly was a game for the ages as Texas prevailed 25-22. In the week leading up to the game, Buckeye linebacker Bobby Carpenter gave the Longhorns some high grade bulletin board material: “Our goal is when Vince Young leaves here, he won’t be a candidate for the Heisman,” Carpenter said. Well, Mr. Carpenter, you've managed to put Young front and center in this year's Heisman race. The Longhorn quarterback finished with 346 yards of total offense. And his big plays came through the air; he completed 18 of 29 passes for 270 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. His game-winning 24-yard touchdown pass to Limas Sweed all but sealed the game. "Obviously he's a great runner," Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "Tonight he showed us he's a great passer."

Iowa State blew up Iowa 23-3 yesterday. There goes my national championship pick. And it wasn't even close! The Hawkeyes' furthest offensive penetration was the Cyclones' 26-yard line.

Georgia survived a surprisingly close scare from South Carolina yesterday in Athens. The Gamecocks gave the Bulldogs all they could handle but a missed extra point on South Carolina's first touchdown came back to haunt them.. After all that pregame talk about running up the score on Steve Spurrier, Georgia barely held on for a 17-15 win.

Finally, LSU and Arizona State each needed a fourth and 10 conversion to win the game late in the fourth quarter. The difference was LSU converted theirs, as JaMarcus Russell connected with Early Doucet on a 39-yard strike on fourth and 10 with 1:13 remaining. The Sun Devils were unable to respond and the Tigers won 35-31 in a thriller in Tempe.

My Game for Week 2: UCLA 63 - Rice 21

Another late night out watching the Bruins resulted in another big Bruin victory. And this one was over by halftime, when UCLA took a 49-14 lead into the locker room.

Rose Bowl Rose Bowl champions

I hadn't been to the Rose Bowl since I watched Texas defeat Michigan on New Year's Day, so I walked over to check out the Wall of Champions and to my surprise, the 2005 result had not yet been posted. The only thing I can think of is that some Cal alumnus must be in charge of getting the new signs.

Goalposts UCLA driving to a touchdown

My seats at the Rose Bowl for UCLA home games are considerably better than the ones I had to sit in at Qualcomm Stadium last weekend. My family has been sitting in section 2, row 24 of the Rose Bowl for about 20 years now.

Opening kickoff

At the opening kickoff, the stadium wasn't maybe one-third full and at no point in the game did the crowd fill up even half the stadium. Attendance was announced at a meager 44,808.

Final score: UCLA 63 - Rice 21

Thanks to a dominating performance by the UCLA offense, the Bruins cruised to a 63-21 victory over the Rice Owls. Bruin quarterback Drew Olson completed 18 of 25 attempts for 296 yards and 3 TDs and Bruin halfback Maurice Drew was electric, running for 96 yards on 11 carries and returning a punt return for a touchdown for the second week in a row, this one a 66 yarder.

September 10, 2005

South Carolina Leads UGA at Halftime

Well, maybe Lou Holtz isn't crazy after all. The ESPN analyst picked the Gamecocks to defeat the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia and at halftime, South Carolina holds a 9-7 lead.

Notre Dame Outlasts Michigan, 17-10

Who would have thought that 17 points would have won this game? After much talk of explosive offenses and maligned defenses, the tables turned on Saturday in Ann Arbor, as Notre Dame's defense stepped up big to hold Michigan's offense in check in a 17-10 Irish win over Michigan.

Or was it poor offensive play by Michigan that determinded the outcome of this one? Wolverine quarterback Chad Henne had three chances to score touchdowns in the red zone, and all three times he came up empty-handed. In the second quarter, Henne had a wide open receiver in the middle of the end zone, but never turned to see him. Instead he tried to thread the needle on the sideline and was picked off by Tom Zbikowski. In the fourth quarter, Henne overthrew Jason Avant on fourth and goal. Minutes later, he fumbled a snap inside the one-yard line. The Irish were simply there to take advantage of his mistakes.

Another note: Irish fans sure are glad that college football is using instant replay this season. Two fumble calls were properly overturned in the fourth quarter, both in Notre Dame's favor, inciting Michigan's student section to litter the field with debris.

Week 2: GameDay Picks

After last week, Kirk Herbstreit and I are tied with 1-0 records. Lee Corso is 0-1.

