College Football Week 3: Divots

Wisconsin had a bye. Stanford shut out Army. The Ags beat Rice. Stanford-Army was on the Pac12 network and I watched a few minutes, but the format of the non-HD version on Suddenlink  does an annoying cropping of both sides of the image so I didn’t really watch.

Rice 10 Texas A&M 38

Aggie fans, like most college football fans, get spoiled easily. A&M won handily and only gave up 10 points. But because Rice outgained the Ags in total yards and the offense and defense were both slightly out of sync, fans are concerned. And while the players and coaches admit that it wasn’t the best performance, it is also notable that several starters were held out in order to let minor injuries heal. This gives valuable experience to the backups and should pay off in the long run.  Rice is also better than their 0-2 record.

The most notable things about this game was the terrible condition of the playing surface. The field was only sodded at the end of the summer, and the root systems for the grass haven’t intertwined enough yet. Players were leaving softball-sized divots in the turf, and the grounds crew was repairing holes after every play. Despite the team’s protests that the conditions didn’t really affect anything, since both teams had to play under similar conditions, I think it affected play, especially for the defense.  Yes, both teams played on the same bad surface: Rice didn’t exactly shut down the Ags on D either.

Elsewhere in College Football

The most interesting things on this weekend happened elsewhere.  The Big 10 continued its struggles as:

The only OOC wins were Ohio State over winless Kent State, Michigan over winless Miami (Ohio), and Nebraska over winless Fresno State.

The Buckeyes got an indirect hit as well, as the team that upset them last week at home, Virginia Tech, was upset at home by East Carolina. This had a third-order benefit to the Ags, as this win made S. Carolina look better… along with the Gamecock win over Georgia later in the day. A&M’s dominant win over S. Carolina looks better in hindsight… but I should note that I’ve been thinking since before that game that TAMU matches up well against S. Carolina’s weaknesses in the secondary, while the Gamecock strengths on D (linebackers) are better suited to match up with Georgia. Add to that Georgia’s inexplicable play calling at the end of the game. Gamecock QB Dylan Thompson threw a pick that gave the Bulldogs first and goal. Instead of handing the ball to Todd Gurley, Georgia called a pass that became intentional grounding. Having squandered their chance to take the lead, they then they missed the FG to tie the score.

The Pac 12 only had a few notable games this past weekend, and did not help the conference reputation. USC went to Boston College and got beaten badly ( the final score was closer than the box score). For the second week in a row, the Trojans were outgained. This time the opponent didn’t screw up in the red zone. UCLA was unimpressive in a win over Texas. The Bruins did need to use their backup QB most of the game after Heisman hopeful Brett Hundley went out early with an arm injury. But Bruins fans are still disgruntled because they really should have beaten Texas soundly instead of needing a late TD pass.

The other notable thing about this game is that Texas actually screwed up the opening coin toss. UCLA won the toss and deferred. Texas chose to kick off to start the game. So UCLA got the ball first in both halves.

UCLA won the coin toss and elected to defer its choice until the second half, then Texas said it wanted to go on defense. The referee turned off his microphone and briefly said something to the Longhorns players after their decision.

“I had trouble believing it at first,” Mora said. “I told the official, I asked him four or five times, I said, `Are you sure?’