Bovi: Surprise, Surprise!
September 15, 2004
By Paul Bovi
Kudos to Howard Schnellenberger and the Owls from Florida Atlantic (located in Boca Raton) for consecutive road wins over Hawaii and North Texas. Punters were no doubt counting on a blowout/bailout in Aloha land as the point spread moved from 21 to 26 on game day. The Owls, who played their very first football game only 3 years ago, pulled off their miracle in overtime, and defeated the Rainbow Warriors by a score of 35-28, the game ending close to 4:00 AM EST. If you were not smart enough to parlay some coin on the money line from game to game (it would have yielded about 26 to 1), your beachfront home in Malibu will have to wait. A third straight road game a waits at Middle Tennessee, who the Owls beat on the final play of the game last year by a score of 20-19. The Blue Raiders have had FAU circled on their calendar (really, they have). Jet lag may take its toll here.
Last year, Toledo beat Marshall on the road, as well as Pittsburgh and Northern Illinois at home. This year, it seems Toledo has forgotten the meaning of defense. Their first two opponents have tagged them for 42 and 49 first half points, and mercifully called off the dogs in the second stanza. All 4 starters on the DL departed and that has clearly caused the Rockets to fizzle defensively. Preseason thoughts of a MAC title look more like dreams.
Hail to the Trojans! For our purposes, we will ignore the Golden State, and turn our attention to state of Alabama, home of four undefeated division IA schools (UAB, Auburn, Alabama, Troy State). After an opening win at Marshall, Troy State showed resiliency by overcoming a 14-0 deficit versus Missouri to win going away. If they can somehow defeat Lou Holtz’s Gamecocks on the 25th of September, there looms a possibility that they can end up strutting into Baton Rouge with a 7-0 record for a showdown versus last years National Champions, LSU. After that, it looks like smoothe sailing. Whispers of an all Trojan Orange Bowl are making their way around Troy, Alabama.
Fresno State’s defensive domination of the Washington Huskies could have been chalked up to a number of things, including the replacement of last years’ QB Cody Pickett with Corey Paus. But, there was no mistaking their dismantling of Kansas State in Manhattan, a game that already puts the Wildcats on the fringe of elimination for any national championship considerations. Spotting the Wildcats a 7-0 lead courtesy of an interception, the Bulldogs outscored the Jayhawks by a count of 45-7 en route to a 45-21 victory. A WAC title looks well within reach. Show down time October 23rd versus Boise on the Blue Carpet.
Nobody was overly impressed by Indiana’s thrashing of Central Michigan in its’ inaugural game of 2004, a game in which they prevailed by a score of 41-10. After all, it was Central Michigan and there were 2 defensive touchdowns to boot. Not to confuse elation with admiration, the books were undoubtedly happy as the line dropped from 14.5 to 11 reflecting a surge of Chippewas money. Last week, Indiana went into Eugene and upset the mighty Ducks of Oregon 30-24. Never mind that it was Oregon’s first game, and they were undoubtedly looking ahead to Oklahoma, the Hoosiers laid 30 on a great program in their own backyard. Last year, Indiana tallied 53 points in their final 5 games of the season. This year, the team scores 71 points in two games. It may get ugly in a few weeks. But for now, a job well done.
Same old story……Rutgers, a perennial loser for years, started their season with a rousing win over Michigan State. Bowl fever gripped New Brunswick, as they had not been to post season play since 1978. So what do they do? They go out and lose to New Hampshire, a division IAA school, who was forced to play with a backup QB due to injury. The Scarlet Knights were outscored 21-0 in the second half.
Texas was facing an Arkansas team void of 18 of 22 starters from the previous year. The Longhorns were supposed to have a cakewalk in Fayetteville. Some cakewalk! The undermanned Hogs took the Horns to the wire and narrowly missed defeating Texas for the second straight year. Texas gets the Sooners on October 9th. Looks like the same old story.
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