Picks on tonight's Texas - Ohio State game from the College GameDay crew and me:

Kirk Herbstreit: Ohio State
Lee Corso: Ohio State
Jimmy Atkinson: Texas (28-24)

My bonus pick: Notre Dame 34 - Michigan 31

The Lowly WAC

The Western Athletic Conference is off to an unimpressive start to the season, to say the least. WAC teams are 1-5 against non-conference foes so far this season, and the one win came against a division I-AA team! (San Jose State beat Eastern Washington, 35-24.) Washington State has beaten up on two WAC teams to open their season, defeating Idaho 38-26 and Nevada 55-21.

No Offensive TDs in Ohio's Upset Win

Well, the Ohio Bobcats sure set the stage for a huge weekend of college football in the state of Ohio. Oddly enough, in a game that featured three touchdowns, not one of them came from either offense: Pitt scored their touchdown on the opening kickoff courtesy of LaRod Stephens; Ohio's two touchdowns both came on interception returns by Dion Byrum, one in overtime which gave the Bobcats a 16-10 victory over the Panthers. It was Ohio's first game on national television since 1969 and head coach Bob Solich's home debut. And it couldn't have been any sweeter for the Bobcat fans who came to see Ohio defeat Pitt for the first time in eight tries. Pitt, who narrowly escaped Fordham last season, is now 0-2 for the first time since 1984. And suddenly, Notre Dame's first win isn't looking so impressive.

Holtz Likes South Carolina Over Georgia

Did anyone else notice that ESPN analyst Lou Holtz picked South Carolina on SportsCenter to upset the Georgia Bulldogs? That would be some feat after what occured last weekend: South Carolina struggled late against Central Florida (winless in 2004) and Georgia destroyed Boise State. Well, Holtz recruited a lot of those Gamecock upperclassmen and probably would have had a tough time picking against them on national television. Can't blame him for that. Plus, he'll look like a genius if they actually win!

My Game for Week 2: Rice at UCLA

I'll be heading to the Rose Bowl tomorrow night to see the Rice Owls take on the UCLA Bruins. Rice will show off their new spread offense in their season opener against UCLA. This will be my 159th college football game and my 88th at the Rose Bowl.

My pick: Bruins roll big time. UCLA 56 - Rice 17

September 09, 2005

Holtz, Howard to Replace Alberts

ESPN has decided that college football analysts Lou Holtz and Desmond Howard will fill the role on College GameDay and College Gameday Scoreboard formerly occupied by Trev Alberts, who was fired last Sunday after not showing up for work.

September 08, 2005

Return of the Intersectional Football Rivalry

September 28, 1996 was the last time two non-traditional rivals both ranked in the top five met during the regular season: #4 Ohio State defeated #5 Notre Dame 29-16 in South Bend. Nine years later, college football fans once again will be treated to such a high-profile game when #2 Texas takes on #4 Ohio State in Columbus in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

Stewart Mandel of points out that scheduling these types of intersectional rivalries between elite teams has become somewhat of an endangered species lately. He points to some of the intersectional rivalries of the past that made college football classic, Notre Dame - Army of the 1940s, USC - Alabama of the 1970s, and Notre Dame - Miami of the 1980s. Lately, many athletic directors have strayed from these types of games because they require a home and home contract that requires the sacrafice of a home game every other year.

But with schedule strength being a determining factor in getting Oklahoma to the BCS title game over USC and Auburn in each of the last two years, we're beginning to see the return of the intersectional rivalry to college football. Consider: Ohio State and USC will play in 2008 and 2009; Miami and Ohio State (remember that 2002 Fiesta Bowl?) in 2010 and 2011; Nebraska and USC in 2006 and 2007; Cal and Tennessee in 2006 and 2007; Florida State and Oklahoma in 2010 and 2011; Notre Dame and Oklahoma in 2012 and 2013.

Texas head coach Mack Brown, however, has indicated that the Longhorns will shy away from tough non-conference scheduling after the Ohio State series is over next year: "At places like ours, we're going to fill up our stadium regardless of who we're playing, so we'd actually make more money playing another game at home, getting our guys ready for our conference schedule. So I don't see this continuing."

Read more: Bring on the big boys

September 07, 2005

Vick Stars in ESPN's Broadcast

Vick certainly stood out on ESPN's broadcast of the Virginia Tech - North Carolina State game on Sunday night. The problem was that it was the wrong Vick. ESPN made current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael the main attraction, taking the spotlight away from younger brother Marcus' performance as VT's quarterback in an entertaining 20-16 Hokie victory. For some reason or another, ESPN thought it was necessary to show Michael's reaction to just about every single thing Marcus did. Fans tuning into the game saw more of Michael than they did of either head coach, NC State's Chuck Amato or VT's Frank Beamer.

