ALDLAND’s weekly football review returns after an infamous fall wedding weekend. Bear with us as we attempt to piece together the happenings of the last few days.
- After the Game of the Century of the Season of the Week last week in College Station, everybody predicted a scheduling letdown this week. Sports predictions have become (always were?) completely useless and devoid of meaning, but once in a while, the wisdom of the crowd gets it right. Throwing out expired food? No, actually. A soft slate of week-four matchups? For the most part, yes.
The games — That 70s Show:
- Clemson opened the week of play by getting punchy on Thursday night in a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over North Carolina State. So far as I can tell, the Tigers have played only fellow Carolinians to this point in the season. A check of their schedule confirms this, and the trend will continue this weekend. (EDIT: Except for that little game against UGA in week one.) Clemson 26, North Carolina State 14.
- A number of teams posted gaudy scores and spreads. Since they already had their fun, they’re all getting grouped in this one paragraph. Ohio State 76, FAMU 0. Louisville 72, FIU 0. Miami 77, Savannah State 7. Washington 56, Idaho State 0. Baylor 70, Louisiana-Monroe 7 (that one’s actually a little surprising). Florida State 54, Bethune-Cook 6. Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10. UCLA 59, New Mexico State 13. Texas A&M 42, SMU 13. And others.
- All those pundits who thought they were remembering the storied history of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry that doesn’t exist actually were confusing Michigan with Michigan State, and the Spartans came agonizingly close to beating the Domers in South Bend Saturday night. I was advised I should be glad I was at a fall wedding without cellular reception, and I later was told that the officials did not care for MSU’s brand of defense at a couple critical junctures. Some called this game ugly. Who knows? Not me. Michigan State 13, Notre Dame 17.
- Speaking of Michigan, something is stinky rotten in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines appeared ascendant after beating Notre Dame, but they nearly lost to Akron at home, and the results weren’t any better when the went on the road and barely beat UConn. Unless Brady Hoke rallies the troops, Michigan isn’t likely to cruise through the remaining schedule very easily. 24-21 Michigan.
- Disappointing New England road trips for power-conference teams became a trend thanks to Vanderbilt’s sloppy afternoon in Amherst. The field was marked for a soccer or lacrosse game, and the Commodores were marked D.O.A. They somehow overcame their ineptitude, but the final score does not reflect the degree to which no one but possibly the “home” team should have won this game. Vanderbilt 24, UMass 7.
- Last week, I picked Arizona State-Stanford as the game of the week. It wasn’t. I don’t know what was, but that wasn’t it. ASU 28, Stanford 42.
- Utah State nearly did the deed in SoCal but was unable to score in the fourth quarter, losing to Southern Cal 17-14.
- It looks like we can put a fork in whatever West Virginia’s been pretending to be since last season after a 37-0 loss at Maryland. Shutting out a Dana Holgorson offense to stay undefeated is neat, but it’s probably cold comfort for Baltimore residents reeling from the recent loss of Oriole Manny Machado.
- San Francisco defender Aldon Smith was arrested on Friday and charged with DUI, yet the 49ers allowed him to play Sunday against the Colts. I haven’t spent much time thinking about this, but on first blush, that strikes me as the wrong decision, and team CEO Jed York’s explanation did little to convince me otherwise.
- Smith had a nice game, but his 49ers lost to the Colts in round two of “Jim Harbaugh’s former Stanford players beat Jim Harbaugh’s current team.” Indianapolis 27, San Francisco 7.
- The Washington Redskins’ woes continue, and the Lions won on the road in D.C. for the first time ever. The only thing to add to the renewed attack on the Washington Football Team’s mascot, which I learned during the broadcast, was that the team started out in Boston. Detroit receiver Nate Burleson celebrated when he got home by trying to pick up a couple pizzas. He ended up breaking his arm. Really. 27-20 Detroit.
- Tennessee got back to its winning ways and crushed the Chargers’ newfound dreams in the process. The Titans are 2-1 thanks to a 20-17 win at home against San Diego.
- The Falcons totally blew it. Between injuries on both sides of the ball and a second-tier defense, the Falcons are in a bad way. They’re 1-2 and already have a loss to the Saints, who lead their division and are looking good at 3-0. Unless Atlanta can get healthy in a hurry, this could be a tough follow-up year on last season’s playoff run. Atlanta 23, Miami 27.
- Man, the Giants really are not good. What can one write about a 38-0 drubbing at the hands (paws?) of the Panthers? What should one write? Nothing.
- On Sunday night, Pittsburgh was back. Until they weren’t. The visiting Bears never allowed the Steelers to lead, and just as soon as looked like Pittsburgh might make it close, Chicago blew things open and coasted to a 40-23 win thanks to a series of Steeler turnovers and a timely Jay Cutler scramble.
- Monday night offered the Broncos and Raiders. I’m not sure what the initial thought was on this one, as nothing’s changed recently to make this game any less predictable, but at least Peyton Manning is living up to the league hype machine’s story for him this year. The Broncos are drawing the ire of fantasy players, though, because of their persistence in using a three running back committee of Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball, and Ronnie Hillman, to carry the load and make each of them useless as RB selections. These three seem to know what they represent to fantasy freaks, as there’s news that they play rock-paper-scissors to decide who gets to carry the ball on goal-line rushes. That’s good hustle.
Next Week’s Best Games: LSU vs. Georgia, 3:30 on CBS; Philadelphia vs. Denver, 4:25 on Fox.
NFL Trend Watch: Last week, home teams were 12-4. They were just 9-7 in week one. They were 11-5 this week.
Final Note: I think Roddy White’s twitter presence is a good thing for the Falcons, and I’ll write more on him later this week, but I need to check up on his latest tweets first.