Viewers also got to watch Michael's every step up every single row of the stands as he made his way out of the stadium. I've SportsCenter wrap up an entire game's worth of highlights in less time than they allowed for us to watch Michael exit the building. It was excruciating! Why they had to incessantly focus on the former VT quarterback is beyond me.

During his brief halftime interview, sideline reporter Stacey Dales-Schuman even noted that Michael was hesitant to give the interview because he didn't want to take the spotlight from his brother; after all, his brother Marcus was the one who was suited up. Despite his efforts, Michael did steal the spotlight, thanks to Rod Gilmore, Trevor Matich, and the ESPN game producers. But why would ESPN choose to focus on Michael Vick as much as they did? Hmm... the Atlanta Falcons wouldn't happen to be playing on parent network ABC's first Monday Night Football game, would they?

Seems like some Hokie fans grew tired of the over-the-top hype as well. Although some thought at the very least, it could help recruiting. Check out this thread over at

Looking at the Polls

In my opinion, it's still far too early for there to be college football polls. It's nearly impossible to gauge a team's ability after only one week. That said, you would think that pollsters would look at a team's performance in its first game to determine its ranking. Apparently, this is not the case, as Oklahoma (18th AP, 16th Coaches') still rank ahead of TCU (22nd AP, unranked Coaches'), who defeated the Sooners 17-10 in Norman on Saturday. I wasn't surprised to see that the Sooners were still ranked ahead of the Horned Frogs. We see something like this happen every year.

But answer me this: what did pollsters see in that 17-10 TCU victory that convinced them that Oklahoma must still be a better team than TCU? And if not the actual games themselves, on what exactly are pollsters basing their rankings? The school's name? Preseason hype? I simply cannot comprehend how a 1-0 TCU team with a win at Oklahoma can be ranked behind an 0-1 Oklahoma team with a loss at home to TCU. That, in my mind, is the only thing we have to judge how good these two teams are.

Now when this season grows a few weeks older, perhaps Oklahoma will rebound to a 4-1 record and TCU might a lose a few here and there. At that point, I do not mind ranking Oklahoma ahead of TCU. Yeah, maybe that first game was just a fluke. But we don't know that! All we know is that TCU beat Oklahoma. But by the very act of this week's polling, sports writers and coaches alike are already assuming that this is a fluke. And that is just wrong.

September 06, 2005

ESPN Fires Trev Alberts

News came out today that ESPN fired college football studio analyst Trev Alberts on Sunday after he failed to show up for work. Alberts was just beginning his fourth year of work on ESPN's College Gameday Scoreboard and College GameDay. According to

"He phoned and said that he wasn't going to show up," Mark Shapiro, ESPN's Vice President of Programming and Production, told on Tuesday night, "and when he didn't, he was in breach of his contract and we terminated him." [...]

"He phoned us and told us that he was unhappy with his role on College GameDay," said Shapiro. "He felt that he was playing second fiddle."

Well, compared to Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, of course Alberts was playing second fiddle. He couldn't hold a candle to those two! In fact, I wonder why the College GameDay producers cut from Corso, Herbstreit, and Fowler for the B Team of Alberts, Mark May, and Rece Davis. I receive news of Alberts' firing with great joy. He was loud and arrogant and ESPN will be better off without him.

I wonder who might replace Alberts to be May's new partner. Former head coaches Lou Holtz and Jim Donnan currently work on ESPNEWS's ADT Coaches Spotlight on Tuesdays. Perhaps one of them could step up to fill the new void. Or what about Beano Cook? Seldom used and always entertaining, he would be a great addition as a regular analyst.

September 05, 2005

Kicking Woes, O-Line Ruin Canes

Well I certainly didn't think that the 10-7 halftime score would hold up. I expected Miami to be able to move the ball effectively against the Seminoles in the second half. But a school record nine sacks given up by Miami eventually proved too much. Quarterback Kyle Wright looked very good on the Canes' final drive of the game, completing eight of ten passes for 98 yards during the 18-play, 81-yard drive that ended in a botched field goal snap on fourth down. During the drive, the Canes converted four of five third down plays after going 0-for-10 prior to this possession. All four third down conversions were passes from Wright to standout tight end Greg Olsen for gains of 15, 17, 26, and 6 yards. Expect this duo to connect a lot this season.

But in the end, the Seminoles were victorious, mostly because of what had cursed them throughout the history of this series, the kicking game. But tonight, almost in Yankees-Red Sox fashion, the tables had finally turned: Miami's Jon Peattie missed two field goals in the first half of 48 and 39 yards and then in the last minutes of the fourth quarter, holder Brian Monroe dropped the snap on what would have been a 27-yard attempt from the left hash mark; conversely, Florida State's Gary Cismesia nailed a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter and his 26-yard miss in the third quarter will never come back to haunt him.

Unimpressive was Miami cornerback and punt returner Devin Hester, the subject of much Deion Sanders-inspired hype on ESPN before the game. It would have been difficult to put up a more disappointing performance: Hester finished with three yards on one punt return and two muffed punts. He also failed to field at least one punt that he certainly should have, costing the Hurricanes valuable field position in a tight game.

Miami vs. Florida State at the Half

Florida State leads visiting Miami 10-7 at halftime. But the way I see it, the Noles are in big trouble. They're winning this game so far because of special teams and having capitalized on Miami quarterback Kyle Wright's first interception. Unless Miami continues to make foolish mistakes, this trend will not continue. Wright looks as though he's settling into a good rhythm and his halftime passing statistics (5-of-13, 96 yards, one TD, two INTs) would look much better had there not been so many dropped balls (at least three that should have been caught). Hurricane running back Tyrone Moss looks like he could break one big at any moment, having already rushed for 93 yards on 17 carries in the first half. On the other side of the ball, however, Florida State has been completely anemic in the passing game, with Drew Weatherford completing 3-of-12 for 14 yards and one INT. I wouldn't be surprised if Miami begins to run away with this one in the fourth quarter as Wright and his receivers start to connect for big gains.

UNLV Onside Kick

After failing a two-point conversion attempt with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter against New Mexico, UNLV was down two points and needed to recover an onside kick, which they did after the ball deflected off a Lobo player. A UNLV player caught the ball, ran downfield about 5 yards and then was tripped up. Stellar execution on the part of the Rebels. Not so stellar was the analysis of the instant reply by ESPN analyst Chris Spielman.

"He might have gone for six if he hadn't tripped," Spielman said. In fact, the kicking team is not allowed to advance an free kick.

Spielman redeemed himself moments later, most likely when word of the rules came through his earpiece from someone in the trailer: "You can't advance an onside kick," he explained. Okay, that's more like it.

But then he faulted one more time when he attempted to reiterate this point, saying, "I stand corrected: you cannot advance a free kick if you recover a fumble." What fumble? Yes, there was a muff that occurred during the play. But that certainly was not a fumble. In fact, had the Lobo player possessed the ball, then fumbled, the ball could have been advanced by UNLV. In trying to correct himself, Spielman committed another sloppy error. Most likely, very few fans caught this mistake, probably because of the very fact that many fans' knowledge of the game comes to them from announcers such as Spielman. It sure would be nice if these guys would actually read the rules book at least once.

September 04, 2005

Notes from San Diego

I got back to Los Angeles from San Diego this morning at 1:00 a.m. Here are some highlights from my trip down south to see the Bruins battle the Aztecs.

San Diego Freeway

It was quite a long trek from west L.A. down the 405 to the 73 to the 5 to the 805 to the 52 to the 15 to Qualcomm Stadium. I left my place at about 3:15 p.m. and didn't get down to Qualcomm until 6:30 p.m. That's Labor Day weekend traffic for you, I guess. But I still got there in plenty of time for the 7:15 p.m. start.

Colorado wins

And on the way down there, I listened to the fourth quarter of the Colorado State - Colorado game on my new Sirius satellite radio. I love that thing! After that game was over, I tuned in to Notre Dame - Pittsburgh.

Great seats

Point of advice: Don't sit in the field level of Qualcomm Stadium. This place was built for baseball, not football. I'm sure that my seat in the eighth row is great for catching fowl balls, but the sight lines are horrendous for football. Anyways, the Padres don't even play there anymore! I can't believe they actually hosted a Super Bowl in this dump just two years ago.

Two games at once

During the first half of the UCLA - San Diego State game, I kept one eye on the field and the other on my TV screen so I could keep up with the second half of the Notre Dame - Pittsburgh game. I had my pocket radio plugged into my ear for good measure.

ESPN cameraman

Eventually, I moved to the other end of the field and found a seat in the plaza section, just above the field section, but those ESPN guys kept getting in my way!

UCLA wins

Well, in the end, the Bruins won big, thanks mainly to the ineptness of the opponent that they had scheduled. Next week's game: Rice - UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Sunday Morning Notes

What better way to celebrate your 21st birthday than with a game-winning field goal against intrastate rival Colorado State? Colorado place kicker Mason Crosby did just that, striking a 47-yard field goal to give the Buffaloes a thrilling 31-28 victory at the end of a wild final 2:32 of the fourth quarter, during which the two teams combined for 20 points.

September 03, 2005

Air Force Second-Team Offense

How about Air Force playing their entire second unit offense for an entire series during the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second quarter? The idea by head coach Fisher DeBerry is to keep both units fresh and healthy because the triple offense style of football that the Falcons play is so punishing on the body play after play. And that second team led by quarterback Adam Fitch looked pretty impressive, keeping the football for about six minutes and moving it down to the Huskies 30 before fumbling. The drive also included a successful fake punt.

TCU Stuns Oklahoma

TCU is in victory formation as the final seconds tick off the clock. Down 10-0 at halftime, the Sooners scored 10 in the third quarter to tie, but TCU shutdown Oklahoma once again in the fourth quarter. Clearly, without Jason White under center, Oklahoma is a much different team. The defense may still be strong, but putting up a measly 10 points at home against the Horned Frogs will not get the job done, especially with a tough Big 12 schedule right around the corner. Adrian Peterson can put his Heisman campaign on hold for a while, as well, as he finished with only 64 yards on 22 carries. The loss was Bob Stoops first in September as the Sooners head coach. After being ranked #7 in the AP preseason Top 25, it now looks like this should be a very long year in Norman. Congratulations are in order for TCU quarterback Tye Gunn, who finished 24-for-45 with 222 yards and one touchdown.

Trouble in Norman

The Oklahoma Sooners, the perennial big time losers of the BCS title game, are in big trouble at halftime, as TCU leads 10-0 going into the lockerroom. What is the deal with these guys? I guess they're still reeling for that embarrassment of a "game" against USC in last year's Orange Bowl. They better get their act together fast or their title hopes and running back Adrian Peterson's Heisman Trophy dreams may end before Labor Day. The College Football Index currently features the headline "The Forgotten" referring to the Sooners as being overlooked and underrated: "OU is an afterthought in the Big 12." Yes, but perhaps for good reason!

National Champion Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes

I just checked out the score of the Ball State-Iowa game. The Hawkeyes lead 35-0 and the game is barely 20 minutes old! Iowa is my pick to win the national championship this year. I'm going a bit out on the limb for this one. But I wanted my pick to be different. Not the same old USC, Texas, Tennessee, and Michigan picks we keep hearing about. Why Iowa? I just think it's their time: Kirk Ferentz has this team playing extremely well lately, notching up 10 wins in each of the last three years. The only other teams to do this are Georgia, Oklahoma, and USC. In their last two bowl games, they've beaten SEC powers Florida (Outback Bowl) and LSU (Capital One Bowl).

The major challenge for the Hawkeyes will be their tough midseason schedule. In a span of 29 days, beginning September 24, Iowa has to play Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan. Only the Wolverines game is in Iowa City. Facing tough opponents in Columbus and West Lafayette could derail Hawkeye hopes. But if they can turn those question marks into W's, which I think they will, Iowa will be 11-0 and playing in the Rose Bowl come January.

Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times has written a nice piece on Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes: Why Not Iowa?

GameDay Picks

Picks on the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game from the College GameDay crew and me:

Kirk Herbstreit: Notre Dame
Lee Corso: Pittsburgh
Jimmy Atkinson: Notre Dame

GameDay Game of the Week: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh

ESPN College GameDay is live in Pittsburgh right now to preview many of today's college football games, highlighting tonight's Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh matchup at Heinz Field.

The last times we saw each of these teams in action were in their respective bowl games. Each team was handed an embarassing defeat, with Notre Dame losing in the Insight Bowl to Oregon State, 38-21, and Pittsburgh losing to Utah in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-7.

Fast-forward eight months: each team has a new head coach returning to his alma mater from an NFL coaching career. The Charlie Weis vs. Dave Wanstedt matchup certainly makes an intriguing story line. But personally, I'm more interested in seeing what Notre Dame's defense can do to slow down Panthers quarterback Tyler Palko, who threw for five touchdowns in last year's 41-38 Pitt win at Notre Dame Stadium. I'm also interested in seeing just how explosive the Irish offense can be. Ten starters return, including quarterback Brady Quinn. And with Weis being the offensive mastermind that he is, the Irish certainly will score a lot this season.

Last year's Pitt-ND game was a scoring fiesta. Tonight's game will feature many points once again, but this year under Weis is different. Notre Dame's talent will be too much.

My Pick: Notre Dame 38 - Pittsburgh 31

Jimbo's Game: UCLA at San Diego State

To start this college football season, I will be attending tonight's UCLA vs. San Diego State game at Qualcomm Stadium. This will be my 158th college football game that I have attended and the 10th that I have seen at Qualcomm Stadium (formerly known as Jack Murphy Stadium).

After starting going a meager 12-13 in his first two seasons, UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell is under serious pressure to get the Bruins turned around in 2005. The Aztecs are 0-19-1 vs. the Bruins all-time. That trend will continue tonight.

My Pick: UCLA 33 - San Diego State 27

Speaking of this being my 158th college football game, here is a table of my previous 157 games with results:

DateGame TypeWinning TeamW ScoreL ScoreLosing TeamStadiumNotes

10/5/1985RegularUCLA4017Arizona StateRose Bowl 

9/5/1987RegularUCLA4714San Diego StateRose Bowl 

12/30/1987Holiday BowlIowa2019WyomingQualcomm Stadium 

10/8/1988RegularUCLA3831Oregon StateRose Bowl 

10/29/1988RegularWashington State3430UCLARose Bowl 

11/12/1988RegularUCLA2717StanfordRose Bowl 

11/19/1988UCLA/USCUSC3122UCLARose Bowl 

12/??/1988Holiday BowlOklahoma State6214WyomingQualcomm Stadium 

1/2/1989Rose Bowl GameMichigan2214USCRose Bowl 

9/9/1989RegularTennessee246UCLARose Bowl 
9/23/1989RegularMichigan2423UCLARose Bowl 

10/7/1989RegularUCLA3314Arizona StateRose Bowl 

10/28/1989RegularWashington2827UCLARose Bowl 

11/18/1989UCLA/USCTie1010TieL.A. ColiseumUCLA/USC

8/26/1990Pigskin ClassicTie3131TieAnaheim StadiumTennessee/Colorado

9/8/1990RegularOklahoma3414UCLARose Bowl 

9/15/1990RegularUCLA3231StanfordRose Bowl 

9/22/1990RegularMichigan3815UCLAMichigan Stadium 

10/6/1990RegularArizona2821UCLARose Bowl 

10/27/1990RegularUCLA2617Oregon StateRose Bowl 

11/17/1990UCLA/USCUSC4542UCLARose Bowl 

12/29/1990Freedom BowlColorado State3231OregonAnaheim Stadium 

1/1/1991Rose Bowl GameWashington4634IowaRose Bowl 

8/29/1991Pigskin ClassicFlorida State4428BYUAnaheim Stadium 

9/7/1991RegularUCLA2723BYURose Bowl 

10/5/1991RegularCalifornia2724UCLARose Bowl 

10/12/1991RegularUCLA5414ArizonaRose Bowl 

11/9/1991RegularWashington143USCL.A. Coliseum 

11/16/1991RegularUCLA167WashingtonRose Bowl 

11/23/1991UCLA/USCUCLA2421USCL.A. Coliseum 

1/1/1992Rose Bowl GameWashington3414MichiganRose Bowl 

9/12/1992RegularUCLA3714Cal State FullertonRose Bowl 

9/26/1992RegularUCLA3517San Diego StateRose Bowl 

10/10/1992RegularStanford197UCLARose Bowl 

11/7/1992RegularUCLA2614Oregon StateRose Bowl 

11/14/1992RegularCSUN4527Santa ClaraCSUN 

11/21/1992UCLA/USCUCLA3837USCRose Bowl 

1/1/1993Rose Bowl GameMichigan3831WashingtonRose Bowl 

9/4/1993RegularCalifornia2725UCLARose Bowl 

9/18/1993RegularNebraska1413UCLARose Bowl 

9/25/1993RegularUCLA2825StanfordStanford Stadium 

10/9/1993RegularUCLA6814BYURose Bowl 

10/16/1993RegularUCLA3925WashingtonRose Bowl 

11/13/1993RegularArizona State93UCLARose Bowl 

11/20/1993UCLA/USCUCLA2721USCL.A. Coliseum 

1/1/1994Rose Bowl GameWisconsin2116UCLARose Bowl 

9/3/1994RegularUCLA2523TennesseeRose Bowl 

9/10/1994RegularUCLA1710SMURose Bowl 

9/24/1994RegularWashington State210UCLARose Bowl 

10/15/1994RegularOregon State2314UCLARose Bowl 

10/29/1994RegularUCLA3130StanfordRose Bowl 

11/19/1994UCLA/USCUCLA3119USCRose Bowl 

1/2/1995Rose Bowl GamePenn State3820OregonRose Bowl 

9/2/1995RegularUCLA318MiamiRose Bowl 

9/16/1995RegularOregon3831UCLARose Bowl 

9/30/1995RegularUCLA4521Fresno StateRose Bowl 

10/14/1995RegularArizona3424UCLARose Bowl 

10/28/1995RegularUCLA3316CaliforniaRose Bowl 

11/11/1995RegularWashington3814UCLARose Bowl 

1/2/1996Fiesta BowlNebraska6224FloridaSun Devil Stadium 

10/12/1996RegularArizona State4234UCLARose Bowl 

11/2/1996RegularStanford2120UCLARose Bowl 

11/9/1996RegularUCLA3814Washington StateRose Bowl 

11/23/1996UCLA/USCUCLA4841USCRose BowlOT

1/1/1997Rose Bowl GameOhio State2017Arizona StateRose Bowl 

9/6/1997RegularTennessee3024UCLARose Bowl 

9/6/1997RegularFlorida State1710USCL.A. Coliseum 

9/27/1997RegularUCLA4027ArizonaRose Bowl 

10/4/1997RegularUCLA6610HoustonRose Bowl 

10/18/1997RegularUCLA3410Oregon StateRose Bowl 

10/25/1997RegularUCLA3517CaliforniaRose Bowl 

11/15/1997RegularUCLA5228WashingtonRose Bowl 

11/22/1997UCLA/USCUCLA3124USCL.A. Coliseum 

8/30/1998RegularUSC2717PurdueL.A. Coliseum 

9/12/1998RegularUCLA4931TexasRose Bowl 

10/3/1998RegularUCLA4917Washington StateRose Bowl 

10/17/1998RegularUCLA4138OregonRose BowlOT

10/31/1998RegularUCLA2824StanfordRose Bowl 

11/21/1998UCLA/USCUCLA3417USCRose Bowl 

12/30/1998Holiday BowlArizona2320NebraskaQualcomm Stadium 

1/1/1999Rose Bowl GameWisconsin3831UCLARose Bowl 

1/4/1999Fiesta BowlTennessee2316Florida StateSun Devil Stadium 

9/4/1999RegularUCLA387Boise StateRose Bowl 

9/18/1999RegularUCLA3521Fresno StateRose Bowl 

10/9/1999RegularUCLA3429OregonRose Bowl 

10/16/1999RegularCalifornia170UCLARose Bowl 

10/30/1999RegularArizona337UCLARose Bowl 

11/13/1999RegularUCLA2320WashingtonRose BowlOT

11/20/1999UCLA/USCUSC177UCLAL.A. Coliseum 

12/29/1999Holiday BowlKansas State2420WashingtonQualcomm Stadium 

1/1/2000Rose Bowl GameWisconsin179StanfordRose Bowl 

9/2/2000RegularUCLA3524AlabamaRose Bowl 

9/9/2000RegularUCLA2421Fresno StateRose Bowl 

9/16/2000RegularUCLA2320MichiganRose Bowl 

9/23/2000RegularOregon2910UCLAAutzen Stadium 

9/30/2000RegularUCLA3831Arizona StateRose Bowl 

10/7/2000RegularNotre Dame2014StanfordNotre Dame Stadium 

10/14/2000RegularCalifornia4638UCLAMemorial StadiumOT

10/21/2000RegularOregon State4438UCLARose Bowl 

10/28/2000RegularUCLA2724ArizonaArizona Stadium 

11/4/2000RegularUCLA3735StanfordRose Bowl 

11/11/2000RegularWashington3528UCLAHusky Stadium 

11/18/2000UCLA/USCUSC3835UCLARose Bowl 

12/29/2000Holiday BowlOregon3528TexasQualcomm Stadium 

1/1/2001Rose Bowl GameWashington3424PurdueRose Bowl 

9/22/2001RegularMichigan State1710Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium 

10/6/2001RegularNotre Dame247PittsburghNotre Dame Stadium 

10/13/2001RegularNotre Dame3424West VirginiaNotre Dame Stadium 

10/20/2001ND/USCNotre Dame2716USCNotre Dame Stadium 

11/3/2001RegularTennessee2818Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium 

11/17/2001RegularNotre Dame3416NavyNotre Dame Stadium 

11/24/2001RegularStanford1713Notre DameStanford Stadium 

12/1/2001RegularNotre Dame2418PurdueRoss-Aide Stadium 

12/28/2001Holiday BowlTexas4743WashingtonQualcomm Stadium 

1/1/2002Fiesta BowlOregon3816ColoradoSun Devil Stadium 

1/3/2002Rose Bowl GameMiami3714NebraskaRose Bowl 

8/31/2002Kickoff ClassicNotre Dame220MarylandGiants Stadium 

9/7/2002RegularNotre Dame2417PurdueNotre Dame Stadium 

9/14/2002RegularNotre Dame2523MichiganNotre Dame Stadium 

9/21/2002RegularNotre Dame2117Michigan StateSpartan Stadium 

10/5/2002RegularNotre Dame317StanfordNotre Dame Stadium 

10/12/2002RegularNotre Dame146PittsburghNotre Dame Stadium 

10/26/2002RegularNotre Dame3424Florida StateDoak Campbell Stadium 

11/2/2002RegularBoston College147Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium 

11/9/2002RegularNotre Dame3023NavyRavens Stadium 

11/23/2002RegularNotre Dame420RutgersNotre Dame Stadium 

11/30/2002ND/USCUSC4413Notre DameL.A. Coliseum 

12/27/2002Holiday BowlKansas State3427Arizona StateQualcomm Stadium 

1/1/2003Gator BowlNC State283Notre DameAlltel Stadium 

1/3/2003Fiesta BowlOhio State3124MiamiSun Devil StadiumOT

9/6/2003RegularNotre Dame2926Washington StateNotre Dame StadiumOT

9/13/2003RegularMichigan380Notre DameMichigan Stadium 

9/20/2003RegularMichigan State2216Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium 

9/27/2003RegularPurdue2310Notre DameRoss-Aide Stadium 

10/11/2003RegularNotre Dame2014PittsburghHeinz Field 

10/18/2003ND/USCUSC4514Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium 

10/25/2003RegularBoston College2523Notre DameAlumni Stadium 

11/1/2003RegularFlorida State370Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium 

11/8/2003RegularNotre Dame2724NavyNotre Dame Stadium 

11/15/2003RegularNotre Dame3314BYUNotre Dame Stadium 

11/22/2003UCLA/USCUSC4722UCLAL.A. Coliseum 

11/29/2003RegularNotre Dame577StanfordStanford Stadium 

12/6/2003RegularSyracuse3812Notre DameCarrier Dome 

12/30/2003Holiday BowlWashington State2820TexasQualcomm Stadium 

1/1/2004Rose Bowl GameUSC2814MichiganRose Bowl 

9/4/2004RegularOklahoma State3120UCLARose Bowl 

9/11/2004RegularNotre Dame2820MichiganNotre Dame Stadium 

10/2/2004RegularPurdue4116Notre DameNotre Dame Stadium 

10/9/2004RegularUCLA3717ArizonaRose Bowl 

10/30/2004RegularUCLA210StanfordRose Bowl 

11/6/2004RegularWashington State3129UCLARose Bowl 

11/27/2004ND/USCUSC4110Notre DameL.A. Coliseum 

12/4/2004UCLA/USCUSC2924UCLARose Bowl 

12/23/2004Las Vegas BowlWyoming2421UCLASam Boyd Stadium 

12/28/2004Insight BowlOregon State3821Notre DameBank One Ballpark 

12/30/2004Holiday BowlTexas Tech4531CaliforniaQualcomm Stadium 

1/1/2005Rose Bowl GameTexas3837MichiganRose Bowl

We're Up and Running

Well, the domain name resolved at midnight this morning, the first Saturday of the college football season. Big day tomorrow: ESPN College GameDay is in Pittsburgh, where the Panthers play host to Notre Dame. As for me? I'll be heading listening to the Irish in my car as I travel south from Los Angeles to San Diego for tonight's game between UCLA and San Diego State. But for now, it's bedtime before the big day really starts.

September 01, 2005


This is the newest weblog from Jimmy Atkinson. I call it the College Football Blog. Now I'll just patiently wait for our new domain name to resolve and then we'll be all set to go. Today is the first day of the 2005 college football season. It is my hope that I can use this blog this season and for many seasons to come to voice my opinions on what I find interesting, funny, profound, or whacky in the world of college football. Thanks for visiting!